Tuesday 25 June 2024

Painting and Painting

Since we arrived in Moss Side five years ago the inside of the house has been well decorated. I have had my eye on the tatty entrance porch for quite some time and a week off with some sunshine was the perfect moment. The front door and front window have been re-caulked and the step painted brick red.
I used the blue that I bought for the yard to do the porch walls, and I am delighted by how the colour brightens the entrance, and dare I say it, the whole street. Several neighbours stopped by as I was working and commented how lovely it is.
Of course as soon as I painted the surrounding brickwork I realised I would have to do the whole front of the house as it showed up how faded the old paint was. Fortunately it had only been previously painted to the top of the downstairs window and so I could reach it all from the stepladder. 
Saturday I took myself to a Japanese Painting Workshop with Floating Art , spent an enjoyable couple of hours that flew by and was surprisingly satisfied with the results.
Stay safe. Be kind. Try something new.

Here is the Beehive

I have no idea why this book is called this; 'Here is the Beehive' by Sarah Crossan. This is a very intense little book, about a woman, Ana, conducting a somewhat obsessive affair, only to have the object of her affection die. Connor is dead, and she is grieving, and she can't tell anyone. Gradually she reveals stuff about their relationship and their separate lives. The reader watches her struggle with her loss, trying to maintain some pretence of normal life for her family, all the time thinking of her lover. I sympathised deeply with her, even when she makes bad, ridiculous choices. I sympathised with her husband as he watches his wife unfathomably crumble. It is laid out like poems on the page, short lines and broken paragraphs, very effective for getting across the nature of her thought patterns. They had met initially when he becomes a client at her firm, but then as the solicitor responsible for overseeing Connor's will Ana finds herself inadvertently befriending his wife Rebecca. Initially she is trying to sneak a closer look inside his life, but it becomes something other than that. It is a story about love, and secrets, and obsession, and learning how to get over someone who was never yours. 

"I'd seen a photo on your phone so already knew
Rebecca owned a pair of
royal blue
leather gloves.
I hated her for it - 
discovering she had
the nerve for such a statement,
an extravagance.

It was hard to know
whether or not a brown pair, unlined,
could compare,
but I bought them in the January sale
from Selfridges
and hid them in a drawer,
to wear with you
when it was cold.

I never found the courage.

And I never found out whether or not
the way to win you was
to be different to Rebecca,
to be better than her
or simply    
        to be her completely." (p.115-6)

Saturday 22 June 2024

Japan and Elsewhere

So I mentioned ages ago that I was reading 'The Long Earth' by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter. When my brother Bart spotted it he said it was much more Stephen Baxter than it was Terry and I think I would concur, as the Pratchett humour was there but it did not feel anything like the discworld books. Apparently he collaborated a great deal in the latter years of his life as he had trouble holding stories together as his mind declined. It is testament to his amazing creativity that he never stopped writing. In the book a scientists creates a device that allows people to 'step' sideways into parallel earths, each one having taken a slightly different evolutionary path, but all empty of human beings. It follows Joshua who was coincidentally born in another world and can 'step' without the device, and an epic journey across the earths in a stepping airship. I enjoyed this book. It was very clever and I relished the story and the concept, it was hugely imaginative (though in some ways depressing at the thought of human beings fucking up multiple earths) but that was about it. 

'Abroad in Japan' by Chris Broad is about a guy doing JET like Monkey Sensei and basically acts as a kind of introduction to living in Japan with chapters about food and onsen and Mount Fuji and shrines and so on. So was just like chatting to Monkey about how she's getting on and what she's been up to. It's just life, that is kind of the same, but kind of completely different, but it does get across the peculiarities of learning to live in another country. I kind of enjoyed it because I am already interested in Japan and its culture but in truth I'd rather spend the afternoon video chatting with Monkey while she cooks her gyoza for dinner. 

"Breast and Eggs" by Mieko Kawami came from Monkey's bookshelf and follows two sisters and a niece as they wrangle with the nature of being in a female body. It starts as the older sister is visiting the younger with the intention of getting breast implants, pursuing a lost youth somewhat. Then in the second part, a decade later the younger sister is contemplating the process of having a child via sperm donation, something not available to single women in the somewhat socially conservative Japan. She encounters a support group for children of anonymous donors and spends a lot of time debating the ethics of the choice she feels bound to make. It was a lovely book of relationships between the three women, bound together by only having each other. I liked Natsuko because she seemed so vulnerable, sometimes still this child who had to fend for herself as her mother and then grandmother had died and left the two girls as teenagers. It was all very much inside her life, day to day stuff like coping with the heat and worrying about her life, and big existential stuff contemplating sharing her life with another person. 
In between reading and working and stuff my lovely Ady had her third birthday. I searched for an hour on the interweb for a freebie pattern to make her a dress and then gave up and went to the library and found this fab book, Wild Things by Kirsty Hartley. It is full of lovely simple designs and contained patterns to trace (and adapt, I did some dungarees and turned them onto a dress instead). I bought the monster fabric down in Leons last year some time. She had a 'pretty dress' ready for the party so she didn't put it on for a photo but whatever. I am pleased as punch with it.
Stay safe. Be kind. More catch-up posts coming ....