Wednesday, December 24, 2003

Just visited another blog, by, apparently, the "Grande Dame" of blogging (she wrote a book about it). I liked her article at the Guardian better, but the blog was interesting too.
Though recent posts would suggest otherwise, I have been reading. Unfortunately for you all, I'm reading Vikram Seth's A Suitable Boy, which is 1350 pages long. Even for me that's a lot. And I'm trying not to let myself be distracted by other reads, because then I'd never finish this one, and I am enjoying it quite a bit. It's not quite as bad as a Russian novel, in that most of the characters don't have nicknames, but there are just as many of them and they're all somehow related.

However, I just remembered that I never posted about Middlemarch, which I whizzed through last earlier this month and thoroughly enjoyed. I'd read it before, of course, and immediately listed it as one of my favorites, but had forgotten just how good it is. George Eliot is brilliant! I don't quite know how to describe it, since "a look at life in an English village" could sound pretty boring, but Eliot's writing makes the reader a part of that life. Like an ear-to-the-keyhole gossip, one can't wait to discover how Dorothea will respond to her late husband's nasty will, or if Rosamond Vincey will succeed in capturing Dr. Lydgate's heart. And more than that, which characters will rise above their circumstances and become heroes, and which will hide their heads in shame at their own actions.

I read it like I do mysteries, or fantasy novels, with complete abandon and absorption, which was why I had to shake my head over the comment of a woman at work. I'd always thought of her as being fairly intelligent and knowledgeable, but when she noticed the book sitting on the table next to me, she said, as if carefully sounding it out, "Middle--march?" If, as I assumed from that tone, she had never heard of the book, she judged it by the cover (Penguin Classics) and the thickness when she then asked, "For fun or for class?" (By which I assume she meant school, not a desire for sophistication.) When I answered, "For fun," she looked very impressed and said, "Oh, wow!"

Don't people read?!?

Well, as you can see from my new name, I am now a wedded woman (I'll leave the rhyme to your imagination!). With friends and family still in town, and a nasty cold that took advantage of my stressed state, the fact has not quite had time to sink in yet, but Odious and I are having a lot of fun calling each other "my husband" and "my wife". Wonder how long our friends will find that cute!

So I'm sitting here at home by myself, pretending that the house doesn't need to be cleaned or the laundry folded or Christmas presents wrapped, and amusing myself as I haven't for a while by trying to find other interesting blogs. Blogger helped me out with a link to the British Blog Awards, which recognized several blogs that were at least readable--though I don't know if I'd visit them regularly. The problem, of course, is that each of these blogs sports a long list of links, some of which look interesting enough that I could spend all day following them. But I'm not that bored.

Anyway, I didn't read much of megnut (she's the co-founder of Pyra, the company behind Blogger, to give everyone their due), but it seemed tolerable, and I'm always a sucker for anything with the name meg. A Teenager Blogs kept my interest longer, despite being about nothing in particular. I do like reading about people's lives, but more so when we share common interests. I'm not sure if I'd revisit Going Underground again, but it was vaguely amusing and worth mentioning simply because I love the tube. Ever since I read 84, Charing Cross Road I've wanted to read Pepys' Diary, but it always seemed a little daunting. Of course it was only a matter of time before someone came up with the brilliant idea of posting one entry a day--with annotations, no less! I would prefer annotations on the same page as the entry, since following ten links for one short paragraph is really annoying with dial-up. I also checked out Belle de Jour, the diary of a London call girl, and this turned out to be a great mistake. It's not about her life outside of work. Blech!

Saturday, December 13, 2003

I just finished reading Near A Thousand Tables: A History of Food, by Felipe Fernandez-Armesto. Of course I love reading about food no matter what, but this was a particularly fascinating read that I whipped through in no time. It's very accessible and interesting, with all sorts of tidbits and anecdotes. The author is a little too fond of bad jokes, and every now and then a random sentence appeared in a paragraph, as if he suddenly thought of something interesting and tossed it in without care for relevance, but overall he has a good flow and style. My favorite part was his discussion of the Columbian Exchange, when various food staples began to make their ways back and forth across the Atlantic. It's hard to imagine America without wheat or beef, but neither originated here; while Europe would not be the same without corn, potatoes, or chocolate.

I was surprised that the book didn't really inspire me to cook, or even to eat, but I did get the idea for tonight's dinner from the author's mention of the Native American triumvirate of nutrience: corn, beans, and squash. Since I had an acorn squash that needed to be dealt with, and some rather sad leftover black bean soup, I simmered it all up with a little frozen corn for a hearty dish served over hot cornbread. Not bad.

Went out with Odious today and got a cute little Christmas tree that just fits on our kitchen table (the only possible spot for such a decoration). It's sparsely decorated with multi-colored mini lights, a red wooden bead string, a few Pascha eggs, and a couple of ornaments from my grandmother, but it looks festive and has added the Christmas spirit to our abode. If only I had time to be in the Christmas spirit! With the wedding just a week away, I am burdened with all the last minute details that I desperately don't want to have to think about. Ah well.

Friday, December 12, 2003

More snow today, which is good since it was the opening day at Ski Santa Fe. Maybe next week they can open a third run. I'm still not used to the way people think about snow here, but I hoped this morning there might be a snow delay from the half inch that fell overnight. Sadly, it was an early and busy day as usual.

So I've been reading a lot lately, but since I've also been preparing for next week's wedding (!!!), haven't quite had time to post. Last weekend, when we woke up to snow again, I snuggled up in bed with The Long Winter, which has always been one of my favorites of the Little House series. My mother hated it, but she was never a big fan of winter, besides being claustrophobic. I think it's so wonderful that Laura Ingalls Wilder could make the horrible depression of that winter seem hopeful and cheery because of her family's strength and faith. The intrepid creativity of both her parents amazes me, as they draw on unfathomed wells of tradition and trust to provide for the family. I love reading about Ma making the button lamp, Pa nosing out Almanzo's seed corn, Laura looking out the upstairs window at the horses' hooves going by at eye level, and Almanzo and Cap Garland struggling through the snow to buy wheat and save the town. It's such a terrific book!

Sunday, December 07, 2003

He that goes to bed, and goes to bed sober,
Falls as the leaves do, falls as the leaves do, and dies in October;

But he that goes to bed, and goes to bed mellow,
Lives as he ought to do, lives as he ought to do, and dies an honest fellow.

Maria Edgeworth, Castle Rackrent