Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Changing seasons

A few of the summer franginani are hanging on...

Summer herbs (basil) are thinking its time to flower and seed

And broccoli are coming into fruit with the changing night temperatures. 

Its March, and in the Southern Hemisphere, were moving into autumn. I love all our seasons, but Spring and Autumn are my favourites... they mark a change, a period of preparation. As a project manager, and a big picture thinker, these periods of preparation are important for me in both my professional life and personal. 

Its just three and a half weeks since my hip replacement surgery and, now well and truly over the hardest part, I'm feeling like my last few weeks of leave from work, and rehab period, are about preparing me for the next season... one were I can enjoy walking and riding and gardening again.. pain free, drug free. All the indications are good, but still diligence is required to ensure I comply with best practice in healing and rebuilding strength. 

While at home, I've been watching and reflecting on my garden, and its potential. This changing of the season means thinking about food, nourishment and preparing the garden for winter. I'm coaching my partner in order to get the winter veggies planted (as I can't bend over yet). We're motivated to get more food out the garden this year. Last year was really hampered by my physical capabilities. 

On our list of winter plantings are rhubarb, beans, spinach, kale, beetroot, leaks, and maybe even try out luck at potatoes this year.

So, what season are you in? And what does it mean for you? I'd love to hear your thoughts..

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

International Womens Day

Happy International Women's Day! March 8th, around the world, Advocates for Women's rights & equality unite in action to raise awareness. There are many many events occurring this week to bring women & men together to learn about this  issues, raise awareness & funds, to share successes and challenges. So, as I am not out and about at present (laying low on rehab), I thought I'd post some of my thoughts about IWD. I was encouraged to do this when I read this post

This is direct from the IWD website..

This is direct from the IWD website..
Use International Women's Day (IWD) on March 8 as an important opportunity to:
  • celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women because visibility and awareness help drive positive change for women
  • declare bold actions you'll take as an individual or organization to help progress the gender agenda because purposeful action can accelerate gender parity across the world
For me, its a time to reassess and focus. So I did a bit of a brainstorm of what came to mind when I think of IWD. I came up with 5 points of focus. 
  1. Its important to take time and effort to notice the power & influence women can have towards change. I thought of three areas to think about 
    • In small ways - i thought about how some women in my life modelled womenhood to me.. my piano teacher, school bus driver, my driving instructor, and my neighbour.  
    • In louder ways - i thought about those in the public sphere who can use their own position to affect change, like journalists, actors, authors and activists.  
    • And then theres the longer term ways - and I thought of people like Mother Theresa.
  2.  Another important aspect of IWD is the value of celebrating the contribution of women & men towards the goals of equality and fairness. Many of you know I support a girls school & hostel in India. I have to say a huge thanks to the number of men who help in that campaign. They do make a difference..  
  3. IWD reminds me to stay focused on looking for opportunities to seek out better fairness and equality for women.. its important to notice the wrongs, and act where I can, or support action if I cant do it myself.  
  4. I am often in awe of the internal strength and power of women. I know this is a characteristic of many women that sustains us. its important to celebrate that power 
  5. Finally, IWD, is a time for me to re declare, that I want to live out my life being the best woman I can be. 

Celebrating Love: My latest colouring in from Johanna Basfords, Secret Garden. 

Thursday, March 2, 2017

JLC 10 - book review - Malice - Hagashino

Malice is one of the bestselling—the most acclaimed—novels in Keigo Higashino's series featuring police detective Kyochiro Kaga, one of the most popular creations of the bestselling novelist in Asia. (Good reads). 

I read this just after Christmas, so there are some details I don't recall,  but I do remember that I enjoyed this mystery. Its a story about authors, murder and friends. Given I dont recall too many of the details, I will share this description from here
Malice is essentially a study of intellectuals doing their very nasty damnedest, and especially of the ambitions and jealousies of bookish persons. Osama Nonoguchi, writer of children’s books, discovers the body of a fellow author, Kunihiko Hidaka, in his locked office.  Nonoguchi admits he has been attracted by Hidaka’s beautiful wife, so we are soon made uneasy as to his reliability as a narrator, though, as a writer, he is naturally keeping an account of events.
What I do recall was how I felt when I was reading this, and I was intrigued. The story kept me on my toes, as I like a crime book to do, and yet as a crime novel, it was too gruesome or frightening. There was an element of mystery in this story, and I really didn’t know who done it until the end. 

As I read this as part of the Japanese Literature Challenge, I'd like to highlight some of the Japanese-isms I noticed. 
  • Cherry blossom features in the story
  • The characters know each other- it seems to me often in Japanese novels, the characters worked or went to school together. I wonder if that says something about the small or closed communities of Japanese society, or something aboit class structures?
  • There's plenty of etiquette in the ways Japanese people visit other peoples homes - bringing a gift,  making the announcement, and only staying for the intended purpose. 
  • The Japanese drink alot of whiskey. 
Again, I really appreciated the challenge set out by Dolce Bellezza for the Japanese Literature Challenge. I did enjoy this book, and being the person I am, I need the challenge set for me to actually get motivated to read. 

Monday, February 27, 2017

Secret Garden by Johanna Basford

By Jahanna Basford  Image

While the past 18 months has been somewhat marred by an underlying pain and discomfort, I can see light in the future. I've had my hip replacement surgery, with an awesome doctor, and while still early days of recovery, I'm feeling very hopeful. Hopefully this will manage the arthritis, and free up my mobility, and see me back doing things I love to do (and more) in the new few months. 

In the meantime, I'm on 6 weeks recovery, and a little house bound.. what does one outdoorsy girl do when slowed down.... colouring in. I know this was all the craze about 2-3 years ago, but now is just the right time fore me. And I'm really enjoying it. 

When I knew I was going to have 6 weeks of work, which keeps my mind very active, and that I was going to take a break from my postvgraduate studies... i set myself a grand reading list... but had no idea that post operatively I wouldnt be able to concentrate. I cant even seem to get into a magazine or newspaper now. But this is perfect. 

And my other new adventure is listening to books. I choose my first audiobook from the classics. I dont recall ever reading this when I was a child, and felt sort of left out because, while I knew all the names of the little women, I actually didn't know the story. (I've decided I wont be officially reviewing this, as you've all read it,  and Im afraid my femeinist and modern views of christianity are quite different to those of Mrs March)... 

So, each day, in hospital and now at home, I've sat listening to little women, and coloured in. I felt like part of the family, joining in around the the fire, as Jo would write, and Beth would sew or knit, I'd be colouring in... and creating....

And when I was playing with my image to put on Instagram, I found that I could do this to my image... it is a fun way to pass the day.

Here is what has been said of secret garden, by this blogger...

There are other adult coloring books out there, but Secret Garden and its companion, Enchanted Forest, are probably the king and queen of the genre—in other words, something pretty special. When my book arrived, I was delighted to discover 96 pages of beautiful pen and ink drawings on thick, creamy paper. The drawings feature the flora and fauna of Basford’s home in rural Scotland. At the beginning of the book is a guide to creatures that are hidden within the detailed drawings. If you visit Artist Goes Outside The Lines With Coloring Books For Grown-Ups on the National Public Radio Web site, you can see some images from the book and listen to an interview of the author..

So, what this space, and see what is yet to come... I may even get some books read yet...

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

JLC 10 - book review - the housekeeper and the professor

Japanese literature challenge 10

I read The Housekeeper and the Professor for this years Japanese Literature Challenge.  

It was a while ago when I read it, so I just refreshed my memory by reading this review by Lonesomereader. This was such a good review I thought I'd share it here. I totally agree, this was a simple but elegant story, that captivated me and some what excited me. 

I was worried that I wouldn't have the concentration to focus on some of my choices for this years JLC (as I'm on some pain medications at the moment). But not to worry, this was lovely, and just right. 

The story is about a mathamatician who has suffered a brain injury and can not remember todays events. He still has all his mathamatical skills. His sister in law hires him a housekeeper to help keep him independent at home. After a string of housekeepers, this one stays. 

Im not into maths or science at all, but this engaged me into his love of numbers, just as the housekeeper was entranced. She introduced her son to the professor, and the three of them somehow seemed to bring out the best in each other. The young boy understood the professors needs in a way that surprises the reader but touches the soul. The professor, who by all accounts, was unable to buikd relationships due to his memory, became strongly connected to the boy in a truly endearing way. 

From a Japanese cultural perspective, this story upholds the values of respect and dignity for the individual and family name, the importance of being, and the significance of community - which stand out to me in many classic Japanese novels. Needless to say, I loved this book... would read it again. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!
I cant believe its 2017 (and soon to be February) ... how did that happen? 

These Parsley Flowers are my New Years icon. They are a representation of my summer garden. I know it's the turning of summer when the parsley flowers. They then symbolise the changing seasons in my life, as I stop and start reflecting on the new year. I have much to reflect on... health, study, career, relationships & learning better to live in the now....

I have wondered alot about how much I want to put here in my blog space about my big year ahead, but I came to the conclusion it's a pretty big thing, and I think it may affect my blog alot. So...

After a 12-18 month journey through lots of pain, and a myriad of therapuetic options, I'm now 3 weeks away from a hip replacement.. and I simply can't wait. So I apologize in advance for some absences...

After recovering from that, I have plans to return to study & so much more....

Very soon I'll be posting my reviews for the Japanese Literature Challenge- 3 book reviews to add and some podcasts. I will also post my review of january's summer activities, cos I really had a great time, despite managing pain.

I leave you with this image of the hopping mouse figurine from my girlfiends backyard... it reminds me to be cheeky!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Book of Tea: Kakuzo Okakura

I read this as part of my participation in the Japanese Literature Challenge, and really enjoyed it. As mentioned in the clip above, this was published at the turn of the 20th century, but regardless of its age, it was still relevant in today's times. I just wanted to share some quotes...

"Tea began as a medicine and grew into a beverage. In China, in the eighth century, it entered the realm of poetry as one of the polite amusements. The fifteenth century saw Japan ennoble it into a religion of aestheticism—Teaism......a cult founded on the adoration of the beautiful among the sordid facts of everyday existence."

"It is in the Japanese tea ceremony that we see the culmination of tea-ideals. Our successful resistance of the Mongol invasion in 1281 had enabled us to carry on the Sung movement so disastrously cut off in China itself through the nomadic inroad. Tea with us became more than an idealisation of the form of drinking; it is a religion of the art of life. The beverage grew to be an excuse for the worship of purity and refinement, a sacred function at which the host and guest joined to produce for that occasion the utmost beatitude of the mundane."

"A special contribution of Zen to Eastern thought was its recognition of the mundane as of equal importance with the spiritual. It held that in the great relation of things there was no distinction of small and great, an atom possessing equal possibilities with the universe. The seeker for perfection must discover in his own life the reflection of the inner light."

The whole ideal of Teaism is a result of this Zen conception of greatness in the smallest incidents of life. Taoism furnished the basis for aesthetic ideals, Zennism made them practical.

"The Taoist and Zen conception of perfection, however, was different. The dynamic nature of their philosophy laid more stress upon the process through which perfection was sought than upon perfection itself. True beauty could be discovered only by one who mentally completed the incomplete. The virility of life and art lay in its possibilities for growth. In the tea-room it is left for each guest in imagination to complete the total effect in relation to himself. Since Zennism has become the prevailing mode of thought, the art of the extreme Orient has purposefully avoided the symmetrical as expressing not only completion, but repetition"

"Thus they sought to regulate their daily life by the high standard of refinement which obtained in the tea-room. In all circumstances serenity of mind should be maintained, and conversation should be conducted as never to mar the harmony of the surroundings. The cut and color of the dress, the poise of the body, and the manner of walking could all be made expressions of artistic personality"

I really enjoyed this book, and also found links to free audio editions. Its 7 chapters focus on different elements of the art of tea, including schools of tea, Taoism & Zennism, the tea room, art, flowers & the tea masters. If you're interested in tea, rituals, and Japanese culture I recommend it.