Monday, October 31, 2011

Almost there now!!

You will excuse me not blogging last weekend but I was busy decorating my studio. It's nearly ready!!! It needs a little more paint and stain and some cabinetry building and some furniture ordering and some cushions ordering but only the paint and stain will stop me beginning to move in and thats a matter of days now. Yipee!!! I am so excited. Photos of the moved into studio will follow in due course.

And now for the shameful confession. I have never done any decorating. Ever. Bar painting a bit of furniture. Mostly because if you casually say to my Dad ," I'm thinking that the dining room might need decorating soon" his usual response is ," I can't get down to do it until Tuesday". He loves it. And all my life I have been under the impression that he had special super-skills and that he clearly changed into his decorating pants in a phonebox. And due to my failure to ever decorate in my life I think my parents thought that my practical abilties were such that I'd struggle to work out how to open the door of a phonebox.

But here's the thing. Decorating is fun. Lots of fun. And cutting in is not some high precision engineering task. It's painting in a straight line with a brush. I did I think seventeen or so hours at the weekend and didnt want to stop. Turns out its like dyeing fabric. Start with boring, add colour, get pretty. What's not to love?

So tell me, what else have I been missing out on? This splitting the atom stuff... Just like unpicking a seam, right?

Friday, October 28, 2011

A Mr B's Reading Year - November - Thin Blue Smoke, Doug Worgul

Today was an exciting day. Look what was waiting for me when I came home. Aren't you jealous just because of the packaging alone? And I know its not November but it came earlier than expected.

Mrs B's Emporium of Reading Delights in Bath has made one of my blogs before as the first shop where any member of the Twelve by Twelve group spotted a copy of our book in a proper bookshop rather than a quilt shop and subsequently as the shop where I was filmed for the BBC news. So it is fair to say I am predisposed to like it. But, I have to say I was a little sceptical of its latest innovative gift offering - A Mr B's Reading Year. In effect this is a postal version of their Reading Spa only it lasts for longer and you have to supply your own cake. ( Although, now I have said that it would not suprise me if a 'with added brownie' version of the gift is launched soon.) The idea is that they spend sometime getting to know you and your taste in books , either in person or by telephone or email. Then, each month except January, when you are presumed to have Christmas books ( and I assume the staff to be too knackered after the Christmas rush to be bothered) you get a personally chosen book with a note explaining why it was sent for you, written by your own personal bibliotherapist.

Now, the idea is great but I did wonder whether it was possible to know enough about the content of enough books and to know the reader well enough to get eleven good matches. But when I was in Bath this time I read three books I would not have picked up had they not recommended them and loved them all. And I am half way through one I did pick up all by myself but, as it was hardback, I would probably have put it back and awaited the paperback, had Ed not enthused about it so much, by the time he had finished, I was cradling it like my child, lest anyone abduct it from me. So I decided to let them challenge themselves on me and bought myself a gift.

This is what was inside my package.

Initial reaction: Doubt. The cover makes it look like a knock off of Angela's Ashes. Which, as a book was great. As the precursor of the misery memoir genre it was not great. But when I turn to the back cover, I understand. Although I have to say, it does not seem that they have had to try very hard. The blurb uses all the key words I would say I, liked in a book iin two sentences : love, friendship, community, race, faith, music, barbecue and the language of rabbis. Actually, on second glance, the Jewish connection turned out to be my mistake. It is about the language of rabbits. but thats quite intriguing too.

It says it is a debut novel ( good because if I like it there is no great expense of getting all the back catalogue) and that the author is in the ranks of chroniclers of American Life such as John Irving and Garrisson Keillor ( not good as those are two authors I have not read but always knew I probably should and if this book is good I will probably have to buy the back catalogue of TWO authors. And Mr B, if you are reading, no you can't send me those authors the next two months. That's cheating.) Dennis gets a spoiler email to check I do not already have a book they intend to send. His first impression of this book was the same as mine: that it looks like a Fried Green Tomato at the Whistlestop Cafe type of book, which is like saying it is a Helen Mirren type of actress.

So, I just have to finish The Submission by Amy Waldman and I can tuck into this one with good expectations. I read but rarely blog about what I read so I plan to blog my package each month then later tell you what I thought of it. You could buy a copy and read along if you like. If you want the packaging as much as I did Mr B's ( a shop in which incidentally my only financial interest is that they stay open so I can part with money in their premises) now have an internet shop.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A good marriage

A good marriage requires a fair division of household work. So tonight we split tasks between us. Dennis learned how to cook breaded hake,

and I did the washing

And ironing.

Fair, no?!

Teaching technology

Dennis is on a Charles Dickens kick. He has read two biographies of him, has declared that he is going to read all his novels in the next twelve months, went to see Simon Callow perform two of his plays last week and today decided that he really did need John Foresters biography as well. Which is the official one, is reprinted in three volumes and costs over £65. Or, if you buy it on Kindle £2.82. There is, I think a point at which every staunch 'I prefer a book over the evils of Kindle' person reaches their conversion point. Dennis just reached his.

So I began to teach him how to download his book. Twenty seconds later, it downloads. All 900 pages. He is very impressed and has a read of the first few pages to get used to turning pages on the Kindle. So then I show him how to download it from archived items on the Kindle app on the ipad. ( Because someday I might not be such a nice patient wife and I might reclaim my Kindle just when he wants to know what Dickens had for tea the day he finished Little Dorrit.) Of course the Ipad version opens at the place he was at on the actual Kindle. His eyes grow wide.
" So it knows what page I am on?"
" Yup."
He looks at the Kindle and looks at the ipad with renewed respect and then says,
"So, these Kindle and Ipad things. They are female then?"

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Alicia Merritt at the Bishops Palace

Alicia was kind enough to send me an invitation to the private view of her exhibition at the Bishops Palace in Bath. In the end, as we were newly arrived in the area and on New Zealand time we did not make it but went yesterday instead. Whilst I would have enjoyed seeing other people at the event, the counterpoint to that is that we had the room to ourself and were able to enjoy, uninterupted, the effect of seeing the series of quilts. I have seen several of Alicias map quilts seperately in shows but it was inspirational to see a body of work all together.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Caught on film!

We are in Bath at the moment and a visit to Bath means a visit to the wonderful Mr B's Emporium of Reading Delights. Well, thats not quite true. It means several visits, first to pop in and say hello and just enjoy the fact that we are close again, then various visits to buy. We joke that once we have popped in and Mr B knows we are there he and his staff will begin to plant books that are to our tastes that we swear were not there the day we first went. He and his staff talk knowledgably and enthusiastically about books so you can't help but add a few to your pile.

But today their tactics in getting me to buy was unparalleled .... They filmed me reading for the National BBC News!! Here is proof I was on the TV.

Of course I had to buy the book I was reading when I was on national TV. Which was the Victoria Finlay book Colour by the way. We can only blame the excitement for the others that ended up in our bag. And this was not even a buying visit!! Poor Dennis was also filmed but was cut in the editing stages.

By the way, if you are starting to think about Christmas presents for readers you might want to consider a Reading Year gift ... Who would not want to receive eleven packages like this a year?