New Year Resolutions Optional…

Like many people out there, thoughts of what I want to stop or start doing, should do or shouldn’t be doing are going through my head.  Not that I have ever been that kind of person to take these efforts for much more serious, than for instance Horoscopes.  

I could really make a long list, but I think it is best to take each day as it is and learn my life lessons the way they appear.  Rather than think about the possibilites in advance.

I have no control over most things anyway, stay healthy??  That is not in my power, even if you don’t smoke, eat butter, drink booze, eat fat or junk food, there are no guarantees.  Loose weight?? Don’t need to.  Exercise?  I get plenty of that.   Find myself?  I already have!  Find faith?  I am not looking!  Beyond that what is there to resolve to do, that can realistically be achieved(Fame, fortune, beauty, luck?) A lot of people will set themselves up for disappointment.

 I for one will only try not to be dissatisfied with what I have.  That means, not compare myself to others, and take responsibility for my actions and to

earn from my mistakes.  

Happy New Year, may it bring health, happiness and success to all.

Picture not my own…

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Not just 2012 favorite authors…

Here is a list of people who have shaped what I think a good book should be like…

A good book will give you wings, fins, sails, it will make your mind soar and let you love, hate and adore the people you encounter…it will make you laugh and cry and give you hours of happiness….fill your head which will give shape to all the descriptions,  draw the pictures, make the movie…bring them to life( I pitty the younger generations, who do not have the same relationship with books…all they know is what they show them).

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First off, there is House of Spirits by Isabelle Allende, she made me fall  in love with South American writers(don’t expect too much)…gripping story from page one, her descriptive prose brought each and every one of the characters to life, what a let down the movie was, I can not explain, maybe the script writer didn’t get it??? What a flop!  Who knows what happened…probably the same thing that happened to Allende herself, after The Daughter of Fortune, I never bothered to give her another try…

 

That got me started on Gabriel Maria Marques, I really struggled with One Hundred years of Solitude, but Love in the time of Cholera, got me hooked.   Spellbound, like with the distant relatives of the characters of the House of Spirits.  But, the magic did not work for any of his other works either.  Thank God, no one tried to make a movie of that one or if they did, it passed without me noticing.

I loved Frank Kafkas‘ Metamorphosis which I read as a teenager and only remembered when I watched The Fly with Jeff Goldblum sometime in the 80 ies…stupid movie, but Kafkas story left an impression(as I am almost certain, it left on the script writer).

Then in my twenties, I stumbled across Wally Lamb with an unforgettable She’s come undone.  The book, I have owned several times and I waited a long time to hold another book of his in my hands.  Well worth it, both of them, I know this much is true and The hour I first believed and his work with the york women’s correctional writing class.  For me an amazing writer and person.

From there, I must put Steven King somewhere.  Maybe to many his books are to be frowned upon, but I love that ultimate evil against the little good.  I have read every single one of his books and I will not be ashamed, not one of his stories is like any of the others except in the good and evil department.  Trying to get my hands on his latest book soon.  He has the wildest imagination of them all, but Steven King is good to “switch off” to.

An equally mesmerizing novel was The Swarm by Frank Schätzing, a great combination of research, fact, fiction and science fiction.  A finale, that was maybe too science fiction for some, but nonetheless, a wonderful 800+ page of not being able to accomplish anything but keep my nose in the book read(no chance for a movie, thank god, too many things going on to pack into even 2 hrs+)!

Lionel Shriver with We need to talk about Kevin, hat off to her for tackling a psychological issue of an old question:  Are we born Evil or is someone raised to be/do Evil?  A mother’s view of a child turned “Columbine High School”.  Here, you either sympathise with the mother or you blame the mother and if you haven’t read the book, do not bother to try to “get”the movie, You won’t.  Movie despite, lacking in detail was surprisingly good.

There  also Stig Larson and his Trilogie, which sits inside my head and pops up every time I hear the word Sweden…The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was read in my old book club and I will never forget the scolding I got from my friend, when I pulled out the sheets of research I had done on some of the Chapter quotes.  That was the first time, I ever checked out things I read.  It will be the one thing that forever opened my eyes to the fact, that things “prettily described”(the country Sweden is like THE place in the world where women are most equal…)are not just words, but sometimes the opposite as facts.  The YOU SHOULD  NOT BELIEVE EVERYTHING YOU READ ON THE NET does not really stick when you find a report issued by Amnesty International in regard to the situation of  women in the country, along side a lot of other credible sources…)  Be that as it may, his trilogy was an excellent, fresh breath into an old crime/thriller genre…

While I am at it, here is what I think of Elizabeth Gilbert and her Eat Prey Love and Commitments …I think she is full of it…I am being nice.  She came up with what she thinks that  females want to read, and put in everything but her bloody kitchen sink.  Sooo full of cliches, it made me sick!!!  And to think on top of the terrible book, they also made a matching awful movie!  What a disappointment!!!  julia Roberts, what were you thinking????  All these white affluent(by Indian standards) people going to India to find themselves!!!!!  Oh, please! and if Indians or Asians or Africans want to find themselves they come and find an abundance of choices, at least in the U.S.????What is up with that???

And while we are in India, here is another great mind, Aravind Adiga and the White Tiger, maybe Gilbert aught to read this before she starts her next OMMMMM.  A superb story with insight into Indian life.  No British Empire/Colony saga, but a view from pretty much the bottom up with life explained through an allegory in the chicken coop chapter.

Last, there are John Irving and Pat Conroy, for the former, The World according to Garp was my first encounter and I have read every one of his books tlll the Fourth Hand.  A very talented story teller!!  For the latter The Prince of Tides and Beach Music are books, I will never abandon from my shelves, I know at some point in the future, I will read them again.

I am sure I have forgotten some, just like I can not pull the vocabulary out of my brain in French when I most NEED it, but remember it a few minutes later(just after I feel I have made a a fool of myself), but that will have to be some other time!

I have one favor to ask, please leave me a comment with an author you love and why…I am always looking for books to escape with…..

 

 

2012 Review of my favorite books

The first part of 2012 I tried to distract myself from a pretty miserable situation with some literary escapism.  Out of necessity, I had a.) discovered my local library and b.) still a stack of previously ordered and unread books from freshly dissolved book club.

So, I read…more constructive than to dwell further in my misery.
1. Birds without Wings, Louis de Bernieres(Vintage Books 2005)
You may have seen or read Captain Corellis Mandoline, if you liked that, then this is just the right
novel for you. An overview of life in Asia Minor and its bordering countries, but mostly a story that
shows what politics and rising nationalism did the the ethnic groups that lived peacefully side by side.

2. A Million Little Pieces, James Frey(Hachette Livre 2004)
An insight into the life of a junkie in detox. Though a fascinating read, not really all that
believable as an autobiography. I find it highly unlikely that someone who has (ab)used drugs that much
could possibly possess that kind of lyrical poetic eloquence to write let alone complete such an account.

3. The Road, Cormac McCarthy(Random House Division 2006)
This was not one of the most favorite, interesting style, though a thoroughly DARK novel, the style
conjured up a lot of pictures i my head. Very reminiscent of Doom and Gloom movies, and Steven King
books, you get the picture great evil and some of humanities finer qualities, like love, loyalty and
morals.

4. The House on Paradise Street, Sofka Zinovieff(Short Books 2012)
A beautiful story for all who have lived in Greece for a while, a novel which reviews Greek history
through politics. In fact Greece has two sides of this history, this is one side, beautifully
described. (I have met this author during a book club meeting for another book she wrote, Red
Princess)

5. These is my Words, the diary of Sarah Agnes Prine 1881-1901, Nancy E. Turner(Harper Collins 1998)
An amazing story of a young girl growing up in the Arizona Territories, based on actual stories told
by the authors female ancestors. Written diary style, really very well written and hard to put down.

6. Indigo, Cathrine McKinley(Bloomsbury,U.S.A. 2011)
A quest to find the identity and meaning of indigo, not just as the color, dye process or value but
as the cultural imprint indigo(the cloth) left on West Africa. Interesting walk through colonial
exploitation and also the impact of the rise of China in world markets and its repercussions on
the African Continent.
7. The hundred year old man who climbed out of the window and disappeared, Jonas Jonasson(Carl’s books
2011) First book I read in German all year. A wonderful story, narrative, crime, humor and a walk
through the history of the 20th Century. It reminded me right away of Forest Gump. But by no means
a copy cat-ish book. Spell bound and eager to find out the next events, I could not put it down, just
I could not put down Birds without Wings.

Of course I read plenty of other books, but none were as memorable as these. They certainly made me feel better and forget my troubles while I had my eyes stuck to the pages. Always a good remedy for problems!!(not my picture)

Small treasures…

No amount of money can buy you happiness.  The most it can do is make life a little or a lot more luxurious, or whatever term you want to give it.  The meaningful stuff can’t be found in your size nor to your taste.   

Some years the presents we all receive, may be large in numbers, but turn out to be lacking in content and purpose.  Other years it is the thought behind the the smallest gift, that sends tears to your eyes.  Some presents are not meant to please you, but impress others.  Some are mere formalities, bought out of obligation.  Yet others come from a need to easy a guilty conscience.  Some are complete mistakes.

I have received my share of gifts at Christmas and at other occasions, fur and fancy jewelry  they never meant that much to me( fortunately, cause I do not possess them anymore) but the greatest gift I received was my freedom.  I truly believe, it was not meant to be given like this, it was supposed to crush me and belittle me further and before it became reality, I saw it as an exile.  But it turned out to be a step into a sort of rebirth, a new beginning and unburdening sigh of relief.  

 

So, I no longer possess a house(wasn’t mine in the first place), nor a car or a piece of furniture collected for 26 years, nor the watches and ornaments on throat, ears, wrists or fingers but I have gained something much more valuable.  My future, however uncertain lies in front, for me to take charge of and shape.  My past, a collection of pleasant and very unpleasant pictures, is something that I can not change and frankly, do not wish to change, which one would be the one responsible to changed its course?

Freedom means free of a lot of things, like fear, wariness, blame, insults, false accusations and jealousy which bordered on the sick…free to make decisions and mistakes, free to treasure the days that remain, free to raise my boys into men who will treat their women as respected equals and to teach them that responsibility is not something we distribute left and right when things go wrong.Image

Free to be whatever…

free·dom

  [free-duh m]  Show IPA

noun

1.the state of being free or at liberty rather than in confinement or under physical restraint: 
2.exemption from external control, interference, regulation, etc.
3.the power to determine action without restraint.
4.political or national independence.
5.personal liberty, as opposed to bondage or slavery

 

My Christmas wish list

I have a few things that I wish for as a new single parent:

1.  Strength 

2.  Guidance 

3.  Patience 

4.  Good health 

5.  Financial stability 

6.  Tolerance 

7.  Love

8.  Joy

9.  Peace

10. Courage

None of them can not be bought from a store, or the internet nor borrowed….some can be come by with family and good friends, but mostly one has to dig deep inside oneself and conjure them up for the situations which we encounter in our daily lives.  We are the makers of our own destiny and should strive to pass these on to our children.  

I will try my best to work on achieving them every single day from now on…not just Christmas….(picture not my own)Image

 

 

Last minute gift…

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I really loved watching those two English women, Aggie and Kim, in How Clean is your House.  They had the most stylish gloves ever…(how some people can live in that kind of filth, is beyond me, but that’s not what I want to talk about now).

For a long time I have been thinking about those gloves and that they should not be too difficult to make.  This year, with my so changed circumstances, I am kind of short on big money for presents, so I decided to give it a go.

The first pair I worked on, almost made me cry with frustration.  Nothing wanted to stick, where I wanted it, the glue gun went spastic on me.  Before I had time to throw a fit, I dumped everything in a bag and left it at that.

That night pink rubbery hands were after me with bits of lace and fur…and Kim and Aggie were strutting on the kitchen counter in their finest!!!  I hate, when things don’t work out the way I want….

Today, more calm and somewhat inspired by the day before Christmas Eve, I put all the bits and pieces together the way I wanted them and voila…the finished product was not altogether displeasing.  Though I doubt, that it will see any dirty jobs, other than collecting dust in its decorative spot in the kitchen.

Maybe with a bit more practice, I should be able to assemble a pair of stylish and functional rubber gloves like Aggie’s and Kim’s by next Christmas!!

This I made a few years ago….Love and Merry Christmas to all!!

 

 

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…and we are still here

So, the end was not near after all. I don’t think that any tribe or person can really predict the end of the world. Microsoft programs give us till August 31 rst, 4500…but until then, who cares.
I wonder what all those who prepared for the finale feel today? Do they realize how stupid they look? I still have the picture of this French guy in my head from this small town(Bugarach), which supposedly was to be spared by the apocalypse…he looked like Ronald MacDonald on vacation. Why does the press swoop to these places and feed the obvious confusion of these people(or is it just a publicity stunt to put these places on the map? A cheap marketing gimmick)?
They do not look normal, the only thing missing is a self made aluminum foil helmet with antennas…these individuals are offered a platform to voice their ideas, as if reality shows haven’t done enough damage to our society. We all are glued to our sets and enjoy the craziness they spread. Later we wonder why most people will do anything to get their 5 minutes of fame on T.V.
Doom and gloom, blood and gore, gossip and rumor they rule and human sensitivity and reason disappears.

(Picture not my own)

crazy

Totally useless Toys Part 2

I often ask myself what the designers of toys were thinking when they develop their ideas into the finished product.  It really cannot be that they are unaware of the obligations to think about the consequences.  I am not talking about the countless weapons that have been around for many many years, but of companies like Playmobil.

There are not many little boys or girls in Europe who do not own at least a few sets by that company!  They are so educational, so harmless???

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When I saw this road crew set, that is what I thought at first too.  Upon closer inspection though, I realized that the play set included a case with 18 bottles of beer!!!  As grown ups we know of course that road crews have a reputation for drinking, right??  That is so presumptuous and prejudiced!!!  And we go right along with that???  Question by a little one:  “Mommy, what are the bottles for?”  “Oh, sweety, that is beer.  You know, those workers get so thirsty after all that hard work”  And boom, you have instilled this idea in the head of your child about workers and drinking.  Not really educational…there are already too many things in the life of a child that teaches prejudices of all kinds.  Look at all those pink, purple and pastel colored home making tools available for the little girls….the future housewives of the world.  Even Barbie has a vacuum cleaner!!  All little boys get tool sets, as if they were all going to be Bob the Builder!  I read that in Sweden, children have “gender friendly” Christmas gift lists…I still am doubtful about the father, who will easily agree to give his son a doll for christmas.  Better than the drunken Playmobil worker! 

Totally useless Gifts Part 1

 

 

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The other day I came across a huge article, almost full page about last minute, special gift ideas for the kid that has it all by a totally whacko parent(my opinion).  I don’t think the author of the article was praising these products.  You can hardly ever use the term Gob-smacking unless you are English, but this term is spot on.

For me the 9/11 coloring book and evil terrorist trading cards are a truly tasteless example of merchandising, who but an American entrepreneur could come up with an idea like this?

The 9/11 coloring book with endless images from crashing towers, screaming victims and onlookers and a sniper guarded G.W.Bush is G rated fun for the young.  Easy language provides the background information on the event.  Bonus material the faces of evil terrorist cards!!!  Unbelievable??  

This takes a star position in my book.  Worse though, is that there are probably enough stupid people out there in the land of women hating, gun toting, tea party, creationists who will await the squeals of delight of their young ones on Christmas morning!

You got to hand it to that brain behind this, that filled that missing product gap!  Maybe he is already working on the follow-ups…mass shootings at schools, malls and cinemas