Maiju’s Teacup 1/12/2017 – For the Love of George…

20171128_103746… Eliot.

I am in love with George Eliot. I don’t know if I mentioned this already.

I don’t know why it took me so long to read her work, but I suppose it’s just been one of those things I haven’t got round to. Until last March when the cat was sick and I read Middlemarch.

Admittedly I read it because there was a web series based on it starting (still going) and I wanted to read it before seeing the LIW. But it helped keep my mind off things and whiled away the hours between forcefeeding the cat.

I loved every word of that book and I’m glad I didn’t read it earlier, because I would have missed a lot of the political and societal stuff that it had if I’d read it for example 10 years ago.

Middlemarch was the only Eliot my library had in English so I had to wait until I could afford one of my own.

Every December (for the past 2 years at least) I’ve read a book as a sort of Yule calendar. I choose a book (a classic I haven’t yet got round to) and divide the pages by 24. In Finland we celebrate on Christmas Eve and lie about and relax for a few days after that. So I’m going to read 28 pages of Danied Deronda so I can finish the book as my first Yule present.

I’m following a podcast called Bonnets at Dawn which is about 19th Century literature by female authors (originally Austen vs. Brontë but they have branched out a bit… or a bit more). The people making and listening the podcast are among the nicest bunch of people. I’ve made many new friends and a frequent question on the podcast is to choose between Austen or Brontë. I’d have gone the Austen way before March, but now I’m an Evans girl through and through.

And I’ve only read one of her books!!! But it makes it even more special. I remember when I read Austen for the first time. I rushed through all the six main novels in a week or two. I never really warmed up to the Brontës, but apparently I’d been reading books by the wrong sister. But now I have George Eliot, and I have all the time in the world to read her books and enjoy every carefully chosen word, every jab at the patriarchy and prejudices against women, every layered meaning on those pages.

I feel like I’m cultivating a new and deep relationship that is just going to get better and deeper as I read more of her books and more about her life.

I’m going to have a Yule romance with George Eliot.

(If you want to follow my exploits into Daniel Deronda, I use the hashtag #MaYuleRead on Twitter and Instagram. If you want to take up the habit of a Yule Read, I’d love to hear about it!)

And in the cup above I have there Wild Pu’er, that just keeps getting more delicious the more I steep it and the older it gets.

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Maiju’s Teacup 9/8/2017 – Book Lovers’ Day

I was so totally not aware that there was a book lovers’ day before I checked the trending tag on Twitter this morning. I’ve been missing actual books lately, as I have had a few books that I’ve had to read on my tablet. The reason for this is that they won’t appear on my eReader, apparently for love nor money. I prefer the eReader which has no backlight and is much smaller than my tablet. Why not get the real book then? Whell, young grasshopper, it just was the cheaper option, which is what I’ve had to settle for recently.

My local library has been really good this past year. I’ve only been able to afford to buy a few books and I’ve had to be very selective on those. Mostly I’ve just sent a request for the library to get the book and if they didn’t, basically I’ve had to forget about it. Or, well, add it to the list of books that I’ll get when I have money again. The latest book to arrive from my library requests was Tad Williams’ The Witchwood Crown. It’s so nice to step into a familiar world but to be on the cusp of a totally new story. The book is huge, though. Like a regular Tad Brick. You could murder someone with that book. Or build a cairn. Or use it as a headstone. Every time I drop it on my face, I imagine my obituary. And then I think about my cousin’s wedding to which I’m going on Saturday and that I don’t want to turn up there with a black eye.

Reading can be a dangerous business. So look out, and Happy Book Lovers’ Day!

2017-08-09

Maiju’s Teacup 8/5/2017

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Today there’s hibiscus in my teacup. I took stock of all of the tea I have left and found this and a lot more tea in my cupboard. I did finally manage to fit my teas on three shelves (see photo at the end of post). That’s totally a miracle, as I used to have two whole cupboards of the stuff in my last flat, and those cupboards had much deeper shelves than these.

I’ve been trying to avoid reading Marie Brennan’s In the Sanctuary of Wings. The trouble is, it’s the last book in the series and I totally and utterly do not want for the series to end. The protagonist claims that who would be interested in reading about her dull experiences in the ordinary day life of a scholar: I WOULD!!!

But yeah, I get it. It’s good for series to end at some point and good for the author to be able to move onto the next thing which inspires her. I’ve just enjoyed the Lady Trent series so much that I’m going to miss it a lot.

I love fantasy series with female protagonists. They aren’t as rare anymore, but when I started reading fantasy, there were a lot of books about teenage boys and young men finding, fighting, flying dragons. It might have been just the selection of books the local library had decided on. But still, when I grew up, fantasy was considered somewhat of a boy’s department. Well, I never cared for such “rules” and read everything anyway. But I love series such as Lady Trent and Kristen Britain’s The Green Rider. The next part of The Green Rider is waiting for me on my eReader so when I’ve finished at least one book, I get to start that.

Another writer who has always been close to my heart, surprise surprise, is Neil Gaiman. I requested our library to get his The View from the Cheap Seats, which is a collection of his non-fiction. Speeches and introductions etc. I requested the book a year ago when it came out and finally last week the library got it (I guess they had to wait for the paper back edition). I’ve been taking my time, reading those pieces as inspiration and, I guess, when I would like a few moments to talk with a friend.

I have never met Mr. Gaiman (though he was at Hay Festival a few years ago, but missed him because of my friend’s sister’s pesky high school graduation party 😉 ). But before I read his novels, I never really believed anyone could actually be interested in the stuff I really wanted to write. I hadn’t ever read (nor ever since) quite something like what he wrote, except that they resonated with my dreams and the stories I made up in my mind.

I think I found his blog a few months after he started writing it and I kept going back to it. Reading the non-fiction collection reminds me of those “good old days” when he blogged, if not daily, at least weekly. I get nostalgic about events that he describes which I first read about in his blog. It’s fun to actually read the speeches that he mentioned having given. It also reminds me of the person I was at the time when I first read about them. That’s why I feel like reading The View from the Cheap Seats is a much more social experience than your regular book.

I guess I’m even writing this blog because I used to read Mr. Gaiman’s blog (well, still do, if he ever blogs).

Alright, still daylight left to write (two hours, the sun barely sets anymore).

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Maiju’s Teacup 3/5/2017

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So, my morning tea nowadays is a very nice Darjeeling First Flush I’ve bought, at some point, from Kofeiinikomppania in Oulu. It’s really nice, fresh and does not crave milk. I started reading Victor Hugo’s The Notre-Dame of Paris (which is the same as The Hunchback of Notre Dame). The edition I have is in Finnish and it has been printed in 1915. Someone has added an Ex libris on the name page which says the previous (or at least probably the first owner) got it in the summer of 1918.

I have always had a very warm relationship with Victor Hugo. Up until I read Les Miserables when I was 13, I did not really believe I was into thick and long classics. I had only ever read Montgomery, Alcott, Finnish YA novels and The Lord of the Rings. I revelled in Les Miserables. It’s just so beautiful. I read several of Victor Hugo’s novels and plays after that, made a presentation of him for class in school and named my second goldfish after Victor Hugo’s father (Leopold Sigismund – now that’s a perfect name for a goldfish). I read this book then as well, but a later, corrected translation that I borrowed from the library. I got this edition a few years later.

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Yesterday, when I got the first rejection letter for my novel, it did two things for me. The first was to ground me, and the second one to motivate me.

In the evening I filled out a few job applications and tomorrow I have my first interview for a job. It’s nothing mind-blowing, but it’s more money. It’s a year-long contract with a steady salary and extra rewards for good work. That’s more than I got from my last job.

The motivation bit is a really good thing. I occasionally feel a bit anxious about whether or not I’m ever going to make it. And it’s sometimes hard to start writing. I experienced that feeling today. But I had to only glance at the letter, to feel a surge of energy and start writing again. It sort of clears my head.

And I’m really glad. I did not know how it would affect me, having never done this before. I feared that when someone rejected my novel, I’d crumble in a heap and hide and think I will never ever get anything published. But really, if anything, the opposite has happened. I know I am a writer. I know my text is good enough to be published. It’s just going to take some time to find the right fit of a publisher. And until then, I’m going to write.

Maiju’s Teacup 23/4/2017

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This photo is a few days old *audible gasp*. I’m drinking peppermint infusion from that cup in the photo.

Today is Shakespeare’s Birth/Deathday, World Book Day, St. George’s Day, and the day of the book and the rose, which is basically just the Finnish version of World Book Day.

I decided to honour World Book Day by giving up reading a few books that just weren’t doing it for me. Muriel Barbery’s The Life of Elves was just plain confusing and uninteresting and I was lucky to give it up, because I checked the ratings later and found out from reviews that it’s the first book of a duology. Which means that had I struggled through it, the story wouldn’t have finished.

Yesterday I picked up Anthony Trollope’s The Way We Live Now. I’ve had it for years, and I remember watching the BBC mini-series, but I don’t have much of an idea what happened in the end. I just felt like reading something from the time when George Eliot was writing. I don’t know… This one’s so obviously written by a man. And I don’t like any of the characters. But I guess I’ll finish it to see whether Sir Felix Carbury (I always read the name Cadbury in my mind) will get his comeuppance. I really hope he does.

The photo above is actually from Friday when the weather was abysmal and I was reading Neil Gaiman’s Norse Mythology and the book about Hygge. It’s all the rage apparently. Not sure if it’s that anywhere else but in Finland. Oh well. Anyway, I took it upon me to try hyggeing and I guess I succeeded. Tea, book, blanket, storm outside, good food.

Yesterday and today the weather has been much better. It’s still not very warm, but the sun has been shining. The house I live in has a huge, and I mean HUGE yard. It’s just enormous. At least for the fact that it’s almost in the middle of the town. No one really takes care of the yard, so yesterday when I went to the store to get milk, I bought a rake. I’ve spent several hours raking the yard yesterday and today. It’s just the best workout there is! Outside in the sunshine, doing something that has a wider effect, letting the suffocated plants from under years of dead leaves. And last night when I went to sleep, every one of my muscles ached. Today it’s been a bit better, but still. It’s nice to get excercised so sneakily.

Here are some anemone’s I found in the yard.

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Maiju’s Teacup 11/4/2017

I’m spending the day on the kitchen sofa. It’s not as soft as the living room couch but I can hear the rain better from this side of the house. I have a blanket, a pile of books and Gingseng Oolong which I got for birthday.

I’m progressing in Middlemarch into the more dramatic events 😯😓😲

Maiju’s Teacup 28/3/2017

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March is over soon!! Come back March! Although I miss the hour stolen by daylight “saving” more than the month. I think I got quite a lot done in March. Besides finishing a pretty good edit of the novel manuscript, I wrote several short stories and read enough books.

April’s going to be yet another writing month. I signed up for Camp NaNoWriMo. I’m going to at least try to get 1K words written per day.

I’m reading Lauren Graham’s Talking As Fast As You Can and she mentions a writing technique that I realise I’ve pretty much been using successfully. It’s funny (not) how you can read about a thing and when you try the thing in the framework of it’s thing-yness, it doesn’t work. But when you work for a few years and come up with the same thing yourself, only more in your own framework, it works like a charm.

The cat is doing a bit poorly at the moment, but we are going to the vet tomorrow for blood tests. I fear she might have anemia, but I’ll be relieved if it’s just that. I’m a bit mad at myself and the previous vet that they didn’t take the tests last time. It would have saved me a trip and a lot of worry and money. But I’m progressing with reading Middlemarch. Apparently I only read it when the cat is sick.

Anyway, I’m going to try to keep writing yet a bit more today, surprise.

The huge mug of tea (my regular size = 1 litre) is Tetley black tea with milk and a bit of brown sugar. Yes, it’s that kind of day.