Maiju’s Teacup 30/6/2017

This June hasn’t really been very interesting tea-wise.  I’m on One Stone Island, a tiny strip of rocks in the Vaasa Archipelago aka Kvarken and I’m drinking Darjeeling First Flush for breakfast and then Clipper’s Assam in the afternoon. The island has no running water  (or electricity) so I try to minimise the need for washing teapots  (the seawater is cold).

My reading has been more interesting. I read 8 of Jaqueline Winspear’s Maisie Dobbs novels. I got addicted to them and struggled to take a break. Today I finished reading Ben Aaronovich’s Rivers of London. I’ve read the first two books several years ago but I have to admit I remembered only bits and pieces on the second read. I have 4 books of the series now and the library might have more.

The treat I’ve been waiting for has been Tad Williams’ The Heart of what was Lost. I requested the book from the library already several months ago, but didn’t have time to read it then. Also,  I was a bit apprehensive. I first finished reading the Memory, Sorrow and Thorn series (omg) over 20 years ago (omg omg). How would it feel to step back into Often Ard  again? I have re-read the books after that but I still associate it with my teenage years as it was the second long fantasy series I ever read (first one was LotR).

It is kinda weird but only because a few weeks have passed in Osten Ard  while I’ve turned from a teenage dreamer to a mid-thirties woman. I’m getting teary eyed every time Simon or Miriamele or anyone at all that was in the first series is mentioned, let alone steps on the page. I have such vivid memories of reading the series for the first time.

And now I will remember how the rowan blooms snowed around me when I sat on the terrace, reading. Older, still a dreamer.

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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 πŸ˜‰ ). 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 2/5/2017

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It feels like someone would just casually go ahead and stab me with a dagger and then saunter past not even bothering to glance back. It feels like climbing a mountain for years and years and someone already on the top of it giving me a little push downhill just as I’m reaching the treeline.  It feels like those things and many more which I just can’t bother to type right now because what’s the point of writing. 

So, I received my first rejection letter for my novel. I have drained three of those teamugs (black Tetley with honey and milk) after the fact (hour and a half ago). And yet, I don’t feel desperate. I just feel sad that someone read my story and didn’t think it good enough. And I know this is not the last time it’ll happen, but it’s the first, so I’m going to revel in my self pity and eat a lot of chocolate and drink a lot of tea and down a few gins tonight.

But. What I actually really feel like is writing.  

Maiju’s Teacup 24/4/2017

Ginseng oolong in the pot earlier today.

I’m actually already lying in bed and thinking about Hogwarts houses and how there’s a word missing from language. 

I escaped Twitter because there’s some sort of tweevent going on at the Pottermore Twitter in which the Forbidden Forest plays a big part and also big hairy spiders. I’m phobic about big hairy spiders. I don’t mind little hairy ones (unless I see them in a photo where they look huge) or even big hairless ones. When I worked in a bookshop, there was a children’s book about animals that had a tarantula on one edge of the cover. I startled many a customer by screaming and throwing the book across the shop. I do it instinctively, before my brain kicks in.
At the Warner Brothers Harry Potter studio there was Aragog in the ceiling and my friends warned me about it but it was next to a hippogriff so I went and peeked  and ran to Diagon Alley in panic. It seemed like the staff at Diagon Alley were used to calming hysterical arachnophobes.

I digress. As I was still dodging Pottermore tweets I had a short conversation with a friend just about to which Hogwarts house we belonged to. I’m a Hufflepuff. I love being a Hufflepuff. I’m very proud of it. When Pottermore changed I took the Sorting Hat quiz again and it put me in Slytherin. Luckily I remembered my old username for the old version of the site so I could claim back my Hufflepuffity (Huffelpuffance?). About a year later I took another quiz which claimed to be the ultimate foolproof Sorting Hat quiz. It would have put me in Ravenclaw.

I am a big fan of Oh Witch Please podcast. It’s a podcast that looks at the world of Harry Potter  (books, films, irl Quidditch, games etc) from the point of view of narrative theory and feminism. It’s so good and so much fun. If you haven’t listened to it, do yourself a favour and do it now. Or rather after reading this post. 

On the podcast the hosts (or whaddoyoucallem) discuss the different Hogwarts houses and point out that if you sent your own kids to school, you’d only want them to be in Hufflepuff. Because, let’s be real, who wants their kids to learn that you only get into the in-crowd if you have a certain personality trait defined by a conjuror a thousand years ago. Like really. 

So yeah. I’ve been thinking about this and though Hufflepuff doesn’t discriminate anyone, I feel like that’s the feature that sets it apart from the rest of the houses.

‘Suvaitsevaisuus’ is a Finnish word that could be translated into ‘tolerance’. But tolerance has that nasty tang of there being something to tolerate, someone who decides, someone who is the authority and who says: you’re different but I will tolerate that and that somehow raised me above you.

I wish there was a word that suited it better. I guess ‘acceptance’ is another with more neutral connotations.

I’m not explaining this very well. Anyway. Accepting and appreciating people as they are has always been the most important thing for me. The only kind of people I do not appreciate are those who are not ‘tolerant’.

So. To conclude. I guess what I’m getting at that this is why I’m a Hufflepuff. Forever.

I’m going to go to sleep now.

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 πŸ˜―πŸ˜“πŸ˜²