Wednesday, March 29, 2006

February and March Reading List

State of the Union and Democratic Response -- interesting, frustrating, well done in spots, worth reading, especially if you want to feel like an informed citizen and happened to be working on the night when it was delivered.

1984 by George Orwell -- I'm listening to it while I crochet and it very much gives me things to think about... disturbing in its "this-could-happen-ness". I love his thoughts around language and newspeak. I had to return it before I was finished with it... bummer. I'll pick it up again sometime, I'm sure.

Papal Encyclical given by Pope Benedict XVI -- I was quite impressed both with writing and organization and with his dealings with the subject matter. Some of it is really, really Catholic, and many parts are good challenges for any Christian. I have a much different opinion of this pope now than I did before I read the encylical.

The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman -- Excellent! Fantasy / future novel with quite a bit of substance -- theology, sociology, philosophy,... -- as well as entertainment value. The first in a trilogy called His Dark Materials. I love the way he gives people's souls form with daemons (each character has a different animal that "personifies" his or her psyche).

Out of Her Mind: Women Writing on Madness -- a compilation of essays of mental illness and its treatment. It includes pieces by Dorothea Dix, Nellie Blye, Charlotte Perkins Gillman, Kate Millet, Zelda Fitzgerald, and other famous women writers. Interesting fact: madness (hysteria) was originally connected very strongly with women and their wombs (hyster=womb). This book does a good anecdotal history of mental illness as it affects women.

The Hours by Michael Cunningham -- I love his writing style! And the way he interweaves the stories is fascinating. It's one of those that I'm having a hard time putting down (which hasn't happened for a while). I'm going to have to read Mrs. Dalloway next, because The Hours is strongly based on that story, evidently. It does have several hard themes... but deals with them well, I think. (Also, it was made into a movie, which is quite good as well.)

The Odd Sea -- like the jacket says, a good book for a first novel. I wasn't hugely impressed, but it was worth reading. I'm sure that if this author writes more he will find himself quite sucessful. I didn't quite get the connection with the Odyssey, though, or with Hamlet (both of which were invoked).

It's not Easy Being Green -- quotes from Jim Henson and about Jim Henson. Cute little book and extremely quick read.

The Trouble With Poetry by Billy Collins -- great collection of poetry (his newest, I think). He is quite quickly climbing my list of favorite poets!

Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh -- I had a really hard time getting through this but read it on Seth's recommendation. Thus, it must be that some people (like Seth) really enjoy the book and find the dialogue witty and fascinating, while others (like me) find it too Jane-Austen-esque to be very interesting... So perhaps you all should try reading it sometime and tell me what you think!

Sunday, March 19, 2006

More exciting news...

I now am the owner of two beautiful and very nice cats. Elsa, 1 year old and gray and white, is super skinny right now because she just decided to eat this morning after starving herself for four or five days -- she'll get more beautiful as she fattens up again. Gabby is a gorgeous 2-year-old brown tabby with white nose, bib, and paws. She has a permanent grumpy-face -- her nose is too big and her ears are set too far back -- but she is one of the sweetest cats I've ever met (which is saying a lot!). They both slept with me last night (progress, as they haven't up to this point been able to be on the bed together) -- Elsa at my calves and Gabby under the covers by my side. They are both huge cuddle-butts but are getting more playful as they get more used to their surroundings. I'll try to post pictures as I have them (and as I figure out how to get pictures from my camera onto the computer).

Can you tell I'm excited about having cats? It's been five years (way too long!) without cats...

Oh, and I got fabric to make curtains for my apartment. How exciting! Now, if only I had my sewing machine and sewing box here with me... Thanks to Shelly for letting me borrow hers.

But for now, my apartment looks hurricane-ravaged. So it's off to do some cleaning before I head to Stockbridge Festival Chorus.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Help! Too many beautiful cats!

I'm in the process of picking a cat (or possibly two). Here are my choices at this point:
Lyra -- white calico with lots of energy, eight months old. Like MacGyver (my brother's cat) in that once she starts playing, she never wants to stop, but she can be quite affectionate in the right moment.
Gabby -- gray tiger (looks like Ernie, one of my former cats). Shy but not defensive. 2 years old, trusting, definite lap cat. Not sure how playful she is... Great motor.
Brie -- black with white nose, eight weeks old. Kitten-like playfulness. Doesn't really like being held but is sociable and would probably become moreso.
Elsa -- white with gray splotches, one year old. Lap cat and shy but more curious and outgoing than Gabby. Also has a good motor.
Such a hard decision...! Any suggestions? =)
PS: as of today (Monday), I think I'm going to adopt Gabby and Elsa tomorrow... we'll see...

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Exciting news...

Some of you heard that my original housing situation stopped working a while ago -- personal and farm conflicts made it a bit of an unpleasant place to live. I've been living in a room in a tiny house, but I applied for another house on farm. I was just told yesterday that I was given the apartment in Avalon!! Avalon is a family house with an apartment attached, and the family that will be moving in is a great family. Stephanie and Matthew are my age with a very well-behaved son named Benjamin (now 14 months) and another baby on the way. My apartment is attached to their house and yet is enough separate that I can completely treat it as my own space -- the best of both worlds (shared housing and individual housing). I have a small bedroom, a large living room, and a nice bathroom. Laundry is in the basement (I'll be sharing it with the McMahons). The house is less than a minute walk from main house and a three minute walk from Topside (the volunteer house). And I can now have a cat!!! It'll take a bit to really move in and figure out what furniture I need / want... and I don't have a phone yet... but I'm uber excited!