Book Reviews, Thoughts

Some Thoughts on “Ghostwritten”

Ghostwritten book cover imageDavid Mitchell’s brilliant debut novel, Ghostwritten, is a mesmerizing journey across space and time — an adventure that spans the globe and is told by nine different characters each in their own voice.

At first, I was overwhelmed with the depth of the story — trying to figure everything out, but when I relaxed and focused on the telling — well, I was hooked!

Mitchell’s language is beautiful, his characters compelling and the story is a wild ride. This book, subtitled “A novel in nine parts” is narrated in turn by an Okinawan cult-member turned terrorist, a music aficionado in Tokyo; an unscrupulous lawyer working in Hong Kong; an ancient Chinese woman tea shop owner; a disembodied spirit in Mongolia; a beautiful Russian art thief; a writer from London; a brilliant Irish physicist; and a late-night radio talk show host in New York. The author effortlessly connects these narratives through coincidences and chance encounters much like an accomplished juggler deftly adds odd objects to his collection of moving balls without missing a beat.

Reading Ghostwritten was akin to having a vivid, otherworldly dream — the kind that dissipates into a mist upon awakening leaving only wispy impressions of its meaning. A book that invites you to read it again and yet again, each time discovering some new truth.

I recommend this book to book clubs and anyone who enjoys a convoluted, layered tale whose theme is open to interpretation. There is a lot to talk about in this book.

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Book Reviews, Thoughts

Becoming

I admired Michelle Obama before I read Becoming, from hearing her speak on TV, reading about her in magazine articles and seeing her on various talk shows. After reading her book, I admire her even more.

Her book is a smart, funny and relatable glimpse into her life as she embarked on her journey to become. There were many moments in this memoir that brought me to tears, stories that made me smile and words that rang true to my heart. Throughout her narrative, I felt her warmth, honesty, kindness, humanity and generosity of spirit.

Reading Becoming brought me more awareness of my own privilege in this world, and provided me with a wider perspective on life behind the White House doors and a deeper understanding of the experience of what it was like to be the First Black American Family in America’s history.

I recommend this book to anyone who likes to read memoirs and autobiographies, especially of strong, intelligent, warm women of today.

Around & About, Thoughts

LRT vs SkyTrain – A closer look at land-use / scope / timeline

This reblogged post from Urban Surrey will be of interest to those who reside in Surrey, BC and are curious about the ongoing conversation about public transportation in the city.

UrbanSurrey

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Since my last post on the differences between the proposed LRT and SkyTrain generated much discussion – I felt it would be good to highlight in more detail – the key land-use, route, and scope differences between the 2 routes. Generally, as outlined in my previous post:

  • The proposed LRT route along 104 Avenue and King George Blvd: serves Surrey’s two most urban corridors, 2 largest Town Centres, and a number of major destinations along each route. Each route is designated to handle the bulk of Surrey’s urban growth and revitalization over the next few decades.
  • The alternative SkyTrain route along Fraser Hwy: While it is unclear what a SkyTrain extension would look like given the shortfall in funding to build it to Langley, it is likely that with the $1.65 billion currently available, that it would have to be phased – with Phase 1 of SkyTrain going as far as Fleetwood…

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Around & About, Beauty, Nature, Parks

Summer Memories


I am trying out a new web-based service, IFTTT, that connects all your web services (Instagram, WordPress, Twitter, Gmail, etc.) together — like sharing your Instagram photos to your WordPress blog.

The flower photo above was shared to this blog post via this service automatically when I posted it on Instagram a few minutes ago.

IFTTT is easy to set up and works fairly seamlessly, but I think that I would like to do more exploring before I start using it in earnest. I like to have more control over the look and feel of my posts, and I noticed in the dashboard of IFTTT, I can choose when/how the image will be posted on my blog. I had it set to the default, which is “publish immediately”, but I found that there are other publishing options: “save as a draft” or “publish privately.”

The next time I do this, I will choose “save as a draft” which makes a lot sense to me. This will give me the opportunity to tweak the post, add tags, or even delete the post altogether.

It is an easy way to get my instagram posts on to my wordpress site and that makes me happy!

Now if I could only convince Facebook to allow WordPress to publicize my blog posts to my FB timeline — who’s with me?

View the photo on Instagram.
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Poetry

Saturday is for Poets

Peaceful photo
photo by Joel Sorenson via Pexels

I have neglected this blog for sooo long — now I am determined to get back into writing and posting on a regular basis. I’ve missed it.

It’s Saturday and raining — I am tired from a long, stressful work week. I need some quiet, reflective hours to rejuvenate and balance my racy mind. I am sitting here with a cat on my lap, a cup of tea, attempting to write something meaningful. (Well, meaningful to me at least!)

When I am feeling out of sorts, stressed or frazzled, poetry often comes to mind. I love to read poems at times like these — a poet’s words drift easily through and around my mind, mingling with my own emotions, coalescing into a meaning that is more feeling than thought. It’s calming and regenerative. I am thankful that poetry seems to be gaining in popularity these days.

I have been reading some new-to-me poetry, discovering works that I love and yearning to find more. My favourite reads will always be in the form of novels, but I am looking forward to broadening my literary experiences with more poetry and other forms of art. Suggestions? I would love to try your favourite poets!

One poet that I have getting to know is Rupi Kaur. Her lovely books of poetry are everywhere and her engaging expressions are a delight to delve into.

This is one of my [new] favourites:

i thank the universe
for taking away
everything it has taken
and giving to me
everything it is giving

balance ~ rupi kaur, from Milk and Honey

 

Earth Day, Environmentalism, Nature

Consider That Dot…

Happy Earth Day!

Earth image
Photo from: Nasa The Martian horizon at twilight

If you look closely at this photo, you will see a tiny bright spot to the left of center. That bright evening star is the Earth as seen from the surface of Mars!

In my inbox this morning, I found an article that included a video of Carl Sagan’s inspiring speech regarding our beautiful home, Earth. This speech is taken from his book, Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space.

Sagan wrote about the photograph (known the Pale Blue Dot) taken by the Voyager I space probe in 1990, which shows how insignificant our planet is in the vastness of space.

Listening to this talk brings up a lot of emotion — how insignificant our egos are in our tiny world, how vulnerable our home is, which underscores the importance of cherishing the Earth and everyone who lives here.

Watch the video below — it also includes the text of Mr. Sagan’s writing. Let’s do more than celebrate Earth Day once a year — let’s all do as much as we can to preserve our home and cultivate love for all of our earthly denizens.

I have to say that Earth Day snuck up on me this year — granted, I’ve been busy the past few weeks, but I really wasn’t paying attention. I must admit that I have been sliding a bit on “green” living lately (*smiles sheepishly). Oh, sure — I bring my cloth bags on shopping trips and I compost my organics (it’s a city bylaw!), but I find myself slipping back into old habits — such as buying foodstuffs that are sold in plastic containers or wraps, and using chemical cleaners instead of making my own natural ones.

After watching this video, I am renewing my efforts to live in ways that will help my planet and everything on it.

Some resources you may be interested in (this is a small sample of the ideas, tips & advice available on online):
Plastics, Food Packaging & Non-Toxic Living
Join the Fight to End Plastic Pollution
100 Tips to a Plastic Free Life

11 Easy Ways to Reduce Your Plastic Waste Today

Fun & Games, Mindfulness, Poetry

I Went Downtown — TBT

Child's drawing image
Photo: from Pixabay

On my way home today, I noticed some children in the school yard, laughing and singing while playing a clapping game in groups of two.  As their happy voices chanted a rhyming song, I was transported back in time (way, way back!) to my own school days, when my friends and I would spend recess jumping rope to a warble of skipping songs.

This is the song that came to mind as I passed by the kids in the playground. Do you remember this skipping chant?

I went downtown to see Mrs. Brown
She gave me a nickel to buy a pickle
The pickle was sour; so I bought a flower
The flower was dead; so I bought some thread;
The thread was thin; so I bought a pin;
The pin was sharp; so I bought a harp;
The harp played:
Johnny by the ocean,
Johnny by the sea,
Johnny broke a bottle and blamed it on me.
I told Ma,
Ma told Pa,
And Johnny got a lickin’, so hahaha!
How many lickins’ did he get — 1, 2, 3, 4…

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Mindfulness Thought

The body heals with play, the mind heals with laughter and the spirit heals with joy.
~ Unknown

Art, Cats, Poetry

A Cat, A Comics Artist & A Haiku

Cat Image
Phoebe’s Portrait

Last year,we contributed to the Kickstarter project Furr: A Comic Anthology About Cats. This project was the brainchild of Alex Park, the founder of Tabulit, an online publishing platform committed to building a creative economy for indie webcomic artists and providing a platform for comic lovers to read and subscribe to a range of comic genres.

As part of our contribution to the Kickstarter campaign, we were entitled to receive an original portrait of our cat done by one of the artists featured in the anthology, along with a printed copy of the anthology.

After looking through the artists, we decided to choose to have our cat’s picture done by Ross Brownell-Dupont. Ross is a talented illustrator and comics artist with a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Emily Carr University of Art & Design. He works in ink, watercolour and pen.

A few days ago, we received Phoebe’s portrait in the mail — we were so excited! Ross’ work delighted us — we couldn’t have been more pleased. What do you think? Isn’t she beautiful? And we think that Ross captured her character perfectly.

If you are interested, Ross is available for commission work. You can reach him at rbrownelldupont@gmail.com

If you want to read some excellent webcomics, check out Tabulit — you can even read my daughter’s work there!

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Hey! I haven’t forgotten that it is Haikuesday! I composed this little poem for my lovely Phoebe.

Cat, you calmly sit
staring with determined will
a bird trills a note

Beauty, Poetry

A Little Poetry on Sunday Night

Magnolia imageThe hour is late on this Sunday evening — time to get ready for sleep. It’s quiet, I’m yawning and looking forward to slipping under the covers and drifting into dreamland.

I have been thinking about poetry a lot these past weeks — it is National Poetry Month, after all! I have been remembering the poems that I read and loved in my younger days. I used to read quite a bit of poetry back then. Hmm… maybe it’s time to get back to this lovely art form.

I’m interested to try some of the trending poetry books out now — Milk and Honey, and The Sun and Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur or The Princess Saves Herself in This One by Amanda Lovelace. Poetry sure seems to be in vogue these days!

But back to my reminiscing. I was remembering the poets I used to read: William Wordsworth, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, William Blake, Carl Sandburg, Christina Georgina Rossetti, e. e. cummings and Emily Dickinson — and thinking about the emotions and thoughts that their poems evoked. So many beautiful poems… some simple and easy, others requiring deeper probing. All of them beautiful in form and sound.

Here is one of my favourites. I think it is appropriate for this time of the year!

May-Flower

Pink, small, and punctual,
Aromatic, low,
Covert in April,
Candid in May,

Dear to the moss,
Known by the knoll,
Next to the robin
In every human soul.

Bold little beauty,
Bedecked with thee,
Nature forswears
Antiquity.

~ Emily Dickinson

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Mindfulness Thought

Sleep is the best meditation. ~ the Dalai Lama