Refuse to be Passive

Archive for November, 2009|Monthly archive page

It Takes Time- The Secret to Reading “The English Patient”

In Art, Life in General on November 28, 2009 at 11:15 pm

Have you ever had a book that you’ve been reading against a deadline and you feel like your slogging through it? I’ve had my fair share of those books, and one of them I’m reading again, for a third time. This is my third time through Michael Ondaatje’s “The English Patient” and it will be the first time I actually finish it. I think last time I was 30 pages short. Sad, I know. This time is different than the last two times though. This time, I am enjoying it. And the secret to enjoying it is actually found within the book itself, in reference to another novel. In one of the Chapter’s, Hana is reading to The English Patient from “Kim” by Rudyard Kipling. Those of you who don’t know the story will know the Disney spin off of “The Jungle Book.” I’ve never read “Kim” but it’s now on my reading list. But within a conversation regarding this book, is the secret to reading “The English Patient.”
“Read him slowly, dear girl, you must read Kipling slowly. Watch carefully where the commas fall so you can discover the natural pauses. He is a writer who used pen and ink. He looked up from the page alot, I believe….Think about the speed of his pen. When an appaling, barnacled old first paragraph it is otherwise.” (Ondaatje, 94).
You must read Ondaatje slowly. His first love is poetry and you can see it in his writing. There is no push to follow plot, no desire to canter through the novel. Rather, there is careful thought, an acknowledgment that life, unlike the movies our culture puts before us, is not all based on action. Much of it is based on thought, memory, and verbal interacitons with others. To read “The English Patient” quickly, is to lose much of what the book is about. Ondaatje is painfully aware of each word he uses, how it flows, the imagery it creates. We are not reading a Who-Done-It, or anything of the sort. We are slowly getting to know people, characters, in the way you would anyone in the real world. For Ondaatje, it’s not just what you say, but how you say it. Someone said that Ondaatje was the first person to care so much about wording and imagery in writing since the Romantics. I wish I could tell you who said that, but I honestly don’t remember. But they’re right. In an age when it’s about getting a message across, he take the meandering route.
When you read “The English Patient” make sure you take a break every twenty pages or so to let what you’ve read sink in. If you try to read it in long bouts, you will feel exhausted and overwhelmed by the imagery and sheer beauty of the writing. If you take a step back, grab a cup of tea, and then come back to it, you will find yourself refreshed, and yearning to find out more about the characters– who they are and how they got here.
With a beauty few can muster in an age of direct and blunt communication, Ondaatje can weave a story that binds it’s reader to it on a deeper level.


Prank Ideas Please!

In Life in General on November 27, 2009 at 11:44 am

Okay, so I’m looking to prank one of my co-workers, and need some ideas. I want something simple and easy to clean up, so no putting the stapler in Jello. Think of it more as a mystery they have to figure out. Like when I put the stick note on the bottom of his mouse so it wouldn’t work.
Now, my office already knows the trick about taking a picture of the persons screen, setting it as background, and then hiding all the original files, so that one’s out.
Any other brilliant ideas? I could use one…or two or three.

A Rant- Drinking and Driving

In Life in General on November 25, 2009 at 10:22 am

Everyone has heard the saying, “Friends don’t let friends drink and drive.” I have a particularly strong beef with people who get smashed and then drive. For example, this is a status updated on one of my “friends” from Facebook:
“I swear to God, I am the only person that can go out on a Tuesday night, and get smashed, and have the person you’re getting a ride home with who…you’re pretty sure is also smashed, have a cop park right behind his truck waiting for you to leave the pub. Has anybody else had this happen…? This is ridiculous!”
Well first of all “friend” you should be glad that the cop was there waiting for you to leave the pub. It’s called a cab! If you’re dumb enough to get drunk, at least be smart enough to not drink and drive. I’ve lost people I love because of people like you. I’d slap you across the face if you were here with me right now. It’s pretty simple: you get in a truck with someone whose smashed behind the wheel, and you’re not only endangering your own life, but others as well. What gives you that right. What gives you the right to take someone else’s life into your hands. How arrogant and irresponsible. Whatever smidgen of respect I had for you I just lost. How could you? Really, how could you?
And to the cop who was waiting for these guys to leave the pub. Thanks for doing your job. You really do save lives. Next time, see if you can’t find some way to chuck them in jail overnight. Let them think over what they were about to do.

Just a Month

In Life in General on November 24, 2009 at 1:41 pm

It’s only a month until Christmas Eve and I can’t believe how much stuff has to be done before then. I have eight pies to bake, 6 dozen squares, my birthday party to plan, a final term paper to write, a Candlelight Service to plan and practice with the Youth, an overnighter with the youth, Volleyball once a week, swimming, and goodness it makes me tired just thinking about it. So maybe I’ll turn off my brain for a while.
On a totally different note, a friend of mine at work today introduced me to the concept of frozen custard. Apparently it’s all the rage in Wisconsin. Too bad my experience of that state was limited to 24hrs. But now I really want to try it. The downside is that I don’t think there’s anywhere in Edmonton that I could buy it. So, it will have to be homemade. That should be interesting. But I’ve found a recipe and think it will work. And that’s what it will be, work. I don’t have an electric ice cream maker, so this is going to be an interesting experience.

Cinnamon Raisin Bread and Arm-Chair Jesus

In Food, Life in General on November 22, 2009 at 4:31 pm

The smell of cinnamon raisin bread wafts through my house as I type this post. I always find I like my homemade bread more than store bought, yet I make it so rarely. Most of this is due to the fact that it takes a few hours to make, and I rarely have that kind of foresight. I just got off the phone with my mother, who I must confess I don’t call nearly as often as I should. We always have the best conversations regarding life and faith. Our brains work along the same lines, those of a medium-intellectual. Now, you always thought that people are either intellectuals or they’re not. It’s simply not that clear cut. There are ones that are very abstract intellectuals, and others that lean more towards a practical intellectualism, and then there are combinations of both. My mother and I fall in the practical intellectual categories. We enjoy things that we can apply to our lives, rahter than concepts meant purely for debate. So after we updated each other about what was going on in our lives, I told her about a series of magazine articles I just read about how people have adapted God and Jesus into something that fits their lifestyle. From Eco-Jesus to Nice-Guy Jesus, to Arm-Chair Jesus. There were 24 “types” covered in all, and some of them seemed clearly off the mark, and others seemed bang on. One of the things my mom commented on was that God(and Jesus) can fit multiple “types” and that one “type” does not have to exclude all others. God is multi-faceted. How true it is. As humans, this shouldn’t strike us as odd, are we not also multi-faceted? And if we are made in the image of God, then that makes sense. The danger becomes when the god we worship is not the God of the Bible. When we pick and choose which parts of God we want, then we run into trouble. By picking which parts we want, it doesn’t change who God actually is. Bascially, we’re digging a hole for ourselves by deciding who God is, in essence we create a new god, that is easier to follow that the one true God. Have I mentioned that that doesn’t actually change who the one true God is? So maybe we’d beter focus on following Him, rather than our own watered down versions. Time to go check on that bread.

Am I Nuts?

In Life in General on November 19, 2009 at 10:28 am

I love to bake. Everyone who knows me, knows that I can’t go through a day without talking about a new recipe, or some new food thing I’m excited about. But I think I’m in over my head this time.
My work has put on a silent auction as part of our annual United Way fundraiser. My friend and I put in a coupon for 4 homemade pies. I was happy with the result, the pies going for $50. But there was someone who was just outbid by that $50, and so I went to that person and asked if they too would be interested in 4 pies. They said yes. That’s right, I have 8 pies to make, and granted, I’ll have help. But yikes! I’ve never made eight pies before. My friend calmed me down, citing that as long as your kitchen was already a mess, you might as well keep going. She’s right of course. Boy, that’s goona be one heck of a Saturday. And then, I’m also part of a baking exchange that’s coming up in a couple of weeks. Oie. Lot’s of time in my kitchen. That’s for sure. Wish me luck!


In Life in General, Movies with a bit of TV on November 16, 2009 at 10:22 am

A month and a half after canceling my cable subscription, they finally disconnected me. No more TV for Maria. And, as I own relatively few movies and lack both a DVD player and a VCR, my TV is getting no use. Actually, I should qualify the “no DVD player;” I do have on on my laptop, which I use on a semi-regular basis. But goodness, what a lot of free time I have now! The evenings seem to be much longer than I remember them, and I’m getting a lot more done…I think. Somehow I still feel like I’m running a little behind, but maybe that’s because I’ve picked up reading again. Books used to be the TV of the world. It kind of makes me look at reading differently, as well as genres of reading. Can you imagine studying TV programs in university? Actually, come to think of it, some people probably do, but not nearly as a many as those who study English literature. And the literature English majors study are like the quality TV shows, rather than the trash. Although, these days the trash seems to be piling up. So, if TV is the reading of the past, what shows should be studied in university courses?

Random, I know.

CBC Radio One

In Art, Life in General on November 13, 2009 at 11:20 am

Last week Friday, my friend Jen scored us some tickets to go to a live taping of CBC Radio One’s GO! It was probably one of the coolest things I’ve ever done in Edmonton. I don’t know how she does it, but Jen always seems to be in the right place at the right time. Good thing we’re friends. Anyway, the theme of the show was “The Great Canadian Family” (or something like that) and my initial thought was, “This is going to be really boring.” But I was so wrong! It was fun! There were trivia questions and it was set up like a game show testing their knowledge of the CBC. And then there was the live music, and the great humour of the host. What fun!

So, for the past week, I’ve been listening to CBC Radio One every time I’m in the car. From news to entertainment, this station has it all! And it’s not just focused on the top 40, which is something I really appreciate. They showcase a lot of local talent, and there is a lot of local talent. I used to think that CBC was a old people’s radio station. Thank Jen, for proving me wrong. I think I’ve got a new favourite. I’m being indoctinated into this community.

Is it love, or infatuation?

In Life in General on November 10, 2009 at 7:19 pm

I have one word for you: mind blowing. Wait…that’s two. Oh well. I bought the most amazing stockings this evening. They’re a gray, patterned tight that looks pretty sweet. But what made me buy them, aside from cold legs? I was intrigued by the fact that they were originally priced at $20 (although I bought them for considerably less), and wondered what could be so amazing that people would pay $20 for it. Well, here it is. Geometric gray stockings that are thigh highs and…wait for it…don’t fall down. That’s right ladies and gentlemen (to whom I apologize for this spectacularly girly post). They don’t fall down, or slip down. And on top of that, it means that you don’t have to deal with the pain of putting on a pain of full hose, and we all know they never sit at the waist right. So, I think I have a new best friend. I’d like to introduce you to Dim Up, a brand labelled with Paris, even though my stockings are made in Italy that apparently makes amazing stockings! Horray for someone who made hose comfortable, and added a chic factor to it at the same time. Oh, I think I’m in love.


The Newest Object of My Affection

In Food, Life in General on November 9, 2009 at 10:16 pm

No, its not what you think. Or maybe, if you know me really well, it is what you think. When I was in England a few years ago I was introduced to AGA, a brand of stove, and while the English I knew had the more traditional AGA stoves with the metal plate burners that were covered rather than turned off, I’ve fallen for a bit of a more contemporary model. This model had five burners, an oven, and  a warming drawer for dishes that are ready ahead of time, as well as to keep your plates piping. No food going cold on you here! AGA is the luxury brand of stoves. I know, I”ll probably never have one. But a girl has got to dream. And if you’re going to dream, might as well dream big. *sigh* Oops! So busy appreciating the stove that I’ve let my Maytag over cook my chocolate chip cookies! Darn.

AGA Legacy

Click the picture to see this staggaring stove (and it’s staggaring price), and its siblings. They’re all sublime.