Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Cathedral Grove

Hi friends.
So far I am really enjoying my vacation time, it's just great -- sleeping in, being lazy, constantly eating and drinking, and not working at all.
This afternoon we went on a little hike through an old-growth forest, here on Vancouver Island. The place is called Cathedral Grove and it is just so serene and fascinating. It boggles my mind how OLD some of these trees are. The one in the following video, for instance, was already 300 years old when Christopher Columbus discovered America. This tree was alive in The Middle Ages! Speaking of wood, this tree was almost a century old already when wooden movable type was first invented in China by Wang Zhen in the year 1298. In other words, it is staggeringly old. And large. All of my cinematographical prowess could not really capture it in this filmclip.
A windstorm swept through Cathedral Grove on New Years Day, 1997, toppling a lot of the trees -- but I'm so glad this old giant survived.
It is a venerable, majestic ol' brute of a tree!


video

Splash du Jour: Tuesday

No animal should ever jump up on the dining-room furniture unless absolutely certain that he can hold his own in the conversation.
-- Fran Lebowitz –


Have a great Tuesday!
*****

Monday, July 30, 2012

Splash du Jour: Monday

She wanted a book to take her places she couldn't get to herself. She thought a writer should work harder writing a book than she did reading it.
-- Jeffrey Eugenides, The Marriage Plot --


Have a great Monday!
*****

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Vive le Holiday: A Saturday Snapshot
















 





HOLIDAY TIME HAS ARRIVED!
And never have I deserved it more, than right now.
Today I fly away to Vancouver Island for a much-needed vay-kay.
And my sister has already informed me that that she and her husband already discovered a new deserted island to venture off to -- I cannot wait to get in the boat and coast out to that remote spot, where I shall then wander around like a castaway, NOT THINKING ABOUT WORK.
Here is a pic of me doing a similar thing, in a previous visit.
As you can see, I go nowhere without a book.
That one was a Jose Saramago -- I remember it well.


Thank you Alyce, for hosting this terrific Saturday Snapshot meme @ At Home With Books.
*****

Friday, July 27, 2012

The Secret History

I hate those grade-school level worn out cliches people always use in reference to books, like "I felt like I was there!" or:
"I couldn't put it down!"
<-- But in the case of this book, The Secret History by Missisissipi's treasure, Donna Tartt -- I'm sorry, they both apply! So I'm gonna use 'em!
The author began writing this book during her second year of college. That in itself, astounds me. The novel is just completely engaging and well, unput-downable.
629 pages in 8 gargantuan chapters! As much as I usually prefer hamburgers, I truly enjoyed these steaks!
I never wanted a chapter to end. Let me try and tell what it is about in one run-on sentence of Saramagian proportions…
It is the story of six rather eccentric college students in Hampden, Vermont, four of which, get so drunkenly involved in a night-time bacchanal celebration that a really bizarre thing takes place, a thing that will not only change their lives forever, but will also even ultimately cost a couple of lives, and so what ensues is a very deep examination of the effects of guilt and a profound look at wracked consciences stretched beyond the breaking point, or as one critic put it, "a murder mystery in reverse", since Donna Tartt lets us know in the very first pages that at least one subsequent death [to the baccahanal] will take place.
What a book.
I was not, for one minute, ever bored with this monstrous thing!
All the way along I was reminded of that axiom in The Merchant of Venice -- "the truth will out" -- because that is exactly what each of these characters also wonders.
Will
, the truth, out?
I'm not telling.
You've just GOT to read The Secret History, to know the answer to that.
Absolutely amazing book.
Unreservedly recommended to Bookpuddlians everywhere!

*****

Splash du Jour: Friday

Awareness is everything. Hallie once pointed out to me that people worry a lot more about the eternity after their deaths than the eternity that happened before they were born. But it's the same amount of infinity, rolling out in all directions from where we stand.
-- Barbara Kingsolver, Animal Dreams --




Have a great Friday!

*****

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Splash du Jour: Wednesday








 

Constellation

There were dots on her shoulder, more than this
I cannot say. In that moment I closed my eyes
and leaned into her
constellation.

Any scientist will tell you that no one has ever escaped
such a journey. Gravitational forces are too great
and at that speed you are
light.

In that moment, time itself reconsiders, and yet
cannot do anything about its current direction.
Everything you have ever wanted to do, you are
doing.

© Ciprianowords, Inc. 2008

Have a great Wednesday!

*****

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Splash du Jour: Tuesday

You are never dedicated to something you have complete confidence in. No one is fanatically shouting the sun is going to rise tomorrow. They know it's going to rise tomorrow. When people are fanatically dedicated to political or religious faiths or any other kinds of dogmas or goals, it's always because these dogmas or goals are in doubt.
-- Robert M. Pirsig, Zen & The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance --



Have a great Tuesday!

*****

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Curiosity: A Review

"The best historical novels effortlessly transport their readers back into the past, while less successful attempts bury the reader in musty research and leave the characters to gather dust. Curiosity, the sophomore effort from Winnipeg-based author Joan Thomas, falls decisively in the former camp. Right from its powerful opening, the novel buffets readers with the inescapable momentum of waves against the Dorset cliffs."
I agree fully with the above statement from Quill & Quire's review of Joan Thomas's [2010] novel, Curiosity.
This is one of those quiet "sleeper" books I want to heartily endorse to my Bookpuddle readers.
I have always been fascinated with dinosaurs, since I was a little kid. I had a brief phase of being obsessed with Egyptology, too -- but always came back to the dinosaurs/fossils -- as a sort of first love. So, when I first saw Joan Thomas's book in the stores, the cover intrigued me.
Along with the depiction of pre-history was the subtitle "A Love Story".
I was hooked.
I have finally read the thing.

It is a dandy!

It's the story of young Mary Anning, scouring the oceanside cliffs of Lyme Regis for fossils. It was her lifelong passion, and she had a knack for discovery that eluded the "scientific" geniuses of the day. This was the early 1800's -- pre-Darwinian Victorian England -- where "science" was still bound to the expectation of fulfilling an existing mold of religious prerequisites.
Young Mary was [daily] finding stuff that definitely defied scriptural explanation!
She sold most of these items at her little "Curiosity" stand -- sold them as trinkets. And soon Mary began finding bigger items, entire skeletons of grandiose beasts, mentioned nowhere in the Bible! The very sedimentary strata of Lyme Regis itself began to fill her mind with questions -- How could the Earth be merely "thousands" of years old, as most of the leading scientists of the day still believed it to be?

For all of Mary Anning's discoveries, she never was to receive the recognition she deserved -- such were the patriarchal prejudices of her day! Joan Thomas has given us as fine a novel as any, to delineate the absurdities of the Victorian era when it came to the fulfillment of true love across class boundaries -- and recognition of the intellectual equality of women, to men.
This is any thinking-person's page-turner.
Written in such an elegant, very much flawless manner, that my own words can only do an injustice.
Do you find yourself somewhat interested?
Then, just think! In this brief review I have not even gotten to the topic of the subtitle:
"A Love Story."
Just get it.
Read it.

*****

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Wherein Led Zeppelin Allusions Abound: A Saturday Snapshot






















 




I fear that my Saturday Snapshot this week may be a bit boring.
Last week I posted pictures of my cat Jack trying to get inside the new pot I had bought at Walmart for my rootbound plant.
His [the plant's] name is Robert Plant.
Poor thing, he was a bit "Dazed and Confused" in his former pot.
It was really "Nobody's Fault But Mine".
So here is an update.
I performed the transfer -- new pot, new soil. Here he is, climbing my kitchen wall and on his way across the ceiling. If he pokes on through, he may indeed ascend the "Stairway to Heaven" -- because I am on the top floor here.
Only clouds, above.
My only plan for the future is to give this plant a "Whole Lotta Love."


Thank you Alyce, for hosting this terrific Saturday Snapshot meme @ At Home With Books.
*****

Friday, July 20, 2012

Splash du Jour: Friday

One's life is more formed, I sometimes think, by books than by human beings: it is out of books one learns about love and pain at second hand. Even if we have the happy chance to fall in love, it is because we have been conditioned by what we have read, and if I had never known love at all, perhaps it was because my father's library had not contained the right books.
-- Graham Greene, Travels With My Aunt --


Have a great Friday!
*****

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Splash du Jour: Wednesday

This pause in time, within time ... When did I first experience the exquisite sense of surrender that is only possible with another person? The peace of mind one experiences on one's own, one's certainty of self in the serenity of solitude, are nothing in comparison to the release and openness and fluency one shares with another, in close companionship...
-- Muriel Barbery, The Elegance of the Hedgehog --



Have a great Wednesday!

*****

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Splash du Jour: Tuesday

I ask you right here please to agree with me that a scar is never ugly. That is what the scar makers want us to think. But you and I, we must make an agreement to defy them. We must see all scars as beauty. Okay? This will be our secret. Because take it from me, a scar does not form on the dying.
A scar means, I survived.
-- Chris Cleave, Little Bee --



Have a great Tuesday!

*****

Monday, July 16, 2012

Wherein He Hits 3,000

<-- Holy frigging cow!
This blog-posting for me is a bit of a milestone.

It is # 3,000!
Representing eight years-plus, of blogging here on Bookpuddle!
One of the things that I have enjoyed most about blogging, has been meeting so many friends in this Blogosphere.
Some I have even met in person [you know who you are, how could you forget me, right?]
I feel as though [perhaps I am delusional] I have assembled around me a little coterie of faithful readers -- and I really appreciate all of you that continue to tune in here, getting little Splash du Jour© fixes, and the semi-retarded book reviews and fully-psychotic musings upon life.
Here is a test.
A prerequisite for knowing if you… yes you, are a Bookpuddle-ite©.
What is my cat's name?
If you do not know the answer to this question -- well, I look forward to getting to know you better.
Here's another one [this is a bit hard-core]….. Where do I go pretty much every single day after sweating it out at work?
Hint? [They sell real good coffee there, and their logo has a mermaid on it!]
Thank you all for reading my blog. I mean that sincerely.
And now, here is yet a third question?
What is my true calling in life?
That's a bit tough, and so I am going to answer this for you.
>> Musician <<
I am a drummer/vocalist.
I used to play in a rock band [if you know the name of this band…. wow, you really have learned a lot here on Bookpuddle, here's another hint…. the first syllable of the one-word name is the "opposite of heaven"]… but I gave up that vocation to become a Christian minister. As in, yes, preaching the Bible.
Nowadays, I am a full-fledged heretic. One of those people we sometimes describe as having "lost their faith." A subscriber to the magazine Free Inquiry.
But -- don't cry for me, Argentina.
I'm OK. It's just that I've seen a bit of a different "light" -- after seeing the first one. You can read a bit about it on my other page, called Godpuddle.
Perhaps some of you have also checked out my dabbling in the realm of poetry, on Poetrypuddle.
Blogging, and writing in general, is a lot of fun for me, and when it becomes otherwise -- I will be gone.
But for now -- here's to the next 3,000 blog postings!
I want to leave you with a song that has been tormenting me [in a good way] all day today at work. I sang it over and over [in my mind, and also out loud] about forty times. We used to perform this song, an oldie from the [glorious] '80's, in my band. And listening to it again, along with you -- ahh, it brings back a lot of good memories.
Girl On The "Moooooo"n, by Foreigner.
Keep blogging, friends. I'm reading you. And thank you for reading me.


Splash du Jour: Monday

All Mattia saw was a shadow moving toward him. He instinctively closed his eyes and then felt Alice’s hot mouth on his, her tears on his cheek, or maybe they weren’t hers, and finally her hands, so light, holding his head still and catching all his thoughts and imprisoning them there, in the space that no longer existed between them.
-- Paolo Giordano, The Solitude of Prime Numbers --



Have a great Monday!

*****

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Ashamed Of A Book?

Have you ever had one of those quiet days where you just sort of nicely vegetate -- perhaps catch up on browsing blog-friends -- refuse to comb your hair or put on any pants even? [Too much information, Cipriano!]
Anyhoo -- I'm having one of those Sundays.
For instance, my hair? Right now I look like a cross between that mad-scientist guy that drove the souped-up DeLorean in Back To The Future, Dr. Emmett Brown -- and just a basic Neanderthal.
In my browsing, I visited Matt, at his [excellent] booksite, A Guy's Moleskin Notebook.
He was asking a really neat question, which is this:
What book(s) have you read that you’re secretly ashamed to admit?
I thought about it a bit, and answered him, thus:

Matt, this is such an interesting question — and I answer it as you do, I am never really “ashamed” of a book I read. But sometimes I do feel as though cheated, especially if I choose a book for a vacation, and find it boring or… just not the right feel for the time.
Along these lines, there is a book that does bother me a bit.
It is Snow, by Orhan Pamuk. I was reading it exactly at the time when I went home to visit my ailing mother in hospital. At no point did I enjoy the book in the first place, yet, I kept reading it. At the hospital, whenever my mother would be sleeping, I just resumed my reading, and finished the thing on the airplane as I returned to the other end of Canada, where I live.
In the interim, my mother passed away. I got the phone call just hours after returning.

And then — I HATED the book — and gave it away. I did not want to even SEE the book, because it seemed to represent to me that precious time by my mother’s side. Reminded me of my last conversation with her. And in this sense, I was ashamed that in the sacred moments when I was in her living presence, I was diverting the down time by reading a book I never even really liked anyway.

How would you answer the question, dear Reader?

*****

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Curious Jack: A Saturday Snapshot




















Yesterday, for the first time in my life, I bought some dirt.
Technically known as potting soil.
I have this one wild plant [its name is Robert Plant] that has been vigorously climbing its way up my kitchen wall, but it has outgrown its present environment.
So I went to Walmart and picked up a slightly larger pot, and some soil.
No sooner did I set this stuff on my coffee table when my cat Jack had to do some investigating of the new predicament.
He immediately assumed it was a new home for HIM. Crazy cat!





















Thank you Alyce, for hosting this terrific Saturday Snapshot meme @ At Home With Books.
*****

Friday, July 13, 2012

Splash du Jour: Friday









Every reader, as he reads, is actually the reader of himself. The writer's work is only a kind of optical instrument he provides the reader so he can discern what he might never have seen in himself without this book. The reader's recognition in himself of what the book says is the proof of the book's truth.

-- Marcel Proust --


Have a great Friday!
*****

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Splash du Jour: Wednesday

Animals mate, the female is persuaded -- and without the artifice of billets-doux and flowers.
Of course, a young lady is not of the animal kingdom. Although a young man is. Man is a beast, made in the image of God though he may be. Curious that the human male and female should be so different, when in the majority of species the sexes are almost indistinguishable. Two modest, brown creatures, scurrying together into earthen tunnels, drawn wordlessly into the dark.

-- Henry de La Beche, from Joan Thomas's, Curiosity --



Have a great Wednesday!

*****

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Splash du Jour: Tuesday

John Irving in a recent interview, was asked:
What was the last truly great book you read?
He replied:
When I love a novel I’ve read, I want to reread it — in part, to see how it was constructed. The two novels I’ve reread this year are Michael Ondaatje’s The Cat’s Table and Edmund White’s Jack Holmes and His Friend -- a seamless use of time (most notably, the flash-forwards within the memory of the past) in the former, and a clarifying delineation of different sexual points of view in the latter. They are two terrific novels.


Have a great Tuesday!
*****

Monday, July 09, 2012

Splash du Jour: Monday

The poor love life as passionately as the rich do. Perhaps more, for the effort it takes to cling to it.
-- Joan Thomas, Curiosity --

Have a great Monday!
*****

Saturday, July 07, 2012

Fireworks: A Saturday "Snapshot"

It's been a while since I have partooken… partaken? Umm… participated in [there we go] Alyce's Saturday Snapshot Event.
Last Sunday was Canada Day here in Canada [go figure!] and I took some pictures of the fireworks as viewed from my balcony.
But none of them really turned out very good.
So, instead of a snapshot of blurry colored sparks, I am posting a brief video-clip of the very last explosions of the evening, along with the ensuing hooplah and applause from spectators in the park across the street who have not nearly as good a vantage point as I have up here on the 14th floor.
That last blast, the big red one, I cannot even describe to you how large and loud it was.
It made my cat Jack throw up, the poor guy. He really did.
He puked on my floor, and then hid under the bed the whole next day.


video

Thank you Alyce, for hosting this terrific Saturday Snapshot meme @ At Home With Books.
******

Friday, July 06, 2012

Splash du Jour: Friday

I have one reader in mind, someone who is in the room with me, and who I’m talking to, and I want to make sure I don’t talk too fast, or too glibly. Usually I try to create a hospitable tone at the beginning of a poem. Stepping from the title to the first lines is like stepping into a canoe. A lot of things can go wrong.
-- Billy Collins --


Have a great Friday!
*****

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Splash du Jour: Thursday










What one acquires in youth enables one to fight against the miseries of old age; and if you wish your later years to be nourished with wisdom, take steps while you are young to see that you do not lack resources in old age.

-- Leonardo da Vinci --


Have a great Thursday!
*****

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Splash du Jour: Wednesday

A civilization without retail bookstores is unimaginable. Like shrines and other sacred meeting places, bookstores are essential artifacts of human nature. The feel of a book taken from the shelf and held in the hand is a magical experience, linking writer to reader.
-- Jason Epstein --

Happy Independence Day to all my American friends!
Have a great Wednesday!
*****

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Splash du Jour: Tuesday

When fortune comes, seize her firmly by the forelock, for, I tell you, she is bald at the back.
-- Leonardo da Vinci --

Have a great Tuesday!
*****

Sunday, July 01, 2012

CANADA DAY!

HAPPY CANADA DAY, CANADA! 145 years young!
It's a terrific day for a celebration!
Sunny, and big fluffy clouds, BUT NO RAIN!
Soon I'll join the throngs of crazy people out there on the streets.
I live in the nation's capital, Ottawa, and quite close to Parliament Hill -- where most of the action takes place. Every year the Snowbirds aerobatic team do a flypast and I try to get a shot of what it looks like from here, un-zoomed. Tonight the fireworks will be awesome from my lofty vantage point!
And one of the best things about Canada Day falling on a Sunday?
Tomorrow is a holiday!

video