Tuesday, February 14, 2017

JLC 10 - book review - the housekeeper and the professor

Japanese literature challenge 10

I read The Housekeeper and the Professor for this years Japanese Literature Challenge.  

It was a while ago when I read it, so I just refreshed my memory by reading this review by Lonesomereader. This was such a good review I thought I'd share it here. I totally agree, this was a simple but elegant story, that captivated me and some what excited me. 

I was worried that I wouldn't have the concentration to focus on some of my choices for this years JLC (as I'm on some pain medications at the moment). But not to worry, this was lovely, and just right. 

The story is about a mathamatician who has suffered a brain injury and can not remember todays events. He still has all his mathamatical skills. His sister in law hires him a housekeeper to help keep him independent at home. After a string of housekeepers, this one stays. 

Im not into maths or science at all, but this engaged me into his love of numbers, just as the housekeeper was entranced. She introduced her son to the professor, and the three of them somehow seemed to bring out the best in each other. The young boy understood the professors needs in a way that surprises the reader but touches the soul. The professor, who by all accounts, was unable to buikd relationships due to his memory, became strongly connected to the boy in a truly endearing way. 

From a Japanese cultural perspective, this story upholds the values of respect and dignity for the individual and family name, the importance of being, and the significance of community - which stand out to me in many classic Japanese novels. Needless to say, I loved this book... would read it again. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!
I cant believe its 2017 (and soon to be February) ... how did that happen? 

These Parsley Flowers are my New Years icon. They are a representation of my summer garden. I know it's the turning of summer when the parsley flowers. They then symbolise the changing seasons in my life, as I stop and start reflecting on the new year. I have much to reflect on... health, study, career, relationships & learning better to live in the now....

I have wondered alot about how much I want to put here in my blog space about my big year ahead, but I came to the conclusion it's a pretty big thing, and I think it may affect my blog alot. So...

After a 12-18 month journey through lots of pain, and a myriad of therapuetic options, I'm now 3 weeks away from a hip replacement.. and I simply can't wait. So I apologize in advance for some absences...

After recovering from that, I have plans to return to study & so much more....

Very soon I'll be posting my reviews for the Japanese Literature Challenge- 3 book reviews to add and some podcasts. I will also post my review of january's summer activities, cos I really had a great time, despite managing pain.

I leave you with this image of the hopping mouse figurine from my girlfiends backyard... it reminds me to be cheeky!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Book of Tea: Kakuzo Okakura

I read this as part of my participation in the Japanese Literature Challenge, and really enjoyed it. As mentioned in the clip above, this was published at the turn of the 20th century, but regardless of its age, it was still relevant in today's times. I just wanted to share some quotes...

"Tea began as a medicine and grew into a beverage. In China, in the eighth century, it entered the realm of poetry as one of the polite amusements. The fifteenth century saw Japan ennoble it into a religion of aestheticism—Teaism......a cult founded on the adoration of the beautiful among the sordid facts of everyday existence."

"It is in the Japanese tea ceremony that we see the culmination of tea-ideals. Our successful resistance of the Mongol invasion in 1281 had enabled us to carry on the Sung movement so disastrously cut off in China itself through the nomadic inroad. Tea with us became more than an idealisation of the form of drinking; it is a religion of the art of life. The beverage grew to be an excuse for the worship of purity and refinement, a sacred function at which the host and guest joined to produce for that occasion the utmost beatitude of the mundane."

"A special contribution of Zen to Eastern thought was its recognition of the mundane as of equal importance with the spiritual. It held that in the great relation of things there was no distinction of small and great, an atom possessing equal possibilities with the universe. The seeker for perfection must discover in his own life the reflection of the inner light."

The whole ideal of Teaism is a result of this Zen conception of greatness in the smallest incidents of life. Taoism furnished the basis for aesthetic ideals, Zennism made them practical.

"The Taoist and Zen conception of perfection, however, was different. The dynamic nature of their philosophy laid more stress upon the process through which perfection was sought than upon perfection itself. True beauty could be discovered only by one who mentally completed the incomplete. The virility of life and art lay in its possibilities for growth. In the tea-room it is left for each guest in imagination to complete the total effect in relation to himself. Since Zennism has become the prevailing mode of thought, the art of the extreme Orient has purposefully avoided the symmetrical as expressing not only completion, but repetition"

"Thus they sought to regulate their daily life by the high standard of refinement which obtained in the tea-room. In all circumstances serenity of mind should be maintained, and conversation should be conducted as never to mar the harmony of the surroundings. The cut and color of the dress, the poise of the body, and the manner of walking could all be made expressions of artistic personality"

I really enjoyed this book, and also found links to free audio editions. Its 7 chapters focus on different elements of the art of tea, including schools of tea, Taoism & Zennism, the tea room, art, flowers & the tea masters. If you're interested in tea, rituals, and Japanese culture I recommend it.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

The Spy : Review

Paulo coelho has written a plethora of great books. I've read enough of them to feel confident that picking up one of his books would be rewarding. I have enjoyed Coelho's spiritual and story lines. Brida stands out as one of my favourite "youth hostel" find. (That's a book you swap when your in a hostel)

Sadly, this one didn't join my list of good reads... Ally commented in my last post, that this disappointed her so much. Still I persisted... and now I can join Ally. This is a disappointment for the Coelho fan. Now I'm tempted to find another Coelho book to restore my faith. Any ideas?

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Summer Reading Plans

Yeh! It now feels like summer is really here. I've finished the first of four years in my Masters, and the Frangipani is blooming... thats a true sign of summer.. 

So, with no study on my mind, I have found my summertime reading (very ambitious for me)... along with these hard copies, Ive also got some on my Kindle, including 

I'm still committed to the Japanese Literature Challenge, and have already posted on my intentions for that here. I plan to read those books as well.... maybe a little ambitious... 

Ambitious or not, I'm certainly looking forward to the summer. I also have set myself the goal of getting to the beach or lake each week. I live 2km from the sea and 4 km from the lake, but year after year, I am embarrassed to say how little I get to the water. This summer I cant ride my bike or do long walks as I would like to, so swimming & kyaking will be my new thing. Im looking forward to those mini adventures. 

And of course, there's my gardening hopes. I'll post more on the garden soon. Recently I've found it a source of joy & strength to me, a place of solace and rejuvenation, and my gift. 

Comming soon...  book review of "the book of tea" by Okakura Kakuz┼Ź (February 14, 1862 – September 2, 1913) for the Japanese Literature Challenge. 
Newcastles working harbour

Monday, November 21, 2016

Time to prepare for exams

Last weekend I gave myself a brain break and went for a walk along my beach and went kyaking on my lake.  Had a lovely time..

Now its time to study..

I'll be back refreshed (and relieved) in a few weeks...

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Use edges & value the marginal

This is the image on my calendar this month, and I just love it.. its inspirational, encouraging and beautiful.

This month, I noticed Christmas was around the corner, that the first year of the Masters degree I'm doing will be over soon, and my garden is working well, but needs a seasonal adjustment as Summer is looming in. I also noticed I'm a bit tired, and I'm looking forward to my break at Christmas.

The message on the Month is "Use the edges and value the margins", and it speaks of potential & transformational use of space. The image is from Tokyo, showing how to fit a garden into the inner city Japanese front yard. It also depicts a gift station, where one can leave gifts for the neighborhood.

This image captures many valuable and meaningful elements for me; there's a bike for commuting, trees for shape, shade and fruit, a little temple, paths and all in close proximity to the residence.

Earlier today I was listening to a podcast (chat10looks3) and Leigh and Annabel were talking about the rewards of gardening vs cooking. I smiled to myself, as theres no question for me which one wins, but Leigh was reflecting on the slow rewards of garden vs cooking, and the high failure rate in gardening. Yet still, many more women will say gardening brings them more joy than cooking.

As I've been reflecting on just how close Christmas is, and how much I need time out, and I've noticed that I've been using the edges and valuing the margins - of my time. I've been popping out to the garden in the evenings (longer days now) after work, and I've been using gardening as my study breaks, and using train time (on my long commute days) to be visit gardens I admire through Instagram and online... using every non thinking, non studying minute to research gardening and find inspiration.

How are you going in the lead up to the end of the year? Need to use your edges better?

I think I'm going to see if I can set up a gift table in my front yard for a week or two in January with some produce and plants... I'd like to do that.