Monday, March 25, 2013

1Q84 and other reading news

I did it! I finally finished 1Q84. This was one of my dedicated reads for the Japanese Literature Challenge 2012. It's been an epic journey for me to get through this book, but I really wanted to do it. I enjoy Murakami's writing, he can transport me to the strangest of places, and this book was just as good a read as others. Although, the ending left alot to be desired. I'm mean, after all they'd been through, and the mysterious little people getting such a feature, why did it just end 'happily ever after' for the lovers..... why didn't the little people play a stronger part in the ending? what about the dhota and the mezza? I'm left with more questions than answers.. Did I miss something? or did other readers feel similarly 'let down'.

On a more practical note to self - one of the reasons I found this book so difficult to finish was that I do alot of my reading on the train to work - but this one was too big to throw in the bag. I really would've been better with three books separately, or electronically.

So, since Christmas I've been getting familiar with Kindle on  my minitab (7") and I've been reading a little more from that. I recently finished "Goodbye Madame Butterfly: sex, marriage and the modern Japanese Woman" by Sumie Kawakami. This was a collection of interviews with Japanese Women about the reality of their relationships. A fascinating read, touching, humbling and encouraging. Now I'm reading "Snow Child" on my Kindle, as was recommended by Dolce Bellezza last year.

So while I'm reading one book on the train, and in waiting rooms etc.... I've also got some real books on the TBR list. As in the photo above, I was given these books for Christmas and really want to read them, but finding the time is the challenge. For now, I've picked up 'The Lady Cyclists Guide' which got some great reviews in the blogging world last year also. See Fleur Fischer, Jennys Blog, and 1girl2manybooks

Reading has been a significant challenge for me, and one of the things I'm proud to say I'm working on as an adult. I recently sent myself off to a reading course, which turned out to be very encouraging. It was more focused on reading for business, but 2 significant learnings for me were
  • reading for pleasure should be just that - pleasure. No rules, no deadlines, and no need to read something you don't enjoy reading.
  • sometimes it can be very helpful to guide your eyes because moving your eyes in a line is not actual normal. using one or two fingers to guide to eyes can be very helpful. 
 So, I have today off and I'm going to find the time to actual read for pleasure.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Les Merveilleuses

I love visiting the Ladurée website – I would prefer to be in the shop, but I’ll take the second best option. Visiting this weekend, I found that Ladurée are celebrating Les Merveilleuses with the release of a special flavour of macaroon. But who are they? I’ve not heard of the féte les Merveilleuses before. So a little bit of research was in order. (some from Wikepedia)

Did you know about The Incroyables ("incredibles") and their female counterparts, the Merveilleuses ("marvelous women", roughly equivalent to "fabulous divas")? 

They were members of a fashionable aristocratic subculture in Paris during the French Directory (1795–1799). Whether as catharsis or in a need to reconnect with other survivors of the Reign of Terror, they greeted the new regime with an outbreak of luxury, decadence, and even silliness. They held hundreds of balls and started fashion trends in clothing and mannerisms that today seem exaggerated, affected, or even effete (decadent, self-indulgent). 

Many Incroyables were "nouveaux riches" who had gained their wealth from selling arms and money lending. Members of the ruling classes were also among the movement's leading figures, and the group heavily influenced the politics, clothing, and arts of the period. 

Ornate carriages reappeared on the streets of Paris the day after the execution (28 July 1794) of Maximilien Robespierre, which brought an end to the Reign of Terror and signalled the commencement of the Thermidorian Reaction. There were masters and servants once more in Paris, and the city erupted in a furor of pleasure-seeking and entertainment. Theaters thrived, and popular music satirized the excesses of the Revolution. 

Napoleon’s wife to be, Marie-Josèphe-Rose de Tascher de la Pagerie, was one of a small elite of remarkably gifted, charming and alluring young women around whom Parisian Society gathered at the close of the eighteenth century.

Out of the chaos of the Revolution and the Terror, French society slowly started to collect itself. A subculture of aristocratic and fashionable young people established themselves around the “salons” held by these women of means, charm and education. They provided the setting for a society of shared political allegiances, cultivated conversation, parties, balls and amorous dalliances. They attended the theatre and drew attention to themselves in public by adopting a supposed simplicity of dress – or as one wit described it “undress”.

 “Les Merveilleuses” – literally, the Marvellous or Wonderful, cultivated garments based on the almost transparent, body-revealing garments of Greek and Roman sculpture and even the Roman hairstyles of tumbling curly hair. The boldest of these women, Madame Hamelin, whose portrait by Andrea Appiani is in the Napoleon exhibition, notoriously appeared in public virtually naked beneath the flimsiest of muslin dresses, sometimes bare-breasted. The young widow Rose de la Pagerie, the Vicomtesse de Beauharnais, was less extreme in her dress than her friend Madame Hamelin – although no less alluring.

Initially the wearing of simple Greek and Roman-like garments served to reinforce Revolutionary rejection of the excesses of the AncienRégime, and nakedness in art signalled purity, however the sheer garments of Les Merveilleuses – their simplicity notwithstanding – were decidedly erotic.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Last of the Summer Fruits

It's pretty clear that summer is on its way north now. It's been raining here for the past two weeks, the temperature's dropped 5 degrees C, and we're moving in for the comfort food. I know it's been a while since I posted because I took this photo of the last peach on my tree about 3 weeks ago for the sole purpose of posting it here. Sorry for the delay. It was as gorgeous to eat as it was to look at.

Clear sunny days feel like a thing of the past, yet my partner has been finding unbelievable moments to get out for some kayaking. He's about to go away for three days paddling while I'm about to do another one of my epic bike rides - tomorrow I'm doing 110kms (probably in about 5 hours) for charity. Next week I'm off with friends to do another one of our annual rides, Loop the Lake, which will be approx 90kms (hopefully under four hours this year).

So now summer is leaving, I've planted up the garden with my favourite autumn and winter veggies - lots of leafy greens, egg plant and tomatoes (self seeded). At present I'm bringing a decently bundle of basil in each week, making pesto and freezing it. This will keep me in stock for those months we don't have basil in the garden.

I think I mentioned previously that I'm loving The Healthy Chef and here's one of her recipes I did last night - it was so gorgeous, I made it again today..
Superfood Tabouli from The Healthy Chef
 Reading Updates: I'm still going on Murakami's 1Q84, getting much closer to the end now. My main problem with this book is that I do most of my reading on the traing, and this one's just too big to carry! I've also been reading on my tablet, a kindle version of "Goodby Madam Butterfly" which is a colelction of interviews with Japanese women about love, life and sex.. I'm also nearly finished this one. So I'll do a reading post soon - promise.