Monday, November 23, 2015

Real Housewife of Charlottesville

At work, we implemented another upgrade of our software.  (My fourth upgrade.  I remember posting about how worried I was about the first one.)  We must "go-live" with these upgrades in the middle of the night, so as to affect the fewest number of people.  Hospitals are a 24/7 operation, but in the night, they're relatively bare bones, so if we must take away the EMR for several hours and then turn it back on in a new and (we hope) improved version, the hours between 1:00 - 3:00am are the best time to do so.

Anyway, this is just a long preamble by which to say, that because I worked midnight-8:30 am Saturday, I had Friday off.  It is exceedingly rare for me to not be at work on a business day.  I got up at 5:45--which is sleeping in by an hour for me-- had a leisurely hour for tea and a book, tidied the house, and still had time to cook Seamus a proper breakfast before he left for school.  I attended the 9:15 Pilates class at my gym (such a luxury to go to the gym mid-morning!) then accomplished a long-overdue errand that it's impossible to do outside of normal business hours.  I did the grocery shopping, which I usually have to do on Thursday nights after the gym.

In the afternoon, I had time for more reading with a large espresso, then raked leaves, and tore the last section of paneling off a wall I'm demolishing in the girls' old bedroom.  I had hoped to have this room completely redecorated by Thanksgiving, but we had one of those life events that put all projects on hold.

This room needs a LOT of work.

I cooked a proper family dinner and spent the evening Kon-mari'ing the game cupboard, while watching an episode of Outlander.  What do you guys think of the Outlander TV series?  I think it's kind of awful, and I hate the gratuitous violence.  I tell myself I'm only watching for the knitwear.  I KNOW it's unrealistic (and not always desirable) to demand historic verisimilitude from Hollywood, but I just finished reading a history of housework in the British Isles which revealed shocking domestic practices in Scotland in the eighteenth century.  (I think I understand now why Samuel Johnson was so disdainful of Scotland.)  So I can't help giving the side eye to Outlander's magically illuminated and clean Scottish castle and the multi-piece wardrobe that appears out of thin air for Claire (especially the immaculate white fur collar and cuffs).  Also, I can't decide if Jamie is attractive or not, but I felt ambivalent about Michael Fassbender the first time I saw him in a movie, so what do I know.  I AM decided in the opinion that Claire is super irritating. As for the books,  I tried to read the first one in the series but it was so bad I stopped reading 3/4 of the way through. (Book Claire is really irritating too.)

I attempted (unsuccessfully) to take a nap before going in to work and had a second espresso at 11:00pm, hoping it would be enough to keep me up.  (It was, although by 5:00am, just as we started getting post go-live help desk calls, my ability to think clearly was seriously impaired.)

I know that if I were to stay home full time, I'd be bored.  My career gives me intellectual stimulation, the opportunity to wear clothes other than jeans and sweatshirts and a chance to interact with other adults. Not to mention the all-important paycheck.  Still, something is lost when there is no one to keep the home.  My inner domestic goddess is bereft.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

On the Nightstand

Let's take a look at what's on my nightstand lately.

I apologize for this dark picture

A Woman's Work is Never Done: A history of housework in the British Isles 1650-1950 by Caroline Davidson.  (1982) I love books about housework and domestic life.  This one is a bit dry, but still very interesting and has a great selection of illustrations.

Eating in America by Waverly Root and Richard de Rochemont (1976)

Pure Pleasure: a Guide to the 20th Century's Most Enjoyable Books by John Carey (2000)

A Reader's Delight by Noel Perrin (1988)  I am reading this now and it truly is a delight. Beautiful little essays about obscure books you've never heard of and will immediately want to read.

Assorted Prose by John Updike (1965)  Essays

A Book of Mediterranean Food by Elizabeth David (1958)  David's first cookbook, written during the period of austerity in Great Britain after World War II, and meant to be a sort of consolation and vicarious thrill, since most of the ingredients were unavailable.

In Pategonia by Brush Chatwin (1977)  A classic of travel literature

Come Back, Wherever You are by Lenora Mattingly Weber (1969)  The last book in the Beany Malone series.

All Change by Elizabeth Jane Howard (2013)  The final book (published much late than the others and shortly before the author's death) in the superb Cazalet series.  I had difficulty finding it for some reason and had to order a copy (used, I always buy used) all the way from the UK.

The Education of Henry Adams by Henry Adams (1907)  Henry Adams was the great-grandson of John Adams and this is a memoir of sorts.  I am reading this now and I have to admit it's a bit dull.

Sunday, November 08, 2015

The Blue Castle

I thought I was familiar with all of L.M. Montgomery's books, but somehow The Blue Castle escaped my notice until I read rave reviews about it in an online forum.  It was published in 1926, which was in the later period of her writing career and like so many of her novels, features the provincial Canadian busybodies that she drew so well.

I wish I'd had this edition

Instead I had this one

Valancy Jane Stirling is twenty-nine, unmarried, skinny, (in a time when it was a bad thing to be skinny) and homely.  She lives with her overbearing mother and insufferable elderly cousin and is treated like a child that they're ashamed of.  One day, Valancy experiences one of those sudden, life-changing moments, and as a result begins to stand up for herself against her family.

This is not Montgomery's best work.  Valency is no Anne, and the busybody characters are not as deliciously comic as Mrs. Rachel Lynde.  Even so, it is satisfying to read about someone who has suddenly decided that she doesn't give a fuck, and acts accordingly.  There's a vicarious thrill in reading The Blue Castle, it's a light read that you'll finish in just a few days, and cheap, used paperback versions abound.  My little copy of this book spent the summer in Switzerland with Brigid, and later went to Ireland with me.  That's a lot of travel for a one-penny Amazon special.  Highly recommended for L. M. Montgomery fans.