Wednesday, 10 February 2010

more things i did this summer

yeah, just to let you know that i wasn't being totally lazy! i definitely boosted the retail sales figures. in fact, i'm pretty sure i single-handedly pulled nz out of recession. i've replaced my dryer, which i've missed so badly over the last few months, and my dishwasher which was fallen apart. bought a laptop for the older child, a new vacuum cleaner, and finally signed up to broadband. i got tired of waiting for the cheaper broadband that various ministers of communication (and even the current prime minister) have been promising for years. broadband to my door is still not happening (i'm talking to you, mr key), but i figured that i should finally move out of the stone age.

i managed to clean out the garage, which is a major achievement. created many piles of rubbish. the garden is getting sorted - not by me of course. no, i have a lovely chap who has been working on my garden and managed to tidy up my backyard quite a bit as well. the only effort i've made in this area is to briefly watch him at his work.

i even managed a few days at the beach, over at pauanui. lovely spot except for the dogs running lose in the evenings. most dog-owners were really considerate, but i certainly didn't enjoy one particular animal pawing all over me. the owner was totally unapologetic and nowhere near as nice as her pet. i just can't understand why people expect everyone else to love their animals. it's not that i don't love animals - i do love them as a group, totally want to be sure they are treated well and that we maintain the environment and their habitats. it's just individual animals that i'm not particularly fond of, and would much rather they stayed in said habitats and far away from me! if anyone has good ideas on how to keep neighbourhood cats off my property (without poisoning them: i really don't want to upset the neighbours nor turn in to a cat-murderer), these will be most gratefully received.

i've also not totally escaped my volunteer work over summer, and have been doing job interviews and selecting employees. also a bit of work on resolving conflict. being an employer is an interesting experience, particularly given that, politically speaking, i'm firmly on the side of the workers. it's not a particularly easy role, but i'm certainly learning a lot!

all in all, not a quiet summer, but one where i've been reassessing things and deciding that i need a somewhat quieter life. it's not getting any quieter in the short-term, but i'm hoping to get there soon!

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

a long holiday

so, i've been away from the blog for quite a while. i don't have any excuses as such, other than i was feeling quite tired and drained by the end of the year. and i was busy with family members who came back to nz for a nice long visit, so i wanted to spend time with them. ok, there's a couple of excuses but the truth is that i just ran out of words and decided i wanted to be doing other things.

one of the other things i was doing is catching up on my reading. so i thought i'd ease back in to blogging by telling you what books i read and what i thought about them:

my sister's keeper: extremely well written, really sad, dealt with an important ethical issue, but a totally crap cop-out ending. grrr. after all the build up, and setting up the situation so well, i couldn't believe that the author decided to end the way she did. also, the way the mother's character was written didn't sit too well with me, seeing as how i'm a little tired of mothers getting the blame for so many things. but despite all this, still worth reading, simply for the construction of the ethical dilemmas and the effect of terminal illness on a family.

uncle tom's cabin: i've had this lying around for months, and bought it because it was one of those books i feel that i should have read. so i finally did. i thought it was a really good attempt to deal with the issues around slavery and to put the arguments forward. i know harriet beecher stowe did her best to bring humanity to a people that were being sub-human. but as i read, i compared it in my mind to roots, and decided that the history of a people should really be written by someone who belongs to that group and has shared those experiences first hand. some who sits outside the group, and who by demographic belongs to the class of oppressors, can't tell the story in the same way, no matter how sympathetic she is. on the other hand, until members of the oppressing group begin to identify with those they oppress and until they begin to advocate for them, no change will happen. so it's a bit of a dilemma really. still, i'm glad i read this.

the jane austen book club: i'm a real austen fan, so couldn't resist this one. however, i'd seen the movie some months earlier, and have since decided that it is almost always better to read the book before you go see the movie. because the movie tends to dramatise more, the book can be a let down afterwards. i did like the book, i just think i'd have liked it a lot more if i hadn't watched the movie. i found the way it was written really interesting - the narrator identifying as the group (ie using "we did x, we thought y" etc, but not being an individual member of the group).

the lovely bones: hadn't seen the movie before i read it, which was good. also an interesting way of presenting the story, from the perspective of a dead person who seems to be able to be anywhere she wants to be. it was an interesting but not a gripping read. again, the mother's character was not particularly nice or sympathetic, as compared to the father, and strange that it's women writers who are charactarising mothers in this way. it's getting tiring folks.

the painted house: a john grisham novel that was a total waste of time. avoid at all costs. i also read the client, which was a lot better but again, a weak ending. i remember really liking the movie which i'd seen years ago (mostly cos it had susan sarandon in it), but didn't like the book so much, even though i couldn't remember anything of the storyline from the movie.

the girl with the dragon tattoo: i found this really gruesome. a lot of brutal violence against women, which i don't ever think of as enjoyable reading. and even though the writer portrays it as evil and wrong, it still seems to be written in a way that's too graphic and titillating. the girl with the tattoo was a well-written and complex character, but parts of the murder mystery were predictable, and the last few chapters a little disappointing - too much of a hollywood ending for my taste. not sure that i'm going to want to watch the movie.

oscar & lucinda: i'm going to have to put this in the "avoid at all costs" category as well. it was really well-written, the language and the way the author expresses himself were quite brilliant, and the historical detail amazing. i can see why this book won all sorts of awards. but, oh my God, the plot! i have never read a book that is so dreary and depressing. nothing good happens to these people, there is no let up with the nastiness, missed opportunities, and general misery. and the ending, well, blech. again, not going to be rushing out to get the dvd of this one. if the film is true to the book, then it'll be too dreary to watch. and if it isn't, then it'll another crummy hollywood romance, which i'm totally not interested in.

that's about it really. i started gulliver's travels, on the basis that it's one i should have read, and apparently has some cutting commentary on the politics of the day, but haven't gotten too far with it yet. i've also watched a few movies over the summer, and might go over those another day. hope you all had a nice, relaxing holiday, and happy new year!