Things that made me happy this week

4 05 2012

Happy Fried-day, blog readers!

It’s cold and rainy over here, so I’m obviously over the proverbial moon about it. No need to match my mood to the glum weather – especially now that the weekend is but a few hours away… and my first wedding anniversary just around the corner… *eek*

There have been a lot of developments during the last week: finding out that the books I worked on have been provisionally approved, dealing with (big) changes to said books, working with a difficult person who sort of thinks I’m her slave, doing freelance work, finding out the time of my interview next week… in a word: LIFE.

But besides all that, there were a few things that truly made me happy/smile, and I thought that I’d share them with you via photos. The smallest things can make you happy (a smile, a mug of tea, a fluffy cat) – it’s just how you decide to view life & the situations you find yourself in.

Okay, enough of waxing sentimental. Here are (a few of) the things that made me happy this last week:

A book on origami my mum bought me

Taking this photo of Smudgy at the perfect moment – it looks like she’s laughing!

Buying myself a copy of the new Stephen King novel

Raindrops on the sunroof as we drove to work yesterday

A lot of attention/affection from Smudgy. Here she’s keeping me from my freelance work

The prospect of baking more yummy goodies – glad I bought this magazine 🙂





Busy times

25 11 2011

Good morning you happy little campers you!

It’s hard to believe that it’s Fried-day again… and in one month’s time, it’ll be Christmas! 😀

Things are pretty busy here at work, and up until the end of February/ beginning of March, their only going to get exponentially busier! It’s exciting to see a book through from the planning stage right until the end, but the deadline we’re working with is crazy (nature of the industry). On the plus side, it’s allowing me to build on my efficiency and prove to the company what an asset I am *hint-hint* Still, after long days and weeks of juggling 20 different things and having to put up with the Department of Education’s undecidedness, it’s enough to spur on the madness (I was going to say it’ll drive you mad, but we’re all mad here). You know there’s no hope for you when you send your line manager an e-mail saying “We should all put on our thinking CAPS (yes, pun intended) about this”… CAPS being the new curriculum document that is in a limbo state of Final-final-final-final-final (but not actually yet final) version *sigh*

Ah, Business Cat, I know how you feel...

Today, for your viewing pleasure, I’ll be sharing a few pictures of what has been keeping me busy/ amusing me during the last two weeks. My Significant Other has already tried to outright bribe me into letting us test drive a car (that he isn’t going to buy, according to him) tomorrow morning. I told him that he doesn’t need to bribe me, that we’re in a partnership… but perhaps I should let him sweat a bit. He’ll have to find something pretty darn good to coax me with 😉

Have a superb day and gloooorious weekend, dearest readers! I’ve already been commissioned to bake cookies & cake for our Monday meeting (i.e. work), so that’s a bit of ‘fun’ lined up for my Sunday.

This is a picture from one of our Foundation Phase (i.e. Gr 1 - 3) books. My Significant Other always says he wants a fat cat, which is why I couldn't resist sharing this picture with him

From an illustrated school dictionary. My S.O. complains that he's (getting) fat, which is why this pic's so funny to me. Here's hoping he doesn't become so rotund & 'grumpy'... Oh, wait, too late for the 'grumpies'!!

The new Stephen King novel (aaaah!!) - had to wait nearly a week before it was available in SA, but it was worth it

Look how happy I am! Long live Stephen King ❤

We went to visit my S.O.'s uncle & aunt, where we met their new kitty, La Scala. Cutie!

After weeks of sitting with a computer that would spontaneously freeze & switch off, they FINALLY got me a new one: box, screen, keyboard & mouse... The screen is bigger, plus it has Windows7 on. Nice

In times of stress, keep calm & eat a cupcake! I baked these myself

Dinosaur cake for my brother-in-law's birthday... & no, its name is NOT Barney

Smudgy and I have been having nice cuddly times/ moments of affection this week. Fills my heart with joy & love ❤

I've been watching a LOT of Nyan Cat videos on YouTube this week - sad, I know... Need to get myself this scarf!





Putting the happy in my day

8 11 2011

It’s heeeeeere!!

After months of anxious waiting, it has finally arrived: the latest Stephen King novel hits shelves today!

Since I find myself not situated in the US or UK, I’ve readied myself for the fact that I shall have to wait at least a day or two (or ten, with my luck) before I can lay my hands on one of these glorious tomes… but still, the excitement is there 🙂

Stephen King is always my pick-me-up. I have my Significant Other (aka The Husband), who is the light of my life, the wind in my sails, the blood and oxygen that keeps my heart pumping, and all those lovely clichés (all of which I truly mean! *love you Sweetheart*), but luckily he knows my devotion to the works of my favourite author as one of his ‘Dear Readers’.

As ‘fate’ would have it, I even wrote a blog post about this last year… almost a full year to the date, if you can believe that! At the time I had been feeling ‘off’ (check), suffering from my usual bout of bad headaches (check) and feeling nauseous/ light-headed/ dizzy/ listless (that is affirmative). Once again the famed Master Writer has come along to save the day – to make me forget about how icky I feel and helping me to escape into the wonderful world of words, what-if wishes and well-plotted suspense. At that occasion FULL DARK, NO STARS had just been released… and, now that I think of it, it was most likely also released on the 8th of November or thereabouts, since I had to wait just over a week before it was in stores here.

Next year March/ April (in time for my birthday, hurray!) we have THE WIND THROUGH THE KEYHOLE to look forward to for all you DARK TOWER fans, and closer to the end of the year – probably in November, if you ask me, why not stick with the trend? – we can expect DR SLEEP (the much anticipated follow-up to THE SHINING!) Oh mortality, how fleeting you are, that you already make me wish that death never goes a-knocking on Master King’s door…

Okay, weird little sort-of worshipping rant aside, the latest novel is called 11/22/63 and takes a look at the Kennedy assassination. It’s another wonderful ‘what if’: what if you could go back in time and stop those three shots from ringing out, stop death and confusion and all that was still to come, putting the world onto an alternate course of history? Well, fellow readers, we shall see…

Now if only I could get my Significant Other to phone the bookstore and find out when they’re expecting the much anticipated novels *hint-hint, grovel, blatant plea, sad kitty eyes*

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UPDATE: How wonderful is my older sister Libby? After reading my blog entry, she phoned the book store and enquired as to when they expect to have the book in stock, to which they answered Friday. Thank you sooo much, sis! xxx





Readers unite!

20 10 2011

I am so incredibly excited.

Why, you ask?

Because we’ve started a book club on Facebook!!

Okay, I suppose you need me to back it up just a little bit. Here’s the backstory:

At the beginning of the year (January/ February), I read the HUNGER GAMES trilogy – which I loved, of course. As the year progressed, I went on to read a lot of other books – and I mean a lot – but kept wondering how the film adaptation of the first book would turn out. I wasn’t all too happy to see who they cast for some of the parts, since they didn’t fit the descriptions in the book (don’t you just hate it when they choose someone who doesn’t even have the right hair colour?), but when I saw some pictures from the work-in-progress on IMDB, I started to think that perhaps they could pull it off. It’s amazing what a dye job, haircut and make-up can do…

Anyway, back to my story. I shared a link to the IMDB page with photos on my Facebook, and then a friend that went to university with me started chatting to me about the series and books in general. From that point on (probably at the start of September) we’ve been sharing and recommending books we enjoyed. She told me about the CHAOS WALKING trilogy, which I enjoyed just as much as the HUNGER GAMES (didn’t really like the ending, though), so I told her about the MAZE RUNNER trilogy – the final book came out a few days ago, making my timing for reading them perfect 🙂

You’ll note that all the aforementioned trilogies are dystopian novels (see my blog entry about it here), yet do not despair: we’ve shared other recommendations, as well. If you’re into light reads that include mystery and baking, you can try the Hannah Swensen Mysteries series by Joanne Fluke. If you still want a bit of mystery/ a ‘detective story’ and bring in the newspaper industry – and cats, don’t forget cats! – you can turn your attention to The Cat Who… series. My friend, Ms. Booklover, has introduced me to the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher – a cross between detective stories and wizards. To quote Wikipedia (and yes, I am going to do it, even though it isn’t always a reliable source), the series is pretty much “Dirty Harry Potter”… get it? Dirty Harry + Harry Potter (a hard-core detective and plenty of wizardry)? Ah, forget it.

Okay, one  more recommendation, then I’ll shut my trap. If any of you liked THE CATCHER IN THE RYE, I’d give THE WASP FACTORY by Iain M. Banks a read. It’s odd, interesting, destructive… Not everyone’s cup of tea. I won’t take offense if you read a few pages and then discard it. As long as you’re reading and engaging with the wonderful world of words, it makes me extremely happy. I’ve always have a great fondness for books, which is why I am glad to be sharing the experience with others… and to be able to do that. Not a lot of people have or make time for reading; others simply say that they don’t like to read *tsk-tsk* Where would we be without literacy? Without imagination, some form of escape?

If you love to read, feel free to post books you enjoyed in the comments section (which should be at the bottom of this blog entry). You can also share books you have started – perhaps a few times – and just cannot seem to finish/ get ‘into’. I’m always looking for new books to read…

Yip, pretty excited about sharing book recommendations with friends. Pretty darn much.

Readers unite!!! 😀

[PS: Do I even have to say that I recommend each and every work by the literary master writer Stephen King? No, I didn’t think so.]





Smudgy the cat loves… (Part 1)

5 10 2011

Smudgy really seems to take after her human mommy – she LOVES books.

Perhaps not in the same way that I love them, since kitties cannot read, but it’s the thought that counts.

Ever since she was a tiny 7-week-old fur baby, she’s been fascinated with books. Hardcover, paperback, magazines, recipe books, e-books (on my NOOK)… none of these are too good for her to have a sniff (or gnaw!) at. Probably ties in with the whole curiosity cat thing.

And, of course, she does love sleeping on my bookshelves (her being a cat and all). I’ll even admit to feeling sleep tugging at my eyelids and making them droop while immersed in my reading late at night – just shows you the kind of example I’m setting for Smudgy *laugh*

Or, perhaps, she’s the one setting the example for me…?

Either way, books play an important role in both our lives, forming part of our personalities and bringing us closer together *awww*

We might not share genes or the same species, but she’s my little fur baby, part of our little family, and I wouldn’t have her any other way…

Here are a few photos of Smudgy ‘enjoying’ some books.

Have a happy Meh-day/ Whensday, everyone!

Filling in a sudo-x-word. She was sooo tiny!!

Delving into poetry and Shakespeare at an early age

Helping me fill in a number crossword

Selecting a book she can sink her teeth into... literally!

Proud kitty protecting 'her' Stephen King collection. She's really into horror/ mystery/ suspense (i.e. all things King)

Breathing in that 'real' book smell

Immersed in the magical world of Harry Potter

Smudgy gets tired while reading "The cat who turned on and off" - seems fitting

Smudgy in one of my bookcases (bottom shelf) - she's quite partial to napping in front of Chelsea Cain & Dan Brown novels

Sleeping on the middle row of a different bookcase. She's working her way to the top 😉





Dystopian delight

26 09 2011

 

Warning: this will most likely end up being a lengthy blog entry.

I have come to the realization that I take infinite joy in reading dystopian novel(la)s.

[Or should that be ‘novel(la)s that explore a dystopian society/ state/ world’?]

NINETEEN EIGHTY-FOUR by George Orwell; THE LONG WALK and THE RUNNING MAN by Richard Bachman (actually Stephen King); the HUNGER GAMES trilogy by Suzanne Collins; the CHAOS WALKING trilogy by Patrick Ness; THE MAZE RUNNER by James Dashner… the list goes on and on.

‘Joy’ in the opening sentence of this blog entry – quick, go read it again, since I’ve probably distracted you with the list of book titles! – seems to be an ironic word to choose, since people who live in said societies rarely know joy, living in the awful future times and circumstances as they do…

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

So, what is this Dystopia I speak of, you ask?

You probably all know the word ‘Utopia’, which refers to an ideal world or kind of paradise. Greek: eu (good) + topos (place). Compare this to the Greek dys, meaning “bad”/ “ill”, and you’ll see that Dystopia is the complete opposite of Utopia. In fact, I’ve read that it is regarded as “the evil twin” of Utopia.

In a dystopian setting, you usually deal with a society that lives within a social control system – a system under which they are oppressed, controlled, and living in fear of saying a word of protest against the corrupt ruling government. There is great suffering, pessimism and uniformity – the people of those times being manipulated to serve the purposes of those in power, often becoming indistinct through strict presiding regulations. Bubbling far below the surface, there is talk of a revolt, or rising up against the oppressors and building a new society.

Brutality is implemented for amusement; survival a daily hope. Friends are pitted against each other, sometimes having to take sides to ‘ensure’ their continued existing – more of the disturbing sort of amusement that those in power revel in. What could be better than spinning fine threads of false hope, then tangling everyone up in the web of deceit and resulting difficult choices?

Take THE HUNGER GAMES, for example: where the Capitol selects two young people (one male, one female) in each District to compete in what can be seen as ‘the most dangerous game’ – an arena where your survival depends on being the last person not killed. How do you kill other innocent people? How do you kill someone from your own district?? How do you keep from being killed, yourself, having to depend on your own skills to procure food, water, weapons? And all this while the entire world watches your every move, sees every killing, every hardship… and are glad that it isn’t them in there.

Because that’s how the government works: keeping you in captivating horror, making you believe that this is how the world should be and that you are powerless to stop them. The social norms set in these times might be disturbing and cruel, yet the people have been brainwashed to believe that it should be so.

Of course, propaganda also comes into play, making people believe that the government/ state is just, that things are how they should be, that they are being taken care of and that all rules must be obeyed without question…

Queue the hero/ heroin of the story to take a stand, to not give in, to survive and rise up and renew hope for a better world and sometimes even unwillingly rally others to join in the fight.

All of that said, why would anyone enjoy reading these types of books?

Is it because we want to see good triumph over evil? Do we take pleasure in seeing those misusing power get their comeuppance? Are we glad that at least we do not live in such extremely oppressive times? Or is it because we can feel a spark of ‘recognition’ in what is being written – that we can, to a certain degree, relate to what is said?

These novels are set in the future for a reason: they look at social trends we are currently living in, then take them to the extreme, thus serving as a sort of warning by showing us the ‘what would happen if’ situations (i.e. the horrifying consequences and ramifications that today’s world and technologies could have on the future – always with the worst case scenario depictions…)

These books want us to be voyeuristic, to see what could happen to society by injecting bits of the familiar and building it up to uncomfortable proportions. You know how they say familiarity breeds contempt? That’s pretty much what’s happening here.

I could probably make this blog entry run on forever if I start talking about how wonderful I think the HUNGER GAMES trilogy is, how scary it would be to take part THE LONG WALK (mental breakdown practically assured), how I wish things could have turned out differently at the end of the CHAOS WALKING trilogy… but that can wait for another day. I think I’ve loaded your minds with enough noise… errr, ‘information’ to make you not want to think about society and our own corrupt governments (fat chance of that) for quite some time.

But I hope I’ve also interested you in these types of novel(la)s. If I can get more people reading, it will be reward enough for me 🙂

Oh, and did I mention how these types of novels often have an ending where issues are unresolved or you don’t feel satisfied with how things turned out/ are left unexplained/ just don’t ‘feel’ right to you?

Yeah, that’s always lots of fun.





Since last we met

23 03 2011

Since the last time I blogged…

* …we received our Visas with no problems whatsoever – and the whole process took only three days! I was (and still am) very impressed with their quick service and efficiency. Scotland (i.e. honeymoon), here we come!

* …I found out that there will be a new DARK TOWER book coming out next year 😀 King’s latest novel will be available on the 8th of November, which is probably why the DT book will only be published next year. No matter – happiness all around!

* …my Significant Other and I were treated to dinner at a nice restaurant by his uncle and aunt. I had an exquisitely delicious bowl of tagliatelle with courgettes, mangetout and spring onions in a gorgonzola sauce topped with pine nuts. It was great to spend time with part of my future family – the meal was simply a bonus.

* …I’ve become a bit riled up with the religious nuts out there – more so than usual. I watched a video where this girl was saying that a group of them were praying over Lent for something to happen to the atheists in the world, and then two days later their ‘prayers’ were ‘answered’ when the earthquake and tsunami hit Japan. What is the world coming to?! It just sickens me… this is why I’m not religious. Some people (I refer to them as the ‘Bible Crazies’) are messed up to damn others for their choice of religion/ not being religious. Who are they to judge others and say that a natural disaster was a good thing?! F*ck.

* …I got into one of my cleaning frenzies again (something I blame on my obsessive-compulsive tendencies, especially when it comes to cleanliness). Instead of singing mice or birds a la Cinderella, I only had Smudgy watching me as I scrubbed the one bathroom’s floor, toilet bowl and basin. Perhaps I could teach her to meow on key…?

* …one of the neighbour cats came in, ate Smudgy’s food and threw up on the carpet twice! I have reason to believe that it’s That Darn Cat (yip, Dusty) since he’s the only one who comes in here for food. He also managed to spray/ pee on some of my books… Yesterday morning, I found him asleep on one of our balcony chairs. Something must be done.

* …our electricity was out from 8AM until 4PM one day for the 5 year maintenance service, or something like that. This gave us a ‘reason’ to go out and have coffee, plus I could ‘validate’ the purchase of the new Scarlett Thomas novel, OUR TRAGIC UNIVERSE.

* …we bought an exercise bike – a Trojan elliptical trainer, they call it. It doesn’t have a seat, so you stand and pedal on the thing, mainly exercising your legs, although you can feel it working a bit on your abdomen (I’ll have to do crunches or something to exercise that section more). In the long run, the ‘bike’ will be worth it, despite the fact that I’m currently still in the ‘no pain no gain’ phase of it all.

* …we took my younger sister, Addy, to Stellenbosch in order for her to do some research for a few projects she has due. On the way there, we had to stop for petrol, so I bought a cappuccino for my Significant Other and some hot chocolate for myself. I normally don’t buy myself hot chocolate anywhere, since they make it with milk and it makes me feel extremely nauseous, but today, the stomach ache and increased headache are absolutely worth it, because that hot choc tasted wonderful!

* …I’ve started to become really annoyed with my inability to ‘get into’ the books I’m reading. Take this Scarlett Thomas novel, for example. It took me four days to read 425 pages, and why? Because the ‘novel’ seems to be a lot of theory trying to pass itself off as a novel. I’m all for intelligent discussions and talking about science and hypotheses and so on, but if the whole book is going to be like that, I cannot help but feel overwhelmed and not ‘into’ it. I want to read for enjoyment and relaxation, not to feel like I’m in a lecture hall.

* …Smudgy has been having a ball playing with all the bugs around here. She’s even brought in two crickets (on separate occasions, of course), and been curiously puzzled about a praying mantis that looked more like a giant grasshopper or something. I love my kitty, even though she’s a bit ‘weird’ sometimes – like when she grabbed my hand, smelled at it fervently, and then went on licking herself as if I wasn’t even there. ❤