Janet's thread

A weblog, mostly about knitting but other topics appear

Christmas Reading December 27, 2009

  Lillian Beckwith is one of my favourite authors.  When we were up in Bangor Northern Ireland earlier in December I was browsing in a 2nd hand bookshop and came across this one by her.  It was  first published in 1986.  I didn’trecognize the title or the cover.  I suspected that I had read it before but I decided that even if I had, it was worth reading again.  And sure enough it was.  Lillian Beckwith is better known for some of her other books about life in the Hebrides.  More famous ones include The Hills is Lonely and The Sea for Breakfast.  In the front of the book there is a small list of phrases in the Scottish form of the native languages of the British Isles.  These phrases are similar to Irish Gaeilge.  To quote Wikipedia, there are  “three Goidelic languages (Irish, Scottish Gaelic, and Manx)”.

 

As the sun shone in to our conservatory I took great pleasure in reading another Haruki Murakami book, After Dark.  This was a splendid book, possibly my favourite so far.

 Haruki Murakami – After Dark

Shortly before Christmas our Book Group met and we had a quiz.  There were a possible 26 points, I think.  My winner got a score of 17.  I think I came dismally last with a score of 6.  This was very bad – usually I like quizzes.  The only consolation to me was that I might have tied with the quizmaster’s wife, who also would normally do very well on her husband’s quizzes.  I was really envious when I saw the prize for the winner.  A book authored by the quizmaster himself and just published.      The Irish Post Box by Stephen Ferguson.   Over the past few months I have been taking pictures of post boxes and wondering about their history – here was just the book for me.  Stephen very kindly sent me one for Christmas.  In another entry I’ll show you some of my pictures of post boxes and tell you some of the history as gleaned from Stephen’s book

   

 

The Winter Solstice Is Approaching December 20, 2009

The Winter Solstice is drawing near.

  photo from this source.

This year, according to my source, the winter will officially occur in Dublin at 15:47 , 5:47 p.m., tomorrow December 21.  Correspondingly, it will be 9:47 a.m. on the west coast of America, 8 hours behind us here in Dublin.  There is a really interesting website showing photos and explaining the winter solstice at Newgrange, a world famous prehistoric site in Ireland.  Around the time of the winter solstice the rising sun shines into the inner chamber for 5 or 6 mornings.  Some of the photos shown of the 2005 solstice were taken by Anne-Marie Moroney, a weaving friend of mine.

Anne-Marie is also a photographer and author interested in archaeological and mystic phenomena.  Anne-Marie and a poet  friend, Susan Connelly, produced a book about some of the holy wells in Ireland.  She used not only her own photographs but also some of her textiles as illustrations.  I would like to tell you more, but that will have to wait for another day.  My copy of the book is currently in a container on the SS Rotterdam Express, approaching the Panama Canal, en route to Seattle.

I have a diary called Murakami Diary 2009.  Haruki Murakami is Japanese by birth and his books have been translated into many languages.  According to the Diary, the Winter Solstice in Japan is called Toji.  And looking up Toji I found the following:

Japan:  Tou Ji or To Ji (literally means winter solstice)

A few weeks (about 15 days) starting around 22nd of December is called Toji [or Tou Ji : Winter Solstice].

When solar celestial longitude gets 270 degrees, the most south, the solar height becomes lowest in the year in Northern Hemisphere. Therefore, the daytime is shortest in the year and cold increase severity. In Japanese custom, we eat “Japanese Pumpkin” and Konnyaku (devil’s tongue) to pray for luck of money. Also, we take Yuzuburo (citron bath) to pray for health and fortune. From ancient times, there are many festivals held in all around the world to celebrate Toji (Winter Solstice), when sun approaches most in Northern Hemisphere. The festival of Christmas, which is originated in Europe is related to Toji this strongly.

Source:  http://www.b-zenjapan.com/nihon/12shiwasu.phtml

Winter solstice in Latin     sol=sun in      stice=stand still

 

A Favourite Author August 20, 2009

Filed under: Authors,Book Reviews,Books,Haruki Murakami — Janet @ 7:00 pm

Haruki Murakami – a Japanese writer who is one of my favourite authors.

Haruki Murakam The Wild Sheep Chase  A Wild Sheep Chase by Haruki Murakami – this is the book I chose for the July meeting of our Book Group.   When I told the Group of my choice it was the book I was reading at the time, possibly in May.   One approaches the problem of choosing a book for the Book Group with fear and trepidation, just hoping one won’t be condemned for choosing a book that nobody else likes.  Upon hearing my choice one of the other members exclaimed “Oh, I like that author”.  So I thought I was on to a good thing.  Not so though, when it came to the evening of the discussion.  I was told that I had a reputation for choosing quirky books and that I had not disappointed the Group in this respect this time.  In fact, some of the Group didn’t like the book at all, if they read it.  And others didn’t even try to read it, having heard how difficult it was.  By the time the Group met to discuss it I had forgotten some of the intricacies of the story.  But……the more discerning of the members, may I say, stuck with it and analyzed the book in depth –  in more depth in fact than I had exercised in reading it.   The discussion brought out a number of things and ways of interpreting the characters and the events that I had not thought of.  That just added to my enjoyment.  I love his books and have read quite a few of them, including Kafka on the Shore, Norwegian Wood, Dance Dance Dance, South of the Border West of the Sun, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, and What I Think About When I Think About Running.  In fact, the last book in the list was the first one I read by him.  Quite intriguing.  I went on to read the others, each one slightly different.

One of my sons is very keen on this author and so is a son of another Book Group member.  So I was heartened by that also.  Could we say that my choice of A Wild Sheep Chase separated the sheep from the goats?