PLEASE NOTE

This blog goes on under a different name and new web address from January 2011. Please follow me...

Beyond the Lone Islands

http://dawntreader-island2.blogspot.com

Friday, 30 April 2010

Alarmed

alarm clock

In the middle of the night, I woke up, as I often do… Felt for the alarm clock by my bed, to check what time it was.

It was no time at all. The clock wasn’t there.

Strange! I had no recollection at all of having moved it. My first thought was of course that I had just happened to knock it down onto the floor. Perhaps it had rolled under the bed? But it wasn’t there.

So still half-asleep, in the middle of the night, I wandered all over the flat looking for it. It was not that I really needed it to wake up at a certain time in the morning.
It was the mystery I found hard to let go of. I had no memory at all of having had any reason the day before to take it with me into another room. And now in the night it was nowhere to be found.

It made me think of a daytime soap opera I’m watching, where recently one person has been trying to convince another that she is mentally ill, by moving stuff around for her and then accusing her of having done it herself… But no one else had been in the flat yesterday but myself! Spooky.

I gave up, took the kitchen clock and put that on my beside table instead, and went back to sleep.

Just after seven o’clock, I was awakened by a beep. The alarm clock! But not the kitchen one that was standing by the bed. Where on earth was the sound coming from?!

I got up and looked under the bed again.
It still wasn’t there. But it still beeped on, and the sound most definitely came from within the bedroom. Which really does not offer a whole lot of accidental hiding places.

At last I found it. It was stuck between the bed and the wall. How it got there, and why the alarm was set to ring, still remains a mystery. I suppose I must have woken up even earlier in the night and picked it up to look at it (I often do that instead of taking the trouble to turn the light on and put on my glasses); then fallen asleep again even before I had time to put it back. (?) The last time I had reason to actually set the alarm to ring in the morning was a week ago (but then I did set it for seven).

Seems I’m living in a soap opera of my own.

I’ve had some friends in my life who have told fantastic stories about things they’ve done in their sleep. One used to get up and take showers in the night; she only knew because she woke up with her hair wet, and wet towels in the bathroom.  Another sleepwalking friend I once went on a camping weekend with (back in my 20s), and had to wake her up as she was about to leave the tent and set off on a nightly stroll to who-knows-where… I remember her staring at me with her eyes wide-open, but talking complete nonsense.

As for myself, I’ve never been a sleepwalker, as far as I know. I.e. if I’ve been up in the night I usually have some recollection of it; and I’ve never before found anything mysteriously out-of-place in the morning!

I’m not sure what to think…

(It’s not my clock in the picture but it’s of similar kind and size.) 

    

Thursday, 29 April 2010

BTT: Restrictions

http://btt2.wordpress.com/2010/04/29/restrictions/

God* comes to you and tells you that, from this day forward, you may only read ONE type of book–one genre–period, but you get to choose what it is. Classics, Science-Fiction, Mystery, Romance, Cookbooks, History, Business … you can choose, but you only get ONE.
What genre do you pick, and why?
*Whether you believe in God or not, pretend for the purposes of this discussion that He is real.

At first this looked like a really tough one to answer, because I like all kinds of books. However, looking at the examples listed above... No doubt in my mind - I'd choose Classics, feeling quite confident God would have to smile and approve. Even the Bible includes more than one genre of literature! History, politics, romance, adventure, mystery, poetry; even science-fiction or fantasy (in the form of apocalyptic prophecy)...

Definition of "classic" from About.com  :

So, what is a "classic"--in the context of books and literature?
  • A classic usually expresses some artistic quality--an expression of life, truth, and beauty.
  • A classic stands the test of time. The work is usually considered to be a representation of the period in which it was written; and the work merits lasting recognition. In other words, if the book was published in the recent past, the work is not a classic.*
  • A classic has a certain universal appeal. Great works of literature touch us to our very core beings--partly because they integrate themes that are understood by readers from a wide range of backgrounds and levels of experience. Themes of love, hate, death, life, and faith touch upon some of our most basic emotional responses.
  • A classic makes connections. You can study a classic and discover influences from other writers and other great works of literature. Of course, this is partly related to the universal appeal of a classic. But, the classic also is informed by the history of ideas and literature--whether unconsciously or specifically worked into the plot of the text.
* Actually in many people's opinion, and in mine as well, it is possible to regard certain books as "modern classics" on the basis of a fair evaluation of criteria which seem likely to make them "last" and be remembered as classics in the future.  

PS. I do hope other people will make other choices though, including New Books; or else there will be no new additions to the Classics list in the future. Which would be a shame, really!


 

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Lost

no_internet_access 

(Origin of the picture unknown.)

Yesterday afternoon I suddenly found myself without internet access.  Luckily it had been working just fine in the morning. I was able to complete and send off the income tax return forms and bank payments I'd been working with. Then I turned the computer off at lunch time. When I turned in on again later there was no connection. Waited a while to see if it would just come back. It didn't. So then I spent some futile energy on checking everything one should check before calling the service guys. You know -  shutting things off, unplugging, checking wires, restarting, looking for the manuals and all the numbers they might want... Then it was too late to make the phone call!   

Not sure whether 'funny' or 'scary' is the best word for how lost it suddenly made me feel, to find myself unexpectedly disconnected like that from "the rest of the world" - not knowing what was wrong, how long it might last, or how to fix it.

Still disconnected this morning. Had breakfast, then called the cable company. They informed me there was an external fault somewhere, nothing to do with my modem. They had been working on it since yesterday.  When I got off the phone and back to the computer... I found myself connected again!

Somewhere inside though, I have a sort of weird feeling that I might still need some shutting off and unplugging and recharging... Finding it very hard these days to get back to where I was, when something happens to disturb my concentration.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Trying Out That Movie Star Look…

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In case you haven’t been following every post lately, the title (and photos) refer to the top picture in Friday’s blog post…

Partly because of my recent eye problems, on Saturday I bought myself a pair of polarized sunglasses that fit over my prescription glasses. Lucky for me, apparently that’s quite the fashion now… (At least I’m going to pretend it is!)

On this particular day, you could actually also get the impression from a walk in the town centre, that headscarves and hats had suddenly also become fashionable. (Not really, though… That was all part of a Laundry Day  history show…)

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PS. I did not actually wear my headscarf in town, those pictures were taken back home…

Monday, 26 April 2010

Quotation of the Week (17/2010)



Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful,
we must carry it with us or we find it not. 
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson ~

Sunday, 25 April 2010

Soap Bubbles



Some things in life aren't as easy as they might seem, 
even if you think you've got the right recepy.











Well, at last...!

The pictures are from a Public Laundry Day in our town centre yesterday, organized by the Textile Museum to show how things were done "in the good old days". There are also a couple of photos from this event at my Picture Book blog today. More will be coming up in the next few days.

I remember playing with soap bubbles as a child...
Found the photo below in my old album, of me and my cousin.
I about 8, he going on 2.

Friday, 23 April 2010

Vampire Week


 My new look for this summer?

Rae commented on the picture of my dilated pupil in my Tuesday post, that for some reason it made her think of vampires. (You really should follow that last link.) I couldn't help thinking about that comment when I came home from yesterday's hospital appointment of different kind, and looked at myself in the mirror again. This time, instead of a picture of "the real thing", I'll offer you one I found on the internet:

a crochet (!) "vampire bite cotton cashmere necklace"

Sorry, but on occasion a bit of sick humour really seems to be the only way to cope with scary things. The test I had done yesterday was a biopsy of my thyreoid gland. (I came home with two adhesive bandages on my throat; removing them revealed bruises reminding of a vampire bite.) The gland is enlarged even though the hormone production is still normal. This was discovered by my GP who referred me to a surgeon at the hospital. I may have to wait another month for the result of the biopsy, and to learn whether I'll need an operation or not. Since the not-knowing state of mind might tend to make me a bit snappish, I decided I'd better give you fair warning...

It has not been the best of weeks!

Thursday, 22 April 2010

BTT: Earth Day

http://btt2.wordpress.com/2010/04/22/earth-day/


It’s Earth Day … what are you reading? 
Are your reading habits changing for the sake of the environment? 
What are you doing for the sake of the planet today?

I'm listening to an audio book right now: an old Miss Silver mystery by Patricia Wentworth (from 1951).

Even if various electronic devices are contributing to changing my reading habits I don't really think I could claim that the main reason for this is "for the sake of the environment".   

I've been listening frequently to audio books for ten years or more, but that is mainly because I'm having problems with neck and eyes. I also read ordinary books. I borrow both kinds from the library, but also buy some. Sometimes I borrow a book at the library first, and buy my own copy later. When I buy books (or audio books), it's usually because I think that I'll be wanting to read/listen more than once, or look things up later, or that it will take me more time to finish it than the library allows me to keep it. I also buy books in English because they are often only available from the library in Swedish translation. I  sometimes download classics from Project Gutenberg etc but usually just to check or look up things; I find it too tiresome to read whole books on the computer. I have not yet tried the new electronic devices like Kindle . I'm sure it's an excellent invention, and might get even better - but I still find it hard to believe that they will 100% replace books printed on paper.

Little things I am doing "for the sake of the planet" (as well as for myself):
*I have a sign on my mail box saying I don't want any advertising mail.
*Recycling garbage: batteries, newspapers, glass, metal, plastic, food, burnable stuff etc.
*Using energy saving lights and rechargable batteries where that is suitable.
*Trying to remember not to keep too many devices on unnecessary stand-by.

Add to that that I don't have a car, usually use public transport, and very rarely travel at all... But again, it would be a false statement to claim that the main reason for that is my concern for the environment!

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Slow Spring



We're still having chilly, even frosty nights here, and spring is slow.
My clematis on the balcony however is coming along...
(Picture taken tree days ago.)

I'm not feeling at the top of inspiration at the moment. Tomorrow I have another hospital appointment - not related to the eye problem and not of emergency kind, but I'm not sure how much waiting around etc it might include. I also have some income tax forms waiting to be dealt with within the next few days (for myself and for my father).

I have a couple of more Picture Book posts already pre-scheduled, though, so they will (hopefully) be showing up even if I'm actually busy with other things.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Good News and Bad



As I told you in yesterday's post, I've been having trouble with an eye for a few weeks, and yesterday I got an appointment with an eye doctor to check it out. It was a tiring afternoon at the hospital, with a lot of waiting. The answer I got was pretty much what I expected (already having sort of diagnosed myself with the help of the internet). Which in turn includes a mix of good and bad news...

With the help of Wikipedia (going from the Swedish article to the English one), I learn that in English the condition is called posterior vitreous detachment or PVD. It means that the vitreous humour  which fills the eye behind the lens (humour to me has so far meant having fun!), shrinks and detatches from the retina. This is apparently a common thing in the ageing process, and especially if you are nearsighted - which I am, and have been since childhood. One of the symptoms of PVD can be a dramatic increase in the number and concentration of "floaters" in the eye. Floaters are deposits of various size, shape, motility etc within the eye. These are visible because of the shadows they cast on the retina or their refraction of the light that passes through them. They may appear as spots, threads or  "clouds" which float slowly before the sufferer's eyes. Since these objects exist within the eye itself, they are not optical illusions but so called entoptic phenomena. (That is: You're not imagining them. They are there, within the eye.) And that is what's happening to me. I have this very irritating, dark grey "cloud" floating about in my right eye. It is especially noticable in reading, both on paper and on the screen.

The good news is that the condition in itself is not really "dangerous". There is some hope (but no promise) that the floaters might by themselves eventually drop to somewhere within the eye where they are less disturbing. Part of the bad news is that there is no treatment, and nothing anyone can do to prevent it. By the examination yesterday they were also able to determine that I have PVD on both eyes even though I've only been having this visual problem on one eye. There is also always a risk of damage to the retina in the PVD process; but I have not had any symptoms of that - flashes of light, or restriction of the visual field. (If one does, one should contact the hospital immediately. Damage to the retina can be treated with laser; untreated it can cause blindness.) The only advice the doctor could give me was - not to lift heavy things! [sigh] Well, since I'm already restricted when it comes to that (because of neck-shoulder-arm problems), I guess that little piece of advice should not be too hard to follow.

For the examination, I was given some eyedrops to dilate the pupil. This made my vision blurry for a few hours afterwards. They told me about this in advance because it means one shouldn't drive back from the doctor's. Well, I don't have a car anyway. Already being nearsighted, I had expected worse. I found myself perfectly able to take the bus again downtown and then walk the rest of the way home from there. I was glad I had thought of bringing my prescription sunglasses, though. Not only did I see better with those on (less disturbed by the light), it probably also spared the fellow human beings I met from being scared to death by the sight of my dilated pupils. Which I myself wasn't confronted with until I came home and faced the bathroom mirror:



Yikes!

I was also very tired from all the uncomfortable sitting upright in the waiting room all afternoon. (I was told to be there at two, and I arrived in good time. Had to wait until three before I got to see a nurse, and then another hour before I got to see the doctor. Seemed to be a lot of emergencies that day.) So I ended up going to bed at 7 p.m. (eyes closed and Venetian blinds drawn) to listen to an audio book for a couple of hours before I went to sleep.

This morning, my eye size was back to normal. (First picture.) But the cloud is still floating about... And it does make me tired. So I guess I will have to include this too "in the picture" when trying to adjust (again) my daily schedule. Taking breaks to rest my eyes as well as my neck etc.

Should add that I have less trouble watching TV than reading, because then I usually don't have to move my eyes over the screen so much, but can sort of park the cloud at the right corner of my eye.

Monday, 19 April 2010

Wait and See?

Contemplating the quotation in my previous post today... Do you ever wonder... Well, silly question, really - I guess all bloggers do, from time to time:  Shall I put this or that on the blog or not...?

This, I would normally wait with, until I knew a bit more. But since I might not feel up to blogging directly afterwards, there might be a point in telling you before. I've been having "a spot of" trouble with an eye for a couple of weeks, a sort of irritating shadow floating about... Thought it was just a temporary irritation, but it's not getting better (nor worse, really), so this morning I got on the phone to the eye clinic at the hospital. And they gave me an "emergency" appointment at 2 p.m. today. If nothing else they'll be giving me some eyedrops for the examination that will make my vision blurry for a while. They told me this to point out that I shouldn't drive. But I don't drive anyway, so I'll take the bus there and maybe a taxi back home afterwards. But perhaps I'd better stay off the computer tonight...

Quotation of the Week (16/2010)


Photo (c) DawnTreader: Detail from a fountain.
The real art of conversation is not only to say the right thing at the right time, but also to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment.
~ Unknown ~

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Ashes and Dust



The April sun went into hiding for the weekend. Saturday was all grey here, and very windy. All the sand that has not yet been swept up from the streets after the winter, whirling around... Suddenly it seemed much easier to "believe" in that cloud of vulcano ashes that has been putting a lock on all our airports in Northern Europe over the last few days; leaving people stranded all over the world, suddenly not being able to go where they intended to go. Bad enough for those who were going away; and even worse for those headed back home (expected back at work, and having spent all their holiday money).

Yes, I do know that the clouds I actually see now are "ordinary" clouds. The news just seemed all the more incredible when I first heard about it, and at the same time saw the sun blazing down from a perfectly clear, blue sky! (Ashes? What ashes?)

A powerful reminder that we really have very little clue what's going on around us, most of the time!



"Ashes to ashes, dust to dust..."

A walk earlier in the week (still under a blue sky) took me across the town's oldest cemetery. It has a lot of these really impressive graves with huge memorial headstones in enclosures surrounded by heavily decorated iron fences. (I always wonder: Why? Yes, I can understand the need to mark the place... But iron fences?!)



But in the same cemetery I also found the hepaticas (cf previous post), growing "wild" outside the fences, reminding of new life...




“Earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust; in sure and certain hope of the Resurrection into eternal life”
~ Book of Common Prayer ~

Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away. No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.

~ Gospel of Matthew 24: 35, 36 ~

Friday, 16 April 2010

Surprise



One of our earliest and most beloved wild spring flowers is the Hepatica. It is not all that common, in some parts of Sweden it is under a special protection law (i.e. you're not allowed to pick it). You usually have to go to special places in the countryside to find it; it doesn't grow just anywhere. So I was pleasantly surprised to find it growing in a spot next to a stone wall in a cemeterery in town that I was walking across the other day. (Not planted on a grave; although I suppose it might have spread from a plant someone brought some time).

Thursday, 15 April 2010

BTT: Beginning or End?

http://btt2.wordpress.com/2010/04/15/which-end/

In general, do you prefer the beginnings of stories? Or the ends?

Hm. How about the middle? Well caught up in a good story, but still not knowing how it's going to end...?

In general, though, I'd say the beginning is immensely important because it often decides whether we'll let us get caught up in the story at all. If the beginning is not interesting enough, we might even consider it not worth while to continue reading - unless we feel compelled to do so by some other reason than sheer pleasure or interest. (Like a school assignment.)

The end however is important for our final judgment of the book. If we don't like the way it ends, that tends to cast a shadow back over the whole story.

(On the other hand, if it has been tedious reading all along, to see the end of it may seem a relief, whatever the end turns out to be!)

My guess is that there are probably more famous opening sentences than closing ones. Here's a selection from my own bookshelf. Seven quotations: Some are beginnings, some are ends. Do you know the books?

1/ Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show. To begin my life with the beginning of my life, I record that I was born (as I have been informed and believe) on a Friday, at twelve o'clock at night. It was remarked that the clock began to strike, and I began to cry, simultaneously.

2/ 'Very little white satin, very few lace veils; a most pitiful business! - Selina would stare when she heard of it!' - But, in spite of these deficiencies, the wishes, the hopes, the confidence, the predicitions of the small band of true friends who witnessed the ceremony, were fully answered in the perfect happiness of the union.

3/ Mr and Mrs Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much. They were the last people you'd expect to be involved in anything strange or mysterious, because they just didn't hold with such nonsense.

4/ The boy with fair hair lowered himself down the last few feet of rock and began to pick his way towards the lagoon. Though he had taken off his school sweater and trailed it now from one hand, his grey shirt stuck to him and his hair was plastered to his forehead.

5/ Alice was beginning to get very tired of sitting by her sister on the bank, and of having nothing to do; once or twice she had peeped into the book her sister was reading, but it had no pictures or conversations in it, "and what is the use of a book," thought Alice, "without pictures or conversations?"

6/ I lingered round them, under that benign sky; watched the moths fluttering among the heath and hare-bells; listened to the soft wind breathing through the grass, and wondered how anyone could ever imagine unquiet slumbers, for the sleepers in that quiet earth.

7/ ... now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on forever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.

You will find the answers below these pictures.



Snowdrops



Scilla



1/ Charles Dickens: David Copperfield (beginning)
2/ Jane Austen: Emma (end)
3/ J.K. Rowling: Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (beginning)
4/ William Golding: Lord of the Flies (beginning)
5/ Lewis Carroll: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (beginning)
6/ Emily Brontë: Wuthering Heights (end)
7/ C.S. Lewis: The Last Battle (end)

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Sail Away

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In town today, one of the windows of this old wooden building caught my eye…

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Sail Away ~ Enya

Balcony Gardening


April 2010

Every spring when the sun comes back, so does the itch to plant things...!

On my previous balcony, which was a little bigger than the present one - and also a bit more protected from sun, wind and rain - I used to have quite a garden in the summer (see below). I settle for less greenery now (this flat, including the balcony, has other advantages). But of course it's early days yet, spring just getting started.  


July 2007

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Enjoying the Sunshine



We're enjoying beautiful spring weather now, and they say it is going to continue over the next few days. So I was inspired to "move outdoors", i.e. to fetch my deck chair from the storage room in the basement to the balcony, for the summer season. My balcony faces south-west, which is perfect in the early spring and in the autumn. On a really hot and sunny summer day however it gets too hot there in the afternoon. But on the whole... comparing it to my previous flat, where the balcony had morning sun... It really prolongs the summer season to get the afternoon and evening sun instead. Monday afternoon I was out there for two or three hours; planting some more flowers, and then just sitting in the sun, and reading a bit - wearing jeans, but short sleeves. And it's not even mid April yet! After the long, cold winter we had... it's a very special feeling to be able to do that again!

And my clematis plant has survived the winter, too! :)

Monday, 12 April 2010

Quotation of the Week (15/2010)



To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson ~

Sunday, 11 April 2010

One for GB





Just before I went out for a walk today, I was reading GB's post on his last croquet tournament for the season in New Zealand.

In a park not very far from where I live there is a croquet lawn. I only know that because there is a sign that says so. During the two years I've lived in this neighbourhood I never saw anyone use this lawn to actually play croquet. Once last summer I saw a man mowing it, but that's all the activity I've ever seen there. Until today!  (a beautiful spring day)

So I'm posting the pictures of this very special sign of spring for you, my friend - with congratulations!

Saturday, 10 April 2010

A Computer Update Ramble

I've had my new computer for a week now. Strikes me that this is actually the first time I've set a brand new computer up all by myself. Most of my computers through the years I have inherited. Not the previous laptop, but I think I got some help getting that one "started" too. This time I only had help getting the box home from the store!

My new friend is blissfully silent, with bigger and better screen (17,3") and 10x the capacity of the old laptop. The hard drive of this one is 640 GB. And Windows 7 is definitely an improvement compared to Windows Vista, which I have on the old one.

... Or should I say... had on the old one... Because after being successful with installing this and that on the new one without problems, I got a bit over-optimistic about my abilites, and also tried to install something - an extra keyboard - to the old one. Which apparently it did not like. Anyway, it went on strike. When restarting it to complete that installation, I found that Windows no longer accepted commands from any keyboard to even type in the password!

... Fortunately, though, I also have Ubuntu installed on that laptop. And Ubuntu still lets me in. So at least I can still use it to access the Internet. (It might also be possible from U. to remove the faulty Windows files from the hard drive, but that's something I don't think I dare try on my own, since I'm not really sure which files do what.) Feeling very stupid about that experiment. But at least before I got all daring, I already had all documents and photos safely copied onto Bella (the new computer) (+ extra copies on an external hard drive)

Bella came with full license Photoshop Elements 7, which I have installed, but which will require some further "looking into" before I grasp all the possibilities. Meanwhile, I've also installed Picasa 3, which I've been getting used to over the past few months.

The big irritation at the moment is that every time I turn the computer on I get a pop-up window reminding me to install the trial version of the anti-virus software that came with the computer. Which I don't think I want. I have instead dowloaded AVG free, which has served me well for years on my previous computers. I suppose the only way to get rid of that pop-up window from Norton is to uninstall the whole thing, I just don't want to be too hasty about that decision.

I also have not installed Microsoft Office (which would also demand payment after a free trial period), but Open Office instead.

Windows Live Writer (blog editor) was included. I had already downloaded and tried that out a bit on the other laptop. It does give some interesting new layout possibilities. One thing I recently discovered though (has anyone else noticed?) is that Live Writer doesn't seem to accept collages made in Picasa.

With web browsers I've been a bit back and forth before... Right now I'm trying to get properly reaquainted with Mozilla Firefox. For one thing it has the advantage of being able to synchronize bookmarks even between Windows on one computer and Ubuntu on the other...! I decided to do a big clean-up among my old bookmarks, though. With too many, one almost loses the point.

When my brother was here for Easter, he also relieved me of the chrashed desktop, including the old heavy screen. Glad to be rid of it! It has been sitting there for 4½ months, just taking up space while being of no use at all... (My brother is also going to have a go at retrieving lost data from the hard drive. Or otherwise at least see to it that no one else can either.)



Bella, connected to all the extra appliances in the study.

Spring Is Here

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There are more and more signs of spring. I can’t remember the name of these blue flowers (in any language) – I think they’re some kind of runaway garden flower rather than properly “wild”. I found them in a small grove close to some apartment buildings yesterday, together with mini daffodils…

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… and some more Small Tortoiseshell butterflies…

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It’s good to see them back!

Sorry the pictures are a little blurry, I’m not terribly good at bending down to the ground and holding my camera completely still at the same time…!

Another sign of spring is the sound of the gulls. I live an hour’s drive (or so) away from the coast, but they follow the river (I suppose) in the spring and come inland. Yesterday afternoon, I sat for a little while in the sun on my balcony… Closing my eyes, hearing the gulls, I get the feeling of being by the sea… I also see them circling in the sky high above me, but no use trying to catch them with my camera from that distance. 

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There is definitely life in my clematis plant on the balcony – the buds are swelling. But the box of garden strawberry plants seemed to have given up.  (I’ve had that box for years without being able to add any new soil, and this winter was extremely cold.) So I’ve got rid of that now.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

BTT: Plots vs Stream-of-Consciousness

http://btt2.wordpress.com/2010/04/08/plotting/

Plots? Or Stream-of-Consciousness?
Which would you rather read?

I had to look this up to refresh my memory...

stream of consciousness
Narrative technique in nondramatic fiction intended to render the flow of myriad impressions — visual, auditory, tactile, associative, and subliminal — that impinge on an individual consciousness. To represent the mind at work, a writer may incorporate snatches of thought and grammatical constructions that do not seem coherent because they are based on the free association of ideas and images. The term was first used by William James in The Principles of Psychology (1890). In the 20th century, writers attempting to capture the total flow of their characters' consciousness commonly used the techniques of interior monologue, which represents a sequence of thought and feeling. Novels in which stream of consciousness plays an important role include James Joyce's Ulysses (1922), William Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury (1929), and Virginia Woolf's The Waves (1931).

Britannica Concise Encyclopedia, as quoted by Answers.com

I have to go with Plots! Looking at some more lists of classic examples of Stream-of-Consciousness, I find that I haven't actually read a whole lot of them (I have to confess I never even tried Ulysses, for example); and those that I have read, I don't remember very well.

But surely there are lots of books that contain a mix? Seems to me, for example, that many modern thrillers insert the Stream-of-Consciousness kind of monologues - usually in italics - to let the reader know what the (often anonymous) villain/murderer is thinking; while the detective has to rely on the Plot. Actually I started reading (listening to) a Swedish detective novel of that kind the other day, and when the first anonymous monologue came up, I said to myself: Oh, another one of that kind... And found it slightly irritating! Sometimes it serves a purpose, but as narrative technique I think it's getting a little over-used.


Besides... It's really hard to make it quite convincing, isn't it? To render the flow of myriad impressions. I was listening to a different kind of book the other day (not fiction), about Ways to Wisdom (by Swedish author Stefan Einhorn). One thing he said (or quoted from somewhere) was that it has been estimated that we think around 60000 thoughs each day. 95% of those thoughts are repetition - we tend to stick to the same old thoughts a lot! But - and he made a point of this - that still means that we think 3000 NEW thoughts each day...

How anyone went about it to calculate that, I have no idea, though (and neither did Einhorn). It will hardly have been by letting a number of people write every single thought down, because no one can write that fast. (While writing one thought down, a great number of other ones will already have passed through our mind...)

But even in the Blogworld we're balancing daily between these two, I think - Stream-of-Consciousness vs Plot. Sandra had a question in her blog yesterday, about why we blog, and whether a blog (or a blog post) should have a "point". Thinking about that again now with the BTT question in mind, it strikes me (a new thought!) that even though this blog of mine has no specific "point" (other than to be a blog for putting all kinds of thoughts out into the cyberspace and see what happens...), I'm usually striving for the individual post to have one (even if some days the point might just be to let readers know that "I'm still here"). Moreover, I probably have the same expectation when reading other people's blogs (subconsciously, if not consciously). And the reason that some blogs (or posts) leave me feeling sort of confused and unsure of what the person is really trying to say, may be that they're really more of the Stream-of-Consciousness kind than of the Telling-a-Story and/or Making-a-Point kind. Hm. I'll have to think about that...!



Stream of Consciousness...?

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