Friday 27 October 2017

7 Quick Takes 59: Vintage Mother 2.5

1. Wow, two and a half years already. Being geriatric parents, we have a variation on, "Where did I put my car keys?": we glance at our toddler and think, "Hey, there's a small child in our house. Where'd he come from?"

2. Trying to be responsible and teaching your child the proper word for everything leads to interesting conversations at the breakfast table. As in, when he looks across at our (neutered) cat and asks, "Where's Odie's scrotum?" Son, I think Odie's been wondering that, too.

3. I'm fond of remarking that, with a toddler and teen in the house, I daily feel caught between Scylla and Charybdis - and sharing that thought certainly got my teen exercising her eye-rolling muscles. And now I've learned that toddler and teen brains are indeed developing in the same way, with the emotional part growing way faster than the logical part. I feel totally vindicated in my suffering.

Looking vintage in his sister's 18 year-old pyjamas

4. Talking of facts, I've also confirmed that yes, running around after a toddler was what was knackering me. He's in nursery school three mornings a week now, and I spend the time sitting on my backside freelance editing, and I no longer have days when I'm exhausted for hours.

5. Sometimes, when I'm clearing out the bathroom cupboard, I look at those two boxes of hair dye I bought when pregnant, nigh on three years ago. Part of me wants to throw them out and admit I'm just going to be grey. Part says, go on, try it, you might look younger. The other part is afraid I'll just be an old mother with a bad dye job.

6. Being the oldest mother in my toddler's nursery class, I have to take my joy where I can. Last week, I was talking with another mother about upcoming class pictures. "I can't decide what she should wear," she said.
"I have a photo of his sister in that same class, " I quipped. "Eighteen years ago." Moment of silence.
"Oh my," was all she could manage, presumably while wondering if her doctor's number was on speed dial so she could book her sterilization NOW.

7. I've also got enough experience under my belt to realise that children do not freak out over things we think are traumatizing. Seasonal case in point: we were in the local costume shop with my daughter and her friend, when Alcuin came across a rooster costume with a photo like this:

He stared at it for a short while, and announced, "I fink de rooster has eaten de man."

On that note, enjoy whatever you call the end of October, and totter on over to This Ain't the Lyceum for more Quick Takes.

Thursday 19 October 2017

Quick Lit: October 2017

Modern Mrs Darcy seems to have skipped October's Quick Lit, but I'd already written the linkup post, so here it is:

This year, having given up my job teaching literature, and thus not having to spend all my reading time on what I was teaching, I decided to put more serious effort into rebooting my personal reading life. I was really chuffed when I reviewed my list about mid year and realised I'm averaging two books a month. Some Modern Mrs Darcy Readers may get through 200 books a year, but I'll be celebrating if I make it to a dozen!

Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susannah Clarke
It's the early nineteenth century, and no practical magic has been performed in England for several centuries. A pair of enthusiastic theoretical magicians uncover a practical magician, Mr Norrell, living in seclusion and persuade him into the public eye. Eventually, he takes on a pupil, Jonathan Strange, whose talents quickly match his own. But while Norrell's mission is to re-envision magic for the Age of Reason, devoid of dangerous faery influences, Strange becomes obsessed with England's magical past and the father of English magic, the Raven King, whose realm once included the north of England. If you like fantasy, magic, historical fiction, alternative history, Jane Austen, and/or regency novels - all wrapped up in a long read (this is over 750 pages), then this may be for you. I finished it in two weeks - my husband said he felt like a widower.

Zuleika Dobson by Max Beerbohm
What? By whom? That was my reaction too. My husband bought this Edwardian tragicomic novel for our collection of Folio Society books as the heroine has his family name. But he's never read it, so I thought I should give it a go, for my "off my shelf" reads. Zuleika Dobson has risen from penury to riches by dint of a mediocre conjuring talent and an bewitching beauty that literally has men swooning three deep at her feet. When she arrives at that bastion of male bastions, Oxford University, to visit her grandfather, Warden of Judas College, the doom is set for all the young men who live under the shadow of the dreaming spires. I pretty much smiled all through the novel. This novel is in the vein of the better-known Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons, so if you liked that, or enjoy Victorian/Edwardian novels, or were a Downton Abbey fan, you might appreciate this send-up of the British upper class. But keep a dictionary at hand - this is a vocabulary workout too :)

A bonus book this month - I found a copy of Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rys on the freebie table at our library. It's been on my mental to-read list for decades. I only wish I'd got to it sooner. Set in Rys's native Carribbean,Wide Sargasso Sea tells the story of Bertha Mason, Mr Rochester's mad wife, mainly from her point of view. It's a fast, intense read, having the emotional force of Jane Eyre without aping it. Definitely recommended for fans of Charlotte Bronte's novel.

A Flower Fairy Treasury by Cecily Mary Barker
We pulled my daughters' Flower Fairy books off the shelf for my toddler son. Cecily Mary Barker  lived in Croydon, where I went to school (it had an, ahem, more genteel reputation in her day). You could pretend you're teaching your toddler fine art, botany, folk lore, poetry, and vocabulary building all in one. Or you could just admit you read them 'to your child' so you can look at the pretty fairy pictures.

How do Dinosaurs Say I Love You by Jane Yolen
Dinosaurs and fairies - why not? Most "I love you" books are a little too cutesy for me, but this is truly funny - dinosaurs who act just like toddlers, and have human parents. You and your little velociraptor will appreciate it!

Still almost hitting 90 degrees here, but I hope it's actually autumnal where you are - happy October reading!