Book reviews, life is beautiful, poetic living

Back to Normal

I’ve had more time these past weeks to slow down and take some pictures of our daily life. I’m basking in the normal life routines. My life is a beautiful life. It’s a complex life, like any life, and it’s also full of challenging moments, of not so good attitudes on my side, it has crises, arguments, disobedience and impatience, anger, frustration, disrespect, selfishness.
What makes us who we are it’s that we are aware of those shortcomings, we have up and downs in our health, physical and spiritual health. And when we are down, we stand up and get back to the right path once more.

My oldest daughter is feeling much better these days, and last Thursday she indulged us with a lovely dinner. She cooked delicious chicken for us. She made a light batter for the chicken, and a sauce for the stir fried veggies.

We try to improve the way we eat. We all have different definitions and executions of ‘eating healthy’. There’s so much about this in our times, that it’s a bit overwhelming to know what way to go. My friend Kim wrote two posts on food that I recommend.

When we came back from the third visit to hospital, my daughter was not in excruciating pain, she wasn’t sick, nor did she have anything serious, yet things were not smooth. She came home on a long dose of oral steroids. Steroids affect people differently. Even from hospital, when she received 4 days of steroids through IV, she felt side effects, the first ones for her were metallic taste, and stomachache.

At home, we all got tired of my food. My oldest became irritable, she also had some insomnia, she was hungry, she still felt weak -no matter how much she ate-, she was tired, and food was a mini crisis. I wasn’t 100% myself, I definitely lost my inspiration to cook.

Back to healthy eating, we finally were able to do our shopping on Fridays as we usually do, and we bought milk without hormones, and also chicken without hormones and natural. It’s little things we try to do, and when she felt for cooking dinner, it meant a lot. All of us savored this meal. It tasted to home, laughter, and it was a homage to coming together after a trying period of our life.

She also baked some cookies!

My reading slowed down these months, part because of health, and part because of lessons at home and the co-op, but I’m still reading. I’m savoring A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, I’m half way through the book, and I’m also reading this book you see, The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon.

I had seen the book several times at our usual used book store, and I always thought it was an iffy book. The title didn’t sound right to my ears. I finally read a bit, and I realized pillow book means for Sei Shonagon, her diary, the book by her pillow where she writes about her life. It’s a classic in Japanese literature. This is the excerpt at Amazon:

The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon is a fascinating, detailed account of Japanese court life in the eleventh century. Written by a lady of the court at the height of Heian culture, this book enthralls with its lively gossip, witty observations, and subtle impressions. Lady Shonagon was an erstwhile rival of Lady Murasaki, whose novel, The Tale of Genji, fictionalized the elite world Lady Shonagon so eloquently relates. Featuring reflections on royal and religious ceremonies, nature, conversation, poetry, and many other subjects, The Pillow Book is an intimate look at the experiences and outlook of the Heian upper class, further enriched by Ivan Morris’s extensive notes and critical contextualization.

It has 185 sections over 284 pages, and it has lots of notes and a helpful introduction by the translator. The yellow page you see in the picture above, it’s my attempt to circle the sections I’m reading, and the initials are my made up ratings for the sections. L= love it, G=good, E=exceptional, I=interesting, P=pretty, OK means OK!, T=traditions, PO=poetic, S=story.

When I read Shakespeare I usually do it with editions that have lots of notes such as Folger. I don’t always read the notes, because at times they are longer than the text itself, and it breaks my pace or impedes me from enjoying the book. However, in this case, the notes are worth reading for they explain much of what’s lost to us because of distance, lack of familiarity, and language inequalities. As a person fascinated with language and translations, I enjoyed the introduction by the translator as well. Most introductions I don’t want to read until I finish the book, in this case, since the book is a patch of Sei Shonagon’s observations, the introduction doesn’t spoil the narrative, but it provides the reader with a good platform to approach it.

I started reading History in English Words in January. This past September I decided it was time to finish it by reading more consistently from it. There’s continuity in the book, but each chapter stands by its own, thus making it possible to read intermittently as I did.

This was the book I read at hospital, because while Barfield writes very lively, it’s not a novel, and it’s not emotionally demanding, and at hospital I needed this.

This book is not an easy read nor it is very specialized or out of reach for any reader. Owen Barfield examines the birth of new words in different cultures and languages through history, -what was there before English, and how English has evolved until today-. And through those new terms, or new meanings of old terms, he devises the history of history itself. I’m probably scaring and confusing you, reader. I find it best to provide you with a couple of quotes for you to get a feel of his style, and what the book it’s about.

As imagination bodies forth the forms of things unknown, each molecule of suggestiveness contained in each word gains a mysterious freedom from its neighbors; the old images move to and fro distinctly in the listener’s fancy, and when the sound has died away, not merely the shape, but what seemed to be the very substance of the word has been registered.
Examples are found readily enough with the help of a volume of Shakespeare and the Oxford Dictionary. As to new words themselves, it has been said that there are more in Shakespeare’s plays than in all the rest of the English poets put together.
pg 153- 154

When we recall the great influence which Spenser’s poetry has exerted on English poets who have lived and written since his day, we can clearly see how the two kinds of Platonism -a direct Platonism, and a Platonism long ago transmuted and worked right down into the emotions of common people by the passionate Christianity of the Dark and Middle Ages- combined to beget the infinite suggestiveness which is now contained in such words as love and beauty. Let us remember, then, that every time we abuse those terms, or use them too lightly, we are draining them of their power; every time a society journalist or a film producer exploits this vast suggestiveness to tickle a vanity or dignify a lust, he is squandering a great pile of spiritual capital which has been laid up by centuries of weary effort.
pg 157 – 158

We think by means of words, and we have to use the same ones for so many different thoughts that, as soon as new meanings have entered into one set, they creep into all our theories and begin to mold our whole cosmos; and from the theories they pass into more words, and so into our lives and institutions.
pg 189

Lastly, I’m back to reading poetry. This time I am reading more Sandburg (I read a selection from his poetry for children to my daughters), and T.S. Eliot. I found this book by T.S. Eliot, and decided to give it a try after seeing him mentioned in wonderful books, and seeing many of my friends read and dot on him.

The first poem in the book is The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, and I fell in love with it right away. I need to remind myself how rewarding it is to read poetry.

As for my growth in the Word, the reading and studying that ties it all and makes the rest of the books and reads meaningful, I’m attending two bible classes, one is on Leviticus, -and it’s very exciting, the teacher is making us fall in love with the book as he is so much in love with it himself-, and the other is topical, Lessons from the Life of Jesus. The girls are studying the Epistles, and I with them too.

I’ve chatted for long, it’s time to retire. Thanks for visiting the blog and reading all the way to the end.


5 thoughts on “Back to Normal”

  1. Friend, I'm so glad to read your latest news. I have all of your blog posts saved up in my inbox, and I'm going to read them, but I wanted to say hello, I'm alive, I've prayed for your and your sweet girl, I'm so glad she's well, her chicken meal looks amazing, and someday we will introduce our girls face to face. You are such a lovely person. I take great comfort in reading your words and knowing you are on a plane of normalcy these days and that you are resting in God. And that you think Leviticus is exciting. I love that! We start back to school this week after a hectic few weeks in Sept. and a longish vacation. Cheers!!


  2. Silvia, it's so good to hear that your daughter is feeling better! And the pictures of the dinner she made…it looks so delicious! You all have been through so much recently. I'm so glad to hear that things are getting back to some normalcy for your family. Take care!


  3. Glad to hear things are getting back to normal!

    And I'm glad you wrote about the Barfield book — I've read such intriguing things about him and his work, so I've been reading a bit. I have Saving the Appearances, which is way over my head, so I switched to Poetic Diction, which I'm enjoying. I think I'll read this one next.


  4. Oh, Karen in KY, you are so sweet and supportive. You don't really need to read my posts, it made my day that you commented and let me know things are going well with you too. I know how busy our lives are, and it's a great honor that you, friends, stop by some times and take the time to comment.

    Karen @ the simply blog. I've missed you too, and I want to know how things are going at your home. Thanks for rejoicing with me, it's been a difficult season, but God has been with us, and He's giving us precious gifts every day. Among those gifts is your friendship.

    Wow, Kelly, I had no idea about those other Barfield books. He's not easy, but this one seemed more accessible than the one you've been reading. I saw this book at Anne's list in January, this and The Transitive Vampire, which I'm enjoying, but the later is an easy and fun book on grammar. I'm going to research more on Barfield, and hopefully read more by him. Poetic Diction has such a promising title. I've had you in my thoughts, I'm subscribed to your blog yet I visited it two days ago, thinking I was not subscribed or receiving new entries, but I can only imagine you have been busy. And thanks for recommending An Experiment in Criticism, hands down one of my best non fiction reads of this year!


  5. All of this food looks so good, Silvia 🙂 Thanks for linking to my blog…a lot to think about. I always enjoy reading about your book selections and reviews.


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