It’s the small things

Missy, our young cat, says hi!

This week started with some small surprises that have made it magical. Reading your blogs, I saw that Cleo and others are discussing C.S. Lewis’s The Four Loves.

Long, long ago, I borrowed this book from the library. But it’s a title worth revisiting. Yesterday, Sunday, at one of our ongoing Bible studies, the topic of love came up, and I was reminded of it. This morning, Cleo’s last post on it made me want to read it. I stopped at my neighborhood’s used book store to drop some books for credit, checked on the shelf, and there it was. A used but in new condition copy of it! Last week when I visited the store it wasn’t there.

I was on my way to my youngest daughter’s charter school. Also, by luck, I got an email from school saying they were missing her vaccination records. The email came a bit after I made an appointment with the doctor for my oldest daughter. It was perfect. I asked the doctor for a copy of the records, (instead of trying to locate one I’m sure we have).

This month I’ve been asking my husband to work with me in our small pantry/washing and drier room. There’s some space there we could reclaim with a tall and narrow shelf of some sort, to storage cans and pantry items. We were going to shop for that shelf tomorrow.

As serendipity wanted it, a couple of days ago, my nextdoor neighbor asked my husband to help her with an electrical outlet that was out. He gladly did so. He went to Home Depot, (one of our two hardware stores in the area), to get a piece, -and something for us, of course-. That’s my husband’s favorite place. The neighbor wanted to pay him some money for the job, which he refused.

Trash to treasure

Coming home with daughter #1 from those morning errands plus a Dunkin’ Doughnut’s croissant for her for good measure, what did I find for disposal by the trash, at the front of my neighbor’s house? You guessed it!, a tall and narrow shelf unit, with a couple of door compartments and plenty shelf space that will be perfect for our pantry. We still have to tell her that we got payment this way. The neighbor next door to her was out there with his young adult son, by their garage, looking absentmindedly at me taking my loot to our garage.

I’m doing a lot of reading. But I also eat and sleep, y’all. While daughter #2 is at camp, daughter #1, husband and I, went to our favorite Chinese restaurant, which I believe it’s also one of the best in the whole Houston, Tiger Noodle House. We have lots of different worldwide foods restaurants here. Like everywhere, there’s lots of Chinese restaurants with a local cheap twist to them. Lots of buffets where noodles are seen along with pizza, chicken nuggets, and frozen fries. When Tiger Noodle opened, we were impressed by their Chinese owner and staff, and the menu options leaning more towards distinctive Chinese dishes.

Two years later, they are thriving as a business. They are always quite full at lunch and dinner, there’s a lot of Eastern clientele. Food is fresh. Service great. Nice but informal atmosphere. Branded chopsticks! And addictive dumplings.

They always offer a complementary appetizer. Once this year my husband waited 35 min for his food, and they gave it to him for free, -he didn’t want to, so he gave them a tip for the cost of food anyway-. And if you find that ridiculous, I must tell you that Houston may not be NY city, but it’s truly fast paced. No restaurant has longer than 15, 20 minutes waiting, specially during the week lunch, -people have to return to work-. Competition and high standards put a lot of pressure, I’m sure.

Mini book update: thanks to Carol, Leah, and Chris, I’ve read a couple of P.D. Jame’s books. I’ve enjoyed them both very much. I know I’ll go back to more of her mysteries, no doubt. The first book was The Mistletoe Murder and Other Stories, which consists of four stories, and her dystopia The Children of Men.

The mystery stories reminded me of James’s own hero, Agatha Christie, but they were more modern in topics, and darker. Even though she was British, and Shirley Jackson American, something kept me thinking of this other amazing author of short stories. I have to confess that I have not read many short stories authors. Most of the similarities may have to do with the fact that they were contemporaries. Jackson’s dates are December 14, 1916 – August 8, 1965, and James’s, 3 August 1920 – 27 November 2014. James lived and wrote longer.

The Children of Men was dystopia at its best, and had that component of not knowing what was going to happen in the end. I didn’t know what it was going to be like, though I kept wishing for certain things to happen or not. I find it both credible and satisfactory. The strength of the book is in the characters and their conflicts. Although I can’t say the book disappointed, I was left wanting more. More development of the inner struggles of Theo, more about his wife, and about Xan, Theo’s cousin. Although maybe it’s best the way it is, with a first half building up tension and suspense, and a second half totally devoted to action and resolution. There’s very beautiful moments in this book that make it worth reading.

I had to watch the movie. And I did, with my husband. I then remembered having seen it, and yes, I specially recalled those quasi documentary quality moments the film has.

It’s a great movie. I still wanted more, 🙂 It’s just me. All the cleverly curated and different settings the movie contains, but to my taste, not enough time spent in many of them. When I see something good, I’d like to take my time and it would have been great for the director to mine that magic more. Maybe for my opinion there’s a lot more of others who were happy and satisfied with the trepidation of the last half of the movie. Hey, I’m glad this movie is there, and the book as well.

After the movie, I spent the drive to church trying to explain to my husband how the book was very different. He always tells me to go to the point, how does it end? I tell him I can’t explain how it ends, if I don’t spend some time telling him how the premises were different.

All of us here know that reading is different to watching. Though many books are simple, and just plot oriented, literature can’t be reduced to plot. Before modern literature, the myths, poems, legends, etc., were captivating in their unique story lines, their heroes and archetypes. And even in that case, certain retellings of the myths possess more quality than others. I’m trying to say that there’s a certain fascination in saying the bare plot of Oedipus Rex, or Odysseus, while much of what’s going on in modern literature is quite trivial.

Ortega in his “Meditations on Don Quixote”, points to us how modern literature, -of which Don Quixote is a good first example-, picks mundane people and common happenings for the first time. If I told you, -I’m paraphrasing-, what DQ is about, it won’t be very interesting, while the prospect of reading once more how Cervantes tells us this story, that’s exhilarating!

This goes strongly for the two books I’m currently reading. Vonnegut, in his The Sirens of Titan, creates his own world of fantasy and reality, I could never tell you what this is about. Wait. I could, but that won’t make justice to this title. I never predicted how much I was going to appreciate Vonnegut. I know there must be a lot to this book, for example, that I’m not getting. However, I enjoy it as it is right now, and know that further readings will show me more in it than my first pass.

Last, Speak, Memory. Wow. If there was ever a life worth of being narrated, that must have been Nabokov’s. It’s not every day you find a man who could provide his biography with the content of such an extraordinary life. Born with the century, witness of mankind two wars, citizen of two worlds, two continents, inhabitant of the old crumbling order and the new budding one. And yet, I doubt there’s another biography told in more literary form than this. His unique experiences are elevated to universal through his poetic language, uncovering the primeval experience of childhood, -at least this is how it goes for the first third of the book! The book may change in tone or style. I’ll let you know once I finish it, if you care, and in case you haven’t read it yourselves.

16 thoughts on “It’s the small things

  1. You make me want to read Speak, Memory — though I’ve never read any Nabokov and have not been particularly interested. I will look forward to your thoughts when you finish the book.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love that you found that book, Silvia! I’ve been finding some CS Lewis there too and have been surprised. Don’t often find his books there. 🙂 So glad you’re having a wonderful summer!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Your posts are sometimes a bit like apple pie, however large the slice I have to consume it to the end! In this case, a generous slice of life on offer.

    You’re correct to say that the PD James is not easy to summarise, nor is the resolution a resolution in the conventional sense. (In fact, a bit like a slice of daily family life!) I have now scheduled my review to be reposted early next week, but your observations about wanting to know more about individual lives after the novel ends is spot on: I’m sad there’s unlikely to be any sequel.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Love the story of your happy coincidences. I love it when life works like that.

    I’ve only read P.D. James’ mysteries. I am really curious about The Children of Men, however. I typically “like” dystopias. I think I enjoy being slightly frightened by them, but safe at the same time. Yes, books and movies are so different. A good adaptation is like magic. I am still reading The Wings of the Dove, which I did see as a movie many years ago. But there is so much interiority in the novel that the movie could not capture.

    I love Vonnegut. His books are crazy but beautiful and funny. I need to re-read everything. I read him mostly when I was in my 20s and I have very vague recollections of the actual books.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am loving Vonnegut so much, I could have never told. He is all that you say, crazy, beautiful and funny. I also find this particular one deep too. His war experience seeps through his literature in a very real way. There’s more of the pain, despair and absurd of WWII, the jagging experience of the soldier, than in 1000 historical fiction books one may read on it.


  5. The Four Loves that you found looks to be in PERFECT condition!! Wow! So glad you’re hopping on The Four Loves bus …. I’m looking forward to your insights!

    I had to laugh at your post. While you’re told to get to the point, I’m often told I’m missing the point, lol! All these points!

    Speak, Memory sounds amazing but I have to get to reading some Nabakov first. I have a book of his short stories that I need to dig out. I don’t think I’ll ever read Lolita but I can appreciate him as a writer in other ways.

    Thanks for all your updates ….. fun to read!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I will comment as I read your Four Loves posts. I finished needs and likes yesterday.
      All these points! Hahaha.
      I won’t read Lolita either, but other titles, absolutely. His style is very peculiar, and very rich, language lovers are in for a treat.
      Thanks for the comment. It’s so encouraging to share thoughts with you.

      Liked by 1 person

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