Bye, bye August

I’m copying Bellezza’s latest post title. I did love to read her recap of the month. She inspired me to do the same.

Many years ago, I did a bit of photography on the side. I had some photo sessions with some customers, friends or friend’s friends. This picture of the blue and orange pumpkins was taken at a nursery where I went to photograph twin brothers, who were 3 years old, and their parents and grandparents.

August is the fastest paced month at home. The teens started school the 12th and 14th. Prior to that we were doing back to school shopping, and those two weeks from mid to end of August have flown. They already have their school grade portal full of grades in all subjects, and I have, bless be the Lord, my substitute portal filling up with jobs. I can’t believe we’ve been to all those meet the teacher, open house, and diverse events, and that I’ve already contacted teachers by email on different matters, and even made the beginning of some promising friendships.

Our teens need support and guidance, spiritual, physical, emotional, and academic guidance. And giving such to them, means a good challenge to ourselves, to how we fare in all these aspects of life. Now, our advice or support is only as good as how we live it and follow it ourselves. We can’t hide from their sharp eyes.

For all August, save these past few days, we’ve endured much heat. It wasn’t easy at pick up carpool for us in the car, or for them waiting at the school porch. Luckily we have well working AC systems everywhere. In fact, despite of the temperatures reaching 101, -and 103 a few days-, I always need a jacket inside some buildings.

The city where I live, in the suburbs of Houston, is overloaded with Halloween items. As Bellezza says, it’s a bit annoying, but I guess it’s a very fast pace life, and people and stores need to have those items for sale well ahead of time to reach all of us.

I do love the fall. The word pumpkin is one of my favorites, it sounds whimsical, warm, and fun. There’s many ways in which I enjoy pumpkin, in food, candle scents, decor. Last year, a friend of mine at Facebook started to collect pumpkin everything articles she could find. It made for a hilarious set of entries. There were so many wacky products that sounded or looked utterly disgusting. The extra fun part was when someone in the thread had tried the said product, and raved about it.

Pumpkin Pudding Toothpaste?

As for my reading, I’ve slowed down a bit since I added some easy TV watching to my days. I started watching The Great British Bake Off yesterday. And though I have the other 8 episodes, I’m exercising a self imposed restraint, and I’ll be watching only one episode per week. I’ve also watched Chef’s Line, and Million Pound Menu seasons 1 and 2. They have been interesting shows to watch, specially the latest one.

Watching Million Pound Menu on Netflix, I’ve learned a few things about the food industry. For example, the fact that many know about food, can cook successful dishes that people want to eat, and sell with profits at markets, from food trucks, or at dinner clubs, doesn’t necessarily mean they are ready to open a brick and mortar restaurant.

The investors in the show are also very different and specific. Sometimes it’s not that the idea was bad, but it did not fit the kind of money the investors wanted to make, or the type of commitment they offered with their investment. Most of the contestants did not get a straightforward deal, I think none or just one got the deal they proposed. But many got the opportunity of being mentored, or a transitional deal to prepare them for that restaurant dream later on.

I also noticed that most of the people knew quite a lot about food, and also had valuable ideas and twists on what to do, but almost none were good at cracking numbers. Not surprising, given than almost all had no experience with the business part of their proposal, and had never run a restaurant before.

Finally, it became apparent to me that millennials eat the way they live. They thrive on novelty, they embrace fades, but it was more difficult to identify a more permanent trend. Probably the concept of a permanent restaurant, that offers a menu one becomes fond of and goes back to eat regularly, is something difficult to establish among this public.

I saw though, that the contestants got publicity through the program, and many embarked in different projects related to their idea. It may not have landed them the restaurant they dreamed with, but some of them definitely kept evolving and furthering their endeavors.

Upon the value of reading. As a substitute, as a person who is 48 years old, I can’t tell you all how grateful I am for the reading I have taken upon by my own volition. Not only have I enjoyed all these books I’ve been reading through the years, but I’ve gotten to meet this terrific online community, and the ideas and education they are providing for me are a true blessing.

I got to substitute Thursday and Friday for advanced world history, and advanced American history. The students had a test one day, and the other they read articles and had a debate. The debate was titled, “Was the Jamestown Settlement a Fiasco?” I got to read the article the teacher provided for them to start up the discussion. It had a person on the affirmative, -yes, it was a fiasco-, and someone who said that it wasn’t. Another class had an article called “The Worst Human Mistake”, which referred to agriculture. Having read Cry, the Beloved Country, I could draw some connections with the article. I also remembered a documentary on Wendell Berry and agriculture I watched a few years ago.

Books and the ideas in them come to us and bring forth new ideas and connections.

Onto my current readings. I’ve put everything on hold but two books. One is Moby Dick, which I’m loving more I ever thought, and the other is a book I chose on a whim, Ubik, by Dick Philip.

I may understand why Moby Dick is either loved or hated. There has to be a few things that make you ready for it. It’s a book for older audiences, or for old souls. One can’t be too hurried in life, or the non plot oriented chapters will distract and even annoy the restless reader. I’m restless myself. But I’m also at an age where I consciously look forward to some more reflective time. I enjoy the deep exploration of some themes we find in Moby Dick. I commented at someone’s blog that I surprised myself at how much I enjoyed those chapters about sailors, or types of whales, or the nature of ships.

I don’t intend to be a critic at all, but once at sea in the book, we all know this is going to be about Moby Dick showing up. It’s going to take time, so Melville is going to take pages and pages, to make us anticipate the whale as much as the sailors, and to give us a fully fleshed picture of what’s happening at the ship, plus some needed education on what this is all about. Very clever. And, as Brona said here, Moby Dick wasn’t an instant classic as Dickens’s books, or Don Quixote. Moby Dick was written in 1851, but it wasn’t until 1920 that it achieved its deserved reputation and became a favorite to many. It’s possible that the book needed some time to find its readers.

Likewise, there might be books which haven’t been recognized as classics in our times, that will be brought to the classics category, and others that enjoy popularity and recognition, may lose status in the future.

Finally, the story of how I came to read Ubik. I was reading some Goodreads reviews on Moby Dick, in particular, I enjoyed my friend Fernando’s review. He absolutely loves Moby Dick. He is also a great fan of Dostoevsky. I don’t know how, I also saw Ubik, a book Fernando praised, and there was a excerpt from an interview to the author, Dick Philip, who was expanding on the views of Americans towards sci-fi and how they differ from Europeans. His claim was that in the States we marginalize sci-fi a bit, and tend not to give good books their proper place when and if they overlap or are seen as belonging to this genre. The genre doesn’t enjoy literary quality. While in countries like Germany, people read lots of sci-fi in translation and place it neck to neck with quality literature, -if the book meets the standards of a good book, that is-.

SFR: Why do you think your books have sold so well in foreign countries, and not as well in America?

DICK: Well, the first answer that comes to mind is “Damned if I know.” Perhaps it’s the general attitude towards science fiction in European countries, accepting it as a legitimate form of literature, instead of relegating it to the ghetto, with the genre, and regarding it as sub-standard. The prejudice is not there in France, Holland, England, and Germany, and Poland that we have in this country against science fiction. The field is accepted, and it doesn’t have anything to do particularly with the quality of my writing, it has to do with the acceptance of the field of science fiction as a legitimate field. Bear in mind that many, many of the English writers wrote science fiction: Ian Foster, of course we always think of George Orwell, Huxley, and it’s just natural. It wasn’t a step down, into the gutter for them to do it, and it would be here. If Norman Mailer were to write a science fiction novel — an inter-galactic novel — I doubt if he would. Saul Bellow wrote me recently, and he said he is writing science fiction, and he of course in a very fine writer, so maybe the ghetto walls will break down here. But I think it is the fact that they have a high regard for science fiction there. And I think also one of the reasons — especially in France — is that they’re aware that it’s a field of ideas. The science fiction novel is a novel of ideas, and they’re interested in the ideas. There’s an intelligentsia in Europe among the students that appreciates the ideas. You don’t have the equivalent intelligentsia here. We just don’t have that interest in books of ideas that they have there. They appreciate the philosophical and other types of ideas in science fiction, and look forward to science fiction novels. They have a voracious appetite for them.

An Interview With Philip K. Dick From Science Fiction Review

Over the years, my interest in mystery, sci-fi, biography, etc. raises and fades, but never disappears. I’m glad I picked a book like this. Ubik is easy in terms of writing, it really entertains, but it goes deeper. Like good sci-fi, it has lots of philosophy, social commentary, humor, suspense, even history. All of it subservient to an intriguing plot, and well done characters.

I’m almost finished, but I’m trying to savor the last pages and think about it a bit before it ends. I’m very intrigued at the moment. I don’t know how it’s going to end, or if I’ll even like it or understand it. It’s been a good change of pace, and a nice addition to my reads. I can’t pass on a well written sci-fi title.

21 thoughts on “Bye, bye August

  1. Silvia, I can’t tell you how glad I am that I’ve “met” you, and this, in my thirteenth year of blogging. You breathe fresh life into an often tired subject for me.

    Your photograph of the pumpkins is gorgeous! How I love the blue and orange; a contrast, an unusual perspective in anything, is always so appreciated by me. What a welcome respite to the more typical autumnal pictures I see.

    I have succumbed to Pumpkin Spice scents in my house, most particularly with White Barn’s candle in Autumn. It smells lovely, as the combination of cloves, citrus and apples always appeals to me. But, pumpkin toothpaste? I think I would have to draw some kind of line. 😉 We do like pumpkin cake in our house, and pumpkin scones for breakfast, and I tell myself that fresh pumpkin is natural and therefore good for you even in baked items…

    It is great fun to share Moby Dick with you. As with Titanic, (you know the ship is going to sink, so why see the movie?) we know basically what the story is about. But the way Melville builds the anticipation, sets the stage, and combines it all with life is so unusual. I read a phrase which I have attached to my next post of quotes, so I won’t spoil it here, but it is applicable to life today! To me! It’s all very exciting, I think, to draw connections between these past decades.

    I am glad to hear of your subbing opportunities, and the way your teens are engaging in school. I miss those things as my son is now 28, and I am retired from public school, but at least I am teaching the little ones and anticipating it with great joy.

    Thank you for your lovely posts, and the beautiful spirit you have which shines through.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m glad to have found you as well. I’ve also been blogging for 10 years, maybe 9, and I instantly loved your blog. I don’t want to miss from now on your new posts, and maybe I’d go back to read some past ones. I am excited about your January challenge.

      I also love pumpkin, specially candles, I’ll look for White Barn, I don’t know if I’ve seen it at stores. Our popular and good quality candles are by Yankee candles. There’s also a pumpkin spice one we love to have. I too like pumpkin cake and I know I’d like the scones (though I have not tried any.) You should share your recipe. I don’t like pumpkin pie, though it’s very popular where I live.

      The toothpaste was an example of a bizarre article I wouldn’t try, 🙂 I’m looking forward to your next set of quotes, to catch that one you’ve spotted that has so much meaning. I’m truly glad I jumped at Brona’s challenge to read MD.

      Thanks for your sweet compliments, they’ve made my day. I’m heading to your own post to tell you about my perfume, ha ha ha.

      Liked by 1 person

      • How wonderful that you left me the name of your perfume! I am crazy about perfume, owning entirely too many for anyone’s good. I have a tendency to collect perfume and books; it is a bit embarrassing, although I try not to be excessive. I have almost every Guerlain known to (wo)man, and am currently in a Chanel No. 5 passion after being so disappointed with Gabrielle, their latest. CoCo Madamoiselle is so overdone in Chicago land, and I don’t like smelling like everyone else. 🙂 There are a few odd ones I love, too, that some people don’t know, such as LouLou from Cacherel, but mostly I like the classics the best: Joy, Diorissimo, Mitsouko…Well, here I am practically writing a post on perfume!

        The next time I make pumpkin scones I’ll post the recipe. It should be close to October. I’m not fond of pumpkin pie, but some pumpkin things are yummy. I was jut in Virginia for my cousin’s daughter’s wedding, and I found a recipe for sweet potato biscuits with ham. I will substitute pumpkin for sweet potatoes, as it is easier to find where I live.

        Can’t wait to discuss the next set of quotes from Moby Dick with you! Although I’ve had to lay it down again, briefly, since a Strega Prize winning novel came in at the library yesterday. It is The Catholic School by Edoardo Albinati, and it is very good so far. But, it is 1200 pages! 😳☺️

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        • I love this comment on perfume. I have never tried any Guerlain, but now I’m intrigued. I don’t like smelling like everyone else either, and guess what, the perfume every girl had in my twenties in Madrid was LouLou from Cacherel. I love it, but it was the ‘uniform’ fragrance, ha ha ha. That and Calvin Klein unisex. Your perfume knowledge is wonderful. I’m jotting down those classics you love. Even for perfumes you love the CLASSICS, ha ha ha.

          I’m very excited about the next Moby Dick as well. Thinking ahead, when I join Ruth at her One Hundred Years of Solitude read along, I may do the same you do for MD, posts with quotes. We’ll see, there’s still time.

          1200 pages! Wow. I think you’ll go fast through it though. Good luck with it, and enjoy Labor Day tomorrow.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Silvia! Love the pumpkins! After I marveled (a lot) at the colors, I began noticing the shapes, which are equally gorgeous.
    As usual there was much to think about in your post. I found your discussion of sci-fi particularly interesting, especially regarding the different attitudes towards it displayed by Europeans and Americans. I wonder if the difference could be attributed to the genre’s origins in the U.S. in the pulp magazines and paperback books of the 1940s and 50s? I remember my dad’s rotating stash of sci-fi paperbacks with the most wonderful covers — rocket ships! space babes! green aliens! Wonderful stuff to attract readers but an easy target for the sneers of the intelligentsia, I’m afraid. Even Orwell’s 1984 was published at one point as a sci-fi mass paperback with a rather lurid cover (the cover was the reason I read it as a child; it was only years later I discovered it was “serious” lit!). Also, at least in the U.S., the quality of the ideas underlying at least some sci-fi (and remember, there was an awful lot of space opera, in which action was plentiful but ideas and issues were not) wasn’t always matched by the quality of the writing, much of which was quite poor. Regardless of the reasons for Americans’ relunctance to regard sci-fi as a serious intellectual vehicle, don’t you think the situation may be changing? For one thing, the standard of writing is much, much higher than in the popular sci-fi I grew up reading and contemporary writers such as Octavia Butler and Ursula Le Guin deal with much more sophisticated issues. For another, some pretty heavy hitters have started to use sci-fi as their literary vehichle of choice. Margaret Atwood, anyone? Aside from The Handmaid’s Tale, she’s written the wonderful sci-fi MaddAddam trilogy dealing with environmental destruction. A similar movement towards respectability seems to have also occured with the spy-thriller genre, which was considered sheer escapist reading until writers like John le Carré took it up.
    Since I have such a high opinion of Moby Dick, I’m glad to see that you continue to enjoy it. There’s so much to marvel at in the novel that I usually forget to mention my love of the language Melville uses. Even on my unsuccessful initiial attempts to “get” into the novel, that “Call me Ismael” opening always blew me away. How could something so succinct be so symbolic? It absolutely tells you everything you need to know about the narrator.
    Congrats on all your subbing oppotunities BTW — may your portal continue to overflow with job offerings!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Janakay, you are so right about the covers. My copy of Sirens of Titan by Vonnegut, was deceiving. Dick Philip was written in 1969. I have not read Butler or Le Guin, but I have no doubt about their quality. Maybe the genre in America has so many books that many are just rubbish. It’s possible that we are finally picking that thread of quality that has always been there. Maybe in Europe they get in translation the best from around the world plus their own. The same goes for mysteries. Let Carré elevated the genre for sure.

      The language of Moby Dick is a piece of art. That first sentence is one of the greatest of all time. It has such power, such magnetism, and to think this book could have rotted in Oblivion, wow, I am glad it didn’t.
      The greatness of some books may be measured in how many times they are attempted by many before they are read, and how many times we keep coming back.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Yes, August seems to have just flown by. I don’t feel ready to let go of summer yet, for some reason. The first time I’ve felt like this in a long time. 🙂 Glad you’re making progress on Moby Dick and enjoying it. That’s encouraging!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow, August has been busy for you, but I’m glad it’s been going well. Our school term starts in September and although I’m not ready to go back to work, I really look forward to the cooler days. I do love the autumn (and those pumpkins are gorgeous!)

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Lots of interesting stuff here, Silvia, but I’m only going to briefly comment on your final topic, Philip K Dick. I’ve read a handful of his novels but feel of barely got a handhold on the myriad ideas he includes or alludes to. Ubik I enjoyed but felt I’d missed some subtleties in it and have always meant to reread it, ditto Flow my Tears, the Policeman Said. Mind you, it’s hard to distinguish between what is of significance to the story and what strong images and ideas arose from drug use.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You are right, Chris. I not always know if I’m getting all he’s hinting at. I forgot that they take drugs at Ubik, to cope with life. So we don’t know what’s that Joe is living and dreaming of, right? He also doesn’t always seem to know himself. That, or do you mean the author himself?

      It’s an interesting read, Ubik. If you re-read it or review it, I’m sure you’ll catch on lots of things, though. For some reason, you have a great ability for details, and for the symbolism, etc.

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  6. What a coincidence, I think that I reviewed Ubik very recently – and maybe I even quoted the same part of the same interview as you did! My memory’s terrible.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Pingback: Monday Miscellany: Books, Veggies and Ancient Rome (not in that order) – "You Might as Well Read"

  8. I think everyone loves your chatty posts Sylvia! I know I do. 😀

    I bemoan the introduction of Halloween gear in August, but it is what it is. You know Christmas decorations will be out November 1. But I am not a merchant with my livelihood depending upon sales, so really I can’t complain. I like Fall mostly because there is a hope of cooler weather though that doesn’t always turn out to be the case! And absolutely the chill of air conditioning after coming in from a hot day does often require a sweater!

    The restaurant business is tricky! As you point out, what one really needs to be successful is repeat business based on a favored menu. I don’t watch the foodie shows but I do like the home improvement ones. But I am also really happy to just watch it on T.V. I don’t feel the need to break out my hammer or saw LOL. Any home improvement project I have embarked upon at my own home has been fraught with worry on my part. So much can and DOES go wrong.

    I have a copy of Ubik because I know I read something fabulous about it on a blog…where most of my reading suggestions come from! But I’ve not read it yet. I’ve only read his famous The Man in the High Castle which was a little trippy but I enjoyed it. Your discussion of how Sci-Fi doesn’t get respect is interesting. I think that is true of pretty much all genre fiction unless, as Dick points out, a “literary” author decides to dip his or her toe in. I think I also thought that way for a very long time.

    I am glad you are enjoying Moby Dick so much. You are right to take your time. I read Les Miserables last year over the course of twelve months (some days a little more and other days a little less) and I found the process really rewarding. I still need to finish Don Quixote, however, before I tackle another door stopper, whether that be Moby Dick or War and Peace or something else.

    Liked by 1 person

    • How nice to hear that you enjoy my chatty posts, Ruthiella. It’s an honor.

      Some time ago I was also hooked on the home improvement shows. You are so right. Whenever we embark upon any renovation, albeit small, many things go wrong, ha ha ha. I mostly stick to painting jobs, and even so, there’s been occasions when we’ve had to repaint. Last time my husband and I were getting rid of the top part of an entertainment unit with doors, the top shelf fell on my head, -good thing it wasn’t in full, or it could have ended in a hospital visit.

      I’m impressed to hear you want to finish DQ. Maybe the different and less repetitive style of part II makes it a bit easier. Yes. Taking time with long books is very rewarding.

      I finished Ubik last night. I have to sort out some thoughts. I admire Philip Dick for his noble attempt to give the genre a deserved reputation. And yet, in the end, I too found Ubik a bit trippy, – Chris from Calmgrove told me how the author was fond of using drugs, and the drug using topic is present in his characters as well. I enjoyed the escapist aspect of it, without being a complete waste of time. But it may still be true that it’s the heavier weight authors that bring status to the genre. I have not read the new women writers of sci-fi that I see acclaimed at many blogs of those who appreciate quality writing, but I’d say, just by reading this one book, which may not be fair-, that Dick is to sci-fi what Christie is to mystery. I can’t place him at the level of Vonnegut, or Bradbury. But they are closer to literary fiction than to pulp, that’s for sure. Maybe their aim is more specific, and the form, or style is more run of the mill.

      I still want to join Philip Dick to further his cause for the sci-fi writers of the world, ha ha ha. Genre fiction, as you say, seems to be one step behind Literature with capital L. I still recommend this Ubik title, ha ha ha.

      Like

  9. Somehow, I cannot leave a reply to the thread we had going about perfume. Suffice it to say, I love that LouLou was worn so much in Madrid! No one that I knew of wore it in the States. There is a wonderful book about perfume written by Luca Turin which evaluates each one (I can’t imagine he’s left anything out!”). He says that LouLou reminds him of the Christmas ornament balls that have a hint of dust on them, which, in a way, is true. If you like perfume, I highly recommend looking for his book. His writing is excellent (not like I paraphrased here), and his knowledge is extensive. Xo

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bellezza, you are helping me with my birthday and Christmas book list. What a great and unusual book, the one you recommend.
      Which takes me to two other books, the popular The Perfume, by Suskind, a kind of Silence of the Lamb in a different time, and in France. And an unknown title I think I still have in my Kindle, an advanced copy I don’t know if it did well or not, a non fiction book that was The Story of the Smell, or Scents. I will look for it.
      The description of LouLou is earily spot on! Wow.

      Liked by 1 person

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