About Me

My photo
Born in the US, raised on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus, lived in Italy, the US, and Canada. Lover of language, travel, colour, and the natural world.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Random thoughts on a rainy winter's night

Photo by Katherine Burnett

It is a super windy night on Prince Edward Island. We have been having bitterly cold weather the past week, and then today the temperature rose dramatically, sending a succession of freezing rain and then rain in our direction, which turned my world into a slippery, icy, slushy pedestrian's nightmare. On my walk home from work tonight I was wishing I was wearing ice skates instead of boots. On nights like this I think they would be more effective!

I am writing this post sitting in my living room enjoying a hot cup of tea and listening to the wind howling around the building. I have felt grateful for this cozy little apartment a lot over the past month. Living in someone else's house has its drawbacks in that it never quite feels like it belongs to me, but at this point in my life I am all about simplifying and cutting back on the things that are not necessary so that I can devote my time and energy to the things that matter most to me: my writing, and saving up for farmland. This little home is providing me with a roof over my head while I do this.

Photo by Katherine Burnett

When I was living in California I started what one of my favourite bloggers, Karen Walrond, calls a daily gratitude practice. Basically it is taking the time every day to consciously spell out a few things that you are grateful for. At the end of every day I would lie in bed and think of three things I was grateful for. Doing this helped me keep everything in perspective, and recognize that no matter what is happening, there is ALWAYS something to be grateful for. Since returning to Prince Edward Island I have not done this as regularly, and one of my New Year's resolutions is to start doing my gratitude practice on a daily basis again.

Today I was grateful for the delicious, hot bowl of chicken soup that I had for supper made almost entirely with local ingredients grown and raised by friends. I was also grateful for a productive first day back at work after two weeks off. And I am grateful to be inside now, toasty warm, sipping tea and listening to the rain fall outside and the wind wrap her icy fingers around my house.

Photo by Katherine Burnett

Over the past few weeks I have had a lot of time to read. Those of you who have been following this blog for a while will know that I am a big time reader. I LOVE to read. People are always surprised when I tell them that I work often ten hour days and still manage to pack in two or sometimes three novels a week. Reading keeps my imagination alive and active, which is important for my own writing. The Christmas break gave me lots of quality reading time, and I read a few books that I want to share with you. The first recommendation is a new trilogy that I had never heard of. I am not generally a fan of anything that involves witches or magic. Call me closed-minded, but I just like to be able to actually believe the things I am reading, and I also feel there is enough magic in the real world without need for the surreal magic of witches and spells. Nevertheless, after a friend gave me a gift certificate for books over the holidays I spent over two hours combing the shelves at the bookstore for a new book, and not finding anything that was intriguing, so I had a chat with one of the bookstore's employees. A tip for those of you who are fellow book lovers: if you want to be sure of a steady stream of great book recommendations find a bookstore employee who loves all the same books as you do and let her/him recommend your next book. The recommendation this time was the author Deborah Harkness. I left with two books which I have literally been inhaling: A Discovery of Witches and Shadow of Night. If, like me, your eyes glazed over when you read "witch,"stick with me! While there is magic and spells and all the rest of it in this trilogy, these are also great works of historical fiction--my favourite genre. The main character is a historian who is the descendant of a long line of witches. She is a researcher of alchemy at Oxford. The descriptions of the architecture, the art, music and literature is spot on, and will make you feel like you have stepped out of 2014 and into the period in history that Diana (the main character) is living in. The other thing about these books that I love is how thick they are -- these babies are mega thick, with over 500 pages each. I am a fast reader, and easily get frustrated at only being able to spend time with a story for a day or two before I am done reading. The thickness of these novels, and the richness and density of description and plot will slow you down, giving you plenty of time to savour the excitement of the story. Apparently there is a third book in the series on the way. I cannot wait to get my hands on it.

Photo by Katherine Burnett

Another book I just finished reading (this evening) is called Days We Have Seen, by Peter Moore. Peter is an old family friend--he and his wife and two sons lived in a village in Cyprus when I was a child, and my parents and I used to take drives up to the village to visit them on weekends. I knew Peter to be a fine artist, but I never knew that he was also a master storyteller. In this book Peter recounts a number of stories of his personal experience living in Cyprus immediately prior to, during and after the Turkish invasion in the 1970s. I have read many articles and accounts of the invasion itself and the losses sustained, but very few personal accounts of the time immediately after the invasion, and what life was like in the refugee camps. My parents and I moved to Cyprus in 1984, so we missed the immediate aftermath of the war, and for some reason--perhaps because it was still to fresh and raw in people's hearts--we never discussed this period of history at school. The novel I am currently working on takes place around this same time in history, and never having experienced it myself, I am always looking for personal accounts to help inform my writing. This little book by Peter was well written, and is accompanied by some lovely photographs that he took of many of the refugees while at the camp. My only lamentation is that the pictures are not larger so that I could see the details more easily. I hope to have the opportunity to reconnect with Peter and his wife May, and see the original photographs in person when I visit Cyprus this coming year.

Have you read any deliciously good books yet this year? If you have please leave a comment below! I am always looking for new ones to check out!