Reading Books To Please Dead People

I haven't been writing this week, because it is SCHOOL HOLIDAYS, and children, like puppies, need to be taken out for a run every day, and taken to the orthodontist, and to buy new school tights, and to days on end of dance competitions...

Yesterday the girls all decided simultaneously (as gaggles of girls will), that they needed to hang branches from their bedroom ceilings to attach origami/craft projects/assorted bling to, so we went down to the river to forage. We enjoyed blue sky, swans, cows, ducks, blue wrens and egrets. We contributed to the spread of the common bulrush (no doubt a noxious weed), by running very fast with the fluffy ones that were going to seed and tapping various sisters on the head with them (not me, I strolled sedately). Then, in a scene reminiscent of  the childhood of a certain Old Testament patriach, we found a little, shivering, wet puppy in the bulrushes. He wasn't in a basket, but I was certainly accompanied by a bevy of princesses, who all went to pieces at the sight of him. He was frightened and limping, a well-cared for silky terrier with a darling hair cut, a muddy collar, but no phone number. The girls were all for adopting him at once, and calling him Moses, but I am mean and we took him to the RSPCA instead, where luckily the nice man discovered he was microchipped, and he got to go back home where he belonged. So we returned home, sans puppy, but with branches for bling, which are now living outside the back door so we can trip over them whenever we go outside.

When I have had a minute this week I have been rereading Jane Austen, because that is something that has to be done every so often - it's a hard job, but someone has to do it. I have started with Emma, possibly my least favourite Austen novel. I think it annoys me because I am so like Emma, not in that I am young, beautiful or rich, but that I like to think I know everything, and to interfere in my friends' lives. Hopefully, like Emma, I will be a better person by the end of the book.

I also read the mini novel Farenheit 451 this week. Its author, Ray Bradbury died a few days ago, and The Girl, with her usual prescience had borrowed this from the library last week, and said I would really like it. I have always avoided Ray Bradbury because I detest science fiction. I mean, why make up other worlds and futures when there is so much in this one that is wonderful and extraordinary? But the man is dead, so I made the effort, and The Girl was right, I really, really liked this book. It is all metaphor of course, published in 1953 at the very beginning of McCarthyism. Its protagonist is a fireman, 300 years in the future, when firemen don't put out fires, they start them. And what they burn is books. Books are banned, but hardly anyone cares, because they are absorbed by the wonders of reality TV on their giant screens in their own living rooms. Their country is at war, but they hardly notice, because they are being  constantly entertained...  silly plot really. Could never happen...

In between running children about and reading books to please dead people, and keeping the house clean(ish), and teaching Rosy how to cook dinner so I won't have to one day, I have been doing jobs in the garden that I should have done in Autumn, but didn't quite. I finally picked all the apples, and made apple pie, which only leaves three baskets full on the bench to stew and freeze. I planted next year's garlic crop, and red chard and cos lettuce seedlings from a friend's garden. I have weeded and weeded, and now need to sweep autumn leaves from all the paths and put them in my lovely new compost bins. I also need to save my blueberry bushes from an onslaught of... strawberry plants. I neatly outlined the blueberry beds with tiny strawberry plants in Spring, and they grew like triffids, took over every inch of space in the beds, and are threatening to overwhelm the poor little blueberries, so I will be pulling out strawberry plants like weeds tomorrow. Who would have thought? The other plant I literally pull out from between the pavers is wild rocket. Saw it at the garden centre recently for $8.99 a pot in the herb section. Buying plants. Daylight robbery.


Marvelous post! Love the sticks for dangling things from ceilings! Please post a picture if this project ever comes to fruition.

I've not read Ray Bradbury either (my feelings about sci-fi mirror yours exactly), but having heard interviews on the radio with him this past week, I think I might just because he sounds like he was an awfully nice man.

Compost bins have made my life so much happier. Now every piece of well-intended but highly neglected fruit in my fridge has high purpose, even if we never eat it (and we so often never do).

Jen's Busy Days said…
Love your comment Frances about the compost bin. I view my chooks the same way. Nothing goes to waste, although it probably would have been better if we ate it.

I read Fahrenheit 451 at school and being the book lover I am it has stuck with me. I will not allow my children to mistreat books, and we definitely do not watch reality TV on big screens. We only just recently bought our first flat screen and that is big enough.

Best wishes
Jen in NSW
Jo said…
Oh I love the 'well-intended fruit', yes, it is the compost that saves my conscience then as well, chooks would be even better!

I'm thinking of hunting for more Ray Bradbury books, I liked this one so much. It is less science fiction and more parable to my mind.
GretchenJoanna said…
I think 451 was the first science fiction that I appreciated - my reading group chose it about ten years ago, and I don't think I've read any sci-fi since. The topic is compelling for people who love books...It was so sad how the wife had abandoned her husband and life for the big screen fantasy.

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