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On the significance of birthdays.

On the significance of birthdays.

Ever since I can remember I have loved celebrating birthdays. The quiet sulking of apparent old age was not for me. Instead, I would start planning my birthday (which is this month) in May. It used to drive my mother round the bend. She forbade me to start planning anything sooner than July. I ignored her of course. You can never start planning your birthday celebrations too early.

But this year the birthday doldrums made an appearance. They snuck up on me when I wasn’t looking and leapt in front of me with their anti-birthday signboards. I’m turning 40 in three weeks and somehow I’ve managed to avoid all planning and thoughts of celebrations since May. You can imagine my mother’s surprise when I said there was no party. I blamed it on being overworked and tired, as one does. The truth it that for the first time I’m taking a look at what I’ve done with my time so far and I can’t help but feel that I should have crammed more into it. I’m not sure where exactly but the feeling remains. Perhaps the older one gets the more one is aware of how fleeting life is. Perhaps I’m just having a pity party.

I don’t feel much older than 20 most days. When I look down at my feet it seems like nothing has changed. However, when I look in the mirror a lifetime gazes back. It’s hard to ignore how vulnerable we are to the passage of time. I phoned my Aunt for her birthday on Saturday and she set me straight. Never mess with Aunts – they don’t put up with silliness. She informed me that after 40 you only have a birthday once every decade because you won’t notice how quickly life rushes by, so best throw out the pity party and invite some friends over. She has a point. Birthdays remind us that we are alive and kicking and if that isn’t worthwhile celebrating, I don’t know what is.

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The difference between having and getting

The difference between having and getting

I was handed a portable hard drive this week. You know the kind – filled with all kinds of illicit goodies. This particular drive was filled with books. All the cool sci-fi and fantasy books you could dream to get your hands on. On one drive. I have been handed these before and for some reason, once I have this unimagined literary loot in my grubby little paws, the excitement fades.

The thing is, part of the joy of books for me is in the discovery of them. Finding a new author through careful searching (this includes trawling second-hand bookstores), reading reviews or simply being handed a worn, well-loved copy of a book by a friend accompanied by the phrase “You’ll love this”. I know for a fact that I may never look at any of the books on that drive simply because I didn’t discover them. And there’s a part of me that believes that if you’ve enjoyed the story, you should recompense the author.

Yet, I hate the idea of DRM on my electronic books. Once I have discovered a book and paid for it, I want the option to share it, just like I do with my paperbacks. To me the joy of books is in the sharing of them. When sharing a book you are sharing more than a story, you are sharing ideas and memories. Books are viral and I believe authors benefit from this.

Some of my favourite authors became favourites because somebody lent me their favourite book. The Magician by Raymond E. Feist was given to me by a school pal. Frank Herbert’s Dune was a loan from an ex-boyfriend. Each book has it’s own memories tied to it. Both of these are still in my bookshelf along with everything else I could get hold of from each author. I now have them in electronic format too because it’s easier to have all your books with you at the same time when they’re on one device. *rubs hands gleefully*

Will I refuse the next hard drive that is handed to me? Probably not. Will I repeat the process of disappointment at not having found all those books myself? Definitely. This is the difference between having and getting. Getting is so much more fun.

 

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Kev and Book Club

Kev and Book Club

I am a bookworm. Books move me. I love the feel of them, their smell and their magic. And most importantly I love to share them. This is where my dilemma starts. I like to share my books with Kev. He will read the offerings I send to his Kindle but for some reason he is intensely secretive about which of my offerings he is busy reading. And there is no discussion about them. None. De nada. Zip. Zero. You get the idea.

According to Kev, the first rule of Book Club is that no-one talks about Book Club. How does one share a book if the other party won’t participate in all the sharing activities? I was complaining about this in roughly the same breath I was wondering how one would stretch a scene over several chapters when Kev made his point, “See, this is why we don’t have book club. I told you to read Abercrombie and you ignored me.”

He was right, of course. I once read Abercrombie and was bored out of my skull. How am I to read a 400 page book that describes one day? It might be a trap. I might wade through Abercrombie’s literature only to be reminded about the first rule of Book Club. I’m starting to suspect that the first rule of Book Club is only there to frustrate me. In the meantime I have picked up Abercrombie again. He has an interesting writing style. It seems Kev knows how to drag me kicking and screaming to the water and then get me to drink. I may buy him a horse for Xmas to see how he does with that.

Thanks to MOTH ART – Marta Bevacqua for the image.

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Mixed bag days

Mixed bag days

Today was one of those mixed bag days. I was excited because Kev was due home from Canada after more than a week away. Two steps out the door with my dogs changed my excitement to worry when Dax fell over. Widget bit her last week and her tail is all bandaged up after the operation to stitch it all back together. Falling over is not a good thing for recovering patients, particularly if they were doing much better the day before.

I gave her some meds and she nibbled on her food too tired to do more. We went back to the vet as Kev stepped in the door, worried that we would have to put her down. It seems I’m a hypochondriac when it comes to my dogs too. After a day’s observation the vet concluded that she’s not using her tail for balance because it’s too sore – hence the continued falling over. I’m not convinced but I’m not going to argue with someone that has a theory that sees my little oldie dog get better.

She still looks tired and drawn. I arranged to work from home tomorrow (best boss ever) to make sure there is no dangerous falling over while trying to navigate steps around the garden, which is one big terrace. I’m relieved that I don’t have to leave her alone all day. It seems my emotions have been a bit like the weather in Cape Town today. If you don’t like it, wait five minutes.

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Bentley, the fluffy dog

Bentley, the fluffy dog

Two and a half years ago my oldest dachshund, Dax, was attacked by the two younger dogs we share our home with. I was faced with a very difficult decision – do I get rid of the culprit or do I introduce a new element into the pack? After much agonising I realised that I couldn’t face rehoming any one of my little darlings even if they were mean little princesses who couldn’t play nice in the sandpit. Dachshunds hardly ever do, in case you were wondering. More

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