The Hobbit

The Hobbit, read by Andi Serkis

The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien, is a book I’ve read so many times I’ve lost track of the number. But every time I reread it, I find something new to enjoy about it. This time, I listened to the new audiobook version narrated by Andi Serkis. What an incredible talent he has for voices, dialects, and everything it takes to bring such a story to life!  Just in case you don’t know, Andi Serkis was the voice actor and motion capture actor for the animated character of Gollum in the movie version of The Lord of the Rings trilogy. And he did an awesome job of narrating The Hobbit!

from the publisher:

Bilbo Baggins is a hobbit who enjoys a comfortable, unambitious life, rarely traveling any farther than his pantry or cellar. But his contentment is disturbed when the wizard Gandalf and a company of dwarves arrive on his doorstep one day to whisk him away on an adventure. They have launched a plot to raid the treasure hoard guarded by Smaug the Magnificent, a large and very dangerous dragon. Bilbo reluctantly joins their quest, unaware that on his journey to the Lonely Mountain he will encounter both a magic ring and a frightening creature known as Gollum.   Written for J.R.R. Tolkien’s own children, The Hobbit has sold many millions of copies worldwide and established itself as a modern classic.

If you are looking for a delightful audiobook for the whole family to listen to during the holidays, look no further! This is just a delightful entertainment for all.

Smaug, illustration by J.R.R. Tolkien

Autumn Ritual

Our house is the one on the right. Photo taken in 1912, we think.

Our neighborhood is called “Old Town.” The trees that shade our streets and houses are very old. The oaks that surround our next door neighbor’s house, and stand tall on our property line, are over 100 years old. Their shade is wonderful in the heat of the summer, but they drop tons of leaves in the Fall. (My neighbor rolled down his window as he drove past us the other day and called out, “Leafageddon, again!”)  The sound of leaf blowers (which my husband hates) is deafening on the weekends. We use our big rakes, raking leaves the old-fashioned way, and despite an occasional blister, we enjoy the job. Once each month, October through December, the town’s leaf vacuum truck comes by and vacuums up the huge piles of leaves that are raked or blown to the curb. Watching for the vacuum truck has become a delightful Autumn ritual.

*Note: This post is from the archives of my old garden blog.

A Birthday Celebration

Today our family is celebrating Byron’s 74th birthday. There is chocolate cake and lots of laughter. I reminded him that he told me early in our relationship that he didn’t think he would live to be 30 years old (not an unusual statement from a man facing the draft during the Vietnam War). We will pamper him all day, make his favorite dinner for him this evening, and let him know in as many ways as possible that he is so dearly special to all of us. A happy day!

Reading Short Books

Renia Reading, 1910, painting by Wojciech Weiss

This week, in between my current project of reading two long books at the same time, I took a break and read two short books. I didn’t plan to do that, it just happened. I also didn’t sign up for a ‘reading non-fiction in November’ challenge, but both short books were non-fiction. I guess I just needed some delightful balance in my reading life this month.

Both short books were very interesting to read. The first one was Notre-Dame: A Short History of the Meaning of Cathedrals, by Ken Follett. It was, simply put, a love letter to the magnificent cathedral of Notre-Dame, started shortly after he heard about the fire that shocked the world. Having done extensive research on cathedrals for his book, Pillars of the Earth, and having spent much time in Notre-Dame, he was deeply shocked and saddened when he learned of the fire. It wasn’t too long before reporters started calling him, wanting his expert advice and viewpoint on the possible fire damage. Another call he received was from his publisher telling him that given his knowledge and background in the constructions of cathedrals, he must write a book in response to this tragedy. This little book was what he produced from the notes he started immediately.

The wonderful cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris, one of the greatest achievements of European civilization, was on fire. The sight dazed and disturbed us profoundly. I was on the edge of tears. Something priceless was dying in front of our eyes. The feeling was bewildering, as if the earth was shaking.”

The second short book I read last week was The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How to Free Yourself and Your Family from a Lifetime of Clutter, by Margareta Magnusson. It was actually a re-read for me because I’d listened to the audiobook a few years ago, and decided to re-read it because I’m currently working on a major decluttering/downsizing project here at home. I hoped it would give me some ideas and motivation to really let go of a lot of things, and it did. It’s a common sense book, and is just straightforward in explaining the ideas and philosophy of “death cleaning.” I’m glad I re-read it.

So I am enjoying my November reading, both the long books and the short ones. I hope you are enjoying your current reading, as well.

 

I Heard the Owl Call My Name

I Heard the Owl Call My Name, by Margaret Craven, begins with a diagnosis.

painting by Emily Carr

The doctor said to the Bishop, “So you see, my lord, your young ordinand can live no more than three years and doesn’t know it. Will you tell him, and what will you do with him?” The Bishop said to the doctor, “Yes, I’ll tell him, but not yet. If I tell him now, he’ll try too hard. How much time has he for an active life?” “A little less than two years if he’s lucky.” “So short a time to learn so much? It leaves me no choice. I shall send him to my hardest parish. I shall send him to Kingcome on patrol of the Indian villages.” “Then I hope you’ll pray for him, my lord.” But the Bishop only answered gently that it was where he would wish to go if he were young again, and in the ordinand’s place.

So the young vicar, unaware of his diagnosis, went to live in the village of Kingcome. Over time he learned the Kwákwala language. He learned about and appreciated the old ways of the people of the village, and came to understand the struggles of the young people. He became close to many of the villagers, and they came to him for support and guidance. But it was the villagers who would teach him the most fundamental things about life and death.

About the people:

There was pride in his eyes without arrogance. Behind the pride was a sadness so deep it seemed to stretch back into ancient mysteries…

Kingcome villagers…

About the village:

“The Indian knows his village and feels for his village as no white man for his country, his town, or even for his own bit of land. His village is not the strip of land four miles long and three miles wide that is his as long as the sun rises and the moon sets. The myths are the village and the winds and the rains. The river is the village, and the black and white killer whales that herd the fish to the end of the inlet the better to gobble them. The village is the salmon who comes up the river to spawn, the seal who follows the salmon and bites off his head, the blue jay whose name is like the sound he makes—‘Kwiss-kwiss.’ The village is the talking bird, the owl, who calls the name of the man who is going to die, and the silver-tipped grizzly who ambles into the village, and the little white speck that is the mountain goat on Whoop-Szo.

A village at Kingcome Inlet…

When after his few years of living with the native tribe, the young vicar finally understands what is happening to him, and that he will have to leave his place in the village, that someone will arrive to replace him in his work, he  tries to come to terms with such a change, and tries to come to terms with the end of all things.

How would he live again in the old world he had almost forgotten, where men throw up smoke screens between themselves and the fundamentals whose existence they fear but seldom admit? Here, where death waited behind each tree, he had made friends with loneliness, with death and deprivation, and, solidly against his back had stood the wall of his faith.

And what had he learned? Surely not the truth of the Indian. There was no one truth. He had learned a little of the truth of one tribe in one village. He had seen the sadness, the richness, the tragic poignancy of a way of life that each year, bit by bit, slipped beyond memory and was gone. For a time he had been part of it, one of the small unknown men who take their stand in some remote place, and fight out their battle in a quiet way.

It was the village that reached out to him to ease his mind at that point in his life.

“Stay with us. Marta has told us. We have written the Bishop and asked that he let you remain here to the end, because this is your village and we are your family. You are the swimmer who came to us from the great sea,” and he put his arms around her and held her close, finding no words to say thank you for the sudden, unexpected gift of peace which they had offered him in their quiet, perceptive way.

It is a poignant but uplifting story. The descriptions of the land there and the villagers’ relationship with the environment, are beautifully written. It is a quiet, honest book, a true classic, and I loved reading it.

The author, Margaret Craven, lived in the village of Kingcome, in British Columbia, for awhile before she wrote the book. The photos I chose for this post are from that area, so I hope they help give a visual reference for this story.

https://www.sfu.ca/brc/virtual_village/Kwakwaka_wakw.html

Kwakiutl canoe

Readers Imbibing Peril-XVI: Wrap-Up

This year’s Readers Imbibing Peril challenge was another fun reading experience for me. I do love this yearly ritual of celebrating everything spooky and mysterious in our reading! This was the sixteenth year for this challenge, originally started by Carl V. Anderson, (@Stainless Steel Droppings) and I hope it goes on for many more years.

I found a lot of enjoyable reading and watching for the challenge this year!  Here is a list of the books and short stories I read, and the films/series we watched for RIP XVI:

Peril of the Fiction:

  1. Mrs. Pollifax and the Second Thief, by Dorothy Gilman
  2. Devil in a Blue Dress, by Walter Mosley
  3. Pietr the Latvian, by George Simenon
  4. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, by Washington Irving
  5. Bury Your Dead, by Louise Penny
  6. The Amethyst Box, by Anna Katharine Green

Peril of the Short Story:

  1. Hero, by Susan Hill
  2. A Christmas Tragedy, by Baroness Orczy
  3. One More Body in the Pool, by Ray Bradbury
  4. An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge, by Ambrose Bierce
  5. Sherlock Holmes: The Affair of the Christmas Jewel, by Barry Roberts

Peril of the Screen:

  1. Tale of the Nine-Tailed
  2. Perry Mason, the series
  3. Train to Busan

About Today’s Header

Today’s header (just for one day) is an old photo of my daughter, Jamie. She was born on Halloween and so our celebrations of this day have always been joyous rather than spooky. She is a beautiful and talented person, and is such a delight for us with her humor and compassion. We are so very proud of her. Happy birthday to our lovely daughter! And happy Halloween to you all!

I Cherish: Beautiful Autumn Days

Byron at the wetlands…

Yesterday was an absolutely beautiful Autumn day. After our recent rainy spell, it was so nice to be able to get out and enjoy the sunshine and fall colors. Byron felt up to a walk with the aid of his cane (didn’t need his walker!), so we headed for Fern Hill Wetlands to enjoy watching all the wildlife and soak in the colors of a lovely autumn day. A cherished time together!