Friday Fun: What Makes Me Happy

An odd rumble-jumble of personal pictures here, of things around us, places we’ve seen, the small and big things which make us happy. For those days when we don’t have the budget for chateaux, treehouses and writing sheds.

Holiday in Greece.
Holiday in Greece.
The Franco-Swiss border in the forest.
The Franco-Swiss border in the forest on my morning running route.
Gardens, shade and sitting down.
Gardens, shade and sitting down.
Spring, the far-too-short season.
Spring, the far-too-short season.
Food, glorious food. Especially sweet things. Oh, and drinks are nice too...
Food, glorious food. Especially sweet things. Oh, and drinks are nice too…
Books and creativity in all their forms.
Books and creativity in all their forms.
My cat rolling for an admiring audience.
My cat rolling for an admiring audience.
And, of course, my boys. Preferably when they are running about outside rather than playing video games.
And, of course, my boys. Preferably when they are running about (not necessarily in botanical gardens) rather than playing video games.

And if you’re wondering why Thursday has become the new Friday for the Friday Fun posts: that’s because today is Ascension and a holiday here in France. The umpteenth one for this month. I can remember a time when days off school made me happy… Tell me what makes you happy, both big things and small!

Things That Made Me Happy in March

Holidays!

Yes, I know I complained they were a bit too long and that the children drove me crazy, but we did finally go skiing every day. Always better in retrospect than when you are living through it!

March1 March2

A Cat

A very well-behaved, affectionate and quiet friend.

With her friend Hedgehog.
With her friend Hedgehog.

The first signs of Spring in my garden

March4 March5

Reading

More varied and fun reading this month, although, surprisingly, not as many translations.

3 non-fiction books:

Ben Hatch: Road to Rouen

A hilarious travel journal from hell, France in a car with two small children in tow: a great fun read, perhaps just a little unfair to the French, but also hugely revealing about the English abroad.

Rachel Cusk: Aftermath. On Marriage and Separation.

Brigid Schulte:  Overwhelmed: Work, Love and Play When No One Has The Time

Although this book does feel culturally specific (US working culture and time-poverty mindset is perhaps the most extreme example in the world), there was much here I could relate to: the confetti of minuscule leisure time slots, the mind pollution of endless to-do-lists that do not allow us to get into the flow, the ideal worker vs. the ideal mother, competitive parenting, gender division of labour. The author backs up her thesis with both research findings and personal anecdotes. This book deserves a review of its own, especially given that it is the ‘theme’ (if there is one) of my blog: not  finding time to write.

2 foreign books:

Fuminori Nakamura: The Thief

Another book that deserves its own review. I found it moving, nuanced, slightly disturbing and surprisingly lyrical, given the subject matter.

Daniel Bardet: Le Boche (first 5 volumes of BD – graphic novel)

Fascinating insight into war-time France, from the perspective of an Alsatian man, hounded everywhere because he is neither German nor French enough.

1 poetry collection:

Michael Symmons Roberts: Drysalter

1 literary novel:

Claire King: The Night Rainbow – beautifully lyrical recreation of a French countryside childhood – with deep shadows.

6 crime fiction novels (all in English in the original – how very unusual!)

Cara Black: Murder in Pigalle

Sarah Caudwell: Thus Was Adonis Murdered

I was looking for a change of pace this month and I got it with this novel: charmingly old-fashioned, with most of the action taking place ‘off-stage’ and being disclosed to Hilary Tamar and his/her team of barristers via letters. It’s a nice set puzzle, and there is plenty of witty dialogue and banter to liven things up, but I can see how this book might be accused of elitism, it does feel like an extended Oxbridge joke.

Liam McIlvanney: Where the Dead Men Go

Sarah Hilary: Someone Else’s Skin

Harry Bingham: Talking to the Dead

WolfMo Hayder: Wolf

I started this latest Mo Hayder on Saturday, not really expecting it to make it into this month’s reading. But I had to finish it overnight, it was so compelling (after a rather slow start, admittedly). A family being held hostage in their holiday home, a psychopathic killer who may or may not have been released from prison and Jack Caffery trying to figure out what a tiny message on a lost dog could possibly mean. Hayder’s trademark creepiness and nearly unbearable suspense, very chilling, completely mesmerising. Not for the faint of heart!

 

 

 

 

Celebrating the Colours of Spring

We’ve a wonderful prompt over at dVerse Poets today, namely the richly colourful pictures of Sunita Khedekar. Her lush dream landscapes, tinged with an Indian mythological sensibility, are the best way to celebrate the coming of Spring. And it is coming, isn’t it? You can find more of Sunita’s work here and you can read some of the other poems inspired by her paintings here.

Happy Tree by Sunita Khedekar
Happy Tree by Sunita Khedekar

Happy List and Happy Trees

What makes me happy?

Let me list away!

Things you cannot pay

things you seek words for and poof!

they vanish when you find them.

View of mountains after weeks of cloud cover

that first gasp of air on a cold morning

puffing away at dandelion clocks

naming clouds lying back on freshly mown grass

to hell with the grass stains

bless my tail with my sons’ giggles

setting the world aright with old friends, whom you can still trust to think and feel like you

finding a new favourite book or author

music to match my moods

And the list expands with love and laughter

to be examined on dark days

to be etched in every movement, word and smile.

And yes, indeed, trees make me happy

their wisdom of renewal

yet

those lists are made, are chopped off trees

so maybe trees are not so happy…