Welcome to the blogspot of Melbourne writer, Elizabeth Jane

Welcome to the blogspot of Melbourne writer, Elizabeth Jane

Friday, May 16, 2008

My TBR Pile

I would like to tackle the subject of the dreaded Too Be Read (TBR) pile. Mine is a problem. Not a Twelve Step kind of problem, I hasten to add, because that would mean doing something about it. No, this is a happy to have but annoying nonetheless kind of problem. The sort you complain about, lose very little sleep over, and never expect to solve. It is also the sort that drives your partner mad.

Earlier this year Andrew and I bought new bedroom furniture. After twenty plus years of marriage we thought it was time. We actually went out looking for a set of drawers for Priya and decided, on the spur of the moment, to give her our old chest of drawers (clever huh!) and to buy a whole new suite for ourselves. Perfect, except we would now have to tidy the bedroom thoroughly.

Andrew thought this was wonderful because he is a neat freak. I walked round the house like a dog with its tail between its legs. I had a lot of clutter to be re-housed. Fortunately I had recently inherited a spare bedroom and set it up as an office. But I still had a basket full of books sitting beside the bed. In the new regime these books were given a drawer. Not a big drawer, by the way: a sort of overgrown-match-box type of arrangement that could not possibly hold my TBR pile.

Over the months, I have tried manfully to stick to the limits of my drawer but ... I work in a library. It is akin to an alcoholic working in a bottle shop. The problem is essentially mathematics: I bring home more than I take back. But I would also like to suggest that they do not make bedside drawers big enough. I am looking for a drawer that can never be full, like the bag with which Pwyll tricked Gwawl ap Clud.

Andrew is away this week and the drawer has come into its own. It does not quite close anymore. It is spilling out all over the floor. Its contents have marched out, two by two, and ranged themself along his side of the bed. It is a sort when-the-lights-go-out-in-the-library experience as I snuggle up between Joseph Campbell’s, Hero with a Thousand Faces, and Lola Workman’s, Wheat-Free World. At last count there were thirteen books, three magazines, some chapters from my friend Leisl’s unpublished manuscript, a notebook and Bible and a number of overwhelmed book marks decamped about the room. Fortunately, Andrew is coming home next week, or I may find myself buried in a paperback tomb.

I noticed today that I have seven (said in hushed whispery tones) overdues on my library card. I have spent the evening bustling about trying to find them (yes, sometimes TBRs escape). I found Eclipse in Priya's room and Atonement in Phoebe's room (you can always blame the kids). I have weeded Aristotle's, Poetics, and, Story Structure Architect, from my own pile. Make no mistake. This is serious. I feel purged. There are books lined up like naughty children by the back door. If I'm awake when I leave the house in the morning, and that will depend on whether I wake up in time to make make coffee, I may even remember to take them with me.

You may think it looks like smooth sailing from here (sorry about the cliche I am all smilied out). That I now have my reading habits on a leash.

Dont' be deceived!

There is a hidden TBR pile. It is like the church seen and unseen, awaiting its day of triumph.

A reservation list is so much more accommodating than a drawer. It is not made of wood for a start. It grows ... and it grows, like the Five Fat Peas, but it does not pop! I can't tell you how many books I have on reservation at the library. It is a privacy issue for a start. But do know it was double figures last time I had the courage to count.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Jack flew down for mother's day ...

What a lovely surprise!

I got flowers

and a necklace

and new pyjamas (some things never change)

and here we all are.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Little Britain

Welsh is the language of heaven, something I do for my heart. I expect it is supposed to be good for my brain, too (it certainly beats doing the Sudoku). But I tend to find my old grey matter lacks adhesive. I do homework (sometimes), and I try to listen to my Mp3 lessons, and I attend class, but no matter how hard I try, it does not stick.

That is where the heart comes in.

The heart is not about competition or achievement.It is about connection. It is about the little trill of satisfaction my pulmonary muscle gives when I see or hear a Welsh word. The start of recognition I get upon seeing the word eisteddfod used arbitrarily, by non Welsh speakers, and knowing eistedd means, 'to sit.' It is a warm, throbbing, umbilical kind of feeling that give me a sense of history and resonance and belonging. But ... enough of that, I am being overly sentimental.

In Welsh we have been studying comparative, equative and superlative adjectives.

Now the Welsh word for tall is: tal If we want to say John is tall we would write:

Mae John yn dal

The equative:

Mae John yn mor dal a Bill reads: John is as tall as Bill.

To say John is taller than Bill we add 'ach' to the adjective - Mae John yn dalach na Bill

Please notice that the word, tal, has become, dal. That is because Welsh is Ninja language. It is always mutating.

When we want to say John is the tallest, however, the form changes. We do not say Mae John (john is), we say: John ydy'r talaf

In class I had a great deal of trouble remembering this. I don't know why, it seems simple now I am writing it, but the lesson was more like a post-it-note than a Super-glue kind of an experience. In the end, we tried playing around with the superlative form and being, well ... a little silly.

For example: Rydw i 'n unig hoyw yn y pentre, means, I am the only gay in the village (now where have I heard that phrase before?).

I am not sure how you would say I am the gayest person in the village. I will have to ask my Welsh teacher. We didn't tackle the first person superlative. It might be: Rydw i 'n person hoywch yn y pentre.

But I do know how to say: David is the only gay in the village. It goes like this: Davydd ydy'r unig hoyw yn y pentre.

For some reason, I no longer have trouble remembering the construction.

It's funny what sticks in your mind.