at home with ann

Archive for the ‘SNOW’ Category

Brrrrrrr…  need I say more????

I’m having a Nigella moment – so what’s on the menu to combat the freeze —

I’ve got a shissel of heart and soul warming barley soup on the simmer (takes about three/four hours and it’s so worth the wait eaten with great chunks of bread) and one of my favourite veg dishes, courgettes in a tomato and herb sauce.   I’m gonna make a a massive potato kugel too – one that sticks like glue to your ribs.  I’m not in the frame of mind to bake, but I may knock up a few biscuits – there’s nothing quite like the satisfying feeling of kneading pastry.   All I can say is I’m glad, for once, I had a little foresight and did the supermarket and the garage after work last night – even at 6.00 the shelves were almost empty – hardly any fresh fruit and veg – actually now I wish I’d bought some frozen  – ironic eh! LOL

mmmm... yummy

Since everyone seems to be in the same boat, this is a great day to play catch up with calling friends and watching films I’ve recorded but not yet had the time or opportunity to watch.   Just put on Twilight, but my sky is so unpredictable it didn’t record, in fact most of them didn’t record – now trying Sherlock Holmes… no, vixens not our ab fab fav man steamily playing the dastardly Moriarty, but one with the drop dead gorgeous, but unfortunate and sorry waste to womanhood, Rupert Everett.      

  

I haven’t recommended any books here  lately; my latest three good reads were:  

The Joy Luck Club was Amy Tan’s debut novel – unlike many writers this was not a one-book/one-hit wonder and she has gone on to prove herself over and over again.    It was turned into an excellent film which, coincidentally, was being aired on tv at the time I was reading the book.   I watched it once I’d finished and on the whole it was well done and almost, not quite, true to the story.

It’s about four immigrant Chinese/American women living in Chinatown, San Francisco (thanks jojo) who set up a club called ‘The Joy Luck Club’ where they meet in each other’s homes; they talk, worry, cook, eat together and play  Mahjong.  Just as the game is structured with four parts divided into another four parts, so is the book.   Three of the mothers and their daughters share stories about their lives (one of the mothers has already passed).   The stories are moving and mystical.  The mothers worry about their daughters lives in America, and the daughters cannot understand their mothers and know little of their history.   As the book unfolds and their stories unravel, the daughters begin to understand the mystery of their mother’s dramatic and traumatic lives.   The fragile bonds between mother and daughter tighten and they learn what it is to change and to hope.  The discovery of family legacy and individual identity, clashes and reconciliation, love and loss is no stranger to most of us, particularly for those of us whose ancestors were immigrants.

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The Help is Kathryn Stockett’s debut novel and in many ways reflects her own life.   It took her years and determination to get this novel published and I hope it won’t be a one hit wonder.   The story is set in early sixties Jackson Mississippi at the onset of the civil rights movement.   The narrator is Aibileen, a black maid whose remit was not only chief cook and bottlewasher, but also to raise the white woman’s children.  The other main protagonist is Miss Skeeter, a young white woman with ambitions to be a writer and Minnie, Aibileen’s neighbour and a maid with a loud mouth that lands her in all sorts of trouble.   I found it a true page turner, stomach churning and emotionally gripping.  Here’s the synopsis from Kathryn Stockett’s website:

“Three ordinary women are about to take one extraordinary step.

Twenty-two-year-old Skeeter has just returned home after graduating from Ole Miss. She may have a degree, but it is 1962, Mississippi, and her mother will not be happy till Skeeter has a ring on her finger. Skeeter would normally find solace with her beloved maid Constantine, the woman who raised her, but Constantine has disappeared and no one will tell Skeeter where she has gone.

Aibileen is a black maid, a wise, regal woman raising her seventeenth white child. Something has shifted inside her after the loss of her own son, who died while his bosses looked the other way. She is devoted to the little girl she looks after, though she knows both their hearts may be broken.

Minny, Aibileen’s best friend, is short, fat, and perhaps the sassiest woman in Mississippi. She can cook like nobody’s business, but she can’t mind her tongue, so she’s lost yet another job. Minny finally finds a position working for someone too new to town to know her reputation. But her new boss has secrets of her own.

Seemingly as different from one another as can be, these women will nonetheless come together for a clandestine project that will put them all at risk. And why? Because they are suffocating within the lines that define their town and their times. And sometimes lines are made to be crossed.

In pitch-perfect voices, Kathryn Stockett creates three extraordinary women whose determination to start a movement of their own forever changes a town, and the way women–mothers, daughters, caregivers, friends–view one another. A deeply moving novel filled with poignancy, humor, and hope, The Help is a timeless and universal story about the lines we abide by, and the ones we don’t.”

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It was over sixty years from its original conception before  Irene Nemirovsky’s Suite Française came to be published.   The story cannot be read in isolation – the appendices have to be read to give the book full meaning and emotion for it’s the facts that surround the discovery of this book that make it all the more remarkable.   For all that it’s a bestseller, the finished writing of the book is not polished or edited.  

The book is in two parts, although her intention was to write five modelled on the rhythm and tone of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony.  She wrote meticulous notes on the work in progress and on every character.  Storm in June, the first part, were her observations of the Parisians as they fled their city and the second section, Dolce, is about the residents of a rural community during the occupation.  Her writing concentrated on the raw nature of the French people; she denounced them for fear, cowardice, acceptance of humiliation, persecution and massacre.  If anyone has romantic notions of France and the French people, this book would surely make you think twice. 

Ironically she didn’t focus on the fate of the Jews.  She was  a Ukrainian Jew who had fled the Bolshevik Revolution and settled in France and, despite positively disliking the Jews and converting herself and her two young daughters to Catholicism, was murdered in Auschwitz  for being Jewish. 

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Not sure what to read next — I have a pile of unread books by my bedside and on my bookshelves; a couple of Michael Chabon, more Amy Tan, some from the Kellerman family,  but not sure what I’m in the mood for – does anyone here have any recommendations?

It has stopped snowing  for a while – my road is like an ice rink, but I shall be getting to work tomorrow.  I am actually more concerned about getting home at the end of the day!   Wish me luck and good luck to everyone else who has to brave these Siberian weather conditions – we are just so not geared up to it – oy vay!

TAKEN FROM MY FRONT DOOR

 

Many many many many years ago on a beautiful sunny autumn day I impulsively bought myself a pair of fur lined (well – fluffy) snowboots that lived safe and dry and warm in the boot (trunk) of my car.  They stayed pristine white and virginal for over seven years – they were like my own little insurance policy against that little dirty four letter word.    If anyone is gonna slip and slide and fall on their face, or their tail, it’s sure to be yours truly.   Snow is no friend of mine! Yuck, yuck, yuck!

I was upset yesterday – I couldn’t believe the weather.  I frantically searched my shoe cupboards – I have a lot of them – for my now very mucky stained, well used and abused and trusted and very much loved  boots.   I don’t care what they look like, or how I look.  If there’s one itsy bitsy snowflake on the path, I will not leave the house without them.   

I don’t remember the last time it snowed in London in December and now tonight (Thursday) it’s really coming down.      I’m still recovering from last February.   Actually I’m not sure I ever shared this story with anyone in the blogosphere, but my friends and community dined out on it for months and people stopped me in the street and the supermarket and the butcher and the baker and told me they’d heard what happened.  

Do you remember  ten months ago when this country ground to a halt?   Even I watched the weather channel that day which is quite something seeing I tell certain weather obsessed people (you know who you are) if you want to know what the weather’s like, turn off the tv and put your head out the front door.     I was going to Israel again expecting to be almost snowed-in there like the previous February (2008) when I had to get out the Gush for meetings in Tel Aviv in time for my taxi driver to get me there and for him to get home before he got snowed-out!    

Thankfully on the day of my departure the snow in my area was practically gone so, minus snowboots, we – that is me and Gary (a good friend and my trusty driver)  left the house at 6.00 a.m.    We had barely gone 5 minutes when the traffic report came on to say Luton Airport was closed.    We’d heard the north of the country would be snowbound, but I guess when they talked north they meant north of London.    I tried to call the airport but only got pre-recorded messages so we battled on.    The motorways were chock-a-block and gridlocked because of jack-knifed lorries so Gary assured me he knew another way – huh – a route that had not been gritted.  Not totally unsurprising since the big news was the country had run out of salt and grit!!!     

We got stuck so many times and slid all over the place. Hours later we neared Luton only to be waved down and told not to go on a particular road since nothing had moved in almost two hours.    Grateful for the information, Gary reassured me again that he knew yet another way, so we unstuck ourselves in reverse and miraculously got out of there.   The next road, an alternative route to the airport,  had also not been gritted and was a sheet of ice.    All the cars were sliding all over the place and nothing was making progress.   We looked at each other and I said I felt sick, not bad traveller’s kinda sick, but scary sick and Gary had visibly paled and confessed he felt the same.    He was not his usual chippy chirpy self.  We had no choice – we had to abandon the car and walk the rest of the way.   Gary, bless him, said the arrangement was for him to get me to the airport and so he did. 

It was freezing – the snow was almost up to our knees – okay I exaggerate a little – my knees, his calves!   What a gentleman – my hero – he schlepped my case and 45 minutes and a mile-and-a-half walk later two very wet and bedraggled souls entered the airport.   My first port of call, the ladies, to get out of soaking wet socks, trainers and jeans.     Many airlines had actually cancelled all flights; mine hadn’t and eventually, hours late,  we took off – the atmosphere and camaraderie at the airport and on the flight was fantastic, but please please please, I would not want to experience that again.    I came home two weeks later and everyone knew – Gary, my super-uber-hero had told everyone.   I did reward him well – he was worth it.

So, back to today – that is if I get this posted, since my lights are flickering and I’m watching Grumpy Old Women at Christmas – they are so funny and it’s funny watching Maureen Lipman and Leslie Joseph, two prominent Jewish personalities, moaning about their Christmas preparations.   Sorry, got distracted.     

A good friend’s daughter, Sarah, is getting married this Sunday – oh and Rachel is bridesmaid again – just thought I’d mention it.    Well they have been friends since nursery school.   Rachel and Sarah were Gemma’s bridesmaids.   Sarah and Gemma were Rachel’s.   So Rachel and Gemma are Sarah’s.    Aaaaah!     A lot of Sarah’s family live in Israel and are flying in today and I’m putting two of her cousins and spouses up for Shabbat – that is, if they get here.      The wind is howling and it is snowing – horrid – ghastly – freezing – wet – cold – settling on the ground – my road is an ice rink – that kinda  snow, not the pretty pretend stuff on this page.  

I’m praying they get here safely.   I’m praying everyone gets to the wedding safely – especially the bride and groom.   I’m wondering how my snowboots will look with my evening gown…

… and I’ve just booked to go to Israel again this February – with my snowboots!

 

SNOW IN ISRAEL


the loves of my life

at the touch of love, everyone becomes a poet ~~~ plato

thank you…

... to everyone whose pictures and videos I have borrowed; if anyone would like theirs to be removed, please tell me and I shall be happy to do so

all words here are mine ~ I’ll tell you when they’re not!

from long ago

in case I forget what day of the week it is

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