Still Need to Do Day

I look on the calendars a lot. Not to see what I should be doing or when an appointment is due. I just look to see what sort of day it is. I don’t mean Mother’s Day or Father’s Day but something more fun, like National Flip a Coin Day in the USA on June 1st. The world is a strange and wonderful place, and I love finding strange corners like that. Besides, flipping a coin is a useful way to make a decision. You find out what you really wanted when the coin lands and you are pleased or disappointed. Then you can go away and do what you actually wanted because the coin flip wasn’t legally binding.

If you go on the right sites, there are often a list of things that the day is for, some more serious than others. Today, 29th December, is the celebration of the Constitution of Ireland, which is important. It is also a day to celebrate Pepper Pots, which some may argue is also significant as it isn’t about the containers for pepper that are put on tables as I first thought, but about the soup, Pepper Pot, which is said to have won the American War of Independence. I found a recipe for it here, on I’m not going to make it. The last thing I need in my life is to start cooking tripe.

It caught my eye, though, that today is National ‘Still Need to Do’ Day and Tick Tock Day, both of them a subtle, or not-so-subtle, nudge to clear your ‘to-do’ list, and get moving to clear the decks for the New Year.

This is a great idea. I fully support it. I’m not acting on it today, though. If I sat down and wrote a list of all the outstanding tasks, half finished projects and looming deadlines, it would run to several volumes. I may spend the day making a start of a list…

One thing that I am learning, slowly and the hard way, is that it is easier to avoid entries like ‘sort out the disaster area called the dining room’ and instead have separate entries like, ‘clear one of the book shelves in the dining room’, ‘find a use for that cute tin or throw it out’ and ‘sort out the socks’.

I wonder about any ‘to-do’ list that my characters may have written. I wouldn’t touch any written by Mrs Tuesday or Lady Freydis. I think the ‘to-do’ list of Lord John Farnley could be full of engineering stuff and very short on things to do with his home or title. I may add ‘write to-do lists of characters’ to my to-do list.

One of the entries on my ‘to do’ list is learn Instagram. It’s mainly pictures and I don’t have the right way of looking at the world, so I struggle. However, in the spirit of the day, I have taken a picture of a to-do list, shown above. It is an authentic, true to life representation of the way I use to-do lists and my awful handwriting. Wish me luck on getting my list moving, and I would love to hear what you think about lists and your experience of them.

Christmas Tradition

It’s that time of year. People are dusting off their Christmas traditions and huddling inside away from the cold, dark days. In Iceland, there is a tradition of Jolabokaflod where people give each other gifts of books on Christmas Eve and then settle down to read them straight away. The more I hear about Iceland, the better it sounds.

Mind you, knowing how people are, those books may be read with different degrees of enthusiasm. I honestly think that there will be lots of happy people curled up with their favourite author, or a favourite genre, or even a completely new type of book that is perfect for opening up new ideas and thoughts in a wonderful and well-received way. I also suspect that there will be people muttering in corners, ‘My mother-in-law got me a book on Swedish Death Cleaning and I know exactly what she means by that!’

We don’t have that tradition in our family, mainly because my lovely husband has mostly audio books and I read a lot of books on a reading app, so we don’t usually buy physical books. Son reads in fits and starts and I just let him get on with it. Besides, he’s old enough to raid our bookshelves now when he feels like it. I also don’t want to force reading on him because he is overloaded with schoolwork and I would feel guilty trying to make him do anything more.

Speaking of schoolwork, son has been blessed by some amazing texts for his school syllabus, and one of them is A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. We don’t have many Christmas traditions, but one of them is watching A Muppet Christmas Carol every year. We snuggle in, have the room nice and toasty with a scented candle, pile up snacks and drinks and enjoy. It’s years since I read the original, but I dipped in again the other night. I was pleasantly surprised by how much of the original work made it into the Muppet version. I have watched dozens of versions over the years, but I think that the Muppets get it the closest. Drop a comment if you agree or disagree. I’d love to hear what you think.

One thing that struck me was the original story, written in nineteenth century London, doesn’t have much to do with religion. It refers to Christianity, but that was natural for a nominally Christian writer in a nominally Christian country. However, it doesn’t really bother with theology. It talks about people, and a reminder that people are important. That it is worth cherishing the bonds of love and friendship. That it is a human duty to look out for others who cannot look out for themselves.

The language of the original is dated. Some of the expressions are unfamiliar to a modern reader. It’s a cracking story, though, and the dozens of films inspired by it (some a lot better than others) take up the sentiment. It seems that there is a deeply ingrained impulse to have a celebration at the darkest time of the year and to remember those who need a little help. I have watched A Muppet Christmas Carol so many times I can practically repeat the dialogue along with the film. I’m still looking forward to it though. It’s not a bad Christmas tradition.

My Favourite Author

shallow focus photo of pink flowers
Image from Unsplash, taken by John Wiesenfeld

I am a bad reader. I read a lot of non-fiction, especially history, as you may be able to tell if you read my books. I re-read a lot of my favourite authors as well. Sometimes I feel I will need dynamite to get out of my reading rut. I’ll be returning to reviewing in the new year to force open my horizons.

Unfortunately I have just found that they are releasing my favourite author’s books on kindle. This is not necessarily a good thing. I know a whole bundle of amazing and talented authors, but I keep going back to Essie Summers, the wife of a New Zealand minister, born 1912. She wrote romances with a Christian feel to them and I have been hooked for years. I read, re-read and re-re-read the books to tatters. Now that they are on kindle, I shall be reading them even more. And I don’t know why.

I could tell you that they deal honestly with people. That the characters have depth, the dialogue is crisp and that the world of her story has depth. I could talk about the wonderful descriptive flair that she has, the feeling that there is a continuation of life around the story. I could talk about some of the more complicated plots (trust me, some are extremely complicated with half sisters and adopted brothers and all sorts). Lots of other authors have those. I still keep going back to Essie Summers.

I suppose I feel comfortable reading them. I relax into them. They are wholesome and fun and speak of honest feelings. It reminds me that there are good people out there. But, to be honest, it’s still something of a mystery. I’m going to be buying them all as they come onto kindle, as soon as I see them. I don’t know why they call to me, but they do.

Thinking of why I like them so much has made me wonder. Are there some books that just call to you? Is it some sort of compatibility? Could you sort personalities by favourite author instead of star sign or that thing with the letters? Perhaps it’s like food cravings – a deficiency in real life means that you crave a certain type of book? If so, I can confirm that I am deficient in New Zealand. I am not going to comment on the romance aspect, as I have been married for over 30 years and he is awesome. I’m still going to finish here and settle down with ‘No Orchids by Request

I’d love to hear if you have any authors that call to you the same way. Comment down below, it would be great to see your thoughts.