Friday, December 17, 2010

Meltdown . . .

. . . in more ways than one. The snow has more or less gone now. There was another small snowfall yesterday, but it hasn't amounted to much - yet. More snow is forecast. We still have that feeling that our plans are provisional and I am wondering if we are going to miss the pantomine at Buxton for the second year running. And whether the Kellybronze turkey that I have splashed out on this year is going to get here from Essex next Wednesday.
The other meltdown involves the overload on my organisational abilities, stretched even further than usual for this time of year by subscription renewals for the CWA arriving in every post. Still, somehow there is always time for reading. I've finished THE DRAINING LAKE by Arnaldar Indridason, full of Nordic gloom, but a good story well told. And I've got three different books on the go now. I spotted Francine Prose's READING LIKE A WRITER: A GUIDE FOR PEOPLE WHO LOVE BOOKS AND FOR THOSE WHO WANT TO WRITE THEM among the recent acquisitions in the London Library (though it actually came out in 2006). I haven't got very far into it, but I can tell I'm going to enjoy it. I've also begun Dorothy L Sayers THE UNPLEASANTNESS AT THE BELLONA CLUB. And I am working my way contentedly through ORIGINAL SINS, the new CWA anthology, which arrived in the post yesterday. Stories by Peter Lovesey, Simon Brett, Reginald Hill, Martin Edwards, Kate Ellis and many others: a rare treat. I am in there, too, and I don't suppose it'll ever stop being a thrill to find myself in this sort of company.
I might blog over the Xmas period, but more likely I won't, so I'll wish you all a good Christmas. I'll be back the New Year.

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Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Fourteen degrees below zero . . .

. . . was the temperature outside our back door yesterday morning. Yesterday I wore a thermal vest, a cotton t-shirt, a woollen jumper, a cashmere cardigan and a big Swedish sweater, a hat, and a scarf and that was INDOORS. Outside I look like an extra for DOCTOR ZHIVAGO. Ordinary activities take so much longer. The school run which normally takes 15-20 minutes takes an hour if I have to walk instead, slowed down by icy pavements. Of course I know this is nothing compared with winters in Canada and Sweden and North America, but it so rarely happens here that we haven't invested either personally or as a country in the equipment to deal with it.
We were only completely cut-off for two days, then the trains started running. But we've only had one postal delivery in a week, still no milk. We're lucky to have such good neighbours. Last week shortly after my husband had sadly poured the last of the milk into his tea, one of our friends rang to offer us a pint. About an hour later the door bell rang and it was our next door neighbour with a bottle of milk and another neighbour had left one on the doorstep.
Still, this is meant to be a blog about reading, so I'll tell you that I've finished THE NINE TAILORS, which I read slowly and with relish, only skipping the tedious stuff about the cypher. Like so many of the best crime novels it is about so much more than a crime and that's why it can be read again and again. I love the depiction of the Fenland community with its wonderful church and splendid vicar. It has one of the best endings in crime fiction, and all in all has been great comfort reading. Otherwise my reading time has been devoted to the first draft of a friend's novel and the latest edition of CADS (Crime and Detective Stories) the periodical that I've mentioned before. We've watched an entertaining film noir, THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW, directed by Fritz Lang and starring Edward G Robinson as a mild-mannered academic whose life goes suddenly and horrifically awry - and several episodes of HOMICIDE. We've reached the last series, alas.
Now I'm hovering on the brink (so to speak) of THE DRAINING LAKE by Arnaldar Indridason - I very much enjoyed VOICES - or maybe another Dorothy L Sawyers.
And by the way that chocolate cake made without eggs and with cooking oil (a mixture of sunflower oil and rapeseed oil because that was what I happened to have) instead of butter turned out absolutely fine. More like a pudding than a cake, perhaps, but it all got eaten, no problem.

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Thursday, December 02, 2010

Snowed In!

For the first time ever in the fourteen years we are completely snowed in. Yesterday we woke to 16 inches of snow and it has gone on falling ever since off and on. In the past there has always the train to fall back on (that was how we got to our son's wedding four years ago, when snow and a fallen tree blocked the way out of the village). But yesterday the trains stopped running. The school's closed today for the third day running, but even if wasn't, we couldn't get there. There isn't a village shop (it closed in the summer). Walking to the next, larger village is a last resort as the snow is over our wellies and anyway deliveries haven't been getting through there either.
The milkman and postman are not getting through and the organic fruit and veg delivery people have rung to say they can't make it tomorrow. However we are in no danger for running out of food for a while. True, we have no milk now, or eggs or cheese (except for Parmesan) and not much fruit and veg. However we have loads and loads of rice, pasta, olive oil, coffee and tea, because I buy them in bulk. Quite a lot of Parmesan, lentils, tins of red kidney beans and other pulses and enough flour for several loaves. Also a tin of sardines and one of corned beef. A joint of pork in the freezer. No cake, biscuits or chocolate. Yesterday we got a craving for something sweet so we broken into the Xmas cake that we made a fortnight ago. Might have been better if left to mature, but it's very good all the same and there's always too much at Xmas anyway. We've got plenty of wine and there is wood in the woodshed.
Thanks to my book-buying habit there is no shortage of things to read either. To be honest I probably have enough books to last for the rest of my life, what with ones I haven't read and ones I'd be happy to re-read. It's comfort reading at the moment. I am well into THE NINE TAILORS and am thoroughly enjoying it. And I've found a recipe in Peg Bracken's THE I HATE TO COOK BOOK for a chocolate cake that uses cocoa and cooking oil instead of butter or margarine. So I might get my chocolate fix after all.

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