Tuesday, February 14, 2017


This retired Italian school teacher is devoting his life to sharing his love of books by bringing a library to remote villages. Check out the full story here.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Baking Notes

I've been baking regularly but it's all pretty much the same sourdough loaves without much variation: two spelt for hubs and a wheat for me, although this one came out as more of a focaccia - better for tearing and dipping than slicing. Anywhoo. My starter seems pretty happy too, which makes things even more seamless and easy; the only thing I might change is adding some olive oil to the spelt bread to soften up the crusts.  These loaves need such a long time in the oven - a full hour - that the crusts become a bit tough. The wheat bread is happy enough to just have 40 minutes of baking time - the crust is nice and crunchy the first day but then softens up on its own once it's wrapped up in a ziplock bag and stashed in the fridge (or freezer, or countertop, etc...) And is easily re-crunched with a quick stint in the toaster. The spelt loaves age well but with a dense pumpernickel / rye type consistency it only gets chewier with time, which is great if your teeth are up for the workload, but alas. Speaking of storing bread, does anyone use or even see bread boxes on kitchen counters anymore? They were something of a feature in kitchens from my childhood, but I can't remember the last time I saw one being used. Sourdough is the only bread I know that has the kind of shelf life that would work in a bread box at room temperature, everything else gets mouldy too quickly. So unless there is an especially high consumption and turnover in your bread inventory, my bet is to store bread in a ziplock bag and park it somewhere cold. Better yet, slice it up first so you can take out a piece at a time for toasting and snacking.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Reading Notes

Ooff. Well. I finally finished this gem a few weeks ago. It started out a lovely story, so well written and evocative of a time and place in history that makes reading historical fiction such a pleasure. But the tangents! Oh man. The first one came and went almost unnoticed as I was in such a haze of delight with the characters and story, but by the third and fourth one I was on to Charlotte's methods and started skipping large swaths of text just to get back to the actual timeline. It's too bad, really. I wanted to like this book so much that I broke with my rule of no guilt abandonment when tedium sets in (life is too short etc. ) Is there any truth to the old custom of paying authors by the word back in the day? or by the weight of the book? One can certainly see why tangents were popular for them.

Anywhoo. I'm on the fence with Villette. It's a lovely historic read if you can tolerate disorienting tangents.

So, as an antidote to classic literature, I chose this piece of modern fluff just for the sheer, easy reading fun of it. I like Gillian Flynn. I've read all three of her twisty psychological thrillers, especially Gone Girl the one that made her famous. Her writing is decent and well-paced and covers some pretty interesting aspects of human nature, although I find her use of gruesome imagery a bit much.

And then there's this one. I don't know if I qualify as an insomniac per se, but I do flirt with it on a regular basis. My nights are a series of intense but brief 'naps' interspersed with wakeful periods in which I usually read on my phone or ruminate in the dark over life's trivialities. So it was one night at 3am when I perused the website Brain Pickings on my phone and this book Sleep Demons by Bill Hayes came up as a feature of interest. It sounded like something I needed to read. I found a copy the next day at my library (actually, it was an interlibrary loan so although I 'found' it in the catalogue, it had to be brought in from another branch.) A few days later I had it in my hands and have been reading it ever since. It's wonderfully engaging and oh-so interesting! The author recounts his own experience with sleep, or the lack thereof, and weaves in some history, lore, and scientific studies. Just the kind of non-fiction I like to read.

After these? I don't know. I'd still like to keep going with the classic authors, I just need to hook up with one that clicks. I had my hand on Mark Twain's Innocents Abroad at the library the other day. Anybody read it? It looks like something I'd enjoy.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Books are not about passing time. They're about other lives. Other worlds. Far from wanting time to pass, one just wishes one had more of it.
~Alan Bennet, The Uncommon Reader

Sunday, January 22, 2017


A little solitude on a cliff overlooking the Pacific. A full bookshelf and a small kitchen here would suit me just fine.

image source

Friday, January 20, 2017

Introverts 101

Myth #1 – Introverts don’t like to talk.
This is not true. Introverts just don’t talk unless they have something to say. They hate small talk. Get an introvert talking about something they are interested in, and they won’t shut up for days.
Myth #2 – Introverts are shy.
Shyness has nothing to do with being an Introvert. Introverts are not necessarily afraid of people. What they need is a reason to interact. They don’t interact for the sake of interacting. If you want to talk to an Introvert, just start talking. Don’t worry about being polite.
Myth #3 – Introverts are rude.
Introverts often don’t see a reason for beating around the bush with social pleasantries. They want everyone to just be real and honest. Unfortunately, this is not acceptable in most settings, so Introverts can feel a lot of pressure to fit in, which they find exhausting.
Myth #4 – Introverts don’t like people.
On the contrary, Introverts intensely value the few friends they have. They can count their close friends on one hand. If you are lucky enough for an introvert to consider you a friend, you probably have a loyal ally for life. Once you have earned their respect as being a person of substance, you’re in.
Myth #5 – Introverts don’t like to go out in public.
Nonsense. Introverts just don’t like to go out in public FOR AS LONG. They also like to avoid the complications that are involved in public activities. They take in data and experiences very quickly, and as a result, don’t need to be there for long to “get it.” They’re ready to go home, recharge, and process it all. In fact, recharging is absolutely crucial for Introverts.
Myth #6 – Introverts always want to be alone.
Introverts are perfectly comfortable with their own thoughts. They think a lot. They daydream. They like to have problems to work on, puzzles to solve. But they can also get incredibly lonely if they don’t have anyone to share their discoveries with. They crave an authentic and sincere connection with ONE PERSON at a time.
Myth #7 – Introverts are weird.
Introverts are often individualists. They don’t follow the crowd. They’d prefer to be valued for their novel ways of living. They think for themselves and because of that, they often challenge the norm. They don’t make most decisions based on what is popular or trendy.
Myth #8 – Introverts are aloof nerds.
Introverts are people who primarily look inward, paying close attention to their thoughts and emotions. It’s not that they are incapable of paying attention to what is going on around them, it’s just that their inner world is much more stimulating and rewarding to them.
Myth #9 – Introverts don’t know how to relax and have fun.
Introverts typically relax at home or in nature, not in busy public places. Introverts are not thrill seekers and adrenaline junkies. If there is too much talking and noise going on, they shut down. Their brains are too sensitive to the neurotransmitter called Dopamine. Introverts and Extroverts have different dominant neuro-pathways. Just look it up.
Myth #10 – Introverts can fix themselves and become Extroverts.
Introverts cannot “fix themselves” and deserve respect for their natural temperament and contributions to the human race. In fact, one study (Silverman, 1986) showed that the percentage of Introverts increases with IQ.

[source unknown. Anyone?]

Monday, January 9, 2017

Children Reading

I've seen this image before but I'm not sure of the source so I'm hoping it is old enough to be in the public domain. It's one of my favourite because it is such a simple image and yet relays so much.