Bookish Matters

The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.

—Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

In the Garden—Diary

marigold seeds
May 31

I sprayed my strawberries with a mixture of lemon juice and water and made a border of cinnamon in the hope of deterring ants from eating my strawberries. It may yet be too soon to see if it works. But in the muggy rain, my yard smells like cinnamon.

June 3

It's the last day of the new moon and we're finally past our estimated last frost date, so I got busy in the garden today. I removed the layer of leaves from a new section of the garden, added compost, and planted a row of marigolds and a row of sunflowers. The marigold seeds are light and dry as straw, but look like little arrows.
I planted cilantro seeds from last year; we'll see if they come up.
I planted nasturtiums in the garden by the backdoor. I love this shady little section of garden, and am mostly content to let it grow wild. Lemon balm, plants with seed pods like little lanterns, feathery plants, and cherry-tree saplings already grow there. When I removed the leaf cover I found the remains of a pomegranate I put there on Samhain, and it made me happy, and reminded me of the seasons of the year. I added just a touch of compost, because the soil was so clay-y and clumpy, and sprinkled compost over the jack-o-lantern carcas I also put there last fall, hoping it'll grow me more pumpkins. I think some messy nasturtiums that do well in poor soil will fit in nicely here.
I ate the first strawberry out of my garden.

June 4—Full moon

I planted a dahlia bulb and three pixie lily bulbs. Brought my largest reddest strawberry to Ian.

June 6

I've planted last year's seeds in little plantable pots. Three Thai basil, three regular basil, three oregano, and three calendula. If in a couple weeks they sprout, I'll plant more. Oregano seeds are tiny, smaller than poppy seeds. I'm not sure how to plant basil and oregano—just an 1/8th inch and a 1/16th inch deep, respectively. I also planted six little pots of marigolds, so when I decide it's warm enough for tomatoes I'll have pest-resistant marigolds ready to put next to them.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Literary Lunes—Review of When Autumn Leaves

When Autumn Leaves by Amy S. Foster
Chicklit, paranormal fiction

On an island off the coast of British Columbia is the town of Avening, a town where all the residents are a little odd, the whole town celebrates holidays from the Wheel of the Year, and you can buy magic potions at the drugstore. Autumn is the resident witch...or at least people think she's a witch. Either way, Autumn has been told it's time for her to move on, and now she needs to find a replacement, someone to be the new spiritual and magical leader of the community.

Each chapter takes place at a different pagan holiday, and centers on one woman finding her own unique abilities, with Autumn always in the background watching and guiding.

I was really excited for this book. Chicklit with a pagan twist, sounds great, right? It was a good concept, but poorly executed.

Most of the characters were likable and well-rounded, but almost all of them had moments (dialogue, reactions) that were hard to believe—like a 17-year-old referring to herself as a child. Teenagers don't see themselves that way. Some paragraphs were very well written, even insightful and beautiful, and some paragraphs were muddy enough that I wanted to take a red pencil to them.

Since each character only got one chapter, it could be hard to get attached to the characters. Around the middle of the book (Beltain) there's a love story, but I just didn't care. I had met this woman just a paragraph ago, and I'm supposed to be sympathetic to her desire to cheat on her husband? I'm supposed to feel the sizzle of sexual tension between her and some guy? Nuh-uh. I considered putting the book down and never picking it back up.

At the same time the lack of a single narrative was annoying, and not getting the plotlines of each woman happily concluded was disappointing, I still appreciate the novel's refusal to do the normal thing and instead look at an entire community.

All in all, I don't regret having read the book. In fact, I think back on the book fondly. It just could have been done so much better. It has so much unfulfilled potential!