Archive for July, 2013

1Q84

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on July 19, 2013 by cgeary

I listened to 38 discs of 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami. This is the third book of his I have listened to and this story contained many of the same elements as his other books – magical realism/surrealism – leaving one reality to enter another one that leaves us slightly off kilter…cats…an examination of consciousness and time and memory. This book contains a story within a story. The inside story is proposed as a book of fantasy that an editor and a writer try to appropriate for their own benefit…one for money the other for what it gives him as a writer…but they end up being appropriated by the story itself which reveals itself to be true but possibly only in one dimension of realty. In the end we don’t know exactly where this dimension begins and ends, but it feels plausible that the main characters went into it and came back out of it again. It is very Alice in Wonderland like. The main character goes down the rabbit hole and finds herself in a set of circumstances subtly different than what she knows, but different enough to make her question what is going on. Everything isn’t different, but the things that are lead her down a path that takes her to her one true love.

 

At its core this is a love story between Aomame and Tengo who are now both 30 but knew each other as children. An event when they were 10 years old remained in the memory and hearts as they grew older. Though Aomame’s family moved away and they had not seen each other for twenty years, they each yearned in their separate ways for a truth they had experienced earlier. A very interesting (and much shorter) novel could have been written about this love story without the surrealistic story created for 1Q84. The use of an alternative dimension to support the quest of Aomame and Tengo to find each other is almost decoration, rather than substance. At times I was annoyed with it and other times I was charmed by it. I kept hanging on trying to understand it, to grasp what I thought Murakami might be trying to say or at least get us to think about. It certainly provided the opportunity to consider themes common to many of his books such as time, memory, consciousness, ethical ambiguity, children at the mercy of overbearing parents and cats. As in his other books, discussion of Western culture is sprinkled throughout – classical music, movies and Carl Jung. It was hard not to think of the star-crossed lovers Romeo and Juliet, and Tengo alluded to Macbeth more than once. The setting in 1984 means relying on technology of that time and the plot is constrained by this feature. (Many times I thought…if only they had the internet or cell phones this wouldn’t be a problem.) There is so much discussion of the NHK (Japan’s television channel) and collectors of the monthly subscription fee, I was wondering what bad experience Murakami had with them get such a prominently unattractive role in this book.

 

There is something in Murakami’s style that makes me feel like I am in the almost dream world he describes while I am listening to it. I can’t put my finger on what it is exactly, but it pulls me in, even when I’m feeling uncomfortable with the action or the fantasy seems to be too much. I worried that I would be let down by the ending, but I liked the ending and thought the book was thought-provoking and entertaining and I have not quite shaken 1Q84 out of my consciousness.

I surrender

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on July 19, 2013 by cgeary

 

I surrender my vegetable garden to the reality that

  • my yard is not a good place to grow vegetables;
  • I don’t have enough time to keep up with it properly with a full time job; and
  • I have plenty of places to buy good locally grown vegetables in season and don’t need to grow my own vegetables.

 

My yard is very woodsy and is mostly shaded. It also is a major highway for foraging deer. Last year we built a beautiful fence in the sunniest part of the yard and cut down a few extra trees for good measure. The deer of course stay out but the canopy of the remaining trees in our yard has grown to fill in the spaces that were there last year. I can get plants to grow, but few vegetables. Basil grows…some tomatoes and beans…no squash or melons.

 

As I often do, I tried to do too much, tried to grow too many kinds of plants. And the rain has made things a mess this year. My yard is big and needs a lot of work just to maintain what is there. I had planned to try to bring some order to the garden by putting in raised beds and I think I will still build the wooden structures before the end of the summer, but I will be more focused with what I have in it I have started two asparagus beds, which I will keep. I also will keep the black raspberry plants that produced fairly well earlier in the summer. The rest of the beds I will plant with herbs, which seem to go fairly well and some flowers that will tolerate the shade. The rest of my time I will focus on clearing out my yard to make it less high maintenance. Right now that means a lot of weeding in some of the flower beds, cutting out saplings and mulching, mulching, mulching…and clearing out a few foot paths.

 

This morning I took at first step toward this transition. I pulled out all my non-productive plants and cut my raspberries way back. I pulled as many weeds as I could in the time I had. I have some flowers that I hope will bloom – tithonia or Mexican sunflowers.  It looks much better already and though I still have some clean up to go, feels like a lighter load.