October 7, 2015
I have a problem. My problem is that I cannot stop calling my daughters “beautiful”.
I know I am not supposed to. I know that there is too high a value placed on beauty, especially for women. I know that the pursuit of beauty wrecks havoc on our self-esteems, identities, relationships and…worse. I know that vanity used to be considered a sin and that now we seem to live in a world where happiness and success is regularly measured by the hotness of the latest selfie. I see it, I know it, I feel it, it all makes me want to curl up into a ball and wish the world away. But… my daughters.
September 30, 2015
You know when having your figs stolen reminds you of being a writer?
I’ve written about the fig tree in our garden before. We enjoy them every August for the glut of honey-sweet mess they are. Except this year, because this year the starlings enjoyed them instead.
I’m not a fan of invasive species. I might even make a few enemies saying I’ve wished for a slingshot and the aim of a sniper to combat the terrible flocks of birds that stormed our tree this summer. So be it. I can remain silent no longer: I hate starlings. I know they’re smart and adaptable and can mimic and have vaguely iridescent feathers. All good things in the right context. But they’re disastrous in North America and they’re disastrous in my garden. Little e told a friend of ours the other day, “Mummy hates aphids and she hates starlings. Hate is a very strong word.” Yes, indeed. Those are the two, um, very intense dislikes of my life.
Of course, the biggest reason for my starling-hatred is how thoroughly they eat their way through the things we like. (Why not eat the horse chestnuts or the fricking dandelions?) For the past month we’ve been coming out of the house to the rustle of fifty startled pairs of wings as they leave yet more carcasses of figs hanging by entrail-like threads from the tree. Grr.
But all joking aside (have I been joking?), this is really about disappointment and frustration. I mean, birds do what birds do and if we were true fig nerds we might have invested in a starling-proof net for our tree. (But probably not.)
The ego is a tricky thing. Which is to (slightly awkwardly) segue, this week I read this wonderful, wonderful, thought-provoking conversation about being a writer and it got me thinking about expectation and the products of disappointment, and how we might separate ourselves from them.
September 23, 2015
We love children’s fiction here at Fork & Fiction. It’s not really a secret. Especially children’s fiction authored by this star (ahem). Recently I’ve been digging the Instagram accounts of people who are fellow kids books lovers, who have alerted me to some great new reads (e.g. When I was Small by Sara O’Leary) or impending new editions (the 150th anniversary edition of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland illustrated by Anna Rifle Bond!). Yes to Instagram! Yes to children’s fiction!
I have amassed such a large collection of children’s books, especially in the five and a bit years I have been a parent that recently someone walked into the room where I keep them (in a ginormous bookshelf) did a double take and exclaimed “Woah!! Have enough kids books?!” and started laughing hysterically. I don’t know why I am friends with this person. Who thinks there should be a limit on the number of kids books in a house? What breed of a person?! I scowl at such people, scowl I say.
Spurred on by his ridiculous words and howls of laughter I subsequently pored over the titles I currently own to remind myself of the value of every single one. Like a gardener studying her freshly bloomed roses. Sigh. And I did notice a pattern amongst my favourites. You guessed it, FOOD. No surprises there either. So today, to celebrate Children’s Fiction and having “far too much of it” (i.e. just enough and never too bloody much) I bring you a list of my essential foodie fiction favourites that you MUST own for under-fives and which are loveable for over-fives too. These aren’t optional, my friends, these are classics, these are compulsory. Even if you buy them someone else’s under-fives. Even if you already have “too many” (pfffffff. eye roll.) other kids books.
In no particular order…..
September 16, 2015
I have discovered something terrible. You’re going to hate me for it. At first you will love it–I did too–but it surely won’t last because, you know that cliche about too much of a good thing? That applies here.
I have discovered a shortcut to cookie. A shortcut to freshbaked heaven in your kitchen–yes, make them with your kids, go ahead and whip them up at eleven pm, because, BECAUSE: they are ten minute cookies. Not no-bake (very much bake). Not healthy (two kinds of sugar!). Just good, good cookies. And you should make them.
September 8, 2015
I was introduced to Sei Shonogan around the time the word “blog” was coined. I say introduced but of course that is physically impossible, as Sei Shonogan was a Japanese author over one thousand years ago. Ruth Ozeki made the connections – quoting Sei Shonogan in her debut novel “My Year of Meats” – and thereby bringing Sei Shonogan into my consciousness. Long, looooong, before I got into this blogging business. When I recently saw “The Pillow Book” in the local library I picked it up mainly out of amusement, definitely not as research or expecting to be so struck by the similarities between Shonogan’s words and those of the modern day blogger.