Tiny Sparks of Joy

Breakfast solo with a good book.

Using phrases from long deceased relatives, like ‘The right side of the house is out” on a rainy day.

Planning, organising and controlling, just like I learned about in my leaving certificate business course.

Discovering a writer for the first time and knowing there’s a lot more of her books to enjoy even though I’m very late to the party.

Knowing I have a week off work next month and pondering what to do about it.

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Tiny Sparks of Joy

Dolly’s Coat of Many Colours

There’s very few ways in which Dolly Parton isn’t 100% amazing, including her book distribution programme. As a lover of books for my entire life, this is something I think is possibly even better than Jolene.

The story is right here and like many other things she’s done it is inspirational. Thinking about all the books she’s sent and all the lives she’s changed while I’ve whiled away another snow day reading childhood favourites and napping makes me feel particularly lazy.

Anyway, as one of the books I’ve reread says tomorrow is another day and another chance for some Dolly type self improvement.

Dolly’s Coat of Many Colours

Snow Day Joys

The beast from the east is en route. Work is cancelled. Going outside the house is cancelled as of now. Thankfully we braved the cold for a bracing work this morning. I’m currently feeling very grateful for electricity, internet access, a working heating system and a list of jobs. We’ve decluttered one room and have more jobs for tomorrow, as there’s not a whole lot else we can do.

Fighting the clutter is a constant battle. Another box of stuff which once seemed important is destined for people who might appreciate it more than we do. It’s kind of nice to have a day where you have to stay inside and you’ve time to think about and do things you’ve had on the long finger.

Tomorrow, my books will get a going over, prompted by the discovery of a library book I renewed because I couldn’t find it the last time I went to the local library. I’ve books to finish and old favourites to revisit. I just hope the heating holds out.

Snow Day Joys

A New Coat For Anna

When I was a small child, one of the books I remember borrowing a book about a little girl who got a new coat from the library. It was a story that stayed with me as a child and I remember loving the book, but I hadn’t thought about it in years. The book, A New Coat for Anna, tells the story of a little girl dealing with post-WWII life in the Netherlands and her mother’s efforts to get her a new coat.

As an adult, rereading the book is a jarring experience. Anna’s mother had to give up a gold watch, which must have been a valuable heirloom and which had survived years of war, just to get the wool for a coat. She has to give up other things too, like a lamp, a necklace and a teapot, to ensure Anna has the coat she needs.

More than that, the book shows that war doesn’t end when the powers that be sign an armistice. Children grow and need warm clothing. Mothers who’ve carefully hoarded family treasures weigh up what they might be worth. People with skills trade them for necessities.

Today is International Holocaust Remembrance Day. I’ve been thinking about Anna’s red coat because of the iconic scenes in Schindler’s List, where a tiny girl in a red coat wanders around the horrors of the Warsaw Ghetto. And I’m thinking about all the children who today have grown out of coats and are dealing with war and its effects and their mothers who are trying to decide whether now is the time to trade a precious family object for the necessities of life.

I wish Anna’s red coat was a purely fictional book about a time long ago that we’re glad never happened today, but sadly whenever humankind has said ‘never again’ this hasn’t come to pass.

A New Coat For Anna

In Praise of Libraries.

When I was a child, we often went to the library twice a week. I have always loved reading and I’d choose four books on a Saturday, have them read by Sunday evening, and then return to a chess club to choose four more on Monday. I still remember my heart leaping when the final two books in the Drina series appeared on the shelf after a family holiday.

My library use dwindled after college, and was non existent before we moved to our new home almost two years ago. Happily, we can now walk to one of the libraries I remember going to as a child. The shelves and the smell are the same. It seems to have shrunk – I remember towers of books above my head – but the tiles are the same ones I walked on three decades ago. There’s a self-service machine to return and borrow books, but there’s also still enthusiastic librarians who’ll find a book with the skimpiest of details.

I went yesterday, and borrowed three books, two of which I had on my to-buy list and one of which has proved to be a mistake. No matter, it hasn’t cost me anything to give it a try. One of my smaller resolutions is to make the most of my library this year, as I did when I was a small child and I wished and hoped that a favourite book would be returned or a new book would appear on the shelf.

In Praise of Libraries.