Monday, 26 July 2010

Worth Reading

As the two previous posts started with the word “before”, this one is going to be about “after”.

AFTER I read Lionel Shriver’s book “We Need to Talk about Kevin” I decided that she’s an author that has to be added to my “looking forward to reading more” list.

I knew “We Need to Talk about Kevin” was going to be about school shooting (or a columbine monster - a new term for me) and as I’ve already read the famous Jodi Picoult’s “Nineteen Minutes” I expected it to be somehow similar. I wasn’t prepared for a thorough analyses of such a long chain of events that might have led a boy to committing dreadful crimes (the whole thing starts with his mother being not sure about having a child in the first place).

As the story is told by Kevin’s mum, in a series of letters written for her husband, there’s not a lot of direct speech and it made the reading a bit difficult. But all I can say – Lionel Shriver is a very intelligent woman, who succeeded in portraying how things can go wrong, no matter how badly you want to make everything right.

Nature versus Nurture

I’ve been always of the opinion that no one can be born evil. Is that possible? No doubt I would have always shouted: No! And thinking about it, even now I’d say that any dysfunctional behavior has it roots somewhere in the course of the upbringing. (This goes with Jean Jacque Rousseau’s theory that everyone at birth is like an empty sheet of paper.) That’s why it’s a bit peculiar that, without noticing how, reading this book I became sure that the main character - Kevin - was bad from the very first days of his life. I jumped on his mum’s side and was getting angry that no one else noticed the boys will to harm people. So if Lionel’s plan was to shake some strong believes, she’s done it.

To Have or not to Have

The other important subject in the book is fears concerning motherhood. In this day and age couples more often decide to postpone having children and the fears, that arise before the desicion to have a child is made, are really multiple: what if the child has some terminal disease, what if he/she is killed in an accident, what if the parents won't manage to provide for the child etc. But I've never thought of the one the author suggests - what if the child turns into a monster and causes so much grief for the others?

Well, if you decide to read this book, there'll be plenty to think about afterwards. And after you've read it, have a look at this inteview with Lionel Shriver, where she "discusses her chilling novel "We Need to Talk About Kevin," her fears about motherhood and how Columbine monsters are made":

Oh, and it seems that in 2011 there should be a film based on this book!

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Before the Rain

I don’t think any of the plants or insects knew what was coming…

Just before the storm hit it was quite hot (+31C), like on a normal summer day. Yes, it might have been a bit windy, but we needed that breeze, otherwise it would have been unbearable.

After a while the sky started turning grey and we could hear thunder in the background. I did a sensible thing (for a change) – got all the washing in. Usually I’m brave and leave it till the last minute, but this time I think I wouldn’t have cared if the washing got soaked. Huge rain drops started pouring for the sky, as if someone had just emptied an enormous bucket!

This rain must have whipped the plants badly… and now I’m scared to look how many got broken…

Friday, 16 July 2010

Before This Beauty Fades

This week it has been way too hot. I get up in the morning and I feel as if I’m practicing for taking part in a slow motion film – I move very sloooowly: every move uses up too much of my energy, clothes seem to be sticking and there’s nowhere I could hide. Cool shower seems to help, but in about 15 minutes it’s the same all over again. (I even keep catching myself dreaming of autumn!)

Meanwhile very early mornings and late evenings are devoted for watering the garden. And even though July seems to be a very pretty month, with lots of flowers in bloom, I can see this fading away soon – sadly the hotter it gets, the quicker our flowers wilt.

More and more often I get out with my camera and shoot, this time becoming a director for the documentary called “Summer 2010”. I hope that this way I’ll at least gain some more time for enjoying the spectacular colours of sweet peas and roses, calendulas and hydrargeas and will be able to say – yes, we definitely had a summer, a very hot summer!

Monday, 12 July 2010

Gambas Pil Pil

The temperature has reached nearly 40C - it's impossible to stay in the sun during the day and really hard to fall asleep in the night, but we still dream of holidays in some far away and probably even hotter country! We must be mad? Or probably just know the rule - stay at home and there will always be jobs to do - too well. I must admit I can relax fully only when I am away: I prefere worrying if I have seen all of the most interesting tourist attractions and not if it's time to water the garden, wash the dishes up or clean the bedroom. I'm sure you get the picture...

While we still haven't left our cosy-lots-to-do-aroud house we dreamt we were somewhere else... lets say in Spain! Do you know a way how to make a dream seem at least a bit real? We decided our way would be to cook Spanish food. Tapas!*

I love sea food, but don't get to have it very often, so every time we have shrimps, muscles or squid it turns into a bit of an occasion! And if someone else is cooking and you don't have to worry about a thing... just look at the clock every five minutes and ask - is time yet? - the only thing I can do is exclaim - SPLENDID - in a strong posh English accent. (Thank you, Andrew!)

This is our famous prawn and avocado salad with a secret ingredient, that makes the sauce so special.

Muscles in tomatoe and ginger sauce. Believe me, in this sauce they are gorgeous.

This is something we didn't prepare from scratch, I think it's cod pretending to be crab, but was nice nevertheless.

Anyway, if you want to smell and taste Spain follow these simple instructions:

Put some oil (100ml) into a pan and make it real hot, so that when you add prawns (350g), finely chopped 4 garlic cloves and 1 chilli pepper (without the seeds if you don't like spicy food) they'd sizle. Wait till the garlic turns golden (this should take about 1 or 2min.) and pour everything into a bowl. Serve your gambas pil pil with white bread and lemon wedges.

Now close your eyes and imagine you are somewhere on the cost of the Mediterranean...
*Tapas is the name of a wide variety of appetizers, or snacks, in Spanish cuisine. They may be cold (such as mixed olives and cheese) or warm (such as chopitos, which are battered, fried baby squid). In select bars in Spain and maybe in North America or the United Kingdom, tapas has evolved into an entire, and sometimes sophisticated, cuisine. In Spain, patrons of Tapas can order many different tapas and combine them to make a full meal.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Just A Perfect Day

When I go through the photos that I took on the 1st of July for my friend’s Birthday I keep hearing the song by Lou Reed – “Perfect Day” - in my head. And even the song goes: “just a perfect day, drink sangria in the park and later, when it gets dark, we’ll go home” – I think that drinking champagne in the dunes is just as PERFECT. Oh, and a BBQ in the dark is also quite spectacular (although if things go wrong, you end up feeling like a smoked sausage)! But what made the day so special for me was meeting my friends, whom I don’t get too see very often. So I could keep singing:

“Oh, it’s such a perfect day, I’m glad I spent it with you…”

Location: Juodkrante, Lithuania. A tiny town on the Curonian Spit, with not many people, but loads of colourful old houses, green meadows, smoked fish, yahts and of course water (Curonian Lagoon on one side and the Baltic on the other).

Birthday Girl: Jovita. Eighteen again, and what did you think!? Lots of Happy Birthday's were received via mobile phone - oh, that 21st century...

One of the Guests: Dovile - another victim of the BBQ (there must have been something wrong with the logs that night?). I must admit we were good and managed to finish what we've started, without moaning too much; although eating at midnight can't be very healthy.

Flowers: A nice bunch of colourful summer flowers. You must admit, it counts as a good reason to be happy that your Birthday is in the middle of the summer!

Cake: An even better reason to celebrate choosing the best time of the year to be born! Home grown stawberries + self picked wild strawberries, whipped cream and suckulent spunge... Well, it tasted as good as it looks (if not better)!

By the Lagoon: You can see that this is the place where you can relax, think slowly and forget all your worries. Open your eyes widely and admire every single wonder of nature.
That's where we saw a pretty seagull, probably wondering if we've brought any bread with us (we hadn't).

And a busy bee on a bright green plant. (It's a pity I didn't get its companion, just half of it flying in from the right corner.)

And these neglected boats would be the best image to reflect that time in Juodkrante runs slowly: from summer to summer, as that's when the tourists bring a bit of novelty into previously probably even a bit dull life.

Beach: As I still haven't mentioned the dog, here she is! Jumping happily when she's told she's going out and at all times not trusting the guests - it's a dog that can't be touched and you have to move around the room on her terms. (Look at that balance! How doesn't she fall on one side!?)

Some soft evening colours (at around 9pm.). Couldn't wait for the sun set as we still had our BBQ to fit in!

And nearly the whole of the company (somebody had to take photos) in the dunes; hiding from not so warm summer breeze, remembering funny stories from the past, wishing all the best for the years to come...

As I said before - just a perfect day! And still humming: "I'm glad I spent it with you..."