Monday, September 10, 2007

Catching Up

It's been quiet in my little corner of the Middle of Nowhere, mostly because I've slid into one of my antisocial moods. Sometimes, I feel like I just want to fold in on myself and not talk to anyone for weeks. This feeling spreads even into the Internet realm, as I haven't been answering email or blogging or commenting on blogs for the last few weeks. The days are getting shorter and although the golden light of autumn is my favourite, I can't help but dread the Dark Womb of Winter.

As I'm waiting for tonight's dinner (chicken curry from the Avoca Cookbook) to boil rapidly until it has reduced in volume by half, I decided it was time for a little catching up.

August Reads

Harry Potter dominated my August reading. I read only one non-Potter book, Man of Fate by Brad Metzler. I found it confusing, uninspiring, and overall poorly executed.

Re-reading the Harry Potter books was fantastic fun and was well worth the effort. I've thought a lot about how I feel about them and how I'd rank them. In order from least favourite to most favourite, this is what I've come up with. (I will try to keep my reasons to under 25 words. I know I tend to be too wordy in my monthly reading recap.)

7. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - Too long, too moody, too little going on. It was necessary but depressing reading and it's one of the rare examples where the movie was leagues better than the book.

6. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets - Just doesn't hold up when compared to the quality of the others. I can't pin it on any one thing - Lockhart is a fabulous character and the world remains interesting and vivid, it's just missing something.

5. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban - Numbers 5-3 were incredibly difficult to rank and really could get swapped around depending on how I feel on any given day. Azkaban is losing out today because I felt like the danger was too manufactured.

4. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone - An excellent entry into the world - introduces the characters in age-appropriate writing and it's gratifying to look back and see how much they've grown.

3. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince - The penultimate book in the series is a strong building block to the end. The Snape storyline, in particular, is a delightful shade of dark charcol.

2. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - I absolutely loved this last book. It did everything I wanted - tied up most of the loose ends and gave me an emotionally satisfying ending.

1. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - Definitely my sentimental favourite. Goblet of Fire represents the turning point in the series. Harry has become a teenager and the dangers he faces are becoming more clear and more deadly.


We had a camogie match last week, which we lost badly. I couldn't even tell you how badly and it's little comfort that the team we lost to were at least the division champions. After we lost our championship match, our season sort of sputtered to a premature end even though we have a pile of fixtures left that we're meant to play before the proper end of the season. They get scheduled and then postponed with alarming regularity.

Peter came to the match with his camera and came away with a two half-decent photos of me. I'm a forward and the majority of the match was played in front of our own goal, so I didn't see a lot of action. I did get moved to wing forward for the second half, so I had a bit more to do then.

In this first photo, I am in the white shirt and blue helmet and am trying to block down my opponents shot. Note my very un-macho flinching face. I can't remember if I was successful in my blocking attempt. I did manage to block one shot in this match, but I don't know if this was the one.

In this second photo, I am the one blue helmet with the 7 visible on the back of my shirt. (In point of fact, I was wearing number 17 but my braid is obscuring the 1.) I'm trying to catch the ball in the air and although I was Out In Front when the ball started to come my way, that crafty half-back ran around from behind me and ended up batting down the ball. She was about 8 inches taller than me, all of it leg, and I found it nearly impossible to keep up with her. I see a lot of wind sprints in my winter off-season.

That photo also illustrates what I hate most about our uniforms - the ridiculous skirts. Even though we all wear shorts underneath, I always feel like I am one play away from flashing the world. Plus, the damn skirts make me feel even larger of ass than I usually do.

In Search of a Quest

The book I'm reading this week is Bill Bryson's A Walk in the Woods, which is about his adventures in hiking the Appalachian Trail. I think I'm having a sort of mid-life crisis (and I know you'll probably be hearing more about it soon, because what is a blog for if not for self-indulgent navel-gazing). I find myself wanting to achieve some sort of grueling, physically and mentally demanding task, like hiking the Appalachian Trail. Only not that particular quest. It's not that I have a problem with the idea of hiking some 2,100 miles. Sure, arranging the 6 months off work would be tricky, but I think I am stubborn enough to haul my sorry ass (and a 40lb pack) all the way. But this has to be a quest I can do alone as Peter is not having a mid-life crisis (he's a good three years younger than I am) and people have been murdered on the AT, so the thought of hiking alone in that particular Deep Dark Forest gives me the heebies.

I talked about this with my youngest brother and he proved a fantastic brainstormer, but nothing he suggested hit the right tone for me:
  • hiking the Great Wall of China (potentially has some of the same problems as the AT)
  • horseback riding along the Trans-siberian railroad (impractical - I've no horse)
  • some sort of mad Florida kayak race with a 40 mile portage element (no interest in a race)
  • swimming the English Channel (no place to train and I'm also a bit afraid of the sea)
  • racing in the Iditarod (impractical as I've no dogs, no sled, no place to train, and I'm not real interested in racing)
  • climbing the highest peak in every European Union nation (unwise as I am the most inattentive, clumsy person)

    So, my search for a quest continues. Any ideas are most appreciated.


    At 10 September 2007 at 21:44, Blogger nightskyspy said...

    hi Anne. it looks like not only me thought of catching up a bit. i feel a little bit behind but yet relaxed and not rushed to blog. this warm weather makes me feel i am on holidays again. yours is an interesting post - especially on your reading updates and camogie.

    At 10 September 2007 at 23:18, Blogger Sled Dog Action Coalition said...

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    At 10 September 2007 at 23:53, Blogger Amy said...

    Maybe you'd enjoy a volunteer vacation. You can volunteer somewhere for a week or two, doing work for the environment, education, or health--or whatever you might find.

    I have my eye on an Earthwatch International trip. Someday.

    At 11 September 2007 at 05:55, Blogger -Ann said...

    Night- Welcome back to the blogging. :)

    Amy- That's a good idea for a holiday although I'm not sure what I'd be looking for. My brother works for Habitat for Humanity and does Global Village trips to build houses - he's done a few trips to Honduras and highly recommends it. I'm afraid that sort of trip is not my bag - I am not a house builder.

    Alaskan Sled Dog Coalition - Sorry to delete your comment, but it's clear you didn't read my post and were just using a my blog to put forward your own agenda. I don't really believe in censorship though, so for anyone who is interested, you can go see this person's blog here here.

    At 11 September 2007 at 12:58, Blogger laurie said...

    well, it's nice to hear from you again. i missed you, antisocial or not.

    i know your dread of winter; i dont mind the cold so much (really!) but the dark... oh the dark. i do mind that.

    i get that i-need-a-grueling-adventure feeling sometimes, too. usually it's allayed by reading about it rather than actually doing it.

    i read a wonderful book about the most arduous sled dog race in the world (which is not the iditarod, they make fun of the iditarod).

    the book is called "yukon alone," by john balzar.

    i know that's not what you're looking for, but maybe it'll tide you over until you figure it out.

    At 11 September 2007 at 15:44, Blogger Dave P. said...

    "Any ideas are most appreciated."

    Get a PhD. ;-)

    Walk in the Woods is one of the funniest books I've ever read.

    Good luck with the crisis!

    At 12 September 2007 at 17:11, Blogger Col said...

    Andrew works with someone who is on a quest to bake 1000 pies. You like to bake!

    At 13 September 2007 at 05:49, Blogger -Ann said...

    Laurie - Thanks. I can deal with Minnesota/Ohio/Chicago cold - Irish cold sucks. It's a damp, dreary cold that creeps into your bones and is nearly impossible to shake off. It is mind-boggling, really, that it will be 40 degrees but you will feel freezing all day, no matter what you wear. Add that to the dark, and winter is a recipe for disaster. Or at least for a lot of whining.

    Dr. Dave - No thanks. I'm not interested enough in any one area to subject myself to that sort of challenge. Have you read "The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid"? That's the funniest book I've ever read.

    Colleen - That's an interesting idea and I'm sure it would greatly please all the people at work. I've never thought about tracking my baking before. (Although I have considered selling baked goods at farmer's markets.)


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