Sunday Poetry – Pangur Bán

I love this poem which combines books & cats. It’s Pangur Bán, a poem written by an Irish monk in the 9th century. It was discovered written on a manuscript & celebrates the life of a scholar monk & his cat, Pangur Bán. I came across this poem again recently at a website called Interesting Literature, in a post about 10 classic poems about cats. I’ve signed up for the regular emails from the site which highlights interesting facts about a writer or a poem. This translation of  Pangur Bán is by Eavan Boland.

Myself and Pangur, cat and sage
Go each about our business;
I harass my beloved page,
He his mouse.

Fame comes second to the peace
Of study, a still day
Unenvying, Pangur’s choice
Is child’s play.

Neither bored, both hone
At home a separate skill
Moving after hours alone
To the kill

When at last his net wraps
After a sly fight
Around a mouse; mine traps
Sudden insight.

On my cell wall here,
His sight fixes, burning,
Searching; my old eyes peer
At new learning,

And his delight when his claws
Close on his prey
Equals mine when sudden clues
Light my way.

So we find by degrees
Peace in solitude,
Both of us, solitaries,
Have each the trade

He loves: Pangur, never idle
Day or night
Hunts mice; I hunt each riddle
From dark to light.


Now here’s a very enticing idea. Simon from Stuck in a Book & Karen from Kaggsy’s Bookish Ramblings are hosting a reading challenge later this month called The 1924 Club.
All you have to do is read a book published in 1924. There’s a list of possible titles on Simon’s blog. I’ve read quite a few of them but two that I do have on the tbr shelves are The Matriarch by G B Stern & The Three Hostages by John Buchan. I’m looking forward to exploring the shelves to see what other possibilities I have.

Which brings me to my other plan. Christine Poulson (author of Invisible, one of my Top 10 books last year) has just blogged about her plan to stop buying books for a while. I read this & thought Yes! What’s good enough for Christine is good enough for me – until Christmas, anyway! I do have several pre-orders on the way – Alison Weir’s biography of Lady Margaret Douglas, The Lost Tudor Princess, Claire Harman’s biography of Charlotte Brontë, the British Library’s collection of Christmas mysteries, Silent Nights, & Jennifer Henderson’s biography of Josephine Tey, so I won’t feel too deprived. It’s the eBooks that are the real temptation because they’re so easy to buy & they’re invisible so don’t even take up room on the tbr shelves. Let’s see how long I last.

I’ve been able to think about all this because we’re having a public holiday today – for a football game. It’s not even on until tomorrow but we’re having a day off on the eve of the AFL Grand Final anyway. So now we’re the city with a holiday before a football game & a holiday for a horse race (Melbourne Cup Day in November). It’s also the start of the first run of hot weather we’ve had since last summer. At least the sun is warming up the veggie garden so I can start planting in the next few weeks.

Now for some completely unrelated cat photos. I don’t have any new photos of the girls (I almost got a shot of Lucky with my 1924 books but she was unco-operative) so here are the collages I made last year when I discovered the collage app.
The clocks go forward tomorrow night & summer is almost here. Oh well, only six months until I can change the clocks back again!

Post no 1000

1,000 posts! I’m amazed I made it this far. I think I wrote in my 500th post that I was amazed I made it past the first two weeks… This blog started as a reading diary & has expanded into much more than that. It’s still a reading diary, & I love being able to look back at some of my favourite reads & be reminded of the books I’d completely forgotten. It’s also become a place to show off photos of my cats – Abby, Lucky & Phoebe – & sometimes the garden & my baking. Any post with a cat photo is guaranteed to attract a lot of hits, often more than the book posts…

I thought I’d celebrate by choosing one post from every hundred that I’ve written over the past 5 1/2 years. Thank you to everyone who visits & comments or just visits & lurks. It’s lovely to know there are so many other people in the world who enjoy the books, poetry & cats I love & want to have a conversation about them.

Abby, hot cross buns & reading progress – a post about Abby, who died just over four years ago, but who made her presence felt on the blog in that first year. Also, baking & the books I was reading that Easter.

Judging a book by its cover – Sometimes the posts that generate the most comments aren’t reviews but general ramblings about books & reading. This post looked at some of my favourite imprints & the changes over the years to the cover art & the way the books are made – font, paper & binding. I also wrote that I didn’t see that I would ever want an e-reader. Oh well, it just proves I’m not ashamed to change my mind as I now have a Sony, Kindle & several apps on my iPad devoted to e-books.

Memoirs of a Highland Lady – Elizabeth Grant – I know that Blogger’s statistics can be a little dodgy but I’m always fascinated by the posts that are in my Top 5 in my stats overview & also by the posts that have generated lots of hits. Sometimes I can guess that it’s because the book is on a school syllabus but sometimes I have no idea. This post has had over 2000 hits since January 2011 & I have no idea why.

Introducing Lucky & Phoebe – First impressions (without pride or prejudice) of the girls when they came to live with me nearly four years ago. Nothing has changed – Lucky is still timid & Phoebe is still adventurous.

Gaudy Night – Dorothy L Sayers – I love rereading my favourite books & I enjoyed writing this post which is more an appreciation of DLS than a review of the book.

Sunday Poetry – Sir Walter Scott – Sunday Poetry was one of my better ideas. I hadn’t read much poetry for years until I thought about posting a poem each week. It’s taken me back to old favourites & to anthologies on my shelves. This post about Scott’s Lochinvar took me from the anthology I was reading then to a book I’ve had since I was a child. Scott, Scotland & a little nostalgia.

Plotting for Grown-ups – Sue Hepworth – I’ve been very lucky to receive review copies from authors & publishers over the years. Sue sent me a copy of her novel, But I Told You Last Year That I Loved You, & I then read & loved her other books. I’m always fascinated by how writers write & authors like Sue & Linda Gillard have discovered that publishing their work themselves gives them a lot more control over the finished book.

New arrivals – Buying books is one of my favourite hobbies & posts about my latest purchases & preorders always create lots of comment. I once mentioned to my online reading group that I counted my preorders (like sheep) when I couldn’t get to sleep, which caused much hilarity but also made a lot of sense to several members of the group… I just tell myself that I’m building up a good stock of books for my retirement.

The joy & the curse of the tbr shelves – I do a lot of dithering in my life & sometimes I dither on the blog as well. Usually it’s a not-too-serious complaint about being unable to decide what to read next because I have too many choices & want to read everything at once. Since I discovered podcasts the problem has only increased. When I think that once, all I had to worry about was the review pages in the Saturday paper & the books I saw at work. Now, there are so many wonderful blogs that I read, three online reading groups constantly mentioning books I either know, own & haven’t read, or (even worse), have never heard of but must own as soon as possible, plus podcasts that I can listen to while I’m driving, ironing or cooking – no wonder I buy a lot of books!

And finally,

Bookish ramblings – which could be the alternate name for this blog.

Lucky & Phoebe on a cold winter’s day

Yesterday was one of the coldest winter days I can remember. We have a couple of these cold blasts from Antarctica every winter but this one reached all the way up the east coast. The Bureau was even predicting snow in Queensland (although it looks as though it didn’t quite happen)!

I had to do some housework, ironing & cooking in the morning but Lucky & Phoebe had no such duties. They barely put their noses through the catflap all day. Lucky curled up on (or under) her blanket & snoozed all day & Phoebe followed me around for a while hoping I’d sit down. She had to make do with my reading chair until the afternoon when I finally did sit down & she had her own personal electric blanket for the rest of the day.

What I did on Melbourne Cup Day

It’s safe to say that, for me, Melbourne Cup Day had no horses in it. It’s lovely to have a day off but I spent it gardening, walking, cooking, reading & taking photos. My roses are looking beautiful this year, and as it was going to be a hot, windy day, I was out early to pick some roses for the house. The beautiful deep pink ones at the top are Best Friend, a rose that the RSPCA sells to remember our pets. My friend J bought it for me when Abby died & there are more flowers on it this year than ever before. My other roses are all David Austins. The jug on the bottom left has Eglantine, Pretty Jessica & The Squire. Lucky decided to come in for a lunchtime nap on my reading chair & stayed still long enough for me to get a photo.

I got out into the gardening first thing to do some weeding & water the veggies. The veggies have had a great start again this year thanks to my friend M who gave me the seedlings she grows from seed. My zucchini already has several flowers as do the tomatoes. I have a red & a pink geranium in pots as red flowers are meant to be attractive to bees. After a walk, I made some biscuits for morning tea at work today. These are from the recipe for peanut butter biscuits I’ve made a few times but I adapted it a little. I made some chocolate almond butter the other day so replaced the peanut butter in the original recipe with that. The mixture was looser than the original so the biscuits spread quite a bit more.

Just a few more photos of the garden – & a second photo of Lucky in one day! My lemon tree is flowering & I love to smell the scent every time I walk past. I have two strawberry plants in a rectangular pot & they’re covered in flowers. I need to rig up some netting as last year I got no strawberries at all – the birds had a feast instead. Lucky followed me outside & rolled around on the ground while I tried to get her to stay still long enough for a good photo. This was the best I could do.

More collages – books and cats

More collages, mostly books but one of Lucky & Phoebe. The photo of Phoebe on the bonnet of my car was taken a few months ago but the other two were taken just last weekend.

I’ve bought a few books in the last month. A few were bargains but most of them weren’t. I bought some Greyladies & Girls Gone By books from Gill Bilski, a bookseller in the UK who specializes in children’s books. The books were on sale but the postage wasn’t. Still, by the time I’d chosen the books I wanted, a minor detail like postage wasn’t going to stop me. I’ve also borrowed a lovely stack of books from my library, including the new biography of Queen Victoria by A N Wilson & a biography of Mary Gaunt, whose novel Kirkham’s Find I read & loved earlier this year.

If these books were on a shelf rather than piled on my desk, I’d call them my Shelf of Shame. Of course, there isn’t a spare shelf in the house so they’re sitting on my desk reproaching me every time I look at them. These are the books I took from the tbr shelves to read next because I read a review on a blog or someone in my online bookgroup mentioned one of them. Some of them have been sitting there a very long time but their spot on the tbr shelves has long since been filled by another book so there’s no going back. Extra brownie points for anyone who can work out all the titles (except for the Wodehouse on the bottom right, that’s too hard. It’s The Adventures of Sally).

Speaking of the tbr shelves, I still need to find room for all the books in the recently bought photo. I’ve already had to resort to stacking books horizontally & I think I need to do some more shuffling.

Cat collages

We were talking about taking photos with the iPad at work the other day. All of our branches have an iPad & the staff can use them to take photos of events. One of our very clever Virtual Media Team sent out some tips about how to take good photos with the iPad. So, of course, I immediately started playing around with filters, autofocus & zoom. Then, M showed me a few free apps that can create collages. Well, I could see the advantage of this as I have a lot of photos of the girls on my iPad & now I could spend hours rearranging them with different frames, filters & all sorts of effects. So, here are my first results. Some of my favourite photos of Lucky,


& Abby.

I also had some photos of the garden so here’s a floral collage.

I can see myself spending hours collaging away (is collaging a verb?). I downloaded the InstaFrame app but there are lots of free apps to have a look at.

Anything you can do…

Lucky & Phoebe have very definite ideas about their favourite cosy places. Lucky loves to sleep under her blanket (really my old dressing gown) & I’ve never seen Phoebe anywhere near this much-loved but battered piece of cloth before. So, I was amazed to see Phoebe settle down on the edge of the blanket the other night. I was even more amazed when Lucky scrambled underneath & went to sleep anyway.

The next day, Lucky had obviously decided that she would show Phoebe that no cosy spot was out of bounds & climbed up on the top of the new chair I bought a few months ago. This has been Phoebe’s spot since the day it arrived but Lucky had decided that all’s fair in love & war. She looked very comfortable, too.

Another prime spot in this cold weather is in front of the wall heater. This is Lucky’s place but she looks a little disconcerted to find Phoebe staking a claim. Lucky looks as if she’s appealing to a higher authority (Me) to make an adjudication on this point but I’m not going to get involved. Of course, there would be plenty of room if they would just snuggle up together but I don’t see that happening…

I can’t resist adding this photo I took yesterday morning. It was the coldest morning in Melbourne for 16 years (0.5C in my suburb) & we all had trouble getting out of bed. At least it was Sunday & we could sleep in a bit. I thought we were all up & ready for the day until I went in to make the bed & found Phoebe under the doona. Normally she sleeps on top of the doona (or on top of me). She must have got a shock when she stuck her nose out of the catflap because she wasn’t outside for very long. The frosty morning became a beautiful winter’s day as they often do but it took courage to take that first step & Phoebe wasn’t quite ready…

Midwinter cats

If it’s midwinter, it must be time to stay as warm as possible & get some sleep. My lap is the favoured place for both Lucky,

and Phoebe.

There have been a few standoffs when my lap is occupied & the unlucky cat thought a snooze there was going to be just the thing. Usually the rejected one simply moves off to another favourite spot with a little encouragement & a few hurt looks. The chair I bought a few months ago has found favour with both Lucky & Phoebe. Sometimes they both occupy it at the same time – it’s big enough. Although, I hope you’ve noticed that there’s no room for me…