Books for Nooks: Coziness, Togetherness, and Peace

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It just occurred to me that a nook is actually a technological thing on which I believe one can, in fact, read books.

The title of this post is meant rather in the sense of ‘books for nooks and cozy crannies’.  Let’s imagine that that’s the full title.

Granted, I don’t know what books you go for when you’re curled up in bed under piles of blankets (ahem, like I am now).  Maybe a twisty murder mystery is more your thing. Or an eye-opening biography. Or a sordid true crime.

For me it’s something a bit more pastoral.  Quiet stories about quiet lives lived with quiet purpose.  Close to nature, close to the seasons, and close to loved ones.
And nothing too mentally taxing.
Add in a dash of children’s literature and a sprinkle of fantasy and you’re all set.

  • The Wind in the Willows is one of my favorite books. Full stop.  Cozy dens and animal friends.
  • A Christmas Carol is the perfect novella for the more festive-minded.  We read it aloud as a family in the days before Christmas a few years ago and it was a really lovely thing to share.
  • The Country of the Pointed Firs is a series of sketches of life in a fictional Maine fishing village.  At once a meditation on the hardship and isolation of rural life and the intense beauty of the solitude and the relationships forged therein.
  • The Hobbit is the perfect cuddly fantasy adventure featuring the perfect balance of magic, mystery, and unforgettably lovable characters.
  • Stillmeadow Road hits very close to me, as the author shares a year of New England seasons from her 1690 New England farmhouse. The voice is laid-back, wise, and incredibly comforting.
  • The Little House series was a favorite of mine as a child and I remember it so fondly, but I’m not sure the pacing and reading level would be super pleasing to me at this point. But if you’re reading with a child or your mind is in need of something a little more serious in the way of R&R, I really do recommend these.  Is there anything more cozy than a little house in the big woods? (Maybe a little house on the banks of Plum Creek).
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Links Actually on Friday 12/15

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TEN DAYS UNTIL CHRISTMAS!!!!!!

I’m so ready.

Here’s what’s happening:

A Very Blasphemous Christmas Film List

Featuring movies I both have and haven’t seen.

Let’s say you’re the kind of person who prefers their Christmas light on the Christ. And also light on the mas(s).  Thankfully some parts of the world have accepted Christmas as part of the non-denominational holiday season- a time when we celebrate not the mis-dated birth of our Lord Jesus, but rather our love for one another. Our family, our friends, cozy nights, festive lights, and a rapacious culture of consumerism.

One of my favorite traditions for holiday togetherness is the Christmas movie, whether it’s on in the evening while I’m curled up on the couch or its just on in the background while I decorate the tree (just kidding, you have to play the Nutcracker Suite while you decorate the tree. It is written).

While I’m usually all ready for a trite and sentimental holiday story, sometimes you just need something a little more subversive. If that’s you, here’s your list.

Films I’ve Seen:

  • In Bruges: I honestly love In Bruges, a black comedy-crime featuring Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson (my real Santa Claus) spewing a never-ending stream of swears and spirit.
  • Edward Scissorhands: This just treads the line with being actually Christmas-y, with the heartfelt themes of family, community, belonging, and the harm of isolation. But Johnny Depp has scissors for hands and Winona’s awesome.
  • The Life of Brian: Biggus Dickus. ‘Nuff said.
  • The Lord of the Rings Trilogy: There are a lot of families for which LOTR is a real Christmas tradition, given that the films were released around the holidays. For me it’s because I found the box set under the tree as a child after Dad and I read the series together.  An Ent is the only real Christmas tree I need.
  • The Harry Potter Series: Actually tender and fuzzy feelings with delightful magic and Christmas scenes. But because evangelicals like to burn the books, the series gets a spot on this list. *Christmassiness declines as the series progresses.
  • The Nightmare Before Christmas: Multiple songs with references to murdering Santa.

Films I’ve Yet To See:

  • Eyes Wide Shut: Tom Cruise on a harrowing and dangerous night-long odyssey of sexual and moral discovery. Kay.
  • Gremlins: My plan is to get this one watched this year.
  • Die Hard: I didn’t finish this movie. I just don’t find it very interesting, mostly because of Bruce Willis. But if you can hang in there for Alan Rickman, do it.
  • The French Connection: There are a few more Christmas-adjacent gang/crime films (Blast of Silence is another), but I’ll put this one on as the representative. But watch In Bruges first. I vouch for it.

Links not Words

Look at me doing two posts two days in a row like I don’t currently have 134 raw materials to study and an illness to recover from! 😀

No excuses, I have reaped enough links from the inter webs now to share them and I’m missing sharing my thoughts more often, so I’m going to work on making time for this blog/diary/list compendium more of a priority.
For the children, you know.

  • Pixar’s released a TEASER TRAILER FOR INCREDIBLES 2! I’ve been waiting so long. And I am so ready for destructive apocalyptic Jack Jack and stay-at-home Mr. Incredible. (And Edna Mode. Please, Edna Mode).
  • One of my favorite makeup artists (Violette, check out her youtube channel) has released a trio of lip colors with Estee Lauder. I’m sorely tempted.
  • A scholarly discussion of Rankin & Bass Christmas specials; the good, the bad, and the ugly. Finally convinced me to finally watch Jack Frost, which I had somehow missed during all of my childhood ABC Family’s 25 Days of Christmas. Here are some highlights.
  • A program to help you find the word that’s just on the tip of your tongue.
  • Guys, there’s a new horse movie coming out, Lean on Pete.
  • The American Film Institute has released their list of top 10 films of 2017. It’s a pretty good list. I’ve seen 4/10 so far, time to get cracking.
  • Yale’s released a new admissions video, “That’s Why I Toured Yale”, replacing cult icon “That’s Why I Chose Yale”. The weirdest thing? I recognize people in the video. (I see you at 9:26-9:33, ballroom team!)
  • NPR’s guide to the best books of 2017. Be right back, adding about 20 to my list. have you read any?
  • New York Times film critics on the best movie performances of 2017. So much agreement and so much anticipation for films I haven’t seen yet (like Ladybird, The Shape of Water, and Call Me By Your Name).
  • The magic of big cities, an illustration.

Words, Not Links

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I have fairly few links to share so the regular (really not fair of me to call it regular anymore) will be postponed for a few days.

In the meantime, words!

  • scrimmage
  • scoundrel- preferably of the dirty and rotten variety
  • incendiary
  • botulism
  • umbel- just roll it around in your mouth a bit. Umbel.
  • newel- meet my twins, Umbel and Newel.
  • fructify
  • unguent
  • ungulate
  • sibilant
  • callow
  • faff

 

  • insoumis- unruly, rebellious
  • imprévisible- unpredictable, capricious

Clearly my French personality is having some feelings at the moment.

Happy December (!) Links

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I changed my desktop background (finally!). I was feeling the need for something pink and fluffy with unrealistic eyelashes.

Doings in Milan

I’m not going to go into the details of why I’ve been referring to my long weekend in Milan as a #SeriesofUnfortunateEvents, but instead focus on the positive.

Because it was a beautiful city and traveling is hard and once my phone is working again (the bad luck has followed me!) I’ll only (mostly) remember the good and happy parts.

So I set up a Google Map before I went (bluntly titled ‘Milan 2017’) and divided my places into ‘cultural’, ‘walking’, and ‘shopping’ designations/destinations.

Let’s have share time!

Cultural: I was mostly going for a cultural/high-brow/pretentious weekend to myself. The things I loved most are In CoLoR

  • The Duomo and the Museum: It’s the one big church that everyone is supposed to go to but honestly (as you can see from my colors) I found some of the smaller ones more worthwhile. It’s a big cathedral, not colorful, not particularly unique. But grand.
  • La Scala: The 6,50 euros I spent on la Scala cheap seats (for a philharmonic performance) were some of the best moneys I’ve spent in my life. It’s awe-inspiring. The people watching is as amazing as the performance, which sounds silly but you can very much see that people-watching is what the space was designed for. The boxes are each like a tableau of attendees, all spread out in front of you across the way. like so many paintings or television screens, so many snapshots. Also red velvet.
  • La Scala Museum: My phone wasn’t working when I was at La Scala for the performance, so it was very worthwhile for me to go back and take photos. (And check out a box).  They also had some Maria Callas costumes on display, which was cool. Reminded me of how much I like ‘Addio del passato’. Which just autocorrected to Addio del pasta. Oh boy.
  • Santa Maria delle Grazie: Not the church itself, but The Last Supper in the building adjoining. It’s set up so well, though you do have to reserve your place for entry. They let you in with the painting with a small group of people for a carefully timed fifteen to twenty minutes. It’s actually a pretty excellent way to view it- very few people, lots of space, uninterrupted views. Mind blowing and so striking.
  • Pinacoteca di Brera: All of the Madonnas and Childrens to put my own struggles in perspective. Gorgeous Titians, Veroneses, Botticellis, Bellinis, all that good stuff. The area around it is lovely of a nighttime walk.
  • Museo Poldi Pezzoli: Another art museum with an immense and majestic staircase with a fountain and goldfish and a room full of watches.
  • Basilica San Lorenzo Maggiore
  • Sant’Eustorgio
  • San Maurizio al Monastero Maggiore: I’m pretty sure the first thing you’re supposed to say when you walk into a church isn’t “Oh fucking fuck”, and yet. This church is so beautiful. It filled my soul. 100% worth seeing.
  • Santa Maria Presso San Celso: this was my other big church favorite. Beautiful ceiling moldings and all that. Honestly pick this and the one above over the Duomo. Go to the Duomo piazza to see the church from the outside and feed the pigeons. And to check out Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, not for the shopping but for the architecture.

If I could add anything that i didn’t get the chance to see, it would be Bagetti Valsecchi, an ornate ducal residence with difficult hours.

Walks:

  • Sforzescu castle: I lived super close to Sforzescu, and while I didn’t go into the museums, walking through the court and the gardens outside it was lovely.
  • Navigli: The Navigli are a set of channels in the South of the city, and something I almost ended up skipping. I was lucky to roll in when there was a huge street market of antiques and vintage clothes happening. Beautiful and lots of fun.
  • Piazza Mercanti: A cute little corner that’s seen better days. It’s pretty central, but still a bit hidden. By all means roll through.
  • Casa degli Omenoni: This is not a walk so much as a neat building facade that one can walk by. But what a cool facade.

I ended up not sticking to my shopping destinations at all, but ended up doing these:

  • L’Erbolario: Where I finally succeeded in getting myself a bottle of Meharees, a spicy musk perfume (reminiscent of Musc Ravageur by Frederic Malle) that I’ve been wanting forever (and regretted not buying when I was in Milan two years ago).
  • Kiko Milano: Turns out Kiko Milano is cheaper in Milano. Especially when they have a buy three get three Black Friday sale. Eyeshadow sticks.

Food:

  • Granaio: Gelato.
  • Farini: A lovely pizza place just by San Lorenzo Maggiore, where they sell different types by the slice. Delicious. I ate three, Two probably would have been better.
  • Juice Bar: A cheap eatery in my train station (Milano Cadorna) that had a yummy Vegano sandwich with what was perhaps the most delicious roast pepper I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating.
  • Centro Botanico: My nearest health food store, because it’s me. I bought hummus and bread and peanut butter and lived on it when I wasn’t going out to eat. And Fuji apples.