Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Cat Diary: Her Majesty’s Last

Cat Diary was a weekly-turned-occasional feature about adventures of my cat, appropriately nicknamed Her Majesty the Cat because she was basically the real mistress de la casa.

This year, I was planning to do a yearly overview through her eyes, but, alas, it was not meant to be. She got very sick just before Christmas and after two trips to an emergency vet and a few days spent at the clinic, we found out she most likely had a serious heart condition with several additional complications.

I brought her home on Christmas day for observation and tried to give her every comfort I could, but she was very weak and she wouldn't eat anything, so the vet and I agreed it would be best to spare her further suffering and yesterday was her last day.

A collage of pictures of a sleeping cat

Here is a collage of a few pictures from the better moments of her final days.

While I am very sad to have lost a beloved friend and companion, I am consoled by the fact that I could at least somewhat pay back all the joy she brought into my life by letting her go and be at peace. I like to think she is having fun enjoying the endless entertainment of happy hunting grounds, now.

Hence, despite the sadness, I choose to remember her as happy and lively and up to her usual shenanigans, like in these pictures below from earlier this year. 

A collage of cat pictures

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Virtual Advent Tour 2016: Favourite Holiday Songs

I'm not feeling the Christmas spirit all that much yet, perhaps for the lack of snow (which sort of became the norm lately – a proof of the climate changing if you ask me, because snow for Christmas used to be a given when I was a kid), but at least it is cold.

Another prerequisite of this time of year are winter songs and Christmas carols. Listening to those is definitely a way to get into the holiday spirit, so I decided to share some of them with you to spread the merriness.

So, you are all invited to sit back, close your eyes (or not) and relax for a little while. In no particular order:

Christmas Lullaby

Let it Snow

Winter Wonderland

O, Little Town of Bethlehem

White Christmas

That's it. I hope you've enjoyed.
What about you? What are the things that bring out your festive spirit?

This post is a part of Virtual Advent Tour, organised by Sprite at spritewrites.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

The Chemist by Stephenie Meyer

Cover of The Chemist
Having worked for a secret government department, the protagonist of The Chemist lives on the run, hiding from her previous employers who want to kill her for what she learned through her work. The stakes of survival get raised higher than ever when her former handler contacts her with one last assignment, offering her a way to clear the target off her back. And thus, the chemist starts to unravel a knot of secrets, launching into a thrilling and utterly compelling story.

Unsurprisingly, The Chemist gripped my interest from the start and held it to the very end, and I lost hours and hours of sleep to it because I couldn’t put it down – I just had to know what happened next!

Now, I would love to rave about this book, but I think a major part of enjoying it goes to being unspoiled about it, so I am in a dilemma what to say about it.

I have to say I loved the main three characters. No, they aren’t perfect: they are certainly flawed each in their own way, but that’s what makes them feel real, and Meyer excels at bringing them to life and making us root for them (or, in case of the bad guys, root for their demise.) That extends further than humans: I am not much of a dog person, but with the way Meyer wrote the dogs, they grew on me so much!

Of course, I loved the dynamics between the characters, especially between the main trio (No love triangle! That’s definitely an upside of The Chemist), whom I liked very much as intriguing individuals, as well.

On first impression, I was slightly underwhelmed by the ending, maybe because it wasn’t as intense as the rest of the book or because it was what I expected it to be. But it was a good ending, very much in Stephenie’s style, and I liked it.

All in all, The Chemist (a stand-alone, which is another upside to it) is a highly suspenseful, gripping story, full of danger and intrigue, but also newly found love and friendship, and I got drawn right into it all while reading.

Therefore, the bottom line is that I loved The Chemist very much, but I am terrible at reviewing without spoilers and since I don’t want to lessen your enjoyment of the book with those, I can only poorly express my far-from-little appreciation of this book, with which Stephenie Meyer remains one of my favourite authors.

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Virtual Advent Tour 2016: St. Mary

Again, it is time for Virtual Advent Tour, organised by Sprite at spritewrites.

In Catholic calendar, the 8th of December is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, one of the most important celebrations in this merry holiday month.

Immaculate Conception by Murrillo
Commonly, people think that Immaculate Conception refers to the conception of Jesus, but it is not so.
The Immaculate Conception, according to the teaching of the Catholic Church, was the conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the womb of her mother, Saint Anne, free from original sin by virtue of the foreseen merits of her son Jesus Christ. The Catholic Church teaches that Mary was conceived by normal biological means, but God acted upon her soul (keeping her “immaculate”) at the time of her conception. (source)

The Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary is a very special day to me because it was my late grandmother’s name day, and on this day, all the fond memories of her are especially present in my mind.

My grandma Mary was a warm, caring person, knowledgeable in the way countryside people are – for example, she knew natural remedies for all ills – and although I didn’t get to see her more than a few times a year, I felt very close to her, nevertheless.

Along St. Nicholas’ day (December 6th), the celebration of St. Mary’s Immaculate Conception is the day that signifies the beginning of Christmas time, my (everyone’s?) favourite time of the year. If only it didn’t go by so fast! Maybe we can slow it down with great virtual advent posts? ;) I’ll have another stop here for you on December 16th

Friday, December 02, 2016

Love and Intrigue by Friedrich Schiller
Love and Intrigue is a play from the German Classicism era, although its tone is more that of Romanticism. Ferdinand von Walter, a premier’s son, and Louisa, a music teacher’s daughter, fall in love; their love, however, stands little to no chance against their vastly different social statuses and political intrigues.

Therefore, Love and Intrigue is a tragedy, something akin Cinderella meets Romeo and Juliet. The young sweethearts are sacrificed at the expense of the premier’s past sins and their cover-ups which demand ever more convoluted intrigues for him and his accomplices to retain their positions, their hopes resting on Ferdinand doing his father’s bidding.

Thus, upon Ferdinand’s refusal to comply due to his affection for Louisa, a plan is set in motion to break them apart. Alas, the way Ferdinand handles the knot of intrigues he finds himself in left me with mixed feelings about him, mostly because of his blindness to the possibility of the said intrigue.

Unlike Ferdinand, the sixteen-year-old, innocent Louisa, is anything but ignorant and blind, and I loved her for how astutely she sees through people and their intentions and how she strives to do right by people she deems she must do right by, which is – as it was meant to – her very downfall.

Of the other characters, Lady Milford was intriguing and rather likeable, while the play also employed your typical assortment of villains and more or less stock supporting characters.

All in all, Love and Intrigue is a good enough read for a work that really should be seen in a theatre, and its themes give food for thought at the present time just as they did when it was written.