Inspiration From The Distant Past

Inspiration From The Distant Past
Found note in an old book... warms the cockles of my bookish heart...

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Tuesday Treasures: The Country Bunny

Tuesday Treasures are the bookish distractions that catch my eye in the school library I work in on Tuesday. I'm not the librarian; I am the speech pathologist.

The library moved into my classroom due to flooding but I'm not complaining. This little old school library collection is chock full of wonderful treasures. Plus, I get to release my inner-librarian. The students who wander in looking for books assume I am the Tuesday Librarian. Can't blame them since my nose is always in a book.

This week, the display of Easter picture books caught my eye. Two were printed in the 60s and the rest were more contempory except for...
this 1938 edition of The Country Bunny And The Little Gold Shoes
by Du Bose Heyward. Are you familiar with this book? It is a classic picture book that I'd never heard of. It is the sweetest little story and surprisingly feminist for 1938.

If you immediately recognised the author Heyward, please excuse my ignorance. When I saw the 'As Told To Jenifer' on the cover, I thought a mother had written a story for her daughter illustrating that girls can achieve their dreams too.

Silly me! Heyward is a man! He wrote the novel Porgy; then the play of the same name; then the musical Porgy and Bess with the Gershwins. The Country Bunny is his only childrens book.
In this story there are always five Easter bunnies appointed by Grandfather Bunny. When an Easter Bunny gets too old to perform his duties, Grandfather chooses a replacement.
Here little Cottontail is mocked for aspiring to be an Easter bunny.

Much to her surprise, she grows up to have twenty-one babies! That would be a surprise, wouldn't it? Octomom has nothing on Mother Cottontail! Aren't the babies cute, though.
Here the male chauvinist bunnies have their say. Mean ol' men bunnies!

Here the little girl and boy Cottontails learn to be responsible bunnies.

Mother Cottontail encourages each child's talent.

The Cottontail family attends the choosing of a new Easter bunny. Grandfather Bunny does not think the big fast men bunnies are wise or kind so he interviews Mother Cottontail. He determines she must be wise because she teaches her children so well and she must be kind because all the little Cottontails are cheerful.

But what a shame that she isn't swift. Mrs. Cottontail whispers to her children who proceed to scatter every which way; she rounds them up lickety split. Grandfather is impressed and after being reassured that the little Cottontails can keep the cottage in order, he appoints Mother Cottontail one of the five Easter Bunnies. A dream come true!

Mother Cottontail does so well that Grandfather Bunny gives her the most important delivery of all. A very special egg to be delivered to a little boy who has been sick for a year without complaining. The house is on the top of a mountain. Near the top of the mountain, she slips and falls all the way to the bottom hurting her leg. Grandfather Bunny appears and gives her magic gold shoes that allow her to fly up the mountain in the nick of time before the boy awakens.
Exhausted, Mrs. Cottontail arrives home to a tidy cottage and sweetly sleeping little bunnies.

The little gold shoes hang in a place of honor!
What a lovely bedtime story for a father to tell his little girl. Heyward died when his daughter was ten. So sad but what a wonderful legacy.

Here is an interesting and informative webpage regarding Du Bose Heyward and how this book, The Country Bunny And The Little Gold Shoes, came to be written and published.

Remember you can click on the pictures to get a closer look at the text and the charming illustrations.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Going Bovine

Whoa... Duuuude... this book is a trip! And I don't just mean the cover. Cameron, a seventeen year old pot smoking apathetic underachiever, is diagnosed with mad cow disease. Seeking a cure, he embarks on a wacky journey across America guided by a punk angel only he can see and accompanied by Gonzo, a hypochondriac gamer dwarf, and a talking yard gnome who might be the Viking god Balder. Is the trip real or a hallucination?

Right about now, I am guessing that a third of you are intrigued and a third of you are repelled. For the third of you sitting on the fence, this book is reminiscent of the movie Bubble Boy (love that movie). Cameron is not sweet and endearing (at least in the beginning) like Bubble Boy but the quirky characters he meets and his perpetual seemingly random absurd adventures are very much like Bubble Boy. He even encounters a happiness cult named Church of Everlasting Satisfaction And Snack-'N'-Bowl. So if you like the movie Bubble Boy this book may be for you.

If you still aren't sure if this is your kind of tale, here are a few of the amusing chapter titles:

  • Wherein the Cruelties of High School Are Recounted, and the Stoner Dudes of the Fourth-Floor Bathroom Offer Me Subpar Weed and a Physics Lesson
  • Which Treats of the Particulars of High School Hallway Etiquette and the Fact that Staci Johnson is Evil; Also, Unfairly Hot
  • Which Treats of Our Daring Escape from St. Jude's and Our Talk with a Stinky Dude in a Tinfoil Hat
  • In Which We Make a Stop in New Orleans and Gonzo Refuses to Eat Fish, Annoying the Crap out of Me and Our Waitress
  • In Which I Learn That Two Very Small People Can Add Up to a Major Pain in the Ass and We Nearly Bite It at the Konstant Kettle

Anyone still with me? This book is about living, dying, parallel universes and the randomly connected but important little things. It is at turns dark, bizarre, wry and comedic. The quips traded between Gonzo and Balder are a hoot.

Libba Bray did an believable job writing in the voice of a seventeen year old boy. A couple of times at near the beginning, I thought: oops, that sounds like something a forty year old woman would say to be funny. But maybe only a forty year old woman (which I am) would notice.

Even though this book can be bewildering at times and has a happy/sad ending, I liked it. Cameron starts out as a boy with no zest for living; he believes everything in life is a big fake. Over the course of his very trippy trip, Cameron learns to appreciate and love family and friends and even find beauty in art and nature.

Some of the YA bloggers rate sex, language and violence levels in the books they review. I found this book tame in all those regards but so no one is inadvertently offended, this book contains a few f-bombs, drug use and mild sexuality. If you require more particulars, feel free to email me.

If you are looking for another gothic fantasy like Libba Bray's A Great and Terrible Beauty, this isn't it. If you are in the mood for a wild and crazy thought provoking ride, this one may be for you.

Have you already read Going Bovine? Did you love it or hate it? Undecided? What did you think of the ending? If you read it in the future, come back and share. And don't forget to read Libba Bray's funny four page acknowledgments. Love her sense of humor.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Book shopping

My dear step-mother and father gave me a $50 gift certificate to our favourite book store for my birthday. What excitement! I am a bit like Lesa, and don't buy many new books at all, so I felt wealthy. My girls and I loaded into the car and I drove to the shop chanting to them, 'It's all about ME. It's all about ME.' I was worried they would try to bookjack my gift. To be fair, they had had their own, exact same gift a month or so earlier. When it comes to shopping, however, I am afraid their memories are as bad as mine.

To their credit, they each pointed out a couple of books they'd love to have, but didn't cross the line and actually request them. I reminded them of their own, upcoming birthdays and repeated, 'It's all about ME.'

Oh, the choices, the choices! How to spend it? Fiction? Non-fiction? Self help? (Goodness knows I need all the help I can get!) A few smaller purchases? One large, coffee table book with beautiful photos? It felt quite disorienting and took me a while to focus. I had looked at the beautiful Wisdom book before, but decided I didn't have a coffee table and it wouldn't fit in my book shelf. So in the end I got smaller purchases, to make the fun last longer.

I chose a suspense book I had been looking for and the beautiful pocket posh sudoku 3 puzzle book to carry in my handbag. I am hooked on puzzles and I love the Asian-y cover by Masha. So classy! So pretty! I have already done one puzzle waiting for kids after school. It's better for my eyes and my brain than the games on my cell phone. Every time I pull it out to pass the time I will think of my folks.

On the card there's little bit left for a bargain book or to put towards a purchase later. Oh, the choices!

What would you buy in a book store with $50 of birthday money?

Friday, March 26, 2010

Book Blogger Hop

Jennifer from the Crazy For Books blog hosts a book blogger hop every friday. If you are interested in meeting new bloggy friends and finding new blogs to read, click the link and join the party. This is my first time to participate and I'm looking forward to meeting more kindred spirit bookworms. If you are a first time visitor from the hop, welcome and thank you for stopping by Baja's Cozy Book Nook!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Top Ten Picks: Book Series

Jillian at Random Ramblings is hosting a new weekly meme called Top Ten Picks. Each week there will be a different category featured. I haven't participated in any memes yet but couldn't resist this topic and wondered if I could limit myself to ten. After jotting down series all day, I can safely say that it is impossible to limit myself to ten. So I may have a few honorable mentions. ;)

In attempting to narrow my list, these are the series that I reread.

Top Ten Beloved Book Series
1. Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien
2. Wheel of Time Series by Robert Jordan
3. Anne of Green Gables Series by L. M. Montgomery
4. Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis
5. Shannara Series by Terry Brooks
6. Harry Potter Series by J. K. Rowling
7. Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice
8. Wizard of Oz Series by L. Frank Baum
9. Earth Children Series by Jean Auel
10. Time Quintet by Madeleine L'Engle

Here are my other favorite series. These are series that I enjoy tremendously and keep up with (or have finished) but may not reread. Time will tell if any are upgraded to beloved status.

Honorable Mentions
1. Fablehaven Series by Brandon Mull
2. Xanth Series by Piers Anthony
3. Repairman Jack Series by F. Paul Wilson
4. Pendergast Series by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child
5. Sigma Force Series by James Rollins
6. Uglies Series by Scott Westerfeld
7. Tunnels Series by Roderick Gordon and Brian Williams
8. Scarecrow Series & Seven Wonders Series by Matthew Reilly
9. Hunger Games & Underland Chronicles by Suzanne Collins
10. Keys to the Kingdom Series by Garth Nix

And I haven't even mentioned series by Dan Brown, Holly Black, Kathleen McGowan, Angie Sage, Anne McCaffrey, Mercedes Lackey, Tad Williams.... oh, the list goes on and it pains me to omit anyone. How did Jillian do it? She is a better woman than I am!

Note: The photo is borrowed from Jillian. Isn't it wonderful? Jillian always posts the most beautiful photos.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Tea for Me

In an effort to settle nights and tummies, neither of which are settled in our house, we have started brewing a pot of chamomile for our girls every evening. The blue pot sits on the table with little Chinese-style handle less cups while we eat, so it is cool enough for little lips after dinner. A generous tablespoon of honey sweetens it, but one daughter has only just now started sipping it rather than gulping whilst holding her nose. They get quite a lot of joy from the adult-ness of the ritual, and considerable placebo effect. They feel bereft if deprived of this treat.

In this respect they are quite Australian. We are a nation of tea lovers and drinkers. The average working or middle-class Aussie family would only have instant coffee at home, but would consume litres of tea (hot!) each week. Continental European immigration and American coffee retailers have influenced a coffee culture, especially in large cities, but for many, brewed coffee is a treat to be enjoyed out of the home.

I will never forget my first offer of a 'cuppa'. I had to ask, 'Cup of what?' Now, I always greet droppers-in or droppers-off of children with, 'Have you got time for a cuppa?' Kids know a 'yes' means more play time. Drinking tea at a friend's house is natural, and I associate certain brews with certain friends. My neighbour, whose husband is Chinese, offers me Buddha's tears, or sometimes popcorn tea. The white roasted rice grains look like little popped kernels, and the taste is slightly salty. My Maltese friend has an amazing, hissing coffee machine, but she and her husband also love to drink Bushels' Tea (a Queensland tradition since 1889), always loose leaves brewed in a Royal Albert bone china teapot, and served in a fine cup and saucer. My true-blue mate offers me Nerada teabags brewed in a hearty mug.

But it is to an English immigrant friend that I owe my love of Lady Grey. The brewed tea has the loveliest colour, and the loose leaves look like potpourri with citrus peel and purple bergamot blossoms. I love to lift the lid on the canister and inhale the fragrance. The bags are easily available, but purchasing the loose leaves means a half-hour drive. Some of my friends keep Lady Grey just for me, and I have been known to stock their favourites, too.

So with all this in mind, my dear mother gave me Gilles Brochard's publication, The Tea Box. It is a beautiful collection of a booklet, cards with gorgeous photos, the history of tea and recipes. Lesa is the adventurous cook, so I have not tried any, but they look divine. Anyone with an interest in cooking or tea drinking would love this. It would make a beautiful gift.

What I found interesting is the link between tea and reading. Author Lu Ting wrote, 'The third bowl (of tea) dissipates the heaviness of my soul, refining the inspiration gained from all the books I have read.' Our Queen Elizabeth reportedly calls for, 'The Times and a cup of tea.' Tea drinking and intellectual pursuits have long gone hand-in-hand, and amazingly, there was an article in the Weekend Australian about tea, books and writing.

Alexander McCall Smith, the author of the charming The #1 Ladies Detective Agency series wrote an article about the role of tea in his life and his books. He writes about his tea drinking childhood in Bulawayo (now in Zimbabwe), the evolution of his taste in tea, and the difficulties in finding a good cuppa in America. He describes how his characters love to drink tea, and how he uses tea drinking in his novels as a pause between scenes. In the article, he marvels at the universal appeal of tea.

They are all right. Reading and tea go hand in hand. I love to sit down to a cup of Lady Grey and a book or newspaper. What do you drink when you read?

Friday, March 19, 2010

Lagniappes From The Library

Have you ever run across a word or saying that so tickles your fancy that you must sprinkle it in your own conversations? Maybe it is a colloquialism encountered while traveling or a word common to an earlier era read in a classic novel or even a word discovered in a dictionary. (yes, I can even get lost in reading a dictionary... but that is another story.)

One of my favorite word discoveries is lagniappe (lan-yap). I ran across the word while traveling in Southern Louisiana and New Orleans years ago and was completely charmed. A lagniappe is an unexpected gift, treat or benefit. For instance, if you purchase a book, the shopkeeper might give you a free bookmark or better yet, a praline. Such a lovely custom, don't you think?

By now, dear readers, it must be very apparent that I adore libraries. Just walking through the doors of a library is relaxing and mind clearing. Aaaah.... feels like home. A five minute run into the library inevitably turns into an hour or longer event. And I always leave with wonderful unexpected treats: lagniappes from the library.

In which I finagle a trip to the library:

My family drove into town to eat at a pizza buffet. The buffet didn't start for fifteen minutes. Hmmm, how could we occupy ourselves for fifteen minutes? Did not need anything from Walmart, thank goodness. With absolutely no ulterior motives, I very casually said: I could run into the library to recheck my book. After a few seconds of deafening silence, hubby drove to the library. As I exited the car, hubby and my 4 year old both asked: You're only going to recheck your book, right?

Riiight! Mwahahhahaa! No, I didn't really laugh in a maniacally evil way but I did snicker internally. They know me better than that! Actually, due to hunger, I had very good intentions but my family, untrusting souls that they are, followed me into the library within three minutes. Taking that as a green light, I (we) happily fell into the void; emerging an hour later with a rechecked book, plenty of lagniappes and ready to do a number on the buffet.

Lagniappes Du Jour:
First I spotted Going Bovine by Libba Bray on the new arrivals shelf. What a quirky eye catching cover! As soon as I scanned the synopsis, I knew it was the book for me. No way could I resist a loopy punk angel/possible hallucination with a bad sugar habit, a death obsessed video gaming dwarf, a yard gnome that might be the Viking god Balder and the mother of all road trips through a twisted America.

Has anyone else read it? I started it in the car (yes, before my other book was finished) and so far so good.

Next, on the twirly rack of paperbacks that don't have to be checked out, I found an F. Paul Wilson thriller, Deep As The Marrow, that I'd never read. Don't usually read medical type thrillers but I do like F. Paul Wilson so I took it on spec.

Also chatted with a couple of the librarians regarding the current trend of meshing classics with the paranormal genre. One librarian finds the idea intriguing and the other finds it to be a sacrilege. Interesting conversation. It is always a rare treat to visit with other bookish folks so I consider that a lagniappe too.

Finally, hunger pangs drove my family out the door. On the table of free magazines in the foyer, I found seven newish issues of Parents, Woman's Day and Photography. Now that is a fun lagniappe!

Now, lovely readers and bloggy friends:

Please share your favorite discovered word or saying.

What is the most memorable lagniappe you've received from a shopkeeper or stumbled upon serendipitously? Doesn't have to be book related. All lagniappes are wonderful.

Do you fall into the void at the library or bookstore too? My hypothesis is that there is a defect in the space/time continuum hovering over every library/bookstore. What other explanation could there be? ;D

Monday, March 15, 2010

Help Australia!

Yes, here is yet another post celebrating newspapers. Not to run the topic into the ground, but really, no celebration of newspapers could be considered complete without honoring the opposite end of the spectrum. You know the kind of paper I mean: So bad it is actually good. And, oh boy, do I have a doozy for you!

Drumroll please....

Introducing the Country Star, a weekly county paper that shines like a diamond in a goat's.... Well, you get the picture. This paper has left me dumbfounded, stunned, bemused, disturbed, exasperated, incensed and completely hysterical!

Doesn't stretch my mind in any way but certainly provides lots of entertainment.

The Letters to the Editor are the most diverting. Typically, Podunk county inhabitants rave, rant and feud amongst themselves regarding county affairs and often state affairs. Occasionally national affairs catch their attention but seldom do the locals peer beyond the US borders. Never in a million years did I expect to see a plea to help the poor cursed people of Australia!

Oh, this slays me! I had no idea that DeLynne, my dear ex-pat friend and lovely co-blogger, lives in fear of her life everyday in an accursed land. Rise up America and deliver Australia from it's 'recent' plague of vicious creatures!! ;D What overwhelming absurdity!

In the Country Star, the feuds might last weeks and can be quite entertaining as well. Some of the brouhahas are as addictive as a reality show. Each week, I can't wait to see what in the world they will say next.

One woman was so riled at her town council that steam practically rose off the page. She layed into them alright but was so incoherent with rage that I never could get the gist of the matter. Since she stated several times that the town council was all 'bound up with cheese', I'm guessing that they had a serious problem indeed.

Some letters are not amusing in any way. Some are disturbing. Shameful and frightening that people still fear books. That level of mentality in this day and age is astounding.
They might as well be living in the dark ages.

Thankfully, those letters are few and far between. Most of the citizens of Podunk county are good hearted sensible people. Still, it was a culture shock to move from my Texas hometown with a population of seventy thousand and a normal newspaper to an Oklahoma county with a total population of less than twelve thousand and a weekly paper that seemed completely foreign.

It took me several years to get the groove of the Country Star. Could not perceive the charm of pie suppers, singings, hunting/fishing trophies, church doings and community news. Who could possibly be interested that Mabel Who-sit visited Thelma What-sit or that Sister Sue Ellen ate beans and cornbread at Brother and Sister George's home? Can you guess what I was thinking?

Yep, Heehaw...

Never did get the attraction of the news from the various communities. The same folks doing the same thing week after week. I suppose the writers just mention their friends and don't ask for interesting tidbits from the other community members. As the years passed, I did begin to appreciate the Country Star as a lingering remnant of americana. Started to view it in a whole new light...

More Mayberry-esque, albeit with a tad less charm.

If the residents have a particularly meddlesome week ...

It reminds me of the Shire but definitely minus the charm.

Have you ever encountered a paper similar to the Country Star? Don't know whether to hope it is unique or not the last of its kind.

Nothing remains the same, however. Guess the third generation of the publishing family was tired of the paper being a laughingstock. They hired a new editor (an outsider) a couple of years ago who immediately raised the bar.

The first thing the editor did was limit the letters to the editor to one per person per week. He also brought in new better writers to cover more actual news of the county rather than just the doings of a few.

Now, our state representatives and senators write informative weekly columns regarding capital business when the legislature is in session. Also, a few regular columnists write memory columns about county events occuring usually between the 1930s and 1950s. These stories may involve recalcitrant mules, bandits, one room schoolhouses, childhood pranks, ghosts, and wisdom gleaned from elders. So not near as many funny feuds in the Country Star but it is becoming a better quality read.

The new editor is not a local and I wondered how long he would last. Especially after a rather scathing editorial regarding the ruckus over the ten commandments on the courthouse lawn.

He retained his job though, even after pointing out the embarrassing fact that the seventh commandment was misspelled (adultry). Pitiful, isn't it? What can you do? Podunk county is what it is.

But please don't pity me my rural locality. I may not have convenient access to concerts, plays, movies, classes, shopping and other amenities of city living but there are perks to living in Podunk county. No neighbors. No traffic. Fresh air. Stars at night. A surprisingly well stocked friendly (no shushing) county library. And of course, the Country Star.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Advice for my girls

One evening not long before Christmas I was surfing the net and came across this website, 1,001 Rules for My Unborn Son. I was so enchanted with the idea that I immediately shut it down and started writing rules for my already born daughters. Had I continued to read it I would have compromised my originality, you see.

The idea appealed because I 'd like to think I am a woman with a bit to offer my kids, and God forbid I should cark it (die) before imparting all my little gems. So I started the list there and then, and it stayed in my handbag for a week or two as I kept jotting down my ideas. Trivial, serious, facetious, humourous or life-defining, I wrote them all down. Even now, there is still more wisdom to impart, and I keep a running list handy. At irregular intervals I plan to gather up books, pen and list and add a few thoughts.

The real question was into which book would I write my final copy? Then I remembered the tiny books my mother had brought back from Korea. Handmade paper was just perfect, and the small size meant I would not be trying to fill the last page after old age stole my memories. The styling is classic, understated and not girly. I got out my grandmother's silver Parker fountain pen, which lives in my wallet, and began writing. For a perfectionist this is torture, worrying over every stroke and word. But I reminded myself that my girls would be reading my thoughts, not inspecting my handwriting. If I had such a book in my grandmother's hand I would certainly treasure it, mistakes and all. Actually I do have some letters from one of my wonderful grandmothers, and they are very dear to me.

So I copied my 'rules' into the books, each as identical to the other as humanly possible, and wrapped them up for my beautiful girls. They said the little books were their favourite gifts (clever girls that they are). I know that after they have outgrown the clothes and toys, after the electronics are antiquated, they might still love these gifts.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Celebrating Newspapers!

Can't believe how in sync DeLynne and I are regarding newspapers! I've mused about my growing affection for newspapers over the years but had no idea anyone else mused newpapers as well. Do all bookworms ponder such things, I wonder.

As a child, I found the paper as dull as dishwater. Excepting the comics, kids gazette, tv listings and Dear Abby which I read avidly every Sunday morning. While college age to mid 20s, my reading expanded to the travel, living/style and science sections but really I could take it or leave it.

One morning, and I remember this vividly, my ambivalence disappeared. The entire paper (not sports) was fascinating! The op-ed columns, wow! Just like DeLynne said: The columnists include theologians, philosophers, comedians, economists, politicians and ethicists. They stretch my mind and make me feel like an interested, informed person.

Really, it was such a demarcation between ho hum and digging that I wonder if it is a phenomenon that others have experienced. Does it have to do with maturation of the brain? Studies have shown that brains continue to develop with regards to risk-taking on into the twenties. Maybe the brain must mature to fully appreciate and enjoy newspapers too.

Yes, I muse... I mull... I ponder... I puzzle... so please put me out of my misery before I rack my brain too hard!

Do any of our college age readers get a buzz out of the newspaper or is it too dull for words?

Do our older readers pore over the newspaper or do you just scan?

Do you remember a time when you didn't thoroughly read the paper as opposed to just scanning?

Here is how I read the paper:

All of the newspapers I read are broadsheet but I don't delight in the flapping or spread the paper out all over. (hubby does though and, yes, it bugs me) No, I am systematic. I start with the first section and go straight through... laying each completed section flat with crease down in the proper order so that when finished the paper folds up good as new. I skip only the sports, comics and classifieds. I love finishing up with the weekend mags and coupons.

How do you read the paper... a set routine or random or something in-between?

Mrs. BG's New Look!

What do you think of the new and improved Mrs. Baja Greenawalt's Cozy Book Nook? I am so pleased and would like to send a big thank you to Sarah for sharing her know-how and so graciously answering questions. Check out her fabulous blog!

If you are considering a face lift for your blog, give
The Background Fairy a look. Beautiful and elegant backgrounds for 2 column or 3 column templates. The background I chose is called French Vintage Newspaper. Perfect for DeLynne's blog post celebrating newspapers! Plus, DeLynne speaks french and we both appreciate vintage finds. Voila!
Sarah also brought The Blogger Guide to my attention. This user friendly site provides step by step instructions for how to change a blog template by editing the html code. Sarah switched from a 2 column template to a 3 column template with no trouble. I planned to do the same but I'm too thrilled with Mrs. BG's new look to upgrade at this juncture. Maybe later...

Friday, March 5, 2010

Cat survives four weeks in freezer by eating frozen peas

When I was young, newspapers were for grown-ups and they were all the same. I remember my grandfather saying something along the lines of our local newspaper being good for lining bird cages, but I just didn't see it.

At uni I didn't read a paper because I already knew everything and anyway, who can afford that kind of outlay on a regular basis? Once I emigrated, the distinction between a good paper and a bad one quickly became clear.

My dear mother in law faithfully reads the Brisbane Courier Mail, and I must confess to reading it every time we visit. It's an easy read, that's for sure. My mother, during one of her stays here, discreetly whispered in my ear, asking if we could get a 'real' newspaper. I knew just the one for her.

I can't remember my first encounter with The Australian newspaper, but it has been a part of our lives since I emigrated. Every Saturday one of us makes sure to buy The Weekend Australian, and the week seems bleak if we've failed in our routine task. If we are away for a weekend we buy it and carry it home. I've even taken one on international flights (terribly inconvenient economy class reading material). Don't know why we don't subscribe…

The Australian is a broadsheet. It's a big format publication when the other, more populist papers seem to be half the size (like the National Enquirer, if I remember correctly). Recently I was flipping through a weekday copy in my school library near some of my students. One of them commented on the size, "What paper is that? It's huge!" It may be intellectual snobbery, but I feel an instant kinship with people who read The Australian, and have even been known to ask my students which paper their families read.

I just love spreading my paper out all over the table and folding it to get just the right bit so I can read an article. I love the heft and the flapping involved with reading The Weekend Australian. I love the way my slight OCD tendencies are needed to keep it neatly aligned. I love the amazing vocabulary, opinions and ideas it contains. I love reading while I eat and not worrying about dirtying it. I love its spot in our bookshelf. All week long it sits alone, laying flat, only occasionally sharing its space with a local rag. All week long we pull it out and read it.

I generally start the weekend with the front page and 'Inquirer' sections, work on the puzzles around Wednesday, and slog through the sports section by Friday. The paper does have some fun, fluffy articles. As a matter of fact, the title of this post comes from its website (5 March 2010). Our twelve year old lives for the fashion spread in the magazine and the short, biographical articles.

But it also has such intelligent in-depth writing. Long have I thought it made us cleverer, and low and behold, their new slogan is, 'Think. Again.' The columnists include theologians, philosophers, comedians, economists, politicians and ethicists. They stretch my mind and make me feel like an interested, informed person.

It is really the only paper we buy most weeks, but recently I have been buying the daily Australian as well. See, it is running a contest to win a luxury holiday every day. I've sent away envelopes wishing for Paris, Venice, Hayman Island, New Zealand, Switzerland, Rome, Hong Kong and Singapore. You can bet that if we win one of those luxury holidays we'll be buying a copy of The Australian Newspaper in the airport newsagent to read on the plane.

Which paper would you take?

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