Monday, July 13, 2015

Chinese authors I have loved (to read)

Temporarily on a break from Kazoo Ishiguro, I have harked back to the Chinese authors I have often sought when looking for fiction I can relate to:

Of course, I enjoy Amy Tan immensely (apart from Valley of Amazement, which to me was like a Chinese Memoirs of a Geisha). I must find myself another copy of The Kitchen God's Wife, because I lent it to my brother a decade ago and never saw it again.The last one I read by Tan was Saving Fish from Drowning. This wasn't a mother-daughter themed story - quite a departure for her - but a good read nonetheless.

I have a copy of David Wong Louie's book of short stories, Pangs of love, which are mostly (but solely) about flawed Chinese American men just trying to have relationships, good and bad. The first few are my favourites, I suppose because they confront the cultural divide rather than ignore.

Wayson Choy wrote The Jade Peony which is set in Canada in the 30's and follows the stories of three members of a Cantonese-speaking family. It forced me to learn just how hard life must have been for Chinese in Western countries and back in old China (especially if you were female). But it's not an "educational" book. They are stories of three children growing up in a particular time and place and are very accessible. The grandmother is familiar, both annoyingly old-fashioned and refreshingly wise. I also recently finished another of his books which is about the same family but from the perspective of just the eldest son.

Patricia Chao's Monkey King is a dark tale of a young woman who tries to kill herself because of stuff that happened to her as a child, and how she deals with those things in a mental institution afterwards. It's not utterly depressing though so don't let that put you off.

The above are all North American writers. Why haven't I found the works of any Chinese-British authors at my library? Or those of Chinese Australians or even Chinese New Zealanders?

(Actually I do have two books by a Chinese New Zealander - When the Moon Turns Silver by Alison Wong, plus a book of her poetry. They are great. )

I need to read fiction that feels like my kind of reality. The only way to find it these day is do what Phil Twyford did to try and convince us that overseas Chinese are buying up all of the Auckland houses - I look out for Asian-sounding surnames along the stacks.

Saturday, July 04, 2015

Fuzzy slouchy beanie

I had a ball of fuzzy alpaca/merino yarn and decided to knit a hat from it. It's very light and wide so fits both TLM and me. I reckon it would fit the boy too, but he is fundamentally opposed to slouchy hats.

As TLM is the more photogenic of the two of us willing to wear it, she's the one you get to see modelling it.




Saturday, June 20, 2015

I fell off the wagon

In the last couple of months it hit me that we had better rein in our spending, since we have been living off one salary since the end of January.

I went from daily visits to my favourite sushi shop for lunch, to only lunching out once per week (excluding weekends - where we transitioned from weekend lunches at "nice" eateries to alternating between home cooking and the more affordable Malaysian options.

I clamped down on clothing and yarn shopping - in the last month or so the only clothes shopping I've done has been for my mum (and on her card) who, since moving into the rest home, suddenly had a need for non-holey pyjamas and undershirts.

Even yesterday, I boasted to The Little Madam (who knows well my addiction to both knitting-related activities and sales) that in my lunch break I went to my local yarn shop where there was a yarn sale, and didn't buy anything.

But today I fell off the wagon, because I went to the Social Wool Fair and bought a scarf's worth of heathery blue merino and a stack of old knitting magazines.

I feel a little guilty, but in all I spent only a few dollars more than I did on the boy's packet of cigarettes.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

My newest favourite sweater I made myself...

...is this one.


I made the sleeves a little short as this makes it less of a hassle when I need to wash my hands, wash dishes or whatever.

It's nice to have a hand knit that is light enough to wear on a not-quite-freezing day.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

TLM's 2015 winter cardigan

I made this for TLM from a fair isle-effect self striping yarn which I'd been wanting to try because it's a non-scratchy mixture of wool, acrylic and cotton. If I use it again I will knit the item in pieces instead of all in one, to get the maximum fair isle effect.


I freely acknowledge it's imperfectness e.g. the way it opens out below the last button. I don't care -she likes it. See my Revelry post.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Home, but not as we know it

On Monday, the rehab unit at the hospital will discharge my mum into a rest home. Hallelujah.

I hope I'm not jinxing the whole thing by talking about it before she's actually moved in, but it has been a long and arduous journey and I can't wait to get to the destination.

First, there was the assessment at the end of last year, in which the lady from the Care Coordination team asked mum how things were and mum insisted everything was fine (until she left - then mum's tune changed).

Then there was the in-home care programme which consisted of three daily visits by mostly lovely carers - but the visits were short, often mis-timed (e.g. the morning visit at 10.30 was sometimes followed by an 11.30 lunchtime visit), and - for a period of two weeks - hideously inadequately scheduled.

Then we decided that we had more trust in mum's ability to take her meds correctly that we did in the ability of the administrator to ensure that someone would actually turn up when they were supposed to (to get mum her meds, among other things). That resulted in a reduction in the number of daily carer visits, but at least I didn't have to chase them up when they didn't show up for one reason or another. By now mum had decided she wanted to live in a resthome, but in New Zealand you don't get to live in a resthome until some authority says you need to.

Then there was the heart attack that landed mum in hospital again, and this time mum got her wish which was to be allowed to move into a resthome.

And today I got a text from my brother which (to paraphrase him) said something along the lines of "Great news! Someone died! There's now a great room available at the most recommended home in the city!"

But the best, best thing about this is that for the first time ever, my mum told me how good my brother and I have been to her. It felt good to hear.

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Surfer WIP becomes Surfer FO

I did it. I knocked the b*stard off.

I have completed the Surfer top for the boy.


More than a year in the making, it is a labour of love (ok and maybe more than a little of my need to finish things). All-over cables, endless moss stitch, cotton yarn that tires my fingers and wrists - if the boy didn't like it I would have been a little upset.

But he likes it so, phew.

It fits a little baggy, and that's after I took it in at the sides and sleeves. I don't know how it got so big because I used one of his existing jumpers to check what the finished measurements should be, and I knitted a tension strip ( I don't have the patience to knit a whole square) to check it would be right.

Oh - and you know those ties at the neck and hem? I knitted those too. It wasn't nearly as painfully boring as I feared (I meant to buy some leather ties but the boy said he preferred the knitted version).

And it will be a long, long time before I knit all-over cables in cotton again.