Sunday, December 15, 2013

Three beautiful things for a cold-stricken time

Wasabi peanuts, from a special Christmas stall at the supermarket, with all kinds of odd dried and glacé things. I love wasabi, in a unique, slightly masochistic way, and I like the way these Japanese snacks incorporating it are sweet and savoury and dry and pungent all at once, and just now especially I like how they send a kind of delayed explosive charge through the soft palate, into the sinuses and tear ducts, finishing up somewhere in the vicinity of the Eustachian tube.  I also like the colour.


Librivox. Why didn't I know about this before?  The audiobook equivalent of Project Gutenberg: aiming to make every book in the public domain available free as an audio book. It's easy to access and you don't have to download the podcasts.  Scratching the surface of it would get me through several lifetimes and an awful lot of knitting.  I've just finished Emma; the reader was good, her American accent very quickly ceased to bother me (sorry, US friends, for this show of prejudice) and in fact her British accent and range of voices for the dialogue was impressive, I thought Emma's voice in particular was spot-on.


Something that made me rather tearful*, not because it's sad, quite the contrary, but because it's so touching and lovely: the astonishingly talented Colin and Li Yi's latest Christmas video.  I've yet to meet these two in person, they live in England and are good friends of my niece and sparkly nephew-out-law, but I've posted their previous ones twice, here and here, so I reckon three times constitutes a tradition. A little while ago I recommended Erin Morgernstern's book The Night Circus to my sister, who then thrust it on her daughter who then lent it to Colin and Li Yi.  When they returned the book, my niece opened it and there was a handmade thank you card in the shape of a pop-up model of the Night Circus.  In fact I think perhaps they belong in the Night Circus... 

Though they are clearly technically very savvy, much of the work is done with pencil and paper, the paper shapes cut out meticulously with scalpels, very hands-on (there's a page of stills about the making of this video here), and it takes a long time.  And though this kind of design is their profession, the videos are really made simply out of love, generosity and and overflowing creative spirit; one commenter here before said seeing them made her feel quite hopeful for the future. Enjoy, and thanks and happy Christmas to Colin and Li Yi.


*since, as Simone de Beauvoir (I think) said, no matter what tears you shed, you always end up blowing your nose. Which is one reason why it's good for a cold, the other is that cheering and beautiful things make you feel better anyway.


Ellena said...

Thank you for all these gifts, Lucy.
I discovered that I can knit again without getting cramps. Now I have to see if I can knit and listen at the same time without making mistakes. Listening to Chamber music is one thing but to a story is another. I will find out.

Colin and Li Yi said...

Thank you so much for sharing this Lucy. Its messages like yours that make it all worth while. Have a beautiful Christmas and a lovely new year.

christopher said...

Happy Christmas to you and Tom. You both are of course among my favorites of all my blogging friends. And to Mol as well, a good scratch around the ears.

marja-leena said...

Lucy, sorry you have a cold, hope all these delightful remedies you are sharing have helped you get better quickly.

I loved reading 'The Night Circus'! Thanks for the link to its own fabulous website which I must have missed when I'd mentioned the book in a blog post a few months ago. Colin and Li Yi's work is marvelous.

Take care of youself so you can enjoy the Christmas preparations!

Lucy said...

Thanks all.

Ellena, there are inevitably long stretches of repetitious knitting where one can quite easily listen to and indeed look at other things with adequate attention, but in fact I find if I have a complicated bit to do and lots of counting, I can't really concentrate enough. For these music is better, though even that can be a distraction, or television/films that one isn't really all that interested in or which are so familiar you don't need to pay them much attention. Double bills of Poirot are very productive, I find! so glad you are able to take up the needles again, bon courage!

Colin and Li Yi, so lovely to see you here, I'm very honoured to feature your work here, and wish you all good things for Christmas and New Year.

Christopher - thanks, dear heart. Mol is still going strong, despite lumps and bumps and a grey muzzle, but she still often takes life at a run, even if long walks are out!

ML - thank you, it really has been a horrid cold and is only just on its way out. I remember you mentioning The Night Circus, it's a wonderful book I think and has a popular following among a number of people I know; my niece Tamsin and Colin and Li Yi found it quite inspiring I think. Glad you like their work, they are so talented and lovely people too.

Natalie d'Arbeloff said...

Thanks for posting the charming video, Lucy. Glad the awful cold is receding, they do hang on so very long at this time of year. My uncle Jacque's remedy, before, during and after a cold, was to boil together - with their skins left on - an orange, a lemon and a grapefruit, and to drink this potion hot throughout the day. All that vitamin C probably helps.

Zhoen said...

Snot is eternal.

HKatz said...

I love the video, especially that moment when the music stops and all you hear is rushing water or a coming storm.

Also, I hope you had a happy birthday; I wish you joy, good health and peace.

Roderick Robinson said...

The Google graphic has an animated knitting theme. I take that as a briefly positive augury.

Yours seems the only blog where I can drop this tiny episode. I know you can be touched by poignancy but I'm not sure if this is poignant. I'm not looking for a response.

I worked with RF in Bradford on the same newspapers. Eventually he reached The Times and our lives ceased to overlap. Two years ago he contacted me; we met as a foursome with our wives in rural Derbyshire; thereafter we started on a project strange and outmoded in this day and age - three or four times a year we exchanged long (2500 - 3000 words) letters, printed out, put into envelopes and despatched by Royal Mail.

Early last year I sent off my Letter Eleven in the sequence. No response. I re-read what I'd sent, imagined I detected mild criticism to a passage of doggerel he'd written, automatically assumed the blame (I always do in similar circumstances), shrugged my shoulders and connived at the silence. Then came Christmas card time. I've never been enamoured by these fake expressions of friendship but I decided on a flyer: "Is it something I wrote?" Back came his card yesterday. Obviously his response to No. 11 had gone astray. Might normal service be resumed?

As you know my working days are cluttered up with the novel, the blog and the short stories. Do I need any further writing obligations? Well yes, I do. The letters are special. They demand discipline and when they're finished (much revision) they're... tangible. 2013 hasn't been memorable for good news. I was pleased about this.

A happy, healthy Christmas to you and Tom. Not forgetting Mol.

Rouchswalwe said...

Happy Winter Solstice to you and Tom and Mol (sending fur ruffles)! Glad to hear you're feeling better and thankful you've shared this wonderful video.

As for Wasabi ... you would love the wasabi farm I visited years ago in Japan. It was summer, so we had wasabi ice cream. Better tasting than you'd expect!

Catalyst said...

That's an amazing video. Thanks for sharing it. Happy holidays, Lucy.

Unknown said...

Interesting that you should have got used to and not minded the American voice. It strikes me that a contemporary of Jane Austen would have recognised it better than present day middle class, home counties English.

Marly Youmans said...

Oh, thank you for the Colin and Li Yi video--much enjoyed.

I have used LibraVox... I like it, though sometimes they use many voices and that sometimes bothers me. "Far Away and Long Ago" I hadn't read since childhood. And Wilkie Collins--listened to some of the Moonstone just the other night.

And I like wasabi too!

Merry Christmas, when it comes!