Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Did I mention...

...I love yoga?

Yesterday's class was awesome. I had missed last Thursday so I had to play catch-up but it was great! All sweaty and wobbly when I came out.
Unfortunately, I will miss this Thursday as well.

So today my ribs hurt because she made us hold our breath every time we raised our pelvises in the air. Then, "Breathe in!" *GASP* And when she said, "Last one for luck", we all burst into giggles.
And my vertebrae are sore from rolling into a squat from what I can only call a curled up beetle-on-its-back position.
Not to mention the hamstrings we stretch before going into "warrior one"position.

I love it love it love it, and am going to get my own yoga mat soon so I don't have to use a smelly one.


Today I didn't do the usual mileage on the Baker>Harley>Gt Portland>Oxford Street route. I only went halfway up Marylebone High Street and into Daunt's bookshop. I like Marylebone Village. I still gawk like a fascinated fish when I'm down there.

Have you ever been to Daunt's?
It is much like Hatchard's, only more 19th than 18th century, more Bloomsbury-ish than Mayfair-ish. If you know what I mean.

Jeremy Paxman said they sell books you never knew existed. And it's true: I bought 4 very small books there, some historical Penguin imprints with really old-fashined frontispieces, of works by Michel de Montaigne (On Friendship, 1580), Thomas a Kempis (The Inner Life), Lucretius (Sensation and Sex), and Gibbon (The Christians and the Fall of Rome). There were so many others, all of works (mostly essays and treatises) that have influenced history, changed lives, promoted paradigm shifts, creating the world we live in, like:
Machiavelli's Prince
the sayings of Confucius
The Art of War by Sun Tzu
The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius
Thomas Paine's Common Sense
Rousseau's Social Contract
The Confessions of St Augustine
A Vindication on the Rights of Woman by Mary Wollestonecraft (Shelley)
even the Communist Manifesto by Marx and Engels
and other works by Freud, Hobbes, Jonathan Swift, Voltaire, Kiergegaard....and loads of others...

Fantastic - I recommend a browse through. Penguin is really outdoing itself for its 70th anniversary.
When I handed him my pile, the cashier turned them face-down, fanned them out, scanned them and slipped them into the bag - never once reading the covers. I thought that was discreet and very quaint. I should have bought a sex book!

Anyway, I shall be sure to share quotes with you when I get around to them. I'm still on my Weekend Book.

I love this book. Not only is it informative, but it is reminiscent of earlier times and often casts old England in an overly romantic light. I am charmed by the quaint turn of phrase. Some of the descriptions fill my mind's eye with poetic images. Others have me shooting tea through my nose.
Excerpts from the 1924 Weekend Book [with my interjections!]:


The Corn Harvest
[On the advent of the combine harvester] ...there are no sheaves thrown out behind the machine to be stacked by hand into the lovely "stooks" which used to stand in the field until they were dry enough for ricking. The combine moves steadily over the field like some great juggernaut, devouring all. We miss the stooks which used to delight the eye when their long shadows fell across the golden stubble in the evening and the pigeons fluttered about them, taking their tithe of the corn...

The Hay Harvest
For hay was mown by hand, here and there, within the memory of old men. The mowers would start at the first light, when the dew was on the grass and the scythe cut clean; they would break off when the sun rose high, eat their bait and drink their cider, sleep a little, and start again in the cool of the evening; from six o'clock, say, they would work till dark...

[Did you know that a man's scythe was as personal to him as his iPod today? He'd never lend it out. And at the end of haymaking he'd hang it in a tree to get rusty. The rust would give him a better edge when the corn harvest came round.]

...The hayrick may disappear, as the loaded wain, so beloved of landscape painters, had gone into limbo already. [eg. The Haywain by John Constable] Perhaps our grandchildren, as they glance at old paintings some twenty years hence, will point at the hayricks and the wagons and ask: "What are those funny things?" Film-producers on location, trying to recapture Ye Olde Englysshe Scene, may build rickyards at colossal expense out of plastics in order to convey "the atmosphere of the period".

[But you know what? A generation later, I still see hayricks. The art of thatching has not died out, and old cottages are still repaired in the old way with wattle and daub.]

The Beasts of the Fields


...A female pig is called a gilt or hilt or yilt until she has had her first litter (i.e. farrowed); thereafter she is a sow. A good litter is ten or twelve. A pleasing phrase in a book designed to help novice pig farmers runs "see that your sow is equipped with a least ten or twelve teats" -- suggestive of a visit to the spares shop for supplying any deficiency...

...A young cow remains a heifer until after her second calving. A bullock is a gelded male. [gelded = neutered] A steer is a fat bullock. It generally takes 30 months to produce a fat beast from a calf -- which is why beef can never be a cheap commodity...

...Bulls are often docile but no countryman would care to cross a field where a strange bull was at large. There is no panacea against bulls except to run faster than they do...

Other tidbits:
  • [Why is it in the shops we only get about 4 different types of apples?] When was the last time you saw a Russet, a Blenheim, King o' the Pippins, or Duke of Devonshire?
  • Hops [used to give beer its bitter taste and also a source of oestrogen, hence the appearance of man-boobs on frequent imbibers]...anyway, hops can grow 2 inches [5.08 cm] in 24 hours!
    • "The two most popular sorts of hop are named respectively Bramblings and Fuggles." [I didn't make that up.]
  • The wolf, the wild boar, the brown bear, the beaver, and the reindeer are now extinct in the British Isles.
...[I]n the course of our wanderings, we may come across a small patch of woodland...which consists of old birch trees...hawthorns, occasional hollies, and stunted, crooked oaks. These oaks, when the winter gales have ripped the leaves off them, seem to hold out gnarled arms in gesticulation to the sky. We have a sense of something primitive, druidical; for this is a fragment of the ancient, original scrub. By chance it has survived the encroachment of man. His plough has never ripped open the soil, his axe has never been wielded here. All around us, north, south, east and west, is spread out the garden that man has made; but we have come full circle, and where we stand is the woodland waste, that once was England.



Jia Li said...

great little timbits

JP said...

Good job on the yoga. Too bad you're missing so many animals in Britain.

merserene said...

I love it love it love it, and am going to get my own yoga mat soon so I don't have to use a smelly one.

Have you been reading my mind? :)

MattJ said...

Next time you are down this magical bookshop could you do me a big favour Olivia? I want to see if I can get a copy of 'The First Blast of The Trumpet Against teh Monstrous regiment of Women' by John Knox.

Possibly the most mysoginistic book ever written. It's a gift for a friend, trust me they will see the funny side ;)

Olivia said...

Jia Li - I am sure "timbits" is a copyrighted word!
For those of you who don't know, timbits are the doughnut holes sold at Canada's fave doughnut shop Tim Horton's. (Krispy Kremes are 100 times better than Tim's!)

JP - thanks. Are you getting back into it yourself?

Merserene - hm, perhaps I am ;) Alohalani always said we were similar.

Matt - I am banning myself from bookshops for as long as possible. You could call them: 020 7224 2295.

Jia Li said...

well Liv I don't know about that, then agian I don't like Timmy's...

any I got the Midnight Twinkle Hair Mousse...did you get yours yet?

I can't wait to see your face when I'm Done.

merserene said...

Have you gotten your mat yet? Everyone we do breathing exercises in yoga ("feel the texture of your breath," my teacher says), I can never calm down because all I smell is the stinky mat, but I still haven't gotten off of my behind to get one!

Also, have you tried Dunkin' Donuts? Krispy Kremes haven't won me over. :)

Olivia said...

Jia Li - yes, can't wait till you've put on your outfit and taken a pic - with new hair colour.

Merserene - ooh thanks for reminding me, I was in danger of forgetting for another couple of classes, you know? Also, have to decide where to go to get it! This is London, can't just pop off to the mall.

I make do with Krispy Kremes, they are better than the English ones. Never liked Dunkin D's. The absolute best best best in the entire world is Shipley's - light as clouds, melt in your mouth. (Right Vanessa???)
I hope they aren't limited to the Houston area...

So, looks like I have a weekend challenge with Jia Li to colour my hair and with Merserene to get a yoga mat.

Right Girls, I am on it!

Mr. B said...

Sorry to be so pedantic, but interestingly enough (well, to me at least) wild boar are once again wandering the woods of England. Mainly in Kent and Berkshire, but also a few in Wiltshire. Boar were brought over from Europe in the 80's to be farmed, and naturally over the years some escaped. They seem to be flourishing, and after initial fears as to the damage they may cause, the authorities seem to recognize that they may have a faunction to perform in the woods. So...if you go down to the woods today, you may well be sure of a big surprise!

Olivia said...

Mr B - don't apologise. The information in the Weekend Book is between 50 and 80 years out of date!

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