We had a long weekend and I have been slacking off blogging. Not that I actually did anything much. The weather turned cold and wet. On the Sunday I had a horrible sinus headache which was making me slightly nauseous. So when I finally got up and out of the spa pool, I tucked myself up with a quilt and borrowed my daughter's DVD of "Black Books", and got on with some hand quilting.
This morning the family was back to work and study, but I only work three days a week so I went for a walk. I dressed warmly in thermal underwear, woolly hat, and sheepskin gloves. There was snow on the hills yesterday (only a half hour's walk away). Today it had melted but even though the sun was shining it was still very cold. I rang the bell at my neighbour's house - she is my usual walking buddy - but she had gone off somewhere so I told her son to let her know I had gone walking on my own. Without the company of a chatty friend and a boisterous dog, I had a different sort of walk, free to ponder whatever came to mind.
Such as: when I look at the leaf patterns on a tree, why do my photographs not show the wonderful patterns that I see? I figured that one out - it has to do with stereo vision - close one eye and the whole tree is flattened, so that individual leaves don't stand out as much. Next time I want to take a photo, I'll check it out like a one-eyed pirate first.
I went past my children's primary school, and noticed they have put a whole extra level on the main building. I'm not sure when that happened. Did the school get bigger or the class size smaller? The school has its fiftieth anniversary this year. My children don't seem interested in going. It occurred to me that they should let ex-parents register as well as ex-pupils. Parents become part of the community. I was so involved in the school when my children were there, from writing down stories for the littlest pupils, going on class trips with them, up to teaching orienteering to the oldest classes and coaching the school's very successful maths teams. I think it would be great to catch up with other parents and see what they and their children have been doing. On the other hand, I've never particularly bothered about going back to my own primary school reunions. I don't want to revisit the miserable time I had there. That's probably why my own children aren't interested either. The youngest is the only one who made lasting friends there, and he still sees them every day at university, so there isn't much need for a reunion.
I have been meaning for several days to write about Audrey Niffenegger (author of "The Time Travellers Wife"). She was here last week giving her final talk in two to three years of travel promoting the book. After this she plans to settle down long enough to write the next one, which is set in Highgate Cemetery in London. I always find it interesting to hear how writers work - they all seem to do it differently. In her case, the title was the initial spark for the book. The first scene that she wrote was the very last in the book. After that, she wrote scenes from all over the book, and gradually came to see how they all fitted together, and what was missing.
It must be difficult to do book tours as time goes on - half the audience had read the book and half hadn't. That meant avoiding spoilers for the half that hadn't, and reading parts of the book to get their interest - and yet the other half of the audience wanted to ask quite detailed questions. This resulted in a sort of "code", fudging the details, such as "that bit with the feet - was that really necessary?"
Audrey insists that nothing in the book is biographical, even though she has given Henry and Clare jobs similar to what she knows. And she has set the book where she lives. She believes that if you are going to have a wildly improbable basic premise, the rest of the detail should be absolutely authentic to make it believable.
There were copies of her other book on display: "The Three Incestuous Sisters". This was originally a hand-made artist's book which took fourteen years to produce in a limited edition of ten copies. It has now been published in a mass-produced version, I took a glance and it looked rather gothic and dark, and didn't really appeal to me. On the other hand I'm really interested to read her next novel, but I suspect it will be another two or three years before it is finished.