This month I’ve been…
When I was home at my parents’ house, I started reading The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman. It’s a book about four women who find themselves, in 72AD, in Masada, the mountain top palace that had been King Herod’s, now the last refuge of the Jewish rebellion. The Romans are camped on their doorstep, and disaster is about to fall. This is book is not, needless to say, a light read. But I couldn’t put it down and these four women climbed into my head and stayed there for the week I was reading, on cross-country trains mostly, as I visited friends and family in the UK.
Their stories of love and sisterhood are intense and deep and haunting. And even though you are assured from the blurb on the back (and a scant knowledge of Jewish history) that it will not end well, you could almost believe that sheer feminine strength and loyalty could save the sieged fortress. If you love reading books with beautifully drawn portrayals of women’s lives, I’d recommend this one.
I had two talks to give this month – a shorter one for a women’s breakfast I was asked to speak at, and a longer one at our church’s ladies’ weekend away. And so I did some re-reading in preparation of two favourites: Velvet Elvis by Rob Bell (which is a defining book in my life), and A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller. The latter I think I got more from on this second reading, perhaps because the idea of life as a story, with all it’s positive and negative turns, seems more relevant now that I’ve lived a few more of those turns.
A friend who knows what I like sent me some new recommendations at the end of March and I finally got around to looking them up. And so I’ve belatedly fallen in love with Half Moon Run and The Oh Hellos. (Thanks, Romain!) I also love love love the new Live Album from All Sons and Daughters.
Also this month, our awesome friend Ben Webb, an Australian we met when we were living in Brussels, has released his second EP with his band Ben and the Sea. It’s currently FREE on Noisetrade (but tip him well, yes?) and I really like it. I think my favourite song is “Lightning”. He’s a brilliant songwriter and I so enjoyed hearing him play when we lived in the same city. (On Noisetrade they describe themselves as being for fans of “Bon Iver, Josh Garrels, Mumford and Sons”, basically my three favourites!) He deserves to do well so go download it and then tell all your friends…
No new films this month. There seems to be no decent releases in Luxembourg this month, except for French movies, which might look good but my French is definitely not up to fast movie talk just yet…
BUT! My wonderful parents gave me Call the Midwife, season 1 for my birthday a few weeks ago. And oh. wow. I knew I would love it from the first moment I heard about it (I rarely miss having a television, but then I did) and I really really do. I cry at every episode (in the good way – Rasmus says we need a code so he knows which tears are the “good” ones) and it even makes me miss England a bit. But no spoilers please! Since they’re just short seasons, I’m rationing myself to make the goodness last.
We finished the second series of Sherlock and my head about exploded in the final episode from the tension! I am somewhat desperate for them to finish filming the third season, but then I need to figure out a way to watch it live from here (or get my techie husband figure it out) because I certainly can’t hang on until they release it to DVD again.
I won multiple wife points this month when I baked liquorice-cranberry cookies for Rasmus for his birthday. He’ll always pick cookies over cake, and if liquorice is on offer, he’ll happily give up everything else. The thing is, I detest liquorice. It’s really gross. But. I had a recipe for liquorice cookies in a cook book his aunt gave me last year. And we had liquorice powder, I think from one of the advent gifts his mother sent in December. So I did the thing I knew would make him happy. I couldn’t even lick the bowl. Definite wife points.
On a more tasty note, I made this fantastic black tea cake with honey butter icing (recipe by Pastry Affair) a few weeks ago, when a friend was coming round for tea on the afternoon of her birthday. I made it with early grey tea and the experience was exactly like eating a cup of tea. So good.
And then there was a reprisal of the amazing white chocolate cheesecake (this time with blueberries in syrup on top instead of dolce de leche) as the dessert for Rasmus’ birthday dinner with friends. This is good cheesecake.
We missed it last year, and that cheesecake baking in the oven very nearly made us miss it this year. But we made it *just* in time for the annual Luxembourg Duck Race! Hundreds of yellow bath ducks are numbered and released at the sound of a gun shot into the tiny Petrusse “river” that runs through the steep green gorge in the middle of the city, to race around the bend a couple of hundred metres. The winning duck wins it’s owner a car, and all the money goes to charity. Just another fun, if bizarre, day in Luxembourg!
I finally watched a TED talk I’ve had bookmarked forever: “The danger of a single story” by Chimamanda Adichie. It’s a brilliant talk about the need to expand the number of stories we hear about a place, a people group, a person, to be able to understand the layers, the different angles, the grey spaces and paradoxes.
And then the day after I had finally watched it, Kelley Nikondeha wrote an amazing guest post for J.R.Goudeau on how she and her husband Claude welcome visitors to Burundi: A Country Brimming with Life and Complexity and Promise. Kelley is the reason Rasmus and I are heading to Africa in one month. We get the honour of being their guests in Burundi and I am so beyond thrilled, it’s hard to express. And so this post was a wonderful confirmation to me that we are going with exactly the right people, a couple who have the highest respect and love for their neighbours and friends in Burundi, who will do their best to expose visitors to the myriad stories of their lives.
on the blog.
My post-birthday-funk post Climbing out of the Pit got the most views and comments this month. Maybe it’s a sign that self-pity is a more common challenge than we let on to others? Thanks for helping me not feel quite so alone on that one this month.
So tell me, what have you been reading, listening to, watching this month? What did I miss?