Monthly Archives: February 2011

Cleopatra, by Stacey Schiff

Where have I been? Reading!

Cleopatra, by Stacey Schiff

I recently finished reading Cleopatra: A Life by Stacy Schiff. I bought it during Boxing Week at Chapters but only started it about a month ago. Although I found Cleopatra’s story and Schiff’s approach to her life very interesting, it was difficult for me to really get into because I knew I wasn’t absorbing all that I could.

There was a brief time in my teenage years when I wanted to become an Egyptologist, specifically Evy the librarian from The Mummy. Well, I became a librarian but I have yet to go to Egypt (and probably won’t anytime soon, considering the current issues in Cairo right now). I really wanted to read this book knowing the history and geography of ancient Egypt, but I’ve forgotten a lot of that history.

Even so, I think Schiff did a very good job of making Cleopatra’s story accessible. I most enjoyed reading about how we have made her into a pop icon today, and yet we know next to nothing about her personality, and nothing at all about her personal thoughts and opinions. Shakespeare, when he wrote about Cleopatra, was kind of writing fanfiction. We don’t have a lot to go on when it comes to studying this woman.

I would have liked to read more about the what-ifs; it seemed like this book was based more on the idea of “Cleopatra was probably…” rather than “What if Cleopatra…?” It must be fascinating to study a person we know so little about, and yet is a recognized icon around the world.

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Winterlude already?

Well, I can think of one reason why I don’t update my blog as often as I used to. I haven’t been knitting as much lately, and I know the exact reason why. I posted earlier this winter about knitting for charity, but it’s been rough to start that project and get going. Winter is going to end soon (not soon enough!) so I really want to finish the knitting, but it’s very difficult finding patterns that will accomodate the type of yarns that were provided. They are all very fun and colourful, but there aren’t enough skeins of yarn in each colour to make anything, really. It’s been a bit dejecting, so I haven’t been putting as much effort as I’d like into the project, since I’ve had to start the project so many times and then take it all apart as I realize that it’s not going to work the way I wanted it to. And I fully believe that knitting for charity doesn’t mean that I get to cut corners with the quality of my work.

So I’ll have to start posting about things other than knitting, I guess!

I’ve started an introductory drawing course – just a local community course. I love it so far. It’s on Monday evenings for two and a half hours, and I like having that time set aside for me to just draw whatever I like. Well, our instructor gives us some guidelines but the general rule is that if we don’t want to draw what she’s drawing in the class, we can work on anything we like. I really enjoy that freedom, as we started last class with a picture of a cat and since they are far from my favourite animal, I didn’t really get into the picture. I tried a landscape for the first time and I’m quite happy with it.

We went skating on the Rideau Canal today with Corey’s brother, sister-in-law, and their kiddies. Ottawa is currently celebrating Winterlude, a festival of three weekends in February. There are many places to stop and get a snack on the canal, but I wasn’t very hungry today (concentrating too much on my skating), so next time we’ll have to get a “beaver tail.” I have been ice-skating maybe once in the past 15 years, and not on a natural body of water since I was 9 years old, so I was very wobbly today. I hope I improve. It was a lot of fun, but I definitely need to break in my skates a bit more before I feel more comfortable. Hopefully we get to go again next weekend! I’ll give my body a chance to rest up a bit, as I am already quite sore. My leg is a bit swollen where one of my skates was digging into it (a malfunction I hope to correct for next time), and Corey ran into my hand as I slipped on the ice at one point, so I have a bruise on the side of my hand. Luckily my glove was on and he wasn’t going very fast, otherwise there might have been an emergency trip to the hospital to reattach my finger.

It has been bitterly cold in the past few weeks, but has warmed up in the past few days. I think we even got above 0 degrees at one point. (To 1 degree at the most.) But it looks like it’ll cool down again this week. I can’t wait for spring! Winter is pretty gorgeous when it looks like this:

Walking around Mud Lake in Ottawa.

But it’s less fun and beautiful on my way up to the bus stop every morning at 7:00 am for work.