A Reading Reflection

Last year in January, I set my reading goal at 75 books thinking that it was a fair reflection of the number of books I read. I was surprised that by the end of the year I had read 94 books (this excludes the reading that I do for work). I found the summary on Goodreads to be interesting.

My longest book was a Stephen King novel, the shortest one I had received to review.

My average rating for books is 4 as I have learned to choose my reading material well. I know what I enjoy reading and I carefully read the synopsis of novels that I pick up.

I have read some wonderful books this year by authors that were unknown to me. Three books stood out for me during 2018: The Dutch Wife by Ellen Keith (historical), Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin (contemporary), and The Black Witch by Laurie Forest. (fantasy). I loved the fantasy novel so much that I read the second in the saga and am now eagerly waiting for the third. (If you want to read my reviews, click on the titles of the books).

I enjoyed my reading journey during 2018 and look forward to discovering more authors and stories during 2019.

What was your reading journey like during 2018?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This post is linked to Linda G. Hill’s  Just Jot It January challenge. The prompt is reflection .)

 

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A Master

“The Master is in the house!”

Stepping into the room, Fran looked across the room filled with the buzz of her colleagues. She did not appreciate the exaggerated introduction by Coburn as she knew he did not support her success. She had worked hard at this project and had taken a great leap of faith with the direction she had taken the company. Yes, she was good at what she did – but then so were many others. What separated her from the pack was her willingness to take risks, even at personal cost. It was these risks that had led to the jealousy she felt emanating from the room.

“Thank you Coburn.

Afternoon everyone. I will now detail the next step in the process to reverse the deterioration of the planet’s energy forms.”

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This post is linked to Linda G. Hill’s Just Jot It January challenge. The prompt for today is master.)

She Named Me Patience

I was born a week late.

“I was in a hurry for you to be born and  your dad kept telling me to be patient. I couldn’t wait to meet you and love you!”

She named me Patience in memory of my tardy arrival. And patience was what I had to learn. She said she wanted me with her – desperately! And yet I remember always waiting for her arrival while growing up. After school when all the other moms had bundled energetic siblings into cars. At concerts when she missed the encores and the after-show buzz. Over weekends when it was her turn to spend time with me. I learned patience through disappointments and waiting. And with patience, I became strong.

And now I am able to wait until the right moment to bid on an item. I can wade through piles of throwaway articles to find the gem. Months can go by until I find the perfect fit for a person’s home.

And I can wait until a person no longer disappoints me or hurts me.

Patience.

A name that reminds my mother that she had to wait.

Patience.

A name that reminds me that I have the strength to wait – and the strength to continue despite disappointment.

What does your name mean to you?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2018

(This post is a response to the WordPress Daily Prompt: Patience)

The Search for a Perfect Wife

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife. Even in our modern times, a man is in need of a woman on his arm who works beside him behind the scenes. He is in need of a woman who is both beautiful and graceful -and who successfully carries out the expectations that come with a fortune.

Nathan was in need of such a woman. He had lived for forty years – and lived them well. He had worked hard at bringing the family business to even greater heights. He had travelled the world and experienced it from both hotel penthouses and handmade tents. He had dined at the most exclusive restaurants as well as at the family diners that cooked up the most exquisite tastes. He dressed in fine cloth, drank fine wine and was driven everywhere by his chauffeur.

But when it came to women, Nathan had been unable to find what he needed. Oh, there were plenty of women who had volunteered to become the Mrs Alden over the years. And some had come close to achieving their goal. The beauty and grace had been there but the steely brain behind the beauty had not. He did not merely want a woman who would grace his arm at functions and politely chatter to the men and women that drove his business. He wanted more than a woman who would concern herself with charities and the business of running his homes. He wanted – no needed – a woman who was his equal intellectually: a woman who would be at his side in business dealings and who would support him during difficult business decisions.

Maybe it was time to look elsewhere beyond the trust fund babies and those that had been groomed from birth to be the perfect hostess. Maybe it was time to look at this from another angle – the business angle. Being the perfect hostess could be learnt – but business acumen comes naturally.

And so the search began – in a most unexpected place.

Where do you think Nathan finds his future wife?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2015

(This post is a response to the Daily Prompt in which bloggers were challenged to take the first sentence from their favourite book and make it the first sentence of their post. My sentence comes from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice). 

A Sidewalk Artist

The day shone brightly on the people enjoying the last days of summer at the Toronto Buskerfest in 2013. The smell of food wafted in the air accompanied by the sounds of music and chatter. The art student, Marc, was excited to be one of the few picked to participate in the festival. His excitement came not from the potential to make a few coins, but from his knowledge that people would stop to admire his work. His dream was to be an artist, to make his living from it. And what he desired most was that people would stop to admire his work, that they would talk about it, and that he would eventually sell paintings to be hung up on walls in people’s homes.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014
Artist creating sidewalk art. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

He enjoyed the feel of the sun’s rays beating down on his shoulders. The warmth would not last for much longer as September was nearing as well as the cooler days that came with it. His hand stroked the tarmac with a piece of chalk, adding some colour to his creation. The sound of the chalk and the murmurings of those who watched him lulled him into what he called his artistic zone. The simple strokes of the chalk on the tarmac gave him a sense of peace. This was why he loved art so much: it was only when he was creating that he felt a sense of peace invade him.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014
Sidewalk artist creating with chalk. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

He glanced at what he was creating. He knew he was getting better at his technique and welcomed September for the lessons he would have with his teachers this year. He was moving into his final year – and then he would move out into the world to try and make a living.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014
Sidewalk Art. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

He knew that working as an artist would not be easy. He was lucky, though, in that he had parents who supported him in his dream. In the meantime, he would continue enjoy the sun on this last weekend before school began; and he would continue to enjoy the admiration of those who stopped to look at his work.

Do you stop to look at sidewalk art?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

This post was inspired by the Daily Prompt: Edge of the Frame)

 

Sudden Downpour

It was warm when I left home this morning. The sky was a clear blue, the birds were singing, and I felt that the day would turn out to be a good one. I always enjoyed walking down the main street looking at window displays and browsing through the stores. Today was the first day of my vacation and nothing could take away that pleasure.

I stopped by the bakery to eat one of their homemade pies for breakfast. Spinach and feta. Yum! I know, not a breakfast type of meal. But when on holiday why not eat what you enjoy? I love the flakiness of Anita’s pastry, and the creamy-filled pie always hit the spot. She wasn’t too busy yet, so my new-found friend sat down with me for a while to pass away the time chatting a bit about my plans for the next month.

I stepped out into the road and noticed that storm clouds had gathered while I was inside. I sent up a fervent wish that I would not get caught in the storm. I decided to head along to the market to pick up some fruit and vegetables before heading on home – getting drenched is not my idea of fun. No sooner had I made my decision, the heavens opened. A summer deluge, fast and wet. With no thought at all, I ran from the edge of the sidewalk to the nearest door – that of a store I had not yet visited since my arrival to this town.

As I opened the door, I heard the tinkle of bells. Water was dripping off my hair and running down my back. I hoped the store owner did not mind me seeking refuge here. I looked around and saw that I had entered what looked like an antiques store. Graceful tables were cluttered with objects d’art, shelves were filled with bound tomes, and every nook and cranny was filled with relics of the past. As I glanced around the dimly lit interior, an old man walked towards me. His appearance suited the environment: his face was well-worn with the passing of time, his slight stoop indicating the passing of years.

“Hope you don’t mind me coming in like this.”
“Not at all young lady. I could do with a bit of company. Wait a bit, let me fetch you a towel to dry yourself off.”
I smiled gratefully as he shuffled to the back. Such a gentleman. And he looked exactly that dressed in his bow tie and waistcoat.
“Here you are. Afterwards come to the back and I shall make you a warm cup of tea.”
This is what I loved about vacation. There was no need to rush off somewhere, so I could satisfy my curiosity a little about this man whom I had not yet seen around town. Moving towards the back of the store, my steps were halted by a beautiful silver candelabra that had been hidden by an armoire.
“How beautiful it is!” I breathed.
The old man smiled. “You have an eye for beauty and history, that is for sure. I have always found the story behind this candelabra intriguing.”
Lifting the silver candlestick holder, he placed it carefully in my hands.
“This story is intertwined with both love and sadness. It began 200 years ago when this candelabra was given to a young couple getting married.”

I followed him to the table on which there were the makings of tea. I settled into the chair he offered, placing the silverware I held in my hands carefully in front of me. I love listening to stories from the past, and this one looked like it was going to be a treat!

What do you think is the story of the candelabra?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

(Inspired by the WordPress daily prompt: Sudden Downpour)

 

 

An Odd Trio

Today the place was hoppin’. Moms and pops were coming in with their little darlin’s; beach babes were followed by those wishing to impress; loners meandered in looking for something to quench their thirst. Summer had begun and we were being run off of our feet. Drinks. Hot dogs and burgers. Ice-cream sundaes. Tonight I would leave here with my pockets full of tips.

I loved working at this place during the Summer. The tips were generous. I could enjoy the warmth of the sun while I served customers and listened to the crash of the waves as the water hit the beach. The bonus was that I got to meet all sorts of people and have had some very interesting chats.

I looked up and noticed the dirty blonde approaching. She wore cut-off shorts, a faded bikini top and what looked like a beach towel slung over her shoulder. As she moved towards a table on the outskirts of the restaurant, I realised that I had been mistaken. What she had draped over her shoulder was a cat! A beautiful tabby, but a cat nonetheless.

“So sorry ma’am. Animals are not welcome in our establishment.”

“Don’t worry about my cat. He will bother no-one. We will sit here on the edge and you will not even notice us.”

“No can do, ma’am. We do not want to loose our licence.”

“Understandable, I suppose. Could you then bring me an order to take away? I have a yen for a bowl of soup. Thick, nourishing vegetable soup.”

Soup? In this weather! To each his own.

“I will wait here, if you could bring it to me.”

Bring it to her I did. To eat it, she sat not far off from the edge of the restaurant. From her backpack, she took out a beach towel on which she sat as well as another bowl for her cat. Sharing her meal with her feline friend, she ate while looking out to sea, undisturbed by how weird she looked eating hot soup on a sweltering summer’s day with a cat. Boy, did I have a story to tell my friends tonight!

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

(This post was inspired by The Daily Prompt)

 

Wicked

Boscastle_S02539

I remember growing up and knowing only one meaning of the word “wicked”. The word made me think of witches with an evil laugh; of dark skies and cackling women flying around on broomsticks. I would also think of the wicked serpent in the Garden of Eden who tempted Adam and Eve to disobey God and take a bite from the apple of Knowledge. Reading the English classics, I would come upon the phrase “wicked boy” and know that the author was describing a naughty child.

Wicked by Jilly CooperA few years ago I read the novel Wicked by Jilly Cooper, a novel that centres around teens and their antics. The naughtiness narrated could not be put into the category of evil – though it could be described as being sinful. The teens labelled activities, an appearance, or a status as wicked (in the same way as the teens I come into contact with these days use the word “cool”). A positive definition that is used in the following song:

What has been your understanding of the term “wicked”?

(This post was inspired by the WordPress daily prompt given in conjunction with NaBloPoMo)

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2013

Competition

When we attended a TWD competition, we saw the rows of trophies that the contestants were competing for.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2013
Shining trophies. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2013

They had been placed against the wall in the corner of the gymnasium. They glittered and shone in the light, attracting the attention of those who dreamed of winning one.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2013
Rows of TKD trophies. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2013

The form of the man on top of the trophy was inspiring. Though I did wonder why there were none with girls on.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2013
Trophies for first and second place. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2013

I asked the distributor of the trophies and he told me that they are beginning to make them. They had brought in a few for this particular competition; but they had finished very quickly.

I was surprised by the size of the trophies for this competition. Children carried their trophies home with pride – I know that my girls did 🙂

Have you received trophies for competing?

(This post was inspired by the WordPress Daily Prompt given in conjunction with NaBloPoMo)

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2013

Experimental Treatment

The pain is unbearable! My body aches all over from the broken bones, bruised organs and torn ligaments – no dosage of painkillers seems to ease my pain. My parents had warned me that my job could lead to this; but I did not believe that it could happen to me. Maybe I had become complacent over the years and let my vigilance slide a little. It did not matter. All that mattered as I lay in this hospital bed, broken and aching, was that the pain would go away and leave my mind clear to think.

The medical staff entered: nurses, doctors and researchers. Through the haze of pain and drugs, I try to focus on what they are saying. Something about some type of treatment. I catch the phrases “side effects unknown”, “still in the experimental stages”, volunteers”. My mind latches onto the phrase “reduce, and maybe eliminate, the pain.” The rest of their words surround me, unheard and unacknowledged. I would do ANYTHING to escape this pain; even be a human guinea pig!

“Yes,” I say, unheard. I breathe in shallowly and repeat as loud as I can, “Yes, I will do it.”

“You do understand that there may be dangers? That this treatment is still experimental?”

I nod my head slowly and carefully. I do not care about consequences and side effects. All I want is to be pain-free.

Papers are brought out and signed. I struggle through the haze that surrounds me, focusing on the image of me before the accident. I see the nurse bring in a tray of needles filled with a bluish liquid.

“You may find that the pain will begin to disappear as soon as the serum enters your bloodstream.”

The doctor injects me directly into my arm. Within a few seconds, I feel a change in my body. Slowly the pain eases and I find I can begin to focus on my surroundings. With the haze of pain gone, I see the faces before me more clearly. I am also able to focus on their conversation.

“I hope the changes we made to the serum will allow us to bring this patient out of the induced coma. The last person we gave this to did not want to come back to living his life.”

“We have been told that this subject is determined and motivated. We are hoping that it will make a difference.”

I am free of pain; and my mind now thinks clearly. I realise that I was too hasty – this treatment is truly experimental! I begin to lose the grasp on my mind and thoughts. Not only am I to be pain-free, but I am also to be thought-free.

(This post was inspired by the WordPress Daily Prompt given in conjunction with NaBloPoMo)

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2013