Friday, June 19, 2015

A New (But Not the Newest) Lippman

I sat down Wednesday, next to one of my To-Be-Read stacks of books, and thought, "Oh, I have the new Laura Lippman...perfect!"  I picked Hush, Hush up off the pile...and before I could open it, my eyes scanned down the stack...and down...and down.  And there was After I'm Gone, her 2014 stand-alone.  So, down went Hush, Hush and up came After I'm Gone

And now I'm done.  And I loved it.  No big surprise there.  I've liked all of Lippman's books to varying degrees...tend to like the stand-alones very slightly better than the Tess Monaghan ones (though I loved the insertions of Tess and Crow in this book).  And maybe I'm a little less critical because Lippman writes so lovingly of Baltimore and, even more so than with Anne Tyler, generally a Baltimore I feel as though I recognize, a Baltimore I lived in for the first decade or so of my life. 

The germ of this story was a real event in the 70's...the as-yet-unsolved disappearance of a Baltimore crook.  Like that guy, the crook in this story (Felix Brewer) left behind his wife (Bambi), three daughters, and a mistress (Julie).  But Lippman doesn't focus on Felix, though he's in the thoughts of all the women.  Instead she examines how his disappearance shapes the lives (and death) of the women he leaves behind.  (I found the three daughters and their relationships especially appealing.)

The book alternates chapters dealing with the years between Felix and Bambi's first meeting and chapters following Sandy Sanchez's cold-case investigation, an investigation he is carrying out as a contractor for the city.  Sanchez is an interesting character, too, and I enjoyed learning his back story.  (By the end of the book, it looks as though he is going to team up with Tess Monaghan, so now I really will have to hurry up and read Hush, Hush!)

My only quibble...and it's a small one and probably one that would only occur to a one point Sandy is chatting with a guy about a body found in Leakin Park and the guy says something like "I get it.  You think I had my heart attack because I carried this body into the park."  And Sandy's inner radar gives a little beep because, he thinks, "Nothing was released about [the victim] being dumped.  Why doesn't he assume the killing took place where the body was found?"  Come on, Laura!!  We all know Leakin Park's the dumping ground, not the killing ground.  Whenever I hear of a body being found in Leakin Park, I always think someone dumped it there.  But, as I said, a small quibble.

So, if you like mysteries with a strong sense of location, mysteries where family secrets are brought to light, mysteries with well-rounded characters...give this one a read.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Love Letter To My Knitting

Dear Cowl...Sweet Cowl...Wonderful 3-Color Cashmere Cowl,

We knew that eventually this would have to end.  We’ve been together for a almost month and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.  The tidy ribbing, the neat rows of eyelets, the skinny stripes (with the surprise pop of color), the subtly enticing all-over pattern of tiny purl bumps, the lace (oh, the lace!)…and now here we are on the last set of jaunty stripes.  Fourteen more rows and then the last little tryst for the final ribbing…and then there are only the last bits of the affair...the washing (you out of my hair), the blocking (all calls and messages) and the weaving in of loose ends (throwing out the detritus you’ve left around the house).

But if I know you, you’ll be hanging round my neck…and I’ll be loving you all over again.  You’ll keep me warm, and make me feel cute.  

Just…a word of warning.  Don’t go green with jealousy should I decide to make a second one.  (I like you too much in browns and madder.)  But you know, one in white, cobalt, and sunny, sunny yellow would also be fun…and yes, I may have already bought the yarn.  And yes, someday I will be buying cashmere for a third one…and maybe that cashmere one will end up being my favorite…but you’ll always be my first.  


Your Loving Knitter

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Hercule Poirot, Let Him Rest In Peace

I finished Sophie Hannah's The Monogram Murders this morning.

I should start by saying that I am a huge Christie fan.  I spent much of my babysitting money (all 50 cents an hour!) on paperback Christie mysteries purchased in the basement of the University Bookstore in Charlottesville.  My favorites were the Miss Marple mysteries but I also loved Hercule.

When it was announced that Sophie Hannah was going to be writing a new Poirot mystery, I was dubious.  At that point I hadn't read any of Hannah's books but just the thought of someone trying to recreate the didn't seem possible.  But then, a month or so ago, I read a Hannah mystery - Kind of Cruel - and thought it was pretty enjoyable.  So I thought I'd wait and get The Monogram Murders from the library.  And then I read a glowing review in the NYT Book Review section of The Monogram Murders.  So I bought the book.


It's an overwritten, over-convoluted, so-complicated-you-end-up-not-carrying-who-did-what-to-whom mystery.  Poirot is obnoxious...his character is just off somehow.*  And his Scotland Yard sidekick, Catchpool (Hastings...oh how I missed mentioned once by Poirot) is an idiot.  A neurotic idiot.  A stupid neurotic idiot.  And the mystery is not just over-complicated, it's totally unbelievable. 

Let's let Poirot rest easy now.  Let's not dig him up again.  And, for God's sake, leave Miss Marple alone!

*  Edited days later to add - I can tell you one scene that really seemed off to me.  Poirot's standing over a grave (a 13-year old grave -- he didn't know the people) and says that it needs flowers.  Catchpool says something about it being November so no flowers and Poirot bends down and draws a flower in the mud with his finger.  So, so un-Poirot!)  

Friday, February 6, 2015

Oh...Hey There...

So, I've been ignoring this silly blog.  I mean, it had gotten so that it was boring me and I was the one writing it.  So I stopped for a while.  And the while stretched out and now, here we are, almost two and a half years later.  My, how time flies.

I don't know if I'll be making posting a regular thing.  I spend a lot of time on Ravelry, so I have less need to write about my knitting.  Though I am still knitting a lot.  Right now I'm participating in the Loopy Academy, run by The Loopy Ewe, an amazing yarn shop out in Colorado.  I have three projects that I need to complete in the next four months, with the parameters for those projects set by Sheri (The Loopy Ewe's owner).  I've done the first one already, a slipped stitch cowl, and have started the second, which has to be striped.  (Another cowl.)  The last project had to be something felted...haven't decided on that one yet.  And I like the slipped stitch cowl well enough but I may be doing something else in its's not really that impressive.

Reading...nothing has really thrilled me so far this year.  Right now I'm reading Sophie Hannah's reincarnation of Hercule Poirot...The Monogram Mystery.  It's...okay.  Something is slightly off with Poirot and his policeman sidekick, someone named Catchpool, is incredibly irritating.  Still, I'm sure there was something good I've read in the last couple of years that I should mention. 

And maybe I'll even remember how to add pictures!

Let's see how long I keep this up...if it seems to be sticking around, maybe I'll let people know...."She's ba-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-ck!"

Saturday, August 4, 2012

It's Not Like I Haven't Been Busy....

(Chinese food for dinner tonight so I thought I ought to throw a little more exercise into the mix to counterbalance some of the Chicken with Asparagus calories.  And as long as I'm here entering exercise, I might as well try to get a post written.  Don't know that it'll get posted before tomorrow, but it'll get started.)

There have been some shawls rolling off the needles.

It was so cold in our new office space that the idea of shawls suddenly became oh, so attractive.  Here's a recent one, done in an angora and merino blend from Webs.  So soft and fluffy, so heavenly to knit, so comforting to snuggle in.  Yes, it is black slacks get a vague pale blue haze when I wear them and it at the same time.  But I'll take a little shedding for such divine softness.

And I bought a new shawl pin that you see here with it.

This pin was actually meant to go on the red shawl you'll see further on.

I'm participating in Camp Loopy for the second year.  Our first (of three) projects had to be a pattern by a designer from outside our country of residence.  I chose Stripe Study, by Veera Välimäk, a Finnish designer.  I love her patterns.  This was supposed to be in two colors, but I threw in a stripe of yellow for interest.  My dad helped me talk through where the odd color stripe should be placed, so...Thanks, Lolly!

For our second Camp Loopy project, we were to knit something in one of the colors from our country's flag (there's a lot of nationality stuff this year at camp because it's an Olympics year).  I chose red and decided to make a Skein of Geese shawl.  The picture above is at the end of the first skein of yarn.  I ended up using 2 and a half skeins...about 1000 yards.

I love this shawl with a fierce love...It's wonderful to wrap up in.

And I just sent off a shawl to a Ravelry friend in Oklahoma.  We both signed up for a shawl swap...she's crocheting me a shawl, I knit her one.  I can't wait to see mine and I am hoping she will like hers.  I'll post pictures later, after I'm sure she's gotten her package.

And finally...I've started my third and last Camp Loopy project.  It's....a shawl.  It had to use more than one color, to signify the unity of the nations coming together in sports.  I was going to do a shawl called Light in Shadows, but the instructions just weren't making sense to me at now it's just going to be a simple pink and dark brown striped shawl.  Pictures to follow.