Thursday, May 27, 2010

Hey Kaethe, This One's For You! And Beth Too, Perhaps!

I've read a number of good books lately. One or two may be to your taste:

One of them was Belong to Me by Marisa de los Santos. I picked it up at Daedalus but once I started reading it I couldn't put it down. Amazon's description (I'm tired...I'm going the easy way here) says "Cornelia and her husband, Teo, move to suburban Philadelphia, where she finds it difficult to fit into the sorority-like atmosphere. Despite a bevy of domestic dramas (planning a family among them), Cornelia's first-person chapters are the quietest of the three points of view. Seemingly shallow and vicious, neighbor Piper shows her kinder side as she struggles through her best friend's fight against cancer. Though the extreme of Piper's two-facedness isn't convincing, her moments of sincerity invite genuine empathy. Cornelia also yields narrative time to Dev, a precocious teenager whose father is missing and whose mother develops a friendship with Cornelia. Dev's connection to the story is initially unclear, though he does grow close to Clare, a troubled teenager with an unconventional connection to Cornelia, and a late-breaking development grounds his role more firmly."

Sort of chick-lit-ty but I really liked it.

Another one was Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson. I loved this one, about a retired British Army major, a widow, and the relationship he falls into with Mrs. Ali, the town's shopkeeper. Even while I was loving it, it also made me a little sad because my mom would have liked this book a lot. Like my mom, Major Pettigrew rues the passing of traditions, believes in good behaviour, but is still open to change and happiness.

I read A Murderous Procession by Ariana Franklin, too. Another good one. In this one, Adelia travels back to Sicily, though without her daughter, who is kept in England in order to insure that Adelia comes back.

Finally, I am in the middle of one that is shaping up to be another winner. Guy Gavriel Kay's Under Heaven is set in a fantasy world much like an early Chinese dynasty. Lots of court intrigue and machinations here.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Yeah, Well, That Break Lasted A Long Time...

Okay, so I was in a snit on Saturday. I think, as well as being tired and cranky, I just hit the overload of spam comments. It's so exciting to see I have comments and then have them be spammers...all on one long ago post here, all sorts of spam. Bleah.

Anyway, part of the silence of the past couple weeks was being up in Massachusetts. We picked Rachel up from school, whizzed all around Amherst and Northampton hunting for an apartment for her (Success! More about that later.), went to Webs (twice), and spent hours and hours and hours in the car. One thing about 7 hour car trips and lots of little side trips is that you get a lot of knitting done. I finished my Alki socks.

And on the way home I started a pair of socks for Rachel.

She has tiny feet so they are working up quickly. I'm up into the leg already.

What else? ML asked about the latest red scarf. The June red scarf is finished up and the July scarf was started today at lunch. Here's June.

It has a nice texture, I think, and feels very nice. It is a little short, however.

While we were in MA, we also visited Quabbin Reservoir, which was lovely. As we turned into the entrance, we saw these guys.

Quabbin Reservoir was formed by building the Winsor Dam, the second longest earth dam in the US, surpassed only by the Hetch-Hetchy in California.

They had to destroy four towns that were going to end up on the bottom of the reservoir. Some of the dorms at Hampshire are named for those towns. Barbara Cooney wrote a book about the creation of the reservoir called Letting Swift River Go. The dam is about 1/2 a mile long and very tall. On one side it's very wet....

and on the other side, rather dry....

You cannot see, in this picture, how steeply this side falls off. You also cannot see, way down there, another turkey pacing about.

It's a pretty place. We walked halfway across the dam and then back (we had to get back to Amherst at a certain time) but I thought this path through the woods looked tempting.

We walked a little way down here and watched a chipmunk skitter about.

And saw some pretty flowers.

We found a cute little two-bedroom apartment for Rachel in what seems to be a pretty quiet development not too far from school and right on the bus route. And, although it hasn't been settled for sure, we may have found her a room-mate, too! A friend from middle school will be attending UMass Amherst for graduate school and she doesn't want to live in grad housing, which she has been told is sort of loud and rowdy. So she and Rachel are meeting tomorrow and talking about room-mating -- what they expect and want in room-mates. Fingers crossed, please. She heads back up there next month sometime.

I also bought a little something last night.This is supposed to be for Rachel. She wants to learn to ride it and use it to get about until she gets her driver's license. But I rode it last night and oh my! I felt like a kid again. So. much. fun!! So when this one disappears to Massachusetts, I may just have to go bike shopping for myself.

Kaethe, I have some book suggestions for you but I'll get to them tomorrow.

Saturday, May 22, 2010


Haven't posted anything in about two weeks and frankly, can't think of any reason to do so.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Our Weekend in Pictures - Leaving Out The Boring Parts

I had a hankering for Greg's Bagels all week, so bright-ish and early-ish Saturday morning we headed down to Belvedere Square. He does these Colossus Bagels that I am getting hooked on. They are covered in sesame, poppy and fennel seeds. When my friend Elizabeth first told me about them, I pooh-poohed them as I don't much care for the anise flavor of fennel. But I trust her taste, so I tried one once. Soooo yummy, especially toasted.

While we were in Belvedere Square, we figured that we might as well have some lunch at Atwater's...their food is so yummy. And here's our lunch...or most of it, you can't see the bowl of Tomato Basil soup that Mr. Pointy Sticks is slurping up.

I got a cup of the Chicken Tortilla soup...that's a glop of Lime Cilantro Sour Cream on top...good soup. And, while I was tempted to get the same salad I got last time, I forced myself to branch out a little. The salad I ordered had tiny (marble-sized) potatoes, asparagus, marinated onions, portobella mushrooms, greens and capers in a mustardy vinagrette. It was delicious, though I think I preferred, just slightly, the bibb salad I had last time with the blue cheese. We picked up some other goodies at the market...some pasta and sauce and some cookies.

Back home (and here's a shot of the house front now that the rhody's in full bloom)...

Then we headed to Valley View and got flowers for the front and side of the house. The ones we (well, mostly Mr. Pointy Sticks) planted in the front and side beds are going to take a while to be established and photo-worthy, but I worked on the front porch planters and I think they turned out pretty nicely.
There are petunias, both pale blue (shown in bloom) and cream with yellow middles (still in bud) and nicotiana (pink in the bluey-green pot by itself) and white (in the biggest pot) and some pinks for scent. Then I bought a gerbera daisy to put in by the front steps were there's sort of a bare spot.
Mom always had lots of gerberas. I'm hoping this will do well here.

Today we went to the Solar and Wind Expo over at the Fairgrounds. Mr. Pointy Sticks has talked for years about getting solar power panels on the house...and this was our chance to look into it. We talked to some reps of a couple different companies, one of whom will be sending us some info. Our house is not set up ideally for solar panels. But I was excited to see that one company there installed Solatubes. The main bath in the house used to have a skylight that has been closed up and the room is so dark! We've been thinking (well, I have) that it really needs a Solatube for a while now. They even have them with exhaust fans attached. Perfect. It might be nice to have one peeking down into the hall, too, which is also sort of dark.

There were people demonstrating Segways (too much fun!) and people selling windows (very slick salesmen...not appealing, though I would like new windows) and a company there from Fargo ND with adorable electric cars.

Look how cute! Top speed only 25 mph, so not allowed on the Beltway. And if you have a large family...

...a six seater! Doors are extra, as is a heater. The salesman said they are mostly used on campuses, parks, golf courses and the like. But so cute!

So that's our weekend. The sock is growing, by the way. I carry it with me everywhere and can usually manage to get at least a couple rows done on every little commute.

And look! Mr. Pointy Sticks remembered Mother's Day. See my pretty new earrings!

They're about 1/2 an inch pretty.

Hey, Wattzat You're Readin'?

I have some pictures to put up here from our weekend...we actually did some stuff this weekend rather than just sitting and reading and knitting. But I haven't added any books for a while, so let's get that out of the way. I'll update that list and talk about the best ones here...

Good To A Fault, by Marina Endicott, rated a star in my book. It's the story of a woman whose life is circumscribed and safe...until she is the cause of a car accident and takes the family in the car she hits under her wing. The changes that she brings to their lives...and more importantly, the changes they bring to hers, are a little more than she bargained for. I liked this book a lot...the situations and the writing reminded me of Anne Tyler.

e Squared is lightweight. It's the sequel to e and, while no great example of literature, killed a day pleasantly.

The Black Cat is Martha Grime's latest Richard Jury mystery. I have a great fondness for her mysteries though they are somewhat mannered. (Is that the term I want?) This one has talking animals...just talking to each other, mind you, not to the humans in the story.

I read another C.J Sansom mystery set in the time of Henry VIII and really enjoyed it, but Revelation dragged for me. May have been my mood rather than anything intrinsically wrong with the book but I just found it hard to stay interested.

The Bestiary was a book I picked up at Daedalus...largely because of the cover, I will admit. But I enjoyed this story of the main character's obsessive search for a mysterious bestiary, unseen for centuries.

Alive in Necropolis is another Daedalus find and was a fun sort of story. A young police officer, stationed in Colma, CA, a city where the dead vastly outnumber the living, deals not only with his chaotic personal life but also with the fact that he is beginning to be able to see the dead...and some of them want him to join them. The ending was a little weak, though.

The Selected Works of T.S Spivet was a book I looked longingly at in hardback and when I saw it in paperback (in Wegman's, no less) I grabbed it. And I loved most of it. Like the last book I mentioned, I think the ending was seemed sort of as though the author ran out of interest or ideas or something. And I thought the secret society plot was silly. But I loved T.S. -- he's a charming little boy.

Back in a bit with some photos... Food! Flowers!! Electric cars!!!!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Colorful, Colorful...

Well, there's all sorts of color around here these days! Here's the rhododendron that's out's a deep pinky red. We have a new baby rhody in the back yard...

I actually wanted an even paler pink...I've seen one in the neighborhood...but this one, while a little too purple, is pretty. I've got my eye out for another paler one.

And the bleeding hearts are out again...I love bleeding hearts!

But hey, there's even more pink here...

I started these socks in the car this morning. The yarn is Creatively Dyed Beaches in the colorway Alki. I'm using the Charade pattern (the same pattern I used for the socks I sent to Beth a while back - the ones shown on this page here) but I am changing it to make it a toe-up sock.

I think the pattern looks a little better in the yarn I used for Beth's socks...the slipped over stitches showed up a little more clearly in her socks....perhaps because that yarn was more stripey. But one of the things I like about the Creatively Dyed yarns is the shorter stretches of there you go.

And, though I hate to spoil all the pinks here, there's some red going on, too. My June Red Scarf...or perhaps I should say my June Sort-of-Red Scarf, since there are several other colors involved.

It feels incredibly squishy and nice.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

You Can Never Have Too Many

I made a little purchase last night.

Now, some who know me and have seen my shelves of knitting book might think, "Really, Sarah (or Mom)! Do you really need another stitch dictionary? Don't you already have, like, twenty other stitch dictionaries?"

Ahem, well, yes, I might. But there are some lovely lovely stitches in here.

Look at these:

Look at the larger butterfly on the bottom row...wouldn't that be cute on the back of a little girl's cardigan...or the front of a pullover.

Or these:

Love that flower....actually all ones in the bottom row.

But the one that really caught my eye and made me reach for my wallet was this one:

I just think that's so pretty.

There are also sections on colorwork, cables, some openwork letters and numbers, some knitting hints. It's a really nice book. Perhaps you can see why I couldn't resist.

You Animal!

For one of Rachel's art classes, her final project involved interviewing friends (and me!) and doing drawings of them as animals...or as the animals they liked or identified with, I guess. Anyway, by now you know how much I love these silly Q&A sessions, so here's what I wrote:

Where are you most comfortable?
At home in my comfy chair or in front of my computer.

What do you feel is your default mode of interacting with others?
Sitting back and waiting for the other person to make a move. Sitting back and watching the action rather than being in the middle of it.

Do you consider yourself a social person?
Not at all.

How do you approach new situations?
Usually, with trepidation. I prefer for things to stay pretty static.

What thrills you?
Yarn. Knitting. Watching my daughter do new things. A freshly printed book by an author I love. Snow. Learning how to do something new.

Do you want to have children?
Had one. Best thing I’ve ever done.

Where would you like to live—both in the specific (e.g. apartment, house) and in the larger scale (e.g. mountains, desert)?
I would love to live at the beach…I love watching the waves…but I’d also want it to be somewhere with cool weather. I hate heat. I’d love to have a house with odd staircases and unexpected rooms and window seats…rambly and messy and lived in and comfortable.

What is your favorite season? Do the seasons affect you?
Fall, I think. I like winter too, but you get those crystalline days in the fall that are so invigorating.

What scares you?
Public speaking. Moths. Dentists. Being destitute.

Do you think humans are different from animals? How so?
Humans think too much sometimes. (And sometimes they don’t think enough.) Humans don’t seem to have the ability that animals have to live-right-now-in-the-moment. Well, children live like that sometimes.

How do you see yourself in relation to animals? What about the human race as a whole in relation to the animal world?
I love animals. I’d like to protect them. I am angry that so many animals are disappearing as a direct result of man’s actions. I am angry that man so easily screws up the world.

Have you been close with animals in your life? If so, what animals? How did that closeness manifest—did you feel a “bond”?
I had hamsters as a kid…but it’s sort of hard to bond with a hamster. As an adult, I’ve been lucky enough to have three wonderful cats in my life. Well, one of them is, like a toddler, sometimes hard to take…he’s so needy. But they have all been such distinct personalities…they’ve each brought something special to my life. And yes, I feel very bonded with them. Especially my toddler cat…he’s both endearing and infuriating.

With what animal do you most identify and why, or if you don't feel like you identify with any animal, why not?
Sometimes I feel cow-like…sort of large and slow. Sometimes, when I’m enthusiastic about something, I feel puppy-ish.

Is there any animal you would particularly like to be? If so, why? If not, why not?
An otter. Not only are they adorable, they play. They seem to have such fun. And they are sort of clumsy on land and then transform into elegant swimmers in the water.

What are your thoughts on the way we categorize animals (e.g. lions and tigers are noble, mosquitoes are uniformly terrible, etc)?
I think it’s a human thing to do, to categorize things. I think early man categorized animals for the same reason he made myths…it helped make sense of a big, unknown world. Think of how man found animals and people in the stars in the form of constellations…easier to cope with the vast immensity of space if you can make stories that bring the stars down to earth.

Would you say you feel connected to nature? Are there times when you feel more or less connected, and why or why not?
I would say not really…I’m not a camper, hiker, outdoorsy sort of person.

To go with my interview, Rachel drew an otter, floating in the water and reading Moby Dick.

(Is it okay to put it up here, R? I'll take it down if you don't want it here.)

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


Blogger is behaving better, so I was able to load my Sheep and Wool piccies.

My first stop was at the Creatively Dyed stall...I love Diane's yarns.

The colors are rich and saturated and just glorious.

Look at this wall of yarn! Yum. I want them all. In fact, I almost made a second stop there before we left, but controlled myself.

Want to see what I bought? Here you go.

The brown? Granted, that's not my usual color choice. But perhaps Mr. Pointy Sticks will get a pair of socks.

What else did I buy? I visited Gale's Art and bought some yarn and some Sassafrass Creations earrings (my second pair from S.C.). The earrings are made from sections of knitting needles! Aren't they fun?

I love this yarn...reminds me of a Monet painting.

And then, of course, there are sheep!

Sheep with dreadlocks...enjoying a joke...

...waiting for a skritch...



This was funny...I stopped by this sheep's stall and she was posed so nicely. I leaned down and took her picture, then stood up and saw the second sheep in the stall hurrying over and...


This stall full of ewes just made a pretty picture.

And Rachel, here's a Jacob for you. Sorry it's not a better picture. We must not have been in the right barn for Jacob's because I didn't see many of them.

And toots, look at this profile!

And no trip to the Sheep and Wool Show is complete without a visit with the llamas and alpacas!

Hope you enjoyed the pictures!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Jeez, It's Hot...

I get cranky when it's hot. I hate the summer. Hate humidity. Hate feeling all sweaty and sticky and gross. Bleah.

Yeah, it's hot here.

And it was hot yesterday too, as I said before. But if you've got to be hot, you might as well be hot at someplace you love. And for me, that's the Sheep and Wool show.

And now, to top off my irritation...Blogger is being an assbucket and won't load my pictures. I'll try again in a bit.


Still nothing. Rats.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

I Went, I Saw, I Bought Yarn

The Maryland Sheep and Wool Show was wonderful, though with temperatures in the 90's, it was much too hot. I came home sunburned and sweaty and a little cranky (children always have trouble when Christmas is over) but tomorrow I will work on getting the pictures from my camera to the blog and show y'all what I got. Rachel, I tried to take a lot of pictures for you! We'll see how they come out.

Sheep Ahoy!

Leaving in just a few minutes for the show. Bet I have some pictures this evening.