Monday, September 30, 2013

What I Read In September

1.  Night Film, Marisha Pessl - You better bet this on my list of best books of 2013!  AMAZING!  I really don't often rush right out to get BOTNS recommendations, but this was one I couldn't resist.  A journalist chases the story of what really happened to the daughter of a famous filmmaker who created disturbing horror movies that have taken on mythic status over time.  The characters were crazy and fun, the plot was all sorts of winding and nutballs, and I didn't really see the ending coming.  Again, you know I'm a sucker for epistolary type works...and so I loved the fact that Pessl added all sorts of documents to her book.  Even better, you can download an app that you can use to scan certain pages for even more bonus content!  My only regret is that I didn't wait until October to read it.*

2.  The Lemon Grove, Ali Hosseini - This is super, sad.  I read the book, enjoyed it, felt it was beautiful, and then it almost completely passed out of my brain.  Clearly, it didn't make much of an impression.  (iBooks sale page strikes again!)  What I can say is that it did an excellent job of bringing to life a culture I know very little about.

3.  Little Wolves, Thomas Maltman - I learned about this book on BOTNS, but if I remember correctly it came up during the topic discussion, and was not one of the main recommendations.  (I could be wrong...too lazy to go look back at their show notes...)  This book falls into the category of "awesome books I'm glad I read, but have no desire to actually own."  Based on an actual event, it's both the story of a horrific crime as well as ultimately a redemption tale.

4.  Pigeon English, Stephen Kelman - This was a long-ago recommendation from BOTNS, which I picked up on the iBooks sale page a while back.  What I loved about Pigeon English was the amazing way in which the author so convincingly took on the voice of his protagonist.  The book is told through the point of view of a ten year old immigrant boy living in a really rough area of London...and my goodness, that's exactly what you get from the page.  It's a masterclass in how to capture a voice.  What I didn't love was the plot...and so I didn't finish the book.  I wound up skimming the last half. 

5.  The Dirty Streets of Heaven, Tad Williams - I love Williams, but I haven't read him in ages and ages.  A friend alerted me to the fact that this one was on sale, so I snagged it...and I LOVED it!  Interesting take on heaven and hell and the role of angels and demons. 

6.  Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norell, Susanna Clarke - OK, I've got to admit...I'm having serious trouble getting through this book.  At 1500ish pages on my ipad, I'm only about 200 pages in, and so far it's pretty darn dull.  It *should* be right up my alley, hitting many of my favorite/most beloved genres and literary types. But my oh my...I just can't get into it!  Yes, I am planning on reading the whole thing.  Why?  I feel I *should*?  Sigh. 

7.  Briar Rose, Jane Yolen - An old, old favorite.  It's a beautiful little book - part of a series of modern fairy tale reinterpretations that were published back in the 90's when I was discovering my true love for such things.  Yolen uses Briar Rose to tell a Holocaust story, and it is both devastating and beautiful.  World events were such that I needed the comfort this book brings.  If you are unfamiliar with Yolen's work, I simply cannot recommend it enough. 

8.  The Right to Write, Julia Cameron / 9. Wild Mind: Living the Writer's Life, Natalie Goldberg - Both of these books are ongoing books as I am actually working through and doing the writing exercises.  Why?  Well, I'm hopefully developing more of a writing habit and improving my skills.  I'm really enjoying both!

10.  Carry On, Warrior: Thoughts on Life Unarmed, Glennon Doyle Melton - Melton is the creater of the popular website Momastery, and I believe I found her through my friend Sarah.  The book is a collection of personal essays which are brutally honest and full of some amazing insight and truth.  I really needed it right now. 

11.  Affliction, Laurell K. Hamilton - Anita Blake #22, and amazingly enough it was fun again.  I've kept reading them - even though the last few have been pretty horrid (and oddly boring) - and was happily surprised that Hamilton managed to get some of her magic back.  I find myself hoping this will be the last one...but I'm sure it's too much of a cash cow for Hamilton to give it up now. 

12.  Dark Currents, Jacqueline Carey - This is the first time Carey had ever disappointed me.  Truth told....I only made it about 50 pages into the book, and just couldn't go any farther.  Took me a little while to pinpoint the problem, but when I did it was glaringly obvious.  This particular world of Carey's is entirely too derivative of many other worlds out there (most obviously Buffy the Vampire Slayer), and so it feels like she's jumping on a bandwagon instead of doing her own thing.  It just doesn't work, and quite frankly others have done it better. 

*Coming up in October:  An entire month devoted to ghosts, monsters and things that go bump in the night.  That's right!  An entire month of Halloween-appropriate books!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Language I Speak

Mom, what are you doing?
A friend had a baby, and I need to make a sweater for her.
(With all of the teenage sarcasm and attitude that a 7 year old can muster) 
Mom, all of your friends don't NEED you to make sweaters for their babies.
But my dear, that's how I say,
"I Love You."

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Working Myself Out of the Stagnant Pond

Knitting lost much of its appeal this summer.
Or rather, it went flat...stagnant...dull.
I still wanted to knit, but nothing was interesting.
So, I stopped trying so hard and went back to my own version of mindless, practical knitting.
 Three fresh pair, all for me! 
The pattern is, of course, Ann Budd's basic sock pattern from The Knitter's Handy Book of Patterns.  All three are knit with Knit Picks Harmony DPN's.
 My Camp Woodland Hills socks - so named because they were started while the girls and I were at reunion this summer and rather serendipitously remind me of the colors of the Campground - the trees and the shadows and the winds.
Size 0 needles (2.0mm)
72 stitches - 23 rows 2x2 rib and 50 rows stockinette in leg, 62 rows stockinette in foot
Zwerger Garn Opal Schafpate, 3157
June 8 - Sept. 3, 2013

Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks That Rock, Lightweight, Lucy
Size 1 needles (2.25 mm)
68 stitches - 43 rows 2x2 in leg, 50 rows stockinette in foot
Sept. 4 - 11, 2013

Also Socks That Rock - Lemongrass
same specs as Lucy socks
Sept. 12-24, 2013
I feel better now.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

New Life

As promised, Green Woman Comes Knocking is coming back.  The Green Woman and I agree that it needs to keep going, and quite honestly I'm afraid of what she might do were I to abandon it forever!  ( with one's own personal inspirational fairy can be a bit dangerous if one is not paying attention to her as one ought.)

Having said that, she and I agree that there should be a few changes.

From now on, the focus of my blog will be ME!!!!!

OK, I'm not planning for that to be QUITE as selfish as it sounds...but I do need to pull my focus back in and renew my commitment to my creative life.

What exactly does that mean?

Well, for starters I will no longer be posting family news, events or celebrations on the blog.  If you are a family member or a personal friend who would like to continue receiving that sort of information, I urge you to friend me (if you have not already done so) on Facebook.  As I've said, as much as I've enjoyed sharing my family with my blog it has unfortunately watered down my original purpose.  The one caveat is that I will still be sharing my children's creative adventures as I do believe their own wee green girls deserve a voice and do contribute to my blog goals.

I'm done with self-editing.  I had a situation arise a couple of years ago where I received some odd criticism through the comments.  I could tell that it had to be someone who knew me in person because of what was said.  (They specifically referenced certain issues that I NEVER wrote about on my very public blog.)  I refused to publish that comment, but I did allow it to alter how I relate to the world through my blog posts.  One unhappy and hurtful person was allowed to muzzle me, and that simply cannot happen anymore.  Above all, I want to be honest in my blog....the good, the bad, the beautiful and the ugly.  Not only is it disingenuous to continue self-editing as I have been, but I believe it is also hurtful.  No more.

You will continue to find all of my projects here, as well as occasional gratitude lists, personal inspirations and my monthly book review.  Yay!  You will also continue to read of my journey towards better health.  The simple fact of the matter is that we are whole beings - mind, body and soul - and no one part of us can exist in a vacuum.

As I've looked back at my  blog stats over the last couple of years, though, the one thing that is clear is that my personal essays - as unpolished as some of them may have been - have been the most popular posts, receiving both the highest number of site visits as well as the most comments.  I'm a writer.  It's time I claim that title.  My goal over the next year or so is to develop my writing skills, and as part of that personal essays will become more of a regular staple here in the blog.  Fingers crossed....for me this is both a really exciting and also an absolutely terrifying plan!

Hopefully by the end of September I will have overhauled the entire look and layout of the blog to facilitate the changes I want to make, perhaps even creating a routine schedule for the various types of blog posts I want to include.

Hopefully by the end of the year I will have settled into a happy routine.

The Green Woman and I are looking forward to our new beginning....
and we're glad you will be here with us!