Wednesday, July 31, 2013

July Book Report

1.  The Enchanted Life of Adam Hope, Rhonda Riley (audio): BOTNS recommendation.  I should have liked it...I guess?  It's billed as an unusual love story, and it definitely falls in the fantasy genre.  I adored Evelyn at the beginning...and I adored the rural farm setting.  Addie/Adam was an interesting idea.  All of this is stuff I should have enjoyed...but I just didn't.  It felt like a bit too much, and I found myself rolling my eyes rather than invested. 

2.  A Constellation of Vital Phenomenon, Anthony Marra:  Usually BOTNS does 2 major book recommendations at the end of each episode...but this book is so magnificent that they did just the one to draw greater attention to it.  With such an endorsement, I purchased it immediately...and I'm so very glad I did.  Amazing, simply amazing....deeply sad, and yet with a tale of hope and redemption.  This is my must-read recommendation of the month. 

3.  The House of Gentle Men, Kathy Hepinstall:  This book was a recommendation by a good friend, and I am glad I read it.  It's a curious book, based around a central idea that is truly unique.  My one big complaint is that the ending came very abruptly.  It felt as if the author had just decided one day she was done and that is that.  I understand that in life we don't always get answers....but this was a bit on the extreme.

4.  The Absent Woman, Marlene Lee:  Lee is a local writer who was brought to my attention by the same friend.  Unfortunately, this book suffered from the circumstance that it happened to be what I was reading during the lead up to Tanith's surgery...and thus I was really not so inclined to relate to the protagonist in any way, shape or form as she's left her husband and kids to find herself.  This is the sort of book that relates a slice of real life...in which there is little in the way of what we normally think of as plot, but much in the examination of human story in all it's messy, unfinished glory. 

5.  Ella Enchanted, Gail Carson Levine: Post surgery I raided my eldest child's bookshelf for reading material as we all recovered from the stress and anxiety.  I have to admit, I'm a sucker for a Cinderella retelling, and Levine's book is a classic.  I just can't believe I hadn't read it before! 

6.  A Tale Dark & Grimm, Adam Gidwitz:  I talked Gillian into buying this book after Gidwitz came to my attention through a now forgotten media source.  This is a super fun book that takes several fairy tales back to their bloody, bloody true roots.  There are lots of winks and nudges to the reader, and some gems of true wisdom sprinkled throughout.  Need to track down the sequel!

7.  Orange is the New Black, Piper Kerman (audio):  Kerman is getting a lot of press right now because her memoir has been turned into a Netflix series that a lot of people are talking about. Kerman - who is a well-educated, blue-eyed, blond, upper middle class woman - spent a year in federal prison over a decade old drug offense, and her memoir of that time is both fascinating and eye opening. 

8.  Emma Smith: An Elect Lady, Susan Easton Black:  I am currently taking some classes through my church, and this book was recommended by my teacher as a good entry point to learn more about church history.  It was a quick and easy read (maybe a couple of hours) and was totally engrossing.  Told through a question and answer style, Black focuses on historical fact...and not emotional/spiritual speculation.  It's a tough story to put together because Emma did not leave behind much in the way of personal writing. 

9.  The Lacuna, Barbara Kingsolver:  I bought this book from the iBooks sale page quite some time ago, basing my purchase solely on the reputation of the author.  I don't even think I really knew what it was about.  Then Frida and Diego came to the Nelson Atkins Museum for the summer.  I went to see the exhibit a couple of weeks ago, and was surprised to see copies of this book in the gift shop at the end of the day alongside other books related to the exhibit.  Silly me.  The book is all about a writer who becomes a confidant and friend of Frida.  It feels a little bit Forrest Gumpish....a person who just happens to be in the right place at the right time...repeatedly.  However, it is beautifully written and is the sort of book that sent me running repeatedly to do some research about the paintings, people and events in the story.  I won't say that I enjoyed it.  As with Frida's art, the book was a bit too sad and troubling to have been a 'fun' read.  It was lovely, though. 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Sea Dreams

 The pictures don't do it justice....they sadly wash the color out considerably.
 My newly finished yarn is roughly 280 yards of the most beautiful sea colors you have ever seen.
 The singles were spun on my 3 inch, 1.9 oz Celtic Knot Golding ring spindle.
I used my beloved Lendrum to ply the singles together.
 I thought about digging up all of the pictures I took while spinning this yarn...but instead I will  show you how beautiful the original materials were. 
 
 Is it any wonder I was tempted by this -
Once upon a time, my dreamy yarn was Sauble by Creatively Dyed - 8 oz of a blend of 70% wool and 30% sea cell, purchased from the fabulous Loopy Ewe.  If you are a knitter or a spinner who hasn't already discovered this wonderful store....you simply must go by for a visit!
 
Now I must go dream up a project worthy of this yarn....

Friday, July 5, 2013

Training Wheels

I recently spent a few days going through all of my lace books and scouring Ravelry for something....ANYTHING...that peaked my knitting interest.
 
But I got nothing...nothing for hours and hours of browsing.
 
Which meant, of course, that it was time to look to myself....time to start designing on my own.
 This is, however, a very scary thing for little old, perfectionist me.
 
So.
This morning I sat down with needles and some reliable Zephyr laceweight to cast on Renee Leverington's Mandala pattern.  I had bought it several years ago, and back in 2010 actually had not one but TWO failed attempts to produce my own Mandala.  (It was a gauge issue....I tend to start my circles too small.) 
 
Uh...you might be thinking...how is doing someone else's pattern a first step to designing your own?
 
Well, the really wonderful thing about Mandala is that it is a choose your own adventure pattern - with four different options for each of the lace sections.
 
Thus....training wheels!

 
A small way to start making my own decisions about my lace....exploring the possibilities of where my imagination will take me.
 
Soon....very soon....I hope to share with you what happens when the training wheels come off....

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Thoughts On A Tuesday

A basket full of possibility....just waiting to be wound into skeins.
 
 
 
  1. I posted this on my facebook page a few days ago.  It pretty much sums up my life for the last four months or so.  The older I get, the stronger my introverted tendencies seem to be. 
  1. Or, the less inclined I am to pretend to be what I am not.
  2. And I am too tired to figure out how to get the numbers to work...thus 2 #1's.
  3. I detest the week or so around the 4th of July.  I know, it's unAmerican.  BUT, in my defence - we live on the edge of city limits, right next to the fireworks stands.  Generally we have 1-2 weeks of constant explosions, most of them after my ordinary bedtime.  Sigh.
  4. Although we have the explosions to thank for the fact that I'm doing a blog post right now!  Lemonade, people! 
  5. My girls are having the Best. Week. EVER!  Their cousins are in town, and so are their very best church friends from St. Louis.  It does this mama's heart good to see them having so much fun with some really great kids! 
  6. My dog is fabulous.  That is all.
  7. I have rather a glut of wonderful books to read right now....to the point where I'm having a bit of trouble deciding what to read next!  Also, I feel like I can't read fast enough to cover all of the books I want to read.  This is a good problem to have. 
  8. It's summer, which means my time is pretty limited.
  9. I am enjoying early mornings by myself on our deck, and I'm happy to say that I've used that time this month to restart my journal habit.  That's a very good thing.
  10. Creatively, I'm at a bit of a standstill, and have been for a little while.  Some reasons:
    1. I've either finished or lost interest in most of the patterns in my long term wish list.
    2. I don't have the materials for the few items still on that list - and I'm rather loath to spend money until I've used up more of what I DO have. 
    3. My size is fluctuating, and there's no point knitting for myself until it stabilizes.
    4. I'm now 99% certain I'm allergic to my parents' sheep, and that's upsetting.
    5. Actually, that's beyond upsetting.
    6. The spinning wheel continues to not be quite right....although I think it's better.
    7. I've got some stuff going on with my health.  Ugh. 
    8. The only thing I'll say for now is that my doc believes I'm in adrenal fatigue...a condition I once scoffed at as being an imaginary condition, but after a whole lot of research and a diagnosis by my very smart doc....well, drat.  We didn't do any testing because it's just that obvious. 
    9. And it sucks. 
    10. And I'm taking steps to fix it. 
  11. The good news:
    1. I actually had some ideas this last week for some design projects.
    2. If I can carve some time out, away from my children, I just might be able too see those ideas come to life....which is very exciting.
    3. I did buy 8 oz. of some laceweight to make that dream a reality. 
    4. I also have some ideas to improve our home a bit...hopefully making it more comfortable for all of us. 
    5. Early morning journaling on the deck is very good for me for a lot of reasons.
    6. The plan is to get back to regular blogging.  I've missed it!
    7. I'm blessed to have a great support system for fixing the health problems....and I managed to catch what was going on before it became enough of a problem to truly disrupt life.
    8. I'm seeing my acupuncturist again.  Yay!
And I think that's enough for now.  This girl needs to go to bed! 
 
Have a great week everyone!