Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy Birthday...

Yep, it's that day again.  This one is a big one ending in 0.  It's the one where some of the junk phone calls on caller ID read "Safe Step Bathtubs" or "Medic Alert".  Shocking really, since I do not see myself as the target I pick up the call and tell them they have the wrong number.  Fear mongers...that's what they are.

Anyway...the virus and accompanying secondary infections are abating with the help of round two of antibiotics and lots of kefir with 10 active strains of probiotics.  Both recommended by the new doctor that I switched to the day after Christmas.  Based on the kefir recommendation alone, I like her a lot!

So here are the last finished objects for 2012:

Fire Engine Red prayer shawlette for my friend, Priscilla.
It is knit from Sirdar Snuggly Baby Bamboo since wool was out of the question.
It's the third time I've knit that pattern.  Details are at the Ravelry link.

This Willow Cowl was knit for me from a Malabrigo sock yarn (another Ravlery Link).
It's okay, not great, mostly I'm not a fan of the yarn, despite the hype it gets online.
It does keep one warm, but I couldn't help but feel a bit like Mrs. Tishall on Doc Martin while wearing it:

Next up:  Spindling
This is a pile of spindle spun and plied cashmere from 2012.
Over the years I've collected a number of little baggies of cashmere which I've been spinning on various of my spindles.  
The latest skein is the one on the right side of the top of the pile in the photo above.

The current batch of cashmere is on this Jenkins Aegean spindle which I posted about here.
I've spun a lot with this spindle this year and really love it.

 No New Years Resolutions to share, just a big, long "To Do" list which I may or may not share later.

I do want to wish each of you a very happy New Year, filled with time and materials for all the fiber pursuits your heart desires.  


Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas....

Sorry the lights have been out here at the blog.  I have been dealing with the Annual Christmas Virus for most of the past two weeks.  I'll spare you the details other than the fact that I've been pretty much horizontal for most of those days.  There must be an epidemic because the area pharmacies are out of most of the choices in OTC cold/flu meds. 

On a brighter note....

For those who are still stopping in,  I wish you all the best of the holiday season and may your 2013 be filled with inspiration, motivation, and everything you need to create the fabric of your dreams.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Reading and books...

I'm normally a pretty active reader, but this is the time of year when I read a lot.  Thank goodness I live in the age of electricity, because these darkest days of the year would have been quite hard on my hankering to read if the only illumination were candles, oil lamps, and a fire in the hearth.

So here's what I've been reading:

First on the list are pilgrimage novels.  It's a genre that's been around since ancient times....Moses leading his people in the wilderness, The Odysssey, Canterbury get the drift.  Somehow I ended up reading two recent pilgrimage stories back to back.  They are two sides of the same coin, light and dark.

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce is the lighter side of that pilgrimage coin.  Joyce's writing reminds me of the late Barbara Pym.  There are a lot of English countryside and characters populating this story.  And though there is sadness, there is personal growth, growth in key relationships and enough sunshine to make one smile when remembering Harold and his story.

The Lighthouse by Alison Moore is the dark side of the coin.  This title was shortlisted for The Booker Prize, which is often a signal that the book is going to be dark.  Here's an excerpt from my review:  "This is one of those subtly ominous stories, where one senses darkness ahead even when the author is describing hot, sunny days. There is a lot of metaphor, mostly unlikable characters, and not much happiness in the story."
The whole review is here

If you're looking for historical works about dead presidents, this is your year.  Maybe it has something to do with the election year. 
Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin provided Steven Spielberg with much of the inspiration for the current Lincoln movie.  This is an entirely different take on the Lincoln presidency than most previous works.  Through the story one gets to see how Lincoln exercised the principle of "keep your friends close and your enemies closer."

Candice Millard's Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine, and the Murder of a President provides an interesting biography of James Garfield and the circumstances surrounding his assassination.  She does a great job of weaving together story lines that help the reader understand the era being covered.  And it's the first that I learned that Robert Todd Lincoln was present for the assassinations of his father, James Garfield, and William McKinley....Interesting if you're a geek for creepy facts like that.  I also highly recommend her previous presidential novel River of Doubt about Teddy Roosevelt.

Earlier this year I read God's Hotel: A Doctor, a Hospital, and a Journey to the Heart of Medicine by Victoria Sweet.  I liked it so much that I borrowed  her doctoral thesis, Rooted in the Earth, Rooted in the Sky from the Michigan State University library.  So of course when Illuminations: A Novel of Hildegard von Bingen was published this fall it was on my must read list and I wasn't disappointed.  

Toni Morrison's newest book, Home, is a beautifully written story about a sister and brother growing up in Jim Crow south.  Frank Money is a Korean war veteran suffering from post-traumatic stress.  His sister, Cee, has suffered trauma of her own.  Together they find home, and healing. 

The Orchardist is Amanda Coplin's first novel.  And though she is not the wordsmith that Toni Morrison is, she delivers beautifully developed characters that one comes to love.  The location is Washington state in the last half of the 19th century and early 20th century.  Talmadge is a solitary man who has experienced much loss and has developed an orchard of apricots, apples, and plums.  In his middle age two starving, pregnant, teenage girls appear at the edge of his world to steal fruit.  In tending to them as he does the orchard an unusual family is formed.  There is love, sadness, and redemption in this story of lives that have been broken by hard times and human cruelty.  I should add that I kept going to the cupboard for dried apricots while I read this you may want to stock up if you plan on reading this book.

Another first novel is The Language of Flowers by  Vanessa Diffenbaugh.  The story is about a young woman who ages out of the child foster care system in California.  The author has direct experience with this, which you can read about here.  The author knows her subject and is able to develop interesting characters and story arc from that knowledge. 

Every single one of the aforementioned books was a library book.   So you can imagine my dismay upon reading this article in yesterday's NYT:  A Dark and Itchy Night.

Maybe next I'll write a post on books that I own.....