Thursday, February 26, 2009

by Kathleen

Our big, big, big musical show opened on Tuesday and I'm now fighting off the plague that has laid low most of our students for the last month (and DH for the last few days). So though I have lots to blog (socks and scarves and a new bag!) I'm taking the easy way out and posting a meme.
But I like this meme. Or rather I like the theme of the meme. I believe that reading is essential for being able to use language well and I believe that it is important to be able to use language well. I do question some of the choices (why so much Jane Austen? Why so much Dickens? Why repeat single books and the series as well? Alsmot no Sci-fi... what about Fahrenheit 451? I Robot? And no non-fiction?).
But... still some classics.

"The Big Read answers a big need. Reading at Risk: A Survey of Literary Reading in America, a 2004 report by the National Endowment for the Arts, found that not only is literary reading in America declining rapidly among all groups, but that the rate of decline has accelerated, especially among the young. The concerned citizen in search of good news about American literary culture would study the pages of this report in vain.
They say the average American has only read 6 of the following:"
1) Bold the books you have already read
2) Italicize the books you intend to read
3) Notes in parentheses next to note-worthy titles.

1) Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
2) The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien (sixty bazillion times)
3) Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
4) Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling (except for Prisoner of A.)
5) To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
6) The Bible (even all that begetting)
7) Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
8 ) Nineteen Eighty Four by George Orwell
9) His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman
10) Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
11) Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (twenty bazillion times)
12) Tess of the D'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
13) Catch 22 by Joseph Heller
14) Complete Works of Shakespeare (every single goldurn one of them… even the histories)
15) Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier
16) The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien
17) Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks
18) Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger
19) The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
20) Middlemarch by George Eliot
21) Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
22) The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
23) Bleak House by Charles Dickens
24) War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy (I started it)
25) The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
26) Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
27) Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky (I started it)
28) Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
29) Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
30) The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
31) Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
32) David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
33) Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis (sixty bazillion for some of them, twenty bazillion for others)
34) Emma by Jane Austen
35) Persuasion by Jane Austen
36) The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by CS Lewis
37) The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
38 ) Captain Corelli's Mandolin by Louis De Bernieres
39) Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
40) Winnie the Pooh by AA Milne
41) Animal Farm by George Orwell
42) The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
43) One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44) A Prayer for Owen Meaney by John Irving
45) The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
46) Anne of Green Gables by LM Montgomery (and the rest of the series)
47) Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy
48) The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
49) Lord of the Flies by William Golding
50) Atonement by Ian McEwan
51) Life of Pi by Yann Martel
52) Dune by Frank Herbert
53) Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons
54) Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
55) A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth
56) The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57) A Tale Of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
58 ) Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
59) The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon
60) Love In The Time Of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61) Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
62) Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
63) The Secret History by Donna Tartt
64) The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
65) Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
66) On the Road by Jack Kerouac
67) Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy
68) Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding
69) Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie
70) Moby Dick by Herman Melville
71) Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
72) Dracula by Bram Stoker
73) The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
74) Notes from a Small Island by Bill Bryson
75) Ulysses by James Joyce
76) The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
77) Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome
78) Germinal by Emile Zola
79) Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray
80) Possession by AS Byatt
81) A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
82) Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
83) The Color Purple by Alice Walker
84) The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
85) Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
86) A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry
87) Charlotte's Web by EB White
88) The Five People You Meet In Heaven by Mitch Albom
89) Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90) The Faraway Tree Collection by Enid Blyton
91) Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
92) The Little Prince by Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93) The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks
94) Watership Down by Richard Adams
95) A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
96) A Town Like Alice by Nevil Shute
97) The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98) Hamlet by William Shakespeare
99) Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
100) Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

That's, what... 56? (hey it's reading, not math) That's better than average, but I need to read more... most of these I read before I turned thirty. And let's just say that was some years ago.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

What Else Have I Been Doing?

by Caroline

The last time I showed any of my knitting on this blog was back in November during the Disney trip. I had about an inch and a half of sock on the needles. That sock, a basic sock pattern in Trekking, slowly grew to the heel and a little past (maybe almost to the toe). It was a real slog for some reason. Well, I'm about to frog it. I like the yarn, a bright stripey colorway, and I have always enjoyed knitting socks but the basic sock pattern just wasn't doing it for me anymore. I think it is time for patterned socks. I've done only one patterned pair so far. So, I'll frog it, let it rest, and begin again with a pattern.

I've kept up with my monthy wee tiny sock swaps; I don't get those up on the blog often enough. September's Back to School was followed by October's Halloween theme.

I forgot to get pictures of November's wee tiny socks. Oops!

For December's swap I wanted to make a peppermint sock. I double stranded red and white cotton. I didn't get the look I wanted but I liked the effect. It was a killer to knit, though. I think the second sock is Trekking. The picture is awful, I apologize, Orange formica and fluorescent are not the best for pictures.

January's theme was winter and I chose a nubbly white to represent fresh snow, a blue-gray to represent the winter sky, and a metallic silver for sleet. By the time I was done I was steeped in cold. Too much cold.

For February, I decided to warm things up: Watermelon, Pink Lemonade, Dayglow, and Blue Hawaii. I threw some patterns and textures in there, too. I'm very happy with them.

I started and frogged a ski hat for a friend's brother. I was hoping to get it done this winter but I don't know if it will happen. I started a baby sweater in Sokatta; the sleeves and ribbing around the edge are left. Well, also I need to block and sew the pieces together. I still have the Doctor's Bag from Knit2Together on the needles. I started the Lisha Lace Scarf from SleepyEyes designs while I was in Chicago and absolutely love it! I am using a green Suri Alpaca that I bought in VA at the Fall Fiber Festival. I started the Dream in Color Sleepwalker Socks (what a great pattern) using an awesome pink on pink from Spunky Electic, but I don't have enough yarn for this pattern. I'm going to frog this as well and use the yarn for Fetching Mitts. I did manage to finish a project: the iPod Touch Sock, a free pattern on Ravelry from smariek knits. And now I am also starting a couple pairs of kids socks for a co-workers daughters with Sereknity's Watermelon.

I don't seem to be finishing much, except for wee tiny socks, but until I started listing everything I hadn't realised how many projects I had going. Oh, and on top of all that, I picked up the drop spindle again. I haven't touched the drop spindle in months. This is not a skill that can be allowed to sit. It took me a while to get going and, not that I was real consistent before, but I was all over the place with thick and thin. But I did enjoy my spinning.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Yay! It's Christmas!

by Kathleen

Well, actually it's February... but it's time to recap Christmas.

DH and I alternate families each Christmas and this year it was my family's turn. So we drove the 11 hours up to the snowy north for the four days we had available and drove back.

Worth it!

We left Tuesday night and got as far as Wilkes-Barre where we stopped for the night, leaving the next morning so as to get to my brother's house for the Christmas Eve family celebration.
Back when I was in High School my Mom went back to work as a nurse. (I say back to work, but actually after graduating she took on the job of Mom for about 16 years. This was her first outside the home job.) She worked Christmas day so we started celebrating on Christmas Eve. We continued this as people married, had kids and started their own family Christmas Day.

The adults draw names and my drawee (drawer?) was my brother. I had given some suggestions which included several knitting books and here's what he gave me...
Mason-Dixon, Knitting Outside the Lines; Yarn Harlot, Free Range Knitter; Skolnik and MacDaniels, The Knitting Way. Yay! Fun knitting reading! Patterns! Stories! Laughter! Tears!

Thanks Frank!

I had put in a particular request with my Mom...
She knits/crochets potholders, and they work so well... so I requested those. She made one for just about everyone, but I made out like a bandit... a potholder bandit...
Four potholders! Whoohoo! FOUR! Also I got two really nice bamboo tea towels, a biodegradable plate (still haven't figured out how we're supposed to clean that), and a bar of hand made soap.

Yeah... speaking of soap...
Between gifts and stocking stuffers DH and I got... 5 handmade soaps, 2 commercial soaps and a softsoap.
What are you guys trying to tell us?

I also got a ball of Noro sock yarn in my stocking. I can't show you the ball anymore but I can show you these...
Thank goodness Caroline gifted me with this! I got in the car for the 11 hour drive home and couldn't find where we'd packed my other knitting! I'd worked on a pair of socks that I'd gifted to my sister-in-law and had sock needles handy. And the Noro yarn! Yay! Travel time saved! I'm decreasing down the toe on the second right now.

Thursday we drove a couple hours to my Uncles for Christmas dinner. As always so nice to see everyone... cousins, aunts and uncles, all from my Dad's side. And a delicious dinner.

Friday I went to a knit night with Caroline and my Mom. A good sized group of people who meet at Yarn and Fiber Company store. There was a nice surprise there as well... someone was destashing and bins and bags of yarn were out looking for good homes. I was hestitant to dive in (after all I was a visitor) but I was generously encouraged and I brought a few orphans back with me...
Includes some cones of Classic Elite mohair in various blues, and a couple large cones of some sort of cotton type, and a few other odds and ends.
Yay yarn! Thanks Fiber and Yarn people!

Saturday night we had a most wonderful celebration and the real strong reason we went north (in spite of our limited time off)...
My Mom and Dad celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary.
It was a wonderful dinner with parents, children and grandkids. About 15 all together eating,laughing, toasting, crying... so much love...
Congratulations Mom and Dad. And thank you.

It was at that dinner that I got the best gift of all.
I hadn't shared this before... Now, it's not exactly what it looks like... unless you think it looks like someone who has lost their wedding band down a drain, never to be seen again. In which case that's exactly what it is.
I was washing stage blood out of a costume blouse backstage... it took about 15 minutes of continual scrubbing with soap and dawn and rinsing, and by the time I turned off the water, dried my hands and notice the bareness of the third finger on my left hand... it was too late. It was gone. I think I cried for several days straight.
This was last October.
I told DH that all I really wanted for Christmas was a new ring. Which was fine, but he was working 60+ hours a week and wouldn't have time until after the Holiday. No problem.
Except... he lied. (Well,he prevaricated)
After dinner, sitting at the restaraunt table during toasts he launches into this attempted roast of my forgetfulness and recent trend towards losing things. And then pulls out this box. It's identical. Identical! We got the first one at an antique's store and he found the exact same ring. Only this one fits. It's not going anywhere. Ever.
I think I cried for several days straight.