Garden Notes – Indoor Edition

My Grammie begonia is blooming! We call it the Grammie begonia because the myriad versions of it spread out between my father, mother and I all came from a single cutting my grandmother gifted to my father back when I was wee, and my parents were still married. It’s a foliage begonia (I think it’s a variety called ‘Little Darling’), so I really do enjoy it for the leaves, but it can bloom. I’m pretty sure it’s been at least a decade since mine last did, so it must really love its new home in the ginormous south facing dining room window.

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Embroidery Notes

Since I’m no longer working to a deadline, I’ve also started a new stitching project – Night Walked Down, from the Blue Flower. I saw the pattern on the cross stitch thread in the knitting forum I lurk in, and just had to have it. I ended up buying myself some hand dyed Aida cloth for it (decided I didn’t want to torture myself with linen). I just started it last night, so not much progress, but it’s nice to have both knitting and stitching options again.

Knitting Notes

My test knit is done. The release date is 3/9, so I’ll be posting pictures of that once I’m able to.

In the meantime, in an effort to work down my Knitpicks Palette stash (from the Sky Scarf and Temperature Scarves), I started Wendy D. Johnson’s Leftover Cowl. It’s meant to use up scrap quantities of fingering weight yarn, and I get to do some stranded knitting. What’s not to love? I did already have to pull it out once – I managed to twist it when I tried the crocheted provisional cast on. So I did a more conventional cast on with waste yarn that’ll probably be a bitch to pick out, but I could at least join in the round my normal way. The second time has been much better, so far.

Fair Game – Patricia Briggs

It’s been interesting reading this series, which runs parallel to the Mercy Thompson series – it’s been nice to fill in some of the additional detail of things that influence Mercy’s story. In this case, it’s the events leading up to the Fae retreating to their reservations and refusing to deal with human laws.

Anna and Charles are sent to Boston to help the FBI catch a serial killer. The Marrok is hoping it helps in their ongoing PR campaign to help humans realize werewolves are not actively dangerous to them (well, much). But it’s also a chance for Charles to take a bit of a break from being his father’s enforcer. That job has been wearing on him since they’ve had to step up efforts since the werewolves came out in public. (The fact that catching a serial killer is a break is rather telling, but hey, they definitely live in interesting times.)

I really like the Boston characters that are introduced, and I just really enjoy reading about Anna and Charles. (I may have used this book to reward myself for finally getting through the more difficult book I finished just before this…)

The Devourers – Indra Das

I had the worst time finishing this book. I can’t even remember when I started it – last Fall at least, but maybe the summer? It’s told from many different viewpoints (which I knew about ahead of time from reading the reviews), and that made it hard for me to read.

Time is split between the present day and the Mughal Empire days of India. Alok, in the present day, meets a mysterious stranger, who gives him some ancient scrolls he wishes to have transcribed to the computer. They contain the story of Cyrah, a Persian girl who’s raped by a shapeshifter, and bears his child.

The shapeshifters are based on the Indian raskhasas, but Fenrir (the father) is specifically a wanderer from Europe, so there are some interesting points of culture addressed by that. It’s also got a fascinating take on sexuality, which is hard to explain without giving away the story.

I kept at this book because it’s a really interesting take on the werewolf genre that’s so popular right now, and I was really pleased to see a viewpoint coming from a non-Western culture. If you can get past the confusing viewpoints, it’s a good read.

Olympus Bound – Jordana Max Brodsky

In this last book of the trilogy, Selene (Artemis) is out on her own with Flint (Hephestus), trying to track down their grandfather Saturn/Kronos. They’ve left NYC behind and are in their old European stomping grounds. The all too mortal Theo, believing Selene to be dead, is plotting how to get her back. But it turns out there are larger forces at play – Zeus has been scheming behind everyone’s back to regain his former power.

This story definitely takes an interesting turn from the direction of the prior books, though it’s also a logical step forward if you’re paying attention to your Greek mythology. It’s also got some interesting thoughts on what it really means to be a goddess – definitely not something you’d think so much about if you’re following your Greek mythology – the men really did get the good stories so far back.

I enjoyed this series – it was a really interesting way to bring the Greek gods into the present day.

The Stepsister Scheme – Jim C. Hines

This is a fun book, all about what happens when fairy tales are over.

Princess Danielle (often called Cinderwench by her stepsisters) is settling into life at the palace when her stepsisters hatch a plot to kill her, and kidnap her husband. She’s rescued by Talia, who at first seems to be a servant, but turns out to be Sleeping Beauty, and they team up with Snow (White) to save the prince.

What’s nice about this book is that it acknowledges the not so nice aspects of the girl’s stories, and also gives them the agency to kick ass and save the day. The world building is great – I’m definitely interested to see where this series goes.

Home Improvement

Our first home improvement project is done – we’ve had the house completely reinsulated. It was perhaps a bit crazy to get that done in January, but it made a noticeable difference even as they were just doing some of the preliminary sealing work before they got really serious about the actual insulation. (We got totally new blown in insulation in the attic, and they did all the walls.)

As part of the work, we also got a new bathroom fan. We knew we needed to replace that anyway – the existing one was likely older then me. It vented into the attic, and the only reason we didn’t have a mold problem up there is that it didn’t actually move any air. So that was replaced, and we got a unit that could also go into the half bath, so we can vent that (and by extension, our bedroom). Our bedroom ends up being the warmest room in the house, and with BF’s cpap at night, we were getting condensation on the windows. The new insultation took care of most of that, and the fan is taking care of the rest.

They had the electrician that they usually work with in, and we were able to have them do some other work, which worked out really well for us. Electricians are next to impossible to book for regular home work right now. I listened to the main guy tell several people that had his direct cell that he could book them in in a couple months, and he totally understood if they managed to find someone else faster in the meantime. So we got some smaller project (moving the cable jack to the other side of the living room, fixing some outlets, hardwired smoke alarms, that kind of thing) out of the way faster than we would have been able to otherwise.

This isn’t cheap, but we had the money set aside (part of the reason we went with 10% down instead of 20 when we bought the house). However, we did finance this, because we were eligible for a loan through the state with an insanely good rate. Since we’re still in the first year here, we figured we’d sit on the loan payment for a bit, and make sure nothing else comes up. If something does, we’ll have the money, and can keep paying the loan. There’s pretty much no way we’d get better financing for most other things that could happen to the house. So all and all, pretty pleased with the experience.

Embroidery Notes

My William Morris Snakeshead cross stitch is done. I thought this was going to take me a year. I’m pretty familiar with how much time I’ll spend doing things on the side at home. As with many other things, this was the year I’d be wrong with that estimate.

This pattern had no back stitch, was was actually nice, since I hadn’t done much of any embroidery since 2001. It’s not perfect – it ended up a warping the fabric a bit so that it sits a little crookedly (I’ll blame having to move my hoop around over nine panels), but I’m ok with that. It really does look very cool.

Haven’t decided what to do with it yet. We’re still settling out on wall art after moving, so I’m putting it away in a safe place with my other embroidery, and I’ll think about it later once some of our other stuff is settled.

The Orphans of Raspay – Lois McMaster Bujold

And I’m back to the story of Penric – in this case, he and Desdemona are on the way back from a mission on behalf of the Duke of Orbas, when his ship is captured by pirates. By virtue of him looking like a weak scholar, he gets thrown in with the other vulnerable prisoners – two girls, recently orphaned, on their way by themselves to find their missing father.

They’re brought to an island in a nearby archipelago that seems to have been taken over by these pirates, and Pen does what he needs to do to get himself and the girls out of there. It’s as fun as usual – I’m so glad the author’s recently published more stories of Pen and Desdemona.