Where Oh Where is My January Thaw?

I generally keep this blog focused on the positive things going on in my life, but I’ve had a bit of a rant building up, and perhaps by putting it here, I’ll be able to look back on it some July and laugh, so here goes:

Dear Winter,

I’m over you.

This is my back yard:

This is the ice sheet otherwise known as my driveway:

This is the semi-apocalyptic landscaped snow bank on the curb. No, who are we kidding? See the sign on the left? That’s supposed to be the curb:

This is the nearly one story icicle on the house next door:

This is the abomination known as my street. Seriously, the ruts? My car’s suspension does not thank you.

This is the icy crevasse otherwise known as the sidewalk:

And this is the glacial landscape caused by the melting of the snow off the roof over my side garden:

Seriously, this needs to all go away. And not with a driving rain storm like they’re predicting for Tuesday. Remember that lunar landscaped curb? I’m pretty sure most of the drainage holes in the city of Portland are buried under it and its brethren. I don’t need sheets of water being added to the freeze/thaw cycle already occurring on every side street and some main streets in the city. Please, for the love of all that is good and holy, can someone send fit to send us a couple days of 40 degree temps with sun? I really don’t think that’s too much to ask for. You totally skipped out on the January thaw, so at this point, you owe us. So can you get working on that?

Thanks bunches, hugs and kisses,



Knitting Notes

I’m very nearly done with the garter yoke baby cardi. I was holding off finishing until today, so I could pick up buttons and have them there for size comparison as I put on the buttonhole band. Once I do that and weave in some ends, I’m done. (Of course, I’ve been working my butt off on this because the shower was supposed to be on Tuesday, but it was rescheduled yesterday to a week from Tuesday. So I have a little breathing room, but should really still finish it this weekend, as I need to get my mother’s socks done for sometime around the 16th.)

On fun side note, I stopped by the local salvage store since it’s in the same plaza as Joann’s, and they had a new shipment of books. Per usual, they were mostly crap, but I did manage to score a copy of the Collected Poems of W.B. Yeats that I’ve had on my Amazon wishlist since 2001. That was definitely a fruitful shopping trip.

Breaking Dawn – Stephenie Meyer

Read for the Vampire Reading Challenge.

I didn’t hate this book. But I can definitely see why a lot of people did.

In the first three books, there was always some level of sacrifice going on. I mean, we’re dealing with humans, vampires and werewolves here. This kind of thing is not meant to go smoothly. Bella is not meant to be able to get everything she ever wanted. Life doesn’t work that way, and lord knows it shouldn’t work that way when you throw the supernatural into the mix. And that was the beauty of the first three books in this series.

And now, as a final installment, Bella gets everything she ever wanted. Sure, there’s a little conflict worked in there: Bella’s body versus her baby, and the Volturi make a reappearance (thank god, because at that point of the story, I was in need of some conflict to cut the saccharine perfection of Bella’s new life). But mostly, this book simply brings this story to a completely beautiful and harmonious ending where everyone gets what they want. Which really makes a lot of sense if you see this book as Stephenie Meyer’s Mary Sue adventures in the vampire world. Lord knows I want my life to be perfect, and if I could put it down in print, I probably would.

So, like I said, I don’t hate the book. I can’t really hate a happy ending. It’s just a shame that the happy ending doesn’t fit in with everything that’s gone before.

Knitting Notes

My ball winder came today!!! And I promptly found out the pin on my swift is warped, and won’t got in, so the swift is currently useless. Still, in my excitement, I had to try the ball winder out, and as you can see from above, it works beautifully, even if I did have to do the Malabrigo from around my knees. (The sock yarn on top is one that I already had hand-wound into a ball. That one was much easier to do than the Malabrigo.)

So, someday, I’ll get the whole thing working in one beautifully slick process, but I now at least have the means to make nice yarn cakes, even if I do have to contort myself to make them happen.

Boston Curiosities – Ted Clarke

I received this book through the LibraryThing early reviewers program. I initially requested it because Boston is my nearest big city (I love my city dearly, but big it is not), and over the years since I graduated from college, I’ve been down there quite a bit. And even though I don’t live there, I am a native New Englander (pretty far back in the family tree), so its history is my history.

The book touches upon the people, mysteries, places, food and big events of Boston. There are a number of things you’d expect to see (Abigail Adams, Alexander Graham Bell, the Boston Strangler, baked beans), but it also touches upon some people and events that aren’t as commonly known. Thomas Handasyd Perkins is one of those people. He apparently made scads of money on a number of illicit trades, but he used that money for a number of good causes, including founding the school of the blind that Helen Keller attended, so it’s hard to see him as an unsympathetic character.

I also hadn’t realized that marshmallow fluff was a New England invention, though I suppose the fact that my sister introduced it to her friends in California to much awe and wonder should have tipped me off to that.

This was definitely an interesting book, and would be a good companion reader to anyone visiting Boston to the first time, as you visit and gain visuals for a number of the people/events mentioned inside the pages.

Weekly Geeks

I’ve been lurking the Weekly Geeks blog, and this week’s question caught my eye:

1) How do you feel about classic literature? Are you intimidated by it? Love it? Not sure because you never actually tried it? Don’t get why anyone reads anything else? Which classics, if any, have you truly loved? Which would you recommend for someone who has very little experience reading older books? Go all out, sell us on it!

I can trace my love of classic literature back to three sources.

Source number one was my tenth grade English teacher, Mrs. MacArthur. She taught what more or less amounted to a survey of British literature. We started with Shakespeare. I’d read Romeo and Juliet and A Midsummer Night’s Dream the year before, but a pretty lackluster teaching experience hadn’t left me with much of an appreciation for his work. Mrs. MacArthur had us read three plays: MacBeth, Julius Caeser, and The Taming of the Shrew. Even though I still don’t particularly care for Julius Caeser, the way she taught those three plays to us saved Shakespeare for me. I borrowed my father’s complete works after that class, and started reading on my own.

Mrs. MacArthur also introduced me to the first school book I ever enjoyed so much that I read ahead because I needed to know what happened. That book is Pride and Prejudice. I’m still grateful to have been given the opportunity to be guided through reading that book. The things that Mrs. MacArthur brought out formed the fundamentals for how I analyze literature. It’s not a skill I use often anymore, but it is a very worthy skill to have learned. I only disliked two books in that class: Julius Caeser and A Tale of Two Cities, but you better believe I learned to respect them as works of art.

As a side note, Mrs. MacArthur also influenced my casual reading. I ran into her at the bookstore one weekend, and she recommended Robin McKinley’s Beauty to me. I later was able to have that exact book autographed by Ms. McKinley. The cover art from that era was perhaps not the most attractive in the universe, which Ms. McKinley remarked on. I noted that I could never give it up, as A) a most beloved teacher had put that exact copy in my hands, and B) I’d read it so many times I’d lost count. She agreed that was the best kind of book to have, regardless of cover art.

Anyway, back to the classics. My second classics influence was my college job at the library, which for the first two years, involved a weekly shelving shift. Unless ordered otherwise, I always hit the third floor, because it was lovely and quiet. It also happened to house the British and American literature sections (PR and PS, how I miss thee!).

It being a college library, it was somewhat light on what I’d normally think of as casual reading. (Granted, I did manage to read Stephen King’s The Stand out of the stacks, but that was a pretty serious anomaly.) So instead, I found classics when I was wondering around (when forced to work on the second floor, I found quite a few interesting history books). My shelving shifts are what finally allowed me to finish the complete works of Jane Austen, for which I’m eternally grateful, as Persuasion has ended up being my second favorite Austen book. I also picked up Wuthering Heights (hated it) in that time frame.

The library was great for more modern classics as well. I was able to pick up The English Patient after seeing the movie, and really enjoyed contrasting the two versions of the story. There were also the more random books that I found while preparing the shelving carts. One I still remember (because I made some totally illicit photocopies of my favorite sections) was a book of old Irish poetry in translation. One of these days, I need to find that book again so I can have my own copy. I found it so fascinating to follow the English words on one page, and see opposite the original words, which looked so fascinating to me. That book definitely helped further my mild obsession with the Celtic languages.

On a vaguely related note, source number three of my love of classics is a love of Arthurian based literature I developed in high school and college. By the time I got out of college, I’d started collecting some of the older Arthuriana, including Le Morte d’Arthur, and The History of the Kings of Britain. The second book is also fascinating from a Shakespearean perspective, as it contains some of the earliest source material for King Lear and Cymbeline.

I’ve stopped reading these older classics as frequently as I did straight out of college. The main reason is that they tend to be much heavier reading, and I don’t have the time to do that for enjoyment so much anymore. Most of my reading is done in the half hour to hour before I go to sleep, and literary fluff is often much more appropriate to that time of night. I still read the odd older book (the most recent was Herodotus), but they take me quite a while to go through, and I usually feel like I need to avoid leaping into another one for quite some time after finishing. I still keep them on my reading list though, because I always feel enriched having read them.

So that’s my relative novel about one of the smallest portions of my current reading habits. It’s the portion I have to work for more than any other, but it’s all the more rewarding for that work.

Knitting Notes

My knitting class is done, and I’m four pattern repeats into the Undulating Waves scarf. I have to admit, I like the beading more than I thought I would. I’m still not sure it’s something I’ll do often, but it’s a nice skill to have in my arsenal.

I do have to say, I love the Schaefer Heather yarn. It’s so lovely and soft, and I love this colorway. (Actually, I love all of the colorways I saw in class. Even the insane electric red and orange one I’d never in a billion years buy. It was still really cool.)

I’ve had to put the scarf to the side for the moment, as I got late breaking news that the co-worker I knew was having a baby in March will be having a surprise baby shower in two weeks. So, I’ve literally cast on three different baby sweaters this week. The first really wasn’t working for me with the yarn I’d chosen. The second, while a lovely pattern, was just complicated enough that it was making me tear my hair out.

I finally landed on the garter yoke baby cardi, which seems simple enough and looks right for the yarn I bought (Dalegarn Falk in a lovely purple). I cast on last night, and so far, so good. I need to get it finished by next weekend, so that’s going to be my knitting concentration for the week.

Club Dead – Charlaine Harris

Read for the Vampire Reading Challenge

The third book in the Sookie Stackhouse series brings Sookie out of Louisiana to Jackson, Mississippi, when her vampire boyfriend Bill goes missing. Bill’s boss Eric sends her up there to meet with a rather unwilling accomplice named Alcide, who just happens to be a werewolf. By trying to find Bill, Sookie manages to get caught up in the middle of a rather unholy alliance between the local vampires and werewolves.

This book follows in the charmingly funny footprint of the first two novels. I love Sookie. She’s so refreshingly normal in the midst of a completely abnormal world.

But I did find a problem now that I’ve watched the TV series based on this series, and have a good mental image of the main characters. You see, I’m just not that into blonds. I like my men tall, dark and broody. And it’s now painfully obvious that Bill is on his way out, and Eric is on his way in. And now that I have faces to go with these characters, I can’t help but feel way more sorry for Bill then I probably should. I know this will probably all end well, but I’m still a little sad.

But hey, this series is just too much fun to be sad about for long. I can’t wait for the next book!

Death: At Death’s Door – Jill Thompson

Read for the Dream King Challenge.

At Death’s Door is a retelling of the events on The Sandman: Seasons of Mist from Death’s point of view. I actually had a pretty strong sense of déjà vu reading this book, because the events follow the original story quite closely. I know I’ve never read this before, but I spent quite a while convinced I must have.

I will admit I liked the original story better, mostly because manga just isn’t my thing, and I enjoy the artwork of the original more. Still, this has its charming points. I’ve always loved Delirium, and she transfers well to the manga medium. It also contains one of my favorite lines ever from Death: “And girls can be anything they want to be! Even the anthropomorphic personifications of the Universe!”

If pressed, I’d recommend Seasons of Mist as the better story, but once you’ve read that, At Death’s Door is a fun counterpoint.

Knitting Notes

The first of the Spring Forward socks is done! Finally! The dang thing gave me more trouble… At the midpoint, I’ll say that while I like feel of the Panda Cotton once it’s knit up, I’m still not convinced that I’ll ever see the need to use it again. It’s rather splitty, and I’m not in love with the way it feels while I’m knitting it. Still, I definitely like the feel of the finished sock.

I made myself finish the sock so I could cast the above on with a free and clear conscience. This is the Undulating Waves Scarf I’m making for the class I’m taking at Knit Wit. We swatched on Tuesday, and it really wasn’t until the end of the swatch that I was finally getting the hang of the knitting. Now that I’ve cast on, I’ve been reading the written out instructions rather than the chart, and I’m finding it a somewhat easier go than with the swatch.

And finally, today I found out the date for a co-worker’s baby shower that I’ve been planning on making something for. Turns out it’s on February 3rd. So I need to come up with something to make before then. I’d like to make a sweater, and maybe a pair or two of socks, and have a couple of ideas kicking around in my head/Ravelry queue. We’ll see how that goes. It’s supposed to snow on Sunday, so I suppose I’ll have time to plan.