Monday, April 21, 2008


Springtime. FINALLY.

The weather has finally become gorgeous and no jackets are required. The magnolia tree outside my office window is in full bloom and the college kids seem blissed out (4/20 notwithstanding) each day that the weather is not raining, hailing, sleeting, or snowing. Hooray!

I don't think I ever posted it but I finally finished the wedding blanket for my sister and her hubs in mid-March. Twas BIG.

I should have done a little bit of math and figured that 40 skeins x 4 oz = 10 pounds. Ten pounds of blanket! I had maybe 30 yards left over, so it's pretty much the full ten lbs. That's a big baby.

I edged it with a pattern from Nicki Epstein's Knitting on the Edge. It took a lot of pins to block it out. But the best part was? When I unpinned it.

MURDER! I thoroughly washed each square, then washed the whole blanket, but that deep red dye is probably always going to be a little fugitive. Now I have a very nice prop for Halloween.

Now a couple more book reviews!

Anastasia At Your Service by Lois Lowry
The Anastasia books were some of my very favorite childhood reading. The characters in Anastasia's family actually seem real, and the parents talk to their children with interest and respect, yet the family also gets upset with each other and's just so rare to have children's literature with families that aren't gooey or absent. This is one of my favorites, when Anastasia accidentally becomes a maid for a rich woman in town. I've read this book approximately 854 times. But it's always a treat. Also, the Anastasia books are always on the "most challenged" lists because they contain occasional swear words and mention the existence of sex in an entirely age-appropriate way. It boggles the mind.

The Dain Curse by Dashiell Hammett
I really enjoyed this one, although any book with a curse has a whiff of Nancy Drew/the haunted talisman the Brady Bunch found in Hawaii. However, Hammett gets a pass because he's the first of the group. The novel is about a family that is maybe cursed to kill one another and most of their friends and loved ones. It's got a fascinating San Francisco cult subplot. Who knew San Fran was known for its cults even in the 1920s? Not quite as many people were killed in this one as in Red Harvest, but that's okay--the ones who did die did so spectacularly, on cliffs, alters, by their own hand, etc. I like a guy who mixes it up.

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Wednesday, April 09, 2008


Plane time

I have spent way more time on planes this year than normal, thanks to a couple of west coast conferences and wedding planning and friend visiting. All of which are delightful reasons to travel. But while I like the anticipation and excitement of travel, I dislike the gross food and tacky shoe shine stations in airports. And I especially dislike people who try to cheat the Southwest boarding system by lining up in NON-numerical order. Sorry, B23, you cannot line up behind A34 and expect to be seated. I do, however, like walking past those people and feeling like a superior rule-follower.

When I'm not smirking, I knit, listen to podcasts, and read. I sort of enjoy the forced "off-line"-ness of air travel. And I'm so glad you can't talk on your cell phone. Don't you hate that horrible period after you've landed, and everyone has unbuckled their seatbelts and is standing, hunched, in the aisles, and there's always some guy on his phone saying, loudly, like, "YEAH, I JUST LANDED. YEAH. YEAH. NO, PUT MOM ON THE PHONE. NO. YEAH. BRING A SANDWICH. [BLAH BLAH BLAH]." And everyone avoids eye contact and the rest of the plane is quiet. Awkward!

But reading is indeed a great part of travel. And in the spirit of Wordnerdy's book reviews, I think I should start putting up at least summaries of the books I read. This may be more for my documentation than your edification, but here goes. I'll start with a couple to try to prevent your (and my) eyes from glazing over.

Buster Midnight's Cafe by Sandra Dallas
This is a book I snagged from Mr. Cupcakes' parents house. It's about three friends from a mining town in Montana who grow up in the 1930s, and one of them becomes a movie star. It's narrated in a bit of a folksy first person style by one of the friends. It's an enjoyable story of how friends and relationships evolve as you age. It actually sounds like a real story you might hear someone tell you, which is not easy to do using period lingo and products.
Points: for educating the reader about the delightful depravity of Montana mining towns.

Red Harvest by Dashiell Hammett
I think I read The Maltese Falcon for a course I took in college called Legal Reelism (geddit?) but that was my only Hammett experience. This book is also about a Montana mining town and its horrifying depravity and criminal activity. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and the journalistic/detectivey descriptions of each person are stellar. For example: "He was a man of thirty-four or -five, fairly tall, broad, and heavy without fat. His eyes were large, brown, dull, and set far apart in a long, slightly sallow horse face. It was a humorless face, stolid but somehow not unpleasant." There's so much description packed into each sentence that you need to slow down to really put the image together in your mind. Hammett was created to write screenplays. Also, according to the biography in the back of the book, he was created to meet lots of ladies.
Points: for the narrator killing a couple dozen people without remorse. And they say violence in the media is a problem today!

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