Friday, December 20, 2013

Random Friday

Ah, me.  Once again a couple of weeks slid by (I almost wrote "have slidden" but the English major in me just can't do it).

Sometimes life just seems a little mundane and there's not much to write about.  I mean, how exciting is this:  "I came home from work and fixed a quick lunch."  Just how much can you say about that?  Let's see . . .

"Work" meant being at the museum and trying to train the hawk to go into a carrying crate.  If you've ever tried to shove a reluctant cat or dog into a carry crate--just imagine it with wings.  Gets a little physical.

Quick lunch--hungry when I got home, so went to the garden and picked a handful of greens (kale, cabbage leaves, mustard, some chives).   Tossed them in a skillet with a little butter until they wilted, then cracked a couple of eggs on top and let them set.  Salt, pepper, squeezed on some lemon juice, and had a simple and tasty lunch.  No real big deal, except that this is the sort of eating that the foodies are going on about now,  books being written, shows on television and radio.  Fresh, local (the eggs were courtesy of the girls in the henhouse, and the lemon was from a tree at the museum--OK--the butter and salt were from the grocery store), unprocessed.  Just food.  Odd that in our overly-fed country, just plain food is becoming a rarity.

Oh--and the peacocks came running when they saw me in the garden so they got the stems that I pulled off the leaves and a few buggy greens.  I guess that' s not an everyday occurrence for most people either.

Now some randomness, and equally random pictures.

Our friends Gill and Jim got engaged.  In lieu of an engagement ring, he got her a motorcycle and side car.  Not as easy to wear, but a heck of a lot more fun.  (She didn't want me to get cold, hence the Eeyore hat.  Bob didn't have to wear it.

And no, we didn't just pose.  Gill took us each for a ride.

Projects--been making some simple stuff.  Dad gets cold easily, so I made him some
polar fleece sleep shirts and some fingerless mitts (four shirts, three pairs of mitts, so we can rotate).  Some people get obsessed about knitting socks--me, I like making mitts.  And I like wearing them--they keep my wrists and hands warm but leave my fingers free.  Dad wears his 24/7 (hence the three pairs). 

My other obsession is felted slippers.  In an earlier post I mentioned "knitting at stop lights" so that's where these come in.  They're fun because you knit them way outsized, then shrink them in the washing machine.  They're also warm and comfortable and look like little elf boots.  (and that's the best I could get the pictures to line up side by side)                                                                    


I renewed the exhibit at the Goodwood plantation (our general plan is to change out the garments about every three months).  I'm really glad that Goodwood liked my idea of a continuing (but much simpler) exhibit after we did the major "Gowns of Goodwood" last years.  The house is beautiful, but putting in even a few garments seems to bring the rooms to life.  Just imagine these rooms without the "people" in them.

And here's a wonderful gift that I just got yesterday from my friend Natasha (she was the bride a few posts ago).  She painted a portrait for me of my favorite little barred owl at the museum.  I would have loved having any painting from her, but this one is particularly touching because it's how the owl looks when I'm scratching her head (we term it "stoner owl").   Several people can handle her, but I seem to be the only one that she loves to have scratch her.  So this picture is when she is being my owl.  (insert chorus of "awwwwww" in here)

Current reading:  Finished Varney the Vampire.  Sort of--maybe.  It just sort of ended, which makes me think that all Project Gutenberg had but it probably still goes on (it was a penny dreadful issued in weekly installments over several years--an early Victorian "Dark Shadows").  So maybe I'll track down the rest, or maybe I'll say that 748 pages of it was enough.
Barbara Kingsolver's "Prodigal Summer."  Unlike "Varney" this was a some excellent reading.   Kingsolver always works the environment and how everything interacts into her writing.  It's obviously her agenda, and it's always in your face, but she doesn't beat you over the head with it.  This was a novel of a small town--bug lovers, bug squashers, organic growers and sprayers, coyote lovers and shooters.  Read it in just a few days because it's one of those that's difficult to put down.
Now on the annual re-reading of Hogfather.  Tomorrow is when we eat meat pies and watch the movie.
*Finally*--a few cat shots.  I was doing some spinning and took a quick break--and Fiona decided that the soft fiber would make a good pillow for a nap.
The other morning when I went onto the back deck to feed the "special care" animals, Timmy the Squirrel ran into the house.  With a half-dozen cats around that's not really a good idea, so I scooped him up and offered him a peanut.  He happily settled into my hand with his snack.  I think Timmy landed on his head when he fell out of the nest and, as we say in the South, he ain't quite right.  He's generally a healthy and happy little squirrel, but he doesn't see well and he's rather uncoordinated.  He can also be totally oblivious to his surroundings--as shown by the fact that he was focused on his peanut and didn't even notice the attentions of Noko Marie.
OK--I'm about caught up--at least with the blog.  Really should start thinking about Christmas . . . .

Thursday, December 5, 2013


Let about three weeks slide by there.  The usual--work, Thanksgiving, kayaking.  I'm a little scattered-minded at the moment with the holiday season (and I think there's a birthday in there somewhere too).  So to settle down with one topic--reading.

I know that some people are not readers--I probably read this somewhere--but I don't get it.  That's like saying some people don't need to breath.  I don't remember learning how to read--Mom read to us until we were reading on our own, and then Mike and I both read constantly.   The parental punishment of "go to your room" for any misdemeanors sort of failed when we would be told "OK, time's up, you can come out now" was met with "Let me finish this chapter."

In elementary school I annoyed the teacher by reading everything at my level (remember reading levels?  They were color coded) instead of just the minimum for moving up--then all the next level and so on until I was out and asking for more (and now I wonder why they were annoyed--but they were).   At the beginning of one year of high school the teacher passed out a "what did you do on your summer vacation" questionnaire, and it had five lines for "what did you read?"  I turned the page over and listed about 30 books.  The teacher questioned me afterwards--was this the truth?  I said it was close--there were probably more but that was all I could remember.

Reading takes you out of yourself--you can be actively learning, entertained, amused.  Wander a new land, or know more about the land you're standing on.  My reading is pretty eclectic--it's whatever grabs my fancy at the moment (I see that a movie is being made from "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty."  I've never read that, so onto the reading list it goes).

My sister-in-law Margo was wondering how I manage to read at much as I do (which to my mind, isn't enough).  After all, I am working 3 jobs, and do the spinning, weaving, sewing, kayaking, taking care of critters, etc.)   My answer was "insomnia."  Somewhat a joke--but true.  I've always had problems getting to sleep, but that's reading time.  And if I do the 3:00 a.m.  wakeup, I can lie there and fret--or turn on my little book light and read.  There's reading at breakfast (neither Bob nor I can carry on a good conversation at that hour of the morning).  There's the bathroom reading (National Geographic, Smithsonian).  Being too busy can sometimes give you reading time.  If I've finished with Appointment A, and it's going to take me 20 minutes to drive to Appointment B but I'm not due there for 45 minutes, I hit whatever coffee shop is available and curl up and take a break in between.

And that's why I started my "what I've read" list here.  Margo is organized and has her reading lists (and her movie lists) so she knows what she'd read and seen.   If I ever made such a list, I'd lose it.  So into the blog it goes.  Current reading:

As mentioned above, magazine reading includes National Geographic, Smithsonian, Spin-Off and Ply (both spinning magazines) and Wild Fibers (a social geography magazine focusing on fiber sources).

Since the last post, I've done my annual reading of "Dracula."  I also listened to several short stories by Bram Stoker while doing hand-sewing at the costume shop.

The Adventures of Baron Munchausen.   Meh.  Made a better movie than a book.   I like exaggerated stories and adventure, but I'd like there to be at least one toe held in the world where the laws of physics apply.  Didn't bother to finish it.

Knitting Rules--Stephanie Pearl McPhee is a Queen of Knitting and writing about it.  Her blog is hysterical.

Knitting Yarns--stories by writers about knitting.  I'll do a blog post about knitting sometimes--it's more than knitting.  Hence the dozens of books out there about the meaning of knitting.

An introduction to The Compleat Angler (a book written in 1653 about the "meditative man's recreation).  Must read the book itself sometime.

And, currently--VARNEY THE VAMPYRE.   I have started this many time over the decades and never gotten past the first few chapters.  It predates Dracula by 50 years or so, and it's really awful.  The author was once hauled into court for plagiarism (tending to make money of Charles Dicken's popularity by writing such books as "Oliver Twiss" and "David Copperful."  The case was thrown out because the judge declared that the writing was so bad that no one would ever think it was done by Dickens.   "Varney the Vampyre"  was a penny dreadful (stories released one chapter at a time--the Victorian equivalent of a soap opera) that went on for years.

It's really badly written.  Awful  All 748 pages of it.  All the characters are stereotyped (the beautiful victim, her noble brothers, the gruff old retired admiral (who has to start almost every sentence with "shiver me timbers") and the cruel vampire (who, however, did not choose to be this way and wishes he did not need to feast upon the living)

And I'm loving it.  Best treatment for insomnia ever.