Monday, March 30, 2009

Reading Roundup - Week 13

This morning I walked out of the house and looked at the sky in disbelief.
It was snowing!
What happened?
This weekend I wore sandals and no socks (I love no-sock weather), and today I needed my winter coat, hat and scarf.
I hope the only white I'm seeing on Easter is the color of my new Jordana Paige bag.
The longer days make working in the evening much more palatable for me.
I don't feel the need to crawl into bed at 7:00 pm in order to keep warm, and of course the natural light is much better too.
Go figure, the sun is up longer.
I've been working on a sock, still the same one.
My knitting baffles me at times, and I'm so slow, and so easily distracted.
I'm getting there though, because yesterday I actually had the courage to rip it all out when I found I had made a mistake.
Ballsy move, right.
I also found time to read this week - Three books!
Homicide in Hardcover (29), The Young Unicorns (30), and Troubling a Star (31).
Homicide in Hardcover was actually a very well written first novel. It lacked the "all that and a bag of chips cuteness" many authors feel they need to include in their protagonist's personality before becoming comfortable with their creation. I've read mixed reviews, but I have to say that I've read some really crappy first novels, and this is not one of them.
I did read two Madeleine L'Engle books, and I have to admit that I'm almost to the point of being burnt out on her books. Not that I don't enjoy them, but because I've taken such a big gulp and swallowed so many all at once. What's helpful is I am really becoming able to analyze her writing style and see where she's going with the dramatic arc, yet I'm still able to feel the tension she builds into her words.
I'm really enjoying this opportunity to read, er...research books for my independent study in the fall.
I told my friend the other day I was taking that class this fall, and she asked me what I would be studying.
"Young adult fantasy," I told her.
Then she asked, "Isn't that just an excuse for you to read all semester?"
Ah, she knows me too well.

Wednesday Special

Just a quick note before my regular Monday blog post.
I received information on the Wednesday special today.
Head over to my other blog to check it out.
It's a great deal.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

For Austen Lovers Everywhere....

This book hasn't even been published yet, and there's already a queue in my house of who is going to read it first.
Will you read it?

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Living Under a Rock

Talk about being out of touch with the world.
Did you know that tonight is Earth Hour?
I didn't.
I'll participate, though, because I don't mind turning off my lights at 8:30 tonight.
No problem.
Does this mean I have to turn off my tv too?

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Thursday Quiz - Is Jordana Paige a sign of spring?

So get this, I'm a free spirit.
Who knew?

You Are Kids Playing

You are a free spirited soul. More than anything else, you are often just happy to be alive.
You are always laid back and cheerful. You enjoy whatever happens to come your way.
You are spontaneous and zany. You're the kind of adult who still runs through the sprinklers.
You don't take life too seriously. You try to have fun at all times, even when you're working.

I'll tell you what part of spring I really am.
This part:

I received my new Jordana Paige knitting bag a few weeks ago, but I haven't used it yet.
Why not?
Well it's white.
And it's not Easter yet.
Come on, you know better.
I may not be fashionable, but I do follow fashion rules.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Eyes Have it

DN2 and I went to have our eyes checked today.
Of course they dilated our pupils.
Here we are almost five hours later and I'm still having trouble seeing.
She's not having any problems at all, but that could be her 20/20 vision.
I have terrible vision, which fortunately is not getting any worse, so I can't see far away right now, nor can I see up close.
My oldest son said I look like I'm stoned because my pupils are huge and my lids are droopy.
When we were driving around earlier, all of the street lights and stop lights looked like fireworks to me.
Seriously, dude.
It was WILD.
Well I can't focus on reading, I really can't focus on knitting, and I'm even having trouble with the typing.
I'm spending my time right now watching a bad movie, which, with regards to the whole vision thing, I suppose it is a good thing I can't see right now.
Perhaps tomorrow I'll be better.
I hope so.
We're having a pizza party for DH's soccer team.
That should be loud, don't you think?

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Visions of the Future

On Sunday, we drove SN2 and two of his friends to the town/city where their future college is located.
It was my first time in the town in almost 30 years, and when I went there throughout high school all I was doing was watching wrestling, so my memory of the place is not reliable.
Another story, another time....
As we drove the 45 miles to the campus, it was fun listening to the three 17 year olds talk about their future plans.
They sounded so innocent and naive, and it was really fun to listen to them talk about how they are going to live for the next two years.
They do have a clear idea of how cool it is going to be for them to move away from home and live on Ramen noodles and mac and cheese.
Silly, sweet, naive boys.
Since it is a community college, and of course they will not be commuting, our real purpose was to see what is available in the area.
They have a dorm on campus, and it is expensive, but it is as close to the campus as they can possibly get.
These boys, however, don't want to be bound by rules.
They'll learn.
We will continue to look for places, although I'm voting for the dorm.
I think his friends want some more freedom.
And SN2 doesn't really care, he is just ready to move on to the next chapter in his life.
What I know is that it won't be cheap as SN2 heads off on his collegiate journey in September.
The irony of college costs may be that the ones staying here on the home front may also be living on the same diet as the young collegians.
Ramen noodles and frozen vegies?
Bring it on.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Reading Roundup - Week 12

It's spring!
Sing with me - Tra - la - la - la - la!
No working outside for me yet, because we still have frost and occasionally snow.
I do want to buy a tiller, but I won't make any garden purchases until next month.
I wish that I could say I had as good a reading week as last time, but this week I came up a bit short.
I only finished one book, Madeleine L'Engle's The Moon by Night (28).
It was actually a very good book, where Vicky Austin travels across the country (and back) with her family. Written and set in the 60's, it reestablishes the Austin family values witnessed in book one, Meet the Austins, of working together, keeping no secrets from one another, and praying before every meal.
In this book, Vicky encounters other boys and families who do not share the same values as the Austin family. They run into a problem with some JD's in Tennessee, and even experience anti-American sentiment in Canada, and it is Vicky's burgeoning awareness of the people and the land outside of her small Connecticut town that make the book especially interesting. Viewing this as a mid-60's travelogue, it is even better if you juxtapose this tale with the direction the nation was taking during the 60's, making one wonder what Vicky Austin would have been like in 1968.
Sorority girl, or hippie chick?
I'd choose Vicky's direction as that of conservative sorority girl going to college for her MRS degree.
Read it, and let me know what you think.
I'm in the middle of two books right now, The Young Unicorns, and Homicide in Hardcover, and I'm again treading water/pages and getting nowhere.
How does this happen?
And on a personal note to Bronx Girl Knits and Karoline Knits:
Have you seen that Barbara Bretton is publishing a sequel to Casting Spells?
It's entitled Laced with Magic, and will be out in August.
Check it out.
Oh - everyone should go check it out!
Read - Read - READ!!!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

A Little Cleaning Up

You may notice things look a bit different here at Chez JewelTomes.
This is how I spent my Saturday night.
Trust me, I had plenty of other things to do, but this update just kind of happened.
What do you think?
I've been working on another project as well.
You may notice I've added a link to another blog I'm hosting.
Head on over and check it out.
Here's the link.
Go ahead!
I'll wait here for you to get back.
(tuneless humming progresses...)
Oh, Hey - You're back!
Did you like it?
Yes, I've signed up to be a Longaberger consultant.
I've done it before, and I do like the product, so I decided, why not.
What is different this time around, beside the fact that I don't have an infant in my house, is that there is so many more internet opportunities.
What a difference.
This should be fun, don't you think?
I have to support my yarn and book buying habits somehow.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Seasonal Feelings

For the record, when I talk about being "out of season" this is the song that goes through my head every time I say that phrase.
It's the REO Speedwagon song Out of Season off of the High Infidelity album.
Since the embed is disabled, you'll have to head over to check out the video yourself (click on the song title link).
Man, does this song take me back to spring 1981.
And since I know we all love our REO Speedwagon, seriously, who doesn't, here's a song for you from 1978:

Don't you miss The Midnight Special?
I remember back when I was 15 hanging out at some guy's apartment with some friends waiting to watch Linda Ronstadt on The Midnight Special.
Ah, those were the days.
Now I'm heading upstairs to do laundry and knit a sock.
How far the mighty have fallen.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Another Chance at Knitting

I've been working on this sock, a K2 P2 rib.
I'm not really thrilled with it.
Of course, you couldn't tell that by the three months it's taken me to get to the heel on the first sock.
No, correct that, the heel flap.
Yes, the first sock.
Can you imagine how frustrated I feel as I watch other knitters whip out sock after sock after sock, and I'm left ignoring my unfortunate project and feeling guilty about doing so.
I've decided to take a page out of Major Knitter's book, er, blog and knit just a regular sock.
Just - a - regular - sock.
Nothing fancy, no ribbing other than at the top, just a stockinette sock.
And you know what?
My knitting mojo wasn't lost, it was just masked by a bad project.
So I'm back to a beginner's project, and I'm okay with that.

(This is not my sock, this is from the pattern. My sock is cranberry red. Remember, I'm all out of season, what with the cinnamon candles and all.)

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Thursday Quiz - Nature Scents

It's almost spring, and the bulbs are beginning to grow, so why am I thinking of autumn?

You Should Light a Cinnamon Candle

You are affectionate yet mischievous. You have a warm, welcoming spirit - but you also like to spice things up.
You love hosting parties and events at your home. You love to live it up with your friends.
You're the type of person who is open hearted and accepting... as long as someone is willing to deal with your quirks.
You are both comforting and stimulating. You thrive in both familiar and exotic environments.

I guess cinnamon works in any season.
Especially in cookies.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

...but there's always time for TV

In my haus there has been: not much knitting, quite a bit of reading, no cleaning, but as the title reads, there's always time for TV.
Some of our latest favorite shows:

Sonny With a Chance - actually a very well-written show, the characters can be annoying at times, but they're teenagers (or portraying one). Check it out.

Big Bang Theory - It doesn't get much better when Sheldon takes on Penny in a mental and verbal wrestling match. Tawni on the aforementioned show was TOTALLY wearing a "Penny Blossom" on Sunday's show. Still love Chuck Lorre's writing -- I hope he can sustain it.

Flight of the Conchords - I've enjoyed this duo since their first quirky episode. The show is so random, how could you not love it. And the season finale already???

And for the piece de resistance (why can't blogger do accents?).
The newest "leaked" Tori Amos song from her upcoming album:

Sounds like we'll be heading to a concert soon!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Acclimation and perspective

Collectively, we've spent the last five months covered in layers of clothing in an attempt to keep warm.
Speaking for myself, it hasn't always worked.
Spring is just around the corner, and even though it isn't here yet, people in my town are celebrating the warm weather.
We hit almost 60 degrees today, and when that happens everyone moves outside.
This means, when the sun comes out the clothes come off.
Some people wouldn't think 60 degrees is warm enough to wander around in shorts.
Those people who think that live in Florida, I'm sure.
In New York, we're acclimatized to colder weather, so to us, 60 degrees is like 85 to someone used to a warmer climate.
It starts when we're young.
I know this, because if you drove around my town in April, when honestly it's really not all that warm, there are students sunbathing on the roofs of houses and in their front yards.
Today the kids who have remained behind during spring break were in their yards playing beer pong.
From a young age, northern children develop a proper perspective on weather. They know that the sun won't last that long, so they have to enjoy every moment it is in the sky and radiating warmth.
Unfortunately, our nights are still pretty damned chilly.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Reading Roundup - Weeks Ten and Eleven

No, I haven't disappeared.
I've been here, but I went inside my head.
Easy to get into, difficult to emerge from.
(Yes, I dangled, sue me.)
I have been totally engrossed in books, and I mean totally.
I've been thinking about what books to add to my homegrown syllabus, and considering all sorts of ideas about good and evil, hero development, and how female protagonists have changed so much in 40 years.
Last time I left off I was back in Medieval Germany, but lately I've been planted firmly in Lewis/L'Engle world.
I read A Wind in the Door (22), The Demigod Files (Percy Jackson and the Olympians) (23), A Swiftly Tilting Planet (24), The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (25) (finally finished!), The Horse and His Boy (26), and A Ring of Endless Light (27).
In the past two weeks I haven't read a book for anyone over the age of 14.
Can you understand now why I disappeared into my head?
I was recreating my childhood (or creating a better one).
Now if you'll excuse me, I'm heading back there.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Non-Knitting Friday

There's not even an opportunity to frog it or finish it around my house, because there's been zero knitting done this week.
I might have worked on some this evening, but DN1 came into my room at 7:20 and said, "Do you want to go to the Festival of Ten with me?"
This is a student show where they perform ten ten-minute plays.
It started at 7:30, so I had to make a quick decision.
I made the right choice - it was an excellent show, and I should really make the effort to go to some of these performances since it's just a few blocks down the street.
Me x Laziness = Too Much Effort.
Good news on the MA program front: I sent an email to one of my favorite professors earlier this week outlining an independent study I'd like to do under her tutelage.
Today she wrote me back and said....Yes!
I am psyched - we'll be studying YA Fantasy.
One of her suggestions is to read one of the Twilight books, because I had mentioned Ursula LeGuin in my email to her. She said the Twilight books set back feminist YA fantasy 20 years.
Interesting theory.
So once this class is done, three classes and a thesis until I'm finished.
Woo hoo!
Happy weekend everyone!

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Various Shades of Blue

I hate to repeat myself, but I will, and I'm going to talk about Pandora again.
It keeps me company at work, and I enjoy it.
Lately, I've been listening to a lot of the Indigo Girls .
Well, I really like their music, and DN1 and I used to harmonize along with them.
Secret revealed?
I used to think we could be the next Naomi and Wynonna, but that hasn't happened.
For the record, I'm not that good of a singer, I just like to sing.
I've got an Indigo Girls radio station on Pandora - and of all the Pandora stations I have, this is by far my favorite.
(Maybe someday we can all reveal our Pandora stations to each other, what do you think?)
I've discovered a lot of new music on this station - bands and artists that have been around for a while (The Waifs, Vienna Teng, Brandi Carlile, Ani DiFranco, Matt Nathanson), but that I'm just now discovering.
It's very enlightening.
So when I took the quiz about "What Girl Group Should You Be In?", I was pleasantly surprised, but pleased too:

You Should Be In the Indigo Girls

Your all about expressing yourself through music
Lyrics are your poetry - think Sylvia Plath meets guitar

They're coming to UB next month, but I don't have tickets.
I wonder if there are any left.
Tell me, what girl group should you be in?
Satisfy my curiosity, and maybe I'll write you a song and you can sing along.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009


Sometimes there are only so many entertaining things I can do in one night.
I've cooked dinner (that was not necessarily entertaining), cleaned up the dishes (ditto), and then I settled in with my book, A Wind in the Door.
But I also have a movie I am watching, The North Avenue Irregulars, one of my favorite Disney movies.
I would be knitting at the same time, but I'm having trouble staying awake.
All this stress to entertain myself is taking a toll on me.
Here's Phantom Fox in the movie - one of my favorite parts:

That Cloris Leachman, she's a kooky old broad.
(And she'll always be Phyllis, won't she.)

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

4th Grade Humor

Here are some jokes from my 4th grader:

My butt is broken.
Because it has a crack in it.

What's black and white and red all over?
A newspaper.

Why did the cookie go to the doctor?
He was feeling "crummy".

Sorry, that's all I've got today.
I had a meeting tonight, and I'm just getting back.
Do you have any good jokes to share?

Monday, March 02, 2009

Reading Roundup - Week Nine

Wow, what a busy reading week for me.
It started off by SN2 asking for some help on Monday with a paper he was writing for school.
When is it due? I asked
When did you find out?
Three months ago.
Okay, well let's get to the library.
So we spent 3 hours in the library finding references for his paper.
He got it done, but DN2 was jealous that she couldn't come with us, so I promised her I would take her to the library on Tuesday night.
Fortunately I like hanging out in the library, and that night it was especially helpful because we were there for 2 1/2 hours.
That's 5 1/2 hours in 2 nights -- more time than I ever clocked while I was taking classes!
DN2 likes to hang out in the Juvenile section down on the ground floor, and that's where we spent our time.
While she did homework, I did some reading of my own and checked out a load of books.
Because they're YA books they're easy to get through, and yesterday we headed back so I could check out some more.
I love owning books, but I also love discovering new books at libraries.
And apparently so do plenty of other people during this recession.
Subsequently, I've read quite a few books this week, while I still have a bunch more in the state of being read.
For this week I have all YA literature, and some of the authors I'm choosing has come about because I'm savoring slowly The Wand in the Word, and enjoying every bit of it. Wonderful interviews with YA fantasy writers.
I started with Meet the Austins by Madeleine L'Engle (17). I can't believe it took me this long to discover her. This book was about a family in the early 60s, and it perpetuates the notion that we have (well, I have) about families being Donna Reed/Father Knows Best units. But I love this kind of stuff, makes me feel nostalgic for a past that never really was.
I finished a slim novella called Very Far Away from Anywhere Else by Ursula LeGuin (18). It was alright, and maybe if I were 13 again I might enjoy it, because it is truly about teenage angst, but it is not really what I am looking for at this stage in my life. I think the only thing I would like about being a teenager again is having the ability to fit into my Calvin Klein jeans (which I still have).
I also found another short read by one of my favorite authors, Dawn of Fear by Susan Cooper (19). This story came directly from Cooper's past, because she grew up in Buckinghamshire, right outside of London, and suffered through air raid drills and bombings during WWII. This is a very lovely, poignant story about three young boys during this time.
It should be a movie.
Maybe it is, who knows.
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle (20) has always been one of DN1s favorite books, but I never took the time to read it. Shame on me. Now I can't get enough! I'm engrossed in another MLE book as we speak.
Finally, I found this book yesterday and started reading it while waiting for DN2 to do her thing in the library. It is The Silver Cup by Constance Leeds (21) and it is set during Medieval Germany, and it focuses on a Catholic girl who is witness to the slaughter of Jews in Worms. She overcomes religious persecution and finds out truths about herself and others. It was a very nice book, well written with good research.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Goodbye Pauline

I'm heartbroken.
One of my favorite characters from EastEnders has died of cancer.
In real life, not just on the show.
Wendy Richard died last week of cancer.
She played Pauline Fowler on the show.
If you've never watched EastEnders, and I haven't in years, and I miss it so, you may remember her from the classic British sitcom Are You Being Served.
When we moved to London back in the early 90s, DH and I got hooked on EastEnders, and my primary memory of Pauline is of her stridently saying, "We're faaam-ly!"
Love that Pauline.
Here's her final scene from EastEnders: