Monday, April 21, 2014

Reading, reading, reading

I've been reading a lot lately. I inherited a hand-me-down Kindle Fire at work, and I've been loving it. It's another thing to carry around, but it fits in my purse (currently a Vera Bradley backpack), so I can carry it anywhere, and it's a better reading experience than the iPhone, although I still do read on the iPhone in a pinch. I also downloaded some of my favorite jigsaw puzzle apps onto the Kindle, so I can do that as well.

The last few books I've read, I've really loved, and they weren't bestsellers, and I just ran across them by accident, so I wanted to pass the information along.

The first two books I wanted to recommend are by Sarah Painter: The Language of Spells and The Secrets of Ghosts. I was originally interested because of the covers. I really loved them. You can't always judge a book by its cover, and I try not to, but sometimes there are books with covers so beautiful that I really want to love them, and just can't. That wasn't the case here. I really did love both the covers and the books. Both of the books are ebooks only, and they are $.99 each, a huge bargain.

In the first book, The Language of Spells, Gwen Harper inherits a house from a great aunt that she barely knew. Her mother was a fortuneteller, they were constantly moving. The inheritance comes at the perfect time, since she is basically homeless, but it thrusts her back to her hometown and bad memories, and into a world of magic that she had tried to leave behind. Her sister still lives in the old hometown, and there is bad blood between them. Her sister doesn't want magic to touch her family (particularly her daughter Katie), and thus, wants nothing to do with Gwen, but she turns out to need her and her powers when a crisis arises. There is also a love interest in the person of the attorney she meets with to arrange things, who turns out to be an old boyfriend.

The second book, Secrets of Ghosts, is basically Katie's story. Due to events that came to pass in the first book, Katie is super cautious, never taking any kind of risk or chance. She also believes that the family magic has passed her by, but it turns out that she does have a version of the family gift, or as it is more usually referred to, the family curse. It just manifests differently in her.

I just thought both of these books were really lovely, very well written, suspenseful, and delightful overall. Very much worth reading, and definitely worth the $.99 price.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

More knitting stuff

As much as I love knitting, I may love the knitting tools even more. I love all the little things that go into my knitting bag. I have two basic modes of knitting. One is sock knitting, which, for whatever reason, I tend to do more of in the summer, and scarf knitting. Both are pretty much mindless; I knit the ubiquitous Multidirectional Diagonal Scarf, which I have memorized by now, and I knit my own basic sock pattern, which I have cobbled together from various patterns that I've tried over the years.

I also occasionally knit other things, like baby sweaters or novelty items, but socks and scarves are the constants. When I'm knitting a scarf or something like that, i.e., larger than a sock, I usually carry around a small tote bag with the knitting and a few tools, i.e., tape measure, crochet hook, stitch markers, etc. I have a Vera Bradley bag that I'm currently using as my knitting/tote bag, it's their Holiday Tote from a couple of years ago.

If I'm knitting socks, I carry a smaller bag, and I like clear vinyl bags because the yarn is so beautiful. I have a couple of small ones that I've purchased at yarn stores, but I kept hoping that Vera Bradley would make one, and they finally (sort of) did. I went to the VP store last weekend to get a coin purse, but when I saw it in person, I didn't really like it, but they did have something new--a Clear Beach Cosmetic.

It's the absolute perfect size for a ball of sock yarn and all of the accouterments. The only thing that would make it better is if it had handles, but other than that, it's pretty perfect. Inside the bag are:

  • Ball of sock yarn
  • Half a sock on five Size 1 bamboo double-pointed needles
  • Extra needles -- I seldom break one, but it can happen, so I have three or four extra ones
  • Scissors
  • Tape measure
  • Yarn needles -- a "chibi," a little plastic tube, with two needles, one plastic and one curved-tip metal one
  • A pill box with stitch markers, a couple of fancy ones that I made and a ton of tiny colored rubber bands that I just love
  • A crochet hook in case I drop a stitch
  • A laminated card with my sock pattern on it
  • One of my business cards, also laminated, in case I leave my bag somewhere
  • A pack of Post-it notes and a pen in case I need to make a note
  • And not absolutely necessary, but handy -- a tube of handcream, a package of tissues, and a spare pair of reading glasses

That pretty much covers all the basics. There are things that would be nice to have, and have occasionally been recommended, like a nail file, and band-aids in case you cut yourself, so you don't bleed all over your yarn, but there is such a thing as going too far, and that's pretty easy for me to do, so I try not to.

Olympic Knitting

I LOVE the Olympics. I always have. I look forward to them every time. I'm not exactly sure why I love it so. I have almost zero interest in sports at any other time of the year.

I've tried to analyze it; I like seeing the different countries, the different customs and scenery, and I enjoy the human interest stories about the athletes, but I think what I love most is the insular nature of it all. I enjoy books set in defined spaces like hotels, airports, resorts. There's just something about it that intrigues me. I think that's a big part of why I love Disney World so much, too.

I hurried home Friday evening so I could see the opening ceremony, and I've been firmly planted on the couch every evening since then, from 7:00 to 10:00. As far as the ceremony, I don't really care all that much for the pageantry, but I love seeing the athletes walk in, and I try to see all of that part.

And I also knit. I settle in on the couch with a fleece blanket and my knitting, and I'm set for the evening. Dinah sticks right by me, either on my lap or beside me on the couch. Or on my lap and under the blanket, which was kind of funny.

I do more knitting during the two weeks of the Olympics than I do any other time of the year, I think because I really watch so little television. In my down time I'm normally reading, and it's hard to knit and read at the same time. But watching television, I feel like I have to be doing something with my hands, so I knit. I finished a sock over the weekend, and started a new one, and I'm about halfway finished with it already. If I keep up this pace I can probably finish a pair before the Olympics are over.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Keeping track

One of the things that I really love--okay, one of my obsessions--is calendars. I love them, and I'm picky about them. When I find one I really like I want to keep getting it every year, but sometimes that causes some anxiety. I used to start getting really anxious when the calendars came out around September each year, wanting to be sure that I could get the ones I wanted.

Then the big bookstores--when there were still big bookstores--would have them for half price or less after the end of the year, so I tried to wait for that, and I was lucky for awhile. Then they got smart and stopped carrying so much inventory, so by the end of the year all they would have would be "History of Shoes" or "Sharks of the World" or The Simpsons.

Bob has gotten me Llewellyn's Witches' Calendar for several years now for Christmas. The last couple of years he hasn't been able to get it locally, so this year he went right to the website and ordered it, and then, of course, he went to Barnes and Noble and they had it. That one hangs next to my desk/sewing machine.

Then we have a calendar in the bedroom, and for several years that has been a Spirit of the Far East calendar. And I bought the "Zen Cat calendar for work last year and really liked it, so I wanted it again for this year. I didn't even try to get them locally, though, I just ordered them from Amazon.

I also ordered my favorite datebook, We'moon Gaia Rhythms for Womyn. I know. "Womyn." But I love it. It's perfect. I think the first time I bought it was in a gift shop in Sarasota, but I've never seen it anywhere else. Since then, I've ordered it from Amazon or Barnes & Noble, wherever it was cheaper. I tried to not buy it this year, but I caved and placed the order on Christmas Day. It looks like they probably won't arrive until after the first, but that's okay. I'll try to not wring my hands too much.

Bob also has a calendar he needs every year, the Trout of North America calendar, and I ordered it for him from Amazon, too. It's an odd size, and fits in his bathroom on the wall between the toilet tank and the shelf above it. Oh, and we always have one in the kitchen, but I don't obsess over that one. If someone gives us one, that's cool, or I'll pick up a cheap one somewhere. We always used to get one from my uncle's service station, which was neat, but he passed away last year, and we don't get that anymore. (I ended up getting Charles Wysocki Cat Tales at Joann on the clearance rack last week.)

Barb got me a mini Japanese Wood Block Prints calendar for Christmas, and that goes by my "writing" chair. So I think we're pretty well set for calendars!

For the past few years I have successfully kept myself from buying Franklin Planners or similar; I love them so much, but I just can't justify them anymore since I keep my calendar on the computer. And they're heavy, and I get tired of carrying them around, but they're useless if I just leave them at work, so I try to resist. The We'Moon one is a compromise. I probably don't really need it, but it's lighter than some, and not too bad to carry around, or at least that's what I tell myself.