Sunday, October 11, 2009

Jeez, I've Gotten So Bad At This.

Gah. It's been over a month since I last blogged! Bad blogger, no cookie. Sorry, guys, I keep meaning to get back to regular blogging, but between my schoolwork, being at the kids' school, and just general craziness, I lapsed again. My apologies. I'm going to commit to blogging at least once a week to get back on track. I've been doing a lot of committing lately, so let's chat.

First up - kids are back in school, and it's like a breath of fresh air for me. Not to have them out of the house for six hours, I meant the social interaction again. I stepped up my involvement with the Parents' Association and the school itself this year, because I just enjoy being around everyone so much. I'm in the school almost every day because there's always some way to help, and honestly, what else am I going to do? Sit home and snarf down a sleeve of Oreos? Because I know that's what the alternative is. Plus, I'm lucky enough to have my kids in a school that welcomes parents - I'm taking advantage of it.

The boys are loving school this year, and they have two great teachers. That's a HUGE sigh of relief you hear right now. They've been pretty consistently lucky except for one hiccup that Heartbreaker had a couple of years ago.

Schoolwork for me is going along much better than I had whipped myself into a lather over. The management class that I feared with all of my being is a pretty interesting course, and the professor is a big part of that; she has found reading and lessons that aren't nearly as dry as I'd imagined management writing to be. I have a big project coming up in the next few weeks that I'm terrifying myself into inaction on (again), but I've committed to getting that started this week. I have lucked out so far in getting my work done before deadline, and I'd like to keep that streak going.

I'm committing also to losing some weight again. I'm tired of beating myself up. The bingeing is the hardest habit to break. I've been re-reading my old yoga books for some inspiration.

Which brings me to the reading list. Read so far:
A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future by Daniel Pink - for years, I've loved that expression, "Left-handed people are the only ones in their right mind" because... well, because I'm left-handed. But this book goes beyond the cute little slogan and examines how we'll need to step up our game in the future, now that third-world countries are competing with us in the jobs arena, more and more work is being automated, and quite frankly, we just have too much stuff to want something just functional (The "three As" - Asia, automation, and abundance, as Pink puts it). His idea of developing right-brained skills, like empathy and symphony, to infuse our experiences with functionality and then some really appeals to me. Yes, I read this for school, but I ended up coming away with a lot more than work on an assignment.

Fall to Pieces: A Memoir of Drugs, Rock & Roll, and Mental Illness by Mary Forsberg Weiland - I reviewed this one for the clubs, and it's your typical celeb spouse tell-all. On the one hand, I was impressed and somewhat empathetic with her struggles against bipolar disorder and getting clean, but on the other, it's so formulaic. Dysfunctional childhood. Check. Beautiful girl, begins modeling. Check. Falls in love with aspiring rock star. Check. Drug Abuse. Check. Diagnosis of psychological dysfunction that proves the feelings she’s had but was never able to describe all along. Check. Ultimate divorce from rock star so she can heal. Check. She name-drops like crazy and tends to adopt a whiny teenage girl voice when talking about the early years of being in love with Scott Weiland while he was dating and married to his longtime girlfriend. Gag me.

Management Basics for Information Professionals by G. Edward Evans & Patricia Layzell Ward - hey, I know it's a textbook for school, but I've got to read it, right? I'll go with what another Amazon reviewer wrote: "Not bad as textbooks go." I liked my textbook from last semester (Foundations of Library & Information Science) better; it had all the cool history information. Heck, I really liked my Professor Haycock's book (he's the dean at my school), The Portable MLIS, with The Whole Library Handbook 4, too. I didn't get to read both in their entirety, but I can see myself going back and reading these during some downtime.

Next up, I'm reading 12: The Elements of Great Managing by Rodd Wagner & James K. Harter, Ph.D. It's another book for school, but again, I'm glad my professor has found material that livens up the whole management reading. I tend to like case studies, and this book has many of them. It goes down easier, and makes information stick better than just reading a textbook. According to the authors, there are 12 elements in order to be a great manager. Interesting concept, sad to see how many of these elements are absent today.

Other than school reading, I'm going between three books right now. I started a Supernatural novel, Nevermore. This time around, Sam and Dean are investigating some creepy murders that echo murders from Edgar Allen Poe's books. That's taken a backseat for a little while, because I started Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen. I kind of got sucked into a reading group that's done through the Dept. of Ed and the local schools, so I decided to give it a shot. So far, I really like it; I'm only about 20 pages in so I can't discuss too much, but I'll be back to talk about it.

Yoga Conditioning for Weight Loss is one of the yoga books I'm revisiting in order to get back to where I was years ago. It's not even so much about the weight loss - I need to get my head back into a good place. Once I get that down, everything else will follow. Getting into a regular yoga practice again, getting my head into the place that yoga brings me, is where I need to begin. I can't find a link to the book, but there are DVDs (AM and PM) that I also own that are great. Suzanne Deason is one of my two favorite yoga instructors, the other being Sarah Ivanhoe. Very relaxing, great starting point for introspection. Hopefully I'll have good news in a few weeks' times.

More to come, including knitting updates.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

School's In!



School finally began this week, and not a moment too soon, judging from my last entry. Not so much for getting the kids back to school as getting me around people again. The boys (and I) are thrilled with their teachers, and I've already started logging Mom Hours in the school. It is so nice to be around people I like again, and I won't lie - being part of the Parents' Association makes me feel like I'm working again.





Off to school we go!




The Cutie and his Buddy





Murderer's Row, aka Heartbreaker and The Gang


School's back in session for me, too, and I've been pretty happy with the class so far. It's more of a management class, one of those core courses that gives you a taste of something, should you decide you follow that path in the future. Taking a management class gave me some pause; I was afraid that the material would be dry, but the professor is very good and has chosen readings that put a new perspective on management. She is very much in touch with the class and is communicative, and she chose early assignments that helped us all get to know one another, so it's going better than I could have imagined.
Cutie Pie starts Sunday School this year, and while he was initially not thrilled with going to Church AND school on a Sunday, he seems to have warmed up, having met his teacher, Ms. Mercedes. Even Heartbreaker sounds like he wants to return to Sunday School next year, so I told him he's got to start catching up on material he's missed. I think having Cutie in the school sparked his interest; it's fun having a little brother around, apparently. At least, sometimes.
Lots of reading and knitting going on, but I'm going to pause here for now and take advantage of the sunshine. Happy New Year, everyone!




Tuesday, September 01, 2009

A Rant.

Normally, I try to keep the blog light. Who wants to read the rantings of a lunatic? So please, feel free to skip this post today; I just needed to write this out somewhere before I burn myself up inside.

I'm sorry about putting this up here, but it's been brewing for a while now and I am hoping that by getting it out of my system I can move on. Like I said, just pass this post by if you want. It's more for me this time.

I am tired. I have been out of work for almost 10 months now. On the one hand, I love and am appreciative for the time this has given me to be with my kids, and for how much easier their lives have become as a result. They don't have to wake up at the crack of dawn on a day off to be shuttled off to the in-laws because I have to work. I don't have the sick feeling form in the pit of my stomach every morning I hear a cough or the groan, "I have a bellyache..." because I may have to call in and deal with crap from a boss who either doesn't have kids, never made them a priority, or was scared to and is just passing the buck. I love that they were actually able to go to bed late and sleep late on summer vacation, like a kid should. Having said that, I am so lonely.


At first, I felt like I was useless. I see people dressed nicely, heading to work, as I dropped my kids off at their half-day summer camp clad in my sweats and t-shirt that I'd slept in. I tried to shower in time to pick them up so I'd at least feel like I'd accomplished something while they were in camp. Yes, I know - I had school and that time was spent working on the FINAL PAPER OF DOOM, which was all good time spent. But I go to school online. I'm alone.

There are apparently many stay-at-home mothers that my children are friends with during the school year, but you'd never know it come summer. I have made attempt after attempt to reconnect with these friends over the summer, but I'm either left to wonder if my e-mail made it through, if there's something wrong with my cell phone, or I'm politely told, week after week, sorry, there's something else going on. Do you know what it's like for a 6-year old kid not to see any of his friends during the summertime? Do you know what it's like to try and explain that to him?

And then there are the friends that just disappear when you're at home. Everyone's working 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If anyone is left, there are promises and jokes of the attempts to get together that never happen - but my phone doesn't ring. I've asked time and again to see people. Offers have been vaguely made, and when I try to suggest making it concrete, my messages apparently get lost in the ether. Jokes are made about how often we try to get the kids together and it doesn't happen, but there's no 'we' happening here. I try.

My stepfather's passing brought people to my aid, for which I am eternally grateful. But two weeks after he's in the ground, we're back to square one. All those offers of "Do you need anything?" fade away, when all I need is someone to freaking talk to. Someone to go to the park with. Someone to just come talk to me about something other than Disney Channel and wrestling and Nickelodeon and video games.

Look, I'm not condemning everyone I know. There have been friends who, in spite of having full plates of their own, have reached out this summer. I hope they know that I appreciate everything they've said and done more than they can possibly know. But before I get caught up in excuses and trying to apologize for my feelings at the outset, let me just pause here. I'm feeling what I'm feeling and not trying to call anyone out or hurt anyone else's feelings. This is my space to talk about what's on my mind and this is what is.

On days that I feel like this, I'd rather have no one - because at least then, I'd know what to expect.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Amish Fun

I saw this sign when we were watching fudge get made. I think it sums it all up nicely.



An amusing new take on American Gothic?


Looking at this now, Christine and I really should have taken the kids spots, but then no one would have been left to take the picture.

Mike continues to be inspired by Weird Al Yankovic's "Amish Paradise".


Okay, this is cuter.



Mom and I, a little damp from having ridden the tube ride you see in back.

Books, books, books. Working my way through the Hellboy novel On Earth As It Is In Hell, since I needed to take a break to take care of schoolwork. I also read the Vol. 1 graphic novel, Seed of Destruction, so now I'm set with the first few issues of the comic. I hope to get all of them, because I love the way they're written and I've been a fan of Mike Mignola's art since I used to collect Dracula cards (from the Gary Oldman movie), where he did artwork.
Also read another wrist-slitter for the clubs, a book called The Unnamed by Joshua Ferris. A high-powered lawyer develops a resurgence of a disease he had a few years before, which causes him to walk compulsively. He is fully aware while it happens, it's just that he has no control over the urge and will walk until he passes out from exhaustion, at which point his wife has to go fetch him from wherever he ends up. There's no physical trace of the disease and nothing seems to treat it, so he's never vindicated. He's humiliated by his coworkers, loses his partnership at the firm, and eventually, his family falls apart as his wife descends into alcoholism and his daughter withdraws into herself. There's an odd sort of murder mystery thrown in that doesn't really seem to belong there. The thing is, nothing ever improves in this book. It really is a downward spiral of misery and it wasn't that great of a book. I admit that losing my stepfather after seeing him in and out of a hospital for a few years didn't help the state of mind I was in while reading the book. It's not going to find a space on my bookshelf.
Cutie's birthday came and went, and now I have a six year old. How did that happen so quickly? We kept it low-key, having just lost Rich the week before, and had a cake for him at my Mom's, with presents at Grandma's earlier that day. His party will be in September again, since I had such a great turnout last year by waiting until everyone was back from vacation and in school. He doesn't mind; we pretty much make his birthday a month-long event this way.

Getting Back to Fun

After the rollercoaster of emotion we've ridden out over the past couple of weeks, we headed out to Amish Country to get some space to clear our heads, if not our hearts. I worked on the Clementine Shawlette, which I had to start practically from scratch. In my so-called genius, I decided I was going to knit the entire thing in one piece as opposed to the two the pattern calls for. I was about to start the decreases that would have taken me into the second half of the pattern when it just became a colossal mess. Argh. So I frogged it down to the first 46 rows, which may sound like a lot, but trust me - it ain't. It did knit up quickly enough, though, and I'm halfway through - and this time, I listened to what the nice designer told me and put this half on stitch holders while I work the other half:


I think it's showing up almost as a white shawlette, but it's a beautiful ice blue.

Amish Country is beautiful. I can't get tired of the area. There's great food, fun things to do, and we went with our friends Ron and Christine and their two daughters, so it was like a huge family vacation. The kids all had a great time together and it was great for Mom to be out and about.

Another great thing about Amish Country? The crafts. Folk Art is hugely popular in the area, and I've found myself buying sheep-related folk art the past couple of times I've visited. Then, there's the Amish quilts.

This was one of the four quilts I was able to photograph on a tour through an Amish farmhouse. It's so beautiful, and man, am I determined to learn to quilt after seeing these beauties. No, I have no delusions of grandeur; I know this will not be my first, or maybe 100th, attempt, but if I could just sew a few squares together, I'll be tickled pink.

Oh, and the yarn:


I finally bought something at the Lancaster Yarn Shop! I went last time, but it's a bit pricey for an unemployed gal. This time, though, I caught a sale on some beautiful Brown Sheep yarn in this beautiful teal color that begs to be made into a scarf or gloves and hat this winter. I think a nice slouch hat would look great, don't you?

And now, back to the quilts.


This quilt was my absolute favorite. It's hard to tell from the picture, and a close-up I tried to take didn't really show the detail as well as I'd have liked, but there are heart designs sewn into the body of the quilt, outside of the print areas. These women do this by hand or using old treadle sewing machines - I'm completely floored by the beauty they create.



And of course, the kiddies were all over the buggies that were out in the farm area.
More pictures to come.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Post I Didn't Want to Write.

I've been avoiding writing this for a couple of days, despite keeping family and friends updated through Facebook statuses - maybe a blog post seems more final than a fleeting status message. Maybe I just got tired of actually voicing it. I started writing a post, but realized I was just rehashing every damned thing about the past few days, so I pulled it. No one needs to read the gory details.

My stepdad, Rich, died five days ago. It was sudden, brutal, and left us shattered. It wasn't a movie farewell, where we had time to reconnect and he had full speech and mastery of his limbs despite being hooked up to multiple machines. He didn't expire at a climactic period, his head gently lolling to one side and his eyes softly closing as if drifting off to sleep while we stood in loving vigil surrounding his bed. It was a death that crept up on all of us and snatched him away. Yet, in all of this, I have to believe that the prayers I asked for were enough to get God's attention long enough for Him to take Rich before the real pain began, and in that, I need to find some solace and be grateful. It's difficult.

The hardest part - well, one of them - was helping Heartbreaker get through this. He's old enough now that he understands that Grandpa's gone and he's not coming back. Nancy suggested some books for me to read to the kids, so I have to find some of them. I checked out the library yesterday, but none were in. Cutie Pie has a vague idea that Grandpa's gone, but the fact that he spent the better part of the last four years in and out of the hospital makes me wonder if he thinks Grandpa will be home eventually. This is so tough.

I've been knitting the Clementine Shawlette from the Spring 2007 Interweave Knits; since this all blew up as I was knitting it up, I thought about giving it to my Mom as a prayer shawl. I don't know that she'd wear it, because she's not really the shawl type - she's the one who's always hot - but maybe. If she doesn't want to wear it, then I'll keep it. It's a beautiful ice blue DK-weight (Dolly, by Cascade Bollicine) that I received in a swap last year and it's perfect for the shawlette. I'm trying to knit it in one piece, so hopefully that will turn out well. Normally, it's two pieces knit separately and kitchener stitched together, but I was concerned that it I did it like that, it would look like Frankenshawl, a giant bump down the middle. We shall see.

I also finished the Chalice Baby Blanket for my mom's coworker. A fellow blogging knitter posted her pictures here, so you can see what it looks like. I've got to block it and let it shape, and then I'll post mine. I used the new private label yarn from Michael's, so the new mom won't have to sweat handwashing and pinning the blanket every time. It knit up nicely, but it was a little rough on the hands; I may just go back to Bernat or Lion Brand for my machine washable stuff in the future.

I finished the FINAL PAPER OF DOOM for school and did better than I dared hope. I finished the class, which I was terrified of as it was during the summer, and was thrilled with my grade. It was a great class, and I'm on to the next one starting on Monday. I've already put one mini-assignment up, and have to complete another by tomorrow. So much for my three weeks of blissful nothing. But it's all good; I'm ready to dive into another semester.

I managed to get through a couple of graphic novels recently, just to relax and let my brain enjoy a mini-vacation. I finally got to sit down and read Marvel Zombies 2 (with Ash from Evil Dead!) and enjoyed it more than I thought I would. Now I have to track down the first compilation to see if it's as fun. It really is fun, too, not as scary as I thought it was going to be - then again, with Ash in it, why did I expect anything else?

I've been on a Hellboy kick lately, so I also checked out Hellboy: Wake the Devil. I don't understand how Hellboy was one of those comics that I always meant to check out when I was reading comics voraciously in the '90s, but somehow never got around to. I guess I was spending so much money on the 12,000 crossover issues and variant covers of X-Men that I had no cash left. (Okay, and Lady Death and Evil Ernie, and a few others here and there, too.) I remember leafing through an issue or two in the comic book store and loving it, so what the hell? Regardless, I'm a fan now and would love to eventually add all the trade paperbacks to my collection.

Of course, I got it ass-backwards and read Wake the Devil before Seed of Destruction, which I also have waiting, but as Seed of Destruction is the inspiration for the first movie, I picked up on the Wake the Devil storyline pretty quickly. I appreciated that I was familiar with most of the characters, good and bad, and therefore the storyline going in, and I really loved how they were all written. It made me appreciate the movie even more. I think I have to track down the Hellboy action figure the kids have somewhere in their room and display him on my shelf next to my Morpheus and my Daniel figures - it's that good.

I'm also in the middle of the Hellboy novel On Earth as it is in Hell by Lydia Ballard. Very good reading. Angels attack the Vatican to keep an ancient document from reaching the public, and the BPRD is called in to investigate and transport the document to headquarters. I haven't read further than that, since school reading is back, but I'll keep you posted.

Pictures of knitting to come; I haven't really felt like busting out the camera the past few days.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Brain-Numbingly Tired

I submitted my final paper today, effectively concluding my ivory tower summer. While this paper took a lot out of me, I have to say that I loved every single minute of this course and the work that I put into it. I discovered that maybe, just maybe, I may be cut out for this program after all, and I realized that I have a great group of people in my corner who are pulling for me. And that feels pretty damned good.

Summer has been pretty consumed with schoolwork, but I did find some more book time. I read a book for the clubs called The Boy Who Couldn't Sleep and Never Had To, which was really out there and that I didn't end up enjoying as much as I'd hoped I would. It's a story about two high school geeky kids who come together to create a series of fantasy novels and movies, maybe even an MMORPG like World of Warcraft. One kid confesses to the other that he has never slept. Ever. The two friends get into it over a girl, the 'normal' kid squeals on the kid with the talent, and the Men in Black show up. It was a scattered type of book, and none of the characters were really likable, or unlikable enough, to keep me interested by the end of the book.


I also read another book for our family discussion group. This time, Will chose The Onts, the first book in the Dripping Fang series, which I loved! It's a more wacky take on orphan books like the Series of Unfortunate Events novels. We had a good discussion on the book, and I'm looking forward to reading the next book - Wil's already done with the series, so I have a bit of catching up to do.


Finally, I snuck in some of my own reading, this time another Torchwood novel, Something in the Water. I love the Torchwood novels. This is my second one and the authors really have the characters and the mythology of the show down. Something in the Water visits the legend of the water hag, who spreads a virus throughout Cardiff (I think it even reaches London) which ends up being offspring, gestating in men's upper respiratory systems.

Speaking of Torchwood, who watched Children of Earth?! I'm not posting spoilers here, but... WOW. I've read that Russell T. Davies is committed to a fourth season (Children of Earth was a season? Five episodes?), but the way the last episode ended up, I wonder where they've left to go. It will be interesting.

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Doctor Who. Watched Planet of the Dead, which I enjoyed but not as much as I enjoyed the Christmas episode. Three more episodes with David Tennant. Sigh.

Knitting has taken a bit of a back seat in the past couple of weeks, but I'm back on the Chalice baby blanket I've been working on for my mom's friend. Pictures to come.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Batgirl Pilot

Anytime I can reference Batgirl in a paper for school, it's all good.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Summer Reading

One of the blogs I follow featured this video of President Obama reading Where the Wild Things Are. So now, Cutie Pie can tell everyone that the President read him one of his favorite stories.

Monday, July 13, 2009

A Weekend of Unprecedented Knitting.

After handing in what ended up being an emotionally exhaustive paper for me (the first academic paper I've done in 17 years), I decided to take a couple of days off and knit myself into a soothing coma. What follows is the results of my weekend.

First, I finally bought buttons for the Celtic Cable Neckwarmer from Storm Moon Knits - I was giving it to a friend for her birthday, and handing her a half-completed project would probably look a tad gauche. I found some beautiful Celtic buttons at Joanne's Fabric on a jaunt with Stacey a few weeks ago, so on they went. The buttons may be a bit heavy for the baby alpaca, but I'm hoping it stands up well. I was so happy with how this neckwarmer came out that I want to make more for myself and my mom.


My stepsister is due with her third baby (and first son!) next month, and since I've been trying to be a little more receptive to that side of the fam, I decided to make a couple of gifts for the baby. I figured what would be cooler that a pair of Baby Chuck Taylors? I haven't made a pair since the pair I did for Lauren's baby shower last year, so I was worried - but I needn't have; the pattern still knits up as easily as ever and they just looked so darn cute.


I also had some cotton yarn, so I worked up a quick washcloth.

And there's no baby gift from me without an Umbilical Cord Hat, a baby shower mainstay since Stitch & Bitch taught me to knit in the round a few years ago. It's just an adorable hat, and I can practically knit it in my sleep these days. I used yarn left over from a project I did for Heartbreaker's teacher, who I made a baby blanket (yes, and an Umbilical Cord Hat) for earlier this year; I think it's a fun take on the 'baby boys get blue' theme.



I also worked up a Doctor Who Jelly Baby after watching The Next Doctor episode, which got me all geeked up. I won't post a picture of that until I finish it, though.
Speaking of the good Doctor, who else is counting down until Planet of the Dead airs on July 26th? As it stands, my DVR lets me set up to record shows 6 days ahead, so tomorrow is the first day I'll be able to set up to get Torchwood's Children of Earth. Whoo hoo! I'm also looking forward to checking out Being Human. Telly for all!

Back on the American side of sci fi (NOT 'ScyFy'), anyone watch Warehouse 13? Thoughts? I enjoyed it; granted, it's very "X-Files" meets the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark, but I think it's going to ramp up if it's done right. I'm also happily awaiting the return of Sanctuary in October. It's a great time to be a sci fi fan.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Now Back to Our Regularly Scheduled Blogging.

Okay, so after my little brush with idiocy on the 'Net...


I finally finished my first 'big' paper of the semester. The first two were smaller, really reviews; first of a library periodical and then of a library association. This time up, I had to write a paper on Valuing the Information Professional. I had to research salaries, take a good look at what the profession does and means to people, and put a price tag on what I'm worth. Never having to look at what I've made, but feeling free to bitch about it all the time, this was a challenge to me and I do feel, having spent the last two weeks of my life devoted to this, that I've learned quite a bit and come away with even more respect for this profession.


Naturally, I hope I did well enough in my professor's eyes, but I do feel like I've learned something from this assignment. I also had a crash course in learning a new writing style, which took years off my life as I formatted my paper last night. Lord, the reference list always destroys me. I've already started getting the research together for my next paper, due in a few weeks; something tells me I'll be creating the reference list first - I can always delete sources if I decide not to go with them.


Other than that, there's been reading and knitting like mad. I think I'll refer to this summer as my Summer of Socks since they seem to be my pet project this summer. I finally finished the Circque socks from Spring Knitty, which were so much fun! I loved the heel, I love the twisting cables, and the only complaint I had was that the yarn, while gorgeous, was VERY splitty. Thankfully, it doesn't show up in the socks themselves. LOVE. This yarn is Crystal Palace Soy Silk, and I have to say, I'm loving these new, sustainable fibers. I tried bamboo a few months ago, and fell in love immediately. I may try another soy or silk blend and see if they get splitty again - I'm hoping not.

I also finished sock #2 on Roza's socks from Spring '07 Interweave. I FINALLY used the yarn I bought during our Savannah-versary last year, and this pattern ROCKED. It's so simple, but so pretty when knit up, and the variegated yarn took nothing away from the pattern. The brioche stitch was a perfect variation on the K3, P3 rib; it kept me interested but was easy enough to remember that I didn't need to cart the magazine around to refer to constantly. LOVE.

Roza's Socks

Circque socks

What's next? I started my 'Pay it Forward' projects from Facebook, but the yarn I bought recently apparently does NOT want to be what I had in mind. Back to the drawing board, I guess. The Pay it Forward project was a sweet idea that started when a friend of mine tagged me. You agree to handmake projects for the first five people that respond to your post, with the guarantee that they will do the same. I'm looking forward to my goodies, so I'm going to make these good!
Books, books, books - I've been sneaking some downtime reading in while working on schoolwork so that I don't burn out. I finished off two Jen Lancaster books, Bitter is the New Black and Bright Lights, Big Ass. God, I could read her constantly; she is outright hilarious. From spoiled dot-com princess to newly minted author, she never fails to find the insane side of life.
I finally finished Warriors: Into the Air, and Heartbreaker and I had a great book discussion! He's trying to get me to read The Secrets of Dripping Fang: The Onts, which I'd love to read, but I'm pushing The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, since it's on his summer reading list. Stay tuned to see how this Mexican standoff goes.
Since I'm working on a paper discussing the image of the librarian and the transition from a bun-headed spinster to a tech-savvy cyberpunk, I decided to tap my cyberpunk side and picked up Neuromancer by the Big Daddy of Cyberpunk, William Gibson. It's been a while since I first read it, so it really is all new to me and I find myself enjoying it like I did the first time I stumbled on it. More on it as I go, since I haven't been able to read much the past couple of weeks.


Thursday, July 09, 2009

Asshats I Have Encountered.

Okay, I left a cliffhanger the last time I posted; I mentioned encountering an asshat on YouTube. Here's the story in brief. Normally, I am fairly private about my kids' information online. However, since I have a fair amount of family and friends who enjoy them, I have loaded videos on YouTube that I've left public. I do this because the process to friend someone and then get separate access to their videos is a bit cumbersome and it caps at 25. Being in an Italian-Irish-Greek household, 25 people doesn't get me past immediate family. And since I don't tag my videos, my kids aren't likely to come up on a generic search by weirdos.

Or so I thought.

I recently got a message that said someone commented on one of my YouTube videos. Cool, I thought, figuring a family member or friend checked a few out. Instead, I see, "wow lame".

wow lame? Did e.e. cummings just review one of my kids' videos? No such luck. Apparently, some asshat who shall remain nameless so that I don't give him (or her, but most likely a him) any more attention, found Heartbreaker's video from the Nickelodeon slime bus and decided it was lame. I'm so sorry, sir, that you were so offended BY MY KID'S NICKELODEON video that you were compelled to leave such effusive feedback.

Then, I decided to check this genius out and was completely disgusted. At first, I saw a jerk who favorited videos denying 'roid rage (and said that Chris Benoit, the wrestler who killed his wife, son and then hung himself, was having emotional problems, not 'roid rage), wrestling excerpts, and video game cheats. Generic, jackass geek stuff. But then I noticed some weirder stuff. Lots of videos from Nickelodeon family shows like Double Dare, where people got stuff dumped all over them - but it was all women. He had cheerleaders getting pizza dumped on them, girls getting slimed, and just recently, he appears to have subscribed to a fetish site where this kind of video prevails. The fact that he saw my kid? CREEPS ME THE HELL OUT.

So let's just say I've gotten a little education in the Web, and I may not sleep so soundly tonight. In the meantime, access to my kids online is going to get a lot more difficult.

Friday, June 26, 2009

So It Begins!

Shortly, I will be dashing out to get my children from their half-day of school, so we can begin enjoying their summer vacation! Teacher gifts have been lovingly distributed, hugs and kisses have abounded, and playdates (for me as well as the kids) are in process. Whoo hoo!

I'll talk about books next posting, and an asshat I came across on YouTube. Keep posted.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Graduation!





Thrilled, n'est pas?



Cutie Pie graduated Kindergarten yesterday! I have no more babies. Sniffle. But it's not about me; it's all about him. He ROCKED his first year in full-on school, and I couldn't be more proud. If only first grade knew what was coming for them in September...



I will say that the ceremony was even more psychotic than usual, with the parents acting more horribly than the children. Crawling over one another, standing en masse in other parents' way so that they could get a shot of their child - I was fuming, and not very silently. When I saw one of Cutie's friends, shifting uncomfortably in his seat and I realized it was because the poor kid couldn't actually sit back in his chair because a parent was balancing her elbow there in order to hold her videocamera steady, I blew my stack. Luckily, being a member of the PA Board, my friend noticed me and brought me up to the front row, but that doesn't change anything. Rude is rude, and this was mortifying. Do we have to act like this in front of our kids, folks?



I turned in my second paper today, and got another 10/10. I cheered out loud, and then started looking up when the next paper is due. This class is great, but it is truly a trial by fire. It looks like I've got two weeks to work on this next one, but I'll make sure to devote some time to it every night. I've managed to stay pretty current with the readings and the writings, and I need to stay on track.



Knitting - still working on the Cirque sock; I go to it as stress relief between papers.



Reading - Finished Friends Like These - hilarious and perfect, as I mentioned before, for the Facebook generation. I am tempted to go get more of Danny Wallace's books, he's so accessible as a writer. In the meantime, I'm reading lots of great articles on the history of the library and the image of women in the library, for my paper.



I also finished another good book for the clubs; this one's Hungry by Crystal Renn and Marjorie Ingall. Crystal Renn is a model who started out "straight size" (amusingly enough, that's what they call 'regular' models); she suffered from anorexia for several years in her teens before finally deciding to go the plus-model route and found huge success in doing so. The fact that size 12 is a plus size, especially on a 5'9" woman is just unbelievable, as is the assertion now that size EIGHT women are modeling plus size. An eight?! I'm 5'3" and aspire to getting back into my size 8s. Clearly, the fashion industry is more delusional with each day. Anyway; Renn has revolutionized plus-size in that she does high fashion modeling in addition to the Lane Bryant, mainstream stuff. I even went so far as to Google Image Search her, and she really does have some beautiful stuff in her portfolio. She's even walked the runway for Jean-Paul Gaultier - maybe people are starting to finally wake up in fashion? Doubt it.



Okay, next book. I'm still reading Warriors by Erin Hunter, and Heartbreaker's waiting patiently to discuss it. He's reading book two in the series and just finished a Cornelia Funke book - Ghosthunters and the Gruesome, Invincible Lightning Ghost, which he really enjoyed. He's also working his way through the first book of Secrets of Dripping Fang; it appears he's inherited his parents' choice of fiction.

I'm also sneaking in chapters of another Jennifer Lancaster book, this time, Bitter is the New Black. I'd read Such a Pretty Fat by her last year, and am still laughing. I was kind of surprised by some of the hating going on when I read through her reviews on Amazon, even Publishers Weekly. Yes, she's self-centered; yes, she's brash and a bit shallow - but it's part of the character she's portraying. It's funny, people! Lighten up and laugh, we don't need to be the Greek chorus for everyone. Sometimes it's just funny.

Monday, June 15, 2009

One down...

After much ado about... well, something, I finally turned in my first paper of the semester. And got an A! Well, a 10 out of 10, to be exact, but that's an A, isn't it? To say I was relieved is an understatement, since I'd been beating myself up about whether or not I really belonged in graduate school. I could hug Nancy for letting me use 3 years' worth of Book Links issues so that I could get it done. Next paper is due this Friday; I'm researching the Catholic Library Association this time.

Off to run the kiddies to school for now; more later.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Musings.

Okay, keeping up with the books - finished Listen to the Animals, by a vet named Dr. Bruce Coston. He runs a small veterinary practice in the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia, and the book is his journey from childhood to becoming a vet and his life as a vet and the people he's come into contact with as a result. I'm not normally one for the sappy side of life, but I loved this book. Dr. Coston just comes across as a good man who loves animals and people, and he wants to do everything he can to help everyone he comes into contact with. He didn't go for the cheap sob stories - although be warned, there are some good ones in there - and he's not afraid to laugh at himself, or some of the wacky animals and humans they love.

What am I reading now? Well, take your pick. I've got my trusty Foundations of Library & Information Science for school - and yes, thank you, it is good reading. I'm also reading Friends Like These, by the guy who wrote Yes Man. It's the perfect read for the Facebook Generation, which I include myself in at the moment. Danny Wallace is on the verge of turning 30 (horrors!), and receives a box of stuff from his parents - a bunch of stuff left over from when he was a kid. He finds an old address book, and wonders what his friends are doing these days. And proceeds to go all around the world to find out. So you mean I'm not the only one looking up old St. Bart's associates? Love it! Check out the little video on the Amazon UK site from the link, too.

Heartbreaker's teacher has set goals for him - yes, now the DOE is making sure kids have goals. I thought getting a good grade on a test and not having your parents scream at you was an admirable enough set of goals, but no. One of his goals is to have a family book club, since he's very active in the class book groups. I decided it was a good idea, so I took out a book on his say-so. He's gone completely bonkers for a series by Erin Hunter called Warriors; I'm reading the first book, Into the Wild. It's a series about cats in the wild - not housecats who've run off, feral cats, with clans and a mythos and hierarchies. So far, it's very good; I'm enjoying it. It kind of reminds me of one of my favorite books as a kid, Pyewacket by Rosemary Weir.

You've never heard of Pyewacket? Not surprised; I've yet to find anyone who does. (Nancy?) It's a great book - I think my own copy may have been handed down from my cousin, actually. Anyway, it's a book from the points of view of a group of cats - all residential cats, but who gather together outside - who are the pets of the residents of a group of row-houses in what sounds like a run-down area of town. The houses are going to be demolished, so the people have to move and the cats have to decide whether they're going to stay or go. Pyewacket is an alley cat, no human for him; he's kind of the leader of the group. God, I wish I could find a copy of that book again. I loved that book.

I'll talk more about school next time; I've blathered on enough for now. More tomorrow.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Okay, something is still not right with the blog layout, but I'm powerless to figure it out at the moment. I'll keep at it.

It's been a crazy couple of weeks, which makes me scratch my head that so much can have happened in that time.

School officially starts on Monday, but I've been working since my head start two and a half weeks ago. It took me four libraries and two boroughs, but I've managed to get all four books I'll need this semester, saving me $156 plus shipping. Whew! I love the reading so far, since much of it is focused on the history of the library - take me back to Alexandria! I'm looking forward to reading about the monastic libraries, since my love for anything Medieval is well-known. I'm excited about school, so I'm hoping my enthusiasm propels me through the FOUR PAPERS I have to get done in EIGHT WEEKS.

My baby boy turned 10 last week - how did that go so quickly? He was in my arms for the first time not so long ago, and now he's pushing for more and more freedoms. His own set of keys, the ability to walk home by himself - it's all moving so much faster than I want it to. I know you can't stop progress, but I'd really appreciate it if progress would slow down its speed for Mommies.

Talking animal movies no longer holds him in thrall... Mike's relieved (and we do still have Cutie Pie, who has already stated his intention to see "G-Force" on opening day), but again, it's one more piece of babyhood falling away. I miss the days where he'd curl into my lap - only for about 10 minutes, since his attention span usually demanded he wander around the rows of the movie theatre every 20 minutes or so - and watch horses, gorillas, bears and moose all talk about their latest adventures.

On the other hand, I can talk comic books with him, and we've just read our first Edgar Allen Poe stories together. As he grows and our relationship evolves, I guess it's just finding a way to make our favorite pasttimes change enough to fit his comfort zone.

So now, I'll be first in line to watch a covert team of guinea pig operatives save the world, with Cutie Pie giggling next to me - until it's time to wander up and down the stairs of the theatre. And I'll do it gladly, remembering that when I wake up tomorrow, he may be 10, too.

I've been knitting and reading, as usual. I finished Ghosts and Lightning, and to be honest, it wasn't my thing. It wasn't horrible, just not my speed for fiction. It was very much in the vein of Trainspotting - good movie, just not my thing.

I also finished I Am Legend, and read with superb timing as Queens is dealing with outbreaks of swine flu that are shutting schools down right and left. The book is much different compared to the movie, and I enjoyed the movie. It's two very different works; the book seemed to have inspired the cinematic retelling more than anything else (a la Blade Runner). The book takes place in suburban California as opposed to Will Smith's post-apocalypse Brooklyn; the diseases differ between the book and the movie - okay, suffice to say that the only common ground between book and movie is a character named Robert Neville. The book also had a small short story collection by Matheson, many of which read like Twilight Zone episodes. Good stuff.

What's on the needles? Socks, perusual. It's the quickest thing I can stash in a bag and I don't usually stress as much about getting gauge. I've got two pairs half done - does that make sense? Pictures forthcoming with more yammering about gauge, soft silky soy yarn, and gorgeous merino wool.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

augh.

Apparently, something has buggered up my blog. I'm trying to figure it out.
Books, Blogs, and School...

Still reading - the latest two are probably about 180-degrees from one another, but that's how I roll. I finished Bad to the Bone, an autobiography of a 'rebel dog' named Bo. It's cute, he's no Marley, and it went down quickly and easily. After that, I started reading Ghosts and Lightning, which is an Irish novel about a guy in his 20s who comes back to Dublin after his mom dies. Right now, it's kind of just "we did this... and then, we did this...", so I'm hoping an actual plot forms soon. It's not unpleasant reading, it's just that I want to see if this will go somewhere since I have to write about it.

Just finished my first Battletar Galactica novel, Unity - great stuff. It reads just like a good episode of the show. Cylons implant an airborne virus into a prisoner and send him back to Galactica. Illness and religious panic ensue.

The job search panic continues, so I decided to head to the alma mater to check out their alumni resources. Turns out, they actually had a lot of services in place, so I've joined up and hopefully something will come through. The Alumni Resources office were wonderful; they even gave me a goodie bag for coming in and confirming my information! (They still had my original address down - I haven't lived there in 14 years!) I got two baseball caps (I updated Mike's info as well), two wallets, two bookmarks and a copy of their alumni mag. Needless to say, the kids swarmed, and it was all I could do to hold on to one baseball cap for Mike.

I've gotten a jump start on the Summer Semester - the ivory tower awaits, looking at the coursework I've got ahead of me, but it's all good. I managed to get two of the four textbooks I'll need from libraries here in Queens, and I've requested the other two from NYPL, so hopefully they'll come in SOON. Heck, I may even find myself at the hallowed halls of Queens College again in the near future to see what Rosenthal Library has.

I've also been applying to scholarships right and left, and I came across one that I could promote here - so, if you guys wouldn't mind, at least look at the site and consider giving me a hand? It's through a site called BrickFish.com, and the theme is "What Team Do You Play For?" You can check out my entry here, because for some reason, the code they're giving me to paste the entry here isn't working.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

6/11/09 - Editing this post to delete the pictures, in hopes that my blog layout returns to normal. Sorry!

Chocolate Parties!

I had the luck of being invited to a chocolate party. Yes, a chocolate party. Nancy had a Werther's Party through HouseParties, so we turned up to get some free snacks. BAGS greeted us. Not little snack-size, 100 calorie bags. BAGS. Like, grocery-store, full-on purchase sized bags. Of Werther's caramel chocolates. Dark AND Milk. Bliss.

The verdict: Chocolate good. Caramel chocolate better. Dark caramel chocolate BEST.


I've been reading obsessively these days. I finished another book for review, The Boy from Baby House 10, by Alan Philps and John Lahutsky. What an amazing story. John was born as Ivan, nicknamed Vanya, and spent 9 of the first 10 years of his life in a 'baby house' - basically, a baby gulag in Moscow where he and the other children were sent if the state or their parents determined that they were not able to be cared for in the home. Because being stripped of belongings and abused and neglected by your so-called 'carers' is MUCH better. As a human being, I was mortified. As a parent, I was furious. But it's a book people need to read. It's coming out in a few months, keep an eye out for it.



I'm almost done with another Doctor Who novel, The Wishing Well. Martha Jones is the companion in this one, and I have to keep reminding myself it's not taking place in the American Old West but a British village. Love the story, but my American brain is just having a hard time imagining a little old British town with a wishing well as opposed to an old Western gulch town - you can thank television, I guess, for that one. I should be done and onto the next one shortly.



I'm also reading another one for review, House of Cards, about a card writer/editor's time at Hallmark. More to come on that one, but it is as hilarious as the narrator is tedious and irksome. I think it's hilarious BECAUSE he's tedious and irksome, because I don't think he realizes that he actually comes off like a narcissistic jackass. Ever experience that?



Oh, and I haven't given up on Canticle for Leibowitz by any stretch. I'm off to renew it at the library today. I'm off, and since we're expecting a 91-degree day, I'll be filling up a big bottle of water to accompany me.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Spring Break!


Mercifully, my children aren't at the age where Spring Break is synonymous with "South Beach" or "MTV". For Spring Break this year, we escaped the Concrete Jungle and headed to literally greener pastures - Amish Country, in Lancaster, PA. We took my mom along, who really needed a break herself.


Let's hear it for Waffle House!


There is something very relaxing about waking up and seeing green everywhere. Our EconoLodge was right next to a farm, so we got to see (yes, and smell) the cows every morning. No alarm clocks, no work stress, no e-mail - it was bliss.


I was blown away by the amount of craftsmanship that still exists in Lancaster. There are handcrafted gifts in every store, from the beautiful quilts that Amish Country is known for, to the incredible amount of woodworked gifts - I treated myself to a little tin star (so many of the homes have the beautiful bigger ones on their doors - where am I putting that? My living room?) that's hanging in my kitchen, and the cutest little sheep - I've recently gotten little sheep figures in a couple of my knitting swaps, so I've kind of fallen into collecting them.


I also went to the Lancaster Yarn Shop, which was just gorgeous. I could have bought every single thing they had, if there wasn't that whole money thing involved. Just amazing yarns. I did have great deal of restraint - I didn't buy a thing. Lately, I've found that just increasing my stash hasn't helped when I go to find something to knit. I take part in a few swaps, so I love getting my stash increased that way, and it also helps me knit things for me - if I buy my stash, I end up knitting for everyone else.


Speaking of knitting, I had started a Stargazer sweater over the drive - figured the stockinette sleeves would make for good car knitting. For some reason, though, I got about halfway through one sleeve and I just noticed several little holes - I thought I was knitting evenly, but they were really on my nerves, so I frogged the sleeve. Yes, the whole sleeve. Augh.


I'm still working on the Cirque sock, but that required a completely different level of attention, so it ended up languishing in my knitting bag for the trip.



I'm still reading Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, which I'm enjoying much more than I thought I would originally would. But I've got to say, it's completely different from Blade Runner, the movie - in a good way. I'm looking forward to reading the supplement which details more about the making of the movie, because I'm thinking Ridley Scott used Dick's novel as a jumping-off point for telling his own story using Rick Deckard and the idea of retiring replicants. I think I'll watch the movie just after finishing the book, so it's fresh in my mind and I can get a full picture.


Back to Amish Country. We visited Kitchen Kettle Village, a shopping village where we got to take the kids and Mom on a buggy ride and wander around enjoying the beautiful day. We ate fresh kettle corn - I may never be able to eat the 99% fat-free microwaved stuff again - and Mike and the boys enjoyed freshly made ice cream.


The FOOD. I can't even describe it. We went to a few Amish-type places, where we had corn fritters with powdered sugar (heavenly!), homemade noodles in a chicken pot pie, brown buttered noodles (caramelizing the butter at the bottom to give it extra flavor) - I could go on and on and on. Heartbreaker managed to find macaroni and cheese everywhere we went, and Cutie Pie actually ate - at one point, after polishing his third hot dog off at Jakey's Amish Barbecue, Mike and I considered a move to Lancaster County, since we finally found a place he'd eat.



We also found several petting zoos, which I enjoyed as much as the boys did. Kitchen Kettle Village even had a llama, which I was desperate to shear and spin. ;) As you can see from the picture below, he was quite interested in being fed - right after this picture was taken, he managed to lean over enough to headbutt my Mom as she got the feed out!



Heartbreaker was looking forward to his funnel cake, so when he finally got a chance to have it, he expressed his glee. And that funnel cake was HUGE.



All in all, the boys thoroughly enjoyed having Nana spend three days with them. And the feeling was more than mutual.







Sunday, April 12, 2009

I Finished Two Books...

I finally finished To Heaven by Water. While it wasn't as bad as I feared it was going to be, it's not my literary cup of tea. But I did enjoy the way the author layered his story - I cringed, thinking it was going to be one particular storyline, but that was only the opening scene. The novel unfolded, and seeing how each of the main characters struggled to move on after the death of their mother/wife drew me in quite a bit. Good stuff.

I also finished a re-read of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. You know when you're in the mood to revisit an old book friend? I'd gotten a jonesing to reread H2G2 a few weeks ago, so I hit the library and ended up with that, A Canticle for Leibowitz, and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? - I've been on a Blade Runner kick since I got my suitcase of DVDs a couple of weeks ago.

I have to say, I enjoyed re-reading H2G2, but the re-read didn't make it any clearer than it was the first time I read it almost two decades ago. Which, I guess, is the point. It was a lot of fun, and I still love Marvin the manically depressed android. Having Alan Rickman voice him in the movie was an example of perfection in casting. I think I want to sit down and watch the movie again, having the book fresher in my mind now. I do remember them covering a bit more in the movie than the book had, so I may have to check out Restaurant at the End of the Universe sooner rather than later. I've only ever read the first book in the series. Feedback, anyone?

I hope everyone had a wonderful Easter and/or Passover!

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Ah... Spring.

Today kicked off the boys' Spring Break, and it couldn't have arrived on a more perfect day. We woke up, relaxed, played some video games, ate breakfast, and finally, headed out to the playground - I was going to be damned if I made us sit indoors on a beautiful day like today. Loaded up a big bag with snacks, drinks, some knitting for me, baseball mitts for the boys, and we were off. Cutie Pie ended up meeting a friend at the playground, so Heartbreaker and I threw the baseball back and forth for a while. I can't remember the last time I had so much fun being out with my boys. Is the secret actually getting in there and playing with them, rather than sitting on the sidelines, waiting for some other kid to bump yours?

We were off to McDonald's for the boys to have lunch, then I treated them to Baskin-Robbins ice cream. I was tempted, but held off. Cutie Pie proceeded to wear the better part of his ice cream - and I didn't even sweat it. Being dirty is part of being a little boy, isn't it?

We headed home so I could eat my own lunch, and then I dropped them off at a friend's house. I offered to stick around, but was told to go enjoy myself. Sweet! So I came home and finally watched The Amazing Screw-On Head, loaned to me by my friend Chuck ages ago. How did it take me this long to catch this? It's like Hellboy (same creator) but further back in time. It's good, solid steampunk - but taking place in the U.S. rather than the U.K. Paul Giamatti voices the Screw-On Head, and David Hyde-Pierce takes voiceover duties for Emperor Zombie, Head's nemesis. It's surrealistic, it's dark comedy - it's just freaking great.

And it was only one episode. The hell? Sci-Fi, you let the updated Flash Gordon abomination run for an entire season, but only let a pilot episode of this show slip through your fingers? Cartoon Network - Adult Swim needs this in their lineup. Take a look.


I also got some time with Blade Runner today - Hubs surprised me with the Blade Runner suitcase as an early Easter gift, so I've been jonesing to watch it for a couple of weeks now. It holds up nicely, considering it's 27 years old. Wow.

Off I go to get the kidlings...

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

And I've Been Reading, Too...

So during my blogging hiatus, I've been doing more than Twittering/Facebooking. I managed to polish off Carrie Fisher's Wishful Drinking in about two hours - wow, Princess Leia has issues. It's a quick read because it's pretty much a stream-of-consciousness look back at the life she's had that hasn't been wiped out by electro-convulsive therapy. Getting glimpses of the life she had with her parents (can you say car wreck?), the madness of Star Wars, and her relationships is kind of like reading Star Magazine, but the stories are all real. Wow.


Still sticking with the Mary Todd Lincoln fictional bio, in between book reviews. Currently, I'm in the home stretch with a book called To Heaven By Water, which is a story about the lives of a retired British journalist and his grown kids after his wife dies. The hard part about books like this? There are flashes of interest between parts that slog along. I have to push this one through because I want to be done with it; I've got two more manuscripts on the on-deck circle and am in a serious sci-fi mood, so I want to get to some of MY books.

I've been knitting, too, although for a little bit, my knitting mojo seemed to have followed my blogging mojo out the window. I tried to cast on for a warm winter hat for winter's last gasp, but ripped it out because I couldn't get gauge. I tried to cast on for two different spring sweaters, but they fell upon the same fate as the hat. Finally, I just did what I normally do when I can't get it together - I picked up some sock yarn and went to what's become my 'go-to' project - socks.



I'm working up the Cirque pattern from the Spring 2009 Knitty issue, and I love it so far. I love cabled socks, but I've never made a pair for myself; this pair has little circular cables all the way down the leg and through the instep, so it should look nice when it's done. I'm working it up in Panda Soy Silk, which I believe also has a little bamboo to it. It feels so soft; I hope it washes up nicely.



Okay, so back to books. When I was growing up, my Uncle Billy had the greatest room in the world. It had several bookshelves lining the walls, and I remember how I'd sit on his couch/bed and look through them constantly. I remember his various Time/Life series, his encyclopedia, and most of all, I remember the paperback novels. Science Fiction, fantasy, some horror, all for me to browse. Uncle Billy's the person that introduced me to Tolkien as a child; he, along with my father (believe it or not!) imbued me with a love of science fiction and fantasy, which ended up forming a lot of the person I am today.

Anyway, recently Uncle Bill handed off a box - a BIG box - of those paperbacks. Digging through the box, I saw covers from 30 years ago that I remembered like it was yesterday. I've posted a picture above of two of the books - how '60s/'70s sci fi are they? So awesome.

I even tried to dig into one of them right away. The Gray Prince, the book on the right, is a Jack Vance novel. When I looked Vance up on Wikipedia, I discovered that he's a pretty heavy hitter in the sci fi arena, so I dug right in. Holy. Crap.

As my friend Keith put it, when I brought the book to him, "pre-Star Wars sci fi and post-Star Wars sci fi are two VERY different things." Talk about psychadelics. After two weeks and a total of nine pages, I waved a white flag. I'll have to try this another time, when I don't have Star Trek on the brain. In the meantime, the books are safe and cozy and awaiting my leisure. I feel like I've got a nice little piece of my childhood back.



My on-deck circle... soon, my sweet Doctor Who books, soon... (yes, there are other books there - notably, Cryptonomicon and a Battlestar Galactica novel called Unity, not to mention the Torchwood books) And yes, that is Daniel from Sandman standing guard in front of the books.
I Got an Award!


So despite my blog mojo having gone missing for several weeks, I still managed to garner an award from one of my knitting sisters, UrbanZooKnitter. Not only is she a kickass knitter, she's an all-around great person. I'll gush more about her below, as I'm awarding her right back, but I just wanted to thank her here.
We've got some rules here, so let me post them and move along:

- Put the logo on your blog or post.
- Nominate at least 10 blogs which show great Attitude and/or Gratitude! (holy crap, 10?!)

- Be sure to link to your nominees within your post.
- Let them know that they have received this award by commenting on their blog.
- Share the love and link to the person from whom you received your award.
So I nominate:
1. A.J., author of the UrbanZoo, who not only knits beautiful things, but is a devoted pet mom, gardener, and spouse.
2. Stacey, my co-Geek Sisterhood blogger and author of the Stacey's Stream of Consciousness blog; she finds some of the coolest links on the Internet and is lethal in a craft store.
3. Linda, at Coffee n Danish, has been my friend for eons, and is one of the calmest, most together people I've ever met. She hasn't blogged for a little while, so I hope this entry gently reminds her how much I miss her on the blogosphere.
4. Lauren, another Geek Sister who has taken a little hiatus from her blog at I Was Thinking of an Unreleated Thing to enjoy her little squish, has left New York for somewhat greener pastures. We miss her here, but thank goodness for e-mail and webcams.
5. Nancy over at Bronx Girl Knits knits, loves sci fi, and also writes for Pink Raygun, which makes my girlie geek brain happy. Oh, and she loves herself some Doctor Who - love ya!
6. Peg, the Chaos Mommy, is another mom who makes it all look good - an armed forces wife, three kids, assorted pets and all.
7. Piera, fellow coffee and rage fanatic over at There's Just Not Enough Coffee, is coming back from a blogging hiatus - welcome back, Piera!
8. Snowflake, over at Snowflake Submerged, is another mom with whom I share way too many things - our kids, for instance, are very close in birth months and years; we both have an unabashed love of Tolkien, original Star Wars, and Watership Down; and we're both Catholic school refugees, to start. She's also an armed forces wife, holding down the homefront.
9. Marly, podcaster, blogger and needlewear designer extraordinaire over at Yarn Thing, is another example of the cool people you meet online. She's got a great knitting and crochet podcast, and is one of the nicest people you'll ever meet. Check out her site and her podcast, even if you don't knit or crochet; she's hilarious and her laugh is infectious.
10. Karen over at The Knitting Patch is a knitter and spinner who makes some of the most beautiful socks I've ever seen. I miss our Pret Knit nights, and hope we get to have one soon. She also does an incredible amount of charity work with New York Cares, so she's an all-around awesome person.
Wow, coming up with 10 bloggers was not nearly as difficult as I thought - I feel like I've left people out! So to everyone who may have felt left out, I apologize - there are more awards out in the ether to be had, right?

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Jeez, Have I Been Remiss.

Wow, it's been over two weeks. Poor neglected li'l blog. Let's see what I can do to catch up.

Books - just finished Caryl Phillips' "In the Falling Snow," which was a bit of a struggle for me. Man goes through midlife crisis, gets divorced, has a teenage son he's struggling to keep a relationship with, and makes stupid decisions that get him put on administrative leave. It's a very nutshell summary of the book, but that's the main idea. Not really my bag, fictionwise, but it's coming out in September, so judge for yourself. I'm still running back to the Mary Todd Lincoln book in between book assignments, and I am enjoying it greatly.

My Uncle Bill is one of the reasons I became such a sci fi nut. As a kid, I can remember the bookshelves lining his room, with the greatest paperbacks. Well, he's been cleaning out his basement, and guess what I have? A box of those same paperbacks. Thankfully, my friend Chuck is as big a sci fi fan as I am, so I have someone to share these with or I'd be facing a divorce court. He's taking some, then we're swapping. I've never read Jack Vance, but he's got a bunch of novels in there, so I'm looking forward to checking some stuff out.

Knitting: Working on a pair of socks for Will, and still need to finish Baby Boyd's birthday gift. Sleeves are not cooperating. ARGH. I even e-mailed the designer, who gave me some helpful feedback, but now there's another problem on the horizon. Is it too late for me to just frog the thing and make something else? I may have to.

365 Photo project: That's going to be on hold until I remember to actually take the camera out with me every day. Who would have thought it was that difficult to remember?

And in other news, Heartbreaker kind of walked to school by himself today. I say kind of, because I let him go a half block ahead of Cutie Pie and me. I didn't scream out every time he walked in front of a garage (he did stop and look both ways each time), and I managed to not have a full-on cardiac arrest each time he crossed the street - 3 of them. He looked both ways each time, and jogged across. He looked back a couple of times, which made me feel good - at least he wanted to make sure I was there, right?

He crossed the final street, stood on the corner where the school is, and waved, saying, "'Bye, Mom!" He turned around and jogged through the playground to his entrance. My heart broke just a little more. When did I have a baby old enough to cross a street without me?

Cutie Pie informed me that I get "six kisses" in the morning, "and that's THAT." He also runs into the school building now, no last kiss at the door. My heart broke just a little more.

Being Mommy aches sometimes.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

As Promised, Pictures!


Hat for Baby Park (Heartbreaker's teacher's upcoming baby). Yup, it's my baby shower fave, the Umbilical Cord Hat from SnB. I used the last of my Adrienne Vittadini yarn, with baby alpaca goodness.

Square on the garter stitch baby blanket. I ran out of my main color yarn, the yarn store was closed, so I improvised and ended up pretty happy with the effect.


Full shot of the blanket; I even got crazy and did some crochet on the border.


Friday, February 20, 2009

Another Book Down, Another Knitting Project Complete.

I just finished another book for the book clubs. This one, called On The Divinity of Second Chances by Kaya McLaren, was practically written to be a Lifetime Movie for Women. Great if you like that sort of thing, not so much my cup of tea. It's a dysfunctional family comes back together with the help of wacky outsider help-type of story.

Granted, I am partial to space battles and zombies and not so much the women's books, so I'm not the audience it was written for, but sometimes it came off as a bit TOO much. The youngest daughter is an Earth Mother-type, complete with bare feet and spirit guide/imaginary friend. But we discover there's more to it - she’s a reincarnated African-American preacher who died in a KKK-fueled church fire and was reborn into the body of a white girl; her constant canine companion was a dog who died in the church fire, and her spirit guide was a parishoner. The eldest daughter is the overachieving, power exec who lives with a loser slacker, only to dump him, discover she’s pregnant, and head off to live in a mud house she creates on her grandmother’s property. The brother is hiding a horrible secret, so he took off at the age of 14 to go live in a tree. In the woods. And then we have the tap-dancing troupe of elderly women – it’s the Red Hat Society in tights and taps. It just feels like it was constructed to have all the major elements of a ‘women’s book’ – it’s a good story that just tries a bit too hard to appeal to its audience. But like I said, I'm not the audience for this book, so I'm pretty sure I'm reading too harshly.

I've also finally finished a knitting project, after endless starts and pauses. Pictures to come, but it's a blanket for one of Heartbreaker's former teachers, who I always thought highly of and whose baby is due in a few short weeks. It was a pretty garter stitch (easy to work on while watching TV!) pattern that I put some color work into, and I think the end result was nice. I even tested by crochet mettle by putting a little border onto it.

Still trying to get an answer on the issue I've come up against with the Baby Boyd birthday gift - I e-mailed Interweave about it, but have yet to hear. Normally, when I've contacted a magazine about a problem with a pattern, I've heard right away - anyone have any experiences with Interweave?

My Ravelry queue/projects/stash is just a mess. I need to do a lot of updating. I've been spending entirely too much time on Facebook; need to get a lot of stuff buttoned down when the boys go back to school on Monday. I haven't even been spending much time on Ravelry, so I totally feel out of the loop.

Being home for this long is starting to weigh on me. Thankfully the weather's starting to perk up, because I find myself settling into this daze that takes up most of the day. I need to start moving around more, because I'm beginning to notice that it's all too easy for me to spend an entire day just zoning out at the computer. I need to give myself things to do and not tell myself they'll take too long - where am I gong?

Saturday, February 14, 2009

And Now, For Something Completely Different.

I'm pretty lucky. I've got the best family and friends in the world, I'm grooming my children for world domination, I've always got a good book and fresh yarn ready, and I've even managed to carve out my own little space on the Web. I'm thankful every day for that, no matter how grudgingly it may sound at times.

Recently, my friend Jen mentioned that a woman I went to high school with had been diagnosed with Stage IV colon cancer. There were no symptoms, no signs, no warning. She was tired - she's got a 3 year old daughter, of course she's tired! But that was the only sign. She's had several abdominal surgeries and bouts with chemotherapy, and she's looking at another big fight coming up. This is someone I went through high school and college with, and although we moved in separate social circles, I always thought well of. The fact that anyone's got to go through this is awful. That I know her just makes it worse.

I may not be able to do much, but I can use my little corner of the Web to let you know about this. Jen and another friend from high school are putting together a "Celebrate Life" benefit to raise awareness about colon cancer, and to raise money not only to provide support to Alanna and her family but to the Colon Cancer Alliance (CCA). The Celebrate Life benefit will be taking place on March 21. For details on attending or perhaps donating a raffle prize, shoot an e-mail on over to celebratelife.benefit@yahoo.com. I'll be getting some raffle tickets from Jen shortly, so if you're interested, leave me a comment and I'll contact you. I don't know yet what all the prizes are, but I do know one is a huge hi-def television. I've offered my knitting services for one of the auction prizes; hopefully, my project will be done in time!

There is also a Facebook group for the benefit, which you can check out here and learn more. I'll also have the link posted on my Facebook page.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

More on ComicCon

The boys even got some role-playing in at ComicCon, with a Wizards of the Coast booth where they had gaming tables set up to teach the basic Dungeons & Dragons game and Magic the Gathering card games. They've been playing D&D with Mike for a while now, so they thoroughly enjoyed that, and I have to say that despite all of us being a bit confused with Magic, we dug it. We got sample decks and will be trying to play. The guy running the game was really thorough and nice in explaining the game. He also told me that Cutie Pie is actually at a great age to start learning the game, which really surprised me; I guess I never thought of a CCD as a kids' kind of thing. But it incorporates reasoning, planning and math skills; not bad, when you think of it.

Heartbreaker and I also found a great booth, Lerner Publishing, where they publish Choose Your Own Adventure-type graphic novels. Heartbreaker loved it, and as I checked out the books and information they had there, so did I. The rep at the booth was really personable, too, which always helps. We ended up completing a scavenger hunt that took us to a few more cool publishers' booths, and he got a free book out of the deal. And I bought him one of the graphic novels.

We've been fans of the Sci Fi Channel show, Who Wants to be a Superhero? for the two seasons it's run so far (I've heard that Sci Fi only contracted to do two seasons of the show - come ON, we need a third season!). The first season runner up, Fat Momma, was always Heartbreaker's fave to win. And she was at ComicCon! We saw her table as we were on the way out, so we made sure to stop over and say hello.

She is the nicest person! She signed her comics, gave Cutie Pie and Heartbreaker each an autographed postcard, and took a picture with them. The boys loved it and I thought she was really great.


One of the main reasons for going to ComicCon this year was so Heartbreaker could meet Jeff Kinney, author of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books - I've blogged about them here (and I just finished the third book, The Last Straw) and about how Heartbreaker's such a huge fan. We got on a surprisingly quick line, and he got to meet Mr. Kinney. Not much time for chat or even pictures, which explains why the line moved so quickly, but Mr. Kinney did notice that Heartbreaker's name was the same as his own son's, so Heartbreaker got a kick out of that. And now he has an autographed first edition of his own!

Cutie Pie and I got to sit in on another main reason for attending the Con this year - we got to hear Mo Willems, who writes the Elephant and Piggy, Knuffle Bunny, and my particular favorites, the Pigeon books. Aside from the genius who tried to get him to sign autographs in the middle of his presentation, it was a great time. He read Elephant and Piggy's Are You Ready to Play Outside?, Leonardo the Terrible Monster, and, to my joy, Pigeon Wants a Puppy. I told Mike that I'll never be able to live up to that kind of storytime; the guy is great.



I told you there was a Sleestack. I spent the latter part of the evening trying to call up videos on YouTube and illustrate to the kids how cool the Sleestacks are. Kids today. Harumph.

All in all, it was a pretty good day. The kids got lots of swag and Mike and I got to enjoy being immersed in geek culture again. And ate a lot of carb-filled crap. Convention food at its finest.