Sunday, March 30, 2008

How Bev Made a Silk Purse Out of a Sow's Ear

Remember how I offered to send my hand-dyed yarn mess to anyone who wanted to untangle it? Well, Bev took up the challenge, so go and congratulate her on her efforts.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

I'm a Lucky Girl!

Because I won two contests and one of them I didn't even know I was entering!

The first contest was hosted by Ann over at Fidget. She asked people to describe what spring meant to them. I wrote that seeing the asparagus come up for the first time in early spring is what signals the change in season to me. And for my efforts, she sent this lovely spring (and sproingy) Koigu:

And the asparagus must have known I was going to mention it today because it finally stuck its head out of the ground! See, I told you that asparagus is purple when it comes out of the ground:

And for those of you into yarn pron, here is a close up for you:

Lucky approves, too. I don't know if Ann has cats or not, but Lucky was very interested in the smells of the Koigu.

The second contest was hosted by Disco over at Disco Knits - and this was the one I hadn't realized was a contest. She had asked people to comment on her Baby Surprise Jacket, and I left a comment because I was also working on a Baby Surprise Jacket. Imagine my surprise when she told me I had won something! She sent this luscious skein of La Luz in a beautiful watery green and these two adorable onesies:

She had intended one for Dharma and the other for Hunter, but I think Hunter has outgrown the 3-6 month size, so both of them will be going up to Dharma. Teri/Jaime - let me know if I am wrong!
And here is a close up of the silk - it is so soft. I need to find a good scarf pattern for it. In the meantime I think I will just hold it in my lap and pet it...

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Thursday Book Report: Darkling

You may have figured this out already from my book reports, but I love series. I love recurring characters and learning things from different characters' points of view. For these reasons, Yasmine Galenorn's Darkling suits me perfectly. This is the third book in Galenorn's Sisters of the Moon series. Had I written this review a few weeks ago I would have written trilogy, but I found out recently that she is continuing the series with a second go-around with each of the half fae half human sisters. The first book, Witchling concerned the oldest sister, Camille (a witch); the second book, Changeling concerned the middle sister Delilah (a shapeshifter), and this third book concerns the youngest sister Menolly, who was captured during a reconnaissance mission ten years ago and made a vampire.

I never quite understood Menolly in the first two books. I know that by design the focus was on the other two sisters, but she didn't have much of a voice. She separated herself from her family, worked opposite hours (as a vampire must), and had a reputation for saving the day by ripping apart the bad guys. She did her best to not fall into her base urges and live her life as normally as possible through her involvement in Vampires Anonymous, a self help group. Imagine my happiness when Galenorn let Menolly go and become a larger than life character all of her own!

The D'Artigo sisters are doing the best the can Earthside while a civil war is waged in the Otherworld. They have lost contact with their family and they know that there are forces that would like nothing more to see them dead. Menolly runs the Wayfarer, a pub enjoyed by Otherworlders and wannabees, and hides the fact that there is a portal to the Otherworld right in her bar. The sisters learn that new vampires have been turned in different areas of Seattle, and in turn creating nests and vampires of their own. It is up to the Menolly, Delilah, Camille and their cohorts to figure who is spawning the vampires and why. It is soon discovered that Menolly's sire, the sociopathic and sadistic Dredge, has made his way Earthside from the Sub Realms and is looking to set himself up in Seattle with lots of minions and food.

The beginning of the story was a bit awkward, involving a team meeting at the D'Artigo house. The scene felt very stiff, as if Galenorn didn't know how to push all the characters out the door and onto their respective quests. However, once they were on their way, it was a great ride. Menolly meets up with Nerissa, a were-puma with who she feels an immense and intense attraction. Everyone seems happy for Menolly as she has kept to herself for far too long. She also teams up with a incubus named Roz, who was sent from Otherworld to help the sisters and who also has some personal bones to pick with Dredge. As her sire, Dredge has some control over Menolly, and she is willing to do anything to sever this tie to Dredge (who, in his turning of Menolly, savagely raped and tortured her). To complete this quest, Menolly, along with her sister Camille and friend Morio (the fox demon) travel back to Otherworld so that she can undergo therapy (of a sort) with Jareth, a priest in the Temple of Reckoning. It is not until she is able to separate herself from Dredge that she has any hope of defeating him.

Can I say how much I love the fact that Galenorn has created a bisexual character in Menolly? Too many times, and Anita Blake/Merry Gentry are the first examples that come to mind, authors fritz around with the idea, and inevitably either have secondary female characters experience unrequited attraction to the female lead or have the female lead be totally squicked by any potential attraction. It is so refreshing to have characters be who they are without any subterfuge or pussyfooting around on the author's part.

I don't want to go too much more into the story because I want you all to read it! Galenorn is continuing this series in the summer with a return to Camille's point of view in Dragon Wytch and I cannot wait. Galenorn has quickly become an author who I will pick up and sacrifice all my sleep for (oh, who needs sleep when you have strong coffee?)

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Yeah... This One Fits My Mood.

You Are 24% Sociopath

From time to time, you may be a bit troubled and a bit too charming for your own good.

It's likely that you're not a sociopath... just quite smart and a bit out of the mainstream!

Or how about this one?

You Are 85% Burned Out

You are extremely burned out.

You work too hard, and you're not getting the results you deserve.

It's time for a life change, as soon as you can manage it.

You're giving away most of your energy to something you don't even enjoy.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Because She Is So Much Prettier Without The Conehead

My sister Teri sent me a new batch of pictures of my niece Dharma yesterday - she is so pretty!

I wish I could hold her and love her - she looks like the sweetest thing (projectile pooping aside...)

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter

I'm not caring for Easter being so early this year. I like it much better when it is warmer and there are more flowers out. We don't have anything blooming in our yard yet, but I did catch a few early plants in my in-laws' garden this morning.

We have crocuses (crocii?):

A very early azalea:

Rhubarb! (I *love* rhubarb!):

And a camelia:

No asparagus yet, however - and I did look. I love this time of year when things start growing. We bought a lawn mower yesterday, so Willow and I were in the backyard picking up sticks so Andrew could mow it. I moved my large planters about 15 feet down the fenceline so they would be in a position to have more sun, and I weeded all my beds. My arms are very sore now!

Easter went off with some hitches - as I mentioned earlier it just came to soon, and caused the first hitch - a late night trip to the grocery store to find what eggs and jelly beans were left. Willow ended up getting three books, a small chocolate bunny, and some plastic eggs with small candies in it. I completely forgot to get her a new outfit this year - and when I was a child that was one of my favourite things about Easter.

The other hitch? A cat who apparently has a thing for the fake ribbon grass in the basket.

I kid you not - he knocked the basket off the sofa, chased the eggs around the living room and kitchen and then proceeded to spread the ribbon grass everywhere. All in about 3 minutes. He's damn lucky (haha!) that he is cute.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Thursday Book Reports: Strangers in Death and On The Prowl

I'm feeling good so you are getting two book reports this week.

(Preamble: Despite what the picture above states, I did read the physical book - I just couldn't find a good copy of the hardcover picture to post.)

When I opened up Strangers in Death I was amazed at just how many In Death novels there are now - I believe I counted 27. And even better, the stories are still able to draw me in and hold me there until I flip past that last page. I can think of precious few other serials that have Roberts' staying power.

The story begins with a sports mogul/philanthropist found in a very compromising position... and also very dead. Eve is brought in to find out who killed the man who did so much good for everyone. The grieving widow with the airtight alibi and lots of friends rubs Eve the wrong way from the start and Eve makes it her mission to untangle all the lies. In doing do, she reveals a spiderweb with tendrils reaching in every direction and a sociopath willing to manipulate everything and everyone.

Yes, these books are a bit formulaic: Murder - Eve/Roarke backstory and sex - Characters in Danger - Eve solves the mystery and - Saves the day (and often gets beat up in the process) - but I love these stories! Why? As I mentioned above, it has everything to do with Roberts' secondary characters. They seem like real people - even more so than Eve or Roarke. Personally, I would love it if Roberts spun off some stories with Peabody as the main character. I have come to the conclusion that it is not Eve not Roarke who draw me to Nora Roberts' "In Death" series... it is Peabody. I want Peabody to be my friend! I want to smack Eve every time she rebuffs Peabody's attempts at a meaningful conversation.


Why did I let this On the Prowl sit on my shelf for so long? I bought it when it first came out and it sat on my bedside table for ages. This is a book of short stories, and with the exception of Eileen Wilks, all authors I have read and enjoyed before.

I had assumed Patricia Briggs' "Alpha and Omega" story was to be a continuation of her Mercy Thompson novels. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that while the story takes place in the Mercyverse, the story concerns a peripheral werewolf character, Charles - the native son and enforcer/executioner for the Marrok. Charles travels from Montana to Chicago to investigate rumours of pack members going missing and being sold to research houses. He meets Anna, the lowest of the submissives in her pack and with her help discovers and takes care of what has been happening to her pack. I was sad when their story ended, but was cheered up by the fact that Anna and Charles will be continuing in their own book, Cry Wolf. Anna and Charles' story seems a bit gentler than Mercy and her cohorts, and was a great read.

As I mentioned above, Eileen Wilks was an author I had never read before and I could kick myself for having made that mistake. "Inhuman" is the story of Kai, a young woman with empathic powers and her neighbour, a cop named Nathan. Kai knows Nathan is different but she is not sure how, and she has had a crush on him for a long time. A murder occurs in their town and all fingers point to Kai - however, there was no way she could have committed the crime as she was helping to patch Nathan up from a bullet wound at the time. The general population is not receptive to people with powers and this puts both Kai and Nathan in danger. I feel that this was the strongest story of the quartet and was also heartened to see they will be getting a story of their own as well.

Karen Chance's "Buying Trouble" was the most amusing of the short stories. Claire is a mage who has a strange reaction to the Fey and Heidar is a half-fey lord with whom she inadvertently ends up on the run. What happens to Claire while on the run and in the heat of passion is one of the funniest things I have read in a long time. I have read Chance's Touch the Dark and Claimed By Shadow (and bought the third book, Embrace the Night today) and I have come to the conclusion that I will read anything that comes out with her name on it.

Sunny's "Mona Lisa Betwining" was the last story in the book and my least favourite. It seemed pointless. I have read the previous Mona Lisa novels and short stories and am also part way through Lucinda, Darkly - but I liked Mona Lisa better when she was more vulnerable and less certain of her powers and who she was. If she only exists to have sex with multiple men and pick up powers with every go around... let's just say that I've read that before and wasn't impressed.

A Knitty SP Package From 4551 Miles Away

Megan simply rocks. She is sneaky, too. All the other packages she sent me indicated that my SP was from Saskatchewan - but it turns out she lives in the Northwest Territories, above the Arctic Circle!

Here it is in all its glory:

Two skeins of Classic Elite Attitude (so soft!), a beautiful wooden box with a maple leaf on it, Dempster Dregs coffee (this should be interesting!), an Inuvik cookbook (I'm excited about all the rhubarb recipes in it, but I think the musk ox and moose recipes will elude me... I've had those meats and more, but they are not readily available here), a gorgeous ceramic mug with an inukshuk on it, the cutest snowman stitch markers, and a breathtaking Northern Lights stained glass ornament (picture below).

Here are some close ups of the mug art and the stitch markers:

Isn't this lovely?

I've only seen the aurora borealis once as a child in British Columbia, but it can't compare to what Megan and my sister Teri (who lives in the Yukon) see.

Since I had some great afternoon light I decided to take a picture of the merino wool Megan had sent me in her last package, and very unintentionally the skeins ended up in a somewhat salacious pose:

Blue and green love each other...

And just for Bezzie:

My chives are growing!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

WiP It Wednesday

I'm back! Sorry to be so quiet for a week, but we had some houseguests for a few days and I didn't want to seem even more anti-social than I sometimes come off as...

Two new things on the needles right now - the first is my Baby Surprise Jacket. I ordered the pattern from Schoolhouse Press, never having attempted anything a la Zimmerman before. I can't say I care for the pattern writing style - so I was very glad to find some online help from Kenny through Ravelry on how to keep track of the lines in the pattern.

I'm using Bernat Softee Chunky and size 5 Knitpicks circulars, and I am just about to start the first increase row.

My second new project is also one inspired from Ravelry - this time it is the Boy Hat. Of course it is orange so it will probably be for me... but we will still go with Boy Hat. The hat is knit from Moda Dea Metro, and when it is finished you will see that the colours are flashing in the neatest way across the brim.

Tomorrow - a book report and pictures from one of the coolest Knitty SP Swap packages I have ever received - and quite possibly from the furthest away...

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Thursday Book Report: Iron Kissed

Iron Kissed is the third book in Patricia Briggs' Mercy Thompson series. Mercy Thompson is a young female mechanic who can shift from human form to coyote form in an instant, was raised by werewolves, and is currently caught romantically between two alpha werewolves. She also owes a favour to the Fae as a result of the events in the second book, Blood Bound.

The favour the Fae call in is Mercy's help in her coyote form to scent out who was committing murders on the Fae reservation. She does find out who, but before her mentor Zee is able to get there and confront the murderer, he finds the murderer already dead. When the police show up, they take Zee in as their prime suspect. The Gray Lords, the beings who govern the Fae, seem content to allow Zee to take the fall for all that has conspired - but Mercy is not - so against everyone's wishes, she starts investigating who did the bad guy in so she can clear Zee's name.

There are some interesting elements introduced in this books - the John Lauren Society and Bright Future, two anti-fae groups targeting opposite ends of the economical spectrum. Fae characters who had moments in the last two books are fleshed out more. Also, the history of the Fae in Mercy's world is expanded on, and it is revealed that the Fae are able to do things now that they haven't been able to do in a long time.

One reason I like Briggs' novels so much is because they are still wonderful stories and haven't fallen into the Anita Blake f*ck-everything-and-be-omnipotent pit. However, that is not to say a little more action wouldn't be nice... The last sentence in the book had me yelling, "Gah!" and flipping frantically to the next blank page.

When does the next book come out?!?!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

SP, I'm so sorry!

Look at this frackin' mess!

I was trying to create something really special for my last Knitty SP package to my downstream SP and I have messed up big time. SP loves purple and silk, so I hand-dyed a skein of Knitpicks merino/silk sock yarn in purples/mulberry/denim blue for her. The dyeing went nicely, but my washing machine chomped on it during the spin cycle. I spent an hour trying to untangle it and all I really accomplished was yelling at a sick Willow and naughty Lucky for trying to help. Okay, maybe the cat wasn't into helping as much as he wanted to jump on the yarn that Big Cat was jiggling. I've informed SP of the mishap and I will be hitting my LYS this weekend to get something else for her package. In the meantime, what do I do with this? Does anyone want to try untangling it? Send me an email to jochibi AT yahoo DOT com - once it dries I will send it to the first person who emails me.

What? I'm not cuddling with you. *You* yelled at me.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Ack! Sick Kid

Well, her eyes are almost open in this one.

She has had a fever on and off since Friday. She woke up at 3am this morning and it was 103.8'F. She was positively loopy. I had her in the bathroom trying to get her to drink some water while I measured out her Motrin and she said,

"I like the number 9."

Me: Hrm? Why?

"Because when you write it it likes to pick things up" (and then she started doing this "I'm a little Teapot" sort of motion.)

Me: Okay, let's drink this down and get you back to bed...

I hate it when she is sick. My in-laws are wonderful - Willow usually stays with them when she is under the weather and I always know she is well cared for. Thank you!

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Sheepish Knitty SP Package!

Look what came for me while I was in Las Vegas!

My super Knitty SP sent me this sheep-themed package - there is a cute stuffed sheep knitting a scarf, a sheep tape measure, a sheep needle gauge, sheep (and some non-sheep) stitch markers, and best of all - wool from a sheep! And see the sweater banner? She knit a banner of little sweaters with my name on them. I think I am going to keep them as a Christmas decoration for the tree - I love that she made them for me.

Here's a close-up of the sheep stitch marker:

And the neat beaded non-sheep ones:

(Gee, my nails look nice there!)

SP's note says the merino wool comes from Custom Woolen Mills - I looked them up and they have some cool stuff. This picture isn't very clear - but this is the green one. It looks like I will have about 800 - 900 yards of it altogether - any suggestions on what to make with it?

SP - Thank you so much - you have really put a lot of thought and effort into this package!

And now, since some of you have mentioned going through Lucky withdrawal, here's a pic of the cat and his favourite person:

Beer Pong and Cherry Blossoms

Yes, it's a strange title - but then, Las Vegas was a strange place. I had never been there before except to change planes in the middle of the night, so I didn't really know what to expect. This post is going to come across as very jumbled - but that was much what my time in Las Vegas was like. Oh - and in my last post? That was my view from the 32nd floor of the Wynn Las Vegas. The big building to the left is the Palazzo, and the smaller one to the right is Treasure Island.

I checked into my hotel Tuesday afternoon, made a beeline for my bathroom and stopped. Simply stopped. There was the biggest bath tub I had ever seen in my life. I tend to be more of a shower girl at home - partly for expediency's sake and partly because we have a standard (i.e., small) bathtub. And after you have been spoiled by Japanese bath tubs for a few years, standard North American ones are not really worth the effort. I made it my mission to rustle up some bubble bath. I tried taking a non-prurient picture of me in the bath and after some comical results (which I will *not* post), I came up with this one:

Wynn Fave place

Oh my, I could literally float and swim in this bath tub. I had more baths in the last four days than I think I have in the last two years. I desperately wanted to bring that bath tub home with me!

I was at a conference while in Vegas and didn't have much time to explore, but I started keeping notes of the things I wanted to blog about, so here goes:

- Swirling flowered carpets - a bit mermerizing. Could make the drunks a little dizzy

Wynn Decoration 3

Wynn Decoration 4

Wynn Decoration 6

- Walking down to the conference room at 7:10am. Still people playing Blackjack and slots. Wondered if they had been there all night.

- Left my blinds open last night. View from the hotel room shows the Strip and the mountains beyond. Reminded me a bit of Boulder. Didn't contend with the Treasure Island Casino shooting off fireworks in front of my window three or four times that night. Or the party a few doors down singing karaoke until the wee hours of the morning.

- Ate dinner on Tuesday at Red 8. Asian Fusion. Had dim sum - steamed pork buns. Hadn't had these since I lived in Japan. So yummy. Also had chicken chow mein, Thai tea, and Vietnamese coffee. Nice and hyped up to try slot machines. Lost $10 before I figured out what I was doing wrong. Slot machines don't have instructions. Very suspicious.

- Wednesday. Eating too much. Biscuits with andouille sausage. Watermelon. Sweetest pineapple ever. Korean bulgogi wrapped in lettuce leaves. Some of it must be good for me. It is a 10 minute walk between my hotel room and conference room, but I feel stuffed.

- Man is wearing sunglasses on the back of his head. Why?

- Cocktail waitresses wearing what looks like napkins made of mini-chain mail. Want to get a picture taken with one of them and tell Raul she is my new friend.

- I'm amazed at the colour in this place. It made me want to start dyeing yarn right there and then. Maybe have some skeins inspired by everything around me here.

Wynn Decoration 5

Wynn Decoration 2

Wynn Decoration 1

- Coming back from meetings in the afternoon and seeing motorized wheelchair/scooters lined up against the wall. Apparently they are not allowed in the slots area.

- Don't like the smell of cigarette cmoke. No way to avoid it - you have to walk through the casino wherever you go. I brought twice the amount of clothes so I could change frequently. Hate the smell of smoke in my clothes. Weird to see it everywhere - it's not like this in Delaware.

- Saw more fake bosoms here than I ever have seen before!

- Got lost walking around the pool. One pool leads into another and then into another. The only exit I found was an emergency exit and so I was turned around again. Ended up having to cut through another industry conference to get back to mine.

Wynn Pool 1

Wynn Pool 3

Wynn Pool 2

I really regret not having swam in these pools. I thought it would be a little on the cool side because it was in the high 60s/low 70s while I was there, but one of my fellow conference attendees told me the pools were heated and the water was about 80'F. I just about gnashed my teeth at that!

These next pics are especially for my friend, Tara. She loves quilting and I found some amazing quilts on the walls in the Wynn:

Wynn Quilt 2 Wynn Quilt 3

Wynn Quilt 1

Here's a close up of the embriodery detail on that quilt:

Wynn Quilt 1 detail

One of the coolest places in the Wynn was the Up Parasol Down Parasol stairwell - another wonderful use of colour in the hotel:

Wynn Parasol 3

Wynn Parasol 2

Wynn Parasol 1

Don't they make you want to play with colour?!?!

In the end, I can honestly say that Las Vegas is not a place that I am aching to go back to immediately. I have friends who make a couple of trips there every year and love it - but it is all a bit surreal for me. The title of this post is an example of this - on my shuttle back to the airport I saw a sign at one of the off-Strip casinos advertising 'New Beer Pong Tables!' (what the hell is beer pong?) and then two seconds later I saw cherry trees in bloom outside a Japanese restaurant.


Come back later this afternoon - I received a cool package from my SP when I was away and it deserves it own post.