Tuesday, April 29, 2008

April Garden

Who could deny Spring is here with colours like these staring you in the face:

Rhodo 2

Rhodo 1

Rhodo 7

Rhodo 3

Rhodo 6

Azalea 1

Azalea 2

Rhodo 10

Rhodo 5

Dogwood 3

Dogwood 2

Dogwood 4

Rhodo 4

And this is just the beginning of all the flowers... (all credit goes to my father-in-law as all of these flowers are his).

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Seven Random Things About Me

Holly asked me to play, so here goes.

Here are the rules:

1) Link to your tagger and post these rules on your blog.
2) Share 7 facts about yourself on your blog, some random, some weird.
3) Tag 7 people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blogs.
4) Let them know they are tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

So, 7 random facts:

1. I didn't start drinking coffee until my last year of university (94-95) when a Starbucks opened up around the corner from where Tara and I lived.

2. I love watching Instant Star and even have the music on my MP3 player.

3. I have never watched House, Survivor, Amazing Race, Hell's Kitchen, Dancing With the Stars, and a bunch of other shows my co-workers like to talk about.

4. I have very vivid dreams and can usually remember them all.

5. I love to cook and bake - but don't bother with recipes that have more than 10 ingredients.

6. My job has absolutely nothing to do with I went to university for, but I enjoy both areas fiercely.

7. I dream of having a garden half as lovely as my in-laws' garden.


I don't tag people - so if you want to play, please do so. Just let me know you have so I can check out your answers.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Thursday Book Report: Silk

It's funny how you come across books sometimes. Most of you know by now that my normal reading tastes fall into genre fiction and romance - but every once in a while I fall into something different. Willow and I were in the library last week and I was perusing the paperback selection when I came across Alessandro Baricco's slim novel, Silk. And if we are being completely honest, the slimness of the volume was what attracted me to it. I have a few large tomes on the go right now and wanted a quick diversion. And, at 132 judiciously spaced pages (honestly, I have read longer novellas and short stories!), it fit the bill.

Silk is translated from Italian, and has that somewhat dreamy and disconnected feeling I perceive from translated works. I don't mean that to be a criticism - I think it is all in the craft. When a writer creates his works, he chooses words for a reason - whether rhyme, alliteration, tempo, meter - and that simply cannot be duplicated in a translated work. But in this case, I think the disconnect serves the story well.

Herve Joncour is a young French man who makes his living by travelling to Africa every year to purchase silkworm eggs. He town makes it living through silk mills, so his is a very important job. In 1861 nearly all the silkworms in Europe and Africa were struck with disease, so in order to save his and his town's fortunes, Joncour travels all the way to Feudal Japan - across Europe, across Russia, into the Orient - all so that he can buy contraband silkworm eggs and smuggle them back to France.

He strikes up a wary business relationship with Hara Kei, a Japanese warlord, and as a matter of course falls for the man's non-Asian concubine. That in itself was never explained and having studied Japanese history, I found myself very interested in how an Occidental woman (as referred to) found her way to be a warlord's concubine. After many years of incidental contact with the woman, one day she presses a note into his hand, and it is not until he returns to France and finds a Japanese madam (again, not explained!) who can translate the note, does he find out she returns his feelings.

This is all complicated by the fact the Joncour has a very loving relationship with his wife - but due to the travel of his job, he only sees her for short stints during the year. This whole story is framed by rising tensions and the inevitable civil war in Japan - a place that Joncour travels to despite all the dangers to see a woman - a woman whose name he doesn't even know. It was a beautiful story, and had I had a straight block of time, I probably could have read it in a one hour sitting. This is the first novel I have read of Baricco's - and I have to say that his repetitive language and brief character descriptions (which were pleasing - brevity as opposed to over-flourishing) made the story almost seem like a fairy tale to me.

Teri, how do you stand it?

My niece Dharma is so freakin' cute that my ovaries are aching!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Monday Music Mambo

An old one, borrowed from Blogdrive Insanity:

1. Can you play piano? If so, when did you learn?

I took lessons as a small child, but I suck at all instruments. I don't have a half-bad voice, but I think that has come from singing children's songs over and over.

2. Who is your favorite piano player in popular music?

Tori Amos, hands down. Little Earthquakes is still one of my favourite albums ever.

3. What is your favorite song featuring the piano?

Silent All These Years - Tori Amos

4. Piano in rock music - yay or nay?

I think any instrument has a place in rock music - think of the mandolin with REM. Who would associate a mandolin with rock? I watched a special on TV not long ago with the Foo Fighters backed up by an orchestra and I loved it.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Friday Book Report: Tithe

Tithe by Holly Black

(Yes, it has been a few weeks since there was a book report on the blog. I have been reading books, but life has prevented me from sitting down and writing about them. This review was written a few weeks ago, so excuse the effervescence!)

Wow. I love what you can find on the internet. I first heard about this book on the Urban Fantasy Land website. There was a link where Holly Black was writing about different covers being released for these books and I was curious to see what they looked like... then quickly linked to my library's website to see they carried it.

I repeat, wow. I had read one previous book by Black, and that was the first book in the Spiderwick Chronicles that Willow and I read together. This book presents a definitely more adult view of the faerie (although not as adult as the Meredith Gentry novels). The main character, Kaye, is sixteen years old and a bit of a wild child - but ironically, more grown up than her mother, Ellen (an aging rock star wannabee). After one too many bad relationships and fights, Kaye and Ellen make their reluctant way to Kaye's grandmother's house at the Jersey Shore. Kaye had lived there as a child and had pleasant memories of her friends there (even though her mother claimed some of these friends were imaginary). She wants to see them again but thinks that perhaps too much has changed - and that she herself has changed too much.

Life is complicated now for Kaye. Boys, friendships with girls who become less friendly and more adversarial by the minute - she just wishes for something else. After a confrontation at a party, she runs off and finds a young man injured in the woods. She helps him, and in return Roiben promises her the answers to three questions. The answers to these questions and the power that they bring her are something that she never expected and yet fit her better than anything else in her life. Her only ally in this adventure is her friend's older brother, Corny. Corny is just as much as an outcast as Kaye - he is a gas station attendant, manga freak, and gay in small town, NJ. But more important than all of this is he believes in Kaye and is nihilistic enough to run headlong into danger for her.

This story has a neat twist to it - one I wasn't expecting and had me reading page after page until 3am. There are many unexplained questions to Kaye's background and identity - but questions I am willing to wait until I read the books that follow Tithe: Valiant and Ironside. I can't wait to read more of Kaye, Corny, and Roiben's adventures. It's hard for me to fathom that these are teen books - I didn't get that feeling at all. It is about teens, yes - but does that necessarily make it a teen book?

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

WiP It Wednesday

Now, I bet you didn't think I would have anything up for WiP It Wednesday with everything else going on. Well, it is amazing how much knitting you can get done when you are waiting for the telephone to ring.

Pattern: Easy Baby Cardigan by Knitting Pure and Simple

Yarn: TLC Baby

This is for a friend who is having a baby boy in June. I had started this out as an afghan but it was taking forever so I ripped it out. It's a very simple pattern and I love how fast it is coming along.


Mom is doing well - groggy and sore, but well.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Deluge of Daffodils

Some friends of ours cultivate daffodils, and I had to share some of these beautiful photos. I apologize that some of them are more in focus than others - I hope you like them. Some of them are also from my in-laws' garden and a scant two are from mine.

Daffodil 12 Daffodil 22

Daffodil 11 Daffodil 10

Daffodil 20 Daffodil 9

Daffodil 8 Daffodil 7

Daffodil 19 Daffodil 18

Daffodil 17 Daffodil 6

Daffodil 16 Daffodil 15

Daffodil 5 Daffodil 4

Daffodil 3 Daffodil 14

To put these next two pictures into size perspective, these are Willow's hands, not mine:

Daffodil 2 Daffodil 13

Daffodil 1

When I was a child, I used to have a poster of Cicely Baker's Apple Blossom Fairy on my bedroom wall. Willow and I were out walking yesterday and we saw some low-pruned apple trees in bloom so I had to take a picture of her. And yes, she is looking away on purpose.

Willow in the Apple Blossoms

Sometimes that is the only way I get a picture of her with her eyes open...

Friday, April 11, 2008

You Know It Would Be Books...

...that would pull me out of a fug. Stolen from kemtee who stole it from Eryn

1. What book are you currently reading?
Book? As in the singular? Surely you jest. Right now I am reading Christopher Moore's A Dirty Job, Anne Bishop's Tangled Webs, Simon Winchester's Krakatoa, and Stephanie Pearl-McPhee's Things I Learned From Knitting (Whether I Wanted To Or Not). Yes, I am a champion multi-tasker.

2. When you think of a good story, what are the first 3 books that come to mind?
I am going to have to agree with Kemtee here - I was blown away by Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. As with Kemtee, the rest of the books in the series are great, but the first one holds a special place for me. I crushed on Jamie when he explained to Claire why he was a virgin and then what happens afterward (sigh...). And to continue in the alternative history theme, another book that has phenomenal storytelling from multiple points of view is S.M. Stirling's Island In the Sea of Time. I've touted this book and author before - and I will continue to do so. It has been nearly ten years since I first read this book and I still find myself daydreaming sometimes about it. It is another story world that has spawned multiple sequels (so there are plenty of books to keep you busy). The third would be Jacqueline Carey's Kushiel's Dart, which introduced a fascinating alternative Europe. And yes, another book that heralded a series, but the first book is stand-alone amazing.

3. Which 3 books would you recommend for summer 2008 beach reading?
If you are a plus-size girl and haven't read Jennifer Weiner's Good In Bed, you simply must. I was so freaking happy to see that there is a sequel of sorts, Certain Girls, now - you can bet it is on my library wish list. Also, I would include Charlaine Harris' Dead Until Dark, the first in the Sookie Stackhouse vampire mysteries. And for a third, J.D. Robb's Naked In Death, because you know it is going to be a long summer and why not pick a book that has twenty-some-odd sequels?

4. Any knitting books you would care to share?
The knitting book I use time and time again is Ann Budd's The Knitter's Handy Book of Patterns: Basic Designs in Multiple Sizes & Gauges. I simply don't know what I
would do without it.

5. What is next on your reading list?
The next books on my bedside bookshelf are Ilona Andrews' Magic Burns, C.T. Adams and Cathy Clamp's Touch of Evil, Karen Chance's Embrace the Night, and Sunny's Lucinda, Darkly.

6. Tag three other knitters for this meme:
I don't tag people, so anyone who wants to play - please do so.


Thanks for the well-wishes, people. It really means a lot to me. I'm glad to see that I'm not the only one who slips into the Smiths when blue.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

You Know You Feel A Little Off When...

... you start sing Smiths lyrics.

Girl, Afraid
Where do his intentions lay
Or does he even have any?

She says,
"He never really looks at me
I give him every opportunity"

In the room downstairs
He sat and stared
In the room downstairs
He sat and stared

I'll never make that mistake again

C. Marr Music


Pffft. You would never think I was 35 years old and married, would you? I expect I'm going to be rather maudlin the next few weeks - I hope you all stay with me. Things are going to get better - and I reiterate - it's not my personal life. My knitting has suffered big time - lately all I want to do is curl up with a book and ignore everything else.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Because I Am Wiped Out

And my parents were complaining I hadn't updated my blog since Wednesday.

And easy meme from The Saturday Meme Special

1. Favorite Smell?:

Willow in the morning when she curls up next to me.

2. Favorite Landscape View?:

Waves crashing into the shore seen from a hill.

3. Favorite Taste?:

Prime Rib (insert the sound of Homer Simpson salivating)

4. Favorite Sound?:

This changes - but right now I am particularly amused by the sounds the cat makes when he is trying to entice the birds to the window.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008


the occurrence of two or more things coming together


My friends, it has been a craptacular day. I hate that I can't even get into it. Not that it has much to do with my personal life, but rather events in my daily life. Make sense? Part of me wants to cry, part of me is angry, and part of me just doesn't give a flying fuck anymore. I just want the stress to go away.

On a happier note, my kid does a mean impression of Edvard Munch's The Scream

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

No Fooling! (A Book Challenge Update)

I finally got around to constructing a spreadsheet to keep track of the books I am reading, the genres, the authors, the number of pages - I really am a geek for this kind of detail. I work in this environment (with numbers and products) every day, so you wouldn't think I would want to construct spreadsheets for my own fun, would you? Well, there you would be wrong. Yesterday marked the end of the first quarter of 2008, and I am happy to report that I have read 27 books. If I can continue at this rate, I will be well above my goal of 100 books for the year.

Some other facts:
  • I have read 7884 pages
  • All authors save 3 were female
  • All books were fiction
  • 78% of the books were paperbacks

I think I need to start reading some non-fiction to even this out a bit. I do have some on the backburner - and my father-in-law is a wonderful resource for history books. Do you have any suggestions you would like to recommend? I am always looking for new books - and despite my propensity toward genre fiction, I like reading everything.