Friday, May 30, 2008

Backyard Tour

Willow and I created this video tour of our backyard on Wednesday. Like many collaborations, it didn't exactly go smoothly. Excuse my sniffliness - I was having a sneezy day. Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

WiP It Wednesday

Almost there! I was working on the heel flap last night and had to tink back about 4 rows because I had been too busy chatting at my SnB to pay attention to what or how I was knitting:

I should finish these this weekend - then probably wash them and put them in my drawer until fall! And yes, I was very diligent about keeping those stripes even...

And quick rhodo pic - this one is on the side of my house.

Doesn't my father-in-law choose beautiful plants?!?!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Monday Movie Madness

Pilfered from last week's Give Me 5 Monday:

Give Me Five movies you'd choose to have along if you were stranded on a desert island (that happened to have electricity, a tv and dvd player):

1. Love Actually
I could watch this movie over and over - and now, thanks to a sweet SP match, I can. I love all the different vignettes and it reminds me of when Hugh Grant just made me sigh...

2. Sweet Home Alabama
This movie just makes me want to be from the South. And Jake Perry's character (played by Josh Lucas) was enough for me to want to bonk Reese Witherspoon's Melanie Smooter character over the head and say, "You bleeding idiot!"

3. Seven Brides for Seven Brothers
This movie brings me back to my childhood - it was probably my first introduction to Hollywood musicals. Why not The Wizard of Oz or The Sound of Music? I think I didn't see The Wizard of Oz until I was a pre-teen because there were some seriously scary things in there for a kid. And as for The Sound of Music? Well. We can thank Auntie Daryth for that one. Apparently she loved it so much as a child that she played the soundtrack record incessantly and it drove my Dad (her brother) batty - so that one was never really played in our house. To this day I am not sure if I have seen the whole movie.

4. The Harry Potter Boxed Set
I realize the definitive boxed set has not been created yet because not all the movies have been released or even filmed yet - but I am going to argue that if you pay for them all at once and they come in a cellophaned box, it is one selection. I love the Harry Potter universe and the different nuances that are present with each different director's take on that universe. Plus it is amazing to see these kids grow up in the course of the films.

5. The Matrix
Now, this selection comes with a condition. Someone has to wipe my mind of this movie after each time I watch it. Andrew and I were lucky enough to see this movie the first day it opened way back in 1999 - and we were blown away by it. I remember us walking back to the car in silence and just sitting there, still trying to take it all in. The problem is that the movie doesn't have that same effect in subsequent viewings - you can only be shock and awed once by it - but that was still enough for me to add it to this list.

Honourable Mentions:
A Christmas Story
X-Men boxed set
The Sixth Sense
Four Weddings and a Funeral
A&E's Pride and Prejudice

It's serendipitous that we are talking about movies this morning - Andrew and I are finally off to see Iron Man this afternoon. I received movie tickets from my company for my birthday last year - but you have to wait until 10 days after the movie has been in the theatres to use them.


Oh - and the "Me Me On The Beach" title? Okay, maybe you had to be a Canadian to get this one. It was paraphrased from Jane Siberry's song Mimi on the Beach.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

My Own Personal Hell

To me, few things are worse than when people sing the wrong words to songs. My sister Jaime used to do it all the time. It came to a point where I believe she was doing it deliberately to make me freak out. Well, she has a successor.

Nothing is worse than a five year old who gets a song in her head.

"La cockroach-atcha, La cockroach-atcha, la la la la la la ala..."

Dear Lord. And we were in the car and stuck in traffic.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Thursday Book Report: Dead To Worse

Charlaine Harris' Dead to Worse is the eighth book in her Sookie Stackhouse Southern Vampire Mysteries - and trust me, this is a series I devour as soon as I can get my hands on the book. Case in point - I picked the book up on Tuesday at the library after my knitting SnB, came home, cracked the spine at about 8:30pm... and read until I was finished all 359 pages of the books.

I love books you can lose yourself in.

Sookie is back in Bon Temps after the cataclysmic events of All Together Dead, recovering nicely, missing Quinn, and wondering when (not particularly if) people will come for her since her mind-reading abilities were made public. She hasn't since Quinn since the explosions; she knows he is alive, but not where and has exhausted all arenas of finding him. To make matters worse, a thorn in her side - Tanya Grissom, a were-fox - has arrived in town to stir things up.

Eric, the vampire sheriff of Shreveport (and Sookie's former lover), asks her to have dinner in Shreveport to meet someone - and the introduction of this character will change many things for Sookie. On one hand, a greater understanding of who she is and a stronger protection than anyone else could provide - but on the other hand, increased danger should the wrong people discover this connection. Eric and Sookie are attacked on their way home from this dinner, and while their first impression is that the dinner had something to do with the attack, they soon learn that there have been multiple attacks on members of the were community.

I won't say this book is the best in the Sookie Stackhouse series - there were some discernible detractions from the story for me - out of nowhere respective were and vampire wars - and Ms. Harris, please! What on earth was up with all the kisses on the cheek that Sookie was receiving (Eric, Claude, Claudine, Sam, Calvin...) ? She's a grown woman, attractive, has several people interested in her - couldn't there have been a romp or two - or at least a kiss somewhere else on Sookie's body? Sookie also came across as bitter and grouchy at times - character traits I had never thought ascribed to her before.

In the Sookie-verse this book takes place nearly a year after Katrina, and she presents a geography and people still healing from horrible wounds. Many storylines are tied up in this book (and I won't mention them because I don't want to spoil the book for anyone) - and some of these endings had me whimpering a bit. I know stories need to progress - but some things you just want to linger. Bill still loves Sookie, and his boldness in telling her what he wanted her to know had me squirming a bit. He did her wrong, yet - but oh my, hasn't he paid for it already?!?! Eric has a reveal for Sookie as well, one that has me clamouring to re-read Dead to the World, the most Sookie-Eric centric book in this series. But perhaps the best twist happens in the last few pages of this book - Harris has left the story wide open and I simply cannot wait to see what happens next.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Me Me On The Beach

Okay, Andrew and Willow were there, too - but Andrew didn't make it into any of the pictures.

My friend Dave had an open house at his beach house this weekend, so we drove down to Rehoboth Beach early yesterday morning to play in the surf before showing up at the party. Oddly enough, despite the fact that the highway guides you toward 'Shore Points,' it is not the shore you go to when you are in Delaware. You go to either the Delaware beaches or the Jersey shore. I'm not really sure of the distinction, but there it is.

This time of the year is when I like to come to the beach - no crowds, easy to find a parking spot, no inappropriately swimsuit-clad people. Oh, don't get me wrong - I am a big girl and I know exactly what I look like in a swimsuit. I love swimming and being in the water. I love being on the beach. When I was at Dave's place I was looking through one of his beach magazines and it had some pictures of what the beach looks like in the height of summer. People of all sizes wearing itty-bitty swimsuits in order to expose the maximum area of their bodies to the sun. And in this picture most of them looked on the verge of sunburned as well. Ack! I like coming to the beach when I can wear capris/shorts and a t-shirt and run through the waves and sand without tripping over greased-up mostly-naked strangers. Okay, rant over.

This is much nicer:

Willow found a friend to play with, and she and Lily built a dam on one of the tide pools so the water wouldn't go back to the ocean.

A picture of me and Willow:

Willow of the sandy hands:

My and Willow's footprints in the sand:

It was a gorgeous day and I wished we could have stayed longer... but there was a kitty pining for us at home and we didn't have anyone able to come over and feed him. Next time, Jo... plan better!

Okay - three points for anyone who guesses the title (paraphrased as it is)!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Thursday Book Report: Tangled Webs

I hate it when I want to love a book and I don't.

I was so excited to see that Anne Bishop had come out with another book in her Dark Jewels universe - and even moreso when I learned that the main character in this story was to be Surreal, the courtesan assassin from previous novels. I dove into the book as soon as it arrived and was struck right off the bat how utterly domestic the book seemed.

Tangled Webs starts off with a short creepy intro, then lulls into Surreal being disenchanted with a book she is reading. Perhaps I should have taken that as a cue. The long and the short of it is that Jaenelle and Marian decide to host a spooky house to poke fun at how the general populace views the Blood... but someone beats them to the punch with horrific results. Surreal and her friend Rainier are trapped in the house and there are limited means of escaping; to make matters worse, they invited some children in with them and they must protect them as well.

What I didn't like about the book was how powerless Jaenelle seemed (oh, I miss the near-omnipotent Jaenelle!), how pale a character Saetan came across as, the domesticity of Daemon Sadi and Lucivar, the annoying kids... This isn't to say there weren't some things I did like - I appreciated the puppies, the occasional glances into Witch, and the core of the story (Blood vs Non-Blood and what happens when the two should meet), but it took an awfully long time to get there. If you are looking for a good fantasy read, try out some of the earlier books in this series - or Bishop's World of the Fae or Ephemera books. This particular book just didn't do it for me. There was a brief short story about Surreal at the end of the book and that had more meat than the novel that preceded it.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

WiP It Wednesday

Contrary to what this blog has been saying, I *have* been knitting. Sporadically, maybe - but it has been happening.

Here are some socks I started on the weekend - sock yarn from the lovely Cristi. I'm knitting them on 9" Hiya Hiya circulars - and let me tell you, you need nimble fingers for this. I'm pleased with the progress - this represents about 90 minutes of effort:

And here is my nigh-finished baby sweater. The knitting itself is finished - but I need to make my way to JoAnn's to pick up a zipper. The unsuspecting expectant mommy told me this morning she has 6 weeks to go, so I should have this done in time. I am making her the 9 month size - who really needs a cardigan when you have a summer baby?

Willow has been in a dress-up mood of late. Yesterday she was a cowgirl. Yeah... she is wearing her winter boots (that we never really had an opportunity to wear this past winter). I think I need to get her some real cowgirl boots.

She thinks that would be a great idea:

I haven't given you a picture of Lucky recently - here he is in his favourite room, the sunroom. We open up the windows and he sits on our side of the screen and cooes to all the birdies outside.

I wanted to show off my fledgling garden to Bezzie - I think she may be a bit ahead of me here. First row from left to right: Lemon squash, Royal Purple basil, Topiary basil. The left column of mini-pots are Sweet basil, the middle column snap peas, and the rightmost column is acorn squash. The small plant with the yellow leaves is a miniature watermelon.

I thought the mini-pots were empty until I took the picture above and noticed that the acorn squash is coming up!

And here I have 3 tomato plants (1 Early Girl, 1 Lemon Boy, 1 Husky Cherry), 3 bell pepper plants (red, yellow, and chocolate), 4 pots of scallions (inspired by Bezzie's efforts last year), 1 Japanese eggplant, 1 Cilantro, some mini basil, and Willow's Zinnia plants.

Now that the weather has warmed up I hope to get the rest of these in the garden (I planted my 7 cauliflower, broccoli, and cabbage plants last week) this weekend. Wish me luck!

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Thursday Book Report: The Stone Gods

This was a heady one. Jeanette Winterson's The Stone Gods is a series of novella vignettes concerning our relationships with each other and our environment. I had read novels by Winterson before - most notably Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit, Sexing the Cherry, and Written On The Body. Winterson is a writer I primarily know for her exquisitely written stories on gender politics, so I was intrigued to learn she had written a sci-fi novel.

The first vignette, "Planet Blue," seems to take place in the not-far-off future. Billie Crusoe is a minor bureaucrat in the Enhancement Services - and is not fond of her job. She looks into barely legal DNA enhancements (one woman wants to have her DNA fixed so she appears 12 years old - to forestall her husband going after schoolgirls), and has a talent for accruing multiple parking tickets in a single day. She catches the eye of a famous Robo Sapiens; Spike has just returned from Planet Blue - the newly discovered planet that the affluent Caucasians plan to immigrate to, leaving Orbus (their dying planet) behind (and the Eastern Caliphate and the SinoMosco Pact with it). Spike is in the process of being downloaded to a mainframe and then she will be dismantled - and she asks Billie to help her escape. Billie does not aid her, but ends up in love and on an adventure with her nonetheless. Planet Blue is a pristine, healthy planet with one problem; it has dinosaurs.

The second vignette, "Easter Island," is the shortest and takes place in the late 18th century with a sailor stranded on Easter Island, witnessing a savage confrontation between two warring factions. The Island is already in decline - no vegetation, decreasing population, starvation, and sacrifice of the Mo'ai (statues). Billy is a British sailor who befriends a half-native product of a previous contact with European sailors, Spikkers. Spikkers is on a quest to re-establish the Mana and well-being of his people by means of an hunt for the first tern's egg. I am not sure how this particular vignette fits in other to show that industrialization is not required to destroy a landscape and people.

The third vignette, "Post-3 War," occurs in our near future - a post apocalyptic future where identity cards, compulsory fingerprinting, military occupation, and curfews have become commonplace - the world is run by MORE - a multinational corporation. This section starts off with an intensely painful introspective of how the narrator came to be; teenaged mother, absent father, forced adoption - all written in gritty detail. Billie (a different one than in the first vignette) is a scientist whose job it is to teach a Spike (a different Spike), a Robo Sapiens in training, how to be human. Spike does not have a body yet - she is just a head. Billie takes Spike out for a walk and they end up in "Wreck City."

"Wreck City" is the fourth and last vignette, and is a direct continuation of "Post-3 War." As in Winterson's words, "Wreck City is a No Zone - no insurance, no assistance, no welfare, no police." It is on the edge of the still-radioactive areas where all the people who survived the bombings but did not fit anywhere (or refused to) went to live. In the midst of a confrontation, Billie loses Spike and must go on a frantic search for her. MORE's hopes are pinned on Spike being able to be an objective voice of reason, but her exposure to the free-willed humans in Wreck City changes Spike, and she finds herself evolving (with some inadvertently funny results).

Winterson ties all these vignettes together with quotes from Captain Cook's ship logs and the story comes full circle at the end. There are aspects of these vignettes that are so damning - she takes what now is commonplace and skews it to horrible extremes. And I was pleased that Winterson did not stray from the gender politic themes she has become known for. After finishing the book, it occurred to me that The Stone Gods reminded me of Stephen Baxter's Evolution in its scope. If you like novels that make you think, read this book. Winterson writes beautifully lyrical prose - even when discussing something unpleasant.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

May Garden

It's a busy time in my father-in-law's garden - check out all of these blooms:

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Now this one is cool - these blooms are different colours of pink, but are from the same bush:


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And there is more to come...

Sunday, May 04, 2008

MDSW Aftermath

So tired. So incredibly tired. And yet, I would wake up early tomorrow and do it all over again if I could.

My friends Denise and Kathy and I drove down to Maryland early Saturday morning to attend the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival. This is the second year that we have gone, and this year we were smart and decided to spend the night down there so we could come back the next day and look around some more. There is simply too much stuff to see there in one go.

Here is a brief overview of what (and who!) I saw:

Tiny goats:


Scaredy bunnies:


Little alpacas:


Shorn sheep (who apparently need jackets):


Spotty llama:


A well-dressed Cristi:


A colourful Pam (love the Mollywobbles jacket!)


And an elusive Bezzie:


I loved meeting all of these blogging friends and I truly wished I could have spent more time with them, but I was so tired from walking around all day. And what did I buy? Well, feast your eyes on this!

Flock Bransonas sock yarn in 'Teddy':


Pucker Brush Farms superwash sock yarn:


Ellen's Half Pint Farm merino/tencel sock yarn:


Brooks Farms Solo in baby pinks:


Maple Creek Farm superwash merino/tencel sock yarn for Michelle (who couldn't come with us):


The Fibre Company's Terra mill ends - I am going to make a hat from these (and they cost me $3.70 total!!)


And more Fibre Company mill ends - the middle two are Savannah, the left one Babe and the right Organik - and there should be enough of each to make baby hats. I love this company's mill ends - they are only $1/ounce.


And for the first time I bought some non-knitting related stuff - a great blue bucket, a purple basil plant, a basil plant that doesn't seed and grows into a topiary, a lemon squash, and a patio watermelon plant:


Now I just need to get the garden plot finished. It is only about 1/3 dug...

And just so you know, I didn't forget Willow - she now is the proud owner of a Mama Llama: