Saturday, July 17, 2010

A Book Review

As you may have noticed, my reading and book reviews end up on the Shelfari shelf on my sidebar. However, I have decided that I want to make an effort to mention good reads that I find that are free, not including just checking out a book from the library. I love my kindle, but I realize that the temptation to buy books willynilly could become overwhelming--it's just so EASY!

Of course, free ebooks are available on the internet, and Amazon also makes some available through the kindle store. This book is a Project Gutenberg ebook that was made available by Amazon, so I did not have to fiddle with converter software, and I assume it will remain in my library. This novel is the classic mystery by Wilkie Collins, The Moonstone.

The reviewer of a mystery has to be careful to avoid spoilers, so let me just describe why this book is a good selection to read.

  • The book provides a peek into another time--the Victorian Era in England, not always politically correct by today's standards.

  • The plot contains enough twists and turns to make the mystery interesting.

  • The story is told by many fascinating narrators, all of whom are self-consciously narrating the tale. My two favorites--the old family retainer who fancies himself a misogynist and who guides his life by the philosophizing of Robinson Crusoe: and the irritatingly self-righteous Miss Clack, who attempts to christianize people by leaving tracts, such as Satan in the Sofa Cushions, at corresponding places in her hosts' houses.

Everyone should be able to find this book without charge in written form, as an audiobook, or as an ebook. It's a classic that should not be missed if you like mysteries. Be warned, though--it is a long story, about 500 pages.

OTN: Gilly Socks, Wonderful Wallaby, Traveling Woman

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Technological Discomfort

Last summer, when we were busily planning for the new school year, the English Department had a meeting at the local coffeeshop--the Dairy Queen. We discussed in advance that we would feel uncomfortable using our laptops to take notes. Instead we used legal pads and transcribed at home. Even though people here are online all the time, you still don't see public technology use the same way that you do in bigger towns, and we didn't want people staring at us.

I was reminded of this a couple of weeks ago when I took my granddaughters to their gymnastics class in a somewhat larger town. Because of the location, many of the parents just wait in the comfy waiting area in the hallway instead of leaving. Several of them had laptops or were working on I-Phones. One woman, though, came striding across the parking lot with a child beside her. The mom was wearing a very low cut and tight tank top with fairly short cutoffs and flipflops. She had her laptop balanced on one hand and arm and was typing with the other as she rushed into the building. Tucked under the armpit of the typing hand, she was trailing the charger and attached wires. I was impressed by her multitasking, since I can't walk and send a text message at the same time, but, frankly, she looked pretty silly.

Yesterday, I found out that the Bible study class that I had been waiting for was starting today. I called the instructor, who said that I was welcome, but that she was out of books and would have to get me one when she went to Lubbock later this week. I just automatically said, "Never mind. I think that author will have a kindle version." Sure enough, one was available, and I had downloaded or uploaded or both within 4 minutes. Today I went to the lunchtime class. I sat there trying to be unobtrusive with my little notebook and my electronic device. I worked hard at not attracting attention, and I think I succeeded, at least partially because my kindle was in a black, sort of Biblical-looking cover. It worked out well, but I do need to figure out how to highlight items of interest when I am studying the lesson ahead of time.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Happy Birthday!

Today, I took my youngest granddaughter and drove to my daughter's house to stay with her two children while she attended a business luncheon. The trip gave the cousins time to visit and play together. It also gave me time to spend a little time with my own baby for her birthday, which had been the day before. It's hard to believe that it has been that many years! Here she is, all dressed up to attend her baby shower. She was only a few days old. This shower was given at her husband's place of business. At the time, he was the only man in an office full of women, so they were quite attentive to babies. The handbag in the background is my mother's, who passed away shortly before my daughter married. She would have been proud to see what a fine young woman and mother she has become.

On entirely different and totally unrelated subjects--

Perhaps because I was an English teacher who worked with words all the time, I sometimes get a real kick out of foreign words, either because they seem very apt for what they are describing or just because they look interesting. For example, there are a number of patterns for dish scrubbies on Ravelry. If I understand correctly, many of these patterns come from Japan, where the word for them is tawashi. Doesn't that seem appropriate? Below is an American version of a tawashi that I found particularly interesting. It is the Hyperbolic Pseudosphere Scrubbie. As you can guess by the title, there is a mathematical explanation attached. It was fun and quick to crochet; in fact, I made two this evening.

Another factor piquing my interest in scrubbies was the recent thread on Knitlist which suggested to me that I wasn't being careful enough to wash my dishcloths and other sink items as frequently as I should. In the past my favorite scrubbies were the 1960s balls of gathered up nylon net, and I still like them, but I absolutely hate to make them! I have a tote full of odds and ends of rather scratchy acrylic yarn. It occurred to me that making enough tawashis that I can just toss one in the washer after a day's use would be a good use of that yarn--IF they work satisfactorily. These two will be my test subjects. I am also increasing my supply of knitted dishcloths.

I have been knitting lace this week, working on the Traveling Woman shawl that I started in April. I am almost finished, but I am running out of yarn. I have located someone with some more of the same yarn, so I am halting my knitting right now so I can alternate rows of the old and new to blend in the new handdyed yarn.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010


Wonderful Wallaby #5, for a younger granddaughter. I love this pattern for its practicality and wearability, but it is not the world's most exciting knit. This time around, I'm making some modifications. As shown in a previous post, I changed the pocket border to seed stitch instead of garter, and I did the same thing with the neck opening placket. I think it makes a slightly sturdier edge. In addition, I made neck ties by picking up three stitches on the edge of the placket and knitting seed stich ties three stitches wide to the appropriate length. My daughter had felt that the area where the ties were sewn on was a weakness in the previous sweaters. This mod should take care of that nicely. I chose to do the stretch garter stitch hood instead of stockinette (choices included in the pattern) because I like the texture of garter stitch and its stretchiness is great for the hood. This pattern in this size, a six made with a 13 inch body before sleeves and 12 1/2 inch sleeves, used 3.3 balls of Plymouth Encore. There were some spots with tension uneven, but that seems to have blocked out nicely after I ran the finished sweater in a Eucalan wash through the hand wash cycle on my front loader.
I am now going to take a break from Wallabies in order to attempt to finish the borders on a couple of lace shawls that are to that point. I also need to order the yarn for the Wallaby for the other younger granddaughter. It will be a duplicate of this one in a different color. Then I will have a larger Wallaby--must take measurements--for the oldest granddaughter. I am planning to make additional mods to her sweater, perhaps cabling the decreases like The Everyday Sweater from Mason-Dixon. The grandson is getting a different kind of sweater so that he won't look like the girls. I'm planning to use Elizabeth Zimmermann's directions for a hybrid sweater--should be masculine enough. I'm thinking of Plymouth Encore Tweed in navy. The catch is that he wants a yellow lightning bolt on it. THAT will be a challenge.
Over the holiday we napped, took care of a little bit of business, drove to Clovis for a Chinese lunch, and generally goofed off. Today I have been finishing up odds and ends and cleaning out my knitting basket getting ready to start the lace again. First, though, I intend to finish a book that is on my Kindle. I did go out into the country to light sparklers and pop firecrackers with my son, DIL, and youngest granddaughter on the 4th.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Happy Independence Day!

I read a thought-provoking opinion by Peggy Noonan in The Wall Street Journal.