I propose that, on Hallowe'en or during the week of Hallowe'en, we give each other scary books. Give children scary books they'll like and can handle. Give adults scary books they'll enjoy.
A book-giving holiday! A new book-giving tradition! Awesome! Of course, as authors, Gaiman and King and Hill have a vested interest in promoting the sale of books, but NG specifically says "...new books or old or second-hand..." so I forgive them completely. Besides, my take on Gaiman, having heard him speak and read his blog faithfully and heard/seen him interviewed many times, is that he is a genuine and humble and thoughtful person who is more interested in getting people to read than in selling his own books. So there.
Somewhere on his blog I read a comment from a person -- a mother, I think -- who said that one year she bought a sh!tload of R.L. Stine books at Goodwill or some such and handed them out to trick-or-treaters. More awesomesauce!
We don't get trick-or-treaters here in the rural woods so I cannot partake of that last idea, but I am thinking deeply about what scary book I can give to whom.
A couple weekends ago I re-organized the stash, which had become unmanageable.
To the untrained eye that may look fairly well organized, but some boxes are only partly full, others are overflowing, and the whole tower wobbles.
Then there was this mess:
That is what used to be my laundry-folding table before it became overrun with newly purchased yarn -- some of which is a year old by now -- and various other flotsam and jetsam. (Yes, those are two Red Scarves in the front, waiting for their ends to be woven in and to be blocked and mailed. When this room is more orderly I will be able to do that -- easily.)
I am not showing you the yarn that is still in the cardboard boxes in which it arrived in my mailbox. I do still have SOME pride.
Since most of my stash is wool or wool blend in worsted weight, I sorted it by color, plus one basket each for DK, sport/fingering weight, and sock yarns, plus one for oddballs that didn't fit neatly into another category.
It became immediately and abundantly clear that I needed a couple more Rubbermaid stacking/underbed boxes, which were obtained forthwith.
A goodly part of the worsted weight stash is Knit Picks Wool of the Andes, mostly purchased on sale with an eye toward community knitting. I am slowly replacing that part of the stash with Cascade 220, similarly purchased on sale but from Webs during their annual May sale. It is so handy to have a multicolored stash of wool when a plea comes out for hats or mittens or whatever.
The room is still a work in progress, but it is vastly improved over what it was and I am pleased. Note how much more orderly the shelves to the right have become. That was thanks to the two new big plastic bins at the bottom:
The stack of yarn boxes used to sit atop two nested cardboard boxes that held fabric. Over time those boxes had squashed enough that the entire pile was unstable. This is much better. I also turned the entire stack so the long side of the boxes was against the wall; now it does not intrude into the room.
The Goodwill pile also grew significantly during this whole exercise.
btw, if anyone is interested in those two big cones of Sugar 'n' Creme, one whitish and the other pale yellow, sing out in the comments. I got them for free; they are yours for the cost of postage. You can see in the photos above that I will still have plenty of S'n'C for myself.
Cleaning and organizing always brings brings things, previously thought lost, to light: for example, these four skeins of Drops Alpaca sportweight, purchased last October for a sportweight Palindrome for the Red Scarf Project. They disappeared into that table, never to be seen again... until now.
I particularly like the bits at 0:21 where both cats stop and look at the camera ("Oh, you again with the camera? Ho-hum, you are soooo boring.") and at 0:46, where the cat at the left suddenly realizes his Paw Is Filthy and interrupts the game to give it A Really Good Licking.
I have had a good run on reading lately. Three Four really good ones in a row. My books; let me tell you them.
Ironically, since I don't particularly care for historical fiction, two of these beauties were set in 14th century England -- priests, The Plague, and everything.
A few weeks ago I read somewhere on the web -- probably Neil Gaiman's blog, but, really, it could have been anywhere -- that if a non-science-fiction-reading person wants to read a science fiction book to see what all the fuss is about, s/he should read Connie Willis's Doomsday Book. Being a person of obedient temperament (hah!) I followed that advice and requested it from the library. Turned out to be good advice; I enjoyed the book a lot. It is set in mid-21st century, from whence an Oxford student is sent back to 1320 via the University's time machine thingy. An epidemic breaks out in the present, paralleling the plague in the past. Willis is a well-known and prizewinning sci fi author -- I had read To Say Nothing of the Dog a number of years ago and enjoyed it, too. Both of these books employ time travel from the mid-21st century to the past, the latter to both 1940 and 1888. Both books are also well-written, engrossing, with endearing characters, and are bouncing good reads.
Next up was Ken Follett's sequel to Pillars of the Earth, World Without End. Follett loves to write gargantuan epics (redundant much, Kat™?) and this is no exception. He doesn't necessarily write great literature, but his books -- and I have read half a dozen or so over the past 40 years -- are always engrossing and highly readable. This was no exception. It is slightly over 1,000 pages long, and I was a bit intimidated by that length, mainly because I have nine other books from the library to read, plus one and a half books for next month's book club, and did I really want to spend all that time on just one book? But I did, and it was good, and I recommend it.
After reading those two books I feel that I am fairly well-informed about the bubonic plague, at least from the view of 14th century folks. Which is not nearly the same as current knowledge, but there it is.
Last night I grabbed The Beach Street Knitting Society and Yarn Club by Gil McNeil for my bedtime reading. This was at 11pm or so. An hour and a couple hundred pages later I glanced at the clock and recoiled in horror -- it was 3am and clearly I was not going to be able to finish the book before sleep. Damn, it was so good, and I didn't want to put it down! (But I did.) I awoke at 9:30 this morning, picked up the book, and finished the last 150 pages.
Most knitting novels teeter on the edge of trash, imho, with way too much of "...she fingered the soft yarn and dreamed of wearing a beautiful shawl in a meadow of daisies yada yada yada" and not enough of plot development, decent writing, character development, and, for want of a better word, realism. Not so this one. The heroine is a recently widowed mother of two boys, aged ~5 and ~6; anyone who has every birthed a boy can identify with the constant challenges they present. Realism: check. She takes over a smalltown yarn shop that her grandmother has run for decades and modernizes it (with Gran's full approval -- we should all have such a grandmother). Realism: good enough. There is no claim that she suddenly makes the shop so profitable that she can vacation in the south of France, just that she appears to be able to make ends meet comfortably. She makes new friends, has a satifying one-night fling, knits (natch), and generally copes with life. One could quibble with the fact that this one woman is friends with a network news anchor (female) AND a major movie star (female) AND a world-renowned photographer (male), but one wouldn't want to pick nits about such an enjoyable and otherwise well-written book. Her mother and inlaws and the local PTA president are proper a$$holes but she deals with them all splendidly and satisfyingly.
Several things endeared this book to my heart. First and foremost, the author has completely mastered the art of the sentence that goes on for nearly half a page and reflects a delightful sort of stream of consciousness narrative and whose rhythm is perfectly balanced with sentences of a more conventional length. I found myself thinking in those elongated and looping sentences after finishing the book; much fun. Second, the dialog between the heroine and her friend Ellen and with, really, every other adult in the book, is so charming and witty and warm that dammit! I want her for my friend so I can be charming and witty and warm, too. Third, she meets the challenges presented by those two active little boys so realistically -- often patient, sometimes exasperated, occasionally on the verge of an Atomic Mommie Meltdown -- that those scenes could be part of a parenting textbook.
Oh, as I was writing this post I remembered the last audiobook I listened to -- The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid by Bill Bryson. Bryson* is gently hilarious as he recounts growing up in Des Moines, IA in the 1950s. I found myself LOLing in the car when listening. Read it or listen to it, you will enjoy it.
* I am pretty sure I am distantly related to Bill Bryson (by adoption). My adopted mother's maiden name was Bryson and her family was from Iowa. That's enough for me -- clearly, Bill and I are related. Once, before the advent of the internet, I wrote him a fan letter about one of his books -- A Walk in the Woods, iirc -- and mentioned our possibly being related (with the disclaimer that I wanted to make no demands on him, just to be able to brag about our distant cousinship in casual conversation). He actually wrote back, thanking me and saying he had forwarded my letter to his brother, who was the family member interested in such things.
Aging ice cubes. Someday I'll have an automatic ice maker again. Someday...
Ice cream. Always. Last time I bought groceries (Smokey usually does it) they had five half-gallons, assorted flavors, for $10! I couldn't pass that up, even though it was Kemps and not Blue Bunny.
Bones for the dogs.
Frozen pizza. Always.
County style ribs and bacon. I defrosted these a couple weeks ago to make ribs in the crock pot, but the power went out for a couple hours (luckily it was before I started). We went for dinner and the ribs and bacon went back into the freezer.
Steak. Smokey has become a connoozer (is so a word -- I can't remember how to spell the real word) of steak shopping. He brings home tenderloins and t-bones and porterhouses, always purchased on sale. He hits the store on his way home from work on Monday morning, right after the meat managers have put the past-sell-by-date stuff on sale.
Hamburger. We are Americans, after all.
Basque sausage (lusanka?) from Buffalo WY, purchased last summer on vacation. This is good stuff, nicely spicy, exquisite cooked on the grill.
One serving of lasagna. We had a big pan of lasagna last week, and I packed the individual portion for Smokey to take to work for his lunch some night.
Various staples purchased in bulk -- feta cheese, French roast coffee, organic stone-ground w.w. flour, yeast -- that might lose their perfection if not stored in the freezer.
Readers in the upper Midwest will recognize this commercial, I hope with delight. Tragically, there don't seem to be any more from this ad campaign on YouTube.
Gold'n Plump* is a Minnesota-based chicken producer and processor. This ad is from a TV ad campaign they did in the 1980s? 1990s? that was hugely entertaining.
*At one point in my long and varied career as an accountant I prepped the Form 5500, the annual report to the IRS and Department of Labor, for several of their employee benefit programs. (Not that that should matter to you.)
I weeded my collection of knitting books on Sunday. (Why did I ever think I needed so many? I almost never consult them.) These are the *culls* and for sale at roughly half the cover price. All are in like-new condition. Titles are linked to their respective Amazon page, where you can read about them.
Two people*, who are both my friends on Facebook but who live 1,400 miles apart and have never met and probably never will, both posted a link to this video. I took that to be a sign that I should spread the video a bit further.
* Fred was in my Jeopardy! audition group; unlike me, he appeared on the show, was a three-day champion, and won, iirc, $60,000+. Dorothy is a [former?] knitblogger who lives in the Pacific NW. Hi, Fred! Hi, Dorothy!
We have had our share of car troubles this year. I won't bore you with all of them right now, just the one that led to some knitting.
When Smokey and I were driving home from our Temperance River camping trip in August, we had a slight problem when he was turning the mini-mini-motorhome around in a driveway on a side road off Highway 61 a bit north of Duluth. It was dusk and too dim for me to get a photo, so I'll have to paint you a word picture.
Imagine the mini-etc. backed into a driveway just a leetle bit too far, so that the left back wheel is off the edge of the driveway. This driveway spans a ditch and the edges of it drop off quickly. With that wheel over the edge there was no way we could drive out of the predicament.
We walked down the driveway through the woods to find the house and see if we could use their phone to call a tow truck (cell phone = dead battery; car charger = broken). We found the homeowner working on an outboard motor in his pole shed/workshop/garage. When Smokey asked about using the phone and described our plight, the guy, name of Harley, said he could pull us out, no problem.
"Which would be better to pull you out, do you think?" he asked. "My tractor or my dump truck?"
Moral: if you are going to get your car into a non-drivable state, do so in the driveway of a man with a tractor AND a dump truck.
Harley pulled us back up onto the road with his dump truck and refused any sort of payment.
We continued on our way.
But I had noted his head and foot sizes, thinking idly that I could knit him a pair of socks or a hat in gratitude. Socks seemed to have too many variables -- size, fit, fiber, color, preferred thickness -- so I went for the hat. Because he lives on the North Shore, land of the voyageur, I thought a tuque would be the thing.
Dale-Harriet came to my aid with an authentic tuque pattern, plus some history. I used the DK superwash wool left over from my multicolor striped raglan.
Yarn: Phildar Pure Laine 3-1/2 (apparently discontinued), DK weight, colorway 'Corsair', 3+ skeins (350 - 400 yds.). Needles: Addi Turbo US#6 (I think; might have been 5s). Pattern: (I'm not telling; Dale-Harriet said she is veeerrrrryyyy particular about who she shares her patterns with.)
Here's what I told Harley about the hat in the note we enclosed with it.
p.s. The hat pattern is from a friend in Madison who is a re-enactor in French fur trading-era stuff. Here is what she told me about it:
Regarding the Toque Pattern (as I sees it)
A sailing vessel, the Machaud, went down in the mid-18th century in icy Canadian waters. Among the artifacts found on her (and we have a book with photos of the lot) they found a toque precisely the same construction as mine. We re-enactors call that “provenance” and it makes my toques valuable to the voyageurs! Now, in those days most knitting was done on steel “knitting pins” – but a dear friend examined the original and said that he thought it looked like it was done on what we’d call maybe #7 DPNs! (His wife knits; he knows whereof he’s looking). The voyageurs (being French or Canuck and therefore vain) generally go for “rouge” – I use something between a brick or burgundy or darker red, or something with an orange off-cast. The other favorite is “French bleu”, a sort of grey-blue. [like yours!]
But you’re not bound by Authenticity Hounds and so can use whatever strikes your fancy.
Read. This is what I used to do before I became obsessed by knitting, although I generally found a knit or crochet project to take along on vacation.
Nap. Most of the long car rides I have taken in the past 36 years, i.e., since I was married, have been in a car long enough to accommodate some sort of bed/nest in the back. That makes it a LOT easier to nap. Just remember the pillows and blankie.
Play games.Winner gets to drive, losers must run behind the car.
The Category Game. This is one Smokey and I un-vented years ago, and my boys and I used to play it a lot during our many drives to and from the cabin (when I was driving and could not knit, sob). One person picks a category -- trees, countries that begin with B, characters in The Simpsons, whatever -- and names a thing in that category. Each player in turn has to name another thing in the category. When a player cannot think of a new thing in the category, s/he is out. This continues until only one person is left. That person is The Winner and gets to name the next category.
The Alphabet Game, Category version. This one kept my boys and me entertained, too. The first person names something in the chosen category (which is decided upon ahead of time and must be fairly broad) that begins with A. The next player repeats the A thing and adds something in the category that begins with B. The next person repeats the A and B things and adds a C thing. This goes on until the end of the alphabet. Woe betide the person(s) who get stuck with Q, X, and Z.
The Alphabet Game, visual version. I learned this one from friends when we were driving a goodly distance to see another friend who had moved. The first person names something s/he sees -- outside the car and not written on a sign -- that begins with A. Next person ditto with B. This version does not involve repeating the things previous players have named. We found this game to be surprisingly challenging.
Daydream. One of my favorites is to imagine that I have won the lottery/inherited millions/somehow come into a sh!tload of money. What would I do with it? How much would I keep, where would I donate and with what stipulations, how much is appropriate to give my kids.
Design objets d'knit in my head. I have come up with some dynamite designs. The only problem is that I never remember the stunning mental creation that I made once the car ride is over.
Sing. This is one in which I have not engaged since high school. My family are not singers.
Edited to add: We have a taker! Thanks, Jeanne; I am sooo glad to get rid of one more pile of stuff.
I cleaned out a corner of my bookshelf/bedroom yesterday* and decided that I did not need to preserve my copies of Interweave Knitting. They are free for the cost of postage to anyone who wants them -- one, several, all.
There's also the Fall 2007 issue of Knit Simple if anyone wants that.
E-mail me (addy at upper right sidebar) with your desires and your zip code. I'll get back to you with how much it will cost. Payments by PayPal or personal check. Offer good until midnight Friday, October 15, at which point the mags will hit the recycling bin, never to return.
I also have a couple years of Wisconsin Counties magazine if anyone is interested in those...
No, I thought not.
* I am attempting to follow a rule I read somewhere a few months ago: get rid of one thing every day. What with all the traveling we have done the past month or so I have fallen behind, but Sunday's efforts made up for it. A bunch of shoes and tote bags are now in the Goodwill box and a pile of books is in a bag for the library.Tomorrow, who knows? Maybe I'll get rid of a dogcatrefrigerator something else.
Matthew is here today to get new brakes on his car and to help Smokey do some other car stuff. A few minutes ago he came running into the house to show me what he had just snapped with his camera phone.
Behold: the biggest wasp nest we have seen in recent memory.
Hmm, guess we don't use that door much. Maybe when I was designing the house I could have left it out...
Watch out, little ladybu-- oh, wait, that's one of those annoying Asian ladybugs.
For now, while the wasps are active, we will just let them be. In a few weeks it will be cold enough that they will be sluggish. Then we will knock down the nest and burn it. ::wicked laugh::