Saturday, October 22, 2016

Oct. 23: Well hello!

Busy year, even as it is different from the past. . . . Good year, but also a demanding one, especially in contrast to my darn-near-heavenly summer.

Sooooooo: am taking a Using Technology to Enhance PBE class as class #3 in my Profiency-Based Education graduate certificate. That has meant a lot of on-line time with a central purpose, so I have not shared here a lot.

I hope to get back to this, and also find a midpoint for my time demands. My yoga teacher has talked about the change of seasons and how that switch tends to make us ungrounded, and I guess I'd echo that heartily right now.

Ungrounded. Oh yeah.

But this is good news. We can watch The Durrells on Corfu. . . . on our own time!

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Sunday, Aug. 21: A week, and much to look forward to, left!

N's last day at Williamstown; one week of vacation; final steps on a lot of projects, and possibly some rain tonight! Yay! Here are my reads of late (two duplicates as I can't screenshot half a row!). .  . Time to prep for church!

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Wed., August 10: Finished a Memorable One!

A Tale for the Time BeingA Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A Tale is a mind-blowing book. I read it slowly, sometimes needing a break for a simpler story-line and less nuance, but I'm glad I persevered. Still amazed that it was not until the end that I realized that, in this novel about creating narratives by reading them and creating realities by living them (and a blend of both ideas, too), the protagonist and her husband have the same names as the author and her husband. As a student used to say, =Mind.= =Blown.=

So don't even start with what the book is about: love, death, family, the internet, human cruelty, WWII, the tsunami of 2011 and resulting nuclear plant meltdown, human cruelty, nature, dreams. . . with a big helping of Japanese cultural aspects that tend to make me uncomfortable (suicide clubs, cosplay, etc) and a terrific grandmother figure. I'll be thinking about this one for a long time to come.

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Lovely, going-to-be-hot morning after a nice Tuesday that featured an early run (great to get it done but I am fearful that my soreish foot is turning into plantar fasciitis), some good work and projects, and then a fun trip to Bar Harbor to see "Love and Friendship" with Heather and Lori. What a treat! Today, I finished my book above, chatted online with some friends, and am planning to go make a fabric checkbook cover because 1. heck, I can! and 2. I don't like those ugly cheesy plastic covers but don't want to pay for a better one!

Andy is due home tonight. I plan to swim around noon. . . . and then repair my SUP, read some Lady Susan, and make dinner of some sort. Onwards!

**What a lovely, lovely summer. We need rain badly, but I am trying to treasure what is precious since I am not in charge. **

Also, as support for the Olympic viewing and filler knitting in place of 100000000 pairs of booties:

Not my idea, not my choice of pattern or colors; inherited partway finished (up to the white arrows, really). I found a general pattern and added more shaping and more color, finished the collar, and did the button band the other night. I hope to do the next button band tonight (?) so I can sew it up and block it soon. Can't wait to see what a good bath and shaping can do for it. Then: who needs/wants a big ol' non-Lopi Lopi sweater? :)

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Saturday, August 6: Rich Summer Continues!

     We need rain, badly, but might get some tonight––of course we had planned to go see "Comedy of Errors" at Fort Knox––but the rest of the summer is rich, full, and lovely. We had a wonderful five days on Taylor Pond, courtesy of the California Whites, and enjoyed stunning weather except for a hazy afternoon when we went to see the unabashedly fun "Ghostbusters 2". Much fun in the sun, the water, and with family:

Last Sunday A and I returned home, sighing a bit, and settled into our quieter but wonderful life here. I read Ta-Nehisi Coates's amazing piece Between the World and Me, worked on an experimental tank top with the Sorbetto pattern (nearly done), and actually managed to pull off a leisurely summer knitting group meeting with Dawn and Jen on our patio, breezes, a lovely rhubarb-cornmeal tart, and lots of fun talk and knitting! And. . . banjo lessons! And . . . . some monumental salads

We've also gotten my beloved Corolla up to the dealership for a major (okay, overdue) spa treatment of $2k proportions (but we hope that holds her for a few years!), I attended a good one day PBE conference in Brewer with Heather, put on by the State, and I finished my second of four PBE classes with a perfect score (booyah!) but, more importantly, a sense of how to do research at the graduate level and some rich topics for investigation. Hmmmmm. 

Lyle is pondering next steps, and Nate is pondering the end of his incredible, intensive, powerful, crazy, exhausting summer apprenticeship at Williamstown Theater Festival, and is due home in about two weeks. I plan/hope to finish some projects (tank, checkbook cover, and inherited sweater, I'm looking at you three!), repair my SUP and use it, do some writing course planning for school, hike some, see more friends, and do some summery stuff I can't do otherwise. Mostly, I want to continue to love and appreciate this time, soaking it in. Onwards, gently and with awareness! 

ETA: WOOT! WOOT! A sewing victory!

I rarely have these. . . . at least beyond quilts and pj pants! I am slow, often reluctant, overly cautious, or downright dense about sewing, especially adapting patterns to fit my particular self. However, the free Sorbetto tank pattern (linked above) was a success! I am so late to that party that the blog's comments are closed, even for this summer's Sorbetto sewing party, but I am so tickled that I'm sharing anyway: 
AND will sport that product to church tomorrow! 

A couple quick remarks: using parchment paper for my cutting-out pattern version was great, and much easier than trying to adapt the standard-paper model I pieced together from the pdf. That was a hint from the online community. Thank you!

Another trick that delights me is this idea of how to make my own bias-tape: here's the link, and thank you to "Creative Daisy" who showed the way and saved me from ordering a limited gadget. I liked making that tape for the neck and arm holes so much that I decided to use it on the hem (1" size) too--also to add a bit of length and give more heft to weight the front pleat a bit. I really enjoy it, and I'm delighted to think that, with this tutorial as well, I can do a much better job on the edges of future quilts, as well! 

The learning! The learning! The learning! I really loved it! 

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Tuesday, July 26: Some Seriously Wonderful Things in My Summer

1. Spending empty nest time with my beloved. Nothing spectacular, and maybe a few too many nights that the Sox blow an awesome lead and lose, but our time together makes me smile. My chosen grown-up. He's a keeper.

2. The weather! It has been hot, sunny, lovely, changeable. . . with just enough rain to keep things green. Just enough. We could use a full night of rain once a week, but oh my this has been a lovely summer.  Tomorrow we're off to the lake house on Waterview Drive for four days, and I hope hope hope hope hope it will continue!

3. Reading. I have set my mind to gorging on books, and it's been a pleasure. Below is a screen shot of my "My Books" page on goodreads, and that doesn't include my recent audiobooks (a re-listen of Georgette Heyer's The Quiet Gentleman and the first three Harry Potters!)  which have also been wonderful.

I haven't loved them all, and I didn't finish them all, but the luxury of having a big stack that I can jump into at will––at will, I say!––is a delight.

4. Hard, consistent, academic work. I am taking course #2 of Univ. of Me/Farmington's four course certificate in Proficiency-based Education, and this course required us to do some of the basics of social science research: a focus group (nerve-wracking but ultimately incredibly worthwhile), an action plan, and. . . . hardest work I've done in a long, long time, a literature review––not like the ones above, but a review of research out there on a certain topic (mine was parental involvement in the PBE reform effort) coupled with my own findings and thoughts and plans for forward movement. It was intense, overwhelming, and exhausting, but when I was done, I had kicked some major social science research butt. I was able to put three solid days into the work (on top of a few weeks of research reading and generalized panic), and when I was done, the prof. asked me if she could use my review as a model of graduate level scholarship and professionalism! Wahoo––aside from the external praise, I simply relished digging so deeply into my. own. work. Suddenly, I could imagine doing a doctorate, and really, really enjoying it. I think I'm done with this class (possibly one other tiny assignment), but man, it was a pleasure on many levels (I'm signed up for class #3 for the fall, so that's a good thing!). Also great to be able to work in my study at my desk--lovely view, and good space to dig in and work hard.

5. Project time! I finished Andy's socks (pic below, I hope),

and after a bit of unsettledness, I've resurrected a cast-off project from my sister and have been enjoying figuring it out. We've lost the pattern, so I've been winging it with pleasure. What a treat to start at the upper yoke of a huge cardigan and just crank up from there! In addition, I have been fiddling with the free Sorbetto tank pattern, digging out some fabric I got for one long ago but never did anything with. I had a lovely time piecing the pattern together while I listened to The Quiet Gentleman, but we're leaving tomorrow for our mini-lake vacation so it will sit. Ah well.

I hope when I come back (it will be August) to continue much that has been good, but to add more hiking--did a lot before my wonderful visit with Julie and my Hebron Friend Reunion, but none since, mostly due to the class; some more sewing (maybe finish the table runner? and the tank? Make a dress?); lots more reading, and more time with my man! I also hope to organize an afternoon visit/tea/knitting session with my school knitting group, as well as some other social events.

Such richness.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

July 2, Saturday: In that odd Way Summer Saturdays Are. . .

The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn AcademyThe Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy by Kate Hattemer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another strong work by Hattemer (her first published book, I think)--interesting characters and a good level of quality writing, but not as absorbing or nuanced as Land of 10,000 Madonnas. Although she drops some plot lines and doesn't develop some potential ideas as fully as they deserve, it's still an original and worthwhile read and an entertaining piece of y.a. writing.

And now for something completely different: BenedictionBenediction by Kent Haruf
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Finished Benediction around 11 pm on June 30 with the cats curled around me as I wept on the couch. It's powerful and sad--but saying that is obvious in the way that saying books about humans' relationships with their dogs are sad: the likelihood is that the dog is going to die. In Benediction, Dad is dying from the start: this is NOT a spoiler--and the power of the novel is in its steady attention to the small things that make life lovely, valuable, and memorable. I think the novel could be 100 pages longer, as I wanted to hear more about Lorraine (I felt that the one misstep in the story is the sudden mention of her own loss, though it might be the subject of another of Haruf's novels), about Frank *of course*, and I just wanted to hang out a bit more with these people.

It's not an easy, fluffy book (Marilynne Robinson's people could talk to these folks easily), but it's memorable and deep and calm, somehow. Recommended for a valuable experience when you feel ready for it.

Weird note: I bought a copy from the EPLibrary book sale (of course). The paperback is gorgeous: great cover, nice feel in the hands. My copy, however, was full of highlighting: probably 1/3 of every page had been highlighted in yellow through the entire story! I'd love to know the reason for that painstaking approach to reading a work of fiction that ended up in a book sale.

Second note: my students often complain about Sandra Cisneros's refusal to use quotation marks around dialogue in House on Mango Street. Well, I chuckled to myself when I noted that Haruf avoids them as well, and also shuns speaker tags like "he said," and "she commented" as well. Fun to note that bridge.

Sea of Poppies (Ibis Trilogy, #1)Sea of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Abandoned this one. It was fascinating at first, but then the storyline became 1. too ornate, with complex switching between characters, each of which had a huge backstory, most of which I wasn't terribly interested in (in which most of I was not interested????), 2. too predictable: it's an adventure story, and actually reminded me a lot of LA Meyer's Bloody Jack stories!, and 3. too long!!! I guess that laps back to the first point, but I just felt that the mental work it took for me to ingest the story was greater than the story actually deserved--and so, with a world of stories out there begging to be ingested, I put it back on the "to the book sale!" pile. And so the great cycle continues.

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Saturday, June 25, 2016

Summer Time! back at it. June 25, 2016

My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's SorryMy Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry by Fredrik Backman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Heather lent me this one, and I gobbled it down in two days. Megan wasn't a huge fan, and I can see that it might be an acquired taste: I skimmed a goodly amount of the fairy tale part (with no ill effects that I can see) and Granny herself is a difficult character to like, so the first part of the book, when Elsa is 100% pro-Granny, is challenging. However, soon Backman's multi-faceted pictures of human nature develop fully, and his picture of the beauty and pain of life makes the book powerful and moving. I'll admit it: I laughed, I cried! Backman's willingness to reveal the good in all people of all personality types is unusual and refreshing. He seems like he'd be a great friend as well as a wonderful author!

This is a novel for patient readers who love words, grammar (Elsa has a red pen that she uses to edit poorly-written signs), and other people.

'We want to be loved. Failing that, admired; failing that, feared; failing that, hated and despised. AT all costs we want to stir up some sort of feeling in others. The soul abhors a vacuum. At all costs it longs for contact.' Doctor Glas, quoted in MGAMTTYSS

"The mightiest power of death is not that it can make people die, but that it can make the people left behind want to stop living."

The Grand SophyThe Grand Sophy by Georgette Heyer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Supported by Ann's glowing reminder, I got this on audio and it romped me into vacation and through quite a bit of cleaning up and various yard chores. Heyer is at her funny, fluffy, rambunctious best in this story of the fearless, dauntless Sophy and her high-handed management of the family she comes to stay with. Predictable, madcap, and completely entertaining. BRAVA!

I stopped posting for a bit: busy and just not feeling it. But: here are two I'd like to share beyond the windows of Goodreads. And: summer. I have to share some summer. It's just lovely.