Sunday, January 28, 2007

an experiment

Question: Can a cat and two finches get along peacefully without a chaperone?

Tune in later for details***CV

Saturday, January 27, 2007

the detective

I have never been a huge or even a tiny fan of detective fiction. The only Agatha Christie book I found okay was And Then There Were None. I liked the movies based on her works, with Peter Ustinov, Diana Rigg, Maggie Smith and others. I also remember reading, The Key to Rebecca , and really liking Josephine Tey but never felt the urge to read beyond those.

Interestingly I began reading the Charlie Parker detective series because of a short story in a collection of Connolly's works which introduced me to Parker. I thought, "Hmm I'd like to know more about this character", and so I have read one novel and currently have another for nightly chapters (The Black Angel).

Sacred Games follows an Inspector in India as he finds himself involved with the apparent suicide of an Indian don. Whoa. Trust me. I never wanted to read the Godfather much less see the films. Yet in Love and Longing in Bombay, a collection of short works by Vikram Chandra, I was introduced to the character Inspector Sartaj and thought, "Huh, I'd like to know more about this character." Hence I am now reading Sacred Games.

Both Charlie Parker and Sartaj strike me as pursuers of more than the criminal. They are seekers after answers to life and are not perfect. They have differences yes but it is their similarities which have opened a door that has brought me to a room in literature I might have never considered entering and spending time in. ***CV

Friday, January 26, 2007

Monkies, Ravens, and a White Bear

East, Edith Pattou (507pp) If you are familiar with the story of Eros and Psyche, or Beauty and the Beast then you will recognise the theme in East. It is based upon the fairy tale East of the Sun and West of the Moon in which a young daughter is given up to an unknown creature in the shape of a bear, in exchange for her family's health and material comfort. The girl is then taken to a beautiful and mysterious palace where all her needs are met and a mysterious figure shares her bed at night. Of course the mysterious night visitor is under a curse and the young girl is the visitor's last hope. In this modern retelling Edith Pattou uses four voices to tell the story: Rose, Neddy (Rose's brother), the Goblin Queen, and the White Bear (who only speaks in poems). If I said I finished it the day I started would you believe me?
The White Road, John Connolly (390pp) From fairy tale to southern gothic with black winged death figures that transform into larger than expected ravens. It is a mystery with a spectral twist. Charlie Parker has a gift for bringing resolution to those who might rather live in hopeful ignorance. I first came across the Parker character in a collection of Connolly's short stories called Nocturnes. At that time I was reminded of deLint's detective fiction as well as his story Mulengro. White Road still continues that ring of familiarity: in a good way.
Life has been busy this past week. Finch sagas and Shakespeare tales as well as a model of the Globe Theater. I did however get a new book - Sacred Games by Vikram Chandra; An author who just happens to be scheduled to appear at Powell's next week. If you have never read Red Earth and Pouring Rain you should do so now.***CV

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Flaming red head

If it were autumn I would be well camouflaged indeed. One might even mistake me for a walking maple leaf. All I want to know is: where was this product when I had many clubs to frequent?
I started East today and I'm almost finished. Rose is in quest of the Troll Queen's palace. ***CV

Saturday, January 20, 2007

scarlett tresses

Class was an hour less then expected because many of us were re-certifying. Yup, every two years folks. Hopefully only for Medic and not Neglect. I think one only has to take that class once now. *shudder* There was a video with actual images.
Thus nothing of import happened today except for the title of the post. I suppose I could have said scartlet tile, or scarlet tub, or scarlet towel. But I didn't***CV

Friday, January 19, 2007

Blue Toes

I joined Yarn Monkey's latest. Not that I think I will in any way attain the title. I mean, I'd have to have a camera that actually puts pics on the internet to qualify. But I thought I'd join in anyway. Maybe I will have the right equipment by that time.
Fun stuff tomorrow. Eight and one half hours of learning about the evils some adults perpetrate upon children. Oh, joy. I've actually taken this class twice before and it is helpful to be able to know the signs but it is heartbreaking to know that these signs are so obvious and yet incidents continue.
Two new books today:

East, Edith Pattou
The Code of the Woosters, PG Wodehouse

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Snow Day IV.2

Yep.Two hours delay then everyone hit those desks! Well, I guess in PS not us.
So the finches are back but we are only keeping one other pair. Hopefully a family will want a pair or two. They are so sweet. I would if I could. *sigh*
Man, first the upstairs neighbors then the side neighbor (who, after I slipped a note under his door, has been very considerate) and now the downstairs neighbors. People. The sound fx, they are in stereo and vibrato! So I knocked on the door and shared what was up and he said: "Sorry", and "Oh sorry", and "Sorry". No need to be sorry just could you lower the volume?

They have a cute kitty though :)

I think I have become the crotchety neighbor lady. Either that or no television and no stereo means I have no way of masking the sounds around me.
I've started reading The White Road by John Connolly. Oh my goodness those angels of death that turned into gigantic ravens *shiver*CV

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Snow Day IV

Well at least they announced it the day before this time. Apparently there were many, many children who made it to school yesterday and had no way of getting home so the schools kept them (and gave them back at the end of the day). Some children had to get home as best they ould, what with being locked out and all.

And it would seem that the city has no snow plows.

So yeah. I decided to go to my regular practice this morning, though the studio closed yesterday. I emailed the instructor but didn't get her response in time. So I trekked out there and: closed. So I came on back home and then went for a noon class. After which I visited ye olde library and found a book of fairy tales in Latin.

Hansellus and Gretellus, Cinerella, Tres Porcelli, Lacernella Rubra, etc.

The odd thing was, after climbiing all four flights of stairs to get to the Language room, they sent me across the hall where the Librarian said they no longer carried Latin, excuse me, Dead Language Books. Huh? Then why are there over 21 pages of Latin lisitngs in your computer catalog?

Turns out, in that section at least, they had two dead language books: Fabulae Mirablis and Ovid. He did say they had a Loeb(sic?) book area in which the latin text faces an english text. I'll have to visit that section sometime soon***CV

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Snow day III

Aaah the wonderful feeling of relaxation after a three day weekend. Lovely.

What's this? What are they saying about closings? Hmmmmm, No. Not me. Okay. Out the door and into the .... snow? It's snowing. Why is it snowing? *shrug* Okay then let me get a bus. Carefully cross this white carpeted street and wait, and wait, and wait.


"Hello? It's snowing here too. You'll be late? Okay."

Wait and wait and ah! Here is the bus moving veeeeerrrry slowly.

On the bus and, riiiing, "Hello? School's still on? Okay. See you."

30 minutes later at an intersection. Riiing, "Yep, still on the first bus. No announcement+? Okay."

20 minutes later, still at the same intersection. "Hi, I'm still on my way - Oh? School's closed? Okay."

It's so nice to walk through the first real snow of winter.

+PS were not officially closed until 8:30. I can only wonder what all the early parents, you know the ones who have to leave by 6 did. And the reason for waiting in the same intersection? A bus slid sideways and was blocking traffic. ***CV

Monday, January 15, 2007

Not true deja vu

Picked up two books today:

The Time Before History: 5 Million Years of Human Impact, Colin Tudge
Victorian Lace Knitting Today, Jane Sowerby+

It is the oddest sensation to start reading a book and every few seconds be nudged by the recurring thought that the story, it seems awfully familiar. Then, after a few perplexing back and forths between beginning , middle and end chapters realise: Oh, that's right. I started to read this last summer didn't I? But I never finished it. Now why is that : Oh yes, Beaver, the main character is rather unsympathetic and yet, because he is the main character, I sympathise with him and, at the same time, want to smack him and say, "Get a life already!" Which is probably why I never finished it. I don't think it's okay to want to smack the main character.

It's an Evelyn Waugh story, A Handful of Dust. Must finish it at some point.

Speaking of finishing, I rather think that I will not make the From the Stacks challenge. I s'pose I could try harder. But I'm not in a Nabokovian mood.
+I just remembered, Susan Sowerby was Colin's mum in The Secret Garden. That's why the name Sowerby seemed so familiar.****CV

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Carnivorous Roses

Milkweed, Jerry Spinelli (208pp) I am of the opinion that there can not be too many stories written about the Holocaust of WWII. I am concerned that when the last concentration camp survivor is no longer amidst the living that we will forget what truly wretched people we can be towards each other. The main character of this story has no name that he knows of. He is our everychild. He is a gypsy not a Jew. He is a thief and a benefactor. He is crazy in a time of senselessness. Jerry Spinelli is a wonderful author, This is the second of his works I've read. I will look for the others.

The Looking GLass Wars, Frank Beddor (358pp) A caution: I read a review of this book last night before I had actually finished reading the story itself. The reviewer said that he almost wished he wasn't writing the review because then people could discover the book for themselves. I think that is a very smart thing to say regardless of the book in question. So read on if you have no preconceptions regarding Charles Dodgson, Alice Liddell or the stories that came from them both.

I surprised myself by enjoying this book. Once I accepted the fact that, though the names and some characters might be or appear to be the same, the story itself had very little to do with the original Alice in Wonderland. Oh, the original is mentioned but only as a device by which to tell the true story of Wonderland.It is a war story hence there are many battles, many incidents of bloodshed, and much reference to weaponry (ie, violence). In fact it is almost a case of Wonderland meets 1984 meets the Matrix. I am curious how Seeing Redd, the title for the second in the series, will use the red aspects. Will McCarthy make an appearance or Stalin? will there be a gathering in a square of some sort? Will Alice truly descend through the earth and find a place where people walk on their heads? Supposedly in October we shall know.***CV

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Vol.12 looks just like you

Keturah and Lord Death, Martine Leavit (218pp) A few posts ago I wondered why so many recent young adult stories have such very modern speaking and acting heroines regardless of the time period they are set in. I feel something is lost when authors attempt to make characters too closely resemble their intended audience. One aspect of reading I particularly enjoy is making the connection between myself and someone who is superficially unlike me; whether it be in custom, culture, speech, garb or combinations of them all. If a character is me well I know me, and I like me, but I want to know about others and how we differ and resemble each other. In Keturah and Lord Death I find a wonderful example of what I mean by creating a character and setting her in a mythic any old tyme who is true to her tyme. Yes, she is forthright. Yes, she has her own mind. But she does so appropriatelywithin her tyme. Any one who reads the blurb to this story will know how it ends ultimately but it is still a delightful read. I was reminded of Beauty and the Beast (but what a gorgeous beast), Psyche and Eros, and East of the Sun, West of the Moon. It is a sweet story told in the first person.
I am almost finished with the Looking Glass Wars ***CV

Friday, January 12, 2007


Picked up two new books today:

The Looking Glass Wars, by Frank Bedor
Keturah and Lord Death, by Martine Leavitt

Our Finches are returning. Yay!Well we have two finches now but the ones coming back are an original pair who have since had several layings. So approximatly eight coming back which brings us to ten total.
The project group went much as I expected. Only a few of the community have experience knitting and only one knows purling. So I started out by explaining the pattern's code (which I color coded so that Knit was in red, Purl in blue, etc). Then I told them that I really only expected us to do the head and maybe the neck. I also expected that at some point they each might feel like going, aaaaargh! But I showed them my favorite part of knitting which is when you can: riiiiip! And look, I get to start again :)

I believe that was smart because we spent 40 minutes just figuring how to not lose a knit stitch and then how not to lose a purl stitch.

They did great though. How would you feel after 40 minutes and all you had was three stitches? No one said I quit. One did have a moment where he was really upset but I attribute that to this being his very first time and his partner not doing the work for him.

It's a good experience for me because I knit through the back loop and do a lazy purl, continental style. This way I have to knit the "correct way".*****CV

Thursday, January 11, 2007

snow sleep

I just experienced my first snow day. That is, a day when shools are closed so no one goes in. Guess what I did?

Slept in, for a loooong time.

Then I thought, you know, I could be getting a book about Sadako from the library. I could be doing so many things. But I didn't. When I did finally get up and go out I stopped in a shop for a calendar and what did they have right behind that calendar display?

A book about Sadako.
I am currently listening to a CD and having the best time. I love the "All Purpose Folk Song". If only we knew enough about folk music in class I would so share it 'cause the kids would love it.

Must fill in that spot ASAP***CV

Wednesday, January 10, 2007


5:30 a.m. it was snowing, and then it stopped.
I shared a newspaper article in class today regarding the knitnowar project. Afterwards I said if anyone was interested in making some of the cranes then this Friday we could meet as a group to do so. I think only one person was not interested: wow. In fact, one of the new community members, who does not know how to knit, asked one of the oldest to teach him so he could participate. They both worked really hard this afternoon.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Hot scotch with lemon

Mulliner Nights, PG Wodehouse, (235pp) A collection of short stories whose central premise is a series of relations named Mulliner and whose various adventures are told in a bar by Mr. Mulliner. That man could come up with a story to fit any situation and does so to hilarious results. 'Course I knew the cat was a lush from the start. Oh, and I do mean feline cat not hep cat.
Ten cranes done of which seven remain to be felted.
For the next few months I will be playing "guess where the bus stop is today". Portland is redoing its central bus mall (ie tearing up the street) If you remember it think BART construction in SF during the mid '70s. Or 19th avenue when they were extending the tunnel. Yikes.**CV

Sunday, January 07, 2007

water to fire

Gothic, Ten Original Dark Tales, ed. Deborah Noyes (241pp) I was expecting more from this collection. I may have been spoiled by the Greenman and The Faery Reel anthologies. The stories, for the most part, have interesting premises but still left me unsatisfied. It is as if the authors had a set limit to work within and consequently cut out any frills, regardless if it what was cut was really a frill or not. Some exceptions were: Forbidden Brides....; Endings; the Stone Tower.
Anna of Byzantium, Tracy Barrett, (209pp) This is the story that I mentioned in yesterday's post.
So far I have five and a half cranes done. I'm still having trouble accessing the knitnowar site though.
Isn't it fun finding out on Friday that you have a report to turn in on Monday? A report which people knew weeks earlier would be due, just didn't think to tell you about it?****CV

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Boii oh Boii

Today is the one hundredth anniversary of the first Casa de Bambini. Thank you Maria Montessori, for showing me that not all education philosophies are based upon drill and fatigue and, that some adults know, children can think and reason themselves.
I am currently reading a book based upon the imagined life of Anna Comnena. She was the daughter of the Byzantine Emperor Alexius I, and was the author of the Alexiad. I am finding that this book is not an easy read. Not because of the vocabulary or the style of writing but because there is no clear cut good person or bad person. (Not strictly true. I have the benefit of reading previously about Anna Dalaseena, otherwise she would be the clear villain). I like the challenge and the questions I am experiencing as I read it. This is a definite possibility for the class.

I also have a copy of the Alexiad to read as well.
Here is the contact for the 1,000 Cranes project As I may have mentioned earlier, the site is a strange one. It seems to be a conduit for other stuff as well. However, the crane pattern is there. I've made four so far, they are very quick to make, and felted one by hand. I should have ten by the end of the weekend, if I don't get lost in a Celtic Timeline****CV

*the Boii were a celtic tribe that worried the Romans when the Romans were a young wanna be empire

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Hello Dolly

A friend told me today about a project to knit 1,ooo cranes. It's part of an art installation project that will be constructed for World Peace Day. I picked up that pattern for it and will try to make it and see of it's doable as a class project.
I haven't been doing much reading lately. I am almost finished with Mulliner Nights and I picked up a soft back copy of Gothic which is a collection of short stories by various authors. For the last few nights I've been rereading my Atwater-Rhodes collection.
Pink Martini the band was fun and did an excellent show. They had lots of guests come in and perform with them either as back up singers or instrumentalists. They even did a pizicatto version of the Entertainer. China came out halfway through the show wearing this absolutely gorgeous dress that she said her great aunt wore in the 1930's for her debutante ball. Let us contemplate the wonder of '30's evening wear shall we? Aaaaah.

Oh that was nice.

Not so nice was the fact that people continued to be seated up until the last third of the show. Seating would have continued I think except that no one else arrived. What is up with that? I know how much I paid for my ticket, and honey, I wouldn't show up for the last half for that price. I'd show up for the whole thing. Which of course I did. A couple came in, late, and sat next to me and proceeded to engage in conversation during the performance, to share text messages with each other, to switch seats (hey this ain't the two step hall y'know) and then left after half an hour.

The opening act couldn't perform. She was sick in NY with what sounded like pneumonia. So she called a friend and that person came to perform. The replacement act? Miss Carol Channing. ****CV