Monthly Archives: May 2011

6 million dollar redux.

In the end I used the first iPad case for a week and decided that I didn’t like it.  Oh, it’s cute enough.  But it doesn’t really cover the iPad as well as it could.  Okay, so experiment one, not such a good ending.  So I went for round two.  This time I went with some mercerized cotton, left over from making Billy a baby blanket, and some buttons saved from several pairs of pants.   This is the result……

    I’m actually really pleased.  It stays shut all the way, which my last attempt did not.  It has a snug fit.  Which the last one did, but only in some places.  I also like the side closure better than the top closure.  Bill thinks it has too many buttons.

I think if I try another one, not that I will, there will be cables.  But really, how many iPad cases does one iPad need?   Friend Timmie seems to think there should be felting involved.  I don’t know.  My shrinkage calculations aren’t always very exact.   I’d probably end up with something really cute for an iPhone instead.

As I came off that relative knitting success, I started on something I’d been meaning to get around to for years.  The classic Elizabeth Zimmerman Pi shawl with the diamond lace.  I’ve made other Pi shawls over the years that I do use. It seemed like a natural low key project that I could knit from my stash.   However, I didn’t end up doing the outer ring, since I was working in a heavier cotton, I thought it was getting to big.  And I was right.  If I had finished as instructed I would have had a football field doily.  So, I took it off the needles, and blocked it.  Which should have been great.  But I don’t know.  I don’t like it.  Worse, I don’t think that the outer ring would have made a difference.  I’m actually thinking it would have made it worse.

So, who needs a green cotton football field doily.  I have just the thing for you.  And you can even machine wash it.

Oh yes!  For anyone keeping count that is now 12 million dollars I’ve saved on an iPad cover.  Very very frugal.  Really.

Alaska: land of adventure and murder

Currently on Loan from the Library:

13 ½ by Nevada Barr
A Fine and Bitter Snow by Dana Stabenow
Hunter’s Moon by Dana Stabenow
Certain Girls by Jennifer Weiner
Cinderella Ate my Daughter by Peggy Orenstein

Other Books I’m Reading:

The Johnstown Flood by David McCullough
Unholy Dying by Robert Barnard (Which by the way is not a fiber arts book.  Although, I could see how a person would think that. Even if there is a missing “e”.)

I decided to read both of the Dana Stabenow books I checked out back to back.  She was recommended by a friend, and I wanted to get a sense of her writing framework.  As is often the case with me, I managed to pick up two books that contained major life changes for the main character, and read them in reverse order.  Timeline? Ha!  I am glad to report that my prior knowledge of how Hunter Moon had to end for Kate Shugak, did not diminish my reading enjoyment.  

There is sort of a traditional mystery/thriller framework out there.  A murder on page one, an arrest three pages from the end, and an investigation in-between.  Dana Stabenow tosses this right out the window, and it works for her.  I admit, I was a little worried around page fifty of A Fine and Bitter Snow when there was no body yet, and no other mystery apparent.  Then, suddenly, right in the middle of the very enjoyable book I was reading about the histories and relationships of people in small town Alaska, there was a murder.  The ending of  A Fine and Bitter Snow, is a bit out of left field.  Let’s say the supporting evidence would not have been enough to convict the murderer without a confession.  Still, a very satisfying read.  

Then I moved on to Hunter’s Moon, which contains a full hundred pages of mucking around in the wilderness with guns, moose, bears, and blueberries before anyone gets dead.  In Hunter’s Moon, it’s at least plain that someone is probably going to get shot well before the actual death.  That first death is like the starting flag at Daytona.  What follows is one hundred and fifty pages of the highest murder to page ratio writing I’ve ever read.  Also feats of strength,  and two very very very crazy people.  Who could ask for anything more?   

There are a few scenes of corporeal exuberance in these books.  They don’t detract from the writing, in that they fit the nature of the characters and the circumstances.  Also, the scenes are rather well done, giving you enough information, but not too much.  Missing by a wide margin the pause here for a porno break scenes in many other books of this kind.  If you happen to object to that sort of thing, they are easy enough to skip.  

These books have pretty much convinced me that the Alaskan Bush is no place for me to live.  I’m not really a skin a moose run through the forest with a gun sort of a girl.  Still, fun to read about.  Maybe even educational.  

Enjoyability:   Both A Fine and Bitter Snow, and Hunter’s Moon get a good solid four stars.  

Where to read this book:  Since Stabenow’s covers do not tend toward the lurid, absolutely take them to the coffee shop with you.  They probably won’t help you meet that cute guy at the table across the room, but you may strike up a conversation with a fellow reader over them.  

Further reading: I will definitely be picking up more Dana Stabenow books.  Maybe not right away.  But she has a well deserved place on the Watch List from here on out. 

6 million dollar iPad sleeve.

Part of what I love about knitting it that I can decide what I want to make, and then make it in the color and style I want.  It can’t be helped.  I’m an oldest child. Sometimes I want exactly what I want exactly when I want it.  The knitting helps me keep my tyrannical tendencies suppressed.  Just think.  If Stalin’s Granny had taught him how to knit, the world could have been a whole different place.  There’s a book there somewhere.

The Lutheran part of me loves knitting for another reason.  I save all those tiny balls of yarn I end up with after a project.  I have a bag of them.  Most knitters do.  Even if you are ultra accurate in your yardage calculations, sometimes the yarn you want to use doesn’t come in balls exactly the right size.  Besides, it’s always safest to buy a little more than you think you are going to need.  It saves you that horrible feeling of having almost finished a project, and then run out of  yarn.  Thus, I am always on the lookout for projects that will help me empty my overflowing leftovers bag, but will also be useful.  No one needs a bookmark made out of bulky yarn, or a wool wash cloth.

Meanwhile back at the parsonage this week I developed the need for an iPad sleeve.  After pricing, and shopping around I hit Ravelry and did a search for patterns.  Still seeing nothing I liked I decided it was time to try it on my own.  So I did some measurements, and started to work from my leftover bag.  And this is what I came up with.

The yarn used here represents the leftovers from two shawls, and one scarf.  The buttons were saved from a shirt years ago.  So, the materials cost me $0.  Not to bad.  It did take me about six to eight hours of time to knit this.  Billing that out my normal hourly knitting rate of  1 million dollars an hour, that’s six million dollars that we didn’t have to spend getting me this iPad sleeve.  Now how’s that for a bargain?

Sure, my seams are not all they could be.  And Cotlin is not the best possible yarn to use for fair isle knitting.  It has a tenancy to stretch.  Still I really like the results.

I really can’t wait to tell Bill I didn’t spend six million dollars this week.  He’ll be so pleased.

Made out like a Pirate Queen

Besides our oldest graduating from Preschool yesterday…. Go Billy Go!  We had a book sale to attend.

We run up to the Chatham book sales every couple of months.  The County Library clears the decks and raises money by selling off their extra and donated books cheap.  We always do our best to get up there when they have a sale weekend.  The earlier the better.  Plus, big bonus, they hold the sales in an old train depot.  So trains still run by.  And the boys like trains.  Also books.

I should note here that Bill and I have very different ways at looking at a book collection.  Which is totally the opposite of how we look at other household items.  I am more likely to buy a household items, say a chair without considering that I will have to move it eventually.  Whereas the part of the book collection that is mine, is more likely to be books I’ve read over and over again, and enjoyed.  It was not always thus.  However once I married a pastor, and realized I could be packing up the book collection at a moments notice for the rest of my life, I got picky about the books I buy.  Bill, on the other hand is more likely to look at the chair and remind me we’re going to have to move that eventually, but when it comes to books he’s a completest.  He wants them all, and he wants them all in the dead tree edition.  So working together we have both more books and more household goods than we should, but not so many it would make it impossible to move at some point in the future.  Cooperation at it’s finest.

In any case, I’m so pleased!   I found a hardback edition of David McCullough’s John Adams in good shape for one dollar.  Also for a dollar I got Thief of Time by Terry Pratchett, cause Pratchett just cracks me up, and The Death of Vishnu by Manil Suri, which I’ve heard good things about.  The McCullough is the one I’m most pumped about.  I’ve been looking for an affordable copy of Adams since I read it about four or five years ago.

I’m also on the look out for a buckram covered edition of Gone with the Wind, which I would be willing to pay up to five whole dollars forPreferably in red or green.  But I’m not that picky.  Also Knitting Around, by Elizabeth Zimmerman.  Although I have a sense it’s going to be easier to get that one through Amazon.  The problem with Amazon is that it takes all the triumph and glory from the find.

And I must have my triumph.  After all.  I am the Pirate Queen!  Ha Ha!

Something Black and Blue

Currently on Loan from the Library:

13 ½  by Nevada Barr
Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin
Something Blue by Emily Giffin
Hunter’s Moon by Dana Stabenow
A Fine And Bitter Snow by Dana Stabenow
Certain Girls by Jennifer Weiner

Other Books I’m Reading:

The Johnstown Flood by David McCullough

Here’s the scoop on Something Blue.  Emily Giffin knows how to commit to a character.  Something Borrowed, the previous book, was written in Rachel’s voice.  Good girl Rachel the lawyer who ends up having an affair with her best friend’s fiance.  Something Blue is written in Darcy’s voice.   Darcy the toxic, cheating, bridezilla, who was having even more affairs on her fiance than he was on her.  Some authors faced with writing a book from Darcy’s point of view would go for the spin.  Allowing the character to endlessly justify their actions.  Still other authors would try and convince us that yes, Darcy is bad, but it’s not her fault.  She’s was raised that way, or had been so abused she had no choice, or had some sort of medical imbalance.  Giffin does none of these things, and for that I salute her.   

Darcy is just a horrible person.  The sort of person who admits to herself what she’s doing is wrong, and does it anyway.  Darcy spends the first third of the book snitting about her ex-fiance Dex, and being a shrew to Marcus, the new man in her life.  She’s pregnant with Marcus’ child, but can’t stop obsessing about the affair Dex had on her and when it started.  Even though she admits cheating on Dex twice before Marcus.  Finally Marcus gets tired of dealing with the evil witch in his apartment, and throws her out.  Which leads Darcy to try and get back together with Dex by claiming the child is his.  Dex doesn’t by it.   Plus he’s happy with Rachel.  So Darcy is on her own.

Which leads to the second third of the book, in which Darcy, incapable of living without being worshiped for two seconds together, decamps to England and the home Ethan, yet another childhood friend.  She secretly plans to stay with Ethan until she finds her new vision of Mr. Right.  Rich, successful, preferably with a title, British, and adorning.  This doesn’t keep her from lying to Ethan, or spending all her money on a very expensive, none maternity wardrobe.  All the nonsense she puts Ethan through, eventually leads to a fight.  After which Darcy vows to be a better person.  

And so we embark upon the fairy tale, third of the book.  Darcy decides to change, and does.  Mostly because she’s found out she’s having twin boys, not the single girl she was expecting, and panics.  Sort of scared straight by impending motherhood.  She finds Mr. Right.  But he turns out to be not Mr. Right, and besides she’s fallen for Ethan.  Ethan likes the new Darcy, and falls in love with her.  She has the boys and names them John and Thomas.  Which made me giggle like a little girl.  Darcy and Rachel sort of more or less reconcile, and we find out that Dex and Rachel got married a mere eight months after his split with Darcy.  

Wait.  Stop for the count.  In nine months Darcy has gone through Dex, Marcus, Dex again, Mr. Right and then Ethan.  Girl moves fast.


Enjoyability:   I really didn’t like this book.  It felt like it took me forever to read.  Although this one was better then Something Borrowed.  So it gets two and a half stars.  One for getting published.  One for having a plot.  And a half for commitment to character.  Almost.  

Where to read this book: Inside a dog.  

Further reading: I’m moving on to some mysteries.  Reading Something Blue has left me longing for a body count.    

P.S.  The movie version of Something Borrowed has reviewed so badly, I doubt I’ll ever get to it even on Netflix.  See, somebody at Warner Brothers should have read the book first.  Would have saved a lot of trouble. 

Should have Borrowed an Asprin

Currently on Loan from the Library:

13 ½  by Nevada Barr
Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin
Something Blue by Emily Giffin
Hunter’s Moon by Dana Stabenow
A Fine And Bitter Snow by Dana Stabenow
Certain Girls by Jennifer Weiner

Other Books I’m Reading:

The Johnstown Flood by David McCullough

I have a deep fondness for books that have been turned into movies.  I enjoy comparing and contrasting.  There are certain things that are totally wonderful in the movies, and nothing short of disastrous in a book.  Likewise there are moments in books that I read, and read again, only to fast forward past them when I watch the movie.   Most book to movie conversions fall into one of three categories for me.

The Revamps – These are movies that are just better than the books they were adapted from.  Think Peter Benchley’s Jaws or Mario Puzo’s The Godfather.  Both nearly impenetrable reads full of purple prose, action scenes that last way to long, and lagging plot.  Yet, both have become iconic in movie form.   For a more recent example look at Amanda Brown’s novel Legally Blonde.  The book is fun and maybe even charming for the first third, then drives off the road, into a pond and rolls around in the mud at the shallow end for the rest of the book.  Still somehow, turn it into a movie, throw in some Reese Witherspoon, and you have something fun that my husband didn’t hate watching.

The Gems – Occasionally there is a movie that is just as good as the book it was adapted from.  These are rare, and precious to me.  I always loved Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy.  I also thought Peter Jackson did a heck of a job with the movie version.  Sure, yes, everybody who is a fan of the books has a detail that they think Jackson didn’t get right.  He left out Tom Bombadil.  He didn’t get Gondor just so.  Well, okay.  Still, Jackson was basically true to, plot, character, motive, style, and mood.  He gets a thumbs up from me.

Likewise, I’ve found the Harry Potter movies just as enjoyable as the books.  And again, the movies were true to the spirit of the original books.  Although, I admit I haven’t exactly watched the last one yet.  I’ll get there.  Others in this group include the ever beloved 1995 BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, the 1995 adaptation of Sense and Sensibility and the 1991 adaptation of The Silence of the Lambs.  Thomas Harris, and Jane Austen in the same sentence.  Bet you never thought you’d see that.

The Stinkers and Sinkers – Then there are the movie adaptations that just get nothing right and/or actually bring the reputation of the book down.  The movies I find personally most irritating in this category are adaptations of The Hunchback of Notre Dame.  It’s like they’ve never read the book.  Which maybe they haven’t.  The worst offender in my mind is Disney’s 1996 version.  Get real.  You don’t take a book about virtue, lust, sin, redemption, artifice, truth, facade and substance, and turn it into a kids movie.  Although it’s a pity you can’t.  The medium of film is just not capable of going there.  At least not in a 91 minute children’s cartoon.  The Hunchback is not now, nor has it ever been a book about an ugly guy who falls in love with a beautiful woman, but is happy that she just wants to be friends.  It’s ludicrous and Disney should be ashamed.  Also, they should get a library card for gosh sakes.

Other movies that fall into this category for me are the 2001 adaptation of Thomas Harris’ Hannibal, and the 2008 adaptation of Horton Hears a Who.  Don’t even get me started on Horton.  I could go on for weeks.

All of this is leading up to an admission.  I picked up Emily Giffin’s Something Borrowed for one reason and one reason only.  It’s about to come out as a movie adaptation starring Ginnifer Goodwin and Kate Hudson.

I’ve seen Giffin’s books around the library.  They’re always hanging out on the shelves in their pretty pastel color, and gold lettering covers.  Like that girl in college that you always thought about getting to know, but never did. Suspecting all the while she was just a little too precious for you to ever really be friends with.  So I had never bothered with them before.  After all, I feel it’s very unlikely I’ll find real mayhem behind a delicate shell pink cover.

Something Borrowed focuses on a love triangle between Rachel, the good hardworking straight-laced lawyer girl, Darcy, beautiful toxic long term childhood friend of Rachel, and Dex who went to law school with Rachel, but was snatched up by Darcy.  At the beginning of the book Dex and Darcy are three months give or take a couple of weeks from their September wedding.  We open on Rachel’s 30th birthday party thrown for her by her best friend forever Darcy (you know, that drunk woman dancing on the bar). After being pulled off the bar by disapproving but loving Dex, Darcy is taken home.  But wait!  Dex tucks Darcy in and then comes back to the party only to end up getting drunk with Rachel and sleeping with her.

What follows next is three hundred pages of angsty melodrivel.  Seriously, these people can buy Prada, and Channel, but they can’t buy a clue.  I mean, yes, of course, there are all the usual moral issues.  But I’m talking about straight out common sense.  If you are engaged to a guy, but have no problem fooling around on him repeatedly, maybe this isn’t the marriage for you.  If the woman you are engaged to is basically drunk and flat out mean to you and her friends for three months straight, maybe she needs a trip to AA, not a trip to the Hamptons.    If the woman who is supposedly your best friend since you were eight, steels your boyfriends, lies to you repeatedly, undermines you when you get ahead, and is rude to you most of the time, she’s not really your friend.  Still, no matter how she’s treated you, sleeping with her spineless workaholic fiance will not be just fine.

Here’s the crazy thing.  It’s possible Something Borrowed will be an entertaining and maybe even enjoyable movie.  Strip away the internal meandering dialogue and you’re left with a decent plot twist and lots of summer fun in the Hamptons.  Which is pretty great movie fodder. It maybe a Revamp.  I’m kind of curious to see.  But I won’t be running out to the theatre to see it.  I’ll probably watch it when it shows up on Netflix, and I’m trying to finish a knitting project.

Enjoyability:   Something Borrowed gets two stars.  One for getting published, which is no small thing.  One for having a plot, which is left out of more books than you would think.

Where to read this book:  Somewhere that no one else can see you.  Or maybe on the electronic reader of your choice.

Further reading: I hate to say it, but I’m actually about to dive into the sequel Something Blue.  I’m oddly intrigued by the question of how Giffin lands these novels.  I wonder if she wimps out.  We shall see.

Zip, Zap, Zoom

Currently on Loan from the Library:

Nothing.  Nada.  Not a durn thing.  

Other Books I’m Reading:

The Johnstown Flood by David McCullough

So here is the sad truth about my life.  Sometimes I don’t have time to read.  The Dana Stabenow book was shaping up into a very good read when I had to return it to the library.  I didn’t even have time to crack the DeMille book.  That’s how busy I’ve been.  Worse than that, I don’t have any new knitting to post.  Because I haven’t been knitting either.  That is how busy I’ve been.  I’ve hardly done either of my two favorite things in about two weeks.   

Instead of a post about reading today, I will supplement it with quotes from my children.  

In answer to the question “What do you want to be when you grow up?”
B: “A doctor, a teacher, an astronaut, a firefighter, and a pastor on the weekends.”
G: “A knitter.  And I want to drive bus.”

On seeing red cars in the parking lot.
G: “Ferrari!”
Me: “No, Nissan.”
G: “Oh. Nissan.  Ferrari!”
Me: “No.  Ford.”
G: “Oh. Ford.  Ferrari!”
Me: “No.  Toyota.”
G: “Mommy, need Ferrari!”

B: “Where are you going?”
Me: “To knitting.”
B: “Oh, can I come?”
Me: “Do you knit?”
B: “No, but I drink milk at the coffee shop.”

G: “Go stand in the corner.”
B: “Mom!  G’s trying to give me a time out.”
 Me: “Well, you don’t have to go.  He’s not your parent.”
G: “Go stand in the corner now.”
B: “But Mom.”
Me: “Just ignore him.”
B: “You can’t tell me to stand in the corner.”
G: (big grin). “Go stand in the corner.”
(I did put an end to it at that point.)

Now off to the Library.  

Enjoyability:   A duck, a truck, and two lawnmowers.

Where to read this book:  Read?  Ha.  

Further reading:  We’ll see which of my requests has come in. 

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