sprite writes
broodings from the burrow

August 17, 2018

bouquet, patio, and come together
posted by soe 1:02 am

Three beautiful things from my past week:

1. One of the farmers at the market had lisianthus, which has to be one of my favorite cut flowers, so several stems came home with me.

2. The small, subterranean movie theater near me has cordoned off an outdoor seating area for pre- and post-show relaxation. With its wide overhang, it was the perfect place to sip an Italian soda while finishing my library book after it started raining when I was at the pool.

3. Thousands of people from every walk of life (young, old, Black, white, Latinx, Asian, Jewish, Christian, straight, queer, cis, transgender, dog lovers, guy with a parrot) in my city came together last weekend to say that we believed love could vanquish hate and that fear would not make us shut up and stay home.

How about you? What’s been beautiful in your world lately?

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August 16, 2018

mid-august unraveling
posted by soe 1:47 am

Mid-August Unraveling

I started reading Spinning Silver this week. It’s a reimagining of the Rumpelstiltskin fairy tale, set in Russia and featuring a young Jewish money lender, Miryem; her hired girl, Wanda; and deadly, otherworldly beings, who set her the impossible task of turning silver into gold. I loved author Naomi Novik’s earlier novel, Uprooted, and am finding the start to this novel has the same feeling as the beginning of that one. I’m hoping for good things.

On my phone I’m listening to a middle grade contemporary novel, See You in the Cosmos by Jack Cheng, and Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon for White America by local professor and minister Michael Eric Dyson. The latter is shaped as a church service and deals with being Black in contemporary America and what white people repeatedly fail to understand about that experience and need to learn.

The former is about a rocket-crazy young boy and his dog, Carl Sagan, who are recording sounds of the world on a Golden iPod in preparation for launching it into space to travel on the heels of Voyager’s Golden Record, put together by human astronomer Carl Sagan in 1977. In the process, he’ll learn what it means and takes to pursue the truth, both personal and universal.

I am still working on my shawl (I had a two-hour conference call to knit through today), but progress is slow and the color changes are slower and I’m impatient for it to be done. So of course, I put it down and picked up my Posey socks. As I was picking up a stitch that had dropped off the edge of the needle while stored in the bag, I noticed some loose stitches earlier in the toe. Since the toe is not one of those places where you can just let that go, I ripped back most of the way to where I’d started the grey yarn and will finish the toe in the morning. Self-striping sock yarn changes colors much more quickly than two gradient shawl balls, so I hope that keeps me moving forward much more quickly.

Should I finish my Posey socks, I’ll have to look at my other sock UFOs from Sock Madness to see which pair is furthest along and/or will take the least effort to finish. This year’s pair, Fee Dragée, may be a contender, since that’s halfway done. Or Slip Stripe Spiral, the pair I went out on two years ago, is already into the leg of the second sock, although I think I messed it up someplace and it’s waiting for me to figure out how to fix it. Or Rainbow Pipes, which was a Sock Madness pair from 4(!) years ago, which are complete except for i-cord that needs to be created for the cuffs and buttons that have to be (found and) sewn on. My oldest unfinished pair of socks is from nine years ago and is color work. One sock is completely done, but I’m betting my tension will be different than it was nearly a decade ago and that a needle adjustment will be necessary.

If you’d like to see what other folks are knitting and reading, head over to As Kat Knits for the weekly roundup.

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August 15, 2018

christopher robin
posted by soe 1:49 am

Rudi and I went to see Christopher Robin this evening. If you’re unfamiliar with the film’s premise, it’s about what happens to the human friend of Winnie the Pooh and the other residents of the Hundred Acre Wood after he leaves his childhood playing grounds for the final time.

In this live-action version, he puts aside his “childish” things, goes to boarding school, grows up, gets married, fights in the war, and has a child. When we zoom back into his life, Christopher, now played by Ewan McGregor, is the responsible and somewhat sorrowful head of efficiency for a struggling London luggage company. He’s been tasked with saving his colleagues’ jobs, which means he’ll need to skip the weekend holiday to the country with his wife, played by Hayley Atwell of Agent Carter fame, and seven-year-old daughter that the audience can see is just as necessary to save his family.

Cue Winnie the Pooh, who in seeking his old friend’s assistance, instead may be the only one who can help him reconnect with the boy he’d been and find a path through the lonely forest of adulthood he’d gotten lost in and companions to make the journey worth taking.

This was truly a joyful film to watch — a balm for the soul — although your heart will break several times along the way. The human characters were portrayed sympathetically (with the exception of Mark Gatiss’ character, who was just over the top jerky rich guy boss), the tone felt true to the literary source material, and the animation of the stuffed animals was excellent. The technology has come a long way in the past 20 years, to such a degree that it really didn’t feel animated in any way. You’ll find yourself staring at your own stuffed animals much more closely when you return home to see if they’ve actually been staring at you all this time, waiting for you to notice.

If Christopher Robin is playing anywhere near you, don’t act like a bear of very little brains, but get yourself to the theater immediately. You will not regret it.

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August 14, 2018

end of summer planning
posted by soe 1:42 am

With just over two weeks left in August, three weeks until Labor Day, and about five weeks until the autumnal equinox, it seems a good time to think about what I’d still like to do this summer:

  • Get back to the beach again.
  • See a few more movies outside.
  • Swim at the pool twice a week until it closes for the season.
  • Explore Teddy Roosevelt Island, the Arboretum, or the Aquatic Garden (since I’ve never been to any of them).
  • Find a park where the trees are the right distance for hanging our hammock. Barring that, spread out a blanket and read all afternoon.
  • Finish knitting a second pair of socks.
  • Relax over strawberry daiquiris.
  • Attend the National Book Festival and a few neighborhood festivals.
  • Check out the two new ice cream shops that have opened nearby.
  • Watch the dragon boat regatta.

How about you? What are you hoping to accomplish before summer comes to an end?

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August 13, 2018

posted by soe 1:55 am


D.C. has been a stressful place to live for the past couple weeks. As the calendar flipped over from July to August, locals suddenly realized that today’s date was awfully close. We’d all known for a couple months that the bigots and bullies who’d protested in Charlottesville last year and who killed a young woman there in an act of terrorism had requested and been granted a permit to protest here. We knew there were counter protests planned. But somehow as August arrived, the stress of that knowledge ratcheted up a hundredfold.

Last weekend, I mulled what my own plans were. D.C. has a very large Black population, among others, and I worried that Nazis would target them in some way. I couldn’t stop the Nazis from coming, I figured; that was their protected First Amendment right. But I figured I could be there to make sure they understood they were unwelcome and to make my neighbors know that their human rights were not superseded by what’s written in our Constitution.

I’m not going to lie. I was nervous. Everyone was nervous. Last weekend’s rallies in Portland did little to allay our fears. It didn’t sound like it had been handled particularly well.

Many locals fled the city, like they would on a long weekend when tourists are likely to annoy. Others declared they weren’t going to go anywhere near downtown in an effort to stay clear of both the protestors and the counter-protestors. There were protests on the Mall and adjacent to the White House, which is where the white supremacists would be in.

Rudi and I opted to join the group who would be by the White House, wanting to make it clear to the Nazis that they were not welcome in our city. And apparently the Nazis got the memo, because only two dozen of them ended up showing up, while thousands of us came out to meet them, to say that their hate would be given no quarter in our city.

I did not have to find out today if I would be brave enough to step between a Nazi and another person, and I am glad. But I showed up believing that might be expected of me, and that was enough this time.

I will sleep well tonight.

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August 12, 2018

early august garden report
posted by soe 1:05 am

Early August Garden

The garden has become a jungle, as it often does at this time of year.

My tomatillo is about seven feet tall and way too big for the small tomato cage it’s in; it’s fallen over into the dill.

The tomatoes are equally unruly, well over six feet tall, and sprawled over the main section of the garden. I keep picking anything that has a hint of color so that we get the tomatoes, rather than the squirrels, because, honestly, squirrels are jerks and would take a single bite out of every ripe tomato in your garden if they could.

Even my chard is approaching several feet in height.

I have a few flowers on the squash plant, but I’m not positive they’ll turn into anything. I picked the yard-long beans when they were only a foot long and I fear no more will grow this year.

The peppers are slow to perform, but at least one of them finally has fruit on it. The one in the back of the garden is being blocked by whatever pollinator bush I planted a couple years back. I should pull some of it out, but there is a yellow jacket colony in the back part of the garden and I’m a little nervous about messing around too much back there.

This also is preventing me from getting to any herbs other than my basil. I harvested several handfuls of the biggest leaves off my regular basil today — which also has benefited from the sun and rain and is now about four feet tall — and will pull some of the purple basil next time. The popsicle shop near me makes a purple lemonade with opal basil, which is an intriguing thing to consider…

In the next few weeks I’ll need to start considering some fall plantings, but right now there’s nowhere to put anything. I could probably sow some lettuce seeds in between the tomato plants and see if anything comes of them later in the autumn once the tomatoes are done.

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