sprite writes
broodings from the burrow

November 28, 2019


not much knitting, not much reading
posted by soe 4:04 am

It’s been nearly three months since I started this new job, and I’m finding it a struggle to achieve the work-life balance that’s previously been mostly effortless for me. While I haven’t missed a volleyball game yet (yay, physical activity!), my knitting and recreational reading have been at all-time lows.

With only 13 more days in the office this year, I don’t foresee making any radical changes before the holidays, but I do think I could probably make some incremental changes:

T’is the season for Christmas movies, which do not require much brain power. Sock knitting also does not require much brain power and I think if I reach for one of my socks-in-progress, rather than my phone first when we start up a film, I will actually stick with it long enough to make some noticeable progress.

I also think that if I set aside 15 minutes when I get home to decompress with a book I’ll be a happier camper. Finally, I need to finish The Library Book, because it’s detracting from all the lovely fiction I want to read, so I’ll make that a priority while I’m in Connecticut for the holiday weekend.

If nothing else, the new job is making me good at developing actionable plans for accomplishing tasks, right?

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November 26, 2019


top ten bookstores i’m thankful for
posted by soe 1:10 am

Today’s Top Ten Tuesday topic from That Artsy Reader Girl is a Thanksgiving freebie. I’ve decided I’d like to share ten bookstores I’m personally thankful for:

  1. Politics & Prose: A D.C. institution, this now trio of shops bring authors to the District on a daily basis. And they have a music buyer on staff, making them pretty much the only place in town I can buy new cds still.
  2. Kramerbooks: A mainstay of my Dupont Circle neighborhood, this bookstore, cafe, and bar is open until 1 a.m. weeknights and 3 a.m. Friday and Saturday (and was very handy this year when I realized I didn’t have any cake for Rudi rather late on his birthday this year).
  3. Powell’s: This Portland, Oregon, megastore is like a beacon for booklovers, being pretty much a block wide and several stories tall. Do not plan a trip to the Northwest without stopping, and do not stop without several hours to adequately explore.
  4. R.J. Julia Booksellers: This was the first bookstore I ever joined as a member. Located in Madison, Connecticut, it has long hosted great author talks and provided hours of entertainment. It also took over the bookstore in Middletown, around the corner from my old house, after I moved.
  5. Whitlock’s Book Barn: This is one of Connecticut’s great used bookshops and one of two (that I’m aware of) in the state housed in barns. Located in Bethany in the Housatonic Valley, you can find both antiquarian titles and used paperbacks in this rural paradise that my parents used to drag us to kicking and screaming when we were kids.
  6. Capitol Hill Bookstore: This rowhouse near Eastern Market in D.C. is filled to bursting with books. While the fire marshal has clearly vetoed the piles of books that used to sit on each stair tread, they are still in stacks in the bathroom and on every other flat surface. Plus, they are deliciously cranky both in person and on their Twitter.
  7. The Strand: New York City’s answer to Powell’s (although don’t tell a New Yorker that), the Strand is home to 18 miles of new and used books. When I win the lottery and am ready to purchase my unabridged copy of the OED, they have a copy of all 20 volumes on hand.
  8. The King’s English: This Salt Lake City, Utah, shop is one of my favorite stops when we’re visiting Rudi’s mom.
  9. East City Bookshop: This Capitol Hill-area bookstore has quickly built a loyal following, and not just because of their stroller parking area and photo wall of dogs. They boast an extremely knowledgeable kids/YA bookseller and run a plethora of bookclubs, including W(h)ine and Angst, a YA bookclub for adults.
  10. Mahogany Books: This tiny bookstore, located in the Anacostia Arts Center, is the only bookshop East of the Anacostia River in D.C. and delivers Black-centric books for “readers in search of books written for, by, or about people of the African Diaspora.” It was this bookshop that introduced me (literally — she came in to pick up a book just after they hand sold me her poetry collection) to Elizabeth Acevedo.

Local runners-up you can visit here in D.C.: Loyalty Books, Solid State Books, Bridge Street Books, Second Story, Lost City (formerly Idle Times), Sankofa, Wall of Books, Carpe Librum, The Lantern, and more.

How about you? What bookstores are you thankful for?


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November 19, 2019


eleven books i’m borrowing from the library
posted by soe 1:32 am

I’m not loving this week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic from That Artsy Reader Girl, so instead I’m going to share the 11 books I currently have out from the library:

  1. The Library Book by Susan Orlean — The amount of time this book is taking me is not indicative of how much I’m enjoying it.
  2. Woody Guthrie and the Dust Bowl Ballads by Nick Hayes — I’ve had this graphic bio out since this summer, and it’s been living in a bag I haven’t looked in in a while. I need to finish it and get it back to the library.
  3. Knitting the Fog by Claudia Hernández — This poetry collection is in the same bag with Woody. I hope they’re having a good time.
  4. On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong — This book was everywhere earlier this year. Honestly, I have no idea what it’s about and even whether I still want to read it.
  5. Wayward Son by Rainbow Rowell — I meant to reread Carry On first, but the sequel came in before I figured out where my copy has gotten to.
  6. The Undefeated by Kwame Alexander and Kadir Nelson — I loved this picture book history of Black American history and have kept it out because I haven’t yet had a chance to read all the biographical reference pieces at the back.
  7. Book Love by Debbie Tung — This is a collection of bibliophilic cartoons. I like to read a handful at a time and then put it back down.
  8. Autumn by Ali Smith — This got such good reviews when it first came out, both in the U.K. and here, that I picked it up when I saw it in the library’s window display, but this is another one where I have no idea if I even want to read it. Books sometimes just like to visit my house.
  9. Look Both Ways: A Tale Told in Ten Blocks by Jason Reynolds — I am very much looking forward to reading Jason’s latest middle grade novel.
  10. Kiss Number 8 by Colleen A.F. Venable — This is a coming-of-age graphic novel set in 2004 and I literally raced through the first half when I picked it up last night.
  11. Bittersweet by Susan Wittig Albert — I’ve never read of of her China Bayles series, but this one, the 23rd in the series apparently, is set at Thanksgiving, so we’ll see!

What do you have out from the library right now?


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November 14, 2019


midweek music: country collaborations
posted by soe 1:29 am

I turned on ABC when I got home tonight in anticipation of decompressing to an episode of Stumptown. Unfortunately, it wasn’t on. However, the Country Music Awards were. I’m not a huge fan of awards show, but this had both a number of collaborations where I recognized at least the name of one of the artists and more singing than talking, so I dozed through the second two thirds of the show.

Here are a couple performances from it:

Here, I knew the song and Sheryl Crow. I’ve heard the name Dierks Bentley, but honestly I couldn’t have told you if it was a person or a group before tonight. (In case you were also wondering, he’s a guy and “Dierks” is his middle name.) Also performing are Chris Janson, Joe Walsh (he’s from The Eagles) and John Osborne.

This is a mashup of Lady Antebellum’s “What If I Never Get Over You?” and Halsey’s “Graveyard” and includes some amazing harmonies.

There was also a nice performance by Thomas Rhett of “Remember You Young,” but I can’t find a video of that anywhere for you. I’d never heard of him before, but it was a very pretty song.

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November 7, 2019


october unraveling, just 11 months early
posted by soe 1:44 am

Unraveling

We could look at this photo as a complete failure, having failed to complete sock or book, by the end of October.

Or…

We could look at it as getting a really nice jump start on the 2020 Halloween season. I know which perspective I’m going with.

Head over to As Kat Knits for what other folks are knitting and reading this week.

Category: books,knitting. There is/are 2 Comments.

November 6, 2019


midweek music pick-me-up: ‘my life would suck without you’
posted by soe 1:48 am

I had a day this morning at work. I decided midday that getting out of the office and going outside was key to turning things around. I took my sandwich to a nearby park and tried to read away my frustration, but it wasn’t working. Then some guy sat down nearby and started watching videos on his phone. Fair enough, but it was definitely not going to help me shake off the morning’s frustrations.

But, I thought, some music might help.

My go-to Google Play channel came through with this early Kelly Clarkson hit, which, played at full-blast on my headphones, started the reboot:

Adele was also a good choice from the streaming service, but then I opted to switch to YouTube to pull up two songs from my personal dance party playlist (since I didn’t have my iPod with me): “Accidentally in Love” and “The World Ain’t Slowing Down.”

And that was what it took. Upbeat music at warning-level volume and — ultimately — dancing my way back to the office in the autumn sunshine.

What do you do to turn around a (work)day?

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