sprite writes
broodings from the burrow

November 19, 2017


coffeeneuring 2017: ride #3
posted by soe 1:57 am

There are nine books to write about for June, so I’m going with the easier option of a Coffeeneuring ride, especially since Rudi posted those photos for me.

Coffeeneuring Ride #3: Shop Made in DC (1330 19th St., N.W.) and Shaw (Watha T. Daniels) Library (1630 7th St., N.W.)

Shaw Library

Saturday, Oct. 21; 4.7 miles

Hot chocolate, cardamom kouign amann

If you’re going to talk about the revitalization of D.C.’s branch libraries, it’s impossible to have that discussion without highlighting the one in the Shaw neighborhood. This happens to be my current secondary library branch, the one I’m most easily able to get to on my way home from work. (more…)

Category: books,dc life,sports. There is/are 1 Comment.

November 14, 2017


coffeeneuring 2017: ride #4
posted by soe 1:37 am

No, in case you were paying attention, you did not miss posts on rides #2 or #3. Because ride #2 was to my regular library, I didn’t think to take photos inside, so I want to go back and get some to show it off properly. And I had a good portion of the post for ride #3 done when I realized that I wanted to include shots that are on Rudi’s phone (and he’s sleeping).

So, we’re skipping ahead to ride #4:

Coffeeneuring Ride #4: A Baked Joint (440 K St., N.W.) and Rosedale Library (1701 Gales St., N.E.)

Rosedale Neighborhood Library

Saturday, Oct. 28; 11.63 miles

Hot chocolate, brownie-chocolate chip cookie bar

For this ride, the first of the longer ones I was planning for Coffeeneuring, I thought I’d thought things out enough. I’d requested some of my holds to be delivered to libraries around the city, hoping they’d arrive spaced far enough apart to accommodate my plan. I got the notice that Exit West had arrived at the Rosedale Neighborhood Library, and knew that library was the nearest branch to Mason Dixie Biscuit Company, where I planned to do the drinking portion of my ride.

Rosedale Library's Featured Books

The ride out went mostly fine, given I wasn’t fully sure of where I was going and that I’d put my phone in my pannier, rather than leaving it accessible for consultation, which meant I kept having to stop after a certain point.

The Rosedale neighborhood is in Northeast, just past where the H St. Corridor development extends, which means it’s a diverse neighborhood. On this Saturday before Halloween, there were lots of kids about and holiday preparations were firmly underway.

Rosedale Library Display

The Rosedale Neighborhood Library, which shares space with the local parks & rec/community center, was built in 2012 to replace two of the one-room kiosk libraries that had served the community since the 1970s (you can see the H St. one, now an arts space, here).

Like Northwest One, Rosedale’s branch is a large, communal space divided into sections using low-rise stacks. It’s got an open industrial ceiling, but they use these cool leaf mobile sculptures to help make it seem more homey, to help soften the light, and, I’m guessing, to help dampen the sound.

Leaf Sculpture Mobiles at Rosedale Library

This Saturday afternoon, the library was doing brisk business and I don’t think there were any empty chairs. I quickly found Exit West, perused the videos, and then went over to check out the new releases shelf, where I found a cookbook devoted to pumpkin/squash recipes that needed to come home with me.

Back outside, I looked up directions to Mason Dixie, only to discover, thanks to Google’s omnipresence, that it closed in 15 minutes. I’d considered many details, but never that a restaurant would close mid-afternoon. Clearly that option was not going to work. Retracing my steps homeward, I thought about where I could head that would still be open by the time I arrived. A Baked Joint came to mind and I pointed my bike toward the Mount Vernon/NoMa area of town.

A Baked Joint is a sister establishment to my favorite cupcake shop in D.C. and I hoped they’d share the same approach to making hot chocolate, which involves a large frappe glass, oodles of whipped cream, and chocolate chips. Should you find yourself craving cocoa, they have my vote for best in region. The bakery case was starting to look a little bare, so the cashier recommended this half-brownie-half chocolate chip cookie bar. It was large and rich, and I definitely should have brought half home with me to eat later instead of gorging myself on the entire thing in one sitting.

Coffeeneuring at A Baked Joint

I found a table outside next to their greenspace and read my books for a while. I had just commented to the woman reading at the table next to mine that I kept hoping the light above us would turn on when I looked down and realized there was a rat near my foot. (I had seen the holes in the ground when I sat down, so I knew there was a burrow, but I’d figured they’d wait until it was legitimately dark to come out. Oops!) We both agreed that was the sign that it was time to move!

After taking my dishes inside, I came back out to the bike racks (the cafe is conveniently located next to a bike shop, so there were lots of places to park) only to discover that my seat cover had been stolen. When I’d arrived, some young men had been hanging out nearby and while I was inside I noticed they were pulling wheelies awfully close to the tables (I have seen some very balanced guys ride wheelies for blocks in traffic, so I will give them the benefit of the doubt that they were totally in control and not actually endangering anyone). Because they were gone when I came back outside, I didn’t give them another thought until I returned to the bike. And I didn’t actually see them take it, so I could totally be wrong. They didn’t take my pannier or any of my lights, thank goodness, so it clearly had been a stupid dare, but since I use a seat cover because my silicone gel-filled seat has some big, leaking holes in it, I was irked. Luckily, I had a plastic bag I use for rain protection in my pannier, so I tied that over the seat and rode home on it. Since the seat cover had big chunks of silicone stuck to the inside, I’m really hoping whoever stole it decided to put it on their head and then got them stuck in their hair. It would serve them right!

Much to my delight, the company where I buy the seat covers (I’d wondered if they’d be stolen, so had ordered two and then had the first one taken from in front of my office the first week I used it) had a free shipping sale two days later and new ones (3 this time, with one being boring black so as to attract less attention than the ones I prefer) arrived within the week.

So, not quite the ride I’d planned for or wanted, but still it was good to check out a new neighborhood and a new library.

If you missed it, this post explains what Coffeeneuring is and why I’m visiting local libraries during it.

Category: books,dc life,sports. There is/are 3 Comments.

November 12, 2017


into the stacks: april 2017
posted by soe 1:50 am

I put this off last Saturday (and, you know, for months and months now), because it was too much work. Time to suck it up…

A Study in Scarlet Women, by Sherry Thomas

As you might guess from the title, this is a retelling of Arthur Conan Doyle’s A Study in Scarlet, the first Sherlock Holmes story. In this version, Lady Charlotte Holmes, cast out by her family after being caught in flagrante delicto with a married man. Mind you, she was only caught because she was the one to raise the alarm, hoping to free herself both from her troublesome family and the virginity they are so eager to protect. But after her father and sister fall under suspicion for killing the man’s mother, Charlotte must find a way to make the nom de plume, Sherlock, she uses in correspondence with the police work in real life in a society prejudiced against women to clear the family she still loves. I can think of at least four series in which Sherlock has been remained as a woman, and this is probably the strongest of the bunch, so if you’re only looking for one, pick this one (although I recommend them all.)

Pages: 323. Library copy.
(more…)

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November 9, 2017


mid-november unraveling
posted by soe 1:57 am

Mid-November Unraveling

Obviously this is not one of my better shots, but I just don’t feel like pulling everything back out and setting it up again, so it is what it is.

And what it is is every print book I have out from the library that I’ve started. Two are adult books (A Most Extraordinary Pursuit and Exit West), two are YA (Saints and Misfits and The Reader), and three are middle-grade novels (The Lotterys Plus One, Me and Marvin Gardens, and The Unbreakable Code). On my phone, I’m about halfway through the audio of The Secret History of Wonder Woman. I’m in a bit of a reading funk and keep starting new things in the hopes that it will be the one to grab me, but so far no dice. Mind you, this is only about half of what I have out from the library right now. I need a vacation to get through everything.

Sock #2 of Little Pumpkins is into the gusset decreases, so progress should get faster now that I’m only dealing with one set of cables, rather than four, and have a lot more stockinette. I never understand why some people prefer toe-up socks: all the easy stuff is at the beginning and you’re stuck with lots of detail work the further along you get. Maybe only one more week. But I keep saying that, so clearly it’s meaningless.

You can visit Kat’s blog for links to more Unraveled Wednesday posts.

Category: books,knitting. There is/are 4 Comments.

November 5, 2017


into the stacks: may 2017
posted by soe 1:04 am

May was my least productive reading month so far this year, when I only finished two books, but I loved both of them, so I think I must have been savoring them.

(I’m skipping April’s reviews for the moment because it’s late and there are a bajillion books to cover that month…)

The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas

This fantastic YA novel from debut author Angie Thomas follows 16-year-old Starr in the aftermath of a police shooting. She’d been at a party and caught a ride home with an old friend from the neighborhood, Khalid, when they’re pulled over by a cop. In details that will surprise no one who’s followed the news over the past few years, the officer overreacts and shoots, and suddenly Khalid is dead and Starr is the only witness. In the weeks that follow, she has to deal with questions from everyone: Had he had a gun in the car, as the officer claimed? (He hadn’t; it had been a hairbrush.) Was Khalid in the local gang? Was he running drugs? Did Starr really even know Khalid anymore, after all, since her parents have her and her brothers in a fancy private school across town now? Did any of that matter, when he hadn’t, in fact, been doing anything wrong when he was shoots? Starr (who saw her other childhood best friend die in front of her in a drive-by shooting as a kid) is under tremendous pressure from the gang members, from the police, from the neighborhood, from her friends to do one thing or another. And in the end, she and her family — and everyone she comes into contact with — will have to live with her actions.

(A note on that “U” in the title for others, like me, who wondered: The title is a direct reference to a Tupac quote in which he explains that “Thug Life” is an acronym for “The Hate U Give Little Infants Fuck Everyone,” talking about how racism is a self-fulfilling story of hatred.)

This is a remarkably strong novel, with well-rounded characters, both White and Black, both police and civilian. The action is well-paced, and it will surprise no one who’s read the book that it’s in the process of being turned into a movie. I highly, highly recommend this for all of us well-intentioned White people.

Pages: 450

Word by Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries, by Kory Stamper

Word by Word comes from a lexicographer at Merriam-Webster who tells you everything you ever wanted to know and a lot of things you didn’t even know you wanted to know about dictionaries, how they get made, their role in society, and their history. You’ll learn about who makes a good dictionary employee (if you like chatting with your coworkers, don’t answer that help wanted ad), all the interesting stuff at the front of the dictionary that no one ever reads (the punctuation in an entry actually means highly specific things), how dictionaries walk that line between being prescriptive and denotive (they’re aiming for the latter, but we keep trying to make them the former), and how new entries make it into the dictionary, among a massive variety of other fascinating things relating to language.

If you have a word lover in your life, this would make an excellent gift. I rarely say this about non-fiction, but I would even re-read this one. (Oh, and if you’re on Twitter, may I recommend that you follow @merriamwebster? They do a great job of trolling the president (who clearly does not love words) and will keep you up-to-date on what’s happening in the news with their trending look-ups.)

Pages: 301


Book stats:
2 books
751 pages
2 print
2 library copies
1 fiction, 1 non-fiction
Diverse main character(s): 1
Audience: 1 adult, 1 YA

Author stats:
2 women
Own voices: 1
Country of residence: American

Category: books. There is/are 4 Comments.

November 4, 2017


ninja book swap
posted by soe 1:58 am

Having done book, yarn, and knitting swaps before, the Ninja Book Swap is one of my favorites. Last Friday, I came home to a box from my partner:

Ninja Book Swap Presents

Olive sent me presents, each with notations about why she made the selection.

Ninja Book Swap Notes

I am now the proud owner of Frederik Backman’s My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry, which was on my swap wish list, and Ashley Weaver’s Murder at the Brightwell, the first in what Olive says is her favorite cozy mystery series. I’m so excited to start reading them both!

Ninja Book Swap Goodies

Olive also sent me chocolates from Sarris Candies, a Pennsylvania chocolatier. (I love presents from near where my swapper is, and chocolate presents are always awesome!) She also included Manipulator, a hair gel from Bed Head by TIGI, since I was saying here that I’d recently cut my hair and was looking for some new products to try with my short ‘do. Since I discovered that The Body Shop had gotten rid of the hair stuff I’d relied on the last time my hair was short, it’s been wonderful to get to try something new!

Thank you, Olive, for such a wonderful parcel of fun! And thank you to the Ninja Book Swap organizers for all the behind-the-scenes work!

Category: books. There is/are 4 Comments.