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broodings from the burrow

December 31, 2018


#tbtbsanta 2018
posted by soe 1:58 am

The Broke and the Bookish came out of retirement briefly to conduct their annual Secret Santa book swap earlier this month.

My package came from Lea of Lea Out West. She lives in Lake Tahoe, but her brother lives here in D.C. and surprisingly close by!

#TBTBSanta 2018

It didn’t strike me as unusual that both cats were interested in the box Lea sent. They’re big fans of boxes of any kind. But what I didn’t realize was that Lea had included presents for Jeremiah and Corey. I’d barely gotten the box open to pull things out when Corey hopped up, rooted around inside quickly, and ran off with this squirrel tail:

Corey Defeats the Squirrel Tail

Jeremiah was not to be left out, but he is older and knew he should wait patiently for me to share a present with him. He got toast.

Jer Considers Toast

Jeremiah Licks the Toast

I’m not sure they shared willingly, but they did each steal the other toy to make sure they got to experience both.

Corey and the Toast

Corey Is High on Toast (and Catnip)

It would not be an exaggeration to say that Lea was my cats’ favorite person that night. It shouldn’t surprise me, since this is the great Christmas card she sent:

Lea's Christmas Card

But it was not just the cats who got presents. I got some as well!

I’ll be honest. Lea’s package arrived the week before Christmas, and it was kind of a crappy week for me. I was PMSing, the apartment had flooded, my Christmas preparations were not humming along in the way that it felt like they should for someone with no day job to distract them from getting stuff done, and I was in the emotional and mental place one might expect to result from that combination. So I used the package as a daily pick-me-up. Every day I opened a gift or two, and every time I did, the world felt a little bit more right.

#TBTBSanta Presents from Lea

I have four new books to read and have already started in on the Christmas-themed one. I’m saving the other three as treats to read this winter (okay, the new Lady Sherlock may only wait until New Year’s Day — I can’t wait to start it!). I have new nail polish in sparkly confetti and purples, which will be the festive manicure I give myself on New Year’s Day while watching the parade. There is a fancy tea to drink late at night when I should be sleeping (like now). There are bookmarks (already in use!), notepads, sparkly pens, stickers, and bags to tuck into purses to hold pens, pads, and knitting needles (the last of those may not have been in Lea’s plan, but they’re just the right size!).

It really is a great package, don’t you think? Thank you so much to Lea for making me a box that I (and the cats) loved and to Jamie and Jana for running the swap again. I had a lot of fun shopping for my swap partner (Megan of The Hungry Bookworm) and got so much enjoyment out of opening each present Lea sent.

Category: books,christmas/holiday season. There is/are 3 Comments.

December 30, 2018


one last bookstore run
posted by soe 1:29 am

As I mentioned yesterday, Riverby Books, one of D.C.’s longtime used bookshops, is closing at the end of the year.

It has long been a favorite haunt of mine when over on on Capitol Hill, and I decided that I wanted to make one final pilgrimage before it was no more.

D.C.’s used bookstores each have their own unique feel. Capitol Hill Books is literally piled high with books. (They sit on the window sills, countertops, and in the bathroom, and used to be piled on the stairs until, I assume, the fire marshal shot that down.) Second Story Books in Dupont Circle has more of a storefront feel, with wide aisles and fluorescent lights. Wall of Books up Georgia Avenue is similar, but takes it further, being a bigger space, but it also is more a bookstore of the people, rather than of the collectors, so there’s less highbrow work and a broader selection. Idle Time in Adams Morgan has more ephemera (paintings and postcards), while Riverby fits into the upscale but laid back category, with a classy main floor (lots of wood, a couple wingback chairs, and a corner where you could brew yourself a cuppa to drink while browsing) aimed at adult bibliophiles and a cozier, more casual basement filled with kids books and a few overflow grown-up sections.

Riverby Books

Riverby Books

Riverby Books

For the holidays, they’d assembled book bundles — trios of books relating to a theme, such as classics or movie fodder or titles based on Shakespeare quotations. This one was my favorite:

Riverby Book Bundle

And did I come home with anything new, you ask?

Riverby Book Haul

As you can see, I had some luck finding an assortment of reading material. There are three books of poetry, including a local anthology; a classic; a middle-grade caper I’ve been meaning to read; three Christmas items (two dvd collections and one novella); and two books on language, including one by Bill Bryson. And with the closing sale discount, it all came out to less than $2.50 per item. Quite a good haul, if I do say so myself.

Category: books,dc life. There is/are 2 Comments.

December 27, 2018


final unraveling of 2018
posted by soe 2:08 am

Final Unraveling of 2018

What you see here is the start of a new shawlette. It’s a pretty blue and a soft yarn and I’m hoping the pattern works with it. I’m knitting it on larger needles than I usually work with, so I’m hoping the sections will fly by.

I finished Winter Stroll tonight, staying up after everyone else went to bed to read by the Christmas tree. It was fine, and I will definitely finish the trilogy up next Christmas, but it wasn’t anything amazing. Winning Her Holiday Love is the other Christmas book I brought up with me and I imagine it will be a quick read. I mean, we’re going home tomorrow, so it won’t be done before I leave Connecticut, but definitely by the end of the weekend. I started listening to Cornelia Funke’s When Santa Claus Fell to Earth when we were driving up and figure I’ll finish it on the drive home. It’s not a long kid’s book, so the audiobook is only a couple hours.

This is the final Wednesday of the year, so you should head over to As Kat Knits to see what everyone else is reading and crafting.

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

December 6, 2018


early december unraveling
posted by soe 1:30 am

Early December Unravelings

It was a hectic week, which means not much knitting got accomplished. Nothing old is done. Nothing new is started. Tomorrow I vow to do one or the other.

I’ve done better on the reading front. I read the first chapter of The Muse of Nightmares, which is dark (duh!) and kind of maybe don’t want to read it right now. I was able to renew it, so maybe I’ll put it aside and try again next week. I have plenty of other paper books to choose from, including Glad Tidings, two holiday romance novellas which have been perfectly adequate bathroom reading but seem unlikely to advance beyond that. I think I’ll finish The Wolves of Willoughby Chase next, provided I can lay hands on it quickly. Otherwise, Christmas Caramel Murder, Christmas at Eagle Pond, and Ghosts of Greenglass House are the leading contenders to read next.

I’m listening to Michelle Obama’s Becoming, which she reads, and I now feel like I have a wise girlfriend keeping me company while I wash the dishes at night. I also have Christmas at Little Beach Street Bakery out on audio, which is by the same author who wrote The Bookshop on the Corner, which was fine, but nothing particularly special. I’ve listened to the first few chapters, because a lot of people seem to really think it’s sweet, but I’m not sure I’m invested enough after the first few chapters to keep going. There’s probably another half hour before we learn what the driving force of this book’s plot is going to be (there’s been almost 45 minutes of set-up so far), so I suppose I’ll give it that much. Otherwise, I’ll probably just return to hanging out with Michelle.

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

December 5, 2018


top ten tuesday: cozy, wintry reads
posted by soe 1:15 am

Today’s Top Ten Tuesday from That Artsy Reader Girl asks about our top ten list of cozy, wintry reads. Unsurprisingly, I’m going to focus my list on Christmas reads. (Readergirl3 also narrowed her topic similarly and we have a bunch of the same books in her list.)

Here are 11 of my favorites (once I got going, I ran long…)

  1. Dylan Thomas’ A Child’s Christmas in Wales beautifully captures the nostalgia surrounding the holidays. If you can find the audio of Thomas reading it himself, it’s worth a listen. Similarly a staged reading of the text also makes for an enjoyable evening.
  2. The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson. Also has, as I recall, a decent 1980s made-for-tv adaptation.
  3. The Birds’ Christmas Carol by Kate Douglas Wiggins: An overly melodramatic Christmas picture book about a sick girl and her neighbors from the author of Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm.
  4. The Polar Express, a picture book by Chris Van Allsburg, tells of a boy’s test of his faith. I first read this in French in high school, and it’s a beautiful read-aloud in any language.
  5. My True Love Gave to Me, edited by Stephanie Perkins, gives you a dozen YA love stories in a range of genres from some of the top authors writing for teens today. Not all 12 stories were loved, but I could appreciate even the ones I didn’t.
  6. Speaking of which, Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! gives you three interrelated Christmas stories from John Green, Lauren Myracle, and Maureen Johnson.
  7. For many years, I did not enjoy Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, but for the past decade or so, I’ve finally grown into it. I’m currently waiting on an audio version read by Jim Dale from the library.
  8. Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas is the source material for the original cartoon and the subsequent movies and may be one of the few times in history where the book and the adaptation are equally good.
  9. It’s been nearly a decade since I read Connie Willis’ Miracle and Other Christmas Stories, but I’d totally read the sci-fi Christmas-themed collection of stories again (or, at least, most of them).
  10. A Redbird Christmas by Fannie Flagg gives you everything you expect from a Flagg novel — lots of laughter, Southern charm, and quirky characters. I don’t know if Southerners enjoy her writing, but this Northerner sure does.
  11. Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares, by David Levithan and Rachel Cohn, is a sweet YA romance set in New York City and features one of my favorite grandfather characters in recent memory. Plus, it told me that I could find copies of the OED at The Strand if I were willing to shell out for one.

How about you? What’s on your list of cozy, wintry reads?

Category: books,christmas/holiday season. There is/are 1 Comment.

November 29, 2018


final november unraveling
posted by soe 1:31 am

Final November Unraveling

I’ve been feeling a bit unbalanced and realized that might be because I haven’t done a lot of knitting or reading lately, so this evening after Rudi went to bed I did both. I pulled out the long-lingering shawl, ripped back the partial bind-off I’d done and redid it. I don’t love the way it looks, but I’ve decided that I’m unlikely to not wear it because of that, so have forged on ahead. I still have 200 ever-shortening rows to go, though, so I’m not sure I’ll get it bound off before the end of the month, but probably before next week.

Reading wise, I managed the first essay in fellow Camel Sloane Crosley’s Look Alive Out There, which was about the dysfunctional ways urban neighbors become entwined in each others’ lives, while up in Connecticut, and I’m looking forward to the rest.

I can’t seem to force myself to open The Muse of Nightmares right now, so I’ve returned to The Alcatraz Escape, which has been in the works nearly as long as my shawl. I’m also finishing the final two chapters of Sam and Ilsa’s Last Hurrah on audio. I’m not loving it, which is disappointing, but it’s probably a good book to read right now, all about leaving one’s comfort zone and finding new adventures. Both of those seem likely to be done before the weekend, which is good, because right now things leaving my apartment is a big goal of mine.

Hopefully next week a whole slew of knitting and reading!

(Head over to As Kat Knits to see what everyone else has going on the needles and the page.)

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