sprite writes
broodings from the burrow

March 22, 2012

into the stacks: birds of a feather
posted by soe 3:10 am

Birds of a Feather, by Jacqueline Winspear

From the jacket: “Birds of a Feather finds Maisie on another dangerously intriguing adventure in London between the wars. It is the spring of 1930, and Maisie has been hired to find a runaway heiress. When three of the heiress’s old friends are found dead, Maisie must race to find out who would want to kill these seemingly respectable young women before it’s too late. As Maisie investigates, she discovers that the answers lie in the unforgettable agony of the Great War.”

My take: Empathic detective Maisie Dobbs has a new case. She and assistant Billy Beale have been hired to find and bring home the missing daughter of a self-made grocery mogul. Charlotte Waite is 32 and lonely, and this is not the first time she’s run away. Her father believes she’s being petulant and headstrong, but Maisie suspects there may be more to it than that. Could the murder of a young housewife be related? As Maisie investigates Charlotte’s past habits and contacts, she must also deal with Billy’s mood swings, stemming from lingering and chronic pain relating to a leg injury sustained during the war. And out at Lady Rowan’s country estate, it’s becoming more obvious that although her father remains optimistic about the future of the horses he’s raising that he is not as young as he once was.

The second in an ongoing series, this novel focuses much more on Maisie’s case at hand than did the previous book, which split its time between the case and Maisie’s back story. In this instance, although we’re still getting little bits of it, and although we’re still dealing with a lot of repercussions from World War I, the story is a more hopeful one, in that we can see a path forwards for the characters. In fact, that’s probably what I thought was most important in this book. Maisie specifically asks a doctor about what separates those patients who recover from their injuries quickly from those who languish. His quick answer is that it’s acceptance of the injury/illness (rather than getting stuck on the circumstances that led to it). He elaborates:

One is accepting what has happened. Three is having a picture, an idea of what they will do when they are better, or improved. Then in the middle, number two is a path to follow. (p. 221)

And that’s probably what this novel is about. Finding the path forward to the future. A good lesson to take away from characters you can’t help but like.

Pages: 311

Category: books. There is/are 2 Comments.

March 21, 2012

once upon a time vi
posted by soe 1:32 am

Once Upon a Time VISpring has sprung, which suggests it’s time for our annual dalliance with all things magical.

Carl has announced the Once Upon a Time VI reading challenge is beginning today, and I’m in it for the Quest the Third. I shall endeavor, before the next solstice, to read one book that fits into each of these four categories:

  • Fantasy
  • Folklore
  • Fairy tale
  • Mythology

And then I’ll follow it up with a June viewing of William Shakespeare’s comedy, A Midsummer Night’s Dream. If someone has a favorite video interpretation (in case I can’t track down a live performance), please let me know in the comments.

As for specific choices, the mythology category is easy. The Enchantress, the final book in Michael Scott’s Immortal Secrets of Nicholas Flamel series, is due out in May, and it’s one of those series I have pursued eagerly and unabashedly since the first one hit the shelves. A rare hardcover series for me.

I think for fairy tale I’ll go with Robin McKinley’s retelling of Sleeping Beauty, Spindle’s End. I loved McKinley’s Blue Sword series, and my friend Amani adores this book, too.

I really liked Savvy when I read it a few years back, and I’ve been eyeing the sequel, Scumble, since it came out. I felt like Savvy had a folk-tale quality to it, so I may slot Ingrid Law’s follow-up into the folklore category.

Fantasy is a pretty open category, and the one I’m most likely to be able to fill without even trying. Lev Grossman’s The Magicians has been on my To Be Read list for years now, and Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone is high among my recent additions.

If you have suggestions for great books that fit into any of the categories (or know of a retelling/reinterpretation of Paul Bunyon), please feel free to share them in the comments.

Category: books. There is/are 17 Comments.

March 18, 2012

the wearin’ o’ the green
posted by soe 2:02 am

Sock Madness is upon us, which means my knitting productivity goes back up. Last night I finished the first round pattern, Dicey.

Spring Green Socks

Each sock’s cable placement was determined by rolling dice. On the leg of the second sock, I rolled a lot of cables. It nearly prevented me from finishing within the time frame allotted us. And the stress of that possibility definitely made me tense, which, in turn, means that second leg is a bit more tight-fitting than the first. But I can get both of them on, which is what’s important.

Dicey Close Up

The yarn, which is in a color called Spring Green, made socks perfect for wearing around Mitchell Park on a temperate St. Patrick’s Day.


I like them better on way better than I did while knitting them.

Category: knitting. There is/are 3 Comments.

March 15, 2012

flowers, ingredients, and 1950s
posted by soe 9:14 pm

I have a sock that needs to be done in just under 26 hours (ah, Sock Madness!), so this will be quick. Three beautiful things from my past week:

1. The flowers have really popped this week. The tulips are finally up, the magnolia trees in front of the Phillips Gallery are in full bloom, and I walked back to the Brookland Metro station on Wednesday under a canopy of cherry blossoms.

2. Pecan Pie for Pi DayI did not have a jar of cherries after all. Our lemon juice was nearly out. I’d turned all our apples into sauce. But I did have pecans and corn syrup, which meant we got to eat this for Pi(e) Day —>

3. Sunday night we headed up to the American City Diner for a meal. We ate soup and sandwiches and fries, drank milkshakes (cherry for me; a black and white for Rudi), and played 1950s tunes on the jukebox with the quarters we had at hand.

How about you? What was beautiful in your world this week?

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pretty prize
posted by soe 1:44 am

Emily, over at Yarn Miracle, is a pattern designer and stuffed toy maker. And recently she has added crack dealer to her titles.

Okay, well, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration. But it’s not far from the truth, if by crack one means squee-worthy yarn.

But she has started writing a monthly series of blog posts entitled Mindful Fiber featuring small, sustainable yarn makers with pictures and quotes from the farmers and, most excitingly, a giveaway. And I won the prize for February.

So Soft

The package was waiting for me when I returned home from errands on Saturday afternoon and I have been petting the yarn included in it nonstop since then.

It is Shadyside Farm Studio‘s Homespun Bunny, an exquisite worsted weight yarn that’s 25% angora combined with lambswool. This colorway is Rose Pink.

Shadyside Farm Studio yarn

There is more than enough yarn to knit the Like Sleeves pattern from Yumiko Sakurai, which came as part of the prize, although now that I’ve met the yarn, I may find it difficult to give it away. (I’ll definitely knit both the yarn and the pattern; they just not be knit together.) And Emily (who many years ago knit me socks and gave me a personalized knitting bag as part of the Blooming Feet sock swap) tucked in a bunny clip and some chocolates.

Prize from Emily

There is still time to enter the March Mindful Fiber Giveaway to win an angora bunny kit in time for your spring toy knitting. You’ve got until Tuesday.

Thanks again to Emily, Yumiko, and the folks at Shadyside Farm Studio for such a lovely prize! It’s the most pettable present I’ve received in a while!

Category: knitting. There is/are 2 Comments.

March 14, 2012

ten on tuesday: happy tunes
posted by soe 1:24 am

This week’s Ten on Tuesday topic, 10 Songs That Put You In A Great Mood, is irresistible to me. At first, I was tempted to just straight up replicate my Dancing playlist, which is what I put on when I need a spring in my step or to get chores done, but not all the songs in it are happy, even if they are all up-tempo. Then I thought I might combine it with some songs from Dancing 2, which were more upbeat songs that I came up with after I’d played Dancing for a month. But I think instead it’ll just be a mishmosh of songs from my life that I always need to sing along with when they come on. They arrive below in no particular order.

  1. “The World Ain’t Slowin’ Down” by Ellis Paul — I have written about this song before. If I had a theme song, this would be it. I even have dance moves I do with the song. If you see a girl moonwalking on the Metro for just two steps, you’ll know why.
  2. “Accidentally in Love” by the Counting Crows — Another song that demands dancing in public, although this one is perhaps more jumping than dancing. Also singing. Occasionally loudly and in public parks.

  3. “Jack and Diane” by John Cougar Mellencamp — Just “a little ditty…”
  4. “Sweet Caroline” by Neil Diamond — “So good!” I’m sorry. If you’re even going to pretend that you don’t belt this out with the rest of us, we can’t be friends anymore.

  5. “Galileo” by the Indigo Girls — A college favorite.
  6. “Livin’ on a Prayer” by Bon Jovi — I really wanted this to be my prom theme, but it would have been a ridiculous prom theme, no matter how much I want things to work out for Tommy and Gina.
  7. “Walking on Sunshine” by Katrina and the Waves — A favorite of college dances. It was never complete without this one, which I feel must have been pulled out in the 1-2 a.m. hour.
  8. “Poems, Prayers, and Promises” by John Denver — Do you have an idea of what your ideal day would look like? I’m pretty sure mine was formed by this song. And if hearing it makes me feel a tad melancholic, it’s only because it’s harder to gather everyone in front of a fire to contemplate these things now.

  9. “Marylou” by Kris Delmhorst — Because when I grow up, I want to be like Marylou, too.
  10. “Sometimes When We Touch” by Dan Hill — This beat out “Livin’ on a Prayer” for our prom theme, and even 20 years later (ouch!) I’m still surprised that my ’90s suburban classmates opted for a 15-year-old love song over a power ballad from the band of our generation. But they were right, and the song was perfect and the night was perfect and you don’t get those moments often enough in life.

Now, I’m always on the lookout for new happy songs to add to my collection, so I’d love if you’d leave some suggestions in the comment section of songs that make you happy.

Category: arts. There is/are 2 Comments.