November 30, 2016
virtual advent tour: let’s do this thing
posted by soe 11:00 am
I’ve changed my mind. Let’s do the Virtual Advent Tour after all.
For those unfamiliar with it, the Virtual Advent Tour (hosted here last year and previously on Blogspot) has its roots in the paper Christmas accessory. Daily, you’d open a numbered door that corresponds to the date, revealing a picture (or bit of chocolate) beneath it. In this case, instead of a tasty morsel or drawing, every day between Dec. 1 and Dec. 24, you get a blog/vlog post from around the internet. These posts share how their authors celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Festivus, solstice, and/or other winter holidays with favorite customs, memories, songs, foods, photos, books, events, and other traditions. To make sure everyone knows where to go, every day I’ll post with the address(es).
Does this sound like fun? Would you be willing to compose a post or two to make this successful this year? What you share is completely up to you, and you don’t need to let me know the topic ahead of time. All that I ask is that you have your post published by midnight your time the evening before the date(s) you pick.
If you’d like to participate, please leave me a comment on this post telling me what date(s) you’d like. I’ll update this post as people claim days.
And I’ll work on creating a badge for those who want it tonight. For those who want it, you can find three sizes of the badge after the jump. (more…)
November 29, 2016
posted by soe 2:58 am
I’ve stayed up late finishing my mitts, because I just couldn’t face another day of them not being done. There are three ends or so to weave in tomorrow, but the knitting portion is done. (I’m still not sure I love how the tops roll outward, even after redoing the tops yet again, this time with seed stitch before the picot bind-off, but if I fix them, I suspect it will be in the off season.)
November 28, 2016
posted by soe 4:48 am
After heading north on Wednesday and celebrating Thanksgiving on Thursday, I still had three days in Connecticut to enjoy.
On Friday, Karen and I got to have lunch. We walked and talked and ate. I drank a very tasty hot eggnog with a shot of gingerbread syrup in it.
Yesterday was a low-key day. Rudi went to watch ski racing. I slept in and then bummed around for a while with my knitting. (No, the Christmas mitts are not done yet. I’m hoping tomorrow night.) My parents went and bought their tree and then the three of us went out for pizza. We finished the evening with a fire in the fireplace and viewings of Prancer and Going My Way.
Today was a busy day. I got up early and wove in some of the ends on my knitting while watching CBS Sunday Morning with my folks. Dad and I took Cranberry, their dog, for a walk, and then I did a little raking. We got their tree into the house. Mum and I made cookies. Dad and I played pool. We all enjoyed one last weekend meal together, and then Rudi and I headed south, leaving just after 8. Traffic was light the whole trip, and we enjoyed all the outdoor light displays folks who live along the highway had set up. We pulled in an hour ago, much to the delight of our cats. Now, it’s time to sleep.
a virtual advent tour update
posted by soe 4:34 am
I really wanted to run the Virtual Advent Tour again this year, but I wasn’t able to garner the number of participants we’d need to make a go of it. I sincerely apologize, and will give organizing it a shot again next year.
In the meantime, may I offer you a Christmas cookie? My mother made them and I decorated them today.
November 27, 2016
my favorite books of 2014
posted by soe 3:02 am
I locked myself out of my site again last night and couldn’t get back in until this evening, so will be giving you an additional post sometime this weekend to make up for the missed one.
I was looking through my draft folder hoping to find a half-finished set of book reviews. Alas, they all require more work than that. However, I found this partially composed list of my favorite books from 2014, so I thought I’d share it, since they’re all out in softcover now, should you be looking for a reasonably priced gift for someone:
The Book of Unknown Americans, by Cristina Henriquez: A collection of linked stories about immigrants from South and Central America who live in an apartment building in Delaware. Some are here legally, some illegally, but all of them are looking for a better life and having mixed results in finding it.
The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights, by Steve Sheinkin: I picked up this book expecting a graphic novel and instead found a non-fiction book detailing a shameful incident in our nation’s military history. The outrage you feel for the men of Port Chicago will keep you turning these pages and will stay with you long after you’ve passed the final one. This book was the one that I kept walking up to people wanting to talk about. Give this to the person who keeps responding that “All lives matter” to help them understand or to the person who is sparked by righteous fury.
A Snicker of Magic, by Natalie Lloyd: The 11-year-old main character of this book is a collector of words (the best of them end up inscribed on her sneakers); her best friend is a boy who likes to do good deeds. They live in a Tennessee mountain town full of quirky residents and an ice cream factory, and once was was home to magic and music. Word lovers of all ages should pick up this middle-grade novel.
Landline, by Rainbow Rowell: A middle-aged tv script writer and her BFF get their big break, but it’ll require she work through Christmas and miss celebrating the holidays with her daughters and long-suffering husband at his family’s home — and possibly destroy her marriage. When she decides to stay at her own childhood home for a few days (it’s closer to work), she discovers that the phone she’d used all those years ago is giving her the opportunity to reacquaint herself with that past. A must-read for those of us who are in long-term relationships.
Seraphina, by Rachel Hartman: If the idea of dragons living as human scholars of mathematics and music in a castle setting doesn’t interest you, do not bother reading this book.
Mr. Lemoncello’s Library, by Chris Grabenstein: Kyle loves games of all sorts, so when his hero, a local eccentric who’s made billions inventing games and who’s put some of that money into reopening the town library, creates a Willy Wonka-like contest for its dedication, Kyle knows he wants to be amongst the competitors. An enjoyable read for fans of games, books, Roald Dahl, and tech.
Rooftoppers, by Katherine Rundell: A baby found floating in a cello case after a shipwreck is adopted by one of her fellow survivors, a solitary man. When the welfare folks come poking around years later and threaten to send her to be raised in a more suitable environment, the two of them run away to Paris — she to look for her mother and he to keep her a while longer. Beautifully written.
The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, by Gabrielle Zevin: A curmudgeonly bookseller receives an unexpected gift that changes his life. It’s cheesy and you see the second half of the book telegraphed within the first, but you don’t care. Highly recommended for book lovers.
As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride, by Cary Elwes: I loved this memoir and how they got pretty much everyone involved to share sidebars. If your life is punctuated by quotations from this film, read it!
Brown Girl Dreaming, by Jacqueline Woodson: A middle-grade verse memoir about growing up black in South Carolina and New York City in the 1960s and ’70s. Even if you think you don’t like verse novels, check this one out.
Flight Behavior, by Barbara Kingsolver: A woman living at the foot of West Virginia’s Appalachian Mountains makes a disturbing discovery — the woods around her house are suddenly awash with thousands of brilliant butterflies. This book combines discussions of climate change and personal growth and offers a look at working class farmers just holding on and how both of those things affect them. I find Kingsolver to be a must-read pretty much all the time.
(Yes, I recognize that’s 11, rather than 10. I’d had nine on the list when I originally composed it nearly two years ago, and upon reflection, I probably would have replaced one of the items on the list with another. Since that didn’t seem emotionally honest, I thought I’d just expand the list to include them all.)
November 25, 2016
avoiding the traffic, pizza, and fire
posted by soe 2:33 am
I hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving (or just a wonderful Thursday if you’re located elsewhere). Rudi and I drove up to spend the holiday with my folks, and we stuffed ourselves full of doughnuts, turkey, stuffing, rolls, vegetables, and pie. We watched the parade, counted our blessings, shared stories of loved ones not with us this year, and enjoyed each other’s company. (I also had two long naps, which means I missed most of the parade and most of the Disney special. Oops.).
Three beautiful things from the past week:
1. When she phoned yesterday to check on our drive’s progress, my mom reminded us about one of their alternate routes north, which was far less trafficked than the Garden State Parkway would have been. (Don’t worry; we hit plenty in both Maryland and in Connecticut.)
2. We decided to stop for supper at Modern Apizza, but when we pulled up, we could see the crowd spilling out of the vestibule and onto the sidewalk. We are nothing if not devoted to our pizza, though, so just pulled out all our warm gear and prepared to wait. Turns out that there were two large parties waiting to be accommodated, and we were able to walk right in and sit down at a booth. (We finished our meal and left before either group was seated.)
3. Thanksgiving is one of the days when my folks light a fire first thing in the morning and then it keeps burning all day. I like to spend parts of the day curled up on the hearth.
How about you? What’s been beautiful in your world recently?