sprite writes
broodings from the burrow

June 15, 2017

mid-june unraveling (with actual tinking!)
posted by soe 1:09 am

Mid-June Unraveling

What you see there, folks, is a baby blanket that’s only slightly longer than it was the last time you saw it. Is that because I’ve been slacking off and not knitting when I should? Well, yes, somewhat. However, it’s also because I was knitting on it during jury duty and made a key mistake that became obvious when I looked at it and then I had to rip back to before where I’d been to fix it. So I’ll be doubling down over the next week in order to make some serious progress.

Just before snapping this shot, I finished Phillip Pullman’s The Ruby in the Smoke, the first in a historical mystery series I picked up at our local Little Free Library earlier this year. I had watched the BBC adaptation of at least part of the series when it came out a decade ago, didn’t realize it had been a book first, and then a couple years later happened upon the Maisie Dobbs books, which I mistakenly thought was the same thing. (I am not the only person on the internet to have made this error, by the way.) I also forgot the adaptation starred Billie Piper, whom I didn’t yet know from Dr. Who or Mansfield Park, until a librarian pal in my book group reminded me. The library has the dvds; I may borrow them at some point…

I also began David Arnold’s Kids of Appetite while on jury duty, but either my headspace in that setting was wrong for the book or the style didn’t lend itself to the situation. In either case, I hope to give it another shot this weekend.

I’m about to start Amina’s Voice by Hena Khan, a friend of my friend Sarah, in honor of Ramadan. It’s gotten a great reception, so I’m looking forward to this middle-grade novel.

None of the audio books currently in my collection appealed, so I downloaded Exit, Pursued by a Bear last night thinking it was The Bear and the Nightingale. I do not know if it’s the same bear (the titles smack of wanting to be picture books in a similar vein to Jon Klassen’s Hat books), but since they’re different authors and story lines, I’m pretty sure we’re talking two different bears. Anyway, I’ll probably delete Exit, Pursued by a Bear from my phone and see if something else is available. I should get The Princess Diarist, Carrie Fisher’s final book, within the next week or so.

How about you? What are you reading? Head over to Kat’s to see other folks’ books and knitting…

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

June 14, 2017

posted by soe 2:21 am

Yesterday, I had jury duty. It’s fine; it’s my fourth time being called in the 14 years I’ve lived here. D.C. has, in the grand scheme of jury duties, a relatively pain-free system, since although you almost certainly will have to report to the courthouse, unless you’re picked to serve on a trial, you’ll be dismissed to go home. There’s no need for you to remain on stand-by for a month.

My three prior jury duty sessions have ended with one criminal trial (which lasted about a week), one civil trial (which lasted a couple days), and being excused early in the afternoon.

I was in the later pool of jurors, which I appreciated because I am really not a morning person. Almost immediately after the orientation, they called out more than 50 people and took them off to be considered for a jury. Within ten minutes, they were back and took almost all of the rest of us for the voir dire process for a different trial in a courtroom down the hall.

Turns out this was going to be for a murder trial and it was going to last at least two weeks. The prosecution had a long list of witnesses they planned to call. Many of my fellow jurors answered the questions in a way that got them immediately dismissed, but my answers put me through to the end of the process. While I wanted to tell them that I am rather squeamish about graphic depictions of violence, I held my tongue. Should someone ever accuse me of murder, I’d want people to suck it up and listen to my side of things, so the Golden Rule dictates that I do the same.

However, because so many people had opted out, there were no longer enough potential jurors left for them to disqualify any of us themselves. And apparently that’s necessary. So the judge sent us home with the admonishment that we had to return again today, at which point she’d have repeated the process with a second set of jurors.

Instead of going home (or off to sit in the shade and read), I headed back to the office. If I was going to be out of work for two weeks, I decided I should let folks know, set up email and phone greetings, and get a little more work done.

Today I returned to the courthouse, where per her word, the judge had found a couple dozen more potential jurors, from whom she started filling the jury box. At this point the lawyers could start ruling people out, and they did. Of the original 14 people they sat in the jury box, probably only 3 remained by the end. And they’d made a good stab into the group of us returning from yesterday — the final person they picked was the woman sitting next to me.

But in the end, I didn’t find myself on the jury of a murder trial, and I’m really grateful for that.

And now I’m done with jury duty for at least the next two years.

Category: dc life. There is/are 8 Comments.

June 12, 2017

mid-june weekending
posted by soe 1:05 am

I’m off to jury duty in the morning, so thought I’d get this posted now. (I don’t actually mind jury duty in theory, but the realities of serving on a jury can be frustrating.)

Rudi was away for the weekend, which meant I could do any fun thing that came to mind:

On Friday, it was heading to the Yards for our first summer picnic. The band was fine, the food was tasty, and the company excellent. The moon rose over the river a brilliant orange. I finished the evening with a scoop of ice cream from the local parlor, since it was mostly between the metro station and home.


On Saturday, I slept away the entire morning and then lazed away the rest of the day. I watched the Nationals game on tv and read a book, which I eventually took up to the park, from which I could hear the Pride parade without having to be in the crowds. I made myself a yogurt parfait for lunch. I did some laundry and vacuuming. I went up to the bookstore for the member sale and took care of some gift shopping. I redeemed my Tuesday voucher for a free ice cream come from Baskin Robbins.

Ice Cream

Today, my plan was to rise early and head out to pick blueberries before the heat kicked in, but I overslept my alarm slightly and decided to switch up my plan: I went to the farmers market and then came back and ate breakfast and read the arts section of the newspaper, which was mostly about books. I stopped at the library to return a bunch of things on my way to the farm, where I picked a bucket of blueberries (over five pounds!) under the sweltering sun. (I remembered sunscreen and a hat and water and appropriate clothes, but forgot tissues; I need to remember that blueberry bushes make my nose run!) Luckily, there was a breeze, which I was so grateful for!

A Lot of Blueberries

I got in a few minutes at the community pool (a very nice way to recover from all that sun!) and watered my garden. The pea vines are withering, so I suspect this will be their last week, since they don’t like the triple-H weather we’re due to get. I’m also thinking I should dig up my strawberry and violet patch and rework that space. The violet roots have really edged everything else out, and it isn’t being used to its maximum potential. I have three tomatoes on my 42 Days plant, flowers on a couple others, and tiny buds on some of the peppers. My herbs (particularly the dill) need trimming and the weeds are growing faster than anything else. Some time in my plot is clearly in order in the next week or so.

Rudi made it home in time for an hour at the park before we headed home to watch the Tony Awards, the only award show I actually like. It seems like The Great Comet would be a good show to see; I just have to find dates where cheap seats are still available.

How was your weekend?

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June 9, 2017

fireball, wave & sniff, and victory is ours
posted by soe 1:45 am

Some weeks I have to scrape my memory barrel to come up with three beautiful things that I haven’t already shared in some form, but (in part because I didn’t write the weekending post I’d intended), I have an overabundance! So many beautiful things:

Cherries for the Picking

1. Tuesday night, we were sitting in a park watching an outdoor showing of Rogue One when a neon green light flared over the screen, dissolving into sparkles. Murmurs flew through the crowd, as we realized it was a meteor, rather than a firework set off in the adjacent neighborhood.

Doughnut Day

2. A house between home and the metro station has lavender growing next to the sidewalk in its front yard, which means I run my hands through it at least twice a day.


3. My volleyball team won our division’s championship, which has never happened with any of the teams I’ve been on in the 6+ years I’ve been playing rec league volleyball (or my high school or college teams, either, for that matter).

How about you? What’s been beautiful in your world lately?

Category: three beautiful things. There is/are 4 Comments.

June 8, 2017

early june unraveling
posted by soe 1:28 am

I just finished Labyrinth Lost tonight, so tomorrow holds the promise of a new book! Since there are holds on The Inexplicable Logic of My Life by Benjamin Alire Sáenz, it looks like that will be my next choice. I enjoyed Aristotle & Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe (Lin-Manuel Miranda reads the audiobook, if you want to listen) when I read it for the Cybils back in 2012, so quickly put in a hold request when the library got copies of his latest novel.

Early June Unraveling

I worked on this baby hat while we watched the (disappointing, in my mind) Manchester by the Sea on Monday. I only have a couple more rows to knit before working the decreases. The mother-to-be cast it on for a friend’s baby like a decade ago and then left it a few rows in with me when she moved. With her first child due in less than a month, I want to be able to finish it for her so she can have helped knit something for her son.

Want to see what others are reading and knitting? Head over to As Kat Knits for more.

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

June 3, 2017

armchair book expo: diversity and dining with authors
posted by soe 1:29 am

Today’s Armchair Book Expo topics cover diversity in the book industry and the always fun dinner party question. I thought I’d quickly tackle both:

Delving into Diversity: Book Expo sparked quite the controversy a couple years ago regarding diversity in books and authors. Where are we now? OR, let’s take a different direction and explore the diversity of the format of a book. Do we judge a book by its cover and/or content (e.g.,, audio, digital, graphic, etc.)? Or, combine the two topics and discuss diversity found in alternative content (e.g., representation in graphic novels). Get creative and maybe even controversial!

It’s obvious when you look at any article that gives statistics about the book industry that while we may have made progress in addressing issues relating to diversity, that we’ve got a long way to go. Book reviews in many major publications still cover more men than women and while an effort has been made to cover more #ownvoices authors, they are not represented at percentages remotely near what their populations merit. Partially this is due to who the gatekeepers are: publishers and reviewers often cover what they and their friends want to read, and if they’re predominantly middle-class white people, it is not surprising that that’s mostly what’s going to be put out or covered. So those businesses need to be more mindful in their hiring practices to address a lack of diversity at that base level in order to give a broader picture of the books that are out there.

That said, we as readers need to be better, too. I know personally that while I’ve been aware for a few years about the need to read more diversely that I’m inclined to over-inflate my success if I don’t actually check in on the numbers with some frequency. That’s partially why I’m trying to look at my statistics on a monthly basis this year, rather than waiting until the end of the year to reckon with my choices and feel bad about falling short of my expectations.

I’m not trying to make anyone feel guilty. Reading is a personal choice and if you’re only interested in reading cozies set in the Cotswalds, then by all means do that. You’ll get no hate from me. But I live in a city that is half comprised of people from different racial and ethnic backgrounds to mine, and it feels irresponsible for me to only read books about people who look or grew up like me. As is often said, books can be a mirror to let people see themselves reflected back in the greater world, but they can also be a window to let them peek in on the lives of others, much the way I do when walking around D.C. And in this new horror show of a country we’re living in this year, it feels imperative that I personally do better than I have been at meeting my neighbors, at least in the pages of books.

Dining with the Authors: Every year at Book Expo, children and adult authors are featured during breakfast. Who would you dream of enjoying a meal with? Would it be breakfast, lunch, dinner, or simply coffee? What would your meal be? What would you discuss?

I’m a little shy in real life, so the idea of spending hours with strangers is daunting, even if these strangers have given me characters who are part of me. So, first off, we’re meeting up for tea (or coffee or cocoa) and baked goods at some kind of coffeehouse because that takes the pressure off having to spend hours together. It makes it more casual, and we can all feel like it’s acceptable to run off after half an hour if we’re feeling panicky.

Second, my BFF Karen will be there, because I cannot imagine inviting authors to tea and having to explain to her afterwards that I didn’t ask her, as well.

Third, I’d ask Rainbow Rowell, because she’s funny in real life; Jo Rowling, because Harry Potter; and Roxane Gay, because while I haven’t read any of her books (which clearly I’d fix before asking her out on a friend date), I enjoyed the pieces she wrote for The Toast back in the day and her books are on my TBR list.

As to what we’d discuss, first I assume we’ll talk about politics, because that’s what every sane person I know does initially these days. And then I’d want to see what they’ve been reading and what I should request from the library. And maybe we can all gush about Wonder Woman, but after that I’ll need the conversation to go where it will. Or, maybe we’ll all run off on our own separate, introverted ways at that point…

Category: books. There is/are 4 Comments.