sprite writes
broodings from the burrow

August 4, 2017

small, flowers, and after
posted by soe 12:47 am

Flowers at My Folks' House

Three beautiful things from my past week:

1. As I mentioned, my friends Amani and Marcus made a small person whom they named Ayinde. We had the pleasure of making his adorable, gurgling, chubby-cheeked acquaintance mere hours before his four-week anniversary.

2. My mother has a gift for growing things, and their house offers many places to do so. July is always a gorgeous time to spend in their yard.

3. A downpour arrived this evening in a zero-to-sixty type race, hung around splashing people for half an hour or so, and then retreated in the face of a double rainbow.

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

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August 3, 2017

high summer fo and reading
posted by soe 2:09 am

Joining Kat’s Unraveled Wednesdays:

Early August Reading

I’ll be finishing both these books in the next couple of days. In A Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue, I’ve got 100 pages left, which means the stupid thing they’re about to do is likely the climax moment, so I will need to finish it all in one chunk of time. In The Book Jumpers, the monster is getting closer to being revealed, which means it’s become more stressful to read that, as well. After this, I’m reading a stress-free book about kittens. Or maybe just petting my kittens.

On Sunday night, I wrapped up the knitting on my fourth finished object of the year. This is the Points of Light Baby Blanket, by Jean Clement (it’s just a smidge bigger than my mom’s sweater drying rack, which is why it looks a little weird in this picture):

Points of Light for Ayinde

I bought the cotton-acrylic blend yarn, Plymouth Yarn’s Jeannee, ages ago, at a yarn shop that no longer exists in Hyattsville one afternoon with Sarah. I bought it as an option for a gift for a baby-to-be who is now 8, but almost immediately ran into trouble with the pattern. I put it down, knit something else, and didn’t give it another thought until my friend Amani informed me she was pregnant last winter. Then I dug it out, picked up where I’d left off, and knit a couple repeats on it.

Something was wrong. My tension had changed over the years. But maybe it was only obvious to me. Enter Rudi, who knows enough to be useful in these situations. Could he see where things went awry. When he pointed to the eight-year gap, I knew it was necessary to rip.

The project re-commenced in May. I used nearly all of both skeins of the turquoise yarn (33), a good chunk (somewhere between half and two-thirds) of the second ball of the mint (the edging color) (28), and only a few dozen yards of the second balls of the yellow (17), spring green (16), and powder blue (21).

Some additional thoughts, were I to knit this again:

  1. I made this using the pattern as it was originally written, but would probably have caught on faster to the pattern if I’d looked at the updated version before I began. As it was, I needed to draw myself a chart and color it in to help it stick.
  2. I carried the yarn up the side and would do it again. By and large, I was happy with how that turned out, and would know for next time that the side border and edging will help even out any inconsistencies in the tension that results from doing so. Loosening those first few stitches as much as I did every other row definitely slowed me down.
  3. The border is written for log cabin style, so each one is done separately. This resulted in way more ends than I would have believed possible for the project (and hours of weaving them in). Were I to make it again, I’d at least look into what’s involved with just knitting the border in the round. I assume the concern is having square corners… But I’d be okay with some rounding if it reduced the ends by 3/4.
  4. The single reverse crochet stitch edging is nice, but I’m not a crochet person, so it took a ton of time while I tried to figure out how to do a yarn over on a crochet hook and watched various videos of how to execute the stitch properly. I’m not sure the end result is so much more spectacular than a straight single crochet stitch edging would’ve been that it made it worth that effort and the hours of work that ensued, although, again, maybe the corner thing comes into play.

Overall, I’m pleased with the blanket, as were Amani and Marcus when I presented it to them on Monday. I hope Ayinde, who’s now a month old, sleeps well beneath it.

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August 2, 2017

weekending away (and an unfortunate return)
posted by soe 2:13 am

Rudi and I had a lovely weekend up in Connecticut visiting my parents. The drive north was relatively painless, and we got to see the new Tappan Zee bridge, which opens at the end of this month.

Late July Weekending

I read and knit and my folks stayed up late to keep me company on Sunday while I finished my project. We slept and ate good food and enjoyed my parents’ deck and gardens. My dad and I made scones. We went out for pizza. We drank daiquiris. We watched several good movies, including, to everyone’s surprise (except for Dad, who’d picked it out), Monster Trucks.

Karen and I got together for lunch on Saturday and got in a good stroll along the river. We checked out two Little Free Libraries, and although one tempted me with a Sarah Dessen novel, I felt virtuous in leaving empty-handed. Rudi biked out to join us, and he and I stopped for soft serve at a roadside stand on the way home.

Yesterday, we visited two sets of friends in New York before continuing our drive south. Again, there was some ice cream and some catching up.

We arrived home shortly before sunrise this morning and as we were cleaning up after the cats, Rudi noticed that the three-plus inches of rain D.C. received on Friday and Saturday had not left the Burrow unscathed. Realizing that it had already sat mildewing for a couple days, we decided the sane response was to go to bed and tackle it later in the day (I had taken today off, too). Our braided rug took the biggest hit, but we’re hopeful that draping it over the bannister outside with signs asking people not to steal it — and sprinkling it with a good amount of baking soda — will work. (A surprise rain shower shortened our remediation efforts today.) The other rug also got wet, but in a smaller area, so corners of it are propped up to get the air circulating beneath it. Furniture and containers are askew all over the living room, and various books and bags are drying on the radiator and on coat hangers hanging from the bathroom shower rod and towel rack.

Tomorrow is another day, though, so here’s hoping for a less Mondayish rest of the week!

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July 28, 2017

three, tech friends, and good deal
posted by soe 1:40 am

Dupont Moon

Three beautiful things from my past week:

1. The effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act failed in the Senate, with Democrats voting as a bloc, with Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski holding firm in their stand against the bill and their party, and with John McCain casting a last-minute surprise no vote. While I know this isn’t really over and that they’ll be back with more, I can’t tell you what a relief it is to have it play out this way tonight. I really thought we were going to have a repeat of Election night.

2. A couple weeks ago, Rudi’s laptop died. One friend loaned him a computer, and then a second gave him a like-new laptop that was going to be recycled from his work.

3. A woman on Ravelry was offering local yarn for resale for a very good price, and since she lived nearby, we agreed to meet so I didn’t have to pay for the skein to be shipped. When I arrived at her house she said that she was tired of destashing and would I like to glance through everything else she wanted to get rid of and take them for $1/skein? For less than $20 I came home with six skeins of yarn — mostly silk or alpaca blends — worth probably in the range of $100! (It should be noted that there was plenty of yarn I did not take, too!)

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

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July 21, 2017

good news, setting, and fort reno
posted by soe 1:25 am

I’m having a melancholy evening, so it’s good to think back on my past week and find three of the beautiful things from it:

1. Friends have been sharing the beautiful things going on in their lives — new houses, positive diagnoses, vacations now and in the future — and I’m thrilled for all of them and appreciative that they want to share their good fortune with me.

2. We’ve been watching the Tour de France (as we do every year), and this week has been full of sunflower coverage (they also show castles, churches, naked spectators, and cyclists).

3. Fort Reno is a park built on the grounds of one of D.C.’s Civil War-era fortifications, is the highest point in the city and home to a decades-old summer punk concert series. This makes it an excellent spot to watch unencumbered summer sunsets while bands perform for free. Monday evening got an positive rating for weather, view, and music, all of which outdid themselves.

and a bonus:

4. Rudi trimmed off the beard he grew after his surgery.

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

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July 19, 2017

into the stacks 2017: march
posted by soe 1:34 am

March was a slow reading month, with only three books finished, so I thought I’d get the books reviewed before any more time had elapsed:

The Harlem Charade, by Natasha Tarpley

As Jin is trying to figure out an aspect of the Harlem Renaissance to cover for her Harlem-themed class project, a local kid digs up a painting believed to be by an artist of that time period in a community garden and then an old man is attacked in the same vicinity. Teaming up with her philanthropic, but mysterious, classmate Alex and Elvin, who’s been living on the streets for a few days since his grandfather was attacked (and with help from BFF fashionista Rose), Jin feels she must unravel a mystery that seems to be at the heart of her neighborhood, even as her community is threatened by gentrification in the form of a developer who wants to build a Harlem World theme park in the very blocks where Jin’s grandparents’ bodega now sits.

This had the same feel as Chris Grabenstein’s Mr. Lemoncello’s Library, Jennifer Chambliss Bertman’s The Book Scavenger, and Trenton Lee Stewart’s The Mysterious Benedict Society, as well as older books like The Westing Game and The Egypt Game, but with a historical twist to the urban mystery and considering bigger questions about gentrification, voice, art, and community. If your middle-grade reader enjoys mysteries, I definitely recommend this one.

Pages: 320. Library copy.

The Job, by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg

After master thief Nicolas Fox is framed for some art thefts, his partner and FBI handler Kate O’Hare must help figure out who’s behind them, which leads to the need to take down the world’s biggest drug kingpin. The only problem? No one knows what he looks like after he had major plastic surgery. But Nick knows his favorite brand of rare chocolates, so it’s just a matter of following the trail back to a mystery man and his murderous henchwoman. Oh, and then taking them down, which involves getting the gang of Kate’s retired black-ops dad, actor Boyd, and driver Willie (among others) back together to procure a boat and mock up a sunken treasure. Ridiculous? Certainly! A fun romp? Most definitely!

Pages: 289. Library audiobook copy, borrowed via Overdrive.

Lowriders to the Center of the Earth, by Cathy Camper, with artwork by Raúl Gonzalez III

Lupe Impala (a wolf), Elirio Malaria (a mosquito), and El Chavo Octopus (obviously) must leave their garage in search of their cat, Genie, being held in the center of the earth by the Aztec god Mictlantecuhtli himself. There’s a tricked out ride, a luchador match, a whole lot of animated skeletons, and a run-in with La Llorona, a Latinx ghost mother, who mistakes El Chavo for one of her drowned children. This Cybils-winning graphic novel for middle-graders sprinkles Spanish generously throughout, as well as providing information on folklore, and a little bit of geology for good measure. I could see it being an excellent fit with upper elementary and middle school reluctant readers, the sort of kids at whom the Wimpy Kid books are aimed at. It offers a lot of action and humor, but has some substance to back it up.

Pages: 128. Library copy.

Book stats:
3 books
737 pages
2 print, 1 audiobook
3 library copies, 1 owned
All fiction
Diverse main character(s): 2
Audience: 1 adult, 2 MG

Author stats:
3 women, 1 man (+1 male artist)
Own voices: 2 (including the artist of the graphic novel)
Country of residence: All American

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