sprite writes
broodings from the burrow

October 19, 2012

local, discount, and halloween
posted by soe 1:34 am

Oh, Thursday, you come around so quickly…

Here are three beautiful things from my past week:

1. Sharing a pint of New Orleans Ice Cream Company’s White Chocolate Bread Pudding ice cream — in New Orleans.

2. Buying a toaster oven that turns out to be a third off.

3. New Orleans is in full party prep mode for Halloween with cobwebs dripping off balconies and animatronic witches triggered by flash bulbs.

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

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October 15, 2012

book poll: cybil vacation reading
posted by soe 11:44 pm

My life is pretty much work-read-sleep all the time right now, as I fight to keep our living room visible under my piles of Cybils nominees. The good thing is that nothing in the Burrow is going to go flying away should a strong breeze kick up in the apartment anytime soon.

However, we’re not going dark here. I might not be able to stay on top of vacation photo processing and sharing at the moment, but we can talk books. I mean, I’m going to talk books anyway, so you might as well get a bit of a say in it, right?

So, let’s run a couple polls. Today, I’m going to ask you which of the nominees currently littering my coffee table (and the ones I have to pick up at the library tomorrow) I should take with me to Louisiana when I head south on vacation later this week.*

But it’s no fun for you if you have to read summaries of all the books, so let’s forgo that. Instead, let’s break the books down and poll you based on each book’s Very Special Episode issue:

  • cancer
  • Nazis**
  • hmmm… this one is hard to tell from the book jacket. let’s guess it’s dying family member
  • murder
  • royal scandal
  • civil war (European)
  • teen death (possibly caused by the protagonist)
  • drug dealing and abusive parents
  • poverty and disability
  • orphans and homosexuality
  • homosexuality and snipers
  • hmmm… how’d this one get in the running. the worst we get from the jacket is “near tragedy.” ah, wait, now i remember: dyslexia.
  • drug-addicted parent
  • physical scarring
  • hmmm… this one also seems kinda upbeat. let’s say it’s about broken families.
  • amnesia
  • cancer (again)

To give you some perspective, recent reads have included such Afterschool Special topics as child abduction, Alzheimer’s, homosexuality, and madness.

Tell me in the comments what you’d recommend. Choose well (for me)!

*I reserve the right to make a substitution based on space (I read dead-tree books that take up serious physical space in my luggage) and, possibly, if I really, really hate your choices. I’ll try not to, but I am going on vacation and some of these topics are clearly going to be serious downers.

**Actually, don’t pick this one because it was due back to the library today and has holds on it, so I can’t renew it right now.

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olympic affection
posted by soe 2:03 am

I finished my Olympic Affection late last month just in time to take it with me to Salt Lake. We headed up into the Wasatch mountains one day and I brought it along, both for warmth on a cool, damp autumn day high above sea level and to capture a few shots for posterity.

We drove up amidst fiery scrub oaks and golden aspens, through a bit of sun and a smidgen of a shower until we paused in Sundance before a wooden gate just begging to be a photo backdrop. We disregarded the no trespassing sign (our apologies, Mr. Redford) and popped out of the car and into the field for a few pictures:

Color Affection with Aspens

I have worn the shawl nearly every day now since its completion. It ended up being less deep that I’d expected (I never did check the row gauge), so I can wear it like this or wrapped a few more times around my neck in a more scarf-like fashion.

Color Affection Modeled

I know some of you liked the more calming colors of the original Color Affection, but I wanted vibrant and eye-popping and the colors of the yarn I ultimately settled on (after much assistance from Rudi, Mum, and two Connecticut yarn store folk) make me so happy I can’t help but smile when I look at it, whether it’s in pictures, wrapped around me, or shoved in my bag (as it is during the warmer hours of the day).

Color Affection

The purple yarn is Cascade Yarns Heritage Silk (a merino-silk blend) in what some stores term Plum (5633), the red is Dye Dream Dream Socks (a merino-nylon blend) in Cranberry, and the orange is String Theory Hand-Dyed Caper Sock (a merino-cashmere-nylon blend) in Marmalade. The orange, which has hints of purple and red in it without ever fully switching colors, was a last-minute substitution after I discovered the hot pink I’d originally wanted to use shot the color combination over into Sunday funnies hues. The other colors came out of my stash, but the String Theory was purchased at Creative Fibers in Connecticut specifically for the shawl.

Color Affection on a Gate

I knit most of it on a 4mm needle, but cast on and bound off with larger sizes to keep it stretchy. I also switched the bind-off, given my earlier trouble keeping things stretchy, to a yarn-over bind-off. I blocked it minimally depthwise (I’d heard warnings not to overstretch the garter stitch) and more severely along the edges.

And, since I failed to give you a laid-out finished shot, you get one on the blocking mat, which measures 5’x3′ to give you some perspective:

Blocking Affection

I love it and would definitely make another one. Short of remembering to keep the floats looser along the edge than seemed wise at the time, it was a very simple pattern and makes a lovely addition to my wardrobe.

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October 11, 2012

family, movie night, and solo shot
posted by soe 10:04 pm

It’s already Thursday, which is just crazy. How did that happen?

Nonetheless, it has, and that means it’s time to look back at three beautiful things from the past week:

1. My dad turned 70 (although his spirit is far younger), and my brother and I and our partners were able to make it home to celebrate with him. To mark the occasion, my mom baked her apple crumble pie. No one makes apple pies that taste as good as my mom’s and my grandmother’s.

2. Rudi and I headed to the Uptown last night to catch the penultimate showing there of Trouble with the Curve. It was not high art, but it was a comfortable film that was well acted and that holds its own with most baseball movies. Plus, Amy Adams played a tough chick who could floor you with her baseball knowledge. A definite plus in my book.

3. Jason Werth hit a solo home run in the bottom of the ninth in tonight’s NLDS game 4, sending the Nationals to a tie breaker tomorrow night and eliciting cheers from the restaurant/bar where we were dining.

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

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October 4, 2012

best loss ever, late season surprise, and moonlit
posted by soe 5:51 pm

I am starting to feel that squishing three vacations into a single month’s time may have been ambitious planning on our part. However, it’s just the interstitials that are difficult, not being someplace else with people we enjoy.

So, before my head explodes with logistics and planning, let’s look back on three beautiful things from the past week:

1. Rudi and I had tickets to Monday’s Nationals game, where, despite losing to the Phillies, they clinched the division title. The ballpark erupted midway through the eighth inning, when the Pittsburgh-Atlanta score was finalized and then again when Michael Morse was announced in the lead-off spot as being from the “NL East Division Champion Wahsington Nationals.” (And again when his batting song, “Take On Me” started up. And then when we finished the chorus in inarticulate laughter and offkey notes. And when the game was over and when the dive klaxon and the fireworks went off. And when they showed the scene in the locker room, where the team was outfitted in swim goggles, snorkels, and scuba masks for the traditional spraying of champagne. And when Gio Gonzalez ecstatically came tearing out of the dug out. And when Morse took his bottle of champagne out to left field to spray his particular group of fans. And … Well, let’s just say we cheered a lot.)

2. Raspberries in October from the farmers market.

3. Swimming under a nearly full harvest moon — and then drying off in front of an outdoor fireplace.

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

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October 3, 2012

banned book week
posted by soe 3:30 am

This week is Banned Book Week.

According to the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom, these were the 100 most frequently banned or challenged books between 2000 and 2009:

1. Harry Potter (series), by J.K. Rowling
2. Alice series, by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
3. The Chocolate War, by Robert Cormier
4. And Tango Makes Three, by Justin Richardson/Peter Parnell
5. Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck
6. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou
7. Scary Stories (series), by Alvin Schwartz
8. His Dark Materials (series), by Philip Pullman
9. ttyl; ttfn; l8r g8r (series), by Lauren Myracle
10. The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky (more…)

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