sprite writes
broodings from the burrow

January 30, 2017

into the stacks 2017: week 2
posted by soe 3:06 am

Okay, so I admit my plan to be more proactive in sharing my reading is not going so well this month. But let’s see what we can do to get back on track…

During the second week of January, I finished one book:

What Light, by Jay Asher

Just before Thanksgiving every year, Sierra and her family pack up their lives in Oregon, where they own a tree farm, and travel south to her mother’s hometown in California to sell Christmas trees from a lot. She and her parents have worked hard to make sure this transition is as easy as possible — they have dear friends in California with whom they share Thanksgiving; they exchange small gifts in California, but big presents in Oregon; and Sierra keeps up with schoolwork through the internet (and a weekly Skype chat this year with her French teacher) now that she’s a junior.

But this year is different: Sierra has overheard her parents discussing the finances of their retail operation, and they are seriously debating if this should be their last year personally coming to sell trees. Their sales this year will give them the definitive answer.

In part because this might be their last Christmas season together, Sierra and her best California friend decide she should be open to dating someone while she’s there. After all, how long do high school romances last, anyway?

Enter Caleb. He’s cute. He keeps showing up to buy more Christmas trees. He seems funny. But, her friend warns, there’s a lot of gossip about an incident in his past…

Ah, this book… I really wanted to love it; I mean it’s a teen Christmas romance! Right in my wheelhouse. And I like stories about people who grow up in unusual situations — and a tree-farming family that spends five or six weeks a year in a trailer in another state is pretty unusual. But this book just ends up being kind of boring. There’s never really any dramatic tension that pushes the action one way or another. Sierra drives the narrative, but like it’s a mini-van in a suburban neighborhood, never really facing any huge setbacks or challenges: “Nice Girl Living Nice Life Faces Change, but Not Serious Change, and Deals with It.” I’m not saying not to bother reading the book; it’s fine. I’m just maybe saying don’t go into it with any expectations except to pass a few hours (spread out, in my case, over a month) in a not unpleasant way.

Pages: 251. Library copy.

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January 27, 2017

defiance, pussies, last supper, and greetings
posted by soe 1:55 am

My second orchid in full bloom

Three beautiful things from a brave new world:

1. Badlands National Park (and later Golden Gate and others) tweeting climate change facts after being expressly forbidden to do so by the president. And the alt-Twitter accounts set up by National Park Service (and, later, other federal) employees. And the mayors and councils of all the sanctuary cities, including D.C., reaffirming their status. It’s reminded me of The Red Badge of Courage, and the chorus of Billy Joel’s “Goodnight Saigon” plays in my head as I read their Tweets.

2. Pussy willow stems are cheap at the farmers market, so I buy a few to cheer up the kitchen. The cats are entranced by their smell, and Corey is particularly fascinated, perching on his hind legs, squirrel-like, for several minutes, so he can get closer.

3. One last dinner with close friends before they move away.

And because we really need more beautiful things this week:

4. Friends send a postcard from their trip to the Grand Canyon. I appreciate being thought of during their travels.

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

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January 25, 2017

women’s march: d.c.
posted by soe 2:13 am

Saturday, I headed down to the Mall to the Women’s March along with 1.3 or so million of my closest allies. I was by myself, so I went a little later and, as such, ended up back in the crowd, far past where the sound system for the rally was capable of projecting. Without being able to hear those in the front, folks in the back got restless and started the march an hour before the program was due to end. According to my coworker, the official march didn’t actually get moving until two hours after it was supposed to, by which point I was already walking. So what you’re seeing in my pictures is part of a march that stretched more than four hours long.

Women's March on D.C. 2017

That first shot in the slideshow is from the teach-in Politics and Prose, one of my local indie bookshops, held the afternoon of the Inauguration. Just after I took this shot, an employee had to come and close the door, since they were packed.

The second shot is of the new addition to the Hinckley Hilton, where President Reagan was shot in 1981, taken the night of Inauguration, as I was walking home from grocery shopping.

The rest are from the march itself. (And, really, the shots are just better bigger, so I’d suggest heading over to Flickr to look at them.

Category: dc life,politics. There is/are 5 Comments.

January 20, 2017

pizza, real mail, and into the night
posted by soe 3:56 am

Before we head into this day of days, let’s look back on three beautiful things from my past week, particularly because I’m having a hard time picturing beautiful things in the days to come:

1. My parents gave us a gift card to our favorite D.C. pizza place, so for the first time in ages, we went out to eat just because.

2. A friend from my old job sends a gossipy card and printouts of her family. Her older son, whom I once babysat, is 30!

3. Karen and I spend hours on the phone, just like in the old days. It’s good to talk about everything and nothing.

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

Category: three beautiful things. There is/are 2 Comments.

January 19, 2017

pre-inaugural yarning along
posted by soe 2:14 am


I started my new Partridgefield Cowl this week in preparation for joining a new knitting/bookish group. I haven’t gotten very far, but the yarn, Valley Yarns Peru, is soft, being 84% baby alpaca. As one of my fellow knitters mentioned to me, I have a lot of stitch markers in there right now — every 20 stitches — but since I needed 300 stitches, I thought that prudent. I’ll likely pull at least some of those out as I progress.

Not Your Sidekick, which I started this fall, went back into my bag this week. It’s dystopian fantasy YA, focusing on Jess Tran, the daughter of two superheroes in the area of the North American Collective that used to be Nevada. Finding she doesn’t seem to have superpowers of her own, she takes an internship at a tech company, where, it turns out, her parents’ arch-nemeses, who are missing, have been employed. I’m enjoying it so far, even if it’s started a bit slower than I’d have liked.

Next, I should be reading Zadie Smith’s Swing Time or Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad, which are now both overdue, but instead I want to read Gemina, the sequel to 2015’s Illuminae, which I loved. We’ll see how responsible I’m feeling this weekend…

Yarning along with Ginny at Small Things.

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

January 18, 2017

read harder in 2017
posted by soe 1:44 am

Two years ago, I said I was going to do Book Riot’sRead Harderchallenge, which is designed to make you read more broadly. I failed. Last year, I looked at the list, saw a lot of things I didn’t feel like reading, and declared I wasn’t going to bother. This year, though, I’m feeling optimistic — well, at least about completing a large reading challenge.

It helps that a book can count for multiple categories.

Here goes:

  1. Read a book about sports.
  2. Read a debut novel.
  3. Read a book about books.
  4. Read a book set in Central or South America, written by a Central or South American author.
  5. Read a book by an immigrant or with a central immigration narrative. DONE! The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon focuses on a young woman trying to avoid deportation.
  6. Read an all-ages comic.
  7. Read a book published between 1900 and 1950.
  8. Read a travel memoir.
  9. Read a book you’ve read before.
  10. Read a book that is set within 100 miles of your location. DONE! A Seaside Christmas is set along the banks of the Chesapeake. The town is fictitious, but the area is nearby.
  11. Read a book that is set more than 5000 miles from your location.
  12. Read a fantasy novel. DONE! The Girl Who Drank the Moon was a delightful middle-grade fantasy story.
  13. Read a nonfiction book about technology. (If anyone has any suggestions for this one, I’d appreciate it.)
  14. Read a book about war.
  15. Read a YA or middle grade novel by an author who identifies as LGBTQ+.
  16. Read a book that has been banned or frequently challenged in your country.
  17. Read a classic by an author of color.
  18. Read a superhero comic with a female lead.
  19. Read a book in which a character of color goes on a spiritual journey
  20. Read an LGBTQ+ romance novel
  21. Read a book published by a micropress.
  22. Read a collection of stories by a woman.
  23. Read a collection of poetry in translation on a theme other than love.
  24. Read a book wherein all point-of-view characters are people of color. DONE! Black Panther, Vol. 1: A Nation under Our Feet is set in a fictional African nation, and all the characters are Black.

If you have any books you’ve loved that fit into these categories, I’m open to tracking them down at the library!

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