Monday, March 31, 2008
Sunday, March 30, 2008
There has been way too much sewing here for much blogging to take place. This weekend resulted in 6 new berets for the Guardians of the Gate (and, man, are the boys in those roles going to hate the tunics, but they will look great) as well as modifications to two dresses for crows and one munchkin. The Tin Man (girl) has a zipper in her costume. The Wicked Witch has a dress that just needs sleeves and a cape. Auntie Em has a dress and only needs an apron. The Cyclone dancer has a fabric for an excellent cape. The Scarecrow has a shirt and burlap for pants. The Flying Monkeys got their caps last week and now just need vests. Super Pfaff is holding up well.
Saturday, March 29, 2008
Friday, March 28, 2008
Okay, technically, this is last week's Flick4Friday, but I didn't play last week and there isn't a new one up today. Besides, I'm turning this one around. I suspect that the intent was to post a favorite movie about a vacation, but I can't think of any vacation-themed movies that I actually like. Instead, I'm going to post my favorite movie to watch when I am on vacation. That is a really easy question. The favorite movie for the entire Engineers Anonymous-California Chapter to watch on vacation is hands down The Princess Bride. It is also one of the favorites of all chapters of Engineers Anonymous. In fact, one year at our annual retreat, three of the four families brought copies of it to watch! It's nice to share humor with good friends.
Thursday, March 27, 2008
While acknowledging that we can’t judge books by their covers, how much does the design of a book affect your reading enjoyment? Hardcover vs. softcover? Trade paperback vs. mass market paperback? Font? Illustrations? Etc.?
I so wish that I was not superficial and could confidently state that I am not swayed by mere looks. Sadly, I admit that I am just another sucker for a pretty cover. Covers grab the eye and a good one will cause me to pause in my perusing of the shelves or tables. As much as I love Amazon, I love bookstores more. Reading is more than just the words. For me, reading is a complete sensory experience. There is the visual aspect from the cover and the font. Then there is the tactile aspect as my fingers flit through the pages (I am particularly fond of the deckle-edge pages that trick me into thinking the book is older or more expensive than it really is). Finally, there is the olfactory pleasure in opening up a new book or one that is aged to perfection.
Another cover lover is Elizabeth Bird. I love how she critiques the covers in her book reviews. If a publisher is aiming to snag those coveted young readers (to give them a life-long addiction), they need to pay attention to the cover and aim for the intended audience!
Illustrations are another matter. I must say that I agree with Mae Carden on this one. I prefer my books without illustrations unless they are exceedingly well done. Okay, so The Peterkin Papers would not have been the same without its lovely sketches. Most illustrations just annoy me because the illustrators don't seem to have read the same book that have in my hands.
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
10 Things to Do Before You Get Married
1. Finish at least one Bachelors degree. Just do it. Going back to school later is so difficult. Having that degree (even if you end up working in an entirely different field) is something that no one can take away from you.
2. Go on a vacation with your beloved. Get away from other influences and see this person for who he/she really is. Take off those rose-colored glasses.
3. Talk seriously about whether you both want children. Minds can change, but you both should start out understanding where you are.
4. Talk seriously about your views on spending and saving. Living a lifetime with someone who spends every cent may be exciting for a while, but it won't be fun when you want to retire (or pay bills).
5. Spend some time living on your own. You may have a roommate (but not a romantically-entangled one), but be responsible for yourself and your bills.
6. Learn to cook, both of you! Being the only one to do all the cooking every single day isn't fun. Both of you should be able to share this and you might even find that you like cooking together.
7. Hold a job. It doesn't have to be the start of your career, but it is good to have at least one job to know that you can support yourself in some fashion. I highly recommend a fast food job because it will help encourage you to finish item #1.
8. Pay off your debts as much as you can. Start off together without financial baggage if you can manage it. Student loans are an exception because those will probably take you longer to pay off. Do pay off any credit cards. Interest rates and fees on credit cards will keep you in debt for the rest of your life unless you get rid of them.
9. Start the habit of saving. Have some money taken out of your paycheck and stashed in a separate account. If you hide it before it hits the checkbook, you won't even notice it.
10. Don't get too carried away on wedding planning and wedding expenses. Yes, it's fun to throw a big party, but a small party will be just as memorable and far less stressful for all concerned.
Monday, March 24, 2008
Sunday, March 23, 2008
This week the book is Water for Elephants: A Novel, by Sara Gruen. I was moderately intrigued by this book when I first saw it on the shelves of Barnes & Noble, but I didn't purchase the book or add it to my reading list until my book club chose it for the March discussion. I am very glad that this was our choice! This was a quick, enjoyable read. I was very quickly sucked into Jacob's story of a few short, but defining months of his life. This was told as his reflections on life and death as he knows that he must be getting close to the end of his years. Jacob sounds like a wonderful, prickly man with so much history to tell and share yet he feels left behind by his family and life. Every aspect of his life was shaped by a chance encounter with the traveling circus after his own family disaster.
Ms. Gruen did a great job of using (but not overusing) foreshadowing and other writerly techniques. Her research into circuses of the 1930s led to a stroke of unexpected realism. The interworking of a bit of biblical symbolism in the use of aspects of the story of Jacob was just a bonus. My knowledge of the Bible certainly isn't that great, but I did take the time to search out some of the story before the book club discussion. Again, I am glad that I did.
Throughout my reading of the book I felt a delightful (but probably completely inaccurate) connection with the book. Mr. Engineer's uncle is a retired veterinarian and definitely a crusty character. I couldn't help but think that Jacob and Mr. Engineer's uncle probably shared some views and would have most definitely enjoyed swapping tales over a pint.
Saturday, March 22, 2008
Okay, so the answer to the mystery of what will I do about the yarn for Trellis turned into a trick. I did drive all the way to the yarn store and I will be unravelling a baby hat. It turns out that they were completely out of the colorway that I needed. I may just wait a bit (that would be why I made the 12 month size) and check back with the store in a week or so. I really don't want to rip out a perfectly good hat. All that cabling did cause me to pick up Arwen again. I ripped back to the beginning of the sleeve because I was totally confused about where in the cable pattern I was on the cuff. Still, she is back in the rotation just in time for a summer-like heat wave.
Now for the Day #22 question from That's My Answer.
It’s the 22nd of March … so, tell us, who is the 22nd link on your blogroll? Or the 22nd number on your mobile phone? Or the 22nd person in your address book? Or your 22nd …
The 22nd link on my blogroll is Craftlit: A Podcast for Crafters.
The 22nd number on my mobile phone is one of my co-workers with whom I just finished working a proposal.
The 22nd person in my Contacts list is the mother of a child who used to be in my son's class, but who transferred to a different school this year.
Friday, March 21, 2008
Thursday, March 20, 2008
You’ve just reached the end of a book . . . what do you do now? Savor and muse over the book? Dive right into the next one? Go take the dog for a walk, the kids to the park, before even thinking about the next book you’re going to read? What?
(Obviously, there can be more than one answer, here–a book with a cliff-hanger is going to engender different reactions than a serene, stand-alone, but you get the idea!)
Oh, dear, I do hate giving the answer that I must give. Yes, it depends. For the most part, I would say that I take a break before diving into the next book. The exceptions to that would be if I were reading a series in order (as I did the Harry Potter books in July) or when I am reading on a deadline. I prefer to let the latest book settle for a bit before beginning a new book. Actually, the honest answer is that I let out a sigh (either of satisfaction or frustration), take a short break to stretch or do some neglected project, and then dive into one of the other books on my nightstand. I rarely read serially and I never have to think to hard about which book will be next as there is always a lineup.
Update on Trellis: I am sure that there will not be enough yarn for the second sleeve. Now I am faced with the choice of unknitting one of the two baby caps that I made or sucking it up and going all the way back down to the yarn store (where I will be tempted by more yarn). Tune in Saturday for the thrilling conclusion to that mystery.
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
And the best WIP this time of year has to be flowering lillies outside my front door.
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
There will be tributes and obituaries throughout cyberspace, I'm sure. Shoot, the obits have been ready for some time. My tribute is small in comparison, but heartfelt. I discovered Arthur C. Clarke when I was in high school. My favorite room in the entire school was the library. Once I had a delusional idea to read every book. That concept was quickly abandoned, but the attempt did cause me to peruse the fiction section and I quickly found an old collection of short stories title The Nine Billion Names of God. The title story is available online here. That story stuck with me. Thinking about it gives me shivers today. That one story and the other stories in the book started me off on years of wonderful reading.
Clarke, Bradbury, Asimov, and Heinlein were my friends throughout my teen years and early 20s. I haven't been ready sci fi lately, but I still remember those wonderful hours spent curled up with the books that took me to other worlds and other dimensions. I remember the librarian who was sure that I couldn't possibly read the Clarke book that I checked out the day before we had to turn in all books for the end of the year (I finished and had a reasonable night's sleep).
Thank you for years of memories and adventures.
Monday, March 17, 2008
...it was safe to go near the lacrosse fields, spring season comes along! Yes, we are going forward with a second season of lacrosse this year. The county league is going to sponsor a spring season and several teams have signed up. The trick for us this time is that our favorite coach's program isn't the same old club team where everyone plays. A week ago, Young Man had to actually try out for the spring team. Mom did a little trickery. See, I know Young Man and I know how he will talk himself out of things if he knows all the details. I told him that there were tryouts and I told him it was a 5/6 team. I just didn't tell him the name of the 5/6 team. As we drove away from the tryouts, he said in an awestruck voice that he didn't realize that he was trying out for that team. I asked him if he would have wanted to try out if he had known. He honestly answered that he wouldn't have, but he was glad that he did!
I'm not a coach, but I thought that Young Man did awfully well during the tryouts. As usual, he was the smallest boy on the field, but he was fierce in his defense of the goal and in his charging for the goal when he had the ball. I had sent an email to the coach beforehand assuring him that I understood if Young Man wasn't picked and that our goal was for it to be a learning experience to show that there are other opportunities for playing beyond the club team. By the end of the tryout, I was starting to think that there might actually be a chance for him to make the team. Still, my goal was met when Young Man started talking about "when" he plays for the local middle school team next year (this was a first).
We still haven't officially heard from the coach, but Young Man's name is listed on the roster on the league website for the team. I think that counts! So, Saturdays will be filled with lacrosse games starting in April and the camera will be charged and ready for action.
Sunday, March 16, 2008
|You Are Peppermint Flavored Gum|
You are mentally hyper. You're always thinking of something.
And while your mind is always on, you're not the most physically active person around.
Some people make mistake you for being lazy, but the truth is: you never relax.
You tend to get so deeply into your projects that you ignore everything around you.
You are creative and cutting edge. You love telling people about your newest ideas and discoveries.
Saturday, March 15, 2008
I'm not actually sure when I last posted a Saturday Sky picture on Saturday with the picture taken only for the purpose of a Saturday Sky post. We have a chance of rain tonight. I'm not making any bets. Still, the clouds are an interesting change.
At home it is all costumes all the time. I am costume coordinator for a production of Oz at Young Man's school and I am way behind. The Cowardly Lion is now finished and Glinda just needs to be hemmed. I have a pattern modified and fabric ready for 19 flying monkey vests. I also need 19 flying monkey hats and 8 flying monkey wings. Next will be 6 green jackets for Citizens of Oz. Go, Super Pfaff, Go!
Friday, March 14, 2008
Today is Pi Day. It is also Margene's birthday and my neighbor's birthday. For my neighbor I made a little eye candy.
Project: Be My Dishcloth, by Kris
Yarn: Lily Sugar 'n Cream in hot pink
Needles: US 3
Notes: Quick and beautiful. This is the second cloth that I have made from this designer's patterns and they are lovely. She does a great job! I know that my neighbor will love it. The stone is a little something that caught my eye when I was at JoAnn's today. It has the character for Serenity. We could all use a little of that.
Thursday, March 13, 2008
How about a chance to play editor-in-chief? Fill in the blanks:
__________ would have been a much better book if ______________________.
Oh, my, this one is very difficult and I am not in much of a mood for it tonight. It has been a decidedly stressful evening. Maybe I'll blog about it if I dare tomorrow. First off, let's address today.
The Enigma of Arrival would have been a much better book if something had every bloody happened. Okay, okay, so it is a serious book about serious, pondering things. The Publishers Weekly review referenced by Barnes & Noble called it "Discursive and ruminative." That about sums it up. I couldn't finish this one. I just couldn't.
American Dynasty:Aristocracy, Fortune, and the Politics of Deceit in the House of Bush would have been a much better book if Kevin Phillips had allowed an editor to trim about half of his words. I don't mind an author restating something to make a point, but three or four times is too much. This book was also not suitable for nighttime reading as it gave me nightmares. No, I couldn't finish this one either.
There are more, many more. Mostly I wish that authors would not become untouchable after some success. Everyone needs a good editor.
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
10 Things You’re Looking Forward to in the Spring
1. Neighbor time after work where we unwind while sitting in our neighbors' front yard with glasses of our favorite beverages. That this is coming earlier this year is the only good thing to come of moving DST up.
2. Tortoises waking up from hibernation. As annoying as it is to find tortoise poop outside the back door, I do enjoy seeing a tortoise tanking around the back yard.
3. Kaffir Lillies blooming (like they are doing right now outside my front door).
4. Driving home from work without needing headlights on.
5. Easter brunch at El Torito with the same gang of friends with whom we spend Thanksgiving and Christmas.
6. Knitty Spring, even if it gave me way too many ideas of things that I must knit now.
7. Hummingbirds (we do see some year round, but there will be lots more soon).
8. Baseball season!
9. Grilling season (again, it never really ends here, but we use the grill for a lot more when we don't want to turn on the oven).
10. New tomato plants in the garden.
Monday, March 10, 2008
Give Me Five ways you like to de-stress, relax, wind down or kick back.
1. Knitting! No kidding. I knit during lunch most days to de-stress. I knit at home to forget about all the stuff that needs to be done. I knit in the car, in planes, and while waiting in line.
2. Reading. I really enjoy reading every night. Young Man and I have a regular date to read for 15-20 minutes (more, if we can manage it). I also try to read for a few minutes just before bed. It seems to erase all the other stuff that tries to keep me awake.
3. Watching TV. Usually I watch TV and knit. If I'm totally over-stressed, I just veg out and flip channels.
4. Bake. I am a pretty good cook and enjoy it, but I really like to bake stuff. When I was a kid, my mother was way too busy at mealtime to teach me to cook. However, she did have time to teach me to bake. I love baking cakes, muffins, and bread. I don't particularly like making cookies because they are too fiddly.
5. Lurk through yarn stores. This is a dangerous form of relaxation because it can be very expensive. Alternatively, I just go through my stash and pet the yarn. What? I don't have a problem!
Sunday, March 09, 2008
You are Dark Chocolate
You live your life with intensity, always going full force.
You push yourself (and others) to the limit... you want more than you can handle.
An extreme person, you challenge and inspire the world!
Saturday, March 08, 2008
Friday, March 07, 2008
Thursday, March 06, 2008
You should have seen this one coming … Who is your favorite Male lead character? And why?
Yes, I should have seen this one coming, but I didn't. I was completely unprepared and that has been happening a lot lately. Since taking my first thought worked reasonably well for me last week, I am going to employ the same tactic this week.
If I thought long and hard about this, I would probably come up with an extensive list of favorite male characters. When I first read this post, I only thought of one. You have to promise not to laugh. Please? Okay, I am about to destroy any street cred I ever imagined that I had with the "seriouse readers" among us when I say that for years, my favorite male lead character has been Jack Ryan from the Tom Clancy novels. I know, I know. His character isn't fully formed and no one could ever do all the things that he does. Still, who doesn't want a dashing hero who can save the world over and over even though he started out as a geek? He values his incredibly smart wife and loves his children and his country. How he has time for the family is anyone's guess since he is out running all over the world and ending up President!
Tuesday, March 04, 2008
I'll bite. Today's Ten on Tuesday is favorite drinks. Hmm.
1. Ginger ale
2. Really cold milk (skim usually, but 2% is a treat)
3. Water from the tap at my house chilled in the fridge (because we never get cold water from the tap)
4. Leinenkugel's Creamy Dark
5. Ibarra Mexican hot chocolate
6. Henry Weinhard's Orange Cream Soda
7. RC Cola
8. Dr. Pepper
9. Adagio Peppermint tea
10. Stash Jasmine Spice tea, but I think they stopped making the one that I love. Now they have Jasmine Blossom Green Tea, but that doesn't seem to be right at all.
Monday, March 03, 2008
This is the sports poster that I made for Young Man and I made one for each of his teammates. Yes, if you get a good camera (Nikon D40) with a good lens (55-200 with Vibration Reduction) and take lots (and lots) of pictures, you can get some very good shots. I ended up with really good action shots of almost every boy and decent ones of the others.
Sunday, March 02, 2008
Let's see, where were we? Oh, yes, heading off to a game. Where else would we be on a Saturday? After a not at all restful afternoon of printing photos and burning CDs full of pictures for the team and coaches, we headed out again for a game under the lights.
The boys love playing under the lights. There is something special about playing outside after dark and having the whole field lit up for the sole reason that you are there. Even some players who hadn't been at the last game arrived for this one. As one parent put it, there certainly weren't any other game conflicts at that time of night! While the boys warmed up, the parents got the news: Our #4 team was going up against the #1 team from south county. Yikes! The boys prepared and the parents worried. The game before ours was between the team our boys had battled to a 7-7 tie two weeks earlier. They played hard, but lost to their opponent.
As the boys took the field, we braced for a tough night. The good news was that tournament play has slightly different rules. Instead of playing 4 15-minute quarters, the boys played 2 24-minute halves. This kept things rolling and sharp-eyed officiating kept everything clean. It was quickly apparent that the other team was far more practiced than our boys. They were pretty well matched in size, but the other team was full of 6th graders who obviously practice together more than once or twice a week. Just as in every other tough game this year, our boys held on and never, not once, gave up. The final score was 10-2 and the season was really over. The boys were a little disappointed that this was the end, but they were justifiably proud of themselves. How many kids get to say that they went up against two #1 teams in a single day?
Today we had our team party and the posters and CDs were big hits with the parents. More memorable to the boys were the kind and true words spoken by the coaches about every boy. Young Man was lauded as being one of the best defensive players. Even his coach said that he was afraid of Young Man because he hits hard! Apparently it's not so bad to be one of the smaller players as long as you carry a big stick. Young Man's other claim to fame is that he always seems to get to the ball. To end the day, the coaches gamely took on the boys in a quick scrimmage and then they all played together in a roller hockey rink. That was a wild game! No pictures today because I am just too tired to pull up the camera and upload them. Now, it's time for sleep.
Gee, whatever will we do with our Saturdays now?
Saturday, March 01, 2008
Today we headed out under dreary skies with the threat of more rain for the last game of the season. The boys all like this weather because they don't overheat. The parents aren't so fond of the chill, but it does make for nice photos. I only got 208 pictures today. Did I mention that we bought a Nikon D40? We bought it over the summer, but the real reason was for taking lacrosse pictures. We also got the 55-200mm lens with vibration reduction. Fabulous camera and spectacular lens! I was able to take decent action pictures of every boy on the team. Some are much more than decent. I am rather proud of my picture taking capability. When I have more time (Sunday or Monday), I'll pull out more of the exciting pictures.
The boys weren't nervous, but the parents were. This was it, the last game, and the opposing team was the best in the league. They came into the game undefeated and left, well, I won't keep you in suspense. Our mostly 5th grade team did not pull out an upset on this 6th grade team. However, the Tigers did not go scoreless. They made 3 goals and only allowed 10. They also played a spectacular game. No matter how hard the hits or how tough the opponents, the Tigers stayed with it. We were really, really proud of the boys!
After the game, we went over to congratulate the boys and the coaches were already doing it. One of their coaches only sees the boys at practice so this was his first time at a game with them. He reinforced the message that they had gone up against a very tough team and never once gave up. Just as he finished and the boys were getting ready to head out, the head coach raced over saying, "Don't leave!" We were quite puzzled. The boys were under the impression that they had to stay within five points to have a chance at the playoffs. The head coach reassured us that the League Commissioner was on site and he was "crunching the numbers." The suspense was terrible! We waited, we waited some more. What could be happening? At the beginning of the game, we were all certain that our season was over because the top four teams were all 6th grade teams. Or were they?
After more tense minutes than anyone wanted to wait, the Commissioner started walking our way. Then he stopped halfway between us and another group of parents. The agony! No one dared rush him as he was deep in thought and flipping through his papers. Finally, he came over and we gathered together the boys and the parents. First, he apologized for not keeping on top of our team's scores throughout the season. He didn't state why that happened, perhaps no one expected our supposedly lower-division team to play so well in the upper division. Whatever the reason, when he presented our record to the parents of the team who had been in the #4 spot, all had to agree that our Tigers had the better record for the season. Yes, the Tigers are in the playoffs!
This was completely unexpected, but it just fits with this season. We have a team of very tough, very competitive boys. It has been a privilege to watch them play this season. No matter what happens in the playoffs, these boys are winners! The first playoff game is tonight at 8:45 p.m. Yes, you read that right. It really is a wild season. Tomorrow is the team party and, oh, the stories they can share! Now I'm off to finish printing posters for the boys and burning CDs of pictures for the parents. Then it will be time to bundle up and head off to the field again!