Thursday, April 30, 2009

Book Report

Later in this post is the back story to how I came to have a degree in Literature without reading a lot of the classics.

Whenever I do one of those book memes, I feel a little twinge of regret. I mean, I have read many classics, but most of them voluntarily, and not part of any curriculum. I know some of the books on those lists are crap and don't qualify as literature, and some might be required reading in school but aren't really all that great. But there are some great reads that I've missed. So, I took a poll and asked some folks for suggestions. Some of them I'm going to skip, because I still don't believe in reading some books just to say I've read them. But I am mixing it up and reading great books because they sound great.

Recently finished:

In progress:

  • Animal Farm (via Google Books)
  • To Kill a Mockingbird (loving it!)
  • In Cold Blood (Non-fiction. Found while I was digging around Google Books; read a good portion of it on preview. Now will have to buy it.)

In the line-up (pdf downloaded):

  • A Tale of Two Cities

Read in the past (in no way an exhaustive list; these were recently recommended, but I'd already read them):

  • Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Persuasion
  • The Scarlet Letter, House of the Seven Gables, many short stories, including Young Goodman Brown and The Artist of the Beautiful (which made me cry). Writing this reminds me how much I love Hawthorne.
  • 1984
  • The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings trilogy
  • Chronicles of Narnia (over and over and over)
  • The Moon is a Harsh Mistress
  • Little Women, Little Men, Jo's Boys
  • Tom Sawyer, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
  • The Color Purple
  • lots of Shakespeare, some Kafka

Recommended, and planned (have to acquire them first):

  • Fahrenheit 451
  • Catch 22
  • The Bell Jar
  • As I Lay Dying
  • Wrinkle in Time and a Wind in the Door


  • The Giver
  • Edith Hamilton’s Mythology
  • Moby Dick

The Back-story continues after the cut

read to me

I have a Bachelor's degree in English Lit. I love to read. I don't recall ever learning to read - I just started reading, around the age of four. I started getting in trouble over my reading in first grade, when I was caught reading under the lid of my desk. (Yes, I went to school when they still had desks with lids that lifted up, and you stored your crayons, etc. inside.) I loved mysteries the most, starting with The Happy Hollisters, progressing to Trixie Belden, then Agatha Christie. (Not Nancy Drew so much.)

In 6th grade, at the beginning of the second semester, I transferred from a private school where I'd spent 2 semesters to a public middle school. I was plopped into "Reading," where the entire class read a selection from a reading textbook, then answered questions. No great literature there; in fact, I'd read the entire book for fun when I was about nine. (My paternal grandmother worked for an elementary school and always brought me copies of the books they were throwing away because they were too worn.) The class was co-taught by a pair of women, who were not happy with me when they saw me looking around the room when everyone else was reading. I swore that I'd: a) finished reading the selection in class and, b) had already read the entire book. They made me read it again, and again, I finished before the class.

That was the end of my time in 6th grade reading. Rather than put me into another reading class, I was shuffled off to one of the coolest pigeonholes ever: I was to be a Ditto Aide. (Yes, I went to Jr. High back when they still used mimeograph machines. There was one Xerox copier, but it was locked away and only used for office business.) The teachers had to use mimeographs for handouts, quizzes and tests, and there was a team of misfit students who ran the copies. After that, when people mocked the AV squad or other teams of their kind, I knew that they were just jealous.

I went on to another private school for 8th through 12th grade. Baptist school, where they would never, ever foist those terrible reading lists on the students. Heck, we barely read at all. I vaguely remember some poetry, and some Shakespeare. Oh, dear. And Beowulf and Pilgrim's Progress. But not a lot of lit. In fact, a couple of years after I graduated, they dropped "Lit" altogether, as well as anything resembling composition. Imagine the fun later graduating classes had if they managed to get into college! I'll save for another day the appalling, dare I say, abysmal, state of my science education.

Then I went to college. I do not recommend my academic path to anyone. I went to a Baptist college for one semester. Hated it, hated my roommates. It was almost a blessing when I found out that my mom was on bed rest from a back injury and I was more than happy to be inconvenienced and forced to move back home. I transferred to the only local college still accepting students for the next semester - a Church of Christ school. I got my AA there, and had, for the first time, a true, positive, academic experience. Then I went completely insane and went back to the Baptist college. Two semesters there, and I was ready to run. (I did make a wonderful friend there, someone I'm still friends with today (once we found each other again), so it wasn't a total loss. That, and the Abnormal Psychology in Literature class. I loved that class!)

Finally, I arrived at OU. I wanted to teach, and I had the majority of the core curriculum completed (I'd obviously lost some credits as well, transferring between the school), so I started taking the pre-education courses. I excelled at those, and loved them, only to be told that they were only accepting into the program minorities, males, and people who hadn't transferred in. (Swear!)

Distraught, I made my way to the Registrar's office. "What do I have the most credits in?" Literature. Many of the courses I'd taken at the religious schools had transferred as Literature. "Okay, then. Literature is my new major. What do I need to graduate?"

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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Think Twice News - Episode I

Some rare political content

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Thursday, April 23, 2009

Happy Anniversary, Honey!

Seal Promise with a Kiss

4 years today.

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Saturday, April 18, 2009


Monkeynut Seed ShawlI have news! I start a new job on Monday. Things have been scary financially here, and this will be a big help, depending on how long it lasts (it's kind of open-ended). If health benefits were included, this would be even better, since I'm almost out of insulin. But hey, let's focus on the positive, shall we?

The job is similar in scope to my previous position, is in downtown Detroit, and I'm really looking forward to it! I've met the people I'll be working with, and they're very nice. Bonus: my new contract house has hinted at some side work, doing some tech writing, so of course I said yes.

My wardrobe was in sad shape, but I lucked out at a thrift store on Thursday and found several pairs of pants and a couple of blouses (I usually never find anything that appeals at all), and I'll be hitting the laundromat tomorrow to get them all clean and ready to go. Once I get a full pay check (sometime in June (monthly pay kind of blows)), I'll look into expanding. But I think I have things covered for now. I already have my tote bag partially packed, with mug and tea, plus brownies I just baked.

It's funny... I've had nothing but time to blog lately, but hesitated because I didn't want to spend the entire time whining. Now, I'll have more to write about, but less time. I'll still try to come up with something a couple of times a week.

Pictured here is a shawl I finished for myself. Once upon a time, it was a sweater, picked up in a thrift store for <$5. A short time later, it looked like this. I started it in January, and just worked on it when we were watching DVDs and I didn't feel like working on the other projects I had on the needles. I called the yarn "fuzzy nectarine" and the specs are as follows:

Yarn: Anne Taylor Loft Sweater, XS
42% Acrylic
27% Cotton
18% Wool
7% Nylon
5% Mohair
1% Spandex

Shawl: Third time knitting the Simple Yet Effective Shawl (first time for me, though). Used size 10 & 10½ needles and just knit until I was about out of yarn. Did pretty well there -- I had <2 yards left!

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Thursday, April 9, 2009

Presenting: Strawberry Whine

recycled hand dyed lambswool strawberry whine_sm
Finally sat down with the giant skeins (too big for my swift to manage*) that I dyed last week and carefully wound them into little cakes. Now that it's wound, I can see the subtle changes in the reds, which is just what I wanted. Yay!

*Never doing that again, at least not until we can build a bigger swift! (Have found some directions online for building a vertical one on a stand with PVC.)

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Monday, April 6, 2009

Dyeing Follow-up

A brief aside to the handful of people who read this blog who might also be getting gifts or surprises for me at any time in the future: Odd flavors of KoolAid (Mango, Pineapple, etc.) would be much loved. As would the little jars of Wilton food coloring. I'm saving up to get some blank superwash wool from KnitPicks and am grabbing a few packs of KA when I shop, but the selection is meager.

PS: If anyone goes to markets that have the Latin flavors, or Klaas brand, I'd like to try those, too. Could possibly work out a trade? Let's talk!

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Thursday, April 2, 2009

Acorn Finds

There are some enablers out there, people that know my love for acorns, who send me links. I have also managed to find several on my own. I just keep bookmarking & wishlisting, because when finances improve, I'll be doing some shopping!

mar09 acorn caps wmFirst, no $ involved: I've been wanting to do felted acorns for ages (I received one of the bags pictured at the link), but finding large enough acorn caps was an issue. John and I went acorn-hunting many times last fall, and found tiny, kind of pathetic, acorns. For a county named after the tree, Oakland county offered little by way of decent-sized acorns! Last week, on a walk down our new road, we found evidence of HUGE acorns. Obviously the nuts themselves would be no good for display, but the caps were in abundance. So now I have a supply of caps to work with the next time I get around to needle-felting.

acorn_collageOn to the shopping (Etsy links will likely point to a sold item, but you can click on the seller and see what's available now):
  1. Wide Silver Oak Ring

  2. Candy Dish (she does them in chartreuse!)

  3. Acorn MP3 Player (I have to say, I desperately want one of these!)

  4. Steel Oak Leaf Key Chain

  5. Steel Acorn Necklace

  6. Steel Acorn Keyring (I have and love)

  7. Wooden Spinning Top

  8. Hand-carved Stamp

  9. Candleabra*

  10. Acorn tassles on knitted loafers

  11. Rusted Acorn (scroll down the page)

*Same store also has doorknockers: style 1 and style 2.

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Wednesday, April 1, 2009

To Dye For

31mar09 red lambswool finished
This could become addictive!

31mar09 red lambswool phase1100% Lambswool sweater sleeves, thrifted. I first attempted to dye these as is. I knew I didn't have enough of the Black Cherry KoolAid I wanted to use, but went ahead, using just the 2 packages I had.

Phase 1:
31mar09 red lambswool phase2Not anywhere near the red/burgundy I wanted, but I already knew I wasn't going to achieve that color with just 2 packages.

I finally tracked down some more Black Cherry KoolAid (KA), and decided to skein the yarn instead of dyeing the knitted piece. Yesterday, I soaked the yarn in a large stainless stock pot (this method of dyeing is completely food-safe) and after at least 30 minutes, turned the heat on low. After the water was hot (never, ever boil) I added the first cup of dye solution (~½ c. hot water w/ 2 packets of the KA). After that exhausted, I added the second cup (same as before, but with 1 pk. of Wyler's Jammin' Berry added to the KA). Then, seeing that I wasn't getting the color I wanted, I threw in two packages of some way off-brand 10/$1 cherry. After it cooled a bit, I rinsed it and hung it up to dry.

Note: if you want to try this, please be aware that you can only dye animal-protein fibers with KoolAid. It will not permanently dye cotton, other plant fibers or man-made fibers. Please don't use this entry as a dyeing tutorial! There are some excellent ones online. In fact, if you're on Ravelry, there is a group devoted to dyeing yarn with KoolAid and food coloring, called "What a Kool way to Dye," and they have a large collection of links to online tutorials.

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