Archive for the ‘The Printed Word’ Category

The (arbitrary) finish line!

November 30, 2014

And….NaBloPoMo is a wrap!

I did it.  I’ve done it before,  but given the break I took in blogging this was a giant leap.  Huzzah!

NaBloPoMo – blogging every day for a month.  This November the theme was “Type Your Heart Out”.  1427 bloggers took part (or at least signed up on the November blogroll).

Image of female hands on the keys typing documents

There were lots of perks to joining.

  • BlogHer PRO School – lessons on how to improve your writing. (I confess I only read a few of these – but I have them saved…)
  • Twitter Chats
  • Daily Newsletter
  • Daily prompts and help
  • Survival Guide
  • Badges!

blog Halfway through, JoAnne Apple posted a great blog entry on how NaBloPoMo feels in pictures.  She nailed it.

NaBloPoMo occurs every month on BlogHer, but November is special, it was the original month for it all to happen.  So I wanted to join in this month.

There were days the words just flew onto the screen.  There were days I wrote several posts and saved them for later.  There were days I just didn’t want to bother.  Sat staring at the computer screen and wondered what on earth would possibly be interesting to anyone (including me).  Days I was out and got home just in time to quickly type some pithy phrases of profundity in order to hit “publish” just before midnight.  But I did it.

I’ll keep on blogging!  I don’t know if I’ll continue to write every day, while the discipline is excellent it gets forced and who wants to write or read that?

In the meantime, today I’ll just kick back and enjoy the feeling of accomplishment.

 

finish line

 

Advertisements

Books – the only things you buy that make you richer

November 7, 2013

Well, there’s been a little housecleaning over here at the blog today.  I finally managed to update my Book Challenge 2013 page.  And I tidied up a wee bit of wonky formatting on a few other pages as well.

I really shouldn’t get behind like that.

Of the 43 books I’ve read so far this year, top ratings (5 stars) so far this year have gone to:

  • Hugh Laurie’s The Gun Seller   I finished it in one night, couldn’t put it down.
  • Rachael Herron’s Life in Stitches (I love her blog, Yarn-A-Go-Go, link over at the right), I was left wanting more.
  • Karen Cantwell’s Chronicles of Marr-nia, wonderful short stories.

And of the cozies:

  • Betty Webb’s   The Anteater of Death
  • Krista Davis’  The Diva Haunts the House
  • Julie Hyzy’s  Affairs of Steak
  • Ellen Byerrum’s  Killer Hair
  • Ellery Adam’s   A Deadly Cliché
  • Jenn McKinlay’s   Red Velvet Revenge
  • Sheila Connolly’s  Monument to the Dead
  • Robin Allen’s  If You Can’t Stand the Heat

One book I tossed into the literary frog pond after struggling through 3 chapters, the writing was so bad.

Another book – Murder Over Easy – I finished (despite incredibly bad editing), but gave it the lowest possible rating.   One star, and if I could have given it zero I would have.  The main character is a woman, but her husband treats her like a silly little girl. which really irritated me.  The mystery itself could have been interesting, but I found the story filled with one-dimensional and horribly stereotyped  or prejudiced characters – which can be a  good thing, if it rounds out the story, if  their prejudice is pointed out or noted by others in the story.  The worst of the premises of the book was the overall assumption that gay = predator.  And the only gay character was the shameful villain who abused young boys.  Not that the author used the word “gay”.  Ever.  Feh.  Zero stars.

Thank goodness most of the books I read deserve a much higher rating!!

So….43 books out of my goal of 52 for the year – and two more months to go.

Think I’ll make it?

oh for a book

 

My kind of furniture

April 30, 2013

Meet the Bibliochaise.  And the Bibliopouf.

bibliochaise

 

The chair holds 5 metres of books.   It comes in three versions, laquered in black or white, with other colours possible on request.  The cushions are cotton, leather, or furry leather with removable/washable covers in a wide range of colours.

 

bookchair2 (2)

That’s a whole lot of books.

The pouf holds 1.4 metres of books, and comes in the same design range.  It can go with the chair or stand alone.

bibliopouf

 

Both are products of the .nobody&co. design studio in Milan, established by Alisée Matta and Giovanni Gennari, who began working together as an advertising team before they turned to design.  They have a bunch of other stuff in their catalog, including odd storage solutions, chairs with missing parts and an intriguing looking thing called a scroll table.   Next month, in May 2013,  they are presenting a new line – The Rainbow Circle – in a prestigious exhibition in London.

But they are best known for the biblio set.

What a brilliant solution to having a large stash of  books!  I would probably have to get rid of a few other chairs (or other things) to fit this in, but it would be worth it, no?

Should I add it to my wish list?  Or perhaps my bucket list?   I would have to check if it’s comfy first….  OK, so who wants to buy one for themselves so I can try it out?

Now if I can just find another chair that would hold all my knitting projects, I would be all set.  The ultimate home furnishings.

April showers? Ur doin it wrong…

April 20, 2013

After a few months of nice weather – indeed, weeks of  T-shirt weather – winter has returned.   In April.

Now, I know how much we need rain here.  Water shortage, lakes at danger levels, etc.  But come on, we’ve had days of rain and thunder and wind and just plain nastiness.   Streets are totally flooded out.

We’ve been pretty much housebound because of the rain, but today we really started to get stir crazy.  So kidlet called a friend, we went and picked him up, and I drove them through the flooded streets to the mall so they could see a movie.   They chose a comedy, grabbed some popcorn, and in they went.  There wasn’t anything I wanted to see that was showing at the same time, so I spent a very pleasant time at one of the cafés dividing my time between knitting the hands and ducks scarf and reading.

I’m reading the second cozy in the Flock and Fiber mysteries by Veryl Ann Grace – Murder Comes Unraveled.    I liked the first one – Murder Spins a Tale – a lot.    The protagonist is Martha Williamson, who owns and runs a yarn shop (The Spider’s Web), teaches knitting, crocheting, and spinning, and raises her own sheep and alpacas (and has Great Pyrenees dogs that are trained as Livestock Guardian Dogs).    Oh, and of course, there’s a murder.  At a fiber gathering/festival.   Which so far is being pinned on a poor llama, but Martha will change that, I’m sure.  I’m enjoying the many fiber references, there are lots of tips and information about spinning and types of yarn.

murder comes unraveled

So I had a lovely time out with my knitting and reading (about knitting….hm).  Also great to do both  while curled up at home with the storms outside, but I really needed the change of scenery.

Everybody happy.

See Chana read. Read, Chana, read.

April 3, 2013

Well, I have finally updated my book pages.  Hadn’t touched them in a while….

stair books

Click on over and check them out!

I did not meet my reading challenge for 2012.  Finished 37 books and I was going for 52 (one a week).  When life thows a curve ball, it knocks you over in just about every area.  So…

On to 2013.  Still challenging myself to one book a week.  I’ve finished 11 so far.  21% through.  That’s 2 books (11%) behind schedule, but I’m not too worried.  I should make it up.  And don’t say “famous last words”, please!!!

All of the books this year have been cozy mysteries, with the exception of J.K.Rowling’s Casual Vacancy.  And one non-fiction I’m reading now, so it’s not yet on the finished list.  Most of them I’ve rated highly, although if I can figure out the villain/killer before the main character does I usually take off a point.  Well, except for those books where you know who the bad guy is from the beginning.

mystery books

Almost all of the books are on the Kindle, but I still do have a pile of unread paperbacks to get through.  Lots of Kindle cozies (and other genres as well) are offered briefly for free as a bonus to get to know various authors, so I watch for those.  It’s a plus to download books instantly.  Not to mention how good it is to buy books when there’s no more shelf space…..(that doesn’t always stop me in a bookstore, however…*ahem*).

gibberish

There have a been a few books – very few, thankfully – that have been tossed unfinished into the literary frog pond.  If it’s a chore or a struggle to read, I’m not going to waste my time.  Life is too short to read books you don’t enjoy (or knit with yarn you don’t like…).

And a very few books have truly transported me into vast and wonderful worlds where I would love to stay longer.

coping

 

On to meet the challenge!

superpower

Nu?  Read any good books lately?

 

Yarn. Books. Chanukah!!!

December 21, 2012

December.  Still blogging in my head without getting much time to put it down.

Chanukah passed without a lot of fanfare.  Partner treated me to J.K.Rowling’s new novel The Casual Vacancy.  Finishing up one more book and then I’ll get to crack it open.

casual vacancy

Received a December RAK from Jenny (stolenpony) on Rav – the Hibiscus shawl pattern.  It will be perfect knitted with the handdyed yarn I got from Bat in a swap ages ago.  It has been sitting in my stash just waiting for the right pattern, but the search is over!

CrazyVet handdyed 2

A whole slew of Yarn & Falafel folk arrived in Haifa for the annual winter yarn crawl.  We met up at pal Batya’s to munch and shmooze and buy some of the fiber goodies brought by yarn sellers who usually do business online, before heading off down the hill to the LYSs.   Kidlet and I joined the crowd for the meet-up, but not for the crawl itself – too much walking for me and kidlet had other things to do later.

yarn crawl 2012-1

yarn crawl 2012-2

yarn crawl 2012-3

Photo by Roberta

Photo by Roberta

(That’s me wearing the Pearl Tower cowl!)   ‘Twas a grand time, and it was great to see some good friends and meet some new ones.

Credit for the highlight of the month so far, however, has to go to the fabulous Steven A of Bitches Get Stitches.  He has begun a tradition on his blog of holding a fund-raising raffle-of-sorts on World Aids Day on December 1st.  Anyone who donates to an Aids organisation (he recommends one each year, but it’s not mandatory to choose that particular organisation), on that day, can write to Steven about it, with proof of contribution, and be entered in a drawing for prizes.  He has lots of sponsors who donate the prizes, and manages to raise around $5000 each year so far.  Which is not to be sneezed at.  Something to be proud of indeed.

Well, among The Issues (as I’ve begun to call them) of the past few months are financial ones.  Not much leeway these days.  But I still try to donate when and where I possibly can.  So I sent in a donation of…one dollar.   (Hey…it’s something.)   Wrote to Steven and apologised for not being able to manage more than that this year.  And then he wrote back in a day or two and told me that I had won a prize!  And that the sponsor would be in touch soon.  What did I win?  Nothing less than a gift certificate for Blue Moon Fiber Arts.  For $50.

I may have startled the neighbours with my shriek.

Of course I wrote to both Steven and the sponsor (Hi, Anne!!) to tell them they had indeed made my day/week/month/season.  And then quickly logged on to BMFA to browse.  Didn’t take me long to make my purchases – two luscious skeins of yarn were gleefully placed in my cart.

And the package arrived this week!  Picked it up at the post office and raced home to open the loot.  And found, to my confusion, not two but three skeins.  The two I had ordered, and one more.  At first I thought it may be a mistake, but the extra skein was packaged together with one I did order, so it didn’t just fall into the bag.

bmfa trio

I checked the invoice, and only the two yarns I ordered were there.  Along with a handwritten thanks.  Some shiny lovely Marine Silk Sport – soooooo soft –

bmfa marine silk ciruela

and some equally delicious Socks That Rock Lightweight

bmfa str andromeda

(I have the perfect sock pattern for this!!)

And then there was the skein of Socks That Rock Mediumweight (Mill Ends) as an added bonus!  Hip Hip!

bmfa str mill ends

 

So.  Although The Issues are still taking their toll, some of them spawning wee mini-issues of their own, and causing not a little exhaustion, and although world events are bringing heartache, there have been quite a few bright spots in life.

I’ve got just one or two more RAKs to send off.  Didn’t get all my Chanukah knitting done, but luckily there are Aquarius birthdays coming soon so gifts are being re-targeted.  With just a little more breathing (/knitting) time.

May it be a joyous holiday season for all.

Hiatus and Issues

October 24, 2012

I’ve disappeared for a while.  Longer than I ever have before.  I miss blogging terribly.  But other issues have demanded all my time, attention and energy and while I constantly blog in my head I haven’t been able to do much beyond that to magically make the words in my head appear on the page/screen.

Physical health issues.  Mental health issues.  Employment issues.  Parenting issues.  Disability issues.  Sleep issues.  And the bureaucracy covering most of these issues is threatening to overwhelm me in a sea of forms, letters, records, signatures and red tape.

Can one drown in paper?

Got a book today (haven’t been reading much, I’m way behind on my book challenge):  Sue Townsend’s The Woman Who Went to Bed For a Year.  Is it wise to admit out loud that this idea sounds so appealing right about now?  Can’t wait to read it, despite the tower of books in the TBR pile, but I’m making myself finish Rachel Thompson’s A Walk in the Snark first.

Want to know how bad it is?  The October package of the Smart Ass Knitters/World Domination Club is on its way to me as I type…and the August package is still sitting on my desk, opened but still in its mailing envelope.  The package is seriously awesome, patiently waiting its turn on my seemingly endless Things To Do list.  But I will blog about that later.

Summer is over and fall has arrived.  As evidenced by the hatzav, or sea squill, that grows wild around the Mediterranean.  In Israeli culture, it is a major symbol of autumn.  The plant has a huge bulb, just under the surface, and usually around July sends up a dramatic, 3-5 foot stalk out of the bare ground, when most other flowers are dormant.  The plant’s white flowers start to bloom around the bottom of the stalk, and as time passes the flowers bloom higher and higher, and the lower ones wither.  When the top flowers have bloomed, sometime in October, fall has arrived and usually the first rains with it.  The flowers don’t bloom if the stalk is cut from the bulb, and the plant is protected by law in Israel.  Here are some near kidlet’s school a couple of weeks ago:

Some are still blooming in the middle, but most are already blooming towards the top.  Here’s the same bunch a week later:

Most of the flowers are gone, although some are still striving to reach the tops of the stalks.  And the rainy season has indeed arrived, although there are  plenty of hot days in between the showers.  Now the dark green leaves will appear at the bottom of the stalk and enjoy the rain.  And then the hatzav will again disappear until mid summer next year.

It’s nice when things are constant, isn’t it?

So many things to share, to catch up on.  Projects knitted.  Places visited.  People encountered.  I will try – when I’m not overwhelmed – to back blog as well as keep up.

It feels good to be back.

Button, button, who’s got the button?

March 22, 2012

I’m still digging through boxes.  Lots are cleared by now, but there are those yet to be unearthed.  I recently found my old button collection, and it was indeed fun reading!

At one time (in my distant youth) I draped big cotton scarves on my wall, different colours overlapping, and onto these I pinned my collection of political and other buttons.  At some point the scarves and the buttons came down, some of the buttons were stuck on a corkboard, but eventually most went into a bag in the cupboard, only to be dug out for the occasional demonstration.  Some of my absolute favourites were lost, as I would pin them to my bags and eventually most of those would fall off in the shuffle of daily life.  Took me a while to learn my lesson and stop doing that.  (Even today, I don’t pin my knitting buttons on my knitting bag for the same reason.)  Most of the 100+ buttons are political in nature, referring to various candidates or issues, or specific events, films or books that were controversial, etc.  (Quite a few about Harvey Milk/Dan White and the fallout.)  I’ll leave all those out of here for now, as well as some of the cruder examples.  (Of course, if we subscribe to the belief that the personal is political, all the buttons are political…)  Back in the days when I was actively protesting one thing or another and either marching in, leading, or monitoring a demonstration at least once a week, butting my head against one brick wall after another, the buttons were an easy way of emphasizing where I stand on an issue.

Of course, many – if not most – are feminist in nature.

As the LGBT movement grew, so did the collection of relevant buttons…

There were many versions of the “Don’t presume I’m…” (Fill in the blank with whatever mainstream characteristic you aren’t.)  I started with a few,

  etc, etc, etc…

but as the list seemed to be getting too long, I gave up and just went with

Lots of general and/or other causes and interests

(Gotta love that last one…)

One of the most common catchphrases was “Question Authority”, which I had on buttons, shirts, and I think a bumpersticker.  As I – and my generation – got older, though, and our roles began to widen and change,  I did switch to a slightly modified version:

Some speak strongly to me to this day

What would you have on your ideal button?

?

OK, OK,  I know I said no political buttons here, but I just. can’t. resist…..

just one….

Whew.   I feel better now.

In which I battle a mutant cold virus….

March 7, 2012

Getting a cold is not that big a deal, right?  Even a few times during the winter season, when the virus stops in to visit on its journey, whenever you’re run down a bit.

My colds run a pretty predictable pattern.  They often begin with the hint of a sore throat, then after a day or two of sneezing, whether the throat continues to hurt or not, my nose starts running for about three days and my head hurts and I feel woozy and miserable.  Sometimes this is it,  especially if I caught it early and nearly drowned myself in echinacea tea.  Sometimes it moves on to the coughing stage at this point, which can linger for quite an annoying period.  Cold medicine during the runny nose stage can really help me feel more human, but it just deals with the symptoms and doesn’t change the course of the cold.

Or so has been my experience until now.

I am now on day nine of the runny nose stage.  There was no warning signal in the throat – I just started sneezing, my eyes felt hot, my head felt thick, I told my boss that I would stay home the next day or so until it passes.   And then eight days stuck in bed filling trash bag after trash bag with kleenex, enough to feel guilty about the number of trees being harmed by my sinuses.

Cold medicine has not really helped this time.  For the first few days I was too fuzzy-headed to pay attention to the old adage “feed a cold, starve a fever”, stumbling out of bed to grab something quick.  ( I never remember how that goes, have to look it up every time.  And it seems it works, researchers are discovering that food and fasting trigger different responses in the immune system.  When-oh-when are they going to realise that those “old wives” were pretty damn smart?)  Wasn’t up to cooking a meal, but I did order takeout a couple of times.  Finally did some proper shopping – online – and had the supermarket deliver, so as of yesterday the meals got a lot fuller and healthier.  Of course, there hasn’t been much my doc can do, although she did prescribe something new on my one-and-only venture out into the cold weather.   We’ll see.

Kidlet arrived for the holiday vacation this morning, and brought me tea in bed.  What a sweetie.  Of course, she may be angling for permission to go to some party or event…in which case, it didn’t work, sorry.  But the gesture was lovely.

What does one do in bed for a week?  I had to field some calls from work, and one horrible afternoon had to take part in a teleconference training session that couldn’t be rescheduled.  Luckily not much feedback was required, I got through with a few grunts.  I have managed to read some, although attention wavers pretty quickly.  Finished Barbara Allen’s Antiques Maul, and enjoyed it.  Now I’m making a change away from cozies with Laugh Lines: Conversations with Comedians by Corey Andrew, but so far I’m finding it pretty disappointing. I may not finish it, although I’m still giving it a go.

And of course when I’ve felt strong enough to sit up among the pillows, I have succeeded in getting some knitting done.  The first Rioting Rainbow mitt is done!

So far I’ve only done the cuff of the second mitt, inspired by the first.  I’m not sure I’ve matched the colour sequence exactly, but it’s close enough that I’m not worried.  And since when am I symmetrical anyway??

That’s not a whole lot o’knitting for eight days of being stuck at home, which testifies to how this totally unnecessary mutant cold has hit me. And this is my first time sitting up at the computer for the duration, although I’ve checked email, etc. on the phone from bed.   I have a lot to catch up on!

I’m beginning to feel more human once more.  Although the damn nose is still running.  Let’s hope that this is not a prediction of colds to come in my future, but simply a single deviant virus come to harass me.  I plan to go back to work after the holiday weekend.  Enough already.

Here’s also hoping that everyone else is healthy and happy.  And have a great Purim!!

Keep Calm and Blog On

December 30, 2011

Keep Calm and Carry On was a poster produced by the British government in 1939, during the beginning of World War II, intended to raise the morale of the British public in the event of invasion. The poster was third in a series of three. The three posters were issued and used across the country, as the British Ministry of Information assumed that the events of the first weeks of the war would demoralise the population.

The “Your Courage” poster was much more famous during the war, as it was the first to go up.

In 2000, a copy of the “Keep Calm and Carry On” poster was rediscovered in a second-hand bookshop. Since copyright expires on artistic works created by the UK government after 50 years, the image is now in the public domain, and the many take-offs have gone viral. You can now find “Keep Calm” slogans on everything from posters to clothing to mugs to doormats to just about anything.

Some have variations on the word “carry”, listing a number of real and fictional characters of that name.

You can find a Keep Calm product with just about anything you may be passionate about.

How about one for Chanuka? (I know, I know, it’s over…)

Of course, major (and minor) cultural and literary themes are not ignored…

Perhaps fiber-related animals?

Some are a little confusing…

(Wait….what??)

And some just head over to the flip side…

Nostalgia notwithstanding, I guess we all feel a need for the main message here, a need for calm in the midst of chaos, in whatever we need or want to do. It has become a logo for all of us as we go through current hard times.

Are you keeping calm???