Showing posts with label Miscellaneous. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Miscellaneous. Show all posts

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The Letter E

Claire of The Captive Reader told us all about a fun new meme that was being done on the blog Stuck in a Book.  All you do ask for a letter in the comments section and you are assigned one. Then, you have to come up with your favorite book, author, song, film, and object, all starting with that letter.  I got rather unlucky and ended up with E, so here goes:

Favorite Book:  Emma by Jane Austen
This is Emily Kimbrough

Favorite Author: Emily Kimbrough and Cornelia Otis Skinner-This one is a bit of a stretch, but these two friends wrote one of the worlds most hilarious memoirs about traveling in Europe as teenagers.

Favorite Song: El Matador by the Kingston Trio.  I am very fond of the Kingston Trio and I was so glad they had a song that starts with E!  Eavesdrop by the Civil Wars is another one.  With both these songs, it's more that I like the group than the individual song.

Favorite Movie: Enchanted made me laugh and it was a light watch, but, ultimately, Emma the movie won.

Favorite Object: This one drove me crazy.  I mean, it's not like there aren't objects that start with E-energy drinks, ethanol, earwax, eggs...but I don't like any of those things.  I decided to go with evergreen tea.  Yes, that is such a thing.  I forget where I found it, but we had a box of it and used it up very quickly.  That pine-y scent is delicious in tea.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

A Vacation

Good morning, dear readers.
I'm going to be on vacation from Thursday to Sunday.  So in the meantime, enjoy whatever you're reading.  As always, the archives are on the sidebar to the right, so if you get a hankering to read some old posts, go ahead!
Happy Reading to you all!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

A Father's Day Poem

I had the worst time finding a suitable Fathers' Day Poem.   It couldn't be smarmy (you know the poems…the father portrayed as this strong, silent, perfect person), it couldn't be funeral (that's a surprisingly large amount of poems about Fathers) and it couldn't be grim and dark.  It's not like you can't find plenty of that when looking for Mothers' Day Poems, but there are still the occasional poems that are beautiful without being saccharine.  I was so pleased when I found this poem.  It's by no means perfect, but there are no bitter undertones, and no smarmity.

Only a Dad

Only a dad, with a tired face,
Coming home from the daily race,
Bringing little of gold or fame,
To show how well he has played the game,
But glad in his heart that his own rejoice
To see him come, and to hear his voice.

Only a dad, with a brood of four,
One of ten million men or more.
Plodding along in the daily strife,
Bearing the whips and the scorns of life,
With never a whimper of pain or hate,
For the sake of those who at home await.

Only a dad, neither rich nor proud,
Merely one of the surging crowd
Toiling, striving from day to day,
Facing whatever may come his way,
Silent, whenever the harsh condemn,
And bearing it all for the love of them.

Only a dad, but he gives his all
To smooth the way for his children small,
Doing, with courage stern and grim,
The deeds that his father did for him.
This is the line that for him I pen,
Only a dad, but the best of men.

I thought I would also quote this poem because it makes me laugh so much.

"You are old, Father William," the young man said,
"And your hair has become very white;
And yet you incessantly stand on your head --
Do you think, at your age, it is right?

"In my youth," Father William replied to his son,
"I feared it might injure the brain;
But, now that I'm perfectly sure I have none,
Why, I do it again and again."

"You are old," said the youth, "as I mentioned before,
And you have grown most uncommonly fat;
Yet you turned a back-somersault in at the door --
Pray, what is the reason for that?"

"In my youth," said the sage, as he shook his grey locks,
"I kept all my limbs very supple
By the use of this ointment -- one shilling a box --
Allow me to sell you a couple?"

"You are old," said the youth, "and your jaws are too weak
For anything tougher than suet;
Yet you finished the goose, with the bones and the beak --
Pray, how did you manage to do it?"

"In my youth," said his father, "I took to the law,
And argued each case with my wife;
And the muscular strength, which it gave to my jaw,
Has lasted the rest of my life."

"You are old," said the youth, "one would hardly suppose
That your eye was as steady as ever;
Yet you balanced an eel on the end of your nose --
What made you so awfully clever?"

"I have answered three questions, and that is enough,"
Said his father, "Don't give yourself airs!
Do you think I can listen all day to such stuff?
Be off, or I'll kick you downstairs.

I'm thinking that maybe I need to sit down and write a really good Fathers' Day Poem.  I have my dad to thank for a lot of my love of reading.  He has never liked fiction, but he read lots of wonderful children's books to my brother and me.  I can still remember listening to him read and sobbing over Aslan's death in The Chronicles of Narnia.  It was my first experience of enjoying a sad part of a good book.  Anyway, happy Fathers' Day to all of you whatever you're doing and whoever your fathers/father figures are.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

The Cats- An Explanation and an Introduction

As I was heading out to feed the chickens, I watched the cat sociology and made up a story as I watched. Then, a brilliant blog post sprang into my head and took hold.  I arranged and rearranged sentences as I lugged buckets and shook mud out of my boot, then came running inside to quickly get the post down on paper.  So here it is.

As you may know from my frequent kitty pictures, we have a host of barn cats.  These are not cosseted little darlings, mind you (not that I have any problem with cosseted kitties).  They get their first vaccinations, get fixed, then live pretty rough and tumble lives.  Yet we all have soft spots in our hearts for these kitties and they have all come to have personalities, both real and made up.  Now you're probably wondering what on earth I mean.  My family has an odd tradition (and it's generations deep) of making up a character for beloved pets.  It's usually kind of based on the animal's real personality, but it's definitely very much rooted in the imaginary.  I was thinking about why we do this and I think that it's because we all read and grew up reading.  We are so used to fictional characters that turning our animals into fictional characters themselves is no problem!

So, I thought I would properly introduce you to the cats, both their real and pretend personalities.  I did want to make a little clarification: these cat personalities are in no way related to people that we know.  Most of them are quite stereotypical characters that nobody is really like.

Tiger-I'm not sure if he's ever been in a blog post.  He's a huge cat and he kind of feels like the patriarch, probably because he and his sister Midnight were the first cats to come on this farm.
The Pretend Tiger is the CEO of the cats.  He puts together power point presentations of how many mice have been killed, how we can "grow the business" and how the rates of mouse killing have "impacted" our growth (can you tell how much business incorrect grammar lingo bothers me?).  He's a slick businessman in a suit and he's an affectionate adoptive uncle to his nixy little niece and nephew, Tom and Shadow.
                                  (Couldn't find a picture of Midnight)
Midnight-I'm sure I've never posted about her.  She is almost never around because she takes long hunting trips and keeps to herself and kills lots and lots of mice.  She also hates other cats.  However, she loves people and is always up for a good snuggle, as long as she doesn't smell like the latest skunk she got in a fight with.
The Pretend Midnight is a bit of a recluse.  She is a spinster who lives in a little cottage in the woods by herself.  She's fiercely protective of her bachelor brother and she's convinced he can't survive in the world without her.
Sadly, this is the only picture I could find of Patsy Cline.
But you get an idea of what she looks like.

Patsy Cline-Yes, we have a cat named Patsy Cline and yes, it's after the country singer.  See, she came around singing a song about a man who'd done her wrong (the common theme in Patsy Cline songs, doncher know).  Sure enough, Patsy Cline was pregnant and now we have Shadow and Tom.  The Pretend Patsy had a rough background (she probably did in real life) that involved a string of men and one cat in particular-a greasy longhaired cat who came riding up on his little kitty motorcycle to visit her at the restaurant where she worked.  After Patsy had Shadow and Tom, she moved here (that's obviously real) and has since vowed to stop chasing men around and having kittens.  Except now she's flirting with Tiger, which enrages his protective sister and is causing all kinds of uproar.  The kittens have moved on to live with their uncle Tiger while they go to school in town.  Patsy is glad to have a quiet little cottage to herself.
                                         (No picture for Grouchy Kitty available)
Grouchy Kitty-Grouchy Kitty is even more of a recluse than Midnight.  Actually, she isn't even our cat, she just shows up and occasionally eats our cat food.  She sits in corners of the horse stalls and growls to herself.  The Pretend Grouchy Kitty comes to the monthly meetings that Tiger holds.  She sits in the back of the room and talks to herself in a low, slightly insane voice.
I love Shadow's whiskers!

Shadow-Shadow is quite uncomplicated.  She's not crazy, she doesn't have a sad past, and she doesn't have corporations to manage. She lives with her brother in their rich old adoptive uncle Tiger's house.  I'm picturing the rich old gentleman's house in A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett when I picture Tiger's house.  It's full of rich old Indian rugs and an old fashioned nursery for the kittens, complete with a Mary Poppins-esque nanny.  Perhaps Tiger could hire Grouchy Kitty as nanny….
I love this picture of Tom because you can see
all of his face.  It's really hard to photograph cats, so
I resorted to selfies with Tom to get him to hold still.

Tom- Tom is also a pretty uncomplicated cat.  He's named for the Beatrix Potter character, Tom Kitten.  The Pretend Tom is about 12 years old and he scampers around causing all kinds of trouble and generally being a nuisance.  But everybody loves him all the same.
I actually made myself laugh writing this.  I know, I know, I am so funny.  But I have to thank my family for endlessly discussing this and making up many of the stories mentioned here.  Without them, our cats would not be half such developed characters.  Now aren't you inspired to go out and give your pet an interesting imaginary life?  If you aren't, it's because you're a member of my family and you've already been doing it and this is old hat.  You don't even see what's so weird about talking about a little kitty motorcycle.

*A bit of business-I am cussing like mad because apparently I deleted Thursday's post.  Help me!  How the heck do I get it back?  Or is it lost in the blogger abyss for time eternal?*

Monday, June 2, 2014

Words I Love (And Wish Were Used More)

I was taking the laundry off the top of the line and over and over in my head I was happily repeating the word, "befuddle".  This might sound ridiculously strange, but sometimes I'll come across a word (doesn't have to be a new word) in a book and the word just strikes me.  I savor it as I go about my business and, usually, the word sticks with me for a long time.  Anyway, I thought I would share some of my favorite words.  Most of them aren't particularly extraordinary, they're just words that strike me as  fun to say (or think).

So here are my words that I think are really fun to say (and just fun words in general).  Thanks to for the definitions.  The examples are my own.

1. Flack-  Eg. "He didn't get a lot of flack about his latest business decisions." It means "to publicize or promote something or somebody".  However, when I've heard it it always has negative connotations.

2. Defunct- Eg. "The computer that once worked quite well is now completely defunct."  It means, "no longer living; dead or extinct; no longer operative or valid".  I don't know why, but saying this word just amuses me.

3. Jabberwocky- Eg. "When Joe talks, it is merely jabberwocky." It means, "Invented or meaningless language; nonsense".  I have loved the Jabberwocky poem by Lewis Carroll for a long time, so this word is one of my favorites.

4. Mellifluous- Eg. "Everything she said was mellifluous in tone."  It means, "sweet or musical; pleasant to hear".  This word is just so fun to say!  I also love that it sounds like what it means.  It's not quite onomatopoeia, but it's awfully close.

5. Perspicacious- Eg. "Lucy is quite perspicacious when it comes to people's characters".  It means, "having a ready insight into and understanding of things."  I still remember the first time I ever heard this word in about 5th grade.  I was completely struck by how fascinating the word sounded and scurried off to ask somebody what it meant.

6. Tintinnabulation (yes, I spelled that without looking it up!)- Eg. "The tintinnabulation of bells filled the air."  It means, "a ringing or tinkling sound."  This word just sounds joyful, doesn't it?  I don't think I've ever used the word in sentence in real life, but it's a nice word to know.

7. Vicissitudes- Eg. "Ah, the vicissitudes of life."  It means, "a change of circumstance or fortune, typically one that is unwelcome of unpleasant."  It's just a handy word to have on hand when you're gripping and it's fun to say as an added bonus.

8. Avuncular-Eg. "Mr. Smith had an avuncular manner."  It means, "of or relating to an uncle."  Again, don't think I've ever actually used this.

9. Placebo- Eg. "Aunt Beatrice begged for her placebo pills every morning and night, little knowing that they did nothing".  It means, "a harmless pill, medicine, or procedure prescribed more for the psychological benefit to the patient than for any physiological effect."  Just a funny word.  I first read it in a science magazine in middle school.

10. Gormless- Eg. "Freddie is a gormless lackard."  It means, "lacking sense or initiative; foolish."  This word makes me grin every time I read it or say it (yes, I have used this word several times).  It's normally used with another archaic insult word because it's an adjective.  So you couldn't say, "Freddie is a gormless."  I think this might be my favorite word on the list.  It's quite handy as an insult when you're just enraged. I first heard this word in a children's book, The Penderwicks.  I am eternally grateful to Jane Penderwick for this great word.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

A Toast Rack

Today was the retirement community sale that happens every spring.  Each year, the people moving to the home donate stuff to the sale.  The stuff tends to be fabulous vintage finds.  I happened to find the most charming little device- a toast rack!  Now you may be asking, "What on earth is the purpose of a toast rack?"  Why to serve your toast on, of course!  Except, that the toast would have the unfortunate propensity to get soggy and cold, which is just plain nasty.

So, I'm going to use this cunning little device as a letter holder.  I have several friends who send me letters and I thought what a fun way to store letters this would be!

Here are several pictures that I took of it.  What do you think?  Won't this be handy?

I'll be back tomorrow with a review of Unpunished.  Yes!  I finally got around to reading the dang thing and it was a wonderful read.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Sunday Afternoon Thoughts and a Question

I'm sitting here planning my posts for the week.  I just wanted to drop in to let you all know that I'll be back tomorrow with my (more or less) weekly Library Loot post and then I've got a whole list of great books to review for you.  I've been enjoying spending a little of my Sunday afternoon lounging time planning for my weekly blogging.  I love blogging and for me, it is purely fun and relaxing.  However, it can get exhausting to have to think up what to write about, write it, then edit it, then add pictures/links/etc.  I've found that doing the rough draft on Sunday afternoon (including planning for pictures/links/etc.) makes my blogging during the week a lot less time consuming.  Then, I just have to edit and read through the post and add the pictures and I'm done.  However, if I change my mind about what I want to write about, then I've got this extra post that I've got to fit in somewhere.  But other than that small drawback, I really enjoy this writing method.
A kitty picture.  Just because.

So, for those of you who blog, how do you organize and make time for your writing?  Do you start each time you post with a fresh idea and do all your writing at once, or do you do something a little like I do?  And here's the other question:  Do you ever have the problem of forgetting about posts in drafts and then finding them weeks later?

For those of you who don't blog, how do you write other things?  Do you start something, then think about it for a while and finish it, or do you just write the whole thing start to finish in one blow?

I look forward to hearing from all of you!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

A Rainy Day

Today I'm enjoying the rain gently pattering on the roof as I work on inside projects.  I've spent every waking moment outside the last few days, so it's a nice break to be inside.  Here's what I'm doing/have done today (and a pretty picture I found for your perusal):
I love pictures of people reading.  This picture is by Deborah Bays.
It's called Summer Solitude.

  • Listening to the Kingston Trio as I type this.
  • This morning included a trip to a local store where I got pretty soap and earrings.
  • Working in my cozy sewing room.  Sewing is the perfect pastime on a day like this.  I'm working on a flowery 60s wrap dress.
  • Contemplating blog posts and what my writing goals are.
  • Doings some furniture shifting
  • Reading (of course).  I'm enjoying A People's History of the United States (the chapter about the beginnings of slavery) and Miss Bunting by Angela Thirkell
What do you like to do on rainy days?

Monday, May 19, 2014


Quick!  Quick!  The Midnight Garden, a blog that focuses mostly on young adult and middle grade fiction, is hosting a giveaway of L.M. Montgomery books published by Sourcebooks Fire.  As many of you know, I adore L.M. Montgomery, so you'd better bet that I went over there are entered at once.  If any of you are interested, head on over there.

Here's the link.  Enjoy!

There are two sets of books being given away: a set of the six Anne books and a set of six non-Anne books.  The books in the non-Anne set are Jane of Lantern Hill, A Tangled Web, The Blue Castle, Pat of Silver Bush, Mistress Pat, and Magic for Marigold.  Of these, I have only read The Blue Castle, so I'm pretty excited about this.

I'm blogging about this at the last moment, so you only have 15 more hours to enter this giveaway.  Good luck!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Reading and Reading (Or Library Loot 5/13/14)

Today, I spent the majority of the morning sitting in a dental chair under general anesthetic.  This does not translate to wonderful writing of blog posts-just so you're warned in advance.  The surgery turned out great, but I still will be pretty much stuck on the couch or in the recliner for the next couple of days with ice packs on my face.  But do you know what that means?  It means I get a ton of free reading time!  No people interrupting me to explain something or go do something or ask me a question....just quiet reading and butterscotch custard.  Ah....

This blog post is going to be my (very late) Library Loot post, a weekly link-up from Captive Reader.
The books in this post aren't truly loot from the public library because, silly me, I didn't stock up on library books before my dental work.  However, I'm am lucky to have a large personal library and a few books left over from last week's haul, not to mention those Mary Stewart books I just ordered.  So here's my library loot for the week:

I think this should keep me engrossed for quite a while, although it might take me less time to finish these that I think.  Already, I've finished Growing Up Plain and Wildfire at Midnight.  There are going to be lots of book reviews on this blog very soon!

Monday, May 12, 2014

The Data

The poll about how to pronounce the name Flavia from the Flavia de Luce books is over.  The result is that the name is....
Flaevia!  5 out of 6 people agreed that the name was Flaevia, while 1 person told me it was Flahvia.  Since the one person who disagreed is a member of my family who never read the books (*cough* Aden *cough*), I'm going with the other 83% that say Flaevia.  Now I just have to wait to get the last book back (it was accidentally returned to the library) and I'll be all set!
So now you know.  In other news, this is what I'm going to be doing today:

That green stuff is flats of little plants waiting to go in the dirt.

People, look at all the onions!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

"My Mother Read to Me"

I had a mother who read to me
Sagas of pirates who scoured the sea,
Cutlasses clenched in their yellow teeth,
"Blackbirds" stowed in the hold beneath.

I had a Mother who read me lays
Of ancient and gallant and golden days;
Stories of Marmion and Ivanhoe,
Which every boy has a right to know.

I had a Mother who read me tales
Of Gelert the hound of the hills of Wales,
True to his trust till his tragic death,
Faithfulness blent with his final breath.

I had a Mother who read me the things
That wholesome life to the boy heart brings--
Stories that stir with an upward touch,
Oh, that each mother of boys were such!

You may have tangible wealth untold;
Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold.
Richer than I you can never be--
I had a Mother who read to me.
-By Strickland Gillilan

Happy Mothers Day to all of you and in particular to my own mother!

Friday, May 9, 2014

Card Game Bookmarks

A few days ago, I cleaned out our family's game chest.  Ahem.  That was quite the job, let me tell you.
The bottom of the chest, once all of the board games had been removed.

However, I got a sparkling clean, organized game chest out of it and something else...

I got bookmarks!  I am always on the lookout for pretty, interesting bookmarks.  Of course, scrap paper and business cards work fine, but it's always fun to have something a little nicer.  While cleaning out the game cupboard, I came across several sad cards.  They were from the vintage card game Authors.   (This game I linked to is identical to ours, except that ours never included anything so modern as a female author.  I mean, Lousia May Alcott?  Come, come!  She isn't great like old Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Robert Louis Stevenson, who, according to this game, looks like a drug addict.)  The cards were originally complete, but over the years, we've lost pieces and we almost never played the game, so I have relegated them to bookmarks.  I think it fitting that the authors cards are being used to mark books.  Even though the authors on the cards are ridiculously non-representative of all the authors out there, I am fond of the old dears and I'm glad they get a new job.

Anyway, I thought you might like to meet a few of the cards bookmarks.

I'm sorry it's so blurry.  The camera was being whiney.  But you get
the idea here.  This is R.L. Stevenson
Nathaniel Hawthorne

Washington Irving
Edgar Allan Poe...I can't decide whether he's looking grim
or just determined.

There are several others, but I didn't think you would want to see every single one of them.  I'm very curious as to when these were made.  Evidently a time where white male authors were THE author.  What do you think?  They make fantastic bookmarks!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Listening To

Sometimes I get in a music-listening-while reading mood.  I am immersed in the world of Belle Ruin right now (review coming soon!) and while I read, I've been listening to Scenes from Childhood (Kinderzenen in German) by Schumann.  This little collection of pieces is pretty familiar and they make surprisingly good background listening, although they're just as nice for sitting down and seriously listening to.

Here's the link from YouTube, so you can listen to these beautiful pieces while reading as well!
My favorites are #8 and #9.  I'm teaching myself to play them now.

And here's the Wikipedia link you that you can see the titles and order of the pieces.
Happy Listening!

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Unsatisfactory Books

I promise you, I am reading, but I've come across several duds recently, which is why I'm writing this post today and not a book review post.  Nearly every time I go to the library, I find a book that I don't like for some reason.  I've come up with a list of the various kinds of unsatisfactory books.   Accompanying this post are pictures of the latest unsatisfactory books I've read.

1.  The writing was dumb/the author/book annoyed me-  Oh dear, there's quite a lot of this.  There are just some writing tones that annoy me and sometimes the writing is pathetic.  Sometimes I can't even pay attention to the story because the author is just such a terrible (or annoying) writer.

2.  I just can't get into the book-  This doesn't happen very frequently, but I just had it happen recently.  In my book loot post two weeks ago, I listed South of Superior.   The story had everything:  a good plot, was well written, and had charming characters.   But for some reason, I just couldn't get into it.  I read up to about page 70, but the book just wasn't sticking with me and I kept looking longingly at the last Flavia de Luce.   So that book got packed back to the library.  Maybe my mood will change and I'll enjoy that book, but for now, I'm not going to read it.
I'm usually not a cookbook snob, but honestly, celebrity
cookbooks get on my nerves.  Whenever I read one,
I want to say, "Oh come on, the last time you cooked
was 3 years ago."

3.  I strongly dislike the character-  The book can be one of the most well-written books I've ever come across, but if I hate the character, there is no way I'm going to read the book.

4.  The book isn't quite right for the mood I'm in-  This fits a little into the 2nd category.  Maybe the book was just too dark and depressing when I was in the mood for something funny or light.  Or maybe I wanted a serious autobiography and instead am reading a romantic comedy.

So I think I've covered all of the problems that books can have.  Do you have anything to add to this list?

Sunday, April 27, 2014


Here's a sunset picture for all you lovely readers.  I'm taking a little blogging
break for today, but I'll be back tomorrow with a review of the book Stardust.
Hope you all have had a lovely weekend and are refreshed for a new week!

Monday, April 21, 2014

A View of Easter

I had a lovely Easter weekend and I'm going to share the pictures that don't have faces in them with you!  Starting off, here's the gorgeous sunset picture I got on Saturday night after a glorious campfire.  The glowing crack is a ventilation crack in the barn.  I caught the sunset pouring through.  This is one of my new favorite pictures.

This is the traditional lamb cake that we always make.  It's a bit of a rigamarole, but we love it and it makes such a pretty centerpiece, besides being delicious!

Easter Sunday, there was church, then a big extended family party with delicious ham and sides and plenty of desserts (I'm still recovering from a sugar headache!)  After I got home, I was fiddling with the camera and got a very pretty shot of a pot of hyacinths, an old crate-turned-plant stand, and a vintage armchair in the kitchen.
So that was my easter.  How was yours?  Was it a quiet gathering with a few people?  A big family wing-ding like me?  Or did you not celebrate Easter?  I'd love to know what you did.

If I ever finish blasted A Company of Swans, I'll review it.  It's a perfectly good book, but I have had so many other distractions recently that reading has been pushed to the back burner.  I'm looking forward to a quiet week with plenty of reading!

Friday, April 18, 2014

An Extremely Cute Project

(I'm sorry, guys.  This has absolutely nothing to do with reading, but it was so cute I couldn't resist posting.)
After moving my sewing room around and getting a gorgeous new Bernina sewing machine for Christmas (thank you, family!), I was ready to start sewing.  I finished up a pair of fabulous turquoise overalls that had been languishing around and looked around for a new project.  My requirements were many: it had to fairly quick, it had to involve my lovely sewing machine somehow, and it had to be an item that was useful.  And so, I found this project from a book on appliquéing and set to work, cooing happily because it was so daggone cute.  I ended up not following the instructions at all, just cutting and appliquéing and then sewing up.
This is the first one I made.  First of all, I folded some plain oatmeal colored linen and lined the bottom of the hanger up with the fold.  Then, leaving about 1/2 inch seam allowance, I cut around the shape of the wire hanger.  Next, I embroidered four hangers in green pearl cotton and then machine appliquéd little clothes cut out of fabric scraps
This is what the back looks like.  I just sewed up the top of the hanger cover with black pearl cotton and did it in kind of uneven stitches.  I like the slightly unfinished look it gives to the hangers.

Now this is my absolute favorite.  I dug through and found scraps of fabric from clothing that I have actually made for myself.  The overalls I just finished, two summer dresses, a pair of flannel pajamas, and a skirt on which I sewed teensy weensy little pockets.  And did you see?  They're hanging on a rickrack clothesline!

I have two more up at the sewing machine.

A pistachio colored rickrack clothesline and a narrow embroidered red ribbon clothes line.

I can't sell these because they were somebody else's idea, but if you know me, drop an obvious hint and I'll make one of these for your birthday.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Introverted Characters

People, I just had the most aggravating thing happen yesterday.  I was getting ready to finish up I am Half-Sick of Shadows (the next Flavia de Luce) when I forgot it at the dentist.  Argh.  So now I have no idea what is going to happen and I don't have a book review, but here's the other post I've been working on.
The silly kitten who likes to drink out of the sheep water tank.

I just noticed a phenomenon.  Has anybody else noticed the fact that an overwhelming majority of protagonists are decidedly introverted?  Just a little refresher:  An introvert is a person who needs to "recharge" after being in large groups of people.  It's not that they're socially awkward or unable to be in society, they just have to rest up afterwards.  They often tend to have a lot of inner dialogue and enjoy just thinking. This characterization must be just perfect for book characters.  Think about the last 5 books you read.  How many of them had an outgoing, busy character that spends hours talking to people and never sits and thinks.  As I thought about this, I realized that maybe a book character has to be introverted to be a book character.  Otherwise, the reader would have no idea what the motives were and what was going on at a whole other level.  With the exception of action cartoon characters and Nancy Drew, most book characters have a pretty busy internal dialogue, thinking through things and paying attention to their emotions.  Or, are most authors introverted, so it just feels normal for a character to spend lots of time thinking?  I'd love to hear what you think.  And now I'll close with several quotes that I found from books, just to illustrate my point.
The view of the barn through the trees

From my dear Flavia de Luce (*sniff*)- "Whenever I'm with other people, part of me shrinks a little. Only when I am alone can I fully enjoy my own company."

And another because I'm missing this book so much- "There's a lot to be said for being alone. But you and I know, don't we, Flavia, that being alone and being lonely are not at all the same thing?"
A coat of wool from one of the sheep, ready to go to the mill.

From Meg Murray of A Wrinkle in Time- "Meg, don't you think you'd make a better adjustment to life if you faced facts?" 
I do face facts," Meg said.
They're lots easier to face than people, I can tell you."

From Matilda- "“You seemed so far away," Miss Honey whispered, awestruck.

"Oh, I was. I was flying past the stars on silver wings," Matilda said. "It was wonderful.” "

From Ferdinand the Bull, one of the most memorable children's books- "And for all I know he is sitting there still, under his favorite cork tree, smelling the flowers just quietly. He is very happy."

I have a whole bunch of other quotes, but I won't bore you.  Start reading and notice all of the introverted characters.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

In Defense of Happy Endings

"As this world becomes increasingly ugly, callous and materialistic it needs to be reminded that the old fairy stories are rooted in truth, that imagination is of value, that happy endings do, in fact, occur, and that the blue spring mist that makes an ugly street look beautiful is just as real a thing as the street itself."- Elizabeth Goudge
Dust baths in the sunshine.
In this post, I mentioned that I loved Agnes Grey so much because there wasn't extreme hysteria and unnecessary unhappiness.  You see, I am a happy-endings reader.  Call me shallow and unwilling to face the brutality of life, my one requirement of a book is that it have some sort of redemption and loose-ends tied up by the end.  So here's why I read books with happy endings and my requirements for a book:
Tom Kitten (named for the Beatrix Potter character)

1.  I read fiction for escape.  If I want to read about something terrible that ended terribly or had no resolution, I will pick up a newspaper.  For me, fiction is a happy place where one can travel to all sorts of places and never leave home, where improbable things sometimes happen, and the antagonists get their just deserts.

2.  The fiction I read doesn't have to be all happiness all the time.  In fact, that would be monotonous very quickly.  Dickens is a perfect example of my favorite kind of reading.  There are some pretty bad situations, but our hero/heroine always ends up with some kind of happy resolution.  So, you say, why doesn't Wuthering Heights make the cut?

3.  I don't like unhappiness simply for the sake of unhappiness.  Wuthering Heights does, in fact, have some small resolution at the end of it, but the rest of the book is about being miserable (loosely speaking).  That's my beef with Tolstoy. Anna Karenina is just 1000 (or whatever it is) pages of desperate unhappiness with a desperately unhappy ending.  If unhappiness contributes in some way to another plot, then I am happy to read about.  But a plot about unhappiness?  Sigh.
I can't get over the lovely crocuses in the front garden.

I have had thoughts going around my head all week about this topic, but couldn't quite figure out how to get them onto paper.  I hope everything I wrote here was clear.  I'd love to hear what any of my readers think about this and what kind of reading they like!  I'll close with another quote about happy endings.
Hordes of Canadian geese flocked to our pond.  I caught a glimpse
of them on camera Sunday afternoon.
“October knew, of course, that the action of turning a page, of ending a chapter or of shutting a book, did not end a tale. Having admitted that, he would also avow that happy endings were never difficult to find: "It is simply a matter," he explained to April, "of finding a sunny place in a garden, where the light is golden and the grass is soft; somewhere to rest, to stop reading, and to be content.”- Neil Gaiman