30 October 2011

Cleaning Out the Magazine Stash

I didn't mean to be incommunicado for so long.  A couple of evenings, I thought I'd write a post but kept getting sidetracked.  I have a couple of posts coming up that might be useful for those who would like to  make things for Christmas - well, things that are not large projects, that is ...

Anyway, in my stash/magazine/book purging, I've finally gotten a list together listing what magazines I have available.  They're also listed on Ravelry, but I've only had a couple of people who are interested.  I know I can recycle them, but I'd rather send them the a good home, you know?

I'm going to make them available until next Sunday, November 6, 2011 at midnight, Eastern U.S. time.  If they are still homeless then, I'll recycle some and take others to the library to put on the sale table.

The easiest way for me to do things is through PayPal, but I'm open to other suggestions.   The prices include shipping, but feel free to bargain with me if you are interested in anything.

Here are your choices; thanks for taking a look.

Interweave Knits 
Sum-Spr-Win 1998 - $30.00
Sum-Spr-Fall 1999 - $30.00
All issues for:
2000 - Sum, Win - $20.00
2001 - $40.00
2002 - Spr - Sum - $20.00
2003 - $40.00
2004 - $40.00
Sum-Spr 2005 - $20.00
All issues for 2006 - $40.00
Winter 2010 - $10.00

Mar-Apr/May-June - $20.00
Mar-Apr/May-June/July-Aug - $30.00
All six issues for 2000 - $60.00
All six issues for 2001 - $60.00
Jan-Feb/May-June/Sept-Oct/Nov-Dec 2002 - $40.00
Jan-Feb/Mar-Apr/May-June/July-Aug 2003 - $40.00
July-Aug/Sept-Oct 2010 - $20.00
Jan-Feb 2011 - $10.00

Vogue Knitting
Fall 2010 - $10.00
Holiday 2010 - $10.00

Threads (sewing mag)
July 2008 - $10.00

26 October 2011

Fascinating Facts About Our House Guest

Since last Friday, we have had this unexpected guest living on our carport door:

A praying mantis!  I've seen praying mantises (manti?) elsewhere, but never in our neighborhood, much less anywhere near our house!  As you can probably imagine, all of the neighbors have been here to see/photograph/comment on this house guest.

This shot is a little better.  I was going show it to Jetsam and Pip, but then I realized that a) if they did actually see it, they would be even more anxious than usual to go outside, or b) they would look but see nothing.  So I just skipped that plan.

The next picture is one I'm particularly proud of - I said (because yes, I even talk to insects), "I want to see if I can get a picture of your face," and it turned towards me!

"I'm ready for my close-up."

I sent these pictures to one of my entomologist friends at work, and he told me the following things, all of which fascinated me:

1.  This is a Chinese mantid, most likely female, having just laid eggs nearby, or getting ready to lay eggs.

2.  Mantids hatch from eggs, and then just go directly to their body design - skipping the pupa stage.  So as it grows, it sheds its skin when it becomes larger.

3.  Chinese mantids are an invasive species, in that they are not native.  And Chinese mantids (as opposed to European mantids) are seen only above the Mason-Dixon Line.

4.  They live for approximately one year, and die shortly after laying eggs.

5.  They do not have brains.

6.  Their ears are on their thorax.

7.  They are one of the few insect species that can move their heads back and forth!

Perhaps the most amazing thing - to me at least - is that I wasn't freaked out seeing this in the first place.  Clearly, working at a museum of natural history and being friends with entomologists has given me a different reaction (at least most of the time).

Having said that, if this had in any way jumped/flew towards me, I would have probably have a heart attack ... I mean, it's not like I've changed that much, in the end!

18 October 2011

Nothing to See Here

Sigh.  I have been knitting, honest!  But I don't have any pictures to show you because a) I haven't managed to get some things photographed, and b) I'm doing a lot of "secret" knitting - you know, birthday and Christmas gifts.  Situations like this do not make for riveting posts, since you can talk about things, but no one has any idea what you mean.

At the same time, I don't want you to think I've mysteriously disappeared.  (No such luck, sorry!)  So here I am, and you're stuck with my ramblings.  Having said that, if you find anything beyond this to be Snoozetown, don't say I didn't warn you!

This past Sunday, when I was at Rosie's, a young woman came in about 20 minutes before closing.  When I asked if I could help her, she said Yes, and that she was looking for some crochet supplies.  This is the conversation that followed:

Me:  What supplies exactly were you hoping to find?
Customer:  I don't know.
Me:  OK ... well, we have yarn, crochet hooks, patterns, pattern books - do you need any of those things?
Customer:  I don't know.
Me:  What did you want to make?
Customer:  I don't know.
Me:  Do you have a pattern?
Customer:  No.
Me (feeling completely at a loss):  Well, why don't you look around, and see if anything strikes you, and we can go from there.

She seemed to like that suggestion, and started walking around.  I went to put some things away, and when I came back, my co-worker was ringing up a sale for the customer, who had chosen some yarn and bought a crochet hook.  I said, "Oh I'm glad you found something," and she said, "My grandmother taught me to crochet, and I've never used a pattern, or anything other than her supplies.  But now she's dead, and I finished using her yarn.  So I didn't know what to get.  I'm gonna try a blanket with what I bought today."

This was so intriguing to me.  It never occurred to me that if someone taught you to knit/crochet, always providing materials and instruction, that when they were no longer around, you'd be at a loss.  How strange that must be, don't you think?  I'm glad the customer found something, but I have to wonder if she bought enough, or the right hook for the yarn, etc.   She seemed OK with her decisions, and I hope it was worth the trip for her.  We may never know, or maybe she will come back another time, or even sign up for a class.

Clearly, this whole experience has stuck in my brain.  It was just so unusual, at least for me.

OK, if you have read this far and you are still awake, I think you deserve some sort of pictures, don't you????

"I never thought I'd hear you say 
you didn't have any knitting pictures"


10 October 2011

Holiday Weekend

There are few things better than a three-day weekend, when you don't have to use your leave time.  It all seems good, even if you are doing things that you would not ordinarily put on your list of Fun Stuff to Do.

To all of my friends in the great country of Canadia, Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope you have been having a wonderful holiday weekend, with lots of yummy stuff to eat, and hearing lots of good stories while catching up with family and friends.  (I would have something from Tim Horton's in your honor, but there isn't one in Philadelphia, much to my dismay.  And we are all diminished.)

I have been enjoying a long weekend, since we have the day off today for Columbus Day.

I know it's not fashionable, but I love the idea of a group of people taking off in ships to an unknown place.  I guess it's the adventure part of it, since I have no sense of adventure in real life.  And yes, I know what happened once Columbus arrived, etc., and no I am not in favor of taking advantage of indigenous people only to progress your own group, etc.  But the story of Columbus sailing the ocean blue in 1492 is still an interesting one to me.  Plus, I love the names Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria.  So sue me.  Regardless, I am enjoying my day off.

Related to Columbus - well, Spain, actually - one of our favorite shows is Aguila Roja.  The Tim has found it with English subtitles (which is good since our Spanish is limited to "Please do not lean against the door" which we learned on the subway).  It's a combination of adventure, love story, soap opera, pseudo-history, and some highly amusing anachronisms.  And often the sets look like they must have spent tens of dollars to create them.  But seriously, it's a really interesting show, and The Tim told me it is the most popular show on Spanish television.

Alas, the weekend started on more than a disappointing note, when my Phillies lost the game on Friday, and therefore also lost their chance to advance to the World Series.  But they are still an awesome team, and a wonderful group of individuals, so I'll be ready for next year.  And - sorry, Melanie - but it's all good in the end, because the Detroit Tigers beat the Yankees and that pleases me beyond words.  It's the small things.

So how has the rest of my weekend been?  Productive and enjoyable, and today looks to be the same.  The productive part has been cleaning (which actually had been so neglected, that getting it done was enjoyable), and making more progress in organizing the computer/craft/sewing room.  I would have liked the weather to be cooler (it's been warmer than it was last week, which was wonderfully fall-ish), but if that's the worst thing, I'm lucky, right?

And so, my friends, the overall tone of my holiday weekend has been good.  I hope your weekend - two or three days - was as nice.  If you do have the day off, I hope it's a good one!

06 October 2011

August and September Book Report

I just realized the other day that even though I'm always reading something, I haven't really read much this year.  For whatever reason - funk, exhaustion, work responsibilities, you name it - I have fewer books finished and/or going than I can remember for a while.  This dismays me.  So I'm going to start and make a more concerted effort to make sure I read the books I have and want to start, and the bazillion more that are out there waiting for me.

One way will be to consciously devote one evening a week to reading ONLY.  This will likely also make me feel more calm and centered, so I think it will be win-win. I've informed The Tim of my plan, in the event that he wanted to join me, but you never do know with him, and I'm not gonna worry about it.  (So there!)

Anyhoo, here's what I think about some recent reads.  Feel free to let me know your thoughts if you've also read any of them.

One Day, by David Nicholls.  I've had an Advanced Readers' Edition of this title for a few months now, but finally decided to read it when I saw that the movie version was coming out.  It is the story of Emma Morley and Dexter Mayhew, beginning with their college graduation, and for 15 years afterwards.  The catch: we meet them each of those years on the same day, and learn how their lives have changed since the year before.  

This was neither the best book I've ever read, nor the worst.  It was interesting in some ways, and towards the end, very bittersweet.  But I never really liked either of the main characters, so other than mild curiosity, I was never *dying* to know what would happen next.  In some ways it was predictable.  

The most interesting part for me was reading the changes in the world during that time period, more than what happened to these two people.  

Still Life, by Louise Penny. This is the first book in this series. I had read the fifth one last fall, and LOVED it, so was anxious to start at the beginning. All of the books take place in a small town in Quebec called Three Pines, and the crimes are investigated by Armand Gamache, from the Surete Office in Montreal. 

In this story, a well-liked former schoolteacher, Jane Neal, is found dead in the woods, and immediately there are all kinds of suspicions. For one, her dog was at home, and she was known for never leaving the house for a walk in the woods without her dog. Also, for the first time ever, she has entered a work in the local art fair, and though she has been painting for years, no one has ever seen any of her work. Her friends and neighbors are puzzled and frightened. When Gamache and his associates arrive to handle the investigation, we learn about many of the others in the town.  

When it is determined that Jane Neal was killed by an arrow, the story begins to go in a completely different direction. Likewise, when the will is read, more intrigue begins.  

Jane Neal's friends as well as Armand Gamache manage to work together to solve the crime. This is a well-written, well-paced mystery with some touches of Quebec history and thoughtful characters.  

On to #2! 

A Bitter Truth, by Charles Todd.  The third installment in the Bess Crawford mysteries is no disappointment. In this book, Bess comes home for holiday leave from the front lines of World War I France, to find a woman hiding out, crying and shivering in the doorway to the boardinghouse where Bess shares a flat with a couple of other women. After she convinces the woman to come inside, she sees that she has a severely bruised eye. The woman reports that her husband, also home on leave, hit her during an argument, and she has run away. Bess notices that the woman - Lydia - is obviously well-to-do, and after a day or so, Lydia convinces Bess to come back with her to her husband's family home, Vixen Hill, which turns out to be an extremely dreary location and not what Bess is expecting at all.

One evening, a family friend makes a comment about a child he has seen in one of the orphanages in France, and how much the little girl resembles the young daughter of the family, who died in childhood. The next morning, the family friend is found dead near the town church. As usual, Bess tries to figure out just what has happened; and at the request of Lydia, looks for the young girl when she returns to France.  

I enjoyed this book because it is well-written, and because Bess Crawford is an interesting heroine. The World War I setting continues to interest me, as it is so seldom a character in fiction, and is a time just at the cusp or modernism. I didn't figure out the villain until the very end of the book, so I enjoyed the "chase" as well.  

Less Than Angels, by Barbara Pym.  This is the second Barbara Pym novel I've read, and it did not disappoint.  The main characters - Catherine, Tom, Deidre, Mark, Digby, and Miss Clovis - are all connected in the beginning of the novel, by their study of or involvement with someone studying anthropology.  The two primary characters, Catherine and Tom, live together at the beginning of the novel.  Tom is an anthropologist, spending a lot of his time researching a tribe in Africa, and living with Catherine when he is back in England.  Catherine is a writer of women's stories for a magazine, who realizes that her way of making a living is by writing frivolous stories allows her to be an independent woman who can afford to do most of the things she enjoys.  

All of the characters are interesting.  All of them have flaws, and certain attributes that are humorous.  But Pym makes then human.  You can understand their feelings, whether or not you particularly like them.  The usual Pym style of writing is here, with the enjoyable turns of phrase, and the biting social commentary.  The one thing that was different from "Excellent Women" is that "Less Than Angels" ends on a sad note.  I didn't really see it coming, but when it happened, it didn't seem suddenly manufactured like such things are in more modern works.  

I really enjoyed reading this, and hope to find a few more of Barbara Pym's books to get to know her better.

And that's it.  Stay tuned - I'm clearing out my bookshelves, and will be looking for new homes for some of the books I've read in the past few months.  I'm finally getting to the point of realizing that just because I have a book, have read it, and enjoyed it, I don't *have* to keep it forever ...

01 October 2011

October 1 Ramblings

Yay!  October 1st, which means that [at least in theory] the weather will be cooler, the leaves will start to turn, and things start coming up all over the place at Chez Ravell'd Sleave.  So why not update you on our exciting lives?
  • Today is my nephew Chad's 42nd birthday (yay!).  How can I have a nephew that is in his 40s???
  • Today would also be Doughboy's birthday.  I miss him even more, which I didn't think was possible.  (boo)
  • The Phillies are in the playoffs again.  YAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAY!!!
  • Remember some of the knitting projects I was going to tackle in this post?  Well, tomorrow, I'll take Narragansett with me to Rosie's, 'cause Andrea said she would help me figure out what to do next;  the Graydon socks are YARN HOGS - I'm gonna have to finish the foot with different yarn (boo); the Mallard Sweater still has a ways to go before I need to find help with the next part; the Adventskalendar will be done this year, though the latest little hat I knit turned out to be a duplicate.  Eejit.  Oh well, it will be a nice package decoration.
  • The Birthday Marathon in my family has started (see first bullet).  Time to wish I'd bought stock in Hallmark ...
  • Mary lost her dear kitty, Percy.  (boo)  This makes me sad, though I know he had a wonderful, loving life.  According to pictures, he looked like our Hannah, who I'm sure has already become his special friend in heaven.
  • The Phillies are in the playoffs again. YAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAY!!!
  • Our anniversary is coming up in 27 days.  Which means it's time to start planning what we would like to do, and then change our minds at least 4 times each day.
  • Jetsam and Pip are becoming more cuddly with the cooler weather.  (yay!)
  • The weather has finally become cooler, and I hope it stays!  For the last couple of weeks, temperature and precipitation wise, it's been like living in a rain forest. (boo)
  • Oh, and did I mention that the PHILLIES are in the PLAYOFFS???

Speaking of which, in order to "experience" the playoffs, The Tim and I will be returning to the 1940s, and listening to the games on the radio.  Maybe we'll even have a cold beer from the icebox ... because we are nothing if not on the cutting edge of the early 20th century ...