bunrab: (me)
Things I am not catching up on:
Sewing: I'm trying to catch up on quilting projects, some 15 years old now. I am also trying to sort through fabric and reduce the stash some more, which I have been hopping to ADD-like instead of sticking to sewing - and worse yet, as I sort through fabric, I have ideas for new projects, and worse than that, I pull out fabric and start cutting it for those new projects - so I now have three more projects in pieces all over the sewing room, in addition to the already extant unfinished projects. On the good side there, I have pulled out about 40 assorted pieces of stash - from eighth-yards to 2-yard pieces - that I can stand to get rid of, and I have a group that makes baby quilts for charity lined up to give them to, next week - so I will try to find a few more pieces by then. But really, Kelly, stop having ideas for more quilts!

Blogging about books. I've read some, I meant to comment on some; I haven't found the time to both read and to write thoughtfully about what I read.

Knitting. I'm not going to have anything new done for Stitches next week. I have not used one single skein of the yarn I bought at Stitches last April. Granted it's been an unusually busy year, but really, having some 30 skeins of yarn still in its tote bag from Stitches 2012 is sort of evidence that I shouldn't buy more yarn, isn't it? Wanna bet I buy more yarn at Stitches next week anyway?

Condo association stuff: I /am/ going to do the condo association newsletter tonight. And I /will/ fill out and mail the Business Personal Property return before I leave for Stitches, since it's due the 15th. But I am no further along in finding an auditor nor in familiarizing myself with our interesting lawsuit against our former management company than I ever was. And pretty soon the next phase of the gas bill project will be added to the pile, along with the next phase of the washers-in-units project.

Catching up on my CPA CPE: I have 64 hours of mail-order classes sitting next to the computer (out of the 80 hours I need, total, to catch up), and haven't started a one of them, though I paid good money for them.

Unpacking boxes and giving away stuff: this is going incredibly slowly. I still get these little punches in the heart and bursts of tears sorting through Steve's stuff, and I still am having a great deal of trouble picking out books to get rid of without thinking I need to re-read them first. Never mind boxes full of papers such as old bills and greeting cards and souvenirs - those I haven't gotten to at all.

What have I done, anyway? Well, a Mensa friend gave me his old clarinet a couple of weeks ago, and I am making significant progress on that. Learning the fingering from a chart isn't the hard part; learning to look at written music and do that fingering at speed as the notes go by on the page is the hard part. Especially that middle register where the F through B-flat all take place with combinations of just the forefinger and thumb using keys that aren't part of the regular fingerholes. And I have filed all my own taxes, which were a bit fussier than usual this year thanks to selling the house, investing a bit of money, and receiving the lump sum from SSA. And I'm doing a /little/ bit to help out with putting together Maryland Community Band Day which is coming up in June, hosted by the Baltimore Symphonic Band this year. So I'm not entirely unproductive. Just not keeping up, is all.
bunrab: (Default)
Monday night, after posting on Goodreads, but just as I was about to close Goodreads and come here, I had another v-tach episode. This time, the new programming on the device kicked in so I got "paced" out of the event rather than shocked out of it, which is less violent and less painful, but it's still no less alarming and disconcerting, and it's very, very alarming to have another episode only a few weeks after the previous one. More about how I am coping with this soon.
bunrab: (Default)
Since connie doesn't have a computer, let alone wifi so we can use our notebooks, I couldn't post from her house. Thank goodness for coffee shops!

we had a great stay in Katy with Pam and Dan! As we were leaving Wednesday a.m., Pam gave us a HotShot water heater for our tea, and pillows! Which, you will recall, are one of the things we forgot to pack. So now we have pillows.

The drive to Austin was straightforward enough - we don't need GPS for that one. We stopped at Mikeska's in Columbus for a quick bite to eat (and enough of a dose of rural Texas to remind us why we wouldn't want to live there).

To a large extent, who we see during the short amount of time we're in Austin is determined by who is willing to come to far south Austin. The RV has a mileage charge, as well as paying for gas (it's been getting between 11 and 12 mpg), and also, although it is small for an RV, there are still many places we won't even try parking (condo complex parking lots, for example). And as usual I've overestimated how much energy I might have - after a few days of driving, I needed to sleep till 11 a.m. And we can't stay in Austin longer - one of our stops is in Oakland, CA to visit my brother, and he and his family leave the next day on vacation, so if any of the trip got pushed back, we'd miss them. So, this is a whole bunch of excuses to say, I'm sorry, we are not going to be able to see everyone in Austin. Our range is pretty much from Connie's in Oak hill to the parkking lot in Westgate Mall (at Ben White & S. Lamar). Thank you so much to the people who have been willing to drive down here to get together! We've given the short tour of the RV (well, there really isn't a long tour one can give of a 19-foot RV) to Jerry & Kathy, and Susan & Scott. We got to see Anita and Dana for a few minutes, as they live near Westgate Mall and dropped over here for a bit just before I started this post. (Yes, they are close enough that it wouldn't have been any trouble to drive there, but remember I mentioned our unwillingness to tackle crowdede condo complex parking lots? Case in point. We'd never have made it through there to their condo.)

Tomorrow morning, we leave Austin and plan to get as far as Van Horn. There's a KOA there, so I should have wireless, and since there's not much else to do there, I probably will sit around playing Farm games on FB. The 21st century is certainly weirder than I ever thought it would be. None of the science fiction writers got it right, that we would be doing everything with our cell phones (including camera) and looking at Lolcats online - the power of the World Wide Web, devoted to lolcats and trading imaginary farm animals.

I need to mail a few things - postcards, etc. Next post Friday night!
bunrab: (bunearsword)
Well, the roof is replaced. And the eaves/sofits and the gutters, and a few bits of the siding trim. Energy-efficient white shingles, that will get us an energy tax credit on our next income tax return.

And Fern bunny is fine, after the application of quite a bit of money at the veterinarian.

All of which is to say, we're not going anywhere this summer. No RG in Pittsburgh, sorry M-friends. No Knit and Crochet Show in Buffalo. Nowhere that we can't drive to within a couple of hours and stay at someone's house for free.

We are fixing up the other house for sale, since we haven't had much luck renting it - it goes on the market in a week and a half. A bit of interior paint, repairs to the sidewalk, replace a couple doors, stuff like that. We won't get what we paid for it; we bought it at the peak of the market, and that's not going to come again any time this ten years. But we should clear enough on it, if all goes well, to pay off the mortgage on the current house, replenish savings that were depleted by the new roof, and maybe, just maybe, enough to let us replace the pink bathtub with something we can stand to look at with our glasses on. There's no chance it would be sold and closed on in time to use the money for any of the afore-mentioned summer travel, though.

Anyway, that's what's been happening around here lately. I've gotten in a bit of reading, some crocheting and knitting, and have written some reviews for the Tea Review Blog -check out the blog here:
http://www.teareviewblog.com/
and a few of my reviews, specifically, here:
http://www.teareviewblog.com/?author=27

And, just so this has a bit more content, a picture of the most recent sweater I finished:



I've already worn this one a couple times and people seem to like the little sunflower, even though [livejournal.com profile] squirrel_magnet says it looks like a large-winged insect has landed on me.
bunrab: (alien reading)
Finally! A genuine post instead of a bunch of tweets!

First, the best book I've read in the past month is The Magicians and Mrs. Quent by Galen Beckett - it's a really original fantasy. My Amazon.com review is here and as ever, I'd appreciate it if you read the review, voted Yes for it, and commented on it if you have the time and willingness to do so.*

Then, books that I tweeted, but haven't mentioned in more detail:
Salvation in Death - JD Robb, latest in her Eve Dallas series, not bad, has to do with a televangelist who suddenly goes honest.
Bones and Obsession - Jonathan Kellerman, latest in his Alex Delaware series; Alex and Milo sound more alike than ever, both of them frequently leaving any personal pronouns off the beginnings of sentences; the new sidekick that Milo acquires in Obsession shows some promise as a character.
The Best of Michael Swanwick - anthology of short stories, some of which I had already read when they appeared in SF magazines; perhaps the most famous is "The Feast of St. Janis."
A graphic novel of Thor based on the comic books of the same name; the book uses up quite a bit of space on the set-up of why Thor is coming back, and a lot of it is pretentious panels that show almost nothing. Thor establishes a new Asgard - hovering over a farm in Oklahoma. There are some good bits in here, such as when someone from the town wants to deliver an invitation to the residents of Asgard to attend a town hall meeting, and has to first install a mailbox under Asgard, so he has something to deliver it to. Also the scene where the gods come to the town meeting - that's where the quote "What unfortunate day's events are not made gladder by cake?" comes from.
Manga Shakespeare Julius Caesar - worst in the series so far; the artwork is so ugly it makes it nearly impossible to tell the characters apart. And having the characters wearing togae in one scene, and then put on zoomy helmets and hop on motorcycles, is so wrong. I can't see where anyone would ever be drawn to a deeper understanding of Shakespeare or toward reading more of his plays, from this presentation; if anything, it'll drive new readers away.
Cretaceous Dawn by L. and M. Graziano - sorta like Jurassic Park, except it involves the scientists actually being dumped back in time. A couple of characters seem real; others are cardboard, but overall it's readable. Manages to involve a turf war between OSHA and ONR (Office of Naval Research) and a couple of crooked physicists, to give more interest to the modern end of things. The entomologist gets the girl.
A Very Private Enterprise by Elizabeth Ironsides - from the cover illustration, and even the back cover blurb, I thought this was going to be a historical mystery, but it turned out to be modern, far too British for me to understand what was going on, and it had a totally implausible ending where after everything is over and one person is left packing up, the real killer just wanders in and confesses.

And a few I hadn't mentioned at all yet:
Stat-Spotting by Joel Best - lightweight, but good summaries. Perhaps his best chapter is the idea of knowing benchmarks - there are about 300m americans, 4m babies born each year in US, 2.4m die each year and a few other general ones - so that you can recognize totally bogus stats (like one claim I heard, from a relative, that there are 150 million abortions a year in the US - oh yes, 50% of every man, woman, and child in the country had an abortion last year? Really?)

Free-Range Knitter by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee - a lot about her daughters. No sense anyone who doesn't knit or haunt yarn shops reading it. It's humorous, but only for yarn addicts.

Ageless Memory - Harry Lorayne - a reminder of the old trick of putting absurd images to things you need to remember. I used to do that and then didn't and now Lorayne has reminded me that it works.

A Just Determination - John Hemry (not Henry) - well-written and fascinating, and at the same time way too much detail of every sentence needed to launch a ship or start a court-martial. He's best known for a particular mil-fic series, which I haven't read and which this isn't in. This one has a touch of Young Adult coming-of-age stuff in it, but it isn't juvenile. I liked it. Our boy is a newly minted lawyer (well, that's not what they call it, but that's what it is) on a battleship on a supposedly peaceful mission. Which of course goes awry. Warning: unless you're already deeply into Navy stuff, you'll spend a while getting straight about the difference between Captains and Commanders and whatnot, and the exact chain of command, and who isn't on the usual chain, and more of that nature.

Gaaah, and there's still a short stack of books here - I'll include the 4 remaining in a second post, before this one gets big enough to invade a small nation.
bunrab: (bathtub warning)
For the last couple months, my computer has had something wrong that entirely cratered IE, and also rendered Mozilla Thunderbird unusable, while rendering Mozilla Firefox just a tad glitchy. [livejournal.com profile] squirrel_magnet couldn't figure it out. Finally he called a rent-a-geek, and as of Wednesday, the bizarre interaction between our networking software and the particular firewall/antivirus software I had has been fixed. New firewall, of course. So if you were wondering why you had seen maybe 2 posts in the last 2 months, and why I haven't commented on your posts, it's because it was a nuisance getting online and so mostly I had been saying the hell with it and going off to read and knit. (I sure have been twittering from my phone a lot, though! Yay for phones!) I checked my email on the web, a nuisance, and read and replied only to the most urgent. Now that the problem has been fixed, I am just about caught up on all my email, and now I am going to read my flist. I am not going to try to read two months worth of everybody; I'll settle for a week of everybody and going further back only if something drastic seems to have happened that I missed.

Catching up on the mail made me realize just how much junk I get voluntarily. The various listservs: Biker Skum list, bunny people, crumbling-old-house DIYers, band music geeks, and more; daily tips on green living, vegetarian eating, low-fat recipes, knitting and more; weekly tips on more recipes, Excel, more knitting... sheeesh.

Anyway. Off to read some of you guys, instead of concentrating selfishly on me.

ketchup

Dec. 19th, 2008 11:57 pm
bunrab: (bathtub warning)
So here's what I've been doing the last couple weeks: two weeks ago, caught a cold. Hasn't completely gone away yet. Tried taking pseudoephedrine to stop the snot, and got zapped by my ICD for my trouble. The day after that (last Friday) drove up to Philadelphia to see niece in high school play - she is a freshman, but got one of the front parts usually reserved only for seniors; the family habit of singing loudly in public at the drop of a hat has some uses. Came back Saturday afternoon; played holiday concert at CCBC-Essex with the BSB on Saturday night. Sunday afternoon, I played a holiday concert with the Montgomery Village Community Band, while [livejournal.com profile] squirrel_magnet played one with the Bel Air Community Band, each 40 miles in opposite directions from C'ville. And at that, we missed two other performance opportunities we had for the same afternoon; since Thanksgiving was so late this year, the number of weekends available for holiday performances is scrunched down, so a lot of things were happening at the same time.

Monday, I slept. Well, woke up for meals, but otherwise slept. Tuesday I also slept, though I woke up for taking Chippy-chin to the vet for a follow-up; he is almost all healed up from Darwin's attack. Wednesday, let's see, I believe I actually woke up for a few hours Wednesday, and worked on the many homemade holiday presents I have not yet finished. Thursday we went to the library, and I finished buying the last few little things I needed to buy for assorted nieces and nephews. Then Thursday evening, Cindythelibrarian took us to see a show, as part of her Christmas present to us. The show was "Every Christmas Story Ever Told" presented by the Baltimore Shakespeare Festival, and it was great. A three-man show doing them all - Charlie Brown, The Grinch, Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, and (due to copyright issues) Gustav the Green-Nosed Reingoat. If you're in the area, it's playing through Sunday. My favorite part was the first act closer, The Nutcracker ballet. If you're on my flist, chances are you are familiar with Anna Russell's version of The Ring Cycle; imagine the Nutcracker condensed that way and you about have it. Complete with actual ballet dancing, done very well and very funnily. (Funnier for women my age than for men, because women of my generation, if we were anywhere above poverty level and even some below, we took ballet lessons when we were six years old or so; it was just one of those things. Ten years older and you probably didn't; ten years younger and you probably didn't, but all of us who are fifty-mumble took those lessons, whether at a dance school, or cheap group public school stuff on Saturdays in the gym, we all learned the five positions, and plies, and so on. Bit of cultural literacy there.) The second act was a merger of Dickens' A Christmas Carol and "It's a Wonderful Life" and then ended by singing every Christmas song ever written in about three minutes. We really enjoyed it.

And Friday, today (or yesterday, depending on how you feel about nights and stuff), I went to the doctor and got some stuff that's supposed to stop the nose drip without causing hypertension or arrhythmia; we'll see how that works. Also stopped at Jo-Ann's and got some yarn for one last teddy bear xmas present, and at Trader Joe's for freeze-dried strawberries; the chinchillas get VERY peeved if we run short on strawberries, and one really doesn't wish to risk the wrath of a peeved chinchilla. And now I am back to working on those presents - gotta finish place mats for Steph, potholders for Jen, teddy bear for Luke...

I have not had time or energy, outside of concerts and colds, to do any xmas shopping for anybody not part of my immediate family. If some of you normally get a Solstice/Chanukah/xmas present from me, well, this year, expect a New Year's present, or an Epiphany present, or maybe even a Martin Luther King Jr. Day present... There are a couple small things going out in the mail tomorrow to Texas, and a couple more small things on Monday, that might get there before New Year's.

One of the things we haven't done, either, is get up to NYC, which I wanted to do. Since the Museum of Natural History keeps their tree up through the end of the month, I am thinking we might go the week after Christmas; even though it'll be a little more crowded 'cause kids have off from school, a weekday should still be tolerable. Possibly Monday the 29th. (T, I'll call you about possible lunch!)

Now back to work.
bunrab: (Default)
Although I have been knitting for years and years, it may surprise you to know that I have only ever finished ONE sweater - and that was a long time ago. I started several sweaters during my years in Austin, but never got anywhere near finishing any of them. In fact, when we were packing up to move from TX to MD, I pulled the needles out of three unfinished pieces of sweaters and gave the yarn to Goodwill: one I had lost the pattern to so I couldn't ever finish it, another in a scratchy wool I hated and would be too heavy even in Baltimore never mind Texas, and the third in a color that would not look good on ANYONE on earth, and I have no idea why I ever bought yarn that color. Another two unfinished sweaters came with me, though I don't know where they are at the moment. So I started another sweater, for NaKniSweMo. I haven't officially joined the Ravelry group for it, though I have a Ravelry account, because for one thing, I'm not making a 50,000-stitch sweater, and for another, I would be highly surprised if I did finish it. My personal goal is to see if I have the patience to finish at least one side during this month, patience having been the biggest reason I haven't knit anything larger than a hat or a sock in years. I am older now, and perhaps I am a bit more patient - we'll find out. I have only finished 12 rows so far - it was more, but I had to tink 4 rows, because the abbreviations used in the pattern are nonstandard and I had to guess at what they meant, and then go back when it was clear I had guessed wrong. Bernat's pattern sheet says to see their web site for a glossary of abbreviations, but guess what? The abbreviations on this particular pattern sheet are NOT on their glossary page. I have fixed the problem now, by experimentation, but I am going to drop them a nasty note about that. Also, the pattern is printed on half a sheet of paper - in both English and French! - so you can imagine how small the print is, and how hard it is to even find the next row. In the process of formulating that sentence for this post, earlier, I realized that what I'm going to do Friday is go to a copy shop and enlarge the damn thing, so I can stop wasting time peering all over it. The yarn is Cot'n Corn, and as you knitters know, all those exotic-ish yarns made of soy and corn and bamboo are really just viscose (rayon) whose cellulose happens to come from some plant other than a tree. So it has all the weaknesses of a viscose blend, including splitting, and fraying at the ends. But it does feel nice to the hand, and it will be a pleasure to wear.

After 6 weeks, I am only halfway through The Sot-Weed Factor and I don't think I'm going to be able to finish it before it's due. It is funny, but nonetheless very trying. Most of the action happens by way of discussing it, and most things have to be discussed several times, at least once with someone who doesn't understand what the protagonist is saying, another time with someone who disapproves, and a third time with someone who is reminded of something else by it and therefore has to digress to THEIR tale. Anyway, I have reached the Traveling Whore of Dorset. Maybe if I spot a used copy in a bookstore for real cheap, I will pick it up so that I can finish it over the course of, say, a year.

Speaking of books, what I am reading right now is Stella Gibbons' Cold Comfort Farm which is very funny, a parody of a certain class of English idealistic novels of rural life, of which DH Lawrence's were perhaps the most literary. The surprising thing to me isn't that it's funny - I knew it would be; the cover to this edition is by Roz Chast! - but that it suddenly puts Tobacco Road in perspective. I had read Tobacco Road a month or so ago, and mainly thought "ewwww" but now I can see that even though all the reviewers took it seriously, and even Caldwell himself claimed to be seriously exposing American Southern rural life, in fact he was really perpetrating the same kind of parody upon the American versions of the same sort of novels. (Cold Comfort Farm and Tobacco Road were written the same year!) So, in retrospect I suddenly find TR much funnier.
bunrab: (bathtub warning)
First, here is the delightful and handsome red river hog:largish picture behind the cut )
That picture is from the side. Now here's a closer one of the head - this is actually a different one of the three hogs that were trotting around their plot of land:another largish pic )
Now don't you all agree that this is definitely an Elf Pig, and that this species should definitely have a role in some forthcoming fantasy?

Finished object of needlework: a quilted table runner for my cousin J, whose wedding we went to LAST October - finished a year after the wedding. There are also four placemats that match the runner. you know the drill by now )
Now I am partway through Cindythelibrarian's curtains, a quilted set for my niece V who got married in July, and I've just gotten started on a quilt for niece J whose wedding we just went to this past weekend. I'm also going to make placemats for my sister S for Xmas. Oh, and in there somewhere I'm attempting to finish a sweater for NaKniSweMo!
bunrab: (alien reading)
Well, most of our furniture has been moved to the new place, but the phone and DSL don't get transferred till Wednesday, so for now the computer and its little table are still in the old house, where I don't get much chance to use it, because when we're back at the old house, we're packing all the remaining STUFF - things that were in closets and cabinets and cubbyholes, plus the last couple of bookcases' worth of books.

Speaking of books, haven't finished much lately, but here's one:
How to Spell Chanukah edited by Emily Franklin - 18 writers write about 8 nights of lights. Some funny essays here. One about Chanukah in Israel, where there isn't much competing nonsense about Christmas. "People know about Christmas here. It's called Chag Hamolad, the Holiday of the Birth, obliquely referring to the action, not the man. (They also call New Year's Eve Sylvester, like the Germans do, although Israelis probably don't know it's named for Saint Sylvester, who was pope in the fourth century CE and allegedly cured Constantine from leprosy, after converting him to Christianity." I did not know that. Note to self: look up old book series, Sydney Taylor's All-of-a-Kind Family, a chronicle of a big Jewish family on the Lower East Side at the turn of the previous century.
bunrab: (soprano_sax)
It has been a musicky couple of weeks. Friday a week ago, we went to a BSO concert. Piano soloist for the Prokofiev was spectacular; it must have been exhausting for the concertmaster just sitting next to her. She did two encores, each one faster: first an arrangement of Rondo a la Turk that sounded like something that Horowitz might have done, and then Flight of the Bumblebee, faster than I have ever heard it on any instrument whatsoever. The second half was Symphony Fantastique, and it was great - the tubas nailed their solo, and they got to stand up and take a bow for it, and the entire thing was just wonderful.

Tuesday night, we got to watch the BSO rehearsing for the upcoming concert - it was the first rehearsal where all the choruses and the orchestra were together, for rehearsing Carmina Burana. It was fascinating watching Alsop's rehearsal technique - and also impressive to see the professionalism of the orchestra; any community band musician will recognize what I mean when I say that when she stops, they stop - if she stops on the first note of an eight-note triplet, NOBODY plays the second note. And nobody starts talking immediately, either. Wish we could get even 1/100th of that into our community groups.

And Friday we attended the performance of Carmina. The first piece was actually a piece of Samuel Barber's Medea, and Alsop gave a short lecture on the plot and had the orchestra play a couple of measures of the meaningful themes. THat is one scary piece - which goes with the plot, yes - if you don't know it, look it up (small hint: she eats her children.) The Carmina went off beautifully. The baritone was slightly more restrained than in rehearsal - he had to be; he had several people cracking up a bit during rehearsal with his gestures to accompany "Ego sum abbas;" there still were gestures that were nicely expressive of the segment, though. He will be worth watching - anyone who can be that expressive and who clearly is having that much fun doing it, while singing well, can probably get work anywhere. The program notes translated "wafna" as "woe." The tenor was an excellent roasted swan. And the soprano wore a red dress that rustled, to go with the lyrics in one of her verses. Alsop also had a Q&A session after the concert - I enjoy those; we've stayed for them several times in the past. Turned out there were people from the Cincinnati Opera in the audience, among other things.

Saturday morning we had a dress rehearsal in Bel Air. I do not rehearse well at 10 a.m. And Sunday afternoon was the concert - it went off reasonably well, though not perfect. The audience liked it. Well, it's hard to go wrong with "Four Scottish Dances" with that drunken bassoon solo, and then the music from the 3rd "Pirates of the Caribbean" movie.

Monday night, Bel Air starts rehearsing for Maryland Community Band Day, and Wednesday night down in Montgomery Village, we have our last Band Day committee meeting, before rehearsal; my part is pretty much finished, except for playing bari sax in three of the eight bands that will be performing! Between those three bands and my committee/volunteer t-shirt, I will have five clothing changes that day...

Oh yeah, we settled on the house, it's ours; the painters and electricians are doing their thing and should be finished by the end of next week, and the windows should be here by then, so we can probably move in right after band day. We haven't started packing yet.

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