Thursday, July 27, 2006

Summer Reading

It's hot. And Humid. Every summer I remember why I moved away from the East Coast. I love the green of summer in the east - the gold of summer in CA never really seemed right. I love the winters, even when I'm cursing the snow and ice as I drive. I don't mind the cold. But I hate the humidity of summer.

The book list has been interesting. After a long interlude of old favorites (which don't count for counting purposes), I've gone back to reading some new books. Some of the books get to count (I finished them) and some don't.

Bill Bryson: Notes from a Small Island, Neither Here nor There, and A Walk in the Woods. The first two count, the last doesn't. A tremendously funny writer. I started with A Walk in the Woods and was alternately overtaken with hysteria and horror. The thought of setting out on the Appalachian Trail as ill-prepared as these two men seemed to be was totally appalling. His description of their first few weeks of hiking was absolutely side-wrenchingly funny and their dismay when they realized that all the work they had put in only amounted to 2 inches on the overall map of the AT was something I read and re-read to anyone who would hold still. He intersperses his humor with some serious considerations for the future of the AT and the general environment which I found very thought provoking and will necessitate some further research on my part.

Notes from a Small Island and Neither Here Nor There are completely entwined in my mind. I kept putting one book down and picking up the other because I could only find one of them at a time. Reading these made me understand his approach to the AT. He always goes hiking long distances on the spur of the moment without any particular (discussed) preparation. The first book is travel around Britain and the second is travel around Europe. Both of them alternated side-splitting humor with thoughtful discussion of the environment he found himself in.

Linda Berdoll: Mr Darcy Takes a Wife and Darcy and Elizabeth: Nights and Days at Pemberley. (I've gotten into reading Pride and Prejudice fanfic.) This is probably the best of it that I've tried so far. I found the language a trifle strained at times, but the books were good (and bawdy). The first one was better than the second, but there you go. Fun summer reading.

Carrie Bebris: Pride and Prescience. A mystery - reasonably well written. I'll need to try it again another time - I go in and out of reading mysteries and at the moment I'm not even into re-reading mysteries I know and like. I wasn't in the mood to do this one justice.

I'm not much of a fanfic reader as a rule, but I have gotten sucked into this genre just a bit recently on this one subject. It's rather interesting to see the difference between writing a book and establishing the characters and writing a book where you are absorbing already established characters. Of the ones I've read so far, Linda Berdoll has done the best job of explaining and expanding on the established characters.

Allegra Goodman: Intuition a novel. This is a well-written, seemingly well-researched novel about the world of medical research at a university. I thought it a good book but it makes me thankful that I don't have to live in that environment. I'd never make it.

Diane Duane: Stealing the Elf-King's Roses. I hate the cover of the book. I remember when the book came out and I didn't buy it then because of the cover. Unfortunate. It really is a good book. I bought it this time sight unseen, which was my good fortune. Fantasy, set in an alternate universe, complex and well thought out as most of her books are. A good read.

Naomi Novik: His Majesty's Dragon, Throne of Jade and Black Powder War. Three most excellent books. Very readable. Set in Napoleonic times, she seems to have a very good grasp of history and character development, and a very good ability to add a completely new element (dragons) into the set history. I borrowed the first one from the library, on recommendation from an email list. I couldn't wait for them to fetch the next two on library loan; I went and bought them. I'll be waiting for the next one in this series - I want to see where she takes it.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

It figures. The first day in days that I've been moved to post and there's a scheduled outage. We'll see if this goes through - I'm not posting pictures (big surprise there) so it may.

Spinning Guild

I've not gotten to guild in months; counter scheduling by the tweens has been rough on my outings. I forget when I don't go just exactly how energized I come home from this monthly outings. I wasn't even particularly interested in this month's topic - I have done KA and EE dyeing and I probably will do KA and EE dyeing again but I'm not interested right now. There weren't that many people there, probably only 20 or so, which given that the guild has over 100, usually averages 30-40 at a meeting and has 60-70 on really special occasions, made this a small meeting. It was hot (no AC) and humid (my silk didn't spin after the first 5 minutes) and my conversations didn't particularly sparkle (gee it's hot, my silk isn't spinning well, is yours?) K was bored silly aside from mastering the basic crochet stitch.

And yet, for all the seeming inanity of any particular meeting, there is a power in getting together in guild with other people who share a passion. I always come home from guild ready to spin, ready to look through my stash, ready to remember what inspired me about any given purchase and what my plans are for it. There is an inspiration to be found in simply being in a room with people to whom I don't need to explain myself. They 'get' why I spin, why I play with fiber, why I knit or crochet, no explanations needed.

I do enjoy spinning in public, teaching people one at a time, about fiber, about spindles, about how it used to be. My children are vaguely proud, vaguely embarassed by me (they are a tween and a teen*, after all); my constant spinning or knitting or crocheting wherever I am, the attention it inevitably draws. I don't do it to draw attention, I do it because (as mentioned previously) it gives me patience and gives me the ability to pay attention.

The guild here is large, as guild go, over 100 spinners who have plunked down their $12 to belong to this guild, with a separate weaver's guild (many of whom are spinners as well) and yet another fiber arts guild with weavers and spinners. There is some cross-membership between the guilds, but only some, and there must be still other spinners unaffiliated with any guild. So, perhaps 350 or 400 people in the Greater Metropolitan Area spin? Out of 1.03 million people - that's .039 percent. My chances of running into another spinner on any given day are pretty slim.

So, I find it energizing to go to guild. The chance to discuss nuances of spinning, rather than repeating, once again, yes, it's a spindle, people used to use them all the time, no, the sheep wasn't red, I dyed it before I started spinning. The internet has been my gateway to spinning, my lifeline that led me into a new and wonderful place, but the guild has been the battery pack that gives it new oomph.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006


Raining, pouring and perfectly quiet - It's raining outside, not inside, ever since the new shower part arrived.

Actually, to be perfectly precise, the new shower parts. Should I think it significant that the new shower part is a slightly different shape, contains different connectors at the four corners, and is accompanied by a few other small parts never seen before in this house?

Can you say "redesign"?

I was sure you could.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Murphy's Law

If anything can go wrong, it will.

MacGillicudy's Corollary

At the worst possible time.

Some part of the shower handle valve in the master bath is not working. So far, we've replaced the valve and the o-rings. Logic would say, there's only one other part that could be the problem: the pressure regulator. The resident plumber left on Saturday for the week - the corollary would seem to say this would be the perfect time for the problem to completely go haywire. Fortunately, the corollary failed just enough to allow the shower to fail just before he left. He had enough time to muddle around with it, leave me instructions about who to call and what to tell them, and to set it up so that instead of having to turn off all water to the house, we only have to turn off the hot water.

On the other hand, this is a holiday weekend. Instead of being able to call for a part to be sent on Saturday to be received on Monday and installed by me (following the resident plumber's demo of the fix), I get to wait until Wednesday. On Wednesday, the manufacturer's hot line will be open again for taking calls. I called every local supplier and each of them regretfully stated that a. they don't stock that part and b. if the manufacturer isn't taking my calls, they aren't taking the suppliers' calls either. The best they can offer is to come turn off my water for me. Well thanks ever so, we have managed that part. Thank goodness for the membership in the Y for the summer - at least I won't be taking cold showers for a week.