29 October 2007

17

tulips

Ah. Sometimes he gets it just right.

tulip bouquet

And by the way, you know how the fifteenth is baked beans? Apparently the seventeenth is omelette.

27 October 2007

turning ...

... to the internet.

shot tower

Does anyone know an online bookseller that accepts PayPal payments? Every one I try (Amazon, AbeBooks, Book Depository, etc) wants me to pay by creditcard.

Anyone?

Update: Thanks so much. You are a swell bunch. And the photo is of the Shot Tower nestled in its glass cone, at Melbourne Central.

26 October 2007

reading matters

bedside books

It feels a bit weird, showing you my bed, you know.

Let’s not think too much on that. Try and focus on the reading matter on the bedside table.

I’m on a roll at the moment, reading some of the best books I’ve come across in years.

First up was Bill Bryson’s biography of Shakespeare which I gobbled down in a matter of days. Fast, no-nonsense and thoroughly engaging, and has been added to the growing pile of bard biographies on our shelf.

I quickly followed this with the new Tracy Chevalier book Burning Bright which I’ve wanted to read for a few months now so I bought it for Mr Soup for his birthday (along with The Kite Runner which I had to return to the library when I was halfway through. I put so much love and thought into my partner’s presents, don’t I?) Anyway, it was quite mesmerising (the Chevalier, I haven’t made it back to the Kite Runner yet) and I promptly put two more of Chevalier’s books on hold at the library (The Lady and the Unicorn and Falling Angels).

At the same time as I was reading those two, as seen on my bedside table, I was listening to Anita Shreve’s Light on Snow on audio book in the car. I’d listened to another Shreve recently, called something totally forgettable like Where or When and it was abysmal. You know, in my humble opinion. Boring, pointless, occasionally histrionic and with odd bits of sex and rude language abruptly thrown in here and there as if to garner a certain corner of the market. So why did I borrow another Anita Shreve from the library? Well, I was desperate and it was either that or another Maeve Binchy. The shelf was bare. Actually speaking of Binchy, I did listen to one of hers called Scarlet Feather, read by her cousin and it was delightful. And the accents were contagious so I found myself sounding like a leprechaun for a couple of weeks.
Anyway, back to Shreve - Light on Snow was great, despite my low expectations. The narrator is a young girl and it’s partly a coming of age tale, partly a straight story about love and tragedy and healing. Recommended for a light, quick read.

Next I moved onto the wonderful Salley Vickers and the only novel of hers I hadn’t read thus far, Mr Golightly’s Holiday. Vickers is such an intelligent, engaging writer and this book is very richly layered. It’d be a wonderful book group book. At first you think it’s just a quiet, gentle book about life in a village from the point of view of a visitor come for the summer. But as you read on, little hints are dropped such as the visitor’s ‘great work’ and his sadness for his dead son and you realise something else is at play. Go read this one and then email me with your thoughts. (I now officially love all of Vickers’ books).

Now I’m reading Charmian Clift’s book Mermaid Singing for bookgroup next month. I’m only on the second chapter so far but it’s making me want to chuck it all in and go live on a Greek island. As you do. Well, as Charmian Clift and George Johnston and their children do. Every time I hear Clift’s name I think of my dear ex neighbour who was quietly obsessed with her and had collected every piece of writing Clift ever produced, done lots of extra research on her life and was considering a deeper study thesis type thing. I wonder if she ever did.

And in the car? Listening to the long, rambling and thoroughly enjoyable White Teeth by Zadie Smith. I think if I were reading this I’d have given up by now. There is a very slow bit early on and I can well see how people may toss it aside in impatience. A touch of judicious editing would have helped, again in my ever so humble opinion. However I’m currently on tape 14 of 16 so am at the point where I can’t wait until the next time I’m in the car alone so I can hear the next bit. I’ve wanted to read this novel for years, ever since it first came out to all that hype and excitement and all those awards. Smith’s two other novels, On Beauty and The Autograph Man were among the stack of books Hilary the Blogless generously gave me (thanks again Hilary), so I’m looking forward to reading those this summer.

As for tomorrow?

Tomorrow I’ll be running a craft market stall all day and in the evening we’ll be celebrating with a plate of baked beans.

19 October 2007

I am

grateful :: to Danielle and the blogless Hilary for so generously giving me books, out of the blue and just like that

sitting :: here on my lunchbreaks, knitting in hand

my lunchtime park bench

reading :: Mr Golightly’s Holiday

thinking :: about a possible minor thesis topic concerning Hestia

recommending :: that you read Fifi, the scent of water, and garden variety, if you don’t already

developing :: another obsession

natural dyeing books

thankful :: to h&b for my new blog banner

heading :: off to bed with a cup of tea and a chocolate bar that the mister left on my bedside table for me to find tonight. (He’s gone away for the weekend, leaving me to take one child to cricket, one to a birthday party, one to violin lesson and later to an evening party. Oh, and pick them all up from these events. From the four corners of Melbourne. Oy).

Goodnight.

16 October 2007

baby knitting and other assorted stuff

baby socks

We have babies coming out of our ears right now.

Well, you know what I mean. Lots of pregnancy announcements, ultrasound picture viewings and two brand new arrivals in the last couple of weeks. Hence all the knitted dolls and baby socks being produced in my recent frenzy of activity.

The teeny tiny size of these little socks makes my ovaries ache.

fingerpuppet

And I made this wee fingerpuppet for the big sister of one of the new arrivals. Because big sisters often feel confused, unloved, neglected and thoroughly wistful when cuter, younger, brand new baby brothers arrive. Oh pardon me, did I say that out loud?

I shall leave you with a shot of a golden sunrise, streaming into the house and making the ever present piles of folded laundry look pretty. Not that it induced anyone to collect their pile and take it away to their bedroom, oh no.

morning sun on laundry piles


Oops, before I go, I've had several questions from my last few posts.

The gumnut gnomes were adapted from this pattern, but with a row of garter stitch instead of rib, and the hat elongated.

A couple of people have asked if I can recommend websites that teach you how to knit and crochet. I'm sorry, but I can't. I've never looked up how to knit on the internet because I learnt as a child. But I'm certain if you Google 'how to knit', with a little surfing and research you'll find something. Google is a wondrous handy thing.

Also, please note that if you leave a comment on my blog asking me a question, I can't email an answer to you unless you register an email address with Blogger.

I think that’s all for now.

chinese lantern flower

Well, apart from this Chinese Lantern flower, that is. (And what does it say about me that I’m starting to look at flowers and think to myself, I could knit that!?)

15 October 2007

Displacement activities

I’m quite prolific in the knits department when I have a [non-knitting] deadline.

More little gumnut folk.

wee gnomes1

More wee knitted gnomey doll things.

gnomes

You need a break from knitting pictures?

meg, age 18

This is Meg.

Meg appears infrequently on the blog because she is an extremely boring beast. This is the most animated she gets - looking rather pissed off at the fact that we just worked out she is 117 in Cat Years.

This morning an enormous black crow actually pecked her tail as she ate her breakfast. (The crows eat the food she leaves and this one got tired of waiting). The mister had to shoo it away.

See? I told you she was pathetic.

12 October 2007

Friday night work blogging

view from my office window

So the school holidays are over and we’re back in routine, already feeling like the spiral towards Christmas has begun.

view from my office window

I haven’t shown you my office view before, have I? I job-share and office-share with a lovely chap. He works three days a week and I work the other two, so mostly we each get the office to ourselves although every now and then we overlap when there’s a meeting we both have to attend. But mostly I get this view to myself. If he’s not there I have to call out to the poor souls who inhabit the windowless ‘open plan’ part of the office to come to the outer edges and look at the fire engine/car crash/window cleaners/rainbow.

I have a crazy few weeks coming up, so will keep reminding myself that school holiday lazing by the river in the city like this will happen again … it will, it will, it must, it must.

lazing

7 October 2007

pear pair

knitted pear

One pear on its own is a lonely thing.

pear pair

Pears belong in pairs, obviously.

These two were knitted with exactly the same number of stitches, just different size needles and different yarns. Isn’t the difference in size amazing? The larger one is made from wool from this skein knitted double strand with the yarn the other pear is made from. I’m not sure if that makes sense when I type it out. The two yarns were knitted together, although the pale yarn is so thick that you can barely see the thinner yarn. I was attempting the Lifelike Shading again. God I’m boring even myself now. The smaller pear is made from the thin golden homespun yarn on its own and teeny tiny dpns.

brown leaf detail

I like the little brown leaf.

green leaf detail

The green leaf not so much.

Should you be inclined to knit your very own pear, I kind of tweaked a version of the eggplant.

5 October 2007

Friday night book meme

knitted acorn bookmark

Pinched from Muppinstuff and Lazy Cow.

These are the top 106 books most often marked as "unread" by LibraryThing’s users. Here's how I shape up against them.

The books I've read are in bold,
the ones I started but couldn't/didn’t finish are in italics,
what I couldn’t stand has a strike through,
those I've read more than once have an asterisk*,
and those underlined are on my To Be Read list.

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
Anna Karenina
Crime and punishment
Catch-22
One hundred years of solitude
Wuthering Heights

The Silmarillion
Life of Pi
The name of the rose
Don Quixote
Moby Dick
Ulysses
Madame Bovary
The Odyssey*
Pride and Prejudice*
Jane Eyre

A Tale of Two Cities
The Brothers Karamazov
Guns, Germs, and Steel: the fates of human societies
War and Peace
Vanity Fair
The Time Traveller’s Wife
The Iliad* (in three different translations no less)

Emma
The Blind Assassin
The Kite Runner

Mrs Dalloway
Great Expectations
American Gods
A heartbreaking work of staggering genius
Atlas shrugged
Reading Lolita in Tehran: a memoir in books
Memoirs of a Geisha
Middlesex
Quicksilver
Wicked : the life and times of the wicked witch of the West
The Canterbury tales
The Historian : a novel
A portrait of the artist as a young man
Love in the time of cholera

Brave New World
The Fountainhead
Foucault’s pendulum
Middlemarch
Frankenstein
The Count of Monte Cristo
Dracula
A clockwork orange
Anansi boys
The once and future king
The grapes of wrath
The Poisonwood Bible*
1984

Angels & demons
The inferno
The Satanic Verses
Sense and Sensibility

The picture of Dorian Gray
Mansfield Park
One flew over the cuckoo’s nest

To the lighthouse
Tess of the D’Urbervilles*
Oliver Twist
Gulliver’s travels

Les misérables
The corrections
The amazing adventures of Kavalier and Clay
The curious incident of the dog in the night-time
Dune
The prince
The sound and the fury
Angela’s ashes
The god of small things

A people’s history of the United States : 1492-present
Cryptonomicon
Neverwhere
A confederacy of dunces
A short history of nearly everything
Dubliners*
The unbearable lightness of being
Beloved
Slaughterhouse-five
The Scarlet Letter
Eats, Shoots & Leaves
The Mists of Avalon*

Oryx and Crake
Collapse : how societies choose to fail or succeed
Cloud Atlas
The Confusion
Lolita
Persuasion
Northanger Abbey
The Catcher in the Rye*
On the Road

The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Freakonomics : a Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance*
The Aeneid
Watership Down*

Gravity’s Rainbow
The Hobbit*
In cold blood : a true account of a multiple murder and its consequences
White teeth
Treasure Island
David Copperfield
The Three Musketeers

So. I have no idea what that lot says about me, but it was an interesting exercise. There are many in that list I've not heard of.

Anyway this meme was timely as I have a bookish post floating about in my head. I’ve read some rippers lately and want to share. Will do soon.

And big excitement around here – Son #3’s reading has suddenly taken off and he’s just flying. Children in Steiner schools learn formal reading later than those in the mainstream education system, but they do a great deal of preliteracy work. And the beauty of the system is that when it all comes together they are so ready for it that there’s little of that awkward struggling sound-out-each-word-painfully-slowly phase that puts so many children off reading altogether. They just take off! (Well, our children did. YMMV).

I took these photos of my latest knitted sperm acorn bookmark in last week’s favourite, Tashi. I had to race to the library to get the Big Big Book of Tashi, followed by the Second Big Big Big Book of Tashi to meet demand. He positively gulped them down and is now onto book three of The Deltora Quest series, which Son #2 adored at a similar age and as such we own about a dozen of them all told. He’s inhaling them at such a rate that I’ve told him to give me plenty of warning when he’s halfway through one so I can order the next from the library if we don’t have it on our shelf already.

The other children are equally engrossed in books in series at the moment. Son #1 is loving John Marsden’s Tomorrow When the War Began series and Son #2 is on the second of the Saint of Dragons trilogy. It’s a beautiful thing to get up in the morning and be greeted by the sight of three boys lying silently side by side on the floor in front of the heater, turning pages.

knitted acorn bookmark

(Please tell me this one actually looks like an acorn, yes?)