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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Technology Lust

It was bound to happen. I couldn't spend the first 6 weeks of 2012 playing around with websites, youtube, digital cameras, and eBooks without falling victim to it. I am now deep in the throes of technology lust. I want a tablet. I want my perfect tablet though - and so far I am not finding it. I've played with the iPad a little and it made me drool. But I've read some luscious reviews of a few others - and I am leaning slightly towards a Lenovo Thinkpad.



ThinkPad Tablet
And no. I can't justify spending $$ on a gadget/toy so I am trying hard to find legitimate reasons for owning one. I have the cash. I itch to spend. I just need to get over the Puritan hump. With a little effort I may come up with some justifications, but please feel free to leave me any supportive comments, good excuses and defensible reasons you can think of.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Last 3 Day Weekend of the Winter


Yeah. I know. It's also only the second of 2012 - so it's really a matter of perspective - but when it comes to TheQueen's 3-Day Weekends, the year begins in September with Labor Day, filling the months with delightful days off and it slows to a thin trickle of them just as your circadian rhythms have adjusted to at least one 4-day work week each month. The sufferingly long time between February the 20th and Memorial Day stretches through Lent, Easter, gardening, ThePrince's birthday, our anniversary - the legal one - and LD's birthday - all good reasons for kicking up a lark and playing hooky. It's just that .... I must use annual leave to do it. Greedy puss, aren't I?

The important prep for a 3-Day Weekend includes:


  • Leaving a note on your desk at work reminding you of what you have to cram into 4 days next week. In my case that actually must be compressed into 3 days, one of which includes Story Hour and one of which will be shared in close proximity with the auditors.
  • Picking up a good bottle of wine
  • Making sure you have adequate reading material
  • Ditto a knitting project and something from Netflix (yes. I still await the red envelope - remember, TheCastle is in TheSticks)


For this last 3-day weekend of the winter, I am well stocked. Not only do I have a pile of movies, books and even some techno-reading from the library and a delicious Malbec from the local wine shop, but look what came in the mail, at last! Yes! Principles of Knitting - I finally got around to ordering it and while I was at it I picked up that Dover edition of Alice Starmore's color charts. One weekend with the library copy was enough to convince me I needed to own the latter as for POK - I always intended to own that one. Ever since I did the Knitting Guild of America's Master Class - lo 10 years ago! - I have lusted for my own copy. I'm SO glad it's finally arrived.

So yes. I'm ready for three days of bliss - and knitting - and reading - and watching Evil Roy Slade - which carries with it a joyous February memory from TheQueen's long ago and far away youth. A memory that includes her bestest friend from those ages ago days. Yes Robyn. You know it. 

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Post Valentines Day Sugar Slump


As a child I was a manic sugarfreak, sneaking into the kitchen whenever I could to smear bread with butter and pour sugar on it - or to just eat it out of the bowl by the spoonful. A 50's baby boomer, I became intimate with all the sweet cereals Messieurs Kellog, Post and that old Quaker fellow could invent. In fact, my favorite desert was a bowl of Cap'n Crunch. For most of my childhood we were a one-car family living in one of those hopscotch suburbs that required the mama to drive into the city to pick up the daddy around 5:15. The last bus stop in Richmond was the Westover Hills branch of the public library - which was right around the corner from one of those Five and Dime stores that still sold candy by the pound ... or ounce, if your allowance was only a quarter a week. When I was 10 I would stock up on wax lips and mustaches and sell them for a profit at school the next day. Till I got caught, probably.

When I was 11, though, we moved into that Westover Hills neighborhood and I could walk to the library and the Five and Dime which was a thrill beyond description. To go from having to sneak out the back door of the library while Mama wasn't looking and dashing to the candy store and back, before she noticed I was gone, to just stopping by the candy store on the way home was a little like going to heaven. No. It was a LOT like what I imagine heaven will be someday. For the next few years I lived in a perpetual sugar high built on red hots, candy corn and nonpareils. I loved the way red hots would clog into a cinnamon sugar lump between your back molars if you stuffed enough of them into your mouth at once. Candy corn, otoh, was something to be savored in all it's tri-colored flavors, first the little white bit that melted quickly on your tongue, then the yellow slice that introduced the mellocreme texture and finally the orange base which was always the biggest bit of sugarjoy in each kernel, prolonging the candylove. Nonpareils were another slow-eating candy because if you had the patience to Not Bite - the chocolate would melt on your tongue and eventually leave you with a mouth full of the little white sugar beads.

Yes. I too, was a candyfreak. Because the inspiration for our Valentine's Day display at the library this year was Steve Almond's book Candyfreak. I first heard him speak about candy at a library director's meeting in Richmond, sponsored by the Library of Va. He owned me within the first sentence when he proudly proclaimed that he has eaten candy every day of his life. I am so jealous. Almond has since gone on to become one of my favorite authors, with a fabulous blog, hilarious self-published books and and a racy romp through rock and roll. He was the guest speaker at VLA last fall and cemented my devotion. Re-reading Candyfreak in November I was prompted to see just what historical and retro-candy I could dig up, proving yet again that you can find it on the Internet. Which I did - at least, enough of it to make up a 9-decade display of sugared love. And yes. I did buy the candy cigarettes and let me tell you - they were the first to disappear.

Actually, all I did was wield the Visa card. Iris, my artistic circulation staff and Diva of Displays did the rest, including making this little video clip of CandyLoveSugarJoy at the library. And  yes. I was dragging yesterday, with a swollen puffy face, when I wrote most of this, which is why I'm only getting around to posting it today.




Monday, February 13, 2012

19 Degrees - First Weekend of Winter

Brrrrrr.  We've been so spoiled with our South Carolina winter that this weekend of  C C C Cold felt weird. It also felt rushed because I spent my Friday off in Richmond going from one eff up to another, worked all day Saturday and got to do the housework on Sunday all the while chasing dogs and husband away with the vacuum cleaner.

It's funny - I don't actually mind housework - and sometimes I actually love it - but I can't stand to do it when anyone else is around. Maybe if I had a maid or a helper I could do this work with an audience, but what I really enjoy about housework; the leisurely caressing of my furniture, the discovery of lost items, the frequent (multitude of?) pauses to read the instruction book for the cell phone or a chapter in a favorite book from my childhood - all these things need to be done alone and in private. They also quickly stretch a 2 hour task into 5. Alas, if I am seen Not Vacuuming by BD, he's right there asking me to listen to this or take a walk or don't I want to sit down and hear a poem??? A girlfriend once commented "If I have the flu and my husband sees me on the way to the bathroom to throw up he'll say "Oh good. You're up. What's for dinner?" I knew exactly what she meant.

So then it was back to werk on Monday without that rested feeling a whole weekend, with it's familiar, refreshing housework-Saturday and family-time-Sunday. I also went back without a current knitting project. I'm just undecided about what is next. Of course, there are always socks - but I can hardly count socks as a project. And no. I haven't finished Brica either. Baaaaad Knitter. I am blaming it on not enough cold weather till it's too much cold weather. I am actually ready for spring.

My cute little pedometer came on Thursday and I am trying to use it. I have a problem with all pedometers, though, because I don't wear a belt. This one specifically says "Don't wear with soft loose clothing - I am thinking, sweat pants? How many people like to walk in sweatpants -  everybody? But I will persevere. I've never had a pedometer that I really believed.


And even though this one promises rewards, I think most of them are apps for mobile devices I don't own anyway. They also offer some sort of wrist band monitor and I was really torn between the two - but there is something about actually getting to 10,000 steps in a day that boggles my mind. Can anybody really do that? or rather - can I really do that?

The replacement cell phone also came in on Thursday and not a moment too soon - because while in the Kroger parking lot in Hanover, after dark, somebody wanted to listen to the radio and ran the very shaky, 6 year old battery down. Fortunately I had slipped the new phone I hardly know how to operate into my purse. Also fortunately, ThePrince had his AAA card.

So. Altogether an unsettling weekend. Mars will soon be going forward again, though, so I expect More Progress all around. May your Monday bring you More too - more of whatever you want.



Monday, February 6, 2012

Yes. There is Knitting in TheCastle

January was the Month of Technology with the addition of eBooks to our collection and multiple changes to our library's webpage. This was all on top of the regular January quarterly board meeting and a 10% increases in both items circulated and people walking through the door. It's no wonder I wasn't inspired to finish Brica - with her challenging shoulder seams. That doesn't mean there has been no knitting around TheCastle - but it has been swatching and experimental knitting coupled with sketches and calculations. 
I realize that this knitting project is going to be a major effort - worsted weight stranded color work makes for a very heavy fabric - but I love this - the colors, the speed with which the picture develops the scope for design touches. But it's still a long slow process. The plan is for a swing coat about the length of a car coat. The sleeves will be full with tight cuffs for warmth. I'm not sure if I want to create the width at the bottom via pleats or long narrow triangles - though I'm leaning towards the latter. Pleats in back would look nice on me but pleats in front might give this a maternity look - not what I am aiming for. 
I want to make a straight skirt to wear with this - either in a solid or in a tweed stitch (see Barbara Walker vol. 1) using the main colors. 

More Sweaters: A Riot of Color, Pattern, and FormI adore the two swatches. The flower design is mostly copied from More Sweaters by Lisa Kolstad and Tone Takle - who are my main inspiration. I bought this book used but in very good condition. By now it's looking really used - I love it so.  The bee design is entirely my own and creating that was more fun than should be legal. It was almost like a video game and I can't wait to do more of this sort of charting.
Yes. Brica is whining at me. Knitting a warm pullover sweater in 70 degree weather, though, was particularly unappealing - especially when my head was filled with DRM files and XTML coding, eBooks and iPods. The worst of that is over now - and today there is a hard frost. I will pick up my needles tonight and see if I can finish off that baby.

But now? almost 8? I leave you with this final thought.

How About Them Giants! Yea!!!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Write. Write Now - a Month of Letters







First Bossy Dogs' Mama C  drew my eye to this challenge. Then C from Knitter's Review pointed me to novelist Mary Robinette Kowal, the originator of it. When two writers, two women I deeply admire bring up the same topic I can not resist and so now I share it with you.

Her idea?

  1. In the month of February, mail at least one item through the post every day it runs. Write a postcard, a letter, send a picture, or a cutting from a newspaper, or a fabric swatch.
  2. Write back to everyone who writes to you. This can count as one of your mailed items.
Now - I am already doing my own little daily stuff - my 12 for 12  and I'm not really going to promise to write a letter every day of February ... though I might. But I do like the idea of writing more letters. Real, paper and pen, folded cards, sealed and stamped letters. I like to get them and I like to mail them. So if I am lucky enough to have your address - it may be that you will get a little missive from me this month. 

Speaking of my 12 for 12 - it's a new month - time for reflection and time to chose another item to focus on. The food journal was a true success - I never missed a day - although last weekend I came up against The Great Unknown of the Seafood Buffet  - pretty much ruined 3 weeks of careful weight management in a single night. But at least I knew, see? I knew where I went right - I knew where I slipped up. And the little bit paper that asks "uh Queenie - you're eating more than you need so are you really hungry?" often is enough to remind me that I can stop grazing. I even think that this little discipline might have helped me reflect with accuracy upon just why I fell so far off the wagon last weekend. 

So. Good habit. Keeping it up.

As for this month - I believe I shall choose prayer/meditation. It struck me that all the other habits I'll be concentrating on the rest of the year will be easier, more fun, more successfully integrated into my life if I'm open, contemplative, prayerful. Besides - I just feel like that's something missing in my daily routine.
But prayer means quiet time and in this little house, quiet time means early in the morning - so it also means I have to shave 30 minutes a day off my morning computer time. Thirty minutes that begin right now - so - Ta.