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Thursday, November 25, 2010

Blessings Be. Give or Take a Hundred Years.

Blessings be to you and yours on this day of Thanks.

Yes, I know. It's officially the Holiday Season.
Revered, anticipated, and dreaded all at the same time.

In the U.S., if you consider almost any traditional "Holiday", you'll find negative aspects of the holiday that never occurred to us when we were on break from school as children; hyper-commercialism, stress from additional tasks, family baggage, depression, or activities that are downright inconsistent to the original point of the Holiday.

But today is Thanksgiving Day in the U.S. ... so...yes, I am Thankful for:
  • My job (sometimes frustrating but always interesting and challenging), 
  • My friends (unique, kind, talented, and oddly tolerant of my foibles), 
  • My DH, 
  • My feline kids, 
  • My birth family (admirable individuals), 
  • My Country (Sometimes we're a bit of a selfish lot, but we do freedom reasonably well and we can be inspirationally generous), and
  • My much-taken-for-granted health. 
  • And Blessings Be to the world for Knitting!! {Happy sigh!} 
And then my brain wanders off to marvel at other things for which I am Thankful - and I pause to consider how all of these things are very new or only recently readily available to the average person.
(!!And sometimes still not available here or in some parts of the world - think about it!!)
These things were literally unheard of 100 years ago or only available to the very, very rich.
What about 75 years ago? 50? 
  • This much growled-at PC that actually does labor reasonably well for me.
  • Satellites.
  • The Internet (Blogger? Ravelry? Wikipedia? NetFlix? Google Maps? Spell Check!).
  • Television. Radio.
  • The right to Vote.
  • Plastic.* 
  • Air Flight. Space Flight.
  • Mechanical Wonders (Automobiles and Crock pots, Clothes Washing Machines, and what about all the medical mechanical wonders...?) 
  • * Chemistry/biological wonders. (Antibiotics? Chemo-therapy? DNA Mapping?)
  • My ongoing education and curiosity of the world (What would I have been allowed (or had time) to study 100 years ago?)
  • "Stash" (books, fabric, yarn...more books). (50 years ago "stash" was primarily used to describe a cache of drugs - sad.)
  • A ready supply of chocolate in many forms and flavors (Yeah, think about that one!)
  • Central Heating/Air Conditioning!?!
  • Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream!
  • Heck - INDOOR PLUMBING!??!
  • The list goes on and on...and yet how much am I still taking for granted?
That perspective increases the Thankfulness at least 1000-fold, does it not?
Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. May we be more appreciative of our many blessings.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

My Viewing Pleasure

If you didn't get to catch Masterpiece Mystery's excellent new presentation of a very old, established literary character, please track down "Sherlock" in your local Public Television/BBC website. We truly enjoyed it and are awaiting the next installation in the series - due out the Fall of 2011. {SIGH - so long to wait...}
(I do support my local PBS station. Shows like Masterpiece Theater (Classic, Mystery, & Contemporary), Nova, Great Performances, This Old House... PBS fills a major gap and simply must continue.)

Inspired by the rave reviews of some knitterly friends, I recently finished watching all 3 (?) seasons of the animated TV Series "Avatar: The Last Airbender" . (I'm lov'n Netflix!)
And - it was pretty cool. Aside from the to-be-expected kids/"Jerry Lewis" humor and some overdone drama, it was a pretty good story, good artwork, well "acted", and pretty decently written (well, mostly).
I really enjoyed it!
I would kinda like to know what they did with the criminally insane royal fire-bender sibling and what happened to Zuko's Mom...and also the fate of the cabbage vendor (did he retire on Avatar play royalties?).  But I guess they couldn't tidy up everything.
(The same knitterly friends panned the The Last Airbender movie. I'll take a gander at it some time - just to be fair.)

The DH recently gifted me with a copy of the animated movie "How to Train Your Dragon". Excellent fun!!
I'm afraid I have not read the book so at some point I'll track it down to see what changed between original novel and animation.
Throughout the movie, the main Dragon Character, Toothless, constantly reminded me of one of our also-not-toothless house-critters:
(Uncanny "Night Fury" Dragon resemblance.
And if you factor in how destructive Gryphon can be
when he "flies" through the house...)
(Please pardon the cheesy/grainy photo - it's challenging to get a picture of Gryphon {holding still} that shows how green his eyes are.)

Lastly...I am seriously enjoying watching "Glee". I started watching late in the 1st season but I quickly caught up on Hulu.

It's a caricature of musicals, high school and people. I think it is delightful, silly, charming, wicked-fun, and a bit angst-y but I LOVE the music.

I grew up watching 1940 & 1950 movie musicals with my Mom. I am also fond of attending Broadway Show tours that come through town. I suspect that's where some of my delight in this show originates.

The talent involved is stellar. We're treated to amazing musical performances each week - from well known performers and from brand new talent. (Matthew Morrison, Kristin Chenoweth, Idina Menzel, Chris Colfer, Lea Michele, Neil Patrick Harris, Charice, Jane Lynch, - the list goes on and on...amazing talent all!)

I do like shows that can surprise me. Glee is clever and heartful. Sometimes there's an excess of angst and a little sit-com ploy, but but it can still surprise and charm me. I can't say I love every episode and the music-to-plot ratio is a bit light/contrived (a la early early Broadway musicals), it's always fun and interesting - and...oh, the music!

I revel in the show tunes and presentations of classic pop/rock I grew up with.
I have also been surprised and intrigued to hear more modern tunes presented in a choral or group format. The harmonies are amazing - probably my favorite part. One of the "glee" clubs on the show, the "Warblers" remind me of the University a cappella groups I've found on iTunes-U.
(Which I cannot find again to link to this blog - sorry.) Ah - rather like "Straight No Chaser"!

I'd heard of Lady Gaga and had seen some of her work - which is innovative and very interesting. But I became quite taken with the Glee version of "Bad Romance".
I'd never heard Madonna's "What it feels like for a Girl" - but I am very drawn to the Glee version performed by the Glee Guys and how it was used in the episode. It has become one of my favorites.

I'll stop now. No, I don't think I qualify as a "Gleek" - either by the Fox slang for a Glee-Geek or by the surprising  dictionary definitions for that word (ewww).  But for now, I'll keep watching and listening!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

So What is a Book Meme???

What is a "Book Meme" anyway? Answer. Ohhhh. K.

I saw this on The Yarn Yard Blog and was intrigued...
I gotta wonder who chose the books and why CS Lewis' Narnia books are included twice (once as a set and once as the 1st book in the series)?
And why are the vast majority of these classics profoundly depressing?
I know - it's "Art".
As you've guessed, I may not always find "art" entertaining or desirable.
Reality is enough "art" on it's own most days.
But I do love books...

1) Look at the list and bold those you have read.
2) Underline those you intend to read
3) Italicise the books you LOVE.
4) Post your list so we can try and track down these people who’ve only read 6 and force books upon them.

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6 The Bible (not all of it)
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell (I steer clear of Orwell after reading "Animal Farm" #41 in school)
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D'Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare (I've only read a few)
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveller's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger (I keep thinking about reading this one...hmmm.)
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis (see 36 as well)
34 Emma - Jane Austen
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli's Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown (I loved the history/descriptions of Europe)
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52 Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold (Started it but quickly realized this was the stuff of nightmares for me)
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones's Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker (I've got this started, actually)
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte's Web - EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Alborn
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Obnoxious Furry Quilt

"Once upon a time, there was a young girl who was extremely responsible and reasonably bright.
But she was also profoundly naive and trusting. And she got married."

Yeah, that was me. I call it "The Training Marriage".
Whereby you learn that there realllllly are people like that in the world and you reallllllllly don't want to marry them.

I would say my taste in men has dramatically improved. The evidence being the "DH" (Dear Husband), referred to occasionally in this blog. Much mo'betta. Trust me.

I actually did get a few good things out of the Training Marriage/First Love.
  • I learned how to drive a standard transmission. It is my transmission of choice. 
  • I was introduced to the music of Styx. Probably still some of my favorite music. (No, I haven't kept up with them since their split with original member Dennis DeYoung. Tsk.)
  • I got the hair stylist in the divorce. (Ok, this sounds much funnier when the stylist is introducing me to people chortling that I got him in the divorce.)
    No, it wasn't part of the divorce decree, but the Ex has a tough time facing people... We'll leave it at that.
  • I got a couple of stellar recipes from my ex mother-in-law. Wicked-good tacos. Seriously - eat 'em until you've eaten too many "good".
  • ....
  • Um... ...well...that may be about it.
    I did learn not to be sooooo trusting. I may have learned it a little too well.
    Oddly enough, I'm still pretty gullible and trusting in some areas. Not so much in others. 
  • Ah - I also got a queen-sized quilt made by my mother. 
That marriage didn't last, but the quilt has.
My mother was a pretty amazing seamstress. She made most of her clothes for most of her life.
She could look at a dress and make a pattern.
She was very, very stylishly dressed in her younger, modeling days.
She was adept in a variety of crafts - Knitting, Crochet, Quilting, needlework...she could do pretty much anything.
I miss her. A lot.

Mom went through phases of colors. Blues, Yellows, Burgundy, Plum...her wardrobe would be augmented based upon her current color phase.
Yes, in the 70's and part of the 80's there was a fair amount of polyester involved in her sewing.
And there was...a brief fake fur phase. As I recall, there were a variety of jackets made from fake fur for several members of our family. (My blue/white one didn't achieve completion...which happens with crafting and growing children.)

So, after I had married the guy of which my parents did not approve (smart, weren't they?), but that they had accepted for my sake...she decided to make us a quilt for a Christmas present.
A Nine-Patch quilt.
Out of the scraps of fake fur.
I loved that she made me something. I loved that it was useful and well-crafted and warm.
I was not crazy about the colors. And I thought it was a bit... obnoxious.

And I am still not crazy about the colors and I still think the furry aspect is a bit obnoxious.
But - it is unique and I still love that I have something she made for me. And the DH and I use it every year.
This inscription always goes on my side of the bed - tucked under my chin in the winter-time.
And the cats - all of my cats - have loved it on sight/feel. It is irresistible to any feline.
I love that they love it and that they snuggle and purr and play and kneed on it. 

"And they lived happily ever after..." certainly didn't apply to The Training Marriage.
And it doesn't always apply to the current marriage.
But there is laughter and purring on a pretty regular basis.
And there is also a well-loved, obnoxious, furry quilt that was a gift of love from my mother.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Music Under his Feet

Savion Glover.
I was able to attend his "Bare Soundz" performance here in Tucson last night.

I witnessed Grace.
Humor. Joy.
Rhythm (of course).
Stamina - amazing stamina. 
Clever. Charming.
Flow. Energy - Tap Jazz.
Shared Joy.
Experience and innovation.

Honor and Gratitude - shared by Mr. Glover with the generous sponsors, the two gentlemen with whom he shared the stage: Marshall Davis Jr. and Keitaro Hosokawa, the stage crew, the sound-man (!), Mr. Gregory Hines, the ushers, the pre-show Tap Performers in the Centennial Hall courtyard, and shared with the audience (which happened to include Mr. Ben Vereen(!) {who inspired a special song from Mr. Glover!}).
Here's a small sampling of what I was gifted with last night: Savion Glover on the Colbert Report.

(Yes, some of my knitting was imbued with last night's rhythm: The Einstein Coat, The Birds Nest Shawl, and a stray green hat I pulled from the UFO pile.)