Friday, February 29, 2008

This post is about books. There are books in every room of this house, reference books, popular fiction, BBBBs (Big Boring Bedtime Books), books I've read but have special meaning to me. I admit I am getting rid of the Bear's massive stash of books, but he never threw away a book. Never. Back to the 1960's. And he bought and read books like you or I eat popcorn. There were a lot of books we both loved and those of course are kept, but I don't need a 1960's copy of Airport nor many of his other old leftovers. I've kept a select few of his Civil War books (the 3 volume Shelby Foote opus), bird books, and so on. Enough to fill many bookcases but not falling out onto the floor or stacking up in the corners.

I finished two books recently I haven't reported on. Sheri Tepper's The Gate to Women's Country was terrific. I had read another novel by her, Grass, and was impressed so bought more. She writes what I have to describe as feminist science fiction and that is how she is labeled. The Gate to Women's Country has a surprise ending, one that you begin to guess at in the last third of the book but the final revelation is more than I was anticipating. Written so it's a page turner that you are reluctant to put down, I can recommend it highly. I have just gone out and bought several of her other books.

On the topic of buying books, I also recommend Better World Books, especially for used books. They have a huge stock, charge reasonable shipping to overseas addresses and their profits go to charity, supporting literacy and libraries. They are cheerful, personal and great to deal with. I found them through Amazon, but now go directly to them.

The other book I read was The Olive Harvest by Carol Drinkwater, which was a loan from a good friend. It was obvious that I should have read the preceding books first, but it was easy enough to figure out who was who. It was a page turner too, but, despite the glowing reviews, I wished she had a better editor. The prose needed a blue pencil to chop out cliches, overused terminology, too many trips to the thesaurus, etc. But it is a sensitive story I could relate to, of a woman trying to keep her Provencal olive farm afloat when her husband leaves her to pursue demands of his career. I wanted to tell her that people who sustain head injuries are not right for a long time afterwards, but apparently the French just told her to let him rest, which of course he refused to do. At any rate, everything turns out well in the end, even if I couldn't figure out where the money was coming from. The earlier books, no doubt.

Two books of the many I went to for help in dealing with my overwhelming grief on losing my dearest Bear were of real use. I read a lot of "widow books" which really didn't help me. They were full of things about how to handle children, when to start dating (!), and very short on the grief aspect. The two good ones are Understanding Grief by Alan Wolfelt and How to go on Living when Someone you Love Dies by Therese Rando. They are specifically targeted at grief, not about financial arrangements or other tangential issues. Yes, the only real "cure" for grief is time, but understanding why you are tearing your hair out in the middle of the night I found reassuring. I still grieve every day and I expect I will for a long long time. I still wake up expecting him to be here, I wait for him to come home, I just cannot get my head around the concept that my wonderful, comforting, aggravating, messy husband can possibly be dead. His ashes are right where I see them every day, but I still cannot understand how he could have died. Does this make sense? It's like one part of me just can't understand how I got to this place. The books analyze the various aspects of a relationship and the changes that happen and get you to think about specifics instead of just crying (which I still do). My body is still dealing with the stress of the event and I haven't been able to work a full 15 hour week for a while, being in pain, or not sleeping or some other hindrance to functionality. I also cannot keep up with household tasks on my own. There is just too much to do and I can't do it all. When the garden shuts down, I hope to catch my breath.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

I know I have mentioned in the past that one of the things the Bear promised me was parrots in my back yard but it seems recently that I have been overwhelmed by the life around me. A week or so ago I had a long eye to eye viewing of a male king parrot (left) whom I have been hearing around the neighbourhood. I think they are the most charming and dignified of our local birds. Aside from their call being a ear-piercing CHEEP!, they are rather large with long tails and are not known for the antics that some of the others do. When I get the opportunity to have a long gaze, I can't help it. We used to feed parrots in our former home but now I am not encouraging any into my garden.

The one who is chomping on my pears at the moment of the eastern rosella pictured at right. If I am in the yard bending over picking beans and don't move much, they go right on eating all of 5 meters away. I'll give them the fruit that's up too high for me to reach. They do eat each pear quite thoroughly and pears are the only fruit that attracts them.

The one species I could do without is the sulfur-crested cockatoo. Yes, on occasion they perform circus tricks by hanging upside down on the telephone wires, but mostly they fly around and shriek. The babies are out of the nest now and they are as big as the parents but not as nimble and have slightly less extensive crests. I watched a parent and child in the gum tree next door this week as the mother eyed me off and decided I wasn't a threat while the child demanded to be fed. The parent eventually regurgitated something for the offspring. These cockies are the ones that eat my plums, and can rip half the foliage off in the process. There is a flock of about 30-40 that call this little patch of Canberra home and, when they head out in the AM or come home around 8 PM, their combined screeching makes it difficult to carry on a conversation. This is one parrot I could do without in my backyard.

I haven't had a good week pain-wise. My legs kill me every morning no matter what I did the day before. My vertigo is worse and I seem to have a headache that has settled in permanently. This was not helped by my hitting my head on the corner of the dryer. Today I added irritated eyes to the mix so all I did was talk to a bathroom renovator and then lie down. I think the threading of my loom is ready to weave but I am having trouble getting even tension. My big loom (the 45" countermarche) is out of imprisonment in a storage locker and will soon have space in the back bedroom (to be rechristened "the studio"). Unfortunately, bringing the loom home also meant bringing home 3 bags of alpaca. I have been carding while alpaca again, trying to make a dent. The Imp was a slut with the plumbers this morning and I think one of them wanted to carry her off. When she is good she is very very good...

Friday, February 15, 2008

FO! FO! FO! The red top is finally done! It's supposed to have crocheted edging around the sleeves and bottom as well as the neckline and I didn't get that far in the interests of wearing it on Thursday. I'm not sure I want to add it anyway because the sleeves exactly hit the bend of my arm now and I'm afraid of puffiness if I make them longer and I would lose the stretchy bottom. You can't see that the yarn is a cotton & acrylic almost chenille. Very fluffy and cool. Was impossible to sew ends in--they just broke. It is merely 4x1 rib. I feel sort of empty nester without it there nagging me. I have my vest half done which I can get back to now. I'm then going to start my first fair isle with Philosopher's Wool but I can't decide which design to make.

I got some sock knitting in today while waiting to see the dr., but given that I did not get up at 6 to be there at 7 when he arrived, but got there at 8, I had nearly 2 hours to wait. My legs were once more killing me, this time from going from one end of the mall to the other and back again on Thursday, but I had a large check to deposit (finally!) and the helpful teller who is herding the paperwork to change the name on the house was there and made sure we had everything we had to have. Then I went to claim on health insurance, tried to find something left worth buying at Oxfam (who are closing their store near me, boo hiss), bought a piece of swordfish, bought 3 Krispy Kremes, and bought some of the rice crackers I like that my local supermarket refuses to stock. When I got home I realized I had misplaced the folder with all the paperwork for the name change, including the original of the death certificate and will. Very large expletive. So after the dr's office, I retraced my steps and the folks at Oxfam had it, on their last day of business. Whew! Bet that was good for my legs, eh? Went back to bed until I felt in condition to go grocery shop.

Tomorrow I will be getting the loom out of storage, but I haven't moved the single bed out yet so I can't put it together yet. Meanwhile I'll paint my to-be-guest bedroom pale yellow to match several sheet sets in blue and yellow. After I strip one wall of pink wallpaper. I will also make another and hopefully the last batch of pickle relish.

Monday, February 11, 2008

This is an apology blog posting. I seem to be constantly chasing my tail. If I feel like I've actually accomplished a significant proportion of what I planned to do in any one day, my body slaps me down hard the next. It's usually due to being on my feet too much and then my legs hurt. This results in either poor sleep, or a very sore wake up & delayed getting out of bed, or all of the above. I can't garden sitting down. I'm not wheelchair-bound so I must do the walking at the markets to shop for things like fish (the only decent selection) and a wider variety of fruits (I have enough veg to last me I think). I must do grocery shopping on my feet. I must clear my bedroom windows of red-back spider webs and spray to try and keep them away on my feet. I must pick pears that are starting to fall off the tree on my feet (the rosellas have discovered them and there is much chortling by colourful Eastern rosellas 2 feet from my rear bedroom window; cat TV). I've got the studio in the making further along and I'll try to get the bits & pieces of my loom out of storage in the next day or 2 so I can move the big pieces when I can get access to a trailer. I haven't yet sleyed the reed on the 4 shaft loom. I am sewing my red top together and hope to wear it either Thursday or next week.

I get very depressed sometimes listening to Stash and Burn because Jenny and Nicole seem to knit a lot faster than I do. I'm lucky to get one sweater done in 2-3 months not a matter of weeks. I know I spin and do other stuff, but they reel off the number of sweaters they plan on making and they know them all by name and I'm saying to myself "I think I want to knit a cardigan with cables and maybe pockets" while they're saying "I really like the Ashley cardigan in IK winter 04 issue." Duh. Do they really remember this stuff? Do they have the patterns all indexed? I wish I did.The only organization I have made is to gather up all the bits of photocopied or printouts from Knitty and put them in page protector sleeves and put them in note books. But there are years of knitting magazines, and shelves of books all that have something in them I want to make. One of my latest Amazon purchases was Knitting Little Luxuries by Louisa Harding and I think the only thing I will actually make out of it is the tabard with the diagonal cable. I love that, but all the angora makes my nose twitch even if it is soft.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

The road to hell is paved with overexpectations of one's abilities. I painted myself into the corner of Saturday and Sunday for warping the loom by saying "How long can it take?" and ignoring the little voice reminding me how slow I was at threading the loom in class. So I spent 4 hours threading the thing after not being happy about how the warp was all scrunched together on the back beam. My loom only has about 4" between the back beam and the heddles, so there isn't a lot of room to arrange the warp. So I unwound it, re-raddled it, spread it out before winding on and wound on again. There aren't any fancy warp designs, just stripes. I just threaded plain weave but I made the same threading errors over and over. You can't thread the third heddle if the fourth is in front of it (in order). Make sure you didn't push the new heddles to be threaded so far over than they are now snuggled up to the already threaded ones and you pull out another instead. And so it went. I think most of the heddles outside the centre 4" have never been used on this loom.

I fully intended to go back at it on Sunday but I had forgotten that the girls were going blackberrying on Sunday morning. After that adventure (I didn't fall in a hole! I only got a little scratched because the berries were right there asking to be picked!), I had lunch, a shower, and a bit of a lie-down. Then something irrational flipped in my brain and I suddenly couldn't live another day surrounded by boxes of books, so I decided to shift the bookcases by myself. What was I thinking? Yes, I had done it before but not at the end of the day. So I did it and yes I have many fewer boxes of books to look at because most of the ones for my bedroom are now in their new location. And boy was I sore the next day which of course was my first day back at work. And after that I had to go grocery shopping because I was out of cat food and that's just not on. Tues I had my stitches out. Ick. It's now Weds and I am still sore.

Book reports: Peter Hamilton's The Dreaming Void. I know this is the first of a new trilogy and by the time the next book arrives I will have forgotten all the characters.which is what happened with his last trilogy. I found this one something i wanted to continue. The disparate character were all beginning to slot into place, even tho I hadn't read the preceding trilogy which I think would have explained the chronology a bit better. I really liked his Greg Mandel series, and the following ones less so. There may come a point where I find them too much work and move on to somebody new. Next up Sherry Tepper's Gate to the Women's Country.

Napoleon's Buttons ; How 17 molecules Changed history
. This was my latest BBB and I found it fascinating even tho I didn't "get" the bit about molecular structures. (Mr. Snow, my high school chemistry teacher,, would be so disappointed). Each molecule is introduced in its social context, why this commodity (soap, spices) was commercially important, and how it was discovered and refined with what results. A very good read even if you don't understand chemical bonds.