Thursday, October 2, 2014

Book list for September

Spirit of Steamboat. Craig Johnson.*

This is a Christmas-themed short story.  I had planned on skipping it because it's beyond self-indulgently trope-laden and I hadn't even planned on finishing it.  I was too impatient to suffer through the numerous instances of odds that--spoiler alert!--the scrappy cast of Absaroka County characters overcome to save a small child's life on Christmas Eve. 

But then Longmire was cancelled and I realized I didn't know when another Walt Longmire mystery would be published and so I read it.  I'm glad I did.  Since this is a flashback story (of course it is!  Of course!), the ending is bittersweet.

I don't know what I'm going to do without my Longmire fix, though.  We didn't realize that the season would only 10 episodes instead of 12, and then I ran out of Longmire books.  Now I'm not really sure what I'm going to do with myself.  I'm currently reading some books about Hildegard of Bingen and some silly fantasy series some knitting group people have been reading.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

I went to a fiber festival (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

Sky Loom Weavers donated fiber to the event totes. They are beautiful people!  This is alpaca!
I went to the Arkansas Fiber Arts Extravaganza yesterday.  I took off a few hours from work and drove to Hot Springs, Florence and the Machine blasting loud enough to shake my windows. I wandered around the vendor hall, clutching my chest before I bought anything.

But then I bought things. 

From the sale bin of Daizie Knits. They were nice!
 I used cash.  Um, until I ran out.  And then I used debit.

Why yes, there is a yarn outfit named Magic and Moonshine.  I obviously bought magic yarn.
 One of the most exciting things I bought was this:

That's a drop spindle kit from Twisted Purl.  Since I pre-registered, I had a goodie bag with some fleece in it.  Rather than give it to one of my spinning friends, I decided to get a spindle.  Most of the basic, regular ol' spindles were $10.  So why not buy a starter kit with a whopping 2 oz. of wool to go with it for just $5 more?!

I tried it out a little as soon as I got home and it went terrible.  Just awful.  I can't wait to watch more video tutorials and practice some more!  I've been watching people in my knitting group struggle and muck around with this for months and it looks like a lot of fun.

The vendors weren't just selling yarn and fiber, though!  There were stitch markers and project bags and t-shirts.  I bought these finger puppets for Evelyn.   She loved them.

I also bought this little mini-skein of yarn because I might make some socks for Boris.  Evelyn loves dressing up that bear (even though we keep telling her "He's a bear! He wears a fur coat!"), and I think she'd be tickled with some socks for her bear.

From Must Stash Yarns. I wish some of these baby skeins had sparkles.  Because she had sparkle yarn! It was lovely.
 I also bought this skein of yarn because it looks like enough to make the two of us some matching beanies.  They're going to be pretty short and simple, but I love this yarn.  It's so dadgummed fall-ish and I want us to have matching hats. 

From The Hen House. I was taking pictures of their yarn, and then someone gently informed me that they didn't allow that and then I was too timid to take any more pictures of anyone's yarn in the vendor's hall!
 But the best part of the evening was when my knitting friends came out of their classes and basically bossed me into grabbing dinner with them and listening to the keynote speaker. 

*It's not that I needed Cody's permission to go out and spend money and feel joy and see my friends, but I did feel like I should head home even though Cody was like "Hey, have fun. Let me know when you're on your way back." But the knitters 'made' me eat Mexican food, and then we sat and knitted and listened to the Yarn Harlot talk about knitting.

She's a fantastic storyteller.   She's funny and smart and talented and made the act of sitting there knitting with my friends and having a fantastic time at a fiber arts festival feel so very legitimate. 

I don't mean like as in, some people make money doing this.  Although some people do and they're serious business people and incredibly talented at their craft.  I mean like as in, this is not nearly as silly as golf.  It's not just for grandmas and it never has been.  It's a fantastic skill, all by itself, and it doesn't need a rebranding for people to love it.  You can do it however you want, in whatever way you want, and you absolutely should never downplay it.  Lately, I've tried to notice whenever I feel like I should dismiss some work that I did by pointing out the flaws or fudging on the number of hours I spent making something.  And then I try to shut that whole thing down.  

I'm lucky to have a very appreciative spouse and family, who are always incredibly nice and supportive about everything I make.  And I'm also lucky to be in a knitting group where we freely admit to one another and the strangers who pass by our table and ask us about our projects HOW MUCH TIME AND EFFORT goes into some of our projects.  But even then! Even! Then!  I still try to normalize knitting in a way that really freaking downplays how difficult it can be for me to understand a pattern, find time to work on it, and finish something up on a deadline and in the color you want.  And that's dumb. 

I don't want to be dumb.  I'm brilliant.  I can tackle any project I want.  I can do fantastic things!  I can complain about how I am incompetent at drop spindle spinning because I've only had about 20 minutes of practice!  It's fine!  It's great even! 

I kind of lost where I was going with that rant, so whatever.  Here's what I knitted during the talk.

It's another Tomten jacket for Evelyn.  She's outgrowing the one I made for her two years ago.  I picked out blue for her and Ellis, and she picked out the green for the border.  (It was that, or yellow.)  It's coming along nicely and I love all this garter stitch and simple construction.  I got probably a little over 2" done during the speech, when I wasn't laughing so hard that I had to wipe tears off my face.  I cry a lot when I laugh.  It's fine.

This was like a really good knight night, multiplied by 100 and with a lot more spending.  I loved it.  It was so very needed, and incredibly great.  Oh hey, here's another picture of yarn.

I don't know what I'm going to do with this really lightweight yarn from Knitting Rose Yarns. I don't care. It was on sale. It's beautiful. It lives with me now.  Everything is awesome.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Book list for August and July

A Serpent’s Tooth. Craig Johnson*

Any Other Name. Craig Johnson*

I have read all the Longmire books.  And Season 3 is over.  I'm not really sure what I'm going to do with myself.  I'll maybe read the Little House on the Prairie series.  Maybe.  

Monday, July 7, 2014

Book list for June 2014

Hell is Empty. Craig Johnson.*
Sheriff Walt Longmire hunts for an escaped prisoner on a mountain in a snowstorm because he's a gritty cowboy, dagnabbit.  Mysticism and hilariously implausible natural disasters abound.  I would enjoy the whole ridiculous mess more if much of the plot didn't center around the unsolved murder of a little boy.  So instead, this just made me really sad.

As the Crow Flies. Craig Johnson.*
I should mention that Cody is checking out a new Longmire book every time I finish one. It's very kind of him to memorize the books in order and to plan which library branch he'll take Evelyn to based on which one has the next book. I should have liked this book more I guess, but there was a long peyote trip sequence that felt indulgent and contrived.  I was so burned out on Longmire books that I waited two whole weeks before starting another one (I have since finished it).

The Yarn Whisperer: My Unexpected Life in Knitting. Clara Parkes*
This is just what it sounds like. It's a memoir of sorts stories and memories tied to projects or techniques or yarn.  Or some combination of those.  Or all of them.  There are a lot of thoughts, and I was glad Parkes shared them.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Book list for May 2014.

Junkyard Dogs. Craig Johnson*
I took this with me to Alabama and wound up reading a lot of it to Evelyn before naps and bedtime.  I did a little censoring and skipping, but this was easy enough to read aloud.  It's not something I'd thought about when reading any of the other Longmire mysteries, but now I have yet another reason to enjoy them!

You should have watched her eyelids drop after a couple of (again, censored) pages of 'Orlando.'

Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency. Douglas Adams
I just wanted to get in my annual Adams, so I packed this for the beach as well.  It was a little trickier to read aloud, but I did.  This is my favorite Adams story because it's unexpectedly... gentle.  Something about the narrator and the characters' odd little bits of kindness toward one another makes me happy in ways that the rest of Adams's books don't.  A fun summer read.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Book list for April 2014.

As always, library books are marked with an asterisk.

Dark Horse. Craig Johnson.*
This is the fourth book in the Walt Longmire mystery series, and I liked it.  You (or Longmire, the first-person narrator. Whatever.) jump back and forth between the events of about two weeks before the present day and, uh, the present day. Sorry.  I'm not really awake yet, but neither is the rest of the house and so it seemed like a good idea to get this out now.

Anyway, Longmire goes undercover to a nearby town as an insurance investigator so he can learn more about the events that led a woman to allegedly murder her husband after he (allegedly, also) killed her horses.  This was a lot more plot-twisty than I expected, and there were so many unexpectedly small and sad moments.  There were also big and sad moments, but it was the little asides that got me.  But it was fantastic, and I need to go back to the library and get another.

Broke is Beautiful: Living and Loving the Cash-Strapped Life. Laura Lee.
Blessedly, this was not a frugal-living handbook.  I'm at a point where most of what I read about frugal living is something I already know (buy less! Turn off the lights! Unplug things and cancel the cable!) or stuff that just doesn't apply to me (install more insulation in the attic of that house you own!  Plant a garden on that half-acre of land you have just lying around somewhere!  Stock your deep freezer!).  This is more a pep talk about embracing how broke you are and how to go from there. 

Frankly, I saw this was cheap on Amazon and went for it because I needed the encouragement.  It's one thing to plan for the future and try to be responsible with your finances while still having a little bit of fun.  It's another to bust your tail in a desperate attempt to make things better and to just have to wait.  And it's a whole 'nother thing entirely when you look around, decide that things are pretty okay, laugh at Dave Ramsay's 7 steps and just try to take care of your life in the best way you can.  Am I happy we have an emergency fund?  Absolutely.  Do I think we should have 3-6 months of living expenses stashed away?  More than likely.  Should I live a life where we already keep our living expenses down while enjoying every last bit of it?  Yes.  Yes, yes, yes.

So many books on personal finance are just really....unhappy.  Yes, you'll suffer now but it will be worth it!  Push forward toward that goal!  Cut!  Scrimp!  Save!  For one day, you will be financially secure and in a place to judge everyone not as prudent as you!  I know that's not what most gurus are saying (maybe), but that's how it feels.

And while Lee annoys me a little with some of her assumptions, a lot of what she said was just ..... affirming.  There's a whole chapter that's basically a love letter to libraries.  There's the chapter where she points out that luxury goods aren't that luxurious any more.  The final chapter is worth skipping altogether because she comes off as a major scold by telling the people reading the book that they're doing better than more than most of the world.  A gentler, more cohesive approach would have been to circle back to her earlier chapter about how people with the smallest homes in the nicest neighborhoods have a weirdly skewed perception about their lack of wealth.  We, more than likely the folks with access the book and the occasional down time to read (very quick read, by the way!  I was sneaking pages while Evelyn played on the playground near our apartment.  Because we're unexpectedly rich like that), are like the people with the older, smaller homes in one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in the world.  That's really all it is. 

So!  I thought I had read more than this in April, but I guess not.  I enjoyed what I did read, though.  It's a beautiful thing when your library has every book in a set (or you have a husband willing to go to the library branches around town to pick up your books while you work) and you have enough Amazon credit to try out new-to-you books.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Book list for March 2013.

The Mystery of the Third Mile.  Colin Dexter.
I have no idea what happened.  This guy is dead!  No, he faked it!  No, the body is still his!  No, it's not!  But I never fully understood how or why!  I blame being deathly sick for my misunderstanding.  I think this will be fun to reread.

Kindness Goes Unpunished. Craig Johnson.*
This is the third book in the Walt Longmire mystery series and I like it because it has very wide margins and nearly double-spaced lines with font that's not quite large enough for visually impaired eyeballs, but large enough to enjoy as you're falling asleep.  Interesting characters.  Poetic descriptions that don't get too flowery.  A dog.

Another Man's Moccasins.  Craig Johnson.*
This is the fourth book in the Walt Longmire mystery series and I didn't like it as much as the others.  There were flashbacks and the flashbacks didn't quite ring true (to Vietnam. Spare me.) and very little annoys me in books or movies or television series as flashbacks.  I don't know when this started to irritate me so much, but my tolerance for flashbacks has gotten ridiculously low this year.

Homeward Bound: Why More Women are Embracing the New Domesticity.  Emily Matcher.*
This was incredibly fascinating, and left me with even more questions.  Toward the end, I started flinging around Post-It notes.  I need to return this book to the library on Saturday (it's still a fourteen-day checkout, so I don't think I can renew it), so I'm going to try to at least type out the quotes and points I found most interesting because at some point in the near future I'm going to hammer out a bunch of thoughts and opinions and feelings about this book and this shift that's happening.  Or at least these stories about this shift that I keep seeing everywhere.  And how it's not always that positive.  As a fairly DIY, crafty, bloggy person, I surprised at how I was really into some of Matcher's criticisms of domesticity as this super feminine, super wonderful thing.  Oh look, here's a paragraph already.

As always, library books are marked with asterisks. 

Currently reading:
Dark Horse. Craig Johnson.* More flashbacks. But just to a period of time a few weeks before the 'main' story takes place.  Still. For Pete's sakes.
Broke is Beautiful: Living and Loving the Cash-Strapped Life. Laura Lee.  I'm a whole two pages in, so we'll see.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Book list for February 2014

Last Bus to Woodstock: An Inspector Morse Mystery. Colin Dexter.

Casey gave me a couple of Inspector Morse books for Christmas and I just finished the first one.  I love middle-aged, alcoholic loners with unorthodox investigative practices.

(See: 2012's book list. I read every English translation of the Kurt Wallander novels, and a collection of short stories.)

Currently reading:
The Mystery of the Third Mile. Colin Dexter.
The Scarlet Thread. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
A Cold Dish. Craig Johnson.

So that's another Inspector Morse story, a Sherlock Holmes story, and a Walt Longmire story, respectively.  Cody and I got sucked into Longmire after I won the first season of the TV show on DVD in my family's dirty Santa exchange.  Levi figured at least one of us would enjoy it, and he was very right.

I don't know if I'm going through a mystery phase, or if this is just what I've enjoyed most of my life and I took a break for college and then trying to read everything I should have read in college.  I love mysteries.  Or maybe I just love detectives.  Either way, I'm happy with my reading selections this month.