Sunday, December 10, 2006

Well, at least it's still 2006

What can I say? Life got in the way of this blog again. Much of my time was taken by up by activites relating to the elections of November 7, 2006. Add to that chiropratic visits, dental visits (another crown), car repairs and just the general day to day activities of work, and it equals no postings. Well, that's my story and I'm sticking to it!

Google just did a little tease. When I clicked on my dashboard to get to this site, I was informed that they had a beta version of blogger. What I read sounded good. Unfortunately, when I clicked on through I learned that they apparently have enough beta testers, so I'll be using the old version for awhile longer.

What's new? It took me a long, loooooong time, listening one half hour each way to and from work, but I finished an absolutely wonderful audiobook, Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin. It took a total of 36 CDs, but was a "ripping good read". I'm much more knowledgeable about the history of the 1850's and 1860's, including Abraham Lincoln's election to the presidency and all the individuals he appointed to his cabinet (some of whom had actually been his rivals in that election and some of whom had been Democrats or Whigs just a few years prior.) It was a fascinating, in-depth look at the words and actions of many key players of that period taken directly from original source documents (their own or family members' diaries, letters, and telegrams). I now also know much more about William Sewert, Lincoln's Secretary of State. (I'm ashamed to say I don't ever remember visiting his house in Auburn, New York. There is much more to the man than high school history's labeling of Alaska as Sewert' Folly/Icebox. I recommend this book highly as an absolutely painless way to absorb our country's history.

Progress has ceased (for the time being) on all three bargello projects. Oh, the joys of being a cyclical scanner! I'll come back to them again, I know.

Besides sporadically writing here, I've begun commenting and writing diary entries on a brand new blog the albany project. I was the 24th registered user and have even had one of my diaries front paged! Exciting stuff! The blog is dedicated to bringing about reform of the dysfuctional New York State Legislature. Wish us luck and stop by to take a look!

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Needlepoint News

Well, I completed the needlepoint part of my first book cover as you can see:
I've put off doing the much more difficult (for me) component of sewing. That means going to the library closet and dragging out the portable sewing machine, trying to remember how to thread it and filling up a bobbin wth matching thread and then actually stitching. Home Ec was not my best subject back in junior high.

Instead of jumping right into making the bookcover lining, I decided to work up another bookcover, this time using a Victorian bargello pattern.

More to follow after I dust off the sewing machine....

Monday, July 24, 2006

Back to Bargello

I recently decided to indulge myself and rediscover bargello, a type of needlepoint. (A big shout-out to Barbara Sher, life coach, for her category of "cyclical scanner" - an individual who may revisit multiple interests over a lifetime. It was such a relief to read in black and white that jumping from one interest to another didn't mean a lack of "stick-to-itiveness".)

It had been many years (dare I say decades) since I did any needlepoint. The craft technique itself hasn't changed, but the manner in which I obtained my supplies sure has. Way back when, my little village had a three story bargain center that was chock full of interesting yarns and notions. Over time, the family run business succumbed to worldwide market pressures. Standing firmly on principle, I refused to shop at Walmart. Instead, I let my keyboard take me to the people's marketplace, eBay, and quickly found both canvas and tapestry yarn at extemely reasonable prices. I learned that the storeowner of Linda's Vintage Treasures had lost her house when Katrina made landfall, but was one of the fortunate few who have been able to rebuild. I added her to my favorite list of sellers because of the quality of her tapestry yarns and ease of the transaction. I'm also very pleased to be able to send a little business the way of a Katrina-ravaged business. It feels like the small town thing to do.

bargelloSo, here we have the work in progress. It will be a bookcover. (No surprise there, given my proclivities.) And it looks like I've enough yarn to experiment with several different bargello patterns for additional bookcovers.

Since this is the age of digital cameras and uploads via Flickr, I hope to post more pictures as the bookcover nears completion. And, speaking of finishing, I'd asked my crafter friend if she knew how to make linings for such a bookcover. She didn't off hand, but gave me some suggestions where to look. Wouldn't you know that I already had just the pattern in one of my craft books, purchased years ago as a discard from my local library. "So many books, so little time" (cribbed from the Fulton Public Library bookbag) and so true, so true.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

I'm a cyclical scanner!

After many years of trying not to think of myself as a dilettante or a Jill of all Trades and a Mistress of None, I've learned that I'm a scanner! Do you know what it feels like to be totally clueless about what you want to be when you grow up and you're almost 55? A peek through this blog gives some indication of the multiplicity of my enthusiams. Of late I've re-engaged in mindfulness meditation and have begun to revisit my Buddhist studies from college. I've also started re-reading some college books that I read back when I was 17 or 18. (Sometimes I think that college is wasted on the young; I had much more important things to attend to than simply study while I was in college! LOL!) I also lacked that gravitas, wisdom or shear run of the mill lifetime experience to truly comprehend what I read back then. So, I've been re-reading parts of Plato's Dialogues as well as Herman Hesse's Sidhartha.

Let me rein in my enthusiam long enough to give credit where credit is due: I need to thank Barbara Sher, a lifestyle coach, for her wonderful book and PBS show: Refuse to Choose. Now I understand that I'm a generalist and that there's nothing wrong with that; in fact, it's incredibly right! I have many cross stich projects and afgans in different stages of completion; I always have at least 5 books going at once. In my spare time (I DO have a fulltime job that keeps food on the table!), I listen to podcasts from Berkeley and other insitutions of higher education and I compose parodies of well-known tunes for various groups that I belong to. So, let me express my sincere appreciation to Barbara Sher by linking to her website

Sunday, May 28, 2006

More writing

I went back to Bonnie Neubauer's website,, and found her online story spinner. Here's what she says about it: "Click on the Story Spinner to the left and you will get a starting phrase, a setting and four words that you must include in a story. Set a timer for 10-minutes... and then write!" So, being a good rule follower, I clicked and this is what I got:

Setting for your story: at a flea market

Starting phrase for your story: My intention had been to ask politely

Four words/phrases you must include in your story: Ad nauseam , Unearth, Web and Weekly. Setting my iBook meditation timer widget for 10 minutes as suggested, I was off and typing. Drumroll please!

My intention had been to ask politely, but first I had to locate the emporium owner. I had just unearthed my prize: an english porcelain teacup that matched one I'd smashed to smithereens eons ago. I had checked online web sources and been to eBay ad nauseam, to no avail. So I found myself devolving to old twentieth century behavior: going to garage sales and roadside flea markets on a weekly basis. I'd spotted lapsed treasures and grotty garbage. It amazes me what people will keep and keep and keep for years which suddenly turns up on a table across from ubiquitous trolls and beanie babies.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Liberating my writing

It has probably been just a little short of forever since I journaled/blogged or wrote. Today's impetus is a new book, The Write-Brain Workbook, by Bonnie Newbauer. She takes Natalie Goldberg's famous precepts of writing and encapsulates them in 366 "exercises to liberate your writing". The first, entitled Circle Game, invited me to choose one word from each of three groups of five and then use those three words in a story that began: "Sometimes I feel like a gerbil running around and around on his wheel." The words I chose yesterday were "banister", "jambalaya" and "keepsake". I really only thought about the exercise yesterday - which isnt' a writing practice to speak of. Here's today's fingers to keyboard entry:

Sometimes I feel like a gerbil running around and around on his wheel. Sometimes I feel like a nut, but most times I don't. I wish I had had a banister to slide down when I was a kid, but I doubt I would have, being too consumed with "appropriate, good girl" behavior. And if I had found one to slide down, and had slid, with my lack of coordination, I would most likely have broken a bone and had a cast for a keepsake. I'd have hoped many friends and acquaintances would come and sign it for me. What kind of a keepsake would a virginal cast be? There should be a pastische of signatures and other graffiti embossed on it. A spicy, personal jambalaya of a cast.

OK. So I wrote and then went back and finnagled and finetuned. I don't really think that's cheating. Maybe I'll even post this effort on my blog.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

How could I have missed blogging about this book?

Almost every Saturday finds me at one of my favorite places, the Fulton Public Library. It was well over a number of months ago, falling into my usual routine of browsing the shelves displaying new acquisitions, that I first saw this book. I must have found the cover art intriguing enough to pick it up, leading to my perusal of the book jacket. Imagine my delight when I discovered that the title March referred to the progenitor of a family I had long ago met and loved in Louisa May Alcott's captivating creation, Little Women.

The author, Geraldine Brooks, apparently held Little Women as dear as I, but had been inspired to do what no other had done: she took the characters of Alcott's book, greatly expanding and enhancing them, fleshing them out in the bloodly context of our Civil War. Reverend March was mostly notable for his absence in Little Women. Brooks, through well-wraught flashbacks, introduces us to a man of flesh and fallibility. Unidimensional characters suddenly leap off the page and engage the reader in a tale that enriches the memory of Alcott's underpinning story.

Ms. Brook's Pulitzer Prize is well earned. I could have chosen no better book to win.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Reader's Reverie for April 17th

Where does the time go? It has been over two months since I posted anything here. Mea culpa. Mea maxima culpa. I plead illness - that virus that seems to be taking down every usually abled bodied adult for 2 to 4 weeks - I succumbed as well.

My dilatoriness (if there is such a word) can also be laid directly to spending more time reading than blogging. I've spend many hours being hightly entertained by Kevin Anderson's three part science fiction opus: The Saga of Seven Suns, A Forest of Stars and Horizon Storm. George Guidall is one of my favorite narrators; his vocal skill brings much, much more to the audiobook. Kevin Anderson has created interesting alien races and robots, as well as believeable characters. His status as a New York Times bestselling author is well deserved.

I also finished Joan Didion's The Year of Magical Thinking. The stark portrayal of her denial, grief and mourning for her husband of forty years made for extremely painful reading. I understand why someone would not want to remove a loved ones belongings or clothes; the magical thinking: if their items remain, the owner yet remains, as well.

I''m currently reading Restless Souls: The Making of American Spirituality. I've also discovered an additional auditory resource: podcasts. Besides subscribing to the wonderful Zencast, I've found a weekly podcast on books from NPR, a history podcast about the twelve important Byzantine emperors and a podcast of what I believe is the Sunday Unitarian Universalist sermon out of New Jersey. I do have two ears, but I've found no way to multi-task listening to two separate podcasts at the same time.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Reader's Reverie for February 14th

Recent reading material included: Cat Confidential by Vicky Halls (understanding and interpreting feline behavior); The Grail: A Secret History by John Matthews (an overview of the many possible sources for the grail legend, including ancient creation myths that led to Celtic versions of the grail, the enduring Arthurian legends involving Sir Lancelot, Sir Percival and Sir Galahad); A Million Little Pieces by James Frey (the factually challenged "memoir" of his stay at an alcohol/drug rehab); The Complete Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis (fairy tales that I had somehow missed reading as a child); current "mind candy": A Dragon's Ascension by Ed Greenwood (book 3 of his sword and socery series which includes The Kingless Land: Band of Four, book 1, The Vacant Throne: Band of Four, book 2.

Upcoming reads include: Jefferson's War by Joseph Wheeler, Dragon's Doom: Bank of Four, book 4 by Ed Greenwood and Lincoln's Melancholy by Joshua Shenk.

I think I'm too busy reading to take the time necessary to blog.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Reader's Reverie for January 17th

Hmmmm, well, I've finished listening to Janet Evanovich's Eleven on Top and Adams vs. Jefferson by John Ferling. I've also finished a book that somehow snuck in there on me, People of the Moon by W. Michael Gear and Kathleen O'Neil Gear. Somehow or other I mixed up the dates when books were due at the libary and ended owing $.90 for overdue books, specifically, volume 4 of the Rhapsody series previous blogged. I magnanimously handed them a dollar and told them to keep the change and apply it all towards their building fund. I'm now listening to The Unhidden Truth by Kate Wilhelm. Too many books, too little time. Oh, I've asked the library to find me a copy of A Million Little Pieces by James Frey now that such controvery has erupted over his fanciful expansion of the memoir category to include outright fiction.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Reader's Reverie for January 2nd

I don't want to let so much grass grow under my feet (or should I say snow pile up) that I neglect to post here for such a long time. I've decided to briefly mention what books I'm currently reading (or in the case of listening to. So, here goes. For pure fluff in the mind candy category I'm currently reading Requiem for the Sun, by Elizabeth Haydon, the sequel to her Rhapsody, Prophecy and Destiny trilogy. You can find more about her at I enjoy a rollicking fantasy, although these books seem more to fall into a hybrid category of fantasy/romance. Lest anyone think me a reading lightweight, I continue to parse Jon Kabat-Zinn's Whereever You Go There You Are in the spirituality category. I'm also listening to Adams vs. Jefferson by John Ferling and learning about the origins of the split between the Republican (i.e. Jefferson) opposition to a strong central government, which was viewed as the fast track to monarchy, in direct oppostion to the Federalist (i.e. Adams) desire for a strong central government with a federal bank and the right to levy taxes. That's approximately 11 hour and 17 minutes of drivetime listening. Partisan politics, dirty campaign tricks and a contested presidential election. The more things change the more they remain the same.