Knitting

Scrub-a-dub dub, baby!

Wash-Cloths-Bright-Solids

Mundane?  Yes.  

Plain?  Never! 

Wash-Cloth-Stack-2No two are alike.  No, it’s true.  I love the juicy enthusiasm of that orange cotton.  I love it so much that I couldn’t stop with just one- so the second one was a little different.  More knit stitch-less garter.  It jacked my stack.  The negative impact to the glorious uniformity I sought is a little painful for me to behold…but that’s life isn’t it.  Sometimes you have to let go of uniform perfection and just follow your bliss.  And if bliss takes the form of chain knitting seven different painfully  simple dish cloths because your brain is fried and you just can’t deal with any more decisions-even if that decision is simply what to make next?  Well, so be it.

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They’re pretty and I love them.  Not only are they pretty, but they really are better than your run of the mill terry dish cloth.  They do a bang up job.  I know this isn’t exactly a newsflash for  anyone, but you know how it is.  You read lots of stuff about how old school domestic products really are better, you try a few, and then you face facts that although you may feel better about them, they don’t actually work better.  You know what I mean?  If we’re honest with ourselves, we know Mr. Clean Tub and Tile really does work better than vinegar or baking soda or bleach water.  It is what it is.  But these sweet babies put our old dish cloth to shame!

Scrub-a-dub dub, baby!

Wash-Cloths-Macro

Bookmarked

The Call of the Wild

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What a great book!  It reinforced some universal truths:  1)  Dogs are awesome!  2)  Men (people) possess great capacity for cruelty and  3)  You can tell a lot about a person based on the way they treat animals.

Seriously, who wouldn’t love this Dog? Look at that face!

BuckBuck-our main character (the dog) finds himself on a great (harrowing) adventure to the Yukon during the Klondike gold rush.  It makes for an exciting story.  You know what else makes for a great story?  This guy…

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Jack London was an interesting guy.  I have a feeling that Buck the dog was somewhat autobiographical.  Buck was a dog’s dog.  And Jack was a man’s man. He was a man’s man with a resume that included work in a cannery, the California Fish Patrol, Oyster Pirating, his own stint in the Klondike gold rush, and gentleman rancher-all on top of a prolific literary career.

And like all the other gentlemen I’ve read during this little project, his private life was a fascinating mess!  His first marriage was to Elizabeth “Bessie” Madden.  He and Bessie were never in love, but they were great friends.  Marriage took care of that. Within 4 years, they divorced.  Apparently Bessie didn’t approve of London’s “shenanigans” and wouldn’t let him near her when her would come home after an absence.  She was scared he’d bring home VD. Jack apparently felt that was a bit unfair,  but within a year of divorcing Bessie, he married Charmian Kittredge, “his soul mate and perfect match”.  Per Wikipedia,

” In broad outline, London was restless in his marriage; sought extramarital sexual affairs; and found, in Charmian Kittredge, not only a sexually active and adventurous partner, but his future life-companion.”

Nice.

The jury seems to be out with regard to London’s death.  It’s been a popularly held belief that he committed suicide.  Most biographers now agree, however,  he died of uremia aggravated by an accidental morphine overdose.  Whatever the circumstances, London died November 22, 1916 at the age of 40.

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Jack London wrote about the harsh realities of nature.  His language was visceral and brutal, but also beautifully written.  This was a good book, and I have to say, Buck the dog is my favorite main character to-date from my New Year’s Resolution books.  I liked Buck.  I liked him very much.

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Bookmarked

April’s Book Selection

“With the aurora borealis flaming coldly overhead, or the stars leaping in the frost dance, and the land numb and frozen under its pall of snow, this song of the huskies might have been the defiance of life, only it was pitched in minor key, with long-drawn wailing and half-sobs…”

Buck

The most eloquent dog ever!

Anyone want to join me?

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Bookmarked

Treasure Island

intelligent-pleasures-classic-literature-8175964-575-349I didn’t hate this book!…And I won’t lie, I was scared.   Frankly, Crane and the Red Badge of Courage were a bit of a set back for me.  I went on a binge of pleasure reading to clear my head.  Mostly pulpy nonsense like Lee Child or Debbie MacComber.  Book after book of pure fiction indulgence until I could again bring myself to step into the ring with literature of the masculine variety.

So I puzzled over where to go next and finally I picked a book based solely on a practical metric-word count.  Because quite honestly, if this book had sucked it like the Badge of courage did, I needed it to be short.

But it didn’t!  Hooray!

robert_louis_stevenson_by_sargentRobert Louis Stevenson was born Robert Lewis Balfour Stevenson in Scotland in 1850. He was a sickly child-pale, thin and perceived as eccentric. As he moved into his 20’s, he embraced Bohemian dress and cheap pubs and brothels.  When Robert fell in love, it was with a married mother of three named Fanny de Grift Osbourne.  He followed her to the United States where they fell into an affair that culminated in her divorce and their marriage in 1880.  (I think I’m beginning to see a pattern in the personal lives of these guys. They’re a hot mess!)

In the summer of 1881, Stevenson was on holiday with Fanny (and children) in Scotland.  Forced indoors by rainy weather, Stevenson and his stepson, Loyd, whiled away the hours creating and coloring a treasure map of an imaginary treasure island. Stevenson’s imagination was sparked and he began to write a short story based on the map to entertain the family. First published as a book on May 23, 1883, it was originally serialized in a children’s magazine between 1881–82 under the title Treasure Island or, the mutiny of the Hispaniola with Stevenson adopting the pseudonym, Captain George North.

Treasure_Island-Scribner's-1911

I’m sure you’ve all seen the movie..so I won’t prattle on, but here’s a quick overview:  The story is narrated by young Jim Hawkins.  He’s likable and he’s not stupid.  Yes, I liked him (as opposed to the dodo in the Red Badge of Courage).  From the beginning of the tale, there is suspense and high adventure. A treasure map falls into Jim’s possession, and he soon finds himself at sea with bearings set for Treasure Island!  Cool.

So here’s what I liked about it:

  • There was an authenticity to Stevenson’s characters in the book, and he dealt with moral ambiguity on a very interesting level – especially considering it’s a “children’s book”.
  • John Silver is a rascal of the first order! I love a villain that you find yourself liking consistently through the story, don’t you?
  • Stevenson was a gifted writer.  There were passages in the book I would stop and re-read because they were quite beautiful.images

It was amazing to me, how much of what we consider to be typical “pirate lore” seemed to originate with this story.  The songs, the parrot, the dialect…yes the dialect.  Predictably, Stevenson utilized  a heavy dialect for his characters throughout the text.  Accurate and contextual?  I’m sure. Written dialect just isn’t my thing.  It was done well, but I could have used less of it.

When he wasn’t using dialect though, he was pretty awesome.  I’ll leave you with a brief passage,

“I have never seen the sea quiet round Treasure Island.  The sun might blaze overhead, the air be without a breath, the surface smooth and blue, but still these great rollers would be running along all the external coast, thundering and thundering by day and night; and I scarce believe there is one spot in the island where a man would be out of earshot of their noise.”

treasure-island-photoWhat are you reading?  Share with me.  Or better yet, join me in my literary adventure.  Check out my 2013 Resolution and I’ll keep you posted on my next selection.

Have a great weekend!

 

 

2013 Resolutions · Bookmarked

The Red Badge of Courage

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So I may have mentioned that January was  a month consumed by work.  I did, however, manage to complete the first month of my New Year’s Resolution.  My first stop on what I have affectionately coined my “dude lit” trip was Stephen Crane’s The Red Badge of Courage.

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Download it for free on your Kindle, or pick it up at your local library.  This was a quick read.  This famous Civil War classic is about a boy named Henry who, overcome by patriotism and fervor, enlists to fight for the Union in the bloody, prolonged war between the states.

The long and short of it? Henry’s internal battle with cowardice proves to be as dangerous as the real-world battle raging around him.  I’m no spoiler, so I’ll skip straight to my take on this classic.  It wasn’t for me.  I was glad to turn the final page.

I just kept thinking to myself.  “Buck up, Henry.  Get on with it.  What are you doing?  Stupid!” kind of in a recurring round.  I lost patience with Henry.  Could it be that I’m just short on patience in general as of late?  Sure.  Should I some day discipline myself to re-read this classic?  Maybe.  Will I? Nope.

What was good about the book?  Crane’s prose bordered on poetry. Some of his description-specifically of the natural world providing the stage for his wartime drama, was beautiful and placed you at the scene in a most effective and gratifying way.

Not surprising that Crane was heralded as one of America’s “earliest examples of Realism and Naturalism.”  If I had read that statement prior to reading the book, I would have been better prepared.  I hate that period of literature (no offense to all the good people who enjoy it).  No wonder I had hallucinatory flashbacks to Sister Carrie and my 400-level Realism and Naturalism literature class.  Yuck, I say! Not for me.

I’ve read several reviews of the tale where the reviewers cited how remarkable it was that, having never fought in war, Crane was able to capture the emotion, and ultimately, the changes wrought by  battle.  When I read that he hadn’t experienced battle, however, I was relieved to hear it.  The narrative hadn’t registered as realistic to me. (not that I would know) It just seemed to validate my overall impression of the book to find that Crane hadn’t lived the experience first hand.

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Criticism aside, however.  Crane was a hottie, and his biography was actually more interesting to me than his book.  A contemporary of Joseph Conrad and H.G. Wells, he worked as a war correspondent, kept company with known prostitutes, and died of tuberculosis in and German sanitorium at 28. Kind of looks like a young Tom Selleck there, doesn’t he?

Sorry-be patient with me.  I am trying to expand my tastes and experiences.  I think I may go read Persuasion again, though,  to blot out the lameness poignancy of Henry’s story.  Let’s just call it a palate cleanser-kind of a literary sorbet, if you will.

Have a wonderful week! I’d love to hear what you’re reading.

General

The Enemy of Leisure

A month.   That’s how long it’s been since I’ve posted.  January 8th-February 10th.  That’s whack.  Why?  You may ask-I’ll be glad to share.

Work.

A month of grueling, thankless (except for the paycheck), work.

It’s the enemy of leisure, you know.  So I’ve had to be selective with my time.  Kids…hubbie…tired.  Fatigue is also the enemy of leisure.  I haven’t been completely off-goal, but I have been very limited.  I’ve done some reading, and I’ve done some knitting, and that my friends, sums it up.  Throw in a couple of rented dvd’s and a few good meals and I’ve just recapped the last month in 105 words.