Life, eh?

I could post the 40-odd maps and two information panels I’ve drafted in the last week or so, but I really don’t want to look at them now, given that I’ve got 40-odd maps left to do and the drafts will come back for revision. Dwell on the positive, that’s what I say. I often fail to do so, but I do try. There are some FOs: D’s Pink Socks were finished yesterday evening in a frantic rush while watching Ramsey’s Kitchen Nightmares. I don’t mind his language – it seems an integral part of his character. Besides which, if I were dealing with some of the situations he encounters, I daresay I’d be swearing too. Better that than solving the problem forever with a very sharp knife…
These are *incredibly* pink. Lorna’s Laces in Bittersweet, straightforward garter rib, toe-up with heelflap (thanks again, Miriam). I made a stupid mistake at the top of the heelflap, picking up too many stitches from the gusset, but I fudged a solution that seems to be invisible. Actually I made several stupid mistakes, but that’s the only one I didn’t rip back and repair. I don’t mind fixing lace, but undoing and remaking the wrapped stitches on the short rows seems unduly masochistic. As I was taking that photo I decided to undo the cast-off and try again to do the Zimmerman sewn one. If I can get that right, I should have all the knowledge to make perfect socks — and send a better-looking pair to D in Canada. Then it’s simply a matter of using the knowledge correctly, which is not simple at all. What else? Sourdough bread…
And I’ve got cooked squash to make the Sephardic Pumpkin/Squash bread from Glezer’s book (strangely not available on AmazonUK). She’s compiled some really interesting recipes (Joanne, do you have this book?). Sadly I lack the energy to make more bread today. Other than flatbread for lunch. Must go and see if that’s risen yet.

Anyway, socks for me next. Kirsty’s ‘Mountain Fruit’, which will make my feet look as though I’d filled my shoes with berries. I fancy lace. On second thought maybe not socks. A present for other appendages might be sensible. I wear my t-shirt and shorts to the gym and exercise class in all but the coldest weather. My legs don’t mind the temperature (or at least I don’t notice them minding), but Raynaud’s Disease can affect my fingers quite badly. It’s not painful, but it’s weird and unpleasant and disconcerting and I’d prefer to avoid the really bad attacks when all my fingers go corpse-white (actually a revolting yellow). I find keeping my entire arm warm, particularly below the elbow, seems to help a bit. So I’m very tempted to knit some seriously cool, er, warm arm/hand warmers. I’ve got yarn for some. Several, if I’m honest.

And… that’s Blue Heron Beaded Rayon in ‘Old Gold’. With added Dyson. He’s recently decided to ‘help’ wind skeins into balls. That’s my environmentally-sound centre-pull ball winding device, by the way: a slightly-crushed tube from a toilet roll. When ball is wound, finish crushing tube, extract it, use as firelighter. The yarn is for an experiment in entrelac. We don’t get out much at any time; even New Year’s Eve is usually spent reading in front of the fire until it’s time to say ‘Happy New Year’ to each other and the cats and go to bed. For some reason I can’t quite fathom we decided this year to Go Out, to a party held by a restaurant we rather like. Now, I think this may require dressing up a bit. I can do that, provided it’s black, but all my handbags (I always think of that as spoken by Lady Bracknell here, fourth quote down) are capacious things for holding yarn and pocketknives and my PDA, a book, hand lotion, a water bottle, spare glasses, a scarf, a notebook, pens, pencils, a handkerchief (I must be middle-aged), and items of shopping smaller than a refrigerator. So I thought I’d knit one, a small elegant one, and learn entrelac at the same time. In my copious spare time…
It’s got a bit more blue and green In Real Life. Incidentally, in case you’re wondering, I know where everything is on the bed desk visible behind Dyson. I can find anything. It might take a couple of hours minutes, but I can find it.

Anyone out there own a lot of books? Those who do might be interested in LibraryThing. A friend was unimpressed by the notion of an online catalogue until I pointed out that the site can add your books automatically, simply by looking up the ISBNs. All by itself. Just upload a file of ISBNs (I do 75-100 at a time, that being one shelf-full of paperback fiction) and leave it chuntering away. It’ll tell you if it was unable to find a record. (You can even import lists of your purchases directly from Amazon.) Your library can be public or private, you can enter discussions about books (as if I had time), you can get recommendations and dis-recommendations, and it compiles ‘fun statistics’. For example, I have eight books that are each shared with only one other user. I’m working hard to raise my ‘median/mean book obscurity’, which measures how few books I share with other people’s libraries. When I first encountered LT I first thought of it as evidence to prove to our insurers that our library existed, should we be so unfortunate as to lose it (doesn’t bear thinking of!). But the best thing of all is that the next time I spot what looks like a new book by an author I like, I can check online to see if I’ve already got it. I’m not as pathetic as it might seem — we’ve got over 2000 books, most of which are a long-standing (and sitting, and lying, and stacked two deep) collection of SF, and publishers have a nasty habit of re-releasing volumes in new covers, sometimes with new titles or in collections with new titles.

Thinking of books, which I do (truthfully) even more often than I think of yarn, what do you read? Fiction, non-fiction? And why do you read it? I’ve been mulling over comments made by Sir John Mortimer on R4 last week. He was interviewed regarding a piece in one of the papers, in which he’d said his worst nightmare would be to be trapped in the company of people discussing hobbits (or words to that effect). He reads only ‘literature’, i.e. books that illuminate the ‘human condition’ (whatever that means. Chekhov and Shakespeare were mentioned), and sees no reason for adults to read books about hobbits or goblins or, you know, fantasy. Adventures. Fun with fairies. I understand his view, although I’ve always thought it arrogant to blithely write off so many books as worthless. After all, SF is an opportunity for authors to explore what happens to the human condition when individual humans (or humanity as a whole) meets unusual challenges. Neil Gaiman’s ‘American Gods’ comes to mind (time to re-read it), as do most of the works of C J Cherryh, who investigates many aspects of being ‘other’ where the other may be isolated by race, nature, intelligence or culture. I’ve not learned anything new that I regard as useful from Shakespeare, Chekhov, or a host of other ‘classic’ authors. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy reading the books… most of the books… although I’d gladly substitute blank paper and permanently-sharp pencils for the complete works of Shakespeare on my desert island. I watch the news. I’ve had an interesting life. I know, fairly well, what humanity is capable of on this planet. And, frankly, I want to escape from it, which is SF’s unique gift: the best SF takes me somewhere else, to worlds where humanity and those it meets may be burdened with a lesser weight of history, or bring with them the wisdom to remember it.

Having suggested Joanne post more pictures (I wanna see a crack house, I wanna see a crack house!), I’d better do the same. This is the view from the window next to me, taken about 2 minutes ago:

We’re on the edge of the village and you’re looking south, towards high(er) ground. We’re at c. 35m above sea level, and a chalk escarpment that you can’t really see in the distance (about 2 miles away) rises to about 100m. Much of the large green field is a Scheduled Ancient Monument (SAM), because there’s a Roman villa under it; the blobs in the distance are barns and scrubby trees growing on spoil heaps from a 19th C excavation. Photos of that field during WWII show mature elms (lost in the 1970s to Elm Disease) and a tidy array of USAF nissan huts (there was a fighter airfield in the next parish). Now it’s grazed by sheep. You may just be able to discern the trees planted along the boundaries by the current owners; village gossip suspects that as soon as the trees screen the field from the village, the field will be filled with houses. I don’t like the thought, but the history is, in essence, a record of change. I look at the field and remember that sooner or later nothing will be as I remember it.

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About sarahw

A zoologist who draws, a spinner who weaves, a person who thinks.
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3 Responses to Life, eh?

  1. Joanne says:

    Hey there, what a long juicy post! (I didn’t comment on the last one, as a non-UKer, I couldn’t make much of it apply…) OK, I do not have that cookbook. I have a shelf absolutely bulging with cookbooks, but if you think that one’s a good bread cookbook, I’ll think on it. I make dependably good challah, brioche, crusty and noncrusty white and whole wheat, and pita breads..but I do explore occasionally.We aren’t going out on New Year’s,unless something wild happens to change our minds…I read a lot of fiction & mystery, and some non-fiction. Some of it is “classics” and some of it is just fiction that helps me escape here. I don’t read much fantasy or SF. I did just read Real Food by Nina Planck and it was fascinating.I’ll have to describe my town more to you, the info. about your field’s history was fascinating. AS for the crack house, well, it looked like a dumpy white house made into apartments when it was a crack house. Now it is half covered in vinyl tan siding, in the midst of being redone. It was bought by a new owner right after all the crackheads were arrested,and he wanted to re-claim it. So far, I don’t mind construction days on the house, but I love the quiet better. I’ll write more about the crack house someday soon!

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  2. sarah says:

    Crumbs. I just re-read that and found some horrible nesting brackets. What do bracket eggs look like, I wonder. Glezer’s book was recommended to me by the residents of rec.food.sourdough (I think that’s the one) when I started trying to make ‘deli’ rye, having never eaten many deli rye breads. It’s got some interesting recipes.

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  3. Debby says:

    Your post has all my favorite things: pink, cats, and books. This is the second mention of Library Thing I’ve seen, so I have to go check that out now. It sounds like fun!I’m not an SF reader, but I remember a quote (which I’m going to mangle) that said something like, people who write and read SF & Fantasy are the most intelligent, because it requires a suspension of everything we know to enter into a world with completely different rules than our own. I have a new respect for it now, realizing that it’s “easy” to read realistic fiction and enter a world you know about, but much harder to enter an SF world with different beings, laws of nature, etc. Can’t wait to see your Mountain Fruit project. I have been wanting some of that Piece of Beauty yarn badly. 🙂

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