January 31, 2012

January Medieval Summary

Where did I go?  Has anybody seen me?  I'm sure I was here just a second ago!

No, seriously, I've been a bit absent this week, and a little less active in blogging for a while now than I had been before the New Year.  There's a reason for that, which I now feel prepared to divulge.  I've been taking on a new challenge--over a year after being diagnosed with diabetes, I'm attending diabetic education classes and beginning the long slog toward getting my disease tightly under control, in order to live as long and healthily as I can. 

International Diabetes Federation

What with frequent blood testing, constant thought about what and when to eat, counting carbs until I see grams and ounces in my sleep, and generally dealing with the emotional repercussions of a serious diagnosis that I've been denying to myself for months, spare mental and emotional resources have been running a bit low.  Even some of my favorite weekly memes have slipped through the cracks recently, and I have decided that something has to give. 

Though it saddens me, I've decided to suspend my monthly "Read Your OWN Library!" Challenge for the time being, so that I can focus on other blogging commitments for a while.  I want to reconnect with friends at some memes, definitely wish to concentrate on my Medieval Reading Challenge for this year, and have a couple of upcoming guest posts I am very excited about.  I want to make sure I don't spread myself too thinly, so that I can keep being fully engaged in everything I am doing.  For all those of you who have been doing the RYOL Challenge with me, thank you so much, and hopefully we will be back in the future.  You're a small group, and people I've come to count as genuine blogging friends.  Thanks for your understanding and support.

Moving on to the Challenge at hand--can you believe that January is over already?!  Those who are joining me in the Medieval Reading Challenge this year, how has the effort gone for you so far? Did you dive in as soon as 2012 began, eager to bring Medieval tomes to life again?  I must admit, with everything that has been happening, my reading life generally got off to a sluggish start this month, and though I'm back in fine form now, the Middle Ages haven't worked their way in yet.  I hope for much better things in February; after all, I've got 12 of them to get through!  I'd better get a move on.  Whether you're reporting triumph or disgrace, however, we still want to hear from each of you.  Give us a post summarizing your first month's efforts, and link here with the linky below.  Good luck to us all as we begin the month of February!

Circling Along

Another week gone already, and my goodness, hasn't it been a week of yarn crafting?!  Well, it has for me, anyway.  Friday I attended my first monthly meeting of my new church's prayer shawl circle; since I didn't yet have their pattern, I just took along some yarn for a new baby blanket I've been wanting to start and got crocheting on it while I got to know everybody a little.  So, two crochet baby blankets in two different colorways going at once right now, and one of them is almost finished.

The big victory this week, however, was that I cast on a new project onto my newly-acquired CIRCULAR NEEDLES!  Are we so proud? Because I am.  Yes, after five years of scheming, dreaming, and several disastrous failed attempts, I am finally making some headway on the Ravenclaw house scarf I have dreamed of knitting.  Indeed, it was my ambition to make this scarf that drove me to learn to knit in the first place!  It's slow going, obviously, since I'm a very new knitter.  Even the halting rhythm I have slowly begun to build up with regular needles still hasn't developed yet on the circular ones, so it's definitely going to be awhile before it begins to look like a scarf, instead of some kind of yarn covered halo, but still I'm terribly pleased with my progress.

For any Harry Potter fanatic like me who may be wondering (because I would be, if I were you), yes, I will be using the Ravenclaw house colors as described in the BOOKS, blue and the closest I could find to bronze, rather than the blue and silver of the films.  Anything worth doin', etc., you know?

And what have I been reading in the interim since we last met?  Nothing less than one of the greatest writers in the history of the English language--yes, I have finally read Jane Austen's Mansfield Park.  I feel almost as proud of getting through that thrilling but linguistically challenging tome as if I had written something monumental myself!  If you've never read the book, let me just say that while the effort is absolutely worth it, the way that Jane Austen's language twists and writhes in this one may leave you feeling like you're trying to navigate a dense maze without even a breadcrumb trail, let alone a map.  Don't give up, but be sure to bring a lot of patience and your best attention with you!

January 26, 2012

WTF?! Wednesday Rides Again

WTF Wednesday is an extremely irregular feature on this blog (i.e. there have been a grand total of two thus far).  These are infuriating or laughable weirdnesses that life serendipitously sends me, and I figure life wants you to know all about them, too.  That life--what a joker!

Just a little something I found in a Barnes and Noble parking lot, and immediately knew I had to share a picture of it with you all.  I swear, I never touched it, but if its arrangement is a coincidence, then I'm the newly-crowned winner of the Miss America pageant.

The Finger

See, don't you feel in a better, much snarkier mood already?  I just love WTF Wednesdays!

January 25, 2012

My Oscar

"You like me! You really"--okay, that'll be quite enough of THAT!  Still, it was very exciting to me to receive my first ever blogger award this week!  I know some bloggers consider awards of this type a very well-intentioned nuisance, but I am NOT one of those.  I suppose, if you've built up a huge following and would probably be getting an award from someone every other day, it would be impossible to deal with, as you're supposed to pass them on.  But for my little blog, which is only a few months old and slowly making its way toward 60 followers, this is red-letter day, and it feels wonderful to have someone recognize and enjoy all the hard work I've put into this venture.

Thank you so much, Jean of Finding Your Gibbee, for bestowing upon me the Versatile Blogger award, and now it is my responsibility to make the following public service announcement, after which I will have the joy of passing this award on to a few more bloggers.  Hopefully, it will make their day as cheerful as receiving it made mine.

The rules of this award are as follows.

-In a post on your blog, present at least 5 fellow bloggers with the Versatile Blogger Award.
-In the same post, include the Versatile Blogger Award.
-In the same post, thank the blogger who nominated you and link back to his or her blog.
-In the same post, share 7 completely random pieces of information about yourself.
-In the same post, include these rules.
-Inform each new winner of their award by posting a comment on their blog.

My chosen recipients are

And finally, 7 random facts about me, your fascinating hostess.

*Blue has been my favorite color my entire life.  I'm really quite obsessive about it, actually.

*I love green cocktail olives, unadulterated with pimento or anything else.  All other types of olive I've ever tried tasted disgusting to me.

*I'm a PK.  (If you don't know what that means, just thank your lucky stars and go on about your life.)

*With a combined total from kindergarten to graduate work, I was in school for 25 years.

*My mother taught me to crochet, my paternal grandmother taught me embroidery, and I taught myself to knit.

*Thus far, I've been a fire-breathing Pentecostal, a member of the Eastern Orthodox church, and an Episcopalian, and that was just the first 34 years.  Imagine what I may get up to before I die!

*I'm an armchair Egyptologist.  My great ambition is to write a novel about ancient Egypt (because the world just doesn't have enough of those yet, right?)

Bonus Fact:

Yarning Along--FINALLY!

LOOK!  Look, look, look!

The Christmas afgan is FINALLY finished!  ALL finished.  Ends woven in and everything.  I feel like I just won a Nobel prize for astrophysics or something.

Also, the first baby afghan is coming along nicely.

Even my current choice of reading material leaves me with a sense of pride and accomplishment for several reasons.

1. There ARE far easier things to read than Jane Austen written in the English language.
2. I've been a devoted Austen fan literally for decades.  HOW could I have left out not one but TWO of her canon of works until just now?  Mea culpa!
3. This book is required by two challenges I'm currently supposed to be finishing.  Hopefully I'll get through it before the "deadline".

So, there we are.  I hope your week was productive, filled with yarning delight and reading joys.

January 21, 2012

The Further Adventures of Brigid the SuperToddler

You know, I figure if I tell you about nothing but my brilliant and adorable child all the time, you'll get bored pretty quickly, so I try not to make Brigid the focus of every post.

HOWEVER, that having been said, it occurs to me that I haven't given you all an updated, in-depth report on the SuperToddler's adventures in quite some time now, and since it's been very adventurous around here lately, there's no time like the present.

My daughter is much prettier than my artistic talents can ever reflect,
but her hair REALLY DOES lead this whole other life of quiet desperation sometimes.

First, the I Know You Won't Believe This, But I'm Going To Tell You, Anyway story.  SuperToddler is 2.75 years old.  (Yes, she'll soon be a toddler no more, and then I'll have to concoct a whole new nifty handle for her.)  I swear to God, I think she's reading on the sly.  You see, my two-year-old already recognizes the entire alphabet on sight.  No, I don't coach her and then she parrots me.  I stand in another room, hear her calling out, "D. E. R. B. Y!" and walk in to find her looking at a board book about horses.  I'm not even kidding.  Today, she told me all day long to "lisTen" to her, with a very pronounced T.  I'll give you a moment.  *Jeopardy theme song* Aaaaaaand the penny drops.  HOW DOES SHE KNOW THERE'S A 'T' IN THAT WORD?!  Exactly.  I've been wracking my brain all day.  I can only advance the following theory.

On one of her favorite tv shows, Charlie & Lola (I've already turned her into a BBC addict!), there's an episode called, "I am completely listening and also hearing," and they flash the title of each episode up on the screen at the beginning.  To my knowledge, this is the ONLY place Brigid has ever seen the word written out, and there is no way to know there's a T in that word just from hearing it pronounced in either British or American English.  If anyone has a better theory, I'm totally open to hearing it, because it's starting to creep me out a little.

The big excitement of the past two weeks, though, has been the discovery of an ancient civilization that has been one of MY obsessions for years.  Apparently, there's an Egyptology gene, and we have it.  Backstory: I have a whole bunch of very intricate coloring books, meant to be colored by freakish grown ups like me that still enjoy a good coloring book, and published by companies like Dover and Bellerophon.  Before you even start, NO, these are NOT "adult" coloring books!  They're just really detailed designs, like knights in chain mail armor and Elizabethan English fashions.  Because of my obsession with all things ancient Egyptian, I have by far more coloring books about Egyptian costume, religion and daily life than I do about anything else.  My beloved SuperToddler loves to flip through these, though she knows that somehow they're special and she's not allowed to color in them like she does in her coloring books.  She has also entered the non-stop "What's that?" phase, and whenever I answer that question, she repeats what I say again and again until it sticks in her mind.  The script goes something like this:

Copyright Dover Publishing

"Mommy! What's that?"
"Those are E-gypt-ians."
"That's right! Very good!"

Copyright Dover Publishing

"What's THAT?"
"Those are Egyptians, too."
"Yep, that's right!"
"What's THAT?"
"Oh, that's a statue."

The child now roams through the house, shouting, "EGYPTIANS!"  She comes to me while I'm on the computer doing something and says, "Get up! Egyptians!", which being interpreted means, "I want to get up onto your lap and look at pictures of ancient Egyptian art on Google Images like we did last time, and the time before that, and the time before that, and...".  I think the highly stylized lines and bold colors appeal to her. After all, they've held an almost mystical fascination over adults ever since Napoleon's men first rediscovered them in the 18th century, these images.  I've just never seen a 2-year-old so enamored with them before!

Queen Nefertari (NOT Nefertiti),
in case you were wondering

I swear to you, I am NOT making any of this up, and today, I got photographic evidence.  Remember when I reviewed the beautiful picture book by Demi called simply Tutankhamun?  Well, my daughter found that book, and is absolutely in love with it. 

See the pyramids?  Along the Nile, obviously.

She sits and "reads" it over. And over.  AND OVER.  Occasionally she asks me, "What's that?" or "Who's that?", but for the most part she just flips through and looks at the pictures, sometimes calling out the names of things as she turns the pages.  She now says things like "FINKS!" (which means "sphinx"), and "STATUE!", excited and proud of herself with each new accomplishment.  The other day, she identified an image of King Tut's death mask on sight, as we were sifting through pics on Google.  I won't make prophecies about her having a brilliant career as an archaeologist ahead of her or anything, but I AM excited at the thought that I'll have a fellow enthusiast with whom to discuss it all someday!

January 19, 2012

Because Geek Girls Do It Best

Okay, everybody, I had a mind-bending, life-altering experience a few evenings ago--and no, it's NOT what you're thinking based on the title of this post!--that I just have to share with everyone.  Up to this past Tuesday night, I had never bothered to watch any on-the-internet-only "tv" shows.  Hell, I don't even watch actual tv unless it's available on Netflix, is a DVD or Blu-Ray that I bought, or can be streamed from PBS. (DOWNTON ABBEY!!!!!!!!!!!!!  *Ahem*  That is all.)

But Tuesday night, I made a new friend on Twitter, one @geekyjessica.  All right, "friend" might be a bit of a stretch, since she's quite a bit more famous/popular in the Geek world than I am and doesn't know me from Adam, "but in this [pseudo-anonymous, internet-driven] world in which we're livin'," Twitter conversations practically equal life-long friendship.  I once got a Tweet response from Wil Wheaton, for Heaven's sake!  You know? Wil Wheaton?  Here, memory refresher.  (Sorry, Wil, I know you hate being equated with your character, but they don't recognize you without the uniform.  Some of them aren't true Trek believers.)

Photo Courtesy of Memory Alpha

If the name STILL doesn't ring any bells, I'm afraid I can't help you, but I really like you as a person, and we can still be friends.  :)

Sorry.  Nothing sidetracks me like a Star Trek: The Next Generation (ST:TNG) reference.  So anyway, Ms. Jessica Mills, aka @geekyjessica, writes, produces, and co-stars in an internet show called Awkward Embraces, which is SERIOUSLY entertaining and hilarious and maybe the best thing that's ever happened to Geek girls since Ron admitted that he and Harry would die very quick and painful deaths if they didn't have Hermione to bail them out all the time.  *Deep breath*  Also easily sidetracked by thoughts of Harry Potter.  Moving on.

Photo Courtesy of the Berry

Does the fact that I now find most of the cast of Harry Potter extremely hot make me a dirty old woman?  *nervously biting nails*  Okay, Jennifer!  Writing a post here.  FOCUS.

SO, Jessica Mills plays, well basically, herself in this show (except that since she WRITES the show, I'm seriously doubting she's as sexually naive as her character).  She's a Geek girl--actually, Princess Geek Girl, second only to our beloved Queen Jen of Cake Wrecks--trying to find love and, well, get laid in the 21st century.  Not everyone understands her obsession with Star fill-in-the-blank: Star Trek, Star Wars, Stargate, BattleSTAR Galactica.  Her two best friends, for example, continually remind her that she's a Geek--as if that's a bad thing!--but they love and support her, anyway, and all we fellow Geeks think her Geekery is a gift to us straight from God, I swear.  I watched all of Season 1 and nearly all of Season 2 IN ONE NIGHT, finally succumbing to the inconvenient need to sleep.

Wherefore, I hereby declare that if you are a Geek girl, or if you simply have a sense of humor, you need this show in your life, and having watched one episode, you will be eternally grateful to me for clueing you in about it.  I swear.  By Grabthar's Hammer.  By the Suns of Warvan.  You haven't seen Galaxy Quest, either?!  Okay, we seriously have to talk about that in ANOTHER post.  Meanwhile, you will be hearing more from me about Jessica Mills and Geek girls in general soon.  Don't say I didn't warn you.

January 18, 2012

In the Bleak Mid-Winter Wonder Land

Look at the package that was delivered to my house today!  Isn't it beautiful?!  I was every bit as excited as the SuperToddler about the whole thing.

View from our balcony
Photo courtesy of Good Man Michael--Mwah!

After two months of whining about NOT getting any snow, I am finally happy.  As far as I am concerned, snow is winter's only justification and raison d'etre.  I LOVE winter, but only when it snows.  A perfect night to FINALLY finish my "Christmas" afghan!


You may have noticed that I've done some temporary re-decorating here on The Beauty of Eclecticism, doing my bit to see SOPA/PIPA defeated for good.  If you want to know more about these pieces of legislation, I recommend you visit the SOPA and PIPA Wikipedia pages, which are the only pages accessible during Wikipedia's blackout.  While I'm not conducting a true blackout on my site, as you can see--partly because of simple lack of technical know-how, and partly because I'm really behind on some posts and need to catch up--this brown-out is my way of saying that I've had it with the US government thinking it can protect me by inconveniencing me, censoring me, getting into my personal space and strip searching me at airports, wire-tapping my phone and e-mails, and any other piss-poor idea they might try to introduce next.  As of this month, we lost our rights to habeus corpus and a speedy trial when a terrifying Legislature sent NDAA to the White House and a traitorous President signed it.  (Yes, I'm a Democrat.  Democratic and Republican politicians both were complicit in this crime against the Constitution.)  I'm fed up.  Aren't you?

Yarning and Yarning and Yarning Along!

OMG! Okay, people, after last week's slump, I got the push I needed to get back into yarning WITH A VENGEANCE!  I don't mean I got enthusiastic; I mean I crocheted for about 6 hours straight one night.  My hands...went numb.  Yeah.  Not even kidding.

So, why the big explosion of all things Yarn Craft?   Well, it was a confluence of several stimuli, actually.  First of all, remember I promised last week that I was now going to turn my attentions to my first true knitting project, my lovely scarf?  I actually did so early in the week, and though it may not look like much, I was almost giddy with excitement at my little beginner level of progress.

So much so, in fact, that I got ridiculously ambitious and tried to jump straight into the scarf that "started it all," the Harry Potter house scarf that I've been determined to make for almost 10 years.  Which has to be knit in the round.  Either on circular needles, or double-pointed needles.  And the only circular needles I had in the house were waaaaaaay too long.  And the only double-pointed ones I had in the house were my husband's bamboo ones.  Size 5.  And I already knit too tightly.  It was a very painful, evening-long fiasco.  (Yes, Michal tried knitting once.  Get this: he was great at it.  He just didn't like it that much.  Prefers spinning and weaving.  Don't men make you SICK with shit like that?!  It's like how they can't cough without losing 30 pounds off their gut, but I can't lose weight anywhere except in my breasts, the one place I would like to KEEP it.  Okay.  Deep breaths.  I feel better now.)

ANYWAY, obviously, that trauma was so great that I really did walk up to Good Man Michael and say, "This incident is dead to us.  We shall never speak of it again."  True story.  I swear.  Also obviously, I had to move on to some stellar crochet triumph with a ridiculously easy project IMMEDIATELY to re-boost my spirits and confidence.  This is where the second stimulus comes in.

My new church does yarn crafts to give to local charities--baby blankets for teenage mothers at the local high schools particularly caught my eye, so the poorly-taken picture above is a little granny square afghan.  It makes me go all dewy eyed every time I think about some sweet little bundle being wrapped in something I made for him or her.  Notice the sort of soft, garden-like colorway I chose; I figured, it's suitable for boy or girl, and it's as close to pastels as I'm ever going to get, because I hate most true pastels.  Anyway, nothing rebuilds your faith in your own crafting ability like a fall-off-a-log easy granny square.  Hurray!  I bought enough yarn to make four little blankets, and maybe enough left over for a matching hat to go with a couple of them.  I'm pretty excited, I must admit.  It feels good to be part of a community again, and I hope my little blankets will let someone who is going through a rough time know that someone out there cares about them.

P.S. I had to go with all acrylic, because it's cheapest, but if anyone wants to help me make blankets for these little ones out of softer, better quality yarn, all yarn donations will be gratefully accepted, and I'm sure the church will be happy to give you documentation for tax deductions and such.  If you're interested, let me know.  Either way, thanks for dropping by the blog today.  :)

January 16, 2012

The Victor's Mailbox

To the victor go the spoils, so they say.  Thus, my mailbox had a very pleasant week, more than making up for in quality what it may have lacked in quantity.


First off, let's talk about the book I bought for myself that finally arrived this week, though it was ordered before Christmas.  These are the joys of buying a used book from across the pond; it just takes a long time to get a book sent from the UK to the US when you don't pony up for expedited shipping.

Either way, the book finally arrived in all its glory this week, completing a set I've been determined to own since 2005.  I had to wait several years until even used copies of it were within my fiscal reach, especially considering the astronomical exchange rate between the US dollar and the Pound Sterling.  Yes, readers, I am finally the proud owner of--well, "a picture is worth" etc.

For any Americans who may be reading this and didn't realize until just now how much better the covers of the British originals are than the American versions, I am truly sorry to have forcibly altered your worldview in such an abrupt fashion.  Don't get me wrong; I LOVE the artwork done by Mary GrandPre in our American exemplars, and would consider any edition perfect that was the UK original with the Bloomsbury cover and GrandPre's illustrations inside, but since that's not available, I insist on owning copies of the originals.  "NOT ONE WORD HAS BEEN CHANGED," and all that sort of thing.  Sorry, got a little worked up.  Moving on.


I was incredibly pleased to receive this week a copy of The Victoria Vanishes, courtesy of a delightful giveaway hosted by Peggy from Peggy Ann's Post.  I honestly knew nothing about this book when I signed up for the giveaway, except that I'd been seeing it all over the place and the cover looked almost unbearably intriguing.  Naturally, it turns out that it's #6 in a series I don't own the rest of--yet!  Oh, drat, a whole new series I'll have to buy.  Unfortunate me.  Oh, the suffering.  HURRAY!  Excuse me.  Sorry.  Got a little worked up again.

Anyway, that was my exciting week, along with obsessively tuning in to every new episode of Downton Abbey and discovering Sherlock and holy sh*t! Where has that show been all my life?!  Okay, I've really got to get a handle on this bout of worked-up-outburst I'm suffering from, but it's true--I can't BELIEVE I haven't been watching Sherlock since the very beginning!  If you haven't seen it yet, put down your book for an hour (and yes, I realize I'm speaking sacrilege by saying that), flip open Netflix streaming and watch the pilot.  You won't be sorry (unless your viewing tastes are TOTALLY different from mine, in which case, I'm sorry in advance).  I'll stop rambling now.  Happy reading!

January 13, 2012

5 Minutes on the Dangers of Being Awake

Awake.  Ironic that this should be today's prompt, since at times I feel like I've been unceasingly awake for the past four years or so.  Mom's 3:00 a.m. panic attacks, triggered by a body that was shutting down and trying to warn her to fix something that could not be changed.  5:00 a.m. feedings with an infant.  Ongoing PTSD, with all the attendant lack of sleep and bizarre bio-rhythms that entails.  I wonder how long it will be before awake and asleep function properly for me again.

And yet, in the past few weeks, my husband and I have suddenly awakened, emotionally and spiritually, and it's like a whole new world descended upon this family.  He asked me about a week ago, "How did this suddenly happen?  Did someone go through the house and sprinkle 'rational dust' on both of us?"

Several installments of 5-Minute Friday past, I wrote--very obliquely--about a decision that was suddenly staring Michael and I in the face, a terrifying and yet enormously peaceful feeling that it was time to vote with our feet.  Saddening, in some ways disheartening, and yet such a relief, to have that decision finally made for good and all.  This past week, we made it officially.  Hand in hand, we woke up, cast our ballots for love, compassion, and being rational sheep, and walked back through the same door we had once pushed open as an entrance, and which served this time as an exit. 

No more standing just inside the doorway, being a refugee in the nearest safe haven because we had nowhere else to go.  You can be a refugee in a tent in an open field; you don't need special permission for that.  This time, I think I'll try finding a place to belong.  It doesn't have to be perfect; after all, we're not.  Its inhabitants just have to be honest about being as f***ed up and sinful as we are.  Lord, have mercy.  Christ, have mercy.  Lord, have mercy.  On us all.  Together.

January 12, 2012

Review of "Tutankhamun"

by Demi

This is a picture book (though that's a little like saying a Stradivarius is a "fiddle"), so it may seem odd to some of you that I have chosen to review it.  However, all of Demi's books are so gorgeous, and this one in particular so breathtaking, that I had to share it with you, and draw your attention to her work if you're not yet familiar with her.  Visually, her books are simply transcendent, like slipping into the best humanity's dreams have ever achieved.

Demi takes her research very seriously, another thing I greatly admire about her, so her copy that accompanies the illustrations reflects the best that current scholarship on the subject has to offer. 

"Can anyone spot the defect in this plan?"

Yes, that's right.  Demi's books occasionally become dated as scholarship continues to develop, and this one is the latest victim, since our beloved Zahi Hawass revealed more of Tutankhamun's story.  Still, I just find it impressive that Demi gave her bibliography.  And it included some of the biggest names in Egyptology.  In a "picture book".  Tell me you don't find that impressive.

For those who know anything about Egyptian art and language, I must warn you that a few of Demi's artistic choices, made no doubt for stylistic reasons, accidentally made someone or something say something she probably didn't intend them to.  But it's a flaw most people would probably never notice, and it's just so gorgeous that it hardly matters.  If you like Egyptology, history, or even just shiny things, you must give this book a flick through.

January 11, 2012

Positronic Words

I have been absent from Wondrous Words Wednesday for a couple of weeks, and I must admit, I missed all of you and your weird and wonderful words.  Honestly, I was in a bit of a reading slump there for a week or two, and only undertook to read one YA novel that really didn't contain any words that challenged me, hence my brief vanishing act.  But, I found an unexpected source this week in a Star Trek novel, of all places!  See if you knew these before I defined them for you; they were certainly new to me.

1.  integument--basically, whatever protects the outside: a shell, skin, or fur on an animate creature, the shell of an egg, or the surface of a plant.

2.  rictus--The sort of creepy, awful, seeming smile that people have on their face when their in the last death throes of something like the nastier poisons.  Ergo, it can also be a painfully, horribly fake smile.  I believe "grimace" would also work here.

3.  brio--pretty much this is just another way of saying gusto.

So, there you go.  Happy word hunting!

Barely Yarning Along

Okay, confession time--and that's an ironic choice of words on my part, as you'll discover momentarily.  Last week's boldly stated plans for yarning greatness certainly did not materialize.  There has been great upheaval in my family's life recently, all of which came to a head in the past week, and crocheting and knitting were among the first casualties of my distracted state of mind.  That's unusual, really, because normally, when something major is going on, I'd expect to want to crochet or knit MORE, to soothe my mental agitation, but this week, I was too busy reading.  The tale unfolds thusly.

Or actually, this is the very short version of the tale, because I wish to avoid all muckraking.  So, in a nutshell, this week saw the culmination of a long process for the Good Man Michael and I of deciding that we could no longer in good conscience be members of the Eastern Orthodox Church, and of our departure to the Episcopal Church.  My week was spent reading, researching and preparing to commune for the first time at my new church, our local installment of which is St. Paul's Episcopal Church.

In short, knitting was not part of my existence this week, and my only crochet accomplishment can be seen in the photo on the right: yes, I added about 2/3 of a row of ruffle trim.  Granted, this is the FINAL row, so if I ever manage to finish it (and to weave in the ends mentioned last week which at the moment are still blissfully free to flap about), the Christmas blanket that will never end may, finally, end after all.  We'll see.  As for what I've been reading this week, the enormous stack of books BEHIND the one row of trim should tell the story more than sufficiently, don't you think?  Hope your week was more productive, and a little less momentous.  Once in a while, momentous is necessary, even a good thing, but I think I've had enough revolution to last me a while, thanks.

January 10, 2012

Top 10 Late Lamented Authors

I've been compiling my list for the Top 10 Tuesday question this week, "Authors you wish would write another book," and it turns out that many of my favorite writers are dead!  I'm not sure what that says about me, or about the current state of publishing--probably nothing that profound, I'm willing to bet--but there it is, all the same.

Without further ado, "Bring out your dead!"

10.  Brian Jacques--the wonderful Redwall series that made us all believe that the characters of Watership Down could go badass in the right authorial hands. Requiescat in pace.

9.  Anne Rice--who is actually still alive, and therefore REALLY needs to write another in her Christ the Lord series.  To be perfectly honest, however, I can live quite handily without her adding to the already over-bloated vampire fiction population.

8.  Jean Plaidy--nom de plume of Eleanor Hibbert.  Oh, my dear, how I would love to see what your take would be on the MODERN royal scandals and sagas of the day, if only you were here to write them!  Requiescat in pace.

7.  Tom Clancy--I honestly don't know whether to consider Tom in the still-alive category or not.  They claim he is, but it's been so many years since he actually WROTE a book that has his name slapped somewhere on its cover that I have my doubts.  I begin to suspect that he's like the Chinese emperor whose body was embalmed and toured the country in a carriage because the government feared there would be too much instability if word got out that he was dead!  Tom, I miss YOUR books.  I'm thoroughly weary of everyone ELSE writing "your" books, though.

6.  Terry Pratchett--is definitely still alive, and very much still writing books, despite a diagnosis of Alzheimers, which kind of makes him my hero.  Seriously.  I include him on this list because, just for me, he needs to concentrate all his writing energies on keeping me supplied with new Nac Mac Feegle books the rest of my life, the darling wee scunners.  Wee Free Men Forever!

5.  L.M. Montgomery--Only in such a truly august company could the creator of my beloved Anne of Green Gables rank so comparatively low on the list.  The world will always need about a dozen more of her books, even if we won't ever get them now.  Requiescat in pace.

4.  Chaim Potok--It seems I'm just going to keep raving about this man on my blog until SOMEONE finally says in the comments, "Okay, I surrender!  I finally took your advice, read one of his books, and it WAS, indeed brilliant."  Anybody going to go ahead and do that on behalf of all the rest of my readers?  Because I promise you, the man was a genius, and the world has lost a great soul.  Requiescat in pace.

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3.  Sir John Mortimer--Nothing short of the death of his inventor, the final putting down of the pen, could make the incorrigible Horace Rumpole, barrister at law, stop appearing before the Old Bailey bench or the Uxbridge Magistrates' Court in defence of the Timson clan who were his bread and butter for some forty years.  We miss you, Sir John; you were an original, and a fine citizen of the human race.  Here's to "the Golden Thread that runs through British justice".  May I see genuine liberty revived in my lifetime.  Requiescat in pace.

2.  Jane Austen--Unbelievable that Jane is the runner-up here, I know, but still I must eulogize her a bit.  She was the first to teach the English-speaking world what strong, intelligent women could be, to decide for herself where her destiny lay, to prove to the world that a woman's mind could be the equal of any male writer's anywhere, and to lead the charge for staying single rather than settling for Mr. Wrong or Mr. "Eh".  To her we owe every strong female character from Josephine March to Miss Marple.  Without Jane Austen, there is no Hermione Granger, and we are all her spiritual daughters.  Requiescat in pace.

1. J.K. Rowling--She's the only author in the world who could beat out Jane Austen for the top spot, and I can give her no higher praise than that.  Ms. Rowling, the world is crying out for more of your extraordinary gift.  Even if you have no more Harry to give, it would be a travesty of epic proportions to never again use the astonishing talent you've been given to entertain, educate and inspire your fellow man.  Humanity needs your words, and I've never yet known a writer who could actually STOP writing.  Please, miss, may we have some more?
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