Category Archives: reading

Twilight

In between knitting socks, working and toddler time, in the last few weeks I read the Twilight series. I wasn’t sure what to expect. The Host, also by Stephanie Meyer was a really good book – brilliant sci-fi and completely un-put-downable, but there had been so much hype about Twilight that I was sceptical about it.

It turns out that there was no need for scepticism. I loved reading them – I haven’t devoured a whole series like that since I found Trudi Canavan’s Magician trilogy. It is a pity that they are so well known, because I already went into them knowing the whole vampire/werewolf/human aspect (and now you do too – sorry). The suspense of the reveal of each of the characters would have been interesting  without notice.

The thing that I found most interesting was the struggle for morality. What is good and evil? Who has a soul? How much danger can you put someone you love into? I liked that Meyer redefined her vampires and werewolves – they don’t follow all the classic rules, so you never quite know their limits. I’ve given the books back to the person from book group who I borrowed them from. If not, I think I might have to read them through again to see what I missed the first time.

Anyone else read them? What did you think?

Fickle, fickle, fickle

So my sister is not getting a pair of socks on her birthday. Thank you for your comments – some very good ideas. I have one complete sock and two inches of toe. This will blatantly not have transformed into a completed sock by morning, so I am going to keep them until I can give them to her in person (about 3 weeks time). Three weeks to complete the sock will still take some fairly serious concentration, so why do I feel the need to start a new scarf? I’ve spent the evening watching The Devil Wears Prada and knitting in a rather lacklustre fashion on the sock.

I have diagnosed the problem: a serious case of second sock syndrome. This is a well known knitting malaise, here combined with an oncoming attack of startitis. You see, I’m what the Yarn Harlot calls a process knitter. Knitting for me is all about learning new things, figuring out a new technique and mastering it. Why knit something twice? Am I going to learn more on the second sock? Perhaps – it has the slight interest of having a mirror-image of the spiralling pattern of the first sock, but I’m not sure that is enough. The finished object is rarely of great interest.

I have another single sock completed – this one being a complicated multi-cable-stitch pattern. I decided to postpone casting on the second one so I could meet the deadline of my sister’s birthday. Who was I kidding?

Fickle, that’s what I am when it comes to knitting. Can’t the world understand that the Moebius cast-on is much more exciting than plain knitting in the round with the odd increase here and there?

In other news, I am having a bit of a children’s literature theme. I’m loving reading Winnie the Pooh to Rusk and I’m also reading the Chronicles of Narnia ‘for work’.

And relax

It has been a very relaxing couple of days.

Yesterday included a trip to the beach, meeting up with some people from college. They kindly took over the sandcastle building duties and kept Rusk busy for a couple of hours. Sensible boy: he point-blank refused to paddle in the North Sea. I had thought that this week might be my only chance of a warm day on the beach and a swim in the sea, so I tried. I really tried, but it was just too cold. My friend who had accompanied me corroborated my story of only intending a paddle (to mid-thigh) in the first place. At least the Irish Sea feels warm after a little while – I knew it was a mistake to come East.

Checking out a new tea-room came next. Three Cheers! There is somewhere to buy fairtrade, decaff coffee within 2 miles of home, and they do take-away. We admired the piglets and pigs who were sunning themselves in their enclosure, then headed home to play Bananagrams. This is a totally addictive game and I recommend it to any people who like to play with words.

When I got up this morning, Mr F asked me why I hadn’t gone out last night. Oops – funny how meetings just slip your mind when lovely people spontaneously come to visit. I discovered subsequently that the meeting had just assumed that because it was my day off I wouldn’t be there. Normally I wouldn’t have, but having had the rare occurrence of a week without evening meetings, I had planned to go. No-one (except you and the person I talked to about it this afternoon) need ever be the wiser.

I had book group this morning. I think we talked about books only a couple of times in the hour, but very much put the world to rights. I’m currently waiting for the second Steig Larsson, having devoured the first one a couple of weeks ago.

This afternoon I took Rusk to a parish coffee afternoon. He was at his most charming and spent a good half hour climbing in and out of the patio. He collected half the toy stall and put it ready for us to take home, but then changed his mind and put it all back on the stall. He also became fascinated with the tombola drum – this got quite expensive and we didn’t even win anything!

Finally, after Rusk was in bed (his big bed for only the second night), we settled down to watch the finale of Doctor Who with home-made curry and a cold beer.

Phew! This relaxation lark is tiring.

A Miscellany

First of all, thanks Ian for your comment on the previous post. I can’t really recommend a good place to start with Thomas Merton, since The Seven Storey Mountain is the first thing I have read by him. It is, my comments from the other day notwithstanding, very readable and interesting.

I’ve had a really busy couple of days in the parishes, so did not see twitter at all for 48 hours or so. Lots of interesting things to read. Here are a few of them.

It seems there was a Panorama programme about chocolate, more specifically about child labour within the cocoa trade. The fairtrade chocolate people have been responding (here and here and probably elsewhere as well), pointing out that the part of the programme showing a fairtrade producer was dealing with how the fairtrade organisation stops child labour when they find it happening. Good. I shall continue to eat Dark Divine.

An incredible knitting project has finished. Most people knit one sock at a time. Some knit two at a time on one long needle. This guy knitted 14 at a time on one humongous needle. One pair for each day of the week – makes sense when you think about it. His knitting bag is even bigger than mine.

I don’t often blog about maths but, given I studied it first time round at uni, I feel the need to reassure Joe Taxpayer that their contributions were not in vain and I am still interested in the subject. A famous mathematician (yes, there are others) has apparently refused or is about to refuse another big prize for his work solving the Poincare Conjecture. He is Russian, and some Russian charities are asking him not to refuse the prize, but to accept it and donate the cash to good causes in Russia. Interesting. Should charities hold people to ransom like this? I don’t think so. Should people turn down legitimately earned money because they have enough? Maybe if the money would then automatically go to support another mathematician and further the course of human knowledge. Maybe not, if they can see a better use for it that they can influence. I’m in danger of siding with the charities here, and I’ve not even started in on the relative merits of academic work and child poverty.

Finally, I’m very excited about this software. Openshot: A non-linear video editor for Linux. I’ve looked at video editing stuff for the Mac and rather liked the look of it – this seems to be a start for Linux. I’ll install it after my next Ubuntu upgrade. Why do I always seem to have a hankering for upgrading a month before the next release? The end of March/beginning of April seems to send me into software envy every year. It is worse this time – I didn’t upgrade to Ubuntu 9.10 since I was too busy when it came out. I’ve since tried it on a live cd and found that the touchscreen on my laptop works! I cannot overstate how cool I find this to be. My laptop has a turny-roundy screen that folds down so you can use it like a piece of paper. I’ve never actually used it because it only worked in Windows up to now and I only use windows once in a blue moon and have no data on that partition at all.

In other news, I’ve nearly finished the book my book group started reading in December. Villette by Charlotte Bronte. I read it 10 years ago and loved it, but could remember nothing about it. Loving it even more this time. I suggested a Jasper Fforde book for this month, on the grounds that I have read it and so get a month off! I hear it is being quite well-received.

http://www.traidcraft.co.uk/news_and_events/news/panorama_response

Academic Writing

I’m sitting in my office/spare room, surrounded by piles of books. The dissertation is nearly at an end, but the final few days are proving to be hard going.

Since I can think of nothing else to write about that won’t take up valuable thinking space, here are the books that have reached the top of various piles of stuff on my desk:

  • Deadly Innocence: Feminism and the Mythology of Sin – Angela West
  • Texts of Terror: Literary-Feminist Readings of Biblical Narratives – Phyllis Trible
  • Birth Traditions & Modern Pregnancy Care – Jacqueline Vincent Priya
  • The Book of Common Prayer
  • Families in Britain  – Ed. R.N. Rapoport et al

A question: Can you guess the topic of my dissertation?

Just saying

There is some irony in having spent an afternoon this week in a ‘caring for self’ session and then having a preliminary to-do list of 10 items that absolutely must be done today before it turns into the study day it is meant to be. This is of course because the time I would normally do a good many of these things was the afternoon I spent in that session. Ah well. It was a good session and I was reminded of much interesting and useful information (such as the benefits of setting aside time to study). Still a little frustrating.

In case you were wondering, blogging is not on the list of 10 things. I am doing that as a nice extra, since 5 of the 10 things are done or delegated.

Today would also be the day that my copy of the new Diana Gabaldon book, An Echo in the Bone, arrived. Despite not being published here until January, there was a deal with the UK publishers that if you pre-ordered a copy from Amazon or similar  and sent them your receipt, they would send an export copy at the same time that it was published in the US. There is absolutely no chance of getting to read it today (well maybe if I write 500 words of dissertation this afternoon I might read a chapter or two… or three).

So knitting – Daisy asked for a picture of the hat. This will be forthcoming in due course, as will a work in progress picture of my Strictly socks. Not socks to be worn while watching Strictly Come Dancing, but socks to be knit in the bits where you don’t actually need to watch it. With half an hour of Strictly It Takes Two to watch every weekday, as well as the weekend shows, these are growing nicely and the Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock is doing something very pretty and spirally with the colour variations.

While on the subject of Strictly, my favourite Strictly results site has moved to here: http://bit.ly/VhoCR. Why not go and have a look?

Update on No-Cake Month. One cake of pastoral necessity eaten and three biscuits (including one malted milk that I was tricked into eating). I think I might make it – only 4 days to go.

OK back to sorting out things for Church tomorrow. I have just ordered a book of intercessions that has emergency intercessions written for each Sunday, all tying into the lectionary Gospel reading. This will make last minute changes of plan and personnel easier to cope with, but will not help with the intercessions for Sunday evening since a) there are no more postal deliveries before then and b) I am not using the lectionary reading. Lord, in your mercy…

Knitting again

I have spent this evening partly re-reading Michael Ramsey’s The Christian Priest Today and then, as a reward for doing theology reading on my day off*, I have been bringing my Ravelry page up to scratch, uploading photos and updating project details.

The knitters among you may be surprised to hear that yesterday, for about half an hour, I had NO works in progress. Not one. I have finished the mittens, the clapotis and even the miniature stocking that was for my sister at Christmas last year. Don’t worry, I started another miniature stocking in a different pattern so I would not be fretting unduly in the night.

Future knitting plans include a hat to accompany the mittens (it gets quite chilly here and we don’t heat the church building for morning and evening prayer). I say ‘accompany’ rather than ‘match’ since the colours couldn’t be more different. We’ll see. I may make more mittens to match at some point. I also have plans for more socks – some in a toe-up pattern so I can see just how long a skein of Shepherd Sock will go and some using fairisle.

Anyway, here are some pics of the stuff I have recently finished.

Clapotis + Esme

This was Esme helping me to lay Clapotis out pre-blocking.

Broad Street Mitten open

And here is a mitten. You can see the mitten top that folds over the fingers when needed.

It was a bit tricky taking pictures of both mittens, given that one hand was needed to operate the camera shutter, but I found the timer switch and here you go. Never realised how pretty the radiator was before…

Broad Street Mittens

Clicking on any of the photos will take you to many, many more photos of yarn of various sorts. Feel free, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.

In final knitting-related news, the dpn that I lost during the mittens turned up  down between the (non-removable) sofa cushions this evening. I’ve only looked there about 20 times already. Anyway, much rejoicing.

PS Day 3 of no-cake month complete. Still 5 cakes of pastoral necessity remaining

* I have a study morning on it tomorrow, led by the Bishop. I just thought it might be wise to do a bit of revision.

Feeling moved

What a week! Finally back on the internet at the other end of the country. Just five more boxes of books (all on theology – how will I ever have time to read them?) to unpack (and a few other odds and ends).

Mr F and Rusk are adjusting well to the new place. The cats are somewhat bemused, but Esme has finally figured out how to jump stairgates so she is generally happier.

Those of you who pray, please remember us over the next couple of weeks as I am ordained deacon and start working here. Please also pray for these parishes!

Book looting

Some time ago, an item appeared on the local news. The lease on a warehouse full of books had expired and the company had disappeared, leaving it full of books. The landlords were inviting the locals to come and remove any they pleased.

This sounded like something not to be missed. I have never looted before, although this was sanctioned looting so not quite the same thing. It was a depressing sight. I went on the second day. On the first day people had taken most of the shelves, discarding piles and piles of books into mountains on the floor.

Interesting dilemma: Can I tread on books? Even to get to other, better books? I overcame my scruples and did some scrambling to get a couple of gems I spotted.

I was hampered by a couple of things from making the most of this opportunity. First, I had Rusk in his pushchair with me. In order to make this less of a problem, I had brought two bookloving friends with me who had promised to take it in turns with me to mind him while the other two of us scavenged. This meant, however, that there were 3 people plus Rusk & pushchair to fit in the (quite compact) car before we even started to fit books in.

Nonetheless, the loot was worth it. I ended up with I think about 16 books. Some (Penmarric by Susan Howatch) I had been looking for, some I had wondered about and decided not to spend money on (Bravo Two Zero by Andy McNab, The Rotter’s Club by Jonathan Coe) and some completely new to me.

It was a bizarre environment. It was quiet, like a public library. People were concentrating hard. One guy (a book dealer?) had driven his transit van in and was stuffing it full. Others had brought suitcases. There were quite a few mums with pushchairs. Some were carrying the baby, while the pushchair was stuffed with books.

All in all a very weird day. Thinking back (this was now a few months ago), I still don’t feel quite right about the whole thing – not sure why. Nearly all the looted books that I have read have gone back into the system now via local charity shops.

RC25-26

I had a congratulatory comment from Mr F this evening (in person, not on blog) on having actually written something. Well, here is another one. Just routine reading round up, but what do you expect the week before the end of term? (Oh help! It appears that I finish college this week. Are they really going to ordain me in a few weeks? It would appear so).

RC25
(Read a couple of months ago, but lost under a pile of other books)
Dead Famous by Ben Elton
Now I love murder mystery, and I used to watch Big Brother (only the first few seasons, while it was cool… you know). This book is a fantastic murder mystery and cleverly captures the superficiality of the celebrity culture. Funny, tragic, unsettling. Ooh it was a good read.

RC26
Friends Like These by Danny Wallace
Danny seems to make a living out of being on slightly ridiculous quests. Here is yet another one. At times a little laboured, but still funny, it tells the tale of one man’s quest to get back in touch with his past before his thirties consume him.