Monday, February 27, 2006


... well, at least my photo is. Combined in this pic, in a wonderful yarn-ish symmetry, are the 100% Merino Aran sweater I bought in Ireland, the 100% Irish yarn (Don't ask what type, I am not very clear on the details of the purchase. Yes, I bought yarn w/o a label. Shuddup. I was overcome by the sheep outside or something.), and the 100% knit-by-me-but-not-in-Ireland dishcloth. It is green, so I guess it fits the Irish theme, right?

I am pretty happy with the dishcloth (for those of you keeping track of such things, this is my second knit object. Woo-hoo!). The pic doesn't do it justice, as there is a pretty neat ripple pattern on it.

On the plane to and from Ireland, I read two books. I did bring crocheting, but found I couldn't really get into it. It made me too aware of the non-passage of time. ("Oh look, one row done. And look, I still have another seven hours and thirty-two minutes on this flight.") So the books came out and I became so engrossed in them, that it didn't really matter if time was passing or not. The first one, Eva Moves the Furniture, I would give two thumbs up to. The language is deceptively simple, and it sucks you into a tale of a woman and her two invisible friends in wartime Scotland. Sounds odd, but the characters are well drawn and the end very moving (i.e., Jen was crying on the plane!). The second book, Eragon, I was less impressed with. I have been reading alot of young adult fiction lately and was expecting quite a bit from Eragon. Good reviews, best seller, and all that nonsense. So I was disappointed to find it trite and a basic rehashing of every fantasy "coming of age" novel out there, owing quite a debt to The Lord of the Rings and Anne McCaffrey's Dragonriders of Pern series. If I was kid and had never read any other fantasy book, I would probably have enjoyed it more. As an adult, I would give it a so-so rating... but probably won't be reading the sequels.

Well, I had best get back to my knitting! And my poor hubby, who is suffering from a massive headache and generally not feeling all too well...

Friday, February 24, 2006

Eireann go braugh! (Warning: pic heavy)

Yup, I have returned (however unwillingly) from the land of eternal green to the land of eternal gray skies! Our trip was wonderful. We had surprisingly good weather (only sprinkled a few times) and it was warmer than Michigan, so we couldn’t complain about that. If you have a map of Ireland handy (doesn’t everyone?), you can trace the basic route of our trip... we stayed in Mullingar (a little northwest of Dublin) with our pals that we were visiting. Nice town, but I didn’t take any pics of it. We took a three-day trip that went from Killarney National Park,

to Glengarriff where we stayed at a nice B&B (and ate the first of many enormous Irish breakfasts... any meal that includes several varieties of meat is a little too much for me!), and then drove the entire Beara Peninsula.

What can I say about Beara? Some of the most rugged, breathtaking scenery EVER. If you have a choice between the three most popular “scenic” peninsulas in Ireland (Beara, Ring of Kerry, and Dingle) I would say ignore the more “popular with tourists” Ring of Kerry and go for Beara or Dingle. Anywho, after Beara, we headed through the Gap of Dunloe

(note: Irish roads? One lane most of the time with no shoulder. Going through mountain passes? Can be a little dicey!) and up to Dingle. Stayed the night at a lovely B&B called Doyle’s

and went pub-crawling. Two highlights of that evening for me: Stopping at the pub that was a hardware store by day and a pub by night, and listening to Irish music and watching the pub patrons dance reels in another local pub. As it isn’t tourist season yet, pubs and restaurants were not packed with fellow Americans but with actual Irish people (fancy that!), just hanging out. It was lovely. After Dingle, we headed over another mountain pass and headed north towards Tralee. Eventually, we took a ferry across the River Shannon and then headed back towards Mullingar. And then collapsed because that is a lot of driving! LOL

We also spent a day in Dublin (which I had visited several times before but the hubby had not) and visited the Book of Kells at Trinity College and the National Museum. And we spent a day at the Fore Abbey in County Westmeath, which was built around the 7th century or so.

But, you may ask yourself, where is all the yarny goodness that I REALLY want to see? Well, I haven’t taken pics yet, but stay tuned for the beautiful Aran sweater I bought myself, as well as the lovely tweed yarn.... And let me just say this. Sheep? The CUTEST animals ever!! We were considering trying to smuggle one back with us. Seriously.

Until next time, BAAAA-Bye. (That was incredibly corny, I know.)

Friday, February 10, 2006

Dia daoibh! (Translation: Hi There!)

I finished “The Golden Compass” by Phillip Pullman. I cannot say enough about this book. I thought it was one of the best books I have read in a long time, even if it is a “kids” book. This review from pretty much sums up the reason why:

“In The Golden Compass, Philip Pullman has written a masterpiece that transcends genre. It is a children's book that will appeal to adults, a fantasy novel that will charm even the most hardened realist. Best of all, the author doesn't speak down to his audience, nor does he pull his punches; there is genuine terror in this book, and heartbreak, betrayal, and loss. There is also love, loyalty, and an abiding morality that infuses the story but never overwhelms it. This is one of those rare novels that one wishes would never end.”

It’s true… I wish it hadn’t ended! And am itching to start the next book in the series!

Not much progress to report on craft-wise. I have been working on this shrug for about a week… and I am not really enjoying it. This is partly my fault, and partly the pattern’s. My share of the blame is that I am not crazy about the yarn I picked. It is a bulky black boucle by Ironstone that I am pretty sure is too bulky for the pattern. Of course, I can’t be sure, because the pattern just says boucle for yarn used. No weights, no suggested yarns, nothin’. So I guessed and am now wrinkling my nose at the way the yarn looks as a shrug everytime I crochet! LOL But the main reason I am not enjoying this pattern is that the pattern is just not very explicit. No bust measurements, no “now reverse the right side to make the left side,” no details on how I am supposed to know where the heck to stop seaming the shoulders at! Ggrrgggh. I have been figuring it out as I go, but as this is my first piece of clothing, I had really hoped for directions that were a bit more clear!!

Oh well. Enough of my griping! (And a loud cheer erupts from the readers!) So, on to happy things… like… I am going to Ireland on Monday! Hopefully, this is what we will be seeing:
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I am so excited, it isn’t even funny! I have been in Dublin and Northern Ireland several times, but have never seen much of the countryside. So this time, we are visitng Cork and doing a nice long drive along the coast…mmm…. Scenery-rific. (And yes, I picked this pic of Kerry because of the sheep in it!) And this will be my hubby’s first visit to the country, AND I will be visiting some very dear friends that I haven’t seen in awhile, AND not working for a week and a half, AND… I think I have short-circuited!Hope ya all have a great couple of weeks…Slan go foill!

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Odds and Ends

I finished my February Granny Square for the swap at Crochetville. It should go in the mail today... but I didn't take a pic of it! Oops! I had some measuring issues near the end (apparently, I can't read a tape measure correctly and ended up with a 13" square. GACK! There was a little frogging involved.) but fixed everything and it looks pretty darn good (if I do say so myself!).

We had book club on Sunday and talked about The Great Fire by Shirley Hazzard. The group was split pretty evenly on whether they enjoyed the book or not; I was in the "yes, it grew on me" camp. I can see how people would NOT like it, though. The dialogue reads like a 1940s movie... which isn't really a good thing. But Hazzard's ability to turn a descriptive phrase into a symbol for something more is often pretty impressive. And the novel offers an interesting insight into post-war Japan which I hadn't read much about. So I would give this book... hmm... maybe a B-? We have been in a bit of a reading rut lately in the old bc, so I am hoping our next book, The History of Love, will be a hit.

Back to yarn chatter... we have Sit-n-Stitch tonight, so that is exciting. Maybe I can finally work on my shrug. I bought the yarn like two weeks ago, but became distracted by the granny square, and then by knitting the dishcloth, and then by reading for book club... I just have too many hobbies! LOL

Friday, February 03, 2006

A day late

I saw this Blogger’s (Silent) Poetry Reading today on several sites... a day late. But never having been one to let a little thing like timeliness stop me, I decided to participate!

So I started thinking, what piece of poetry really means something to me? As I have a BA in English Lit., you would think that the list would be too long to count. But the truth is, I have never been a big fan of poetry. Only took the one (!) required poetry class in college that was required to get my degree. I know, scandalous. All through college and high school, poetry always felt boring and pompous and not-like-something-I-want-to-waste-my-time-reading.

But I DO have very fond memories of a middle school English teacher, who actually made reading a few poems enjoyable. He taught them more as stories to experience and less as “what is the meter and rhyming scheme of this piece?” So, in Mr. Taylor’s honor, I give you two poems that I first read in 8th grade and I still enjoy because of him: Emily Dickinson’s Because I could not stop for Death and Robert Browning’s My Last Duchess.

BECAUSE I could not stop for Death,
He kindly stopped for me;
The carriage held but just ourselves
And Immortality.

We slowly drove, he knew no haste,
And I had put away
My labor, and my leisure too,
For his civility.

We passed the school where children played
At wrestling in a ring;
We passed the fields of gazing grain,
We passed the setting sun.

We paused before a house that seemed
A swelling of the ground;
The roof was scarcely visible,
The cornice but a mound.

Since then ’t is centuries; but each
Feels shorter than the day
I first surmised the horses’ heads
Were toward eternity.

That's my last duchess painted on the wall,
Looking as if she were alive. I call
That piece a wonder, now: Frà Pandolf's hands
Worked busily a day, and there she stands.
Will't please you sit and look at her? I said
"Frà Pandolf" by design, for never read
Strangers like you that pictured countenance,
The depth and passion of its earnest glance,
But to myself they turned (since none puts by
The curtain I have drawn for you, but I)
And seemed as they would ask me, if they durst,
How such a glance came there; so, not the first
Are you to turn and ask thus. Sir, 'twas not
Her husband's presence only, called that spot
Of joy into the Duchess' cheek: perhaps
Frà Pandolf chanced to say "Her mantle laps
"Over my lady's wrist too much," or "Paint"
Must never hope to reproduce the faint"
Half-flush that dies along her throat": such stuff
Was courtesy, she thought, and cause enough
For calling up that spot of joy. She had
A heart--how shall I say?--too soon made glad,
Too easily impressed; she liked whate'er
She looked on, and her looks went everywhere.
Sir, 'twas all one! My favor at her breast,
The dropping of the daylight in the West,
The bough of cherries some officious fool
Broke in the orchard for her, the white mule
She rode with round the terrace--all and each
Would draw from her alike the approving speech,
Or blush, at least. She thanked men--good! but thanked
Somehow--I know not how--as if she ranked
My gift of a nine-hundred-years-old name
With anybody's gift. Who'd stoop to blame
This sort of trifling? Even had you skill
In speech--which I have not--to make your will
Quite clear to such an one, and say, "Just this
"Or that in you disgusts me; here you miss,
"Or there exceed the mark"--and if she let
Herself be lessoned so, nor plainly set
Her wits to yours, forsooth, and make excuse,
--E'en then would be some stooping; and I choose
Never to stoop. Oh sir, she smiled, no doubt,
Whene'er I passed her; but who passed without
Much the same smile? This grew; I gave commands;
Then all smiles stopped together. There she stands
As if alive. Will't please you rise? We'll meet
The company below, then. I repeat,
The Count your master's known munificence
Is ample warrant that no just pretense
Of mine for dowry will be disallowed;
Though his fair daughter's self, as I avowed
At starting, is my object. Nay we'll go
Together down, sir. Notice Neptune, though,
Taming a sea-horse, thought a rarity,
Which Claus of Innsbruck cast in bronze for me!****************************************************
Thanks Mr. Taylor!

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

The zen scarf

... as seen in CrochetMe's Winter issue. I really like the way this scarf turned out, especially after it was blocked. My only quibble (and this is pretty minor) is that the article talks this up as a quick crochet... and I didn't think it was. I have never found it easy to crochet into chains, and there are a LOT of chains in this scarf! But as the end result is so pretty (and I was in no rush anyway) I will let the time factor slide. :-)

And here is a bit of a close-up of the yarn. I LOVE (read: adore, want to marry, and have its kids) this stuff. The color shifts are so subtle and the texture so... wooly. I guess that is the only way to describe it!

So, the major disappoinment of the day is that I was supposed to meet with up some of my normal Sit-n-Stitchers in an "off week" mini-meet type thing. And woke up today feeling lousy. And went to work feeling lousy. And finally left work early feeling lousy. So I did not go, but instead tried to recoup on the couch by watching Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (it didn't really work, I still feel lousy!). But, I was cheered up when I came home and saw my purty flowers a-blooming! My MIL bought me one of those bulb kit boxes for Christmas and it has really turned out well:

I could actually see the flowers as I drove up to the house! But I am rotten with flowers... can anybody tell me what the heck these are?

I think I am going to curl up in bed now and think "non-flu-ish" thoughts... good night, all!