Skipping a Beat: Or, the Tempo Revs Up

Dear Readers,

I have been thinking of you quite often over the past few weeks. For one thing, I really wanted to post at least once every month this year, and was all ready to pop in on the last day of March, even if my entry only said “Made it!” And yet, somehow, I missed it. For once it is productivity that is stopping me, for now when I have both energy to do something and time to do it I find a dozen different projects lie happily at my feet. Thus the theme of this blog, I suppose. A woman of many hobbies, and devote of none.

To show how much I’ve thought of you I have some pictures. They prove my intent to share these mini-milestones, for I certainly do not take them for myself, and I have yet to start instagraming. See, here’s one from March showing the first little seedlings:IMG_0687

Behold, arugala (I’m pretty confident about this, but considering the lemon balm/lime basil incident. . . . ). There are also little poky leaves which are either cress or borage (or lemon balm, I suppose). Now that they are developing real leaves I’m siding towards borage. The dill is coming out too now, its seedlings like little blades of split grass. A volunteer army from last years horridly lanky pair. Saturday I went out and “weeded” as an excuse to stare deeply into the dirt and soak up the beautiful warmth of the sun. I did a little thining, and confirmed that the mundane looking seedlings in the door-wise corner are indeed cilantro, as I hoped. The seedlings smell of it all ready, and I wait in hungry anticipation for the summer. All I need now is for some of the winter thyme to show itself and my joy will be complete, as far as the large box goes.

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Look, whales!

Oh, what is this picture? Knitting? Yes, do not be shocked, this is a glimpse of a Christmas present for the Geekette. Finished in March and given hastily before I could find yet another thing wrong with it. I am really happy about them, but those decreases on the left hand! Finishing wool mittens in March was an excellent strategy to chase away the chill weather, but not a good idea if you want immediate confirmation of their long-term comfort. That’s okay, they are done and it’s not her birthday. I can cultivate a little patience for the weather’s whims.

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Now this is really for you, I have been learning HTML and CSS. Prior to this I’ve picked things up mainly by poking into themes and making Decollate – fun but maddening. This time I am trying to learn from the ground up. I have watched the first few videos of Do Not Fear the Internet, interspersed with the appropriate lesson section from Code Academy. Here is my review of Code Academy after completing their basic website course: they make things quite easy to follow and allow hands on application to drive each point home. I love this way of learning, their use of badges and percentages, and their general layout. Only three things have annoyed me so far:

1) The window where you get to see your changes magically manifest is buggy (in Safari) and instead of scrolling you have to select the contents and drag in order to see anything below the top two inches.

2) The website likes to refresh and Boot You Out. I googled it and, for once, I’m not the only one with this problem. Frustrating but not really a big deal (it usually saves your progress).

3) The course I’m taking is how to make a website. We had just gotten started on the topic that I really, really care about – positioning – when they pulled out the magic wand and shouted “Bootstrap.” I think bootstrap is cool and all, but not in a class. Please teach me how to actually position things first, and then introduce me to possible shortcuts. I’m taking their HTML & CSS language course next and I’ll let you know if it covers the subject any better.

Between these two sites I am learning quite a bit, and you can keep up with my progress here (when I finally insert a link ^_^ EDIT: Done!). Eventually I will be able to make my own theme, and then there will be no stopping me (bwhahaha!). Look forward to it!

 

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A more recent picture of sprouts.

Doing what I love


“What a foolish thing he was doing, walking like this under an open sky, with a beautiful man child for any evil spirit passing by to see!… and he said in a loud voice, ‘What a pity our child is a female whom no one could want and covered with smallpox as well!..'”        

– Pearl Buck, The Good Earth

You know those people who love to work because their work is what they love? That is, what they get to call work happens to be, for them, a passion. I never thought I’d be one of those people, well, not in a while. When I was six I naturally assumed it, I knew without a doubt I’d be a librarian. And now I find myself actually living like this, being required to do what I love. What is it I’m doing? In a word: reading. 

              I finished Moll Flanders on Sunday, I’ll reserve judgement for after the group discussion, but I don’t think Defoe quite managed what he set out to do. It is mean spirited of me, but I’d have rather she died a penitent in Newgate than live to lie another day. I start Pamela on Wednesdayuntil then I’m reading Pride and Prejudice. Yes, I have read it a million times already, but this time I have to read it. Woe is me, I’ve been ordered to read an Austen. I’m also reading Macbeth and various poems (Free Verse, none of which are to my fancy, so I’ll spare you the names). That’s all for mandatory reading.
                  On Thursday a beautiful package arrived at the post office. I picked it up and opened it with restless hands eager to stroke the spine that they knew was enclosed. Ah, the smell of books – especially books with end papers, gilded

 edges, and leather covers – can simply not be surpassed by earth, chocolate, or even bread. The book’s contents are as much worth mentiong as its aroma. It is The Good Earth, by Pearl Buck, on loan to me from my grandfather,  and it is about Wang Lung and his family. Wang Lung is a chinese peasant who works hard for his food, understands the value of land, and worries, when he gets too happy, that the spirits will punsih him. The facts of his life, even the few everyday ones, are so different from anything that I have ever known that the book cannot help to be diverting, though there is no intense plot (of course, Moll Flanders didn’t have much of a plot either). 

               To top off my week from paradise, I’ve actually cast-on for the second sock and have already knit to the heel. This is the fastest I’ve ever knit a sock, not to mention the closets cast-off/ cast-on time for a pair. But even this pales to dinner on Friday: quiche and apple pie toped with vanilla ice cream, all made with a friend in the spirit of anything-goes.  
                  

The Great Annual Review of Summer Accomplishments

“Who reflects too much will accomplish little”
– Schiller, Wilhelm Tell, III, i (qtd. in Bartlett’s) 
        Oooh, my first ever loaf of bread!

I have left my family’s house again, and in leaving have had to admit how much I’ve left unaccomplished. I had such plans of pleated wrap skirts, neatly sewed; Cute cardigans, and colorful shrugs; Books devoured and carefully recorded… And amidst all this I was to keep a careful schedule with you, oh unseen reader.
                 I did do some things though, let’s see I made an apron. It took one day to cut and sew, and only ten minuets to learn that you should not practice making button holes on an item intended for wear. The button hole debacle, combined with the ribbon fraying  fiasco, extended an otherwise short project, into the netherlands of eventually. I did finish it though, and I rather like it. I used one of my mom’s aprons as a guide, but added criss-crossing straps (One of the missionaries had an apron with these kinds of straps and I adored wearing it, even if it meant doing dishes). 

                      At the start of the summer Theo and I started our fist cardigans. She’s knitting Hey Teach, and I’m knitting February Lady. See my little progress bars on the side? It’s the Je Ne Sais Quoi bar, the one that is only 15% complete. I’m really winging the pattern, since I’m using a lightweight linen yarn instead of the recommend wool, so I keep having to try it on to make sure I’m on the right course. Though this sounds simple, it involves finding loose string and transferring half a million little stitches onto it, and then back off it when I’m done. If I could just get over my dislike of this process I could reach the lace portion of the sweater in no time.

Another First Button Hole
            While avoiding the Lady, I finished another lonely sock, and made a Knit Picks order. City Tweed (in Plum Wine and Habanero), Comfy (in Cypress),  Imagination (Damsel and Frog Prince), and  Wool of Andes (in Pewter). 
Yum….. Yarn. Shouldn’t yarn be enough of an accomplishment for anyone? 

(Dis)May

“Authors…. As much creatures of the reader’s imagination as the characters in their books.”

– Alan Bennett, The Uncommon Reader
I stare around me in equal parts delight and dismay. The first month of summer (as the school year has taught us to call it) has been and gone, with only memories too prove it existed. Here are my vital signs to prove I have been virtually active during this period of blog silence:
Favorite song on Pandora: Laura Gibson’s “Hands in Pockets’ – I love the lines “So goes another winter slowly/ Hands in the pocket of my coat.” The whole song invokes the feeling of fortitude one must draw on to get oneself through the cold school days that seem to last so long. Now that it’s summer I can enjoy the coolness of the melody even more.  
Recommended Blog: The Family Trunk Project – this is, at first glance, a knitting blog maintained by a designer. But the premise of the blog, as suggested in the title, is unique. The author is slowly designing a pieces of clothing for each of her parents, grandparents, etc. Reading how she translates her relatives’ characteristics into knitting is interesting no matter how you look at it. But even if you couldn’t care less for textiles, you should definitely Open The Family Trunk and take a peek at her history. One day, I am confident, she will inspire me to get acquainted with my own relatives. 
              I have also been making waves on the crafty front. I’ve made an apron (which still needs to be re-hemmed and buttoned) and I’ve received the yarn for the February Lady Sweater. I’m making it out of a beautiful french blue linen yarn know as Euroflax. If you are  familiar with this yarn and this pattern you may be wondering what I’m thinking. Do not fear, I’m prepared to make drastic changes to the pattern with the help of my calculator and ruler. But first my needles have to arrive. Theo has already started her summer cardigan project. It’s not a race of course, but I’m going to have to knit fast to catch up. 

Clouds for Cookies

It’s a cold, clammy, cloudy day. Everyone trudges to their rooms and shuts their door tight, as if able to lock out the lack of sky. For there is no sky today, just a whiteness above us. And not just above us, but around us, stretching down the sides of the mountain, seeming to continue behind distant buildings. It feels as if the whole world is encircled in fog, or perhaps it is only our lives here that are so shrouded. At any rate, the cold seems to creep even into our bones as we, the pressured, stare paralyzed at the approaching due-dates that have popped up with all the warning that accompanies a mushroom. If only we could turn our clouds to cookies. 


                But it’s okay, we had our sun on the weekend. For those who are interested it went really well, by the way. The ball, that is. My dress was finished in time, my safety pins stayed pinned (more or less), and the actual dancing was thrilling. For some strange reason the ladies out numbered gentlemen 2.5 to 1, which caused a quite a bit of laughter and merriment for the simple reason that, when two people wearing hoop-skirts do anything together, they take four times the room usually required.  Lots of skirts were stepped on, but no dreams were trampled. 
Oh, and I managed to drop and break my camera just before the ball. 
              The above mentioned due dates have driven me to knitting, which should seem counter intuitive – if not, I’d advise therapy. I’m knitting fish with my sister, lakes and lakes of fish. They are about as brainless as you can get, all garter stitch glory. They are also as colourless as the clouds, in other words, nothing to make conversation out of.  Another way of, uh, encouraging that inspirational nirvana known as last minute panic, I’ve started thinking about my books, and even my scripts. The later being very appropriate, considering it is Script Frenzy month, according to the blogosphere. 

                In honor of this event I downloaded Celtx, a nifty piece of script writing software, and started transferring old projects into it. I’ll write you a full review in a few weeks (read: May), but at first glance it is ingenious, free, and not technically meant for novels.