Someone Special

There is a lady who lives in a stone house in Pembrokeshire, Wales, within walking distance of the sea.  She started out as an illustrator, illustrating other people’s books, but then words found her and she began writing the books she illustrated.   Her name is Jackie Morris.  I’ve been following her blog for quite a while now, and it has led me to the most wonderful books.  If you have small children in your life, or you love wonderful words and magical artwork, you need to look into her books.   I cannot think of a more wonderful first book for a small child of any ilk than her “Tell Me a Dragon.” She has books about fairy tale swans, cats, snow leopards, bears in general, polar bears in particular, hares, seal children, and  traditional nursery rhymes.

For older children from the age about 8 to 100, there is “The Quiet Music of Gently Falling Snow,” which grew out of the Christmas cards she designs each year for The Musicians’ Benevolent Fund, a musician’s charity in the UK.  I can, and have, poured over the wonderfully intricate illustrations of this book for hours on end.

For the incurably romantic, there is her retelling of “East of the Sun, West of the Moon.” with its gorgeous illustrations.  She writes nonfiction as well.  Queen of the Sky is the real-life story of the rescue and return to the wild of a peregrine falcon who fell into the sea.

Perhaps her illustration masterwork is a collaboration with author Robert MacFarlane which resulting in a rare jewel of a little book called, “The Lost Words.”  The text begs to be read aloud, to people of any age, from babes in arms to adults, and the illustrations are just magical.  There has been an amazing response to this book in the UK with spontaneous fundraising campaigns springing up to put a copy of this book in every school in Scotland,  and in every school in various counties in England and Wales —  which have all been overfunded!

She’s even written books that others have illustrated.  One called “Mrs. Noah’s Pockets” is one that springs to mind.  It is a charming little children’s story about Mrs. Noah, (the wife of the guy who did the ark thing) which, like all the best children’s stories,  is full of wisdom and subtlety.

Photo © 2018 Jackie Morris

Today I was reading her latest blog post about taking time off to go attend a concert by singer/songwriter Karine Polwart.  On her way back, she stopped at The Works in Llandeilo, Wales, an old weaving factory filled with antique stalls, to stretch her legs and during her browsing, she discovered a Georgian wooden paint box — complete with paints, with both bricks of watercolor paint and tubes of paint, and painterly acoutrements . . . which dated near as she can tell from sometime between 1800 and 1818.  Of course, it went home with her.

Now that she’s got this magical paint box, there’s no telling what she’ll come up with next.

 

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Books Read in 2018

54. Hawk, Brust, Steven
53. Vallista, Brust, Steven
52. Tiassa, Brust, Steven
51. Iorich, Brust, Steven (reread)
50. Dzur, Brust, Steven (reread)
49. Issola, Brust, Steven (reread)
48. Orca, Brust, Steven (reread)
47. Athyra, Brust, Steven (reread)
46. Jhegaala, Brust, Steven (reread)
45. Phoenix, Brust, Steven (reread)
44. Tekla, Brust, Steven (reread)
43. Jhereg, Brust, Steven (reread)
42. *The San Andreas Shifters, Carriger, G. L.
41. Dragon, Brust, Steven (reread)
40. Yendi, Brust, Steven (reread)
39. Taltos, Brust, Steven (reread)
38. Why Kill The Innocent, Harris, C. S. (re-re-read)
37. Where The Dead Lie, Harris, C. S. (re-re-read)
36. When Falcons Fall, Harris, C. S. (re-re-read)
35. Who Buries the Dead, Harris, C. S. (re-re-read)
34. Why Kings Confess, Harris, C. S. (re-re-read)
33. What Darkness Brings, Harris, C. S. (re-re-read)
32. When Maidens Mourn, Harris, C. S. (re-re-read)
31. The Ocean at the End of the Lane, Gaiman, Neil (reread)
30. Cold Comfort Farm, Gibbons, Stella
29. Crystal Dragon, Lee, Sharon and Miller, Steve (re . . read)
28. Crystal Soldier, Lee, Sharon and Miller, Steve (re . . read)
27. Emergence, Cherryh, C. J. (re . . read)
26. Convergence, Cherryh, C. J. (re . . read)
25. Visitor, Cherryh, C. J. (re . . read)
24. Tracker, Cherryh, C. J. (re . . read)
23. Peacemaker, Cherryh, C. J. (re . . read)
22. Protector, Cherryh, C. J. (re . . read)
21. Intruder, Cherryh, C. J. (re . . read)
20. Betrayer, Cherryh, C. J. (re . . read)
19. Deceiver, Cherryh, C. J. (re . . read)
18. Conspirator, Cherryh, C. J. (re . . read)
17. Deliverer, Cherryh, C. J. (re . . read)
16. Pretender, Cherryh, C. J. (re . . read)
15. Destroyer, Cherryh, C. J. (re . . read)
14. Explorer, Cherryh, C. J. (re . . read)
13. Defender, Cherryh, C. J. (re . . read)
12. Precursor, Cherryh, C. J. (re . . read)
11. Inheritor, Cherryh, C. J. (re. . read)
10. Invader, Cherryh, C. J. (re. . reread)
9. Foreigner, Cherryh, C. J. (re . .reread)
8. Guilty Pleasures, Hamilton, Laurell K.
7. *Romancing the Werewolf, Carriger, Gail
6. *Imprudence, Carriger, Gail
5. *Prudence, Carriger, Gail
4. To Say Nothing of the Dog, Willis, Connie (reread)
3. The Perilous Gard, Pope, Elizabeth Marie
2. Emergence, Cherryh, C. J.
1. Convergence, Cherryh, C. J. (re. . read)

* Ebook

Books Read in 2018

43. Jhereg, Brust, Steven (reread)
42. *The San Andreas Shifters, Carriger, G. L.
41. Dragon, Brust, Steven (reread)
40. Yendi, Brust, Steven (reread)
39. Taltos, Brust, Steven (reread)
38. Why Kill The Innocent, Harris, C. S. (re-re-read)
37. Where The Dead Lie, Harris, C. S. (re-re-read)
36. When Falcons Fall, Harris, C. S. (re-re-read)
35. Who Buries the Dead, Harris, C. S. (re-re-read)
34. Why Kings Confess, Harris, C. S. (re-re-read)
33. What Darkness Brings, Harris, C. S. (re-re-read)
32. When Maidens Mourn, Harris, C. S. (re-re-read)
31. The Ocean at the End of the Lane, Gaiman, Neil (reread)
30. Cold Comfort Farm, Gibbons, Stella
29. Crystal Dragon, Lee, Sharon and Miller, Steve (re . . read)
28. Crystal Soldier, Lee, Sharon and Miller, Steve (re . . read)
27. Emergence, Cherryh, C. J. (re . . read)
26. Convergence, Cherryh, C. J. (re . . read)
25. Visitor, Cherryh, C. J. (re . . read)
24. Tracker, Cherryh, C. J. (re . . read)
23. Peacemaker, Cherryh, C. J. (re . . read)
22. Protector, Cherryh, C. J. (re . . read)
21. Intruder, Cherryh, C. J. (re . . read)
20. Betrayer, Cherryh, C. J. (re . . read)
19. Deceiver, Cherryh, C. J. (re . . read)
18. Conspirator, Cherryh, C. J. (re . . read)
17. Deliverer, Cherryh, C. J. (re . . read)
16. Pretender, Cherryh, C. J. (re . . read)
15. Destroyer, Cherryh, C. J. (re . . read)
14. Explorer, Cherryh, C. J. (re . . read)
13. Defender, Cherryh, C. J. (re . . read)
12. Precursor, Cherryh, C. J. (re . . read)
11. Inheritor, Cherryh, C. J. (re. . read)
10. Invader, Cherryh, C. J. (re. . reread)
9. Foreigner, Cherryh, C. J. (re . .reread)
8. Guilty Pleasures, Hamilton, Laurell K.
7. *Romancing the Werewolf, Carriger, Gail
6. *Imprudence, Carriger, Gail
5. *Prudence, Carriger, Gail
4. To Say Nothing of the Dog, Willis, Connie (reread)
3. The Perilous Gard, Pope, Elizabeth Marie
2. Emergence, Cherryh, C. J.
1. Convergence, Cherryh, C. J. (re. . read)

* Ebook

Moving Right Along

Things have been pretty same-old, same-old, except that I did write that center portion of the Cobblestone Lace Shawl pattern, and I’ve got one repetition knitted, two more to go. I’ve  got 12 more pattern repetitions of various patterns left to finish it: 2 of the center portion, 9 of the decrease and 1 of the ending pattern.  This is an old picture of it.  It’s about five inches longer now than it was then. 

I’m coming along nicely on my cable lace shawl (right).  I made a pact with myself that every time I sat down to knit on it, I would knit three repeats of the lace edging pattern, and I am happy to say I’ve now passed the halfway mark. I like to change up projects like this, because when you get this far along on a project, you practically have the pattern memorized, and then you start making mistakes — forgetting that Row 15 starts with a (K2tog) x2 instead of K2 like all the other right sided rows do.  or that the (yo, K2tog) on row 1 is x3 instead of x2 like the other right sided rows.  When that starts happening, I switch to the other shawl and work on it a while, which is what I’m doing now.

It’s been hot.  We’ve had a couple weeks now with highs in the 90’s F/32+C.  I shudder to think what my electric bills are going to be like.  They’ll most likely be higher than giraffes’ ears till well into October.   We still haven’t had any rain to speak of.  I may have to break down and water my yard.

Right now, I’m in the process of rereading the Steven Brust Vlad Taltos books.  Since I first read them in publication order, I am rereading them in chronological order.  i’m about 4 books in at the moment.

Life Has Been Keeping Me Too Busy To Blog

Sorry for the unintended hiatus.  As I noted, I have been having some health problems, which have not been helped by having had some adverse reactions to some new drugs my docs seem to think I need to take — not very nice side effects which necessitated changing things around.  That took about two weeks to get sorted out, and things were smoothing out and settling down.  Then out of the blue, I had a violently allergic reaction to something.  I ended up in the ER with hives and ITCHING from one end of me to the other.  Not fun.  I was taking several new meds and we didn’t know which might be the culprit that caused the reaction. I had to stop taking everything except two meds I’ve been taking for years that I was in the middle of bottles of, so I knew they were unchanged, and one I couldn’t stop taking.  I had to wait about a week to make sure that one new one was OK, which it was.  Then, one at a time, I added each new one back in until I identified the culprit.  Turned out it wasn’t one of the new meds after all.  The manufacturer of a supplement I’ve been taking for years decided to change the type of capsule they put it in to some kind of “vegetable capsule” to which I was wildly allergic.  Thankfully, I was able to find another manufacturer that put theirs in gelatin capsules, as it’s a supplement that makes my life a lot easier when I take it.

And then there was the matter of getting my car fixed. It did take right at two weeks and the guy’s insurance had to pony up over $4000, but Big Daddy got’er done.  I got a rental “loaner” to drive while it was being fixed, a little 2018 Chevy miniSUV, but it was one of those “keyless” ones.  So long as you have the little remote thingie in your purse or pocket, you can unlock the car by just opening the door and start the car by just pushing a button.  But I’ve got the Greyola back now, all fixed up, and my ride is back to normal again.   I missed it.

Not much to report in the knitting news, I’m afraid.  I’ve been batting around so much dealing with one issue and another that I haven’t had much peace and quiet to sit down and enjoy a good knit except when I’ve been at the computer.  I’ve got probably another 15-20 rows on the body of my (slightly modified) cable edged shawl (above) before I get it to the point where I’m ready to start the cable edging. As for the other one, I simply haven’t had the concentration it takes to work on it.  Thank goodness I’ve had the discipline to put in my lifelines after every pattern repeat, as I had to frog out a repeat and a half the last time I tried to work on it.

There’s a new Sebastian St. Cyr Regency murder mystery out by C. S. Harris (#13 in the series), and I’m reading up onto it from #7 to refresh my memory.  (Each of the books is stand alone, so you can start with any book in the series, but the reading experience is greatly enhanced by reading them in the (chronological) order in which they were written.)  The books  are well written and meticulously researched, and the characters are very three-dimensional and engaging.  One of the things I like about the books is that Harris sets her works, not in the romanticized glittering Regency of the romance novel, or the sequestered, self-contained world of Jane Austen, but in the gritty historical reality that was the Regency period in England (1811–1820) — warts and all —  the crime, the poverty, the inequities of the class system and the legal system, and the aristocratic attitudes and privileges that reinforce the status quo.

Another of the things I like about her books is that she sets them within their historical context, both in Europe and America.  Leading up to the period in which the novels are set was the American Revolution (1775-1783) and the loss of the American colonies, as well as the social upheavals of the French Revolution, which began in 1789, and the subsequent influx of French refuges into Britain fleeing the Reign of Terror.  During the time the books take place, Britain is fighting Napoleon on the continent (1803-1815).  In the first book, the hero, Sebastian St. Cyr, formerly a captain in the Duke of Wellington‘s army fighting against Napoleon in Spain and Portugal, has sold his commission and returned to England.  In one of the books, a plot point involves the British practice of stopping American merchant ships at sea and impressing American sailors off them into the British navy, one of the causes of the War of 1812, and we briefly meet Franklin, fils.   Another mentions a popular new novel called Pride and Prejudice, by the (at that time unknown) author of Sense and Sensibility,  and a certain black cat finally acquires a name.  Another involves a 3-year-old boy who will grow up to write a poem called “The Lady of Shalott.”   At the end of each book is an Author’s Note, in which Harris, who has a Ph.D. in 18th and 19th century European history, tells you what is actual history and what she changed, added, or manipulated to serve her plot — which is usually very little.  She also provides sources where you can read more about the particular issues or events featured in the plot.  Though the man character is a man, one of the historical themes that weaves through all her books is the issue of women’s status and women’s rights in Regency England and the roles society demanded that women play.  These themes are highlighted not only in plot points and the characters they involve, but are “made flesh” in one of my favorite characters in the books, a certain grey-eyed young lady named Hero.

You can read the Sebastian St. Cyr books on several levels.   They are entertaining and well-plotted, with engaging, well-rounded characters, a “good read.” But there’s plenty of meat on the bone — historical, sociological, psychological — to give you something of substance to chew on afterward, and maybe explore further.  Enough meat that they hold up to rereading very well.  And, yes, what Sebastian has (Bithil syndrome) is a for-real (though quite rare) genetic mutation.

 

Books Read in 2018

31. The Ocean at the End of the Lane, Gaiman, Neil (reread)
30. Cold Comfort Farm, Gibbons, Stella
29. Crystal Dragon, Lee, Sharon and Miller, Steve (re . . read)
28. Crystal Soldier, Lee, Sharon and Miller, Steve (re . . read)
27. Emergence, Cherryh, C. J. (re . . read)
26. Convergence, Cherryh, C. J. (re . . read)
25. Visitor, Cherryh, C. J. (re . . read)
24. Tracker, Cherryh, C. J. (re . . read)
23. Peacemaker, Cherryh, C. J. (re . . read)
22. Protector, Cherryh, C. J. (re . . read)
21. Intruder, Cherryh, C. J. (re . . read)
20. Betrayer, Cherryh, C. J. (re . . read)
19. Deceiver, Cherryh, C. J. (re . . read)
18. Conspirator, Cherryh, C. J. (re . . read)
17. Deliverer, Cherryh, C. J. (re . . read)
16. Pretender, Cherryh, C. J. (re . . read)
15. Destroyer, Cherryh, C. J. (re . . read)
14. Explorer, Cherryh, C. J. (re . . read)
13. Defender, Cherryh, C. J. (re . . read)
12. Precursor, Cherryh, C. J. (re . . read)
11. Inheritor, Cherryh, C. J. (re. . read)
10. Invader, Cherryh, C. J. (re. . reread)
9. Foreigner, Cherryh, C. J. (re . .reread)
8. *Guilty Pleasures, Hamilton, Laurell K.
7. *Romancing the Werewolf, Carriger, Gail
6. *Imprudence, Carriger, Gail
5. *Prudence, Carriger, Gail
4. To Say Nothing of the Dog, Willis, Connie (reread)
3. The Perilous Gard, Pope, Elizabeth Marie
2. Emergence, Cherryh, C. J.
1. Convergence, Cherryh, C. J. (re. . read)

* Ebook

Life Is What Happens To You While You’re Busy Making Other Plans

Some life happened, folks.  I’ve been having some health problems, which I won’t go into here.  One of them I knew about and I’ve been coping with it.  The other one came flying in out of left field and caught me flat footed. Add in a couple of adverse drug reactions (HIVES!) and these past two weeks have not been fun.  The scariest thing about it, though, is how the VA came through for me on some drugs that would have otherwise cost me $94 for 20 pills, as well as the other meds I needed.  Anyway.  Hopefully, things will settle back down again and I’ll have more frequent updates.

I’ve started working on this Cable Edged Shawl pattern which I’m doing in a Lion Brand Heartlands yarn called “Glacier Bay.” It’s worked as a garter tab from the leading edge downward, and you put the edging on last, working at right angles to the shawl body.  You work the whole body first, and I’ve got a way to go on that.  Simple garter stitch, but with a nice edging.

I’ve also gotten a little farther along on my modification of this pattern.  I took the hint of using dental floss as lifelines, putting in a lifeline after every pattern repeat.  I like the way it’s coming along so far, especially the texture of the shawl body.

I’m on my third pattern repeat.  You can see how the garter stitch lace edging is shaping up.  The only hard part about it, actually, is the garter stitch lace bit.  The rest of it is pretty straightforward.  So far, so good.  I will post the pattern on my knitting blog when I get it worked through.

I’ve been doing a re-re-re. . . read of C. J. Cherryh’s Foreigner books, which has been instrumental in helping me keep my sanity through the fun and games I’ve been having.  I’m about halfway through.   There’s a new Sebastian St. Cyr book due out, which I’m looking forward to.  Regency murder mystery . . .!

That’s all the news that’s fit to print for now.