Sunday Sum-Up: November 1, 2020

  • I voted about two and a half weeks ago. I received my mail-in ballot with not issues, filled it out, and dropped it off at the county election commission office. A few days later, I checked online to see if it had been accepted, and indeed it had. Hooray for a smooth voting process! And hooray for voting! I’m on pins and needles for Tuesday in America. I’m also looking forward to being done with the barrage of spam texts and phone calls, mostly coming from out-of-state Republicans assuming that, because in live in a red state, I will be happy to help them defeat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and other Democrats. Sorry, GOP. You’re out of luck. I am a blue voter in a red state. It’s a strange state of affairs…
  • For the past eleven years, my friend A and her dad ran a small jewelry shop in my neighborhood. It’s where I’ve taken all my jewelry for cleaning, repairs, and a few custom pieces in the past three years. But they decided to close their shop, as her dad wanted to retire and A wanted to go back to school. She’s spent the last couple of months finishing up her final custom pieces, and her very last one was for me! We went to a gem and mineral show a couple of years ago, and I bought a green goldstone and another green stone (I can’t remember what it is…). She was unsure of what sort of setting to make for the goldstone, but finally came up with something. It was a complete surprise to me when I went to the shop to pick it up on Wednesday:

The setting is Victorian-inspired. She developed the design while re-watching Penny Dreadful, which is a mutually favorite show of ours. She said there were some serious Vanessa Ives vibes going on as she designed it, and I love it.

Yes, those are my real fingernails. Yes, I need to trim them.

Obligatory Mina Photo:

Last week, it was Mina’s turn to go to the veterinarian for her vaccinations. She did not enjoy the car ride there.

She has this tiny kitten meow which she usually only uses if I’ve been too slow in giving her the treats she always (always) gets after I get home from work. But during the car ride to the vet, she was yowling and begging to be let out of the carrier.

But when the vet tech brought her back out to me in the car when her appointment was over, she said Mina had been “so good!”, so all that yowling must have come to an end, hopefully to be replaced by her extremely loud purring.

What I Finished Reading Last Week:

I still love Dune, and Jackie and I have been chatting a bit about it over the last couple of days. Though the Denis Villeneuve film was delayed until Autumn 2021, I’m glad I read it now. It’s always great to reread a favorite book during stressful times. And, as usual, I managed to find new things and other things that I had forgotten.

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall may be my new favorite Brontë novel, even above Jane Eyre(!). Anne didn’t spent quite so much time on her heroine’s backstory, so the story doesn’t get bogged down so much by Helen’s childhood the way Jane’s story slows down while she’s at Lowood School. Helen’s story slips right along, and it’s fascinating all the way through and, though it was first published in 1848, it feels very modern.

Piranesi is an odd story. I didn’t make it through Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, as I didn’t get a long with the writing style and wasn’t willing to wade through 800+ pages of it. But Piranesi is a radically different story and is significantly shorter– only about 250 pages. It’s about a man who has spent years exploring the many halls of this strange and vast house. He’s sure there are only fifteen other people who have ever lived, and the only other living person he has seen is a man he calls the Other. The Other calls him Piranesi, but the man isn’t sure that’s actually his name. As the story progresses, he finds other contradictions in the journals he’s been keeping, and the tale unfurls from there. I’m still trying to figure out what I think about this book, which is dense and strange and thought-provoking.

What I’m Currently Reading:

The Women I Think About at Night is a translation of Mia Kankimäki’s experiences as she, a 40-something year old single and childless woman tried to figure out what to do with her life. She decided to read about adventurous women in history and followed in their footsteps. In so doing, she learns a lot about the women, the world, and herself. So far, Kankimäki had detailed her trip to Africa where she followed in the footsteps of Karen Blixen (aka Isaak Dinesen) who wrote Out of Africa. Kankimäki discovers that the African savannah is both nothing at all like she expected, and even more than she could have hoped for, but it not without its hardships and culture shock. She also discovers that Karen Blixen was a more complicated woman that she thought she was.

I was not expecting The Obelisk Gate to arrive this week. The last I had checked the Libby app, there were still a few people ahead of me in line for the audiobook. I’d expected to wait another six weeks or more. But then, in the middle of the week, I got a notification that it was available! Naturally, I downloaded it and started listening to it. I need to sit down (or take a few walks) with it and get through it. So far, the story is just as fascinating as the first book’s was.

What I Plan to Start Reading This Week:

I still want to get to Wylding Hall and, of course, Masquerade in Lodi. I just didn’t have a chance to get to them last week. The Light Ages was a last minute request and approval through NetGalley. I’ve heard about it a few times, but thought it had been out for a while. Then I happened to see it available to request, and of course I asked for it. It’s about the scientific advances made by medieval people. Thought a lot of people call the years between the fall of Rome and the Renaissance “the Dark Ages”, they were, in fact, full of scholarship and curiosity. The Light Ages is an investigation of scientific investigation through the life of the fourteenth-century monk, John of Westwyk.

A Stitch in Time:

I’ve started watching Bernadette Banner’s YouTube channel, which is all about historical clothing and her experiments in making things like Victorian corsets and ball gowns and Edwardian shaping bodices. I don’t sew, but it’s been fascinating to listen to her talk about the process of figuring out how to make this historical clothing pieces using historical processes and materials. I’ve already learned a lot about clothes and the process of making them. And Mina loves the sound of her voice.

She also inspired me to finally get around to mending the split seams in the pockets of my wool pea coat, a project that took a whole fifteen minutes, and that I’d been putting off since last winter. But it’s down now, and I’m much happier that I’m not risking losing coins and whatnot inside the lining of my coat.

And I finally started on the Frode Shawl from my Icelandic-inspired crochet pattern book. The pattern turned out to be super simple (it’s all singe and double crochet stitches, and the patterning comes from the fact that you’ll spend one row doing a double crochet in every other stitch every seven rows or so). It looks different from the photo in the book, but that’s because I’m using a different (fluffier) style of bulky yarn than what is listed in the book.

It’s going rather quickly, so I’m hoping to finish it up this week. Then I need to decide what to do next. I’ve already glanced through the other patterns in the book, and I’ve decided not to do the Ulrica Shawl, which is a great big scarf (almost double the height of the model, who looks to be about 5’9″) and is made solely of rows and rows of half double crochets (thousands and thousands of stitches). I have scarves made in a similar vein and I’m happy with them, so I’m going to go on to something else, like the Vasti Shawl, which looks like it will be a lot of fun once I learn the stitches.

About That Writing Thing:

If everything goes well in the evening, I can set aside about an hour for writing– usually about 11:00-midnight. I’m a night owl, so this works very well for me. Usually. But lately, Mina has decided that this particular hour is a great one to run around, bounce off the furniture, try to get into the cabinets, and bug me until I play with her. I have no idea why she chooses this hour to be a crazy thing, but it’s super frustrating because I’ll have just gotten into a writing rhythm, and suddenly there are things falling onto the floor and a 10 pound black cat mewing at me for attention. And of course, I simply cannot ignore that little face.

So writing is going slowly, but I’m still making forward progress. I’m hoping to get a chunk of writing done today, since I don’t have very much to do otherwise.

Wish me luck.

26 thoughts on “Sunday Sum-Up: November 1, 2020

  1. Love the ring! But oddly, I was at the Morgan Library yesterday and they showcased some Anne Bronte including a first edition of Tenant….of course didn’t post that picture this morning…but odd coincidence

  2. I really hope the elections won’t hold any insane surprises for y’all.. I think the world needs something less insane than what we got now in the States.

    I was really saddened that Dune had to be delayed but I guess it was inevitable… Same for The Batman movie… All we can do is be patient because we know that movie is going to be MIND-BLOWING! In Denis Villeneuve, I trust! 😉

  3. That’s a beautiful ring she made for you. My brother has at various times been interested in making jewelry so I’ve gone with him to several gem and mineral shows. I’ve been fascinated by the range of things you can find there.

    Your reread and periodic mentions of Dune have increased my desire to reread it soon. I think I may finally start the audiobook later this month. And Piranesi does sound odd. Perhaps odd in the sense of Waiting for Godot odd. Looking back on it now I did enjoy it, but it left me for a while unsure how I felt. It was just odd. Or perhaps it’s odd is more like Kafka’s The Trial. I never did decide whether I enjoyed that one. Either way, though, I think I may have to give Piranesi a try one day. Sometimes that sort of story can be an interesting break from the more typical things I read.

  4. I was so happy to see that ring. I’d almost forgotten about that little gem, so it was a fantastic surprise. Jewelers’ abilities to made such beautiful things out of rocks and blobs of metal constantly amaze me.

    It’s good to read odd books now and then, just so you see what sorts of ideas are out there.

  5. Ugh. You and me both! I could do with some rational thinking at any level– particularly at the top– these days. I just want people to take a breath and think…

    In Denis Villeneuve we trust! It’s going to be an amazing film!

  6. The ring is gorgeous! I know I keep saying this, but I’m looking forward to re-reading Dune — I’d planned to fast-track it when the movie was due in December, but now that it’s been delayed, my sense of urgency is gone. You’ve convinced me that I need to finally read The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. Clearly a gap in my classics!

  7. Pingback: October 2020 Month in Review – Death by Tsundoku

  8. Your friend is a talented jeweler! I hope that she’ll keep this as a hobby in the future. I feel like we’re losing a lot of craftsmanship in America these days. I wish there were more small-town artisans like this. There are only two independent jewelers in Madison I always go to one of them. Always.

    Speaking of art — one of my friends made a Ulrica Shawl a few years ago. He’s 6’4″ and even when he loops it around his heck three times it still comes down to his knees on each side. O_o It’s amazing but wowza. SO BIG. I don’t blame you for skipping on that.

    I love Jemisin’s writing. Is this your first read of The Broken Earth trilogy? So good.

  9. My friend and her dad are planning to keep their workbench in his basement, so if the mood strikes they’ll be able to do some work. Which I’m glad for, since they’re both so talented. There are still a lot of craftspeople out there, but it seems to be more niche. I’ve been watching a LOT of historical sewing videos in the last week, and they’ve been so inspiring!

    Holy buckets! That’s a long shawl! I’m glad I decided to pass on that one! My scarves are long enough as is. I was going to buy the yarn for the Vasti Shawl today, but I couldn’t find the recommended yarn at either shop I visited, and I couldn’t find anything I liked in a different style of the same type. So I think I’m going to go to KnitPicks and buy some of their wool yarn. A little pricier, but yay natural fibers!

    This is the first time I’ve been through The Broken Earth trilogy! It’s so good! I just wish I’d had an attention span worth anything over the past few days…

  10. I love natural fibers. Sometimes, I think to myself that I’d probably love to get into the fiber arts — but I’ve never been a crafty person. I worry I’d invest in something, start it, and just never finish it. Instead, I do my part to support small, local artists where I can!

    Ooh, a lack of an attention span probably makes The Broken Earth slow going… Jemisin includes so many little details. And they all MATTER. I don’t know how she does it!

  11. The fiber crafting has been great for me so far! I start projects, and am excited to finish them. And then I get more ideas and inspiration and want to make more. And it’s fun! Once you get into the swing of a pattern or stitch, your brain can kind of check out for a bit, and it’s just your hands running in a pattern and getting something cool done. But I totally get the problem of losing interest. That sometimes happens to me when I’m editing a big photo job– particulary when I was shooting weddings and portraits. I just wanted to be done with it all!

    Jemisin is amazing! I can so see her psychology background coming through. That’s probably the main reason things happen that I don’t expect– because Jemisin knows what happens in the minds of people who have experienced trauma. It’s what makes her characters so real.

  12. I hope the momentum keeps up! I just learned about tatting and I’m fascinated… one of my girlfriends is really into cross-stitching and she’s hoping she can hook me on some fiber craft as grow into motherhood. Apparently you can diligently watch children while doing fiber crafts (probably to your point of mentally checking out for a bit) and still have great products. There is a theory I’ll start reading MUCH less in a few weeks. Who knows.

    I second your assessment of Jemisin’s writing. She blows me away. Her writing always has twists I should have seen coming but still surprise me, too. I am always engaged.

  13. I finished the witch hat the other day, and I already want to make another one now that I have a better idea of what I’m doing. Alas, the little mask-making project I tried today (based on the one my Hollywood-costumer friend made me) went totally awry, but at least I learned something from the experience. I might see about making a pirate shirt or a circle skirt next… I have a feeling you’ll be reading less, too, unless you switch all over to audiobooks!

  14. Don’t give up on the mask making! If I could sew, I’d be making my friends holiday themed masks for the season. Masks are definitely a fashion statement now.

    Yeah. I hope to listen to audiobooks (like The Curse of Chalion which should arrive in 3 weeks!) while I’m breastfeeding and up at all hours. I will definitely be reading less in the short term. Long term, though…

  15. I definitely won’t give up on the mask making. But I’ll build up my skills a little before trying to match the professional!

    Do you know who the narrator is for Curse of Chalion? Grover Gardner does a brilliant job with the Penric and Desdemona novellas from the World of the Five Gods (which is the universe that the Curse of Chalion starts out), but I don’t know if he also narrates CoC. I know he doesn’t narrate Paladin of Souls, which is the follow-up to CoC.

  16. The narrator for the version of Curse of Chalion avaialble at my library is Lloyd James. Hes highly prolific, but I haven’t listened to anything he’s narrated before. I hope he’s good! Kate Reading (I’m familiar with her!) narrates Paladin of Souls and Marguerite Gavin narrates The Hallowed Hunt. I am intrigued that we have a new narrator for each book…

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