Sunday Sum-Up: June 27, 2021

Shakespeare.

In the park.

With the book club.

That was my Saturday night, and it was fabulous.

The local Shakespeare company performed Twelfth Night for their summer play, so a couple of the ladies from my book club and I went to see it in the park. It was a perfect evening for it: The sun came out, there was a bit of a breeze, and the temperature was just right. The actors projected enough that I could hear them even if they weren’t facing me, and their performances were spot on. Also, I was highly envious of Antonio’s coat. And their poofy pirate shirts made me want to sew one of my own.

First live theater experience since 2019: a qualified success.


Obligatory Mina Photo:

I had five days off in a row this past week, and it was fantastic. I’m not sure if the cats appreciated it as much as I did, though, as I’m sure I interrupted their napping schedules. Still, Mina must not have been too miffed, as she spent most of her early mornings curled up on the bed or nightstand next to me (I know this because, even though I didn’t turn on my alarm clock, I still woke up early. Go figure).

But as much as their naps may have been interrupted, both cats got plenty of extra scritchies, brushings, and treats. They have nothing to complain about, really.

Except for the thunder. Neither cat enjoyed the thunderstorms that rolled through in the last half of the week. I didn’t mind them. We needed the rain.


What I Finished Reading Last Week:

I was recommended Sudden Death by an acquaintance on Bookstagram. He was going on and on about the twisty historical narrative and comparisons between so many of the characters, their places in history, and the wide-ranging connections between them all. It was a strange historical fiction story that was, ostensibly, about a fictional tennis match between Italian artist Caravaggio and the Spanish poet Francisco de Quevedo, played with a tennis ball made with the hair of the beheaded English Queen Anne Boleyn. It’s also about the hated conquistador Hernando Cortes and his Mayan translator and lover, La Malinche. Fact and fiction intertwine with each other as readily as Enrigue’s commentary on his own novel. It’s a strange and mind-bending story about people taking small actions in their own that end up affecting history in a monumental fashion. I definitely recommend it for fans of historical fiction and history in general.

The Leper of Saint Giles is the fifth in Ellis Peters’s Brother Cadfael series. In this one, a wedding is set to take place at the monastery, but the aging, glowering groom is terribly mismatched with the delicate young bride. Cadfael is not thrilled with the appearance of the arrangement and decides to investigate the matter further. Matters are complicated when a man is murdered and one of the grooms young squires is suspected of the crime. He manages to escape arrest and takes shelter at Saint Giles, where a group of lepers takes him in and hides him, while a stranger to the little sanctuary takes a particular interest in all the proceedings. Cadfael has more than one mystery on his hands this time around, and it may be more than his sharp mind can deal with. This was my favorite of the Cadfael books so far, not because the basic plot was any different, but because the twists and turns were so unexpected and so satisfying in the end.

The Winter of the Witch is the third, final, and best book of the Winternight trilogy, and that’s saying a lot, given that I adore the other two books. But I love how Vasya comes into her own, both with her power and her decisiveness. She can rescue herself and others, but she’s learned that she can’t save everyone, and that many people are capable of saving themselves. She’s also learned– and so has her sister Olga– that you can respect your family’s decisions without completely understanding why they’ve made that decision. I also love the interactions between Vasya and Morozko. They truly understand and respect each other in spite of their differences– and Morozko doesn’t treat Vasya as a child who needs to be protected from everything, or as someone who doesn’t know their own mind. It’s so refreshing to see a fantasy relationship like that, as there seem to be so many relationships where the mythical man treats his lover as a breakable thing made of glass and gets poisonously jealous whenever another man looks at her. How gross is that? Also, Arden’s writing is absolutely gorgeous- simple and straightforward when it needs to be, and lyrical when it needs that. I love everything about this book.


What I’m Currently Reading:

TBR? What TBR?

I decided on a whim that I wanted to read some science books, so I did. Hallucinations is a book about many of the different kinds of hallucinations that people experience, and why they happen. As usual, Oliver Sacks approaches the subject with his usual compassion and willingness to see the person and not the disease. When the medical community would automatically assume that people reporting hallucinations were insane and needed extensive institutional stays, Sacks was part of a group that believed differently- that hallucinations were not an automatic symptom of insanity or schizophrenia. By talking to the patients and getting to know their histories, Sacks and his fellow doctors found that many of their patients did not mind their hallucinations, or had learned to function in spite of them. In some cases, they actually enjoyed the people or scenes who only appeared in their mind’s eye. There are many reasons a person might hallucinate, whether it’s from a neurological disorder, vision problems, drugs, or isolation. I love Sacks’s writing, and his compassion for his patients shines through in every example he brings up.

The Elegant Universe is a bit out of date, given that it was intially published in 1999 and updated in, I think, 2009. Since then, particles that were only hypothesized in the book have been detected in multiple experiments, a black hole has been photographed (and the image verified what physicists had speculated what it would look like), and other theories have had even more evidence backing them up. Still, Greene is an excellent communicator, and he gives understandable explanations for the foundations of Relativity, Quantum Mechanics, and String Theory. Some of these explanations have been refreshers for me, while others have really helped me to understand things that were a mystery to me before.


What I Plan to Read This Week:

Your guess is as good as mine. There are things I should be reading, as per my TBR. But will I pick them up? Who knows?


The Craft:

It’s been a while since this section showed up!

During my little vacation from work, I finally tried making a basic shirt with a yard of linen blend fabric I found in the remnants section at the craft store. It’s a lovely dark red color, and it was cheap, so I figured I’d give it a go. I drafted a pattern loosely based on one of Bernadette Banner’s “tutorials”, made a quite mock-up with some cheap cotton (from the same craft store), and settled down with some audiobooks while I did a whole lot of hand stitching.

The final result? Well, it mostly fit and is technically wearable, but it’s the ugliest shirt I ever saw, and I have no idea how I managed to screw up the one side seam. It looks decent when you’re looking at the outside of the shirt, but when you look at the seam itself, it’s all sorts of messed up.

So I won’t be wearing this shirt anywhere, but I did learn a lot. For my next sewing project, I think I’m going to buy more of the cheap cotton and try out Bernadette Banners’s poofy pirate shirt. Someday I want to make one of them in black linen, but right now, when my skills are dodgy at best, I want to work with a cheaper material so I don’t mess up a much pricier fabric.

I’m finding that hand sewing is quite restful (except the crick I get in my neck), and hours can pass without my noticing. I’m totally in the zone. I’ve also realized that my felling stitches don’t need to be quite so tiny, and that they will hold everything together just fine if I increase the spacing just a little bit.

Lousy finish the the project, but that’s okay. A first attempt at anything is probably going to be lousy, and that’s okay. It’s just the first step of many.

Oh! And before I forget, here are the earrings I mentioned last week, made with a French knitting process wherein crystals and beads are strung onto a fine wire and then knit into shape. I got the smaller set. They’re quite light and didn’t bother my ears, even after wearing them for about eight hours.

9 thoughts on “Sunday Sum-Up: June 27, 2021

  1. Glad to hear about the summer play, sounds like a great way to spend an evening. And happy to hear both the Cadfael and Winternight series had such great stories later in the series. I guess I’m used to loving the first book and then each one after being a little less than the one before. So I love hearing about ones that get better. It’s been quite a while since I read Brian Greene, but I agree, he is very good at writing these sorts of topics in a way that keeps them interesting and as much as possible, understandable.

  2. It was great! Twelfth Night is one of my favorite of Shakespeare’s comedies, so it’s always nice to see it done well.

    Series are always up and down, and you never know which volume is going to be up, and which will be down on your first time through. I enjoy the Cadfael series overall, so having one be even better than the previous ones is just icing on the cake.

  3. Shakespeare in the park was fantastic! I’m so glad the weather was good for it! I’ll read pretty much anything by Oliver Sacks. I love his approach to science and medical writing, and how compassionate and curious he is.

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