Blogsam and Jetsam

Flotsam is the part of the wreckage of a ship or its cargo found floating on the water. Jetsam is cargo or parts of a ship that are deliberately thrown overboard, as to lighten the ship in an emergency, and that subsequently either sinks or is washed ashore. This is my personal blog version of the above. Loot freely.

My Photo
Location: The Hinterlands, Upstate NY

I'm annoyed that the world is going crazier faster than it used to be. But it's interesting to watch.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Some Knitting


This is some of Ray's yarn in the colorway "Happy." I am happy to be using the front yard as a studio again.

Here's a close-up of the way the short rows work: after three more stitches the two yellow loops with the big gap between them will be knit together as one and the work will be turned. All the other stitches on the left-hand needle will just sit there.

...And Not So Happy:

This is an EZ "Baby Surprise Jacket" out of cotton...but not for very much longer. After getting the sleeves done (yes those are sleeves; it's knit in a strange way) I realized this is just NOT working out. The yarn and stitch are producing a fabric way too heavy to make a toddler happy, the damned thing is gonna stretch like hell, the color might fade and let's face it, the sleeves are too short.

It's getting ripped out while I watch the news this evening. Dunno what I AM gonna make with all that maroon cotton though...thoughts? This is the same yarn that refused to be a Tychus hat a while back for the same reason: too much heft and no give.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

I'm Still Around...

...But kinda sad that one of my first blog-buddies isn't blogging any more. Such is the way of the world.

Life's getting in the way of blogging again but I'm working on another book review--a good one this time.

There's been knitting but not nearly as much as usual or as I'd like.

Also there's hope for gardening again which is good since I've ordered a major new perennial bed for the front yard. Smushed my right pinkie finger this morning rearranging fieldstone on my way out to the car.

Oh and for those of you with functioning uteri? Check out this link-- nothing for proselytizing like a recent convert.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Another Book Review

Over the snowy weekend I finished The Red Tent. It didn’t suck quite as much as I thought it would.

Yeah, I know, that requires explanation.

Back when the book first came out, I heard some of the hype and thought "A ‘red tent’ because of menstruation?!? Ya gotta be kidding me. Oh and it’s religious too? Eegads." I put it squarely on the "not my thing" list but did notice it getting carried through the hospital cafeteria and waiting rooms. I’m older and more mellow now so I thought I’d give it a try.

I’m not religious or scholarly enough to comment on the Biblical accuracy of the story. I quit reading the Bible in any regular way after confirmation class and have picked it up only rarely since then, usually to look up the words of the Magnificat. I can paint the story of Jacob and Esau with only the broadest of brushstrokes and wouldn’t have a clue what happened after the big trickery in any case.

So I treated the book as a fairy tale.

It was the epitome of chick fairy tale. The author had a good voice and kept things moving along but like all fairy tales it required a certain suspension of belief which was...difficult:

Voice of Reason: You mean they dyed an entire TENT red?! Where did they get that much dye, how did they get the goatshair to take it and why waste the resources?

Storyteller: Shut up. They’re goddess worshippers. They dyed the tent in homage to their goddess. Consider it a temple equivalent.

The beginning of the book was a lovely word-painting of ancient times reminiscent of Clan of the Cave Bear or the Mary Stewart Arthurian series and blissfully didn’t dwell on the menstrual details. The characters were well-sketched and classic family conflicts were established.

Politics ensued.

I fell into the story, although the Voice returned now and then:

Voice of Reason: The womenfolk all take three DAYS off each month? Who’s doing the work of the tribe in the interim? What are they doing on Day 4 when they haven’t stopped yet?

Storyteller: Shut up. Wouldn’t you like to have an automatic vacation during Days 1-3 each month? Wouldn’t you like a little acknowledgement for the crap you do all day every day? Wouldn’t that be just great?

V of R: Yeah it totally would but my time is the full moon. They’d probably stone me. So what DO they do about the women not in synch? Or about the ones who bleed longer? And did you read that "feet not touch the GROUND" part?!?!

Storyteller: Shut up and read the book.

So I read the book. It was pleasant and escapist and ancient midwifery was brought in early which is always a bonus for me. Jacob was established as Jewish but tolerant of the pre-existing local deities and things moved along nicely. I thought making Rebecca a Crone was an interesting variant and that having Our Heroine stay with her was a decent, if predictable, plot turn.

After that the plot and I started parting company. It started with Rebecca’s prediction that the whole concept behind the Red Tent would die with her. I wondered "then what’s the point?" but was fond enough of the characters to press on.

It wasn’t the menarche; that was fine. If I was supposed to be shocked I wasn’t; if I was supposed to be awed I wasn’t that either.

It was what came after, which was Jacob smashing the household gods of his beloved favorite wife. Not only could the Voice of Reason not explain but the Storyteller couldn’t either since the "petty theft" aspect on which that particular plot device hung seemed thin.

It was downhill from there.

In classic fairy-tale fashion, Our Heroine was summoned to The Castle where she fell in love (and had sex) with A Prince. Even better, The Prince came to rescue Our Heroine and make an Honest Woman of her through marriage. Great, right? Daughter of a successful shepherd attracts the hand of royalty; what’s not to like?

He isn’t circumcised, that’s what’s not to like. In a burst of amazing audacity Jacob insists that not just The Prince but ALL men of his house be circumcised before handing over his daughter in marriage.

Well now that’s just dumb. There’s a huge dairy farming operation on the next road over and I’m sure they aren’t trying to tell the Mayor how to govern, much less how to wear his personal parts although it would make for amusing editorials if they did. So I started getting turned off right then.

But wait! It gets better!

The Prince is SO in love with Our Heroine that he manages to get the family talked into the crazy scheme. Did you ever?!?

So fine, after a few days of pain and anguish they all lived happily ever after, right?

Wrong. Older Brothers steal into the palace at night and kill The Prince in Our Heroine’s arms.

The "why" was never adequately explained. Oh sure there was some talk of their constant dissatisfaction and feeling cheated by life, but not enough to motivate the highly stupid and suicidal act of storming the damned castle and killing the heir apparent in his sleep.

That’s just bad writing.

If it really IS Biblically accurate then no wonder so many have lost the faith. [editorial note: No wonder indeed--read.]

Our Heroine was furious to lose her True Love, scorned her birth family and went to live with the in-laws.

Of course she was pregnant; can’t lose that plot device. She seemed surprised that Mother-in-Law would claim the baby as her own which I thought was hopelessly naïve but by then I’d pretty much lost interest. I pressed on to see if the writing would pick up again but it never did.

The story suffered badly from "second half syndrome" which is when th the writing and the pacing fall off dramatically after some big plot turn. Dinah went to Egypt, worked as a midwife, met someone else and eventually paired off with him but not before a couple of fairly predictable setbacks. She lived, she died. Ho-hum. The shoulder dystocia was the most interesting part.

Marion Zimmer Bradley did it earlier and better with The Mists of Avalon.


MIL due home 5:45pm tonight. I put a sure-thing roast in the crock pot first thing this morning.

Make that "second" thing this morning; first thing this morning Eldest and I had a particularly nasty row over recidivism.

Work politics are still in a strange limbo state.

Have been doing too much laundry instead of knitting but do have a Toddler Surprise Jacket (EZ's baby surprise but with worsted weight cotton) on the needles.

Working on a book review of The Red Tent; that should be my next real post.

We should reach a temperature at or above fifty today--the whole town is perky and cheerful. I'm pleased to see about four inches of bulb-beds at the edges of my sidewalk even if Snow Mountain is still nearly as tall as the van.

But best of intralibrary loan order came through and I now have a stack of ALL the Alison Lurie I've not yet read. Happy times.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

I'm Still Here...

...but Real Life has been busy enough to not leave much time for Blogdom. I've still been reading and knitting once in a while and I'm hoping to share when things settle down.

The snow is also still here...always is on the first day of spring but that doesn't mean I ever LIKE it that way.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Music for Friday

The video is neither here nor there but this is my new favorite folk song. Have a listen and be happy.

Yes I first learned about it from a Hilton Hotel TV commercial--sometimes good comes from strange places. The artist is "Santa-Monica based folk rocker Brett Dennen" per this website.

In other happy news, Youngest and I are off to the circus tonight.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007


Two lousy pictures of the finished Lapghan for MIL out of THIS yarn:

I had to include the split-rail fence; it's only been visible since yesterday. Here's a close-up:

I was also going to take a picture of the ONE spot of green in my entire yard (over the septic tank of course) but my camera was dropped one too many times last week and has become quite cantankerous. Also the lens is loose in the housing which can't be good.

To complete another topic from yesterday, it only took me part of a lunch hour to figure out that Bridget Jones's Diary was indeed too young for me. I can remember a time when I would've thought it was just the living end, right down to the British dialogue--but no more. I've decided to be amused rather than disappointed that I figured out the ending within five minutes.

I've been saving Women and Ghosts for today's lunch hour. Still just adore Alison Lurie.

The suddenly-warmer weather in conjunction with the extended daylight in the evenings has given my spirits a big boost as have some recent events around the office. I shouldn't really type "perhaps the corner has turned" lest the Fates get wind of it but things do feel that way.

Off to a meeting; have a pleasant midweek y'all!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Odds and Ends

I still don't have anything pithy...just random thoughts.

The New! Improved! Earlier! Daylight Savings Time doesn't suck quite as badly as I had feared. Getting up in the dark is a complete bitch but it's nice to have light at the other end of the day.

This is the only good song Metallica ever composed...although they also have one good cover.
Meanwhile this is my very favorite version of Little G Minor. (Yes my taste in music is eclectic.) I've created a third generation who likes these guys and have this on my work computer "favorites" list. I was crushed when this album became a casualty of living in the car but still sing along with all of this one. When I was about seven I said I'd marry the first guy who knew all the words to this song; this would be a fine new-millenium replacement for my kids. Once traded knowledge of this group for more knowledge of this fellow to the mutual betterment of both parties.

I managed to go for a whole forty-eight hours without hearing any Iraq news...I think that's a three-year record. Got stuck listening to a whole lotta way-too-early political non-news instead which is completely absurd--the election is some twenty months from now. Don't get me started, just don't.

The very tips of our split-rail fenceposts have showed up again; perhaps the snow will be gone someday.

This is the best wine I've ever drunk.

I don't much like teaching but feel a strong obligation to do a good job when called upon. Now I'm a "good explainer" and fearful of being tapped by our new academic officer for further duty.

When attempting to make lipgloss, one cannot substitute "cooking paraffin, peanut oil, lemon extract and a candle in the bathroom" for "beeswax, almond oil, peppermint oil and a low covered heat source." To protect the not-so-innocent I won't elaborate.

Winter must finally have driven me insane: I abandoned reading this wonderfully interesting treatise in favor of this book which I fear is going to be far too young for me. Why? Because the latter is a [drum roll] Library Book and therefore a ticking time bomb.

Actual Fiber Content (believe it or not this started life as a knitting blog): I have finished the Lapghan for MIL and need only weave in a few loose ends. Pictures someday maybe. I have also finished a whole slew of cotton squares and am working on another of those diagonal short-row muffler/scarf things of which I'm currently enamoured. I've been contemplating breaking out Wintergarden again too.

That's enough for now...practice tolerance y'all!

Saturday, March 10, 2007

A Clever Quiz

Lives here.

I was an Elohim; how 'bout you?

Wednesday, March 07, 2007


...took this awesome shot Tuesday night:

Monday, March 05, 2007

March Madness

No, not the crazed basketball stuff (I was raised in Indiana) but the mental condition...I suppose I should say "dysthymia" but that doesn't have nearly the alliterative appeal.

The last week of February and most of March are very hard for me now that we've relocated to The Hinterlands. This is the time of year when the days become noticeably longer and more spring-like but the ground is covered up and it's still definitely "winter." I run around half-depressed as baseline but today is particularly obnoxious because after several days of "unseasonably warm" including a Saturday near forty with enough melting that my driveway was all blacktop again and the liner was out of my coat it is now colder and snowing with a major temperature drop happening over the day--three to five inches and windchills in the minus-teens-to-twenties by the time I'm done with work this afternoon/evening. The local talking newsheads excitedly told us "tomorrow will be the coldest March Sixth since we've been keeping records" which damned near got something thrown at the set this morning.

I don't even want to consider how the New! Improved! Extra-Early! Daylight Savings time-change is going to affect me...having been raised in Indiana I never got the hang of the original version. Maybe it will be wonderful and terrific--after all, "dark for longer in the morning" might actually help put the light in synch with my mood.

Eeyore doubts it.

So that's where I am these days. If you don't hear from me either as much or in my usual verbose fashion it's nothing any of you fine people did or said...just that there isn't much left to spread around.

Post Scriptum:

Best SPAM of the whole weekend = FECUND BRAZILIAN JU-JITSU