Wednesday, December 31, 2008

End of the Year Knitting Blitz

Okay, they're all scarves! What I like about scarves is that they are quick to knit up, so there's instant gratification. And when I start to make one scarf for someone, I usually have to make at least two more! 

This one is for my friend Lisa. She asked for it to wear while she is coaching softball. The scarf is 100% acrylic (and proud of it!) and is in the blue and gold colors of LCHS. 

This scarf is for my friend Amishacoe, who loves the color purple! Everything I've ever made for her has been purple, so why ruin a good thing? 

And this one was for Justin. Very simple pattern, same as Amishacoe's. It's knit one row, then k1, p1 for row 2. Then alternate until it's done! 

Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas Song Round-Up: Lou Monte

This year I can't say that I've been in the Christmas spirit to the extent of those around me. I bought gifts for my loved ones and dearest friends, but I didn't put my tree up and I don't do Christmas cards. Why no tree? Well, I don't spend Christmas at my house, but at my parents, so I don't even enjoy my tree on Christmas day.  

And then there are the Christmas songs on the radio. Why do they start the day after Thanksgiving? I think what tires me out and keeps me out of the Christmas spirit is the crass commercialism that every holiday has embraced. Valentine's Day, St. Patrick's Day, Easter, even MLK Jr Day and President's Day is yet another excuse to have a long weekend. So, when I hear Christmas songs for four weeks, I am driven crazy. If they were good Christmas songs, then I wouldn't mind so much. But no, I am forced to endure things like "Don't they know it's Christmas time at all?" or "Dominic the Christmas Donkey." 

Hee Haw. Hee Haw. 

So, imagine my surprise and lack of delight that Lou Monte had more than one Italian animal hit! There was "Pepino the Italian Mouse", which, according to Wikipedia,  "tells the humorous tale of a mischievous mouse who lives within the walls of a man's kitchen and who comes out at night to eat cheese, drink wine, frighten Lou's girlfriend when she comes over and befriends the cat, sent out to catch him." Then let's not fail to mention "Pasquale, the Italian Pussycat" and "Paulucci, the Italian Parrot." 

But I'm going to move away from that to touch on another aspect of Monte's illustrious animal career and digress momentarily. Recently I heard Stephen Peters talk at my school about how essential it is to know the students we teach. One part of his presentation that hit me was how, in the past fifty years, the way students receive their information has changed radically. Instead of having the home, school, and church being the top three influences on children, this has changed to having Media/TV being the top spot, followed by peers! Wow, this has changed drastically, and not for the better. 

I have witnessed this in my own job. Most of my students' history "knowledge" has come from movies, especially those starring Mel Gibson. For the love! I am so tired about hearing about Braveheart and Patriot, two very historically inaccurate movies. How many times have I heard from Honors students, "So, when Mel Gibson...." They can't differentiate between good entertainment--or even bad entertainment--and reality! 

And so this brings me back to Lou Monte and his songs. Specifically "What Did Washington Say (When He Crossed the Delaware)?".  Again, according to Wikipedia
At one point in the song, "Washington" complains that the pizzas his wife Martha baked were as "cold as ice". His solution? "Sell them to the Indians for only half the price." He then asks his boatsmen to row faster because "tonight I'm posing for my picture on the dollar bill."

What? Sheesh, at least back when Monte wrote the song kids knew better than to believe it, but now I have to climb uphill to convince students that Martha Washington did not cook pizzas. My saving grace? Luckily my students have not heard of Lou Monte. 

Sunday, December 21, 2008

High School T-Shirt Quilt

This is my latest project, which I have to put back on hold. More on that in a second! 

I had a box of stuff from high school and Girl Scouts, and most of that was taken up by t-shirts that were hole-y and stained. They were just sitting there, so I decided, why not do something with them? 

So, I'm making a quilt out of them! Last year I fused interfacing onto the back so the stretchiness of the tees didn't drive me insane. They'd been sitting in my closet and sitting in my closet... so this weekend, I put the sashing on! 

I had enough of the red fabric from a previous quilt to use, but I hit a snag: none of it was long enough for the border! So, when I have some extra cash, I'm going to buy black for the border and for the backing. That'll fit my school colors of red and black, and then I'll be able have use for something from high school! 

'Bout time that high school was good for something besides a way to get to college. ;)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Life List

I found this list on Apron Strings and thought I'd give it a try! 

 I’ve marked the ones I’ve done in purple.

1. Started your own blog
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than you can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland but i have been to disneyworld

8. Climbed a mountain
9. Held a praying mantis

10. Sang a solo
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown your own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitch hiked

23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill
24. Built a snow fort

25. Held a lamb 
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a Marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset

31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught yourself a new language
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David
41. Sung karaoke
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had your portrait painted
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching

63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten Caviar
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square

74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book - One Day!!!
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had your picture in the newspaper
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone’s life
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one

94. Had a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person
97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee

100. successfully stopped smoking

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Seduction of the Crimson Rose by Lauren Willig

The Seduction of the Crimson Rose is the fourth book in Lauren Willig's Pink Carnation Series. A very popular genre within the last decade is the Napoleonic era (if you are in France) and the Regency era (if you are in England). Spying is the favored profession among England's noble elite, and if one is a nobleman, you are expected to serve your country. 


So much so is this particular time period popular that a lot of books run together in plot. Willig's books differ in that they fit into historical fiction more than historical romance. They have a slight flavor of a regency romance over a true romance novel. 

In The Crimson Rose, Mary Alsworthy is approached by Lord Vaughn to work for the Pink Carnation. In return for being bait to lure the Black Tulip (the Carnation's archnemesis) out into the open, all Mary wants is for Vaughn to fund the next Season for her. Why? Pride. Mary's younger (and homelier) sister recently wed Mary's former suitor, and the brother-in-law has offered to fund the next Season. Mary, however, doesn't wish to be seen as an object of pity, so she'd like her Season to be funded in another way. 

Lord Vaughn has good reason for picking Mary: her black hair is one hallmark of agents that work for the Tulip. Mary is also a good screen for Vaughn, who has been suspected by many, including those in the Pink Carnation's circle, of being the Black Tulip. 

Of all the couples in the books, I like Mary and Vaughn the best. They are not perfect. Mary can be cold and manipulative, well aware of the fact that as a woman, her status depends on making a good marriage. She wants to be comfortable, and she realizes that comfort and love are not the same thing. Vaughn is also sarcastic and has a dry wit; the two often trade barbs. Vaughn also has the requisite black past, complete with dead wife, dead mistresses, and membership in various and sundry hellish clubs. His reputation is hardly pristine, and he is well aware of it. 

Many of my comments on this book are the same as the other books. The book is a light read and doesn't fit cleanly into one genre. It's a combination of chick lit and historical fiction, with a dash of mystery. It's very light on history, with not a lot of substance, mostly the outer trappings. It should not be read to get a deeper understanding of the time period. 

I'm not sure where Willig is going with the series. We know who the Pink Carnation is. Her historian, Eloise, knows who the Pink Carnation is, and she's well on the way to a Happily Ever After herself. Willig introduced an element of the Jacobite Rebellion, when Bonnie Prince Charlie attempted to take his "rightful" place on the throne of England. 

Since I liked the main characters, which is what really counts, I give the book an A. 

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

A Shout-Out to SportSquee!

I love Margee's website, because as a relative sport neophyte, she makes sports hilarious. And since I regularly make snarky comments about just about anything I can, I love it.  

Today's installment is one of her regular That's Entertainment! With the Staal Brothers, this time reviewing the movie Twilight. I have been waiting for this with bated breath. 

The next time I watch a Canes game, I'll be cracking up over that line about Rod Brind'amour reading the series aloud to Eric Staal. Oh, and Evgeni Malkin-Staal's constant Russian prattle. 

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Early Christmas for Me!

A few months ago I found out that American Girl was shoving Samantha into the archives, which sent every Samantha fan on a mad chase to get whatever else they needed to complete their collections. I went and ordered some things, and one of them was Samantha's trunk. 

It was backordered. 

I was devastated. I have wanted this since I was eleven. I asked for it for Christmas quite a few years running. I never did get it, though. I went through the television, VCR, stereo, and fish aquarium (which magically kept fish alive FOREVER until I sold the whole kit at a yard sale). But no trunk. I thought I'd never get it. And as soon as I found out it was backordered, I thought I'd never get it. 

But it came today! Granted, the UPS guy left it in my recycle bin, but I knew what it was! So, after I ate dinner, I put my Samantha stuff into it. 

It's gorgeous! I love it! It's so roomy! And I didn't realize how many outfits I actually had until I had to shove them into the trunk. 

And here is my doll with it, and she's wearing one of the spring dresses. 

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

It Really Is a Small World....

When I was three, my parents took my to Disney World. I may have been two, but how would I know? Any memories I have are either a)nebulous or b) entirely made up. There are pictures. Anyway, like any good tot, my favorite ride was It's a Small World. So much, in fact, that the guy running the ride told my parents not to get off the boat. That's not likely to happen today, given the long lines and crush of baby strollers.

But it really is a small world. I also learned that I CANNOT LEAVE TOWN WITHOUT THE INTERNET. Or at least find free internet. I went to a conference on Monday and in two days, a rug has been pulled out from under my feet. And had the hotel I was staying at had wi-fi access that was free like most hotels AND McDonald's, I wouldn't have been shocked in between checking out the Carolina Hurricane's schedule and researching Taba questioning for my high school classroom.

So, I am at the Carolina Hurricanes website and the first thing you see is this rotating headline complete with pictures. I see something that says Paul Maurice is the new head coach? What? No, that must be old news. Really. So, I advance through the headlines and....

Paul Maurice is the new head coach.

O. M. E. G. Oh my effing gosh. (My students could find this, and I have to put forth a good example. Ha ha. Be quiet.) Why such a big deal? Well, the coach he's replacing replaced him a few years ago. Hence the "It's a Small World" reference.

Am I upset? Eh. Not really. I want my team to win. I know that winning isn't everything, but sometimes it just is. I want my boys to go to the playoffs again. I want them to go far into the playoffs. We haven't done that for two years after winning the Cup, and November was a crappy month for us.

So, good luck Coach Maurice. At least Obama has a harder climb ahead of him than you do.