Posted in monthly plans, reading life

ha! and yet another go…

Maybe a global pandemic and social isolating will be the impetus I need to do this blogging thing on a regular basis. Honestly, it’s unlikely. The social isolating thing for me personally is not a lot different than how I live my life anyway. It is in no way an exaggeration to say that I do not leave our property for two or three weeks at a time on a regular basis. However, having the five us home together all the time is far from the norm. I am not, btw, in any way trying to make light of the situation in the world, in my country, or in my state which is right now the very hardest hit. It is so vast and heartbreaking that it is hard to wrap one’s mind around, and definitely hard to put all the feelings into words. I may try to do just that in a future post(s), but I don’t have that kind of mental energy right now.

No, instead this is about the plans I’ve made for myself for the month of April. Mostly in the reading realm and in the stitching realm. Stitching is pretty straightforward. I’m largely going to ignore the challenges in the stitching groups, and just try to finish as many of my WIPs as I possibly can. Reason being that I have ridiculous plans for Maynia starts…or as I’m calling it #mayniaandbeyond. I’ll talk about that ridiculousness later when I work out specific details more. Anyway, if I could knock out a dozen finishes this month, I would be ecstatic. But it will likely be more like eight or ten, and I can live with that.

As for reading, I’ve decided to unofficially participate in the OWLs Magical Readathon. I did this in 2018, the year Book Roast (on YouTube) introduced it, and I had a lot of fun. Skipped it last year. But it seemed like such a “comfort” thing to do, so I decided to play along again. Should anyone read this and want more info, here’s the announcement post for this year.

Because I’m only participating unofficially, I’m being very chill about it all. I half-assedly decided that Healer might be the career I’d pursue, so I may try to focus on the classes for that path first. (The requirements include: Herbology, Charms, Defense Against the Dark Arts, Potions, Transfigurations, plus three additional classes of one’s own choosing.) But I did choose a book for every prompt. As much as I’d love to say that I’ll finish them all, my reading has suffered over the last several weeks with my inability to concentrate, so that is unlikely.

Here are the classes with their prompts, and with my likely reads:

  • Ancient Runes: Read a book with a heart on the cover or in the title. The only book I found on a quick perusal of my shelves that fit the prompt was Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill. Since this book has been on my shelves for what I’m guessing is more than a decade, it seemed silly to look further.
  • Arithmancy: Read a book that is outside you favorite genre. I’m not sure I even know what my favorite genre is… But I do know it’s not memoir so I’m going with Nylon Road by Parsua Bashi, another book that has sat on my shelves unread for far too long. (Btw, I do not dislike memoirs, but as a genre they wouldn’t make my top ten list.)
  • Astronomy: Read the majority of this book while it’s dark outside. I’ll be reading The Michigan Murders by Edward Keyes. I chose this because I have it as an ebook, and I tend to read on my tablet in bed so I don’t have to get up to turn off a light when I’m done reading.
  • Care of Magical Creatures: Read a book that features an animal with a beak on its cover. I’ve chosen Squid Empire by Danna Staaf.
  • Charms: Read a book with a white cover. I’ll be reading Fledgling by Octavia Butler. This is a book that I’ve wanted to read for so long, yet keep putting off because I don’t want to run out of books by her. Yeah, I’m that stupid.
  • Defense Against the Dark Arts: Read a book set at sea or on the coast. This was a tough one, but I finally ended up choosing Civilization and the Limpet by Martin Wells.
  • Divination: Assign numbers to your TBR pile and use a random number generator to choose your read. I chose the five books I was most in the mood to read right now (An Untamed State by Roxane Gay, The Witches Are Coming by Lindy West, Deathless Divide by Justina Ireland, Like a Love Story by Abdi Nazemian, and Children of Virtue and Vengeance by Tomi Adeyemi), and the random number picker chose Children of Virtue and Vengeance.
  • Herbology: Read a book that starts with the letter M. I’ll be reading A Mercy by Toni Morrison, yet another book that has languished unread for far too long.
  • History of Magic: Read a book featuring witches/wizards. Been a long time since I’ve spent time in Discworld, so I decided to go with The Wee Free Men by Sir Terry Pratchett.
  • Muggle Studies: Read a book from the perspective of a contemporary muggle. I’m going to read Behind You by Jacqueline Woodson, the sequel to If You Come Softly which was a wonderful book.
  • Potions: Read a book under 150 pages. Going with yet another far too long unread one here–Pedro Páramo by Juan Rulfo.
  • Transfiguration: Read a book that includes shape-shifting. Definitely excited to finally be reading The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson.

Unrelated to the OWLs, I’ll continue reading The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson. It’s an excellent book, but a slow read for me. And hopefully I’ll get to another few essays in The Anatomy of Silence edited by Cyra Perry Dougherty.

And as for other April plans, I sure as hell hope this is the month that I finally get my craft area back into shape…I getting there, a few more days ought to do it.

Whether or not I accomplish any of my goals for April, what I wish for most from this month is that the world begins to see some light at the end of the pandemic tunnel. I’m not counting on this, but I am hoping…

 

Posted in monthly plans, the week ahead, Uncategorized

November plans…

Gonna try this again. And yes, likely fail again too. I have gained a small measure of self-knowledge over the years so there’s no point being confident that I can keep this up (blogging, that is) as a regular habit. Doesn’t mean I can’t give it another try though, right?

I know I’m far from alone when it comes to these last two months of the year being the busiest, and the most physically and mentally exhausting. And it’s past time I got myself a little organized. So November, let’s kick some butt, shall we?

Biggest focus needs to be finishing the gifts that need to be made. If I counted correctly, I still have 21 cross stitch gifts, 14 crochet gifts, and 3 sewing gifts yet to be made. On the bright side, some things are close to being done. Four of those cross stitch gifts are stitched and just need FFO-ed (framed, made into ornaments, etc.). On the not so bright side, many of these gifts haven’t even been started. Like, for example, an afghan. In reality, some of these things will not get finished and I will end up buying replacement gifts instead. Happens every year.

Christmas cards will also be a priority this month. For the second year in a row, I will not be making them. This is such a relief. Seriously, such a relief. But we send between 50 and 60, and I write anything from a shortish note to a longer letter (depending on recipient) in each one, so this is still a time consuming task that is best spread over several weeks.

Another must for November is getting Advent gifts bought (I have about half of Mom’s and half of Dad’s and all of Buddy’s–their dog). Then get them wrapped and mailed off. My Mom does them for us, so I don’t need to do them for Rich or the kiddos.

I’d really like to get my menu plans all figured out for Christmas week when my parents, my brother, and Rich’s mom will all be here staying with us. Plus the baking lists, etc.

It would also be nice if all the decorating was done by month’s end.

I’d like to have a huge chunk of the shopping done before December, but I’m not going to stress too much about it. And the wrapping and baking will, for the most part, wait until next month as well.

So with that general plan in mind, I’ve made myself a list of goals for the week:

  1. FFO the completed stitching projects. (Two will be framed, one turned into an ornament, and one into a bookmark.)
  2. Finish stitching Mom’s ornament, Tony’s and Amy’s ornament, and Annie’s ornament.
  3. Start and finish Twin Peaks stitch for both Rich and Annie.
  4. Work on Mom’s stitched snowman.
  5. Finish Mom’s crocheted snowman.
  6. Start Joyce’s afghan.
  7. Nine Christmas cards.
  8. Get remaining Advent gifts.
  9. Work on decorating. (Yeah, I know a lot of people don’t approve of such early decorating. I used to spend the last weekend of November doing it all at once. But I just can’t do it that way anymore, because so many, many, many trips up and down the stairs never fails to bring on a flare up. So I finally learned to just spread it out over the month. And you know what, I happen to like seeing things start getting festive this early!)

Hopefully next Monday morning I’ll have lots of pictures to share of all the things I accomplished. Hopefully.

Oh, and on a non-holiday note, I’m totally behind on my GoodReads reading goal for the year, so I’ll ideally like to finish three books this week: The Vegetarian by Han Kang, Love Beyond Body, Space, and Time edited by Hope Nicholson, and The Perfect Nanny by Leila Slimani.

Posted in reading life

July reads…

It wasn’t a super heavy reading month; been largely distracted by other things. But I managed 7 books. None of which I hated. (Of course, I’m unlikely to actually finish a book if I’m hating it these days. There was a time where if I started a book, I made myself finish it…and yeah, why I ever let that be a thing, I couldn’t tell you.) I can’t claimed to have loved them all, however. So let’s get the one that let me with mixed feelings out of the way first.

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And that would be The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid. Like I said, I do not hate this book. In fact, there’s plenty I really enjoyed about this book. It has an interesting storytelling style. The things deliberately left unsaid add to the story in wonderful way. And probably my favorite thing was the narrator’s perspective. But there  are moments in the book that left me feeling quite squicky. Especially a scene in which our narrator coerces his mentally ill “girlfriend” into having sex. Which yes, happens all the time in the real world, and I’m not saying it shouldn’t happen in books. But when it does, it should not go unexamined. The way this book is told, as a story told entirely from the narrator’s experience makes this difficult, of course, because he sees nothing wrong in what he did. I get all that…but I don’t like it, and it diminished my experience with the book a bit.

Krik? Krak! by Edwidge Danticat is a collection of short stories, most of which are set in Haiti. As in generally the case with a collection, some of the stories seem to be sticking with me more than others. But I can honestly say that I’m glad to have read every one of them. As with the first book of Danticat’s that I read earlier this year (The Farming of Bones), this book taught me about pieces of Haiti’s history that I’m embarrassed to have not already known. There is so much pain in these stories, but that’s not the whole of it. And as I learned with The Farming of Bones, Danticat’s writing is gorgeous.

Pale Rider: The Spanish Flu of 1918 and How It Changed the World by Laura Spinney was my first nonfiction book of the month. The topic of infectious disease fascinates me from many perspectives. This book deals a bit with the biology side, but focuses far more on history. And it is more of a global history than most books, which is wonderful. It’s full of insights, and it led me to think about things in ways I hadn’t previously.

0-2Nnedi Okorafor’s Akata Warrior was the next book I finished, and oh how I adored it. Okorafor’s storytelling never fails to delight me. Her stories are lively and unique. I’m not a huge fantasy reader, but I absolutely love fantasy that isn’t set in the typical Western tradition. This book is the sequel to Akata Witch, and to say I was thrilled to get to spend more time with Sunny and her best friends Orlu, Chichi, and Sasha seems almost silly, because duh! of course I was! They’ve grown a little, and learned a lot, though possibly not always as much as they think they have. And as their relationships grow and change and sometimes struggle, they still always have one another’s backs. I’ve seen that there is supposed to be a third book coming out, but haven’t been able to find out when. If I’m still alive, it will definitely make it’s way to be bookshelves.

I’ve meant to read The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka for years, and only now got around to it. Oh, how many times is that the reality of my reading life. This book was so. damn. good. But I’m not sure how to describe it, and even if I could manage it, I have a feeling that one wouldn’t believe it could work until they read it themselves. It is sparse, yet beautiful. Bordering on poetry. There is no main character; there are perhaps dozens of them. But we never hear any of their names until the book is nearly over. It encompasses the lives of Japanese “picture brides” starting with their journey across the ocean to San Fransisco and lasting through their forced relocation to internment camps many years later. It was brilliantly written, and it was incredibly moving.

Quiet Girl in a Noisy World by Debbie Tung is a graphic memoir. Very quick read. The art appealed to me, and her story even more so. I think that there are many of us in the world who can relate to Tung’s stories of trying to get through an overwhelmingly social world when you are both strongly introverted and suffer from social anxiety.

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And finally there was Whispers in the Dark, which I believe is the 9th in the Marti MacAlister series. I knew I would love this book, and I wasn’t wrong. This has truly become my favorite comfort read series. Marti MacAlister is just an awesome character. She’s a Black woman and a detective and a mom in a suburb of Chicago. She’s compassionate and smart and tenacious. She’s a great mom, but sometimes doubts that fact. While this wasn’t my favorite in the series thus far, I definitely enjoyed it wholeheartedly. I hate that I only have four left to go, but I guarantee that this will be books I reread.

*****

Since I’ve been so distractible lately, I made myself a big old pile of short books for August in hopes of actually finishing a few. We’ll see how that goes…

Posted in nature love, out and about

another walk in another park…

One of Rich and my summer goals has been to take walks in a multitude of parks. We started off doing pretty well, but the last few weeks have been horrendously hot, and that has slowed us down. And yes, I realize that’s a relative term, and that my “horrendously hot” (mid-80s and above) is another’s perfect summer weather. Anyway, this meant that Tuesday evening was our first park walk in over two weeks. And we kept it really close to home for this one, number 10 since we started this little project.

Sherwood Field is a small little park with looping trails. A popular place for dog walking, though we didn’t see a single soul, human or canine, during this visit. But holy crap, were there mosquitos! Seriously, what an awful year for the little blood-suckers. I am going to consider the plethora of bites worthwhile, as the company was wonderful and we got to see a few birds (common yellowthroats and cedar waxwings) we don’t often see. And a hummingbird hawk-moth, which never fails to delight me.

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And here’s a quick overview of walks 1 through 9:

  1. Gosnell Big Woods Preserve. May 31.

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2. High Acres Nature Area. June 1.

3. Mertensia Park. June 7.

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4. Powder Mills Park. June 14.

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5. Panorama Valley Park. June 21.

6. Irondequoit Bay Park West. June 22.

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7. Philbrook Park. June 28.

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8. Keeney Swamp State Forest. July 7.

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9. Turning Point Park. July 12.

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I really hope that we can squeeze in another ten or so before bid adieu to summer. Though autumn, winter, and spring walks are all incredibly lovely too.

Posted in miscellaneous/personal babbling

who, what, where, when, why…or something like that…

The who: Debi. Wife to my very own version of Hagrid (not in the looks department, just in his love for creatures of all sorts). Rich is pretty damn awesome in other ways too.

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Mom to three awesome humans (a 21-year-old daughter, Annie, who is currently a chemistry major at SUNY-ESF, a 17-year-old son, Gray, who just finished high school, and a 15-year-old son, Max, who will be a high school junior this fall).

 

Also mom to a menagerie of non-human animals (see bit about husband). Crafter (cross-stitcher, crocheter, scrapbooker, sewist, fiddle-arounder). Reader (fiction, non-fiction, comics, most genres, most age markets, with a striving for a large percentage of marginalized voices). Lover of nature, of winter, of road trips, of preserving from our garden, of baking (in moderation…come Christmastime I tend to hate it), of autumn, of list making, of Instagram and FlossTube and Netflix, of chana masala and garlic naan (though I’ve never tried to make either myself), of summer (but not of the heat and humidity), of our swamp, of taking photos (the fact that I’m not good at it is of no relevance to me), of sweet tea (holdover from our years in Tennessee), of spring, of fires in the fireplace, of readathons, of mountain creeks.

 

Hater of racism, sexism, xenophobia, homophobia, ableism, and all other manners of dismissing another’s humanity.

The what: A blog to record my daily doings, particularly my crafty pursuits.

The where: Here happens to be beautiful upstate New York. I grew up in the snow belt; it’s in my blood.

The when: Well, starting now it seems.

The why: This one is a little hard to put in words. I just feel this incredible sense of freedom right now. With my older son’s graduation a couple weeks ago, I find myself with an abundance of free time, and believe me, I am very grateful and know how blessed I am. I’ve spent the previous 13 years homeschooling Annie and/or Gray. (Max has always thrived in and wanted to be in public school.) After our daughter’s third grade year, we just knew she needed more than she was getting at school. After our son’s fifth grade year, he too came home for his education, for very different reasons than his sister. Homeschooling became my full-time plus job. We couldn’t afford, nor would we have wanted, premade curriculums. So I did all the curriculum planning, and all the required NY homeschooling paperwork, and the bulk of the preparation, and the majority of the teaching. I loved a lot of it. You know, like getting to spend so much time with my kids and learning so much with them and from them. But I resented it at times too. Because it was So. Damn. Time-Consuming. Annie started taking some of her classes at the community college at age 11, and by high school she met a good percentage of her homeschool requirements with college courses, so that took some of the load off. But Gray, while being bright enough to follow in his sister’s footsteps academically, couldn’t handle the social aspects of college classes. He is autistic, and he has severe social anxiety as well as OCD (Annie also has OCD). Anyway, long story long, huh? What Gray’s graduation means for me is free time to do the things I enjoy. I joked with Rich that Gray’s graduation sort of feels like my retirement. He agreed, and he’s going to throw me a retirement party later this summer, because he is just that awesome. (We’re skipping the gold watch and making due with frozen margaritas instead. If I get lucky, maybe there will be an Etsy gift card in there somewhere–lol.) And while bullet journaling has been an effective way to keep track of my obligations and homeschool tasks and whatnot over the last few years, I feel like a new blog will suit me better for my new, less constrained lifestyle. It’s not that I mind if anyone stumbles across it and reads it (though I can’t imagine that anyone would want to), but it’s really sort of a selfish endeavor to give myself a personal record.

 

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