Tuesday, August 23, 2011
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Back from vacation, back from teaching at a workshop, back to my dropped projects and cozy house...
We have been enjoying what feels like our first weeks of summer. Consistent, warm weather (warm for here: low 70s); relaxed days; denial about the amount of work that has to happen before my students walk through the door after Labor Day.
Since the days themselves feel like a lovely mosaic or collage, in which I flit from thing to thing, mostly free of drive or focus, I thought a blog post in that format--a winding path through my summer brain, if you will--would be appropriate.
1. War and Peace. My book club decided to tackle this monolith over the summer. We are all teachers, and after reading Anna Karenina last summer, we thought another Tolstoy was just the thing. I'm struggling. I've read tons of 19th century lit as well as lots of historical fiction (which is what Tolstoy was writing: the book was published in 1869 but set in 1805-1812) so that's not the issue...it's just that I don't have enough historical "hooks" to read the book without constantly consulting the footnotes and Wikipedia and the list of characters. When I get in flow, like during our week on Camano Island, I really enjoy it...but it's a daunting task. It wouldn't have been easier during the school year, though, so I'm continuing on. I won't say slogging, because it's not a slog, its just like rolling a boulder up a hill when you're constantly being seduced off the path by flowers and bunnies and gins and tonic. But you really need to get this boulder up the hill!
2. Wil Wheaton. I am just enough of a "Star Trek: The Next Generation" fan to be inordinately excited that I discovered Wil's blog and his podcasts...and I'm just enough of an oblivious semi-fan that I didn't hear about them until TWO YEARS after he first put them out. Just finished listening to "Memories of the Futurecast," where he reads excerpts from his book Memories of the Future, which covers his memories and pretty funny synopses of the first 14 episodes of the series...the series which is now, conveniently, is on Netflix Streaming. The kids and I watched a bit of episode one today while we were folding laundry. My son said, astutely, "This looks like 'Galaxy Quest.'" Sigh. The perils of watching a parody before one has seen the source material.
(Note 1: Wil Wheaton was the one and only boy I ever cut out of "Tiger Beat" and put up on my wall. What that says about me, I don't know.) (I do know; it says I'm a mega-nerd and completely proud of it.)
(Note 2: Wil has a beautiful, touching post on his blog about the 25th anniversary of the film "Stand By Me." If you saw this movie in the '80's and loved it, read this post.)
3. Couch-to-5K. I have been a runner on and off since I was in college. It is absolutely the best way for me to enjoy exercise and get in shape...but it's also a tough habit for me to sustain and I tend to binge and crash. After a year with some tough health stuff, it became very apparent to me that being a super-slug and feeling sorry for myself was not the way to regain fitness. I'm on week 5 of this Couch-to-5K program right now, and am feeling great! Got new Nike Free running shoes, am not having any trouble with my joints or shinsplints, and signed up for a local 5K for the end of September. Given my personal set of issues, I'm not sure if I'll ever tackle more than the 5K length (doesn't it seem like everyone is doing half-marathons now?) but we'll see...
4. Ysolda Teague and Carol Feller. Knitters: run, don't walk to get a copy of Little Red in the City by Ysolda Teague. I love it so much that I have already spilled coffee AND wine on it. I also already knit the sweater Skelf in one crazy gulp back in June/July and it may be my most favorite thing I've knitted EVER.
If Ysolda is like a knitting rock star, Carol Feller is like the cool indie band that's just hitting the circuit. I ordered her book Contemporary Irish Knits pretty much sight unseen (only a few patterns are up on Ravelry now, but they all look like winners) and as soon as I hit "confirm order" on the Amazon cart, I started to notice her name everywhere--Interweave Knits, Knitty, Twist Collective--I just didn't notice before that a bunch of patterns I love were all designed by the same person.
5. The Temeraire books by Naomi Novik. I've been having trouble paying attention to War and Peace in part because of Ms. Novik's fascinating series. Again, I'm late to the party, it already being six books--but my husband and I are really enjoying the heck out of what feels like a combination of Jane Austen, the non-cheesy parts of Anne McCaffrey, and Patrick O'Brien.
All right, people: my actual to-do list ain't getting any shorter, and then I can go back to my honeybee-like existence
Posted by Dana at 10:32 AM