Top 5 Fall Plans

Dear Erin,

I’m sorry about the missing post from last Friday. How is it that one can be pretty much super busy and still have very little to say about it afterward? I got an hour that day to exercise and then read and drink coffee. Woohoo? I guess I could tell you that I was reading Wolf Hall, which has been quite fun and accessible so far, but I haven’t finished it yet, so I don’t want to talk about it much. I’m so enjoying being back in that world; I miss it when I’m gone, although I usually don’t realize that until I’ve been gone a long time.

Other than that, it’s been life and this little guy pretty much 24/7.


In fact, a little more 24 than is desirable right now. Did I mention we’re up to two teeth? Plus, he’s not so good at napping while out and about any more. He used to be able to sleep anywhere through pretty much anything, but now, I guess the world is too interesting.

Anyway, I want to set aside the quotidian for a bit and think bigger. Now that we’re back into the fall semester – I still think that way – I can see to the end of the year, and there are some things coming up in these next few months that I think are going to be lots of fun. (Unlike last year, I’m not as interested in the fall TV schedules starting up. Partially because I’ve got other things to occupy my time – well, just one other thing, really. Well, not really a thing, more of a Little Mister. Mostly, though, it’s probably because my favorite show is already on. Insert happy dance due to excellence of season so far.)

Fun Things Coming Up Before the End of the Year:

  1. Two events coming up for which I get to dress up!! Like, wear a dress. Like, actually get a new dress and shoes and things. One is a friend’s wedding, and the other is a fancy party in LA. More on that after it happens, hopefully with pictures although they might not be great quality. I don’t think a honking great camera is really the right accessory for my dress.
  2. Our best British friends are coming this weekend for a visit! I think they want to see all of us, not just the baby, but who knows. I don’t really care. Charles is taking time off, and we’re going to get out and enjoy the area. They’re always fun to be with.
  3. NaNoWriMo, or the National Novel Writing Month (known to normal people as November). You set a goal to write 50,000 words over the course of the month, and a certain section of the internet cheers you on and helps you persevere to your goal. I did this two years ago and got a big chunk of a novel done. However, it’s basically sat in a drawer for the last two years waiting to be finished. Last year we were traveling for half of the month, so it was impossible to do NaNoWriMo. Even considering trying to do it again this year is probably foolhardy, but that’s because of Little Mister, not because of travel or other time-consuming obligations, and he goes down for naps every day. I’m not committing yet, just rolling the idea around in my head to see how it feels. I need some sort of motivation to keep writing on this book, and competition combined with public accountability is one of the best for me.
  4. Holidays! Specifically, Little Mister’s first holidays! Need I elaborate?
  5. Knitting. I still have ambitious plans to produce warm garments for the tiny persons in the family. Here, take a look: for Munchkin, for Little Mister, also for Little Mister, maybe for our cousin’s new bundle. Plus, of course, whatever else strikes my fancy, as well as a gift I’m already working on. This may be slightly overambitious. But, on the other hand, fall is as good as January for productivity of all sorts.

It’s going to be a busy, fun fall. I can’t wait to share it with you here!

Round Up Redux

Dear Erin,

I’m sorry this is late today. We finally have our first tooth, and it’s interfering this week with his napping schedule.

Now that Little Mister is more and more aware of the world around him, the sounds around the house have changed significantly. Of course, there are his sounds – lots of babbling and screeching and laughing, and his fair share of crying or grumping about. Right now, he’s taking turns fake coughing and talking to himself.

But there’s also the music, which has increased exponentially from before he was born. It used to be almost all podcasts nearly all the time. Now, since I’m sharing the sounds with LM, we wander in music from Sesame Street to Beethoven to Miles Davis to Tom Lehrer to whichever of my Pandora stations sound at all appealing.

But when the boy’s in bed, it’s time for podcasts again! Some quiet time to myself to learn new things or hear debate or an audiobook. I’m clearly not listening quickly enough for iTunes’s taste, as it keeps telling me it’s stopped updating certain subscriptions because I haven’t listened “lately,” and do I want to begin updating again? Yes, you silly program, I do.

So I figured now is a good time to update my list from before and add some of those that I didn’t include last time.

So, the last time I suggested The British History Podcast, but it’s gotten too slow even for me. There’s a line between “thorough” and “losing the narrative in the weeds,” and for me, that line’s been crossed. I appreciate all the work that goes into this podcast, but when I consistently zone out five minutes into each episode, I know it’s a lost cause.

Instead, this time I’ll point you to Rex Factor again. They finished their series with a playoff that culminated in an overall winner, so you don’t have to wait for new material any more, although they’ll be starting a new series at some point. Besides, they read my comment on the final episode, so I feel famous and want to promote them even more now.

I also suggest The History of England podcast. It may just be “a guy in a shed,” as the presenter often describes himself. But, funny and well researched, it manages to seem thorough while still moving along at a good clip. And, periodically, there are family theatricals to liven things up further.

There’s also the Judge John Hodgman podcast, which is one of the more famous ones out there. A comedy podcast, but with a very humanistic foundation, Hodgman rules wisely (usually) on disputes between friends and family members. Generally, these are disputes along the lines of “My spouse thinks we can eat food past its expiration date. Make him / her throw away expired food!” You know, the important stuff.

And finally, there’s CraftLit, public domain audiobooks with lengthy introductions that include crafting talk as well as background and context on the books. You can get the podcasts without the crafting materials, as well. This is like Librivox with benefits. I recently finished listening to The Scarlet Letter this way – the first time I’ve interacted with that book since high school, and I have to admit, I didn’t really like it any more this time around, although it was probably for different reasons.

So, there you go. Some new things to check out if you ever get into the mood.

Big Weekend

Dear reader,

Erin will be taking a break for awhile, as this weekend her new little Munchkin arrived. I plan to continue with my normal schedule, so you’ll hear from me again on Wednesday. In the meantime, we’ll be celebrating on both coasts.

Murders and Tigers and Snowgirls, oh my!

Dear Erin,

You are just moving right along, aren’t you? You have until Wednesday, so I expect to see everything else done by the next time you post! (Just kidding.)

You know how we had been working on Little Mister’s bedtime. He’s pretty much got it down now, I’m happy to say, or else he’s resigned to his lot – that he’s going to have to go to sleep sooner or later. Tonight Charles got him down in twenty minutes, which is much faster than I ever have. He still cries when we leave the room, but he usually gives up quickly and soon goes to sleep.

However, the week or so before this milestone was reached was a little rough for all of us. I consider it an achievement that it took less than one bottle of wine for me to make it through. I also got some good reading time in while listening to the boy cry during each ten minutes between my comforting visits to him. Which means that there is actual progress this month on this:

Shelf August

The post-its add up to 483 pages not physically represented here.

I believe the three closest books are all new since the last time I updated you on this shelf. I enjoyed each one, and I’m guessing that at least one you probably haven’t read before, so let me tell you a little about each.

Sad Cypress – One of my favorite Agatha Christie mysteries, this is her homage to Dorothy L. Sayers’s Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries. Well, maybe homage is the wrong word. Sidelong glance at, maybe? A woman, much misunderstood, is on trial for a poisoning murder she didn’t commit. A young man named Peter Lord has fallen hopelessly in love with her, and is determined to get her exonerated. However, in this version, he can’t do it himself and must enlist the help of Hercule Poirot, of course. Sound familiar? Like Strong Poison, just a little? It’s your standard Christie (which is not a bad thing if that’s what you’re in the mood for), although I think sparking off of one of her colleagues helped her elevate her game a bit, as this is a more coherent, solid story than she sometimes produces.

Life of Pi – I know I’m late to the game on this one. What can I say; when it came out I was reading books from 500 years ago. And I’ll admit – to you, not to anyone else – that I picked it up for the tiger. I’m a big fan of tigers these days. Anyway, it turns out there was more of interest in the story than just the tiger. The extended digressions on zoos and Parisian public pools and religion and food were, for the most part, engaging. (Oh, the plot before I forget: Indian boy survives ridiculous amount of time in a lifeboat after the ship carrying his family and its zoo animals sinks.) The majority of the book was so realistic and detailed that it seemed believable enough to actually be real, until the boat got to the carnivorous island. The reason this novel will stay in my mind, though, is the very interesting question that’s raised at the end. When faced with multiple possible explanations for a particular outcome, and when none of those explanations can be verified, do you choose the better story or the more believable (ie, less transcendent, more mundane) story? I’ll choose the tiger every time, thank you.

The Snow Child – This book was part of a local library reading program, which is how it got on the radar of a friend of mine, who then passed it on to me when she had finished it. And I’m so glad she did, because this is a very good novel. It’s not perfect, so I don’t want to say it’s great, but it’s the first book in quite awhile that has tempted me to stay up until three am to finish it, even though I knew that was a bad idea. The Snow Child seems like the kind of book that would result if Laura Ingalls Wilder lived today and had written an extended fairy tale. In 1920, a childless couple decide to homestead in Alaska, escaping too much family and heartache back on the East Coast. The wilderness has almost broken them when they build a little snow girl who seems to come to life and brings with her hope, life, and healing. I can tell you from experience that the pain the couple experiences in the beginning is very realistic, and the healing they eventually receive is a beautiful thing. So, the story itself is enjoyable, and the descriptions of the Alaskan wilderness make me want to live there – even in the winter, so that’s quite a creative accomplishment. I think you might like this one; once you get finished with the house and can sit down and rest for a bit, consider picking it up.

So, there’s still plenty of room on the shelf, but I’m making progress again, which makes me feel good. Hopefully there will be more time to read this weekend.