My Latest Crochet Project – A Hat for The Shelter

Crochet Zombie's Swirl Beanie - my versionSo, I DO have the same goal of creating 50 hats for the homeless shelter this year, as I did last year. That didn’t go “as advertised” I only got 15 done. :(

But I truly don’t want to waste any precious time lamenting how last year didn’t go as well as I wanted. That won’t help me accomplish my 2015 objectives. Of course I’ve spent some time analyzing why I think the year went so poorly. And as much as I want to “assign blame” to external sources of stress like getting laid off that one thing I know for sure is that I didn’t focus like I needed to. In the face of that it seems disingenuous to fault anyone or anything other than myself.

So anyway, back to the hat…

I wanted to try something new, as I’ve really only been crocheting my own pattern for a long time.  I found this great pattern on Ravelry. It is available for free from Crochet Zombie. It took me a bit to figure out, but then it became a quick project. I used a US size H hook and some worsted weight yarn I had in my stash. I think it was Red Heart With Love. It will fit a little head, a young child. I think the next one I make will be with colors that are not so bright (bubble gum pink is not quite my favorite, but my 4 year old granddaughter loves it) and perhaps use a size I or J and see if I can get it to fit an adult head.

This one is going in the box for next year’s shelter donation. One down 49 more to go.

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Posted in Charitable Living, Crafts, Goal Setting | Tagged 2015, being charitable, crochet, crochet hat, giving, homeless shelter | Leave a comment

Enter Title Here- Starting Again After A Long Break

Enter Title Here

Those were the words that greeted me as I sat down to write this post, the first in several months. Like so many bloggers I began this site with intentions to write regularly, and only write quality posts. Wow that ended up being so much more difficult than I had ever imagined.

I’ve never really intended to make this blog anything other than just a place to talk about the things I love. Family, friends, reading, learning, knitting and crochet. Cooking at times. Occasionally sewing or quilting. Art when I feel inspired. Laughter when it really matters.

I like the idea of starting over. I’ve spent my whole life starting over. I believe in second changes and third chances and 87th chances. I believe in the power of change, the power of renewal.

2015 is going to be amazing. I turn 50 this year! 50. I’ve gotten 50 years on this planet. It is time to give back, time to make a difference. Time to be who I was meant to be.

Enter Title Here. The title for this year is Renewal.

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Posted in All The Possibilities, Goal Setting, Gratitude | Tagged follow through, getting started, goal setting, peace of mind, planning, priorities, progress, the past, the purpose | Leave a comment

All The Kings Men by Robert Penn Warren

My Pulitzer goal has really suffered this year. This is only the first book I’ve read from that list in 2014. I need to pick up the pace if I am to make my goal of reading 12 of them this year.

All The Kings Men

All The Kings Men by Robert Penn Warren

All The Kings Men contains some of the best character development I’ve read. The path of self discovery taken by the book’s narrator, Jack Burden, is compelling and resonated with me in a way I don’t think it would have had I read this at a younger age. Truth be told, I kind of ended up with a crush on Jack Burden.

As Burden tells his story you come to know those around him as complex people, more of their “warts” than their good characteristics and it would be very tempting just to paint all of these characters as “bad people” if you were to just give the prose a cursory read. But Warren’s prose doesn’t really allow for a cursory read, at least it didn’t for me. I became curious about the motivations and thought processes of these characters. Willie Stark is fascinating, both Adam and Anne Stanton intriguing. Even some of the more peripheral players like Lucy Stark, Tiny Duffy and Sadie Burke were people whose motivations and actions lead to hours of thought.

And really, this is what happened for me. I thought about this story a great deal, during the day as I went about other tasks I would think about these characters and try to imagine why they would take the actions that they did, say the things they did. Because this story was filled with some many layered people I became emotionally connected to it. This story once again affirmed my belief that there aren’t many truly “bad” people in the world. Most of us are just people, doing the best we can, and we make mistakes. Some of them ugly.

This story also sent me down two “rabbit holes” Because it is believed that Willie Stark is based on Huey Long , I spent a lot of time reading about him. And then as I was reading about Warren himself I learned that he also won the Pulitzer Prize for his poetry, and therefore spent time reading his poems. But then, that is not really a complaint, the “rabbit holes” are one of the most enjoyable things about reading afterall :)

Beautiful book.

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Posted in All The Possibilities, Pulitzer Goal | Tagged All The Kings Men, book reviews, book-a-week goal, Pulitzer Prize Goal, rabbit hole, reading, Robert Penn Warren | 1 Comment

Learning To Be Kind

Does the desire to be kind, the intention, count for anything?

This thought has been on my mind a great deal today. It began earlier today when I read this post. I thought about (and cringed about) many unkind statements I’ve made in the past. And those that I’ve made recently too.

While I know that I truly have changed and grown in the past several years, sometimes I get overwhelmed by the shear amount of changing I still need to do.

I’ve been told all my life that I am a selfish person, by my mother and by my ex-husband. How much truth is there to that? I know that regardless of the truth I’ve internalized it as such. And that is mostly a good thing. I believe it has had a negative impact in that I beat myself up and am so hard on myself that I cannot feel good when I make some progress toward being a kinder person. But on the whole I feel like it is good to constantly be looking for ways to improve in this important aspect.

I would like to live in a state of kindness. I would like to be so focused on the needs and hearts of others that I never say or do anything unkind. I feel that is a worthy goal. Maybe the best goal that I have. Also probably the least attainable in reality.

Am I going to be apologizing for things I’ve said, done or written my entire life? Probably. But I DO need to acknowledge, and celebrate that I am making progress toward a kinder, less selfish me.

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Posted in Charitable Living, Relationships | Tagged good intentions, kindness, rationalizations, selfishness | Leave a comment

2014: The Year That Will Tell The Tale

Sometimes I feel pathetic. I set goals, make a bit of progress and then I let life get in the way and before I know it a month or two has passed and I’ve not made any more progress.

I desperately want to think that I can change this. And I guess that if I just continue to “try” every time I slip that I will continue to make progress. But that feels like a “cop out” and I know I am capable of better.

What do I want to accomplish in 2014?

Finally remove the extra weight

read 12 Pulitzers

read 61 books total (last year I read 60, so 61 it is)

learn PHP

knit or crochet 50 hats for the homeless shelter

move to a better place

Planning, planning, planning- no, wait…

I always spend too much time planning and not enough taking action.

Action, action, action

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I Made My Goal!

So I set a goal on the GoodReads website to read 52 books in 2013- and I made it! I am so excited to have accomplished at least one thing in the past year. I’ve not had a very good year in many respects, so to have this small success is kind of a big deal for me.

I wrote about this in an earlier post, when I was ahead of the goal. I didn’t make my Pulitzer related goal of 12 Pulitzer winners this year, but accomplishing this one feels good.

I am going to be a bit  more aggressive next year – 60 books in 2014, with 12 of them being Pulitzer winners. I get a great deal of joy from reading, and I know that I need to continue to look for ways to bring more pure joy into my life.

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Posted in All The Possibilities, Goal Setting, Other Reading, Pulitzer Goal | Tagged book-a-week goal, celebration, goal setting, goals, joy, Pulitzer Prize Goal, reading, successes | 1 Comment

A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley

I just finish A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley this week. This is my latest read for my Pulitzer Prize reading goal.

(SPOILER ALERT)

What I loved about this book:

Smiley’s writing style – she draws such clear, emotional pictures with her words, even when writing about difficult subjects

What I liked about this book:

The book took place in a time period that I remember vividly, and she wrote about it accurately

Having been raised by a farmer I enjoy reading about farming, so although the father in this story was NOTHING like my daddy (I don’t think I can stress that enough) there was much about the other farmers and the way of life itself that resonated with me

The people in the story were complex and every single one of them fascinated me. I wanted to get to know them all better, but felt that I knew them at the same time. Smiley is very good at writing in a character driven manner. She did not write in a way that was overly judgmental of her characters, especially Ginny and Rose. While many of the characters within the story make choices that might be viewed as “wrong” most of them never lose their humanity to that “wrongness”

What I disliked about the book.

Child sexual abuse is never easy to read about. And while I believe repressed memories do happen I don’t believe they happen the way they did in this book. I remember very well the repressed memory craze that went on in the 1990s, so many women were “discovering” that they were abused while they were in therapy.

All in all a deep story, beautifully written.

 

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Posted in Pulitzer Goal | Tagged A Thousand Acres, book reviews, book-a-week goal, family, goals, Jane Smiley, Pulitzer Prize Goal, reading | 1 Comment

The Song of Roland

The Song of Roland

I finally got around to reading this poem. It has been on my “to read” list for a very, very long time. Like…since high school? (My Goodreads to-read list just keeps growing and growing and growing)

the Song of Roland- image for Wikipedia

the Song of Roland- image for Wikipedia

Of course the story itself was known to me before hand. Based on the Battle of Roncevaux (the one that happened in 778) it is an epic poem that was finally written down in sometime in the eleventh or twelfth century, but was probably “sung” or performed for a long time before then.

It is the oldest surviving piece of French literature. This made me wonder how different the experience of reading it might be if I could read it in French.

The translation I read was done by Dorothy Sayers. I admit to loving her Lord Peter Whimsey stories, but I did not realize that she had done work like this. In going down  one of the “rabbit holes” that this particular poem provided I learned that she also translated Dante’s Divine Comedy. She was also a feminist, which I LOVE.

Not my favorite epic poem by any stretch, but still enjoyable and I was happy to cross it off my “list”

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Posted in Other Reading | Tagged Charlemagne, Dorothy Sayers, epic poems, French literature, poetry, rabbit hole, reading, reading goal, the Battle of Roncevaux, The Song of Roland | Leave a comment

The Way Of Kings by Brandon Sanderson

So, can I just say – LOVED this book :)

Seriously I’ve only two complaints, both minor really.

1- I felt there may have been too much time spent on world building, maybe…

2- This is the first book in what will eventually be a 10 book series, I will have some waiting, as the second one is not even due out until March of 2014

Rich characters- sort of have a bit of a crush on both Dalinar and Kaladin, and I am totally fascinated with the assassin.

I like the conflicts of the morality systems of the different characters and societies, that will make for rich story telling in the later books.

 

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Posted in Other Reading | Tagged book reviews, book-a-week goal, Brandon Sanderson, goals, reading, The Way of Kings | Leave a comment

Frankenstein

I finally read Frankenstein. It is odd that I could live this long and not have read it. Of course there are many more books I could say that about, classics that I’ve yest not taken the time to read, so maybe it is not so odd.

18490I LOVED this book. It is beautifully written. As I was reading I kept going back to the thought that Mary Shelley was only nineteen when she wrote this book. Nineteen.

I felt cheated by every adaptation Hollywood has ever produced from this work. (Okay, not every adaptation, there is the monumental awesomeness of Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein) But nothing has ever captured the true horror of this book.

The anguish of both Victor Frankenstein and the creature were nearly palpable to me. Honestly, I felt much more sorrow for the creature, for his frustrations and loneliness. I found it contemptible that Frankenstein would create him and then do nothing to relieve his suffering. Not that I think creating a companion for the creature was the correct idea, but he himself could have provided friendship and understanding. He could have perhaps even have shared the presence of the “monster” with others he trusted. I found Frankenstein’s cowardice loathsome. It was not until the end of his life that he told anyone about what he had done, he never really took responsibility.

 

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Posted in Other Reading | Tagged book reviews, book-a-week goal, Frankenstein, goals, Mary Shelley | Leave a comment