It's been over two months since I've blogged!!! So much has happened and it has just been so crazy of late. That happens, from time to time, I guess. Sigh…
What have I/we been up to?
Jermaine and I took a very relaxing trip to the Florida Keys:
I basically spent a week in a hammock and it was fantastic! We spent our second anniversary at a very nice Lady-and-the-Tramp-like Italian restaurant in Key Largo…very delicious and romantic.
Then we came home just in time for Hurricane Sandy:
Fortunately we were fine but I can not say the same for my cousin and his family in New Jersey. They were without power for a week. So many families had more issues to deal with too with all the damage to properties.
Then there was the election.
Maryland legalized gay marriage. Wohhooooo!!!! I am so proud of my state!
Work has been so crazy for the both of us. The craziness for my job occurred a little earlier this year. Luckily, it will always be busy but the crazy, ER-quality pace has dissipated.
Jermaine and I are enjoying a nice Christmas. Here is a picture of our Christmas tree:
It's what tress often turn into, no?
Craft-wise and book-wise, I've:
Finished 11 books. No idea if I'll be able to write reviews for every single one
Finished three pairs of socks for girlfriends and one pair for moi.
Made two fairly nice necklaces for my boss and my mom. I've come a long way since making necklaces out of macaroni teehee
Started knitting a monster for the 600 Monsters Strong group. Inspired by the terrible traders in Newtown this December, this group aims to send these knitted monsters to kids impacted by gun violence.
I hope to share more here in the upcoming months. I feel bad that I have gone MIA both with my blogging and my commenting. I hope to change that.
OK Notice how I have Goodreads widgets on the left? Last night I wondered – WHERE DID MY RAVELRY PROJECTS GO?!
I remember I had progress bars and thumbnail pictures but something happened with the coding. It was difficult to get it there in the first place so I couldn’t help but be exasperated by adding the code again because I simply couldn’t remember how I did it.
But I found a very helpful widget for WordPress blogs that I wanted to share. The My Ravelry Widget helped me turn adding this into a three minute production as opposed to what I did before…lots and lots of tweaking and let’s not even go into how much time it took to figure it out in the first place!
I know I have a lot of blogging friends that have WordPress blogs, so I wanted to share this helpful widget to you all.
And I’m a happy blogger – both hobbies with equal real estate on this blog. Yay
Goodness it feels like a long time since I’ve updated my blog. So much for my original idea of having a digital scrapbook!
Well in chronological order, this is what I’ve been up to:
June 20- June 25 – I visited my mommy and her sweetie husband in South Carolina. Wonderful little vacation. Relaxing was my word for it
June 29 – A Derecho hit our area. What’s a Derecho? Wikipedia says it “is a widespread, long-lived, straight-line windstorm that is associated with a fast-moving band of severe thunderstorms. ” What do I call it?? Simply put – an ass kicker of a storm. See:
We lost power Friday night and it returned Tuesday night. I distinctly remember during the Snowcopolypse of 2010, enjoying it a little. Jermaine and I were walking around wearing five sweaters and we played Trivial Pursuit. Sure, it got old but at least the first day was fun. This storm? Not a bit of it was fun because very hot days followed. Jermaine and I had just gone grocery shopping Friday night and we were mad as hell when we had to throw away a majority of our fridge.
3. So yes. It’s been very very hot too. I know many prefer heat over cold but I do not. I haven’t had much energy lately to eat much less update projects here or review books. This smiley, actually, sums up how I’ve been dealing with the heat
But since the last entry, I have completed two socks:
And I’m absolutely giddy about this pair I’m working on now:
On the book side of things, there has been A LOT read, which has led me to wonder if I want to review Every. Single. Book.
Books I’ve finished since last book review: (Some of these might have already been read since June 12)
So Book Bloggers – Question for you – Do you review every book you read? Why? If not, what makes you want to review a book and what makes you just skip it? As I delve more into reviewing books, it would be interesting to see what others do.
Yes. I am a history nerd. I will always have historical curiosity as I read my favorite genre of books – historical fiction.
While reading, I ponder:
How true and accurate is this book?
Are the characters described here typical __________ of the time? (This was a favorite question of one of my favorite professors in college when we read primary sources written by women from various time periods in American history)
What influence did historical events play on the work of fiction?
What kinds of social norms were displayed in this book and how accurate were they to that society?
…and questions similar to that
This is why I read historical fiction a lot—Because I wonder these very same kinds of things!! And because I wonder about these kinds of things, I’ll add another field “Historical Accuracy” to historical fiction book reviews. I am not trying to turn this blog into one of term papers but I would like to comment on a few of these thoughts. Sometimes I’ll do a little research about the topic and discuss something at length (i.e. a few paragraphs) or sometimes I just might have a few comments.
Finishing “Blue Asylum” got me wondering about women in asylums in the 19th century:
As a result, I did some research about the reasons women were sent to insane asylums in the 19th century.
Why the main character was sent to one:
The main character, Iris Dunleavy, is a plantation wife in Virgina during the American Civil War. She marries her husband without knowing much about him and quickly finds herself alone during the first few years of her marriage to him. During this time, she experiences first hand the horrors of plantation life, a prominent one being slavery. As the Civil War approaches and begins, she finds herself disagreeing strongly with both the institution of slavery and the society around it. Because of this growing resentment, she joins a group of slaves in their tragic attempt at an escape. They’re caught and killed while Iris is sent to the insane asylum for insubordination, basically.
That (as well as many other books I’ve read where this has occurred) got me thinking about the real reasons why women were sent to insane asylums. My husband and I spent some time in Bed Bath and Beyond this weekend and we disagreed slightly on the type of sheets we needed. If this were 150 years earlier and we disagreed on something in the general store, would I have been sent to a “rest home” as characters some times called it?
The answer is probably yes!
I found this very interesting article from the Oshkosh Scholar written by Katherine Pouba and Ashley Tianen, “Lunacy in the 19th Century: Women’s Admission to Asylums in United States of America” where these two authors examined reasons behind female admittance to insane aslyums at the time.
As the writers state, An anonymous writes
“It may be considered a sort of national phenomenon, that the universally received opinion on this subject should declare a women’s only calling to be that of a wife and mother; and failing this, consign her to the hopelessness of a ‘vocation manqué’” (pp. 3-4, 1855).
Blue Asylum alluded to that. I read this book from the local library and returned it before I could get this exact quote (It was somewhere near page 80, if that helps?) but the doctor was talking to Mrs. Dunleavy and stated that the definition of insanity was when a patient went beyond the social norms of the time.
Can you imagine how detrimental that definition would be to our modern society? I’m not saying our mental health field is without its flaws. I’m sure it has plenty. But not only was the definitions of insanity pretty limiting but the reasons for claiming that were pretty rigid as well.
Pouba & Tianen went on to do a test sample of 60 random women committed to the Mendota Mental Asylum during the years of 1860-1900. Reasons for admittance included:
Suppressed Menstrual Cycles
Overwork and Domestic Troubles
Interestingly enough all these symptoms supported their diagnosis of insanity with very little contemplation about alternatives.
Suppressed Menstrual Cycles – This hits home with me because I live with PCOS, which is an ovarian syndrome whose main symptom is irregular periods. I take birth control for it and luckily that’s as far an impact it has on my life so far. My husband and I understand that it might not be as easy to conceive but luckily I have plenty of girlfriends with that same condition who have had children (one of them was actually a surprise!). Anyway, it’s an odd feeling to know that if I lived 150 years prior and a male in my life wanted to, I could easily get admitted to an asylum. These cases where a patient was admitted because of that were of women 17 years old and 46 years old. As readers know we can easily suggest that perhaps the 17 year old was late in menstruating…perhaps she had PCOS? Anyone reading this might guess (and perhaps accurately?) that the 46 year old was going through menopause?
Religious matters – This case described a woman who disagreed with her pastor husband over God’s existence. Because society had such strict rules about God’s existence, doctors were not taught to be accepting of differences, which is such a frightening thought! (Poudba & Tianen, 98)
Overwork and Domestic Troubles – This reason almost makes me laugh because of just how ludicrous the reasoning was! From the cases that Pouba & Tainen investigated these were from women who had between 8-11 children! Having one to three children puts the woman under a lot of stress and especially during that time when women were house managers and every part of child rearing was on their shoulders. But between 8 and 11 children!? I wouldn’t be the slightest bit surprised if these women would have found time spent in an asylum to almost be at least a little quieter than their home life? (I know very little about their treatments. It could have been excruciating so I won’t say that this was a vacation for them)
Upon reading this article, I can appreciate the accurateness of the Blue Asylum because reasons for admittance to one of these institutions were pretty standard in “dealing” with women at this time, unfortunately.
If you would like to read this interesting article, it can be found here.
No I did not die. Work picks up in the spring time for me…taxes…and hello surprise root canal…bad Laura is bad!
I recently saw a blog post where the knitter, Carole of Carole Knits, who also does a fair amount of reading, posted an entry about what progress she was doing on both. I thought–What a great idea!
Lately there has been a lot of balance between these to great loves of mine so why not share them? Goodreads is doing a contest on Book Bloggers and I’ve been checking out some blogs to add to my “reading” bloglist. I was quite drawn to the format of Reading with Tequila’s reviews. I think it might take some pressure away from me writing reviews and over thinking if the paragraphs flow well. (Yes. I still get that “I’m-writing-for-an-English-class vibe when I know that I want to write these )
What is it about?: Dora Rare is the only female born into her family in five generations of the Rare family living in Scots Bay near Nova Scotia in the early part of the twentieth century. Eyebrows start to raise at her mere existance because she’s the only female born to her family but also because at the age of seventeen she befriends Miss Babineau, a very experienced midwife who has had something to do with almost every birth in town (and some outside of it as well) When most of her family and friends are searching for husbands, she is given a very eye opening apprenticeship working with Miss Babineau. Working with her, she encounters abusive marriages, an overall lack of sensitivity to women in childbirth, unfullfilling marriages and sex lives, all during a time when no one discussed such things.
But wait–the plot thickens! Dr. Gilbert Thomas comes in and builds a maternity ward nearby and insists that he can assure a way for the town’s women to experience a “painless childbirth.” Granted I’ve never given birth but even I can see how that would make a woman say “You have my attention”
Why did I read this? You know…thinking about it, I don’t remember…I think I went searching on Goodreads lists. It appealed to me because of its “in with the new/out with the old” quality it had.
What impressed me about this book? As corny as this might sound, the bonds between the town’s women. At a time when the point of view of women was hardly listened to, you saw characters stand up for delivering their kids according to their own terms. And with some you didn’t. It was interesting to think about these women’s motivations for their actions.
What disappointed me about this book? Her loveless marriage. It was pretty surprising for me to see a character who has experienced so much of bad experiences of marriage through assisting a midwife that she turns around and tolerates it from her own husband. I won’t say much but there was a satisfying resolution with this aspect of the book
Overall Grade? (out of five) ★★★★★
I picked up my Apres Surf Hoodie and not I simply can not put it down. It’s pretty funny because I started it over a year ago. Perhaps I might be able to wear it to MDSW?? Maybe?? That said I secretly mock people that wear ridiculous handknits for an outdoor May fesitval. Should you be proud as hell at yourself for steeking that fair isle sweater? Ab-so-lutely but come on…It’s been known to hit 90 degrees…not very bright.
Anyway, I’m quite proud of the progress:
This was taken over the weekend too…I’m more than halfway done with one sleeve too
Are you going to MDSW this year? I’d love to meet up!!
And this is him wearing it, two days old:
Which one is bigger? Mikey’s head or the yarn ball I put at the end of it?
Secondly, I knit Mikey a sweater to show off his Irish heritage:
Pattern: Trellis by Britta Stolfus Rueschhoff from the Knitty Spring, 2005 My Ravelry Project Page Yarn(s): Cascade 220 Superwash Colorway(s): Green Heather Needle(s): US 6 – 4.0 mm Casted On: December 8, 2011 Casted Off: December 18, 2011 Modifications: None
I made a mixture between the 6-12month size. And let’s just say he has some time to grow into it
So this wraps up 2011’s finished objects. Ended on an adorable note.
I have been brewing many future blog entries of my 2011 Wrap Up and Plans for 2012–knitwise, stashwise and readingwise. What are your goals for 2012? Maybe there’s something I didn’t think of.
My buddy Sprite wrote inher blog about Carole Knits’ Ten on Tuesday and I’ve been paying attention to this blog meme when either or both of them would do it. Sometimes the topic wouldn’t be worth the energy for me to write: Example: Top Ten TV Shows–Does teh internets need to know that I’m a Bravo whore? Or, Top Ten Magazines–Now I really really enjoy magazines but my favorites wouldn’t really shock anyone and then there’s the fact that I do not subscribe to any so it’s not like I’m devoted to a single one much less ten.
But this week is one that appeals to me.
10 Ways to Lighten Your Mood
Rather appropriate. Things in my life are picking up pace–kids are returning to campus for classes, work’s picking up as a result. And HELLO–WEDDING. So yeah…I’ll take anything to lighten up my mood
So in no order of preference, I present my first Ten on Tuesday – Ten Ways to Lighten your mood
1. YOUTUBE! (or video available on teh internets to replay till your little heart’s content) Come on….you know you have some in your favorites in your internet browser. I can’t embed these but here are some that I can’t stop watching:
“Come Meet the New Puppy!” (Slightly NSFW…some bad language but rest assured it’s just a black kitteh so no, I didn’t link porn here)
2. Their names are Layla and Luna
CRAPTASTIC Photo of me but I can’t tell ya how many times I look forward to this when I’m stressing out at work. I tell ya…Kitteh schnuggling allows me to forget about a lot of petty stuff. And didn’t I read somewhere that kitteh purring helps lower blood pressure? WIN WIN!
And here is darling Luna…tearing into a gift for her (Luna Johnson was on the package, mind you)
It was catnip, can you tell? Luna is just one hysterical kitteh with a ton of personality. God Love Her!
3. I have to agree with Carol when I say this but cleaning up a room/reorganizing it can help lighten my mood as well. If my day needs lightening up, it can be understandably assumed that whatever I’m doing is stressing me out a little. Removing myself helps. Common sense, right? So removing myself and then doing something positive for your home help lightens up both my mood and environment. Double win.
4. Muppets. Need I say more?
5. Knitting, of course. When my dear Granny passed away, I drowned my sorrows and started quite a few projects. It’s helpful.
6. Going to a Bookstore. When Jermaine and I started to date, we’d go to a bookstore and meet up at a table with our respective piles of books and flip through them. (Because Jermaine works at a bookstore and I used to, we, of course, put the books back. We know how infuriating it can be cleaning up after people) I love everything about a bookstore. The smell of books is definitely on my “Top Five Favorite Smell List.”
7. Generally, Dogs. Specifically Spaniels Everyone thinks that my biggest weakness is yarn. And sure, I have the bank statements to prove it. But it’s not Number 1. Spaniels are. Those floopy ears get me Every Single Time. There’s a guy at Takoma metro station who brings his three spaniels with him when he comes to pick up his wife from the Metro. Every time I see him, I run up and ask “Can I pet your dogs?” and I couldn’t blame him if he sees me running and goes “Oh God. Her.” But I don’t care. His dogs are darling and they have helped me forget about a ton of bullshit as I come home after a bad day.
8. Walking in rain. Yes I said it. For the most part, I love doing it. Sure there are times when I just can’t arrive somewhere wet but I also can’t say I’m the first to pull out my umbrella either.
9. Watching Christmas movies, regardless of what month the calendar indicates. It’s just fun
10. Baking something. Sure, I do this more in the winter because who wants their oven at 350 degrees in July. If it’s November, however, awwwwwwwwww just thinking about it is making my stomach rumble!
So I’ve got my new header up. Jermaine had a heck of a time teaching me how to use Photoshop. I don’t know…there is something really NOT intuitive about it for me at least. But anyway, last night I finished it after a few reminders from Jermaine. What do ya’ll think of it? I wish there was a way to manipulate the blog title and perhaps move it??? But if there isn’t a way, I can’t say I’d be that devastated. I mean it has to go somewhere right??
Another random, completely unrelated thought. Today is Jermaine’s birthday. I want to make him breakfast in bed but I always feel awkward doing it. Cuz essentially you’re waking up someone to give them breakfast if they’re still sleeping and if they’re not still sleeping they’re up and it’s therefore not breakfast in bed. hmmmmmmmm
I came across this blog entitled Wiskers on Wednesdays which features a kitteh each Wednesday. I looked into the blog and it’s primarily knitters with kittehs (imagine that!) but you don’t HAVE to be a knitter.
Each week we post pictures of our kittehs and who am I to turn that up!? I like some of these picture-taking-alongs going on around the internets but I really don’t think I could keep up with taking a photo of something every day. One week? I can do that!
This week, I wanted to focus on the pecularity of kittehs, how they get so extremely involved in one thing. Usually that thing is something incredibly random. Like Luna and our printer:
She’ll hear the printer starting off and come running in to do just that. And yes, we clean our printer regularly. She also likes sleeping on top of it. (What the…?)
As far as food, treats and toys, Layla is quite hot and cold. She either loves them or wants nothing to do with them. We’ve tried countless brands of treats and Layla just does not like them. Toys? That’s more Luna’s bag. Take a stereotypical cat toy, Layla’s all over that like white on rice. This occurred last night as I was getting ready to go to bed
Last night I went to my stitch n bitch in Dupont for the first time in an incredibly long time and I finished not one but two pairs of socks.
I finished Rose’s socks for Christmas and my first pair of stockinette only socks (which are VERY comfortable, by the way) but since DC has encountered a ton of raining, I can’t seem to get decent pictures.
Better pictures to come when DC gets some nice weather so I can take some outside where, I feel, you get colors clearer.
(I upgraded to WordPress 2.7 and, after a lot of frustration, I wanted to test this out. Me Likey)