Sunday, November 30, 2014

Books read in November 2014

This month's theme:  books that did not tidy up the story before ending, thus leaving me grumpily anticipating the sequel.

Winners this month:
Picture.  Nothing wowed me.
Middle Readers:  Greenglass House, Ambassador
YA: Glory O'Brien's History of the Future, Girls Like Us, Vango, 100 Sideways Miles, Hold Me Closer Necromancer, Necromancing the Stone.  (And yes, I just listed every single YA book I read this month as recommended.  Because they were all awesome.  It was a very good YA month.  If you are going to just pick one I would go with either Glory O'Brien, or 100 Sideways Miles)
YA nonfiction:  Dreaming in Indian
Grownup nonfiction: Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher.

Have you heard the nesting bird
Read for librarian book group
This is your book if you ever want to read a lot of bird calls out loud.

The Princess in Black
Hale, Hale & Pham
Read for librarian book group
Beginning chapter book for princesses who sometimes like to wear black and save the day.

Middle Readers
Greenglass House
Kate Milford
Read for librarian book group
Very thick, which bugged because it was in the company of other very long middle readers on the reading list.  However, unlike many of its contemporaries, this one was good.  Great for anyone who likes to imagine the fun they would have if their family owned a hotel so remote it needs a funicular to get to.  Mysterious visitors appear, stories are told, things happen.  It reminded me of a favorite from my youth, The Westing Game.  Very well done.

William Alexander
Read for librarian book group
Yeah, so this was an excellent half of a book.  I was all in for the whole thing, which is only part of the story.  My number one rule of writing a series?  Each book must stand on its own, with the successor being a nice surprise.  You can't just leave major plot lines dangling and call it good.

When he publishes the rest of the story, I will be interested to see how our main character balances being the Earth's ambassador to the universe's diplomatic corps and see what happens with his mother and father and their impending deportation for being illegal aliens.

Get it?  Aliens/Aliens?  Very clever, that Mr. Alexander.  If only he had finished his book.

Young Adult
Glory O'Brien's History of the Future
A.S. King
Read for Mock Printz
Super fabulous feminist-forward novel of a girl just graduating from high school.  She's struggling with a lot of things: the continuing ramifications of her mother's suicide when she was four, her best friend's distraction by a relationship, her father's ongoing depression.  Oh, and thanks to drinking the remains of a bat (long story) she can see the future.

I was underwhelmed by King's previous novel Ask the Passengers, and was ready to be similarly underwhelmed by this.  But I loved it, from the strong main character, the conundrum of what to do with her life, and the expert weaving of all the future sci-fi stuff.  Recommended.

Also?  Great title, no?

Girls Like Us
Gail Giles
Read for librarian book group
Were this not on my reading list, I would not have read it, being one of those assholes who isn't interested in the lives of Special Education students.  And that's why reading lists are great.  This was a quick read featuring memorable characters and a very solid story. Recommended.

Timothee De Fombelle
Read for librarian book group
Translated from the French, so I'm not sure if it's a French thing to not really wrap up the book.  Although William Alexander didn't bother to do so in Ambassador, so maybe it's this year's new thing.

Anyway!  Until the end, which seems to be more of a pause, this was a classic rip-roaring adventure story with our young hero a boy with a mysterious past, people chasing him, a love interest with a love of fast cars, cool 1930s things like Zeppelins,  chase and fight scenes, and shadowy figures.  I really liked it a lot.

100 Sideways Miles
Andrew Smith
Read for librarian book group
Packed full of the hilarious teenage boy humor that I've come to love in Andrew Smith's work and was a great read.  It was good enough that part of it was read aloud to the boyfriend, who laughed gleefully. Great boy friendship, great differing readiness for sexual activity, great story in general.

Hold me Closer, Necromancer
Lish McBride
Set in Seattle, the story of a college dropout who discovers he just happens to have powers to bring things dead things to life.  This is troublesome, and not only because who wants to reanimate the dead?  There's this already established necromancer, who isn't too thrilled to discover someone with the same powers.  Luckily, our hero has an excellent group of friends to help him with all this new-found stuff.  Great fun.

Necromancing the Stone
Lish McBride
I had this book on hold before I was done with its predecessor.  Because Lish McBride can write.  More necromancing powers, more friends, more trouble.  Just as much fun as the first.

Young Adult Nonfiction
Dreaming in Indian
Read for librarian book group
Contemporary Native American Indian youth talk about what it is to be a contemporary Indian youth.  Uneven in tone, but I liked it for that.

Liz Prince
Read for librarian book group
Graphic novel memoir about a girl who only wants to dress like a boy.  And people have a lot of problems with that.

Grownup Fiction
Hmmm.  Apparently none.

Grownup Nonfiction
Stieglitz: Camera Work
This book wasn't exactly what I thought I was getting, being a compiling of the photography magazine Alfred Stieglitz produced in the early 20th century.  Thus, it featured many different photographers, not just Stieglitz.  There was also a very wordy essay (published in three different languages!) to read.  It did give me the names of a few more photographers to investigate, so that was good.

Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher
Timothy Egan
Read for Kenton Library Book Group.
A long and engrossing book about the dude who took pretty much every Native American Indian portrait we think of as classic.  For instance, the image of Chief Joseph I grew up with?  That was an Edward  Curtis.  Egan's not overly (or at all) critical of Curtis asking the Indians to pose in traditional gear, which I know a lot of people have a problem with.  Instead, he focuses on Curtis's dedication/obsession with trying to record as much of native culture and customs as he possibly could, before they became extinct.  In doing so he paints a portrait of a talented man never appreciated in his time.

Overall, a pretty depressing book, but well written and a good read.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Three sentence movie reviews: Mala Noche

A special showing with Walt Curtis in the audience and answering questions after, so this was a treat.  I love the attention to detail in this movie, the threadbare shirt, the blinking light in the kitchen, the signs in the store.  Someday I'd like to do a compare/contrast of the same streets today.

Cost:  $4.00
Where watched:  5th Avenue Cinemas.  (My first visit!  They had free popcorn!)

Poster from:

5th Ave Cinema

Despite living downtown and in close-in Southwest for a number of years before I moved to North Portland, I never made it to 5th Avenue Cinemas.  This is the movie theater on the PSU campus that I'm guessing is run by students.  They show an eclectic mix of films (aside from Mala Noche, Gremlens was playing) weekly on Fridays, Saturdays and Sunday afternoons.  Their windows display the films screened during the quarter.

A display in the theater.

The lobby.  When you pay your admission, you get free popcorn!  There are also drinks and candy for sale.

A peek at the screen.

Should you need to take notes, the chairs have desks.

This was a special screening with special people in attendance. There's Walt Curtis on the left, with Satryicon bouncer Bruno and the nice guy who introduced them.  Walt Curtis wrote the chapbook that became the movie Mala Noche.  I'm unclear why Bruno was there.  You can read an interview that the Willamette Week did with Mr. Curtis by clicking here.  The article pretty much accurately captures what it was like during the question and answer session after the movie.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Four hours and I'm done. The making of Jalie 2920

Modern Domestic was having a sale and I wandered down and came home with a pattern and some fabric.  I'm after leggings that actually are a correct fit.  Ones that don't bunch up at the ankle. And, with this pattern, if I want to channel my 80s self and make stirrup tights, I now can.  (I do not want to do this, but still.)

Here's the mini-skirt fabric. I like it because it looks like math and the planets.

Here is my new elevated cutting table.  Those are Ikea bed risers (which sadly, they no longer produce) and the legging material laid out on my table.

There is not enough material.  
I later figured out that I had extended the pattern too far and should have kept it at its original length. So it was fine.
The material itself is this great Eileen Fisher four-way stretch fabric. It feels great and feels like it will last a very long time.  

Cutting out the skirt.  

And the finished product.  
The instructions for the skirt have a typo in them, but I did okay.  Also, I would suggest marking the leggings (I used masking tape and a ball point pen) with which is the back seam and which is the front seam.  Once you sew them together it becomes unclear which is the back and which is the front.  I also sewed a bit of ribbon in the back of both the skirt and the leggings so I could identify the back.

Nice detail

Aside from the striped awnings, which are great, I loved the wrought iron details on the porch of this house.  I've not been to New Orleans, but I imagine this to be a very NOLA house.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Guess what arrived on my doorstep today?

Why it's the special Thanksgiving issue of the Oregonian.  The one that I specifically called and said I didn't want and they cheerfully agreed that I wouldn't get and wouldn't be charged for.  Will they charge me for it?  Most likely.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Three sentence movie reviews: Frozen

It's too bad that children totally took over "Let It Go" and drove their parents crazy with their repeated singing, because in context, that song is an incredible show stopper.  Overall, this was a Disney film that hit every Disney Animated Film requirement in a pleasing fashion.  I did think a certain character's sudden transformation from good to bad was rather abrupt, but otherwise, this was a great animated classic.

Cost: free from library
Where watched:  at home.

poster from:

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Three sentence movie reviews: Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains

A great recommendation from Filmspotting, this is an uneven, yet very fun trip back to the 80s and features a very young Diane Lane and Laura Dern.  Perfect for its all-girl punk-rock exploits and interesting commentary about music, women, and women in music.  The music was good too.

Cost: free from library
Where watched: at home.

poster from:,_The_Fabulous_Stains

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Just once I'd like to see...

...the tag about the Sexiest Man Alive to be something like "This lanky leading man is entirely self-absorbed, has abandoned three different families, and has a strange fascination with imported cheese."

Though I'm glad that Chris Hemsworth is purportedly so normal.  Except, you know, a movie star.

Not quite what the headline writer was going for.

I picture Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, resplendent in their explorer's gear, sitting in front of a computer with worried expressions.  What's this box? It's so bright and shiny. It's a web? Webs are much sturdier now than they used to be.  Have spiders gotten strong? 

(But really it's a story about Lewis and Clark college and their difficulties with Yik Yak.)

Friday, November 21, 2014

A poem for today by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

I was looking for a specific type of poem and this is not that poem, but I couldn't resist it.

I Love You

I love your lips when they’re wet with wine
    And red with a wild desire;
I love your eyes when the lovelight lies
    Lit with a passionate fire.
I love your arms when the warm white flesh
    Touches mine in a fond embrace;
I love your hair when the strands enmesh
    Your kisses against my face.

read the rest at:

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Three sentence movie reviews: Hunger Games: Mockingjay part I

I've read/heard a lot of reviews saying that nothing happens in this movie, but I heartily disagree.  There are decisions to be made by Katniss and other sundry people in the Panem world, and the players spend this movie making them.  That means there's not a lot of shooting, but a ton of good acting* and political maneuvering, which I was down for.**

Cost:  $10.00
Where watched: With Kelly at the  Baghdad Theater.  We went to the 8pm night-before-it-was-released showing celebrating one year of the renovated theater. There were themed cocktails and promises of cake.  Though no actual cake.  Was that a commentary on the Hunger Games movie?

poster from:

*Peeta has greatly improved.  He's quite good.  Jennifer Lawrence is, of course, phenomenal.
**I know what's coming in the next movie, we can take our time getting there.

Postcard from California

From regular commenter Jan who visited while her brother was visiting.  She hopes to go back. I can see why.

City of Roses update: walls.

Based on where the walls are, it looks like there will be no parking in whatever this will be.  
This part of the construction seems to go so slowly.  I think it's probably because the concrete has to set and that takes time.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Shrug snafu.

I wanted the tie to hide under the apron.  But it keeps popping up.  I'll have to move it down some.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

New ironing board. Also, completed shrug.

The old model. Not shown:  how it would shriek while setting it up, causing Antares to flee in horror.  Also not shown:  how it would fall down unexpectedly, sometimes right in the middle of me pressing something.

Our new ironing board friend? Looks cheery. Is manufactured in a way so it will not fall down unexpectedly.  Also has the same kind of legs as the old one, so I can still use the same closet hangers.

Meanwhile, here's a picture of my completed shrug.  If I make this again I will size up one size (to accommodate my large arms) and extend the front pieces so they meet.  Still, this is fine.  And its very cozy.

Grabbing a photo of this house while I can.

I've always liked this cheery little house on Interstate, one block north of Killingsworth.  I'm a fan of houses that have most of their yard in front of them. However the "zoned RH-D" sign in the front yard tells me this fellow is not long for this world.  The shadow encroaching on the house is a multi-story mixed-use building of condos that went in a few years ago. Which means someone is going to want to put three or more townhouses on this lot.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Progress on Lined Swedish Shade.

Pinning so sewing can happen.  It did.

Postcard from Hawaii

From my eldest Auntie who was vacationing there.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Three sentence movie reviews: Interstellar

This was a very long movie and it really could have been much shorter, say two hours instead of 2h50m.*  I very much enjoyed the acting and was never really bored, but overall, there was just too much movie.  It's always nice to see Wes Bently and his facial hair.

Cost: $10.00
Where watched:  McMenamins Baghdad Theater with Burt, Laurie and Matt.  (And yes, we DID get stamps for our passports.)

*Don't want to sit through nearly three hours of movie? I'll sum it up here:
(you should stop reading now if you don't want SPOILERS)
(Really, now's the time to stop.  SPOILERS ahead.)

  • Establishing earth story, with different feelings of family members, mostly anger and despair.
  • Endless unintelligible space science talk that sounded plausible to me, but what do I know really?**
  • Surprise cameo by a very famous actor!!!!
  • A bunch of rocket talk, PLUS added bonus annoying sexist thing that happens a lot in movies where the guy "makes the sacrifice" without talking it over ahead of time with the woman because you know men are really in charge and there's no need to come to a solution TOGETHER.  I mean, really! In general, women are good problem solvers and collaborative people, so guess what lead male actor?  You probably didn't need to do that thing you think you need to do.
  • Crazy fifth dimension thing that probably will blow your mind if your high hasn't worn off yet.
  • Chatty family wrap up.

**Pretty much nothing.

poster from:

Requiem: Chain wallet.

I was 17 when I bought this wallet from a kiosk in the mall.  For years it reminded me of boyfriend #3 because he had one too, though it was bigger than mine. Then it just became my wallet. I bought it because it was bad-assed, and I liked hooking my keys to my wallet.  I was probably in my 20s the last time I had the wallet in the pocket and the chain attached to my belt loop.  Now I appreciate the chain because I can hold the wallet and wrap the chain around my wrist, keeping my wallet and keys handily together.

Once upon a time the front had an embossed leather Harley Davidson symbol, but it fell off sometime in my 30s.

Aside from the leather giving out on one of the snaps, I've spent the last year or so worried that the pockets are too loose to hold the cards in anymore.  So it was time to shop for a new one.

Thanks to a birthday gift card (!!) I paid $0.38 for this wallet.

Things I like:  the amount of pockets it has to hold cards, plus the bigger bill holder part (made for larger Euros, as you can see by the "money" that came with it).
Things I don't like?  The chain.  It's too thin, too long and I don't like the clip that holds my keys.  I'm going to see if a jewelry shop can swap out the old chain for the new one.

Thanks Jan! If I keep this wallet as long as I had the last one I will be 63 before I need a replacement.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Pictures from my "snow" day.

It started as a two-hour delay.  Here are the three ways I'm informed of school delays and closures:  via text message, via the app FlashAlert and via email.
The two hour delay turned into a full day off because of worsening conditions.

Fine by me.  I used the time to cut out the Lined Swedish Shade I'm working on for my bedroom.  You can see I had a good helper.
Here is the back part of the shade.  It might be familiar to you as it was material left over from my uniform shirt/dress.  I have blackout curtain fabric on top of the blue.

Here is what it will look like when I get it all sewed together, though right now I've just folded the blue over the top of the bird fabric.  I love this fabric. It's from Ikea.  My favorite two birds are the blue and the orange.  I like to think Matt is the blue one (his favorite color) and I'm the orange one (my favorite color.)  Aren't we cute, sitting there talking?

I met Tiffany downtown for a drink--plans we had for "after school" on Thursday.  We just shifted them to "after snow day" instead.  

On the way back I took this picture of drippy ice.  The roads were fine, though.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Good job, wind!

Just last week I noticed that the same billboard has been up since at least June 6, when I wrote this blog post.  "What we need is a good windstorm to scour that right off the billboard." I thought to myself.  
And the wind did provide.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Mirrors? We don't need no stinkin' mirrors!

Today's project was to cover the mirrors in the Yoga studio at the gym.  A quick trip to Ikea, another to Fred Meyer (because it's not a project until you have to go out and buy something you are missing) some drilling and hanging.

Et voila!  No more mirrors. 
It is so nice!  And this is the project that taught me that I don't know how to hang things evenly if the ceiling isn't straight.  There a difference in distance to the floor from the left side to the right side.  It will take about eight to ten months before I stop noticing that. 

I can't help but think I made this urban farm happen.

There has been an empty lot between the Head Start/Apartments on the left and the beautiful (though boring colored) house on the right since before I moved to the neighborhood in 2007.

I used to walk by and imagine buying the property, building a tiny house and having a huge garden.  Then the foursquare house went up for sale and imaged buying it and the empty lot and living in the beautiful house with a large garden.  That house sold and then the small house that backs the lot went up for sale.  I imaged buying it and the large lot and having a small house with a huge garden.

And all these years after imagining this, guess what has popped up on this lot?

They've built small sheds to store things in, and raised beds for growing.  The small house that backed onto the lot was sold and ripped down, apartments replaced it.  The small house next door was also sold, ripped down and even larger apartments replaced it.

But here is my large lot, filled with a garden.  This picture shows the huge hoop house they built, so things can grow through the winter.
It's been a great addition to the neighborhood.

Shrug comes together quickly. And then is delayed.

Some cutting, some serging, some applying of Wonder Tape and we're ready to use the twin needle to finish the edges.

The twin needle had other ideas though.  It broke.  This project is on hold until I can get another one. My poor arms will have to be cold for another week.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Sentinel helps cut out the shrug.

Such a good helper he is!
(see what I mean about boring fabric?)
(especially when compared to the apron I just finished)