Sunday, April 21, 2013

Tea and a Book - A Life in Stitches

This week's tea is Earl Grey -- my favourite. It helps keep me warm on these cold spring days (will the warm part of spring ever really come???)

This week I'm focusing on non-fiction:

 A Life in Stitches: Knitting My Way Through Love, Loss, and Laughter
by Rachael Herron

(I took this book out of the Toronto Public Library -- If you click on the image of the book it will bring you to the Canadian Amazon site-- For the US Amazon link, click here)

I've never read any of Rachael Herron's "Cypress Hollow" fiction books (How to Knit a Love Song... and others)... and I can't remember why I ordered A Life in Stitches -- I must have read about it on someone's blog.... But I thoroughly enjoyed it. I like reading about why people knit (or paint, or sew, or scrapbook). This book is written in 20 essays, not chronological, nor do they need to be. They tell a story of how Rachael came to knitting, how it stuck with her through thick and thin, and how she made a career out of her two loves -- writing and knitting (not her only loves :). They are the kind of stories that keep you turning the pages and saying "tell me more".

This book has inspired me to dig out some yarn that I thought I'd never use and knit it up. (uhh, it's a sparkly teal mohair blend). I'm going to make a cardigan! I've never tried one (all that I've been knitting for the last few years has been socks, and, more recently, cotton dish cloths). I don't know how she did it, but Rachael somehow inspired me to challenge myself a bit :).

If you're a woman and you like to knit -- you'll like this book. If you're "crafty" you'll like this book. Mr. B -- you might like this book! (Mr. B knits).

I've ordered Rachael's first fiction book from the library -- I'll keep you posted!

Rachael's blog, Yarn-A-Go-Go is here!
There is currently a call out on her blog to help make a "love blanket" (or two) for members of one of the victims of the Boston bombing. If you knit, and can send an 8x8 square to Rena in the USA who will sew together the squares, please head over to this post. Seriously, an 8x8" square doesn't take long (hello? dishcloth?), and you can help make a fuzzy hug for someone whose life has been ripped apart. 
(fibre and colour are your choice, but dk or worsted are best)

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

It saddens me when the arts are undervalued :(

We've just found out that the Toronto District School Board is slashing the Itinerant Music Program ( Band, Strings, Orff, Vocal, Recorder, Steel Pan Drums) before the Trustees are informed or able to vote on this drastic change of policy.

To save a tiny portion of their budget, they are planning to drastically reduce the quality of music education for students by laying off the expert music educators. It's heartbreaking and shortsighted.

My school  uses these programs each year, and we will miss them terribly if they are taken away.

It only takes a minute to sign the petition below, and your support will make a difference.

Thank you!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Tea and a Book - The Dog Stars

Today's tea? Hmmm, what does one drink when discussing the end of our world? A nice calming passionflower, perhaps?

Have you read The Road by Cormac McCarthy? (I have). Seen the movie? (I haven't). It was one of the most bleak and depressing books that I have ever read. I liked it, I couldn't put it down, but it left me with a sense of despair. And not much hope.

The Dog Stars by Peter Heller is of a similar genre. A post apocalyptic tale of survival. This book, while terribly sad, gave me more hope. Not hope that I would "make it" in a scenario like this, though - I'm pretty sure that I would be gone in the early days :). I give this book 5 stars (out of 5). For the hope and the poetic writing :)

Nine years after a flu-like virus has decimated the population, Hig has eked out an existence with his best friend - his dog, Jasper. his wife, family, friends - gone. He lives in an abandoned (well, everywhere is abandoned now) airport alongside gun-toting, somewhat antisocial, Bangley. They have a strange symbiotic relationship, and do fairly well surviving and protecting themselves and each other. (remember, that come the apocalypse we will all be fighting each other for food and fuel).  Hig is a former recreational pilot so he is able to fly a Cessna out and around the vicinity to explore and survey the area. Hig is lonely and keeps remembering a voice that came on his plane radio years ago from a town (city?) a long flight away. Unfortunately the town is too far away to fly to and back from (without refueling) so Hig has never risked it... but that voice continues to gnaw at his mind.... Should he take the chance? Could there be something like his old life out there? What is left in the world?

I see now that I need to make friends with some ex- navy seals.... although you know that I just have to look at someone with the flu and I get it. I will not be one of the survivors :) . But, when I read Stephen King's The Stand so many years ago, I thought that I had some promise.... I think that I will revisit that book again soon. Meanwhile, I'll stockpile my olive oil (good source of calories) and keep my treadle sewing machine in good repair.

If you liked The Stand and / or The Road, you will definitely like The Dog Stars. If you want to know what our world could be like after the bird flu and a blood-borne virus kill most of us, read on :). It is a story of love, loss, hope, and the unlikely friendships that we make when our lives are falling apart.

Why do we read these books about the end of our world? To scare ourselves? As preparation for an uncertain future? To make our (current) lives feel so much better?

Music to listen to while you're drinking that tea :

One of my favourite "End of the World" stories was an episode of Twilight Zone -- Time Enough At Last...... You can watch the whole half-hour episode here:

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Tea and a Book

I've been trying to catch up on my reading lately. I currently read a few books a week -- one fiction and one non-fiction. For the past few years, I've been listing the books that I've read on my sidebar (see it over there>>>). I've decided to do a weekly book review here on the blog. I'm doing book reviews for parents bi-weekly on my teaching blog, so I'll see if I can keep it up :)
I'm going to call it:
Tea and a Book
and will try to post it every Sunday....
If you would like my opinion on any of my past reads -- please ask. 
I have a really good sense of what I will like to read, so my reviews might seem like I like every book ever written :) . But really, I don't like to waste my time, so I choose carefully.... 
What is your most recent "great read"? 

Check back on Sunday for this week's review -- The Dog Stars by Peter Heller (recommended to me by my friend Don Madden over at Fully Flummoxed.)