Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Retreat block progess

Here's how my block stands right now. I added a bit of height to the pine tree and extended the swirl of leaves up towards the butterfly.

The butterfly is not attached yet; I haven't decided if it's flying up or down.

The leaves remind me of my favorite line from The Night Before Christmas by Clement Moore:
"As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly, when they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky..."

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Book review 2

With all the zombie literature, TV, and movies out lately, I had to read World War Z. It's also been made into a movie starring Brad Pitt. Not sure when it will be out in theaters, sometime next year though. It's written as a compilation of interviews with survivors of the great zombie wars, so it feels very real, like reading a soldier's reminiscence of war time. The unabashed words of those who made money off the plague-frightened people, and the high learning curve of trying to fight something that no one had ever had to deal with before really made me feel like I was reading nonfiction. The idea that dogs would continue to be man's best friend into this apocalypse, and how they would be used is a bit heart-wrenching. If you're ready to jump on the Zombie Apocalypse bandwagon, this is as good a place as any to start.

There are scary books, and then there are SCARY BOOKS. One Second After is one of the latter. I was weaned on Stephen King books, so there's not much that scares me when it comes to zombies, vampires, werewolves, aliens, etc. Sometimes it's fun to read about "scary" things that are so easy to dismiss as grown up fairy tales. But this is a story that could happen later this afternoon (hopefully not till after I get the carpet vacuumed). An electromagnetic pulse is set off over the US, and most anything electronic just stops; cars, TVs, computers, phones, air conditioning, refrigeration, water and gas pumps, etc. The older cars without computer components in them keep running, but getting gas for them, or finding available parts if one breaks, is a challenge if not impossible. For most people, instead of thinking in terms of how long it takes to drive somewhere, the question now becomes how long it takes to walk there, and how much can one physically carry in the process. Without refrigeration, food spoils, and since no more is being shipped in, people eat the spoiled food and get sick. Clean water may or may not be available. Pharmacies are looted of their supplies, and the drugs that must be refrigerated will have a very short shelf life. Communication with the next town requires that someone walk or drive there to talk face to face; communication with someone beyond that distance is impossible. Those who have guns are able to hunt for food, at first. But as game animals and bullets become more scarce, even that option closes. And then there is the threat of gangs of psychotic wanderers.

I hesitate to recommend this book, but as "forewarned is forearmed", if you think it sounds like something you'd like to read, please do, and let me know your impressions. I was left with the impression that I should have had a bigger garden this summer, and I should have canned food from it, and I should have snapped up that "grandma's home remedies" book I saw at the store.

Book reviews

Two of the books I've read recently are The Land of Painted Caves by Jean Auel and Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs.

Painted Caves is the last in the series called Earth's Children,that began with Clan of the Cave Bear close to 30 years ago. I truly enjoyed that one and all of the other books that followed.... until this one. And I so much wanted to love it! But it was a slog to get through. I felt like the book was simply detailed descriptions of the prehistoric paintings in the famous caves of southwestern Europe, with a little bit of story line to tie them together. Half way through this very long book, I still wasn't convinced that I would even finish it. Three fourths of the way through, and I was complaining to my coworker Claire that I just wasn't enjoying the book, but felt like I'd invested so much time and effort in reading not only this book, but the other 5 in the series, that I didn't feel like I should quit. And I just hate to quit reading a book. It feels like a failure on my part. Claire suggested that I could skip ahead to the ending, and I thought that seemed like a good idea, but I ended up skipping an important part and had to go back and read it in order to make sense of the ending. So, I finished it, completely, but I found it disappointing.

Now this little gem is another story...ahem....I was intrigued by the cover, and the title. I know we're not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but really, the publishers pay much money to make the covers of books appealing to buyers. And in this case, it worked. But the insides of the book don't disappoint either. This story is built around and woven through old photographs of anonymous and yes, peculiar people. The author gives them identities through the story, and it's easy to come to care about them. I highly recommend this book; it's a quick read, even at 348 pages, as some of the pages are the photographs or other visual additions.

Retreat block

Here's a bit more work done on my block.

I might have continued to swirl those flying leaves all over the block, had I not run out of thread! I suppose I could dye some more (or ask Lauri to dye some). I used a whole bobbin full of some that she dyed and gave to me, and the whole chunk that I dyed at the retreat, which wasn't an exact match, but it blends well enough. What do you all think? More leaves? There will be more of that rust/orange color added to other parts of the block as I continue.