Books read in July 2015

Not a ton of winners this month.  Just read the Boys on the Boat and call it good.

Middle Reader-eh
YA–Boys Don’t Knit
Grownup–The Boys on the Boat

enormous SMALLNESS
Kris DiGiacomo/(Illusrator)
Read for Librarian Book Group
As I associate Mr. e.e. cummings with very sexy poems, I was interested to read a children’s book about his life.  There was some amusing glossing over of things, and overall I found this to be a good intro.

Middle Reader
Winona’s Pony Cart
Maude Hart Lovelace
The last in my tour through the Betsy-Tacy World and one that I should have read early on, but did not because the numbering system is incorrect. (Continued grumblings.)  Winona’s birthday is coming up and she really, really wants a pony.  Will she get one?  Even though both her parents say she won’t?  Lots of good examples of trying to fit into feminine norms, even if you are a messy kid.

The Game of Love and Death
Martha Brockenbrough
Read for Librarian Book Group
Many of the members of the book group were bowled away by this book, especially the writing.  I found the story to be serviceable and interesting and that it did not grab me, perhaps because Love and Death were manipulating our lovers.  (Thanks to Deborah for bringing up that point.)

Cuckoo Song
Frances Hardinger
Read for Librarian Book Group
The creepy cover extends to the creepy book.  But it’s a good creepy, with well-rounded characters and an interesting mystery/conundrum.

Delicate Monsters
Stephanie Kuehn
Read for Librarian Book Group
I’m not sure just what Kuehn was trying to do with this (thankfully short) novel.  Show us that evil people have good sides?  Examine degrees of ill-will?  Flesh out teenagers who do bad things?  I was not charmed by the author’s previous work Charm & Strange, so it may be that she and I are not compatible.  Regardless, I look forward to the discussion.

The Lunch Witch
Deb Lucke
Read for Librarian Book Group
Graphic novel about a witch who finds employment as a lunch lady and finds herself changing her evil ways.  Amusing and breezy, great for upper elementary/early middle school.

Boys Don’t Knit
T.S. Easton
Read for Librarian Book Group
Uniformly funny throughout, this was a very fun tale of a boy who tries his best to manage his amazing new talent of knitting with the fact that he’s 16, technically a juvenile delinquent, his friends don’t always have the best ideas and his parents always speak in double entendres.

The Boys on the Boat
Daniel James Brown
Read for Kenton Library Book Group
I did my traditional moan and groan about World War II books, as that subject is a topic I’ve grown weary of.  But this book captivated me.  (And truthfully, most of the WWII books I read end up being very good.)  This book is a little bit about the 1936 Berlin Olympics, but really it’s about Washington State during the Depression.  Now that’s a topic I’m interested in.  The author happens across a perfect main character, Joe Rantz, whose family life does not provide the stability one would prefer.  Brown latches us in for Joe’s ride and manages to mine fabulous details that he scatters hither and yon for your reading pleasure.  Even those not at all interested in rowing or crew will be swept away as the boys from the University of Washington claw their way to the top, through the Depression, past the elite East Coast rowing clubs, and all the way to Berlin to frustrate the Fuhrer.  That we know the outcome at the beginning and still manage to be swept away during the race for the gold medal is a testament to Mr. Brown’s skill.  Very well done and recommended.





Top Movies of July 2015

19 total movies watched. (I adore summer!) 10 recommended.  Not bad.


The To Do List
I still think this is  a great sexual coming of age movie.

ten_years_ver210 Years
A solid ensemble film with a whole bunch of people you will google afterward, trying to figure out where you know them from.

say_anythingSay Anything
If you haven’t acquainted yourself with Lloyd Dobler, now is the time.

vi_ar_bastWe Are the Best!
Fabulous female coming-of-age with punk rock girls. (Just look at those cute little punk rock girls!)

martha_marcy_may_marlene_ver3Martha Marcy May Marlene
Excellent examination of the aftereffects of cult life.

beverly_hills_copBeverly Hills Cop
Solid 80s comedy.

art_of_the_stealThe Art of the Steal
Solid heist movie, worth watching just for the cast.

you_instead_ver2Tonight You’re Mine (aka You Instead)
Watch two musicians handcuffed together for 24 hours at a music festival.  Good soundtrack.

inside_llewyn_davisInside Llewyn Davis
Follow the follies of a not-so-great guy who still manages to be a sympathetic character.  Also good soundtrack.

only_lovers_left_alive_ver7Only Lovers Left Alive
What would your relationship look like if you were in love for centuries, and also were a vampire?  Another good soundtrack.

Three sentence movie reviews: Please Give


I enjoyed this film on one level because all of the characters seemed like real people, which meant that they were both likable and flawed.  But I mostly enjoyed this because it had a range of actresses of a variety of ages who were fun to watch.   There was nice tension about living with/around your neighbors too.

Cost: free from library (I think someone is watching all of Nicole Holofscener’s films as this is the second I’ve plucked from the rack.)
Where watched: at home.

poster from:

Let’s making a receiving blanket.

Friend Heidi mentioned she had a pattern for a baby blanket and since I needed to make something for a soon-to-appear baby, she gave me a copy.  Here are the instructions.  Fabric in the City is no longer in existence, but it’s nice that their pattern lives on.

If you are going to use this pattern, I will add my notes right here:
1/3 yard was not enough for 2.5 inch binding.  1/2 yard would have been better.
My four strips did not reach all the way around my material, as you will see.  I had to join pieces together.
For an excellent binding tutorial, including joining pieces, I used this link:
After you sew you binding to the blanket, go around an make sure that you have actually attached the three layers together.  I didn’t do that and discovered two places where the binding wasn’t attached.


Here I have placed my two fabrics together so I can cut them to be the same size.

Before I got to this point, I added a satin stitch monogram to the green material.  I learned that satin stitch takes a very long time when you are doing it by hand.
At this point, I was disappointed to note that the ladybugs show right through the green material.  Harrumph.


Using my awesome quilters ruler to mark out 2.5 inch binding strips.


I used my Clover Chaco Liner Pen–another excellent product–to mark my binding strips.  At this point I thought, “It doesn’t look like this binding will be long enough to go all the way around.  What would have been smart would have been to measure to find out the answer.


But what I did instead was cut out the binding to prove that it didn’t stretch all the way around.  Feels so good to be right, doesn’t it?  Then, unfortunately, that feeling dissipated because I was only left with the option to cut the binding strips in half.  So I went from 2.5 inches to 1.25 inches.  Trust me when I say that this makes a very narrow binding.


Other late-breaking conundrums.  I realized that with my smaller binding, I would now have to cut off the selvages.  I did this, and then had to re-trim the green material.


Here, I have pressed the binding in half and sewn it to the fabric layers.  I followed the directions on the link above, though I used a 1/8 inch seam, rather than 1/4 because I didn’t have 1/4 inch to spare.


Then, because I didn’t have 1/8 inch to spare on the other side of the seam line, I did a lot of tiny, careful trimming.  Trust me when I say I brought all this on myself by having to prove that the binding didn’t go all the way around.  It would have been so much easier if I had just knocked my binding back to 2 inches.


Then it was time to hand-sew the other side of the binding to the blanket.  We will pause and read a few more movie reviews while I do this.

Random Song. Cake: Rock ‘n Roll Lifestyle.


At one time I was very into music and it was a big part of my life. With that came the worst archetype of the music world: the asshole who knows everything about music and thinks your taste sucks.

Not surprisingly, this archetype was always a man.

Which is why I greatly enjoy this song, as it seems to skewer a particular brand of music asshole.  I was all about music, but, given the constraints of the time, I could only listen to the music that played on the radio, MTV and stuff that I could buy myself or tape off of stuff that my friends bought.  My music tastes were as broad as it could be, but there were huge gaps, which asshole blowhard music guy was always happy to remind me about.

A good detail from Heavier Than Heaven, Charles Cross’s extensive biography of Kurt Cobain, was the large music gaps Cobain had.  Which, of course he did, he was a poor kid with a Walmart for a music store.  I remember a scene in the book where a now-famous Cobain was blissing out to something like Peter Frampton’s “Baby I Love Your Way” and the other musicians in the room–for which this was a completely cheesy song–were unsure if he was serious or not.

I afforded my rock & roll lifestyle as much as I could, but there were many people who could outspend me.

I also greatly love Cake, whose music is sort of a 90s-era cool oasis for me. Plus they have horns.  I’m a sucker for a good horn part.  When we saw them several years ago, the horn player was a hard working man, covering not just the horn parts, but also backup vocals and extraneous rhythm things.

As a side note, I was interested to note that the guitar riff in this  song reminds me of one in one of my favorite Cake ditties, “Stick Shifts and Safety Belts”

Also, the above video is weird.

Let’s revisit 1536 N. Schofield St.

This lot, you might remember, is for sale and has a really great tree on it.  Walking by today, I noticed some signs, and wandered back to investigate.  IMG_4409

Good job, Lindsey & Dan, for doing your part to save the tree.


They’ve attached a sign to the fence between their property and the lot and put a sign on the tree.

Until this year, the back part of the property had a garden.  I suspect it was the house behind that tended it, given the gate.


Looking out from the back of the lot toward the street you can see the walnut tree, the former garden and the holly tree.



Three sentence movie reviews: Paper Towns


I thought this movie did a very good job of condensing the themes of the book and that the acting was top-notch.*  However, I found the interruption of the frenetic road trip (my favorite part of the book) brought a halt to the movie’s forward momentum.  Overall, a very nice film and also the rare teenage film where the happy ending isn’t what you think it’s going to be.**

Cost: $5.00
Where watched: Regal Vancouver City Center 12

*Special props for the people who mostly cast actors who look like teenagers to play the teenagers.
**And, I must add, I’ve taken a bus from Upstate New York to Massachusetts, which is the state next door.  It took 12 hours to go 364 miles.  There is no way he could get from New York to Florida via bus in anything less than several days.

Three sentence movie reviews: What we do in the Shadows


Amusing mockumentry about vampires living in New Zealand.  It manages to be both gross and heartfelt at the same time.  I found it especially excelled in the quick jokes* but the characters were interesting too.

Cost: $3.00
Where watched: Laurelhurst Theater.

Vampire speaks to camera: “If you get turned too young, you always look like a child” [Shakes head sadly]
[Meets up with two young teenage vampire girls]
[Vampire girl #1] “Yeah, we’re just off to meet up with a pedophile.
Example 2
“Remember we’re werewolves, not swearwolves.”

Three sentence movie reviews: Only Lovers Left Alive


This movie isn’t going to set any land speed records, but man, is it captivating.  Everything is gorgeous, the actors, the sets, the music.  Swinton and Hiddleston are completely captivating as two halves of a love affair spanning centuries.

Cost: free from library
Where watched: at home.