Category Archives: books

Here’s, like, a million pictures of my bookshelf.

Last weekend we rearranged some bookshelves to try to get the apartment into a configuration that makes more sense. We have book storage needs in just about every room and, while in theory we have enough shelf space for all our books, we haven’t always managed to get everything in a place that allows us to take advantage of that. I did a similar rearrangement last year with tables and I’ve been most pleased with the results; bookshelves were the next part of the plan. I didn’t see how we could do it without buying something new, but Dan came up with the perfect solution:

  1. Purge the bedroom bookshelves of stuff we don’t need/want anymore to free up space for the expensive books we keep in the spare room. This would not only free up a shelf in the spare room but achieve the goal we were aiming for by putting the spendy stuff in the spare room in the first place, which was to keep it away from the cat. (We used to not let her in the spare room without supervision, but we’ve relaxed those rules since my allergies forced us to ban her from the bedroom and we felt bad about closing off so much of the apartment to her).
  2. Move the expensive books from the spare room into the bedroom, then move the spare room shelf to the living room.
  3. Move the living room shelf to the kitchen. Wanting that shelf in the kitchen was the desire that started this whole thing for me. The living room shelf was sturdy enough to hold the stereo but the sides were open and we didn’t have bookends good enough to hold up all my knitting and crochet books. Things got messy very quickly in the vicinity of that shelf. But the top shelf had sides and would hold my cookbooks quite nicely while the other shelves held overflow from the cabinets and this would make a decent placeholder until I get the Hutch of My Dreams. The shelf moving into the living room, being not only sturdier but much larger, would mean no worries about my glossy, well-illustrated  hardcovers.
  4. Move the tiny, flimsy kitchen shelf into the spare room where there were now hardly any books it would need to deal with.

So, that was last Sunday. I was mostly happy with how everything looked when we set it all up but I wasn’t totally sure about the new-to-the-living room shelf. It’s one of those $25 Wal-Mart deals with the segmented cardboard backing. I’ve owned a lot of these in my time. This one was a holdover from an old life where if I got bored with a thing I painted it. The cardboard back had a still-life on it. A copy from someone famous, can’t remember who, not badly done considering, but just not doin’ it for me anymore. I haven’t been thrilled with it while it’s been in the spare room, but it was easy to ignore in there. After having been face to face with it for the last week, though, by yesterday I was certain it would no longer suffice. Something had to be done. Something involving lots of steps and the iron and the glue gun and one of those segmented razor blade clicky knife thingies.  A project. A proper project, one that could be counted in episodes of Farscape, which is my preferred measurement of time.

I decided to cover the back in fabric. Dan was pulled in to assist. The supplies were gathered. The Wii remote was kept close at hand. And it began.

First we made the living room look like this:

(And one of us narrowly avoided some broken toes; if you’re tipping one of these contraptions forward, folks, please remember that 3 of the shelves slide right out without you even having to ask.)

Then I pulled out all 11 million tacks that were holding the back on. Most of them were happy enough to come out of the particle board but damn stubborn about coming out of the cardboard. For what reason, I have no idea; particle board is stronger than cardboard, yes?

I took my fabric (one of the few pieces I hung onto when I got rid of all my sewing supplies a few years ago; I knew I might want it for something some day and plus it’s purple), laid the backing on top, and cut the fabric closer to size, giving myself a pretty generous allowance.

I ironed the fabric as well as I could, then me and a bottle of Elmer’s had us a time.

While I wasn’t worrying too much about the private side of things here, I’m still pretty impressed with how neat I kept the edges.

Since this shelf is so much bigger than the one we had here before, I wanted to plan for it to hold more than the old one. It would need to hold the stereo, which we already knew it did perfectly from previous apartments with fewer bookshelf options, and it would need to hold all my yoga and knitting books. I also wanted it to hold yoga and knitting accessories. Finally, I had a sneaking suspicion that the very top would be a nice place to store Dan’s laminated Heroclix maps if only I could manage a way to keep them from rolling off.

Well, when pulling it apart we had rediscovered that this particular shelf had 2 cardboard backings on it because between the 2 of us Dan and I moved 9 times in the 2.5 or so years before we moved in together and that leads to a lot of excess and duplication. The standard-issue backing was the one getting upholstered, which left the still-life for hacking away at. And the factory-scored fold lines made what I had in mind so, so easy.

I cut a section of the spare backing down to a rectangle 4 inches deep on either side of the fold line and just wide enough to sit across the top of the shelf. I covered this in fabric just as I had the backing, then cut some right triangles out of the rest of the backing for support.

I folded the long piece to a 90° angle, Elmer’sed the triangles into place, tied some kitchen cotton around the whole thing to keep it sturdy, then reinforced the hell outta my triangles with the glue gun. (FYI, I set it to the “super hot and constantly dripping molten glue on everything nearby dear god help us aaaaaaaggggghhhhh” setting because I’m fearless like that. Also because apparently I like going around the house all afternoon picking dried glue stalagmites off of everything and certainly ruining whatever article of clothing I decide to iron next.)

Then Dan was called in again to display his exceptional reaching skills and he secured the little fence I’d made to the top of the shelf. Moving so quickly I barely managed to capture it, I might add.

He weighted down the fencey bit, set up the stereo, and then it was time for a little break. We’d made some progress but there was still a long way to go as far as living room tidiness was concerned.

I managed to get most of that taken care of last night, but I had to make 1 more push (and watch 1 more episode of Farscape – the finale, in fact) this morning before I could really call the whole thing done.


(As you may notice, by this time I had moved on to The Commander and, if you haven’t seen it, let me take this opportunity to say, “SKIIIIIIIIIIP IIIIIIIIIIIIT.” For serious. Maybe if they fit the same amount of plot into 2/3 the amount of time and/or if any of the actors had any chemistry whatsoever among any combination of them it would be worth a watch.)

And there you have it: 3 pieces of furniture ready to fulfill their purposes more fully than before, $0 spent, 6 episodes of Farscape and 1 exceptionally tidy living room.

Next stop: the spare room. ‘Cause you don’t even wanna see what still needs to be done in there.

In Which I Throw A Bunch Of Stuff Your Way

I missed my traditional weekend update, but working from home today made it feel like the weekend wasn’t over yet, so…there? I don’t know.


Crusoe the first is relaxing on the medium blockers. This is not a very stretchy stitch pattern so I want to make sure it’s going to fit before I go kitchenering any toes or starting any second socks or anything else foolish.

Zoe would like you to know that she is the most helpful of cats when there are socks to dry (even if she’s not sure why she’s only showing up in thumbnail form tonight).

And, as promised, I have more photos of my dinner as I continue to play around with my phone camera.

Tonight I made portabella paprikash over whole wheat egg noodles, which of course means this is happening in my head constantly now and I don’t know when it will stop:

Also: widgets! Check out that sexy sidebar! I had totes forgotten about goodreads before this weekend but I’m getting back into it a bit. Click my buttons, folks! Friend me! Tell me what you’re reading!!

Another Quickie

It’s been a hectic few weeks here. There’s been knitting, but no finished objects to show. I read another Lynley novel and started on my non-fiction book project. I think I’ll go in order by subject, starting with religion (currently just a weensy bit into The Incredible Shrinking Son of Man). I intended to spend this Friday evening with the lights down low working through some restorative yoga poses to end my week calmly and feel refreshed for my weekend. Instead I opted for superhero cartoons and a martini.

Here, have a picture of the only way I could think to make 6 inches of black ribbing look interesting:


I love my martini glasses. And olives. I really love olives.

And with that and a promise to be back with a real post soon, I leave you.



So, last October I decided to start working my way through all my unread books shelf by shelf. At the time shelf one was in the following condition:

  1. Flatland by Edwin A Abbott
  2. The Ultimate Hitchhiker’s Guide by Douglas Adams
  3. Watership Down by Richard Adams (read)
  4. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (read)
  5. Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood
  6. Cat’s Eye by Margaret Atwood
  7. The Complete Novels of Jane Austen (partially read)

Here’s what’s happened since then:

Books Read So Far: 10 – all 5 in Hitchhiker’s Guide…, Wilderness, Early Autumn, Pastime, The Judas Goat (all 4 by Robert B Parker), In The Presence Of The Enemy by Elizabeth George

Books Acquired: 6 or so (Spensers, Lynleys, and some from my wishlist, all obtained through bookmooch)

Progress On Shelf 1: Yes. Well. About that. Flatland was a big no-thank-you. Hitchhiker’s Guide… was pretty great, though (and I might have just been getting bored with the series) it seemed to kind of fall apart at the end of book 5. Like he knew how it would end but got sick of writing it so he just sketched out the important points quickly and called it done. I started Cat’s Eye and it was very good but I hated my childhood and my entire time in school enough that I feel I earned the right to choose not to read about such things if I don’t want to now that I’m an adultandmakemyowndecisionsdamnit. The same way I refuse to watch Freaks and Geeks or Glee, no matter how good I hear they are, simply because they are about high school, but I do eat ice cream for breakfast any time the mood strikes because being 30 is awesome. So, I think that one’s going back in the bookmooch pool. I thought about Alias Grace or some of the unread Austens, but the only fiction I’m feeling lately is detective/murder mystery stuff. I’m into the intellectual challenge right now. I think if I really want to make progress on the book project I’m going to have to skip ahead to non-fiction. More to come.

The knitting is stagnating a bit at present as well.

Yes, that is a pair of mittens that only needs a single thumb in order to be wearable and a definite improvement on my current 2-year-old pair of disintegrating flip-tops. Why do you ask?

I want all of these done but I don’t want to finish them. I want to knit a sweater but, with almost 300 stitches to cast on, I really don’t want to just jump in without a reliable gauge swatch (that little red sliver of fabric in the back). With fingering weight yarn on 2.5 mm needles, though, the gauge swatch is going to take enough time to be considered a project on its own.

And, also, I’ve just been exhausted this week. I declared this weekend to be one for hardcore relaxation, but so far I have not had a spa treatment, aromatherapy, or deep tissue massage. I have had a shoulder rub, a bit of a lie-in, and a couple of beers, though, so that’s a start. Must find some way to relax hardcore tomorrow. Hrm…

Snowed In

I wasn’t entirely convinced we were going to get a blizzard, since the weather reports couldn’t quite make up their minds. In New England we always say that’s a New England thing, but I assume it’s the sort of thing that people anywhere say is an Anywhere thing. Our last Xmas celebration was scheduled for 4 yesterday about an hour’s drive from where we live. Checking the weather starting Saturday night, the chance of snow by 4 went from 50% to 30%  to 70%. It actually started around 5, I think. The drive home was slow slow slow but safe enough. Today was going to be gift certificate spending spree day, but that has been put off until tomorrow (which I guess will be sunny?). The power grid’s a wee bit shaky out here, so in case this is meant to be our third winter in a row with a major outage, I’ve got the heat cranked up and the Kindle and cell phones charging. Batteries, flashlights, blankets all nearby. Dan’s mother managed a Yankee Candle long enough that I think we’ve got about 8 more winters to go before we’re in danger of running out of candles (though power outages around here do end up smelling like freshly laundered apple pies sprinkled with pine needles because of it).

Right after Xmas is the best time to get snowed in, though. I’m prepared for a day of playing with my presents, both yarnwise…

…and otherwise.

Top photo, clockwise from bottom left: Reversible Knitting, Knitting Without Tears, New Pathways For Sock Knitters, and The Alden Amos Big Book of Handspinning; Sereknity Yarn & Fiber Impulse, color Campfire w/matching stitch markers (love. my. husband.); KP Risata in Waterslide; KP small sock blockers; Namaste notions case.

Bottom photo: Big-ass u-shaped pillow for to lounge about on (good sister, getting me just what I told her to!); new Farscape graphic novel (yay for Farscape graphic novels! it’s like I can pretend the show’s still on!!).

Oh, yes. Today there will be lounging and reading and sock knitting and maybe even swatching for the next big self-striping dye experiment (gonna make me some pink, black, & white Jaywalkers if all goes to plan). And Mythbusters on Netflix. There must be Mythbusters on Netflix. Oh, yes, indeed.

The Results Are In

One of my favorite things about yarn, one of those things that just fascinates me to no end, when it comes to color specifically, is the difference from how it looks in the skein…

…to how it looks caked…

…to, finally, how it looks knitted up.

I wasn't going to start these socks until after the Xmas knitting was done, but once I started writing this post I just had to see the stripes.

And that’s not even taking into account how fun it is to watch the colors zip by when you wind the cake off the swift (a sublime pleasure which I graciously allowed my husband with this particular skein).

This yarn is a sport weight 100% cormo wool I bought at NH Sheep & Wool in May. Maybe not the best choice for socks – I feel like if I pull from the center of this cake, the socks will be felted before they’re knit – but I’m aiming for cushy, warm slipper socks. I’m working on 2.5 mm needles for a nice, sturdy fabric. They should go quickly, but I must finish another Xmas present or two before coming back to these.

I think I might be a bit hooked on the dyeing thing. I find myself thinking wistfully of Wilton cake dyes and canning jars while I should really be doing other, more productive things. This is why I resisted dyeing and spinning for so long – with the amount of free time I have right now, one hobby always gets neglected. (Just ask my cello, or my City of Heroes subscription.) But then, there are those skeins of Knit Picks Bare I’ve picked up recently, and of course this:

The random number generator gods smiled upon me over at The Evolving Sock Knitter and this is what I won. A book on natural dyes and a skein of KP Bare sock yarn to play around with. Oh, the plans being made in my head. And I do have that vacation coming up at the end of the year.

Turns Out I Lied When I Said I Was Going To Read Flatland

The last time I tried to read Flatland was 8, maybe 10 years ago. I found the concept intriguing but goddamn was the execution boring. I think that copy went into the 3 or 4 boxes I gave to the library before I moved cross-country. Dan & I  picked up another copy for 50 cents at a library book sale (different library) a few years ago. Dan wasn’t familiar with it, thought it sounded interesting, and I’d managed to suppress how boring I found it. It went on the shelf and hadn’t been disturbed by either of us until I pulled it down last week.

This time through, I could handle the boredom but ohmygod the sexism started in the introduction! Apparently the author wrote this book for “all students” so that “boys” would have something interesting to read. So…yeah, I guess this wasn’t intended for me anyway. I got about 3 pages in and learned how, even in a world inhabited entirely by 2-dimensional shapes where you don’t even know what shape anyone is because all you ever see of a person is a line segment, women are still weak and need protecting and sheltering from the rain and all that fun stuff. So, ok, no third chances from me. This book doesn’t even deserve to be put in the freezer. I just plain threw it across the room and grabbed The Ultimate Hitchhiker’s Guide instead. Trillian doesn’t seem to have much going on, but she hasn’t twisted an ankle or broken a nail yet, so she’s fine by me.

Why do we do this with books? Or is it just me? Sometimes I just keep trying, even when I know it’s wrong. When I read The Mysteries of Pittsburgh I put it down for a while around page 100 because I just wasn’t feeling it. I picked it up again a few weeks later and once I hit, like, page 102 I could not stop reading it. I think sometimes I give a book more chances than it deserves because I’m always expecting The Mysteries of Pittsburgh even though I should know better. What purpose does this serve?

But anyway. In knitting news, today I cleaned out one of my knitting baskets and found this:


I was able to extract Jim Baktus but I fear for my poor Laminaria’s life. I really don’t want to have to start again. I got the shawl itself separated, so I might just have to cut the yarn and call the big tangle a loss. I’ll have to weigh everything and see if I’ll have enough to finish if I do that, though. That’s a seriously big ball of alpaca tangled up there.

My Eye Doctor Said My Vision Is Better Because I Haven’t Been Reading A Lot

I’ve just spent the afternoon organizing the bookshelves in anticipation of starting my next big project. This has left the room around the bookshelf in a bit of a state, but that can sort itself out later.

I used to keep my unread books on one shelf and everything I’d read organized on another. I used to live alone and go to the library a lot and not be too bothered by great stacks of books towering over the furniture, though.  These days the amount of books in the house and the cat that loves to chew paper make bookshelves a necessity, and the size of this apartment means no separate shelving for the unread books. Which all means I have a lot of books I haven’t read, mostly because I keep forgetting they’re there. So, similar to this year’s goal of turning some of my sock yarn from collectibles into socks, I’m going to take a year and see how many of my unread books I can get through. With the exception of the Spenser novel I started last night, I’m starting here:


My plan is to work my way clockwise around the apartment. I’m giving myself veto power, of course. I’m probably going to skip anthologies, since those are meant to be browsed and I have browsed most of them already. If I see anything of Dan’s I particularly don’t want to read, I’ll skip it. If I see anything I’ve bought but no longer particularly want to read, I’ll list it on bookmooch.

I’m also going to avoid buying new books while working on this project, with exceptions made for requesting stuff off bookmooch. Since I’m in the middle of the Spenser series and the Inspector Lynley series, I’ll still work on collecting those, and if anything off my bookmooch wishlist comes up, I’ll grab that too.

So, it’s fiction to start with, and on that first shelf (after the anthologies) we have these:

  1. Flatland by Edwin A Abbott
  2. The Ultimate Hitchhiker’s Guide by Douglas Adams
  3. Watership Down by Richard Adams (read)
  4. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (read)
  5. Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood
  6. Cat’s Eye by Margaret Atwood
  7. The Complete Novels of Jane Austen (partially read)

Looks like Flatland and I are finally going to get acquainted.