Syndactyl Salutations

Thoughts on writing, knitting, and the world around me.

Monday, January 23, 2006


I am taking a break from typing up interview notes for an upcoming article. Of course, I need to get back to it soon because I have the second interview tomorrow, and I'd like to have the first in some order before then.

I know, I joined the A-B-C-along, or at least declared my intention to do so, and yet, no photos. Let me explain. I have three cameras at my house, but none of them are up to the task, for various reasons. I had a disposable, with which I took photos A - F, as well as shots of my Bearfoot socks. It was not up to the challenge, and out of 27 available exposures, I got only 7 photos, and most of them are of the snowy Kripalu/Lenox Mass. landscape. There is one of me in my heavy-duty hat, which may get posted soon, but nothing for the beginning of the -along.

My plan is to spend Christmas money on a digital camera, but I don't want to do that until I begin receiving paychecks again and am no longer wondering whether I will be spending the gift money on silly things like gas and bills. This should be happening soon, because I allegedly have a temp assignment starting Wednesday (I say allegedly, just in case, because, hey, you never know). So, in as little as a week or two, I may have an instrument with which to play catch-up on the A-B-C-along, as well as giving up-to-the-minute documentation of what I'm working on or what the sky looks like out my back door, or any number of other things.

Back to work, still have three-and-a-half pages of notes to translate from my peculiar brand of handwritten "shorthand" to typed, semi-coherent text. Wish me luck.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Five Years and Four Books

Five Years

Yesterday Ebbie and I marked five years together. I am so lucky to have him, he's been so supportive of my ups and downs (and there have been plenty) over the past few years. We had a nice evening together, and I look forward to many more.

Four Books

In the past couple of weeks, I finished four library books (I read a lot, but I try to use the library rather than buying every book that I think looks the least bit interesting). I want to try to keep track of the reading I'm doing, so I might as well do it here.

1. Chasing Matisse, James Morgan -- I didn't know much about Matisse before I read this, and even though I know more now, that wasn't the pointof the book for me. This book, and the adventure behind it, spoke to the part of me that lead me to Kripalu and isn't looking for a stable full-time job yet.

I admire Morgan and his wife for their decision to give up some of the stability and go for the dream. I aspire to that sort of thing, and I aspire to the writing he does in this book. His descriptions of the places they saw and the way they tied into Matisse's life, as well as his accounts of what was happening to them on the journey made for a compelling read. I will be looking for more of his work, and may look into buying this at some point, because I could easily read it again.

2. Longitude, Dava Sobel -- Ebbie's stepmother got The Planets (same author) for his sister for Christmas. As soon as I read the cover and flap blurbs, I knew she was an author I would enjoy. The next time I went to the library, Longitude practically leapt off the shelf at me.

Once again, I didn't know much about the subject of longitude before I opened the book. I know more now, and I found the subject fascinating. Most of the book follows the career of John Harrison, a self-taught clock maker in eighteenth-century England as he tries to build a clock able to keep time accurately on a sailing ship. The story is engaging and the characters become characters, rather than flat historical figures. This is a book from which I kept reading passages aloud to Ebbie, just because it seemed necessary to share the information. I may also buy this, and I'll definitely look for more.

3. Circle of Grace, Penelope Stokes -- The reason I picked this one up is because the blurb mentioned a circle journal. It's an idea I like, but haven't been able to make work, for whatever reason.

I didn't end up being crazy about the book, even though I finished it (I rarely don't finish reading a book), and found myself getting weepy at times (I can get weepy at commercials if my mood is right). The story is about four college friends who keep in touch via a circle journal on and off for thirty years, but also end up keeping secrets from one another. The title character realizes she is ill and contacts the rest of them for a reunion, at which all of the things that didn't make it into the circle journal are exposed. For some reason, I kept looking at sentence structure and wording, rather than really getting into the story. It was a nice, quick read, but not one I want to read again and I don't know if I'll read anything else by her.

4. Making It Up, Penelope Lively -- I loved the idea behind the book, especially as an erstwhile fiction writer. She plays with the question of whether or not all writing is, on some level, autobiographical.

Each section of the book begins with a vignette from the author's life, and a "what if" concerning it. The stories following the vignettes are not told from the point of view of whichever character would have been the author's alternate self, but rather from the point of view of someone on the periphery of her life, or someone who only existed in the alternate world of the "what if" itself. Each story was bookended by the author's voice again, usually explaining the real circumstances of her life at the time.

I enjoyed the conceit, and I enjoyed the stories and the writing, but the authorial voice at the beginning and end, the end in particularly, felt jarring and too intrusive. I may find more of her work, but this is one I'll probably only read the one time.

And there you have it, my quickie book reviews. I'll probably do it again from time to time, so consider yourselves warned.

Enjoy your days.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

My First Cat

2001 - 2005
It took me forever to get this uploaded, not only in terms of time after his death and this post, but also just today, with the scanning and saving and uploading that wouldn't, and the re-saving...

But there he is, Widget, my buddy cat. I miss him terribly. I thought I had taken tons of photos of him, but I didn't have as many as I thought I did, and only a few that I was really happy with.

Ebbie is starting to talk about going to the
Humane League to find a new kitten. "Not to replace Widget, but because we have space for another now and there are so many that need homes."

I know that, logically, this makes sense. I don't know if I'm ready to have another little furry critter to get attached to so soon after losing this one. Does this make me selfish?