July 08, 2007

JUNE RETROSPECTIVE

You know how you go along in your daily routine, with one day seeming pretty much like the next, and nothing much changes? Well, June was an unusual month. Here's a recap:

On the 1st, as I've written previously, the mail clerk, Brandy Lambertson, was murdered in her store. Surprisingly, Mail & More has re-opened for business, and they are trying hard to be business-as-usual. I very much appreciate their efforts. I've expressed my condolences to the family, donated to the memorial trust fund for her children. Of course, I wish things would not have turned out this way.

In the following week, my mother had her 84th birthday. This is remarkable in that my parents still live independently, in the same house where I grew up. But they are showing their age, especially my mother. My siblings and I have started to have conversations about how to transition them into some kind of nursing home or assisted living facility. Even though we are making no real headway on this, it is taking a lot of time and emotional energy.

On the heels of Mom's birthday, my niece turned 26 and ran off to Las Vegas to marry her boyfriend. (Talk about somebody going through a life-changing event, while you are continuing in your same-old routine!)

At Guild, I took a mini-class from Janine on short-row shoulder shaping in the round:

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Clever woman, that Janine -- not just for engineering the short-row shoulder shaping in the round, but for turning lemons into lemonade. She took the top part of the Acorn sweater -- the part that she'd cut off, when making the sweater longer -- and finished it off as a demo piece for teaching. This probabaly doesn't show well in the photo, but the demo piece allows you to see very clearly the little floats that are created by the short-rowing.

Sandy came by for lunch and to pay a sales call:

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Sandy was my knitting teacher, ages ago when she worked at a Seattle yarn store. She was a very gentle teacher. If I was doing something wrong, there was nobody I'd rather get the bad news from than Sandy. Now, she is a sales rep for several yarn companies; I've ordered a ton of stuff for fall. (Kaffe Fassett sock yarns coming soon! Also, a few new shades of Kidsilk Haze! And much more!) In the photo above, Sandy is wearing the Asymmetric Jacket, which she's knitted in Taos (colorway Bayeta). Taos is a self-striping yarn that's marled, so you get the effect of the main color and the marled color both striping -- very cool. The Asymmetrical Jacket is a pattern you can download for free from the Crystal Palace website, here.


ProblemChild.jpgJune 21 was the first day of summer and, I am sad to report, the last day of our cat Nippy's life. I had made numerous trips to the vet with him through April and May, for problems with his teeth and mouth. He had surgery; medicines were prescribed that Jennie and I had to dose him with. He would rally, but then he would worsen. Finally, he was diagnosed with cancer. I wished the vet would have come to this diagnosis a little sooner, as he had been suffering for a while, and in retrospect, all of those medications and etcetera seem pointless.

Nippy was 15. We had adopted him from the PAWS shelter when he was a kitten; I think he had a happy life with us. He certainly was the alpha cat around here -- and a mighty hunter. There was one summer where he caught and brought into the house a garter snake every day -- oh, did that give me nightmares. Now he is in that happy hunting grounds in the sky.


I also managed to finish a couple of things, during the month of June. First, the Shedir chemo cap for my friend, who had her first chemo treatment in late June. My friend was absolutely speechless when I gave the cap to her. I couldln't tell if that meant that she liked it, or if she was politely refraining from remarking on the fact that it came out a little small.

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And, in non-knitting news, but relevant to the subject of Finishing Things: On June 26, I finished reading Paint if Black by Janet Fitch. I was very disappointed in this book. Janet Fitch had said at her reading that she didn't want to romanticize the character who committed suicide in this novel. Well, that may have been her intention, but I think she did end up romanticizing him -- at any rate, he was much more likeable than the 20-year-old girlfriend he leaves behind, who spends almost the entire novel drunk, or stoned, or both. (I realize that the 20-year-old doesn't know how to handle her emotions, doesn't know how to grieve, so she's turning to her "voddy," but really, do I need to spend 387 pages with a character like this?) There are half-a-dozen references and allusions to the play Hamlet, in this novel. These references seem like a desperate attempt to make the plot work and to elevate this piece of fiction to the realm of literature. Hamlet is one of my all-time favorite plays, so perhaps I am more difficult to satisfy on this point than other readers would be. (Just one example, the first reference: The main character (the 20-year-old girlfriend) breaks into the home of the deceased boyfriend's mother, and prowls around the mother's bedroom while the woman is sleeping. The girlfriend thinks: I could kill her in her sleep by putting poison in her ear. For me as a reader, this completely stopped me in my tracks. It's a blatant reference to Hamlet, because it is how Claudius kills Hamlet's father -- and it works in Hamlet as part of the leitmotif of deafness / hearing throughout that play. But in Paint It Black, there's absolutely nothing to set this up -- and this left me thinking, How would Josie, who's a tough, 1980's girl, a drugger and a high school dropout and runaway, how would she possibly think of murdering someone by pouring poison in that person's ear? Maybe she'd think of shooting, maybe she'd think of stabbing, but poison? In the ear? Doesn't make sense. A hundred pages later, there's a reference to Josie's having seen the film version of Hamlet where Marianne Faithfull played Ophelia. We don't know when or where Josie saw this -- maybe she stayed in high school long enough to have seen this movie and read the play before she dropped out, or maybe she and her boyfriend had seen it together. But better to have this knowlege in front of the reader before the reference to poison in the ear, rather than later.) Anyway, I could go on and on with my criticisms of the novel, but let's just say, White Oleander was a better-written book, and I'm sure the success of that book made the writing of Paint It Black that much more difficult.

I'm doing the A to Z Author Challenge, and my E book was Umberto Eco's The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana, which had a great premise but was not at all a compelling read. If I had not been doing the Challenge, I would not have read this book to the end. With my E and F books both being duds, I was thinking it might be all downhill through the rest of the alphabet.

Fortunately, my G author has restored my faith in contemporary literature. Three Junes is exceedingly well-written and I am enjoying it immensely.

Posted by Karen at July 8, 2007 11:18 AM
Comments

I'm so sorry to hear about Nippy. Living out in the country like that had to have been a grand life. We're in a similar situation with Alan's mom trying to find a way to make a graceful transition to assisted living. It's very tough.

Glad to see Two Swans is continuing to get some great yarns. :-)

Posted by: Jewel at July 8, 2007 07:05 PM

Three Junes ranks as one of the best books I've read in the last few years. I just bought her second book. Thanks for the warning on Finch.

Hey, on the 4th of July I ran off to Vegas to marry my boyfriend, too. Course, the fact that we're in our 50s and were celebrating 25 years together on that day makes it a bit less life-altering. And we did start planning it more than a week before. Still, one of my self-definitions has changed. We also have 80-something parents we need to start organizing for changes.

I was sorry to miss the Guild mini-workshops, especially as I just recently joined. By the way, when I signed up today for the Amy Singer (Knitty.com editor/owner) classes at Churchmouse on the 24th and 25th they still had several spaces available.

Posted by: KarenJoSeattle at July 8, 2007 09:33 PM

My condolences on Nippy, too. I've nursed a cat through cancer so I empathize.

Posted by: KarenJoSeattle at July 8, 2007 09:35 PM

So sorry to hear about Nipppy. I can empathize as we are still sad from losing one of our cats (Satay) to oral cancer in May. Judy

Posted by: Judy at July 9, 2007 06:00 AM

Wow! I'm tired just reading all of it!

So so sorry about Nippy.

Posted by: Romi at July 9, 2007 09:12 PM

so sorry to hear about nippy.

Posted by: vanessa at July 10, 2007 03:30 AM

Sorry for all the sad events. Had to comment on the book though! I totally hated it, I would have driven over it except it was from the library. There are no amount of Hamlet references that could save this book. I wanted my time back at the end.

Posted by: Linda at July 17, 2007 11:35 AM