Monday, February 28, 2011

Welcome to the same old place with a new name.

Due to privacy/security issues, I had to leave my old name behind.  I'm not really certain if I did the change in the best way.  I hope those who have been following along are able to continue to do so, and I apologize for the confusion and inconvenience.  I know it's confusing me right now, with some links coming here and some going to the former site.

BTW, I am home from my vacation, and suffering from PVSS, post vacation shock syndrome.  I have never taken a winter vacation before, and as fantastic as it was, (and it was fantastic) my body seems to now be rejecting winter in a big way.  (Is there such a thing as non-drowsy sinus meds that work?  Everything makes me groggy.)  Someone told me that today is the last meteorological day of winter, but I know full well we have another month of it to come around here.  I can get through one more month of winter, right?

Sunday, February 27, 2011

365/51 Arenal, glimpsed from Santa Elena

An opening in the cloud forest allowed this view on a clear afternoon.  You can see the contrast of how bright it was past the trees, and how dark it is in the cloud forest itself.  Hiking in the cloud forests of Santa Elena and Monteverde were the only days I did not need sunblock!

365/50 Boy, Beach, Bucket

The sunset was beautiful, but watching this little one play was enchanting.
It took me back to the days when my own little boys played with buckets on the beach.
Different beach, but memories don't care about the where.

365/49 Capuchin

Yeah, the one on the left is licking his buddy's snack.  

thoughts on: Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother

Battle Hymn of the Tiger MotherBattle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua

If it were not for my book club, I would not have read this book.  What little I'd heard about it did not appeal to me as a reader.  Fortunately, everyone assured me I could read it in an easy afternoon, which was true.

Chua's account of her "Chinese Parenting" confirmed what I have long believed:  high pressure parenting works if you have children that, like their parents, are high achievers and highly capable.  No amount of parental pressure is going to result in musical prodigies if your child is tone-deaf or straight A's if your child does not have the basic intellectual ability to achieve them.

Chua's first daughter, Sophia, was an admittedly easy child, eager to please, diligent, and talented.  So, of course, Chua felt like a super mom.  Her second daughter, Lulu, whom she describes as being rebellious and independent, nonetheless, has the same high achieving personality.

Throughout the book, the inescapable conclusion is the one reached by Lulu, that everything is all about her mom.  Every thing she claims to do for her children, is done for her own sense of pride and superiority.  She insults her own children to prompt them to work harder, and she insults everyone who parented differently from her.  Anyone who does less than her is lazy, a "bad family."  Her daughters are bad if they are not completely compliant and respectful, especially in public.

Yet, Chua herself ignores her own parents when they implore her to reduce the pressure she places on Lulu.  She insults her own parents, saying they have become too westernized.  The irony seems to escape her.  Her own pride and eagerness to be lauded for the results of her parenting - quantifiable results - is more important than any relationship.

I wish more had been written about her own parents.  Not just how they parented her, but how they parented their other daughters.  Passing mention is made that their fourth daughter had mental retardation, and that Amy (the oldest) spent a lot of time raising her third sister, because their mom was busy with the youngest.  I would have liked to know more about her mom, who seemed to be able to adapt her parenting to her different children.  I wonder why Amy did not see that.

In the end, Chua feels humbled because she does not get the results she wanted with Lulu.  She must adapt, but does so only because she cannot win and knows it.

Although she is extreme, I don't disagree with her notion of expecting the best from one's children.  I do disagree with her tactics.  Mostly, though, I found it rather sad that she needed so much external proof of her own value as a person.  I wonder if that, too, is the product of "Chinese Parenting."  Is it not enough to have children that love you, desire to spend time with, want to share their lives with you?  Do they have to be outperforming their peers in every way so that other parents will admire you and envy you?

Friday, February 25, 2011

365/48 Closing up shop

thoughts on: A Pocketful of Rye

A Pocket Full of Rye (Miss Marple Mysteries)A Pocket Full of Rye by Agatha Christie

I brought this to read on my plane ride home, but we had a flat tire last weekend, so I read it then.  I did not enjoy it as much as Murder at the Vicarage.  I preferred the first person narrative of the earlier book.  I also found the characters in Pocketful of Rye less likable in general.  It was, nonetheless, a pleasant way to while away an afternoon.

I expected Miss Marple to play a larger role in the book, but she did not appear until the middle, and then sparsely after that.  She did, of course, solve the case, which was more of a "How'd he do it" than a "Who done it." 

365/47 White-fronted Parrot

I don't know why, because it is a frustrating pursuit, but I enjoy trying to photograph birds.
Later, I use a bird guide to identify them.
My knowledge of birds is rather limited, but I enjoy looking them up in the book.

Lumpy, the cutest monkey in Costa Rica

Lumpy spent a lot of time hanging out at the pool.  Not swimming, as he says monkeys don't swim.  They lounge rather expertly, however, so that is what he did.

I am rather in love with this pool.  It is not chlorinated; the water feels so good.  Most days, we had the whole pool to ourselves.  Swimming first thing in the morning, and under the stars at night - so relaxing!

Lumpy also enjoyed hiking, especially the part where he was given granola bars.  He is rather food obsessed, and Costa Rica has so much delicious fruit.  We ate pineapple and mangoes every day, as well as papaya and bananas.
Every place we went held something new,
and Lumpy enjoyed every minute of it.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

365/46 Volcano

Mt. Arenal - we were told it stopped giving off lava three months ago, after the earthquake. It is still sending up smoke, though.

365/45 I swam here!

I was asked in my comments if these were photos I am currently taking daily, and, yes, they are. I am on vacation.  My internet access has been sketchy, so this is from a couple days ago.  It was SO fun swimming here.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

365/44 White-throated Magpie Jay

A Dream Comes True for Lumpy

There is a banana tree right behind the house.

365/43 Costa Rican Pottery

365/42 Spider Monkey

I have seen three of the four types of monkeys that live in Costa Rica.  So far, the spider monkeys are my favorite.  I love their long legs, arms, and tail!  They've been the hardest to spot because they like to stay high up.  Since this is dry season, it is easier to see into the trees, but when they are on the move, they are just monkey shaped blurs.  We were lucky to catch this fellow napping in the late afternoon.  (I lightened the photo a bit to make it easier to see his face.  It was not that bright in the forest.)

365/41 Crested Caracara

365/40 Wintering Over in Palo Verde

Many birds migrate to the wetlands here during winter.
So there is a mixture of year round residents
and North Americans escaping the cold.
Just like the people.

Intermittent Internet

My access to the net has been sketchy, but I am certainly enjoying the views around here.  This is a beautiful country. 

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

365/37 Catching the breeze

The little crosses on the walls are openings so breezes can blow through the church. 

Monday, February 14, 2011

365/36 Taking a break from winter

thoughts on: Henrietta Sees It Through

Henrietta Sees It Through: More News from the Home Front 1942-1945 (Bloomsbury Group)Henrietta Sees It Through: More News from the Home Front 1942-1945 by Joyce Dennys

I won this in a Goodreads giveaway, and I saved it to read on a flight.  It seemed like it would be perfect vacation reading for me, and it was.  Written during WWII, it chronicles rural village life as seen by married, empty nester Henrietta.  Written as a series of letters to a childhood friend and neighbor serving at arms, Henrietta vents the frustrations of war time living, but never wallows in them, always poking fun, but never losing sight of what is important.  I can see why these letters were so appealing when originally published as magazine pieces during the war, and they have not lost their appeal. 

I'd like to read the first of these books, Henrietta's War.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Elwood, the Ruffle Butt Rabbit

 This is Elwood.  I named him after the best friend of the famous pooka, Harvey.  I love that film, especially this line:   

"Years ago my mother used to say to me, she'd say, "In this world, Elwood, you must be" - she always called me Elwood - "In this world, Elwood, you must be oh so smart or oh so pleasant." Well, for years I was smart. I recommend pleasant. You may quote me." ~Elwood P. Dowd

I finished Elwood yesterday.  He was inspired by the frog and a similar rabbit pattern by the same designer.  "Inspired by" means I did not follow the pattern directions, except for the ears.
I cast on using Emily Ocher's method.  Because I did not want to see the increases, as I did for Valentino, I spaced them out at different intervals.  The body, head, and ears are knit as one unit, then the arms, legs, and tail knit separately and sewn in place.  I liked the dangly legs of Valentino, and wanted long like that, but more substantial.  The arms are unstuffed, but the legs are stuffed.  I turned little short row heels to create feet, because rabbits need feet for hopping.

The tail, in the pattern that inspired me, was a pom-pom, which I don't like, so I made a twirly little ruffle for Elwood's tail.  I call him a ruffle butt rabbit.  He considers it a compliment.


 I made Valentino back in January, but as he was a gift for St. Valentine's Day, I could not share him before he arrived at his destination.  He was such a fun little guy to knit.  The pattern, named Ribbit, is free, and available here.  

I love free patterns.  I do not merely mean that I love not paying for patterns, which is true.  I mean that I love the spirit of generosity which spurs many designers to share their creations freely on the web.

Here are Lumpy and Valentino before Valentino headed off cross country to - hopefully - bring a smile to a friend.

I used Lion Brand Woolease which I had left over from the Geek Beacon.  (A free charted motif!)  It took less than half a skein.  His body is stuffed with a tennis ball - unique!  I did modify the pattern a bit, knitting the body and head in one piece, instead of sewing the two together.

Valentino was my first knitted toy, and he really tickled me.  He sat on the mantle while waiting to be mailed, and I rather miss seeing him up there.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

365/35 Happy Face

I went off manual today and captured several smiles!  I still had to adjust the color when I got home, because neither auto nor the fluorescent white balance setting gave good results.  Those commercial fixtures are just awful.

My office mate was adorable, as always.  She is such a happy and sociable girl!  Her biggest smiles are always for her mommy, just the way it should be.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

365/34 Sewing Lesson

My daughter taught one of our little friends to sew this afternoon.  She worked very studiously at her blanket stitching, stuffed the fluff as directed, then she "saw" that she really was making a pillow! 

For me, it is always sweet to see a little one learn a new skill, but ten times sweeter to watch my girl taking on the role of mentor, patiently showing and explaining and setting aside her own little project to teach a friend. 

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

365/33 Boots

I'm still working on shutter speed.  I'm doing well with stationary objects; we'll see how I do when I'm out and about.  I had to correct the color a bit on this one, though.  I'm thinking I should figure out how to custom white balance next.  None of the pre-sets give me natural color inside my house.  Outside, yes; inside, no.

Purly Jane and Knitogether

I began this purl heavy patttern while listening to the first Miss Marple, so I named it Purly Jane.  It's made in my favorite for blankets, Lion Pound of Love, in Antique White, which didn't photograph well today.  It's a creamy almost-yellow, very pretty, not pastel. 

Once again, the pattern, Estelle, is from my old standby, Quick Knit Keepsakes.  Another simple pattern, easy to knit and talk and watch tv.

Our church's new knitting ministry, Knitogether, had its first meeting on Sunday, and I was so pleased with the turnout  - nine ladies came!  (It's a small church.)  A few of those were people I did not know were knitters/crocheters.  We have both experienced and new crafters, too.  We'll be meeting once a month, for encouragement and guidance, and some months we'll go worship at the nursing home where the blankets will be gifted, instead of hanging out and knitting. 

This is our verse: 
Hebrews 10:23-25
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful;  and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.

365/32 A photo shoot gone wrong

I'm trying to photograph my new blanket, Purly Jane, this morning, before going to work.  It's snowing outside, so no direct sun.  The color of this blanket is making it hard for me.  I don't know why (if you do, please share), but large whitish things seem problematic for autofocus.  My manual focus abilities are little better.  Anyway, Lumpy is under the blanket, looking cozy and warm.

Too warm, apparently, because Trixie decided she needed that cozy spot.  Now, I have to say, I wish I'd had the camera on auto, because here is Trixie in action, all blurry, because I clicked away at my not-meant-for-action settings.  Her entire routine took maybe a half minute. 

 Excuse me, Lumpy, please share.
 Too flat, need to bunch this blanket up a bit.
 Still bunching.
 Not quite right yet.
 Okay, I think I've got it scrunched up enough.
 Let me try it out.
 This look is telling me that she is not satisfied with the blanket situation.
This is a, "Thanks, Mom, you always know how to get the blanket just right."
Now she is happy, under the blanket, kravitzing out the back window.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

thoughts on: A Voyage Long and Strange

A Voyage Long and Strange: Rediscovering the New WorldA Voyage Long and Strange: Rediscovering the New World by Tony Horwitz

Although I was familiar with most of the persons and events Horwitz writes about in Voyage, there were enough new-to-me facts and details to keep my interest.  (For example, French Hugenots settled in Florida before St. Augustine was settled, entirely new information to me.  The Spanish killed them, all except the musicians, which explains why we never hear about them.) 

Like his earlier book, Blue Latitudes, history is interwoven with Horwitz's own journey through the locales of history, with observations on how those events are perceived today.  Horwitz seeks out not only experts on the subjects of his study, but also people with divergent takes on the lasting impact of exploration and colonization.

Entertaining and informative, just what I wanted.

Friday, February 4, 2011

365/31 Crafting a Valentine

365/30 Deep in Thought

Playing with Paper

I've had these two little notebooks for ages, but just rediscovered them a few weeks ago under a stack of knitting patterns.  They were advertising giveaways, with a big logo on the front, but otherwise very nice:  recycled papers and hard board covers.  I'd had the idea of covering the logo, which is why I held onto them.

I decided not to let them be buried again and borrowed some Mod Podge from a friend.  Easy peasy, the first one was done, but I discovered I don't like shiny mod podge.  That's okay as I also don't use little notebooks, and this one was intended for my daughter, who is a fan of both shiny and notebooks.

For the second one, I used rubber cement and decorative tape, no mod podge.  I don't think the tape's adhesive would hold up to rough use, but I like the way this one looks, retaining the recycled cardboard frame.  I guess I could use rubber cement under the tape, if I wanted it to be more durable.  There is no motif on the back of this one. 

Entertaining diversions.