Tuesday, October 26, 2004

 

So tired

My shifts have changed until after Christmas to help out with a few things. It means I start early. I thought that this would be great as I would get loads done but I'm to tired to do anything. Mind you at the moment it doesn't help that I am running around after my sister while my parents are away. Hopefully once I get used to it I will find that I can actually do other things after work.

I got my promotion which begins after Christmas. I will basically be in charge of the department I already work in. I'm looking forward to it. I'm particularly looking forward to the training as I want to see how things are run in more detail. Also the extra wage won't go amiss.

I finished The Wind-up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami. Basically it's about a young married couple who's cat goes missing. The husband doesn't even notice at first but as soon as he does he begins to notice strange things happening. He gets phone calls from strangers who claim to know him and visits from people who begin to tell him their life story. Going into more detail than this would spoil a few things and I don't want to do that. There is a lot more to the story than I just described. Very much a book that requires thinking. I liked it but I'm not sure I fully understand it. I think my friend who got book notes for it had the right idea.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

 

Christmas Cards

Well I now have a huge pile of Christmas cards and I really don't need to make anymore. I made some yesterday and those are my favourites. The white and silver card my boyfriend has taken for his mum and dad (I usually do provide his cards otherwise no one in his family would get any). I think the white and silver one could be changed slightly to suit a Wedding.

My least favourite cards are ones I did a few weeks ago. It was my first attempt at making cards using tags as a decoration. I think they look just too simple although my sister has said that's why she likes them. I don't think I will be giving these ones out.

The next two sets of cards are using my usual theme of stamping and paper layers. One set uses cream cards while the other is done in blue. I'm thinking of adding little merry Christmas stickers to them just to brighten them up.

The stitched cards aren't completely finished yet so it will be a while before I post a picture of them. I'm still stitching the card for my best friend. I should have finished it by now but haven't picked it up in a few days.

It was actually fun making those cards yesterday. Not that I don't normally enjoy it. If I didn't I wouldn't do it. Yesterday though my sister joined in. I had all my papers sitting out on the table. We had just finished lunch when I got back to making some cards and my sister was still sitting there. She went through some of the papers and came across a lot of different ones that she liked. In the end she asked if she could make a card. Normally she's the serious artist and has no time for crafts so it was strange seeing her sitting using glue and glitter. It reminded me of when we were little and used to make things together.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

 

Revised and Expanded

As soon as I see this on a new edition of a book that I have read previously I begin to think bad things of the author. Particularly if it has been done to a series of books. When I heard that JK Rowling was going to do this to the Harry Potter books once she had finished them I really wasn't all that surprised. It could be that it is just a rumour but this is definitely one of those instances where it is done for the money. Of course fans are going to buy all the revised editions too.

Why am I talking about this? I'm reading The Gunslinger by Stephen King as part of the group discussion (we are going to go onto the Dark Tower next). I first read this about 10 years ago. I have to be honest, I didn't like it and if it wasn't for the fact that I received book four as a birthday gift (my aunt didn't know that I hadn't read the others) I would have stopped there. I'm glad I didn't. When the last three were coming out the others were brought out as new editions. The first one had been revised and expanded. At first I thought this was the same for all four but only the introduction and forward were new. I was annoyed and if it wasn't for the fact that I couldn't find my copy of the Gunslinger I wouldn't have bought the revised edition (I must have loaned it out to someone).

I read the forward and introduction last night. Normally I don't bother with them but I was curious. Now I feel guilty for having bad thoughts. The Gunslinger was written in the 70's and the last three books weren't started until 2001. That's quite a big gap. When he looked at the first book after he finished the last one he saw a lot of things he didn't like. Obviously he had learned a lot in that time and the plot of his story had changed a little which meant the first one didn't really fit in with the rest. So he made a few changes. Changed some of the language and added a few extra scenes. This is understandable, you can't really blame him for it. So I apologise for my bad thoughts and look forward to reading these changes. Although, as I said earlier it has been ten years since I last read it and while I remember some of it I don't remember much.

I am still reading The Wind-up Bird Chronicle and very much enjoying it. I will probably finish it over the weekend and post some more thoughts on it when I do. For the moment I am at a point where I really don't know how it is going to end or where it is going to go next. A friend of mine bought book notes on it and I think that might be good idea.

Friday, October 22, 2004

 

Craft Fair

Today I went to the craft fair with my mum. It was good day and we both managed to restrain ourselves from spending too much. I didn't buy a single cross stitch item. I really just wanted to look at different scrapbook albums and possibly buy one. I ended up buying a scrapbook starter kit which included an album, papers, glue and little buttons. I couldn't wait to try it out and looked forward to getting it home.

I've probably mentioned a few scrapbook ideas that I've had. The one I wanted to start with was of my holiday. So today I got out all my photos and papers and made my first page. To be honest I'm not sure if I like it or not but I'll improve as I go along (hopefully). Once I collect more papers I will be able to do more.

I bought a little Hardanger Christmas card kit. I had bought a book at the fair in March but I never did use it. I needed to get some scrap material first but the shops only had large packs of it. I saw the kit today and I thought that it would be ideal to use as a try out.

My mum bought one kit of a map and some wool. A friend of mine is taking up knitting and talking about it has put my mum in the mood to get back into it.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

 

Doctor Who

The BBC have loaded a picture of the new Doctor Who logo to their cult site. I actually quite like it. I was originally resigned to the fact that I wouldn't like it and that wouldn't be the same. It's true it isn't the same but all the same it really isn't that bad. It could have been worse. I'm actually looking forward to seeing the new series despite the fact that Billie Piper is going to be in it. I still think they should have chosen an unknown actress. I also still think that the Doctor's outfit should say a little more than 'Just off to the pube with some mates'. I promise to watch it whilst trying to keep an open mind.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

 

Skinning

I've read some disgusting things in my time. You can't be a Stephen King fan and not have come accross something disgusting. I just read a chapter of "The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle" which still makes me shudder. So far there have been a few people in the book telling the main charcter their stories. One guy was telling his story of the war and a secret mission he went on. They were captured and their leader was skinned alive. I was completely repulsed by the descrition! I wanted to through the book accross the room just to get away from it but at the same time I couldn't put it down. I'm sure there has been worse in King's books but with him you are kind of expecting it. With this one I wasn't. There was no hint at all that something like this was going to be in it. That just made the images a lot more stronger.

 

Busy Day

Wow, was I busy yesterday. I managed to fit quite a bit in. The first thing I did was practice calligraphy. I was almost to the point where I was going to give up. I really do feel like I'm back in school where I am practicing my letters. I did a couple of lines of each letter. When I finished I looked back and could see that I really was improving. I tried writing out Merry Christmas using different pen sizes and it didn't look too bad. Not brilliant mind you, I still wouldn't attempt to use it to write in my Christmas cards. Still, it is a considerable improvement to what it was. Maybe if I keep it up I will be able to write out at least some of my cards.

I then wrote out a couple of letters. I am way behind in my penpal letters but yesterday I managed to catch up. It's quite bad though as this has been since I came back from my holiday. I just have one more letter to write but since it was a year before she replied to me I'm sure she won't mind waiting another few days for me.

I then spent some time doing nothing on the internet (it's amazing how you can log on to the net and spend so much time doing nothing) but not too long. I came off to do some stitching and have almost finished my friends Christmas card.

Lastly I did some writing. I finished my draft of chapter three. I'm going to type the changes up today and then go over it again before posting in the next few days. Again, this was something else that was supposed to be done before my holiday but better late than ever. I was going to do some work on Chapter four but I still haven't typed that one up yet. Instead I decided to work on something else. I decided to try writing some notes for a Glasgow based story. Could I think of anything at all? No! Instead I came up with the idea of writing some stories based on my childhood. I must have sat for about five minutes doodling on the page. I was a good girl at school, I have no stories. With that one thought a whole bunch of them came flooding back to me and I started to write my first one out. I now have a list of others too. This is more for me I think. A little too personal to allow anyone I know to read just now. It will give me good practice though.

Monday, October 18, 2004

 

New Idea

If I had £1 for every idea I get but don't carry through with I would be a millionaire. I love this journal idea and from what I have read over the net the last few days it isn't a new one. Someone tried to start something similar on the crafster site but it doesn't appear to have started yet. The person who was going to start it was basically going to send out a journal to the people signed up for it. She would start it with a journal entry and then some lists of her favourite things at that time such as movies, music quotes and books. She would then write a little about her home town and stick in a postcard and map. The next person to get it would do the same thing.

Sounds like a good idea except that the people who add to it wouldn't get anything out of it. I thought maybe it would be a good idea to turn it into a round robin. Everyone sends out a journal to everyone in the group. Each person can write the same thing in every journal or do something a little bit different in each. Someone had already suggested it (I noticed this before I made the suggestion thankfully). I thought maybe that you could decorate the pages in some way that would show what your interests are and favourite colours are without having to write down a whole history. If someone has written about books you have enjoyed you could mention that and make further suggestions. Maybe stick pictures in the journal or ideas that you think that person may like.

As I said the organising of this seems to have stalled. I would offer but to be honest I have way to much on after Christmas. It would be something I would love to take part in though.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

 

I finally chose

I decided to read "The Wind-up Bird Chronicle" after all. It has been in my 'to read' pile for quite a while now so I thought it was about time I picked it up. It's also a friends favourite book and I have seen a few people from work reading it. Basically my curiosity got the better of me. Glad I picked it up though. I'm about 100 pages into it and so far I'm still trying to work out exactly what I think of it. It had me hooked from the start (which is always a good sign) and I think it is going to continue to be a brilliant read. There are already lots of questions and there seem to be more with every chapter. I always think those are the best kinds of books. The type that keeps you hanging on. Instead of making sense straight away you don't know where the book is going until right at the end.

I felt the same about "Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World" by the same author. It wasn't until the end that everything tied together. It was strange but it did make sense in the end. I think that the wind up bird is going to turn out the same way. A very different storyline though and a different method too. I would say different style except that reading it you can tell it is the same author. There are certain characteristics that make both books unique to this author. Regardless of how I feel about this book in the end (although I have no doubts that I will enjoy it all the way through) I will definitely make a point of reading more.

 

Journals

I love journals and have kept one for years. I'll be honest in that mine isn't particularly arty. It never really has been. On the Craft site that I look to for ideas they have a craft swap section. Some people like to organise round robins like mine but with journals rather than stitching. I know we sent journals along with ours but they aren't arty either. It's really just to get to know the others and to have as a memory along with the finished piece. The journal round robin though are sent all over the place and people write in them or draw or paint. I would love to see what one would look like in the end. I imagine that each one would be unique.

One person linked to a site called 1000journals. This is a large project involving (funnily enough) 1000 journals. About 700 were sent out randomly. In other words it is up to each person who receives one to send it on to someone they chose. The other 300 are controlled and everyone is told who to send it on to. This is a huge project and some of these journals have been all over the world. Some have even been in Glasgow. The person who began the project is going to place them in a gallery if they are successfully returned and possibly publish a book on them. I would love to see some of them (you can see scanned in pages on the site) and I would very much be interested in seeing the book based on the project.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

 

What to read next!

I am almost finished the Immortals Quartet by Tamora Pierce. The problem is what do I read next. I have a whole pile of books and I really am stuck as to which one to start. I am in two minds whether or not to start the next Eric Van Lustbader book. I'm not really in the mood for it so I'm not sure. Another possibility is The Wind Up Bird Chronicles By Haruki Murakami. I have been feeling very Halloweeny of late so I am really wanting to read a horror book. The only one in my pile is Book 1 in Linda Hamilton's Vampire series. I know I would finish it well before Halloween though. I also have a book I borrowed from the boyfriend. I really don't know. I think I will just have to chose one randomly.

 

More crafts

I got another calligraphy book. This one is called the Calligraphers Bible and has 100 different styles. I'm not sure if I like it though. I've had a flick through it and the instructions aren't as clear as they are in the first one. It spend more time on the different styles rather than how to do them. At the start it lists all the types of tools you can use but doesn't tell you which one is best for each hand. I will look at it properly over the weekend and give it a try then. If I really don't like it I can always swap it for another one.

A friend from a cross stitch group told us about a charity stitch she took part in. She stitched a square which became a quilt for a sick child. The website lists several children and each child gets a quilt on a favourite theme. You can take part in as many as you like but there are closing dates for each one. I thought this was a good one and I am thinking of taking part.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

 

Back on track

I think I am back on track with my Christmas cards. Yesterday I managed to make more simple ones and I am now up to 22. I have two packs of small cards which I am going to use to make more quick cards. I am also currently stitching one for my best friend (long story) and have to chose a card to make for my sister. She has requested one with a cat. I figure I should be able to find a cross stitch design with a festive cat somewhere. Then I can get back to The Castle which I have been itching to get on with.

Yes, I realise I have already stitched a card for my best friend. I still love the design I used but I bought a mag on Friday which had a chart of tatty ted in a santa hat. Since she is such a huge fan of tatty ted I decided to stitch that for her and give the ice fairy to my gran.

Monday, October 11, 2004

 

RIP Christopher Reeve

Christopher Reeve died last night after cardiac arrest. It's so sad. My sister and I basically grew up on his Superman films. We always saw him as Superman, even after he had the accident. My thoughts go out to his family.

 

Calligraphy

I've been wanting to try my hand at calligraphy for a while now. I thought that it would be a good idea to use it for Christmas cards. My lovely sister bought me a pen and some nibs and gave me two jars of ink that she doesn't use. I decided to get a book and go ahead and try it. I can only hope that practice does make perfect because my first attempts look awful. I bought a few more nibs today and some black ink hoping that it would make some kind of difference but no joy. No one will have their cards written out in calligraphy this year. I just hope that it is only practice I need.

I found a good crafts site called do crafts. It doesn't have any cross stitch items but does have some good tips on card making and stamping.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

 

Tamora Pierce

I've been reading her Immortals quartet and very much enjoying it. It's a little different from the Lioness quartet although set in the same world. This one is about a young girl who has wild magic. It gives her the ability to speak with animals. There is more to it than that and has lots of mythological beasts in it like Dragons. Like the Lioness books these ones pull you into the story straight away and you don't want to let go. An easy read but an enjoyable one. I would definitely recommend her books to teens and adults who enjoy reading children's books.

You might remember that when I first finished the Lioness quartet I was annoyed at part of the ending. I should warn you not to read on if you plan on reading these books. I didn't like who Alanna ended up with. In my head she should have married the King. There seemed to be more chemistry between them. I looked up Tamora Pierce's website today since I am reading her books. I found a page where she explains why she chose George for Alanna over the King. It makes sense although it does show that I wasn't the only one who felt she should have married Jonathan.

 

What have I been up to?

In truth nothing much. I have been basically just making Christmas cards and watching West Wing. Before I saw season 4 (only about half way through it) I could pretend to myself that Sam isn't leaving. I love Sam, he's such a great character (that and he is hot). Anyway, I have now seen the episode where he leaves and I can no longer pretend to myself. I have to say that I do like the character's replacement. Not as good as Sam but still funny in his own way. Yes, I do realise it is just a TV show.

As I said I've been making Christmas cards while watching it. I have am stitching a few small ones just to get the numbers up. Last night I decided to make a few simple ones using just one stamp and the same one for each card. The result was a set of five Santa cards in the same colours. The types of papers used differ slightly for each card but the colours remain the same. I am going to do the same again eventually but this time with a different image and a different colour scheme.

I picked up my writing again last night. This time my original story. I had a conversation between two of my characters stuck in my head for the last few days. I got it down on paper last night but still not sure if I will actually use it. It isn't really relevant to the story.

 

Merlin

I bought Merlin on DVD last week. It's the TV film that was shown on channel 4. I actually missed it when it was on TV. I saw about 10 minutes of the second part and I didn't see the point in watching the rest since I had missed most of it. I then saw the DVD on sale and since I liked what I did see of it decided just to go ahead and buy it.

I did enjoy it. I thought Sam Neil, Helena Bonham Carter and Martin Short were all good. I think my only criticism is that the first half seemed a little too long. I thought too much time was spent on a few things but I guess it was needed to set up the story. The second half felt a little too rushed (yes I know I'm never happy). I thought more time could have been spent on Arthur or Morgan le faye. But then I suppose that although they were part of the story it wasn't really about them but about Merlin. Other than that I thought it was well done.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

 

Angel Round Robin

I finished my square for the angel round robin. Not sure I like the way it turned out. It seemed so much sweeter on the chart. It is a little different from the others though as it is the only one that also has animals in it. Hopefully the person it belongs to will like it. I've passed it on to the next person and I look forward to getting the next one which is just one before I get my own back. I think this next one is a bathroom theme. I have really enjoyed it so far as I have stitched a few things that I have never stitched before. Very excited to see how they all turn out.

I have joined another cross stitch group. I got an invite from a yahoo group (no idea how they got my name). I know that I have left a few in the past because I haven't had much time but I wanted to give this one a try anyway. In the invite it said there will be exchanges and I quite like the idea of trying another rr. Most of them live in America so I would be curious to see what they come up with.

At the moment I'm just continuing with Christmas cards. I am stitching a few small designs from a chart book. Once I have a big enough pile I am going to go back to the castle.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

 

Eleanor Rigby

I finally got to read the new Douglas Coupland book. Truth is I started it yesterday and again stayed up until 2am to finish it. This time because it was so good.

This one is about Liz Dunn who suffers from loneliness. She lives on her own and has no friends. About seven years before she tells her story her son comes into her life and for a brief period that loneliness disappears only to come back even stronger.

To be honest I have trouble describing Coupland books. Whenever I try to describe them they come across as dull and boring but they are far from that. This one is a sweet and sad story with a touch of humour. I think that a lot of his books are a little depressing but they always seem to have their lighter moments and end on some sort of high note. This one is the same as the others in that respect. He writes about ordinary people under extraordinary circumstances. A year ago today I had never heard of him and now I can't get enough of his work. I just wish I had more than one of his books left to read.

 

The Veil of a Thousand Tears

I did a review on this yesterday and since then it has disappeared into cyberspace (very irritating). I actually stayed up until 2am on Sunday just to finish it.

Like the first book of the Pearl Saga this book by Eric Van Lustbader has several plotlines. The first one dealt mostly with finding the Dar sala at. This one deals mostly with Riane trying to save Giyan from being taken over by an archdemon. The only way to do that is to find the veil of a thousand tears and she has much to learn before she can find it. Unfortunately time is not on her side. As Riane and her companions journey to this point prophecy unfolds. The second plot line in both books deal with Vorn intrigue and the Kundalan resistance against the Vorn. In this one we learn that not all Vorn are unsympathetic to the Kundalan's.

The plots are more complex than it sounds. As new characters make an appearance it is sometimes difficult to keep up. Part of the problem is that I left it a year before I read the second one. While I really enjoyed the first one I was almost ready to give up on this one. It took time to get into the story but that may have been because it took time for my memory to kick in. In the end though I did get caught up in it and thoroughly enjoyed it. Will not leave it so long to read the third one this time. It also didn't help that I bought the new Douglas Coupland book not long after I started it and what I really wanted to do was read that one.

Monday, October 04, 2004

 

Banned Books

It was banned books week in the US a few weeks ago. Here is a list of the 100 most challenged books in 1990 - 2000. I have read about 20 of them. These aren't the only books that have been banned or considered for banning. Enid Blytons books were considered racist and sexist and so were almost banned (and I think actually were in a few libraries here in Britain). I know that some of the books on that list people wanted banned because they were considered to be evil. The Harry Potter books is an example of this. People believed that they were evil because it deals with witchcraft. I remember when news of the films being made and who was playing Harry came out that the poor boy was harassed by people who told him he would be cursed.

Anyway, I don't believe in banning books. People should have the freedom to chose what they read without anyone deciding for them. I don't think everyone who reads a particular book are all of a sudden going to turn into devil worshippers or hardened criminals. Some of those books on the list are favourite kids books. I loved Roald Dahl when I was a kid and lots of children love his books still today. Judy Blume was another favourite when I was growing up and the Aldous Huxley book I actually wrote about for a school paper.

I would be interested to see a British list, I'm sure that there will be some books on that too which will be surprising.

Saturday, October 02, 2004

 

Sorry about the rant,

I didn't actually intend to rant there. I was only wanting to mention that the Star Trek book I had read had given me an idea for my own story. I will write some ideas down but I won't start anything until I have finished working on my Doctor who story (which I am still working on).

I have been going through and emailing phase. I'm not usually that bothered about email. There are one or two people I will email regularly but that number has since gone up. This is partly thanks to the cross stitch group. I actually enjoy it. Before I got fed up with email since it was mostly passing on jokes or chain letters. It gets a little boring after a while. I also can't be bothered with messages written in the form of text messaging (I don't even do that with text messages). Anyway, it has been nice emailing people and I even got an email from someone who left work a while ago.

 

Star Trek books

I recently just finished reading a Star Trek book. I used to plough my way through them and made a point of getting them out the library (although i caught up with what the library were getting in). They are easy reads and I have never treated them as anything else. I liked them because I enjoyed the extra stories about my favourite characters particularly after the show ended. Most of them (if not them all) I have come to realise are just fanfiction. Some of them even have what a lot of people call Mary Sue's. This printed form of fanfiction is surprisingly (or maybe not so surprisingly) popular.

These books can be found in kids books too. The Mary-Kate and Ashley books are an example of this. When I was young we had Sweet Valley and then the point horror books as easy reads. My teacher didn't think that I was reading books appropriate to my level and so my dad came home with a huge pile of books. This was how I fell in love with Isaac Asimov. At the time I was grateful to my dad for the books but a little miffed at my teacher. She obviously had only seen me reading point horror but even then I was reading other things.

My point is that these days I have become a bit of a snob when it comes to reading. There are certain books I wouldn't touch simply because it is trash. An easy read without complex storylines or writing. Yes, I know a little hypocritical from someone who reads Star Trek books as a break. It almost seems as though I have turned into my teacher.

It got me thinking. Should we really look down our noses at people who read books we consider to be drivel? How do we know that this isn't just a quick read to them. And others who do read them regularly shouldn't we congratulate them just for reading? There are so many people out there who never pick up a book. So what if the ones who are reading mass market books have never picked up a classic. Sure, they are missing out on a lot but still they are reading.

It is the same with children. When I was tutoring it was difficult to get children to read. So few of them wanted to do it. When they did find something they enjoyed we encouraged them to continue. For children who didn't read it didn't matter that they weren't brilliantly written as long as they were reading.

 

Another Card

This one is for my best friend so it is a little bit more special than the others. I found this design in a book while I was searching for an angel for the round robin. I fell in love with this and had to stitch it right away. It has actually been finished a little while now but I had to buy card to fit the design. I finally bought it yesterday as I forgot the last time I was in the craft store. In the same book there is a whole snow queen theme which I am going to take parts of to stitch as cards. Don't worry, these will be smaller cards so I won't post a photo every time I finish one.

I actually bought more Christmas stamps while I was in getting those cards. I made another paper card using them last night but I won't bore you with another photo. With the rest I am going to do group photos and post them before I send them away.

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