Thursday, September 29, 2005
CW and More Reviews
I treated myself to a few craft magazines the other day. One of the ones I bought was the third issue of the Disney crafts magazine. I really enjoyed the last two issues. I really don't like Winnie the Pooh and friends but there seemed to be a balance with other Disney characters. In this issue the balance is gone and it is definitely dominated by Pooh and co. There is a dalmation advent calendar, Cinderella paper crafts and two more dwarves. The rest is Pooh. It's actually almost off putting. I still see myself buying the next issue but if it keeps going this way I will eventually stop.
"Revelation of the Daleks" has been out for a while now but I just got round to buying it yesterday. I have been slow in buying the Doctor Who DVD's although I want to collect them. I think it is partly because my parents own most of them on tape and I have watched those over and over again. So while I want to collect them all there isn't really a huge rush. With this one though it is also partly because it isn't one of my favourites. A bit of a surprise considering I love most stories involving the Daleks. The truth is I find most of the characters irritating and I'm not a huge fan of Colin Baker. My sister who isn't a Doctor Who fan loved this one and watched it over and over again. It appealed to her sense of humour. She loved the DJ and Joebell (Sp?) both of whom grated on my nerves. I think if it wasn't for that I would have liked it but sadly it's one I will rarely watch again.
I just finished reading "Across the Nightingale Floor" by Lian Hearn which is book one in the Otori trilogy. A young boy comes back from wondering the mountains to find his entire village has been slaughtered. He is saved by Lord Otori who adopts him as his son and has him trained to kill Lord Iilad. The man who was responsible for the village massacre and countless other deaths. Many things conspire to get in his way including falling in love. However, Takeo is determined that Iilad will pay for what he did to his family.
There is so much more to the story than that but I really don't want to spoil it. It is based on Japanese culture and is set during the feudal system. A beautifully written book and one I found difficult to put down. It changes from first person to third person throughout the book, which strangely didn't bother me at all. There is a little magic involved but not much and not the spell casting kind either. I recommend it for just about anyone who wants to try something a little bit different.
Wednesday, September 28, 2005
A Little Rusty
I promised myself that I would by some clarinet reeds and a music stand at the end of the month and today I did. I also managed to break my new music stand just by trying to put it up. I used to use these things in school all the time. The last thing I was expecting was difficulty there. Not to worry, a little tape and it's okay. I'm not going to embarrass myself further by going back to the shop to get another one so soon.
I spent half an hour practicing and to say that I'm rusty is putting it mildly. My breathing is terrible and my memory even worse. I was quite right to start at the beginning. Even with reading music I need the practice. Thankfully I am finding the step by step lessons easy and as I do each one my memory is coming back to me. Maybe after a few weeks of practice I can move onto the sheet music I used at school. Actually it's a book with tunes from musicals. I really enjoyed playing from it and I'm looking forward to doing it again. I was asked at school to get the book and then we never used it.
After going over five notes my swollen bottom lip decided it had had enough. Despite the fact that I have forgotten everything I really enjoyed playing it again. I'm glad I got back into it.
More Childhood Books.
Monday, September 26, 2005
This was recommended to me a while back. A children's sci fi series which replaced Doctor Who while it took a break in 1984. It's based on a series of three books by John Christopher although only the first two books were used (I really don't know why they didn't finish it). It is set in a future where humans are ruled over by large tripods. To keep order humans are given caps at the age of sixteen. These caps suppress aggression and creativity. Anything that would cause humans to rise up against the tripods. Most people see capping as an honor. The tripods are there to protect them. Without them they would still be murdering each other and living a life of barbarism. Two young boys, Will and Henry, are afraid to be capped and discover from a vagrant that they can live a life without being capped. To do this they have to leave behind their home and travel to the white mountain in France. Along the way they only just manage to escape being capped many times. They befriend another young boy, Beanpole, who feels the same way and together they help each other get out of danger in order to reach the white mountain.
When this was first recommended to me I had intended on reading the books rather than buying the DVD. Especially since they only did the first two series. I completely forgot all about it though until I saw the first series in a sale and decided to give it a go. I'm glad I did. A lot of money went into this for it's time and you can tell. Quite a large cast is used and the tripods themselves were impressive. Near the end I did find the story line a little impressive. In each village they went to they had to escape being capped. That all changes in the last episode and by the end all I wanted to do was see what happened next. If you like old style sci fi shows then you might like this.
"Eldest" Christopher Paolini
For anyone one who loves stories of adventure and magic this is a must read. Paolini is very talented when it comes to keeping readers engrossed. I was caught straight back into the story line as though I had just left it the previous day rather than year. I did find that some of it seemed familiar to me. I could trace some parts back to "Lord of the Rings", "Star Wars" and (believe it or not) "Dune". I was able to ignore this though as the story took on a life of its own and I didn't want to put it down.
Sunday, September 25, 2005
I'm going to put her down for a few days as I have a few other things to catch up on. Since I hadn't been well I have done no studying. I haven't touched my French books in over a week. I intend to spend a day with them at some point this week. I might do some work on Cherry Blossom Fairy since Zohrah asked for an update. And if I am feeling up to it I might go into town to get that thread I need for the Castle. I also have a few reviews I want to do.
Wednesday, September 21, 2005
Sorry for the delay
I've been loaded with a bad cold and haven't had the energy to do anything but sleep. I'm feeling a little better now and decided to do a little work on CW. Carol asked for an update and so here she is. I didn't realise how much work I had done on her to be honest. I didn't think I had done much since my last update. The main part of her dress is done. I am now working on the top half and will also do her face before I go onto the swirls at the bottom. I am not so bothered by the shades now that I see CW starting to take shape. I know a lot of people on this stitch along started with her face and I can now see the merit in that. I think that I will do it that way on the next Celtic Lady. The only reason I started with the main part of her dress is because the colours are in larger blocks and so there are less colour changes. I promise not to leave it too long before the next update.
I also had a request for an update on The flower fairy I was stitching and I'm sorry that I have nothing to update. I have done no work on her since the last time. It's been a while since I felt the like picking up a needle and so she has been left aside. Poor bugs and the castle are also suffering because of this. Actually I can't finish the castle as I ran out of one of the threads. i thought I had plenty of it but turns out I was wrong. I just haven't had the chance to go shopping for more. As soon as I do I will make a point of finishing it.
Friday, September 16, 2005
I promised to knit this purse for my sister a while ago. I tried it out in black for a friend but thought my sister would prefer it in a different colour. So I used two shades of purple. The shiny bits in the photo are actually beads which actually cover most of the front of the purse (I know it doesn't look like it). I got a packet of odd shaped beads and used them as they were more to my sisters taste. It's a pity the beads really don't show up as they really do make a difference. I got the pattern from "Stitch n Bitch Nation."
What's your comfort book?
I don't actually have a book that I go to whenever I am feeling down. My lows don't really last long enough for that. I like the idea though and thought that maybe it doesn't have to be when you are feeling down. I think a comfort book can be one which you know you can go back and read again without being disappointed. Or when you are needing a little reassurance. I rarely go back and read books again. There are too many new things out there that I haven't read yet. That and I don't think I will ever completely get rid of my 'to be read' pile. But I decided to chose a comfort book.
My immediate thought was to chose fantasy and then I went straight to Anne McCaffrey's Pern series. So my comfort book is "Dragonflight" by Anne McCaffrey. I have always loved dragons and this was the first series of books that I read with dragons in them. When I first began reading them I hadn't been reading fantasy for that long. I really didn't know much about it. All I knew was that I wanted to read a book about dragons where they weren't evil. I was not disapointed with this. I was fascinated as soon as I began reading and devoured it. It took me about a year and a half to read the rest (with other things in between) and I am now familiar with the whole story. These books are just pure escapism which I think makes them ideal comfort books. So despite the fact that I am reading two other books I am also going to read "Dragonflight" again. I'm not feeling blue or anything. It's just thinking about what books I would chose has got me in the mood to read it again.
If anyone else has a comfort book I would love to hear it.
Wednesday, September 14, 2005
Cross Stitch Update
I haven't felt much like picking up my cross stitch in the last few weeks. However, when I saw this little guy in "Cross Stitch Card Shop" I couldn't help myself. This is one of a series of six designs but I thought he was the sweetest. The other cards were two more polar bears and three penguins. Normally when stitching Christmas cards I go for the penguins but the polar bears just seemed sweeter this time. I'm not sure if I will make the others in the series. For the moment I am happy with this one.
My mind is increasingly turning towards Christmas and I have been thinking that I had better make a start on some Christmas cards. I already have a small pile left over from last year but that needs topping up. I saw this magazine, "Cross Stitch & Beading" and couldn't resist picking it up because of all the lovely Christmas designs. They aren't all cutesy which is unusual for me but I do really like them. As well as that the magazine is just filled with designs. It doesn't have all the columns that all the others seem to have. The only downside is that it is more expensive than the other magazines so it's really only worth it if you like most of the designs. It has given me an idea of a few cards and some tree decorations. I was thinking of making a tree decoration to put in with each card that I give out to my family. I just need to begin collecting all the things that I will need to make a start.
Near the start of the year I stitched a Lion cub for a cross stitch charity. Stitchers around the world stitch squares for quilts that go to sick children. The Lion cub was for a little boy who loved wild animals. The little boy loved his quilt which he received along with two cushions. You can see the square I stitched second in from the bottom square left hand side.
Sunday, September 11, 2005
I was sent through one of the Clarinet books I ordered. I've only had a flick through it. It seems okay although I won't really know until I try it out. I need new reeds for that first. I can say for definite that it isn't as good as the one I had when I first started playing. My original had more detail in it. Believe it or not my eyes just flicked to the bottom of the bookcase. I saw my sister's old keyboard book. I had a look behind it and sure enough my old clarinet books are there. I didn't even think of looking in that bookcase as none of the books in that one are mine. Oh well, the other books still might come in handy. I am hoping the one I am waiting on will anyway as it is supposed to have a lot of theory in it.
One of the things that I studied at Uni was history. I loved my history classes although I can't remember half of them now. I regret not taking this subject later in school (although I don't regret my decision to take geography instead). I actually enjoyed studying for these classes. I loved getting the new books each term (I still have them all) and even started buying history magazines. Since leaving uni I haven't felt much like picking up a history book. I have tried but my interest hasn't really been there. I wasn't worried. I knew that I just needed a big enough gap from finishing uni to feel the need to pick up a history book again. I think it's one of those phases a lot of people go through. After reading Hillary Clintons autobiography that inclination came back. You would think that it would increase my interest in politics. It has but those descriptions of other countries won it for history. Every time she described a new place I thought "Oooooh, I should hunt out a book on that". Eventually my list became endless and I didn't know where to start. Common sense told me I should start with my own country. Shockingly we didn't study much about Scotland in school or uni. So I hunted out a book I had bought years ago "The Scottish Nation 1700-2000" by T. M. Devine. I've used it for the few essays I had to write on Scotland but never got round to reading it. This is going to be my next read. I'm not sure what it is going to be like to read so if anyone has I would be interested to hear your thoughts.
This won't affect my studying French. For a change I will just be doing some reading it won't actually be studying. I want to thank San and Ginkgo for your support. I'm afraid I don't have the confidence yet to try to reply to you in French but I will get there. And thanks for the links Ginkgo.
"Living History" by Hillary Rodham Clinton
I guess it is kind of obvious what this book is about. What surprised me about this book is that she does go into detail about her background and her childhood. She talks about her education, her beliefs and how she met her husband. She goes into more detail than I thought she would and one or two things surprised me. For example, I didn't know that she was originally Republican and that she was one of a huge team putting together a case for Nixon's impeachment. I actually knew very little about her before I began reading this but those were the two things that surprised me and interested me. I was also surprised about her family background. While not exactly poor, her parents worked hard to get to where they were as did she herself. She wasn't handed everything to her on a plate.
As expected the bulk of the book is about her time in the White House as First Lady. I enjoyed reading about the role she played as she fought for human rights and gave her husband advice. I think what I enjoyed the most though was her thoughts on all the places she visited. She gave some background history as well as her thoughts on the people she met and the things she did while in these countries. I soaked all that in and could only wonder at a life that could allow you to do that and envy her daughter who shared a lot of these experiences. I can't help but wonder what her daughter made of all of it.
I do recommend this. Not so much if you want to learn more about American Politics but if you want to see the White House from the First Lady's perspective. I don't think you have to agree with her views to enjoy it.
Wednesday, September 07, 2005
I picked up a Dummies guide to French not really sure what to expect of it. When I picked up my books I decided to go with that one since I want to start from scratch. I could always move on to others as I progress. I love this book. It explains things! It doesn't just give you lines and things to memorise it goes in to detail about why things are a certain way and gives rule to help remember them. Why couldn't they have done that in school? I am sure that I would have remembered something like that or even have done better if they had.
Explaining things is important to me. I have one of those minds that if there is no explanation then it is difficult for me to grasp. I was told many a time at school that I make things to difficult for myself. I couldn't just let things be a certain way because they just are. I needed to know why. I had many an argument with my chemistry teacher over this. He would eventually give up and shake his head as he walked away only to argue with me again in the next lesson. It would have been funny if it wasn't so frustrating.
This is why I am so excited over this book. My excitement may not last. I know what I am like when I decide to do something like this. My motivation maybe lasts a week or two at the most. And then one thing will come along which means I stop studying and I lose all incentive to start again. I need something like my realisation that I am actually a grown up now to force me into picking my books up again. And it's not that I'm not interested. I wouldn't have thought of doing this work if I wasn't. Anyway, I have explanations and rules now so maybe that will help keep my interest alive a little longer. And for those of you who are like me I recommend having a look at one of those Dummies guides.
Tuesday, September 06, 2005
"How I Live Now" by Meg Rosoff
When I first began reading this book I wasn't too impressed. I didn't like the first person style. It just seemed a little too simple. However, I still felt I had to read on and I am glad I did. When everything blows up I was hooked and had to find out what happened to Daisy and her cousins. It was then I could see why the book was nominated for so many prizes. It is a children's book but because of some of the content I would recommend it more for young adults.
"Wolf Brother" by Michelle Paver
I have read a lot of good children's books lately but this is one of the best. It is set around mans hunter gatherer period and mentions a lot of old superstitions. It deals with magic but not in a Harry Potter sense. It's exciting from page one and doesn't let up. I can see why there are talks of making a film from the book. If you are looking for something a little bit different but still like the magic theme then this is the book for you.
The second book, "Spirit Walker", is out just now but I will be waiting for the paperback. I have the first one in paperback and so I want to keep them all the same. I think most readers are like that. It's so hard to stick to though when you really want to know what happens. Not to worry, I have plenty of other things to read while I wait.
Saturday, September 03, 2005
Bit of a Catch Up
I have a feeling that this is going to be a long blog. So for the rest of this blog I will be using headings and you can skip all the parts you don't want to read. This section will be about cross stitching. As you can see I got Bugs off to a good start. Despite all those grays it has been relatively easy to stitch up. The most difficult part was organising them onto the card. I didn't know that there were so many different shades of grey. So sorting them out was a lot of fun! I did make one mistake but I was able to fix that easily. I have to admit that I did think it was a funny shade to use at the time. I just assumed it would look okay once finished. The problem was the teeth. I used the wrong shade for a tiny part of it. But it was enough to make bugs look as though he had a very nasty case of plaque. It was very close to another shade which was why there was a little mix up. Just glad I realised it. Poor Castle is still a WIP. I ran out of one of the threads and since I have been back I haven't been in a stitching mood. I will get back to it though. Everything else will be left aside until it is done.
Reading: I managed to get some reading done too. I finished Robin Cooks "The Point of Departure". My first political biography and I really enjoyed it. It gave a lot of insight into the political process and how frustrating it can be to try bring about changes. It also made a lot of good points about the media and politics. I know that the media tends to dramatise things but I didn't;t realise how much. A small disagreement between two colleagues can be expressed as a split within a party. I would definitely recommend this to anyone studying politics as I think it would have bee helpful had I been able to read this while at uni. Even if you don't agree with Cook's views I think it would be an interesting read.
I finally got round to reading "The High Lord" which is book three in Trudi Canavan's Black magician trilogy. We take up with the main character again as she is still a hostage. At the start I was expecting this to be about Sonea's escape of the High Lord and his defeat. However, it took a very unexpected and interesting twist. I don't want to give anything away so all I will say as this one turns out to follow a very different line to the others. I saw this as a good thing. While it would still have been a good read it wouldn't have been anywhere near as interesting if it hadn't. A very good fantasy trilogy which I highly recommend. I heard somewhere that because of it's popularity it was going to be re-released with the teen market in mind. I think it may prove to be just as popular there.
I also read a Star Trek novel. I don't read these as often as I used to but every now and then I like to go back to them. This one caught my attention because it was set after "Star Trek Nemesis. It is based on the crew of the Titan with Riker as Captain. This one was called "Taking Wing" and was written by Michael Martin and Andy Mangels. The Titan is meant to be a new class of explorer ship but it is unexpectedly sent to the Romulan Empire to act as a mediator between factions which are wrangling for power. I have to admit that it wasn't the story line that really caught my attention but the characters. I thought they were such a good range that I would have been happy if the book just continued with insights into this new diverse crew. It was a good quick read and I only recommend it to fans who like the idea of reading about the adventures of the Titan. There is going to be a whole series of these books and if you plan on reading them I recommend starting with this one. When you get to the end of it's obvious that they are all going to be connected.
Lastly, my interest in old school stories hasn't decreased. I have began collecting the Chalet school books. A series that never really interested me as a kid so I can't even call this nostalgia. I don't know why I have an obsession for these right now other than possibly because I have an interest in all children's books. Another reason could be that I'm really just a big kid at heart. Whatever the reason I have decided to just enjoy it. Eventually this interest will wear off and I will move onto something else. Does anyone else have an obsession or interest like this?
Music: I think that I mentioned a while ago that I was thinking of picking up my clarinet again. It has been slowly collecting dust since I left school. Every so often I think about taking it out the cupboard but I never actually do it. This feeling has become stronger of late. I'm not sure why. My recent birthday has had something to do with it. I spent it in a deep black hole of depression thinking about all the things I would like to do. Actually, that's a slight exaggeration. I did have a black mood but it lasted for only an hour. I have decided thought that I am going to do something about it. At the end of next month I am going to go into the music shop and buy some reeds and a music stand. I will also have to get some music as I have no idea where my old folder is. I doubt very much I still have it. I know that I am going to have to start from scratch again. So I am going to get a beginners book to ease myself into it and just to brush up on reading the music. It will probably be a little frustrating at first but I will stick to it and I promise I won't change my mind by the end of the month.
Since it was my birthday I treated myself to some new CD's. All new albums by Oasis, the Black Eyed Peas, Razorlight and Supergrass. The Razorlight album I had heard a few times before I bought it so I knew I liked it and I haven't listened to Supergrass yet. Oasis and the Black Eyed Peas surprised me though. I was an Oasis fan when I was at school. Most of my year group were really into them because they weren't exactly like those boy bands which seemed to be all the rage. As I mentioned in a previous post I didn't know much about music and my tastes tended to depend on what my friends liked at the time. I truly liked Oasis thought and still listen to their older albums. The last few albums I didn't bother with though. This one I bought mainly because of their current single "The Importance of Being Idle". I really like that one but was expecting that the rest of their album would follow the lines of all their old ones. However, I really enjoyed it and can see myself becoming more of a fan again. The Black Eyed Peas album surprised me for similar reasons. I was expecting it to follow the same lines of their last album which I did like. There are a lot of good tracks there and they are very different. The first song uses music from a song that was used in "Pulp Fiction" (I can't remember the name) and the second last uses music from one of Stings old songs "Englishman In New York" (I think that's the title) and even features Sting.
Michael Sheard (1940-2005)
I left this to last because I thought it was so sad. Michael Sheard died at the age of 65. I think most people will recognise him from being in something. He played a small part in "Star Wars: Empire Strikes Back". He was an Admiral killed off by Vader. He also played Hitler in "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade." Actually I remember reading a while ago that he had played Hitler more times than any other actor. But that's the only one I remember seeing and probably the funniest. He also played a few parts in Doctor Who. As someone who grew up with the kids TV show "Grange Hill" I will always remember him from his role as the scary deputy head Bronson. I don't remember most of the kids from watching the show but Bronson I will always remember.
Finally, I have caught up. I really didn't think that it would take so long. I promise I will get round to catching up with everyone's blogs and leave messages for you all.