Friday, July 22, 2011

Free books and free books

Our regional library is constantly discarding books. The librarian takes the discarded books and shelves them for anyone to come and take. I check the stacks once or twice a week, and if she sees me, the librarian will tell me what books she's going through and discarding at the moment, like adult biographies, juvenile histories, juvenile or adult fiction, etc. Rarely do I not find at least ONE book to take home. Far too often I find an armload or two, and at times I've been known to fill my car's trunk with discarded books.

My one grief in the midst of all this biblio-largesse is that I cannot take all the discarded books. I try to find homes for them - even email other readers and homeschooling families and ask if they would like me to ship them a box or two of books. Back in the spring I shipped off several large boxes of juvenile biographies all over the country to various families. I fervently wish I had more reading friends living nearby who could help me save the books from their eventual demise in a landfill.

Since the arrival of my Kindle I have found another pleasant source of free books: the Amazon Kindle Store. Now I can pleasantly squander too much time by looking up in the Kindle Store authors of the discarded books I pick up from the library. This week from the library I brought home two books by E.F. Benson: Trouble for Lucia and Lucia's Progress. And in the Kindle Store I got (for free) Miss Mapp, Daisy's Aunt, and Queen Lucia. I found All the Books of My Life by Sheila Kaye-Smith at the library, and at Amazon I found Kaye-Smith's novel, Joanna Godden. The last discarded book I picked out was Dog Days: Other Times, Other Dogs; the Autobiography of a Man and His Dog Friends through Four Decades of Changing America by Stewart Edward White. I looked him up in the Kindle Store and hit pay dirt! White was a prolific author of travel and adventure books. (He also dabbled in some paranormal stuff, but I avoided those books.) The Forest, Arizona Nights, and Camp and Trail looked interesting enough to download.

If you have any free e-book recommendations, I'd love to know about them.

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The Gentle Art of Knitting

Two days ago my copy of Jane Brocket's latest book, The Gentle Art of Knitting arrived. I have had the best time reading it and reveling in the lovely photos and picking out future knitting and crocheting projects from the patterns included.

As with The Gentle Art of Quiltmaking, Ms. Brocket has stripped away rules and intimidating "must-do's" to make knitting and crocheting accessible to everyone who would like to create something with yarn. She emphasizes color and texture, and has written patterns for a variety of projects to showcase those elements.

This book is written to inspire and encourage knitters of every skill level, and those who would like to learn to knit.

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The perfect job for a reader

Since graduating, Jacy has interviewed for several jobs. In June she was hired to temporarily fill a position that could become permanent. The work, while not in publishing, which is what she thought she wanted to do, is within her capabilities. She likes the people she works with. She has good hours, and she's still close to home. We're praying this turns into a permanent position for her.

But the best part, in my opinion, is that when it's a slow time at work, she's allowed to read. She's allowed to read whatever she wants to read. She sits at her desk and reads. Earlier this week she told me that in the last ten days she's read three books, each with 800+ pages. And not technical manuals. (She already read all of those.) She's reading classics.

The work tempo will pick up in the fall, but for now, I think she has the perfect job.


Friday, July 15, 2011

No Time on My Hands

"I grew up on the high plains of Custer County, Nebraska, where, as a child of seven and up, I wished three wishes and dreamed three dreams. I wished that I might grow up to make the most beautiful quilts in the world, to marry a cowboy, and to look down on the top of a cloud. At the time I dreamed those dreams and wished those wishes, it seemed impossible that any of them could ever come true."
Grace McCance, her two sisters, and her parents moved to Nebraska in 1885 to homestead. They raised cattle and farmed and Grace's story of her life on the prairie is fascinating. Similar to Laura Ingalls Wilder's books, but perhaps a bit grittier, Grace's portrayal of daily life inspired me to be thankful for my life. Unlike the Ingalls family, the McCance family remained rooted in Custer County and despite hardships and adversity, they successfully homesteaded.

Over the years more children were added to the family, and all of them worked hard to help their parents. Grace's particular job was to herd the cattle all day. She would take scraps of fabric with her when any were available, and piece them together while she watched the cows. She missed a lot of school, but even so managed to catch up and take teaching courses in order to teach tiny one-room classes further out on the frontier in order to help her parents and her siblings.

On the day one of her sisters was to be married, Grace's mother had put the baby on a blanket in the yard while the family set up everything for the wedding. At one point she looked over and saw a rattlesnake on the corner of the baby's blanket, coiled and ready to strike. Grace killed the snake while her mother grabbed the baby. The wedding was postponed for a day because of something the groom had to do, so Grace's mother pointed out the spot near the house where she thought a nest of rattlesnakes was likely to be and told Grace they must kill the snakes. And without argument or discussion (I could barely even imagine this!) Grace assented and she and her mother - by Grace's account Mrs. McCance was always a small, slight and frail woman - went up on that ridge and killed 22 rattlesnakes.

Grace McCance Snyder lived from 1882 to 1982 and saw all her dreams come true. She made some of the most beautiful quilts that won prizes and were on display in quilt shows in Texas, Virginia, California, Washington, Tennessee, Louisiana, Michigan, Kansas, Colorado, Iowa, and Utah. She married a cowboy and they raised a family in Nebraska. She flew in an airplane and looked down on the top of a cloud. Grace and her daughter, Nellie Snyder Yost, wrote No Time on My Hands in 1963.


They Rang Up the Police

They Rang Up the Police is the first detective novel Joanna Cannan ever wrote, but it may be the best detective novel I've read. It definitely ranks in my top ten favorites.

This mystery was published in 1939, and introduced Inspector Guy Northeast. Mrs. Cannan went on to write only one more novel with him in it before abandoning him because, according to her daughter Josephine Pullein-Thompson, he was "too nice." Inspector Northeast is a sympathetic and likeable police officer in this story - one who never is credited by his suspects or his superiors for the information he digs up, or even for solving the case. Perhaps that's what makes it such an interesting mystery.

Guy Northeast is called in, sort of as an afterthought, to find information regarding the whereabouts of a missing middle-aged spinster who lives with her two middle-aged sisters and her elderly widowed mother. At first glance the family appears quite devoted and without secrets, but of course, that is not the case.

To tell any more might risk spoiling the story. It's worth looking hard for a copy of this book, either to buy or to borrow. Then pass it on for someone else to enjoy.


Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Staying busy

A few weeks ago I bought 60 Quick Baby Knits and the suggested yarn (Cascade 220 Superwash) so that Joan could make more cute baby things.

In between sighing for the baby's due date to hurry up and get here, Joan picked up knitting needles again and knit these little slippers. She plans to knit mitts and possibly a hat to match.

The book is full of adorable and quick projects. There are garments suitable for girl babies and boy babies, as well as many that could be for either. And the blankets are beautiful! Between the two of us, I think we'll make quite a few of the items listed in this book. Definitely worth the money spent!

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Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Fried green tomatoes

I could eat them every day. However, it's good to practice moderation in all things, so just a few times over the summer we have these and allow the rest of the lovely tomatoes to ripen.


Friday, July 01, 2011

Marley's quilt

After I finished a quilt for Jacy in May, I immediately wanted to begin another one. So Marley took the squares I'd cut for her, and she arranged them herself into a pattern she found pleasing. We looked for fabric to use on the back and I asked if she'd like to use one of her great-grandmother's sheets. My grandmother could not resist a bargain and if she found something she liked at a good price, she'd buy several and give the others away as gifts. Back in the 1970's she bought quite a few "jungle print" flat sheets, and I have some of them.

I sewed the pieces together pretty quickly, Marley chose the color thread she wanted me to quilt with, and I started quilting. I took it to the lake with me and worked on it for a couple of nights.

I'm almost half-way through the quilting, and then I'll sew up the binding and stitch our names on it and be done.

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