Just Finished Reading: A Natural History of Dragons

A Natural History of Dragons: A Memoir by Lady TrentA Natural History of Dragons: A Memoir by Lady Trent by Marie Brennan, read by Kate Reading

Date started: 8/5/15
Date finished: 8/11/15
Format: Audiobook
Series: Memoir by Lady Trent #1

I enjoyed this book, both the story and the reading, immensely.

First, let’s talk narration. Kate Reading has a wonderful voice and did a spectacular job reading this book. Yes, I am a sucker for British accents, but even so, this was a great listen. I usually listen to my audiobooks at 2x speed, which helps me get through more books first and foremost, but also helps when there is a sloooow or just bad reader. When the audiobook sounds almost normal at 2x speed, you know that is one slow reader! And if the audiobook narrator is bad? Well, at 2x speed, the experience is over all the quicker!

But this book was a pleasure to listen to and I look forward to hearing more of Reading’s readings. (heh)

Now, the story. It’s a memoir of a young lady’s early life and first years as a natural historian, written by, and with helpful insights and asides from, the lady herself as a much older, wiser woman looking back on her life. In the world of the book, dragons are real and a fascination of Isabella, the Lady Trent of the title, ever since she was a studious, inquisitive young girl.

While Isabella is a gentlewoman born into a Victorian England-like society in this alternate world, she is still headstrong and stubborn, working within, though ofttimes chafing at (and bending), the suffocating societal confines imposed on the women of her time and rank. Instead of angering her fiercely, the restrictions placed upon Isabella frustrate and annoy her more. Isabella is lucky enough for a woman of her time and bookish, curious nature to have several men–her father, her husband, and her benefactor–who support her thirst for knowledge and desire to be a scholar of dragons. (Though they sometimes do it begrudgingly or hesitantly, which irks me, but that is me not liking the repressiveness of Victorian society than the story.)

SPOILER*: The manifold mysteries of why the rock wyrms were acting so unusually by attacking people, the persistent absence of their host Gritelkin, the role of the smugglers, and the local legendary demon were interesting and resolved well. I did not foresee the reveal, which doesn’t happen often but makes me happy when it does (usually). The sudden death of Isabella’s husband made me very sad, for they were such a well-matched pair. I do love how the Earl pushes her to further her scholarship and explorations at the end of the book.

Also? The artwork on the cover is AMAZING!

I look forward to listening to the rest of the books in this series!

Check out my Goodreads page.

~b

*The spoiler text is in white, so just highlight the blank space if you want to read the spoiler text. You’ve been warned!

A Decade.

Today Mick and I celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary. A decade of memories. So here’s a look back at us over the years, 2005-2015.
I’ve spent the best and the worst years of my life with this man. And I’m thankful for all of it.
It’s been pretty damn awesome.
I love you, Mick. Happy anniversary!

Summer Solstice Weekend

This past weekend was the second weekend in a row that Mick and I spent home here in Michigan–no traveling for either of us! Yippee!

Now, don’t get me wrong. We like traveling and seeing new places. It’s just that since our trip out west for the second half of April, we’ve been going, going, going. And for homebodies like us, it can get exhausting.

So the last two weekends have been lovely times for us to rest, relax, and recharge–while still doing some fun things!

I know the title of the post refers to just this past weekend, but I wanted to talk about a few things that happened before then.

The weekend prior to the last, Mick and I were finally able to see to the new Mad Max film. And oh boy, am I glad we did! I was looking forward to seeing it based on all the positive reviews I’ve seen online, but then I held back after watching the original Mad Max for the first time earlier this month at our local theater, the wonderful Historic Howell Theater. Man does that film SUCK!!! So, after seeing that steaming pile of crap, I was hesitant to even see the new one. We waited a few weeks until finally we both were ready. I cannot recommend Mad Max: Fury Road enough. Both Mick and I agree: it is a solid action movie AND a great feminist film. Furiosa is the best and I so, so want to be friends with her. Charlize Theron knocked it out of the park. Go and see it if you haven’t. It’s a blast.

On Thursday I received a lovely package from my mother-in-law. These were its contents:

Heathered Blue Yarn Heathered Gray YarnDoes Mick’s mom know me or what? The yarn is 2-ply stocking weight wool, 4 oz and 430 yards per skein. The heathered blue looks like soft denim jeans and the heathered gray has a slight yellow tinge to it, like a bunny. The yarn has that sticky texture which makes me think it would full (or felt) nicely. I’m thinking maybe a pair of colorwork mittens is in my future.

Friday nights are pizza nights in the our household. So after Mick’s done work, we hit the gym as usual, order a pizza before leaving, then pick up our pie from Cottage Inn Pizza and head home to enjoy some delicious melted cheese and pepperoni. After our pizza dinner this week, we sat down and watched Frequencies on Amazon Prime. It’s an indie British scifi romance film in which set “frequencies” determine a person’s success in life and relationships. I went in knowing nothing and was delighted with the film. An intriguing set up leads to an unexpected twist and ends well, if a bit confusingly. We both liked it.

So, now to this past weekend! The weather has definitely turned summery here in southeast Michigan, nice and sunny and warm. Though as I type we are having one heck of a thunderstorm, complete with sideways driving rain, thunder, and lightning. I am very happy to be inside, thank you very much.

With the change in weather and the time of year, Mick and I had been wanting to go berry picking. We haven’t been strawberry picking before, which is crazy since we both love those bright red delicious berries. So when Saturday morning rolled around sunny and bright, with no impending rainstorms called for (Michigan weather, unlike the weather back East where we’re from, is HIGHLY changeable and seems so weird to me), we set out to Spicer Orchards up in Fenton, about a half an hour drive away. Spicer’s is where we went apple picking last autumn when we first moved here.

Strawberry PickingAfter I got over a bit of grumpiness from loads of families with small children (crowds of people shorten my fuse to nothing; it’s just how I am, I’ve learned), we had a lovely hour or so hunched over rows of lush green plants, giving our hamstrings and Mick’s back something to complain about later. But what a haul, no? It was lovely and the strawberries we got are not only yummy but very photogenic!

It was with a happy stomach I headed off to my fairly new part-time job as a substitute reference librarian at our local library, the Howell Carnegie District Library. I spent the rest of  Saturday happily manning the reference desk. It is so nice to work in a library again, let me tell you. I enjoy helping people for the few hours I am there and it gives me a great mental boost.

We ended Saturday with our usual couple hours of TV watching before reading in bed. Our current show we’re binge-watching is Fringe. Mick watched it by himself several years ago, but I never had the urge to watch it. Until now. In fact, we just finished the first season last night. And I am enjoying it greatly, though I do yearn to watch the third season of Orphan Black, our binge-watch show before Fringe.

Early Sunday morning we headed out to the big cinema in Brighton to see the newest Jurassic Park sequel. We got to see the original Jurassic Park back in January at the Howell Theater I mentioned earlier and it was wonderful. This newest movie, Jurassic World, was decent. Sure, it had issues, but it was still so much better than the previous two sequels. Chris Pratt was enjoyable and funny, as one expects, and all the callbacks to the original film were great. Neither Mick nor I can get the John Williams theme out of our heads. Boy, could that man write a film score or what?

Since we had just seen a movie the previous weekend, we couldn’t help but compare the two. And while Jurassic World was a fun action flick, Mad Max: Fury Road was far, far better.

The best part about seeing Jurassic World? I got to wear my new Woot shirt.

Clever Girl Raptor Shirt

Is that a freaking awesome shirt, or what?!

Then Sunday afternoon we went for a long walk at the not-to-far-away Highland State Recreation Area. We spent a couple of hours getting some good exercise and soaking up the sunlight of Summer Solstice.

Thistle BloomThistle Bloom ClosedSome of the thistle blooms along the path were showing off or just waiting to make their grand entrance.

Summer WalkIt was a lovely day.

Not only was yesterday Summer Solstice, but it was also Father’s Day. I am one lucky lady to have several loving fathers in my life.

Mom and Andy My step-father-in-law Andy always has a silly or dirty (sometimes both) joke to make you laugh and groan. Here he is with my lovely yarn-gifting mother-in-law at her birthday dinner last summer. They’re a great pair.

Pop S and Me SelfieThis is the first selfie my Pop Pop S ever took. He is a great big surly burly man, so I was very proud to get this pic with him. He always calls me “bum.” What a charmer. 🙂

Pop H and Me SelfieMy Pop Pop H is a character. I get my height and humor from him. He has now shrunk to be shorter than me, so he’s stopped using his joke “How tall are you now? [wait for response] I didn’t know they stacked shit that high!” Because for several years now I have been able to reply, “Sure you did, Pop. You were once this tall!” Whenever we can on our visits, we have Sunday breakfast with him and my dad.

Rebel BudMy brother Isaiah is a wonderful role model for his children, obviously. Ha! All kidding aside, Bud is father to my two favorite little girls in the whole world. He works his ass off to provide for them and his wife Ashley. And he’s a good bro, too.

Daddy and BudI love this picture of Bud and our dad horsing around a few Christmases ago. Both good dads. Both a bit silly.

Daddy and Me SelfieAnd the man himself. My dad is one cool dude. Check out that beard, for Pete’s sake! (And yes, I stole my Pop’s hat. hehe) I love my Daddy so much. He is dependable and tough, a survivor and a joker. You don’t cross him when he’s mad, but you can go to him for comfort when you’re crying. That’s my Daddy-o.

Daddy LaughingThis is one of my all-time favorite pictures of my father. I snapped this back in April. He’s got a great laugh.

I hope you had a great weekend too!

~b

 

WIP: The Brighter, the Better

I’m still alive, who knew? Well, if you read this, you may not have since it’s been *gasp* over two months since I last posted.

Damn.

Not much I can say to excuse the absence. Sure, we were traveling the last half of April, then I started a new part-time sporadic job as a substitute reference librarian. My birthday came around right after that, then my parents visited and boy was THAT a memorable weekend but not in a good way, unfortunately. While the dust was still settling from that infamous Memorial Day weekend, we had to travel again for a friend’s wedding, and for the last couple of weeks things have been stressful while we try to procure our first home. Shew.

Makes me tired even thinking about it all!

All through it, though, I have been knitting, with a teeny tiny bit of cross stitch thrown in. So let’s get on with WIP Wednesday, shall we?!

Blackberry Jam Socks
Current Status: STILL just need to weave in the ends.

Yes, I know. Weaving in ends is my downfall.

Mountain Troll Socks
Current Status: Just need to weave in the ends.

Since I last gave a WIP update, I finished knitting the second sock. But, shocker, these guys have been languishing in the “weave in ends” pile along with the Blackberry Jam Socks for a loooong time. I’ll get around to them, promise.

Storm II Cross Stitch
Current Status: Still working on the third color, gray, of the design.

I haven’t touched this project for two months before laying down a few rows of stitches yesterday. And the gray part is the largest. I’ll keep chipping away at it, stitch by stitch.

Interlude
I haven’t completely fallen off the knitting wagon, as I mentioned earlier. In fact, in the last two months I finished a pair of socks–the ones I started and brought with me for our trip out West–and a cabled hat for this winter. You didn’t get to see my in-progress shots, because I was a lazy blogger, but I assure you they are done. I hope to write FO posts about them. We’ll see when that happens.

SoCal Biellese Shawl
Current Status: Ruffle done, one of 7 body repeats done!

SoCal Biellese ShawlSee?! I’m been knitting! In fact, I picked up this yarn and pattern at local yarn shops in San Diego. So, while the pattern is called Biellese, I have added SoCal to my project’s name since it is my Southern California souvenir knit. The yarn is Baah! Yarn La Jolla in California Poppy (orange) and Pink Tourmaline. It’s wonderfully bright and lovely to work up. I bought the orange at The Grove at Juniper and 30th in San Diego proper and the pink plus the pattern at the lovely Needlecraft Cottage in La Jolla. The owner, Liz, was extraordinarily helpful and patient with my choice paralysis when confronted by all the gorgeous shades of the locally-dyed Baah! yarns.  I think I chose well and I will enjoy having this vibrant shawl to remind me of our time in San Diego.

I still have a ways to go with this shawl, but it’s interesting to knit and luckily, with its construction, it just keeps getting smaller as I go. Win win!

My Hair
Current Status: Still short and with purple tips in the front.

Last time I shared a picture of my hair, Mick had just dyed the whole of it purple for me. Well, as is the way with Manic Panic, it washed out over time in the unbleached parts and faded to light blue in the bleached front tips.

For the wedding we headed to at the end of May in New Orleans, I redyed the tips to a lovely deep purple again.

Brandi's Giddiness

I’m super happy because we had just spent over 3 hours at the house we want to buy and the home inspection went really well!

This was last Thursday and it’s still looking good. The very ends of the purple have faded to a neat blue, giving it a nice ombre.

So that’s it for this WIP Wednesday, dearies! I’ll share more about what’s been happening with me besides my craft projects (and hair) when I have time. Till then, TchĂĽssie!

~b

Just Finished Reading: Trigger Warning

Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and DiscoveriesTrigger Warning: Short Fictions and Discoveries written and read by Neil Gaiman

Date started: 4/6/15
Date finished: 4/10/15
Format: Audiobook

Another enjoyable Gaiman book, read by Gaiman himself. I do so love that man’s voice. And his words, too.

There are 24(!) stories in this, Gaiman’s third collection of short stories. Here’s the list and my impressions of them. Enjoy!

0. Introduction

This is not one of the stories, of course, but it is a rather lengthy introduction as introductions–outside of academics texts–go. Gaiman put effort and thought into telling us about the title and the stories coming up. I enjoy, as he does too according to the intro, learning about from whence authors’ stories come, the history behind the tale, inspiration and writing them, and all that. In one of the six (believe it was six, many more) parts of this introduction, Gaiman goes through each story, one by one, and tells a bit about it: why he wrote it, what inspired it, what had been going on in his life at the time of the writing, what happened after the story was done, etc. A wonderful introduction that really geared me up for the enjoyable listen to follow.

1. Making a Chair

This short poem about writing caught me off guard, as, while I listened on my flight home from Easter on Monday, I didn’t realize the introduction had ended and the collection had begun.

2. A Lunar Labyrinth

This reminded me very much of American Gods, with the odd, quirky local tourist attraction and the creepy darkness twisted in.

3. The Thing About Cassandra

I loved Gaiman’s description in the introduction about where this story sort of started. I enjoyed listening to this story. It felt very real, which is sort of ironic once you know how it ends. The twist–and of course, there is a twist–was just that: it twisted the heck out of my perception and assumptions about the world of this story. And I LOVE that. That is just what speculative fiction, good speculative fiction, should do. And once it happened, I wondered, a bit shamefacedly I must admit, at the ease into which I can be lulled to accepting things as they are presented and how readily I do so.

This story reminded me not to assume, not to take things at face value, not to be complacent–even when absorbing entertaining fiction, or maybe more especially then–and to question things, reality, preconceptions and assumptions–to realize I am assuming and forming preconceptions–and never stop.

Quite a lot from a short story. Well done, Mr. Gaiman.

4. Down to a Sunless Sea

This, along with the #23 of the collection, I have heard before from Gaiman’s own mouth at his and his wife Amanda Palmer‘s event “An Evening with Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer” at Bard College several years ago. Dark and sad.

5. “The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains . . .”

I have heard this one elsewhere, yet I cannot remember when or why or how. The reveal was new yet familiar.

A tale of revenge.

6. My Last Landlady

Starts out all fine and normal-seeming, then turns dark and brutal, though I expected it.

7. Adventure Story

Fabulous events are retold in this tale but in such a quiet, almost mundane matter-of-fact way that this story delightfully surprised me.

8. Orange

I wasn’t quite sure what was happening at first in this story. When I clued in that it was a list of answers to a questionnaire about a very odd event, I just sat back and enjoyed the unfolding of the tale in this unique format.

Some of the answers made absolutely no sense without their accompanying questions, but that’s ok. I enjoyed this one anyway. Quite amusing at times.

Highly recommended for listening to mean you are in the midst of mindless yet strenuous heavy labor. (At the time I was loading up carts full of heavy books and boxes in preparation for the local history archives where I volunteer to clear out of its basement room for two-months of renovations to the space. About 3 1/2 hours of sweaty work with some great entertainment courtesy of Mr. Gaiman, thankyouverymuch.)

9. A Calender of Tales

I was on Twitter watching as Gaiman solicited and received story ideas for this project he had undertaken in part with Blackberry a few years ago. It was great to finally hear the results of that kinda zany project. Some of the stories, each based on a month of the year, were too abrupt, some too unformed, but I am happy I experienced them all.

10. The Case of Death and Honey

This is a Sherlock Holmes story. I love Sherlock Holmes and Doyle’s original tales. I am not usually a fan of the knock-off stories, though I love the BBC’s Sherlock, want to read the much-lauded Laurie R. King‘s Mary Russell books, and I enjoyed this story. Perhaps I am just being too snobbish and would love the knock-offs. Same thing goes for my much-beloved Jane Austen, though I have tried it for her and found some BIG stinkers which put me off. Also I fear that, were I to start reading them, I may never stop. Good or bad, I don’t know.

This story starts in one place, goes back to another, and returns again. I liked it and I felt Gaiman didn’t get Sherlock wrong.

SPOILER*: If anyone could figure out how to thwart old age and death, it would be the inimitable Dr. Holmes, would it not?

11. The Man Who Forgot Ray Bradbury

This story embodies that whole problem you can get when you remember everything about a story, down to the very minutest detail, and yet cannot, for the life of you, recall the author’s name. This has not happened to me much; my memory has mostly been excellent. But I am starting to feel the touch of time on it and I fear this will happen more and more, so much so that its occurrences will be more frequent than not.

In the intro, Gaiman tells us that Ray Bradbury was read this story in his sick bed and liked it. How cool is that?

12. Jerusalem

A very odd little story about a couple who went on vacation in Jerusalem. SPOILER*: The wife contracts “Jerusalem Syndrome” and becomes a sort of prophet.

13. Click-Clack the Rattlebag

It took me longer than I would have liked to see the end of this one coming. I was touched with how the sister’s boyfriend was himself touched by the trust and quick intimacy the young boy shows him. It resonated with me, for I am often struck my the marvel that is the closeness and love I have for my young nieces and their unafraid loving and caring. SPOILER*: Of course, it’s a Neil Gaiman story, so it was all a ruse. But still, the emotions felt real.

14. An Invocation of Incuriousity

Like the Sherlock tale, this story starts somewhere, jumps to another, but, unlike in “The Case of Death and Honey,” it does not bounce back and forth a bit, but stays in this different place and time until the very end.

Yes, I was confused. I got caught up in the seemingly separate second story, only remembering halfway through that where this tale had begun. It made me wonder where the heck it was all going.

I loved how imaginative this story was. I expected different from it, I’m not sure how, but I was happy with what I received instead. A very good example of Gaiman’s work.

15. “And Weep, Like Alexander”

The title of the story gave me nothing to go on when I tried to figure out how this story was going to go. It’s about a marvelous type of person Gaiman invented: an uninventor. Yes, this guy’s job is to unmake things. SPOILER*: I love this as an answer and explanation from Gaiman on why we do not have all the wonderful inventions, like hover cars and rocket packs, that science fiction has promised us. A lovely story with some social commentary in there.

And yes, you do find out why it’s called that.

16. Nothing O’Clock

A Doctor Who story! A few months ago I wouldn’t have cared and may even have skipped this one. I’ve read a few spin-offs novels and stories based on my favorite TV programs, but mostly I stay away because the experience is hit or miss and has averaged out as unsatisfying for me overall.

BUT! My husband Mick and I had decided to pick up with Doctor Who again in the second half of last year.

We had watched the new series with Chris Eccleston as the Ninth Doctor when the series was first rebooted back in 2005 and liked it ok (me better than him). Then David Tennant came in for the second season and we both gave up, unimpressed by his extreme silliness and not getting over the loss of Our Doctor.

I (though not Mick) eventually warmed up to the Tenth Doctor, but by then, we were almost finished with his seasons. I loved Donna; I am not particularly happy with any romance, whether hinted at, unrequited or what, between the Doctor and his companions. Perhaps I just bought too heavily into Rose and the Doctor.

ANYWAY!

We started watching the Matt Smith, Eleventh Doctor first season with some trepidation. We had heard it was different under the new showrunner Steven Moffat and that the Doctor was *gasp* hipster. Well, both are true.

And, much to both of our surprises and delight, we found that we REALLY LIKED Doctor Who now! Matt Smith is my favorite of the doctors. We are now close to the end of his run, however. I fear I cannot keep my impending sadness at bay much longer.

This is all prelude to saying that I really enjoyed listening to this Doctor Who story. I was unexpectedly pleased to find how delighted I was to listen to a new tale about the Doctor, Amy, and the new odd and threatening escaped prisoner Gaiman created. Silliness–but not too silly–charm, heart, cleverness, and all that one would expect from a Doctor Who story.

I am even now thinking of checking out some of the Eleventh Doctor novels I scoffed at when I saw them on the shelf of our local library. Fancy that.

17. Diamonds and Pearls: A Fairy Tale

A very short modern-and-yet-not fairytale reminiscent of Cinderella in that is shows the virtue of a good, kind step-daughter and a selfish, self-absorbed daughter. A bit abrupt. The good daughter is named Amanda, like Gaiman’s wife. I do not know if he wrote this before or after they got together and if this was intentional or not. Just wanted to throw that out there.

18. The Return of the Thin White Duke

This story felt like an epic space opera–or at least, what comes after the end of an epic space opera. It is touching and then so very surreal. I almost thought I had missed something and started listening to a new story right near the end of the story I had been listening to. I also loved seeing David Bowie as the Duke in my head.

And the memory bugs and snake were neat.

19. Feminine Endings

This story starts out odd and I thought I knew what was up a bit, as the tale unfolded and new layers were revealed. Ultimately dark and disturbing. I kept thinking of how Amanda Palmer, Gaiman’s wife, once made money as a living statue and of the Weeping Angels from Doctor Who. CREE-PY!

20. Observing the Formalities

A prim and proper Maleficent sort of tells us why she does what she does. At least I think it is a Maleficent type character. I hope so, as I prefer this one to Angelina Jolie’s.

With this fairytale like short story right before the next also fairytale story, I got the impression that this was the prelude to the next tale. Odd.

21. The Sleeper and the Spindle

I very much enjoyed this fairytale mash-up of Snow White and Sleeping Beauty. Snow White has agency, can kick ass, and doesn’t settle for her fairytale ending. Sleeping Beauty’s fate is much grimmer and her Maleficent trickier though still ultimately defeated in this tale. I really liked this one. I also enjoyed the non-goofiness of the dwarves.

22. Witch Work

Another poem, this time about a powerful witch and the cool-ass magic she sells.

23. In Relig Odhrain

As I mentioned earlier, I heard Gaiman recite this in person at Bard College a couple of years ago. Creepy and sad, just like saints and religion. Or is that just me?

24. Black Dog

Shadow, the protagonist who is put through hell in American Gods, is finally back! In this long story, the man finds himself in rural England and uncovers something dark and strange there. And good ol’ Bast makes a cameo of sorts.

Dark and creepy and disturbing, conjuring up The Hound of the Baskervilles, ancient magic and evils with dash of wonderful and dark historical facts all blended with the modern and deranged.

Perfect.

Check out my Goodreads page.

~b

*The spoiler text is in white, so just highlight the blank space if you want to read the spoiler text. You’ve been warned!

Just Finished Reading: Bitter Brew

Bitter Brew: The Rise and Fall of Anheuser-Busch and America's Kings of BeerBitter Brew: The Rise and Fall of Anheuser-Busch and America’s Kings of Beer by William Knoedelseder, read by Peter Berkrot

Date started: 3/30/15
Date finished: 4/6/15
Format: Audiobook

I listened to this audiobook as part of my county’s Livingston Reads 2015.

I wouldn’t have picked this book up to read on my own (especially since I don’t even drink Anheuser-Busch’s beers), which is why I decided to participate in the Livingston Reads–to stretch my reading muscles and go outside my normal.

This book was very interesting. Here’s a random bullet list of things I learned from and thought about the book, in no particular order.

  • I always find it fascinating in a kinda horrific way to hear about the lives of the very rich and often morally bankrupt. When it came down to the most recent scion of the Busch family to man the helm of AB, August Busch IV (called simply the Fourth in the book), boy was I rewarded–in the way that a flaming bag of dog shit on your doorstep is a kind of reward. I didn’t know about the scandals piled up around this privileged and decadent heir to the Budweiser legacy. I appreciated the sort-of comeuppance the Fourth received when he eventually drove the company so far into the ground that only a buy-out by the mega-corp InBev could save him.
  • AB’s name comes from Anheuser, the last name of the guy who owned the struggling brewery in St. Louis back in the 1800s, and Busch, the surname of the guy who married Anheuser’s daughter and turned the brewery into a successful business.
  • Budweiser gets its name from the light lager brewed in Budweis, Germany, and called “Budweiser.” Busch introduced this style of beer after encountering it on one of his travels in his homeland.
  • The 20th-century Busches who ran AB all seemed to be burdened with an over-abundance of arrogance, suspicion, determination, and some staggering control issues, save for the Fourth.
  • The reason the amusement park I loved as a kid, Busch Gardens in Virginia, had a German-themed restaurant with some of the best red cabbage I have even eaten, was because the Anheuser and Busch families all hailed from Germany originally.
  • I had never heard of the beer called Schlitz before listening to this book, but my father and grandfather sure have.
  • It astonishes me the amount of wealth the rich had at their direct disposal before INCOME TAX ever existed. Imagine the infrastructure the country would have had years and YEARS before it came into effect. Busch, Rockefeller, Carnegie. The mind boggles.

Overall, I liked this book. I enjoyed getting a glimpse of how a huge company evolved over its 150+ years of operation. I think I would enjoy reading/listening to more books like this one.

Also, on a technical note, I found I could listen to this book at 1.5 speed without it being too jarring or anxiety-inducing, as can sometimes happen for me.

Check out my Goodreads page.

~b

WIP: New Colors All Around!

Back to back WIP Wednesdays, eh? Well, I would have had a book review for you in there, but I got lazy and didn’t port over my Goodreads review of my latest read. Also, the Overdrive version of the audiobook I was listening to just CUT OFF THE END OF THE BOOK! I was super surprised by that. A character was mid-sentence, for Pete’s sake!

What does all of this have to do with WIP Wednesday, you ask? Nothing, unless you count this blog as a WIP, which I do, thank you very much. So there was a bit of behind-the-curtain info. Aren’t you a lucky duck for that peek, eh?

Now on with the show!

Blackberry Jam Socks
Current Status: Still just need to weave in the ends.

‘Nuff said.

Don’t look at me like that. I told you I didn’t like weaving in ends. Moving on.

Storm II Cross Stitch

The red is done!Current Status: Finished the second of four colors, moved on to the third. *happy dance*

The red portion of this design went by in a flash. ZOOM! And now I am on to the gray.

Two days ago, after the weird audiobook cut-off debacle, I started to listen to Bitter Brew: The Rise and Fall of Anheuser-Busch and America’s Kings of Beer by William Knoedelseder as part of my county’s Livingston Reads 2015. I wouldn’t have picked this book up to read on my own (especially since I don’t even drink AB’s beers), which is why I think things like the Livingston Reads is a cool idea. I like to read/listen to books in general, so why not try something different for a change?

I bring all of this up, because the red, black, and white of my project at the above point in its progress just is so unexpectedly fitting with the Anheuser-Busch branding.

Adding gray to the cross stitch mix.

It’s an odd yellowy gray, don’t you think?

The majority of the design is gray fill. So it will be a while till you see the next, and final, color of white enter the pictures here on WIP Wednesdays.

Start of the gray long haulThe gray has begun. Any parts still un-stitched will be white in the end. Oops, should have said spoiler alert, huh? But you’re smart people, I’m sure, and can figure out that with only one color left after this one is done, all the blank bits will be in that last color, right? Right. Of course you did. Clever you. I love clever people.

And once again, moving on!

Mountain Troll Socks
Current Status: Finished the first sock’s foot, now time for the afterthought heel placeholder.

Foot done.

Men with their big feet. AMIRITE?!

I’ve finished knitting the foot part of the first sock. I think. I need my guinea pig grateful recipient to try it on one of his monstrously huge feet* to make sure I’ve got the heel placement down. The recipe I am following for these toe-up afterthought heel socks suggests knitting in the placeholder yarn approximately 2″ from the end of the foot. It worked out well for my own Blackberry Jam socks. So, based on my rounds per inch gauge and the measurements I made of Mick’s foot, this should be the sweet spot for the heel. I hope to know as soon as I get the knitted bit on his foot!

Once I am sure I got the length of the foot right, I will knit in the waste yarn which acts as the placeholder for the heel and wing my way around the leg and ribbed cuff. We’re flying back to see my family in Pennsylvania for the holiday weekend tomorrow, so I will have some good knitting time on the plane rides, accompanied by my audiobook, of course!

*Mick’s feet are perfectly normal-sized for a man his height. They just SEEM really long when I knit things to cover them, is all.

My hair
Current Status: Short and PURPLE!!!

While only technically a WIP, my hair–both cut and color–are ever-changing and it just went through a big change, so I’m tellin’ you ’bout it.

Just in time for Easter, it’s a new hair color! And of course, it’s PURPLE!!

Deep Purple Dream

Boy, is it hard to capture the color right. Sometimes it looks red, sometimes magenta, sometimes very purple.

Mick dyed my hair for me last night. The dye took really well to not just my bleached blonde bits, but also the rest of my natural light brown hair. Sweet! (Here’s what my hair looked like before last night.) The color is Manic Panic’s Deep Purple Dream, a pot of which he gave me for Christmas. What a swell guy he is, huh?

Mick Photobomb!

Wonderful photobomb, sweetie.

Yep, he’s a keeper. ^_^

~b