While I was knitting …

It’s been quite a while since my last knitting-related post. I’m still working on my Bohus cardi, The Green Wood. I started knitting the sleeves after we got back from New Zealand and I can’t say that they’re going as quickly as I would like. I’ve been distracted from knitting since we got back; since the election, I’ve been making phone calls, sending emails, signing petitions, and more in hopes of keeping our new president in check. I also marched in the Women’s March on Washington (it was amaaaazing and overall a very positive experience; the only downside is that I’m an introvert, so the crowds were a little difficult for me to deal with but it was worth it!) and am keeping up with 5 activist groups on Facebook, all related to the Pantsuit Nation/Together We Will/Women’s March movement. If you’d like more info on the groups or how to pitch in, let me know!

Back to knitting and what I’ve been doing while knitting. I started the sleeves while watching new episodes of Sherlock, but instead of finding them clever and delightful, I found them repetitive and not boring, but like they’re covering the same old ground again and again. Somehow the first 2 seasons managed to make old ground fresh again; not so the last 2 seasons. In season 3, Mary Watson and Mrs. Hudson were the only characters I was watching for; now I’m left with Mrs. Hudson. Unless someone convinces me that the last two episodes of season 4 are worth it (and not just for a gander at Benedict Cumberbatch), I’m not wasting my time with watching them.

Instead, I switched to The Fall, which has been on Netflix in the US for forever. I’ve loved Gillian Anderson since the first season of the X-Files when they were first televised and she is stellar in this series. All 3 seasons of the show were compelling, although some of the characters are rather flat and predictable, and I almost wish for new seasons focused on a fresh crime/suspect.

I’ve also been reading a lot on my Kindle while knitting since I’ve been back. I borrowed A Storm of Swords from the library to take with me on vacation and finished it in the motel in Rotura (though I didn’t knit while reading it). When I got back, I borrowed A Feast For Crows and finished it the other day. Martin can be a very compelling writer, but he also gets bogged down in detail that doesn’t contribute a whole lot to the story, especially in A Feast For Crows, so I admit there were a few chapters that I skimmed (particularly one of the chapters about the commander of an Ironborn ship and bits and pieces of Cersei chapters). Thanks to free previews of HBO, I’ve watched the TV series halfway through season 6 so am just now (I think) at about the same place in the plot in both mediums, despite the divergence the series takes from the book. Arya and Brienne of Tarth are two of my most favorite characters – I suppose that’s not all that surprising.

I also bought an An Unquiet Mind to read while on vacation since it wasn’t available in my library’s digital collection. I’m 85% through the book and highly recommend it for anyone interested in bipolar disorder both from a clinical viewpoint and as a first-hand account – the author, Kay Redfield Jamieson, is a leading researcher of the disease and suffers from it herself.

I’m not sure what I’m going to read next; I keep ordering books (actual books, not Kindle books) from Amazon and have a stack of them to keep me busy, including Pema Chodron’s Start Where You Are: A Guide to Compassionate Living and Children’s Stories from the Northern Legends. I do know what I’m going to watch next, though; I’m excited to watch more of Victoria (I watched the first episode) so I can swoon more over Rufus Sewell.

While I was knitting …

This week marked the end of both season 2 of Indian Summers and season 1 of The Durrels in Corfu on Masterpiece Theater (PBS in the States). There were no surprises with either show; they both ended in a predictable happy and satisfying, though unrealistic, way. I won’t say more so I don’t give away any spoilers.

I returned to The Walking Dead this week, which has been piling up on my DVR since the premier, which I found very disturbing. I’m still not sure why the episode bothered me so much – it wasn’t any more graphic than previous gory episodes, but something about it just made the violence so raw and unnecessary – as with depictions of sex, a lot of times showing less of it is more interesting/exciting/enjoyable than laying it all out there. Anyway, having watched 2 (3?) more episodes and still not having caught up to the live broadcast, I can safely say that this season is just as enjoyable as the premier, though much less violent. Which is to say that I’m not enjoying it at all. Every season I have friends who stop watching it for one reason or another – a favorite character is killed off, the show depicted cruel treatment of dogs, something unbelievable happened; this may be my season to pitch it.

I finally had some time with Gilmore Girls yesterday. Last fall I watched the entire series on Netflix, having not watched it when it aired from 2000-2007 because I was busy holding down a full time job with two small boys, and then busy stay-at-home-momming 3 small boys during its original run. It’s fluffy, girly, surface entertainment, although all 3 of my much bigger boys got into it while I was watching it. The new mini-series definitely has all the hallmarks of the original: mostly witty dialogue, the fastest talking actors I’ve heard since movies made in the 30s-40s, the little dramas, the unrealistic turns the girls’ lives take. The only thing missing – and I’m about halfway through – is Suki/Melissa McCarthy. I know she does appear at some point, but it’s just not the same without her at the Inn, even with celebrity chef pop-ups, like Rachel Ray.

I also started reading again, and reading and knitting, which is easier to do with an e-reader. I used my Kindle to borrow A Storm of Swords (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 3) since there’s no way I’m going to get access to HBO to watch the latest season of Game of Thrones. I know the series veers away from the books on some plot points, just as The Walking Dead series changes some of what happened in the comic book, but some Game of Thrones is better than no Game of Thrones. And reading something that requires more attention than the Internet is a good thing for me and my brain to do. I only hope I can finish the book before the lending period is over; I’d forgotten how long and complex the books are.


While I was knitting …

I got to see Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them! And it was great! One of those movies that I wouldn’t mind seeing again while it’s in theaters. And also one of those movies that I didn’t knit during, mostly because I finished Henry’s hat and didn’t want to work on the Green Wood cardi – laceweight yarn on size 1.5 needles in the dark? No, thank you. So I helped my middle son demolish a large bucket of popcorn and a giant box of Junior Mints.

This week also saw the demise of our premium cable plan; too much of our monthly budget was getting munched up by the cable bill, so I had to say an abrupt good bye to all our movie channels (Showtime, Cinemax, Epix) and some of the more premium but still laden with commercials channels, like Sundance, which means I’ll have to finish watching the final season of Rectify on Netflix or Amazon Streaming.

Luckily I live in an area covered by 3 local PBS stations – Maryland Public Television, WETA (the Greater Washington DC area), WHUT (Howard University) – all with different programming schedules, and some with more than one available channel. If I can’t find something to watch on PBS, I default to Turner Classic Movies (TCM). I can’t tell you what classic movies I’ve been watching because I’ve had the TV on mainly for background noise.

I do know that Auntie Mame will be on Thursday evening; if you haven’t seen it and you can carve out some time on Thanksgiving (see what I did there?) or set your DVR or get ahold of it some other way, you should – it’s funny and heartwarming and absurd and just all-around pretty amazing – it’s possibly my all-time favorite movie. I loved it so much, I bought the book and then the biography of Patrick Dennis, the author, whose life was even more fascinating than Mame’s. However, you have to watch the 1958 version with Rosalind Russel (I tracked down her autobiography, Life is a Banquet, because of Mame too). I tried watching the 1974 musical version with Lucile Ball, Mame, and I couldn’t get through it. I really wanted to like it but Ball isn’t at her best – she was in her 60s when it was made – and Rosalind Russel just really nailed it.

I think I may have just talked myself into popping the DVD in today so I can spare my children from having to watch it again with me. Nah – just kidding: I’m still going to make them watch it with me sometime before Christmas.


The most well-known quote from Auntie Mame

While I was knitting … November 15 edition

This week, I watched all of The Crown while I was knitting. I didn’t mean to watch it all in one week, but once I got started I couldn’t stop. It’s a Netflix series and Netflix makes it very easy to binge watch, even with the “Are you still watching?” query every 3 hours or so. Claire Foy is the newly married Queen Elizabeth II and the series is supposed to follow her story to the present day, though the last episode of the first season is set in 1955ish. Standout performances for me, in addition to Claire Foy, are John Lithgow playing Winston Churchill and Jared Harris as King George VI. And I suppose Matt Smith playing Philip, but I have to say: what a jerk he was, which is probably part of the point – it took him a while to “settle down” as they say. Good news for me (and you): Netflix has ordered a second season and rehearsals have begun. Until then, I should probably watch it all again to pick up all the things I’m sure I missed in the first go.

Yesterday afternoon, I took myself to the movies for a 12:40 showing of Dr. Strange. I went to the Alamo Drafthouse, which has reserved seating with tables (really it’s a long counter) and full service, including a bar (that I don’t take advantage of) and full meals. I got coffee and fresh baked (warm!) chocolate chip cookies. The pre-show is tailored for each movie and unique to the Alamo; the pre-show for Dr. Strange had trivia, clips from other productions of the story (live action and cartoon), and more. Another great thing: they have very subtle downlighting under the tables, so that makes it easy to knit during the movie. I took Henry’s hat with me and knit about 3 inches of it in the dark.

The greatest thing of all about the Alamo: they don’t tolerate talking, texting, cell phones at all; you write your food order or your complaint about the noisy people in the next row on a sheet of paper (pen & paper provided), stick it in this slot in the table/counter so it sticks up so the waiter can see it, and voila: your wish is their command. If you make a noise complaint, the manager will boot out the offending party without a warning. Or that’s the threat anyway – I have yet to witness anyone being thrown out and everyone has been blessedly quiet, unlike most of the other local theaters.

The movie itself was good but unsurprising for the genre. Benedict Cumberbatch has an American accent, and it’s very good, but I’m used to hearing his British accent so that was kind of a let down. He’s still pretty great as an egotistical neurosurgeon turned sorcerer/dimension manipulator. Tilda Swinton is in it as well, and the main reason I wanted to see the movie – she generally chooses interesting projects to work on. And she got to keep her accent. Other standouts: Chiwetel Ejiofor as Mordo, the eye makeup on Kaecilius and his buddies, the special effects (reminiscent of Inception and Dark City), and the sassy, snappy cape cloak.

Henry's Hat
Progress on Henry’s hat 

While I was knitting … November 8 edition

Saturday, I drove to Richmond, VA with a friend and her daughter, who’s taking a class from William and Mary for gifted students. I went along to keep Becky company and hang out while her daughter was in class. I somehow forgot to knit on the way down – it was dark when we set out and I wasn’t fully caffeinated yet. But on the way home, I was on a roll with the Green Wood Cardigan so I kept knitting while we listened to Radiolab, a National Public Radio show and podcast. I’m a long-time listener and supporter of this program. It’s hosted by Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich and is “…a show about curiosity. Where sound illuminates ideas, and the boundaries blur between science, philosophy, and human experience.” Sometimes Jad and Robert get giggly with the shear joy of discovery, other times they are somber and reverential. Some of my favorite episodes:

And more. I kind of want to go back and listen to them all again! Most are safe to listen to with children, particularly the early seasons. My kids have been listening to Radiolab since 2006 when they were 9, 7, and 2. Of course, the best way to see if an episode is appropriate for your kids/family is to listen to it first.

(I’ve always been upfront about swears with my children; I sat the oldest 2 down and went through all the ones I could think of to take the mystery out of using them and then told the boys that those a grown up words. As they got older, I told them that there’s a time and place for swearing and encourage them to think twice before using a swear.)

I haven’t been watching a whole lot of TV this week, beyond keeping up with Indian Summers and the Durrels in Corfu. I’ve been reading a lot of Facebook (bad), but also am about 2/3 through The Chronology of Water. I think I could probably read it while working on the Green Wood if I figured out how to keep the book open without using my hands. The Chronology of Water is a memoir, but it’s structurally different from typical memoirs; it’s not necessarily chronological. The writer, Lidia Yuknavitch, has lead an interesting life (to say the least) and she’s a good writer.

I did go to the movies again this week. Two movies in one week! Shocking! I took Ethan and Henry to see Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children on Halloween, which I briefly wrote about last week, and then Mr. Q (my husband) and I went to see Hacksaw Ridge on Saturday. I admit I wasn’t really up for another WWII war movie, which is all I knew about it when we went into the theater, and I did drift off somewhere in the middle. The battle scenes were ho-hum (they’re not really my thing) until the critical point where Desmond Doss stays behind. I wish I had read up on Doss before seeing the movie; I would have paid more attention and been a little more patient with the plot. I’d even go see it again just to see the heroics of the only conscientious objector to ever receive the Medal of Honor (the US military’s highest honor).

While I was knitting …

Some great shows have had their season premieres in the last few weeks; notably, The Walking Dead and Rectify. I’m sure you’ve all heard of The Walking Dead, the zombie apocalypse show where, much like Game of Thrones, no character is safe. The last season ended with a cliffhanger and the premiere was brutal, probably the most brutal thing I’ve seen aside from news footage of actual war-torn countries. It was so brutal I’m wondering why I watch the show at all. What was so different about the violence in this episode that bothered me this much, nearly a week after I watched it? I’m not entirely sure, but I do know I feel taken advantage of/played/somehow complicit in what happened because I watched it happen, which is nuts because it’s a story and not real. Anyway, I don’t want to spoil the episode for anyone, so I won’t say more than this.

If you haven’t watched the first 3 seasons of Rectify, you should rectify that. (See what I did there?) Aden Young plays Daniel, a man wrongfully convicted of murder who spent 19 years on death row. The series begins as he is released based on appeals and evidence that he was wrongfully convicted, despite a (coerced) confession. Season 4 opens a couple of months after Daniel is released, just to give you an idea of the show’s timeline. I started watching the series around the same time that Making A Murderer was released on Netflix and the two compliment each other well.

I wasn’t knitting on Sunday night while I was in the car for 6 hours driving my oldest back to college, but I was listening to music for the first time in a few months. I occasionally go through periods where I don’t listen to music at all and not exercising since stopping roller derby has contributed to this. Anyway, I queued up all 7 albums that I have from Stars, one of my all-time favorite bands. The lyrics to most of their songs are a little more complex than those for the one I’m sharing, Hold On When You Get Love and Let Go When You Give It, but I love the sentiment of this – it was my theme song for 2013 & 2014.

While I was knitting …

I finally finished reading Quiet Dell by Jayne Ann Phillips and will never get back those hours of my life. I kept hoping it would improve, but it was more shmaltzy romance (with terrible dialogue) than true crime exploration. I’m really disappointed; I remember reading Machine Dreams years ago and really enjoying it. The good news about finishing this book is that now I can move on to something else … maybe Adele Blanc Sec.

While knitting short rows and lots of stockinette for my Green Wood Cardi and while experimenting on a winter hat for Henry, I explored what the PBS app on Apple TV has to offer. Aside from catching up on Indian Summers, I also discovered The Durrells in Corfu, which features the adventures of a widow who decides to move her zany family to the Greek island of Corfu in the 30s. It’s based on Gerald Durrell’s Corfu Trilogy, which I have now just added to my reading list.

After watching those 2 Masterpiece Theater shows, I should have switched to the radio or a podcast, but instead I half-watched the first 5 episodes of The BBC’s The World’s Worst Disasters, available on Netflix in the US. I really really should have switched to a something else after I began recognizing the same stock footage and same computer animations from the first episode in subsequent episodes, but I valiantly stuck with. Then my husband took over the remote and we caught up on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, which he DVRs and watches during the weekend (he travels all week & doesn’t have time/energy for weekday TV).

Oh! I almost forgot! I finished the trilogy that was the Presidential Debates! About 20 minutes from the end of the last debate on Wednesday, I got disgusted and annoyed and turned the TV off, missing Trump’s “Nasty woman” comment. Thursday I did go back and watch the missing part before reading any analysis or too many memes. I turned the TV off because one thing that I can’t stand is people interrupting each other and by that point in the 3rd debate, I’d had it with weak moderators not reining Trump in. If Trump wins nothing else during the debates or the election (IMO he can’t hold a candle to Hillary in debate and I’m hoping that’s true of the election as well), he wins for most interruptions, shoutiest shouts, and vaguest of vague ideas about how to run the country. Hillary isn’t the perfect candidate – no one is – but out of the entire field of candidates, she’s the most qualified and so, as they say, #imwithher.

(Thanks for your patience with the paragraph above; the only person I know who’s not sick of talking politics is a political reporter for a newspaper in Florida. I’ve been trying to keep that stuff off this blog and the internet in general, but I did watch all 3 debates and they did make an impression. I’ll now return to the usual and look forward to next month, when the election is over and hopefully settled.)