Wednesday, February 26, 2014

A Little Night Music - Kristine Kathryn Rusch

A Little Night Music - Kristine Kathryn Rusch
A Little Night Music
Kristine Kathryn Rusch
WMG Publishing
Copyright: February 20, 2014

The product description:
Andrew has problems fitting in. But for a change, he’d like to stand out for something he does well. If only the adults in his life will let him.  
Another one of Kristine Kathryn Rusch's short stories. This one's shorter than most (Amazon lists it as being only nine pages long), but extremely beautiful and thought provoking. I'm just not too sure what I can say without spoiling it, aside from "I really think you should read this".

I certainly enjoyed reading A Little Night Music, and will probably read it again.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Teaching myself to knit

I've decided, after several years now of crocheting that it's time to teach myself to knit. Mainly because I want to knit socks (Thanks Elizabeth Moon for constantly posting those progress reports on your blog, it's extremely inspiring). Not to mention the numerous other beautiful patterns I keep seeing. This is no slur against crochet. From the moment I first tried crocheting, it felt right, and I plan to keep it up.

Anyway, I've tried learning to knit at least twice before - once as a kid, and once again in the last ten years or so (after I started spinning). The last time I gave it a very brief try was last year - didn't even go a day before giving up.
This time though, I'm going with a different book. Last time it was the Dummies knitting book, but this time I'm going with one that a former co-worker recommended several years ago: the Stitch'n'Bitch Knitters Handbook. At the time, the store didn't have it in, but did have the Crochet book, so I went with that with quite a bit of success.

The recommendation was backed up today by the two workers at my local yarn store, so I decided to go for it. Enough talk about learning to knit, it's time to actually go through with teaching myself.

So, I'm working on trying to remember how to cast on. Which I seem to have succeeded at, although right now it's driving me a bit nuts (second try). First try ended up too tight, and I have the feeling that the second try is going to do the same thing. I'd go to a larger needle set, but I'm working from a miscellaneous collection gifted to me from a couple of different sources. As a result, I've got a lot of fine and medium (many of which have no size markings) and then it jumps to quite a bit larger. Guess I might end up doing some poking around at the Salvation Army Thrift Store next time I'm there.

Of course, that issue doesn't help with the bad habit of the loop I'm working with slipping off the needle every now and again - usually taking the next stitch with it too, which slows me down even further.

Still, I'm remembering how to cast on, which makes me happy as the only method at the beginning of the book is the one I've been told is the long-tail cast on: Debbie Stoller calls it the double cast on.

Reflecting on Droplets

Or, I've been playing with photography again. This time, thanks to the snowy weather over the last few days, combined with sunshine today, I've been having some fun with my macro lens. These two photos are the best of the resulting shots.
The above photo was taken yesterday while it was still snowing.

What a difference the sun makes. Both shots might have been even better had I been using a tripod instead of merely hand-holding the camera, but I'm happy enough with them for now - a.k.a. I'm too lazy to want to take my tripod out in foot deep snow and then have to clean it up again.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Cute Cats

I've been on a bit of a humor/cat photography book kick of late. For the sake of my (and your) sanity, I'm just going to group the books I'm referring to here in one post. I just don't think there's enough to them to be able to do them justice in solo reviews. At the same time, I still want to say something about them.

Cat's Cradle
Cat's Cradle
Ron Spillman, Jack Ramsay, Paul Dehn
Copyright: 1961

An oldie and a goodie. I've been reading this one for years now - it was given to my Mom when she was young. Every time I read it, it brings a smile to my face - especially now when I've had two kittens (now cats). The antics that the kitten and puppy get into in Cat's Cradle are exactly the kind of things I found Maddie and Jenny doing when they were kittens (and still do to some extent, though it's less cute now they've grown up).

The black and white photographs in here are sure to bring a smile to any cat-lover's face, as is the text, although some of the references are a bit dated.


Ernie: A Photographer's Memoir - Tony Mendoza
Ernie: A Photographer's Memoir
Tony Mendoza
Chronicle Books
Copyright: 2001

The product description:
Ernie: A Photographer's Memoir was first published by a small Santa Barbara press in 1985. By all accounts, Ernie was a phenomenon, selling an estimated 100,000 copies. Photographer Tony Mendoza had captured the mercurial character of that irascible, self-possessed, utterly lovable cat, telling the curiously moving story of their relationship in the voices of both himself and Ernie. Our beautifully produced hardcover edition of this classic tale is poised to charm legions of new readers. Featuring never-before-published pictures, and a few more private thoughts from Ernie himself, Ernie is sure to steal hearts all over again.
Another of Mom's books, and another one that will bring a smile to any cat-lover's face. The photos in this book are amazing and yet again you'll see your own cat in Ernie. The dual perspectives in the book are amusing too, as the text is a combination of Tony Mendoza and the thoughts of Ernie, the cat.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Centaur Photomanipulation

On occasion I like to post my attempts at either photography or photomanipulation to my blog. In recent months, it's been more photomanipulation than photography, and I realized I hadn't yet posted my most recent attempt.

In A Hurry by Endaewen on deviantART

To be honest, I'm not completely happy with how this one turned out. On the other hand, I'm not too experienced with blending yet, so next time should work out a bit better. I know I need to work on getting the lighting of the two images to blend a bit better in the future.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Dragonflight - Anne McCaffrey

Dragonflight - Anne McCaffrey
Anne McCaffrey
Ballantine Books
Copyright: 1968

The blurb:

To the nobles who live in Benden Weyr, Lessa is nothing but a ragged kitchen girl. For most of her life she has survived by serving those who betrayed her father and took over his lands. Now the time has come for Lessa to shed her disguise—and take back her stolen birthright.

But everything changes when she meets a queen dragon. The bond they share will be deep and last forever. It will protect them when, for the first time in centuries, Lessa’s world is threatened by Thread, an evil substance that falls like rain and destroys everything it touches. Dragons and their Riders once protected the planet from Thread, but there are very few of them left these days. Now brave Lessa must risk her life, and the life of her beloved dragon, to save her beautiful world. . . .
The Dragonriders of Pern - Anne McCaffreyDragonflight is the first book in the Dragonriders of Pern trilogy. The sequels are Dragonquest and The White Dragon, all three of which are gathered together in the Dragonriders of Pern omnibus edition.

To be honest, I was trying to read the whole trilogy - it's only the omnibus edition that I own, but I stalled out again on Dragonquest, even though I really enjoyed my re-read of Dragonflight and I want to re-read The White Dragon. I think it's something about the omnibus edition making me feel as though I have to read all three at once rather than take breaks for other books in between. So. I'm treating the three as separate books this time around.

My re-read was inspired by reading the book of tributes to Anne McCaffrey: Dragonwriter. As a result of that read, I was noticing a lot more of some of the elements of the story - especially the lyrics at the beginnings of each chapter as well as descriptive and character elements.

This is definitely a trilogy that's stood up well to the test of time, I have to say: the original copyright for Dragonflight is 1968 and there's nothing about it that feels dated almost fifty years later - at least not that I noticed. A couple of quirky things that contradict later canon, but I think you almost have to be looking for them to notice them though.

Despite my trouble at the moment with continuing on in my read to the next book, I definitely enjoyed re-reading Dragonflight and would recommend it easily.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Dragonwriter: A Tribute to Anne McCaffrey and Pern - Todd McCaffrey
Dragonwriter: A Tribute to Anne McCaffrey and Pern
Editor: Todd McCaffrey
Smart Pop Publishing
Copyright Date: August 2013

The product description:
When Anne McCaffrey passed in November 2011, it was not only those closest to her who mourned her death; legions of readers also felt the loss deeply. The pioneering science fiction author behind the Dragonriders of Pern® series crafted intricate stories, enthralling worlds, and strong heroines that profoundly impacted the science fiction community and genre.

In Dragonwriter, Anne’s son and Pern writer Todd McCaffrey collects memories and stories about the beloved author, along with insights into her writing and legacy, from those who knew her best. Nebula Award–winner Elizabeth Moon relates the lessons she learned from Pern’s Lessa (and from Lessa’s creator); Hugo Award–winner David Brin recalls Anne’s steadfast belief that the world to come will be better than the one before; legendary SFF artist Michael Whelan shares (and tells stories about) never-before-published Pern sketches from his archives; and more.

Join Anne’s co-writers, fellow science fiction authors, family, and friends in remembering her life, and exploring how her mind and pen shaped not only the Weyrs of Pern, but also the literary landscape as we know it.

Contributors include:

• Angelina Adams
• David Brin
• David Gerrold
• John Goodwin
• Janis Ian
• Alec Johnson
• Georgeanne Kennedy
• Mercedes Lackey
• Sharon Lee and Steve Miller
• Lois McMaster Bujold
• Elizabeth Moon
• Charlotte Moore
• Robert Neilson
• Jody Lynn Nye and Bill Fawcett
• Robin Roberts
• Elizabeth Ann Scarborough
• Wen Spencer
• Michael Whelan
• Richard J. Woods
• Chelsea Quinn Yarbro
From the time I first heard about this book - probably last August or September, I knew I wanted to read it. Probably not for quite the same reasons that other readers may have jumped on the book when it came out though. I wanted to read it mostly for the essays by Mercedes Lackey and Elizabeth Moon, two of my favorite authors.

However, on finishing my read of Dragonwriter, I have a new appreciation for Anne McCaffrey and her books - as well as a burning desire to do some re-reading, including those books I don't own, such as The Ship Who Sang, which a lot of the writers in this book were writing about (including the above-mentioned essay by Mercedes Lackey).

Dragonwriter includes essays from Anne McCaffrey's family, people who knew her from conventions such as Dragon*Con, Michael Whelan (who did the cover art for many of the Pern books), musicians who wrote music to go with the lyrics that Anne included in her books and other authors.

Every essay essay was beautiful, be it on Anne McCaffrey's life, her writing, or the impact that both her books and she herself had on the people who knew her. I was left with a lump in my throat on reading Dragonwriter, and a desire to go out and find some of the books by the other authors who wrote these essays - most of whom I've not read.

Honestly, I'm trying to pick out a favorite essay or two to give especial mention to, but I'm having a really hard time doing so. They're all favorites.

I think that all I can say is that if you were a fan of Anne McCaffrey and the Pern books, and you haven't taken the time to read Dragonwriter, you really should. I'm off to see if I can manage to find my copy of The Dragonriders of Pern omnibus edition, which I can't remember if I've seen since my move.


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