Like The Queen
Whatever happens to strike my fancy, but surely some sort of fiber content.


Might I direct you to the Oracle of Bacon (i.e. Six Degrees of Separation) game? Go here: to see how every Hollywood star is within six degrees of separation from every other Hollywood star.

I myself can boast that I am four degrees of separation from every U.S. President for the last 25 years -- my sister's friend married a secret service guy. Whoo hoo! I'm practically next in line for the presidency!

By Blogger Mary, at 1:26 PM  

Mary, I myself am 3 degrees of separation from Kevin Bacon! I starred in a play opposite someone who was in a movie with someone who was in a movie with Kevin Bacon!

By Blogger Amie, at 1:42 PM  

Ah, my sweet love-ly fellow Virgo, how do you just seem to know when I need our Horoscope read to me?
When I use the words "fingernail moon" - & I will - you will get the credit.
And I live in the city that the handsome Kevin Bacon hails from - Philly.

By Blogger Martha, at 2:30 PM  

Oh, I so admire your capability to enact restraint (which you attributed to Catholic upbringing on Knitters Review). I am so not worthy. My idea of cutting back my addiction for magazines (all those pretty pictures, gratulous slippery glossy pages) was to stop buying one title while adding two I haven't yet explored.

Do you offer counseling?

By Anonymous Tangled Jane, at 1:11 PM  

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Tuesday, January 31, 2006  

Well my dearies - when last I wrote to you I was waxing on about how nothing lay before me but untrammeled ease and leisurely ambling through the days. Ha! Teach me to count on ease and comfort. On my desk at work, not 3 hours later, were three potential explosions of crappiness. Two, I disciplined myself to deal with immediately and was able to tweak them back into the yellow zone. The third awaits a Meeting on Thursday, with One Who Could Make My Life Stressful. All I could do there was to open up my brain to allow any possibilities to surface in the event they are needed. When Others can block your way, the best thing is to release your hold on your ego and see yourself as a consultant, called in to solve some stranger’s problems. This is especially true at work, which, in my case, is such a small portion of who I am; an important small portion, but quite fractional.

So long as I can remember that what we want is to solve the problem, not defeat the enemy, I’m usually pretty successful. The danger is internalizing the issue and letting the bleeding commence. All animal instincts rise, with claws bared and then, even when exhaustion forces a cease fire, any solutions are tainted by the metallic taste of the weapons we used. So, children. Remember. Solve the problem, don't crush the enemy.

Happily, I was able to cling to my own good advice yesterday and it became a rather pleasant day. There is still some important step in the bookkeeping process at work that I am not taking so my software makes strange upsetting hiccups in the reports, but I refuse to let it bother me. I have already decided that fiscal year ‘06 will be the experiment year and by July I have complete confidence that I will enter each and every item correctly so that the reports don’t just look perfect - but are.

Last night we had a bon voyage/get well dinner with P over in Mechanicsville. The YD’s went with us and on the way we got to talking about the strange coincidences of connectivity between people. Seven degrees of connectivity or something like that. At the restaurant we met a friend of D’s from England. D’s business is historical interpretation and representation, providing actors and interpreters to parks, museums, movies and events and M is his counterpart in the Old Country. “What?” I asked excitedly. “You provided that marvelous story teller at the Tower of London? (The June 6 post) She was worth the whole visit - better than the crown jewels.”

Turns out he did and does and is here - to do a training session with staff at Colonial Williamsburg on how to give more veracity to their interpretations. Small world. 7 degrees.

And now it is Tuesday. It’s also January 31 and tomorrow I will have been on the wagon for a whole month. Only 11 more to go. It’s been surprisingly easy to resist shopping temptation as I’ve knit and spun away on fiber from the Great Stash of Beyond. I finished up the Handspun Yarnswap 2 offering and then remembered I was supposed to bag it all up separately in 5 yard lengths and if I want to mail them off today I must get started. I shall leave you here with the sound of my scissors snipping in the background and this tiny treat from Mr.Horoscope. I always called it the fingernail moon and it's my favorite moon phase for its beauty. Now I can also love it for its promise of New Beginnings.

Today, a tiny "banana moon" will rise at breakfast and set at suppertime. You'll see it most easily just after dark. New Moons like this herald "new beginnings". If you want to start doing things differently from now on, today's an auspicious time to start.

posted by Bess | 7:25 AM


Yes, I agree the quizzes are fun. Sometimes they are scary how close they come. I did a "What's Your Best Career" and one of the suggestions that came up was "pharmacist". Makes you wonder if someone is spying on us!

By Blogger Carolyn, at 8:23 AM  

We're the same kind of seducer! (what lovely company to be in!)

By Blogger Amie, at 8:42 AM  

"It’s blue. It’s very, very blue. It is not a color I will ever wear and I have rather a good bit of it. It is probably going to be given away."

Hmmm...How blue is it? I wear blue...esp. sapphire or navy or deep teal (jewel tones)...Hint, hint...



By Blogger Margaret, at 1:47 PM  

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Monday, January 30, 2006  

Quizzes. Aren’t they fun? I love ‘em and can waste hours if I’m not careful, on either quizilla or blogthings. Dreadful waste of a life, I know, but cute and fun. And sometimes there are little insightful tidbits to be discovered. Last week’s quiz pretty much targeted my central bull’s eye zone. It wasn’t a direct hit but it was awfully close. I am wickedly self-critical. My goodness, I’m a Virgo, for heaven’s sake!! I do set such high standards that I often don’t even get started. In my quest for pefection I end up not doing anything at all. I just dream away about what I might do. But, though I do know and acknowledge I’m different, I rather like that part. Besides, in my secret snotty little queenly heart, I think I’m not just different, but better.

Sorry about that. Serious failing. Ought to go into the 40 things about me. It can be #41.
(there, I’ve said all the obligatory self effacing junk)

Back to quizzes, though, I thought this week’s result actually sat fairly close to last week’s; an inspirational sort of gal who makes you think your dreams have come true - or at least, that they could. I haven’t actually done all that much seducing in the traditional sense. Heck. I’m married - to a really great guy - but worse than that, in this little community, objects of seduction are my girlfriends’ husbands! Not cool. Not nice either. But I will seduce little kids. I get tremendous pleasure from drawing them to me. I love to twinkle at them and see how they twinkle back. I like little kids. I like the way they aren’t full of angst, even the shy ones. They’re very straight thinking and pretty much always tell the truth, so long as they aren’t afraid the truth will get them in deep doodoo. And I would bet a year’s pay that S would say I seduce everybody in order to get what I want. And I think ... yes. It’s true. Ahh well. Interesting - these little quizzes.

Interesting too, how much time I seem to have to fiddle with the blog. Think how many rows of BSHP could have been knitted if I weren’t waiting for the dial up connection to re-publish the blog. Think about the skeins of yarn that would be drying on the line if I weren’t taking just one more quiz, because of course I have to know what my secret rock band name is. But I had gotten so dreadfully bored with the blog's static image. And I’m so jealous of folk with prettier blogs. What I really want is a digital camera to display So Much More with Fewer Words. Maybe 1000 fewer words. There you have it. This is my camera envy compensation.

So be prepared. I will likely flood you with images, not of the verbal sort, once I’ve dropped the $ on a camera.

But doubt not - I did get in some lovely fiber activities yesterday. In honor of Mozart’s birthday weekend we put on Marriage of Figaro and listened to all 3 discs. BD had the libretto and kept me up on who was singing what. We have the London edition with Sir Georg Solti conducting and Kiri Te Kanawa as the countess. But it’s Frederica von Stade, singing Cherubino - most particularly Non so piu - band 7 on disc 1 - who reached into my chest and got aholt of my heart, wrenching sobs out of it with the sheer beauty of her voice and that melody. The words are so stupid you don’t want to know them, but my god I could start weeping right now, with the memory of it.

oh yeah

fiber content.

Well, I knit about 25 rows of the BSHP sweater while we listened, motoring on up the front. When I got bored with knitting (in true ENFP fashion) I picked up the corriedale and the drop spindle and twirled through act III. I lay on the floor petting dogs for act IV but afterwards I plied up and wet set the Handspun Yarnswap 2 entry and even cleaned off two of my bobbins - which only had little sample bits on them. HeyBaby is loaded with the 1/4 filled bobbin of brown wool, which I want to finish up before I start playing with beads.

Altogether, a very productive day. In the late afternoon, BD and I watched movies. I had missed Breaker Morant when it came out what - 26 years ago? I seem to remember a rush of Australian films swimming up our way; all of them good, but pretty deserty bleak. Remember Gallipoli? Ha! Remember Mel Gibson looking like a boy? And of course, it’s fun to hate the Empire, especially its Boer war, though otherwise I really love the British and envy them their television. Even their most banal can’t sink as deep as the jerry springer show. I didn’t give this film highest marks, mostly because it left me sad and frustrated. Not so much with the film, which I thought was well done and had very good looking men actors in it. But the story was too depressing for me. And I am seldom in the mood to be depressed. Fortunately, my rating is meaningful only to me and my friends. I do not write for the Village Voice or Rolling Stone magazine or even the Richmond paper. Besides, it’s a 25 year old film and not in need of new publicity.

And now it is Monday of a brand new week. We’re off this evening to have a bon voyage dinner with D&P, for P must be across country for many months getting some serious medical care. She’ll be top of my prayer and white light list. But other than the sad fact of someone I love needing serious medical care, the week looks to be wide open and full of possibilities. And even P will have her golden lining, for across country is where her grandbabies are. Big time hugging will be going on in only a few more days.

Yes. A wide open week of days full of what-ifs! How thrilling.

posted by Bess | 6:40 AM


Ah, I do confess those times that I think it would be nice to have a little daughter of my own, one of the biggest pulls is picturing GB playing with her... of course, in the highly, highly unlikely event that should occur your BD must have the chance as well, yes???

I've spinnning my swap yarn moments ago, it's hanging in the tub dripping dry, a deep Shelia-y mauve-y rose. I'm fairly pleased, though not thrilled....

By Blogger Amie, at 1:53 PM  

Hey Amie - I updated the 30 things to 40 - but gosh it's hard.

By Blogger Bess, at 3:40 PM  

I love the quiz of the week! My number is 9:
Your purpose in life is to make the world better

You are very socially conscious and a total idealist.
You think there are many things wrong with the world, and you want to fix them.
You have a big idea of how to world could be, and you'll sacrifice almost anything to work towards this dream.

In love, you can easily see the beauty in someone else. And you never cling too tightly.

You are capable of great love, but it's hard for you to focus your love on one person or relationship.
You have a lot of outward focus, and you tend to blame the world for your failures.
You are often disappointed by the realities of life - it's hard for you to accept the shortcomings of the world.

Pretty close, huh?

By Blogger Amie, at 10:17 PM  

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Sunday, January 29, 2006  

I am having a great weekend. Friday J and her daughter came for a short visit. We haven’t had much face time this year onnacounta she’s building a house and I have not been feeling all that well. This little blink of time was snatched, thanks largely to her energy, not mine, and we had a chance to catch up, to gossip, to plot and to knit’n’spin. In fact, I believe I’ll claim that we had a chance to Stitch ‘n Bitch, although I hate that term. But there is some small minded little fabric shop in New York that has filed for trademark of that term and in an effort to prove they are defending their right to own The English Language, Especially Slang Terms, they’re threatening suits to All Who Violate Their Private Property Rights. I hope the fabric shop goes bankrupt.

Sometimes America is so free it sucks.

And besides, we didn’t bitch. We were having too much fun. I love it when J visits because she’s always stirring up something new and unusual with yarn and she inspires me so. I wish they could have stayed longer, but I didn’t wish it as much as BD, because he got to gallant around the angle baby girl: without a doubt, his favorite activity. Walk down to the river? Sure, honey. Read you a story? Sure, darlin’. Go hunt eagles? Let’s go, sweetie. I love to watch sweet men with little girls. All this sugar was coating the living room while the big girls stitched away.

And today is the first day I can remember in For Ever when I didn't have, or feel like I had, Things To Do and Obligations To Meet. I'm caught up with financial paperwork, though it’s by no means in tip top tidiness. But I could work on it if I feel like it. Or not. I've finished my spinning for the yarn swap and have 3 (almost) empty bobbins. I could spin Por Moi Stuff if I wanted. Or not. I've (sort of) cleaned the house. It's going to rain so, not only does that mean there is no point in doing any more laundry but it also means I can hole up inside with either knitting needles, spinning wheel or a book. It means I don’t have to get out of my pajamas! I have little to nothing on the agenda at work this week, bought all the birthday presents my Aquarius friends ought to get - man - I am On Vacation.

Hmmm. I had other wise things to offer up here too, but alas, like C’s, they’ve slipped into that misty world just outside your grasp, filled with those Good Thoughts and Ideas.

There is good news, though in Fiberland. I’ve finished my Handspun Yarnswap 2 skein. It’s blue. It’s very, very blue. It is not a color I will ever wear and I have rather a good bit of it. It is probably going to be given away. It’s soft, silky with a rayon feel to it. It’s merino tencil, so it ought to have those slinky rayon qualities. I love this fiber. I have some of the same stuff dyed in a pumpkin color. Not enough to make a slinky garment, unless it’s a shawl or scarf, but I got it from Barbara Gentry at Stony Mt. Farms, so I think I might be able to track down some more. Another year, of course.

There is a little more to ply up in order to truly empty my bobbins and I believe, in true January Clean It Up Mode, I will spin up the bobbin of dark brown wool that might be the world’s coarsest merino, bought from Little Barn, and might be lambswool I bought from someone else at MS&W ‘04. It's being plied with a mohair blend to make the utterly satisfying tweedy looking yarn. I wrote about it back in October (the 10/24 post) It's already earmarked to make that cabled sweater that was in the Fall ‘05 Family Circle Easy Knits. I’m willing to finish up an old task because I have one bobbin so full of the mohair the yarn has begun to slip off and threaten to tangle. I don’t want that ruined, and the best thing to do is finish it up.

But the very next thing I’m going to do is Beaded Yarn!!!!! I love beaded clothing. Love glitter and sparkle. I would be a bling hound if I were younger and lived in an urban spot somewhere. Margaret - beaded yarn is fun to knit with. It’s slower than regular knitting and it’s somewhat precise, but the effect can be stunning. Or cheesy, yes, Larry - but it can also be very elegant. Or very clever, or cute, or any number of things. And don’t worry - when I read Clara’s review I wasn’t tempted to spend money, but to make my own. I’ve actually done a bit of beaded spinning. Mind now, I got unsatisfactory results, but great learning experience. I’m ready to give it a second go.

La - I have diddled here so long I hear Others, waking up. Obviously I have nothing pressing that needs expression. I am off now, but I want to leave this happy prediction for my fellow Virgos.

Your week ahead: Use your imagination. Summon your creativity. Think like a designer, an artist or an inventor. You may not have what you want but you have the wherewithal to manufacture it. The component parts are accessible. The ingredients are within reach. All you need is the right recipe and then enough dedication to follow it through. That may require hard work but the result will satisfy you far more than any tailor made solution ever could. Once you find your inspiration this week, there will be no stopping you. No matter what seems difficult, daunting or depressing, you will manage to find a neat, successful way to get round it.

posted by Bess | 8:16 AM


In a feeble attempt to weaken temptation, Dear Bess, I offer up this question about beaded yarn: how does it feel on the fingers when one is knitting with it?! ;-)


By Blogger Margaret, at 8:36 AM  

I was a little surprised when Clara praised the Tilli Thomas beaded yarn. I saw it at the shop and thought it looked like white trash. I didn't like the "hand" at all and thought the beads would be such a pain to knit but also to wear. But what do I know? I'm just not a glitz person.

By Blogger Larry, at 11:27 AM  

Bess--I couldn't find a way to email you personally, but I wanted to touch base with you about drop spindle spinning and meeting Barbara at Stony Mountain Fiber...

Could you email me when you have a moment?



By Anonymous Judy, at 5:28 PM  

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Friday, January 27, 2006  

It’s a sure bet, if I have something important to do I’ll sit down at this computer and play around. If I have two important things to do - whew! - no telling how long I’ll stay. Today is the library’s Brown Bag Book Club and I read the book so long ago I have to refresh my memory of the details. Though it was a darling of a book, the specifics blend into a warm memory instead of items to talk about. And since this month’s discussion leader had to be out of town, I’m leading it. Only a skim will do, but I’ve half the book to go through.

Then, in the afternoon J is coming for a half a weekend or two and my house has that dusty grimy look it gets in the winter, between visits from the MS. This is the weekend I’d usually give the house my own sparkling touch. I just have to do it on Friday instead of Saturday. And I didn’t exactly lie when I told you I got my bookkeeping all tidy last weekend, for the important part - the part that involves the IRS and TheBank and Visa is all tidy, but the actual folders, and last year’s info and the box of ancient bank statements are not tidy. They will go on the shelves in the room where my books are, but only after we pack up the shelf of books that we’re getting rid of. Right now, those pretty colored folders and the grocery bag of Other Stuff is sitting under the dining room table. They will be stuck on the attic landing for the time being - which at least moves them closer to the shelves where they’ll have their permanent home.

If I get off the computer.

BTW, I am the only person on the KRForums right now.

I have a on this blog, installed last February. As of yesterday there have been 26,036 hits. Pretty cool, huh? Oh, yes, I know. Nothing like the numbers on Important Blogs, but rather nice to see on the graph they provide. There’s even a little breakdown of where folk come from with little flags showing country of origin. I don’t pay for this feature so it’s their basic version. I’m not selling anything so it’s enough for me to just get an idea of my audience. Only - I wonder how many people really come to read and look and how many got here unintended. The average # of returning visitors is a little less than half that number, so I wonder if I’m boring to more than half the people in the world, or if there is some strange sling shot effect whereby a person has to enter my blog before she’s allowed to move on to her true destination; a sort of Internet scavenger hunt.

Anyway, all this was just an opportunity to brag a bit. I’m a sucker for round numbers and was thrilled when I passed the 25K mark.

Okay - the weekend calls and preparations must be made. I will spin when J visits, because I am determined to finish the Yarnswap 2 yarn and I am deeply challenged and intrigued by the Tilli Thomas yarn Clara reviewed on Knitters Review this week. Wicked Clara, knowing I’ve vowed No New Yarn Before 2007, she offers up more temptation than a candy store. Bad bad Clara. How could she? Beaded yarn. Yes I long for it. I dream about it - well day dream anyway. I want beaded yarn. I will have beaded yarn. Poor BSHP may languish in the sheepy basket while I spin beaded yarn. Hmmmm. No stash oaths about beads. Do I want crystals or pearls?

posted by Bess | 6:19 AM


I think your job sounds like a fantasy to anyone who loves books and likes to read. Is it as fun as it sounds?


By Blogger Mary, at 8:07 PM  

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Wednesday, January 25, 2006  

Yes, Catherine - The New World is the perfect thing to watch on wide screen TV. Hmm. It’s enough to make me consider one myself; of course, only briefly. That’s really only a consideration for some magical future time when we build The Studio.

One other thought about that movie and the puzzle of why film makers always succumb to the banal when trying to depict history. Somewhere I read a comment, paraphrased here, that Terrence Malick, when asked why not tell the real story, answered to the effect that the public wants this kind of story. (a smarmy romance?) Why not tell the robust story of that adrenaline junky, John Smith? Aside from the fact that, (sigh, alas, sigh again) men like that are not in fashion any more? Why not what really happened, condensed for dramatic effect, but accurate? Why always the silly dreamy Daphnus and Chloe pastorale, only perhaps with Chloe being a kick-box instructor and Daphnus ... well ... he could keep on being a wispy shepherd?

Granted, the guys who spend 10 bazillion dollars on a movie expect to get a 900% return on their investment. Granted, from baby boomers on down, the literary database of each generation has shrunk to the point that most references to history, culture, mythology, even simple nursery rhymes, will have no target to even miss. Granted, to tell any story about Elizabethan Man in Post-Modern Culture times would take the courage of ... of a John Smith.

Still. It is unwise, always, to underestimate your audience.

In illustration of that I offer up a little bit of my own experience with being too arrogant, or too chicken hearted, when assessing The Public.

Some 25 years ago, when I was a young thing with only a few years of experience buying books for the library, with Tax Payer’s Money, I read a review of Anne Rice’s book Cry To Heaven. It is about a castrati singer in 18th century Italy. The review was riveting and at the time I thought wistfully that I should love to read such a book. But a book about a castrated male singer? In lil’ ole Tappahannock, with 50 churches listed in the weekly paper’s Come Pray With Us page? Can you imagine the uproar about such dirty books in the library?

So, I didn’t buy that book. And 6 months later, a woman, my mother’s age, exemplary representative of the typical reading woman in the community; women’s club, church vestry, PTA, actually grandmother of one of my son’s classmates - walked into the library holding a book and exclaiming that it was one of the best books she ever read. Her daughter had sent it to her and she thought it ought to be shared. Would the library like it?

You guessed it.

I was so ashamed of myself. I vowed that I would never ever ever again assume that the people around me didn’t have curiosity, understanding, and even wisdom, even if they did live in a little crossroads country town and hadn’t ever been further than Richmond. Not only that, but if I thought folk ought to strive for greater understanding and wisdom, it was my job as the library director to see to it that they had elevating things to read. That has been a guiding light throughout my years here and I hope it never dims.

Sometimes, like when women actually really do wear cropped pants, I really disdain The Public; The Great Unwashed. But most of the time I think they are pretty fine.

But does she still knit?

Yes. I’m at the underarm bind-offs on the front of the BSHP sweater. I’ll set it aside now to spin up my Handspun Yarnswap 2 skein, the completion of which is my Monday Morning Goal.


posted by Bess | 7:11 AM


Yes, Bess, I confess that I do, from time to time, buy books for the store because I think that people ought to read them, or at least know they're there. And I spend a good deal of time (and someone else's money, mind you) buying books that they will read, just to balance things. I'm always pleased when they take me up on the former, and never surprised when they choose the latter.

By Blogger Jane, at 9:39 AM  

Thanks for stopping by my blog, Bess. When you lived in Richmond you were not all that far from where I live now. So you write for the T-D? Very cool. Your gardens are lovely. I'm also a gardener but have neglected mine as of late. Too bad you're not the librarian at the Westover Hills library -- I'd be all over that knitting collection!

By Blogger Mary, at 1:32 PM  

Okay, you went to SGHS? This is gettin' too coincidental! I went there too! Graduated in '83.

(If you want to stop this comment-to-comment dialogue and move to email, feel free to reply to me at maryklarson[AT]comcast[DOT]net.)

By Blogger Mary, at 2:02 PM  

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Yes, Catherine - The New World is the perfect thing to watch on wide screen TV. Hmm. It’s enough to make me consider one myself; of course, only briefly. That’s really only a consideration for some magical future time when we build The Studio.

One other thought about that movie and the puzzle of why film makers always succumb to the banal when trying to depict history. Somewhere I read a comment, paraphrased here, that Terrence Malick, when asked why not tell the real story, answered to the effect that the public wants this kind of story. (a smarmy romance?) Why not tell the robust story of that adrenaline junky, John Smith? Aside from the fact that, (sigh, alas, sigh again) men like that are not in fashion any more? Why not what really happened, condensed for dramatic effect, but accurate? Why always the silly dreamy Daphnus and Chloe pastorale, only perhaps with Chloe being a kick-box instructor and Daphnus ... well ... he could keep on being a wispy shepherd?

Granted, the guys who spend 10 bazillion dollars on a movie expect to get a 900% return on their investment. Granted, from baby boomers on down, the literary database of each generation has shrunk to the point that most references to history, culture, mythology, even simple nursery rhymes, will have no target to even miss. Granted, to tell any story about Elizabethan Man in Post-Modern Culture times would take the courage of ... of a John Smith.

Still. It is unwise, always, to underestimate your audience.

In illustration of that I offer up a little bit of my own experience with being too arrogant, or too chicken hearted, when assessing The Public.

Some 25 years ago, when I was a young thing with only a few years of experience buying books for the library, with Tax Payer’s Money, I read a review of Ann Rice’s book Cry To Heaven. It is about a castrati singer in 18th century Italy. The review was riveting and at the time I thought wistfully that I should love to read the book. But a book about a castrated male singer? In lil’ ole Tappahannock, with 50 churches listed in the weekly paper’s Come Pray With Us page? Can you imagine the uproar about such dirty books in the library?

So, I didn’t buy that book. And 6 months later, a woman, my mother’s age, exemplary representative of the typical reading woman in the community; women’s club, church vestry, PTA, actually grandmother of one of my son’s classmates - walked into the library holding a book and exclaiming that it was one of the best books she ever read. Her daughter had sent it to her and she thought it ought to be shared. Would the library like it?

You guessed it.

I was so ashamed of myself. I vowed that I would never ever ever again assume that the people around me didn’t have curiosity, understanding, and even wisdom, even if they did live in a little crossroads country town and hadn’t ever been further than Richmond. Not only that, but if I thought folk ought to strive for greater understanding and wisdom, it was my job as the library director to see to it that they had elevating things to read. That has been a guiding light throughout my years here and I hope it never dims.

Sometimes, like when women actually wear cropped pants, I really disdain The Public; The Great Unwashed. But most of the time I think they are pretty fine.

But does she still knit?

Yes. I’m at the underarm bind-offs on the front of the BSHP sweater. I’ll set it aside now to spin up my Handspun Yarnswap 2 skein, the completion of which is my Monday Morning Goal.


posted by Bess | 7:11 AM


But Bess dear, what if bernie and i MOVED to virginia?
would we have to go home again at night?
who would get really annoyed at a movie that wasn't historically accurate as well

maybe if we ever see it.....I will just put in ear plugs and watch the silence?

By Blogger vi, at 5:16 PM  

Well - that is the one thing I worry about. Everything looks so beautiful i am afraid hoards of people will come trying to buy up Water Front Property. and then all the pristine beauty will be gone.
all of us at the movie yesterday were saying "don't tell your friends about this!"

By Blogger Bess, at 5:25 PM  

So, it sounds like it would have been a better movie without sound ;)
Yay, that the cyber gatekeepers are letting you back through to visit me now! It sure is nice to know you can pad into my "living space" at will.
I love the new stuff you added to the side of your blog - "What I'm Reading" and "What I've Just Watched" AND your ratings!!

By Blogger Carolyn, at 8:59 PM  

No really. Did you like the scenery???
You remind me of me, when I watch a movie with my husband. I see the scenery, costumes, architecture etc. The story is secondary. Plus I am very critical--imagine that!
My husband enjoys the fantasy.So maybe I should also see it with ear plugs!
Maybe Vigo would have been better, since you can never hear him anyway!

By Anonymous Isobel, at 6:36 AM  

Great review. I've read a couple of reviews that were not as crisply defining about the Issues as yours, but all hit the same level of approval. I'm filing this as a movie to watch on the obscenely expensive plasma thing, on a rented DVD. I LOVE that part of the country and know it, though not as intimately as you do, and I will watch it for the scenery.

Clooney looks like he showers regularly, and, hot as he is, he's entering the Harrison Ford Zone. They had to go younger or it would have been too creepy.

By Blogger Catherine, at 7:10 PM  

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Monday, January 23, 2006  

Movie Review - and some progress reports.

Perhaps the knitting progress report should come first. My knitting has been neglected of late but I did get a bit done on Sunday. I’m on the last short row for the bust shaping of the front of the BSHP. There should be one more inch of body before I start the armhole shaping. That’s 6 rows, since that’s what this sweater is knitting up at. 7 rows to the armhole shaping. I swear - there will be photos soon - and I do believe that in 2006 there will be a digital camera so my efforts can be more graphic, though I don’t promise that they shall be less wordy.
Why do I think there will be a digital camera in my hands soon? Because I finished the Current $Paperwork$ Organizational Renovation. Yes. One tidy file box with labels for Bills and Bank Statements and Income Taxes, etc. And it only took me 53 years to arrive at Paperwork Heaven. I accept your applause with regal grace. Thank you.
The rest of this is my take on the film The New World, and, in true Queenly Loquacity, it’s looooooooooooong, so the cinematically bored and the history disgusted are released from bondage. Shoo. Shoo. Go have fun.
Okay. First off I must tell you - I really liked this movie. Or perhaps I ought to say - I really liked a lot about this movie. And the lot I liked, I liked a lot. BUT
And of course, there must be a but. There are some things I didn’t like and some opinions that formed my reasons for not liking those bits. I’m going to put them first, so that I can save the best for last. I’m telling you the down side of this movie first, partly because it’s so much easier to sound witty when you criticize than when you compliment. In some ways, this is a bit of a literary warm up for me. But also, I think you’ll enjoy the film more for having a little preparation. Its down side was enough of a distraction that watching the movie was not a perfect experience for me, neither as entertainment nor as literature. It was a very good experience, and I’m going to give its good side due praise, but if I squirm in my seat during a movie, which I did, I can’t give it top marks.

So. Let’s get the easy stuff over with so I can get on to the succulent praise. This is a movie about the famous myth of Jamestown, not the history. It’s the story of Pocahontas and Smith, with Pocahontas getting top billing. Attention Virginians. Be prepared. If you know a whole lot about that first moment when two worlds collided, you’re going to be irritated every time the facts are wrong. You will also be really frustrated because the film is extraordinarily vague about who everybody is. You can pick out Smith, and Pocahontas, of course, and Christopher Newport and Powhatan, but hardly anyone else. Even Mr. Jamestown had a tough time identifying everybody. And it sure looked to me like the same guy plays both Opechancanough and Totopotomoy, unless, of course, they’re fiddling with history again. Opechancanough never went to England. Your best bet is to just watch this as a movie about a boy and a girl from two different worlds, falling in love and being buffeted by circumstances. Watched that way, the authentic feel to the story line is an enhancement. Watched as a dramatization of one of the great moments in western history, the movie will either mislead you or let you down, depending on how much you listened to Mrs. McCarthy in 7th grade history class.

This is largely a pageant style of movie, with the actors miming a tableau most of the time, while voice-over narrators tell the story or get you inside the brains of Smith, Pocahontas, and later, her husband John Rolfe. There’s minimal dialogue - verging on silence – and that’s too bad. The movie would have been better for more, and more clear, dialogue. Most of the narrators’ scripts are so full of inner angst and self doubt you’d think their words were lifted from a New York City psychoanalyst’s notebook. There’s way too much agonizing introspection to make these people interesting, much less make me believe they had the guts to cram into miniscule wooden tubs, bob across the North Atlantic and try to found a colony in the mosquito riddled swamps of Tidewater Virginia. I swear, I thought if I heard Colin Farrell muse huskily "Who is she? What do I want?" one more time, I’d puke. Alright, already. We get the idea: Smith as modern urban man, full of doubt and low self-esteem. Probably his father rejected him and his mother molested him. Sheesh! The NYT review got it right - he could have been called Hamlet Smith. Or you could call him Portnoy Smith.

This is too bad, too, because the real John Smith, as he tells it in his own writing and as portrayed by his contemporaries, is bold and brash, confident, decisive, a fabulous story teller and a clever, crafty opportunist. He was explorer, scientist, geographer, and author. This is a very interesting fellow who did a lot in his life and left plenty of accounts, including some magnificent maps and several books. Jamestown was just one of the jewels he added to his string of adventures. He’d already been a slave to the Ottoman Turks, a pirate’s captive, and a fine soldier. This was a man of action, not of intense naval-gazing. Colin Farrell was very badly directed in this movie. He barely even shut his mouth, most of the time. I expected to see him drool after a while. What a disappointment, since he has a good smile and the facial features to portray a swashbuckler if he wanted. Whoever convinced him that Smith ever toyed with, much less yearned to be one of Jean Jacques Rousseau’s noble savages ought to have been fired before filming ever began.

We spent a good bit of time trying to imagine who would have portrayed a better Smith. BD thinks it would be Robin Williams if only he weren’t so typed as a wacko nut-case. I think George Clooney would have been better. Some combination of the characters he played in Ocean’s 11 and Oh Brother. I’m sure that’s who Smith would have picked.

Unless you are very quick-eared, and perhaps already know a good bit - nay - a phenomenal amount of Virginia history - you’re going to be terribly confused about who all the other Englishmen are. If you had a favorite from Jamestown and it wasn’t Smith, you’ll be disappointed. You’ll never be able to pick him out. Suffice it to say, it doesn’t really matter, since, as I said, this is mostly the story of Pocahontas. Just accept that they are a bunch of Europeans and let it go at that.

And Pocahontas is the important person in the cultural myth. She is the one who left one world to live in another. She was the bridge between the two societies and she was a remarkable woman. Dr. Helen Roundtree was a consultant on this movie and she is truly the world expert on the Powhatan Indians. I could feel her hand on all the Native American portrayals, which are all superb. Except, that is, for the California dreamin’ narratives of Pocahontas, and really, after a while you just accept it. She’s 13, after all. That’s what 13-year olds do.

Cinematically this is perhaps the most beautiful movie I’ve ever seen, but it’s pace is off. Tempo, timing, pace, whatever you call it, it’s a vital part of a movie and when it’s off - when it’s badly edited, it makes you squirm as you sit in those rocking theater seats, surrounded by strangers. About half way through I suddenly remembered the film Barry Lyndon - or Borey Linden as my sister called it. I actually liked that movie very much, but yes, it had a very slow pace and the same affliction casts a shadow over The New World. There are also too many fade-out to a black screen moments, a few too many shots of birds flying across a grey sky. (Though BD swears this is an important literary symbol: the bad omen, when birds fly across the sky. "Black birds bring bad weather" he quotes to me and reminds me of Homer.) The scenery in this movie is fantabulously beautiful, but sometimes, moving from one scene to another was choppy and incongruous. Too often the cameras stayed too long on a pastoral scene only to jerk you back to the fort and its squalor without a good reason or any preparation. Too many time leaps, no thread of steps to follow. Huh? Who’s that guy, talking about kidnapping the princess? Where’d he come from? Whaaat the heck? Smith is being whipped? Where did that come from? Huh? Now he’s back romping with Pocahontas? Huh?

The final criticism, which is so subjective I am almost unwilling to voice it, except - hey - this is my blog so it belongs. In the main, I don’t like musical soundtracks. They cover up so much of the poor enunciation of present day actors, all of whom must take mumbling lessons from Vigo Mortenson. Well done, though, they can enhance a movie tremendously, identifying characters and situations instantly. The music chosen to accompany all the love scenes between Smith and Pocahontas is a Motzart piano concerto and I tell you, that 18th century music, reminiscent of gilded salons and women in high powdered wigs just didn’t fit the leather jerkins, marshy banks and ochre based face paint of this late renaissance Age of Discovery. Palestrina, Gabrielli, the second, Palestrina – yes. Even some early baroque, perhaps Henry Purcell. But not the sweet silken, gilded and flounced notes of Mozart. You might not care. I, alas, have spent too many years in the violin section to let that one pass.

So - that is my criticism of the movie – bad pace, wrong music and a wimpy Smith. Now for the compliments and there are several aspects deserving of much praise.

This is the most beautiful movie I’ve ever seen. The scenery is stunning and better than that - it’s real. In fact, if, my dear readers, you’ve ever wondered what it looks like down here on the riverbank, where I live - just watch this movie. It could as easily have been filmed off my back yard. The marshes, the pine forests, the exotic temptation of the next bend in the river - they’re all there, a daily part of my life. I never tire of looking at them. Seeing them glorified on the big screen by skilled movie camermen was truly a thrilling experience. There’s a scene of a narrow canoe wending through the marshes, whose shoulder high reeds bend gently over the heads of the paddlers. I’ve been there – I could take you there any time, come autumn, when the pickerel weed dies back. The red winged black birds sing their little song: to-da-lo to to tooooo. I shivered when I heard it. I did again when, in one Indian village, the mourning dove gave it’s “wo ooooo, whoo whoo whoo” call. Yes. It is a paradise. Terrence Malick really does know how to give you native beauty. It’s said he had planned to film in some South American jungle, till he visited the Chicahomony and realized he could tell his story where it actually (might have) happened.

In the end, the great beauty outweighed the bad pacing for me. It was heart stoppingly, gaspingly beautiful. I will definitely go see this movie again.

Now how about the story? Well. Actually, I think it’s a pretty good story; it is a fair tale of what certainly could have happened. It’s condensed, of course, and the emphasis is on the love story between Smith and Pocahontas, not on the exploration and discovery of North America. You don’t see the development of an English settlement - and of course, during those few early years, there almost wasn’t any development. The colony nearly died, but not quite. Jamestown - as a New World for Europeans - plays a secondary role so it’s not very fleshed out. But there are enough good scenes with accurate portrayals of things like pike drills and farming techniques to satisfy. And since it becomes pretty obvious early on that this is a modern story of a man and a woman, just set in olden times, you can easily make the existential leap and just enjoy a tale in its luscious setting.

But was there a romance between them? Well, no one ever wrote there was, not even Smith himself. But it could have happened. I remember what it was like to be 13 and be passionately in love with uncles who were Big Men who Did Powerful Things. I remember my budding sexuality and I can see how the most exotic man in the world, with talking sticks and magic glass that showed your face or made fire out of sunlight, and a whole floating house full of treasures, would be irresistibly desirable. And if I’d been Daddy’s Favorite, well, I’d have made sure I was around whenever that god-like being walked like a giant across the earth.

The most famous bit of the Smith/Pocahontas legend is one only Smith himself ever wrote about: the story of Pocahontas saving his life. Alas, I think Malick threw that scene away. It was supposed to have been a fairly big ceremonial execution and ought to have been in the open, surrounded by the entire village. Instead, it’s in the dark longhouse, all smoky and murky and quite unnecessarily shadowed. And another one of those stupid blackouts follows so swiftly you barely realize that’s the scene you just watched: The famous one. His head on a stone. Her head on his. Poof. Gone.

Still, I can believe. I accept the myth because I see enough of human nature in it to make me believe. I’m glad to see it on the screen.

As for her being captured and brought back to Jamestown, well, that really happened. By the way, that was Capt. Argyle, who traded a copper pot for her, though I never heard his name in the movie. And once there, she fell so in love with English ways she refused to go home. There’s nothing in the contemporary accounts about her dad rejecting her, but hey - it provides a nice bit of literary movement and safely puts her where she needs to be in order to meet John Rolfe, yet another introspective moody man, delicate and obviously fresh out of sensitivity training. And at least, with Rolfe, we know so little about him, we can’t possibly be offended by his characterization on the big screen. I suspect he was a science guy, someone like J. J. Audobon, but hey – who’s to say the bird man wasn’t racked with angst and self conflict too?

Altogether, the story gets a C+. Actually the plot gets a high B but the actual script gets a D+. Combined, they create an okay story. The guys are not my heroic fantasies but they work. Q'Orianka Kilcher does one fantastic job as Pocahontas and if only she didn’t have that ubiquitous swollen lip she’d be perfect. She really does have a bit of the look of that famous engraving in the National Gallery. She ages with her role with grace and truth. She actually improves with maturity – like a real person.

And still I come back to that magnificent cinematography; those panoramic views of a land I love with passion and forgiveness. That overriding truth, earth’s phenomenal beauty, still here after 400 years, tugs at my heart and whispers in my ear that “really, sugar, it’s okay they made Smith such a wuss. The real star of this show is me anyway. Your river, your pine trees. Your doves and eagles and raccoons. Your mosquitoes. Your mayflies. Your summertime humidity and your raw winter storms.” Like a family reunion photo that makes every one of your relatives look like beauty queens and handsome heroes, this movie gives you my Virginia, as pretty as it was – and as pretty as it is now.

And remember - y’all’r welcome to come on down, just so long’s ya go backup.

posted by Bess | 6:39 AM


“Oh well, doesn’t that sound like GD”, or M or any of a host of other Virgos I know.

Huh? Think again, Bess Dear...but then again, p'raps you don't need ta know the gory details...

Hugs and Happy Birthday to your Mama from me! (My mom died 2 years ago give yours an extra hug on her behalf.)


By Blogger Margaret, at 11:29 AM  

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Sunday, January 22, 2006  


posted by Bess | 9:37 AM


I LOVE Freecell, too. I haven't played in a while, better not to even start! I remember the wedding day, I first came to your blog because I had to read everyday about the progress on the dress! What a happy coincedence! Jane

By Blogger jane, at 9:36 AM  

Happy Anniversary to William and Worth!! My how time does fly! (It's been a year already?)

By Blogger Carolyn, at 11:56 AM  

Happy anniversary to the beautiful and wonderful souls of W&W.

By Blogger Amie, at 1:21 PM  

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30 # free cell games played avoiding $Paperwork$
3 # pretty colored files that are too small for all the back years of $Paperwork$
2 # of bags of carrots I ate trying to not eat spice cake
1 # bags of papers that are probably still hidden somewhere in the house.
8 # bills to pay
1 # of reiki sessions I think I need to slog my way through the $Paperwork$ reorganization process.


I ought not complain, though. For look what Mr.Horoscope tells me!

Your week ahead: Shall we discuss the number of unfair and impossible tasks that
you are now being expected to perform? Shall we worry about what's likely to
prove difficult? Shall we wonder why other people seem to lead much easier
lives? Or shall we just trust that you are not in your current position by
mistake. You have made a brave choice. You are now coping with the inevitable
consequences of this decision. You may become stretched, but you will not break.
You may find yourself 'out of your depth' but you will not end up totally
submerged. Somehow, you will be helped and you will make exactly the right kind
of deeply satisfying progress.

Of course, it’s far easier to look at this and think “Oh well, doesn’t that sound like GD”, or M or any of a host of other Virgos I know. But for the woman who took the Stagnant Stash Oath, who actually did pull out money paperwork in January, instead of March 18th, like she usually does - well - who am I kidding? I console myself with the thought that I will be glad of all this, later. Gladder then, than I am whiney now.

And for those of you who are new to this blog - and for those of you who are sweetly nostalgic - I mention here that one year ago today, in a ferocious sleet storm, the Young Darlings wed. 130 guests braved the storm and joined us at Upper Essex Church for the beautiful ceremony and gorgeous dress (if I do say so myself) and delicious food. It was one of the most magnificent days I ever had the joy to live through. You can read all about it, and see links to photos, in the January 05 archives. It took me a good week to get around to writing it all up - heck it took us 2 weeks to eat up all the leftover wedding food. Fortunately though, that put the post with pictures near the top of the archived page.

The YD’s are off on an anniversary jaunt, but the popped over last night to return Capt. Jack, who’d been hunting with LD.

Sigh. I believe, instead of getting on with the $Paperwork$ I will go re-read that post.

posted by Bess | 7:34 AM


Ack! I've resorted to posting on my own blog as a way to avoid the $$Paperwork$$. Can't find 3 month's bank statements! EEEK!

The pretty colored files I bought to hold previous years' crap are too small.

And don't ask me about munchies - (chomp chomp)

By Blogger Bess, at 3:24 PM  

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Saturday, January 21, 2006  

I think, if I weren’t in love already, I’d fall in love with the physical therapist. It is the most amazing thing to be touched by someone whose skilled hands understand anatomy. This particular therapist is a very understanding sort and lets me babble on like a mountain stream, about me me me me and me and my neck and my arm and my head and the spot where they all join and the tingling and that floppy feeling I have that I’m about to fall all the time, not because my head is swimming but because all the muscles that are supposed to hold me together have turned into cotton string.

And then he nods and says, “right.” And then presses his thumbs against the vertebrae between my shoulder blades and things go pffff. And then my arm stops tingling. My goodness. What a miracle.

He also gave me some anti-floppy exercises, strict orders to stay off any gym machines and to go into the pool only for water aerobics and only if I promise to not lift my arms above my head.

So I am full of confidence and also glad I can get back to the gym. Not just because I like going there, but also because the county pays half my membership fee if I go 8 times a month. It comes out of my paycheck and if I don’t meet the requirement they take the entire monthly fee out. It’s only about $26 but my goodness, it’s the $26 I resent spending the most. This is usually because I just was too lazy to make my twice weekly visits. There is an arrangement whereby the monthly fee can be excused, but you have to set it up fairly early in the month or have doctor’s orders. But - in that case, you can’t go that month at all. And I never think I’ll be sick enough or gone long enough to want to forfeit access for a whole month. Besides - I really want that $26.

Especially today - when, after a reiki session from a very dear friend who’s working on her level 3, I plan to attack the $$Paperwork$$. And have TheTalk with BD. And get a handle on our $pending. And be a Betterrrrrrrr Person. Or at least, a person who knows how much of her paycheck goes to Walmart each month.

And spin a tad. Maybe.

I will gladly report back about The New World on Monday. The local paper trashes it, but most Virginian’s get pretty huffy with the Pocahontas story anyway. “Don’t they even know she married John Rolfe?!?!!!!” That’s the muttered refrain you’ll hear on the sidewalks of Richmond, Norfolk, Bedford, Charlottesville, Wytheville, and Warrenton. Even Yankee come-heres pick up that particular allergic reaction to the entertainment world. Mostly that’s onnacounta they didn’t learn anything about Virginia in school and think the first Englishmen were pilgrims in Massachusetts - like everybody else in America. They like to show off that they know this little secret historical tidbit, that Pocahontas didn’t marry John Smith, when they talk to their Yankee kith and kin. It’s always fun to deconstruct history. It makes people feel so smart.

So - I’m ready to ... well, I’m ready to see the beautiful Chicahomony River on wide screen.

posted by Bess | 7:55 AM


I like your new sidebar (even though I think you took off Pioneer Bess and your list of 30 things, both of which I was hoping you would grow further) and yes, you do deserve a class with Deb Menz... if you find her, will you tell me and we can be class buddies?

By Blogger Amie, at 8:53 AM  

Oops! I found them, I just hadn't gone far enough yet!

By Blogger Amie, at 8:56 AM  

I can'twait to here what you think about the John Smith movie AND I can't wait until the SFF!!!!

By Blogger jane, at 8:47 PM  

I will also be interested in your take on the movie. Considering the P&P fiasco! Colin Farrel leaves me cold, so I will sit this one out!
My 23 yr old daughter & I went to see Narnia & we were both pleasantly surprised. It was not "Hollywoodized" at all.
Hope you have a good time.

By Anonymous Isobel, at 11:31 PM  

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Friday, January 20, 2006  

Reminder to self:

Read HER book again.

This morning is packed - but with Good Things. A 9 a.m. manicure (necessary luxury) and a 10:30 a.m. PT session. I am about 90% better and feel a little guilty about using up their time but I want some close guidance back into regular exercise. I don't want to end up back in the hospital with neck issues again.

I am proud to say that TheQueen of Confrontation Ducking tackled AnIssue and handled it so well that we all went around the rest of the day happy. Man - when chamomile is good - it's really good.

I even made the beginning salvo into That Bookkeeping Program. Some progress was made which, in my book, is a triumph. On the home front there was less movement, but then, it's much harder to spend time with your favorite person wrangling over paperwork and $. It's much more fun to read a mystery short story out loud to each other and laugh about fun things.

But, ahs gawd is mah witnuss, I'll think about it tomorrow - at Tara.

Only 2 meager rows of BSHP were knit last night. At this rate, it will be finished on my birthday. But we're driving to Richmond on Sunday to see the new Jamestown/John Smith movie The New World, and that means at least an hour and a half of knitting. I make no promises about Saturday. If there is any time to spare on Paperwork Reckoning Day, it will be spent spinning.

I suddenly realized I must get busy with my handouts for the Spring Fiber Festival. Usually I teach spinning in a casual, one on one situation. This time I'm teaching to a crowd and I want to organize my steps a little better. I am soooooo grateful to Deb Menz - who taught me so much about pre-drafting. What a genius she is. I believe I owe it to myself to track her down and take a class with her.

Okay - I gave myself till 7 to play around in here. Time to go do the grocery list thing. Happy Friday to you all.

posted by Bess | 6:43 AM


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Thursday, January 19, 2006  

Oh - I had not thought to post anything at all today - for yesterday lived up to Mr.Horoscope's - Horrorscope, I should say - predictions and I still have TheHeadache from it. But what should I discover on my wend through the morning newspaper routine but this article from the NYT! Full of good information, there’s nothing either patronizing nor inaccurate in the article. There’s even a photo of a Louet and a Norm Hall. It put a smile on my grouchy face first thing in the morning, so maybe this will be a better day.

There is another interesting article, worthy of the fashion curious who would like to know just exactly why those shoes cost $3,000. Click here.

But otherwise, yesterday stunk, and not just for me - but for many of those I love. Rats.

So. Least said (though you can be sure, some will be said to someone) soonest mended. And I have 3 months to accomplish at least something towards my work goals. Fortunately (or un- depending on how well they’re done) I don’t have to suffer performance reviews, and since I don’t get one, my bonus isn’t dependent upon accomplishing all my objectives.

I do have a couple of Good Ideas for 2006 I’d like to try out. These are GI’s with deadlines on them. One is to get a handle on my personal financial paperwork - a.k.a. bills, which are strewn about with abandon or hidden in little white paper WW bags that I also use for knitting projects. I’ve bought the pretty colored organizers to put All That Stuff in, by year and category. I would like it done before I get my W2 form from the county. I would be so proudly smug to be able to look at rows of Important Papers in GirlyGirl Colored Files. The deadline for this GI is January 31, 2006 and I am thinking that it will also be this weekend’s project.

Alas - if I am going to delve into bill paying procedures and paperwork storage activities I may as well talk to the Other Person In This House about $$ - a subject we avoid most of the time. He doesn’t like to think about it and would rather just have everything already be on the dinner table or in the dresser drawer or the closet when he reaches for it. You and I know that Somebody put it there, but, like family secrets, we just don’t talk about it much around here.

I am already hyperventilating about this and dredging up really bad ghosts from my childhood and thoughts of unworthiness and all that, but I think that’s because of the current astro-alignment, because Himself has never fussed about $ in all the years we’ve lived together. This is really all my inner stuff and I am just trying to blame my stressful self on the nearest and most helpless and most forgiving victim.

I’ll just cling to that pastel vision of color coded file folders lined up in neat rows, waiting up ahead, maybe on Monday.

The other GI2006 is also about financial paperwork but it’s to do with my Job and it’s really to do with mastering the bookkeeping program. And it has a March 1 deadline on it.

And you thought this was a knitting blog. Ha!

But in a disciplinary action yesterday morning, I did knit one row of my BSHP sweater. Oh La! And I have only 2 more rows to finish up that lace angel stitch I devised for the Austerman Barkerole swatch. Well - there you have it - they are alive, those knitting projects of mine - and will be on display soon - at a palace blog near you.

posted by Bess | 7:55 AM


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Wednesday, January 18, 2006  

One last JA/P&P comment - not important to me, but one of those trivia bits that remind me that people don’t change much. Click

I really ought not be here at all since everything I’ve hit the send button on today has gone haywire. Mr. Horoscope says to stay gracious and keep my lips shut unless it is bottom line stuff so I shall try to bite lips hard all day. Wonder just what crappy thing he thinks is in store for me.

But after today I am free of Under The Spotlight stuff at work for another 3 months. So long as nothing really serious crops up, I expect (hope, long for, plead sweetly with sugar on top) a gentle few months to spread out before me. Knitting, perhaps a wee bit of visiting distant friends, good books, good movies, good conversations. Maybe some garden work.

My PT session got canceled because of the insurance company but I got a phone message that the paperwork came through and I’m good for 6 more sessions. I feel heaps and tons better, though still not 100%. I’m hoping the wise folk up at the hospital will give me some guidance on how to get strong again. During my week off, when I thought I’d be taking walks, I tried it once and realized I just wasn’t vigorous enough for it. BD was with me and he posed the idea that maybe walking wasn’t the right exercise for me.

Huh? Isn’t that the one form of exercise everybody tells you is the perfect exercise? And of course I got huffy right away and felt like he was attacking me for not being strong and healthy and Perfect and thank god I’d been listening to my Chakra meditation tape and was smack-on able to say exactly what I thought and felt and what do you know. He countered with the most novel idea - that with my hyperflexion I am always going to be a candidate for falls and sprains and wouldn’t I like my own rowboat (?) so then I knew that he just wants another boat, but his point is actually very good. Perhaps walking is not the exercise for me. Of course, I’m as likely to sprain my ankle just standing on an asphalt parking lot, but ...hmm... swimming, now. That’s a real possibility.

I actually love to swim and relish time in the water. I am a 2 baths a day person, not because I feel dirty or anything obsessive, but because water, with bubbles, and maybe something delicious to drink on the side of the tub, and a pillow behind my head, and a Knitting Magazine or Yarn Catalog - well. What a way to get back into the womb.

My biggest problem with our local pool, or any pool, for that matter, is the smell. I can just barely stand the smell in the air, since I shan’t be there all that long - but the chlorine gets into my skin and hair and dries it out and reeks all day. The smell even gets into the clothes I wear after I’ve been swimming. So on the agenda is a search for chlorine de-stinking products and practices for TheQueen - who is now wondering who could possibly be interested in all this.

Ahh well. Today TheQueen is just thinking out loud. She did not knit a stitch yesterday. She did lose 1 lb. last week, as verified by WW personnel. She also came home and watched this and swooned and giggled as she saw her very own Consort sound wise and intelligent and full of knowledge. Lots of pretty green footage, too.

posted by Bess | 7:23 AM


If it helps at all, Dear Bess, at least this version of P&P was merely a badly done movie based on a wonderful story. However, "Karla", due to be released this week, is being reviewed here in Canada as a badly done movie based on a (tragically) True Horror story. :-( We Canucks are not amused.

By Blogger Margaret, at 10:20 AM  

Just know you're not the only one offended by bad versions of good books.... (Did you see that Laura Ingalls Wilder movie on the tv a few years ago (probably more like 5 by now) - the one where Laura and Almanzo decide to have sex in the field where their house will be or something - ick!)

Anyway - just also wanted to comment that I managed to get through school (highschool and undergraduate) without EVER having to read P&P (or any JA novel) nor Jane Eyre, nor a lot of the classics that I love... (actually makes me mad because I would have loved to have had to read my favorite novels for class)

I did write my AP English paper on P&P (Thats when it finally surpassed Emma as my favorite novel of all time - oddly enough writing a research paper actually increased my love of it!) but I had my choice of what I wanted to write on, it wasn't assigned...

By Blogger Aria, at 12:20 PM  

I so agree with you. It's along the same lines as Demi Moore's version of "The Scarlet Letter" a number of years back. They actually CHANGED the ending. Not to mention various other details of the book. Shame shame shame on them.

And further shame because probably a frightening number of movie goers didn't even realize this ... and now think that's the way TSL actually goes.

grrrr. If one is not going to follow the plot and details of a classic, then one should not call a movie by the classic's title.

Sure, use the book as a starting point. Just name it something else, for gosh sakes.

Hugs, Jen (an equally~affronted English Lit major)

By Blogger Jennifer, at 1:41 PM  

You're obsessed, dear, because you care about intellectual excellence and the degeneration of society's literary skills. The mangling of a classic offends you as much as the mangling of the language offends me. Literature is much of your life - of course you're offended!


By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:21 PM  

at TNK tonight Isobel and I both left with new copies of P&P!! You've inspired us to do our own little book club read-along! Jane

By Blogger jane, at 11:14 PM  

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Tuesday, January 17, 2006  

Whew. I am much better now. I’m much more at peace about that dreadful movie and I must thank you, dear darling ones, for your comments. They were a great help. It seems silly, but my reaction to the movie, and to the mainstream media chatter about it, was decidedly and painfully subjective. Yet, why should I be so offended, so furious, actually, that yet another bad movie has flashed across the horizon. There are thousands of bad movies out there. And after all, I didn’t write the witty and marvelous P&P. I am not being misrepresented by the sleazy side of the entertainment world. I’m definitely not being used as the foster mother for the fashionable pleasures of anorexia and plastic surgery. I’m only peripherally affected as a librarian, and ought to take heart that at least 6 young women were prompted to read a piece of literature they’d always heard about but had somehow missed on their road to adulthood. If only 6 million others had done the same, why - there might be a little more artistic outrage. Certainly there would be a little more artistic judgment in the world.

So, why do I care that someone with no taste, no creativity, no literary talent, no dramatic talent, no judgment, perhaps no brains at all, would use the cheap gimmick of showcasing his starved girlfriends and willowy boyfriends under the borrowed light of one of literature’s jewels? After all, I don’t reject the artistic gimmick - the hook, so to say - as a lure for reeling in an audience or as a sort of track for your artistic endeavor to ride upon. Done with skill it makes for a quick read, an evening’s entertainment, or a few hours of listening that leaves one satisfied, admiring, even "de-stressed". I know a how it will end - with our investigator clipping cuffs on the murderer, or our heroine waltzing at her wedding with her dashing hero. I don’t have to worry about the destination so I can enjoy the journey.

All that is just to let you know, I don’t mind a gimmick. But if you plan to hide behind the shadow of a truly known quantity, you really ought to pay deference to it with some quality of your own. Nobody would have bothered to watch this movie if it had been called Fiona’s Folly or Elizabeth’s Locket. P&P is not just a cliché of unknown origin, it is out there, in text and a remarkably accurate film adaptation. So the innocent can be suckered in by the title alone, although, anyone who’s read the book had to be forewarned when he learned that Donald Sutherland would be playing Mr. Bennet.

Of course, English Lit classes being what they are today, it’s entirely possible that a person could get a university degree without ever reading that book. Many other monuments of literature are being by-passed for Terry McMillan and courses in 21st century relevancy. Eh. That’s the way of the world. Each generation thinks its issues are unique, original, and superior to previous generations’ and literature - expanded in the broadest sense to include live drama, film, sound and print - is where they must be aired. The young women who swept up the library copies of P&P this past December were all of my son’s generation. They hadn’t read the book in school and I think they are at a better time in life to read it anyway. It’s not quite so funny if you haven’t yet been really bored at a cocktail party. Only GD has been able to share with me her reaction to the film, but then, we watched it together and nearly got thrown out of the theater because of our derisive laughter and wicked jokes about silicone lip implants.

I still haven’t expressed why I care so much that there is a bad version of a good book out there. Perhaps I care because it looks like literary theft to me. Perhaps I care because so many people actually believe that if they see it in a movie, it is real. Not, mind you, the specific plot or character, but the underlying facts of a story - the values, the images, the reality upon which a story is built. And botox lips and bizarre runway model bodies are so far from any “truth” I want to see adopted by the masses. Worse than confronting a point of view with which I strongly disagree, though, is the fact that mainstream media marches behind it with sycophantic adherence. I’m enough of a first amendment supporter to grant any film maker the right to put such a creepy movie up on the screen and charge you $7.50 to see it. But calling that movie P&P was a little like sticking up a Seven11. Artistic theft. The Literary Lie. Yuck.

So. I am finished with my literary purge. I can sink back into the comfort of my own smug opinions and leave the great unwashed to their own piggish ways.

Alas - my last long slow 4 day weekend has passed and if I want any more of these languorous days at home I’ll have to subtract them from my meager collection of vacation hours. But such a sweet satisfying weekend it was, beginning with a visit to B’s studio, a cold rainy Saturday with BD watching - nay - becoming addicted to this - a Sunday when I knew I still had Another Day Off and also when I transformed the dust bin into the sparkle box - and the sweet opportunity to teach a friend how to spin on Monday.

Part of the fun of teaching L was that I had to dig out all sorts of interesting fibers from Aladin’s Stash Cave as I looked for something I thought she would be successful with. L is not a craft person. She’s not a fiddly finger woman, always wanting to produce. I knew this but I also sensed that she needed something that would center her and help her find that zone where the chakras open, the energy forces flow. She’s been suffering from our version of a general upper respiratory crud that can lodge itself in your lungs in October and stay till July: part cold, part allergies, all misery.

The first thing I always like to do when teaching spinning is to show my Ugly Babies. I think that if people see how quickly I progressed from dreadlocks to yarn, they won’t be discouraged if their yarns don’t look like the stuff in the stores. We used some Beast I had and started with some discussion of fiber qualities. I had her pull on the fiber, looking for that spot where they begin to slide apart. Then I had her pinch that spot with one hand and pull again - again looking for the movement of the fibers. This way she was able to predraft a fairly even length. She used my Golding spindle - it spins forever, and produced a yarn that was much better than my first yarn.

But I was more interested in getting her on the wheel. I was sure she’d feel the centering that a spinning wheel can give a body and I was right. First she treadled while the bobbin was empty. I wanted her to find the sweet spot on the treadle that gives you control over the drive wheel’s direction. It took only moments and at that point she felt the centering - the flow that happens at the spinning wheel. After that it was easy to see how the drop spindle steps translate to the wheel and she spun a lovely soft puffy yarn.

She laughingly told me that she thought she’d just frame it, since she neither knits, crochets nor weaves. I advised putting it in a bowl on the dining room table. She left smiling and calm and with both Stony Mountain Fiber’s address and the website for the Golding Spindles in her pocket.

There is nothing so sweet to me as watching a new spinning student make beautiful yarn. It’s even more fun than watching my new knitting students succeed. Something so ancient, so elemental as spinning just pulls deep at the very core of my being and all those trite sayings about the common thread ring as true as crystal bells in my heart.

And with that I’m ready to move into a new week. It’s a toughie because my library board meets this day and my Friends board does too. I’m on the carpet - if that is the expression. Not that I am in trouble, but this is the week I catch my bosses and supporters up on what’s been going on and what is needed to go forward. And I’ve been out sick so much that there’s almost nothing to report. Still - I am sure I can find something besides statistics to interest them. Beyond that - there is nothing much on the agenda. Just good days with good work among good people. Sounds pretty good to me.

posted by Bess | 7:48 AM


I managed to miss catching it in the theater (mostly because I couldn't decide whether it was worth going or not) Keira's hair was enough to bother me (that and all the things that weren't true to the novel per several people on JA board's reviews of the movie)

But anyway - what I really wanted to know was how was Judy Dench as Lady Catherine? She's the main reason I wanted to see the movie, because I knew she could pull off a wonderful Lady Catherine I thought (although whether she was allowed to is another story - I'll blame the director or someone else if it wasn't, lol)

By Blogger Aria, at 8:45 AM  

Don't worry too much about the next generation, Bess. This version sparked a real rise in sales of the book, so at least a few of them will "get it."

By Blogger Jane, at 9:51 AM  

Judy Dench is okay as Lady Catherine, though certainly no better than Barbara Leigh-Hunt was in the BBC version. Sadly, no character has much screen time except Mr. & Mrs. Bennet, Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy, so her opportunity to sink teeth into juicy role was minimal. And of course, the have Lady Catherine arrive at Longbourne in the middle of the night, dragging everyone out of bed, instead of in the daytime, when she can really critique the house. god knows why the writer/producer/director thought that was a better scene than that delightful one in the "very pretty sort of wilderness", but I never shall.

As for the KK's hair! They never even bothered to tuck the short ends of her own hair beneath the wig. It sticks out like some sort of Vidal Sassoon cut.

And the clothes - my god - Her gown! 6 yards of burlap, my dear, I hope you noticed! You wouldn't want your sister going about like that.


I popped the matinee fee, though, so that I could justify all my prejudices with pride - but also, with accuracy.

There are so many horrible things to say about this movie that it becomes a classic of badness.

By Blogger Bess, at 10:01 AM  

Yes, yes, take your last day for play and then come home from a day and just vent it all....


By Blogger Amie, at 11:10 AM  

Crazy - I just don't know why anyone would want to ruin P&P by making such a version... like P&P0 wasn't bad enough (although I do like someone's quote about it being the ultimate P&P fanfiction - considering the complete change in Lady C in P&P0, it really does fit)

Anyway - I was SOOOOO worried when I first saw the 1995 BBC one (Aka P&P2, aka the Colin Firth one - as if any of us don't know which one I'm talking about, LOL) I waited years to get it because I was afraid that they would ruin my favorite novel.... When you've got a version that sticks to the book as well as that one (and Colin Firth to look at, lol) why do we need another one?

By Blogger Aria, at 11:34 AM  

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Monday, January 16, 2006  

Lawsee - I am trying to write my long awaited diatribe against the dreadful new film version of Pride & Prejudice. It's already 3 pages long and I haven't yet gotten to the specific things I hate about it. It took me an hour to write down all the reasons why I care so much about the badness of this movie and I haven't yet gotten round to such details as the dichotomy of Donald Sutherland's repulsively scruffy beard and hair, his filthy clothes, which he wears, even to The Netherfield Ball, and his tooth-paste add white teeth, gleaming through the dirt. What the hell? Nor have I found all the adjectives with which I might describe the pain of watching excruciatingly long still shots of this incongruous face, blown up to theater screen size.

Nor have I fleshed out my outline bullet about Keira Knightly's silicone lip implants, the 30 minutes of a 127 minute movie we had to spend looking at her truly stiff upper lip (so that when she smiled, her mouth looked like Buggs Bunny, causing me to whisper to GD "Yaaaaa Wats Up Doc?")

Nor the creepy sensation of an entire cast of women so emaciated you could count the vertebrae in their backs as the waltzed.

It really is a vomitatious movie. But do people want to read 6 pages of specific details? I wonder.

Besides, it's the last day of the last 4 day weekend I will have for a loooooong time. I don't think I want to spend it grousing about literary garbage. I am sorry that the present generation of movie goers will have an entirely false concept of one of the truly delightful novels in English literature. I am sure 90% of the people who see the movie, certainly 100% of the people who have reviewed it, will think they know all about Pride and Prejudice now and, perhaps, with minds so trifling, there isn't any point in trying to enlighten them. Sort of like the waterfalls and talking racoons in Disney's Pocahontas. Why not tell the real story - it's plenty exciting. Or if you want to be original - come up with a new title.

Sheesh! I still can't stop going on about it. Starting to sound like a bad party guest.

Off I go, then. To knit. To spin. To make another cup of coffee.

posted by Bess | 7:30 AM


Ah, Bess! You are chamomile, dear...for you entertain, enlighten and sooth the savage breast -- er, beast. :-)

I admire your 2006 resolve -- sworn affidavit and all!! -- but this CatNip Creature is not prepared to go that far -- yet. Best of luck...and we'll check back in December!


By Blogger Margaret, at 2:20 PM  

Bess - you are the coolest, despite whether the comment numbers suggest it...

Sorry I wasn't around to post on the actual delurking post (even though I'm not a delurker)

I'm going to have to sort through my stash (mostly old acrylics from undergraduate crocheting only days) because I HAVE A JOB!!! WHOO-HOOO!!! which means I'm MOVING (aaaaah!!!!! the scary stressful part!)

By Blogger Aria, at 3:38 PM  

We can be tea together, since I'm Catnip!


By Blogger Amie, at 5:11 PM  

Hi Bess,
Catnip here!

By Anonymous Patti, at 8:21 AM  

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Sunday, January 15, 2006  

Well - I am so glad you all enjoyed Friday’s post. Be assured, I enjoyed it myself; enjoyed coming up with the idea, enjoyed carrying it out - they’ll be laughing down at the courthouse for a long time - and enjoyed sharing it here. I can also promise you that I will enjoy fulfilling it. I promise, I wouldn’t have started down this path if I hadn’t wanted to arrive at the destination.

The pledge is not something to do with deprivation, mind you. It’s to do with opening up horizons that are right within reach of my fingertips. It’s to do with valuing things I had been taking for granted. It’s to do with telling the truth about myself, to myself, and to others. And the truth is, I want to do things differently. I spend an awful lot of time daydreaming and talking about and getting ready but never getting started. I seem to be always ready to get ready to get going. Then suddenly I look back and it’s been 3 years since I bought that Brown Sheep Hand Paint yarn and I still haven’t done anything with it. But, right now, with the flush of January upon me, I feel a bit more like getting on with it, for a change.

My very precious BD has always been an enthusiastic diner - a bit of a gourmand with an adventurous palate and a metabolism to support his hearty appetite. In fact, it has been a joy to cook for this man because even when I’ve made things that I wouldn’t eat, he would merely shrug, say, “not up to your usual” and clean his plate. Then he’d go out and saw down trees with bucksaws or some other Herculean task. His reputation sur la table was legend among family and friends. But time eventually catches up with even the most fat-tolerant metabolism and in his case it did so with a one two punch in the heart last spring.

To a man, every visitor who came to see him as he recovered, both in hospital and at home, ribbed him wickedly about how bleak his dining experiences were going to be. I suppose it was to be expected, but the protective tigress mama in me was roused and each time someone laughed and said “It’s sawdust and straw for you now” I bristled with swift indignation and parried with “Not at all. We are going to have Dining Adventures - all new tastes - experiments with flavors and textures and foods we’ve never heard of before.” We did, too. I didn’t try to find the lo-fat equivalent of my spaghetti recipe. It’s a perfect recipe and it’s a killer and we just dropped it from the menu. In the 9 months since the big one hit, we have had spaghetti only once. We’ll do so again one of these days, but in the mean time, we’ve just tried different things.

But the important thing is that we approached a situation, not as some horrid burden that we must submit to - but as an adventure full of mystery, newness and opportunities for personal expansion. And that’s really how I’m looking at the Stagnant Stash. As a new country I get to visit - like a year abroad - a visit to foreign shores. I’ll have to speak a new language, the language of creating; with luck and hope, the language of completion. I won’t forget how to speak yarn-shop crawl and shopping with friends. I know it will be waiting for me when I master this new language. In the end I’m really hoping that I’ll be able to combine the two into something that is better than the sum of its parts.

Lucky readers will be able to follow my progress through the land of TheQueen’s Stash.

To catch you up with what I’ve been working on lately - I spent Friday at B’s house - or rather, in B’s studio. I am completely envious (in the healthiest way) of B. She has that dream object of every crafter/maker/finger person - a studio. It is a fabulous studio with walls lined with deep cabinets, so you can put everything away if you want to - and three huge tables so that you can leave everything out if that’s what you want. A whole quilt can be laid out on them. There are bright glass doors and skylight windows. There’s an a/v set up with a rocking chair in front of it - in case you need to watch an EZ video or a Deb Menz tape. And there is a space that looks like a 3 car garage with an enormous counter down one side, piped with H/C water and just begging to have a dye shop set up in it. It’s really almost enough studio for a couple to live in, since there’s a sleeping loft and a library and room for a pool table. It’s really a space I never want to leave once I get there.

We played with her toys all afternoon and I knit a bit on the BSHP sweater. I’d hoped to have the front done by the end of this long weekend but I’ll have to stitch all day to get there now. Partly that’s because I’ve been working on the Austerman Barkerole swatch.

THANK YOU Isobel - that was exactly the stitch I’d remembered and I even checked out the book SocksSocksSocks from the library. Alas. It won’t work with this project. That stitch is knit from the top down - perfect for sock cuffs - and if you want to knit a hat/sweater/garment from the top down it is just right. But I’m developing a sweater that’s knit bottom up and there’s no way I can catch those wings with a bobble. Sigh.

The upshot of that disappointment, though, was a Saturday spent experimenting with a lace angel. I think I have something that I like, though I haven’t knit it to the exact dimensions yet. I’ll do that today, before getting back to the BSHP. This is the very first time I’ve ever tried to design a lace stitch all by myself. I’d call myself an advanced beginner when it comes to lace, but it’s one of those skills I know I could develop. It all makes sense to me at some intuitive level. So this mental activity is very rewarding in spite of the knitting and frogging I have to do to make it happen. And even if the pattern turns out to be too big for the sweater design I’m imagining, it’s one I can use in something else - maybe a Heavenly Shawl.

There are 2 more days of this sweet long weekend and this one is both sunny and windy. A cold front swept in last night and blew away the rain. That means I will do laundry today, a task often complicated by winter weather, since I don’t have a dryer. Tomorrow a friend comes over to learn about spinning. My - I really like this working part time. I wish I could get the full time paycheck and keep the hours.

I know this is the wordiest of blogs - and wish I had more pictures to brighten things up around here. Perhaps, my stricter shopping habits will leave some $ for a digital camera. But at least I can offer someone else’s picture - from another cute quizilla quiz. I would rather have been basil but this will do.


What herb are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

posted by Bess | 8:44 AM


If you really have that kind of resolve, I will bow down to you!!!
Jane & I keep going on a "yarn diet". You will notice I say "keep going". But you are right, de-stashing is a good thing. Isn't it?

Convince me.

By Anonymous Isobel, at 7:10 AM  

Bess, darling...You truly are the "Queen"! You actually are glowing in those photo's. I wish I could have been there with you when you "took the oath"! Now I know what to get you for your B/Day! Teehee!

By Anonymous Patti, at 8:00 AM  

Wow. Good for you. I wish you great success, and I hope you get that wheel soon.

By Blogger Lanea, at 8:51 AM  

You are the most adorable love of a woman, I do declare....

One of my first tasks next week is to completely re-sort my fibers. I currently have five thirty gallon tubs and LOTS of spill over. My plan is to sort, put the things I won't use this year in the tubs, and have only immediate project outside the tubs. Sock yarn currently has its own tub, it may have to come out since that's an easy stash to go through. Nothing can get added until there is a place to put it. GULP.

Love your ceremony, sweets....

By Blogger Amie, at 9:24 AM  

All hail the Queen! May her resolve bring her her wildest dreams.


By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:59 PM  

Well well well! This shows great resolve. And a wee bit of insanity? I would join you, really I would. But I don't believe the state of Maine recognizes the legality of this particular ceremony.

By Blogger Clara, at 2:16 PM  

you're a stronger woman than I am.

although I suppose if someone were to hogtie me and make me swear on a Bible that I'd not buy more yarn, I'd probably have to go with it. (But I don't know that I could do it to myself, on my own volition).

(But I DO de-stash! See! I'm knitting something out of stash right now! Never mind all that sockyarn and the five or six sweater's worth of yarn that's still sitting there!)

(this also counts as "National Delurker Week" comment. Not a total lurker, but I do read you almost daily, even if I'm not commenting all that much)

By Blogger fillyjonk, at 3:42 PM  

I probably should join you
as I just dropped an unseemly amount of credit card money on webs buying up sisik in red.

who is now thinking of importing the sheep from france IF america and france will allow it....they are endangered you know

By Blogger vi, at 6:16 PM  

"In a discussion with some knitting friends last month my friend K and I began to puzzle out why we had yet to start a Dale of Norway sweater. Both of us want one. Both of us are fine knitters. Both of us have the income to indulge in the expense of one and neither of us is the type to feel we don’t deserve that kind of indulgence. And yet, we have been talking about Dale of Norway sweaters for ... 3 years!! ... but have done nothing about them. We came to no conclusions that night but I couldn’t stop thinking about it after we parted."

Hmmm...have you read what Stephanie PMcP has written about knitting a DoN sweater? ;-) (see her "Yarn Harlot: The Secret Life of a Knitter"...) Hugs!

By Blogger Margaret, at 8:02 PM  

You are truly an inspiration to all of us!! I love the picture, and your official document.

By Blogger Carolyn, at 8:36 AM  

All hail you... I am so impressed by your fortitude. I came by way of the 'Bossy Little Dog' blog and read the stash reduction oath. Great idea.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:06 PM  

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Friday, January 13, 2006  

Stagnant Stash Solution

Each January, with its sober economic reflection and post holiday resolve, there comes the opportunity to find solutions to chronic problems, to make fundamental changes, to sweep out the old and usher in the new. Here in Virginia we’re even getting a new governor today - which is auspicious for him, since the astronomical signs point to stellar success for all efforts begun today.

With such heavenly promise, I offer here, today, my sole New Year’s Resolution.

But first, being the Queen of Loquacity; a little back info.

Three times since last May I have gone through my entire stash of fiber, fleece and yarn, seeking items that might be swapped, passed on, or at least, not duplicated the next time I strolled through the doors of the nearest yarn emporium. Each time I was unable to find a single ounce of fiber or skein of yarn with which I was not passionately in love. I had promised to participate in one yarn swap and with clutch-fisted resistance, managed to find 6 skeins of a lovely soft greeny aqua merino/mohair blend that, though it would look lovely on mama, I could part with. Thank goodness a close friend picked it up, so it felt like a gift instead of a loss.

I’m not offended by a large stash. I firmly believe in having plenty of material to work with, no matter what your passion is. I like the breadth and scope of having a mini shop in the house so that, come some rainy afternoon, I can indulge my creativity with immediate tactile feedback. But I am Virgo enough to need the things I own to be in working order, and lately I’ve come to see that my stash is not functioning properly. A good stash is not a museum of my shopping expeditions. It is a storeroom in the palace where one can pluck that single needed delight and put it to good use. Alas, lately I have only been stuffing items into it, not plucking them out. I have not made anything from my stash in months or - (gulp) - longer. My stash is not the biggest I’ve heard of, but it’s certainly spilling out of bags and bulging up from behind chests, which are already packed full. It is too big for me. Or perhaps I ought to say - it is a stagnant stash. It is not moving, not vibrant and flowing and adding to my life. It is adding only to my clutter.

In a discussion with some knitting friends last month my friend K and I began to puzzle out why we had yet to start a Dale of Norway sweater. Both of us want one. Both of us are fine knitters. Both of us have the income to indulge in the expense of one and neither of us is the type to feel we don’t deserve that kind of indulgence. And yet, we have been talking about Dale of Norway sweaters for ... 3 years!! ... but have done nothing about them. We came to no conclusions that night but I couldn’t stop thinking about it after we parted. Several days later, over lunch with my most Zen friend, the one who tosses out 100% of whatever she hasn’t used in a year, the one whose spare approach to life is often the recipient of my teasing, I realized what was stopping me from buying a DoN kit. I have Stash Stagnation and I can’t bear the thought of adding another $$$ worth of fiber to that sluggish backwater of fiber.

And so was born, over that laughingly silly lunch date, my 2006 New Year’s Resolution. It involves all the things that I know work for me: External structure. Group support. Public acknowledgment. A stick, but also a carrot. I give it to you now.

We had planned to have a bit more ceremony but at the last minute, we had to perform the swearing in during lunch hour on Wednesday. My accommodating public servant down at the county courthouse, Circuit Court Clerk GA swore me in and the notary witnessed it. There were only 2 photos left on the cheesy disposable camera I had in the office. So I can’t show you the revelry that followed this august moment. Happily I can report - a good time was had by all - including TheQueen.

Nevertheless. It is official. There will be No New Fiber in the castle this year - unless someone gives me some. That is not my concern. What is in question here is my accumulating propinquity, not another’s generosity. And who knows - perhaps next year there will be a Golding Spinning Wheel in my house.

posted by Bess | 6:31 AM


I have the yellow one! I used the lovely little rocking horse as the center of a lacy baby blanket (border in horseshoe lace, of course!).

Yes, I am a lurker. My sister is a children's librarian and I'm a fiberholic, so I read your blog faithfully...

By Anonymous Carol in Oregon, at 9:49 AM  

I have all three plus the top down book. I think number two is my overall favorite. The yellow one just doesn't do it for me. Hardly ever look at it. The first two though are always open to something I'm currently using. So there.

By Blogger Larry, at 10:38 AM  

I'm delighted to "hear" optimism in your written voice again. I sure hope all your tests come back perfect.


By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:22 PM  

De-lurking here. I wish I had an angel slip stitch pattern for you, but alas! So I'll just leave kudos for a well-written blog. Happy Thursday!


By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:03 PM  

Delurking here....been reading your bog for a while. Wish I could have been around when you came to visit Jane's class and us at TNK, but alas, I was firmly in the grip of late pregnancy (and on bedrest!). Here's hoping we'll meet sometime soon, I really like they way you write. :)

By Anonymous Christine, at 8:09 PM  

I can't imagine there is a person out there who would NOT want to post a comment! The swatch of mystery sounds intriguing--can't wait to hear more.

By Anonymous Isobel, at 6:47 AM  

Bess, here is a link (hopefully) to an angel pattern--I hope this

By Anonymous Isobel, at 7:00 AM  

Wheee! Thank you Isobel! That is the stitch I was looking for! Thank you thank you thankyou!!!!

By Blogger Bess, at 7:31 AM  

Your are most welcome.

By Anonymous Isobel, at 4:48 PM  

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Wednesday, January 11, 2006  

Oh. Well. I’ll admit it. I suffer from comment envy. I too would like to have 98 comments each time I check in. Proof that I am cool and popular and say things that matter - for the betterment of mankind, of course - oh and world peace.

But then I think about my reality and I love it that the folk who actually have a reaction to my words do leave a comment and that is enough.

Besides, today I don’t have anything to say. There are a few things that are percolating in the brain, but they aren’t ready to be poured out yet. Even my knitting is at a most unexciting stage. I am now 8 inches up the front of the BSHP ribbed turtleneck. Two sleeves (in ribbing) will follow this and some assembly is required. There is a swatch that I’m working on but, I’m not in the mood to talk about it yet. I’ve added to my Mostly Stitches collection: Barbara Walker’s Third Treasury - the yellow one, with charts. And as I thought, I had to go to a yarn shop to get it. Fortunately, yesterday’s tasks took me to Richmond where I snapped it up. Only the First Treasury to get now, the blue one. But I borrowed that one from the library last night - because, wouldn’t you know it? - That one has the stitch I think I want to put in the swatch I’m not ready to talk about.

Somewhere in my collection of single stray pieces of paper, stuffed into some nook or cranny, I have a slip stitch design that looks like a little angel. I may have thrown it away, but I hope I didn’t. I can’t find it, though, and I know I copied it from someplace on-line, back in the early days of my knitting exuberance, when I was copying everything and anything. Back before I had 74 75 knitting books.

So. If anyone out there who is planning on commenting during De-Lurk Week has an angel slip stitch pattern, please share it with me.

We got all the family business done swiftly and sweetly yesterday and there are only 2 days left to work this week. Last night at WW there was real downward progress - from an all time high, alas, but Down is Down - that is my WW motto. On Friday I will get some of those ought-to-be-rewarded-for medical tests done. Much of it is Getting Ready For Old Age base line stuff. But after that I am on a lovely 4 day weekend. Perhaps I shall finish the BSHP front then. The back is in pretty good, if not perfect shape. Altogether this is a Good News Post. Just not very interesting. I hope to do better, later this week.

posted by Bess | 6:43 AM


but dear we do love you
you know that right??????

I will send you marguerite the chicken
post a few of her antics and pictures and you will have buckets of comments....
some so odd you will have to moderate your comments on the blog


trying to figure out boucle.....
sounds really complicated....

By Blogger vi, at 8:23 AM  

I hearby comment that your blog is indeed worthy of the crown. There! I have de-lurked. And it certainly didn't kill me.
More pictures, if you please, Madame. Too much text makes me want to go lie down.
Just kidding.
:) Manasi

By Blogger yarnahoy, at 12:27 PM  

Ah, I see that things have gone well in the time since your post about your beanfield and the drought. Thanks Heaven's for that! Your gardens are the most beautiful things I've seen in a long time on the web. Thanks for sharing them.

You have a very interesting blog here at this site, too, but then you know that.

By Blogger Zippianna, at 4:11 AM  

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Tuesday, January 10, 2006  

You said it, Isobel. Solid Gold lettering on Hand Made Paper Knitting books. Like Alice Starmore’s stuff - published in tiny runs, here briefly then locked forever in the high priced, only museums with Donald Trump underwritten budgets can afford to own them. I know I paid $78 for AS’s book on fair isle knitting. Thank the good knitting gods I bought her aran book when it was new and only cost something like $30.

I had a brief afternoon at work yesterday, after a long wait in the dr.’s office. Thank goodness, nothing happened last week that left additional piles on my desk, because I’m off again today on personal business. That means it comes out of vacation time, not sick leave, but I can spare one day from that cache of Future Pleasure. We had news that a beloved friend is going to be moving to Vancouver (from Pakistan, via the German embassy) in the summer. Uncanny how we had just this weekend been talking about going to Vancouver for our next vacation. Still in the wee early planning stages, but ....

We get a 4 day weekend this week - a Virginia thing - and almost useless since in January you are broke and can’t go shopping on your days off, and besides, you’ve just had holiday time off. How I wish these ImportantPeople had been born, say, on April 4. That’s when I need time off, not now. Correction - that’s when I’d prefer time off. I always need time off.

I’m knitting away on the front of the BSHP sweater - I’ve done 6 inches and in 6 more I’ll put in the bust darts. Sometime this weekend, I think. Tonight is our Tuesday Night Knitters group, so I’m glad to have something to show off.

Back continues to improve though still not 100%. But 90% feels sooooooo good. And Barnes & Nobel did not have any Barbara Walker books. It had 4 shelves of knitting books but not a single solid knitter’s need title, except for one slim copy of Knitting Without Tears. After listening to me muttering crankily, BD commented that he thought B&N was not really a book store, but a front for the publishers, who know most people would rather have shiny than solid and most is enough people for them to make a good profit from. If it wasn’t published in the last 6 months it won’t be on the shelves. He didn’t find what he wanted either. Ahh for an independent book store.

Off I go now.

posted by Bess | 7:56 AM


A few year ago I for POK at the used book store in Midlo. I keep checking back for another, if I find it, it's yours! Jane

By Blogger jane, at 12:22 PM  

Bess, I found a link where you can purchase the POK book.
Hope this helps.

By Anonymous Isobel, at 7:07 AM  

Apparently this book is published on gold leaf judging by the prices on the website I just sent you!!!

By Anonymous Isobel, at 7:10 AM  

So glad to hear that you're feeling better, dear. I'm in pain 24/7, so I can appreciate what you've been going through. Keep up the good work.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:01 PM  

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Sunday, January 08, 2006  

A Knitter's Library
Come browse the library shelves with me, for I was good yesterday. I followed MrH’s advice and cleaned out the "closet" of knitting books, magazines and pamphlets, (and plain old trash) that had spread itself all about the spare bedroom. Of course, they weren’t really in a closet - they are supposed to live on bookshelves, though the magazines are just too tall to fit on any but the top shelf unless I lay them flat and I found that didn’t work too well. It’s easy enough to pull a magazine out of a stack that’s lying flat, but it’s almost a given that I’ll be too tired/lazy/busy to put it back. The ones on top are just too heavy to lift without making a major effort. I will purchase Princeton Files (I’ll need 12!!) and store them upright. I have a little kick stool that will make it possible to access them on that top shelf.

So what did I discover in my Saturday excavation project? And how was I to organize all these things anyway? By author? Title? Type of book? It’s an extensive library but not a definitive one. Eventually I decided to create 4 categories of knitting books. There are the Mostly Stitch books, the Mostly Technique books, the Mostly Patterns, and the Mostly Musing books. Of the last category I have only 3: Zen and the art of knitting by Bernadette Murphy, the Joy of Knitting by Lisa Myers, and At Knits End, by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee.

I included in the Mostly Stitch books the charted design books, to create a total of 9 titles. There are two Barbara Walker treasuries, #2 and 4. There is Lesley Stanfield’s New Knitting Stitch Library - which I purchased because it was pretty good, nobody local had the BWT’s at the time, and besides, it was half the price of a BWT. I also have two Nicky Epstein titles, Knitted Embellishments and Knitting on the Edge. I’m not quite sure I would buy her Knitting Over the Edge. The library has a copy, but it’s a possible addition. I like the first two the best. Then there are 4 books of charted designs, suitable to any chartable craft; needlepoint, cross stitch, knitting. 2 are from Iceland, one is Celtic and one is a collection of Traditional Nova Scotia Patterns, by Janetta Dexter.

The next category is Mostly Technique books. It’s not that these books have no patterns in them, but they are concerned with teaching a particular knitting or design skill - or with many such particular skills. Here I put Maggi Righetti’s books, and Ann Budd’s Knitting book of Patterns, Catherina Buss’s Big Book of Knitting, several books on finishing techniques, and the handouts I got at a fabulous Lily Chinn workshop I took 2 years ago. There are some sock books; an Edie Eikman and a Cat Bordii, as well as the latter’s second Mobius book. There is Debbie New’s wildly inspiring Unexpected Knitting and Horst Scultz’s less inspiring, but certainly colorful book New Patchwork Knitting. There is one book in this collection that I am keeping for sentiment alone. Wanda Passadore’s The Needlework Book, which I bought with the very last $20 I had to my name, back in 1973. I didn’t yet have a job, either, but I believe I did have a stocked kitchen. Sometime over the next week or two I started clerking in a store, but that book gave me years and years of pleasure. It’s mostly a book on embroidery, but the last quarter is full of knitting stitches. I may never use it - but I still love it, so it gets to stay. Altogether I had 20 titles but would you believe it? I don’t have any Elizabeth Zimermann books! No. I can’t believe it either.

The final category is Mostly Patterns. Many of these books have wonderful techniques in them, but they are, as I’ve categorized them, mostly full of patterns. This is the biggest category with 41 titles in it, but some of these are hardly more than pamphlets. The Anny Blatt books #184 and #191, Patons Where Did You Get that Hat? Some quaint pamphlets, printed in the 1950’s, given to me by a friend who doesn't knit. One, Shire Album #31 Fisherman Knitting by Michael Harvey and Rae Compton has a history of the fisherman sweaters, ancient contemporary photos, and several very classic patterns. It’s not more than 40 pages though, of 5.5 by 4 sheets. I have a couple of coffee table knitting books - too big to fit on shelves unless stored on their spine. Handpaint Country, Knitting in America, and a Kafe Fassett book. There is one almost dangerously moldy book from the 1940’s, Complete Book of Knitting, by Elizabeth Mathieson. I’m keeping it because it has the most delicious children’s patterns in it and who knows - one day I may have delightful g-children to knit for. There are also some scrumptious bed jacket patterns - a garment I really love though do not yet own. But beware - the adult size 18 is for a 38" bust. How the Boomers have fattened!
There are some sock books and some hat books and some mittens & glove books and here I have put the only EZ book I own - Opinionated Knitter - the latest one that is a collection of her mailer Wool Gathering. That may later go into the Mostly Technique section but at the moment it seems more like patterns to me.

With my 18 inches of magazines, sorted by title, then date, I completed the process with one little ENFP exception. There is still a small pile of single sheets of patterns, cartoons, and personal musings that I will have to sort and organize. But to leave an ENFP without some small unfinished task is to force closure upon her and why would anybody ever want that?!

So - what did I learn from this inventory? My biggest category of knitting books is Mostly Patterns. Odd, since I have knit only 2 sweaters following a pattern and I don’t see myself suddenly becoming a pattern follower. So why this enormous collection of books I may never use? Admittedly, some were gifts and some were purchased in the early days of my knitting career when I didn’t understand how sweaters were put together. But the reason I continue to buy these books is for their ability to inspire and energize me. The splash of color, the angle of stitches, the clever neckline treatment to be found in the works of fine designers can get my own wheels turning, my own engine pumping. I have some designing skill, but many of these designers have consummate skill and they are the lodestar to which I attach my creativity.

I am sure I will continue to purchase Mostly Pattern books in the future, though, perhaps with less abandon. There is always the danger, with pretty picture books, that I am impulse buying under the influential haze of communal fiber shop hopping. Like a yarn stash that is too big, it’s way easy for a Mostly Pattern book stash to become more burden than blessing.

Thought to keep #1: Consider twice and then again before buying another MP book.

As for the Mostly Technique books, well - I certainly will want to learn new techniques as I stitch along, but I believe I have most of the techniques and garments covered. If I am ever lucky enough to find either a spare what? $250? or an unbelievable stroke of good bargain luck - I will purchase a copy of June Hiatt’s Principles of Knitting but I don’t have to have an original and if she ever finishes doing the complete revision (I bet she doesn’t) I will gladly buy the new and improved version. It’ll probably be badly bound, in paperback, but I bet it can be bought for less than $50.

Mostly Technique books are not so alluring, so glamorous, so sexy, as Mostly Pattern books. This makes it a lot easier to judge their merits. Like plain girls - they develop personality that far outlasts the whims of fashion.

Thought to keep #2: I need put no limits on my purchasing of Mostly Technique books. I believe I have the discernment and judgment to buy only what I don’t already own.

The Mostly Stitch books are somewhere between the MPs and the MTs in allurement. You can always use another stitch pattern, but will you ever use them all? Still, I want those other two Barbara Walker books and I am going to get them. And Nicky Epstein is, besides one of my favorite designers, always coming up with something unexpected, so I shan’t rule out adding more NE titles to my collection. The other stitch pattern books were gifts anyway and I won’t turn a gift stitch pattern book away. But I probably won’t buy any more.

Thought to keep #3: Does Barnes & Nobel have the BW books? We’re going to Richmond today - I wonder .....

The Mostly Musing books don’t really tempt me into indescretion. They are cute. They often make me laugh, or smile. They offer shared camaraderie with like-minded people. But like a novel, unless one touches me deeply, in some inexplicable way, I don’t really want to own it. I am sure there may be the MM knitting book that stands beside Pride and Prejudice, a novel I’ve read 20+ times and expect to read as often again. A book like that I must own. You never know when you'll have a Pride and Prejudice emergency in the middle of the night. You never know when you'll have a MM knitting emergency either. Yes, MM books, again like novels, are books I really do want to read, but they are one-read books and, as such, belong in libraries where many more than one person can enjoy them.

Thought to keep #4: Don’t worry about MM books. You probably won’t succumb to impulse purchasing and you have friends and family enough to give you copies of them as presents so you’ll get to read them anyway. And you can always buy them for the library.

As for that foot and a half stack of knitting magazines - well - TheQueen one must have some eye candy in her life. Besides, I’m forever pulling them out and flipping through them. I had to gather them from 4 other rooms, including both bathrooms, just to do this inventory. At the moment, I’ve let all my subscriptions lapse except for Interweave Knits. Over the years I have subscribed to all the major magazines except Vogue Knitting. Till just recently, I haven’t cared for most of their designs, but the past 3 or 4 issues have delighted me enough that when my post-holiday junk mail included a subscription offer from them, I quickly filled it out and yesterday, just as I was heading upstairs to begin my closet cleaning, I thrust the envelope into BD’s hand as he walked out the door. The die is cast. VK will be my 2006 sugar fix.

Thought to keep #5: Looks like I’ll need a 13th Princeton File.

My 10 day respite is just about over and I must say it has been quite a success. I had one goal and one hope when it began; that I would commit to and follow through with the physical therapy and that it would work. Happily, I believe I can say that I was successful on both counts. Each day I wrapped the elastic band around my head and worked the neck muscles, lifted each leg and reached slowly down towards the ankle, flexing my spine. All those minute slow movements that don’t really seem like much of anything - I did them all. I learned to keep my shoulders down and back. I learned to stop tossing my head - or at least, to be aware of it when I did. I learned to move with more deliberation and less floppy, heedless, headless chicken-ity. And I napped. And I rested. I took hot soaky baths followed by sessions with the ice pack on my spine. And sometime in the night between Friday and Saturday something clicked back into place. Pain disappeared, though there is a slight tingling in the left arm still. Mobility reappeared - in measurable quantities. What a huge relief.
So, with clean-closet bookshelves and a pain free back, I am ready to begin the New Year. What delight - a senseation of freshness and energy in a brand new year.

posted by Bess | 8:27 AM