Friday, January 27, 2012

Down With Synthetics!!

For years I've been lauding the merits of natural fibre. I remember in the early 1990s, trying to find yardage for sewing that had no acrylic, polyester, nylon, and so on.

And NOW look what they've discovered.

Billions of fleece items made from recycled pop bottles don't look quite so good now, huh? It turns out you can run from plastic, but you can't hide. When are they going to just stop making this stuff? The day after Never, I'm thinking. And my poor children, and yours, are going to have to deal with the toxic shit we just keep buying, wearing, and throwing away.

And cancer? I bet cancer is laughing its head off right now.

Earth Day is coming up. It's a good time to make, or renew, a commitment to sustainable, eco-friendly clothing. You should consider it -- for the health of your family, your body, your home and the planet...more or less in that order.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Oh -- sorry 'bout that.

I sort of forgot about the internet. This was me last night, while washing dishes: "Wha--? Oh my goodness! I have a blog!" Oopsie.

I haven't talked much about Christmas this year - except to laud gift cards - but here is a little sample of Yule 2011.

My seven year old set up her doll for a nice nap. Looking at this baby's "bottle", and when I remark that my daughter considered Rescue Remedy a matter of course for her baby's nap, it becomes obvious that I had high-needs children.

I was in Kaboodles a week before Christmas, spotted these little crank-driven music boxes, and threw them in with the rest of my purchases, not realizing they were $9 each. I wouldn't have bought them if I had looked closely (I thought "8.99" said "3.99"), so I'm glad I didn't look closely...they sound so beautiful and they were right up at the top of my children's favourite presents this year. The kids have spent hours - literally, hours - lying on the floor holding these things in two hands, staring into space and spinning the cranks to listen to the songs.

Have a listen! (The "Nutcracker Suite" is the property of the younger child, and so has suffered more abuse...spinning backwards, etc...and you can hear it.)

And this was my second-favourite present of the whole year. Haflingers! I've been wanting them for two years, and Mr. HalfSoledBoots stepped up. Now that I have worn them for three weeks, I will never - no, sir, I will never ever - wear any other brand of slippers.

Lastly - because I know you were wondering - here is my favourite, most favouritest present of all...from my sister Gwen.

As to what was inside...

Who cares?

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Ever In Your Favour

I love it when I get Amazon gift cards for Christmas. I always have a huge wish list going, and there's nothing quite so satisfying as clicking "Add to Cart". This year, I ended up with $100 at Amazon. Fun! So I spent Christmas afternoon intermittently basting and browsing.

I managed to come in wondrous close - $99.63 in total, with two knitting books, a DVD, and a hardcover box set of The Hunger Games trilogy.

I haven't watched the DVD yet, the knitting books can wait...but I read the whole Hunger Games back to back in two and a half days.


First off, let me admit that I had never heard of this series until I saw the trailer for the upcoming movie. I noticed the little line "Based on the book by Suzanne Collins". Well, I thought, I have to watch it, and before I can watch it I have to read it.

I didn't know anything about the story when I ordered the set, aside from what I'd seen on the movie trailer, but if the reviews were anything to go by, it would be amazing.

This trilogy, being in the young adult genre, does come across as a little juvenile for an adult reader. But, this translates into a fast-paced, fun read, rather than a boring or babyfied story. The plot is wonderfully handled - the central conflict IS definitely a conflict. I had no idea how the emotional storyline of the characters would play out. So often in a young adult book, the characters are too black and white - the author doesn't balance the sympathy and antipathy, heavily directing the reader toward one obvious outcome, which you root for, pretty much from page one.

Another thing I loved was that Collins doesn't go for the Harry Potter effect, wherein the teenage hero defies the rules, flouts boundaries, sneaks around the adults, and in the end is pretty much proved right - the adult mentors of the child end up wiping their brows, sighing with relief, shaking the child's hand and saying "Thank goodness you were here! Imagine what would have happened if WE were in charge!" Which device, being an adult, I detest.


Katniss Everdeen, the main character in this series, is not a rule-follower at all but, unlike Harry, her defiance of convention (and boundaries, and adult rules) brings about serious consequences and does not result in her saving the day. In fact, most of the time, she is a pawn in the political struggle between adults who allow her to believe that she is important and powerful...when she discovers their manipulation of her, she is chagrined and frightened. It's realistic.

-----END SPOILER------

The Hunger Games is a wonderful version of the post-apocalyptic, dystopic science fiction genre. As I read it, I was reminded of many other great stories...Ender's Game, Fahrenheit 451, The White Mountains, Brave New World, Nineteen Eighty-Four, even Shirley Jackson's short story The Lottery. There are similar elements, and there is a similar feeling, in all of these pieces. Part of what makes The Hunger Games special is the female lead - also that the world Collins creates is very believable. There are 'hoverplanes', but no teleportation. It never crosses the line into the eye-rollingly fantastic.

One negative to note: the entire series is written in the first person "historical present" tense, as in this line (not from the books):

"I go to the door and open it - she stands there, waiting for me. 'Finally,' she says."

It gets annoying. The historical present works well as an occasional device, but the constant precipice feeling made me impatient after a while.

Other than that, I LOVED this series. I wish I hadn't read it so quickly, though, because now I have a long time to wait until March, when the movie comes out.

The Hunger Games Trilogy
by Suzanne Collins

Reread: absolutely
Give to Others: absolutely
Book Plate: ABsolutely!