Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Who Wants Sparkly Legs? I do! I do!

There are many secrets in the world.  My love of fancy stockings is not one of them.  Fishnets all summer, sweater tights all winter.  If they’re fun, fabulous and long enough to make it all the way up my legs, they’re mine.

If they’re fun, fabulous and too short for my legs, they probably belong to Munchkinhead.

When working on my purple sparkly gloves, I couldn’t help but think, “oh my gosh, I could make totally awesome fishnets like this!”  So I did.

Ok, they’re not quite totally awesome because when you’re holding them up next to each other, they look like two different sizes - A familiar problem – but Munchkinhead says you can’t tell when they’re on and she’s super picky about visual symmetry, so that’s good enough for me.

I began with a chain stitch about the length from my big toe to my pinky toe, the one that cries wah wah wah all the way home.  I did a single crochet stitch around the chain a couple times or three to make an oval, then did small lace loops of two or three chains linked back in for a round or two or three – you can see why these came out different sizes, no?  Then I moved into the 5 chain lace just like I used for the gloves.

When I got past the arch of the foot, I chained around the ankle, leaving a hole for the heel.  My thought was I’d fill it in like an afterthought heel in knitting.  Exactly how, I had no idea, and I’m not sure I can tell you know.  I sort of chained around and linked things until it was filled in with a cute little seam on the heel edge.

The whole leg is simply 5 chain lace all the way up.  I didn’t add any thing on the first stocking.  The second one was coming out a bit smaller, so at the top, I increased the chain lengths to six and then seven so my gigantic thighs will not be squished.  As I said, in the end, they came out close enough.  I’ve only warn them a couple times, but so far I’ve gotten lots of complements.

I love being sparkly!

purple fishnets

yarn: Vanna’s Glamour by Lion Brand in Purple Topaz; listed for size 2; 96% acrylic and 4% metallic polyester

Crochet hook: little pocket sized thing one a key ring for picking up dropped knitting stiches

Monday, October 27, 2014

More Characters for Kaki: Book Review of Where the Horses Run

Warner It was nice to read a Kaki Warner novel that didn’t have rape and murder in it. - I recently finished her latest, Where the Horses Run. - I guess it was because this one takes place in England rather than the wild American West. 

Where the Horses Run is part of the Heroes of Heartbreak Creek series.  The characters from Heartbreak Creek all make an appearance, even if only in the words of another character.   Ash and Maddie, the main characters from Colorado Dawn as the prime auxiliary characters in this book.  They travel to Scotland and England with Thomas Redstone, who has been an important character in all the Heartbreak Creek novels. 

Thomas is sort of Heartbreak Creek’s Mr. Spock.  never primary, always a large role and a clear outsider who’s half insider.  Thomas is a Cheyenne Indian whose grandfather was white and who sometimes serves as deputy sheriff, a very white role, but very much with his Cheyenne personality.

The Kirkwells – Ash and Maddie – also take with them a new character, Rayford Jessup, who is this book’s male love interest.  Along the way, he meets Josephine, the book’s female protagonist.  She loves horses; he’s a horse wrangler.  There you go.

Where the Horses Run is a much slower paced book than Warner’s others.  I, for one, appreciated that.  I could put it down and come ack later, but still found it enjoyable and a good read.  there were no horrible stomach knots this time and no tears. 

There also seem to be fewer lusty scenes, which is just fine by me.  Though I was disappointed by the ones that are here.  they felt like words instead of emotions.  Ruth Okediji’s descriptions of steps the World Intellectual Property Organization can take to reposition itself in Balancing Wealth and Health were more emotionally resonant than Kaki Warner’s intimate scenes in this book.  There must be other adjectives to describe nipples besides “puckered,” which isn’t a very pleasant sounding way for nipples to be – sounds course, hard and painful.  How about alert? dancing? robust? apprehensive? peaked?  I don’t know; I’m not a romance novelist.  But puckered made my nose squinch up in discomfort and distracted me from connecting with the words on the page.

Josie is a delightful character.  Strong yet feminine and although she’s got a history to make her interesting, she’s not broken and doesn’t need fixing.  Rafe is broken.  Rafe has an interesting history, too, but we never really get the whole picture.  Maybe that will come out in a future story.  Some great fan fiction could be written about his past.  There’s just enough bits and pieces given.

Thomas’s character is continuously flushed out throughout the Heartbreak Creek novels, and it works well.  Because of this, he has more depth than any other character and it’s about to pay off.  The next book will focus on him and Prudence Lincoln, the half sister of the first novel’s protagonist (Edwina Brodie in Heartbreak Creek).  I can’t wait!


Other Kaki Warner book posts:

  1. Pieces of Sky
  2. Open Country
  3. Chasing the Sun
  4. Heartbreak Creek
  5. Colorado Dawn
  6. Bride of the High Country

Thursday, September 18, 2014

9ja in Mill-town

Thanks to huge heads from my buddy, Midwestphoto, I learned that Milwaukee has a Nigerian culture festival.  Woo hoo!  Now how could I miss out on that?  It was held at the Nigerian Community Center up on Appleton Ave at W. Hampton.  I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I was sure it would be an adventure.

I had to laugh as I pulled up to the building.  The parking lot was being used for the festival, so attendees had to park on the street.  Except the street was under construction.  The far left lane was torn up, a lane of gravel about 4” lower than the street itself, marked off by orange construction barrels.  So where had the Nigerian’s parked?  In the under-construction lane.  They’d just driven between the barrels, gone down the lip and parked on the gravel.  I went the extra 20ft to the end of the block, turned onto the cross street and parked on the empty street.

At the festival, people were milling around inside and out.  Lots of bright colors and a mix of Western and Nigerian clothes, just like in Abuja.  The inside of the community center had something going on in nearly every room.  Outside, a stage area was set up and a row of booths ran down the parking lot from the stage to a giant bouncy castle.

The festival booths reminded me a lot of the booths at the Nigerian Bar Association Meeting I attended several years ago, except without the magical potions.  There were clothing booths with both traditional and club wear, and lots of food vendors.  All of the food vendors were local catering companies.  I talked to a couple of them.  They make the food in their homes and then take it to whatever function has hired them.  As most Nigerian food is not vegetarian-friendly, I had only a couple of fried plantains off my friend’s plate.

We watched two fashion shows: a club wear show and a traditional wear show.  Both shows featured local designers.  The club wear  show models were all grown-ups (thank goodness!), and many of the outfits were rather risque.  There was one white model and in one of the outfits, you could see her lower back tattoo through the dress fabric.  None of the club wear left much to the imagination.

club wear at Nigerian fest (1) cropped

Outfit at the club fashion show

The traditional fashion show models were area students.  They looked awesome.  Some of them were a little shy and it was adorable.  The designer had tried to feature outfits from multiple tribes.  The models had to change very quickly and there weren’t a lot of them, so there was often a lull.  But, the show overall was very nice and well done.  Plus, the soundtrack for this fashion show was all Nigerian music. :)

traditional wear at Nigerian fest (1) cropped

Outfits at Traditional fashion show

Other performances on the stage area included a gentleman playing the talking drum and cultural dancers.  The event was running about 2 hours behind the program schedule (I wouldn’t have expected anything else), so we didn’t stick around for the cultural dancers.

We did, however, check out the story time inside.  That was very interesting.  Gentlemen from different tribes took turns presenting traditional stories from their particular tribes.  Mostly.  There was a great rendition of the story about why the tortoise's shell is cracked.  But there was one guy who got up and instead of telling a story – maybe he did eventually – he went on a 10 minute rant – at least - about how his tribe was the best tribe in Nigeria.  Sadly, this was less surprising than it ought to be.  I don’t know if he ever got to a story because we, like many others in the room, left.

Overall, it was a very fun afternoon.  I felt a bit like I was back in 9ja.  The Nigerian Community Center is having an Independence Day Celebration on Oct. 4th.  Maybe I’ll go check it out.  Maybe I’ll even be gutsy enough to wear one of my traditional outfits.

After enjoying enough Nigerian fun for an afternoon, I went for absolute culture-shift shock and headed to Cudahy for Sweet Applewood Fest. Twenty minutes and a world away.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Purple Sparkly Gloves

Somehow, I’d wound up at JoAnn Fabrics with Munchkinhead and Mommy.  This always-dangerous event has been made more so by my now living with Munchkinhead and gaining access to her employee discount.

So, I’m tootling around the store, pretending I’m not going to buy anything, and then I see it, red discount tag enticing me, sparkly-ness calling out to me, “Pincess… Pincessss!  You can make something fabulous with me.”  Purple yarn with a strand of silver running through it, purple sparkly yarn on clearance plus with Munchkinhead’s discount… Into the basket, one, two, three, four, is that enough?  Shrug.  Munchkinhead, “what are you going to make with that?”  “I don’t know; something fabulous.”

Turns out, my answer should have been “somethings fabulous.”  My first fabulous item was a new pair of summer gloves.  Purple, sparkly, lace, summer gloves.  I crocheted them!

Mommy tried to teach me to crochet when I was a little girl.  I wound up with a lot of triangular Barbie blankets, always losing a stitch on each end.  But I had the chaining part down pat.  I’m not great at knitting lace patterns, so I thought I’d see what options there were for crocheting it instead.  I went on YouTube and found this fabulous video for crocheting a basic lace.  I watched it at least half a dozen times, got the basic lace pattern down and made some gloves.

I used what I remembered from knitting gloves to give me an idea of the basic structure and just sort of went at it.  They are not perfect, but they turned out pretty decent.  Had them both done in just a couple days.  The wrists were a bit loose, so I went through my button collection and found two similarly colored purple buttons.  They’re different sizes, but that just helps me keep straight which glove goes on which hand.  Perfectly princessly!


purple sparkly gloves 1

yarn: Vanna’s Glamour by Lion Brand in Purple Topaz; listed for size 2; 96% acrylic and 4% metallic polyester

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Where in the World is… oh, San Diego

This month, I’ve been impersonating Carmen San Diego.  And this time, my where in the world is – fittingly – San Diego.  Except, I keep forgetting I’m in America and keep feeling like I’m in Africa.

The weather is amazing and is probably the main reason I feel like I’m back on the continent.  It’s deliciously hot, but with a wonderful breeze.  There’s something in the air (probably humidity) that feels cozily familiar.  Plus, there’s palm trees all over the darn place.

The other reason that’s a potential contributor to my feelings of Africa may be the hotel I’m staying at.  You see, I’m in San Diego for the State Bar of California Annual Meeting, which is at the Hyatt.  As a speaker at the meeting, my travel and one night at the conference hotel could be covered by the Bar.  This is a wonderful bonus, and I’m very thankful.  However, I’m also a tad too poor for the rather pricey Hyatt the rest of the nights.  So, I got myself a simple room about a half-mile from the Hyatt.

I didn’t know how simple.  I think Mr. Trizzle – who also came for the conference – felt tricked.  We’re at a place called 500 West, supposedly the oldest hotel in San Diego.  It’s atop a YMCA and I believe it was part of the YMCA back when people could actually stay at the Y – like the Village People sing about doing.

Personally, I like the accommodations.  The bed is comfortable and there’s free wi-fi.  That’s all I need.  I love that there’s no air conditioning but instead a giant window that opens.  It doesn’t have a screen, which feels very African.  There’s a ceiling fan in the room.  I keep expecting the power to go out and am pleasantly surprised when it doesn’t, because I keep forgetting I’m not in Africa. 

The bathrooms are down the hall and are kept stocked with toilet paper, soap, shampoo and shower gel.  All things that also continue to pleasantly surprise me, and the toilet paper’s free!  There’s little flies in the shower that kind of look like botflies, but as far as I’m aware aren’t, because I’m not really in Africa.  Mr. Trizzle and I went to get flip flops our first night here.  I pretty much never wear flip flops in America, so my feet think they’re in Africa.  Somehow, I forgot to pack a citenge.  The hotel has towels though!  That was a nice surprise, as was discovering that my feet don’t turn black if I walk around the room barefoot.

There’s also a mini fridge, that actually works, and an ice bucket for the ice machine down on the second floor.  Mr. Trizzle and I have each killed a bug in the room (one of us far more calmly than the other; I’ll let you guess which), but I haven’t seen more than that.  And as far as I know, none of the bugs we have seen, in the room, shower or outside, are potentially lethal, so that’s always nice.  Lots of the other guests here speak languages other than English, perhaps foreign tourists.  That also adds to the feel of being in Africa.

I think I’d rather be in Africa, but that’s often the case, no hard feelings to San Diego.  Love the weather, and the conference has been pretty great, too.

500 west 3

Most of the room.  There’s about 3 feet to the side of the bed, including the wardrobe, and about 4 feet at the end of the bed, where there’s a desk w/o a chair, the mini-fridge and a very tiny television.