Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Building the Daniel Tree

April 6, 2017

A crocheted wall hanging I made for a friend experiencing loss. I just wanted to post the pictures of it as it developed, all in one place. (The fourth picture turned up on Instagram, somebody caught me working on it at the Autry Museum, next to my Sequoia piece in the California Yarnscape show.)


What I read in 2016

January 1, 2017


At left, photo of The Windup Girl, a book set in Thailand, next to fried rice at a Thai restaurant (Bamboo); because every once in a while my reading matches my eating.

Past editions of this list: 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008. This list is also available in pictorial format at Pinterest.

It was a good year for reading here! Thirty-three books finished, including books read at the Grand Canyon and in London on family trips, and at least one I read in the hospital (kidney stones). I’m a slow reader who likes long books, so anything over 30 books finished is a pretty good year for me. Also, I stop reading books without guilt; so assume I also didn’t finish a dozen or so titles.

BG=Book Group selection. I’m in two book groups, so a lot of my reading is driven by that.  Just because I read a book and listed it here doesn’t mean I liked it or would recommend it.  Female author/male author ratio: 19/14; Fiction/nonfiction ratio: 28:5.

These are numbered in chronological order, from January to December.

1. Celeste Ng, Everything I Never Told You

2. Ransom Riggs, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

3. Rachel Adams, Raising Henry BG

4. Barry Unsworth, Morality Play

5. Kimberly Elkins, What is Visible BG

6. Kate Atkinson, A God in Ruins

7. Magnus Flyte, City of Dark Magic

8. M. R. Carey, The Girl with All the Gifts

9. Scarlett Thomas, Our Tragic Universe

10. Graeme Simsion, The Rosie Project BG

11. Angela Carter, Heroes and Villains

12. Laline Paull, The Bees

13. Maria Semple, Where’d You Go, Bernadette BG

14. Julie Schumacher, Dear Committee Members

15. Lisa See, China Dolls

16. David Finch, Journal of Best Practices BG

17. Laila Lalami, The Moor’s Account

18. Hannah Kent, Burial Rites BG

19. Gregory Sherl, The Future for Curious People

20. Walter M. Miller Jr., A Canticle for Liebowitz

21. Margaret Atwood, Lady Oracle

22. Kate Atkinson, Started Early, Took my Dog

23. Sam Kean, Tale of the Dueling Neurosurgeons BG

24. Siri Hustvedt, The Shaking Woman or a History of My Nerves BG

25. Carol Rivka Brunt, Tell the Wolves I’m Home

26. Paolo Bacigalupi, Windup Girl

27. Yangsze Choo, The Ghost Bride BG

28. Neil Gaiman, The Ocean at the End of the Lane

29. Tommy Wallach, We All Looked Up BG

30. Kit Reed, Where

31. Ashok Rajamani, The Day My Brain Exploded BG

32. Mark Salzman, The Soloist

33. Sylvain Neuvel, Sleeping Giants BG



Stuff I finished recently

November 20, 2016

Big catchall post.

I recently finished #100wikidays, a personal challenge in which you commit to write a new Wikipedia article every day for 100 consecutive days. I did all biographies, mostly women, as usual; looking over the list, there were only two that I’d even heard of before the day I wrote their article. (This is how I usually work; if I don’t previously know anything about the subject, then I can’t say anything about them without a source. It still helps to know something about their historical context, of course.)

There were at least a dozen African women (because I was also doing the Africa destubathon for part of the time); a couple of Cornishmen (because of the West Country Challenge–sensing a theme?); two blind organist/composers from Philadelphia; one mother-son pair of artists; a lot of North Carolinians (partly because the NCPedia is online, unlike a lot of state historical encyclopedias); a few Guggenheim fellows, and a bunch of US women active in the peace movement. I even wrote two of the articles in a hospital bed when I needed an emergency surgery for a kidney stone. Here’s my whole list of 100 new articles. It was fun and I’d recommend it.

I also, recently (as in today), finished my contributions for the Yarn Bombing Los Angeles installation “California Yarnscape”, which will happen at the Autry Museum in spring 2017. Here’s my crocheted “Sequoias”, inspired somewhat by 1930s WPA posters for the national parks:

Also, somehow, I made two Halloween costumes this year; my son’s was the more ambitious, a rolling tarantula of funfur and pantyhose and wire and so much duct tape…

Mine was four pretty easy pieces (but I love the elaborate hat); an alien priestess costume, based loosely on the Sisterhood of Karn in old Doctor Who.
Finally, look for Jake and me in this flashmob video made at Venice Beach last Sunday. You’ll need to look closely; I’m in a black hat and red dress; Jake’s in his blue Convaid chair. This was also a lot of fun to do.

Me-Made May 2016

May 31, 2016

I finished Me Made May 2016–a month of wearing garments made by myself, either sewn, crocheted, or refashioned somehow. It was fun, and not a particular stretch to wear 30 different handmade garments. I might could have gone another week, though it would have involved wearing some fancy dresses and older things.
Click here for a closer look: MeMadeMay2016

Towel Day Memory

May 26, 2016

When I was sixteen (the same age my daughter is now), I wrote a letter to Douglas Adams. And he wrote back. Happy Towel Day! (This is a scan of a copy of the letter; I can’t find the original. I also can’t find the original postcard I got from Isaac Asimov the same year. I’m sure they’re together somewhere, very safe.)

Transcript: Dear Penny Richards: Thank you very much for your letter about The Hitch-hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. I’m very glad that you enjoyed it so much. I just make up names like Zaphod Beebblebrox from out of my heads. You may be interested to know that there is a third and last book of the Hitch-hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy coming out in September, published by Crown Books called Life, The Universe, and Everything. I hope you enjoy that too. I don’t know of any Hitch-hiker fan clubs in the US, but a science fiction bookshop, such as Forbidden Planet in New York, or a Change of Hobbit in L.A., should be able to tell you. There is a six episode TV version of Hitch Hiker which was made here in England a couple of years ago, and I believe that this is starting to sell in a few areas in the States now, for showing on the PBS channel. best wishes, Douglas Adams

What I read in 2015

January 2, 2016

Sometimes my meal matches my book. (“Esperanza’s Box of Saints,” which is set mostly in Mexico, next to a plate of tacos)

Past editions of this list: 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008. This list is also available in pictorial format at Pinterest.

It was a good year for reading here! Forty books finished, including one academic book read for review. BG=Book Group selection. I’m in two book groups, so a lot of my reading is driven by that.  Just because I read a book doesn’t mean I liked it or would recommend it. But any year that includes TWO David Mitchell books and TWO Margaret Atwood books is a good one for me. Female author/male author ratio: 28/12; Fiction/nonfiction ratio: 34:6.

These are numbered in chronological order, from January to December.

1. Emily St. John Mandel, Station Eleven

2. Joan Silber, Ideas of Heaven

3. Naomi Hirahara, Summer of the Big Bachi

4.Tracy Guzeman, The Gravity of Birds BG

5. Michael Chabon, Telegraph Avenue BG

6. Edan Lepucki, California

7. Susannah Cahalan, Brain on Fire BG

8. Jennifer Marie Brissett, Elysium

9. Charles Bock, Beautiful Children

10. Helen Oyeyemi, The Icarus Girl

11. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Americanah BG

12. Kazuo Ishiguro, Buried Giant

13. Esi Edugyan, Half-Blood Blues

14. Kenzaburo Oe, Nip the Buds, Shoot the Kids

15. Martin Pistorius, Ghost Boy BG

16. Alice Hoffman, The Museum of Extraordinary Things BG

17. Elizabeth Gaffney, Metropolis

18. Kate Atkinson, Life after Life BG

19. Jessie Burton, The Miniaturist

20. Noelle Stevenson, Nimona

21. Kevin Wilson, The Family Fang

22. Emily Rapp, The Still Point of the Turning World BG

23. Maria Amparo Escandón, Esperanza’s Box of Saints

24. Grey and Gullett, eds., Contingent Maps: Rethinking Western Women’s History REV

25. David Mitchell, The Bone Clocks

26. Eleanor Catton, The Luminaries BG

27. Ben Mattlin, Miracle Boy BG

28. Margaret Atwood, Stone Mattress: Nine Tales

29. Kenneth J. Harvey, The Town that Forgot How to Breathe

30. Steve Silberman, Neurotribes BG

31. Lucy Foley, The Book of Lost and Found BG

32. Monica Byrne, The Girl in the Road

33. Eowyn Ivey, Snow Child BG

34. China Miéville, Kraken

35. Mary Doria Russell, The Sparrow

36. Meg Wolitzer, The Interestings BG

37. Tana French, Broken Harbor

38. David Mitchell, Slade House

39. Margaret Atwood, The Heart Goes Last

40. Hillary Jordan, When She Woke


Three-way Shawl

December 20, 2015

I found a big hank of hand-dyed navy-blue wool-silk fibre from Little Wool Co. of New Zealand, in a bag of yarns at a thriftshop. Of course I grabbed it. I knew it could make something quite large, so I started making a big rectangle, not completely sure what it would be….and this is what it became.


The gold edge detail is mohair from another thriftshop goody bag–it’s a little heavier weight yarn, but it helps with holding the shape. The buttons belonged to my great-aunt. And it turns out it can be worn three ways–I like the shoulder-button way best, because it means I can carry a shoulder bag without it getting bunchy.

You’re invited!

December 2, 2015

I’m one of the artists, but the whole show is going to be fun. If you’re in the LA area, I’d love to see you at the opening! It’s also a great place to shop, if you’re still buying holiday goodies.
Cardboard Art Flyer_vdarker

Wikipedia milestone 100

November 23, 2015

Earlier this month (November 2015), English-language Wikipedia reached its 5 millionth article — which turned out to be about an Australian shrub.

This weekend, I reached my own personal Wikipedia milestone:  I started my 100th article, during the New York Academy of Sciences Women in Science edit-athon.  It was about Nellie M. Payne (1900-1990), an entomologist who held a couple patents on insecticides. She did some pioneering research in the 1920s, on the effect of low temperatures on insects.  I just chose her off the work list for the edit-athon, probably because her name is Nellie (I’ve also done entries for chemist Nellie May Naylor and music hall performer Nell Emerald).  It’s not my most interesting entry, nor my best entry, but it’s my 100th entry.  Onward!  (My user page at Wikipedia has the complete list, if you’re curious.)

“Tron” sweater vest/layering piece

November 12, 2015

Because my friend Kim said this reminded her of Tron. Made from a bunch of nice rayon/cotton blend (three colors of Tahki Stacy Charles “Victoria”), and some Bernat “Souffle” (nylon, the black parts), all thrifted. Looking forward to seeing how it wants to be worn.
Crocheted sweater vest