Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Hello from Wisconsin

Lucky me, I have been sent back to Epic for training in a different discipline.  So here I am in Wisconsin, where everybody is friendly and looks like they grew up on a farm and has an accent that is simply incapable of being mean or snooty. (I apologize for the generalizations, but honestly, everyone is so sincerely NICE here.)

I arrived Sunday and I leave tomorrow.  Monday was a difficult day.  Since my background is in English followed by nursing, I often feel like I'm faking it, now that I work in IT.  It's hard to be surrounded by smart people who all have genuine computing expertise.  Everyone you meet at Epic appears to be super smart and I got off on the wrong foot in class by sitting at a computer that didn't have the class materials set up for it, and I had already logged into my work email on the wrong computer. (Checking email is another no-no.)  But I got to have lunch with my Epic TS and he took me on a tour of Deep Space, the auditorium that seats 11,000 people and is situated six stories underground, so as not to interfere with the prairie views.  I saw Deep Space when I was here for a conference in 2013, but it wasn't completely finished then.

I am enjoying my temporary sojourn on the prairie.  The mountains of Virginia are beautiful, but sometimes they make me feel claustrophobic and trapped.  I prefer sunny, wide open spaces.  Tuesday was a better day and after class, I followed Epic's suggested self-guided tour of the prairie campus and then walked back to my hotel.  Today I have big plans to bike into downtown Madison after class.  (If I get up the nerve.  I'm a bit scared of getting lost.  It's a long way.)

The blogger app on my tablet is being a bore and froze when I tried to load more pictures, so these are all I have to share for now.  I'd like to post more photos later, because this is an extraordinarily beautiful place.

There's a working farm on the Epic campus which supplies the materials for the amazing food that is served there.

A view of the farm campus as seen from the prairie campus.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Gray Linen

Some of you were vociferously opposed to the gray linen that I used for my disastrous dress, but I was determined to make something out of it.  So I made this.

The most boring garment ever

I suck at modeling. Sancho is concerned.

So there it is.  A wearable blouse.  Would I buy this if I tried it on in a store?  No, but I think I could wear it to work without embarrassing myself.  The pattern is Simplicity 1364, and it was really fun to sew.  It zips up the back. You can't see the darts in the sides, but I am quite proud of them.  I would definitely use this pattern again, maybe the sleeved version with a striped knit fabric and an exposed zipper up the back.

What about the dress?  After it failed as a maxi skirt with a drawstring waist, I cut a bit more off the top and sewed a yoke waistband to it.  It's such a dispiriting garment I didn't bother to face the yoke and finish the skirt. (I intended to put in a side zipper.)  At most, I could wear it to walk the dog or scrub the kitchen floor. 

Maybe I'll be Cinderella for Halloween this year

Thursday, July 23, 2015

On the Nightstand

Here's my latest haul from the Alderman library.

Odd Girl Out by Elizabeth Jane Howard. This is my fun read of the bunch.  Everything EJH writes is delightful.

The Life of Samuel Johnson by John Boswell.  For the fifty classics project. (Pictured is volume one of three.)

The Reminiscences of Lady Dorothy Nevill.  I'm reading this because Virginia Woolf mentions it in The Common Reader.  I have quoted part of Woolf's passage below.

Thus she was not an extreme case of aristocracy; she was confined rather to a bird-cage than to an asylum; through the bars she saw people walking at large, and once or twice she made a surprising little flight into the open air. A gayer, brighter, more vivacious specimen of the caged tribe can seldom have existed; so that one is forced at times to ask whether what we call living in a cage is not the fate that wise people, condemned to a single sojourn upon earth, would choose. To be at large is, after all, to be shut out; to waste most of life in accumulating the money to buy and the time to enjoy what the Lady Dorothys find clustering and glowing about their cradles when their eyes first open—as hers opened in the year 1826 at number eleven Berkeley Square. Horace Walpole had lived there. Her father, Lord Orford, gambled it away in one night’s play the year after she was born. But Wolterton Hall, in Norfolk, was full of carving and mantelpieces, and there were rare trees in the garden, and a large and famous lawn. No novelist could wish a more charming and even romantic environment in which to set the story of two little girls, growing up, wild yet secluded, reading Bossuet with their governess, and riding out on their ponies at the head of the tenantry on polling day.

The Diary of John Evelyn.  Volumes 2, 3, & 4 pictured. Volume 1 was all introduction, written by someone else, so I didn't bother with it. The library didn't have all volumes from the same edition, hence the mismatched covers.  This work was also brought to my attention by Virginia Woolf, in a chapter titled "Rambling Round Evelyn."   From The Common Reader:

Should you wish to make sure that your birthday will be celebrated three hundred years hence, your best course is undoubtedly to keep a diary. Only first be certain that you have the courage to lock your genius in a private book and the humour to gloat over a fame that will be yours only in the grave. For the good diarist writes either for himself alone or for a posterity so distant that it can safely hear every secret and justly weigh every motive. For such an audience there is need neither of affectation nor of restraint. Sincerity is what they ask, detail, and volume; skill with the pen comes in conveniently, but brilliance is not necessary; genius is a hindrance even; and should you know your business and do it manfully, posterity will let you off mixing with great men, reporting famous affairs, or having lain with the first ladies in the land. The diary, for whose sake we are remembering the three hundredth anniversary of the birth of John Evelyn,5 is a case in point. It is sometimes composed like a memoir, sometimes jotted down like a calendar; but he never used its pages to reveal the secrets of his heart, and all that he wrote might have been read aloud in the evening with a calm conscience to his children. If we wonder, then, why we still trouble to read what we must consider the uninspired work of a good man we have to confess, first that diaries are always diaries, books, that is, that we read in convalescence, on horseback, in the grip of death; second, that this reading, about which so many fine things have been said, is for the most part mere dreaming and idling; lying in a chair with a book; watching the butterflies on the dahlias; a profitless occupation which no critic has taken the trouble to investigate, and on whose behalf only the moralist can find a good word to say. For he will allow it to be an innocent employment; and happiness, he will add, though derived from trivial sources, has probably done more to prevent human beings from changing their religions and killing their kings than either philosophy or the pulpit.

Before Midnight by Rex Stout.  I've been reading through Rex Stout's oeuvre.  Honestly, it's getting to be a bit of a chore, but my reading OCD won't let me give up.  The stories are usually mildly interesting but this is my twenty-third Nero Wolfe novel and his eccentricities are beginning to bore me.  Still, if you like detective stories, these are decent and Stout had an inexhaustible imagination when it came to coming up with creative ways for his victims to be murdered.

Trooper to the Southern Cross by Angela Thirkell.  (Not pictured on the nightstand because it arrived from a used book dealer after I took the photo.)  Angela Thirkell is a writer I'm just starting to get into.  Her Barcetshire novels are the sort of British comfort lit I love the most.  This book, it turns out, was originally written under the pseudonym "Leslie Parker."  It's a departure from her usual themes and is about an Australian troop ship on a long voyage after World War I.

The Hundred Days by Patrick O'Brian. (Not pictured because it is at work.  It's my read-at-lunch book.)  The Captain Jack Aubrey/Stephen Maturin British navy during the Napoleonic wars series is truly stellar, but it's depressing that the last few books in the series aren't as good as the earlier ones. I am just not getting into this one.  It seems rambling and plotless.  Or maybe it's just that I'm only reading it for half an hour a day, or during the few stolen minutes that I have while waiting for the shuttle that goes between my office and the medical center.