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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Lessons Learned in India

I returned yesterday from a trip to India. It was an eye-opener, to say the least! I learned several…interesting…lessons.

  • The lines on the road are part of a pavement beautification project and should be ignored. 
  • Water buffalo do not care how large your vehicle is, or how loud. 
  • If you're from America, you probably know Obama. 
  • Motorized vehicles have been modified so that they only operate if the horn is used every three minutes. 
  • Motorcycles and bicycles can carry four or five people. 
  • Toilet paper can be crisp.
  • Ten passengers in a rickshaw is perfectly reasonable. 
  • "No problem" can mean anything from "That's the best idea I've ever heard!" to "If we do that, the universe will implode." 
I also learned that the people of India are some of the most gracious and hospitable anywhere. We could learn a lot from them.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

A Passion for Parasols

When I was a kid, my grandma gave me the coolest little parasol. It was green, and it doubled as an umbrella. She bought it from this wonderful lady in Dahlonega, Georgia, who would paint your name and fanciful little designs on your parasol. (As of two years ago, she was still doing them at Gold Rush Days.)

Years later, my class made a field trip to something called the "China Exhibit" at the High Museum of Art, and I bought myself a beautiful waterproofed paper parasol (green again, as it happens), and I toted that thing around until it eventually disappeared.

Well, I'm fair-skinned and burn easily. Make that really, really fair-skinned, and really, really prone to sunburn. Despite having a decided goth streak, I love the sun, and I love to be outside in it. (I've relegated my inner goth to a part of my soul that mainly gets to play with my wardrobe and Halloween.) For years I've relied on hats and sunscreen, but I hate sunscreen. I hate putting it on, and I don't trust most sunscreen after doing a bit of research.

Last year, I remembered my beloved parasols from my childhood. Why wasn't I using a parasol anymore? I've always loved how they look, and I see them all the time around where I work, carried by the Hispanic and Asian women who walk everywhere. And hey, it's certainly an environmentally friendly approach to sun protection!

So began my hunt for the perfect parasol. My first acquisition, after much research, came from Luna Bazaar, who have the most amazing assortment of paper parasols! (Their main clients are brides and event planners, so they have a rainbow of colors. There are even a few nylon parasols, and they've announced that they'll be adding lace parasols.) I settled on the henna design painted paper umbrella, one of only two waterproof parasols. It stands up to rain quite well, though I wouldn't use it in high winds. (That's only because I'm protective of it, not because I've had a single problem with it.)

As a result of my parasol hunt, I found several examples of belly dance routines with parasols. Since I have a bit of an addiction to props in belly dance, that's just up my alley! I also saw one example of a paper parasol breaking during a routine, so I knew I needed a regular parasol for dance.

I found it this year at the Georgia Renaissance Festival. It's a beautiful red lace parasol, with a sturdy black wood handle and metal ribs. (I found an identical one on sale online.) I had seen several black ones at various conventions, marketed to the steampunk set (yay steampunk!), but this was the first red one! I love that it's so unusual. I hope to have a dance solo worked up in time for my troupe's December show.

Now I'm buying a couple more paper parasols. I'm feeling the lure of the unusually shaped ones, so I've looked at the grass green scalloped parasol and the powder blue star parasol, both from Luna Bazaar. Then again, the gilded blue parasol is gorgeous... (That's also from Luna Bazaar. Have I mentioned how much I love them? And that most of their parasols use sustainably grown wood for the handles and finials?) Eventually I'm going to get the butterflies and flowers parasol or maiden oiled paper parasol, both very Asian designs from Asian Ideas. They also have a lovely square parasol, which is certainly distinctive.

Apparently the recent appreciation for multicultural designs has been having its effect. I've found some other sources, too.

Oiled paper parasols from Japanese Style
Very elegant fabric pagoda parasol-umbrellas from Bella Umbrella
Paper parasols from Asian Import Store
A wide range of distincive parasols from Pamela's Parasols
Asian-style parasols and umbrellas from Oriental Decor
Silk, nylon, lace, paper, and oiled paper parasols from Asian Ideas

Photo by Michael Connell on Flickr

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

2011 100+ Book Challenge

For the third year, I'm joining the 100+ book challenge over at Home Girl's Book Blog. Last year I did a worse job of tracking it, but I definitely went way past 100; my total from 2009 was probably a bit over one hundred and thirty books.
I've already been tracking my reading this year, starting January 1. So here's where I am…

*Denotes an audiobook

January 2011 (12 books)
  • Neuromancer (The Sprawl #1) by William Gibson
  • Mona Lisa Overdrive (The Sprawl #3) by William Gibson
  • The Constant Princess (Tudor series) by Philippa Gregory
  • First Test (Protector of the Small #1) by Tamora Pierce
  • Monsters, Gods and Heroes: Approaching the Epic in Literature (Modern Scholar series) by Timothy B. Shutt
  • Mike McGrath's Book of Compost by Mike McGrath
  • Page (Protector of the Small #2) by Tamora Pierce
  • Domes of Fire (The Tamuli #1) by David Eddings
  • A Handbook of Edible Flowers: Their Cultivation and Use by Florence G. Dale and Charles J. Ziga
  • The Shining Ones (The Tamuli #2) by David Eddings
  • The Hidden City (The Tamuli #3) by David Eddings
  • Storm Front (The Dresden Files #1) by Jim Butcher

February 2011
  • The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey
  • Fool Moon (The Dresden Files #2) by Jim Butcher
  • Grave Peril (The Dresden Files #3) by Jim Butche
  • Gooney Bird Greeene by Lois Lowry
  • Summer Knight (The Dresden Files #4) by Jim Butcher
  • The Boy Who Dared by Susan Campbell Bartoletti
  • Financial Peace Revisited by Dave Ramsey
  • Death Masks (The Dresden Files #5) by Jim Butcher
  • Blood Rites (The Dresden Files #6) by Jim Butcher
  • Dead Beat (The Dresden Files #7) by Jim Butcher
  • Proven Guilty (The Dresden Files #8) by Jim Butcher
  • Growing Tasty Tropical Plants - In Any Home, Anywhere by Laurelynn G. Martin and Byron E. Martin
  • White Night (The Dresden Files #9) by Jim Butcher
  • Reaper* by Rachel Vincent
  • The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame

March 2011
  • Small-Plot, High-Yield Gardening by Sal Gilbertie and Larry Sheehan
  • The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Emmuska Orczy
  • Murder at Avadon Hill* by P.G. Holyfield

April 2011
  • Financial Peace University Handbook by Dave Ramsey
  • The Final Empire (Mistborn #1) by Brandon Sanderson
  • Billibub Baddings and the Case of the Singing Sword by Tee Morris
  • The Prince of Hazel and Oak (Shadowmagic #2) by John Lenahan*
  • Changeless (Parasol Protectorate #2) by Gail Carriger
  • Blameless (Parasol Protectorate #3) by Gail Carriger
  • Some Girls: My Life in a Harem by Jillian Lauren

May 2011
  • Another Fine Myth (MYTH #1) by Robert Asprin
  • Myth Conceptions (MYTH #2) by Robert Asprin
  • Myth Directions (MYTH #3) by Robert Asprin
  • Dead Until Dark (Southern Vampire #1) by Charlene Harris
  • Living Dead in Dallas (Southern Vampire #2) by Charlene Harris
  • Club Dead (Southern Vampire #3) by Charlene Harris
  • Dead to the World (Southern Vampire #4) by Charlene Harris
  • Warrior Heir (Heir Trilogy #1) by Cinda Williams Chima
  • Dead as a Doornail (Southern Vampire #5) by Charlene Harris
  • Guards! Guards! (Discworld #8) by Terry Pratchett
  • Green Like God by Jonathan Merritt

June 2011
  • Feed by M.T. Anderson
  • Men at Arms (Discworld #15) by Terry Pratchett
  • Feet of Clay (Discworld #19) by Terry Pratchett
  • Jingo (Discworld #21) by Terry Pratchett
  • The Fifth Elephant (Discworld #24) by Terry Pratchett
  • Night Watch (Discworld #29) by Terry Pratchett
  • Thud! (Discworld #34) by Terry Pratchett
  • Going Postal (Discworld #33) by Terry Pratchett
  • The Well of Ascension (Mistborn #2) by Brandon Sanderson
  • Making Money (Discworld #36) by Terry Pratchett
  • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (Harry Potter #1) by J. K. Rowling
  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Harry Potter #2) by J. K. Rowling

July 2011
  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Harry Potter #3) by J. K. Rowling
  • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Harry Potter #4) by J. K. Rowling
  • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Harry Potter #5) by J. K. Rowling
  • Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince (Harry Potter #6) by J. K. Rowling
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Harry Potter #7) by J. K. Rowling
  • Bloody Jack (Bloody Jack #1)
  • The Curse of the Blue Tattoo (Bloody Jack #2)
  • The Hunger Games (Hunger Games #1)
  • Catching Fire (Hunger Games #2)
  • Definitely Dead (Southern Vampire Mysteries #6) by Charlene Harris
  • Mockingjay (Hunger Games #3)

August 2011
  • All Together Dead (Southern Vampire Mysteries) by Charlene Harris
  • Dead Reckoning (southern Vampire Mysteries) by Charlene Harris

  • Equal Rites (Discworld) by Terry Pratchett
  • Tahn: A Novel by L. A. Kelly
  • The Way of Kings (Stormlight Archive #1) by Brandon Sanderson
  • Only the Good Spy Young (Gallagher Girls #4) by Ally Carter
  • Leviathan (Leviathan #1) by Scott Westerfeld
  • The Divine Comedy by Dante Alligheri
  • Behold the Mighty Dinosaur (Modern Scholar series) by John Kricher
  • The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin
  • Flatland: A Romance in Many Dimensions by Edwin Abbott
  • Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook by Paizo Publishing
  • Watership Down by Richard Adams
  • Dixie Divas by Virginia Brown
  • Crunchy Cons: The New Conservative Counterculture by Rod Dreher
  • A Game of Thrones (A Song of Fire and Ice #1) by George Martin
  • Robert Browning: Selected Poems by Robert Browning
  • The Sari Shop Widow
  • Heartless (Parasol Protectorate #4) by Gail Carriger
  • Alton Brown's Gear for Your Kitchen by Alton Brown

In the Queue
  • The Alloy of Law (Mistborn #4) by Brandon Sanderson (Due out November 2011)
  • The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare
  • Behemoth (Leviathan trilogy) by Scott Westerfeld
  • Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Caroll
  • Immortal Poems of the English Language by Oscar Williams
  • Macbeth by William Shakespeare
  • Hamlet by William Shakespeare
  • The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams
  • Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
  • Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume
  • The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
  • The Marvelous Land of Oz by L. Frank Baum
  • Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
  • The Legacy (aka A Town Like Alice) by Nevil Shute
  • On the Beach by Nevil Shute
  • Darkness at Noon by Arthur Koestler
  • Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer
  • The Secret History by Donna Tartt
  • The Secret Adversary by Agatha Christie
  • Whistlin' Dixie in a Nor'easter by Lisa Patton
  • Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder
  • Little House on the Prarie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
  • From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg
  • Cybele's Secret by Juliet Marillier
  • Keeping Corner by Kashmira Sheth
  • Elephant Run by Roland Smith
  • What the World Eats by Peter Menzel and Faith D’Aluisio
  • Un Lun Dun by China Melville