Commonplace Book: Wallace Stevens

The Emperor of Ice-Cream

Call the roller of big cigars,
The muscular one, and bid him whip
In kitchen cups concupiscent curds.
Let the wenches dawdle in such dress
As they are used to wear, and let the boys
Bring flowers in last month’s newspapers.
Let be be finale of seem.
The only emperor is the emperor of ice-cream.

Take from the dresser of deal,
Lacking the three glass knobs, that sheet
On which she embroidered fantails once
And spread it so as to cover her face.
If her horny feet protrude, they come
To show how cold she is, and dumb.
Let the lamp affix its beam.
The only emperor is the emperor of ice-cream.

Commonplace Book: When You Reach Me

From Rebecca Stead, When You Reach Me:

I used to think of Sal as being a part of me: Sal and Miranda, Miranda and Sal. I he wasn’t really, but that’s the way it felt.

When we were too little for school, Sal and I went to day care together at a lady’s apartment down the block. She had picked up some carpet samples at a store on Amsterdam Avenue and written the kids’ names on the backs. After lunch, she’d pass out these carpet squares and we’d pick our spots on the living room floor for nap time. Sal and I always lines ours up to make a rectangle.

One time, when Sal had a fever and Louisa had called in sick to her job and kept him home, the day care lady handed me my carpet square at nap time, and then, a second later, she gave me Sal’s, too.

“I know how it is, baby,” she said.

And then I lay on her floor not sleeping because Sal wasn’t there to press his foot against mine.

– Rebecca Stead, When You Reach Me, pg. 17.

This one goes out to all the parents of twins out there. Does this make you cry, too?

Moving Day

I’m moving my daily musings to Twitter. I’ll still keep a presence here for longer-form content. Thanks for visiting, and come see me at!/Katies_Books

From RT Book Reviews (March 2012)

OK, so first up from my first ever issue of RT Book Reviews (but hopefully not my last!) is this interview with Robyn Carr. It’s all about the utterly voluminous Virgin River series and how she does nothing but write Virgin River books, ever.

Does she ever get confused? Does she live her whole imagined life in this world? That would be kind of cool! And your fantasy world would be shared with a huge readership. But the problem with that is that your fantasy world is then subject to market forces. What if you want a character to become a hermit and live in a hut behind the last farm in town? But your readers would hate that idea? This is different even than the whole Stephen King “Misery” thing. That was about an author who, as I recall, created his heroine for commercial purposes and then became trapped by her popularity and has all kinds of gory trouble getting free of the character and his psycho fans (we all are, aren’t we?). But this is more like, you are emotionally involved with the character and the universe, it is very important to you, but you can’t take it where you want because there are other stakeholders. Imagine having stakeholders in your fantasy!

ANYway, by whole point was that I’ve actually tried this series before. I love comfort fiction, but I don’t like a lot of the likely choices. For instance, I’ve always wanted to like Jan Karon’s Mitford series, but I don’t like the writing. To be honest, I don’t remember what went wrong with Virgin River, but I think its time to give it another try.

Coming Attractions

Just discovered the wonderful RT Book reviews magazine. Can’t wait to share all the goodies found within! Some good-looking reads as well as some choice review outtakes.

The Return to Blogging (a play)

Dramatis Personae

Katie (or True Katie): A woman eager to learn, work, dream and love well. Overwhelmed by interests and distractions, she is always trying to organize her thoughts and herself.

Boss Katie: The woman inside who oversees the constant efforts at organization and self-improvement. Usually useful, too often critical.

Dreaming Katie: The Katie whose imagination arches over all life experiences, framing and embellishing it.

The Passions: The innumerable interests that keep Katie’s mind buzzing and heart singing. Usually a joy, sometimes a compulsion.

  • Reading and everything about it
  • Books and everything about them
  • Stories and narrative
  • Libraries and library science
  • Archives
  • Architecture, especially domestic, and architectural history
  • Infrastructure and the built environment, especially hidden aspects thereof
  • Landscape history
  • The gothic
  • New England and American history, especially colonial, early Republic and 19th Century
  • Needle crafts, especially knitting, sewing, embroidery, and needlepoint

Which Katies and Passions have I left out?? Too many to count, but here’s a start!

Catching up

Hi!! How are you?? I haven’t seen you in so long, oh my God! I know, I know, I’ve been awful. It’s so good to see you, though – you look great! Here’s what I’ve been up to:


  • I’m reading the third book in the original Kushiel series by Jacqueline Carey. Good stuff, man!
  • My latest from LT Early Reviews was Olive Kitteridge – I found it so-so. You can find my review on LT, and I may post a bit more about it here.
  • I’ve just begun Jodi Picoult’s Vanishing Acts, and it’s promising to be another pleaser.
  • I read Libba Bray’s Rebel Angels over the holiday – and I preferred it to the first in the series

I’m working in general on being nice to myself, and that includes not judging my own reading. I wish I was reading all highbrow literary fiction, heavy-hitting history, poetry both modern and ancient, but nope. I’m reading mysteries and historical fiction and young adult and fantasies. I think I’ll always have at least a little problem with this – but I’m trying!


  • One of my biggest craft projects recently has been the little gifts I gave out to my co-workers. I made paper bird ornaments with pretty decorative papers and lots of glitter, and attached them to Paper Source pillow boxes filled with a Trader Joe’s nut mix. It was more work than I thought it would be, but also a lot of fun. And the leftover birds went on my tree!
  • The log cabin throw has slowed down a lot, but I’m still moving. Hopefully I’ll be on the last round soon.
  • I’ve been making a lot of bookmarks, and I’m going to use my Christmas gift certificates to get more papercrafting materials. Hopefully some neat stuff will be posted soon.

Speaking of posting, one of the reasons I’ve been posting so little recently is the photo issue. I’m finding taking/managing/posting photos to be a real pain. I’m going to look around and see if anyone has any good advice about workflows for this…

Oh! And I’m on Ravelry finally – I’m ladypeter there, as I am on LT.

Male and Female collide…

Sometimes I feel like the weirdest mix of the masculine and feminine, and I think that this collision is illustrated in my blog reading, which is split between content that’s aimed specifically at women and other content that’s aimed pretty much at men. I mean, this is what I’ve read today:

Cute Overload
All my knitting sites, including Mason Dixon knitting
All my general craft sites, headlined by the Craft Magazine blog

Then there’s BoingBoing, not totally masculine, but getting there.

And then, what’s this? My new blogroll category, infrastructure! Here’s where I have completely gone over the edge into Boy Country:

Telstar Logistics, the blog about “The Technology of Land, Air, Sea, Space”, etc. I spent a few happy minutes listening to their audio of a pissed-off JFK ground traffic controller trying to figure out who’s supposed to be going where, when. Awesome!

There’s aslo gCaptain (“for mariners, by mariners”), from which I followed a link today to Popular Mechanics. They had an infographic about a container ship captain.

Man, it’s not that I’m a boy, it’s that I’m a complete, 50/50 boy/girl hybrid. Are other people like this? I can think of one friend, I guess, who’s similar (points if you can self-identify, person!). But it seems like an anomaly in our culture. Guess I should just enjoy what I enjoy, but it creates a bit of a cultural disconnect.

This makes me remember a craft project in which I actually brought together these two sides of myself: I made an embroidery based on an architectural drawing by Robert Mallet-Stevens:



















Now I want to create more things like this, and bring together male and female!

Oh my goodness!

Where have I been?

Well, things have been a been stressful here at katiesbooks HQ the last few weeks. I apologise for the sad lack of posts. Here’s what I’ve been reading and making:

I’ve had trouble finding things I can really get into. I had high hopes for Stephanie Meyer’s “Twilight”, but man, I was displeased. I was right in there until I learned that this was going to be about a grand conflict between vampires and warewolves, and that the heroine would have romantic interests on both sides of the conflict. Haven’t I read this before??? Now my real question is, what is the ur-text for this narrative? Who thought it up first?

Thank God for Naomi Novik, though. “Empire of Ivory” is a total joy. That’s got me occupied for now, and I have my next Maisie Dobbs and Kushiel’s Legacy books waiting in the wings. I’ve also got a good-looking Mary Stewart romantic thriller. A steady diet of reading pleasure!

Work on the log cabin throw goes on apace. I slacked off a little last week, but I’m back in action now. I’m a few rows shy of halfway through my second of three bands, and it’s getting huge! It’s already a generous lap-warmer while I’m knitting.

I’m also well into the leg of my first sock. I’m knitting it cuff-down on two circular needles, and it is a small miracle. To see what is obviously a nascent sock coming off my needles is something I’m still marveling at. May this be the first of many!

I have materials for some Christmas crafts that are taking some time to get off the ground. Maybe this weekend while M is studying…

The Air We Breathe, Part 2

About 100 pages in.

The tone was more lyrical and mysterous in the early part of the book. Now I feel it is dragging. I’m sorry Andrea Barrett! And I’m sorry, LT! Can I review a book I haven’t finished?