Monday, June 30, 2008

18. Reread Mila 18.

COMPLETED 6 July 2005

Sunday, June 29, 2008

19. Reread A Tale of Two Cities.

COMPLETED 12 February 2006
We had to read this in 8th grade English, and I fell in love with Sidney Carton and his making the ultimate sacrifice for the woman he loved and the man she loved. I still think the opening and closing lines of this work are some of the most moving ever written. I will admit, though, that rereading this as an adult was a bit of a chore. I bought an annotated edition and could not resist reading all the notes it contained. It might have been easier to avoid the notes, but that's not the sort of person and reader I am. I also found it quite interesting that whereas we read this in 8th grade, it was summer reading for my younger son's Advanced Placement English class. Does this mean high school has dumbed down five years in just a generation? It does make one wonder.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

20. Read or reread 26 books.

I picked 26 as the number figuring one book every two weeks. Here's the list (I didn't count the specific books listed in The Fifty on their own):
(1) Being Perfect
(2) The Twelfth Card
(3) Cross Bones
(4) Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince
(5) The Historian
(6) R Is for Ricochet
(7) The Egyptologist
(8) The Pythagorean Solution
(9) The Pegasus Secret
(10) Checkpoint
(11) Jonny Magic and the Card Shark Kids
(12) The Unlikely Spy
(13) Predator
(14) A Certain Slant of Light
(15) A Mind for Murder
(16) The Pale Horseman
(17) Prince of Fire
(18) Glamorous Disasters
(19) S Is for Silence
(20) The Labyrinth
(21) Crash Course
(22) Mitla Pass
(23) Snakes on a Plane
(24) The Magdalene Cypher
(25) Gone
(26) At Risk

Friday, June 27, 2008

Thursday, June 26, 2008

22. Read a play.


Tuesday, June 24, 2008

24. Write 12 letters.


I put this one on The Fifty because back in the days before e-mail and cheap long distance, I used to like to write letters. I figured one per month for my 50th year would be a good number. Between my brother (who did not at that point have a computer), my father, and some birthday cards to faraway friends, I did manage the one per month, though it never felt "right." Interestingly, in the past year, I've written regularly to a kendo friend doing a Mormon mission in Japan and to another friend (who also once did kendo) attending law school in London. My only way to communicate with the missionary is via snail mail; the law student could be e-mailed or Facebooked instead, but we're both very much enjoying the writing. I've also been sending regular cards to My New Hero at the US Air Force Academy. I've recaptured the magic of paper correspondence much more this year than I did in my 50th, when it felt more like something I had to do than something I looked forward to doing. I can't imagine going several weeks without writing a letter. It also makes the trips to my own mailbox much more exciting, because she who writes letters also receives them!

Monday, June 23, 2008

26. Write an essay.

COMPLETED 13 February 2008

On my official list of The Fifty, the dogeared and stained one I carry in the notebook in my purse, I have this one checked off with a reference to my blog post about the presidential primary in February. There are certainly other blog posts that would probably count as essays; this is just the one that I counted. And in truth, it probably was the first thing I posted that could be considered an essay since my earlier posts had pretty much been book reviews, memes, or the like, not really essays in their own right.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Saturday, June 21, 2008

27. Write a letter to the editor.

COMPLETED 11 September 2005, 14 November, 2005, Spring 2008

Friday, June 20, 2008

28. Write a story.

COMPLETED November 2005, November 2006, November 2007

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Monday, June 16, 2008

Sunday, June 15, 2008

33. Do 12 sketches.

COMPLETED March 2009

One of the things I wanted to do while on the great adventure in Hue was to try to do more drawing. I won't say that all or any of them are great or even good, but they've been fun to do, so I'm crossing this one off.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

34. Make a sculpture.

COMPLETED January 2006
I'm not sure some people would call this a "sculpture," but since this is my list, I can count it. A few years ago, with the help of an art teacher friend, I did a plaster cast of my face. I had painted it as a mask, but one night got inspired to create what I call "The Techno-Goddess" using the mask, repainted, and some odds and ends from a box of gadgets and old computer parts. The eyes are dials, the hair is multi-strand wire that I separated, the earrings are other gadgets, and the base has letters from old keyboards. After a stint sitting in the living room, The Techno-Goddess moved to the closet in the master bedroom when my younger son said she was "creepin' me out, Mom."

For an alternative, though much simpler, entry in the sculpture vein, I also molded an old LP into a vase for some silk flowers.The how-tos are the same as for the record bowls I often use as candy or other gift baskets; I just shaped the soft record into an interesting shape instead of into a bowl.

Friday, June 13, 2008

35. Make a collage.

COMPLETED Summer 2009

It's not a huge, grand collage, but here it is. I started it with a calendar page and the "if today is your birthday" horoscope from July 1, 2009, my 53rd birthday. The fortune cookie slips are from some Chinese meals we ate in the weeks following. The fortune cookie slips especially ended up pretty appropriate for my path to a black belt. I've also made a couple of small collages from wine labels I've saved, but I thought this one was more appropriately counted as the one for The Fifty.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

36. Dye something.

COMPLETED November 2005

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Monday, June 9, 2008

39. Make a felted something.


"Felting" refers to the process by which wool becomes felt under the influence of hot water, soap, and agitation. Put simply, you knit something in a huge size, felt it, and it shrinks to the desired size. It's a pretty amazing process. Cut into a knit something, and the knitting immediately starts to unravel. Knit into the same thing after it's been felted, and it's like cutting into heavy fabric. The knit stitches have sealed as the scales in the wool fiber lock together, and there's nothing to unravel.

The first two things I felted after listing The Fifty were these two bags, made from yarn from my friendly neighborhood sheep farm, Mangham Manor. The pattern for the bags came from the Vogue Knitting book, Felting. The even more fun thing about these bags is that my older son thought that the pre-felted bag made a pretty awesome "big hat" which led to my making such hats for most of the members of the high school's academic team one year.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

40. Do the needle-felted wizard.

COMPLETED 9 January 2009
The wizard came from a kit I gave myself for Christmas some years ago. The tag on the present actually said that it came from the sons, but I picked it out myself at the December open house at my friendly neighborhood sheep farm. I had never done any needle felting or felting of any kind at the time, so it actually took over a year for me to get up the nerve to even start making it. I started it during the first year of The Fifty, but it was one of those things I'd work on for a couple of evenings then put away for nine months or a year. Since one of my New Year's resolutions was to finish five of the remaining items in The Fifty, and I knew that the wizard was close to being done, well, this is the first of the resolved five.

Here's the wizard in all his glory. There's nothing in the photo for scale, but he's about a foot tall. Needle felting involves sculpting with fleece by poking it with a special needle, barbed so that it gets the scales on the wool to hook together. Because the needles (they come in different sizes) are so sharp, needle felting is not something to do while watching television or with your attention otherwise diverted, a fact that contributed to how long it took me to do this. The wizard's body started as a cone of fleece, needled until it became firm, with layers of more fleece needled on to give it some shape.

Some of the details are pretty fine and might not show up here, but he even has the whites of his eyes, as well as a nice mouth in the midst of the beard. I also tried to add some nice detail to his cloak and hat. I may do some more work on the wizard, because he doesn't stand on his own as well as I might like. I put a broad base on his staff to help support him, but I can still make the bottom by his feet a bit flatter. This would help if I decide to replace the felted staff with a branch to make the staff more realistic. Having finished the wizard, I see various things I could have done differently. I could actually re-do these since needle felting is a somewhat forgiving technique. I think that I'll leave him as he is, though, except for possibly replacing the staff. He's a fine first effort at needle felting, and I know from finishing him that there will be more such efforts. I've got some fleece left over from the wizard and some newer fleece to go with it. Felt on!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Friday, June 6, 2008

42. Attend a lecture, speech, or talk.

COMPLETED 15 February 2005
From the flyer announcing the talk:
The Institute of Mathematical Sciences presents David Goldschmidt, Director of the Center for Communications Research in Princeton, NJ, speaking on "Communications Security: A Case History" (Talk intended for general audience. Talk includes a demonstration of a German WWII Enigma machine.)

Thursday, June 5, 2008

43. Take a cooking class.

COMPLETED 28 February 2006 DIM SUM (Cantonese finger food served in tea houses); 21 March 2006 (Made from Scratch); 11 April 2005 (Easy Thai To Make at Home)

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

44. Make a snowman.

COMPLETED 6 December 2005

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

45. Make a snow angel.

COMPLETED 6 December 2005

Monday, June 2, 2008

46. Do something on a whim.

COMPLETED 8 October 2005 (An open road, windows down, "Forty Licks" by the Stones in the CD deck, volume = 10 which is as high as it goes); Summer 2006 (Citizens Police Academy, Albemarle County Police Department)

Sunday, June 1, 2008

47. Do something illegal (thanks, Steve).

COMPLETED Unspecified date ... it was a victimless crime and, per Steve's instructions, it did not involve a motor vehicle and high speeds