Janet's thread

A weblog, mostly about knitting but other topics appear

Curious Philatelic Activities June 26, 2011

  a curious book about an eccentric Englishman who enjoyed challenging the postal system

  if you can read the fine print on the back cover of this book, you can find out a bit more about this man W. Reginald Bray (1879-1939).  He really was eccentric.

My philatelic activities are a bit more mundane.  Here are several postcards I found recently.

  I don’t know what breed of dog this is.  For some reason I have a feeling it’s Belgian.  The seller of the card thinks the card dates from 1907 but there is no message or stamp to give any more clues.  It will go  into the album with my other dog postcards.

  “The Return of the Oyster Fishers”, original painting by Francois Nicolas Augustin Feyen-Perrin (1829-1888).  According to the inscription of the card, the painting hangs in the Luxumbourg Gallery in Paris.  Again no message or stamp on the back to give any further clues.

  this is a card of the Conservatory of Music at Oberlin College in Oberlin Ohio.  I bought this card (for the princely sum of 50 cents) with Oberlin friends in  mind, but they are not postcard collectors so I am quite happy to keep it.  I think that building is just magnificent.


The Cape Ann June 24, 2011

Filed under: Art works,Artists,Authors,Book covers,Books,Georgia O'Keeffe — Janet @ 12:23 am

       Here is a lovely book that I found 2nd hand here in Seattle.  Copyright 1988, published in this Penguin edition in 1989.  I was attracted by the cover – an Edward Hopper painting, Hodgkin’s House, Cape Ann, Massachusetts.  I thought the story would be set in New England.  That is not the case…..no, the setting is the Northern Midwest near the end of the Great Depression.  The narrator is 6 years old.  Her mother has a dream of owning her own home – she and her daughter have identified the Cape Ann house in a house catalog.  Their plans keep getting thwarted.  It is a wonderful story and I could hardly put it down.  I didn’t want to let it go.

A while ago I wrote a blog about Edward Hopper.

Now I’m in the mood to read about another artist.     So this is the book I have selected from my shelf of unreads.  Again a book I found 2nd hand here in Seattle.  Georgia O’Keeffee lived a long life, 1887-1986.  Her life touched 3 generations – my grandparents, my parents, and my generation.  I don’t really know much about her, just that she is a famous artist, and her work is widely known.   

The Hurtigruten ship I wrote about has completed its epic journey.  But Wimbledon is now in progress.  What bliss to alternate between watching/listening to Wimbledon matches and reading this book.  Would that life could be so simple.

On the subject of books, I’m trying to reconstruct in my memory a list of titles I read as a teenager or maybe preteen.  I’ve got as far as Armstrong Sperry and his books All Sails Set and Call It Courage and Wagons Westward.   There were other books about the whalers and the pioneers by other authors.   

Eventually I discovered Willa Cather, Sinclair Lewis, Ernest Hemingway.  Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea was published in magazine form and I remember reclining out in the backyard being engrossed in reading that.  The list will grow.


17 Swedish Designers June 4, 2011

   17 Swedish Designers, all women, touring in the U.S.   This is an exhibition of current industrial design ideas as pursued by 17 Swedish women.  Ceramics, furniture, and textiles, design for everyday use.  In black and white with a lot of bright accents.  This morning I went to a the Nordic Heritage Museum to see the exhibition and hear a talk given by one of the designers, Lotta Kuhlhorn.  Lotta is a graphic designer.  She has quite a range of work, all of which I liked – book covers, designs for kitchenware, designs for textiles.  She has her own firm,  Koloni Stockholm, along with being a designer for IKEA.  Her work, and that of others in the show, made me think of William Morris, Marimekko, and Cath Kidston.  She really likes the styles from the 1960’s – and that made many in the audience feel right at home!  I liked the colourful dress she was wearing – when asked if she had designed it, she replied “no, I found it in a flea market in Stockholm only last week”.  That is just so neat – to be a distinguished visitor giving a talk about a major exhibition and wearing a dress she found in a flea market.  My type of person!!

Here’s another website I found showing some of her work.  I think it’s fabulous. 

The exhibition was spread out over 3 rooms in the museum.  Items very neatly displayed on temporary flooring/platforms.  I was a bit disappointed not to see more in the way of textiles but then that’s my particular interest.  The exhibition as a whole was wonderful.   And here are a few of my photos from this morning.

  these knitted textiles were the work of Ulrika Martensson.

  very strong but in a way muted statements in rugs and cushions

  this photo doesn’t do justice to Lotta Kuhlhorn’s work but I want to include it anyhow

  an IKEA chair and cushion – I am a great fan of IKEA and in fact the chair I am sitting on as I type this is an IKEA chair which I bought for the sheer love of the design.

  some of the people there this morning – you can’t quite see Lotta live but she is in the mural – 2nd from the right

  Lotta live, in the patterned dress with a beige sweater – in the discussion earlier one of the questions was about a favourite colour – Lotta wasn’t sure but did say that one technique she used for getting to like a colour was to wear it for a while.  So here she is wearing beige which she doesn’t like very much but has plans to use it.  I really like her approach!

Another humourous thing that happened this morning was early on in the slide show when Lotta was starting to talk about her work.  She showed a couple of slides of her allotment in Stockholm.  Allotment was a strange word to this Seattle audience.  It was finally sorted out that allotments here in Seattle are called “pea patches”.  I like allotment better.

It was a coincidence this morning that I had a couple of emails about a big exhibition that is opening tomorrow in Kilkenny in Ireland.  An exhibition of work by leading tapestry weavers – all old friends.  Wish I could be there.


It All Started On An Airplane August 22, 2010

Filed under: Air travel,Book covers,Books,Detective Stories,Knitting — Janet @ 2:00 pm

Less than a year ago, late September 2009, I was flying across the Atlantic to attend my 55th reunion of the Belmont High Schoool, Class of 1954.  I was seated next to a person with a very interesting looking handknit sweater – she was not ready to tell me about her sweater – only that her sister had knit it – very abrupt conversation-stopper answer.  As the air miles went by I cast sideways glances at what this person was doing.  She had several books stacked up on her tray, including a book of Crosswords from the Guardian Newspaper, and 2 books by an author I had not heard of, Andrea Camillieri. 

After the reunion in Waltham Mass., I went down to Connecticut with one of my classmates and visited with son David and family in Glastonbury.  That gave me a chance to have a look in Barnes & Noble for the author that my uncommunicative airplane seat companion had liked so much.  Well, the graphic designs of the covers of the Camillieri books were so appealing that I felt compelled to try reading one.  Hard to choose.  My choice, according to the cover I liked best, was The Terra Cotta Dog.        

                                    Now, less than a year later, I have read almost all 11 of his books – and the 12th one is due to be released in October.  I can hardly wait.

 Andrea Camillieri, born 1925        image from this website

  another one of the Camillieri books

  coming in October 2010

List of Camilleri’s Inspector Montalbano books

Inspector Montalbano
1. The Shape of Water (2002)
2. The Terra-Cotta Dog (2002)
3. The Snack Thief (2003)
4. Voice of the Violin (2003)
5. The Excursion To Tindari (2005)
6. The Smell of the Night (2005)
     aka The Scent of the Night
7. Rounding the Mark (2006)
8. The Patience of the Spider (2007)
9. The Paper Moon (2008)
10. August Heat (2008)
11. The Wings of the Sphinx (2009)

If you have a look for any of these books, the one you find might not necessarily have the cover shown here on this blog.  The publishers keep changing these covers – rather annoying – when I find a different cover I can’t be sure that I have read the book!!


75 Years of Penguin Publishing August 6, 2010

Filed under: Book covers,Books — Janet @ 6:52 pm

Today as I forced myself to walk past the Secret Garden Book Shop, I halted in my tracks to see the window display celebrating Penguin’s 75th year.  What a wealth of attractive covers and titles……but none of the old traditional Penguins with the green and white for mysteries or orange and white for novels.  For some reason I was not aware of Penguins being published or for sale in the States back in the 60’s.  That’s when I went to Kenya for the first time and discovered the joy of Penguin paperbacks.  These photos are from wikipedia.

                                                                                                                  In the Wikipedia article Penguin Publishing I read that Penguin was launched on July 30, 1935.  Initially the Penguin books were published under the umbrella of The Bodley Head but not long afterward the Penguins started to appear with their own distinctive covers and logo. 

                                                                                                       Window display at the Secret Garden

There are many imprints within the orbit of Penguin – the list is quite bewildering if you take a look at the wikipedia entry.  The corporate structure of all those companies within companies is beyond me.  The wikipedia entry for the Penguin Group is a help, but maybe Dot , one of the readers of this blog, could enlighten me further.

All I know is that over the years I have found anything published by Penguin is usually worth reading.   In more recent years, Penguin has joined the bandwagon of having more graphic covers – a move of which I approve.  I do like finding older Penguins with the what I call classic covers but I also like the newer covers as well.


A New (Old) Detective Series July 13, 2010

Filed under: Authors,Book covers,Book Reviews,Books — Janet @ 2:40 pm

My husband Ian has discovered a great newly published detective series.  A while ago he was sent on a mission to buy a Henning Mankell book for me in Hodges Figgis in Dublin.  On said mission, the Hodges Figgis man told him about another series which preceded Henning Mankell and which had a significant influence on him.   Ian acknowleged the recommendation and made a note of it and in turn passed it on to me.  That little piece of paper passed back and forth from pocket to pocket etc. and we had a look for those books next time we went to HF – and each subsequent time for many weeks.  But no, neither the books nor the man who had recommended them were there.  Last week, suddenly, as if by magic, the whole series of 10 was there and Ian bought 3 of them.  We have now been discussing them on the phone.  Bingo, yesterday was the trip to Barnes and Noble here in Glastonbury and I had a good browse (and a cup of coffee etc.).  I wasn’t thinking of the new detective series though. What I intended to buy was another book by the Sicilian author, Andrea Camalleri.  He has a wonderful series, Inspector Montalbano, and I was in the mood to read another one.   I had a hard time working out which of the Camilleri books I didn’t have but I chose one and then later confirmed with Ian that it wasn’t the unread one I have sitting on the bookshelf in Dublin.   I was also happy to find a new Larry McMurtry, a 2nd and 3rd book in a series that I didn’t know was a series by Nancy Turner, a new Ivan Doig (which I didn’t buy), a new book by Linda Greenlaw (nor did I buy that one).  As I went to pay for my books, a prominent display hit my eye – none other than the whole Martin Beck series by Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo.  I knew Ian had bought numbers 1, 2, and 3, so I bought no. 4, The Laughing Policeman.

  The Help by Kathryn Stockett     

When we got home I finished reading The Help by Kathryn Stockett – an excellent excellent book. And then moved on to The Laughing Policeman.  Read it cover to cover last night.  What a super book.  Off today I hope to get no. 5 in the series The Fire Engine That Disappeared.

 The Laughing Policeman – photo of cover from Amazon – not the same as the cover on the copy I found at Barnes and Noble


More reading June 21, 2010

Filed under: Authors,Book covers,Books,First World War,Irish History,Reading — Janet @ 2:48 pm

This is a book which has been on my shelf since Christmas  – I wasn’t terribly attracted by the cover on the dust jacket ……..but the book turned out to be excellent.  A novel but it incorporated historical fact about Niagara Falls and the surrounding area in the early part of the 20th century.  Really a very absorbing book and rather unusual.  The author, Cathy Marie Buchanan, is a Canadian writer who grew up in the Toronto area.

I like the historic postcard of the Falls – this is the back cover of the dust jacket.

Now here is another book that has been on my shelf for a while, it’s been there for longer ago than last Christmas.  But it sat on someone else’s shelf many years ago, a person in Dungannon Northern Ireland.  The book was published by The Companion Book Club, London in the 1950’s. The book was originally published by Allen & Unwin.  Whenever I see books like this in used book sales or book fairs I look at them quite closely and if I haven’t read the book many years ago I tend to buy it.  Invariably it turns out to be a good read.  This book, Two Eggs on My Plate, was written by a Norwegian, Oluf Reed Olsen, and translated by F. M. Lyon.  It is an incredible story telling of the authors years in the Resistance during the 2nd World War in Norway.  For me, this non-fiction account reads far better than any fiction I have read about that period in history.  And incidentally, since this is the time around the Summer Solstice, I took note that the drops to the Resistance fighters could only take place up until early April and then had to be suspended until the autumn when the hours of darkness were longer.

The Companion Book Club was similar to a publisher in the U.S. who republished popular best sellers.   I can’t think of the name at the moment.  The Readers Digest condensed books were a different species but similar in making best sellers available to a wider readership.

And here is another book about Irish History.  Not very interesting to me at first as the author, who is Sean Molloy’s grandaughter, goes in to detail about each battle that was fought in the area around Cork, territory not familiar to me.  But I decided it had been worth struggling through the first bit in order to appreciate the later stages of the book when this rebel guerrilla fighter became a politican and served in Government in a number of Ministries.  I was impressed by the author’s extensive research into official documents and records.

And now one more book, a volume of over 900 pages.  Not a book to read cover to cover, but I did about 15 years ago when I was one of the proof readers.  It’s good to see it in soft cover – and to find that in the Preface there is an acknowledgement of my proof reading efforts.  And being paid to read it was really a pleasure.

  A New History of Ireland, Volume VI, Ireland Under the Union, 1870-1921