Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Tuesday Book Reviews

The Churn: An Expanse Novella (The Expanse)


5-star review of The Churn by James S. A. Corey

This novella tells the back story of one of my favorite Expanse characters, Amos Burton. His life as a young adult in the mean streets of Baltimore, during a time when Earth, Mars and the Belt haven’t yet become embroiled in war, explains a lot about his abilities, his sometimes ruthless, sometimes tender behavior. It’s as well written as the novels in the series so you can experience what life was like for him. We even learn how he got his name. The Churn occurs due to a crackdown on crime and mobsters, and seals Amos’ fate.


The Loot (Charlie McCabe Thriller Book 1)

4-star review of The Loot by Craig Schaefer

Schaefer’s first crime thriller and the first in a new series follows Charlie McCabe, just back from her military tour, where she was a bomb defusing expert. That skill comes in handy in this fast-paced story. Charlie must come up with money to pay her father’s bookie. The job she gets with an agency that provides protection for wealthy people won’t pay nearly enough to provide the amount she needs. There are several great characters in this story that behave consistently, including Charlie. I enjoyed this enough that I’ll look for the next in the series.


Dying to be Fathers: A Dai and Julia Mystery

5-star review of Dying to be Fathers by E. M. Swift-Hook and Jane Jago

A great addition to Swift-Hook and Jago’s stories about Dai and Julia in a Britain where the Romans were never defeated. This time Dai, his brother-in-law and nephew are kidnapped and Julia is about to give birth but is asked to temporarily take charge. So many of the usual characters are involved in the efforts to find the three and learn why they were taken. This has to be my favorite alternate history series.



Sunday, December 29, 2019

Sunday excerpt

And now for something completely different, here's a bit from my kids' book, So You Want to be a Dragon:

On a sunny, warm day in the second month of summer, I was selling clams and oysters to hungry passersby in the central marketplace, when my little sister came running up to me. Her eyes blazed and her hair was wildly disheveled. Cora was seven going on forty, always trying to boss me even though I was six years older and a foot taller. We had the same dark brown hair and brown eyes, even the same turned up nose, sprinkled with freckles.
Cora tugged at my hand. “This way!”
“Where are we going? I still have shellfish to sell.” I pointed to what was left on the table at the front of my stall.
“Come on, Bekka.” The urgency in her voice was compelling.
I followed her down an alley, redolent with the odor of rotting vegetables and spoiled fish. The alleyway appeared to end in a high wall, but before we reached it, she turned left into an even narrower passage between two-story brick buildings I’d never been down before. About half-way to a dead end, she stopped abruptly and studied the side of the building on the left, then touched three chipped bricks.
A section of wall slid sideways, leaving a gap just wide enough for me to slip through, tearing my gray tunic in the process. Cora didn't have any difficulty following me. Once the section closed we were left in pitch black. I conjured up a light and held it out in both hands. It couldn't illuminate the darkest corners of the small room, but it was enough to see the dirt floor, a single chair with broken slats in the seat, and an old wooden table. The latter had once been painted green, but only flakes of paint remained. The skittering of rodents was the only indication of something alive in the room. At least the stench wasn't as bad as in the alley.
“We'll be safe here,” Cora said.
“Safe from what?”
“Safe from the dragons that burned everything on the south side of Lorando. A lot of the harbor is gone.”
“Cora, how did you know about this hidey-hole and the way in?”
“Derry told me about it last winter. Didn't he tell you?”
Derry was our neighbor, a year older than me, and always getting into trouble. No matter how many times our mother warned us to stay away from him, neither Cora nor I could.
I didn't answer. Instead, I inspected our surroundings. “How did you know about the dragons? And how long do we have to stay here?” I walked over to where my sister sat on the cold, hard ground.
“I saw some people running from the harbor, and asked one. She didn't stop but she shouted at me, telling me to take shelter. I...I couldn't find Mother, but you were just where I thought you'd be.”
I sat beside her. “How will we know when to leave?” Besides the fact that it was dark except for my light, we didn't have any water and, to eat, only the small sack of raw clams I'd grabbed.
“Give me your hands.” My little sister held hers out, palms up.
I placed my larger ones on them.
“Now close your eyes and what do you see?”
I gasped. In my mind was a vision of the south part of town, the harbor smoking but no longer aflame, and three huge dragons flying out to sea.
“It's safe to leave here now.” Cora let go of my hands and stood. She found the secret spot to push to open the way from the room and we stepped outside again.
It was as if the dragon attack had never happened. Almost. Smoke from the harbor had reached this central section of town. The smell of burnt wood and flesh was faint, but added to the putrid alley smells, it made my stomach queasy.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Holiday Book Reviews

Happy Holidays


The Fifth Doll

4-star review of The Fifth Doll by Charlie Holmberg

Well-written as all of Mrs. Holmberg’s books are, but I found it a bit disturbing. Very imaginative. Nesting dolls are part of Russian culture, but she has used them in a unique way. Matrona lives in an idyllic insular village but is attracted to a younger man although she’s betrothed to another. Returning a paintbrush to Slava thought to be a tradesman and living in the largest house in the village begins her journey. The bit of Russian history, retold in the middle of the book, was probably unnecessary although it explained part of Slava’s motivation. The mystery of the dolls in Slava’s home and of the village is revealed piece by piece the same way as the dolls are exposed from first to fifth.


Ye Olde Magick Shoppe

4-star review of Ye Olde Magick Shoppe by Claire Buss

Fun-filled as always when Ned Spinks and Jenni are on the scene. A mysterious magic shop has appeared in town and when the investigator and the sprite from The Rose Thief, well, investigate, they’re spirited away to a spot miles out of Roshaven. How will they get back and thwart the owner of the shop? A quick read guaranteed to bring a few laughs.


The Dragon Reborn (Wheel of Time, #3)

5-star review of The Dragon Reborn by Robert Jordan

The third book in the Wheel of Time series continues to follow the adventures of Rand, Perrin, Mat, Nynaeve and Egwene from the Twin Rivers, Elayne the daughter-heir to the throne of Andor, and Moiraine the Aes Sedai and Lan her Warder. Despite their fleeing Tar Valon in book 2, the girls are raised to the level of Accepted. They take off again after thirteen Black Ajah. Perrin is with Moiraine, Lan and Loial on his own path, and Mat with Thom (yes, Thom’s back!) but all of the paths converge, like the threads in a pattern. This is what it means to be Ta’veren.

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Sunday Excerpt

Here's an excerpt from A Bite of the Apple, my award winning novella:


Have you ever wondered why I travel so much?” Aunt Gill asked in a low voice as we worked side-by-side at the sink.
I sensed her eyes on me. “I thought it was because you found it enlightening and enjoyable.” Glancing at her out of the corner of my eye, I rolled up my sleeves, but they were already wet with soap suds.
Well, it is that, surely. But I don't travel only for pleasure.” She paused as if unsure how to say something. “I'm sent by the Council.”
The High Council?” My voice squeaked in surprise. They'd ruled the land since democracy replaced the monarchy in our country more than a hundred years before. “What can you do for them?”
Oh, a bit of this and a bit of that.” She waved a hand vaguely.
I waited to see whether she'd say more, and eventually she did. “Often I act as a courier, carrying letters that cannot go through official channels.”
Oh!” That sounded infinitely more exciting than traveling only to see the sights. “I bet you've met the most interesting people!”
Yes, yes, I have.” She hesitated. What had she chosen to leave out?
Go on.” I forgot I had two dirty knives in my hands and stared at her.
She studied my face before she continued. “There are times when my task is more dangerous.” She said the next slowly, perhaps to be certain I understood the gravity. “I'm sent to obtain information our government needs. Or explore a place we've never visited before. Sometimes to establish a relationship with their government.” I must have looked stricken because she added, “I've been well-trained for my work, as you will be.”
Me?” The knives clattered as they fell into the basin.
Aunt Gill sighed. “I'm not getting any younger. It's time to prepare my successor. I've proposed you to the council as my replacement.”
I shook my head. “What do I know about these things? I've never been farther away from home than Romik except the two times we went to the seashore at Cobend. I...I grow vegetables and tend to animals.”
She nodded. “And so you must be trained. You'll return with me to the capital, and we'll begin your education.”

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Tuesday Book Reviews

She Faces Her Enemy: Learning Who "They" Are


4-star review of She Faces Her Enemy by Sharleen Daugherty

The second book in the Double Doll series is an interesting account of how the author changed her life and found out who or what her enemy was. The influences of Navajo culture that helped with those changes and her interest in promoting Navajo weavers are instrumental in her changes in viewpoint. She learned she didn’t have to face her enemies alone.

The Elixir War

3 star review of Elixir Wars by Margena Holmes

Interesting story filled with action, including a climactic sword fight, and romance. The premise is that Radern wants to control the manufacture of the Elixir, a substance that gives the characters abilities, some named and some not. Abilities, that is, not characters. Prince Jordan is tasked with rekindling his romance with Deyka Radern to find out her father’s plans despite the fact that Jordy is engaged to Samara. He’s also a pilot. Judicious editing could make the story flow more tightly and turn telling sections into showing, making this a gripping four- or five-star story.

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Sunday excerpt

Here's a short piece from the second book in the Crystal Odyssey series: Under Two Moons


The bell above the front gate to the Manor grounds pealed the fourth chime, and Carys, my sister Morna and I raced down the hall from the kitchens toward Madoc’s rooms. We arrived out of breath to find my brothers and Kerr already there to hear about our expedition. With only two chairs, we all stood.
I frowned. “Does this mean we'll have to lay the fire the first night?” Madoc told me the last to arrive at this meeting would have to.
I'm sure these gallant young men will help you ladies gather wood.” Madoc smiled at us.
Yes, while you watch.” Kerr folded his arms across his broad chest. The Duke's older son was going with us as a condition for the Manor's resident wizard leaving so soon after his last trip.
Madoc ignored him. “I'll start by warning you, our journey will be long and sometimes quite arduous. Blane, Carys and Nissa can testify to the rigors of travels in unknown lands. We cannot predict what perils we'll encounter. Know this, though, we’ll rarely sleep in a comfortable bed, or eat a meal like the wedding banquet we ate yesterday.”

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Tuesday Book Reviews


The Big Crazy (Skip Langdon #11)

5 star review of The Big Crazy by Julie Smith

Skip and Adam weather the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. Smith incorporated actual events played out by fictional people. The storm might have stopped the usual way of life in the big easy, but it didn't stop crime. Families were separated like the ones in the story, and the hospitals overflowed at the same time as they lost power and we're flooded. Built in tension. This was an intense and terrific read.

Banged-Up Heart: Dancing with Love and Loss

4-star review of Banged-Up Heart by Shirley Melis

An emotional memoir is mainly about the short marriage of the author to her second husband and her coming to grips with his death. The book is well-written in a literary style. Mrs. Melis makes all the people come to life with details many memoirists and biographers fail to do. Two years after the death of her first husband, she met the love-of-her-life, John. An engineer, music-lover, photographer, etc., he died too young of an unexpected form of cancer. It took time but she realized she could live on.


Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Tuesday Book Reviews

Coffee and Ghosts by Charity Tahmaseb


Five star review of Coffee and Ghosts 1: Must Love Ghosts: The Complete First Season by Charity Tahmaseb

Katy took over her grandmother's ghost-hunting business in a small Minnesota town. She used coffee to capture ghosts. Malcolm arrived in town and used tea in an ancient samovar for the same purpose. At first they were at odds, but eventually teamed up as a series of paranormal events occurred. The combination of scary moments, comedy and romance make for very enjoyable stories. Katy and Malcolm, his brother and a few other characters (and also a few of the resident ghosts and sprites) are great characters.


Vietnam Veterans Unbroken: Conversations on Trauma and Resiliency

Four star review of Vietnam Veterans Unbroken: Conversations on Trauma and Resiliency compiled and edited by Jacqueline Murray Loring


Using correspondence from seventeen veterans, organized by topic, the author tells the stories of their service and their lives during the forty years since they served. Some of the letters and stories are moving, some are just sad, many are hard to read. Illustrated with photos of the men and women, these stories should be read to help us understand how the war affected the veterans and what did and what should have happened to them afterwards.


Toward a More Perfect Union by Bruce A. Lieberman
Three star review of Toward a More Perfect Union by Bruce A. Lieberman

The book consists of a series of essays from a specific political viewpoint rather that any objective, non-partisan one. Although I mostly agree with the writer, I found it heavy-handed. Mr. Lieberman obviously loves our country and wants the best for it. His ideas on how to change it seem impractical under current conditions. If you’re looking for a book that supports your own ideals, this may be it.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Newest Knits

My latest sweater, front and back:



The four-ply yarn is a Cascade 220 with plies of dark brown, tan, beige and gray.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Excerpts

From a WIP. What do you think?


Someone banged on our door, an insistent rat-tat-tat. “Grab your things and come with me.” Marlene, the attendant for our train car, sounded out of breath. “Hurry. Abandon this car. It’s gonna fall into the ravine. Couldn’t decouple it.” The words tumbled over each other and were repeated a little farther away.
My eyes became accustomed enough to the dark that I could put my arm through the strap of my messenger bag and follow Abby out into the corridor.
Marlene rushed us to a line of people heading down the spiral stairs in the still-hurtling train. She shouted so we could hear her above the increasing noise level, “You’ll have to jump, no matter how frightened you are.”
As I went around the bend of the stairway, I heard, “Geoff, I can't do it.” The little girl at the front of the line balked. She turned to reveal a face covered in tears and a shaking body. “Please don’t make me.”
Marlene said we have to, Franny,” The teen behind her said. “Toss your backpack first so it's easier.”
I wasn’t sure I could jump either. I slipped the strap off my shoulder, preparing to throw the bag.
Franny finally leaped off, and her brother followed. Next, a younger boy jumped as if he were vaulting into a pool.
I reached the front of the line and looked down. Would I break something if I jumped? At least it was still light outside, and the ground was almost flat. I flung my bag, closed my eyes and jumped, trying to emulate the boy. My fall from the train was broken by the ground and sparse grass. From the siding, I glanced around. Holy moley! The cars ahead of ours were tumbling into a ravine. Any trestle bridge that had been there was gone. The falling train sections pulled our car toward the precipice, too. I gulped, realizing we could still be on it. My stomach clenched as I watched more people jump from our car as it neared the edge. Sparks flew from under the wheels as it neared the edge.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Tuesday Reviews on Wednesday


Forager by Peter R. Stone


4-star review of Forager by Peter R Stone

A hundred years from now, after an apocalyptic thermonuclear war, only parts of Melbourne remain. Ethan lives in Newhome, an area outside the damaged center of the city and works as a Forager, going out daily with his crew to find valuable metals in the ravaged skyscrapers and houses. When a group of Custodians is assigned to accompany the group, ostensibly to protect them from Skels, the skeleton-armored humans that haunt the area, Ethan believes they’re really there to root out anyone with mutant abilities, abilities he’s hidden from all but a few. When a convoy sent to establish trade with a Japanese-developed village is attacked by the Skels, the action revs up, especially when Ethan is drawn to the female translator sent with the convoy. I’d rate this 4.5 except for the abrupt ending that requires the next book in the series to find out what happens next.



Becoming by Michelle Obama


5-star review for Becoming by Michelle Obama

This was a fascinating look at Michelle’s childhood, education, marriage and her time in the White House. Her rise from a humble beginnings to First Lady of the United States is inspiring. Her efforts to help other girls reach for the stars is a part of her. No doubt she is an intelligent and caring woman. I’m impressed by how much time and energy she has devoted to her family. If you’re looking for a political book, this isn’t it. As she says, politics isn’t her field of interest. For her, championing education for girls all over the world, including the US, is of utmost importance.

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Excerpts on Sunday

Here's an excerpt from The Crimson Orb, the first novel in The Crystal Odyssey Series.


I sat on a carved wooden bench in my favorite corner in the vegetable garden, watching the boys at their morning sword practice with my father and wishing I was out there with them. My brother Blane, nineteen-years-old and blond like Father, was easily besting the duke's son Kerr, as he usually did.
My favorite of the pure black cats inhabiting the Manor jumped up on my lap, licked a paw, then curled up and promptly fell asleep. It was that kind of warm summer day when, if I wasn't with the boys, I didn't want to do anything more than sit in the shade of the old apple tree and inhale its sweet scent. Since I was ten I've dreamed of learning to feint and parry, thrust and slice like Blane, Kerr, and my other brother Donal. But I'm a girl and it wasn't seemly.
Girls of ten to twenty were relegated to the sewing room where Jannet, the governess and seamstress, taught us the fine art of needlepoint. I couldn't sew a straight line to save myself, and I really wasn't interested in learning. Our only other lessons were in the kitchens. Cook – whose name was Bridey although no one ever called her anything but Cook, not even her husband – taught us to boil an egg and make soup from whatever was available. That wasn't so bad, because we could eat what we made and no one else was the wiser when it tasted awful.
Blane won his match, and next Donal fought a duel with Adair, the duke's younger son. I watched them closely, Donal's red hair and Adair's blond shining in the sun. I hoped I could learn by paying close attention, if not by actually using a sword. Mind you, these were short practice swords, not meant to do much damage. Donal appeared to do much better than I'd seen in the past.
I was startled when someone sat next to me on the bench. It was Madoc, the Manor's resident wizard. I never heard him coming, and yet suddenly he was there, like magic, which was what he wanted everyone to believe.
"Donal has improved, hasn't he?" Madoc hadn't lost his East Island accent. You would think a wizard would do something about that, but his kind of magic came from knowing what others had long forgotten. All I knew was that things had been different in the past. He had knowledge from reading ancient texts and passed some of it on to the boys.
I looked into his warm, dark eyes. "Yes. His movements are more..." I strove to find the right word. "more fluid." I waved my arms about, imitating my brother.
"He's learned how to become one with his sword," Madoc said. "Notice how Adair has to work to make the sword do what he wants, but Donal lets his sword go where it should."
I turned to him. "Did you teach him that?"
"Your brothers both have some magical talent, an understanding of how to connect with everything around them," Madoc explained. "I just helped Donal to recognize how to use that."
"Oh." As much as I wished I’d be allowed to learn to use a sword, my desire to study magic with Madoc was even greater.
He'd come to the Manor when I was eight. The duke's previous wizard was getting old and the duke wanted a younger man to take his place, although I doubt he expected a lad of sixteen. Madoc had shown his abilities on several occasions, despite his youth. He taught the boys who were interested in his art, and gave all of them lessons in science as well.
Now, eight years after his arrival, he was part of our lives, and no one questioned his ability.
Why aren't you in the sewing room with Morna and the other girls?” he asked.
I hate sewing.” I hesitated about going on, but the need to tell someone who might help make it happen was too strong. “I would rather learn to sword fight and do magic.” There, I'd said it.
He looked deeply into my eyes and asked, “Why do you hate to sew?”
I shrugged. “I'm not very good at it.”
Do you hate it because you're not good at it, or are you not very good at it because you hate it?”
That was a question I'd never considered. “Do you think if I liked sewing and thought it would somehow be useful, I'd be better at it?”
Then he really surprised me. “Nissa, you probably have as much magical ability as Blane and Donal.” He paused briefly while I considered that and what it had to do with what we'd been talking about. “Just as your brothers use the energy around us to guide a sword arm, you can learn to use it to improve your sewing.”
I swallowed. “Would you teach me?” I dared to ask. “I mean, show me how, as you've shown them?”
He stared at me for so long that I was afraid he was preparing to refuse, but then he surprised me one more time. “Meet me in my rooms this afternoon when the boys return here for sword practice, and we'll see how good a pupil you can be.”
I thought I would burst with happiness. Madoc was going to teach me to do magic, or rather how to use it!
I'll be there!” I said. He laughed, but it was a friendly laugh.
The cat woke just then and jumped off my lap. “Well, I guess I'd better get back to Jannet before anyone misses me.”
I could feel his eyes on me as I walked off. It was more of a skip than a walk as I made my way through a wooden side door and down the narrow hallway inside the Manor. But my good mood dissipated when I entered the room where my fourteen-year-old sister Morna and a few other girls sat at two tables, hemming the cloth napkins they would later embroider.
Narissa Day, where have you been?” Jannet asked, her broad accent deepening with her annoyance. Few people called me by my full name, but usually it was when they wanted to scold me.
I...I needed some air,” I replied. It was true that this room was stuffy. Lint from the linen cloth we worked with hung in the still air and I could actually see it when the light came through the two tiny east windows that early in the morning.
Well, you're falling behind. Morna, show your sister what she's to do,” Jannet instructed.
Yes, Ma'am,” Morna said, smiling her usual radiant smile. She still hadn't outgrown the sprinkle of freckles across her nose, and her bright red hair cascaded over her shoulders. You had to smile with Morna whenever you looked at her.
For the next hour or so, I worked diligently at hemming large squares of cloth under Jannet's critical eye, hoping that my lesson with Madoc in the afternoon would make this task much more pleasant in the future. The time passed slowly on the old hourglass Jannet used to time our work. I was always the last to finish.
Well, this time my finished hems were more or less straight and my stitches were even smaller and more even than Larena's. She was the duke's daughter, and the second worst seamstress after me.
Very well, ladies. You may all wash up and go to luncheon,” Jannet said.
We stood up and then trooped out toward the dining hall, stopping at the trough just outside to rinse off our hands before we ate. The hall was already filling up. The boys, hungry after their exertions on the practice field, were lined up to get their food. I just hoped they'd leave something for the rest of us.


The ebook is on sale this week

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Tuesday Book Review

Magic Bitter, Magic Sweet


4 star review of Magic Bitter, Magic Sweet by Charlie Holmberg

The title of this fantasy story is appropriate, as the protagonist, Maire, is a baker who infuses her confections with emotions and attitudes just by thinking of them. The story is also sometimes bitter, sometimes sweet, and sometimes bittersweet. Maire goes from her sweet life as the baker in an idyllic town, where she lives with lovable Dorice and Franc to the bitter life of a slave to the simple but cruel Allemas. His demands evoke known fairy tales and, like them, have their dark moments. All the while, she’s visited sporadically by the ephemeral Fyel. I won’t spoil the story, but I will say, as bittersweet as the ending is, the epilogue is almost too sweet.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Sunday Wool Blog

Superwash wool 
First a couple answers on the why of superwash wool. Why do people want it?
A big reason is washability. Non-superwash baby gifts can end up doll clothes, and socks that have been tossed accidentally in the washer and dryer barely fit a big toe. Dyers and knitters also love the intense color produced by dyeing on superwash. Lots of folks also say that superwash yarns are softer; they are certainly smoother.
Only a very small percentage of the superwash produced in the United States goes to the hobby market (that’s us knitters).
Much of the US-made superwash wool goes to ready-to-wear fashion, and to the military for uniforms. Wool for military wear is praised for its durability, its suitability in a variety of climates, and its fire resistance. The superwash process makes it washable, and it makes the United States wool pool (a variety of sheep breeds mixed into one yarn) soft enough to wear. The military uses a lot of wool and helps keep wool farming viable in the United States.

What Exactly Is Superwash?

Superwash is a process that makes wool less susceptible to felting when it is washed and dried by machine. There are two ways most commonly used to make a superwash yarn. One is to strip or dull the scales of a fiber, then fill the irregularities left behind with a polymer to smooth the fiber. The other is to coat the fiber to suppress the scales. There are many scientists working on developing new ways of shrink-proofing wool. Most methods are the super secret, proprietary information of the companies and labs developing them.

Felting: It’s All About Scales

Each individual wool fiber is covered with tiny scales, like a snake’s skin. When these little suckers are agitated, literally, that’s how felting happens.
Felting needs moisture, friction, and sometimes a change in temperature like accidentally putting things in the dryer. Wool relaxes in water, even more if it’s warm or hot: the scales open like the hatch on the back of a car. Agitation makes the fibers scootch closer together so that the scales hang on to each other. As the fiber dries the scales slam shut, locking out the ability for fibers to move past each other and locking in the new shrunken size. Your beautiful knitwear is now smaller, stiffer, and not so soft. If you’ve ever knit and then felted a bag or slippers on purpose, you know exactly how much the felting experience can change knitting.

Superwash and the Environment

There are environmental issues with many superwash processes, but not all superwash or anti-felting processes are the same. Different companies use different processes and chemicals, and different countries have different environmental regulations for their wool industry. The only way to know what process your favorite yarn company uses is to ask them.
While many yarn companies don’t know the process their suppliers use, some do, and a growing number are making it a priority to be aware and to choose supplies with the environment in mind. This is true about yarns processed in North America and the rest of the world.
For example, in most countries there are strict regulations on the cleanliness of water that gets dumped from any  industry, and there are companies that go beyond what the law requires to remove chemicals from their wastewater.
One of the most used methods to make a fiber superwash is to remove or reduce the scales on the fiber with chlorine, either as a gas or as a solution. Then the modified fibers are smoothed with a coat of a polymer.
Chlorine gas is the most toxic way to make superwash, both for the people working in the plants and the environment. A chlorine solution in water is less toxic to workers, and chlorine in this form can be filtered from wastewater.
The polymers used to smooth the fiber are made from different types of plastics. The type most commonly used is also used in paper processing. It’s a polymer that keeps paper from reverting to pulp when it gets wet.
Newer, more environmentally friendly methods of creating superwash are being developed and used in several different countries. I’ve read about some scientists experimenting with heat, and others working on a coating that biodegrades quickly, making the shrink resistance temporary. All of this work is industrial and secret.
One environmentally friendly method is used by O-Wool. They use a natural (and proprietary) polymer to coat the fiber to keep scales from interlocking. They do not remove or reduce scales, but only smooth them down—like using pomade on unruly hair.

With a regular and a shrink-proofed merino side by side, you get a visual to help connect all the words.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Tuesday Book Reviews



50 States of Consciousness

4 star review of 50 States of Consciousness by DJ Jones

DJ Jones is a tall, African American woman who loves her children, country music and her motorcycle, Big Bertha. She describes her adventures and the people she met as she took that 800 pound bike to each of the fifty states in 2006. The story of her journey is accompanied by great photographs. The reader also gets a glimpse of her backstory.


Thursday Midnight (Immortal Wake #2)

5 star review of Thursday Midnight by Zachry Wheeler

The sequel to Transient picks up the story of mortal humans and vampires several years later. Jonas is in hiding with Anna, but has kept his pledge to NExUS, the worldwide ruling body. He thinks the few remaining humans can work together with the dominant vampires until a human commits a gruesome axe murder. Turns out to be the tip of an iceberg of humans targeting large congregations of vampires, bringing Jonas out of hiding. The story is filled with tension, thrills and chills. The only thing I didn't like were the number of humans (and vampires) died, especially the ones I liked.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Tuesday Book Reviews



Three star review of KiMo Theatre: Fact and Folklore Jacqueline Murray Loring Writer/Editor

Some of the writing in this anthology of pieces was fascinating and I loved the pictures, but there were a few that lacked the ‘feel’ of the old theater. The KiMo is an art deco theater in Albuquerque that has lived many lives in its over ninety years. From conflicting stories about how it got its name to its heyday presenting live shows and first-run movies and to the present, the book shows how the history of the KiMo and of Albuquerque are intertwined. The theater has retained much of the incredible d├ęcor it started with.

Mass Effect: Initiation (Mass Effect: Andromeda, #2)

Five star review of Mass Effect: Andromeda by N.K. Jemisin


Cora is one badass soldier. Technically, she isn't military, but she's been trained. And she has a personal AI. Sent to recapture the source code, she proves her worth and abilities. Jemisin's amazing writing gives the reader an exciting story, part of a series of stories. I'll have to read more of them, because I'm curious about how the Andromeda initiative plays out.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Listening With My Eyes: An Abused Horse. A Mother With Alzheimer's. The Journey To Help Them Both.



5-star review of Listening With My Eyes by Patricia Conoway

Pat Conoway needed to learn non-verbal communication to help her mother with late stage Alzheimer’s and found it working with her horse, Dream. The challenges she faced with both Dream and her mother are told with honesty and sensitivity. It should be essential reading for every horsewoman and everyone dealing with a parent or other loved one who is fighting the battle of Alzheimer’s. Well-written and fascinating book.

Relative Fortunes by Marlowe Benn




5-star review of Relative Fortunes by Marlowe Benn

This historical fiction takes place in 1920’s New York. Julia Kydd has returned to the city to resolve a dispute with her half-brother over her share of her father’s fortune. She gets caught up in a murder mystery involving the feuding family of a friend from school. She also has to deal with a flower-filled proposal from her lover back in London. Wonderful characters and loads of references to the period in which it’s set. Although a bit slow to start, I enjoyed this read.