Friday, May 21, 2010

Home Is Where the Wine Is

Before I started writing a novel, I spent a lot more time reading. Still, over the past few months, I have managed to squeeze in a handful of good books, and I have decided to post reviews of some of my favorites. Here is one of them.

by Laurie Perry

Laurie Perry, also known as "Crazy Aunt Purl," started out as a blogger. Several years ago, while going through through a painful divorce, she signed up for a knitting class with a friend, and fell in love. She started blogging about her experiences, both personal and knitting-related; one thing led to another, and her first book, Drunk, Divorced and Covered in Cat Hair, was born.

I discovered this delightful author late one night as I explored "more items to consider" on Amazon. I remember it distinctly: I was newly single, sipping a glass of wine as my cat purred contentedly in my lap. I had recently dug out yarn and needles following a lengthy hiatus, and was shopping online for some new books on knitting. It is obvious why the title resonated with me; recognizing a kindred spirit, I placed the volume in my shopping cart, anxiously awaited its arrival, and devoured it in one sitting. Shortly after, I started following Laurie's blog, read all her back posts (this took a while!) and I have been a loyal fan ever since.

Her latest book, Home Is Where the Wine Is, begins on New Year's Eve, as she contemplates the coming year, grateful for her accomplishments but still feeling that something is missing. So she decides to take on her life as an "art project" and develops a list of goals. Over the course of the next twelve months, she explores several paths to "enlightenment": creating a vision board, travel, sock knitting, online dating, growing a garden, going to therapy, joining a gym. I can easily relate to most of this, but as you might guess, I especially enjoyed the chapters about dating. If this woman didn't live in California, I would swear that we have gone out with some of the same guys.

The constants in Laurie's life are her family, her friends, her cats, and her knitting; these are woven throughout the pages of the book. She has a unique and optimistic outlook, and a charming and utterly hilarious voice; her writing often makes me laugh out loud, and her perspective makes life's foibles and challenges somehow easier to bear. The final pages of both books have instructions for some great knit and crochet ideas, like hats, scarves, hand and arm warmers, a felted wine bottle cozy, and flip flop coasters. The directions and diagrams are clear and easy to follow. Currently, I am working on a project from the first book, the magic scarf; I will post a picture soon.

The end of the year found Laurie vacationing in Maui for Christmas, alone and content. Summing up her journey, she said this.

I am so lucky. I got the chance to see that I can be one whole woman: complete, responsible for my own happiness, responsible for my own well-being, taxes, happiness, comfort, choices, decisions - all of it. Happiness is an inside job. There is no list, no catalog from the Universe we sift through to order up a perfect life, a perfect mate, a perfect home. We make our lives. There is no perfect. There is only goofy, flawed happiness and everything in between. I can stop fretting about my unfinishedness.

I love that. I love Laurie Perry, and I think you will, too. I hope I will have the privilege of meeting her one day. For now, I content myself visiting her blog. Enjoy!

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