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I've been away for a few weeks at a yoga training in Tennessee.

I did some knitting on a simple shawl of stockinette with yarn-over columns, inspired by Mirian Felton's Icarus, and read Mansfield Park by Jane Austen. I'm convinced that Austen requires large, old-fashion blocks of time - the kind of time that you only find on vacations, or, in my case, during a two-hour break for lunch. I would lie on my big bed in the old lodge or on the amazing hammock on the amazing porch and read. This is a book that I've tried to start many times at home, but was not caught up in it until this trip.

I love that the heroine is quiet and shy and ethical - she's the still center of the novel, which, as Austen shows, can be a very powerful position.

And, I'm continuing to unearth references in the Harry Potter books (the last discovery was in the history museum in Chennai, where I noticed that Nagini is snake in Sanskrit). This time, I learned that Mrs. Norris, the cat that stalks the hallways, spying with and for the bitter school custodian at Hogwarts, is named after the interfering, know-it-all aunt in Mansfield Park.