27 August 2009

Moving right along ...

Well, we had a lovely few days of vacation with some of my family in Fenwick Island, Delaware (which I'm never sure is in DE or MD ...), and we had the chance to see everyone while we were there. There was much hilarity, especially as we were obsessed with www.awkwardfamilyphotos.com, and Photocrashers (the website I cannot currently locate), and spent hours amusing ourselves. As I mentioned in a post on Facebook, the best part about spending time with family is that we are all so easily amused!

Anyway, vacation pictures next time. Today I have some knitting for you.

First, look kids - an FO!

Yep, my toe-up socks are finished! I actually finished them last week, but didn't get around to taking a picture of them until yesterday. If you are so inclined to care, here are the details:

Pattern: Gusset Hell Basic Socks, by Wendy D. Johnson (Ravelry link here).
Needles: size 1.5 US
Yarn: Socka Color, in the Daisy Dot colorway (I think this is discontinued).
Started on July 16 and finished on August 20.
Notes: I am so glad I learned how to knit toe-up socks, this will give me a lot of new patterns to try! I am pleased with the way they turned out, and they fit nicely. I like the way the yarn looks, but am puzzled as to why it is called Daisy Dot - however, that's not for me to worry about.
Modifications: None. I just wanted to stick with the basic formula and see if it would work out ...

I'm also making progress on my Pickle Cardigan (Ravelry link here), now having finished two sleeves:
I'm pleased with how they look, and am so far enjoying the pattern. I have decided to do the two cardigan fronts next. That way, if I run low on yarn (as some people have reported has happened to them), and I can't find the same dye lot, the back will be the only part that doesn't match 100%. Hey, I won't have to see it ...

I've also got another pair of socks (surprise! Not.) on the needles. They will be a Christmas gift, so no picture or details on those anytime soon here on the blog. (You can see the start of them here on my Ravelry project page.)

I also have a lot of things running around in my brain that I am considering as other birthday and holiday gifts this year. Unless I get them sorted out soon though, they will likely stay right there in their current disorganized state.

Only time will tell ...

21 August 2009

Birthday Girl

Happy Birthday to Tess!

Today is Tess' 18th birthday - meaning she is now old enough to legally drink, vote, and join the armed forces.

May God help us all.

20 August 2009


My little blog is 3 years old today! I have had so much fun, and made so many new friends - and I wasn't even really sure I wanted to create a blog in the first place. Thanks to all of you who stop by, and also thanks for your comments.

I'm thinking of some way to celebrate - the first year, I had a contest where you just had to leave comments, last year I had a contest to guess where we were on our vacation (I can't believe it was just a year ago we were in Puerto Rico ...), and you know what? I have no idea what I might do this year!

But I'll let you know. In the meantime, thanks again, and I hope you'll stick around.

18 August 2009

Eek! Steeks!

Well, I did it. It's done. It worked. I'm not sure why I was so worried.

The Dotty vest has had the neck and arm steeks cut.

(Hmm, now it actually looks like a vest ...)

Below: armhole steek (left), and v-neck steek (right)

As is the case with a lot of things, thinking about it was a lot worse than actually doing it. The biggest problem was getting the sewing machine threaded properly, to make the seams that would anchor the stitches! The actual cutting was somewhat mesmerizing - I mean, you could hear the scissors cutting through your knitting, and though it was shocking, it was also in a way fun.

I realize that for a lot of you, this is a ho-hum, so-what moment. But this was a big step for me, knitting-wise. In the category of I-know-people-do-it-but-I-probably-never-will. I am very proud of myself, not just because I cut the steeks without huge problems, but because I even got to that point in the first place!

Now I have to pick up stitches for the neckline and armholes, and then tack down the steeks. But then Dotty will be finished - and in a month or so, we may even have appropriate weather for it to be worn. You bet your life there will be pictures!

14 August 2009

On Forgiveness

To err is human, to forgive divine."
~Alexander Pope

(In the interest of full disclosure, I want to say that this post has nothing to do with knitting, reading, cats, or any of my usual ramblings. Something has been on my mind recently, and yesterday something happened that challenged my "moral" high ground. I've been thinking about it, and decided to write this post.)

I have always found the quote above to be a challenge. I was raised to believe that even if other people do not forgive you for something, that if you are truly sorry in your heart and soul, and you ask God for forgiveness, he will grant it. It doesn't work to say, "I'll go ahead and do this, 'cause God will forgive me anyway," or "God will forgive me *this* time" (all the while knowing you'll do it again). No - the way I learned it, God would gladly forgive you, but only if you meant it. This was the "divine" part of the quote.

I am lousy at forgiveness. I try to forgive whenever I can, and I have actually accomplished it on occasion. But in general, I have to admit that if you cross me/betray me, etc., I'm usually finished with you for good. On a larger scale, there are public persons that truly make me furious, and I am literally unable to see anything about them that is positive. Those people, it seems, I am incapable of forgiving simply because they exist.

Conversely, I actively try to be better about the whole forgiveness thing. I read an article a few years back about the healing power of forgiveness. One of the people in the article was a woman whose young daughter had been brutally raped and murdered. The rage and ill will she felt towards the person responsible was literally making her incapable of leading a normal life. She sought counseling, and her therapist led her on a path that she hoped would result in the woman being able to forgive the perpetrator. The article discussed the fact that for a lot of people, forgiveness means that you are saying that whatever happened was OK; when in fact, true forgiveness allows you to acknowledge the hurt/trauma/wrong for exactly what is was, while allowing yourself to look beyond your own feelings, and move on with your life. I am not making it as clear as the article did, but I'm hoping you get the gist of things.

Anyway, the woman being treated worked long and hard, and after about a year or so of therapy, was able to forgive the person who had taken her daughter's life. She said that as a result, her life was better, and she felt more of a connection with her daughter than ever before. She was glad that the killer was paying for the crime, but she no longer spent time and lots of energy thinking about how much she hated him. As a matter of fact, once she had talked to him face-to-face to say she forgave him (even though he mocked her), she seldom even thought about whether or not he still existed.

This whole thing resonated with me. Because the woman was not told to "forgive and forget," but rather to just forgive and then continue to live her life the way she wanted to, not controlled by her negative feelings and energy.

Then I started working at a place that was founded on the idea that everyone deserves to be forgiven, and also that they then deserve a chance to live the rest of their lives as any of the rest of us do. This was carried to the extreme in that inmates were referred to only by their inmate numbers, and extreme care was taken to retain their privacy and anonymity, so that once their sentence was completed, they did not carry the permanent label of "criminal." (I am talking about the original philosophy behind Eastern State Penitentiary. Towards the end of its existence, it had the same purposes/philosophies as most modern prisons.)

Additionally, I have read reports of criminals with life sentences who had been released from prison early because they were terminally ill, so they could die at home. This seems like a humane thing to do, though I can also understand why it's not something that happens all of the time.

Yesterday, I saw an interview on the morning news with a woman whose young daughter had been killed in the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland. Reporters had been sent to talk to her because the Scottish government is considering allowing the mastermind of the bombing to leave prison in Scotland and serve out his remaining life sentence in his home country of Libya, since he is suffering from terminal cancer. The woman was furious that the person who killed her daughter and so many others was getting any kind of consideration at all, when he had not considered the lives of so many innocent people on that flight. She felt that he "deserved to rot in jail, and then in hell."

I felt bad when I heard her say that, though I understand that to her, it seems like an incredible miscarriage of justice. On the other hand, I thought, just because he acted in such a horrific manner, does that mean she has to do the same? I thought about this for almost the whole day, and wished that she would find a way to forgive him and move on.

Then I turned on the evening news and learned that the Philadelphia Eagles had signed Michael Vick.

I don't know him. I don't want to know him. In my personal opinion, he is among the lowest of the low, and that is when I'm feeling generous. I feel that he got off easy as far as his criminal sentence, because in the end, dogfigthing is only about dogs, and they are only animals, and it's not like it was a person. (These are not my feelings, this is what I have heard a lot of people say.)

There are those who said that even though they didn't like what he did, he served his time, is remorseful, and deserves the chance to make a living. Various NFL coaches and players said that he was someone who learned his lesson. Andy Reid, the Eagles head coach, is a usually soft-spoken man in press conferences, and from all appearances, tries to live his life according to his Mormon faith. He stated that Michael Vick deserved the chance to turn his life around, and that the Eagles were happy to have him join the team.

Does Michael Vick need my forgiveness? No, he doesn't know or care that I even exist. Do I need to forgive him? Probably. Even if I don't make a huge effort to do so, will I be able to move on? I hope so. But boy is it going to be difficult. Before, I could forget about his existence until I heard/read something about him. Now he's going to be right here, and I'm guessing that at least for a while, there will be news stories about him at least once a week.

Sigh. So much for my moral high ground.

12 August 2009

Yeah, I'm Just Hanging Out with Knitting Celebs ...

You know it's been too hot and humid for me lately when I fail to download photos from my camera in order to enthrall my blog readers ... I happened to check my camera this morning, and realized that there were two pictures that were still sitting there!

One of them was from a few weeks ago, when Wendy was in Philadelphia for a booksigning, and I got to meet her in person!*

This was so much fun - Wendy is a friendly, outgoing person who makes you feel like you've known her forever. She was working on her Order to Chaos shawl (which was absolutely beautiful in person, btw), signing her book, and just chatting with everyone who stopped in.

I nearly missed getting to this event, but I had just enough time to get home and clean up a little before heading over to Loop. By the time I arrived, a lot of other people had already come and gone, but I did get to catch up with Eileen and her mom (Eileen was nice enough to take this picture for me), and I met some new people, which is of course never a bad thing.

Needless to say, we also discussed cats, which I always enjoy. I learned that Lucy is mostly fluff ... (as opposed to Jetsam, for instance, who is mostly body), and that she is a very nicely behaved young lady. Which really didn't surprise me.

Speaking of cats, Brigitte is toying with the idea of adding a kitten to her family - a calico! I of course think she should definitely do it. And Tess thoroughly approves, being of the calico persuasion herself. It would all work out well, as one of Brigitte's other kitties, Atticus, is the Canadian Lieutenant of Tess' Kitty Jihad and World Domination Plan (KJWDP), so she would have even more excellent representation north of the border ...

*See, Carol - you're not the only one who has acquaintances among the Knitterati ...

08 August 2009

Penitentiary Life, Weeks 17, 18, and 19

Yeah, I know - I'm behind on posting about life at Eastern State these days. Suffice it to say that things have been busy - now that summer is well underway, there are lots of people showing up every day of the week, not just on weekends. Besides just people on vacation, we are still seeing lots of groups (adults and children) who are coming for a guided tour. It doesn't seem that many people decide to change plans for a visit, even if/when it's raining, or hot and humid. (Which I totally understand, when I'm on vacation. But when I'm at work, I always think, "Why would you come here on a day like this??" What can I say, I'm very complex.)

Anyway, a couple of weeks ago, I had an experience that surprised me. You know how there are some people that are memorable for one reason or another, even if you have no clue who they are? I can usually remember faces, even if I never know someone's name, but usually that's because I am not necessarily spending time with loads of different people. But now, every single day when I am working, I am talking to scads of new people, some of whom I remember throughout the day from place to place, and others who just fall into the category of the rest of the universe. For example, all of us who are tour guides remember a guy who visited on a weekend a couple of months ago, 'cause he was dressed in black, with slicked-back black hair, and a long black coat - when it was about 72 degrees! (We agreed that he looked kinda like a vampire.) I'm sure if he showed up again dressed the same way, any of us could pick him out of the crowd.

So I was at at the Gatehouse (which is the main entrance and first greeting area for visitors) a couple of weeks ago, and a group of 8-9 year-old day campers arrived for a tour. I announced their arrival, and then all of a sudden:

Excited Kid: Hey - Miss Bridget! Do you remember me! You gave my class a tour in the school year.
Me (in my brain): ??????!!!!!!
Me (in reality): Um, sure ...
Excited Kid: It's me - Xavier! I read some books about prisons after your tour, I really liked it.
Me (in my brain): Xavier? Hm.
Me (in reality): Oh, yeah ... Xavier, I'm glad to see you've come back for another visit.

He was so pleased. I was pleased that he had apparently enjoyed my tour, etc., but spent the rest of the day thinking, Oh God, am I *supposed* to remember things like that???

Better than looking like a vampire, I guess ...

Last weekend was Prison Break Weekend, and that brought even more visitors to the place, for a chance to hear actors portraying Willie Sutton and Clarence Klinedinst debate who was the brains behind the design of the escape tunnel in 1945. They presented their cases, took questions from the audience, and then the audience had a chance to vote. It was a lot of fun, and people really got involved in why/how they voted. I had at least one or two people tell me that it took them a long time to decide who they believed, and why.

The debates took place both days of the weekend, and the weather played all kinds of tricks. Saturday, for instance, was hot and very humid. People were fanning themselves with their maps of the grounds, and the gift store did an excellent business in soda and water sales. But Sunday - well that was the real killer. The weather reports were calling for severe thunderstorms and local flooding in the area for the whole day. I managed to make it to work in the gloom, but without getting caught in any rain.

We opened as usual at 10 a.m., and for the first hour, it was threatening, but nothing happened. Then at around 11 o'clock, the skies opened up and buckets of water descended! Everyone was busy moving things around to try and keep dry, and to be able to continue with the plans for the day, while visitors were doing anything to try and stay dry. (It was raining too hard for that to be really possible, though.) As the torrent continued, some people started to complain that it was ruining their day. Then a young boy came up to me and said, "This is the BEST TOUR EVER!"

Clearly a person who makes lemonade out of lemons, no?


Then, just today, something happened that made me laugh out loud. A man and his son arrived to take the audio tour, and the boy (maybe about 10?) seemed pretty excited. I offered the son one of our Kids' Guides, which allows children ages 7 to 12 to check off things as they take the tour, based on clues in the guide.

Tourist Dad: What do you think, do you want a Kids' Guide?
Tourist Kid: Yes! (jumping up and down)
Me: We also have a topic tour coming up, where a tour guide will talk about escapes.
Tourist Kid: Oh, that would be so fun, will anyone be dancing?
Me: Um, not as far as I know.
Tourist Dad: He likes to dance.
Tourist Kid: That's OK, I'll just dance in my head.

(BTW, I totally identify with this kid. I live large amounts of my life in my head.)

So later, I ran into them again, and asked how they enjoyed the tour.

Tourist Dad: It was wonderful.
Tourist Kid: I loved it. (Followed by a Fred Astaire-style slide across the cellblock hallway floor.)
Me: I'm glad you had a good time.
Tourist Kid: When I grow up, I'm going to be a dancing tour guide! (Followed by a brief leap into the air with jazz hands.)

I sure hope I can track him down wherever he is leading tours. That would be something to see ...

06 August 2009

Countdown to S-Day

Yesterday, I was finished earlier than usual at work, so I had the chance to come home, clean up, eat something, and then actually go to Knitting Circle at Rosie's! It has been months since I could go. It's on Wednesday evenings from 6-8 pm, and since I'm lucky if I get home by 6 pm, it's usually not a go for me. Plus, once I'm home from work, I really have to clean myself up, as working at a stabilized ruin does not leave one fresh and sparkly at the end of the day ...

Anyway, Lisa was there (she is the owner who has been helping me with my first fair-isle project, started in a class she taught in February 2008), which was a nice surprise, not just because I hadn't seen her for a while, but also because I could ask her about her availability to help me cut my first steeks!!! (Ev-er.)

Yes ladies, gentlemen, and children of all ages - prepare yourself - the knitting of the body of Dotty has been completed, and the ends woven in!

The Garden Kitty approves.

I hope once I get it finished, I can get a picture of it with better yarn background color - it's not as "pink" as it looks in most of the pictures I've been able to get. But I'm very pleased so far with how it looks, and hope that I haven't done anything that will make cutting steeks problematic (or more problematic than even thinking about doing that!).

So keep a good thought for me on Tuesday, August 18, which at the moment will be "S-Day at Rosie's" ...

So will I take a break from fair isle, even if Dotty turns out just the way I want it to look? Apparently not. Because Lorraine invited me, I've signed myself up for another fair isle project - a Dales sweater knitalong on Ravelry, that will begin in January. It seemed like a good idea at the time ... of course, if I can't save up the money to buy the kit of yarn, it will all be a moot point. But I thought it might be fun, and even though I'm new to fair isle, it is a lot of fun to see what happens as you are knitting.

Stay tuned. 'Cause there's still plenty of time for a lot of things to change ...

04 August 2009

You Probably Won't Be Surprised ...

This week the 10 on Tuesday topic is: 10 Favorite Characters from Television.
Now I'm sure there will be many people who are not going to participate this week, since they do not watch television. I have always been a TV-watcher, and I do have some favorite characters, so this is a fun topic for me.

1. Liz Lemon on 30 Rock. I especially am amused when her co-workers address her by her first and last name in normal conversation.

2. Jack Donaghy on 30 Rock. He is so over the top, but then again, just like some people I have been around.

3. Dwight K. Schrute on The Office. I don't know about you, but I've never worked in a place where there wasn't at least one Dwight-equivalent ...

4. Drew Carey on The Drew Carey Show. (In the first few seasons only.) He looked just like my dad, and had the same kind of luck!

5. Comic Book Guy on The Simpsons. Sadly, I've also worked with plenty of his ilk ... you know, uber-educated, underemployed, but still always treating you like an eejit.

6. Top Cat from the cartoon show Top Cat. A fave when I was little - I mean a Damon Runyan type-CAT? How could I not love him?

7. The Flintstones from The Flintstones. I loved their houses, appliances, etc. I thought the dialogue was hi-larious.

8. Professor Frink on The Simpsons. He reminds me of one of my sisters.

9. Ted Baxter on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. He had such a high opinion of himself, and got nearly everything completely wrong and mixed up - but would never let it bother him ...

10. Really? You're wondering? I mean - the whole list could have been just this: MR. ED!!!

"Hello, Wilbur."