30 April 2010


Well - what a week!  I am guessing that somewhere, the universe threw in a couple of extra days and thought we wouldn't notice.  Hello?  Universe?  I noticed, and was neither pleased nor amused. 

Anyway, the weekend is here at last, and I will be just relaxing tonight, and getting up early tomorrow for a bus trip.

Because I haven't made it to Maryland for a couple of years, and I am afraid that the animals will think I've forgotten them, I've signed myself up for the Rosie's bus trip, and am looking forward to it.  At last check the weather is supposed to be agreeable (about 83 degrees - I'd actually prefer it was cooler, but at least it isn't supposed to be 90+ humid like here), and I have no real agenda, so can just roam around seeing what I feel like seeing at my own pace.  I have packed a pbj sandwich, an orange, and will have my water bottle ready.  Along with my hat and camera for once I'm there, and my knitting (aka The Locker Sock) and mp3 player for the bus, I'm as prepared as I am likely ever going to be.

If I have my act together, I'll try to get some good pictures to share with you in the next couple of days.  In the meantime, have a nice weekend, and a happy May Day tomorrow!

22 April 2010

Greetings Earthlings!

Happy Earth Day!

(or as a neighborhood kid told me on the way to work this morning, "Today is Earthling Day!")

So ... Happy Earthling Day, too!

BTW, did you know that Al Gore has a yarn named for him?!?!  It's true.  I first learned this when looking through a new book, Knitting GreenThis has to be true, because Ann Budd was in charge of this book, and she wouldn't lie to me.  (We are close friends, actually.  Well - in my mind.)  Will this man stop at NOTHING???  I mean, an Oscar, a Grammy, and now a YARN?  Next thing you know, someone will say he should have been president ...

Seems like a slippery slope, naming yarn for individuals.  Not at all like naming patterns for people.  That makes perfect sense, even if that person doesn't know the technique required to knit said pattern.  Details, details.  I least I know how to knit, you know??? (In your face, Al!)

In other news, I am now almost 100% certain that I will not be jumping off a bridge anytime soon.  Though I've gotta tell you, I'm not sure I would have said that earlier this week.  Nothing in and of itself terrible, just a whole lot of little things that were making me feel overwhelmed and somewhat incapable of coping.  But I realized that giving up would mean that the terrorists have won, and I didn't want to be forever known for letting that happen ...

15 April 2010

Leveling Out

Yesterday, in this blog post, Geek Knitter talked about the things she didn't know when she took up knitting.  So many of those things could probably apply to just about everyone who learns to knit and gets hooked, and like a lot of hobbies, you don't always stop and think about it when it's happening.

Reading it, however, did put me into a contemplative frame of mind, though in a somewhat different direction.  I started thinking about how each knitter thinks of their own capabilities, as far as what they can/cannot knit successfully.  The first person who taught me to knit was a lady who lived across the street with her family when I was in the fourth grade.  I was home sick with pneumonia, and she came over and cast on some stitches and taught me the knit stitch.  I thought it was fun, but didn't keep at it all that time, since a) I was sick, and b) I spent more time reading.  By the time I had a long, red piece of fabric that I liked to call a scarf, Mrs. R and the family had moved away.  I didn't know anyone else who knew how to knit, and my mother was no help ("Oh for God's sake!  How in the h_ll would I know how to do any g_dd_mn knitting??).  So I think eventually I just gave it all away, or threw it away, or we moved yet again and it was "lost." 

So when, as an adult, I signed up for knitting classes, I was a little bit nervous, since I wasn't sure I remembered anything.  (About knitting that is.  Otherwise, I have a pretty decent memory, though not a "photogenic" memory as one of my co-workers claimed to have the other day ...)

The class started, and Lisa was helping everyone pick a pattern and yarn.  I saw a sweater with cables that I liked, but commented that it was probably too "advanced."  At which point Lisa said something to the effect that everything can be considered advanced if you don't try it.  Long story short, I knit the sweater, loved doing the cables, and also loved knitting. 

My next foray was into hats, and then socks, and each time, I was slightly nervous about it, but figured I could probably do it, even if I never tried it again after the class was over.  A couple of years ago, I took a class to learn entrelac.  The instructor handed out the pattern, and immediately said, "I don't want you to read this pattern and think about it at all.  I want you to start knitting, and not to think - just follow the instructions.  Thinking will only get you in trouble."  You know what?  She was right!  I followed the instructions without trying to analyze or think ahead to what might be next, and it made perfect sense. 

As a result, I'm never sure what level of knitter I am.  Beginner?  Yes, there are still plenty of things I've never even tried to do.  Intermediate?  Sometimes, I guess.  Advanced?  Rarely, but if you are, for instance, talking about knitting a basic sock, then yeah, I can zip through that with the best of them. 

Sometimes I think a lot of knitters don't give themselves enough credit because of these labels.  Everyone is a beginner some of the time - but we all have to start somewhere, right?


And, just because it's been a while:

"Wilbur, why can't I learn how to knit?"

10 April 2010

Please Take a Moment ...

to say a prayer and think a kind thought for twenty-nine men who never made it home from work this week. 

Last week, West Virginians were excited because their team had the chance to become national basketball champions. 

This week, they are mourning, struck dumb, and wondering why it is that once again, a company who shouldn't be allowed to continue operating coal mines is offering no apologies.

Down, down, down into the darkness of the grave
Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind;
Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave.
I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned.
- Edna St. Vincent Millay

09 April 2010

March Book Report

I realized earlier today that I had not yet written a post about the books I read last month.  Then as I was sitting here reading e-mail, I thought - "Oh yeah, I should do that."  Finished reading my e-mail, and remembered I wanted to do something else on the computer ... but what?  I was just ready to give up when I happened to glance at the book I'm currently reading, and, well, here you are. 

March was a good month, as far as the books I chose were concerned.  Here's what I thought about them, because I know you care - as well you should ...

Blackwork, by Monica Ferris.  This is another installment in the series featuring Betsy Devonshire, the owner of Crewel World, a needlework store in Excelsior, Minnesota, and local amateur sleuth. In this story, a local resident who has always been a mean drunk is found dead in his rented room, shortly after accusing a local resident, who is a follower of the Wiccan religion, of casting a spell on him to harm him.

As usual, Betsy uncovers some suspicious things about various residents of the small town, and tries her best to find out what has really happened. The usual characters make an appearance here, having moved on in pretty logical ways in their lives, like most people do, whether they realize it or not.

I know a lot of people pooh-pooh these books and others like them, but I always enjoy them. For me, they are entertaining and interesting, and more often than not, they are the perfect thing to sit down and enjoy reading.

Marriage and Other Acts of Charity, by Kate Braestrup.  I had wanted to read Kate Braestrup's earlier book, "Here If You Need Me," after seeing her interviewed on several TV shows shortly after it was published. But, being me, I never thought of looking for it when I went to the library or bookstore.

So when I saw this book at the library, I decided to give it a go. This is Braestrup's stories and musings not just about marriage, but about what love is - all types of love, not just married or romantic love. It's a series of vignettes, where each begins with a domestic or work scene from her life, followed by her thoughts about it.

I enjoyed this book, because though Braestrup is an ordained minister, it is neither preachy nor religious in the sense that she is saying that everyone needs to have an active relationship with God. Rather, she thinks it's important for people to realize the value of love of any type, and try to make it the center of their lives. If they choose to call that faith, all the better.

I liked her idea that marriage is an act of optimism. She says (and I agree) that very few people get married thinking, "Oh well, I can get divorced if this sucks," and rather that they are making an optimistic commitment for the rest of their lives. Pointing out that it's easy to love someone when you first meet them and fall in love, she then opines that a truer love is when you still love that person and want them to be happy years later, when they annoy you, disappoint you, etc. (She says this much better than I do, by the way!)

This is a book that is completely approachable, sometimes sad, sometimes funny, but very readable. Whether you read it all at once or in snippets when you can (I read it during my lunch hours), I think it can make you think about those important to you and the world around you. And about how well you do at loving.

I recommend it to anyone who likes this kind of book. I think it's a good example of a helpful book that is not in the self-help category.

Look Again, by Lisa Scottoline.  Another Lisa Scottoline book that I enjoyed, so what else is new?

The story opens when Ellen Gleeson, a journalist with a Philadelphia newspaper, arrives home one evening and in the mail finds one of those flyers for missing children. The thing is, the child in the picture looks *exactly* like her adopted son, Will. She chalks it up to coincidence, knowing that her adoption of Will as a baby was done legally and above board. But it stays in the back of her mind anyway.

She decides that she will do some research into the missing child and the circumstances that led to his disappearance. Being a journalist as well as a mother who is worried about her son, she delves into her research and the lives of those who are involved. This is happening at the same time that she fears for the loss of her job at the paper due to budget cuts.

Without going into any further details, I can tell you that the story becomes tense and somewhat convoluted, with a few unexpected twists. Reading it does make you ask yourself what you would do if you found yourself in Ellen's shoes.

This was an enjoyable read. I like Lisa Scottline's books featuring Mary DiNunzio more, since she is a character I feel that I know better. But I have to say that of the books by Lisa Scottoline I have read, none have been a disappointment.

The Other Family, by Joanna Trollope.  Until last year, I had never read any books by Joanna Trollope, though I had heard of her. I found those books I did read to be interesting, and worth the time. When my husband brought home the Advanced Reader's Edition of this one, I decided to give it a go.

When the book opens, the family of Richie Rossiter - a well-known composer and pianist, and a teen favorite of an earlier time - has just died, and his family has just received the news. Chrissie, his wife, and his three daughters are numb and stunned to even try to believe that Richie is gone and won't be coming back. Chrissie, who is much younger than Richie, had been his manager as well as his partner, and he had been the center of all of their lives.

At the reading of his will, we learn that he has, in fact, provided for his family. Both of them. Yes, Richie had a wife and grown son who lived in the North (Newcastle to be exact), and he leaves them his treasured piano and the rights to the first 25 years of his music. Chrissie is thrown for a loop, even though she realized that she was on thin ice, not being legally married to Richie. His daughters by her are shocked, especially the youngest, Amy, who had no inkling of this situation. Richie's first wife, Margaret, and his grown son, Scott, are thrown for a loop, as Richie had never indicated before that he even remembered that they existed.

This book is an interesting look at family dynamics in the face of an unexpected death followed by surprising revelations. I thought it was well-written, and though I sometimes wished that Chrissie and her two older daughters would just grow up, their confusion and reluctance to move forward were understandable. The reaction - and actions - of the youngest daughter, Amy, were both shocking and revealing of her character, as opposed to those of her siblings. Margaret and Scott are not quite as fully developed, but you can appreciate their lives together after Richie walked out.

Richie, though not a character per se, comes across as one of those people who is kind of a sleaze, but charming and talented, so others make allowances for him. I really wanted to dig him up and beat the crap out of him!

I enjoyed this book. It's not great literature, but it's not just a simple, melodramatic story either. The characters seem real, and by the end of the book, you have the sense that things will work out, even if not the way each character had originally planned.

March turned out to be a month where I mostly read books from the library, but The Other Family is up for grabs.  Let me know if you are interested by the end of the day on Monday, April 12.  As usual, if more than one person is interested, I'll pick a name at random. 

06 April 2010

Oh the Egg-manity!

Thank you all so much for your good wishes for Easter.  Ours was an especially nice one this year, helped along by the kind of weather that would let you wear your new Easter outfit without having to put on your winter coat.  (Not that I had a new Easter outfit.  Or even an old one, for that matter.)

Due to popular demand, I'm sharing with you some of our Inappropriate Easter eggs.  But before we start, a few things need to be said.

1.  I am a lousy photographer, with a dinky digital camera.  These pictures are as good as it was gonna get.
2.  I did take additional pictures, but no amount of Photoshop settings could render them visible.
3.  We do make regular Easter eggs, with our names and pictures of things we like on them, but we do these additional eggs to amuse ourselves.  (Because to paraphrase one of The Tim's sisters, no one thinks we're as funny as we do.)
4.  If you are easily offended, just don't read/look any further.  You've been warned, and I don't feel like dealing with comments from those who are morally outraged.
5.  We are equal opportunity offenders - from the famous to the family, and even ourselves. 

OK, so here you can see what things looked like on Easter morning, after the Easter Bunny had stopped by and apparently decided we had all been good:

The large basket is mine and The Tim's, the smaller baskets belong to our kitties, the large bags to my niece and her husband, and the small bags to their kitties.  Lots of yumminess there!

But of course, before you get to this part, you have to get the Easter eggs ready.  I give you a group shot of the Inappropriate Eggs of Easter 2010.

Let's review, starting with the top row, left to right.

1.  Egg with a dog drawn in upper left-hand corner, and an arrow with "Dog" pointing to it; in lower right hand corner, a Philadelphia Eagles jersey, which is #7, "Vick" along with a severed head and hand, with an arrow pointing to it saying "Dog vomit."

2.  The David Carradine Death Egg.

3.  Rusty the $400 van.  My niece's husband paid $400 for a van he saw in someone's yard up on cinderblocks a couple of years ago.  The Tim promptly christened said van "Rusty," since it needed a lot of work before it was drivable (ya think?).  Well, to everyone's excitement, Rusty came to Philadelphia for Easter.  Only to have us find out it was actually Rusty 2.0 - the original had to be scrapped and this was a replacement.  As my mother would say, it's a terrible case of false misrepresentation.

4.  Combined Celeb Death Egg.  The side showing is Brittany Murphy, with the quote "Coke makes eating disorders fun!"; the other side is Farrah Fawcett, "Cancer makes good TV"'; one end is Michael Jackson, "Move over, Jesus," and then a radio speaker on the other end, "Hello Angels" in memory of John Forsythe.  (Too late we realized that Corey Haim had been omitted.)

5.  (Supposed to be) Robert Pattinson in "Twilight."

6.  The Pope, lamenting that priests messing with altar boys are ruining his Easter.  The amusing part is that the egg was in the dye longer than anyone realized, and so the design didn't really show - a true Cover-Up!

7.  A victim of the Haitian earthquake, with a number to text on the other side of the egg to donate money.

Random close-ups:

Just remember - you asked for it.

04 April 2010


Happy Easter Day!

03 April 2010

The Final Four!

It's West Virginia, It's West Virginia
The Pride of every Mountaineer.
Come on you old grads, join with us young lads,
It's West Virginia now we cheer!

Now is the time, boys, to make a big noise
No matter what the people say,
For there is naught to fear; the gang's all here,
So hail to West Virginia, Hail!

*Not my alma mater, but my home state - HOORAY!!