29 May 2012

Goals for My Least Favorite Time of Year

Sigh.  I just realized that the post I scheduled for Memorial Day (yesterday), I actually scheduled for today.  We were out of town and I didn't have any access to e-mail or anything else, so I didn't even realize it until today.  Fortunately, it did not cause the world to explode or anything ...  and I hope everyone had a good holiday weekend here in the U.S.  We visited my sister at home in WV, and most of the family was there, so it was lots of fun, as it always is.

Even if it was too hot.   Which brings me to:

 This week's topic:  10 Goals for This Summer

If you have been reading this blog for any length of time, you know that I am not a fan of summer.  I don't like hot weather, and I absolutely abhor humidity.  So I thought I would try to come up with ten things that I could concentrate on accomplishing, thereby (in theory) keeping me from complaining so much.  A tall order, but worth a try.

1.  Lose 6 pounds.  Why six?  Because I think it is completely realistic to think that I could lose two pounds in June, two in July, and two in August.  I'm hoping that will get me back on track with healthier eating without seeming like punishment.

2.  Finish my Narrangansett sweater.  Ideally, it would have been nice to have it a month or so ago, and have worn it.  But it isn't finished, so I'm gonna aim for the end of the summer at the latest.  If I don't wear it this year, I'll have plenty of opportunities in the years to come.

3.  Take better care of my nails.  One of the first thing I notice about people is their hands.  I was doing pretty well with  mine, but tried one of those shellac manicures, and though it did last two weeks, and looked nice, it made my nails all peely and icky-looking.  So I'm making an effort to bring them back to health and looking nice.

4.   Try to be more creative with my CSA items.  I joined a CSA at work, and we've had one delivery so far that was pretty great.  I want to give at least one new recipe/food item a try with each delivery.  The same old things are yummy and reliable, but I don't want to get tired of the tried and true.  And who knows, I may just find the next amazing thing!

5.  Get rid of stuff.  Clothes/shoes I don't wear, or that are worn out.  Same with household linens.  And just the other *stuff* that has accumulated over the years.  Stay tuned - a stash clear out is part of this goal!

6.  Try to be nicer.  I'm doing pretty well overall with my efforts to be more kind this year.  But summer challenges me in a whole different way, 'cause when I am way too hot and uncomfortable, I really don't want to be nice to anyone.  At all.  Ever.  So I want to change that, even if it's just in a baby steps kind of way.

7.  Clean up/fix up the garden.  The Tim already has his "crops" planted on the deck, but I want to clean up our street-level garden and plant some things, so we can start actually using it again.  When it's not terribly hot, it's a great place to sit in the evenings to relax, and a wonderful spot for weekend breakfast.

8.  Visit The Barnes Foundation.  I never visited it in its suburban location, but really have no excuse, now that it is a) within walking distance of my house, and b) literally across the street from where I work.  I even know the woman who is the Librarian there through knitting workshops, so I should take advantage of it.

9.  More trips to the shore.  Last summer, mainly due to laziness, we only made it two or three times, which is just wrong.  

10. Try to have realistic expectations regarding all of the above.  None of them absolutely have to be done this summer, so I don't want to get caught up in whether or not I'm sticking to them.  I want to try, but not obsess, if you know what I mean.

Now to find something cold to drink ...

Memorial Day

Death leaves a heartache no one can heal,
love leaves a memory no one can steal.
  ~From a headstone in Ireland

25 May 2012

Old Photo Friday - Memorial Day Edition

Well, here we are - a long weekend for those of us in the U.S.   Memorial Day weekend is considered the unofficial start of summer here, with people heading to beaches, pools, and picnics with family and friends.

So it seemed only appropriate that this week's Old Photo Friday show the photo above. The woman on the far left with the scowl on her face?  My mother.  I have no idea what "U.C.C.Co." means, but the location, Oglebay Park, is in our hometown of Wheeling, West Virginia.  The park and the pool are still there, beautiful, and still looking the same as in this picture.  The year marked in 1938, which means my mother was 19 going on 20 years old (her BD was in December).  So maybe this was an outing with co-workers?  Who knows, but in any event, this is a favorite picture of mine, because whenever you got this look from my mother, you knew things weren't going well for you ... (I can actually can hear her saying "Oh for God's sake" here ...)

Have a wonderful Memorial Day - or as my mother would say, Decoration Day - weekend.  May you have no reasons to scowl.  :-)

20 May 2012

Now with More Doodle and Koodle!

Well, it's been a busy week here at Chez Ravell'd Sleave, what with a kitten keeping all of us on our toes!  Fortunately, everyone seems to have decided that it will all work, and there have been no serious conflicts.

Last Sunday, when I took Dug for a walk, I decided to do a little photo essay.  We have a weekend morning routine that he truly enjoys, and it's nice to see him get to have a nice, long walk (our weekday morning walks are short and sweet, to say the least!) which results in seeing some of his doggie pals.  Anyway, some of the pictures are blurry because a) I'm not a great photographer to start with, and b) I was moving when some of the pictures were taken.  But, for those who are interested, here is the link to a Flickr slideshow, called "Dug's Favorite Day."  Note that if you go to the upper-right-hand area, and click "Show Info" you can see the captions, etc.

Dug's day got better, though, that evening, when the koodle arrived.  They have become fast friends, and when the kitten is not sequestered for meals and such, they spend a lot of their time together.  I'm not sure the kitten has any idea that Dug is a dog, and for Dug's part, he seems to sense that it's a baby creature, and he is very gentle.

There's a lot of this kind of activity:

Along with attacks on Dug's legs and tail, which he doesn't seem to mind.

It's also been decided that the koodle's official name is Milo.  For whatever reason, he just seems like a Milo - not that I can tell you what that means.  It's true, there was the movie called "Milo and Otis," where the cat was an orange tabby, but that wasn't the immediate inspiration, so to speak.  And it seemed destined to be his name, when The Tim told Milo's foster mother that we were trying to think of a good name for him, and she said that she had been calling him Milo!  Weird coincidence, huh?

Jetsam and Pip are also just fine with Milo's joining the family.  The Tim and I think that Jetsam is particularly pleased because Pip is now getting a dose of his own medicine - as in, he wants to sit in a sun spot, and out of nowhere, Milo attacks!  Pip still does that to Jetsam and when he is in the mood to play, it's fine ... but otherwise, Pip gets a whack on the head and you can tell he has no idea why it happened.

In other news, 34 years ago today, The Tim and I graduated from college - wow, that's a long time ...

18 May 2012

Old Photo Friday

My dad.  The back of this photo says, "Harry.  Wheeling, 4-5-1942."  Which means he is just a few months short of his 26th birthday.  By the time I knew my dad, he didn't look like this at all, so these pictures are always a little bit strange to me.  But it's fun to see him as a young man in the sunshine, and that makes me happy to think about on a Friday in May.  

May your weekend be full of things that make you happy.

16 May 2012

This, That, These

I'm glad you all enjoyed seeing a picture of the as-yet-unnamed Koodle.  He is settling in nicely, and his furry siblings are already friends with him.

Rather than rack my brain trying to think of things to show/tell you, all you are getting tonight is randomness.

  • Sigh.  I currently have a brace on my left foot for torn ligaments; a brace on my right hand for severe arthritis; and, now a broken toe on my right foot.  Basically, my left hand is my only working appendage.
  • If you are reading this, person who commented that they would like The Cove from my book report, please send me your name and mailing address.  Because I don't know who Bob & Phyllis are, and your Blogger profile is no help there.  I'm happy to send it along to you.  Send me an e-mail at thekittyknitterATverizonDOTnet.
  • Last night it was too humid to get a good night's sleep.  I am not pleased with the situation, as humidity is one of my nemeses.  And it's not even summer yet.
  • It is Library & Archives Month of the Bicentennial at work, which means that we have to be open 7 days a week (rather than M-F as usual), and do public programming from 11:00 to 3:30 each day.  Not being a fan of people on my best day, this is not enhancing my love for the human race.
  • I signed up for a CSA farm share at work, and am really looking forward to getting lots of yummy veggies and fruits this summer, even if I can't make it to the farmer's market regularly.  And since it is all local, it will be the same priniciple.  Hooray for aging-hippie-co-workers (myself included)!
  • Dug and I take a walk every morning during the week shortly after 5:00 a.m.   Usually, we are the only people out at that time, save for a few souls on their way to to a nearby gym.  This morning there was a group of 5 or 6 boys who looked to be somewhere between 10 and 12 years old, playing soccer on the next block over.  Weird.  No adults in sight either.
  • Speaking of gyms, we renewed our membership in one yesterday.  The Tim has been a regular gym-goer, but between bouts of pneumonia and the aforementioned appendage issues, I think I've gone once since January.  Boy is it gonna be hard to get back to it once I can!

And here we have a picture of Dug the Lap Dog kissing The Tim, as reward for making it this far.

You're welcome.  :-)

14 May 2012

What Do You Call It When ...

When Dug the Doodle Dog gets a kitten?

 A koodle!

11 May 2012

Furball Friday

Jetsam is SO smart - he's hiding somewhere, and I for one can't figure out where he might be ...

I love how cats think if you can't see their heads, you can't see them at all.  They are always surprised that you were able to find them.  :-)

Have a good weekend!

08 May 2012

Just for Laughs

It's been a while since I have participated in this, but I do enjoy reading everyone's responses, and the topic and the timing have hit me in just the right way this week, so here you go.

10 Favorite Comedy Movies

I have many favorite comedy movies, but here are ten that came to mind, in no particular order.

1.  Some Like It Hot - this movie has been a favorite of mine since I was a little girl.

2.  The Producers - I can't help it, but every time I hear someone say something like "I'm hysterical" [laughing], it's all I can do not to say, "I'm wet, I'm wet!"

3.  Caddyshack - stupid.  Hilariously stupid.

4.  The Thin Man - sophisticated and funny - one of my fave combinations!

5.  National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation - I can almost recite this one.

6.  Planes, Trains, and Automobiles - John Candy and Steve Martin.   Brilliant.

7.  Indiscreet - the part where Cary Grant dances at the party makes me laugh so hard that I cry, every single time I see it.

8.  Shaun of the Dead - yes, there were creepy parts (I'm easily creeped out), but it was also really funny.

9.  Revenge of the Nerds - stupid, yes, but "Oh my God - I've kissed a NERD!" is one of the best lines ever.

10.  Dave - I think this one is charmingly funny.

Once I started thinking, so many more popped into my brain.  But it's Ten on Tuesday, not However Many You Can Think Of Tuesday ...

04 May 2012

Old Photo Friday

This is a picture of my parents walking down the street in El Paso, Texas, where my father was stationed at the time (early 1942, I think.  They got married on December 26, 1941, and he was already in the Army then. My dad  used to say that he "flew a desk" and was the lead singer in his Army base band during World War II.)  I once asked my mother why she had this picture, and she responded, "Well, people would just take your picture on the street back then and give it to you."  O ... K ...

Have a good weekend!

02 May 2012

March and April Book Report

March and April were weird months for me, as far as reading goes.  For a little while, I just felt out of it and didn't even want to read.  Then I started feeling like reading, but spent most of my time on magazines that had piled up.  (After which I decided many of them will not be renewed, which is a good thing, and a kind of cleaning up on its own.)  Then I got frustrated with a couple of health issues, and though they had nothing to do with being able to read, I obsessed over them to the point of not doing much else.  But in the end, I got back on track with myself, so I'm hoping I can keep up with that.

But you really didn't care about or need to know that, did you?  If you are reading this, it's likely because you are just curious to know what I actually did read.  So here you go.

An Irish Country Girl, by Patrick Taylor.  Another installment in the Irish Country series.  In this one, the housekeeper for Doctors O'Flahertie and Laverty, "Kinky" Kincaid, fills us in on her life before she came to Ballybucklebo.   She is recalling her life on the same Christmas Day that ended the previous book.  Home on her own to prepare the holiday dinner, she is reminded of the past, growing up in County Cork, which is like another country to her current home.

We meet a young Maureen O'Hanlon, growing up on a farm with her parents, sisters, and brother, and realizing that she has "the sight" at a young age.  Maureen is a happy young woman, but also one who longs for more in her life than just marriage and motherhood.  More specifically, she wants to become a teacher.  Not a big deal for those of us reading the book today, but in Ireland during the late 1920s, a married woman who worked outside the home was not just unusual, but an embarrassment to her husband.

I found the description of life in Ireland during this time period really interesting.  Young Maureen's hopes and dreams seem very reasonable today, but back then, it was shocking - not just because married women generally didn't work outside the home, but because she is afraid that as a farmer's daughter wanting to become a teacher, people will think that she is putting on airs above her station.  

Another interesting thing is that when you really think about it, the 1920s were not that long ago, in the span of time.  Yet life is so much more basic, slower, and even harder, it could be centuries ago compared to what we are used to today.

The Spellman Files, by Lisa Lutz.  I was looking forward to reading this first installment in "The Spellman Files" series after reading reviews of the latest book.

Izzy Spellman has always worked for her parents in the family business, private investigation.  In this book, she decides to try and quit the PI business, and live a "normal" life.  Her parents negotiate with her to take one last case, a twelve yaer old missing persons case.  It's this case, an introduction to all of the Spellmans, and another chapter of Izzy's love life that constitutes this book.

An enjoyable read, but I was not dying for more.  It was neither as funny nor as interesting as I'd hoped.  Not bad, but also not a book that makes you want to drop everything else and finish reading others in the series.

Mr. Dixon Disappears, by Ian Sansom.  I read the first book in this series a couple of years ago, and though it was amusing enough, I didn't go out of my way to find any others.  When I came across this one, I thought well I'd give it a try.  It was an enjoyable read.  

London-born Israel Armstrong is still in the small Northern Ireland town where he is the librarian, and responsible for the mobile library (bookmobiles, in the U.S.).  When this book begins, Israel is looking forward to putting up his display of the history of Dixon's Department Store during their celebration.  He arrives early on the day the event is supposed to kick off, so that he can take his time getting things just perfect before the store opens.   However, one of the store employees runs to him and says that someone must have broken in because the store safe is wide open and empty, and Mr. Dixon has completely disappeared!  When the police arrive, they assume that since Israel seems to know so much about the crime and the store, he must be the perpetrator!

The story follows Israel's attempts to clear his name, and deal with the townspeople who are now suspicious of anything and everything he says or ever has said or done.  The parts that amused me the most would be those where close friends or family would find out he was under suspicion, and they would say, "But you're a librarian!"  

Israel's plight is told in an amusing and fast-paced manner, and it's a fun way to spend a few hours.  

Come Home, by Lisa Scottoline.  I received this book as part of the Goodreads First Reads program.  I am a fan of Lisa Scottoline, and have read most of her books.   In this story, a woman with a young daughter and a fiance suddenly gets sucked back into the affairs of her ex-husband, when he dies, and one of his daughters contacts the woman, Jill, to let her know and also to ask for her help proving that her father was murdered.  The former stepdaughter, Abby, shows up one night drunk to give Jill the news, and from that point on, she is involved with Abby and looking into her ex-husband's death.  

This is happening at a time when she is also concerned about one of her patients (Jill is a pediatrician), a baby who keeps getting sick, and whose mother thinks he just needs tubes place in his ears because her family members have convinced her that will take care of it.  Meanwhile, at home, Megan - Jill's young daugher - and Jill's fiance, Sam, are facing their own challenges.  Sam in particular tries to convince Jill to leave things alone and pay more attention to her own daughter, rather than two stepdaughters from a previous marriage where her husband walked out on her with the stepdaughers. As the story goes on, Jill and Sam grow apart, Abby's sister Victoria tries to keep Jill out of their lives, and Jill begins to have serious problems with her office manager at work.  Towards the end of the book, the FBI even shows up!

I liked this book well enough, but not as much as I have liked some of Lisa Scottoline's other work.   I did find the relationship between Jill and her former stepdaughters to be interesting, though, since they did have feelings for each other.  

The book is well-written, and the characters are interesting and entertaining enough, but it just didn't have the appeal for me that a lot of the others have had.

The Cove, by Ron Rash,  I had an Advance Reader's Edition of this book, and just got around to reading it in the past week.  I had read a couple of very brief reviews of it, and wasn't sure if I'd like it.  But here it was, and it was worth trying.

I enjoyed the story very much.  It tells of Laurel Shelton and her brother Hank, who live in the family cabin in a cove that is supposedly cursed.  Hank has returned from WWII after losing an arm, and he is more accepted by the people in the nearby town.  Laurel, though, has a large purple birthmark which the townspeople claim makes her a witch, so she is either avoided altogether or made fun of by others.

One day while doing laundry by the river, Laurel hears beautiful music, and sees from a hiding place a poorly dressed, dirty man, who she would think was a bum if he didn't have such a gorgeous silver flute.  She returns to the spot a couple of times, and when she finds him dying, takes him back to the cabin to save his life.  He survives, and hands her a card saying that he is a mute.  Laurel, and eventually Hank, bring him back to health, and he begins working with Hank on the small family farm.  Laurel becomes increasingly fond of him.  The mute - named Walter - has written a story telling them that he was on his way to NYC to become a musician.

The story develops further, and we eventually learn the truth about Walter.  Woven into the backstory of soldiers from the town returning from war, and the feeling of the townspeople about foreigners in general and Germans in particular, a series of events changes the lives of everyone involved.  I don't want to go into detail here, because I do think the book is worth a read, but I have to say that it kept me reading, and the ending was not what I was expecting.

I would recommend it if you enjoy books evocative of time and place.  

So there you have it.  The only book I have to offer anyone interested is The Cove,  as the others were either books I read on my Nook, or that I've already given away to a co-worker who was interested.  But it you are interested in The Cove, let me know in the comments by the end of the day on Saturday, May 5.  If more than one person is interested, I'll pick names out of a hat, or something similar, yet random.

Now, I just have to decide what I want to read next ...