27 September 2013

Five Favorites for This Friday

I've decided that with the week I have had, dealing with shingles, and being worried about time off from work, that it would feel good to concentrate on some good things, some things that were nice/good/fun during the week.  I try to be regularly thankful and in the moment, but weeks like this make it seem almost impossible.

All the more reason to find the good stuff.  Of course, there are always the obvious good things - family, having a job, having someplace to live, and I do tend to remember them more consciously than other stuff.  But let's see what made this week a good one.

1.  Wonderful fall weather.  It's been so nice and cool and sunny, with the kind of overnight weather that just makes you glad to snuggle under a blanket.

2.  A great doctor.  My dermatologist is the best.  I have been going to her for more than 10 years, and she is still as involved and attentive as my first meeting with her.  She is kind, and even called me today to make sure I was doing better, and to see if I had questions.

3.  Old movies.  Since daytime TV is such a bust, it was a great surprise to find one of the off-channels that shows old movies.  They were highlights in otherwise long days where I was supposed to stay put.

4.  Blogs.  I read a lot of blogs about numerous topics, and often I have to read quickly or just skim some of them.  But this week, it's been like having friends stop by to keep me company, without me having to make any effort to deal with them.  I've been able to just take my time and enjoy reading.

5.  Honeycrisp apples.  Alone, with peanut butter, sliced, whole, however you have them, they are one of my very favorite things about fall.  We get them at the Farmer's Market, and even when they are a little bit more than the other apples there, it's worth it.

What about you?  I hope you can think of five (or more!) good things, and that your weekend includes lots of them as well.

24 September 2013

The Good. The Bad. The Ugly. The OK. The Happy.

The Good.

We had a FABULOUS weekend this past weekend!  One of my nieces and her husband have access to a beach house in Rehoboth Beach, and they invited us to hang out with them.  Even Dug the Doodle Dog went along, and all of us had a great time!  The weather was gorgeous - cool, sunny, and clear.  We didn't do anything special, just spent time together, hung out on the beach, and did a lot of laughing.  It was so great.  (Dug is still recovering ...)

The Bad.

I had big plans to finish my Breezy Turquoise by the first day of fall.  And I was making real progress, until the past couple of weeks, when we were getting ready for Members' Night at work.  It's a BIG DEAL, and by the time I'd get home, I would be too exhausted to think, much less knit.  Then the weekends were busy working on a house project, which was fortunately finished, but meant that no knitting was accomplished.  I took it with me this past weekend, and ended up not knitting a single stitch.

The Ugly.

Shingles.  I haz 'em.  On me, not on the roof.  Goodbye, small amount of sick time and vacation I had left at work.  :-(  I have been ordered to stay home the rest of the week to see how well I do/do not recover.

The OK.

In my effort to make lemonade out of the above lemon, I am hoping that over the next few days, I will be able to be comfortable enough somehow to knit on my Breezy Turquoise.  My new goal is to finish it before Halloween.  If I can find a way to sit that is not ridiculously painful, I could really make some progress.  This is currently the only thing keeping me from complete despair.

The Happy.

Ending on a good note, I am so very thrilled that those of you who received packages from my blogiversary giveaway were pleased with what your packages contained.  The lovely notes that you have sent to me has made me so happy, and I know that the things I sent out will have happy homes where they are loved and used.  Which was the whole idea in the first place.  So to those who wrote, you are more than welcome.  And to everyone else, I hope you'll keep reading.  :-)

Let's all hang in there!

17 September 2013

Almost Two Left Feet

I love the idea of dancing, and I love moving around, but I am not by any stretch of the imagination a good dancer.  Which is fine, since I don't have to be, you know?  I would like to think that I could do OK with some lessons, but that isn't likely to happen, so I'll just enjoy dancing myself, in the privacy of my own home.  Probably safer all the way around ... :-)

But this week's Ten on Tuesday wants us to think about dancing, or more specifically:

10 Songs That Make You Want to Dance

So here they are, in no particular order.

1.  The Waltz from Eugene Onegin - whenever I hear this, I am literally swept away in my head to a ballroom, where everyone is wearing beautiful gowns, and there are crystal chandeliers - well, you get the idea.  If I could go back in time for a day and experience it, I think it would be wonderful.  (Though I would likely be a kitchen maid or something, so never mind.)

2.  Any polka.  Now, folk dancing, I can do.  And growing up with an uncle from Poland, who was from a large family, where there were many weddings, I can say that my polka skills are extremely well developed.

3.  Dancing Queen, by Abba - this is largely because my older sister Nancy jumps up when she hears this being played, and you MUST join her and learn the specific movements that she does, and it is ridiculous but also just so much fun!  This is a family tradition now.

4.  Twist and Shout, by the Beatles - because, a) it's the Beatles, and b) it encourages movement with abandon, while also being very sing-a-long-able.

5.  September, by Earth, Wind & Fire - this song just gets me, and makes me want to do anything but just sit and listen to it.

6.  Ain't That a Kick in the Head - I can't explain this, but whenever I hear it, I wish I was dancing, no matter who is singing it.

7.  YMCA, by the Village People - this goes against everything I believe, because oh my God the Village People??? but I have been to enough weddings that now when I hear it, I am inclined to want to act it out, as one does at wedding receptions.  

8.  Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, by Cyndi Lauper - it's catchy, I can't help it!  

9.  All I Want for Christmas Is You, by Mariah Carey - again, catchy, and I find myself dancing around if I hear it as Christmastime.  Sigh.

10.  Stop in the Name of Love, by the Supremes - this one is fun.

Basically, any song/music that you can dance around to on your own, or with a group - The Tim is not a big dancer (it's like he's Amish or something) - seems to appeal to me.  And I love the classics, and Motown, and a million others.  None of these songs on my list are recent, which is a) because I'm old, and b) because I don't necessarily know the names and/or artists of more current songs that appeal to me.  

But I just dance around on my own anyway, so what do I care??

10 September 2013

Where the Heart Is

Today's Ten on Tuesday topic is a good one, in my opinion, and though a lot of the postings have had similar content, I like knowing that there are other people who feel like I do when I'm away from home!

10 Things You Miss About Your Own House When You Go Away

1.  The kitties and Dug.  Sometimes, Dug can come with us, depending where we are going, but then I still miss my kitkats!

2.  My house!  I really love my house and the garden.  It makes me happy just to see it.

3.  Unsweetened, and/or non-diet drinks.  Usually when we are visiting people, it's family, and we are the only ones who - on the occasions we do have pop/soda - drink non-diet versions, and drink our iced tea unsweetened.  This shouldn't be as big a deal as it is, but if I am in charge of this post, this is something I miss!

4.  Water from my own tap.  We actually drink the water from our tap, to the shock and dismay of others we know.  So far, we are still kicking.  And it doesn't taste the same anywhere else.

5.  Tea.  I like my own tea, made my own way.   Depending on the where/when/how, it's a pain to pack and take along my own kettle, etc.

6.  My clothes and shoes.  I think Lorraine mentioned this also (as well as all the lipsticks!).  Yes, I try to pack light, and it's never been a problem, but it's nice to wear X if you don't feel like wearing Y.

7.  The noise level.  Though we live in the city, our neighborhood is quieter than you'd expect.  I do not like total quiet, nor do I like loud noise when I'm trying to sleep (especially loud music).  Plus, wherever I've lived, I've always been able to hear trains, and that is a comforting sound to me.

8.  My neighborhood.  Everything I enjoy or need is within walking distance.  I hate it when I'm someplace where no one is walking around, or even worse where there are no sidewalks!  And I don't enjoy having to drive no matter where you are going to go.  Plus, my neighborhood is very pretty.

9.  My own pillow.  If I can easily take it with me, I will, but most of the time, I am at the mercy of foreign pillows.  I like a firm pillow, so when I have a feather one or some soft thing, it's difficult for me to be comfortable in bed.

10.  Time to myself.  As I mentioned above, a lot of the time when we are away from home, we are visiting someone, and there are not a lot of opportunities to be left to your own devices.

A lot of others said they missed their wifi/computers, etc.  I don't miss that if I'm gone for a weekend or so, but I would have missed it on a longer trip, like when we went to Ireland last fall.  So though it's not in my top ten, it is something I'd include if I took more trips that were longer than a couple of days.

Having said all of the above, I can be packed and ready to go in ten minutes, if anyone wants to bankroll me ... :-)

08 September 2013

August Book Report

August was a big reading month for me, and now when I think back on it, it seemed that I somehow had much more available time to read.  That may not be the case, but I do remember that for whatever reason, I'd read even if I knew I only had 10 minutes to do so.  A lot of the time, I'll think that it's not worth it if I can't get into the book again for a while, but apparently that wasn't the case last month!

Here are the things that kept me entertained.

Case Histories, by Kate Atkinson.  In my opinion, this book was neither bad nor good.  It was OK.  Jackson Brodie, a newly-minted private detective with issues with his ex-wife and her new fiancee, takes on three cases that turn out to be interrelated in small ways.  The reader is provided with background, and as Brodie investigates, more and more information comes to light.

Interesting, but not my favorite book ever.

A Three Dog Life, by Abigail Thomas.  Abigail Thomas' life changed irrevocably the night that her husband ran into traffic on Riverside Drive in New York City in order to save their dog whose leash had broken.  The dog was fine, but her husband suffers a traumatic brain injury.  This is her story of everyone's survival.

A man who had been intelligent, articulate, and engaged in the world around him has suddenly become someone prone to rages, occasional suspicions, and with no short-term memory.  She remains in love with him and devoted to him.  She lives her life the best say that she is able to, and depends on her dogs (eventually three of them) to give her a reason to continue.  They become her friends, her confidants, and her teachers.  She and her husband have a different relationship, but she is no less devoted to him.  And she does everything she can to maintain a routine and to be involved with him.

I found this book to be incredibly interesting.  Abigail Thomas may have felt sorry for herself, frustrated with what became of her and her husband's lives, and simply wanted to quit, but the stories that she tells are poignant, determined, and sometimes humorous.  I admire her for her bluntness about what happens to the person she knew and the person changed by the accident.  She realizes that she needs to continue with her life, even if her husband's is now severely limited.

This is a quick read, but worthwhile.

Broken Harbor, by Tana French.  Another good one from Tana French.  This one is different in some ways, but her depiction of time, place, and the way that memory can intrude on the present are there, strong as ever.

Detective Mike Kennedy and his rookie partner, Detective Richie Curran, are called to investigate a grisly murder of a family in an area formerly known as Broken Harbor.  Since Kennedy's childhood days, when it was a place where his family vacationed, it has been purchased by a developer who had plans to turn it into a new community.  Then the recession hit, and now many of the homes are half-built, and the developer has abandoned the project altogether, without paying back those who purchased homes.  The family that was murdered moved there as part of their dream to have a place of their own to raise their young children.

The father and the two young children have died, but the mother survives.  While detectives wait for her to be in a condition where they can interview her about what happened that night, they look at other friends and acquaintances to see what might turn up.

Besides all of this, Kennedy is dealing with his youngest sister, who is mentally unstable.  He can't walk away from the case, but his sister is clearly not well.

The way the stories intertwine is both fascinating and tragic, and the relationship between Kennedy and his new partner seems hopeful until something causes it to break.  I for one was surprised at the way things worked out in the end.

Kneading to Die, by Liz Mugavero.  Kristan ("Stan") Connor has recently moved from New York City, where she was fired from her high-level public relations job, to a small Connecticut town, while she tries to figure out the rest of her life.  The local veterinarian introduces herself, and insists that Stan bring her cat, Nutty, for an introductory visit.  The morning of the visit, Stan and Nutty arrive, only to discover the vet dead on the floor of her clinic, with a needle sticking out of her neck.

Though the vet was not terribly popular, the townspeople are shocked, and since Stan discovered the body, she is under suspicion for the murder, especially since she is such a newcomer.  In the meantime, Stan has had time to cook special food for her cat, who has irritable bowel syndrome, as well as try some of the recipes she has for pet treats.  The treats are a  big hit with the local pets, but when some appear to suffer from symptoms of poisoning, Stan looks more suspicious than ever.

At the same time, her boyfriend is ignoring her (he doesn't really approve of her move), and her best friend, who runs an animal rescue organization, starts acting oddly as well.  Stan begins to wonder if it was all just a big mistake.

In the end, the murderer is uncovered, Stan and her boyfriend are no longer a couple, and she has decided to start her own business, making and selling pet treats.  After such a shaky start, things are looking up!

This was an entertaining book, and the discover of the murderer of the town vet was pretty surprising, at least to me.

The Cuckoo's Calling, by Robert Galbraith.  I actually thought this was a pretty good book.  Not groudbreaking or anything, but a good murder mystery with enough twists and changes to make it worth getting to the end.

Cormoran Strike is a private detective who is currently down on his luck - so much so that he is living in his office.  When the temp agency sends a secretary, he realizes that he forgot to cancel it, and figures he'll keep the woman for a week and then say he doesn't need her anymore.  The temp, Robin, is engaged to be married and looking for a full-time job, but has always thought that being a private detective would be exciting.

When the brother of a famous supermodel comes in and asks strike to prove that his sister was murdered, and did not voluntarily jump to her death from her apartment balcony, Strike takes the case to make some money, and figures it won't really turn into much, since even all official inquiries resulted in the death being ruled a suicide.

As Strike and Robin get used to each other, and the case moves along, it begins to seem that things may not be as cut and dried as everyone believed.

Strike is an unusual and interesting character, and he and Robin make a good team.  I liked the story and the main characters were well-enough written that you felt you could picture them pretty clearly in your mind.

I read this even once J.K. Rowling was "outed" as the author; I hadn't read her other adult book, so I can't comment on that at all, but I thought she did a good job with this one.

Defending Jacob, by William Landay.  This book freaked me out.  Whenever I hear about a murder, I always think about the victim's family, but seldom do I consider the family of the murderer.  This book does just that.

Andy Barber is an assistant DA in a Massachusetts town.  He is married to Laurie, a psychologist, and they have a teen-age son, Jacob.   One of Jacob's classmates is found murdered in a park where all of the local kids walk to school.  Andy's office begins an investigation, but soon it starts to look like Jacob may have killed the classmate.

And the book continues from here, through Jacob's trial, Andy's meeting with is long-estranged father, the seeming dissolution of his marriage, all of it.  There is a sense of impending dread, of the other shoe waiting to drop, but things keep changing, and there are surprises along the way.

I for one was not prepared for the ending.

A good, very readable book that makes you realize how people treat each other, and relate to their families as well as to their own communities.


I read each of these on my Nook, so I can't offer them to any of you if you think they sound interesting.  But your public library should have them, or be able to borrow them for you through interlibrary loan.  Let me know what you think if you read any of them!

02 September 2013

Labor Day Weekend

Here in the U.S., it's Labor Day weekend.  The Tim has had to work Saturday, Sunday, and then this evening, so we haven't done anything too elaborate.  I made a picnic-y dinner for us last night, and this a.m. we went out to breakfast, so that was our big excitement.

I had big plans for this weekend, and to some extent, I did get things done.  We have a room that was the craft room/office/dump-everything room that we have been fixing up, and I wanted to make some progress on that.  I did, and though it's not in its final version, it's close and you can more easily walk around than you could before.  :-)  That plan = good result.

I also wanted to knit a swatch of a project I have had in my head, thinking that I might actually submit it for publication.  The actual item is knit in the round, and I knitted the swatch according to some directions I found on someone's blog a while back.  It turned out looking like C.R.A.P.  So, no submission there, but down the road, it might become a freebie.   That plan = mixed results.

I was going to mail some of the blogiversary packages.  Got them packed up nicely and ready to go.  However, our local P.O. turned out to be closed on Saturday as well as Sunday and today.  So at the latest, I'll have to try next weekend.  That plan = bad results.

I was hoping to give the house a good clean, since it has been a while and the place is kinda disgusting.  But the entire weekend seemed to be a heat and humidity fest, and without a/c, there was just no way cleaning could happen and I could not make myself sick.  I did however, get the laundry finished.  So, that plan = mixed results.

You can see it's been a mixed bag of a weekend.  At first I was disappointed, but you know what?  I'm not gonna let myself be disappointed.  I got some things accomplished, and that counts!  Plus, it was a holiday weekend, and those are just too few and far between to feel bad about anything.

I hope all of you had a good holiday weekend.  I'm gonna get a few things organized to make the morning simpler tomorrow, and then it's time to read or knit, and relax.

September is here.  :-)