31 December 2015

A New Year's Eve Letter

Dear 2015,

Well, we're nearly finished with each other, so I wanted to drop you a note to say that although you are on your way out, you were - at least for me - pretty decent, and I appreciate that more than I can tell you.

You see, the year before you was tough on me personally.  And I made it through, and knew I would, but it's a lot nicer to say goodbye to a year that was much better overall.

I hated my job even more than usual this year.  But I had a job, and that made it possible to do things I loved, and to stay in our house, and to pay the bills on time.  More good than bad.

I had a few health things that would have been nice to avoid, but none were awful.  Two colonoscopies in six months was pretty crappy (HA!), but now I don't have to have another one for two years.  Thanks for that.

I didn't get as much knitting in as I would have liked to, and my beloved Rosie's Yarn Cellar closed.  But I have plenty of yarn, plenty of ideas, and so many friendships I would not have if Rosie's was never a part of my life.  And there are other fabulous yarn stores in Philadelphia, so, yep, I'm good.

I didn't read all of the books I'd hoped to read, but I liked most that I did read, and I actually started borrowing more books from the library.  Good for me, and good for the community, as public libraries are one of the most important American institutions.

Terrible things happened to people, at the hands of terrorists, and also at the hands of those they knew and/or loved.  No one in my immediate family died, or was injured in any major way by anyone else.  That's a big plus.

The Tim and all of the animals are still going strong, in spite of some pretty serious issues for some of them.  That's the best news of all.

The summer was miserable, and the winter has been too warm.  But we never lost electricity during the worst of any weather, nor have we been destroyed by hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, or blizzards.  Good in the overall picture of things.

So many other things I could mention, but I'm sure you are getting the drift by now.  I managed to become an inkling more of the person I want to be during your time, and a lot of it was because of things listed above.  I have ended this year much better than I started it.

I know there are others who can't wait for you to leave.  As my mother would say, that's what makes horse racing.  I'm glad you were here.  You were, for the most part, kind to me, and I have no regrets (what's the point now, anyway, right?).

Happy trails, 2015.  Tomorrow when I wake up, it will be 2016, and it will be perfect with possibilities.  I hope I'm still here to see what is coming.

Fondly yours,

29 December 2015

A Happy Christmas Day

Well, we had a great day on Christmas.  Quiet and relaxing.  It was too warm and humid, but we tried to ignore that and enjoy the day anyway.

Our house ended up looking nice, once we got everything ready, and then actually cleaned up!

 This year, the Misfit Toys had a little tree of their own.

 Santa and Rudolph were at the ready.

 As were the Misfit Toys.

One of the windows looking out onto the garden was especially dressed up!

 The Christmas tree was just waiting for Santa.

The secretary was even fixed up!

And there were tons of other decorations that you'll see one way or another. :-)  If you are on Instagram, I have some pictures there as well.

Anyway, Santa did in fact show up and it was quite exciting.

 One of Dug's favorite gifts was a corduroy candy cane.

In typical kitty fashion, Jetsam played with Pip's gifts - a catnip stocking and a catnip wedge of pizza!

 Milo the Koodle found the Little Pink Socks (like Mooch has in the "Mutts" comic strip) to be completely irresistible.

 Pip repaid Jetsam by playing with one of his toys, a catnip cell phone.

There were several pauses in the action, which meant that we actually spent a good part of the day opening presents and finding out what goodies were in our stockings.

Later in the day, we had a great Christmas dinner, and watched the end of "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation," which we had started watching a few days before.

Many lovely, sweet, and funny gifts were opened, many carols were listened to and sung, a lot of food was eaten, and we had wine in the afternoon and eggnog in the evening.

The only thing missing was cold weather and a fire in the fireplace.  But we were all together, and it was a wonderful day.  You can't really ask for more than that.

26 December 2015

74 Years Ago

This is a photo of my parents, though I can't say exactly when it was taken.  But I can tell you that today would be their 74th wedding anniversary.

When I was a little kid, I could never fathom why anyone would get married the day after Christmas - I mean, Christmas is big enough as it is, so why try to add something else really big onto it?

But as it turns out, their wedding date was December 26, 1941, because my father had been drafted into the Army after the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.  They wanted to get married and move to wherever he was assigned together, but there was a hitch.  At the time, it was not possible to have a wedding in the Catholic Church during Advent.  The first available day for a wedding then was December 26.

Now of course, people can get married during any liturgical season, so it wouldn't be an issue.  But I can easily imagine the two of them working this out so that it would fit into things perfectly.  My dad was a very organized type, and my mother was an extremely determined type.  Both of them had good senses of humor, so I'm sure they appreciated any of the irony or ridiculousness of whatever happened as well.

When my father died in 1969, they had been married just shy of 28 years.  On their 25th wedding anniversary, they renewed their wedding vows and my dad made sure they threw a huge party (it was even catered - *that* was how fancy it was!), and I'm pretty sure they invited everyone they'd ever met.  It was quite the event, and I like to think that it was one of my mother's happiest memories after he died.

So as you are still enjoying Christmastime, raise a glass in honor of two people whose lives were not perfect, and actually quite difficult, but who were the very center of a weird and happy family that still misses them every day.

Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad!  Love you.

25 December 2015

Christmas 2015

And the angel said unto them:

"Do not be afraid;
For I bring you good news of great joy."

Merry Christmas from our house to yours.

23 December 2015

Santa Pip

The secret was to catch him when he wasn't expecting it.  He was a little annoyed when I first put it on, and had quite a bit to tell me, but then he actually sat there wearing this for about 5 minutes so I could take pictures,

He is the funniest kitty!  Now when I pull this out of the box, he dashes over to see what it is, sniffs it, and then sits down, almost like he is expecting to have to wear it again ...

Santa Pip says that he hopes all of you are having a wonderful Christmastime, and that the *real* Santa's visit to your house tomorrow night will mean a fun Christmas Day is in store for you and yours.

21 December 2015

Winter Solstice

Winter Solstice, Newgrange, County Meath, Ireland

Ah, world, what lessons you prepare for us,
even in the leafless winter, 
even in the ashy city.
I am thinking now
of grief, and getting past it;
I feel my boots
trying to leave the ground,
I feel my heart pumping hard.  I want
to think again of dangerous and noble things.
I want to be light and frolicsome.
I want to be improbable beautiful and afraid of nothing,
as though I had wings.
-- excerpt, Starlings in Winter, by Mary Oliver

19 December 2015

Happy Happy

What a lovely day!  Weather that feels like it's Christmastime (finally!), getting the last of the decorations placed around the house, the ornaments on the tree, and some cookie dough in the fridge, firming up to make some yummy cookies tomorrow.

There are still things to do - clean the house, finish the laundry, wrap presents for The Tim, and some odds and ends - but the big stuff is finished.  With a week left, and time to enjoy everything about Christmastime and Christmas Day.  I'll take it.

The only down side for today is that The Tim has to work this evening, so I'm on my own.  Not that we are missing anything exciting, but I feel bad that he has to work so much during this time of year (six-day weeks instead of five-day weeks).  He is the type of person though who makes the best of things, so though I'm sure he would rather have the day off, he doesn't get as bummed about it as I would.

This evening I'll probably do some reading while listening to Christmas music.  Dug and I will go for his evening walk, and I'll have a nice cup of tea and a Christmas cookie or two.  I would like to stay up to see some of "Saturday Night Live" with Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, and Bruce Springsteen, but I sincerely doubt I'll be able to stay up that late!

Days and evenings like this at Christmastime just make me happy.  It always feels that it should be like this.  So many people try to do too much, and get so aggravated, I sometimes wonder why they even bother.

I hope you are enjoying your weekend, and that you're ready for it to be less than a week until Christmas Day!

18 December 2015

Out of This World Christmastime

Let me introduce you to a lunar friend of mine who visits every year - meet Christmas Moon Man!

A few jobs ago, one of my co-workers made this and gave it to me for Christmas.  I was blown away, not just because it was so nice of him, but because he was a person who also loved Christmas, but never, ever participated in any of the work-related Christmas events.

But that year, on the last day of work before our break, I walked in and found a little gift bag on my desk, with a package inside that said, "Here is your own Christmas Moon Man" - and this guy was inside!

I think he is adorable.  Originally I was going to pack him away with our decorations at home, but I decided that he was meant to stay with me at work, and give me extra reasons to smile during Christmastime.  I always put him right on my desk, where I can see him during the day.  Just this little thing can sometimes be what keeps me from feeling so awful on any given day.

This is truly a case of something unexpected having a lovely and long-lasting impact on the recipient.  The other day I posted this picture on Instagram and Facebook, and tagged the creator.  He was thrilled to know that I still had it and that it made me happy.

I think it's a perfect story for anytime, but especially appropriate for this time of year, especially just one week away from Christmas Day!

Have you ever received a completely unexpected gift?  Was it something that you liked?  Do tell!

15 December 2015

Grocery Gifts

Hooray!  We are TEN DAYS away from Christmas Day!!  

And for today's Ten on Tuesday, Carole wanted us to list 10 Gifts You Can Pick Up at Your Grocery Store.

I've already seen a few posts, and they all have lovely suggestions.  But I'm gonna take a slightly different tack.  As you may or may not know, I live in Center City Philadelphia.  I mean, right in the city.  There are a lot of lovely grocery stores, like Trader Joe's, Whole Foods, and Wegman's, to name a few, that are anywhere from walking distance to a 20-minute drive from our house.  But we have a grocery store that is right around the corner as well.  It's a nice little market, with fairly reasonable prices, considering what it is and where it is.  But it does not have an overly large selection, nor the most premium of products.  (For instance, fruit.  Nice fruit, but not great fruit - the suburban stores have the great fruit.)

So, for my list, I'm saying that I have to get some gifts, and I do not have a lot of time or access to the car to really go anywhere but around the corner.  Keep in mind that in Philadelphia, grocery stores do not sell wine or beer, so that's out.  (Which is a shame because not only are they lovely gifts, but it would also be really convenient ...)

Here we go.

1.  Coffee and tea.  Fortunately, there is enough variety that you could put together a nice package of either or both of these.

2.  Cheeses.  The market has a decent selection of cheeses, and some nice breads and crackers that you could buy to go with them.

3.  Platters.  There is a nice deli, so if you were so inclined, you could get a cheese and/or meat platter to take to someone.

4.  Greenery.  Since a lot of people in the neighborhood do not have a car, they actually have some lovely wreaths, swags, and other holiday greenery.  (They also sell trees, but I for one would never be likely to buy someone a Christmas tree as a gift ...)

5.  Plants.  They have some Christmas cactuses (cacti?), and poinsettias.  Not very elaborate, and you have to choose carefully, cut you could find something nice.

6.  Candies.  At Christmastime, they have a section where they sell all kinds of candy, from things like hard ribbon candy, to packages of Ghirardelli chocolates.  You could pick and choose and come up with a pretty yummy gift.

7.  Spices.  For such a small store, the spice section is actually pretty extensive.  If you know a cook or a baker, you could pick up a few things and package them nicely as a gift.

8.  Eggnog. It's not packaged all that glamorously, but if you know an eggnog lover, they have a few different brands and sized containers.

9.  Packaged cookies.  If you don't have time or the desire to bake your own, you can find some holiday-themed packaged cookies, such as Pepperidge Farm varieties.

10.  Gift cards.  Again, not a huge selection, but at a minimum, they have Visa and American Express ones, so if you know someone who would love a gift card, those two would allow them to use it pretty much anywhere.

So, not necessarily a lot of exotic choices, but certainly items that you could give as a gift (most of them with a little work from you to make the presentation nice), without feeling that they scream "I got this at the market."

And even if it does scream that, if you give it with a genuine feeling and a happy heart, it's not your problem to worry about how it's received, right?

12 December 2015

We Interrupt Your Regular Weekend Activities

Hello all - I had a post in mind for today, but this morning on Facebook, Kim shared this video, and I knew that the joy of the season embodied in this video needed to be shared with all of you as well.

There is SO much here.  SOOOOO much!


Henrietta and Myrna Spread Christmas Cheer

Christmas Day is 13 days away!!

11 December 2015

Christmas Movies

First of all, thanks to everyone for the well wishes earlier this week.  My test was completed, and if nothing wonky turns up, I don't have to have another one for two years!  That would be a lovely gift.

Do you like Christmas movies?  It will probably not surprise you to know that I LOVE them!  I have several favorites, different times, and different genres, but one that speaks to me very closely is "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation."

It is quite easily one of the most stupid movies ever made, which is part of the reason I enjoy it so much, but really it is mostly because it is so evocative of my family.  Truly.

I love my family, and we enjoy each other's company, but it's a pretty loony bunch.  In a good way, but still ... the interesting thing is that we all managed to marry people who have no trouble fitting right in, albeit in their own special ways.

I think every single niece and nephew of mine - and now some of the great-nieces and great-nephews - can recite all/part of the movie.  We go around saying things to each other and responding in lines from the movie.  We have cousins like Cousin Eddie, Cousin Catherine, and their family, who we would sometimes see only at Christmastime growing up.  They may have lived in the same town as we did on occasion, but everyone always ended up at our house.

One of everyone's favorite things though, is more recent.  Years ago, The Tim decided that he needed to recreate Cousin Eddie's Christmas Eve look for Christmas Eve at my sister's house.

(Note black dickey under white sweater)

Well, he found a white sweater and belt for $3.00 total at a local vintage shop, but had real trouble finding a black dickey.  The best part for me was watching him go into stores and asking clerks if they sold dickeys.  This was before online shopping was prevalent, so you pretty much had to find most things by going into different stores.  This was also long after dickeys were a common piece of attire (if they ever really were).

Finally, he found the perfect one at Woolworth's.  I think it cost $8.00, but it was exactly what he was looking for, and he was thrilled.

What we did not know is that my nieces had invited a bunch of their friends for Christmas Eve, as had my sister and brother-in-law.  Since The Tim had been building everyone up for a "Big Surprise on Christmas Eve" since we'd arrived, he had no choice but to go through with it.

Soooo many people looked puzzled and/or scared.   Several knew exactly what he was going for, and it ended up being one of the best Christmas Eves ever.  My nieces still remember every year when "Uncle Tim dressed like Cousin Eddie," and last year, my great-nephew (then 8 years old),  Zach said he thought it was unfair that we can't make it home for Christmas Eve anymore, because now he would "never see Uncle Tim dressed up like a guy."

*That's* funny in and of itself, if you ask me!

So this year on Christmas Eve, I hope you have a fun time with your family, and maybe even watch a movie or two.  If nothing else, remember the year that "Uncle Tim dressed up like a guy," and have a chuckle.

Does your family do anything ridiculous at holiday time?  I'd love to hear about it!

(edited to correct "Uncle Eddie" to "Cousin Eddie")


07 December 2015

Ugh Until Tomorrow

I used to regularly wish my life away.  I was always thinking about the next thing, how things would be better/cuter/nicer next week, month, etc.  You get it.  A couple of years ago, it occurred to me that this was a stupid way to live - and over this last year, I have especially tried to work at being mindful.  If you recall, my word for the year was "grace," which also included being mindful.

I've been doing pretty well.  I still look forward to things, but that is definitely different than wishing one's life away. But I must admit that the past couple of days, I've been wishing for tomorrow, big time.

I have to show up at the gastroenterologist's office tomorrow at 8:00 a.m. for an 8:30 colonoscopy.  Assuming it will be able to be completed (please, God!), then I can start enjoying each day again.  You see, this particular procedure has always been difficult for me.  I have real trouble drinking the prep, and even more trouble keeping it down.  So many times, I had to go home without having the procedure, or cancel before even leaving the house, because I wasn't "cleaned out."  [Insert The Tim's favorite joke about medical proof that I am "full of sh*t"]

Since it is such a problem for me, I have to fast for 2 days.  TWO DAYS.  To say it makes me miserable would be kind.  But I am hoping very strongly that this will be the last time I have to do this for years.  I had a successful one last April, but instead of being able to wait for years like most people, my dr wanted me to have another one in 6 months.  Ugh.  And granted, it's now 8 months, since I kept forgetting to call for an appointment, but still, not having to do any of this again soon would be really wonderful.

The one thing that is successfully distracting me from my nausea and headache (a result of not eating) is Christmastime.  Over the weekend, I finished most of what I needed to get for family gifts, and The Tim brought up the boxes of decorations from the basement.  I am going to work on them as soon as I finish this post, and then hope to get finished after I get home tomorrow.  The Tim wants to get the tree in the next couple of days, so all that will be left will be decorating the tree and starting to bake!  YAY!!!!

Because it's ALWAYS good to see these guys again.  :-)

(psst ... 18 days ...)

05 December 2015

Christmastime Is Here

In TWENTY DAYS it will Christmas Day.  

But Christmastime is here, and that's even better.  I have found that, even if at first I have to do it consciously, being happy about this makes it possible to enjoy it no matter what else is happening in the world, or how many grumpy, holiday-hating types you encounter.  

And it is the best gift you can give to yourself, and anyone else around you.

Wishing you a lovely Christmastime weekend.  :-)

03 December 2015

A Koodle Christmas Story

If you have read my blog for any length of time, I'm sure you have seen this picture before.  It is a cookie jar based on the character of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer as portrayed in the Rankin-Bass 1964 TV program.  To say I LOVE that TV show would be an understatement!

Anyway, at one point, the Lenox company manufactured several products related to that show as Christmas decorations, and The Tim gave this one to me for our anniversary.  Since then, it has always been one of my very favorite Christmas decorations, and held pride of place on the dining room table.  Every time I would see it, I'd smile, and it was always one of the very first things unpacked, since it was easily identifiable in its own box.

Rudolph survived so much - moving, being stored in the basement much of the year, various visits from children, and investigations from cats, just to name a few.

Then the Koodle joined the family.

Things were OK the first year, since he was busy with other decorations and ornaments.  Surprisingly, he didn't break anything, he was just a normal, curious kitten.  But last year, he decided that dashing across the dining room table was a faster way to get to any other cat he was chasing.  Apparently, he tried to stop quickly one day (The Tim was home when this happened, and this is his version of the story), and the tablecloth moved, and Rudolph fell onto the wood floor.  And that was that.

I know that in the grand scheme of things, this is not a tragedy.  But it still broke - and breaks - my heart.  The Tim always says that I get way too attached to things, and I probably do, but I'm not likely to suddenly change at this point in my life and not care any more.  And this decoration was more than a "thing" to me.  So earlier in the week, when he brought up the boxes of Christmas stuff from the basement, I kept looking for Rudolph's box, and then remembered what had happened.

Because I was curious, I looked online to see if any were around.  Apparently over the years, it has become a "collectible," so I could replace it yes, but only if I have $75.00 - $150.00 to cough up for it.

I just hope anyone who does spend that money on one really really loves it.

And I hope that this year, there will not be a repeat of the Koodle Christmas Story.

Such is life when a Koodle is involved, I guess ...

The good news is that Christmastime is well underway, so it's much easier to be happy than sad!

01 December 2015

One Final Thing About November

Happy December 1st - 24 Days Until Christmas!!!!

Before we move on to that fun, Carole's Ten on Tuesday prompt this week was to list 10 Best Things I Did in November.  I can do that.

1.  Got some cleaning and organizing done, in general but also in order to feel a little more prepared before holiday crazy set in.

2.  Served as a sounding board for a co-worker whose mother was dying.  I know it's weird to say this is a "best" thing, but I truly felt glad that he felt comfortable enough to talk to me about it, and since it was sadly similar to my experience with one of my parents, I was happy to help him however I could.

3.  Decorated for Thanksgiving.

4.  Celebrated The Tim's birthday.

5.  Had an echocardiogram with good results.  (This would be a "best" anytime!)

6.  Celebrated Thanksgiving.

7.  Sorted things to see what we do/do not have for Christmas gifts.

8.  Went to see a play.  It was one of The Tim's birthday gifts.  It was "Baskerville" by Ken Ludwig, and it was ridiculous and fun.

9.  Attended First Sunday of Advent Mass at the Jesuit parish here in Philadelphia, and got to join in the singing of  "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel."  That is what really makes it Advent for me.  :-)

10.  Completed NaBloPoMo.  And enjoyed it all immensely.

It was a good month, and a wonderful start to the holiday season. Happy all around.

30 November 2015

What I Learned in November

I am kinda surprised that it is the last day of November, to be honest.  I like November, and this was a nice one.  And for the very first time, I participated in NaBloPoMo.  It was somewhat daunting, at least in theory, but I really wanted to try and see if I could do it.

Guess what?  I did it!  With no hand-wringing about what to write, or trying to figure out posts ahead of time.  I think it was a huge success, and I also learned quite a bit.

I learned that every post doesn't have to be involved, or brilliant, or even very long.  Posting every day meant that sometimes there was a lot to say, and some days not, but it was still worth making the effort.  I love to write, and it was fun to feel like I had someone to talk to every single day.  Even if, like "Seinfeld," it was about nothing ...

I found a lot of new blogs to read, and new blog friends.  I loved reading the various things people posted, seeing their photos, and seeing how they handled the whole thing.  Even if they weren't enjoying it, their blog posts gave the impression that they were having fun.

I realized that by only "trying" to participate, I hadn't freaked myself out by thinking if I didn't continue, it was a moral failing.  I put no pressure on myself at all, and I have to say that was the main reason I think I succeeded.  I wanted to prove that it could be done!

I had something to look forward to every single day, both writing and reading what others wrote.

I found out how much fun it was, and how nice it was when people commented.  I occasionally have a post where a lot of people comment, but it was fun to have it happen more frequently.  It reminded me to actually take the minute or two to post a comment when I read something.

It was a good November.  It was a good NaBloPoMo, at least in my opinion.  I have decided to try and post more frequently, even if I don't always post every single day.  And I think it might just happen here again next year ... :-)

NaBloPoMo Day #30

29 November 2015

Thanksgiving Sunday in Headlines

I'm stealing this idea from Kym, because I like it, and I have many different things rumbling around in my brain, but no single coherent thoughts that I can gather for a post.

"Local Woman Stays Up Past 11:00 On a Saturday Night, Is Disappointed When Her Team Loses Game"

"Woman Realizes It Is the First Sunday of Advent, Makes It to Church Across Town Just On Time"

"House Smells Better After Baseboards Cleaned with 'Nature's Miracle' - Will Cat Stop Spraying?"

"Dog Meets Oppossum, Wants to Be Friends; Oppossum Leaves Area"

"People Start Whining When Temperature Drops"

"Woman Pleased When 'O Come, O Come Emmanuel' Sung at Local Church"

"Plans Made to Put Away Thanksgiving Decorations on Monday"

That's really about it.  I hope your weekend has been headline worthy, in a good way.  :-)

NaBloPoMo Day #29

28 November 2015


Oh I have enjoyed this long weekend, with still this evening and tomorrow left!  It's just the best.

Our Thanksgiving Day was lovely.  Quiet, cozy, and enjoyable, just as it should be.  Our dinner was incredibly yummy, and the wine cranberry sauce I mentioned that I made was really good - more tart than the canned kind and with a little bit more depth.  It was all just so wonderful, just one of the many reasons I love Thanksgiving.

Not much else has been happening.  Yesterday The Tim was working during the day, and I had some medical tests early in the day.  Once I got home, I did some of my little projects around the house.  We had leftovers for dinner, and then went to see a play, which was really fun (the tickets were one of The Tim's birthday gifts).

Today I headed to the library to pick up a book on hold (and of course, ended up with two additional ones), and then came home to pull out the box o' gifts to see what we had for Christmas and for whom, so that we know what gifts are still needed.  It's always fun, because a lot of times, I completely forget what I had, and finding it again is like I got it for free.  We're not in bad shape, and most people will end up getting books once we take advantage of Employee Discount Days at the bookstore.  :-)

I am nearly finished knitting the cuff of the socks I want to make for The Tim, now with the gray yarn, which is the correct one!  I'm gonna do the best I can, but if nothing else, they can be a gift for Valentine's Day ...

The Tim is working the closing shift tonight, so it's just me and the critters for the evening.  We have the Notre Dame game to watch, and I have my knitting, so other than taking Dug out for his evening walk, we're set.

I love the Thanksgiving weekend.  :-)

NaBloPoMo Day #28

27 November 2015

Oh the Knit-manity!

Yeah, I know that is not an actual word, but it's how things are right now around here.

I really wanted to knit some gifts for people for Christmas, but I don't know that I'll do it - it's kinda late in the game by now, and most of them need to be mailed.  So perhaps the best plan is to start when I can, and plan for next year.  I'm thinking ...

I've been concentrating on a couple of things - one has been long term, while the other was something I wanted to make for The Tim for Christmas.

On the top is the finished back and nearly completed front of a sweater I have been making using one of Amy Herzog's Custom Fit patterns.  I started this sweater a little more than a year ago, at a class at Loop.  I love the color of the yarn, and I really want to finish it, but it has been on a long hiatus.  First, because of my sore elbow, and secondly, because I'm just afraid I would finish it and it wouldn't fit, which is most likely not the case, but you know how it is when your brain decides something.

The photo below that one is the very beginning of a pair of socks I'm hoping to make for The Tim for Christmas.  I have had such a problem getting these going, but think I finally found the right needles to use, and finally got some rounds of the cuff knit.

Then, the inevitable occurred - I felt like I was doing really well on both of these projects.  That kind of "I'm really proud of myself" moment often comes back to bite me in the posterior.

As I prepared to start working on the last part of the sweater - the shoulders and neck - I realized I had too many stitches!   Apparently, I didn't decrease as many times as I should have earlier in the pattern.  I have decided I'm not tearing back *all* the way, but half of all the way.  An arbitrary decision, but seriously it's only four stitches, so I'm gonna live dangerously.  I've told myself it will be OK.  Right? RIGHT?

So then I thought, well, let me work on the socks a bit.  At which time it occurred to me that I had started the socks using the navy yarn.  I was supposed to start with the gray yarn (which looks white in the photo).  At first I thought I'd just go ahead, but then I realized I wouldn't have enough for a pair if I continued with the navy.  Time to start over with the gray ...

At least I only had a little bit already knitted.

Granted, neither of these things are the worst that could happen.  But you know how it is - you just get annoyed.

Just one of the many reasons I'm glad there is wine.

NaBloPoMo Day #27

26 November 2015

Thanksgiving 2015

There are only two ways to live your life. 
One is as though nothing is a miracle.
The other is as though everything is a miracle.
- Albert Einstein

Happy Thanksgiving!

NaBloPoMo Day #26

25 November 2015

Finished for Today

I am officially finished with the things I wanted to do to prepare for tomorrow.  There were not that many things for me to do, since I had actually cleaned pretty thoroughly last weekend (much to my surprise), so food-related things were what were left for tonight.

The Tim was busy the past few days.  He was off on Monday and Tuesday, and then he is working the closing shift tonight.  He did the cleaning up he wanted to do, plus A LOT of baking!

So today when I got home from work, this was waiting for me.

Pumpkin pies!  Yes, "pies" - three of them!  The Tim is a huge fan of pumpkin pie, so he makes two or three every year so he can get his fill.  (I of course help to consume said pies, because I am supportive like that.)

The other day he baked some bread.  And then today, he turned that bread into homemade croutons for our stuffing.

So good!

As of approximately a half hour ago, I finished making the stuffing, and earlier I tried a recipe I found for wine cranberry sauce.  The stuffing looks, smells, and hopefully will taste good.  I'll check in the morning, once the flavors have had some time to take hold, to see if it needs any tweaking.

The cranberry sauce *looks* good, but according to the recipe, it needs to sit in the fridge at least 12 hours for the flavor to "set."  I'll let you know if it is any good.  I do have to say it was easy.  We just usually get the canned cranberry sauce, but like I said, I saw this recipe today and we had some fresh cranberries in the fridge that we got as part of our farm share, so I figured I'd see how it tasted.  At least if it's horrible, we still have the other stuff as backup.  :-)

Besides the anticipation of Thanksgiving,  I think all of the food preparation and planning is fun.  We usually have the same menu for the most part, with occasional tweaks or additions, but it never seems boring to me.

I hope you are finding time to relax tonight so that tomorrow's festivities will be happy and fun.


NaBloPoMo Day #25

24 November 2015


This week for Ten on Tuesday, Carole asks us to list things that make us feel thankful - but then adds a twist by saying to list things making you thankful right now.

After some thought, here is my list of 10 Things I Am Thankful For Right Now:

1.  Thanksgiving itself.  It is one of my favorite holidays, and definitely the coziest one, in my opinion.  I love making food that I seldom/never make any other time of year.  I love watching parades, dog shows, stupid movies, and just existing.

2.  Four-day weekends.  I'll take it and enjoy every second!

3.  Knowing how to read.  Every now and then, I'm reminded that there are still plenty of people who have never learned to read, and I cannot imagine my life without reading.

4.  NaBloPoMo.  Truly!  It has made me think more, since a post a day is not the usual for me.  And I've enjoyed reading others' daily posts, and finding out that people are reading and commenting on my blog here.  It's been fun, if some days challenging.  :-)

5.  Safety.  I take it for granted, but at the same time, I also realize I have a pretty safe existence, and a WHOLE LOT better one than others.

6.  Health.  I'm doing pretty well, and that makes me happy *and* thankful.  Even though I think I might be coming down with a cold, it's OK as long as it's just a cold.

7.  Our house.  It of course falls into the larger category of thankfulness for shelter, but it is also appropriate here, because it is such a quirky little old row house, on a teeny street in Center City Philadelphia.

8.  Laughter.  If I didn't have the ability to laugh at myself and/or to be amused, I'm not sure I would find life very interesting or even worthwhile.

9.  Solitude.  I am for the most part happiest when I am left to my own devices.

10.  Train sounds.  I think I've said before that I have spent most of my life living someplace where I could hear trains.   Train sounds are the comfort food of my ears.

That's it for now.  This is one of those lists that are easy, but hard, and could also go on forever.  But these are my ten things.  Right.Now.

NaBloPoMo Day #24

23 November 2015

Turkey Tendon Redux

When I first started this blog (which now seems like a long time ago!), I shared a story about a particular Thanksgiving tradition in my family.  To this day, when I tell people the story, they are a) puzzled, b) amused, and c) confused.

In the last few days, I've been reading other blogs and a lot of people are writing about how they are getting ready for the big day.  So here is a version of the previously mentioned story, one of Thanksgivings Past, when one of the biggest highlights occurred the night before.  Now that I am a vegetarian, I don't miss having turkey, but I do kinda miss pulling turkey tendons ...


When I first moved to Philadelphia, a notice in the Food Section of the Philadelphia Inquirer caught my eye. They asked readers to submit a brief story about unique family Thanksgiving traditions. Three stories would be published on the Sunday before Thanksgiving. I knew I had something truly unique to send them.

My father, who grew up on a poultry farm, was the family expert on Thanksgiving turkey. The night before Thanksgiving was always a big night. After cleaning the turkey, it was time for the event of the year: tendon pulling! According to my father, if you pulled the tendons out of drumsticks before cooking, it made them easier to eat. We got the pliers out, and everyone got ready to take their turn. At the end of the drumsticks, there are often small holes, with pinkish-white tips sticking out. Those are the tendons. You take the pliers, hold the drumstick tightly, and try to pull the tendons out. It’s fun for the entire family!

I have never met anyone else who even knew about turkey tendon pulling, so I decided this story would be a perfect candidate for the “unique” Thanksgiving tradition the Inquirer was seeking. I figured if my story wasn’t chosen, the others that were published would have to be really unusual. So imagine my extreme dismay when I opened the Food Section on the Sunday before Thanksgiving and read the winning entries.

Story #1: A woman whose mother had been in the hospital on Thanksgiving had taken a complete dinner to her so they could have their holiday meal together. Her mother died shortly afterwards. Every year, she continues to take an entire meal to that hospital for any of the nursing staff that has to work on the holiday.

Story #2: A couple who were in the military and stationed in Germany one Thanksgiving invited their German neighbors to celebrate with them.

Story #3 (supposedly the best) was about a woman whose son had the flu one year during the week of Thanksgiving. The night before, to cheer him up, they had baked special pumpkin cookies together. Even though the boy was now 20-something, he still made sure he could be home the night before Thanksgiving to bake cookies with his mother.

These stories are heartwarming, feel-good stories; they may reflect lovely traditions. But am I the only one who doesn’t find them unique? The Tim suggested that maybe the Inquirer didn’t think my story was true, being "weirdly unusual."  Now really, could I have invented something that good? Maybe it was too unique for the Inquirer; they probably felt it would be more appropriate for the New York Post; right under a headline like “Family of Five Fancies Festive Fowl Fun!”


My memories of turkey tendon pulling are happy and fun ones.  Yes, it was gross, but we were all so focused, that was secondary.  I think that even if I *could* do it today, I would be completely grossed out, so it's probably better if it remains in my memory ... :-)

NaBloPoMo Day #23

22 November 2015

How About Another Recipe?

I have to tell you, I'm very proud of myself - I got a lot accomplished today! Granted, I'm really pretty tired, but it was worth it.  Other than eating dinner and washing the dishes (The Tim is the cook tonight), I have no other plans or things I have to do this evening, so the couch and my pajamas will have all of my attention.  :-)

Before we get to the yummy part of this post, I wanted to thank those of you who responded to my post yesterday, with my idea for honoring/celebrating my dad's 100th birthday.  If you didn't see it, and are curious, it is here; please feel free to let me know your thoughts.

Now on to the recipe.

This is a recipe I have had for over 30 years.  At my very first "official" job out of college, I worked at the library at the University of Notre Dame, while The Tim was in grad school there.  At one of our departmental Christmas parties, one of co-workers brought a plate of homemade candies that I had never seen before or heard of, but boy were they yummy!

It turns out that she was from Ohio, which is the Buckeye State, and I guess these are more or less a candy that everyone who is from Ohio knows about.  Over the years, I've seen various versions of the recipe, and I've tried them at various places, but the recipe I was given is still my favorite, both for the taste and the simplicity.



1 lb. powdered sugar
1 stick butter or margarine
1 ½ c. peanut butter (smooth or crunchy, whatever you prefer)
6 oz. chocolate chips or chunks 
2 tsp. shortening 

Mix first three ingredients completely, and then form into whatever sized balls you like (if they are small, you can eat more of them!).  Place on waxed paper and chill for at least 1 hour.

Melt chocolate and shortening.  Take a toothpick and take peanut butter balls and dip into the melted chocolate.  Place on waxed paper to cool.


Don't they look good?  I hope if you try the recipe, you'll let me know if you liked them.  I do have to warn you though - they are pretty addictive!  

NaBloPoMo Day #22

21 November 2015

Opinions Requested

Hello and Happy Saturday!  I wanted to share something with you that has been rattling around in my brain.  It's not completely thought out,  meaning details are not nailed down, but I wondered if you guys could tell me what you think of the idea, and also feel free to add your thoughts and ideas.

August 21, 2016 is the 100th anniversary of my father's birth.  He was not famous, or a world-renowned leader, but he was my dad so that makes him the most amazing man ever to me.  A 100th birthday - even though he is not here in person to celebrate - seems like something that requires special notice.

I will turn 60 years old in 2016, so it's a landmark birthday for me as well.  Assuming I make it to then (and I have every intention of doing so!), I will have lived seven years longer on earth than my father did.  I have been thinking, and have a nugget of an idea.

I want to try and get my knitting, crocheting, sewing, and other crafty friends to try during 2016 to make something for a man, young man, or young boy who is living in a shelter, a nursing home, the VA hospital, a regular hospital long-term - you get it, right?  And in theory, we could have a total of 100 items made by the end of the year and distributed in our own communities.  I would call it "Harry's Hundred" (my father's name was Harry), and it would be my gift to his memory.  Anyone who participated could do so in honor of him, or in honor of anyone else they chose.

My dad grew up poor, and he was a WWII Army veteran, and I think he would approve of any type of organization like the ones listed above (and others I've not added) being recipients of gifts from others' hearts.

I have nothing against donating to women's organizations/shelters/whatever, but this is for my dad, so I wanted it to be for the males of the species, who need help and some love as well.

As I said, I don't have details worked out, but I wanted to see if you thought this was something you might consider doing, and/or asking friends to join you in doing.  In any event, I plan to do what I can on my own, but my dad was a true extrovert, and I'm sure he would think the more, the merrier.

Thoughts?  Opinions?  Criticisms?  Ideas?  Please share in the comments.

And have a wonderful weekend.  :-)

 (a newspaper clipping photo of my dad from 1969, the year he died)

NaBloPoMo Day #21

20 November 2015

Five Favorites For This Friday

It occurred to me that I hadn't done one of these posts in a while.  I like doing them, because they remind me to think of good things and enjoy the happy things in life.

So here are a few things from the past week.

1.  The Birthday of The Tim.  I love birthdays, I love celebrating birthdays, I love giving presents, I love birthday cake - well, you get what I'm saying.  We both took the day off, and just had a quiet, lovely day at home.  We went out for breakfast, and then again for dinner, but otherwise sat at home in our comfy clothes with Dug and the kit kats.  A nice long, day, and a happy day too.

2.  Anticipation and excitement leading up to Thanksgiving.  I love thinking about Thanksgiving almost as much as I love the holiday itself.  I have been enjoying every minute of this.

3.  A free drink.  I have a Starbucks card, so that I can get a drink even when I don't have cash on me (which is frequently), and so I don't have to use a credit card for a small amount (I hate using a credit card for anything under $10.00.  Well, or even at all, but you know what I mean).  Anyhoo, I had a free drink, since I'd bought however many it is that get you a free drink, and I got it this morning on my way to work.  A Friday and a free drink are an excellent combination.

4.  Star Wars cufflinks.  A little boutique in our neighborhood recently got some Star Wars cufflinks.  One of my nephews by marriage is a Star Wars fan, and according to his wife, wears cufflinks pretty often.  Guess what he'll get for Christmas?  Now I just need to decide which to choose.

5.  Cold weather.  Today it actually feels like fall!  Thank God.  I only get through summer due to the promise of cooler weather.  On top of which, my office is generally about 80-85 degrees, and of course I can't open the window, so walking out into actual cool air feels even better.

What about you?  Were there any particularly good things  this week for you?

NaBloPoMo Day #20

19 November 2015

Throwback Thursday

Ahhhhh, look - it's baby ME!
According to the back of the photo, this was taken in 1957, 
so I would have been a year old.  

My hair still looks like that, by the way.  :-)

NaBloPoMo Day #19

18 November 2015


There is only one thing I have to say today, and that is:

Happy Birthday to My Sweetie!

Today is The Tim's birthday, and we have both taken the day off.  We'll be going out to dinner, and there will be wine, cake, and presents later.  I don't know the exact plans for the day, since he was working last night, and isn't out of bed yet this morning.  But if nothing else, we'll have fun just not having to think about a schedule.

The only thing he doesn't like about his birthday is that it means that for four months we are the same age, and he can't mock me for being older ... but he makes up for it during the other eight months of the year! :-)

Hooray for birthdays!!

NaBloPoMo Day #18

17 November 2015

Stupid and Wrong Things Amuse Me

I was gonna participate in Ten on Tuesday today, but the topic was to list 10 Places Where You Hang Out.  I couldn't even come up with five.  "Home" pretty much qualified for #1-10 ...

So instead, here's what you get.


I'll admit that I am easily amused.  I adore puns, and love wordplay.

Sometimes, things at work amuse me. 

1. For instance, right near the Library, there is a diorama of a panda "family" - two adults and a cub.  A few weeks ago, a woman and a little kid were standing in front of it when I walked by, and had this conversation.

Kid:  Where did they get these pandas?  How did they end up here?
Woman (clearly uncomfortable):  They died of natural causes.
Kid (looking disgusted, and pointing to the cub):  You're telling me *that* one died of natural causes?

2. Overheard as two kids come up the steps.

Kid #1: Let's go see the mummies!
Kid #2: That's not even interesting.  All they are is bones and paper.

3. Yesterday I cataloged an entomology book published in 1930, and the author's name was:  C. Yuwa Wong.  I know it's terrible of me, but I laughed until I cried.  Seriously, say it to yourself out loud.  You can't deny it's amusing, even if it's rude to laugh about it.

4. This is one I may have already told you about a while back, but something happened the other day that reminded me of it.  A former co-worker asked me once for a recipe for what I had in my lunch, and I said I'd e-mail it to her.  She responded:  "You can just tell me, I have a photogenic memory."  I was tempted to ask if I could see one of the pictures.  But she would have had no idea in the universe what I meant ...

What about you?  Are you as easily amused as I am?

NaBloPoMo Day #17

16 November 2015

Well, That Was Stupid

Most of the time, I would like to think that when I write a post here, or on Facebook, or send an e-mail, that it is something clear and [probably?] sensible.  I don't go out of my way to cause controversy, because a) I don't feel like creating controversy for the sake of it, b) I don't feel those are appropriate platforms, and c) because, frankly, unless I am engaged person-to-person with someone, I don't care to drag things out online (I don't like it in person, either, but I think it's easier to contain.)

Yesterday, I posted this on Facebook, thinking it was a relatively benign thing to say:

"This morning I woke up feeling really sick (thanks, Obama), so maybe I am feeling extra cranky (though I'm not sure that is possible), but wow people are being worse than usual.
I have seen at least three posts where someone has asked others to pray for the victims of the attacks in Paris, etc. And then barrages of commenters lambasting them because praying does nothing, prayer is stupid, prayer causes cancer (OK I added that to see if you were paying attention).
Everyone deals with tragedy and sadness in their own way. If you do not believe in prayer, then ignore that post. It doesn't offend the person who posted, and it doesn't make you look like the kind of person you would normally be criticizing big time.
Rant over. (This one, at least. For right now.) Back to my box of tissues and my cough drops."

Well, That Was Stupid.

What I was trying to say was that, if you don't pray/believe in prayer or a higher being, are opposed to organized religion, etc., just move on rather than attack the person who posted the original thought.  And that was really what I meant.  I don't know about you, but on Facebook and plenty of other places - as well as in my daily life - I scroll past/ignore so many things people say.  I consider myself to be a pretty tolerant person, and really only use Facebook and other social media to have fun and to see what with up for my friends and family.  It's fun and for a lot of family members especially, would be the only way I would ever know if they were still among the living ...

Anyway, I got a couple of funny comments from a friend, and a lovely comment from another friend who is actively atheist, and generally grumpy.  She basically said (I'm paraphrasing here) that when people would say, "I'm praying for you," she used to be really obnoxious and rude in response.  Then she finally realized that they were being nice, and wishing her well.  So now she says "Thank you" and moves on.  

She *got* exactly what I meant. 

Someone else though, took it to another level, talking about how she has been nice to people about it and they try to convert her, etc.  I replied that I was talking about something completely different, but she didn't let go, and railed on about people preaching to her and not leaving her alone.  

I truly only meant in my post that I wished people would allow other their opinions, and if they don't agree, rather than attacking them, move on.  I think political, social, religious discourse all have a proper place and time, but should try as hard as possible to remain civil.  I'm not perfect, but 99% of the time, I keep my thoughts to myself when someone posts something I find ridiculous, stupid, annoying, etc.  Because again, I use social media for fun and for actual exposure to others, and decide who does or does not seem to be someone I want to be in touch with on a regular basis.

That is why my post made me realize - Well, That Was Stupid.  Look what I said.  Look where I said it.  

I still believe what I said in the post, in case you were wondering.  A lot of you probably don't.  Fine with me.  Let's agree or disagree, but let's also pay attention to what people are *actually* trying to say, not what we decide they must be saying.  

Do me a favor, will you?  If this post offends you to the point where you feel the need to go on and on and on, please just do that in your head.  I'm sorry I opened my mouth in the first place, but there you go ...

*by the way, I like to "blame Obama" for everything ... since everyone else does!  ;-)

NaBloPoMo Day #16

15 November 2015

Sunday Sicko

No real post of any substance today, as I woke up coughing, with a sore throat and chills.  So I'm just gonna take it easy and hope that this is the worst of it.

But here is a picture that will hopefully give you a smile on this Sunday.

Dug and Milo - best buddies since the first moment they met  

Have a lovely Sunday!

NaBloPoMo Day #15

14 November 2015

Yes, Wind the Clock

I don't need to remind anyone reading this of the tragedy in Paris last night.  Or the one previously in Beirut.  Or the ones that have caused so many Syrians to become refuguees.  Or any of the other things that have happened all too often and make us wonder what is going on in the world.

Evil has reared its ugly head.  Hand wringing, second-guessing, and who is to blame are the orders of the day.

None of us should have to live through these horrors, much less hear about them.  I read a quote the other day, "Someone is praying for what you take for granted.  Appreciate what you have."

Let's all keep a thought and a prayer for the victims of this violence, and the other senseless violence in the world.  Let's remember to rally.  Let's make a difference where we are, even if  we can't do anything immediate for victims a world away.

Long ago, the writer E.B. White gave some advice that I think we should still consider today.  You can read that here.

Today, on Facebook Anne Lamott wrote this and I feel it is more eloquent and true than I could ever hope to put into words.

Remember to kiss your loved ones.  And yes, do wind the clock for tomorrow.


13 November 2015

This Day

This day has many things going on that make me happy.

It's Friday - which means that once I leave work, it's the weekend!  YAY!  My big plans include getting my haircut tomorrow morning, and attempting to do a little bit of birthday shopping.  On Sunday, depending on what else is/is not happening, I might walk over to Loop and sit and knit with the group for a bit.  They do a knitting circle on Sundays from 2-4.  

And it's not JUST Friday - its Friday the 13th!  This pleases me, because instead of worrying about it, I think of black cats all day.  I have had two black cats in my life (at least so far), and anyone who thinks they are bad luck is just plain old wrong.  I love black kitty cats!

To add to the list of why today pleases me, we have the actual date of today:


Today marks the last day this century that can be written as consecutive odd numbers.  This article can tell you when to mark your calendar for the next one ... 

(For someone who truly sucks at math, I do love numbers!)

It also helps that it actually feels like fall today - though apparently next week it will be warm again.  That is disappointing, but I'm gonna just enjoy the cool weather while I can, especially given what else I have to enjoy as listed above.  


By the way, a HUGE THANK YOU for your comments and suggestions for The Tim's birthday and Christmas.  I'm still plugging away, seeing what I come up with, but your ideas were a big help, and I do appreciate your willingess to share.  I just think that everyone should have one gift to actually open on their birthday, Christmas, etc.,  This weekend will give me the chance to see if I can take advantage of anything you guys offered.

Have a lovely weekend - and a wonderful Friday!

NaBloPoMo Day #13

12 November 2015

The Tim Is a Problem, People

Before I say anything else, please be aware that I know that what I am about to say is what my sister Mary Ellen would call a "White Man's Problem."  I know there are bigger, more serious things for all of us to think about, deal with, and work to solve.  But The Tim is my current issue, so he is the topic of this post.

The Tim is a lovely person, for the most part.  Like all of us, he has flaws and problems, but he is a good person and much more of a kind human than I can ever hope to be.  And I have to say, he excels at gift-giving.  He chooses great gifts, and always seems to have ideas.

This is largely because I am simple to buy a gift for - as a matter of fact, my mother used to claim that even if "a box of sh*t was wrapped up, it would still be a present, and you [me] would be happy."  Not far from the truth.  But The Tim always gives nice gifts that show that he took the time and made an effort to get things he knows I like.

I am a person who truly LOVES to give gifts!  Small gifts, big gifts, silly gifts - if I know someone will like something, I can't wait to give it to them.  And giving gifts to my loved ones is even better.

And here, my friends, is where The Tim is a problem.  He is one of those people who, if there is something he'd like to have, and it is affordable, goes ahead and buys it.  Making it very hard to buy him a gift.

Our anniversary is October 28.  His birthday is November 18.  Christmas is December 25.  You can see why this is frustrating for me.

He is extremely appreciative of knitted gifts.  But he has told me that he has enough socks, scarves, hats, and mittens and doesn't want/need more.  He buys his own clothes.  He works in a bookstore where he gets a nice discount, so buying him books, CDs, etc. is out since he already has the ones he wants.  A few years back, I was thrilled when I thought to get him an MP3 player.  That has since died, and he replaced it himself.  He likes cooking and baking, but there are only so many gadgets or cookbooks that you can buy, and even more importantly, that we have room to store in our small house.

We aren't talking about someone who is interested in many "guy" things - sports, cars, or the like.  Occasionally, he will tell me something specific to get.   Other times, he'll hand me something, and say "give this to me for my birthday" etc., Which is great, since I know it's something he really wants.  But it certainly spoils any surprises or mystery surrounding gifts.

And so, here I am, less than a week away from his birthday.  I have purchased one thing he specifically requested, but am saving that for Christmas, since it was kind of a big-ticket item.  I told him I'd take him out to dinner, and that will be fun.

But having presents to wrap is a whole lot more fun, if you ask me.

White Man's/Woman's Problem, indeed.  :-)

NaBloPoMo Day #12