28 September 2015

Pope-a-palooza Weekend

Today is the end of my long Pope weekend.  It was so nice to have four days off, especially when the four-day weekend for Thanksgiving is still on its way!  It was nice to have the streets to walk and bicycle without cars.  It was nice that people who stayed in town were enjoying all of it, and that you would run into areas where it was like a street fair.

Dug had one of his best weekends ever.  First of all, there were National Guard soldiers stationed at every single corner within the restricted area known as the "Traffic Box."  As you can imagine (and thankfully), they did not have much to do, so they were always happy to see Dug, and he of course to see them.  He would leave the house and pull the leash to visit each corner nearby.  And on Sunday, one of them had dog treats!  Also, since so many people, kids, and dogs were out and about, he got plenty of attention.  Saturday, we took a walk through Rittenhouse Square, and there were a group of high school girls who were in town with their school to see the Pope, and they all wanted selfies with him!  (Though the squealing when they saw him was ear-splitting, I have to say.)   Then on our way home, we stopped at a local boutique to say hi to the women who work there, and are always asking me where he is.  They gave him a little Pope charm for his collar, and posted this picture on their Facebook page:

(Needless to say, he is very sad today that his friends on the corner are all gone.)


I am what is known as a cafeteria Catholic.  This is largely a result of my innate cynicism, my upbringing, and my education.  I am a very spiritual person, but not incredibly religious.  I could go on and on about this, but I don't really feel that most of you want to know *that* much about it.  :-)  

The first pope I remember was John XXIII, from when I was a little girl.  I always felt looking at him that he was a good guy, and as an adult have learned that he actually was.  I did not like Paul VI very much at all.  I felt that John Paul I had possibilities, but he did not live long enough for us to find out.  I am quite possibly the only person in the world who strongly disliked John Paul II (I know, heresy!), and to give you an idea how much I disliked Pope Benedict, I always called him "Pope Adolf."

But Pope Francis seems like a genuine, good guy.  (It also helps with me that he is a Jesuit, since that is part of my education.)  As a result, I was actually excited that he was coming to Philadelphia.

And he did not disappoint.  It was really wonderful to see him interact with people.  He smiles - a true smile - A LOT.  And though the Secret Service was hoping to just get him from Point A to Point B without stopping, he would have none of it.  One of my favorite things is when he met the Pope Baby.

I also loved it when he visited a local prison and met with both the inmates, and some families who were victims of those inmates.  It was very moving and so amazing to see how he was received.  So many of the inmates asked to hug him, and would receive a genuine hug.  Families would give him group hugs, and he would bless each one of them.

There was also this on Sunday:

Apparently the World Meeting of Families (the reason he was in Philadelphia) gave tickets to each cultural institution along the Parkway, where the Mass was going to be, since they had to be closed for security reasons.  At my work, they had a raffle, and I actually won!  Due to a long and annoying story involving changes to the entrances and extreme security, The Tim and I only made it to 1/2 block away from getting in to the Mass before they stopped admitting people.  That was disappointing, but a) we were still there, b) it was as close as we're ever likely to get to the Pope, and c) the people in the crowd were all so joyous, kind, and friendly, that it was an amazing experience nonetheless, and could easily be its own blog post.  :-)

Neither of us are much for crowds, but we were ready to give it a try.  And if you had to be around a ton of people, this was the kind of crowd to be around.  No pushing, shoving, complaining, etc.  When we arrived to get in line, here was the sight in front of us:

Do you see the "white line" going across, beyond the traffic lights?  That was the security checkpoint!  At least 1/2 of those people should have been in another line, which is why we never got to where we should have (like I said, long story).
As The Tim pointed out though - in the end, at least on the way home we were entertained by seeing this guy:

Sometimes, that's the best you can do, I guess ...


Today, the city is back to the usual, the Pope is back in Vatican City, and tomorrow, my routine is back to normal.  But this weekend will be memorable for a long time to come, not just for us and the City of Philadelphia, but also for one happy but very tired Doodle Dog ...

25 September 2015

Ghost Town Friday

Well, I didn't mean for it to be so long between posts - I'm surprised to be honest, I didn't realize I hadn't been here for a while!  Oh well.

Today and Monday are days off for me, and for a lot of other people.  My work and my home are right in the spaces where the Pope will be starting tomorrow.  As a result, there are a lot of intense security restrictions (thanks, ISIS) and also a lot of people left town, both due to expected crowds and because they had to get their cars off most of the streets.

This morning I took a walk, and it was AMAZING to see the city so empty, and best of all NO CARS.  A lot of people in our neighborhood have cars, but don't use them daily.  But of course many people commute by driving, and living in the city, there are cars, trucks, vans, etc. all of the time.

Anyway, here are scenes from today.

"Hello ... hello ... hello (echo)"


That white sign on the tree in front of this house says "No Parking."  People knew that they would be towed, so for once they actually paid attention, rather than paying the fines!

Emergency vehicles parked in a row, ready for anything, and the National Guard on each corner.

And then this blackboard sign, next to the Episcopal church up the street.  I am highly amused that someone wrote "Cubs World Series," and then someone crossed out "Cubs" and wrote "Phillies."  If only that was the biggest world problem, right?

So this is the calm before the storm.  Pope Francis arrives tomorrow, and something tells me that these empty streets will not even have an inch of space available!

But for today, it was glorious.  You could walk around and never have to wait for the light to change to cross the street, and bicyclists were not in danger of being run off the road.  It was a beautiful day weather-wise, and the hardy souls* who stayed in town were walking around, eating in outdoor cafes, many walking their dogs, and enjoying having the place to themselves.

Sometimes, even for just a day, the world works in your favor.  :-)

*I say "hardy souls" because so many people were freaked out by security plans that they could not wait to leave town.  It was like we were getting 20 feet of snow, and they had to escape or would be condemned to a certain death.  Wimps.

13 September 2015

NJ Sheep and Fiber Festival

It's been a nice fall weekend, here - particularly today, when it's been cool and breezy and makes you believe that fall may actually be on its way.

Yesterday, The Tim and I headed one state over to go to the New Jersey Sheep and Fiber Festival.  I've been wanting to go for a few years, but would never remember the date until it just wasn't possible to plan.  This year, I missed the last time I would be able to take the Rosie's bus to Maryland Sheep and Wool, so I was anxious to get to at least one fiber festival.  And when my friend Mindy said she was going to have a booth there, The Tim actually offered to go, since he only knows her through Facebook and wanted to meet in person.

It only took about an hour to get there, and though it was overcast, it was not too hot, and very pleasant for walking around.  And what a lovely event!  It's small enough that you can take your time and still have plenty of the day left, and large enough that there is a lot to see, and wish you could win the lottery to buy it all.

Here is a selection of pictures I took (I won't make you look at the many many photos of sheep, sheep - just a few!):

Create your own caption ... (I told him I was gonna call it 
"The Old Goat goes to the fiber festival")

All of the sheep were friendly

This is blurry, because it was when the sheep were moving during the herding dog demo.  These are hair sheep, which I had never known about until yesterday.

The alpacas had just been sheared and were rather blase about the whole thing.

This sweet bunny LOVED being petted and wanted all the attention.

Then there was this guy - I decided I if I lived anywhere near him, I would always try to stay on his good side ...

Me, Mindy, and her two sons and assistants in the booth, Eric and Owen.  They are two of the nicest kids I've ever met.

Last picture of the day - wildflowers next to the parking lot.  A good way to end, right?

I didn't buy anything, because I forgot to take any more than about $5.00 with me!  I just was not organized about it at all, and didn't want to use a credit card, even where they were OK, since I currently have lots on my credit card due to vet visits.  But you know what?  It's fine, because I have plenty of yarn, and I'm already planning for next year.

It was still an amazing day, just getting see animals, yarn, and other beautiful things.  You can't ask for more than that.

04 September 2015

Have a Good Labor Day Weekend!

Ah, Labor Day weekend ... when I was a kid, it truly meant the end of summer.  Most of the time, school started the day after, and even though I liked school well enough, I liked being at home and doing my own thing much more.  I haven't been in school for a long time, but I still feel like this weekend is slightly bittersweet.

For a lot of people I know, and for a lot of those in blogland, it is also a time to start fresh.  Just as you started the new school year with new shoes and new pencils, etc., as an adult Labor Day can be the same kind of milestone.  In that vein, I took the last half hour of my workday today to give my desk and my workspace a good clean.  Frankly, it was overdue - I mean, that place was gross!  But now when I return on Tuesday, it will be nice and clean and fresh - at least for a half hour or so ... :-)

What are you up to this weekend?  We don't have any specific plans.  The Tim is working during the day on Sunday and Monday, so we might have a picnic dinner on Monday evening, but that's about it.  I am planning to spend at least part of one day going through my closet.  For whatever reason, this summer I really slobbed it up - just kind of throwing things in there, and it's a mess and I'm sure there are a lot of things I can just donate or throw away.  (Another fresh start - hm, it's like a theme I was not expecting ...)

But mostly I want to just relax and do whatever I decide to do.  I worked especially physically hard this week at work, as in lifting 40-lb. boxes, shifting books, shelving stuff, etc., so I definitely got a workout.  This evening, however, I have to say that I'm feeling it!

I also want to see if I can finish or come close to finishing my watermelon-yarn socks.  The first sock is done, and I would like to get the other one finished sooner rather than later because a) it's been way too long working on them, and b) I want to start another pair for a Halloween gift, and told myself my own pair needed to be completed first.

I hope you have some nice plans for the long weekend.  Labor Day is an important day to note, and I don't think a lot of people really understand why it even exists.  Those of us who are not working this weekend, or who are not *required* to work more than 40 hours a week, have laborers and labor unions to thank for it.  (I have an acquaintance who really and truly thought that it was to honor mothers since they go through labor to give birth.  What an eejit.)

"Thunder is good, thunder is impressive;
but it is lightning that does the work"
-- Mark Twain

The world is a strange, confusing, dangerous, and crazy place these days.  Each one of us can only do so much to help or make it better.  So I hope that this weekend, *your* life and your world can be a happy and safe place.

Hopefully, the next time you hear from me, I'll have some knitting pictures and who knows, maybe even TWO socks to show you!  It could happen ...

Take care.

01 September 2015

Ordinary Is Good

I haven't done the Ten on Tuesday for a few weeks, but this week's topic is one that really appeals to me.

(Sorry for no pictures - my computer is not cooperating today!)

10 Seemingly Ordinary Things That Bring You Joy

1. Animals.  Not just my own sweeties, but ones I see all of the time, whether another dog on a walk when I'm on my way to work, a cat sitting in a window, birds and squirrels all over the place.  Animals of all kinds make me happy (including stuffed animals from my childhood!).

2.  Trees.  They all have stories.

3.  Flowers.  They make me smile.

4. Teapots.  Yes, they provide nice hot tea when you fix it, but they are pleasing to look at as well.  Even plain ones are happy ones.

5.  Letters.  Nothing is better than a handwritten letter, and they are increasingly rare.

6.  Books.  Even just seeing books on a shelf is pleasing to me.

7.  Tomatoes.  Real tomatoes that you can only get in the summer.  (They are one of the very few things I like about summer.)  Nothing tastes better than a real, fresh tomato.

8.  Our washer and dryer.  When we first moved into our house, I couldn't wait to show everyone our very own washer and dryer.  Such luxuries!

9.  Music.  Instrumental or vocal, I like most kinds and I always have some kind of music going through my head.  

10.  Waking up.  Because it's never guaranteed. 

What about you?  Do you treasure the ordinary?