19 May 2017

Five Favorites on a Friday

Hello and Happy Friday!  I only have to be at work until noon today, which is nice, though the reason is a dr's appointment.  But since (at least in theory) it's a follow-up, it should be fine.  I have my book in case there is a long wait, and it will be air-conditioned, so that will be OK as well.

Since I haven't posted five favorites for a while, I thought I'd do it again today.  It's always good to remember things that make you happy, and to have a happy outlook heading into the weekend.

1.  Getting a start on our garden.  Last Sunday, I spent some time sweeping and cleaning up in the garden.  We generally don't go out and clean it up at all during fall and winter, so there are always lots of leaves to deal with, as well as anything else that has blown in (I'm looking at you, plastic bags) or been dropped by squirrels and others.  I really accomplished a lot, and hopefully this year we'll be able to enjoy it for a while before it gets too hot and humid to be outside.  I'm hoping to find some flowers to plant so there will be some happy color.

If I may digress for a moment, I have a funny story from when I was out there.  Jetsam and Jack went out into the garden with me (Pip and the Koodle found the broom too scary, and stayed inside - wimps!), and they were having a good time, chasing bugs and just hanging out.  When it was time to come in, Jetsam came over to the door and went right inside.  I went to pick up Jack, and he ran away and "hid" in the bushes.  So I walked around the garden saying, "Jack, where did you go?  I hope you're not lost!" and all of sudden he popped up, and ran over to me as if to say, "Surprise! I'm right here!"  I picked him up and put him in the house, and he was *so* pleased with himself.  He went over to Jetsam all happy with his plan to have fooled me.  And I swear that Jetsam just looked at him with an expression that said, "Dumbass."

It was really funny.  At least to me.  Anyway.

2.  Almost finishing the Mojito socks.  I love these socks and have enjoyed knitting them so much, I kinda hate that they will be done.  But on the other hand, I know that when I open my Box 'o Socks in 2018, I will be thrilled to see and wear them.  Also, they will be a happy reminder of our trip to Puerto Rico.

3.  Deciding (well, at least 90% deciding) one of my next projects.  I came across the Sonora pattern, and fell in love!   I love it's basic-but-complicated look, and I think it would be fun to knit.  I'm not sure what yarn I will use - I have a ton of fingering/sock weight yarn, but generally one skein only of any given color, and this pattern calls for two skeins of one color and another skein of contrasting color.  I'm gonna do some stash exploration this weekend.  If nothing else, I may actually break down and buy yarn for it.  On the website, there are some suggestions for pairings using the yarn it was designed for, and they are lovely.  But I'll see what I have before doing any spending.  Next will be deciding what yarn/pattern to use for my next pair of socks.  There are *a lot* of choices there, no purchasing required!

4.  Brownies.  The Tim made brownies last weekend, and we have been enjoying one with a cup of tea in the evenings this week.  YUM.

5.  Anticipation.  Specifically, related to two things that are coming up.  One is a mysterious trek to someplace in NJ for some mysterious reason.  The Tim has been talking about this for weeks, and will not provide any details.  The only thing I know is that it was supposed to take place last Saturday, but was rained out.  So apparently it's partially or completely outside.  I'll find out tomorrow.  The other thing I'm anticipating is for next weekend, when we are heading to WV for Memorial Day weekend with the family.  It's always fun, ridiculous, and a chance to catch up with everyone.  Usually some extended family we don't usually see show up, so that's always great too.  This year, one of the extended family couples is bringing their dogs - Radar, a 3-year-old yellow Lab, and Mattis, a 9-month-old yellow Lab puppy, who is being trained to be a therapy dog for the Franklin County, Ohio, police dept.  (His full name is Mattis K. Nine, and he has his own Facebook page!)    As The Tim has pointed out, we have been puppy-deprived, so this will be an extra treat for us!

What about you?  What went on this week, or is even coming up, that made you happy?  Feel free to share, and have a lovely weekend!

Mattis K. Nine - can you stand it????

17 May 2017

New Book, Nearly Finished WIP



I just started a new book today - and so far, so good!  I won it in a Goodreads giveaway, which is always a fun thing, since it means you a) won a prize, b) you get a package in the mail!  Anyway, I'm almost 100 pages in, and am already hooked.

And sitting atop my project bag from SugarTots is the nearly finished second sock of my Mojito Socks, which I am enjoying so much, I may actually miss working on them when they are finished!

I've started to think about what project (or projects) will be next.  Because God forbid, I have *nothing* on the needles ...

Today I'm joining Kat and friends for Unraveled Wednesday - click and see what others are up to!

15 May 2017

Stick a Fork in 'Em

Because they're done.  Finished.  Finally.  It took way longer than it should have, and it put me behind on my sock goals, but as I am writing this post, they are residing in the Box 'o Socks.


Project:  Weird Colorblock Socks
Pattern:  Pin Striped Socks, by Julia Swart (free pattern on Ravelry)
Yarn:  Knit One, Crochet Too Ty-Dy Socks, colorway 1883
Needles:  Size 1US
Modifications: None
Comments:  Ugh.  These turned out to be such a slog!  The yarn tended to split, which was frustrating.  And the color changes were hard to figure out (or not, as you seen in the photo).  And then of course, the use of the Afterthought Heel.  NEVER AGAIN.

I don't have a problem with a heel flap/gusset construction, but in the interest of broadening my knowledge and experience, decided to try the Afterthought Heel.  So many people I know use it all the time, and rave about it.  On the first sock I tried to install the heel, I messed up so badly, I had to cut the socks in half and re-knit the foot and toe.  Then I managed to get the heel into that sock, but it wasn't pretty, and there are a bazillion ends where the yarn kept splitting/breaking.  Yesterday, I sat down to put the heel into the second sock, and though previous experience made it go faster, it was still annoying and I'm not completely happy with the result.  After all of the work put into the socks, I have a sneaking suspicion the heels won't do well with a lot of wear and tear, and that makes it even more frustrating.

But - they are finished.  I tried them on, and they fit.  They're in the box and I'm moving on.  I am hoping that being away from them for a while before wearing them will bring back my initial fondness for how they looked, and that they will prove me wrong and last a while.  It's very disappointing to have a project that you just want to get out of the way.

But I was neither impressed nor pleased with the Afterthought Heel.  As I said above, I don't mind the heel flap/gusset construction, and when you finish the toe, the whole sock is finished - all that's left to do is weave in the ends.  Granted, you may still end up with an attack of Second Sock Syndrome, but you won't end up with socks that are finished but not quite.

Of course, I also don't mind knitting with double-pointed needles, so maybe it's just me ... ?

Regardless, another pair for the box.  :-)

12 May 2017

Furball Friday

(Photo taken January 8, 2017)

Jetsam - and everyone else at our house - hopes you have a lovely and relaxing weekend! 


Who would believe such pleasure from a wee ball of fur?
- Irish saying

10 May 2017

Unraveled Wednesday, Indeed

I finally have my act together enough to join Kat and some others for Unraveled Wednesdays.  I would keep meaning to join in, but would either forget or not have any pictures handy to share.

Today is indeed unraveling for me, in the emotional sense.  The past week or so has been really difficult health-wise, for myself and some other family members as well.  Nothing like having it all piled on at once.  Because we cannot just stop and go back to bed and shut out the world though, there's no choice but to manage as well as you can at any given moment, and we're trying.  Sorry to be vague, but it's not anything I can bear to go into right now.  I'm sure that soon you'll hear all about it whether or not you want to!

So, as I often say, Onward.

I have two finished socks to show you today - but they are not a pair.  (Kinda like the joke of when is a door not a door?)


The sock on the left is the first Mojito sock, finished on Monday evening.  I love the colors, and can't wait to cast on for sock #2.  But before I do, I wanted to at least put the Afterthought Heel in one of the socks I finished before we went on our trip.  So I did that yesterday afternoon, after getting home from a dr appt.  And I *will* do the other sock as well, but not right away, since the first one was not pleasant.  I am however, determined to finish the socks, so it will happen at some point.  (Warning: in some post in the near future, you will have to hear my ranting about the Afterthought Heel.  In a nutshell; Not a fan.)

When Knitting Annoys - film at 11!

The book is one I started this past weekend.  I'm not very far into it yet, but I'm finding it very interesting.  I heard about it on the Treehouse Knits podcast, where she mentioned that she and another podcaster have a reading group (and of course I am too lazy to locate the links that would actually help you find it.  Sorry about that).  I borrowed it from the library, to see what I think.  It's one of those books that if I had to read it for a class, or for formal discussion, I'd be worried because there's a lot of information and dates from B.C.; but since I'm reading it for my own purposes, I'm doing OK because I feel no pressure to remember every single specific fact.

I'm also listening to the audio book Messenger of Truth, by Jacqueline Winspear. Needless to say, it's much lighter and easier to manage, story wise.  It's funny because this is the fourth in the Maisie Dobbs series, and I realized that they have all been audio books so far - I haven't actually "read" any of them!  But I do enjoy them, and the narrator's voice seems appropriate for the time period when they take place.

So that's it for today from me.  What about you?  What are you up to with your reading, knitting, and listening?

P.S. I hope none of you are unraveling, in any sense of the word!  :-)

08 May 2017

Puerto Rico Vacation: Copamarina, The Plant Life

Well, that was a lost weekend.  My cold or whatever it is moved to the next level.  Finally today the dr gave me some meds, so hopefully I'll feel better (and get some sleep) soon.  Ugh.

BUT - let's move on to happier topics, and pretty pictures.  In my second installment of our time at Copamarian, I'm sharing photos of the plant life.  (If you missed the first part, where I show you the views there, check out this post.)

This first photo is specifically for Dee, who I know has orchid plants, and seems to have real luck growing them.  It was not an uncommon sight in Puerto Rico to see orchid plants attached to trees!  So pretty, but also surprising.


And here for your enjoyment, are the other photos.



























06 May 2017

Puerto Rico Vacation: Copamarina, The Views

When we originally visited Puerto  Rico some years back for a niece's wedding, we had gone a week ahead of the date to do some exploring of the island, figuring it might be a while until we had a chance to return (and it was - 8 years!).  The place that we most loved was in a small town callled Guanica, on the south coast of the island, and it was a resort called Copamarina.  It is truly one of the most beautiful, magical places we'd ever visited anywhere, and we have always talked about how wonderful it was.

So when we planned our trip this time, we knew that we would have to go back.  Copamarina is a resort in the sense that it is a beautiful place on the Caribbean coast, where the accommodations are lovely, but not fancy.  It's the surroundings that are the stars.  They have managed to build a place where every room looks out onto the grounds and the Caribbean.  Everyone has a porch or patio, and the rooms are small but comfy and just feel relaxing.  We were hoping that it had not become fancier since we visited, and we were lucky, as the only thing different was the addition of a children's pool and play area, and a small restaurant (which was a good thing, because the town is a long drive  on a curvy, dark road, and when you finally get there, there really isn't much "there" as the town is mostly agriculture).

What did we "do" while in Copamarina?  We just vacationed.  Swam, walked, sat on our patio, sat on lounge chairs in the water during low tide.  Read.  Knitted.  Laughed.  And just enjoyed being in a place that really seems like a paradise.

This is the first post about Copamarina, and the photos are of the views.  The next post will be of the plant life there.  I think you'll be able to see why we feel it is so special.  Enjoy.













(This is our patio, with The Tim sitting there, reading.  My niece and her husband were in the room to your left, looking at this photo.)

05 May 2017

Cinco for Friday-o

Yes, I know that is not the Spanish word for "Friday" - deal with it.

Hooray for Friday!  Hooray for Cinco de Mayo!  This has been a tough week, let me tell you.  It's always hard to come back after a vacation, so that was a given.  But I still have a cold, and the cough is just painful and relentless, and it's been hard to get a good night's sleep.  Then at work, I was called into the President's Office and lambasted for being rude to a "VIP" on a tour.  Last week, when I was in Puerto Rico.  Apparently my rudeness spans the time-space continuum.  I did mention that I was not here next week, and the response was "Nevertheless, remember to be polite in the future."  Grrrr.  Work is quite possibly the only place where I actually am so polite it is somewhat sickening.

Anyway, moving on.

So it's Friday, and it's Cinco de Mayo, and The Tim told me that tonight he is making guacamole.  Therefore, all is right with the world.  :-)  Guacamole cures all for me.

And now it's time for my Friday-o Cinco:

1.  Trumpcare.  I hope it is called that for all time, particularly since I know it annoys him.  I hope the Senate does something to prevent it passing altogether, especially since one of the meds I use twice a day, every single day could possibly go from $30.00 for a month's worth, to $420 a month.  But the real thing that upsets me is that it appears that it's more important for rich people to get their way, than for kindness to prevail.  I will never be OK with that.

2.  Jetsam.  Poor kitty, he had his teeth cleaned this week, and they had to pull a bunch of them, because he has tooth resorption, which I'd never heard of until they said Pip had it.  Anyway, he is fine, but you can tell he is uncomfortable.  I'm looking forward to giving him extra cuddles this weekend.  He is such a sweetie, and a good cat, that it is extra sad to see him not being his usual self.

3.  The Tim has to work both days this weekend, which sucks, but since the weather is supposed to be less than stellar, at least we're not missing prime outside time.  I have to say, I'm enjoying what actually seems like springtime weather for a change.  Usually we have a couple of day that make you happy, thinking spring has arrived, and then it's 90 degrees and humid for the duration.

4.  We went to see "Mark Twain Tonight!" with Hal Holbrook last night, and it was so great.  Holbrook is still doing the show, and he is 90 years old!  It was amusing, topical, poignant, and amazing that someone that age can still do a nearly two-hour, one-man show that is fresh and entertaining.  If you have to live that long, that has to be the best way to age.

5.  Knitting.  This weekend may be the weekend where things are tried, and hopefully even accomplished.  I am nearly done with sock #1 of my Mojito socks, so they are my happy knitting and consolation if other things don't work out well.  I may attempt the Afterthought Heel on my other pair of socks, and/or sewing together the blocked pieces of my Custom Fit sweater.  Before attempting either activity, I shall make certain there is plenty of wine in the house ...

What about you?  Are there at least 5 things that are rolling around in your brain today?  Now that I've shared those, I can concentrate on the important things rolling around in mine (a. the weekend, b. GUACAMOLE).

Whatever is rolling around in your brain, or whatever your weekend plans are, have a good one!

Oh ... and:


02 May 2017

Queen of the Angels

May has arrived.  As happens every year, I am immediately taken back to my school years, particularly those in Catholic schools, where May was the Month of Mary.  As in Mary, the mother of Jesus, the Blessed Virgin, etc.  All through the month, there would be special programs to honor her.


Two were my particular favorites:  May Devotions, and the May Procession.  For anyone who was a child in Catholic school at a certain period of time, these were a Big Deal.

May Devotions were not necessarily a thing at every parish, but at the ones where I grew up between 4th and 8th grades, they were.  They took place each weekday evening, usually at ~ 7 p.m.  If you had flowers available to you (even dandelions were acceptable), you would pick a few and head to church.  The usher would open the church doors, and you would file in an orderly fashion (well, for the kids at least, the adults did pretty much their own thing) into pews, and the service would start.  First up was my favorite part: the priest would enter the sanctuary, and come to the front of the altar rail with a basket.  Then everyone who had a flower would go up to the front of the church, and lay the flower in the basket, while everyone sang this hymn:

Bring flowers of the rarest,
Bring flowers of the fairest, 
From garden, and woodland
And hillside and dale.

Our full hearts are swelling,
Our glad voices telling
The praise of the loveliest
Rose of the Vale.

Oh Mary, we crown thee with blossoms today,
Queen of the Angels, Queen of the May!
Oh Mary, we crown thee with blossoms today,
Queen of the Angels, Queen of the May!

(I still sing this in my head during the month of May. Also - the world "vale"!)

The basket of flowers would then be placed in front of the statue of Mary, given prominent place on the altar during May.  Then there would be a couple of prayers led by the priest, one of the litanies recited, and we would leave to the sounds of one of the other hymns about Mary.

Total time:  approximately 30 minutes.  I loved it - flowers, singing, not much time spent in church, no boring sermon, and the evening still young.  

But the big deal of May - I mean BIG DEAL. in that we took time out of the school day to practice for it - was the May Procession.  It was generally held on Mother's Day (sappy but true), and was a major event when you usually got a new dress or maybe at least a new pair of shoes.  And the May Queen and Her Court would be named (probably by the nuns, I don't know.  It was usually a group of girls who seemed particularly holy).  The May Queen was either an 8th grader (elementary school) or a senior (high school), and she got to wear A GOWN, place a crown of amazingly pretty flowers on the head of the statue of Mary, and lead us in the Memorare:

Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thy intercession was left unaided. Inspired with this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins, my Mother; to thee do I come; before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me. Amen.  

Amazing stuff, and such an honor to the be the May Queen!  The closest anyone in our family ever got was the time in high school when my sister Mary Ellen was on the May Queen's Court.  (She was *very* holy.  Now she is an atheist.)

The church would be packed to the gills for the May Procession, and the dramatic parts were worked into the regular Sunday Mass.  But oh the pageantry, the incense, and the "specialness" of the whole thing was just intoxicating as a kid.  Especially since it was one of the rare times when females were the focus of church events.  

For better or for worse, this is all a thing of the past now.  I don't know of any churches that still have formal May Processions.  But every year I am reminded of the anticipation, the mystery, and the events that made May so special, even for a kid who was not necessarily ever very "holy."

*****

On a slightly related note, I read this article yesterday, and found it quite interesting.  (And no, I'm not trying to turn anyone into a Catholic, or a believer.  It just so happens that this article is in a Jesuit publication.  What can I say, I have catholic tastes in reading!  (See what I did there?)

Do you have any special things that May brings to mind?

01 May 2017

Puerto Rico Vacation: Part 1, Fajardo

We arrived home this past Saturday, late afternoon, from our week in Puerto Rico.  The whole thing was perfect - no problems on either of our flights, no problems with reservations where we were staying, and the weather was great.  One day it was slightly humid, but it was mostly in the high 70s/low 80s, and though it would rain a few times, it was 15-20 minutes and then the sun came back.

We had lucked out because we got some nice deals on places to stay that we otherwise would not have been able to afford.  These are the kind of places that some people might always visit, but for the four of us, it was a real treat!

Our first place was in Fajardo, which is a really lovely waterfront town about 1 hour from San Juan.


After we checked in, we walked on to the hotel balcony to take a look around, and find a spot for some late lunch/early diner.  The view is shown above.


Our room had what was called "the garden view."  In the background of the picture, you might see some teeny tiny white things - that's the skyline of San Juan!

The resort was just beautiful - there was even a resident kitty, named Dottie!  She especially liked us. since we had cat treats.


We had made reservations to take the ferry to Palomino Island on the second day, and go horseback riding.  Unfortunately, the trails were too wet (they go up along mountain trails on the island), so they didn't want to risk the horses getting injured.  All of the horses are rescues, and they rehabilitate them and socialize them.  At this time there are sixteen horses (and I realize that my niece Amanda is the one with all of the horse pictures on her camera!)  But it was still a wonderful place to spend the day, and besides the horses, we saw a lot of other critters!


The ferry at the dock.  The ride both ways was kinda crazy, since the water was really choppy!

Here are some of our first views of and from the island:





We saw lots of chickens (including a hen with chicks!), some roosters, and some iguanas.






The roosters were, of course, ridiculously noisy!  Talk about strutting your stuff ...


The iguanas were busy basking in the sun.

This pictures makes me laugh - I call it "An iguana and a rooster walk into a bar ..."


It was a beautiful day, even with a couple of quick rain showers, and we walked all around the island.  We were there from bright and early in the morning until about 1:00, when we headed back on the ferry and took a little break before going to the pool to hang out for a while.

We had a truly amazing dinner (I had vegetarian mofongo and a mojito), at a place called La Estacion, that used to be a gas station.  It was recommended to us by the man who was in charge of the horses, and it did not disappoint.  The Tim also had the mofongo, Pat had grilled red snapper, and Amanda had grilled lobster.  With various drinks of course.  All the food was declared yummy and amazing, and we all ate too much.  But it was worth it - we were on vacation, after all!

We also had an "adventure" involving a trip to a local K Mart because both The Tim and Pat needed belts (a ridiculous story no matter how you look at it), so by the time we got back to our rooms, it was kind of late, and we'd had a busy day.  So we had a nightcap in Pat and Amanda's room, and then we all turned in since the next day we had a bit of a drive to our next destination.

My cold was in full force, but since everything was so leisurely, it was OK.  I'm sure there were others around us though who wondered why someone who seemed to be hacking up her guts and blowing her nose a bazillion times was out of the hospital ... :-)

Suffice it to say that last Monday was a WHOLE LOT better than this Monday was!