15 December 2018

Blogger Is Not Being Festive

It seems that every once in a while without warning, Blogger decides to mess with me.  And I can never figure out why, or what happened.  Recently, it has not been allowing me to comment on some - but not all - blogs, even after logging in, completing the Captcha, proving I'm not a robot, etc.  Then this morning, I realized it never published my post from yesterday, though it shows as published in the list of posts.  Blogger, this is not festive AT ALL, and I do not appreciate it.  I'm guessing Santa and the elves are annoyed with  you as well ...

So if one day, a random post dated December 14, 2018 shows up, don't blame me!

Anyway, I'll repeat the photo I showed in yesterday's post, because I think you'll all enjoy it.  I think I have mentioned that the kitties, who are used to Dug, can't figure out why Hamlet didn't want to immediately cuddle and be friends with them.  Hamlet was never really around cats, so when he joined the family, he was not in any way aggressive, he just wasn't sure what to do.  He has gotten better, but he still doesn't quite get it when they try to cuddle.  But the other day, the Koodle got ever closer to his eventual goal.


Hamlet was snoring here, but as soon as I picked up the camera to take a photo, that one eye opened, which made me laugh!

Anyway, in today's post. I wanted to show you some photos that made me very happy!  You may or may not remember, a couple of years ago, I knitted hats for all of my nieces' husbands and significant others.  I got lovely thank yous, and was 99% sure they liked them, so that was nice.  But recently, my niece Amanda and her husband Patrick took a trip to Switzerland.  The photos they posted on Instagram and Facebook were so pretty, so Christmas-y, and made it look just as you imagine.  Then this morning, Patrick posted two photos on my Facebook timeline, thanking me for the socks I'd knit him a few years before, and the hat, saying that it kept him warm in Switzerland, and that he got lots of compliments on his hat from the Swiss "and one guy from Croatia." 



I told him thank you of course, but said that I'm glad my knits got to travel, even if I didn't! 

But seriously, you can bet that he and Amanda will get more knits - they would have anyway, as they are both extremely knitworthy, but this takes it up a whole 'nother level.

That's it for today.  Hopefully this will not just show up as "published" but will actually really *be* published!  I hope you are all having a good weekend.  We are cozy inside listening to Christmas music and doing Christmas things, while it is a rainy day outside.  It doesn't get much better than that.

13 December 2018

Especially Special

Most of our Christmas decorations and ornaments on our tree have a special meaning to us - we can tell you where we got them, who gave them to us, etc.  Since today is Three on Thursday, I have decided to share three things are are "especially special" to us.

This wreath:

This is one of the very first Christmas decorations we ever had as a couple.  When The Tim was in graduate school at Notre Dame, and we lived in married student housing, we had a small apartment and the door was in an enclosed hallway.  We wanted a wreath or some kind of decoration for the door, but couldn't really afford to buy one.  A fellow student of his suggested we do what she did and make one using materials from a local craft store.  Success!  This has traveled from apartment to apartment with us, and now to our house, where it hangs inside the front door.  Every year, I expect that I will pull it out of the package and it will be a mess, but it's hung in now since the Christmas of 1978.

This Rudolph and Santa:

(OK so this is two things, but they are ALWAYS together!)  The little stuffed Rudolph was a promotion from Duracell back in 1984 or 1985 - you sent in proof of purchase, and they sent you this stuffed toy, and he had a Duracell battery in his nose - when you press his one ear, the nose lights up!  I have to give them credit, it lit up until 2 years ago, so it did last a good long time.  (You can't replace it without tearing him apart, so we are living with a non-glowing Rudolph now.)  

The stuffed Santa is from a kit bought at JoAnn Fabrics the first year we lived in Philadelphia, which was 1991.  I had gone to look for fabric to make stockings for the kitties and though I didn't find that, I did find this kit.  It was simple to sew together, and like so many of our decorations, manages to look just as good from year to year.  Our cat Hannah used to love the jingle bell on the end of Santa's cap, and would sleep next to these two on the couch for most of Christmastime.

This Yule Woodsman:

I knitted this tiny guy (well, actually I knit two - the one above was for a swap, and then I knitted one for us) from a kit probably at least 15 years ago.  He hangs on our tree every year, and always seems just as happy to be there as we are to see him.  I am always amazed that I was able to successfully make two of these that turned out to look like they were supposed to look, since I was a fairly new - and not overly confident - knitter at the time.  

What about you - do you have any holiday items that are "especially special?"  Or, alternatively - any that you keep, but you don't really know why??

12 December 2018

Some Holiday Enjoyment for You ...

for all the wrong reasons.  Clearly, they spent tens of cents on the production values for this.

11 December 2018

A Missed Day, But Back on Track

Hello all - well, I missed posting yesterday, as I was dealing with a gastrointestinal bug, and basically spent the day in the bathroom.  It was frustrating, to say the least, but fortunately today is better, so I'm back.  :-)

How are all of your holiday preparations going along?  We are doing pretty well, which is a nice feeling.  Some plans got interrupted on Saturday, but we just moved along and it was all good.  Saturday evening, I made a batch of Butter Almond Toffee, which turned out really well.  Sunday morning, I met my friend Andrea for a coffee date, and then I came home, put dinner in the crockpot, and spent the rest of the day getting decorations out and organized.  So it was a good weekend overall.

Sunday night I woke in the middle of the night with my stomach churning, and that pretty much took care of sleeping much as well as most of Monday's plans.  Is it wrong that I am just glad it didn't ruin the weekend???

I'm not sure how the weather has been where you are, but here in Philadelphia, it's been a lot colder than it usually is this time of year, which is fine with me, but in the past few days, I've seen some interesting sights.  Granted, not everyone else bundles up like I do, but most people wear coats at least.  Last Friday, when I was walking back from my occupational therapy appt on my way to work, I saw a young woman coming towards me wearing sneakers, and a pink leotard and tutu.  No coat, no scarf, nothing else.  She did not appear to be homeless or otherwise compromised, though I wonder about her mental state.  Though maybe I shouldn't, because she didn't look like she was cold, even though the temperatures were in the high 20s.

Then this a.m., walking to work, I saw a woman with really bright green hair, short shorts and a bra top walking around.  Even if she was coming from a session at the gym, I would think that would have been an inadequate outfit.  But, who knows, maybe she is of hardy stock?

To recap, this is how I was dressed


while they were going around somewhat like this



So who knows?  Maybe *I'm* the one who's missing something ...

09 December 2018

The Second Sunday of Advent

Today I thought I would share a hymn, in honor of the day.  I have loved this one since I learned it in third grade.  To me it is an example of the mystery that Advent represents.


Have a good Sunday!

08 December 2018

Show-Off Saturday

Happy Saturday !  I'm waiting for The Tim to finish showering, and then he has offered to fix breakfast, so I figured I'd write this post while I was waiting.  I showed you the mystery packages of my Sweet Sparrow Yarns Advent Calendar a couple of weeks ago, and promised to share the contents with you.  Well, today marks eight days, and so I thought I would show you the first third of the contents. 

These colorways are, from left to right and top to bottom:  Creme de Cassis, Garland, Winter Wonderland, Red Ribbon Foxes, Tiptoe, Strega Nona, Turkish Delight, Starlight.  All are on different bases, so you also get a sampling of those as well.  

So much pretty, right???  And if I was better at photography, you'd be able to see that they are even lovelier - so far, solids, speckles, tonals, and some sparkle!  And every once in a while, an extra goody thrown in.  I am so glad I saved up to get this, I'm enjoying having a package to open every day, and even if I can't knit with it right now, just being able to do something "yarny" every day has been wonderful.

Dee asked me what I planned to make, and right now, I'm still deciding.  Since I can't knit right now, I have plenty of time to think about it ... 

But wait, there's more!  I had forgotten that I had also signed up for a stitch marker Advent Calendar from An Caitin Beag, so I have 24 tiny packages to open as well.  Here are the first eight days of those.


Again, I wish I could take better photographs, so you could see how lovely these are.  She is a jewelry maker/designer besides a knitwear designer, and some of these are just so pretty and intricate!  And being that I am always looking for stitch markers, I think I'll be glad to have all of these.

That's it for now.  Lots of things I want to do today, so after my breakfast, I'm gonna try to get moving for a fun and useful day.  I hope your Saturday is a good one as well.

07 December 2018

Trying Out TGIF

I always enjoy it when Kym does TGIF on her blog, and now Kat has done it a few times as well, so I've decided to give it a try today.

Thinking About - all of the things I want to get done around here this weekend.  None are things that will take all weekend, but all are things I need to just start, if you know what I mean.

Grateful For - the colder weather and the holiday season.  It makes me so happy, and though everyone else seems to wish it was summer, I love fall and winter and the dark nights coming early. 

Inspired By - physical and occupational therapists.  I've had enough therapy to know not just how hard they work, but how thankless it must seem occasionally.  I am always a very conscientious patient, and follow instructions, and do my assigned home exercises without fail.  But so much of the time, I see and hear others around me at the sessions that do nothing but complain, and who seem to truly believe that the therapists enjoy torturing them.  I say that as a joke, but I think you have to be foolish to really think that.  In any event, they carry on and most that I know seem to do it with a lot more grace than I could muster.

Fun - decorating the house and our tree for Christmas!  Those are two of the things on the agenda and I cannot wait.  I love it all, and we have a good time every year, remembering where we got some of our stuff, and who was with us, etc. 


Have a great weekend!

06 December 2018

Christmastime Silliness

I had something else in mind for today, but then I saw Carole's post, and decided to save that for another time, and instead do a variation of hers for Three on Thursday, because it's never a bad thing to be amused.

So here are three Christmas-related cartoons I've seen recently that amused me and that I thought I would share.

Awkward ...


Et tu, reindeer?


TRUTH.


I hope your day is a good one, without awkward moments, lame come-ons, or kids that suck.  ;-)

05 December 2018

Reading But Not Unraveling

Needless to say, I have no knitting to either talk about or show you today.  I have been enjoying my yarny Advent calendar, and once I can get some decent photos with my camera, I'll share that with you, at least what I have so far.

But I am reading away, as I have been.  You may or my not remember that I like to read holiday-themed books when the holiday is here.  So right now, I'm reading two books related to Christmastime:

This one I received as a Christmas gift a few years ago.  I lost track of it and found it last summer (not really lost, just not where I expected to find it!):


I am a big fan of P.D. James, and am happy to have some things from her that I haven't read.  This is my lunchtime read for this week.


I started this one at home last night, when I wasn't in the mood to watch TV at all.  I only have read the first chapter, but so far I'm really enjoying it.  The only other book I've read by this author is The Shell Seekers, years ago, but I remember enjoying that as well, and though it was a long book, it didn't take me long to finish.  So we'll see if this proves to be similar.

I'm joining Kat and everyonen else today for Unraveled Wednesday, so if you are interested, take a look to see what others are up to - most likely with some knitting included in their posts!

04 December 2018

Too Many Meetings

Have you ever had a day at work when, in spite of your own efforts, you can hardly get anything accomplished?  That was my day today.  And it was completely out of my control, as it was one of those days when except for about 1 1/2 hours total, I had to go to meetings.  Ugh.  I think instead of management types going on and on about teamwork, fundraising, and "getting to one" (that one makes me especially stabby), *they* should all have to attend workshops about how to run efficient meetings, and they should not be able to call a meeting until they have proven they can do it well.

In my working life, I have had only two supervisors who knew how to run a meeting. They stuck to the agenda (first of all, they had an agenda!), said what they wanted to say, left time for discussion/Q&A, and then called it quits.  Two.  Out of many, trust me.

This sums up today.


On top of everything else, we learned that there will in fact be a holiday party this year for the staff.  In the past, this has been one of the few nice things that management does for us. There's usually really nice (and tasty) food, nice music, and people enjoy it.  It's generally one evening after work and is over by 8 p.m., so people can get home before midnight (well, most people if you know what I mean ...).   Most years, it's in early or mid-December, so when nothing had been said about it, we assumed the new regime had decided not to do it.  Then today it was announced that there would be a party, later in the month - and it is pot luck.  Now, I have nothing against pot luck when I'm getting together with a few friends that I know well.  But pot luck for 125 people?  Apparently it is a cost-cutting measure.  I'm guessing it will cost less, since fewer people will show up.  A lot of people have fairly long commutes, and I can't see them finding it convenient to bring a pot luck dish with them.  Also, I'm not sure where things can be heated up, which adds another layer.   I think I'll skip it this year, because the timing is especially awful, and I don't feel like trying to carry a huge dish/pot/bag/whatever of food from home to work.  Maybe they are counting on it being a bust, so they can just skip it next year?  Who knows.

I just hope we don't have to have another meeting about it ... ;-)

03 December 2018

A Bit of Progress - I'll Take It!

First of all, it appears I'm doing Blogmas - I just realized that so far, I've posted every day in December!  Which is fine, I just had not consciously planned to do that.  I guess it's like KALs - if I don't "officially" commit, it's not a big deal ...

Anyway, today was my visit with the orthopedic surgeon.  It's eight weeks ago that I fell and broke my wrist, and I've so far had four weeks of occupational therapy.  My x-rays showed that my wrist is healing very well, which is the best news if you ask me.  And, she told me that I can "wean off" the wrist brace, giving me specific instructions for when I *should definitely* wear it - but I can do that!  She was somewhat disappointed that I was not further along with movement after four weeks of OT, but was glad with what progress I have made.  The last time I saw her, she said, "At your next appt, I want to be able to shake your hand," and we did shake hands today, so she was pleased about that (as was I).  So now my OT can begin to include strengthening exercises, and I also think that not wearing the brace 24/7 will help with my range of movement. I am due to see her again in four weeks, but my appt is in 5 weeks, since she is not in the office on New Year's Eve.  ;-)

Still no knitting though - but I'll get there!

I used a Floating Day from work and just came home after my appt and OT, and I've spent a couple of hours getting out some decorations.  I know that some people clean their house and then decorate, but I do the opposite.  Getting everything out and placed causes a bit of a mess around here, and God forbid I clean before AND after - especially now when it takes me twice as long to do anything!  Today though I just unpacked some stuff and then ran out of steam.  That's fine, it's always a process anyway.

The weekend was nice, if low-key.  The Tim got us a Christmas tree, and by yesterday the lights were on it, so we have officially started the season!  That's always a good thing, if you ask me. 

And that is the news from here. I hope all of us have a good week.  If you are celebrating Hanukkah, I hope your holiday is lovely and full of light, with hope for the next year to come.

02 December 2018

Happy Birthday, Mom

My mother as a young woman

A few years before she died, I asked my mother if she thought it would be great to live to be 100 years old.  Her response was "Oh for God's sake," in a tone that immediately let me know that she thought that was the most ridiculous thing I could have said.  It very well might have been, because it was 30+ years ago, and even then, people living to that age were very few and far between.

Today would be that day - my mother's 100th birthday.  To be completely honest, I cannot imagine her at that age.  Mostly because by the time she died, she was so sick and so frail, that even the fact that I loved her so much would not have made it worth her still being  here.  

Nonetheless, if she could have been healthy, it would be nice.  I often feel a bit jealous of my sisters, who had the chance to know both of my parents longer than I did.  They were fortunate enough to know them for a longer time when they were both healthy and energetic, and needless to say, quite a bit younger.  

Having said that, I was lucky with my mother.  For the most part she was healthy during the time I had with her.  She was incredibly smart, and often wished she had the chance when she was young to have gone to college.  She loved to laugh and have a good time, and you could not play a game with her without playing for money, even if it was a penny a point.  "It makes it a lot more interesting," she would always say - and she NEVER let you win, just because you were a kid!  She even figured out a way to play Trivial Pursuit for money ...

I do remember one time when I was young, asking her why she didn't do something, because so-and-so's mother always did it.  Her response was, "Because you are not the center of my universe."  That shocks people when I tell them, but it just seemed like her answer to me.  I never felt any less loved or cared for because of that.  And to be honest, I think it is probably good advice for any parent.

She thought The Tim was just the best.  And of course, he played up to her all the time, because he loved her too.  Her given name was Geraldine, but everyone always called her "Gerry" (though she spelled it Gere, "because my mother said, that's how it was spelled").  No matter, The Tim *always* called her Geraldine, and that was fine with her.  They had many conversations about how I was a pain in the a** (all when I happened to be right there), and often found the same things hilarious to the point of tears.  The Tim often tells me that he would give anything to hear her laugh again.

My mom's life was in no way an easy one.  Money was scarce when she was child, and when she was an adult, but life was lived anyway.   She grew up in a household where her parents were separated at a time when that was incredibly unusual, with her mother and her aunt, who was a nurse.  She knew that it was just as important for women to get an education and be able to work as it was for any man.  By the time I was able to be somewhat independent (I am the youngest child), my father was sick and she had to worry about and take care of him.  After he died, she carried on and lived her life, and kept a good attitude even when she started having her own health problems.

I wish she could have seen her grandchildren to adulthood, and known her great-grandchildren - she would be telling anyone and everyone about how wonderful they are, whether or not anyone had asked.   She would get such a charge out of everyone, and be right there with all of our ridiculousness.  

In our house, Christmastime started on December 1, but *serious* Christmastime started after her birthday on December 2.  She hated it when she was a child, and someone handed her a gift and said, "This is for your birthday and Christmas," and as a result, I *never* give anyone with a December birthday only one gift.  She adored Christmas music, and would sing along whether or not she knew the words (which admittedly drove me nuts!), often just making things up.  She and my dad made everything special,  but outdid themselves for Christmas, which is I suspect why I love it so much.

She died 30 years ago this past July.  Not a single day goes by that I don't think about her at least five times, and admittedly, I still talk to her sometimes.  When December 2nd comes along, it's always bittersweet because she loved celebrating her birthday, but she's not here to do it anymore.

And so, today, when she would have turned 100 years old (for "God's sake" or not), I hope she is celebrating with my dad, and that she knows that even 100 years would never have been long enough to have her here with me.  And that she also knows every single year, she is with me during Christmastime, along with my dad and all of the memories that make it even better.  

Happy Birthday, Mom.  Love you.

*****

This post is my first one in the 2018 Virtual Advent Tour, hosted by sprite writes again this year.  Please consider joining everyone there for at least one day - reading the posts is so fun, and it's a good way to mark Christmastime.


01 December 2018

29 November 2018

A Good Mail Day

I go to my Occupational Therapy appointments twice a week - Monday afternoons, and Friday mornings.  Each week I've had to go to my Monday session, it has either been pouring rain, or snowing/icing.  This past week, I left to go home after a particularly painful session, and when I got outside it was pouring even more than it had been when I went inside.  Traffic was seriously not moving, so I decided to walk home, since buses and trolleys were so crowded they were not even stopping.  By the time I got home, my self-pity party was off the charts.

I looked through the mail that The Tim had set on the table, and saw a package with a Customs Declaration sticker on it.  I couldn't remember having ordered anything at all from overseas, at least not in the past few months, so I was intrigued.  I opened up the package and this was inside:


Suddenly, any bad things about the day and the afternoon completely vanished!  I was so surprised and really pleased, but also mystified.  A week or so ago, someone posted a photo of this on Instagram, and I commented how I would love to have one.  But a) I didn't know where to get one, b) I didn't have any money to buy one anyway, and c) I have LOTS of tote bags, so didn't need it. 

It turns out that a long-time blogging friend who lives in Vancouver saw my comment and took it upon herself to send one to me!  She stopped blogging long ago, but I still "see" her regularly on Facebook and Instagram.  Apparently (and according to the logo in the lower right hand corner of the photo) the bags can be ordered from Ysolda.  So Maureen sent an order from Vancouver to Scotland which then got sent to me in Philadelphia - I am just flabbergasted that she thought to do this.

So, even though I didn't need another tote bag, I'm thrilled to death to have this one - I think it's especially appropriate for a knitting librarian, don't you? 

A good mail day, indeed.  Thank you so much, Maureen!

27 November 2018

Something I've Been Meaning to Tell You

I keep reliving this event over and over in my head, and not necessarily for the reasons you might assume.

The day I broke my wrist, Hamlet and I were out for a walk.  I stopped paying attention to where I was walking, and realized I was falling.  I put out my hands to break my fall, and as a result, knocked out some front teeth (that went through my upper lip to the outside, yikes!), and of course, badly broke my right wrist.  As well as some cuts and bruises, as one would expect.

I remember sitting up after I fell, and being in a bit of shock, a lot of pain, and very dismayed that something like this had happened.  Again.  I didn't see any other people around at first, and was wondering how long I would need to sit there on the sidewalk before I could manage to get up and head home (I was about 2 blocks from our house).

I heard a car door close, and someone said, "Are you hurt?"  I looked up, and a man who appeared to be in his late 30s-early 40s was standing there.  He was dressed in clothing that indicated he worked in construction or some related thing.  I told him that I was pretty sure I broke my wrist, and he offered to take me to the emergency room.  I asked if he could take me home, so I could put Hamlet in the house, and then my husband would take me to the hospital.  So he helped me get up, and helped me into his truck, and also put Hamlet in the back seat.  I gave him directions to get to our house, and he helped me out of the truck to the front door.

At this point, besides thanking him for approximately the 400th time, I asked him for his name, and/or address/e-mail so I could properly let him know how much I appreciated his help.  To which he replied, "Oh no, ma'am, I was glad to help.  And I don't want to be reported to ICE."

I can remember thinking, would someone actually DO that to someone who had helped them?  And then I realized that, yes, there are people who would do that at the first opportunity.  And I was truly saddened and ashamed to make that realization.

We tell ourselves, others, and our children that helping others is so important, and that kindness, empathy, and compassion should always inform the way we go about in the world.  Talking heads on our TVs tell us that America has become a divided nation, and children are separated from their parents indefinitely at our border.  Border agents tear gas migrants fleeing poverty and oppression, and our "leaders" say it's necessary and not that bad.

The holidays are here.  We just had Thanksgiving, where we celebrated abundance and brotherhood and were reminded to be thankful.  The season reminds us - regardless of religious beliefs or none - to remember those who are not as fortunate, and to help them if we can.  We draw closer to loved ones, realizing how lucky we are, regardless of what we complain about all of the time.

And here I am, not just thankful for the man who helped me, but frustrated that I was not able to let him know in a more coherent way how grateful I was for his help, because of a truly terrible person in charge, and his terrible, spineless allies who instead want me to turn him in because he is not here legally.

That's the end of the story, as far as my direct interaction with my helper.  But it has made me more committed than ever to do everything in my power to be like him - helping someone who needs it, even if the worst case scenario could come into play.

Say "thank you" to someone today.  Help someone if you can, no matter how big or small that help may be.  Do it because of him, and to help me pay his kindness forward.

And, lest I not take my own advice - thank you for reading and for your continued friendship and encouragement during my recovery.   You are all what the world is truly made of and what will prevail if we can just stay on track.

24 November 2018

A Bit of Catch Up

Hello and Happy Thanksgiving plus 2 days!  I hope your day was enjoyable.  Ours was quiet and very pleasant, though The Tim crashed shortly after dinner, so in some ways it was also short!  But he had been doing every single thing for the day, and I don't blame him for being tired.  We are still enjoying leftovers, so it's all good.

Yesterday was also pretty uneventful, though I managed to get some things accomplished.  The Tim had to work, so I spent the day working on putting some clothes away as best I could, and walked over to a local toy store for a Christmas gift for my youngest great-nephew, since I was afraid if I waited, the ones I wanted would be sold out.  Then I watched a Christmas movie that was so bad and so cheesy, it was good, which was pleasing. 

I finally have a few houseplants that are doing OK.  I used to have so many plants, but the light in our house is not the best.  The remaining violets I had kept getting attacked by the Koodle.  So it finally occurred to me that since the plant stands I had were just too accessible, I needed something else.  I bought one of those bakers' racks, and have some plants on the top shelf.  It's in between two windows, but not near enough to either for leaping cats to be successful.  Plus, it looks nice and I'm pleased with it.


The skinny, tall plant is from an avocado pit.  It seems quite happy, so I'm just going with it and we'll see what happens.  I'm not sure how violets would do here, but might get one or two and test it out.

The plant stand also came in quite handy for this:


A few months ago, I treated myself to a yarny Advent Calendar from Sweet Sparrow Yarns.  Jaclyn from the Brooklyn Knitfolk podcast had opened a package each day last year in her Vlogmas series, and it looked like such fun and such pretty yarns that I decided to try it.  So I saved up and signed up as soon as the slots opened.  Then I promptly forgot about it, so that when the package arrived, it was fun all over again! 

Yesterday I wanted to cheer myself up after having frustrations with my hand/wrist exercises, so I opened the package and took everything out.  The envelopes had a red and white string attached so you could hang them like a garland.  So I attached it to the aforementioned plant stand, and I love how it looks! Now from December 1 through 24, no matter what else does or does not happen in any given day, I have a little envelope to open with a yarny surprise inside!  And it also includes a full-sized surprise skein of yarn to open on Christmas Day, which is just really exciting if you ask me.  I must confess though, that even just the little envelopes, all decorated with snowflakes and a number, on the red and white string, make me smile.

My occupational therapy has been moving along.  It is extremely difficult and very painful, but I am making small progress, so it's worth it.  I have been going twice a week, and then I have exercises to do 3 times a day at home as well.  I see the orthopedic surgeon again on December 3, so I'm curious to see what she'll have to say.  The therapist assigned to me is nice, but she was a little off-putting at first, since she seemed to have the personality of General George Patton.  But I think once she could tell I was really trying, things got better. 

Tomorrow I have a haircut appointment (long story, but isn't it always?), and then I want to make one stop on the way home.  Other than that, my day will be paying bills and watching either some podcasts or if I can find one, another cheesy Christmas movie.  If the weather is as pleasant as they are predicting, Hamlet and I will probably take a nice, longer-than-usual walk as well.  Then when The Tim gets home from work, we'll have dinner and a quiet evening, probably watching some of the shows we've recorded.  A nice way to end the holiday weekend, if you ask me.

I hope all of you have a good rest of the weekend as well.  Enjoy your leftovers, if you have any!

15 November 2018

Thinking Ahead to the Weekend


You wanna hear something funny (unusual funny, not ha-ha funny)?  Thanksgiving and Christmas are of course two of the big holidays (at least in our house) and we get excited and look forward to them ridiculously.  But ... there are certain rules that are in place.

Case in point:  The Tim's birthday is always right before Thanksgiving - either a few days, or some years as long as a week before.  Therefore, we cannot "officially" begin to celebrate Thanksgiving until we have paid adequate attention to his birthday.  So, yeah, we put our the Thanksgiving decorations, and make our grocery list, but nothing gets started for the day until we've celebrated birthday day first. 

Anyway, his birthday is this coming Sunday, and this year I am somewhat limited in what I am able to do, but I have a few things I'm going to try.  This weekend has, fortunately, nothing else on the schedule, which is great since it's been a long and difficult week, but here are three things I plan to do at a minimum this weekend, in honor of Three on Thursday:

1.  Get a package organized with the pairs of birthday socks I made for my sister and brother-in-law in honor of their 70th birthdays.  If I have my act together, it could even get mailed on Saturday (but let's not get crazy here) - but even if it gets mailed on Monday, it will be there by the end of the week.  And this year, all of their daughters and families will be home for Thanksgiving and the weekend and are planning a celebration, so I wanted to send the gifts so we could be there in spirit.

2.  Figure out how to wrap The Tim's BD gifts (hello gift bags, that I can manipulate in spite of my splint!) and get them ready.  We "used" one of his gifts already last night, when we went to a production of one of our favorite musicals, "Sweeney Todd," presented by the students at the Curtis Institute of Music.  I have the pair of Christmas socks I knit for him, and plan to get him a bottle of his favorite scotch.  The cats and Hamlet are giving him Christmas pajamas, but they may not arrive before Sunday, so we'll see.  And I have decided to get a carrot cake from a bakery here that we really like, since I can't bake one myself.  He already said he wants to get Indian food delivered on Sunday, since he has to work and just wants to come home and just relax all evening. 

3.  Make my gift list for Christmas, which I have usually started well before this, but - well, you know, life.  It's not that much or that involved, but I enjoy it all more when I am organized.  Plus, it gets me in the holiday mood even more, which is never a bad thing.

This time of year is really crazy in our family - besides Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmastime, nearly everyone's birthday is between October 1 and December 30!  (Makes me really happy I'm on my own in March, lol).  But I love it, because it makes the whole time that much more fun. 

Now I just need to get through today and tomorrow at work, go to OT this evening after work and get my hair cut after work tomorrow, and I'll be all set.  I think I can, I think I can ... :-)

11 November 2018

On the Hundredth Anniversary

... of the 11th hour of the 11th year of the 11th month, I hope you will remember the young men who went to fight a war that was unlike any other, and that they were not remotely prepared to comprehend.

My mother had an uncle who fought briefly in World War I.  He was sent home with shell shock, and lived the remainder of his life in a VA hospital in Marion, Indiana.  My parents visited him once, but he of course had no idea who they were, or why they were there.  His story is one for another time.

But in the meantime, I hope that today - even if you end up in the rain - you will take a moment to say a prayer or have a thought for his soul, and all of the souls who only tried to do what was asked.

This is one of the few poems or songs that really captures the sadness of the war to me.  Have a listen, and be glad that these soldiers, those who came after them, and those who are in harm's way still, make it possible for us to have the right to rail against war.

08 November 2018

Time to Be Thankful


I just realized that two weeks from today is Thanksgiving Day, one of my most favorite of holidays.  Usually I am conscious of it well ahead of time, but I've let myself be distracted by so much this year, and it's time to make a concerted effort to get back on track.  So even though I can *easily* think of approximately 50 things right off the top of my head to complain or be upset about, I want to concentrate instead of thankfulness.  Since today is Three on Thursday, it's a good time to make note.  So, here are three things that are making me thankful.

1.  I am extremely grateful to live in an area where there are truly amazing teaching hospitals, that allow me to receive top-notch medical care.  My most recent trip to the emergency room at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (aka HUP) gave me an up-close-and-personal look at how hard the doctors, nurses, orderlies, and even the building people work on a regular basis.  Though I didn't want to be there and was upset, my care and the kindness of the staff left nothing to be desired.  My orthopedic surgeon is also stellar and everyone who works with her has been more than kind and helpful.  I know it's all of their jobs to be so, but I also know every day is not a good day, but they always put their best face forward.  God bless them all.

2.  Likewise, I am grateful that on Monday, I will begin Occupational Therapy.  I wanted to state this now, because I'm sure that once I start and they make me do things that I need to do but that are painful, it will be hard to feel grateful first and foremost.  ;-)

3.  I am thankful that I can make myself see the good things in my life.  Some days it feels like the universe and my body are busy working against me, and I get really overwhelmed by it all.  Then I tell myself to think of the good things.  Even if I don't immediately feel better, I know the fact that I can do this exercise means I'll be OK.

I hope all of you are happily looking forward to Thanksgiving as well, and that those of you who have already celebrated (hello northern friends!), or who do not observe that holiday are still finding some good things to make life worthwhile.  Take care.


03 November 2018

A Lovely Fall Saturday

Today is such a lovely fall Saturday - maybe a bit too breezy, but so nice otherwise!  Hamlet and I took a nice walk earlier, made more exciting for him by stopping at the Unleashed! store near our house and getting a toy for $2.00 - he chose a squeaky chili pepper.

A boy and his pepper toy

Then I walked up to the library to return one book (and left with two), then went on to the farmers' market which was fine, but frustrating since I can't really carry anything I wanted to buy.  But it was nice to walk around, see the goodies, pet some dogs, and come home.

A friend of ours is coming over in a few hours for a visit, so it will be nice to catch up with her.  Also, she is a night owl, so it's kinda nice she will be here earlier, so it won't be so late when she leaves.  Usually, she comes for dinner, and by the time she heads home, we're nearly comatose!

I have my next appt with the orthopedic surgeon on Monday.  There will be more x-rays, and then I'll either get a replacement of the same cast I have for a few more weeks, or get a portable cast that will come off so I can shower properly, and start some physical therapy.  It's still painful and annoying, but I know it will be for a long time, so I'm trying to not think about it too much! 

I really miss getting to knit, or stitch, or do much of anything.  I've been watching lots of knitting podcasts, which are at least like getting to hang out with some knitters.  It's a good thing I hadn't counted on knitting a lot of gifts this year, that's all I have to say.

I also missed getting out our Halloween decorations - for the first time ever, we didn't even have a pumpkin!  It never occurs to The Tim to get one, and I didn't want to press my luck with him by asking him to get one ... hopefully, I'll get a good report at the dr's and will be able to do more for Thanksgiving.  I just love having some things around to note the holiday.  The Tim likes them, but except for Christmastime, it never occurs to him to get them out for any other times.

I am able to type a bit more easily, but it's still slow and arduous.  I had hoped to do NaBloPoMo again this year, because I enjoy the challenge, but since it takes so long to type a post, I knew it was not a good idea.  Unfortunately, it means I am also not likely to do much responding to comments any time soon, and I apologize for that.  I am so happy that people are still reading and commenting, and I hope soon to be able to respond again regularly as well as regularly comment on others' blogs.  Slow and steady wins the race, I know.

And that's it for now.  I hope your weekend is lovely as well, with nice weather and good things to do.  Enjoy!

28 October 2018

Thoughts on 40 Years

At 5:30 p.m. this evening, it will be 40 years to the minute that The Tim and I have been married.  That's a really long time, no matter how you look at it.

Months ago, we discussed possible ways we could celebrate such a milestone.  As it turns out,  it's good we didn't make anything final, as we don't actually have any money to work with, and I'm not my usual barrel of fun lately anyway.

But I've been thinking about it all nonetheless.  Forty years ago, at our wedding, it was only the second wedding performed by the Jesuit priest who married us.  I think he was more nervous than we were!

My mom and godmother were there, as well as both of The Tim's parents and godparents, as well as our siblings, and their families. 

Back then, getting married in October was unusual - now it's the second most popular month for weddings.

We took our wedding gift money a week later and got our first pet - an orange canary that we named Hop Sing (we weren't allowed other pets in the apartment where we lived).  He was a sweetheart, and loved to sing along with violins in classical music on the radio.

We have always said we would never get divorced.  Not because we are so perfect, but because both of us are too stubborn to admit it isn't working.  I think that is still the case!

40 years is a long time.  The future is still out there, just not as long a road.  For the most part, we are still in good health (wrist cast notwithstanding), but it doesn't seem like the guarantee it was in 1978.  I'm pretty sure that neither of us has accomplished what we'd hoped by this time, but then again, I'm not sure my personal goals were ever that crystal clear. 

Those possibilities from 40 years ago have either been achieved in spite of ourselves, or forgotten along the way. 

Life is very different.  We are very different, individually and together.  It's a very bittersweet kind of day, but a good one.  We're both here and above ground, and for the most part we still get along. 

I guess that is what marriage is all about, and I guess 40 years later, I can say I finally get it.

And so that you don't think I'm brooding, about it all, here is what I posted on The Tim's Facebook page today.  So, so true, don't you think?? :-)


Have a good week!

23 October 2018

Book Report for July, August, and September 2018

Well, now that October is nearly over, why don't I let you know what I thought about the books I read in the three previous months?  It will also allow me to do a post easily, since it will mostly be cut and paste.  So here you go!

Hair of the Dog, by Laurien Berenson.  I have been reading these books out of order, but it's not really a problem, since each stands well enough on its own. 

In this one, Melanie Travis' aunt, Peg, who is a breeder of Standard Poodles and a force unto herself, holds a Fourth of July barbecue.  Because it is on the weekend of a major regional dog show, most of the whos-who group is in attendance, with one noticeable exception.  An important - but shady - breeder and handler has been murdered. 

Aunt Peg is determined to find out what happened, and turns to Melanie to help her.  At first there are a number of suspects, but when another murder happens, it gets even murkier as to what might be happening. 

I like this series because the character of Melanie is pretty much a normal person, a single mom with a boyfriend, but the books focus more on the characters and mysteries more than being all about romance.

This was the perfect read for a trip to the beach!

The Book of Essie, by Meghan MacLean Weir.  Esther Anne Hicks - or Essie, as we meet her - is known as part of the Six for Hicks family, part of a reality show about her family and her father's form of religion, which some think of as a cult.   Essie has spent the bulk of her life in front of the camera.  She is now seventeen years old, and pregnant.  Her mother sees this as a crisis that must be dealt with and calls in the producers and others involved in the show to determine what should happen.  Essie has her own plan.  She has been watching a senior at her school, Roarke Richards, and knows he has a secret to hide as well. 

Eventually, Essie's plan comes into focus - she and Roarke will be married, and it will be part of a blockbuster ratings for the family show.  Win-win, right?

Well, the book takes us through the entire process, each chapter being from the viewpoint of a different character, including conservative reporter Liberty Bell, who we learn has her own backstory and experience of fanaticism.  Essie asks Liberty to find her older sister Lissa, who left to go to college, but has never come back to visit - though she has been photoshopped into photos at holidays, etc.  Essie turns out to be more observant than we might have originally given her credit for, as we learn how she feels about the rest of her family, and their on-screen lives.

This is a book that I have to admit confirmed a lot of suspicions I have always had about people who were "too" religious.  My own biases, for sure, but some of the things that were said and done in the story, and the concern with appearances and how things would play for ratings seemed all to real.

This book was much better than I expected it to be.  Every time a twist or turn would happen, and you thought you were headed one way, it would veer in a completely different direction.  It's a book about family, but also about how difficult it can be to become your own person, whether in a group that is related, or just in the world at large.  It is also a reminder that appearances can truly be deceiving, and that public and private faces are often not the same.

Blood Orange, by Susan Wittig Albert.  I usually enjoy this series, though I have never read any of it in any order.  This book was no different - enjoyable, even though there were new characters that I'm sure were introduced previously. 

When China Bayles rents her B&B cottage associated with her business to a young woman named Kelly that she knows who is going through a divorce, she assumes it won't be any big deal.  But when, the day after arriving, the woman is missing, and all of her personal effects as well as her purse, car, and clothing are found in the B&B cottage along with an unusual footprint on the carpet.  Her inquiries lead to her finding that the woman rushed out of the cottage and into a van with a strange man. 

A few days later, when the woman calls China to say that she is OK, but would like to meet with her to discuss a murder, they make plans to meet at China's house.  But the young woman never arrives, and we learn she was in a terrible car accident on the way to meet with China and is on life support.  The friend that she was staying with contacts China and hands her a flash drive from the victim's computer.  Between the two of them, they figure out that there was some suspicious activity happening at the hospice where Kelly was working. 

China begins to do some poking around and is close to uncovering a huge case of Medicare fraud when things start to go south for her. 

This was a good read and though I figured out what was going on, I didn't figure out the suspects until near the end.

There are also some really yummy recipes at the end of the book.

One of Our Thursdays Is Missing, by Jasper Fforde.  In this installment of the Thursday Next series, the *written* Thursday finds out that the *real* Thursday has mysteriously disappeared, and sets out to see if she can be found.  As usual, there are the usual ups and downs of the Book World, along with amusing characterizations of literary characters and interesting/funny names (for instance, did you know that the Great Gatsby had two brothers, named Moderate Gatsby and Lesser Gatsby?). 

I liked this book well enough, but frankly enjoyed the other ones more, where Thursday herself (as opposed to the written Thursday) is the main character and where she is narrating the story.

The Nature of the Beast, by Louise Penny.  Another excellent Inspector Armand Gamache story.  Gamache and his wife Reine-Marie have retired to Three Pines, and are enjoying their quiet, comfortable life there.  One day, Laurent - a young boy in the village prone to tall tales - shows up warning everyone that there is a gigantic gun in the forest that will kill all of them.  Everyone hears his warning, and takes it for what they assume it is, one of his drastic scenarios.  But the next day, his body is found, and the investigation turns up some extremely disturbing information.  Gamache becomes involved in an unofficial way, but is crucial to helping solve the crime.

This book was disturbing in many ways, dealing with international arms dealing, weapons of mass destruction, and bringing  up suspicions about some of the townspeople and visitors.

A Fool and His Monet, by Sandra Orchard.  This was a fun, and also interesting read.  We are introduced to Serena Jones, a newly-minted FBI agent with a background in art history, and a mother who just wishes she would find a husband and have children.

As the book opens, Serena is completing her first undercover operation and though the end result is what she wanted to happen, things didn't go perfectly and now she is worried that someone is after her.  She gets a distraction of a sort when her friend Zoe, a director at an art museum asks her to investigate two paintings that they have just realized are missing from inventory.  No one is exactly sure when they disappeared, but Serena jumps in and begins the investigation.

I enjoyed this book because there were a lot of humorous incidents and comments, but it was also enough of a good mystery to keep you wondering what actually happened, and when, to the missing paintings. 

I think I'll definitely read another part of this series.

Claws for Concern, by Miranda James.  I enjoy this series.  In this book, Charlie Harris and his cat Diesel are solving mysteries again, but things are different than usual.   Charlie makes the acquaintance of an elderly gentleman during one of his days working in the library.  The man asks him if he has ever heard of someone in the town, and as it turns out, the person being asked about is Charlie's late uncle.  It turns out that his uncle was previously married and divorced before marrying Charlie's late aunt, and the elderly gentleman is his son. 

Charlie considers asking the elderly man to move into his house, as he knows that what his aunt would want him to do.  But he soon learns that the elderly man is someone who was thought to have gotten away with murdering a family years ago.  And a true-crime writer contacts Charlie about a book he wants to write about the murder, asking for Charlie's help. 

An interesting entry into the series, and the ending has a nice twist to it.

Under the Harrow, by Flynn Berry.  One Friday evening, Nora Lawrence takes the train from London to go north and spend the weekend with her sister Rachel.  When she arrives, she finds her sister and her sister's dog murdered.  What follows is the story of how she deals with the next few weeks, and the search for the killer.

I really liked the way this book moved along, showing us bits and pieces of things as they were discovered or imagined by Nora.  At one point, Nora is considered a suspect, and I started thinking to myself, "Goddammit, this is gonna be like 'Girl on a Train' which I hated and made me stabby," but fortunately that was not the case, and the story continued to be as interesting as it had been. 

I'm curious to read the author's next book, which I think came out quite recently.

We Should All Be Feminists, by Ngozi Chimamanda Adichie.  Based on a TED talk given by the author, this is short and straightforward enough that everyone should read it.  Then think about it.  Then read it again.  And then, if you still do not consider yourself a feminist or want to live your life as a feminist, I don't know what else to tell you. 

Worth every minute of my time, and every word read.

The Secret, Book, and Scone Society, by Ellery Adams.  This was a book that I came across on a list of cozy mysteries, that I wasn't too sure I wanted to read.  However, I wasn't sure if I actually wanted to buy it.  So when I saw it at the library, I decided to give it a try. 

Admittedly, at first I thought it was gonna be one of those stories of people with magical powers that I find annoying.  The good surprise was that it is in fact a story of people with magical powers - but within themselves and their personalities, which I can deal with.

The main character, Nora Pennington, is a former librarian who, after a failed marriage and terrible auto accident, has moved to Miracle Springs to start fresh.  She has a bookstore, and her "power" is that she can match up a person with books that will help them deal with something in their lives.  She meets a man in the beginning of the book who is in town and says he wants to make amends.  Shortly afterwards, he is found dead on the train tracks.

The more that Nora and her acquaintances (who become her friends) think, talk, and find out about it, they more they feel that he was murdered, and they decide to find out exactly what happened.  As the story goes on, their are more murders that just seem to *have* to be connected. 

I liked this book because the mystery was interesting, but also because the characters were intriguing.

Fascism : A Warning, by Madeleine Albright.  This relatively short book is worth reading if you at all care about what is currently happening in this country and around the world.  I was expecting it to be quite academic, wonky, and dry.  It is academic, it is by someone who is a political wonk on the highest level, but it is not dry.

Albright does a wonderful job of illustrating the phrase, "Those who do not read history are doomed to repeat it" in this book, discussing what fascism is and how it begins.  She uses examples of past and more recent fascists to show how changes that seemed small at the time fed into the growth of fascism, and warns that democracy in the U.S. is being attacked from every side.  She sees Donald Trump and his true followers as dangerous (I agree) and does a compare-and-contrast to explain her viewpoint.

I enjoyed this book much more than I expected to, though I thought I would enjoy it nonetheless. 

One chilling thing I learned reading this:  When Mussolini came into power in Italy, it was with the promise to "drain the swamp."  Terrifying.

A Murder for the Books, by Victoria Gilbert.  Amy Webber left a job at a university library to become the director of a small public library in small-town Virginia, where she lives with her aunt in the family home.  She is trying to make a new start, and in spite of being underfunded, she enjoys her new environment and is making friends.

Then a local person is murdered in the archives.

Along with a new next-door neighbor, who is more attractive than Amy would wish, she starts to try and learn what happened.  After a start, it appears to have a connection to a disaster that took place years ago, as well as a murder trial from the past.  What they learn is a series of clues that are related to the past having an immediate effect on the present, and involving both of their families.

This book was enjoyable enough.  Sometimes keeping track of the players from the past was confusing, but it was well-written.

The Ninth Hour, by Alice McDermott.  Another gem from Alice McDermott, though maybe not as transparent as some of her previous books.  The book begins with the suicide of a young man who feels unfairly treated by his bosses at the subway, and somewhat badgered by his wife.  We come to learn that is wife is expecting a baby, though he never found out.

In nineteenth-century Brooklyn, a lot of the work of nursing the poor fell to Catholic nuns.  They take in the young mother and her baby, and the baby, Sally, grows up as a "convent girl" her mother works at the convent, and when she is not in school, she is there with her mother until the evening when they return to their apartment.  Though the book is not about the father's suicide per se, it is the impetus for the lives his family lives all of the years afterwards.  At the time, a suicide was considered a scandal, and salvation and entry to heaven were automatically denied.  Sally and her mother live lives that are a result of this, though it's not necessarily evident.

The narrators tend to switch from time to time, which at first is off-putting, but Alice McDermott's writing keeps you reading. 

I enjoyed this book, but it may be that if you did not grow up in an Irish-Catholic family, surrounded by nuns a lot of the time, it might seem unappealing.  I could understand that, but I still feel it's a book worth reading.

*****

I do apologize for not responding to comments, or commenting on your blogs recently and for the near future.  I can type a bit more easily now, but it's still ridiculously tedious.  But know I'm still reading, and that I love reading the comments you leave!

That's it for now.  :-)

18 October 2018

Three Knits That Are Not Going Anywhere

For today's Three on Thursday, I am sharing three knitting projects that are going nowhere fast.


This is my Weekender sweater in progress, which I am actually calling The Neverender.  I have thoughts about this project, which I will share at another time (see below).


Next up, my Tart shawl in progress.  This one is enjoyable to knit.


And last but not least, my 1st Down Socks, in a colorway called Fly, Eagles Fly!

Why are these going nowhere?  Because I have not been able to knit at all, period.  Approximately an hour after hitting the publish button on my last post, I was walking Hamlet and not watching where I was walking, and I tripped.  I broke two teeth, and my right wrist.  I had surgery on my wrist last Friday, and am headed to the dentist's office in 10 minutes.  Until yesterday, I had a hard time with just about everything.  I go back to see the surgeon on Monday, to a) see how/if things are healing, and b) if I can return to work.

Yep, life has been a treat lately.  One-handed typing is the least of my problems, but so annoying, it's why this is all I'll probably have to say for a bit.

 As my mother used to say, it's either an ass or an elbow ...

08 October 2018

FO: Blackbird Socks

Hello!  The beauty of the Internet is that you don't have to listen to me coughing and hacking while trying to type this - trust me, you should appreciate it.  :-)  I'm feeling better, and will be back at work tomorrow.  My dr said that in a perfect world, it would be good to stay put for another week, but she understands my situation, and said just to do the minimum (so I don't get fired!) and go home if I am really struggling.  I'm at home today because we are off for Columbus Day.  Regardless of how you feel about Christopher Columbus, I am grateful every year for a day off.  I guess that's a perfect case of situational ethics.

But I digress.  I am more than grateful for all of your kind words wishing me well.  It's always so nice to know others are thinking of you and giving you a virtual hug. 

Moving on, it's time for an FO post - hooray!!

You may remember this post, where I discussed making a pair of socks for my brother-in-law Patrick on the upcoming occasion of his 70th birthday.  Well, my sister is also turning 70 years old this year, and so she needed an appropriate pair of socks to mark the occasion too.


Project:  Blackbird Socks
Pattern:  Classic Socks for the Family (my go-to vanilla sock pattern)
Yarn:  Must Stash Yarn Must Match Sock Yarn, The White Album, Disc B colorway
Needles:  US size 1
Modifications:  None
Notes:  Another good one from Must Stash Yarns!  I just did a 2 x 2 ribbed cuff, and then 3 x 1 ribbing for the entire sock.  These went quickly, because of course, I kept wanting to see what happened next.  And this particular yarn colorway was an obvious choice because the White Album was not just amazing, but the song "Julia" inspired the name of one of my nieces.  I call these Blackbird Socks because that's one of the songs on Disc B, and the light gray, dark gray, black stripes made me think of a blackbird in the dead of night - a different "color" depending on where and when you see or hear one, and how much lighting you do or do not have.

I can't wait to send both of these pairs of socks along to the respective recipients.  I'm also going to send a couple of hats to my sister, who recently finished chemo and has requested some soft but cozy hats. 

Even though opening the packages is bound to lead to more "Why Didn't We Go To Woodstock/To See the Beatles," etc. conversations ... ;-)

03 October 2018

Blergh

Just a note to let you know that I have been, and likely will be, incommunicado for a bit.  My cold, which started to feel a bit better towards the end of last week, got worse again over the weekend and now I apparently have pneumonia. 

I don't really feel good enough to do much of anything, but I am reading your blogs even if I don't feel like commenting.  I'm hoping I'll feel at least OK enough to go to my haircut appt this weekend, since it was hard to get in the first place.

But who knows.  I'll just do the best I can, and hopefully this won't drag on much longer than necessary.

I promise to be back as soon as I feel like I've returned to the land of the living. :-)

25 September 2018

New Techniques

Hello there - I am still among the living, but still dealing with my cold and The Cough That Will Never End.  Not that it surprises me, since anytime I get sick and it involves a cough, I know that part will be around for the long haul.

The other day, I read or heard somewhere that there was a method for stranded knitting that allows you to secure the floats while knitting - as opposed to stopping to pick up and put down different yarn, which is what I have had to do with the very few colorwork projects I've ever knit.  It was mentioned as being included in the instructions for a pattern which I had not purchased.  I did have a pattern that I was going to start which had a tiny bit of colorwork, so I thought to myself, surely someone else has done that, or something similar and posted it on YouTube, right?

Right!  You can see for yourself here.  It's not the only one out there, but this is the method I tried and could "get," so to speak.  Of course, it doesn't matter how easy it is or is not if you are not paying attention to the pattern ... ahem.

Moving along.

Last year when I finished this sweater  and this sweater, I decided that if I could find another way than just the regular bind off for the neckline, I would use it.  I didn't like the way that the usual bind off made a sort of ridge on the outside.  I asked some of my knitting friends on Facebook, and more than one person suggested the Tubular Bind Off.  Some were kind enough to provide a link, but this one was the one I found the easiest to understand.  I'll admit that when I got to finishing the second sweater, I had to watch it, stop-n-go again, but in the end it was worth it because the neckline finish looks so very nice.

When I finally started knitting my Weekender, the pattern suggested using a Tubular Cast On, and linked to this tutorial.  I have to tell you, I watched that thing about 4 times, and for whatever reason, it made absolutely no sense to me!  So again, I headed to YouTube, and found success, this time by watching two different ones - this and this.  A really good thing about YouTube is that if you can't understand one person's video, there's a really good chance that someone else has made one that might turn on the light bulb in your brain, so to speak.

Here's the advantage, as far as I'm concerned:  if someone shows me something, and I can't remember exactly how it was done, I can jog my memory using illustrations in a book.  But - I am not a person who can easily figure things out with just a printed illustration.  For so many years, I would give up on trying to learn new techniques with my knitting, because no one could show me, and the photos/drawings in books meant nothing to me.  Now, with YouTube, online tutorials from yarn stores or other knitters, you can actually see in real time what is happening.  You can freeze frame to be sure you are doing it correctly, or slow it down to your preferred speed.  And in my case, at least, that is beyond helpful.

Granted, there are still plenty of things that are more easily learned one-on-one, in person.  None of the online stuff will ever replace a good teacher sitting next to you.  But today there are so many opportunities for learning things if you are lucky enough to have access to a computer.  And how many times do you hear or read that one of the ways to keep your mind healthy is to learn new things? 

I like to think that with just the three things I've mentioned above, I've bought some extra time for my brain.  And even if I haven't, for now my horizons are so much wider!

20 September 2018

Even Keel


I don't know about you, but even though many things and people get to me on any given day, there seem to be times when everything and everyone just seems to be SoMuch, you get the feeling that even if you could punch people in the face, it would not be satisfying and they would be the same way, but talking about how you punched them in the face, and then you would feel even more angry/frustrated/stabby, and so what was the point of punching them anyway?  As far as I'm concerned, physical violence is never the answer.  But *if* it was socially acceptable, but didn't make you feel better, what have you accomplished?  Zippo. 

I actually do spend a lot of time in my brain, and much of it is spent distracting myself or convincing myself that I should just do my thing and ignore things that put me off balance.  This is much easier said (thought?) than done, and my success is most of the time questionable, and occasionally satisfying.  Being that just even this morning (hours, people, there have only been hours in this day so far!) I have been overcome and had to work on getting to an even keel, and that it is Three on Thursday, I thought I would share three things that I try to do that usually help and sometimes actually make a big difference.  The caveat being of course, that it all varies based on time, place, person, and situation.  But you knew that, right?

1.  Make your brain your safe place, where you can think of what you wish you could say, do, etc.  This allows me to "get it out" of my system without legal or societal consequences.  Example:  Yesterday in a meeting, a colleague said something to me Right There in the meeting, and because I was at work and need to keep my job regardless of how I may feel about it, I did not respond.  Instead, I went into my brain and really let her have it until I was sure she would no longer be able to get out of bed in the morning.  I am the only person who knew this happened, and it actually made me feel better.  And slightly amused, because clearly I need help.  The point I'm making here is that it worked and I was able to continue in my day and keep my job.  Everybody wins.

2.  Every night before I go to sleep, I do my List of Fives, and the Three Breaths:
          Five things that went well/were good about the day
          Five things that didn't go well/that I wished I had not done
          Five things I'll try do do better the next day; then, three deep breaths in, three deep breaths out.
**Note:  on a good day, there are more than five of the first, and not even five of the second.

3.  Go outside yourself and make someone else's day better.  Here's an example from a recent morning's walk to work:  I was crossing the street, and another person crossed in front of me suddenly, and I bumped into them.  At which point they said, "My dear, please be conscious of your surroundings.  We nearly collided and injured one another." (They didn't say that, but I'm cleaning it up for you.)  Now, in the first place, the other person cut in front of me, and in the second place, why can't you just say Excuse me, or Sorry, and move on?  At that point, I decided that when I got across the street, I was going to treat myself to cup of coffee.  So I got my coffee, paid for it, and was walking out the door just as another person was coming in who was carrying a bunch of stuff and had no available hands to open the door.  So I held the door for her, and then also backtracked to open and hold the inner door for her, because it was no big deal and took no real additional time.  She turned to me and said, "Thank you so much, it makes my day that you did such a nice thing."  And I didn't think it was that big of a deal frankly, but I told her she was welcome and to have a good day, and it made me feel good to think it helped her, and I forgot about the guy who cut in front of me.

So there you have it.  This is how I manage most of the time to keep myself on an even keel, which keeps me employed, out of prison, and out of the emergency room.  I'm not saying it always works perfectly, or that it will work for any of you.  But I do encourage you to cultivate little habits or practices that make your life and your attitude more positive overall.  Even if it seems like it's a tiny thing, or something that might sound stupid if you told anyone else about it, as long as it works for you, it's good.