21 January 2020

Now You Know

I have to tell you that I got a big charge out of your responses to this post.  As I said at the beginning of the post, most people have at least one or two interesting stories about their lives or family members.  And in the case of children, I think most of them assume that all families are like theirs, until they go out in the world more and realize that perhaps that is just not the case.  I *may* have spent a lot more of time realizing that than others I know ...

In any event, the first story is true.  I did in fact learn the knit stitch from the lady across the street whose house burnt down when the dryer caught fire.  She thought it might be a good way for me to entertain myself while I was home sick.  And I did find it fascinating, even if there was no additional time spent with her to learn more.  No one in my family at that time was crafty at all (though later my mother would become an expert in counted cross-stitch), and that was one of my first introductions to the kinds of things you could do to create fabric.  I didn't get another chance to even think about learning to knit for 30 more years, but alls well that ends well, right?

As for the second story, I had the opportunity to do so many things I would have never been able to do thanks to Rosie's father, the mobster!  Of course, he was always so nice to all of us kids, and though we knew he was "famous," we largely didn't know details or care, as long as he was able to pay for all of us to go to movies, plays, concerts,the circus, etc. in style.  Rosie and her younger brother knew at a certain point all about their dad, and I can remember once in school that our teacher was going around the room asking what our parents did at their jobs, and Rosie - rather than saying whatever "legit" business her father had - responded, "he takes care of people who get in his way."  Most of the rest of the kids in the class had no clue what she was talking about, and the teacher quickly moved on, but I found it hilarious because via my parents (who knew lots of shall we say, "independent businessmen," and were not ones to use euphemisms with us), I knew just exactly what Rosie's dad did for a living.  About 20 years ago, he died of cancer, which always seemed ironic to me.

 My parents, sometime during the late 1940s or early 1950s

And so that leaves the third story, which by now you know is not true.  It was, however, a story that my mother loved to tell people, "to see how goddamn stupid they are."  Of course, growing up, we learned immediately that being gullible in our house meant that you would be tested every minute, and I still think that is why I am not an automatic believer of most people.  When I was in college, my mother worked in the Development Office of our school, and so many students who would have part-time jobs there would come up to me and say, "Wow, I didn't know your parents used to be a nun and a priest, that's crazy."  At first, I would set them straight, but after a while I didn't care enough to do so because most of them didn't talk to me otherwise, ever.

To paraphrase the opening of this show, "There are a ton of stories like this in our family.  These are a few of them."

Leo Tolstoy is quoted as having said, "All happy families alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way."  I'm not sure what he would have said about mine ... 

20 January 2020

Back to the Needles

Today I am more grateful than usual for a long weekend.  I had a busy weekend, but it was busy in that I was doing a lot of cleaning up, packing things away, and some necessary running around trying to get some things taken care of that had been waiting too long.  So having an extra day off is even more welcome than usual.

Plus, it means I don't absolutely *have* to go out today in the cold and wind, unless I really want to go somewhere.  As I'm typing this, I'm wrapped up in my pjs and robe with a cup of tea and a purring Pip on my lap.  :-)

Yesterday at a certain point, I just plain ran out of steam.  So I finished up whatever I was doing, and got things together to start a new knitting project.  This was one of the projects that I would have knit for a Christmas gift, but I ran out of time and inclination, and decided to do it as a Valentine's gift.

This is the beginning of a pair of house socks for  The Tim.  He is an extremely knitworthy person, and had said a few months ago that he would like another pair of house socks.  Since he wears socks rather than shoes at home, and we have mostly wood floors, he needs socks that are sturdy but also can go in the washer and dryer without problems.  

So I looked at my stash of Encore yarns, and pulled out these two colors to make him a pair.  My plan is to have this series of stripes at the top and then have the toe in the lighter blue as well.  So far I like they way it looks, and since Encore is worsted weight yarn, these should go pretty quickly.  It's nice to have a project underway, since after finishing the one sock of my Christmas pair, I hadn't cast on anything new to knit.  Now I'm on my way again, so to speak.

As those of you in the U.S. are aware, today we have a national holiday in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday.  I remember so vividly images from TV and the newspaper of the marches he led, and his speeches that would inspire so many.  I also remember being both confused and hurt when he was killed, and especially feeling bad for his kids because they lost their dad forever and I knew how horrible that could be.

Having said that, I hope you will not mind this story that is indirectly related to all of this. I mean absolutely no disrespect to Dr. King by telling it, it's just a silly family story.

My niece Amanda, is married to a guy named Pat, and he is just one of the best people ever.  He has a cousin who is older than he is, who has apparently always been in one kind of trouble or another for as long as anyone can remember.  At some gathering of our family, Pat was updating us on the latest news with "Cousin Corky."  At one point, my sister said, "What is Cousin Corky's real name?  Surely Corky is not his given name, right?"  And Pat, in a manner indicating that all of us must be the thickest set of brains in the universe, sighed and said, "His real name is Martin - everyone knows that Corky is a common nickname for Martin."  And all of us looked at each other as if to day, WTF?

And then about a minute later, The Tim said, "If that's the case, how come we never celebrate Corky Luther King Day?"

And now in our family, that is how this day is known.

And for the record, I've never met *anyone* else who thinks that Corky is a common nickname for Martin.  Maybe I just run in different circles???  ;-)

16 January 2020

It's Interesting, But Is It True?

I think it is a universal truth that everyone has something interesting to offer about themselves, their experiences, etc.  Some are more interesting than others, and some are pretty far-fetched.  On occasion, you find out that the far-fetched ones are sometimes either just plain old made up, or embellished somewhat.  But a lot of the stuff is 100% true and you are left thinking, Whoa.

And so, since it is Three on Thursday, I thought it might be fun to state three things about me and let you decide which one is not true at all. 

1.  I first learned to knit when I was home with a bad bout of bronchitis in 5th grade. The lady across the street came over with yarn and needles.  She cast on, showed me the knit stitch, and a week or so later, I had a very long, very wonky, red "scarf" ready to bind off.  However, a few days prior to that, the woman's house burnt down when her clothes dryer stopped tumbling, and as a result, caught fire.  I never saw the woman again, nor did I know how to bind off.  (The woman and her family were not at home when the fire happened, so they were all fine, btw.)

2.  One of my neighborhood friends in elementary school was a girl whose father was a locally well-known mobster, and was regulary having people killed for one reason or another.  He was, however, fond of his children, so he was always buying tickets for them and their friends to go to all kinds of cool events.  As an adult, I asked my mother if this used to worry her, and she said, no because he had more bodyguards "than God," so she figured I was actually safer than I was normally.

3.  I am the child of a couple who were failed religious.  My mother left the convent and my father left the priesthood to get married.  This was at at time when it was quite scandalous.  (Well, except to them, I guess.)  It was never a big deal to us, but other people were always shocked when they would find this out.

Hm.  Which one of these is not true?  Feel free to take a guess, and I'll let you the answer know soon.  :-)

13 January 2020

Back to the Plain Life

Hello all!  I hope you had a good weekend, or at a minimum, not a bad one.  I spent the majority of my time during the days putting away our Christmas decorations.  There are still a few odds and ends, and some Christmas linens to be washed and put away, but basically it's taken care of and packed away safely until later this year.

Which means we are back to our plain life - no more festive trim, lights, etc.  Not that we live a minimalist lifestyle, but you know how it is - you take down the Christmas decorations and everything looks bare until you get used to it again.  :-)

I also finished two books that just had a few chapters left to read, and [finally] finished the first sock of my Rudolph and Clarice yarn:

The pattern I'm using is Vintage Fairy Lights, by Helen Stewart.  I love the way it turned out, and I wish I could get a good photo of the detail right below the cuff, but given my lack of real skill in photography I couldn't get a successful shot.  But you can see close-ups of other projects here.

This will be a HO (half-finished object) for a while.  As it turns out, I really didn't knit much at all during the Christmas break, so although this sock had been moving along before, it still took me until now to finish the first one.  So I've decided to go to another project for the time being, and save these to finish either during Christmas in July, or sometime in November or December later this year, when I'll find it more fun to be working on the second sock.  I  know I will definitely finish them, because a) I really love the pattern and yarn and want to wear them during Christmastime 2020, and b) I do not like to leave socks for any long period of time in a state of not being done.  

What will the next project be?  Well, I have a couple of things in mind, but I need to do some clearing out (mentally and in my craft stuff) before making a final decision.  In the meantime, I can add more squares to my Cozy Squares of Memory blanket, which deserves some love.

And that's it from me today.  Here's hoping this week will move itself along during the work day, and give us nice evenings to do whatever we like.  :-)

10 January 2020

Friday Stuff

FRIDAY!  I love Fridays, not just because it's the end of the work week, but because of the anticipation of the weekend.  Even if absolutely nothing is planned, it's two days that are MINE. 

The only plan for this weekend is to undecorate the house, and take down the tree.  We always celebrate Christmas through January 6, so we are generally putting stuff away after most other people.  It's always a little sad, but I lecture myself the whole time about how if the stuff was up all year, Christmas wouldn't be as special, and think of the fun getting it all out again next year will be.  Also, even if I wait to really clean up after, I can fool myself into thinking that the house looks cleaned up once the boxes are all put away.

Remember this?

Well, it is [very close to being] no more.  I got a few rows beyond this with one of the colors, and ran out of yarn.  Hm.  So, I thought, well, let me see if it's just this mini-skein, and kept going.  Sadly, it was not just the one mini-skein.  Since I am not in the brain mood to figure out how I could keep going with what I had, etc.  I started ripping it out.  I have just a little bit left until it's all wound back into little balls.  I'll put it all away until I decide if I want to figure out a way to do this, or just choose another project.  It's disappointing, but I'm a lot less sad about it then I expected to be - I think because even though I had quite a bit done, and was loving the project, I wasn't anywhere close to even being halfway finished.  Or perhaps subconsciously I knew this was coming.  I don't know, but it's all OK and the mini-skeins will reappear one way or another this year.

The Free Library of Philadelphia has a speaker series that happens September-December, and January-April (sometimes May), and they always have some very interesting people (well, I guess they are all interesting one way or another, maybe just not to me).  Anyway, in March, Hilary Mantel will be there, discussing her latest book (for those not familiar with her, she wrote Wolf Hall - which was made into a miniseries - as well as Bring Up the Bodies).  You have the option of just going to her talk, or also getting an autographed book.  We watched the "Wolf Hall" mini-series, and The Tim has read both books, as has my niece Amanda.  So The Tim sent Amanda an e-mail, asking if they wanted to come to town and go to the book talk, etc.  Never have I seen such an enthusiastic response to something!  So now we have something extra fun to look forward to in March.

I am still trying to figure out my One Little Word for this year.  The past couple of years, I've had a hard time deciding, and part of it is I'm sure, that I overthink it.  So I'm just going to try and not worry about it, and hope a word comes to me. 

That's it for now.  I hope everyone has a good weekend, see you around the bend!