31 December 2006


Blogger would not let me log in, no matter what I tried yesterday, so the first part of this post is a day late ...

Yesterday was my youngest niece Maggie's 4th birthday. She is the youngest daughter of Tim's oldest brother, and a real cutie. (I would post a picture, but Blogger won't let me do that today ... grrrr ... but I'm not going to press my luck!) We don't see her very often, but when we do, she is always very busy telling us about her two best friends, Ryan and Irma (!), and how they always want to come over to her house. I have no idea if that's true, but she is pretty darn convincing when she is telling you ... :-)

Maggie is also the proud owner of approximately six versions of My Little Pony, and if she likes you, she will let you brush their hair. However, she does NOT like it if you try to make one Little Pony sleep in the bed belonging to one of the other Little Ponies ... so don't even try it!

And so, with Maggie's birthday, we reach the end of this year's Birthday Marathon. But I hope she will always know that even if she is the last, she will always be just as loved as the first.

Happy [belated] Birthday, Maggie!

New Year's Eve

So here we are, on the very last day of 2006. Which was not a bad year, in retrospect. Unlike a lot of other people, I like New Year's Eve. Maybe it's because we have always usually just stayed put, and had shrimp, Holiday Cheeseball, and champagne to celebrate, while sitting in our pjs watching the ball drop in Times Square. (Of course, then we're usually in bed by 12:30 ...) The other day, I heard a couple of people talking about how they really hate New Year's Eve. One of them said, "New Year's Eve is the Sunday night of holidays," which I find highly amusing. But I always think that making it to tonight means you have survived everything in the past year that was thrown at you, and I'm sorry if this sounds corny, but that's really an accomplishment when you come to think of it.

Thanks to my tens (OK, fours) of readers, I feel like I've made some great new friends with my knitting blog this year. I hope everyone reading this has a good New Year's Eve, a Happy New Year, and wonderful things in 2007.

29 December 2006

Amanda's Big Day

Today is my niece Amanda's birthday. She is the oldest of my nieces, and the oldest in her family of four girls. She was born when I was a senior in high school, and from the time she was a baby, lived very close by. So I got to spend a lot of time with her, and later, with her sisters. Which was nice, because my other sister and her family lived out of town, so I only got to see them once or twice a year.

This past October 27, Amanda got married in Baltimore. It was the first time in more than twenty years that our whole family was together at one time! We had a blast, and it was great to finally get to meet some great-nieces and -nephews that we had never seen before.

In honor of Amanda's birthday, I thought I would share some of the pictures from the wedding. There are just these few, for three primary reasons: 1) Blogger wouldn't let me load very many, 2) some I didn't use, because they came out looking too pixelated (sp?), and 3) we didn't take as many pictures as we normally would, because her new husband's sister, who is a professional photographer, said she would be happy to take the wedding pictures as her gift.

Having told you all of that, here you go. Enjoy!

Amanda and her cousin Lauren enjoy a glass of champagne before heading to the church.

Our great-nephew Jude, the ringbearer.

The cousins and bridesmaids: Top row - Annie, Liz; front row, Lauren, Julie.

Annie and Amanda.

Pat and Amanda during the ceremony.

Father-Daughter dance at the reception.

La Liz and Lauren performing "Proud Mary" at the reception.

The whole weekend was really fantastic, and the wedding itself was beautiful. Amanda and Pat are a lot of fun, and we love them both dearly. They are coming to spend New Year's Eve with us, and we can't wait to see them and catch up!

But in the meantime, Happy Birthday, Amanda! We hope you get a chance to celebrate in style.

P.S. Amanda's sisters sang at her wedding, and it was beautiful. If you would like to see the video clip, it's here. The singers are (in the order they sing) Annie, Julie, and Liz.

27 December 2006

Top Ten Best Things of 2006

Both knit-wise and otherwise ...

10. The end of spring semester. I taught an online class from January to May, and though I didn't mind the work, and I really liked the extra money, I ended up hating all but about two of my students. (And honestly, I don't think they were too crazy about me either ...)

9. The end of the summer. Because it was just too hot, too much, too long. I live through summer so I can get to the other seasons.

8. My 50th birthday. I really looked forward to it, and enjoyed celebrating it. Plus, the alternative to getting older sucks.

7. Working part-time at Rosie's. Because, duh, it's a YARN STORE, and I really have learned so much. I feel a lot more confident in my knitting abilities now.

6. Knitting a vest for Tim for his 50th birthday. I had not knitted a piece of clothing for such a long time, and it turned out really well. I don't have a picture to post yet (Carol, I'm sure you'll want to chime in here!), but it's coming.

5. Getting a new great-nephew, Zachary Patrick, born in February.

4. My niece Liz's wedding.

3. My niece Amanda's wedding.

2. The holidays.

1. No surgical procedures. Not one. Not even the suggestion of one. Now that's a good year in and of itself!!

A Funny Story About Kwanzaa ...

I posted a Happy Kwanzaa message yesterday, which certainly did cause me to receive e-mails from amused people who know me. Not because I am anti-Kwanzaa normally, but because I never used to realize so many people took it so seriously.

Anyway, a few years ago, Tim was working as a permanent substitute teacher for a 5th grade class in the Philadelphia public schools. He really liked it, and the kids in his class, who were all African-American, seemed to really like him as their teacher. Throughout the school year, he would try to spend some time when a holiday came up, talking about it to the kids, regardless of how big or small a celebration it was. When it came time for the Hanukkah/Christmas/Kwanzaa trifecta, he was talking about each one of them separately. They had finished discussing Hanukkah and Christmas, and one of the kids raised his hand and said, "Mr. C., tell me - what is the deal with Kwanzaa??" So there he was, a lily white middle-aged guy, explaining Kwanzaa ... we still get a charge out of this.

A Fun Day in Yarnalot (aka Philadelphia)

Today my friend Sharrie, who lives in the 'burbs, came in to the city, as we had planned a Yarn Loop of Philadelphia. Well, OK, not all of Philadelphia, but there are three yarn stores within walking distance of one another in Center City. We had decided about a month ago, that we would make the day about visiting each shop, as well as having lunch. (It's probably not too far off the mark to say we were looking forward to the lunch part as much as the other part ...)

We started at Rosie's, where I bought some pretty Noro yarn to use in a shawl/wrap that I am planning to knit with some wool boucle Black Bunny yarn and some red yarn for a scarf for the Red Scarf Project; and, Sharrie bought some pretty oatmeal/tweedy yarn to make a scarf for her sister.

Then we headed to Loop, where we did a lot of oohhing and ahhhing over the cashmere and alpaca yarns they had in stock. Sharrie bought one of the portable Yarn Requirements guides, and I got carried away with some Lorna's Laces yarn to make a pair of Wisconsin Winter Socks. (I would have been fine had they not had a sample sock knitted!) Ordinarily I would not have bought the yarn, but there were two reasons I felt I should get it (besides the fact that I loved the colors): 1) When I left the house, Tim said - and I quote - "Be sure to get some yarn-y things, since I didn't get you any for Christmas," and 2) I am going to try my best to follow the guidelines for the Knit From Your Stash 2007 project. So you understand that I had to buy it today, right??

Then we stopped for veggie burgers and fries at Devil's Alley, which is one of my faves, and a place Sharrie had never tried. Yum. We had a great time at lunch, and though it was somewhat crowded, we had a great waiter, and did not get rushed through our lunch.

Now that we had relaxed a bit, we headed over to Sophie's Yarns, where I bought a ball of Karabella Aurora 8 in a burgundy color to knit something Fetching. Then it was time to head home for me, and back to the car for Sharrie.

SO much better than a day at work ...

26 December 2006

Happy First Day of Kwanzaa!

Happy Kwanzaa
to all who

I admit that I have no real knowledge about Kwanzaa or its background, but I do know that it starts today. So for anyone reading this who celebrates Kwanzaa, I hope you have a very happy holiday!

And for anyone who would like to read about Kwanzaa, I found this very helpful and interesting.

I also hope that everyone is still enjoying the holiday season, I know I am!

25 December 2006

Happy Birthday and Merry Christmas ...

Today is not just Christmas, it's my niece Liz's birthday! Here's Liz in 1977, celebrating Thanksgiving in a way that was not politically incorrect at the time:

From the time she was a baby, Liz had a great personality. She had the advantage of having a sister who was two years older, so she learned to talk pretty quickly, and would happily carry on conversations with you even if she was the only one who really understood what was being "discussed" ...

We always used to say that when she grew up, it wouldn't surprise us if she became a rock star. She loves to sing and has a great voice, and is known particularly in the family for one performance where she was singing a Tina Turner song for us, but with a bag over her head so she wouldn't have to look at us while singing ...

Here she is now - no she didn't become a real rock star (other than to all of us who love her), but a social worker, and as of last February, a mom. This picture is from her older sister Amanda's wedding, at the end of October. She is singing "Last Dance," which was the song that ended the reception that evening. This is the kind of thing that has given her the nickname La Liz!

Liz is pretty, she is smart, kind, and just fun to be around.

Happy Birthday La Liz! You are the best!

To Liz and to everyone else: Merry Christmas!!

24 December 2006

'Twas the night before Christmas ...

When all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, in hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there,

The kitties were nestled, all snug in their beds,

While visions of tuna fish danced in their heads ...

Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

20 December 2006

No, it's not ...

Well, it's taken longer than usual - I just noticed it yesterday - but nonetheless, it's apparently time for the "Christmas is too commercial/No one remembers Christ in Christmas anymore" people to start their yearly Crusade o' Whining. Everyone knows at least one person who feels the need to inform the rest of the world of these "facts" every single year. I will admit that usually I hear it around Thanksgiving. So I don't know if I haven't been listening, or if the Crusaders are just late getting started.

The reason these people drive me crazy, is because they imply that a) everyone feels the same way as they do, b) it's required that you agree with them, because of course, they are right, and c) they are unwilling to take any personal responsibility for the situation.

Here's what I think ('cause I know you're dying to find out). Christmas is too commercial, if you let it be. I happen to think that it is absolutely ridiculous, and should maybe be illegal, to start decorating for Christmas and selling Christmas stuff around the time of Labor Day. True, I have been known to purchase items for Christmas gifts throughout the year, but I put them away until Christmastime. And if we go on a trip, yes, I will look for someplace to buy a Christmas ornament, so that when we are decorating the tree in December, we can have fun remembering said trip.

But I don't actually start celebrating Christmas until Christmastime, which happens *after* Thanksgiving - which by the way, is it's own most excellent holiday. And because this is my personal policy, I tend to ignore the decorated stores, and radio stations that start playing Christmas carols after Halloween. I go along my merry way, enjoying each holiday as it comes along. It works for me, and to be honest, I don't really consciously think about it most of the time.

So it puzzles me why other people feel absolutely FORCED to accept the concept of an early Christmas season. Yes, the advertisers want you to do that, and try harder every year to get your attention. Because they are in the business of making you think/decide/know that you really want or need something, so that you will spend your money, and they will stay in business, blah, blah, blah. So all of a sudden, there's all this "pressure" attached to the holiday season.

The thing I find most ironic about this, is that these are usually the same people who regularly have no problem ignoring other things every single day of their lives. Like traffic laws. Or homeless people on the street. Or someone being cruel to an animal. They have no trouble cutting in front of others in line, because they are in a hurry, and their time is more valuable than the rest of us. But they are absolutely incapable of ignoring marketing that starts two months too early. How tragic for them.

On to people claiming that Christ is no longer the most significant part of Christmas. I have two responses to this statement. One is that, much like the marketers who "force" us to start thinking about Christmas in August, apparently people are forced to ignore the celebration of the birth of Christ as well. What a shame for them. To have no control over their personal beliefs and observances of holidays. If only the world would change so that their lives would be easier.

Secondly, I hate to break it to you, but there are a lot of people who enjoy and/or celebrate Christmas - or more importantly, Christmastime - who don't believe in Christ, or are at best ambivalent about religion. I really don't understand why people are so threatened by this.

Personally, I do think of Christmas Day as the official celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. Our Christmas decorations include Nativity-related items, as well as Santa, Rudolph, and candy canes. I enjoy religious Christmas carols as much as secular ones. I love to give people presents, and yes, I think it's fun to receive presents. I love that Santa Claus comes to our house every year.

It seems to me that there are plenty of people who aren't able to enjoy any holidays, for reasons that are actually beyond their control - poverty, illness, homelessness, hunger, to name a few. I think it is more than worthwhile to devote your attention to helping anyone in these situations, though I think that, like Ebenezer Scrooge by the end of "A Christmas Carol," it's important to keep this kind of "Christmas" in your heart all year round, not just at Christmastime.

But I'm not willing to listen to a privileged - or often overprivileged - person whine about how hard life is for them at holiday time. Because they do it to themselves, and only they can undo it.

I shall now step down from my soapbox. I apologize if anyone reading this has found it depressing, I certainly didn't mean it to be. I for one, am still having a wonderful Christmastime, and have every intention of continuing to do so!

In that vein, I feel that I must remind you that there are a mere FIVE days to go until Christmas! I'm sure glad I don't work at the North Pole right about now ...

18 December 2006


Today is my niece Julie's birthday. Here is a picture of her as a little girl, when she was known as "Babba Dool." (This was her sister Liz's version of "Baby Julie.") One of the reasons I like this picture is because it shows what a lot of fun she was, even when she was a little kid.

Here's Julie now with her very first nephew:

(As you can see, she is still very cute!)

Julie lives in NYC with her fiancee, Keith, and their dog Biggie. She works as an associate producer for a company that does some of the reality shows. We tease her about it all the time, but she has some pretty funny - and interesting - stories from her various assignments. She has worked on everything from the very first incarnation of "America's Next Top Model" to "Treasure Hunters" (the latter being one that even she didn't think worked all that well ...)

Julie is a lot of fun to be around, and she has this really great voice, slightly reminiscent of Lauren Bacall. She has a great sense of humor, but is also one of the nicest people that you could ever meet anywhere in the universe. She is loyal, and smart, and I am so glad that she is my niece!

Happy Birthday, Julie!

In case you were wondering ...

Yes, Jetsam did "help" decorate the Christmas tree. He has continued to "help" with any and all other preparations. I guess you could say he has the most Christmas spirit of any of us ... or, you could say he's being a pain in the butt - it depends on what else is going on!

In other news ...

Garden Kitty says: WHAT!?? There's only a week left until Christmas??!!

17 December 2006

True ... I am full of something ...

Which reindeer are you?

You're Rudolph - the leader of the pack! You are full of Christmas spirit...after all, you lead the way every Christmas eve!
Take this quiz!

(However, I'm sure quite a few people I know would not have "Christmas spirit" as their first thought!)

I've been pretty busy today, since I wanted to get any Christmas gifts that we are sending wrapped so I can mail them tomorrow. I finished that, and then headed downstairs to make a batch of fudge and some Seven Layer Cookies. Then it was time to finish putting the decorations around, so that I can [hopefully] clean the house tomorrow. (And if you think you're seeing a picture of things in process, you are nuts! I'm afraid that all of you may think that our Christmas decorating theme is Cat Hair ...) So it has been a most excellent day.

One new thing that is part of our decorations this year, is window cling things (I have no idea what the real term is), from the Rankin-Bass "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer." I received them from The Christmas Elf, who usually visits Tim, so it was an especially nice surprise! I spent way too much time deciding what would go on what window, but it was worth it, I love them ...

Speaking of The Christmas Elf, you never really know when he'll show up. Some years, he seems to make a visit nearly every day, but other years, it's definitely occasional. It all depends on how busy things are at the North Pole ...

And now for something completely different ...

In the comments from a previous post, The Wicked Witch of the East mentioned images of Santa at the Nativity. Keep in mind that she was doing this to annoy me ... but since she brought it up ...

There are certain things that really can get me going at Christmastime. And two of them deal with depictions of Santa:

1. Santa at the Nativity - this is WRONG! and should not be allowed in the universe. Santa was not at the Nativity, and there is/was no reason for him to be there! The only thing that the Nativity and Santa have in common is that they are both parts of Christmas. To use a friend's expression, it just jacks my jaws when I see a card, ornament, etc., depicting this alleged event.

2. Santa waving an American flag - oh PUH-LEEEZE! Tell me why, in the name of Christmas, would Santa be waving an American flag??? The very best thing about Santa is that he really and truly does not care where you live. Showing him as a "patriot" implies that people in other countries should not expect a visit. Or that they will get only coal in their stockings for Christmas. At the last Thanksgiving Day Parade I attended here in Philadelphia, when "Santa" appeared at the end, he was waving an American flag, which was simply proof that it was a substitute Santa, not the real thing.** Tim, though he agreed with me, demanded that I control my righteous indignation, so that the little kids nearby were not disheartened.

I guess something that would offend me on every possible level would be to receive a Christmas card, showing Santa at the Nativity, waving an American flag ...

And lastly, don't forget that there are 8 - eight - days left until Christmas!!

**According to my parents, the only time Santa visits before Christmas Eve, is for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade ...

16 December 2006

Candles and light

Happy Hanukkah!
I do know that Hanukkah started last night, so I'm a day behind on things, but I still send sincere wishes to anyone reading this who celebrates.

Anyone who has been reading anything here in the last couple of months knows that I am a great fan of holidays. And as far as I'm concerned, if you don't celebrate the same ones that I do, I really hope you have one to celebrate instead!

Back when we lived in Chicago, there was a group at the University of Chicago who used to do a Winter Solstice program. We never attended in person, but they would broadcast it on the local public radio station, and it was just wonderful. I know people who used to go, since they felt that it was the only "holiday event" that wasn't over-commercialized. (You don't want to get me started on this topic at this time of year, trust me.) But we used to listen, because the music was so beautiful, and it sounded like such a great celebration.

So whatever winter holiday you observe, just give it your all, and enjoy it! And to those of you observing the eight nights of Hanukkah, I hope that the light from the candles of the menorah will give you personal peace and holiday joy.

13 December 2006

As Martha Stewart would say ...

This is a good thing: These are my goodies from Kim, as part of the KTC Holiday Swap! She knit the blue stocking for me, and it is the softest, fuzziest, squooshiest thing ever! She also sent the small mitten ornament that the small Rudolph is "holding," which is made from soy silk, as well as some peppermint bark candy, and the small Rudolph ("flying" over the small Christmas tree that someone else - try to guess who) knocked over. Is this not a most excellent group of things?? As you can see, bigger Rudolph is pretty happy about all of it as well ...

One thing that really surprised me about this, was that during the summer, when I participated in the KTC Travelers' Swap, I also got matched up with Kim! I sent the moderators a note, saying if they wanted to permanently match me with her, that would be fine ...

Thanks Kim! You did it again, sending me all kinds of stuff that I absolutely am thrilled to have.

Actual Knitting Content!

I hope anyone reading this is sitting down, because I am actually going to show you some completed items. Nothing major, but by now I'm sure you know how long it takes me to knit *anything* so you should be impressed to know that I made four of these: Yep, Christmas tree dishcloths! (Yes, I know they are slightly different sizes. So sue me.) I saw this pattern last year around Christmastime, and made two then, and decided I wanted to make as many more as I could with the Kitchen Cotton I had in this green color. I got two more out of it, and I like the way they turned out. As you can see, they are reversible, so no matter what side you use, you can still see the Christmas tree. Which, if you are a Holiday Fanatic like I am, is a very important consideration ... three of them will go along with gifts to friends and family, and one will stay here with us.

So you see, I do actually knit, and even occasionally, complete something. I know, stranger than truth ...

How Many Days??

In bakery terms, the number of days left until Christmas would be an even dozen!!
(Mmmm ... bakery ...)

11 December 2006

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas ...

Well, I must say that my criticism of the lyrics to the song in my last post certainly seemed to step on some toes ... (or did I give others' toes away to be stepped on by someone else, a la the song???) It's just that I think the lyrics make no sense. I didn't mean to cast aspersions on the artists performing the song. Geez. But it's my opinion, and no one else's, so I think that I should be safe from having Dominick the Donkey forced on me ... OK?

We had a good weekend. (Well, I had a good weekend, I'm afraid that Tim had a rough day yesterday at work.) Here's a question, though - would you let these people trim your Christmas tree??
This is from our trip to the 'burbs on Saturday, to help Sebastian and his mom Karen trim their Christmas tree. We had a great time, and Karen made hot chocolate from Oaxaca, which was quite yummy. There were also cookies, and chips and salsa, so we just ate, drank, and tree-trimmed our way through the afternoon! Sebastian's Uncle John was visiting, having just returned from Iraq, so we got to meet him, and get him to tell us some incriminating stories about when he and Karen were growing up. Because what's the fun of meeting someone's sibling, if you can't get that kind of info out of them??

Who's who in this picture (you can probably guess, but anyway): I'm in the red sweater, Tim is behind me, Karen is on the other side of Tim, and Seb is in the middle of all of us. (Uncle John took this picture with Tim's new camera.)

Once we left, we finished up some Christmas shopping, then headed home. Yesterday, Tim had to work during the day, but I got the Christmas cards addressed, the gifts organized and made note of who gets what, and where it's headed, and got out the holiday dishes.

I took all of the Mondays in December off from work, partly for fun, and partly because I had some doctor's appointments. I'm really enjoying the long weekends, not just because, well, who wouldn't, but also because it's nice to be at a dr appointment and not worry that it is eating up your vacation time or something. Today I am hoping to get things wrapped, and if possible, get a few things shipped to people, or at least ready to be sent. And we will probably work on decorating our tree. We had originally planned to do it last night, but figured it would be more fun when we both had the energy to enjoy it. We may get a picture or two out of it, you never know ...

We'd better get our tree ready though, since Christmas is 2 weeks from today!

10 December 2006

November Book Report

Two books for November:

1. Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. This book was sent to me by Kim during last summer's Travellers Swap for Knit the Classics (KTC). I have not read any of Elizabeth Gilbert's other books, so the book and the author were new to me. Actually, I only finished the book in November, I've been reading it for a few months.

The book follows the author through her year travelling to three places - Italy (eat), India (pray), and Indonesia (love). She starts out after coming out of her marriage and a troubled relationship afterwards, figuring that visiting these three countries - that represent three important things in her life - she will have a chance to get to know herself, so that she can start fresh, and hopefully learn something along the way.

I loved this book! Gilbert writes in a very articulate, but honest fashion, with some really fun touches of humor. The book is quite honest, as far as what kinds of feelings she is experiencing in each place, as well as in the descriptions of her experiences. She never hesitates to point out her shortcomings, even when they make her look stupid, or shallow. The description of the people and places make you feel like you are experiencing things along with her. The main reason it took me so long to read this, was not just because I could pick it up and then put it down and not lose anything, but also because I didn't want to get to the end! I liked it so much, I'm giving a copy to someone for Christmas.

(I do have to say that I am always intrigued by people who can afford (both literally and figuratively) to put everything else on hold to go find themselves. The rest of us don't have that luxury, and usually don't even have time to look for, much less find ourselves ... I mean, how do people who do this pay their utilities while they are gone? Who collects their mail, and lets them know if there are any really important things that have to be dealt with immediately? As my sister would say, "White man's troubles.")

2. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. This was the KTC November book. I had never read Frankenstein before, and to be honest, was not necessarily thinking it would be something I wanted to read. But on the other hand, it is a classic work of literature, and I decided to give it a try.

I am so glad I did! This book is amazing. Forget everything you have ever seen in a Frankenstein movie (part of what made me not that interested in reading this)! It was a little bit hard to start, but at a certain point, I was completely sucked in.

For one thing, Victor Frankenstein creates his monster right at the beginning of the book - I was expecting everything to lead up to that point. And Victor is a real jerk, reminding me of people I have known who are so impressed with their own intelligence, they do something, and then are completely flummoxxed by the results. Victor is on a real ego trip, and then is at a loss when the monster he has created actually begins to exist!

One of the things that amused me about the book, is that the monster is always described as being a rough, inarticulate creature. Then of course, when he speaks, he does so in the elegant and flowery language of the time! In the end, the book really leaves you thinking. I at least, felt more compassion for the monster than I ever did for Victor. And it turns out to be very timely, with all of the debate about when life begins, what constitutes life, who has the right to create it, etc. I'm glad I read it, and have to say that it made a real impression on me, and I have been thinking about it for weeks now.

A Different Approach to Fundraising ...

This calendar cracks me up: www.lulu.com/calendargirls. After all of the various calendars where different people have posed nude, with items strategically placed, it has women who usually pose as nude or topless, wearing layers of heavy clothing. The proceeds go to a British organization that works to find a cure for breast cancer. I may have to order one, I'm so amused ...

Christmastime WTF?

Last year - and now again this year - I keep hearing this stupid song on the radio. I don't know how the rest of it goes, 'cause I get so annoyed I tune it out, or change the station, but here's the part that just really is ridiculous:

Last Christmas, I gave you my heart,
But the very next day, you gave it away.
This year, to save me some tears,
I'll give it to someone special.

First of all, the person in this song is clearly an ass, but beyond that, how can someone else give your heart away??? (And don't give me the organ donation by family excuse, that's not what we are talking about here!) I tell you, it just makes me want to scream!

This is just another time when, if the world were Bridget-centric, there wouldn't be this kind of song even in existence, much less played on the radio during Christmastime! I mean, geez.

And speaking of Christmastime ...

Christmas Eve is two weeks from today!!

08 December 2006

Drum roll, please ...

Well, here it is at last! No, your eyes are not deceiving you, this is a picture of the front of Tim's vest as it was being blocked - TA DA!

Needless to say, this is the wrong side of the front ... with the stitch holder in the middle of the v-neck, and the blocking wires holding it in shape. I am waiting until it's all sewn together to fool with the loose yarn ends.

The back is probably ready to be taken off the wires, so hopefully the next picture will be of the finished item. However, I am not going to predict when that will appear, because a) I really have no clue when I'll do it, and b) if Blogger has issues, at least one reader will post something pointing out that I have missed the "deadline," and c) I'm sure you have all been enjoying the suspense, right???

I have to tell you that I am really happy with the way it [seems to have] turned out. It's been a while since I knitted any article of clothing other than socks, so I was a little nervous. But it was fun to knit (well, except for that six rows short of yarn part), and Tim seems very happy with it. The next big question after When Will She Finish Putting It Together, will be Will It Actually Fit Tim ... so stay tuned.

We just got home from getting our Christmas tree - yay! It's spending the night outside in the garden, until we clear a space for it. Then we'll bring it inside, and get it ready for decorating. The big question this year is, how will Jetsam (aka The Gray Menace) react? He was already quite intrigued when he saw through the window that it was being taken out of the car.

I cannot WAIT to help with the Christmas tree!!

Have a good weekend, and remember - in eighteen days, it will be Christmas!!

06 December 2006

Just for Yule!

This past Monday, I walked up to the post office to mail a few things and buy holiday stamps for the Christmas cards we are sending. Among the mailed items was my package to my Holiday Swap Pal, at Knit the Classics. When I told this Yuletide Woodsman that he was headed to Canada, he was pretty darn happy.
This pattern is from Countrywool, and it's both a fun thing to knit, and a quick thing. Even for me, one of the world's slowest knitters, I had the knitting done in a few hours. If you can use double-pointed needles, you can knit a Yuletide Woodsman! The kit comes with enough to make several. I bought the kit a few years back, and made one for our tree. Every year, when I get ours out with our other decorations, I always think, "I should make some of these to go with gifts next year." Then I immediately see the shiny things for the tree, and completely forget that I ever even had a conversation with myself about it ...

So this year, I signed up for the Holiday Swap, and then thought, YIKES!, what will I knit for my swap partner?? Because at the time, I was still working on the vest for Tim. Then I remembered that I had the kit, and I'm really pretty pleased with how he turned out.

And who knows, maybe in another 5-10 years, I'll think to knit another one or two ...

In the meantime, this one is on its way!

Christmas countdown:
19 days to go!

05 December 2006

Six to Eight Black Men

Keeping in the holiday theme, I don't know how familiar you are, or are not, with David Sedaris. He does commentary sometimes on NPR (because, well you know, who would evah listen to anything else on the radio, Muffy?), and has written several books, including "Holiday on Ice" which is Christmas themed, and pretty darn funny. Anyway, last year, one of Tim's co-workers, who knows we like David (as well as his crazy "Strangers with Candy" sister Amy), loaned him a CD of him performing "Live at Carnegie Hall." Included with the other bits on it was his reading of a piece he wrote in December 2002 for Esquire magazine, called "Six to Eight Black Men." It is a story of how he learned about Dutch traditions regarding the holiday season, and it is one of the funniest things I have ever heard.

I was planning to share it with you, but realized that I do not have legal permission to do so, and there are limits to what I will download illegally, especially at Christmastime. But if you would like to read it, visit everyone's friend, Google, and type in:

"six to eight black men" sedaris

There are a couple of links (including the first one) to the entire piece. Not that I am encouraging you to violate U.S. Copryright Law and fair use or anything. It's up to you how much you want to tempt fate. But it is really funny, that's all I'll say ...

Anyhow, the reason it even entered my brain today, is because it's the eve of St. Nicholas Day, which even though I am not Dutch, has always been a favorite celebration of mine. I was poking around to see what Wikipedia and such had to say about it, and it's really very interesting, if you feel like taking a look for yourself.

One thing I learned is that on December 5, there is a celebration for the eve of St. Nicholas Day, and adults as well as children join in the festivities. Which, if you ask me, is as it should be. It seems that most adults I run into this time of year are busy complaining about the holidays, and how stressed out they are, how much money they are spending, blah, blah, blah, I could go on but won't. I absolutely love it when I run into someone who is actually enjoying the holidays, and participating too. Apparently in the Netherlands, the eve of St. Nicholas Day is nearly as big an event as the day itself.

So I say, Go Netherlands!

For some other interesting information about St. Nicholas celebrations, as well as a few really neat images, take a look at these links:


(smaller so the link will fit)

I hope if/when St. Nicholas visits your house, he doesn't take you with him when he leaves!

P.S. to Carol: I'll post the pictures of Tim's vest as soon as I can take the store label out without messing up the thing ... oh, and since it's a gift for Tim, forget the Gap, I bought that baby at Nordstrom's ... and thanks for the reminder about the price tag!

20 days to go!

04 December 2006


Maybe Blogger doesn't like Mondays, but I had no luck loading photos of actual knitting this evening ...

Rather than fight with it and get frustrated (me - I really don't think Blogger minds at all), I'll try again on another evening. So you will just have to live in suspense a little bit longer.

I can report that I blocked the front of Tim's vest today, and the blocking wires were much easier to use than I was expecting them to be! It probably helped that the vest is made from chunky yarn, so it was pretty easy to thread the wires though the stitches. I can also report that it was Jetsam, not the blocking wires, that caused some aggravation. I thought I had closed the bedroom door to start blocking, but twice he managed to get into the room and "assist" me. Finally, I got him out of the room, and managed to get the door truly closed. As you can imagine, he had some of his own ideas about how the blocking should go, and saw no reason for the T-pins to be used for blocking, when they would be just so much better to bat around the house ...

I had hoped to be able to block both pieces, but only had room for one. A photo of the blocked front will soon be coming to The Ravell'd Sleave, so stay tuned, folks.

The blocking wires came in three sizes, and two types. There were long, rather firm ones, as well as another set of firm wires about half the size of the long ones. Then there were a couple of flexible wires, to use around necklines and armholes. What will they think of next??

I also got my package together to send to my Holiday Swap Pal from Knit the Classics. Tim was kind enough to take a photo of what I made for my Canadian recipient, and hopefully I can post that one soon as well. It was a good feeling to take it to the post office, and get it in the mail to her. *I* think it's really cute, so I hope she likes it, too. You are all welcome to chime in with your opinions once I can post the picture!

And lest you forget, 3 weeks from today (just 21 days) to go until Christmas!! I managed to get out my Christmas linens over the weekend, and Tim and Sebastian baked a batch of cookies, so things are going quite nicely at our house. :-)

02 December 2006

Chilly at last!

Well, it's finally starting to feel like December. Today it was cool and sunny, and a little bit too windy. But I'll take it. I only put up with summer so that I can enjoy the rest of the year, so when summer keeps returning, all the way through November, it just kills me! (I am pretty sure I am one of the few people on earth who get Seasonal Affective Disorder in the summer!)

Anyway, today I went out and about to do a little bit of Christmas shopping, and the weather made it seem very festive. Then when I stopped at one place, they had a string orchestra playing Christmas carols. It helped me get out of the icky mood I'd started the day with - you know how it is, when you wake up early and can't go back to sleep, not because you are ready to get up, but because you have a headache?

A Birthday Wish

My mother's birthday is today. She died back in 1988, but I think of her all of the time, and I miss her. She was a lot of fun, and always enjoyed celebrating her birthday. I remember one time I asked her why she didn't get upset when people asked her how old she was (like other kids' mothers seemed to), and she said, "Well for God's sake, Bridget, if you aren't getting older then you're either dead or a damn fool." And that was that. I will admit that I agree with her, especially after the past couple of years.

One thing she absolutely loved to do was to play games, cards, go to the races, anything that could be "enhanced" by playing for money! Yep, even as a kid, I can remember that we would play for a penny or a nickel a game, or she would keep a running tally of how much we "owed" in any given game. She is the only person I ever met who figured out a way to play Trivial Pursuit for money! (In case you are wondering, it's a quarter a game, and a nickel for any pie wedges that are empty when someone wins. There, now isn't that more fun??)

I know that she would have loved to had the opportunity to go to college, but when she was young, not very many women went to college, and there weren't a lot of opportunities for women from low-income families to obtain funding. Fortunately, she was someone who enjoyed reading, learning, and observing, so she was smarter than most people who did go to college ...

She was famous in the family for some of her expressions, which were not things anyone else's mother ever said, and not that easy to figure out. When you asked her what they meant, she would always say, "I don't know, my grandmother always said that." For example:

When it was really hot and humid: "It's hotter than Billy be damned!"

When you got a cold, right after you had gotten over a sore throat or some other ailment: "It's either an ass or an elbow with you, isn't it?"

When you'd say that you were nervous or worried about something: "If you were born to hang, you'll never drown."

When she said something, and you hadn't heard it, and asked her to repeat it: "You heard me, you're not blind."

Then there was her general response for most things. Whether she knew the answer to your question or not, if she thought it was stupid, all she would say was, "Oh good God!" and the tone determined whether or not you dared to continue ...

She would occasionally get her terms confused, and tell you something that would just be really puzzling until you figured out that she used the wrong word or name. One favorite example of this is a conversation she had with Tim one time, after telling us how a daughter of one of her friends was moving to Philadelphia.

Mom: Mary's daughter is moving to Philadelphia next month, to go to school.
Tim: Where will she be going to school?
Mom: She got a grant to attend some school there for two years, and when she's finished, she'll be a paraplegic.
Tim: Wow. Do you think there's a four-year program, if you want to become a quadriplegic?
Mom: Probably.

When we pointed out that she meant "paralegal," she just said, "Whatever, you knew what I meant." Which was true.

Mom, I hope you are having good time in heaven, playing cards with Dad and everyone else!

Two Things I Do Not Want for Christmas

This is just wrong: http://www.catirinabonetdesigns.com/index_files/page0077.htm. At first, I just thought it was terrible that someone designed and sold the pattern. Then I decided it was worse that someone would buy it and spend the time to make it!

And this is just unfortunate: http://www.berroco.com/exclusives/footsie/footsie.html.

Finally, here's a Tess-message:

Loooook into my eyeesss ...

only twenty-three days

until Christmas!!

01 December 2006

It's here!

Christmastime, that is. Yay! I have mentioned previously that I am somewhat of a Holiday Fanatic. Christmastime really feeds my fanaticism, since it lasts longer than most holidays do. So seeing December 1 on the calendar always cheers me up, no matter what else is going on in the universe.

I saw this meme about a week ago on Melanie's blog, then on Kim's, and then yesterday, my co-worker Eileen sent it to me. So I decided to start off December with it.

1. Eggnog or Hot Chocolate? Well, I do enjoy eggnog during the holidays, but hot chocolate is around all year ...

2. Does Santa wrap presents or just set them under the tree? Santa wraps the presents, to add to the suspense.

3. Colored lights on tree/house or white? Colored.

4. Do you hang mistletoe? No, in case Foudy comes over. No way am I kissing him, tradition be damned!

5. When do you put up your decorations? It is a progressive event, but starting at the beginning of the month. They are all usually up by the middle of December.

6. What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert)? Homemade Holiday Cheeseball.

7. Favorite Holiday memory as a child? When I was in 2nd grade, I came home from school one day, and my father, who was recovering from cancer surgery, had been putting up Christmas decorations. He had bought new stockings for all of us, and my sisters each had a red one, I think one with a jingle bell, and one with a snowman. But mine was green, with Santa on it, ready to go down the chimney. Every year, there is a day when for whatever reason, that feels like it just happened yesterday.

8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa? I've always known that Santa was real.

9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve? No, not unless the giver is there and absolutely insists.

10. What kind of decorations are on your Christmas Tree? All kinds of stuff, but the general themes are Santa, Rudolph, animals, and music. Plus candy canes once it's all finished. We try to buy at least one ornament whenever we go on a trip, so getting them out and putting them on the tree is especially fun.

11. Snow! Love it or Dread? I love snow. Ice I can live without.

12. Can you ice skate? Oh God, no. I can barely stay upright on the ice when I need to.

13. Do you remember your favorite gift? My niece Liz.

14. What's the most important thing about the Holidays for you? Being here to enjoy them.

15. What is your favorite Holiday Dessert? Cookies!

16 What is your favorite holiday tradition? Being absolutely certain that I hear jingle bells on the rooftop when I go to bed.

17. What tops your tree? A pretty, frosted white spire.

18. What is your favourite holiday book? I do love A Christmas Carol, even if others think it is cliche.

19. What is your favorite Christmas Song? Almost all of them ... but choosing one, I'd say "In the Bleak Midwinter."

20. Candy Canes! Yuck or Yummy? Yummy, as long as they are some kind of mint flavor. Other flavors are blasphemous, and should not be allowed. There are rules, people!

24 Days