28 May 2007
Today is Memorial Day in the U.S. Regardless of how you feel about war - any war - or the military, no one deserves the kind of death that many of those being remembered experienced. I would ask you to also consider that every one of them was dearly loved by someone.
So today when you are enjoying the last part of the long holiday weekend, please remember to keep a kind thought for the efforts and sacrifice of those individuals who will never be able to return to their families and friends.
25 May 2007
Among other things, I decided to wind the yarn to make socks for my Sockapalooza pal, and actually start them. Here's an "in process" photo, showing the yarn, the swift I received as a birthday present, and the ball winder. I really love the yarn - I received it in a previous swap, from Sarah, who had dyed it herself. The colors remind me of lemons and limes in a bowl together, and I had been saving it for myself. But my pal said that green was her favorite color, and she lives in a climate that is warm all year, and requested superwash. So she'll get a pair of socks from this yarn. I keep telling myself that the best gift is one you wish you could keep for yourself ...
Anyway, it looked like this after I wound it:The flash made it look more yellow than it is in person, but the photo sans flash was really blurry, and I hadn't had enough to drink yet to make it look acceptable. (Oh, also - isn't the swift pretty? I love it!)
Anything worth doing ...
is worth doing well, as the saying goes. Remember the post about my Shamrock Shawl, and how I had laid it out, only to discover that only the bottom part looked like there were shamrocks in the design? I kept hoping that blocking it would make a difference. But the more I thought about it, and looked at it, the more I was convinced that it was just a mess. So last weekend, I sat down on the floor with it, put a lifeline above the last pattern repeat that looked like it should, and started ripping! I had been on row 165 ... and ripped back to row 125. To be honest, I was kind of relieved and dismayed at the same time. I mean, it was already not right when I picked it up a couple of months ago to work on it again, so I should have ripped then (20/20 hindsight and all that). I realized that part of the reason I had been avoiding working on it, was because it didn't look right. And then also realized that if I was going to put all the time and effort into it, I'd want to end up with something I would actually use/wear. I haven't gotten back to it yet, but when I'm ready, at least it will be, too.
When I had talked about it, Melanie left a comment saying that she would like to see a picture of it sometime. To be perfectly honest, it had not occurred to me to take a photo of it, so that's another thing I did today:
See? You can actually tell it's supposed to be a shamrock pattern, whereas before, it looked like a shamrock pattern on the bottom, and, I don't know, exploded shamrocks at the top ... this is actually a pretty decent picture, though the yarn is actually more of a cream color than it looks here.
Above it, you can see a little bit of the table runner that Tim's grandma crocheted for us. She used to make really beautiful things, and besides this we have some crocheted placemats, and a gorgeous crocheted lace tablecloth, which is way too big for our table, but a nice thing to have. Gram O would just sit and crochet away while everyone was talking, and by the end of the evening, she'd have a runner, or a pair of slippers, or something else to give away. And when I met her, she was already in her late 80s. She died 4 months before her 100th birthday. Pretty amazing all the way around.
Fun in the sun
Tomorrow morning, we are packing up the car, picking up Sebastian and Karen at the train station, and heading to the shore for the day. We'll drive to Avalon, New Jersey - about an hour and a half away - and set ourselves up on the beach, probably until mid-afternoon or so. I'm looking forward to it, and seeing the ocean again, and people-watching. Of course, heading to the beach for us means slathering on gallons of sunscreen, sitting under an umbrella with hats on, covered up - kind of like people in the 1920s went to the beach ... but I'd rather use my ounces of prevention than not get a chance to ever go to the beach! Plus, there's the anticipation of frozen custard on the way home ...
Oh, and one more thing ...
I received an e-mail from someone, saying that they were really tired of hearing me talk about my cats, and posting pictures of them this blog. The writer was really incensed, and even made some comment related to me not having children. In response, I would like to say, if you are bored/offended/annoyed or whatever with anything here, stop reading! When I read a blog or an editorial or an article by someone that annoys me, my solution is to stop paying them any attention. And trust me, you don't want to get me started on other people's opinions of why I don't have children. (Because it wouldn't be pretty.)
And so, Annoyed Reader, farewell, and I hope you find blogs to read that only have pictures of knitting, children, birds singing, sunny skies, and all the rest. I sure won't miss you!
To everyone else, thanks for hanging around. I'll be back with more exciting posts and cat pictures soon ...
22 May 2007
But since last weekend, I have a) chosen a yarn for the socks I want to knit, b) taken action on a somewhat stalled project (details in a future post), and c) realized that all I have to do is get more of the inexpensive yarn to finish the beret. I will admit that dealing with my knitting-related problems helped my overall outlook a lot. Because I really do enjoy knitting, and the feeling that it wasn't working made the other stuff seem even worse!
I would like to thank everyone who commented and/or e-mailed me with their positive thoughts. I appreciated it, and it was also comforting to realize that it's something everyone has gone through at one time or another. I was just dismayed that everything felt malaise-ical (new word?) at once!
Heh heh ...
I just knew I'd get comments about the fake belly button thing. No, Carol, I am not a space alien, and Ann, I'm not reptilian, either. Without going into gory details, let me just say it is a result of some of my cancer surgeries (though I am always happy to provide gory details individually. Sometimes just seeing people's faces is worth it. But I digress). At one point, I asked one of my surgeons (you remember Skippy, don't you??) why he even bothered to create a fake belly button, and he replied, "Because, Bridget, I am an artist." (And, may I add, full o' crap ...)
Flexibility vs. Bridget
Last night was the first session of the Vinyasa Yoga class I'm taking. I will tell you that I pride myself in being flexible, intellectually. However, my body apparently sees flexibility as the enemy. I think there are steel beams that would do better! I am determined to make even a teeny bit of progress by the end of the 10-week session. Then we'll see who's laughing. (I have no idea what that means, it just seemed like an appropriate thing to say here.)
Tune in the next time, when:
I will have some honest-to-God knit related pictures for you; I will tell you all about the Rosie's class I'm going to take; and, well, something else, I'm sure. See you then, kids!
19 May 2007
I was pleasantly surprised when I went to update my sidebar, and realized that the only things mentioned in my last post not there, were the link and button for the Knitters Tea Swap 3. So I wasn't as out of synch with that as I had thought, which was a nice feeling, particularly during my malaise!
Equality for all felines ...
I realized that since I have started my [supposed] knitting blog, Tess has gotten a lot less "face time" than the other kitties. This is partly because of all of them, she is the one most likely to keep to herself, and so is not necessarily around when the camera is out. So in the interest of equal time and exposure, here's a recent picture of her.
She's not all that happy right here, but I can't blame her, as I woke her up to take this photo ... I'm pretty sure that shortly after, she headed upstairs to update the kitty jihad website we're certain she operates ...
7 random things ...
Over the past few weeks, I have been tagged by several people for a meme traveling through knit-blog-land. I specifically remember being tagged by Kim and the Femminista, and if you are reading this, and I haven't mentioned you, it's nothing personal, just my sieve-like brain at work. Or, I guess more accurately, not at work. Anyway, the premise is that you reveal 7 random things about yourself, and tag 7 other people.
1. My belly button is fake.
2. I used to work for one of the Rockefellers.
3. I was once "detained" by the District of Columbia Police for waving at Mikhail Gorbachev. (It was a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. But they kept asking me, "What do you hope to gain by waving to Mr. Gorbachev?" Huh?)
4. When I was little, I loved Lorna Doone cookies (still do). But for whatever reason, I always called them "Lassie cookies."
5. I cannot STAND it when someone makes a mistake, and says, "My bad."
6. My imaginary childhood friends were always animals, rather than people. Occasionally, they were talking animals (a la Mr. Ed), but usually they were not.
7. The only food I miss since becoming a vegetarian is kielbasa at Christmastime. Veggie kielbasa doesn't even come close.
Since I think I may be the last one around to have posted my random things, I can't think of anyone who's left to tag. Certainly if you are reading this, and have the desire to share, be my guest. (I will admit that doing this caused me to wonder how people do come up with those "100 things about me" lists they post on their blog sidebars ... I had hard time digging up 7 things ...)
Now I must sign off, as it's time to catch up on the many, many shows I have recorded in the past couple of weeks. So please don't send me e-mail, or post in the comments, how they ended their respective seasons ...
17 May 2007
I have, however, in the past month or so, signed up to participate in a few things, and hopefully this weekend, I'll have the latest one added to my sidebar.
I signed up for Sockapalooza 4, because it sounded like it would be fun, and I know I can finish a pair of socks by August for my swap partner. I have already contacted her a couple of times anonymously, and have chosen the yarn I want to use for her socks. As soon as the malaise lifts, I'll actually cast on and get started!
I also joined the Charmed Knits knitalong, and have so far completed one beanie in Gryffindor colors, and started a beret in the same colors. (I had yarn left over from making a Gryffindor scarf for Sebastian a couple of years ago.) I will post a picture or two, once I have the beret completed. I'm hoping to also do one or two other hats in other House colors, but will need to actually purchase yarn for that. So I'm waiting until I'm finished with Gryffindor before moving on.
Another one is Runagogo, which I am enjoying because a) it is motivating, and b) it introduced me to Google Pedometer (which I must admit has become somewhat of an obsession). Anyway, I really think I will be able to log 100 miles by July 4, and am quite proud of myself as I have already walked/bicycled 57.14 miles! (And I'm not counting my walks back and forth to work, since I do that everyday as part of my normal routine ...)
And finally, the Knitters Tea Swap 3, where my swap partner is from Finland! I think it will be fun to find some goodies to send her. (Carol, do you think Tastykakes would cause an international incident???)
Until my blahs hit, I was zipping right along with all of these, so hopefully I can get back in gear sooner rather than later.
In other news, I took a thorough look at the Charmed Knits book, which I have really been anticipating. I know I may be the only one who feels this way, but personally, I was underwhelmed. There was a chapter in the book with patterns I would probably try, but otherwise, I found it uninspiring. Which is disappointing, because I was really looking forward to buying a copy. So I will probably stick with my Hogwarts scarves, House Elf socks, and now also the hat patterns that are available in the knitalong, and let everyone else knit the patterns in the book.
And, the good news, tomorrow is Friday ...
13 May 2007
Having the race on Mother's Day is apparently a Philadelphia tradition (see, it's not always just about cheesesteaks here!), and to be honest, I think it works out pretty well. The weather is generally cooperative, and there are a lot of family groups that walk together. Admittedly, I never used to participate, even though my mother had breast cancer, but after the Great Surgical Extravaganzas of 2004, I figured I should walk, because I can. Whether or not I am a strident activist, I am here partly because other people worked to make it possible. A lot of people in my situation(s) aren't here to be in the race, or to celebrate Mother's Day. Walking 3.1 miles on a sunny spring day with people you love seems almost like cheating ...
But the other thing that I like about the race being on Mother's Day, is that it tempers the whole thing somewhat for me. Yes, there are plenty of mothers in the race, or people walking in memory of their mothers, and certainly everyone there has/had a mother. But it's not about Motherhood, Apple Pie, and the American Way. It's about being together, trying to do some good in the world, and recognizing people who have had to deal with a challenge that they neither wanted nor sought out. Which is, when you think of it, what nearly everyone does in some way, every single day that we get out of bed. It never hurts to be reminded of your place in the universe. And if you can do it while spending a beautiful Sunday morning taking a walk, that is the best gift of all.
Happy Mother's Day to all who celebrate.
12 May 2007
|You Belong in Dublin|
Friendly and down to earth, you want to enjoy Europe without snobbery or pretensions.
You're the perfect person to go wild on a pub crawl... or enjoy a quiet bike ride through the old part of town.
11 May 2007
Anyway, I finally had a chance to take pictures of various things that I have, and have not, told you about recently. And I think a Friday evening is a good time for show-and-tell, so here goes.
A couple of weeks ago, an envelope arrived for me in the mail, with Kim's return address on it. Now, Kim is not only one of my very favorite new friends, but she has a habit of sending surprises in the mail. If you have read my blog for even a week, you know that I do love packages in the mail, and when it's a surprise, even better! I opened the envelope, and these were inside:
Are they not one of the coolest pairs of wristwarmers you have ever seen? You can't tell in the picture, but towards the top, right above the fair isle band, the yarn has little butterflies in it, which I have never seen before. Kim had written a post about these, and had a photo on her blog, but for whatever reason, I couldn't get it to show up on my computer. So she decided that I might like to see them in person! I would have been thrilled with them anyway, but I do have to say that the fact that they arrived while I was still in the throes of The Great Bronchitis Event of 2007, and a week or so after Abigail died, really made me feel better.
Thank you Kim!
These next two photos are of yarn that I won in a couple of blog contests. Yes, after being totally amazed that I won a prize in the contest Lorette had on her blog, I had a streak of luck, and just a few weeks later, won yarn in a contest for Carol's blogiversary. I was, and am, thrilled, though I have since apparently returned to my usual type of luck with contests ...
Here (on the right), we have the prize from Lorette. The skein on the top is Mountain Colors Bearfoot yarn, in the Bitterroot Rainbow colorway. I haven't tried Bearfoot yet, so I was really excited to receive it. The yarn on the bottom is Heritage Hand Dyed, in the colorway Blueberry Hill.
Below (on the left), are the two skeins of Artyarns Silk Rhapsody I received from Carol. I would never think to put these colors together, but they are stunning in person. Carol also sent me a tiny sock blocker keychain with a pattern for a sock to fit onto it, and a few other goodies in the package.
If I never win another thing in my life, I feel like I hit the jackpot with these prizes. I haven't quite decided yet what I'll knit with them, but that's part of the fun ...
Thank you so much, Lorette and Carol!
06 May 2007
It was beautiful and sunny when we left Philadelphia, and then when we got to Maryland, it alternated between sunny and overcast. (As long as it was neither raining nor 80 degrees, I was happy.) We arrived about 10:15, and it was already crowded. Which shouldn't have surprised me, but it did ...
I had no real plan for anything I wanted to buy, even though I had thought about making a note of places I especially wanted to stop. But I never got around to it. I did hope to find a product I had seen last year, and obsessed over the entire time since. Of course I had failed to note the name of the vendor, and no one I described it to remembered seeing anything resembling it. A Google search was no help. So I was pleased, when very near the end of the day, I came across the very item. I knew I had not made it up!
Anyway, I enjoy the festival as much for the animals as the yarny stuff. Fortunately, none of the animals I approached bit me, as they did Carol, according her post today. There were of course all kinds of sheep, most of whom seemed to have a lot to say! I love seeing all of the different breeds, and talking to their people about them. There was a pair of llamas who, according to their owner, were usually quite sociable, but had just gotten tired being poked and petted, so it was necessary to admire them from afar.
These guys had just gotten haircuts, and to be honest, seemed kinda surprised about it. The one on the right looked like one of those new hybrid breeds of dog - could it be an alpacadoodle?? They were both pretty friendly, and needless to say, very soft.
These two apparently saw no reason to get up:
But they were sweet anyway. You can't really see it in this photo, but the lighter colored one sorta had a dreadlocks thing going on.
This pretty girl was incredibly soft and sweet, and was having a good hair day:
She sat there very calmly, while people came by, petting her and taking pictures, and while children poked her nose and pulled her ears. (I, on the other hand, was getting testy ...)
There were also some goats, but I didn't get any pictures since it was hard to photograph any of the animals if they were in enclosed cages. I also saw a rabbit about twice the size of this one, in a cage at another booth, whose name was Bridgette. She did not seem to be pleased. If you can imagine someone with such a lovely name being in such a mood.
Did I buy anything? Yes, as a matter of fact, I did. Here is a picture of a jacket I bought, modeled by the Molly hanger.
I didn't plan to buy a jacket, but I really liked this one. First of all, it is green and blue, which are two of my favorite colors. And when I tried it on, not only did it fit perfectly, but the sleeves were actually the right length - and that never happens!
I also bought these:
The little print is an ink drawing of a lamb, with a light blue wash over it. I am going to put it on a stand I have, in my bookcase that holds my knitting books. The yarn is from Dancing Leaf Farm. I bought some of their yarn at Stitches East, and loved the colors, so I was happy to see them at Maryland Sheep and Wool.
The little sheep I just liked, and decided to buy, to be sort of mascots for my knitting. This is the closest I will ever come to owning sheep, anyway ... they were very popular with the cats.
I also brought home T-shirts for Tim and Sebastian. At one point the line didn't look too long, and I figured that Tim deserved a T-shirt, because he never says anything about how much yarn I have, and will even encourage me to buy more yarn or books. I got Sebastian a T-shirt, well, because he's Sebastian!
I had hoped to meet BarbP, but we missed each other, which was very disappointing. I did meet Ann and Liz, of Crossroads Knits, which was fun. They are both very nice, and really funny. I enjoyed meeting them in person, since I read their blog on a pretty regular basis.
I'm glad I had the chance to go, though I was more than happy to get home. It was a long day, but a good one. I'm especially glad that I could spend today recovering!
05 May 2007
04 May 2007
Anyway, I was not in the mood for any deep or involved reading in April. Apparently I was in the mood for mysteries, because I read two of them. I must admit that I am very nearly always surprised by "who did it" when I read a mystery. It pretty much has to have a statement on the first page like, "As George stepped away from his wife Mary, who he had just stabbed fourteen times through the heart ..." for me to have a clue. On the one hand, this makes reading mysteries somewhat enjoyable. On the other hand, she had warts. (OK, I just threw that in. My mother would always say that when someone started a sentence with "On the other hand"...)
So without further ado, I give you my reading list for April.
1. Dirty Blonde by Lisa Scottoline. In the interest of full disclosure, I must say that I love Lisa Scottoline. I have always enjoyed her books, mostly because she truly captures the quirks and character of Philadelphia, where her stories are usually set. Last year, I went to a booksigning of hers, and it was so much fun! She is really great in person, and whenever someone asks a question, or answers one of hers, she tosses them a Tastykake* (a Philadelphia "delicacy"). She is a former practicing attorney who now, besides writing books, teaches a course at Penn Law School about lawyers and their portrayals in movies and TV, which I think would be so cool. But I digress.
The dirty blonde of the title is a young woman named Cate Fante who has recently been named a federal judge. At first she is overwhelmed and somewhat ambivalent about all of it, but then a secret about her is exposed, the plaintiff in one of her cases appears to be a murderer, and then she realizes that someone is out to murder her.
Scottoline always finds something to put in her books that teaches you something without you realizing it, and this is no exception. Cate at one point in the book returns to where she grew up, in Centralia, Pennsylvania. For those of you not familiar with the town, it is very nearly a ghost town at this point, because of underground, abandoned coal mine fires that have been burning for years and years. There is a huge sinkhole in the middle of the main street, and most of the houses have been bought up and the people moved elsewhere. Yes, it provides for some dramatic scenes in the book, but it also made me interested in reading some of the books and news stories about Centralia.
Anyway, there are various twists and turns, red herrings, and funny commentary by some of the characters that make it an enjoyable read. It may be more enjoyable if you are from, or familiar with, Philadelphia, but that isn't necessary. I recommend it if you like mysteries that take place in the current time frame (as opposed to Victorian mysteries, for example).
2. Knit One, Kill Two by Maggie Sefton. I received this book and the second one in the series as part of a swap last year, and just got around to it last month. The main character, Kelly Flynn, is an accountant from Washington, DC, who returns home to Colorado for the funeral of her aunt, who also raised her. What starts out as a quick trip home to settle some family affairs, turns out to be more open ended, as Kelly disagrees with the local police about their prime suspect in her aunt's murder, finds a formerly unknown relative (who later is also murdered), and when she is not playing detective, she learns to knit. This is primarily because the old farmhouse where her aunt and uncle had lived, has been turned into a yarn shop.
This was an enjoyable read, mainly because the writer did a good job (in my opinion) of evoking the emotions of someone who has never paid attention to yarn or knitting before. There are several passages where Kelly discovers how wonderful different yarns can feel, and what possibilities there are as far as knitting projects are concerned. Also, at least in this installment of the series (I think there are four titles at this point), the main character does not immediately fall in love with every man she meets. I am all for love, relationships, and all of that, but it annoys me when the love story suddenly makes the mystery secondary. I could see future titles having that in store, but the fact that Sefton didn't start out with it gives her points in my book.
I can say that these were the perfect books for me to read at the time I read them. They had interesting enough characters and storylines to keep you reading, and did not require a lot of back and forth checking to remember who everyone was, or why they were in the book in the first place.
I know a lot of people who look down their noses at mysteries, particularly those that are not "intellectual." I am obviously not one of them. I enjoy reading a lot of different types of things, and find that there are times when I really cannot, or do not want to, read a "serious" book. I would recommend them if you feel like trying something different than your usual choices.
*Tastykakes are made here by the Tasty Baking Company, and are similar to the products made by Hostess Bakeries, or Little Debbie cakes, etc. If you move to Philadelphia, I recommend keeping your opinions to yourself if you are not fond of Tastykakes. Native Philadelphians don't think twice about telling you how wrong you are!
02 May 2007
Because I am obsessed with recycling, and knew that this pet carrier was made of cardboard, I decided that once I crossed the street, I would check on this item. If it was not icky or disgusting from being in the trash, I would take it with me, and recycle it. When I picked it up out of the trash can, it meowed!
That's because this is who was inside:
I don't know why, or how, or when, some idiot put this kitten into a trash can. Especially when a shelter was about three blocks away. But if someone was stupid or cruel enough to do it, it's just as well they didn't keep the kitten.
We did keep the kitten, and named him Jetsam, since he had been "discarded." He is quite a character, and it is impossible to hurt his feelings. As a result, it is nearly impossible to convince him that what he is doing is "bad." You can raise your voice - and he'll purr. You can give him a little bop on the nose or the butt - and he'll purr. You can clap your hands and yell - and, you guessed it - he purrs. As a last resort, you might say, well, squirt him with water. Except that he loves water, and will even take a shower with you if he has the chance!
But he is very sweet, and overall is pretty well-behaved, though he still gets into typical kitten trouble. And he has grown - a LOT! When I brought him home in that discarded carrier, you could pick him up in one hand, and hold him securely. Now you would be likely to break your hand, and throw out your back ...
The moral of this story: Recycling can have benefits that you would never imagine.
01 May 2007
This is a snippet of a conversation that happened in our house over the weekend:
Me: You know what really bothers me?
The Tim: Besides everything?
(Yeah, I thought to myself, you're a real laff riot there, Timothy. Not because it wasn't the truth, but because I was going to inform him of what bothered me at that particular moment. Which completely escapes me today. Though I'm sure it was important ...)
But I was reading Melanie's most recent post on her blog, and she linked to this entry, Poetry is Dangerous. Which is exactly what is bothering me now.
When we lived in Chicago, there was a couple across the hall from us in our apartment building that became lifelong friends. He was from Egypt, and her parents were from Cuba. We used to always tease him about being a terrorist - this at a time when you could tease about it. Well, we moved away, and so did they, but we keep in touch. They have two boys, and the oldest one, from the time he was a little kid, wanted to fly planes. The agreement his parents made with him was that if he was still interested by his 18th birthday, he could take flying lessons.
His 18th birthday was in October 2001. Do you see the problem here? They couldn't find an instructor that would take him on as a student, because it was just a month or so after the September 11 attacks, and everyone was worried about "ethnic-looking" people taking flying lessons. He and his parents were told to "wait it out" and sooner or later, he would probably have no problem signing up for lessons.
He's finishing up with his college studies now, and as far as I know, he never got around to learning to fly, though he did get pulled out of line once when boarding a flight to Kansas to visit a childhood friend ...
I'm not saying that there aren't people in the world set on destroying America. Because of course there are, probably more so now than ever in my lifetime. It's a legitimate, serious concern - none of us want to end up dead just because of where we live.
But things like a faculty member being questioned for putting a box of recycling by a trash can, or a teenager not being able to take flying lessons, based solely on their physical appearance, really upsets me. Because I really don't think you can look at someone and determine whether or not they are a decent, law-abiding citizen.
Just a few years ago, someone who was in a very high-level job at the university where I was working, who was supposedly a well-respected scholar, turned out to be heavily into child pornography. As far as his appearance, he looked pretty much like your typical middle-aged, nerdy scholar. As far as I know, this has not caused a backlash against middle-aged, nerdy scholars across America. Should it? Would it have been a more serious offense if he was "ethnic" looking?
I think it probably is a very frustrating task to try and prevent terrorist attacks, since they can come from any place at any time. I think there probably are people living here who are working, or could be recruited, to wreak havoc. I think there are also plenty of people who get up every day, go to work or school, pay their bills, and really just live their lives. I don't claim to have the answers.
I just wish more people would ask questions. And it bothers me that they don't.