28 June 2007

Desperate reading?

Today's Booking Through Thursday question:

What’s the most desperate thing you’ve read because it was the only available reading material?
If it was longer than a cereal box or an advertisement, did it turn out to be worth your while?

I will (and often do) read just about anything! My father used to have a subscription to The Congressional Record, and it was always kept in the bathroom. (I'm pretty sure it wasn't a political statement on his part - more than likely, he was like many men who do some of their reading in the bathroom ...) Anyway, I can remember a couple of times when I would be there longer than usual, and I would pick it up to have something to read.

I guess it turned out to be worthwhile, as I have always been interested in politics, and though a lot of it sailed right over my head, it did make me familiar with the different parts of the government, and the names of members of Congress.

The only lasting problem I have as a result, is that whenever I have worked in a library that subscribed to it, I was always thrown off seeing it on a bookshelf, with other periodicals!

26 June 2007

Fun facts

In the past few days, I've seen this on Melanie's, Scarlett's, and Kim's blogs, with some variations. Since I love this kind of thing, I'm going to play along.

Here is the basic gist of it: go to Wikipedia, type in your birth date, not including the year, and then name three births on that day in history, three deaths, and three other interesting facts.

I share a birthday with these people:

1879 - Albert Einstein (he died the year before I was born - perhaps I am his replacement?? ... except I am extremely math/science impaired ...)
1887 - Sylvia Beach (who in 1922, published Ulysses when James Joyce was otherwise unable to get it published in English-speaking countries)
1912 - Les Brown (anyone else remember "Les Brown and His Band of Renown"? God, I'm old ...)

These people died on my birthday:

968 - Mathilda of Ringelheim (a German queen. Who doesn't miss her, you know?)
1883 - Karl Marx (I don't think Groucho or Harpo had been born yet ...)
1976 - Busby Berkeley (I love those movies!)

I have chosen these three as the interesting events:

1794 - Eli Whitney is granted a patent for the cotton gin.
1942 - John Bumstead and Orvan Hess become the first in the world to treat a patient, Anne Miller, with penicillin.
1964 - A jury in Dallas, Texas, finds Jack Ruby guilty of killing Lee Harvey Oswald, the assassin of President John F. Kennedy.

And, I'm adding that these special observances occur(red) on my birthday:

Equirria - horse races in honor of Mars were held in the Roman Empire.
Worldwide Pi Day (I was pretty excited about this, until I realized it was "pi" not "pie.")
Feast Day of St. Mathilda (of Ringelheim!!!)

I also poked around, and looked to see what happened on The Tim's birthday, and was highly amused. I'll have to share those with you another time.

I'm not going to "tag" anyone to do this after me, but if you enjoy "This Day in History" kind of stuff, feel free to see what comes up!

24 June 2007

Book Awards Reading Challenge List

I've finally decided which books I'm going to try to read for the Book Awards Reading Challenge. The idea is to read 12 award-winning books starting July 1, 2007 through June 30, 2008. I chose a few books and/or authors that I already knew, but tried to choose most of them from ones I was not familiar with at all. We'll see what happens ...

So without further ado, here's my list:

1. Bruce Chatwin, On the Black Hill (1982 Costa/Whitbread)

2. Alice Munro, Dance of the Happy Shades (1968 Governor General’s (Canada))

3. Thea Astley, The Well-Dressed Explorer (1962 Miles Franklin Literary Award (Australia))

4. Jessica Anderson, The Impersonators (1980 Miles Franklin Literary Award (Australia))

5. Richard B. Wright, Clara Callan (2001 Governor General’s (Canada)) (2001 Giller Prize)

6. Ian McEwen, Atonement (2002 National Book Critics Circle Award)

7. Edward P. Jones, The Known World (2005 IMPAC Dublin) (2004 Pulitzer)

8. Gina Berriault, Women in Their Beds (1997 PEN/Faulkner) (1996 National Book Critics Circle)

9. Geraldine Brooks, March (2006 Pulitzer)

10. Ellen Glasgow, In this Our Life (1942 Pulitzer)

11. Loren D. Estelman, The Undertaker’s Wife (2006 Spur Award)

12. Ellen Recknor, Prophet Annie (2000 Spur Award)

I'll be sure to let you know this time next year, how well I did. I do have to say that in some ways, it seems daunting (I mean, typing the list itself kinda wore me out!), but it is supposed to be a challenge ...

23 June 2007

Gryffindor hats

After taking way too long to finish them, here are the two hats I have knit for the Charmed Knits KAL. The one on the left is a beret, the other one a beanie. I used leftover Encore that I had from making a Gryffindor scarf a couple of Christmases ago for Sebastian. Of course, I was very nearly finished with the beret, which I knit second, and ran out of the burgundy yarn ...

I'm pleased with the way they turned out, and the pattern was very well written, and easy to follow. If I had been working on just knitting these, and hadn't needed to get more yarn, I could have easily done both within a week.

Here they are again, just hanging out on the top of the couch:

(I'm pretty sure the beanie is mocking the beret here, because the end that I hadn't woven in yet shows slightly. However, in this next picture, you can see that the beret had a chance for revenge!)

This shot is an "overhead" one, which makes the beanie (this time on the left) look more square than it is. But you get the idea at least ...

Anyway, I wove in all of the ends this morning, and got them into a mailing envelope, which I then took to the post office, so they are on their way to Wiley & Sons, to be later sent to the people who run the recipient charity, Warm Woolies. In theory, I would like to make a couple more, but since these were finished, I decided to send them now.

What's in a name?

So I was watching one of the morning news shows today, and there was a segment about a judge in New Zealand, who told a couple they could not name their baby the name they had chosen. Which was "4 Real." Said couple had chosen the name because the first time they viewed the ultrasound image, they realized that their baby was "for real." Far be it from me to say whether or not the judge/government should be able to make such a decision, but as far as I'm concerned, the parents are eejits in the first place. 4 Real.

The report also mentioned naming conventions in different countries, and pointed out that currently, "Nevaeh" is the most popular name for girls in the world! (For those of you wondering, it's "Heaven" spelled backwards.)

And while we're on the subject - Carol - the Garden Kitty was originally called that because he turned up in our garden one day, looking very forlorn. So he was the "garden kitty" to differentiate him from the inside cats. Then once we adopted him, we spent way too much time trying to think of a good name for him, and thought up so many, we couldn't choose just one. By that time, he responded to being called Garden Kitty, so that's what became his actual name. Which The Tim always points out is too bad, because "it's more of a title, rather than a name." There's one vet technician who said she thinks it's the best name ever, except after he is at the cat hospital, she always needs to go get a garden salad!

Though now that I think of it, I guess we could have named him Lleh ...

21 June 2007

My very first Booking Through Thursday ...

I've seen this on a couple of other people's blogs, and it interested me, so I've decided to give it a try. So here for your consideration is my response to this week's Booking Through Thursday question:

School Days, Golden Rule Days

Since school is out for the summer (in most places, at least), here’s a school-themed question for the week:

1. Do you have any old school books? Did you keep yours from college? Old textbooks from garage sales? Old workbooks from classes gone by?

The only school books I have are works of literature from college courses. Most of the time, I sold my books back to the bookstore, or passed them along to someone else taking the course in another semester. Some books from some courses I got rid of in any way possible, to block out ever having taken the class ...

2. How about your old notes, exams, papers? Do you save them? Or have they long since gone to the great Locker-in-the-sky?

The only exam I kept was one from my master's program. I took a course in Government Documents, and scored a 102 out of a possible 100 on the final! The professor had asked a question, and my response included information that he forgot we had covered, so I got extra points. At the time I was incredibly pleased, and the last time I saw the exam, I remember being amused. I'm guessing at this point, it may be kinda moldy, so I'm not sure I'd keep it the next time I come across it ...

18 June 2007

Picture Day

But first -

In the interest of full disclosure, I want to say that as much as I enjoy Bloomsday, and find a lot of James Joyce's writings really interesting, I have never read Ulysses. Tim on the other hand, has read it enough times for both of us, and a small town in Iowa ...

Ulysses, for me at least, is like a lot of Shakespeare's writing - I don't particularly enjoy reading it, but hearing and/or seeing it performed makes a big difference, and I really do enjoy it then.

OK, moving on ...

I thought I'd play some catch up today, by showing some pictures from recent adventures.

First up, we have Sebastian in an action shot on his skimboard, during one of our trips to the shore.

Just like "Baywatch," huh?

Next, the Bloomsday festivities:

(Left to right: Mary Ellen, Pat, me, Tim)

(Tim and I on the steps of the Rosenbach)

(Also, Leopold Bloom's head ... as opposed to the
head of Alfredo Garcia ...)

Then, yesterday, my niece La Liz, her husband Greg, and their little boy Zachary came up to have Father's Day brunch at the hotel where my sister and brother-in-law were staying. Here is Zach, who is 16 months old, with the stuffed dinosaur we gave him.

(We have no problem buying the love of our great-nieces and nephews with gifts. It seemed to work really well on their parents ...)

Zach with his Gram, and then with his Paddy.

And, finally, now that the company has left, and the festivities are over, things are just getting back to normal here.

Tess and Jetsam enjoy some breakfast ...

while Garden Kitty strikes a fluffy pose.

17 June 2007


Yesterday, June 16 was Bloomsday. We love Bloomsday at our house, not just because we are James Joyce groupies, but because our original cat, named Molly Bloom, had her birthday on Bloomsday. The Rosenbach Museum and Library (who were kind enough to permit me to use this year's Bloomsday image, above), always hosts several events in honor of the day, probably the most popular of which is the reading of "Ulysses" on the front steps of the museum. Various individuals - some well-known, others not household names - read excerpts from the novel, or perform the appropriate music. It usually starts around noon, and goes until about 7 p.m. or so, with people coming and going all day. (Though there are some devotees who are there for the entire time, following with their copies of the book!)

I hadn't had the chance to go the reading for a few years, but this year, my sister Mary Ellen and my brother-in-law Pat, came to visit for the weekend, specifically to go to the Bloomsday reading. It was a perfect day weather-wise, warm but not hot, with a nice cool breeze. The Rosenbach is just a couple of blocks away from our house, so we walked over after starting the afternoon with a bit of Guinness, stayed for a couple of hours, and then walked over to a nearby pub for, well, more Guinness! (We had to keep our strength up, you know. Plus, we didn't want to be poor hosts.) No pictures today, I'm afraid, but I will probably have a few to post once The Tim downloads them from his camera.

Oh, and also ...
Happy Father's Day to all who celebrate!

13 June 2007

Tea for Two

Or more ...

This box arrived in the mail, from Finland. Now I ask you, is it not a cool box?

Even better, here's what was inside:

Yep, it was my package from Anne, my Knitters Tea Swap 3 partner! And she really outdid herself, I have to say. There was yarn, tea (3 kinds), chocolate (two kinds), a tea ball, a tea bag holder, two post cards, and stitch markers.

The yarn is a silk/wool blend, and this is the best of the pictures I took of one of the skeins. In person, it's not this rose-colored, it's more of a dark lilac shade, and feels incredibly soft. She sent me three skeins, so I have enough for several possibilities ...

This is my new little stash of teas. The first on the left is Tee Rakkaalle, which Anne says is "Tea for Lovers," and is an India-Ceylon tea flavored with passion fruit, cream, and pineapple and rose pieces. In the middle, Kesatee (there should be two dots over the "a" but I don't know how to put them there), which means "Summer Tea," and is an Assam-Ceylon tea flavored with strawberry, blueberry, and raspberry. Anne says it includes some dried blueberries, blackberry leaves, white clover, rose and blue pottle petals. (Sounds pretty fancy to me!)

The final tea, on the right, is Syysunelma, or "Autumn Dreams," which is black tea flavored with apple, honey, blueberry, and blackcurrant. (Typing this, rather than trying the tea, is a real effort, I have to tell you!)

She also included this tea bag holder, with scenes of her hometown, as well as some stitch markers that she made for me, that are little angels! *

Now, I don't know about you, but I think this is a wonderful package! Anne managed to give me a real taste of Finland, while also making her package very personal - the perfect combination!

Thank you so much, Anne! I've really enjoyed getting to know you, and hope that you'll enjoy your package as much I am enjoying mine.

And now, I am signing off, so I can fix a cup of tea, and do some knitting ...

*(Sorry about the blurred photos, but you at least get the idea, I hope ...)

10 June 2007

The Absence of Humility

Today I am bragging about myself, so if you don't want to hear about the amazing [non-knitting] thing I have accomplished, please direct your blog reading elsewhere (I'm looking at you, Anonymous).

Earlier this morning, I calculated my activity totals from last week for my weekly Runagogo tally. As you may recall, the idea is to cover 100 miles running/walking/bicycling/whatever, between April 1 and July 4. When I added things up today, my total was 102.13 miles!! And there are still a few weeks to go! I have to tell you that I am very proud of myself. There were a couple of times that I thought I may have gotten a little carried away, signing myself up for it, but honestly, it wasn't as difficult as I was expecting it to be. I didn't include my walk back and forth every day to work, since that is part of my regular routine. And I didn't count when I went shopping, or something like that, since those things included some down time, when I was not actually in motion. So those slightly more than 100 miles were strictly devoted to Runagogo! I have decided to keep count until the 4th of July, to see what my grand total will be.

Ready to go!

I finally received the final item I wanted to include in the package for my KTS3 swap pal, so I got everything organized, and will mail the box to Finland tomorrow. I love sending packages as much as receiving them, so I've had a good time getting things together for my partner, Anne. Hopefully the contents of the package will please her. I have also gotten a few more packages of goodies ready to send to others. I had gotten a couple of people some souvenirs from the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival last month, and at last have gotten my act together to get them ready to send. I also have another knitting-related package to send, but am not saying any more about it, so the recipient will be surprised.

What was I thinking???

As you can see from the sidebar, I have signed up for the Book Awards Challenge. Because apparently, I think I have time to read twelve additional books between July 1 of this year, and June 30 of next year. I love to read, so I actually believe I can do this. And I have also decided that since this blog has a literary title, I can write about what I read here. (OK, I do that anyway. Wanna make something of it????) I have already made a first draft list of my picks, but want to think about it a little more. Once I have my final list, I'll post it here, so that you can a) be jealous of my high-minded literary aspirations, b) mock me for thinking I can read such a list, or c) complain about that instead of cat pictures.

Second Wave Clapotis KAL

Wow! I really got a lot of takers for a Clapotis KAL in the fall! I have to admit that I was happy to realize that there were actually others on the planet who had not knit one ... In a shameless show of self-promotion, Carol wrote that it would work well for her, giving her some time to dye yarns perfect for Clapotis knitting! But I will also admit that I am happy to enable others to buy her yarns, not just because they are beautiful, but because she is the best. (And when push comes to shove, I don't really like that many people!)

Anyway, I'll get myself organized, and choose a random start date, and let all of the people who contacted me know what it is, so if they really do want to knit along, they can. It could be a lot of fun, I think.

The Odunde Festival

Today is the Odunde Festival, held annually in our neighborhood. Since we have moved here, it seems to get bigger (and I hope better) every year. Though today I must admit it is strangely quiet. Usually we can smell the barbecue and hear the music. But I think it is likely just as crowded, since I have seen scores of people heading in that direction, and the usual blocking off of streets is in effect. I have gone a few times to look around, but it is way too crowded for me! I like the idea of it, though, and am glad it's in our neighborhood, because it gives our little corner of Philadelphia something special.

World Wide Knit in Public Day

Yesterday was World Wide Knit in Public Day. We spent the day at the shore, and I don't take my knitting with me when we go there, so it won't get sandy or greasy (from the massive amounts of sunscreen I wear).

I know others participated, particularly in Dublin. I wouldn't mind knitting in that setting sometime as St. Stephen's Green and the Summer House were among my favorite things during our trip to Ireland ...

08 June 2007

Friday already!

This week was unusually busy for me during the evenings. Monday night was my yoga class (note to self: take a towel next time ...), Tuesday evening I cleaned the house (miracles do happen) in preparation for a guest on Wednesday. Wednesday evening said guest arrived, and we went out to dinner. Then last night, I was busy getting some packages organized to mail on Monday. It's not often that I have something specific to do every evening, so when I do, I feel completely discombobulated by the end of the week.

Anyway, it all worked out in the end. I like it when that happens.

Our guest on Wednesday was a friend and former co-worker of The Tim when they both worked at the University of Chicago Press. Joan was helping the daughter of one of her closest friends move into an apartment in preparation for entering the graduate nursing program at the University of Pennsylvania in July. (As it turns out, the daughter was moving into an apartment about 3 blocks from us, which is just one of those weird coincidences - you know, "of all the gin joints in the world," etc.) A few years ago, Joan decided that she was burned out working in publishing full-time, and left that job. She took a class in photography, and didn't just enjoy the class, but became totally hooked on it! She has been taking more classes, and recently launched her own website. I love looking at photographs, and she has some pretty cool ones. We had a great evening, as even the weather cooperated, while we walked around after dinner, showing her some of the sights, and stopping for dessert at Rita's Water Ice (everything goes well when a trip to Rita's is involved). Hopefully she'll make another trip to Philadelphia sometime and we can catch up some more.

Thank you

... for all of the nice comments on my Lemon-Lime Socks! I haven't made much progress since posting the photo (see above for excuse/reason), but will likely get the leg of sock #1 finished this weekend, and cast on sock #2. I think that working with handpainted yarn is addictive, because the way the colors will work is unpredictable. So you keep thinking that you'll just do a little bit more knitting to see what happens next - and all of a sudden, you've practically finished a section! I'm really having fun with this pair, and cannot wait to see the final product. I will admit that when a friend referred to them in the comments as "Sprite Socks," I was sorta confused. I kept thinking "Why does she think they look like socks for a sprite?" and then realized she meant Sprite, the lemon-lime soda. (Yep, mind like a steel trap ...)

Stupid joke

Ever since I saw a sign on my way home today that said "Wet Paint," I haven't been able to get this stupid old joke out of my head. As misery loves company, I'm sharing it with you.

Two morons were walking down the street, and saw a sign that said "Wet Paint." So they did.

I'm here all weekend, folks, tell your friends ...

03 June 2007

Lemon-Lime Socks

Here for your viewing pleasure, is the first in the pair of socks for my Sockapalooza 4 pal.

They remind me even more of lemons and limes than the yarn in the ball did. I'm just using a basic sock pattern, so the only thing going on here is the yarn changing colors and patterns. So far, the yarn is great to work with, not splitty or knotted at all. I have about 2 more inches to go on the leg, at which point I will put this one down, and start the second one, to the point of the bottom of the leg. When I have a choice, I like to knit both socks at the same time. That way, when one sock is finished, I know that only the toe or whatever is left to do on the second one. (BTW, having a choice means that a pair takes two balls of yarn. 'Cause I am too lazy to divide a large ball or skein ...)

Today has been very productive, knitting and otherwise. I took a nice, long bicycle ride this morning, giving myself a little over 8 miles to add to my Runagogo total, which is now somewhere around 86 miles! Then I headed out to run some errands, including getting the things I wanted to include in the package for my KTS3 pal. I have all but two things I want to send to her, and one should arrive in the mail this week, and the other I should be able to pick up this week. Meaning that I may be able to send her package at the end of this week, or the beginning of next week, which is nice, since the mailing deadline is June 15.

I was also able to get another ball of Encore in the burgundy shade to finish the Gryffindor beret I'm making for the Charmed Knits KAL. I ran out of yarn right about halfway through the pattern a couple of weeks ago, and this is the first chance I had to buy more. Ideally, they would like something with more wool in it, but Encore is what I had available, so Encore is what they are getting ... I may have enough now to make one more hat once the beret is finished, which would be nice.

The rest of today will be spent finishing up laundry and paying some bills. Things that fall into the category of dull but necessary.


According to the comments, I am not the only person who has not knit a Clapotis. I have decided that I will tackle it in the fall. This is because a) I need to finish up my summer projects, and b) I need to think about it for a while before I start. If anyone wants to knit-along with me, let me know. We can be the Second Wave Clapotis knitters ... :-)

Notes on a Scandal

We watched this over Memorial Day weekend. Wow. Judi Dench in particular is pretty amazing in this movie. Her character reminded me of Francis Urqhart in House of Cards, on Masterpiece Theater some years back. I think it must be fun when you get a role like that, and really revel in the evil of the character. I recommend it if you have not already seen it.

May Book Report

I am afraid that the May book report is non-existent. I started about 3 different books during May, and didn't manage to get even halfway through any of them. I think it was related to the whole malaise thing ... but, like my knitting, I'm also back to reading, so I hope to report on my June reading by the end of the month.


Tomorrow evening is my second yoga class (we didn't have class last Monday, because it was Memorial Day). I have attempted to do some of the poses in the interim, but I haven't had much success. Oh well, isn't that why I'm taking the class??

01 June 2007

One weekend later ...

Hard to believe, but I really had nothing to say this week - about knitting! (I pretty much always have something to say about everything else ...) I did, however, think about knitting, read lots of knitting blogs, and actually get back to knitting, so all was not lost.

One thing that has stuck with me all week was Liz's photo/posting of her completed Clapotis. Wow. I've seen lots of pictures of these, knitted by various people, and they have all looked quite nice, but this one just really hit me. I am pretty sure that I am one of the few people left in the knitting universe who has not made one, but I may have to give it a try ... if nothing else, so that when I am finished, I could say "Zut alors!", which is my very favorite French exclamation.

Also this week, I've had the chance to get to know Anne better, through a couple of e-mail exchanges. She is my swap partner for the Knitters Tea Swap 3, and she lives in Finland. Her blog is written in both Finnish and English. (Zut alors!) I find this both fascinating and amazing, though it also reminds me of my continued frustration with the American way of learning, which in some places now does not even require a year of study of another language. Anyway, I am beginning to feel that I've made a new friend, which is always nice, and I've been getting even more ideas of what I would like to add to her package.

Speaking of swaps, last weekend I showed you the yarn I decided to use for my Sockapalooza 4 pal's socks. I actually started to knit them this week, and so far, I'm pleased with the way they look. (I don't have a picture at the moment, but once I have worked on them a little bit more, I'll take one.) The yarn looks even more like a lemons and limes combination to me than it did in the ball!

Non-knitting-related, I have also been intrigued for a couple of days about the post on Tea Reads about e-books. It's an interesting topic, if you are a book-lover at all. Personally, I spend a lot of time at work looking at a computer screen, and at home, I check e-mail, read blogs, write on this blog, and poke around for things online. That's more than enough time spent looking at computer screens for me. So give me a printed book every time! I'm not saying that I would never look at an e-book - but I can't think of a reason why, if I'm reading a book for my own purposes, I would want to read a digital version. I like printed books, and maybe it's because I'm not part of a generation that started with computers as a child, but I find books infinitely more pleasing aesthetically than even the sleekest computers.

And, finally, our trip to Avalon last weekend went very well. Traffic both ways was reasonable, the beach wasn't crowded, and we came back the same color we were when we left. (Meaning, we didn't have lobster red splotches on our bodies where we missed putting on sunscreen. That hardly ever happens!) We bought beach passes for the season, so now we must go back. I guess it will just be our cross to bear this summer ... oh well.