30 September 2007

Four Words:

National League East Champs!

28 September 2007

Vacation pictures, round 2

I am finally getting around to editing the remainder of our vacation photos, so here are some from our day in Colonial Williamsburg:This is the kitchen of the Hope Plantation, which you enter right before you get to Colonial Williamsburg proper. It is a re-creation of a plantation of a lower- to middle-class family right after the Revolutionary War. (I took lots of other pictures while we walked around the various parts of the plantation, but they didn't turn out too well.)

Offering a decided contrast, here is the kitchen of the Governor's Palace:

As well as the storage cellar, and the wine cellar:

Always a favorite place, the print shop and bindery - here the press is being inked:
On the left, the Map Room in the Capitol Building, and on the right, the view from one of the original cells in the Public Gaol:

This one is for my co-workers, it is the inside of the Presbyterian Meeting House:

We stopped for an afternoon snack here,
then made our way back to the Apothecary:

And this display, in the public marketplace, just really appealed to me, with the ribbons moving ever so slightly in the light breeze: It was such a fun day, and we enjoyed ourselves even though it was so hot and humid, we looked like we had taken a shower in our clothes! It did make me think that I would not have been a good colonial person, with all those layers of clothes, even in the summer. (Because, let's face it, I think we all know I wouldn't be one of the ladies of leisure, with servants doing nothing all day but seeing to my comfort.)

27 September 2007

Friendship - Booking Through Thursday

Buy a Friend a Book Week is October 1-7 (as well as the first weeks of January, April, and July). During this week, you’re encouraged to buy a friend a book for no good reason. Not for their birthday, not because it’s a holiday, not to cheer them up–just because it’s a book.

What book would you choose to give to a friend and why?

And, if you’re feeling generous enough–head on over to Amazon and actually send one on its way!

Wow, this one really has me thinking. Because I buy books for friends and family all of the time, unless I know they positively hate to read. But I choose the books based on the individual, largely because I will admit that it annoys me when someone buys me a book by an author that I don't like, but they do, or of a type that I am not interested in at all. (Yeah, even here it always ends up being all about me, baby!)

For instance, take my sister Mary Ellen. She is a scientist, and a former teacher. She is devoted to the environment, and human rights. So I tend to give her books that seem somehow related to that, because I know she isn't really interested in chick lit, or cozy mysteries. Last Christmas, I gave her Three Cups of Tea, which I thought she would really appreciate. (Plus, she - like me - is a tea freak, and the word "tea" was in the title!)

Then there's Lisa, who loves cookbooks A LOT. But she also enjoys books and magazines about fashion, beauty, classical literature, and Nancy Drew. So there are a lot of choices when shopping for her. I have a book in mind that I am planning to get her for her birthday in a couple of weeks, but I cannot mention it here, since she reads this. One year, I gave her Inventing Beauty, because I had enjoyed it, and had a strong feeling that she would, too.

Another friend, April, loves graphic novels, illustration guides, and movies. In spite of knowing that, I would likely buy her a Bible, or something similar - HA!

This is not to say that if I really like a book, I won't try to get others to read it. But I guess I don't have a one-book-fits-all title ...

24 September 2007


Public Service Announcement

Even though September is in its last week, I wanted to remind you that September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. Ovarian cancer is one of the most deadly cancers, because often by the time it is diagnosed, it has already advanced to a serious stage. It is the fifth largest killer of women in the U.S., according to the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund. To find out what the symptoms can be, as well as the risk factors, check out the American Cancer Society or the Women's Cancer Network websites, to name just two. There have been a lot of advances made over the years, but a lot of what could be known about its causes and potential treatments and cure are still in the beginning stages. A diagnosis does not have to be a death sentence, if the disease can be caught early, and more and more, that is becoming possible.

You Know You Spend Too Much Time at the Doctor's Office/Hospital When ...

Everyone who works there a) knows you by first name, and b) also knows to ask about the book you are currently reading, and your current knitting project. I spent today having several routine tests and examinations, and no matter where I had to go, it was like I'd dropped in to visit friends. Which is a nice thing when you are going through all of the procedures, etc.. It did however, get me some mighty weird looks from other people in the waiting rooms. I actually heard one woman say to her companion, "She must be a real hypochondriac case!" As if.


The Tim and Sebastian left a while ago for a pre-season exhibition NHL game. When Tim told me about getting the tickets as part of a Big Brothers promotion, he told me that the game was between the Flyers and the Green Bay Packers! I mentioned that such a game would be big news, and that I was surprised they had not written/televised any news stories about it. At which point he remembered that the opponents were the New Jersey Devils ("I knew it was some big rivalry.")

Delusions of [knitting] grandeur

I can't think of the last time this happened to me, but it has, on one or two other occasions. I realize that I suddenly have a bunch o' projects going, with others in mind, and am unable to talk myself out of putting any aside. Then a month or so goes by, and some of them sort of put themselves aside ...

Currently, I am knitting:

1. Jaywalker socks. Another pattern that I may be the last person on earth to try. I'm using some of Carol's Black Bunny yarn, in the Blue Agate colorway:
I've got a bit more knitted than when this was taken, but I'm enjoying the pattern, and I love the yarn.

2. A bag to be felted, using a little bit of this pattern, and a little bit of the pattern that came with this kit.

3. A pair of these. I have had the yarn I wanted to use for about a year, and have just now decided I must knit them ...

4. Yesterday was the start day of the Second Wave Clapotis KAL, so I'm starting that as well ... along with 100+ others!

There are two additional things I want to get started for birthday/holiday gifts. I won't be specific here, in the event that it would ruin any surprises. But I ask you - *what* am I thinking???

22 September 2007

Two things ... and then something else ...

1. Clapotis yarn

I am usually not a last-minute person. As a matter of fact, I get really aggravated when I am working on something that has a deadline with someone else, and they procrastinate. So when I decided that I was going to knit a Clapotis, and ended up starting a separate blog, because so many other people were interested as well, I immediately started to look for yarn. I found plenty of possibilities, but for the most part, financial considerations made nearly all of them impossibilities.

I was getting pretty discouraged, when something floated into my brain one night, right before I fell asleep:

Last year, at Stitches East, I bought this skein of yarn at the Dancing Leaf Farms booth. It's their "Salsa" yarn, a wool/mohair blend, and this is the Pansy colorway. So the next morning, I pulled it out, and thought how perfect it would be ... except that I would need another skein. So I contacted Dalis, and she said that she could dye more if I wanted it. Originally, I was going to order two more skeins, so they would be from the same dye lot.

But the more I thought about it, the more I thought that since it was hand-dyed anyway, and I was making a Clapotis (as opposed to a sweater, for example, where dye lot is crucial), that I would only order another skein, and see what happened. So earlier this week, I finally got around to ordering the other skein. In the meantime, I can start out with this one, so it all worked out in the end!

(Note to Carol - before you get all hot and bothered, because I didn't get yarn from you, let me say that I decided on this because it was already here. This is not to say that a) I won't still buy some yarn from you, or b) I will only ever make one Clapotis. I would still like to try the yarns you were telling me about. There. OK???? See, I still love you and your yarns, honest!)

The "official" start date for the KAL is tomorrow, the first day of autumn. Having said that, I may not even get close to getting cast on tomorrow, as I have various necessary chores to do around here, and I'm taking a class tomorrow afternoon on finishing techniques at Rosie's. But if I don't have a chance to start knitting tomorrow, I'll at least wind the yarn ...

2. A package in the mail!

I came home Friday evening, and there was a package for me in the mail - hooray! I opened it, and these were inside:

My Sockapalooza 4 socks from my sock pal! Her name is Andrea, and she is in North Carolina, though in a note she sent along, she mentioned that she used to live in Philadelphia, and it turns out where she lived is about 2 1/2 blocks away! This picture makes the colors look brighter than they are, the socks are really more fall-ish looking, and they have baby cables - I do love cables. I tried them on, and they fit perfectly (please note that I refrained from saying "like they were made for me" ...)

I had received a note from Andrea, when the deadline for mailing socks had just barely passed, and she said she was behind on her knitting, but she would send me socks nonetheless. Last weekend, I got a note saying that they were finally finished and she was mailing them this week. Strangely enough, on Tuesday, I got a note from my "Sock Saviour" saying that she would make me a pair of socks since I never received mine (the coordinator had a database to keep track of such things)! I wrote back and told her that I appreciated it, but that my sock pal was sending my socks this week.

(And, to be honest - I'd completely lost track of all this, and forgot anyway. I'd like to say it's because I have been so very busy with extremely important things. But I have to admit to myself that I forgot because my brain resembles a sieve.)

Thank you Andrea, for a beautiful pair of socks! I can't wait to wear them, and will do so as soon as the weather cools down again.

PVSD (Post-Vacation Stress Disorder)

Though it does not appear in the latest edition of DSM, this is a legitimate threat to an individual's mental health. It occurs when you have been on vacation from your job - whether you have traveled, or simply stayed home and relaxed - and then the vacation is over and you must return to your regular routine. The worst part, work-wise, is that they expect you to come back and actually start working right away - what's that about??

On top of which, you have a ton of laundry to do, and bills that didn't get paid while you were away. Geez.

But possibly worst of all, the reaction of other family members goes from one end of the spectrum to the other:

Garden Kitty made sure that we spent as much time together as possible ...

Whereas, whenever I would go near Tess, or talk to her, she would turn her back on me and completely ignore me (after cuddling and purring for Tim).

(I feel fairly certain that Jetsam didn't even notice we were gone ...)

20 September 2007

Sunshine and Roses

The reverse of last week’s question:

Imagine that everything is going just swimmingly. The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and all’s right with the world. You’re practically bouncing from health and have money in your pocket. The kids are playing and laughing, the puppy is chewing in the cutest possible manner on an officially-sanctioned chew toy, and in between moments of laughter for pure joy, you pick up a book to read . . .

What is it?

I'm OK, You're OK ... just kidding!

If things were this fantastic, I would probably check with someone to be sure it was real, in the event that I had suddenly been thrown into some bizarro-world of my usual existence. Once I was convinced it was real, I would probably do something similar to what I would do when things were bad: find something that doesn't necessarily take a lot of concentration, and is a relatively quick read. When I am at an extreme high or low, I want to read, but at least at the beginning, cannot really concentrate on much.

Also cookbooks are excellent reading, no matter what. All of those possibilities ...

First of a few ...

Quizzes, memes, whatever. I've seen them on other's blogs, and I do like some of them, so I have done them, and kept the results, but have gotten behind on posting them. So here is one, answering the age-old question:

What spirit animal are you?

Your Score: The Otter

Here's your results! Your spirit animal has a Nobility ranking of 11 out of 18.

Your spirit animal is the otter. Playful, curious and fun animals, they are truly the start of what can be considered a noble creature. Otters are good at figuring things out, and make great friends. You are lucky to have one as a spirit animal. Otters are fairly rare as spirit animals.

(From: The What is Your Spirit Animal Test written by FindingEros)

Actually, this is rather interesting to me. I have always liked otters, and in one of my previous jobs, when we got a new computer system, and received assigned passwords from the tech department, my password was: otter! (Speaking of bizarro-worlds ...)

17 September 2007


Alas, vacation is over, and as of today, we are back to the usual work routines. We had a wonderful week away - actually it felt like a longer time than just a week, which is always a good sign. We took many pictures, and I will insert a few here or there, but promise not to make you look at every single one ...

But look kids - here are some right now!

These are from the Jamestown Settlement.

The first thing you see when you leave the Visitors' Center, is a wooded area with reed/thatch roof huts, illustrating how the Native Americans would have lived at the time the first settlers arrived.

Storage/tobacco drying hut

Then you leave the village, and follow the path a bit more, when you see this:

Once you are closer, and walk onto the pier, they have three replicas of the ships that you can tour.

Ships in a row

The largest replica, The Susan Constant

Anchor of The Susan Constant

Sleeping quarters below deck for the crew

After touring the ships, you visit a replica of the fort, with representative buildings, and areas where interpreters demonstrate some of the regular tasks of the settlers, or answer questions about their daily lives.

Fort church building

Laundry area

Do you hear that sucking sound??

That would be Ravelry, which, as others have said, is one of the newest/biggest time-sucking black holes of the knitting universe! I had read a lot of people who were invited to be beta testers say how great it was, and would be, once it was available to everyone. I thought it sounded intriguing, but wasn't going to request an invitation. Except that Carol told me I had to, and because I both love and fear her, I decided to put my name on the list.

Well, my invitation arrived a few weeks ago, and I fiddled around a bit here and there. Then for whatever reason, I decided to work on entering my finished projects for 2007 into my Ravelry notebook over the weekend. And everyone is right, it does suck you right in, even if just a little bit at a time. I'm still not sure how much I'll use it, except for getting my project lists organized, but even that is a worthwhile part of it for me ... because as all of you know, I do love to organize things ... and to have something that actually encourages such behavior with a relatively minimum effort - well, throw in a slice of cake and something shiny, and I'll live there! (For any of you who are already members, you can find me as "thekittyknitter.")

So I guess that's it for now - oh, except for:


13 September 2007

Comfort Food (Booking Through Thursday)

Okay . . . picture this (really) worst-case scenario: It’s cold and raining, your boyfriend/girlfriend has just dumped you, you’ve just been fired, the pile of unpaid bills is sky-high, your beloved pet has recently died, and you think you’re coming down with a cold. All you want to do (other than hiding under the covers) is to curl up with a good book, something warm and comforting that will make you feel better.
What do you read?
(Any bets on how quickly somebody says the Bible or some other religious text? A good choice, to be sure, but to be honest, I was thinking more along the lines of fiction…. Unless I laid it on a little strong in the string of catastrophes? Maybe I should have just stuck to catching a cold on a rainy day….)

This may be heresy, but if things were this bad, my first inclination would be to make a cup of tea. Then I would need to just sit and drink that for a while. Then, depending on the situation, I would likely either grab a quick-read mystery (involving animals, usually. What can I say, I love them, even though I know many of them are very lame), or, if it seemed appropriate to me, I would read a chapter or two from The Cloister Walk, by Kathleen Norris. I read this book the first time when something terrible had happened to me, and found it well-written, a good read, and helpfully comforting, for reasons that are not overly clear even to myself. But you can pick it up and read as much/little as you like, and when things are awful, that's the kind of thing that can get me moving again.

Vacation update

As of yesterday, we are enjoying ourselves at Virginia Beach, which The Tim informs me is also known as "The Redneck Riviera." Who knew? But if there are rednecks here, they are leaving us alone, and we are leaving them alone, so our "Riviera" vacation has been wonderful. We are staying at a Courtyard Marriott on the oceanfront, and we have a balcony facing the beach. I promise pictures after I get home and sort through what I have.

Speaking of which, tomorrow we head home. So sad. Though I shouldn't complain, since it feels like we have been gone for weeks, and I'll be happy to see the cats. Still, it sure is nice to be on vacation ...

10 September 2007

Ye Olde Blogg Poste

I'm writing this from our hotel room at the Days Inn in Colonial Williamsburg (do we know how to live it up, or what?). Today is the first day of our vacation - the first one we have had since our trip to Ireland in 2003! Granted, Williamsburg is not Ireland, but it's still a great place to visit, and our first day has been great, though too warm and humid weather-wise. But this is better than Tropical Storm Gabrielle, which is what one of the possibilities was late last week ...

We arrived around lunchtime, and checked into our room, then headed out to have lunch, and visit the Jamestown Settlement. We had been to the Jamestown archaeological site years ago, but for the 350th anniversary of the settlement, they recreated the village, and constructed replicas of the ships. It was very interesting, and unfortunately, one of the pictures I was dying to post turned out too blurry ... it was a guy (The Tim swears it was a woman, but it was a guy), in animal skins, talking about how they constructed their own reed huts for shelter. He had a tattoo. Somehow it didn't match ...

But in the end, you'll probably enjoy this picture more:
Yeah. My very own knight in [not] shining armor.

06 September 2007


Okay, so the other day, a friend was commenting on my monthly reading list and asked when I found the time to read. In the ensuing discussion, she described herself as a “goldilocks” when it comes to reading–she needs to have everything juuuuuust right to be able to focus. This caught my attention because, first, I thought that was a charming way of describing the condition, but, two, while we’ve talked about our reading habits, this is an interesting wrinkle. I’d never really thought about it that way.

So, this is my question to you–are you a Goldilocks kind of reader?
Do you need the light just right, the background noise just so loud but not too loud, the chair just right, the distractions at a minimum?
Or can you open a book at any time and dip right in, whether it’s for twenty seconds, while waiting for the kettle to boil, or indefinitely, like while waiting interminably at the hospital–as long as the book is open in front of your nose, you’re happy to read?

Hm. Well, as usual, I have to say, "It depends." Overall, I can read nearly anything, anywhere, at anytime. I admit that if I am reading something with a lot of characters that are all important to the story, or if the plot requires extreme attention to detail, then things do need to be "just right" in order for me to get anything out of it.

For the most part, though, as long as I have a book with me, I am happy to at least try reading it whenever/wherever I can. Not just so I can read it, but also as a buffer against other people, since a lot of people will leave you alone (even give you wide berth) if you are reading something ...

04 September 2007

I'm Finished in This Town ...

With a couple of knitting projects, that is! Yes, I said "couple" as in 2, and yes, I also said "finished." I'd finished the knitting part of one a while back, and just needed to sew it up, and the other, I finished knitting on Friday night, bought the beads on Saturday, and wove in the ends, etc., yesterday.

Now that I have you sucked in by the sheer excitement and mystery of it all, I present the following:

Here we have the Molly hanger, modeling the [finally] completed Baby Kimono, from the class I took in July at Sophie's Yarns. It turned out really cute, though I am glad that you cannot look closely, since my finishing skills are lousy ...

Anyway, here are the specifics:

Pattern: Baby Kimono, purchased at Sophie's (link above)
Yarn: Eden Print, by Madil. 100% bamboo, color 035 (pink, tan, gray); 3 balls
Needles: Size US5, 24-inch circular

I really enjoyed learning the construction techniques for this pattern, as it is knitted in one piece, and then the side/sleeve seams are sewn, and the ties added. I could see making one again. This one was strictly for the class, and to learn how it all worked.

And lest you think the Molly hanger is always in the house, relegated to hanging on the front of one of the bedroom closets, here's another shot in the great outdoors.

Next up, and just in time for the end of summer, we have the completed Fishnet Beach Bag, also two shots, one as it frolicked in the garden, and the other over the bedroom fireplace, where you can see the beads on the handles a little bit more clearly. As mentioned earlier, I finished knitting this on Friday night, bought the beads on Saturday, and put it all together yesterday. This pattern was easy, addictive, and fun. It also had what I thought was really cool construction. You begin by knitting two strands held together in seed stitch, for 8 inches. Then you pick up stitches all around the square you have just knit, using a single strand, and all of a sudden, you're knitting in the round! You follow the pattern until the bag measures 12 inches from the bottom, and then you make the cords, by crocheting a chain, again holding two strands together. You attach beads at the ends of the cords once you have woven them through.

Here are the specifics for this one:

Pattern: Fishnet Beach Bag, a house pattern from Rosie's Yarn Cellar
Yarn: Adrienne Vittadini Nicole (65% acrylic, 35% nylon); color 47696 (blue with greens throughout); 3 balls
Needles: Size US8, 24-inch circular
Crochet Hook: Size H
Beads: 2 glass beads, 3/4 inch in diameter (you don't have to purchase glass beads, of course - I just really liked these and wanted to use them)

I not only enjoyed knitting this pattern, but I'm anxious to make another one or two as gifts. I bought the yarn originally when Rosie's had their sidewalk sale in July, but was able to get more - still on sale - once I realized how much I liked the whole thing. (There may still be some left in the sale bin - stop by and check it out!)

Rosie's is also offering a class on finishing techniques later this month - do I really need to tell you I signed up right away??

03 September 2007


Happy Labor Day!!

02 September 2007

August Book Report

I was surprised when I realized that I had read four books in August - maybe because it was just too flippin' hot to do much of anything else!

Lethally Blonde, by Kate White. I have read the other mysteries written by Kate White, who is also known as the editor of Cosmopolitan (which I seldom, if ever look at), and have really enjoyed them. Her heroine, Bailey Weggins, is a journalist who finds herself embroiled in murder mysteries on a regular basis, and although they are not classic literature, the writing is enjoyable to read, and the characters are usually funny or snarky, or both. So I was looking forward to this one.

Well, it was a big disappointment. It just seemed to me that in this book, Bailey spends more time thinking about having sex, or having sex, than she does thinking about/doing anything else. There are two men that she is involved with, and though they have a reason to be included, the main plot gets kinda pushed aside so that we can be privy to Bailey's thoughts about each man, and so that we can read passages that are entirely too long about the two of them having sex. Now, you may say, "Well what do you expect from the editor of Cosmo?" I expected something like her earlier books in the series, where Bailey has boyfriends, and yes, she does have sex with them in the course of the book, but she spends more of her time trying to resolve personal issues and solve murders in a highly amusing way.

But I may have hit the end of the road here.

Dance of the Happy Shades, by Alice Munro. This book was one for the Book Awards Reading Challenge, and it won the Governor General's Award in Canada during 1982. The book is a collection of short stories, all of which take place in rural Canada. The stories cover pretty much every aspect of life, death, and relationships within families. This is the first I had ever read anything by Alice Munro, and I will definitely seek out more of her writing.

I found the stories to be extremely evocative of time and place, and Munro takes several chances by making some of the primary characters somewhat unlikable. Though set in a different place from where I live, the themes resonated, as I think she was able to capture the thoughts and feelings that all of us have had from time to time.

The House of Spirits, by Isabel Allende. I have had this book on my shelf for a few years, and decided I would read it as part of the Armchair Traveler Reading Challenge. Set in Chile, the story is of the del Valle and Trueba families, who are joined by marriage. The main character, Clara, can commune with spirits, and can predict the future. Her elder sister Rosa, was originally meant to marry Esteban Trueba, but she dies before they can be wed. Years later, Esteban marries Clara, and the book is about their life together, their children, grandchildren, and the changes that take place in the country throughout their lives.

This book was different than what I was expecting, but I loved it! The language is not just evocative, but at times mesmerizing (like Clara is to some of her friends and family!). Knowing/remembering some of the details of Allende's father's rule in Chile, it was interesting to see how she portrayed certain characters, particularly those in government positions, and the individuals who worked to make the general population aware of what was happening in the country.

This particular passage struck me when I read it, and has stuck with me since finishing the book:

She did not understand the state of civil war, nor did she realize that war is the soldiers' work of art, the culmination of all their training, the gold medal of their profession. Soldiers are not made to shine in times of peace. The coup gave them the chance to put into practice what they had learned in their barracks: blind obedience, the use of arms, and other skills that soldiers can master once they silence the scruples of their hearts.

I don't know about you, but as for me - wow.

Some Danger Involved, by Will Thomas. This one was recommended to me by The Tim, who read it shortly before I did. We seldom read the same things, particularly around the same time, but he said he thought I'd like this one, and I did. The title comes from an advertisement in a London newspaper during Victorian times. Cyrus Barker, a detective ("enquiry agent") is seeking an assistant, and the ad warns that there is "some danger involved." Thomas Llewelyn, a young man down on his luck, applies for the job, and is hired. The first case he assists with involves the murder of a young Jewish man by crucifixion.

This book is a really enjoyable read. The two main characters are well-drawn, and interesting in and of themselves. The book is told from Llewelyn's standpoint, and some of his observations are not just interesting, but also pretty amusing. Victorian London is described in the daytime as an appealing, bustling place, but a dark, threatening place at night.

Thomas references actual historical figures in the story, which - to me at least - made it more interesting. He manages to keep you as interested in the secondary characters that are involved in the story as you are in the two main characters. The ending had a real twist as far as I'm concerned. (Though in the interest of full disclosure, I have to say that I'm almost always unaware of "whodunit" until they are actually exposed!)

I enjoyed this one enough that I am looking forward to reading the next one in the series.