31 October 2007

28 October 2007

True Love Wins Out

Marriage is not a ritual or an end.

It is a long, intricate, intimate dance together

and nothing matters more

than your own sense of balance

and your choice of partner.

- Amy Bloom -

Happy Anniversary to my sweetie;
I hope you'll be my dancing partner
for a long time to come!

25 October 2007

Read With Abandon?

Today’s suggestion is from Cereal Box Reader:

I would enjoy reading a meme about people’s abandoned books. The books that you start but don’t finish say as much about you as the ones you actually read, sometimes because of the books themselves or because of the circumstances that prevent you from finishing.

So . . . what books have you abandoned and why?

I'm sure that over the years, I've abandoned more than one book, but the only one that comes to mind thinking about my response is Dogs of Babel by Carolyn Parkhurst. It started out as a book that I was really enjoying: a man who loses his wife unexpectedly, and latches on to the dog she had adopted and loved, as a way to feel close to her.

Then, the more I learned about the wife, the more I thought she sounded like one of those people that is so busy being quirky and lovable, you fail to notice that there's really nothing there. Then further into the book, the husband started to annoy me. But there came a part when I had to stop reading altogether, when it got into details about what happened to the dog, and I felt that part of it was because of the carelessness and stupidity of the husband. At a certain point, reading about such cruelty in the name of "science" meant I couldn't take it. I returned the book to the library, and actually hadn't thought about it again until today.

I recall that reviews and word-of-mouth for the book were quite positive. So maybe it was just me, but I do not plan to ever pick it up again!

22 October 2007

Another exciting evening at home ...

Jetsam: Look, Garden Kitty! There's a leaf blowing around on the deck - let's get it!
GK: It looks dangerous to me.

Jetsam: I'm telling you, we MUST get out there! What if it blows completely away???
GK: It could be a bomb, you know.

Meanwhile, Tess dreams of her kitty jihad, where Jetsam and GK will be in the Top 10 of Those to Be Eliminated ...

20 October 2007

At last - my arm is complete again!

(Yep, me and Sweeney Todd ...)

Hello possums, did you miss me?? Did the days seem long and dull, without my incredible wit and wonderful wisdom to brighten your lives? Fear no more, the stitches were removed yesterday, and I am back using both hands to type (though it's not all that comfortable. But hey, it's only been one day!)

I haven't tried knitting yet, mostly because my thumb is swollen, sore, and feels like pins and needles at the tip. So I'm extremely conscious of it at the moment, and since the sensation is not all that pleasurable, I don't want to push my luck - or ruin my knitting ...

So, let me catch up with the highlights of the past couple of weeks.

Stitches East

This time last week, I'd just gotten home from a day in Baltimore, at the Stitches market. The weather was perfect, the drive uneventful, and the market a ton of fun. So much color this year! My friend Sharrie and I had a blast. We had noted the places that we absolutely had to stop, so that we would be sure to see those, and not have to hurry, or miss them altogether. Though many mocked us, it was an excellent plan. We had time to see everything, and even time to re-visit some new favorites.

We also had fun deciding what to buy. Sharrie bought a lot of baby patterns, as her son and daughter-in-law are expecting the first grandchild. She also bought some gorgeous Schaefer Anne yarn to make a scarf for her husband.

I, on the other hand, bought things for, um, myself. To be honest, most of the things I have in mind for other people, I already have yarns and patterns for at home. And though I am always working on something, I haven't actually knit that many things for myself. Now, this is really not an excuse, nor is it an apology. Just a reason.

I bought two of Courtney's patterns: Parthenope, and Gertrude (I already have Beatrix). I have liked Gertrude since I first saw it, but until I saw Parthenope in person at Rosie's, I had no incredible interest in it. But wow, is it beautiful! So it will be on my "someday" list. I also bought a pattern from Cabin Fever for a 4 x 4 Ribbed Tank, a Loopy Mohair shawl kit, and three skeins of yarn from Blue Moon Fiber Arts: the lightweight yarn in Chickabiddy and Oregon Red Clover Honey, and the Seduction yarn in Hollyday. (The reason I am extra-link-y, is because Blogger apparently does not feel like letting me add pictures to this post.)

Making Strides Against Breast Cancer

So, after walking around the Stitches market all day on Saturday, and then taking Doughboy for a walk that evening, Sunday morning I got up bright and early for the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk. The weather could not have been more perfect, and they had a good turnout - crowded, but not so many people that you couldn't get a good, brisk walk out of it. I was almost to the finish line, and some a-hole on a bicycle came from behind and knocked me down. He hit me and I fell to the right, and automatically put down my right hand to break the fall - O U C H !!! It was one of those things that hurt so much, you can't breathe for a couple of minutes. Fortunately, a couple of people were kind enough to stop and make sure I was OK, and to help me get up. Because Bicycle Man just kept going. Anyway, I came home, took some of my Vicodin, and pretty much spent the rest of the day on the couch.

I want to thank those of you who donated to support me, it was so very much appreciated, and such a nice surprise! I will send you thank-you notes soon, now that I can type more comfortably. You may have noticed several famous names in the roll of donors ... no, I don't know these people, my family is just insane. (But in the best way possible!) I am a little bit disappointed that I didn't reach my goal, though I have until the end of October, so I may get a few more donations. But I did extremely well nonetheless, and I'm really glad that I took part again this year. And if you are reading this and thinking, "Oh my God, I meant to donate a thousand dollars!," feel free to donate it now - just click here! :-)

Knitters Tea Swap 4

Yep, it's another one. (And I never even got around to adding the button ...) The mailing date is October 24, but I'm all set, and will be getting my package in the mail this Monday, if I can find the packing tape. My swap pal is in Canada, which of course pleases me to no end, as I do love Canada, and Tim Horton's, and maple everything, and - well, you get the picture. This is just such a neat swap, and Suzie really has it worked out so that it goes smoothly, for the most part. Of course, there are always a few who flake out, and it annoys me, because she puts so much work and energy into it. But she said the number of flake outs has dropped every time.

I'm also excited because most of what is in my package is local, or at least purchased in my neighborhood. So hopefully the little bit of Philadelphia that travels north will give someone a favorable impression of this place.

Farm to City

Today I signed us up for the Philadelphia Winter Harvest, and I'm so excited! I've been wanting to give this program a try, but usually heard about it too late to sign up. Fortunately, the last time I inquired, they added my name to their list for e-mail notices. I love getting fresh fruit, veggies, etc., and knowing that I am helping local farmers, particularly after reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver over the summer. Plus, a lot of the times, the grocery stores in the city get the crappy-looking produce, and it's discouraging, because why should the suburbanites get the really nice stuff? I mean, everyone needs to eat, after all. I could go on, but won't, and you should all be mighty glad.

So now you know the latest. Or at least as much of the latest as I can remember at the moment. Next time = some pictures? Who knows?

12 October 2007

Taking my stitches to Stitches!

Well, I survived a week at work, typing and doing everything one-handed, and to be honest it was pretty miserable. So I am quite happy that Friday is here, not just because the work week has ended for me, but because tomorrow morning at approximately 8:30 a.m., my friend Sharrie and I are heading to Baltimore for the day to go to the market at Stitches East! We've both been looking forward to it for weeks. I doubt I'll even notice if my hand hurts at all tomorrow ...

I've sorely (ha - sore-ly!) missed being able to knit, but I did finish reading Anne of Green Gables last night, so one of my books for October has been completed. Plus it was a great read. I never read the books as a kid, but I loved the dramatization that they did a few years back on PBS with Colleen Dewhurst, William Farnsworth, and Megan Follows as Anne. So reading the book was fun, as I didn't mind that I was picturing it with the actors in the series.

It also helps that fall weather has returned, especially after a week of conversations like this one:

Annoying co-worker: When do you get your bandages changed?

Me: I see the dr next week to have the stitches removed.

AC-W: So you have to keep that dirty-looking thing on another week?

Me (in my brain): You have no room to talk, oh smelly one.
Me (actual response): The bandages may be kinda sad looking on the outside, but I was told to leave them alone and not get them wet, so that's what I am doing.

AC-W: What you should do is just go home and soak your arm and wrist, with the bandage, in baby shampoo, that would help a lot. Then rub olive oil on it.

Me (in my brain): Of course! I always try to listen to people who have made their families go through the terrible process of treatments for rabies because of a possible threat in their neighborhood, rather than my dr.
Me (actual response): I think I'll just wait it out, thanks.

*Note: No annoying co-workers were harmed during this conversation. Even if they should have been ...

08 October 2007

Before today is over ...

I wanted to wish a Happy Thanksgiving to my Canadian friends!

06 October 2007

What have I been up to lately, you may ask??

Besides knitting and reading (and of course showing up for work), I have been busy with some other things recently.

Last weekend, for instance, the weather felt like fall, and I felt like baking. So I tried a recipe I first saw referenced by June, and made two loaves of Ricotta Bliss Bread:

You actually use a food processor for this recipe, and it does most of the kneading! The recipe was a little bit involved (I'm not all that experienced with yeast bread recipes), but the resulting bread was really delicious! It turns out to have a light texture, and though it doesn't taste cheesy, there is a slight sweetness to it.

Plus, your house smells wonderful while it's baking ...

I was also busy getting organized to participate in the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk on Sunday, October 14. I missed it last year, but had enjoyed it the year before, so I'm glad to be able to do it again this year. I enjoy having the opportunity to help a cause by just taking a pleasant walk, and to be honest, I feel I owe it to those affected by breast cancer who can't participate, for whatever reason.

If you happen to be sitting around with a pot of money, and were wishing that someone would ask you to donate some of it, you are more than welcome to support my efforts by going here. I can assure you that no dollar will be turned away. :-)

It occurs to me that I could make it fun for all of you by having a contest for anyone who donated, but I'm not that organized at the moment, so you'll just have to be happy with a good feeling for having done a good deed ...

Finally, I may be quieter than usual for a while, due to this:

Fortunately, it's not as serious as it looks, but I will be sporting this accessory until October 19, when the stitches are removed. As you can imagine, typing is somewhat slow and tedious, and knitting is non-existent. However, I'm glad I was able to get it done (btw, it wasn't for a case of carpal tunnel), and that it's my right hand (I'm left-handed).

I do have painkillers* which really help, even if they do make me a little bit loopy, so I can just concentrate on some of my reading, and catching up on movies and TV for the next couple of weeks.

*The dr gave me Vicodin, which prompted The Tim to say, "Cool! Vicodin is what 'House' is addicted to!" So you see, there's something for the whole family to enjoy here ...

03 October 2007

September Book Report

Three books for September, and two of them in the last two weeks - what can I say, I was on vacation, and got out of my routines (as much as I complain about routine, I accomplish nothing when mine is interrupted).

First up was Needled to Death, by Maggie Sefton. It's the second in her Knitting Mystery series, and I received it along with the first installment as part of a swap package. I took this one on vacation with me, because I knew that I could pick it up and put it down several times without losing track of things (based on the first one). Turns out it was a perfect vacation read - not overly involved, well-enough written to be interesting, and very evocative of people and places. The series heroine, Kelly Flynn, who has moved back to Colorado to settle her late aunt's estate, learned to knit in the first book, and made a lot of friends back in her old home town. In this installment, she makes the acquaintance of another woman at her knitting circle who breeds prize-winning alpacas, and who is going through a nasty divorce. When the alpaca breeder turns up dead, Kelly and her compatriots work to figure out who killed the woman.

I liked this book, for the aforementioned reasons, but also because I learned something about alpacas and alpaca breeding, for one. Sefton managed to pack a lot of information into the story, without it seeming terribly out of place. I also learned a geography lesson, in that you can travel from some parts of Colorado to Wyoming in a day trip ... which I still can't quite figure out, but having only been to Denver, and never to Wyoming, I suspect I have no real conception of the relationship - geographically speaking - of Colorado and Wyoming. (If anyone would like to sponsor an education trip for me, please contact me at the e-mail address above ...)

Not great literature, but enjoyable, and a wonderful traveling companion.

Next up was The Well Dressed Explorer, by Thea Astley. This was one of my choices for the Book Awards Reading Challenge, and was the winner of the Miles Franklin Literary Award in Australia in 1962.

The well-dressed explorer is George Brewster, a man who has always been impressed with himself, and his way of dealing with others. We follow George from his rather dull childhood, through to his last conscious moments on earth. He considers himself quite a ladies' man, and is somewhat obsessed with his own appearance and "wit" as a result. He does get married, though not to his original love. His girlfriend marries someone else, and George marries one of the bridesmaids a few years later. He manages to move up through the ranks of newspaper journalism in Australia, and each job brings a new set of women to woo, and colleagues to impress.

I wanted to like this book more than I did. It was a good read, and pretty amusing in parts, particularly when Astley would take you into one of George's internal monologues about how magnificent he was, compared to other people. But basically, George is rather boring and uninteresting, I think because he has no sense of humor about himself. His wife Alice gives new meaning to the term "long-suffering." I suspect that this book was a better read in 1962 than it was today. Nowadays, there may not be more George Brewsters in the world, but you are faced with reading, or hearing about them more frequently, either because people are more open about such things as they used to be, or because society is more willing to put up with them.

I'm not sorry I read the book, but I do wish I had liked it more, since I was really looking forward to it.

September's last title was Defending Baltimore Against Enemy Attack: A Boyhood Year During World War II, by Charles Osgood. Osgood, a correspondent for CBS News, and the host of CBS Sunday Morning, wrote this memoir of 1942, the year he was a nine-year-old boy, living in Baltimore with his parents and his sister. This book was one of my choices in the Armchair Traveler Reading Challenge, and I enjoyed it for the most part. Osgood talks about the spirit that was prevalent in the country and his neighborhood in particular, at a time when everyone was doing what they could to plant victory gardens, and keep an eye out for enemy troops - whether on a neighborhood street in Baltimore, or near naval bases on the eastern coast of the United States.

This was an enjoyable read, as Osgood writes well, and with humor, about himself, his family, and the things that he worried about as a nine-year-old living in wartime America. It's a very short book, and written in a rather conversational tone, so it goes quickly. Only towards the end, when he is writing about his perspective on his childhood experiences as an adult, does it disappoint ever so slightly. He tends to lapse into the equivalent of, "When I was a child, " or, "Young people today don't ______ (fill in the blank)," and it just sort of ruins the tone of the book for me. Granted, I agree with some of his observations, but they just seemed out of place in what was otherwise an enjoyable read.

Because I apparently don't think I have enough going on, I signed up for the Anne of Green Gables Read and Knit Along, which started October 1. I watched the PBS dramatization a few years back, and dearly loved it, and figured since I had never actually read the books, it would be a fun way to do so. I will likely do more Read-ing Along than Knitting Along, since a) I am already in the midst of several projects, none of which (I'm fairly certain) have any relationship to the Anne stories, and b) I can read much more quickly than I can knit.


If you were reading this blog last year, you may remember that October 1 starts what is affectionately known in our family as The Birthday Marathon. So Happy Birthday to my nephew Chad (October 1), my niece Maira (today), my sister-in-law Sheila (also today)! If you are curious about any of them, you can read my little birthday tributes to them from last year. I can only write that lovingly about friends and family every few years, so that will have to last you for a while ...

Someone else also had a birthday on October 1: