29 March 2008

The Letter F; The Planet Earth; Easter Kitties

F is for:

French berry rolls!

These goodies are from the Metropolitan Bakery in Philadelphia, where they make artisanal breads and all kinds of amazing pastries. These are among our favorite things to get there, and we have them for a Saturday morning treat every once in a while. They are a somewhat dense, bready roll, packed with different kinds of berries - raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries at a minimum. If you just barely heat them, and then have one with a cup of tea (or coffee), it's a great way to start your day. The Tim often spreads some butter or cream cheese on his, but most of the time, I like mine just plain. However they make them, the berries stay soft and fresh-tasting, and the texture of the bread and the fruit is just exactly right. Every once in a while, I wish I knew what was in the recipe, so I could replicate them, but then I realize that if I could make them myself, they might not seem like such a treat.

If you ever visit Philadelphia, get thee to the Metropolitan!

Tonight from 8-9 p.m., the kitties and I will be taking part in Earth Hour. I just learned about it yesterday from reading another blog, and then Google's search page today is honoring it. So this evening, I'll sit in the candlelight with Tess and the boys, enjoying the hour of quiet. The Tim is working, so he can't exactly participate (since turning out the lights in a retail establishment for an hour while still open to customers would likely not work too well), but the rest of us at home are looking forward to it.

We had a very nice Easter, though The Tim and I were both sick, so it was slightly more low-key than usual. The kitties clearly must have been good, since the Easter Bunny felt they deserved nice surprises.

GK and Jetsam

Not to mention that an Easter miracle occurred while I was taking pictures:

The Unholy Three, in a rare moment where no one is attempting to kill anyone else!

27 March 2008

Cover Up?

This week’s question comes from Julie, who asks:

While acknowledging that we can’t judge books by their covers, how much does the design of a book affect your reading enjoyment? Hardcover vs. softcover? Trade paperback vs. mass market paperback? Font? Illustrations? Etc.?

I can truthfully say that if someone handed me a book with the cover obscured by say, pieces of cardboard taped together, I would be suspicious as to why that was the case, but would likely start to read the book anyway. If it's a good read, it's a good read.

Having said that, if I am looking for a book to read, left to my own devices, I will admit to paying attention to the cover and its condition. Because I have all kinds of arbitrary rules that I impose on my own universe, there are specific things that will make me put a book back rather than take it to read:

1. I do not like movie tie-in book covers. Nope, even when it's something or someone that I like in the illustration. If I want to see the movie, I'll go and see the movie, or rent it. I'm taking the book from the shelf to read the book!

2. I do not enjoy reading books where people have written all over the pages, in the margins, etc., particularly if they have written in ink, and even more so if they have poor handwriting.

3. I will not borrow a book from the library if I look through it, and cannot determine the cause/origin of stains, etc. I do not relish the idea of walking around with someone else's, er, "effluvia" dried onto the pages. (Likewise, if I am sick, or suffering from my allergies, I try not to read a borrowed book.)

4. Even if someone is nice enough to loan me their copy of a book, I won't read it if it's really filthy, shows signs of having been wet, or if I know the person to be a disgusting slob.

I could go on, but won't, both because I'm sure you get my drift by now, and why should I continue digging this black hole of crazy for myself?

I do like old books. I love books with inscriptions in them, especially when they are personal inscriptions from strangers. I am drawn to books with clear lettering on the front and the spine, and that grab me because of cover image or color. I like books that are the only one on a shelf (as in a bookstore), and always at least have to pull them out to see what they are.

23 March 2008

Happy Easter!

20 March 2008

BTT and a Bookish Meme

You’ve just reached the end of a book . . . what do you do now? Savor and muse over the book? Dive right into the next one? Go take the dog for a walk, the kids to the park, before even thinking about the next book you’re going to read? What?

(Obviously, there can be more than one answer, here–a book with a cliff-hanger is going to engender different reactions than a serene, stand-alone, but you get the idea!)

Most of the time, when I finish a book, I sit and think about it for a little bit. I ask myself if it was worth my time, how I felt about the characters and the story, and if it is one of the rare books I can envision reading again. I usually wait about a day until I start a new book, to see what my mood is - I may read the same kind of thing again, or change genres altogether - or I may catch up on magazines. On rare occasions, I finish a book and think that it was a total waste of time, and vow to avoid things by the same author, or of that type, again.

Melanie tagged me for this meme:

1. What book are you reading right now? I just finished reading March, by Geraldine Brooks, last night. I'm not sure what will be next.

2. What was the last book you read on a plane? I tried starting The Devil in the White City, by Erik Larson, on my last plane trip, but couldn't get into it. My usual plane reading is any mystery by Mary Higgins Clark. I find them interesting enough to keep my attention, but not so involved that I can't put it down and pick it back up without problems. And they are usually just the right length for a plane trip!

3. What was the last book you read on a roadtrip? OK, technically, I guess the last roadtrip where I read a book was years ago, when we would go home for Christmas. I would read A Christmas Carol aloud during the trip. I did take a train trip this past fall, where I started reading Anne of Green Gables, so I'm counting that as a recent road trip ...

4. What was the most unusual place you found yourself reading? The library. I work in a library, and I go to the library on a regular basis, but never just to read for leisure. So that's unusual for me.

5. What books would you take to keep you occupied on a two-week vacation to the beach? I have certain rules for beach reading. First of all, I take a couple of magazines at the least. The shallower, the better. I don't like to take library books, in case they would get wet, sandy, or greasy from sunscreen, and the same goes for hardcover books. So I usually have a paperback picked out, and once again, it can't be too serious or deep. I like light mysteries, and goofy novels when I'm at the beach (or rather, the SHORE, as they say here). I've never gone on a two-week vacation anyplace, but I'm guessing that if I did, I'd take one or two small books along, and find something else to read once I got there and had finished reading the ones I brought along.

So, now it's time for three other people to play along - but only if they would like. I'll tag Kim, at hand eye crafts, Claudia and Mr Puffy at The Knitting Blog - by Mr Puffy the Dog, and Lorette, The Knitting Doctor. Feel free to tag yourself, I'm always happy to read what other people have to say!

18 March 2008

Party Pitchers

It amuses me when instead of "pictures," people say, "pitchers." I wonder, what do they call the people who throw the ball in baseball??

Anyway, the 30th Annual St. Patrick's Day party at my brother-in-law's firm was tons of fun, and I took quite a few pictures before my camera battery died (or did it pass out from drinking?).

Patrick, Greg, and Zach, posing on the stairs at my sister's house before we left for the party. (Greg didn't have a green hat, so he had to borrow the one that my niece Amanda had bought for Biggie, my other niece's chihuahua ...)

Then we arrived at the party, and were greeted by members of The Firm. Somehow I get the feeling that this is not what John Grisham had in mind ...

(See the young guy, third from right? Well, when I saw how the picture turned out, I said, "This is *so* going on the website, meaning our family website, and this blog. He turned deathly white and looked worried, like I was going to post it on the American Bar Association website or something. Eejit.)

There was live music, from a group called Gallowglass. They were excellent, and it made the whole evening more enjoyable. One of them is apparently a doctor at a local hospital.

La Liz, Patrick, Amanda, and Tim C. (one of the law partners).
Sadly, Tim C. seemed to walk away with Patrick's hat, we never saw it again ...

This is our friend "The Ells" and some woman I don't know. I kept trying to make her get closer, so I could blackmail him a la Eliot Spitzer, but a) she wouldn't move closer, and b) I'm pretty sure his wife wouldn't care ...

Zach had a great time at the party, here he is, singing with his
Paddy, and below, dancing - which as you can see, is pretty
serious business ... he lasted longer than any of us!

The Tim and The Ells yuk it up. Sadly, in this photo, The Ells is the one who looks normal, and he's wearing one of those shamrock headbands ...

It was a blast, and I'm pretty sure my hearing will never be the same. And the rest of the weekend was just as ridiculous. But it was worth it. Always is.

17 March 2008

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

May your pockets be heavy
and your heart be light,
May good luck pursue you
each morning and night.

~Irish Blessing

12 March 2008


You know what birthday card has always amused me? The one that says on the front, "You know what I wish for your birthday?" and then you open it up and it says, "I wish I would win the lottery." I think of that every now and then and think it would be so much fun to say it to just the right person ...

Yes, that was apropos of nothing, in case you were wondering. On to other things ...

For instance, I don't want to forget about the 2008 ABC-along, therefore:

E is for Exercise! Yes, I know that there are those who loathe it, and would rather do nearly anything (even scrub the tub) than do any regular exercise. I used to be really hit-and-miss with exercise. I would go in spurts where I would be very conscientious. Then I would get off track - for a year or more!

But after my Year of Surgical Extravaganzas, when I spent many hours in physical therapy, things changed. Granted, I'd had PT for various other things, but usually for just a few weeks, and then I would be on my merry way. But when you go to PT for a little more than a year, twice a week, and they work you in a way that you are pretty sure violates all of the rules of the Geneva Convention, you realize that even though it can be painful, dreadful, and downright frustrating, it is more than worth it in the end.

Early on, I realized that not only was the exercise helping me get my normal function back, but it was making me feel better - I could move more easily, I felt a sense of accomplishment when I completed a session, and it helped my energy levels. I started to do the exercises at home when I wasn't at PT, and when the PT was finished - you may want to sit down - I even joined a gym! (Really if you knew me at all, this would be a shocking revelation ...)

Now I am not an exercise fanatic (well, at least I don't think I am), though The Tim teases me about joining a gym. I try to get up every morning and exercise at home before I go to work, and for that, I had to get some equipment:

My humble assortment of home exercise equipment

My personal trainers posing with the exercise equipment

I try to go to the gym at least twice a week. There are times when none of this happens for a couple of days in a row, but I realize on those days that I am not nearly as comfortable moving around as the days I do at least a little bit of something, so I make the effort to stick with it. Needless to say, there are plenty of times when the only exercise I really get is pulling out the equipment and putting it away ...

Next, Claudia tagged me a week or so ago with a meme, where I share six non-important things/habits/quirks about myself. The biggest challenge is narrowing it down to only six ...

1. I generally stay away from men named Eric whenever I can. I have (for better or for worse) never known an Eric that was not obnoxious or evil. I am hoping to some day meet one who will be a good person, 'cause it's too bad that a name is always associated with bad things.

2. When the Postal Service issued Ronald Reagan stamps, I would mark any item I received in the mail bearing one "Return to Sender," so offended was I by the whole thing. Many people sent me mail with the stamps on purpose, just to see if I would really do it. Proving that fools and their money are soon parted.

3. I have always wished I had red hair. Not orangey red hair, but that really rich red shade that can't be replicated outside of the natural shade.

4. I absolutely love being near the ocean, a lake, river, etc., but do not know how to swim.

5. I always put on my left earring first.

6. I never, ever wish I could go back to being a previous age, you know, like people who say they would love to be eighteen again. Once was more than enough, thank you.

Now I'm supposed to tag six others, but nearly every one else I can think of has already been tagged, so I'll just say that if you want to share some things about yourself, feel free to consider yourself tagged!

The Tim and I are leaving this coming Friday morning (which, incidentally is also my birthday), for a weekend trip to [Almost Heaven] West Virginia, to see my sister and brother-in-law. My brother-in-law's law firm always has a St. Patrick's Day Open House, and this year it is on Friday evening, and it is the 30th anniversary of the event, so we thought it would be fun to go. My niece Amanda and her husband Pat will be there, and also my niece La Liz, her husband Greg, and their little Zachary. It should be fun, as lots of other friends, family, and assorted characters are likely to make an appearance. I have the feeling that you'll be hearing about it once we get home.

Speaking of West Virginia [mountain mama], a documentary has just been released called "Burning the Future," and my sister Mary Ellen was involved in it, and even appears on screen! It's about coal, which is of course part of the state's identity, but also part of its tragedy. If you are interested in the issues surrounding coal mining and its effect on both the environment and the population in current times, you can see a trailer here (about 2 minutes long), and a preview here (about 7 minutes long). Of course, if you have a chance, see the whole thing, it will make you think, and we should all do more of that...

OK, that's more than enough for one post, so I'll sign off, and be back in a few days to regale you with tales of my travels.

"Country roads, take me home, to the place I belong ..."

09 March 2008

Progress Report

A new project:

This is the beginning of sock #1 of the Hedgerow Socks pattern. I saw the pattern a couple of weeks ago, on Ravelry, and really liked the look of it. So I looked to see what sock yarn I had that I wanted to use for it, and pulled out a ball of Trekking Pro Natura, a wool/bamboo blend that I had bought last year sometime at Rosie's. The color in person is not quite as intense as the photo, but I like how it looks so far, and I'm proud of myself for using stash yarn. So far, the yarn and I are getting along quite well. These will likely be one of my Christmas 2008 gifts, though I haven't decided yet who will be the recipient. However, this will likely be the last time until after next Christmas that I'll post a picture on the blog, to maintain at least a little bit of mystery, and keep them a surprise.

The pattern has a different type of heel than I am used to, and I've never done a pattern where it continues on the foot of the sock, so this one will probably keep me on my toes (and HA! it's a sock, get it??).

And more knitting done on Dotty:

This shows the colors that I have for each of the dot rows, with one of the yarns being a variegated one. I don't seem to be able to capture the true color of the main yarn, which is a rose-beige, but this is closer than last time.

At our class this past Thursday, I was really pleased, because it appears that I'm going along very well on this project, both tension- and size-wise. Now that I have more of an idea how it works, it's not as daunting. However, at some point I will get at the armholes, and need to make the V-neck, so there are still challenges ahead. But I will admit to feeling like it's all going to work out.

I still have two other projects that I want to start, one being another Christmas gift (therefore another mystery), and the other being the Sailboat hat for Ben and Halden's baby. These two projects will be the ones I can work on when I watch TV, etc., since they will be less involved. The Hedgerow Socks and Dotty will be my projects when I can pay closer attention. I think that will work pretty well, and keep me from getting tired of any individual project. For now, at least, that's my story and I'm sticking to it!

07 March 2008

Booking Through Thursday ... except on Friday ...


You should have seen this one coming … Who is your favorite Male lead character?

This was easy - Atticus Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird. Because he acted upon his beliefs, without making a big show about it. He was able to appreciate the value of every life, and held true to an ideal that justice would not be blind. He proved his point without belittling anyone else. And when it didn't work out for him, he didn't give up.

If I could live my life accomplishing even one of those things, I would think it was worthwhile.

02 March 2008

D is for Dotty

OK, so I am a day late with my D entry for the 2008 ABC Along - but I did get the picture posted to the Flickr group last night, so I've decided that's OK ...

Here is my progress so far on Dotty, the vest I am knitting for the Kaffe Fassett class at Rosie's:

The main yarn is actually more beige-based (the colorway is called Rose Quartz), and actually since this photo was taken I have finished another row of dots, in a teal blue shade. The pattern isn't hard per se, but there are many stitches (252!), and since it's my first time doing an actual garment using fair isle techniques, it's taking some getting used to on my part. I think once I have another couple of rows of dots finished, I'll have the rhythm of the thing. I'm not sure how much else I'll do before our class this coming Thursday, since right now I'm not convinced that I am doing the right size (but oh I hope I am, since do you know how many times I had to cast on those 252 stitches??). If you are dying to know that details of yarns I chose, etc., the info is here on Ravelry.

D could also stand for "Done," as in two projects that fall into that category! First up, I finally finished the sampler fairisle tam from the class I took with Beth Brown-Reinsel last month:

Here's the view from the top, where you can see the four different colors used, and my successful finishing of the "wheel" design which is apparently the mark of a tam.

In the photo to the right, Wishbone has graciously posed modeling the tam, so that you can see the front. (Please note the corrugated ribbing, which I just think is about the coolest thing ever to learn to do.)

This was a fun project, and a good start for fairisle knitting, at least for me. I also realized that it may be the right size for a baby, so in the end, it may someday become a baby gift ...

Here are the details:

Pattern: Fair Isle Tam, by Beth Brown-Reinsel (handout for a class)
Needles: Size 5 US, circular (16 inches) and double points
Yarns: Brown Sheep Nature Spun in colors Shamrock Green, Bamboo, Bougainvilles, and China Blue
Started: January 26, 2008
Finished: February 132, 2008

The other project that I managed to finish is a Christmas gift for 2008! Unfortunately, I can't post a picture of it, because the recipient is a reader of the blog, and I don't want to ruin the surprise. If you are a Ravelry person, the link for the project is here; if you are not, I promise to do an end-of-the-year extravaganza of projects I made that couldn't be shown at the time (gives you something to look forward to, huh?).

Garden Kitty meets Wishbone nose to nose.

"This has become tiresome. This dog literally has no conversational skills."