29 May 2008

What is Reading, Fundamentally?

Suggested by: Thisisnotabookclub:

What is reading, anyway? Novels, comics, graphic novels, manga, e-books, audiobooks — which of these is reading these days? Are they all reading? Only some of them? What are your personal qualifications for something to be “reading” — why?

If something isn’t reading, why not? Does it matter? Does it impact your desire to sample a source if you find out a premise you liked the sound of is in a format you don’t consider to be reading? Share your personal definition of reading, and how you came to have that stance.
(Two weeks late for Reading is Fundamental week, but, well…)

I have to say that my initial thought is that reading is - for me - like breathing. I do it without even thinking about it. I read everything - food boxes, license plates, T-shirts, etc. When I am listening to a book on tape/CD/MP3 player, I picture the characters, settings, and such in my head, but only because I am hearing the words, which is also reading as far as I'm concerned. When I was little, my parents would read to me at bedtime, and it has never occurred to me to think that I haven't actually read those books or stories!

However, having read some of the other responses, and thinking about the question a bit more, I realize that it is also asking if the genre or the format makes a difference to you as far as being "true" reading. In response to that, I would say that, like in everything else, I have preferences, and will go to those when/if possible. And certain types of materials bore me to tears, so unless I actually *have* to read them for some reason, I will avoid them altogether.

Format makes a certain amount of difference, but if push comes to shove, and it's something I really want to read, I'll take when I can get!

And you?

28 May 2008

Public Service Announcements


Mark your calendars, because Saturday, June 14, 2008 is World Wide Knit in Public Day. According to the WWKIP site, the Philadelphia event will be in Rittenhouse Square, beginning at 11 a.m., until about 3 p.m., and sponsored by the 3rd Street Ravelers.

You can visit the main site, and search for events in just about any location. Because I am apparently unable to leave well enough alone, I had to search some others. I was shocked - but not necessarily surprised, I guess - to see that there were no events planned ("yet" as the site says) for Vatican City. (This further fuels my suspicions that the pope only crochets ...) Likewise, there is nothing planned in Tristan da Cunha either. Personally, I don't think it should be called "World Wide" if everyone isn't participating, but there is still time for someone in those two places to organize something, I guess ...

Stitch 'n Pitch with the Phillies!

August 5, 2008 (a Tuesday night), the Phillies are having a Stitch 'n Pitch event at Citizens Bank Park. They will be playing the Florida Marlins, and tickets are currently available here, as well as through some of the area yarn stores.

For those of you who enjoy two-fers, it's also Motrin IB Ladies Night - what could be more fun?? Maybe they will work together to give out goody bags that contain yarn and ibuprofen! However, this does have me wondering - do men not use Motrin IB? Will you be thrown out if they discover you have Advil on you? What about people who can't take ibuprofen, can they come if they leave their Tylenol or Bayer aspirin at home?

I don't know, this one seems to bring up a lot of disturbing questions ... maybe we should just all stick with Stitch 'n Pitch.

Just my opinion, of course ...

26 May 2008

Happy Memorial Day!

"Each man is a hero and an oracle to somebody."

-- Ralph Waldo Emerson

24 May 2008

Three Day Weekend, Hooray!

In honor of the three-day weekend here in the U.S. for Memorial Day, I bring you the following.

Three things I love:

1. Not going to work.
2. Not going to work.
3. Not going to work.

Three things I plan to do :

1. Knit.
2. Read.
3. Be outside.

Three foods I plan to eat:

1. Frozen custard.
2. Potato salad.
3. Grilled asparagus.

Three cats I will cuddle with:

1. Tess.
2. Garden Kitty.
3. Jetsam.

Three places I will spend some time:

1. The garden.
2. The river trail.
3. The shore.

Three things I must do, but do not consider "chores":

1. Bake something.
2. Take my bike to have the pedal fixed.
3. Brush the cats.

Three things that fit in no other categories:

1. I really cannot stand Julia Roberts or Oprah.
2. I love it when dogs are out walking and they have the leash in their mouth.
3. Why can't people walking towards you share the sidewalk?

Three words for now:

1. See.
2. You.
3. Later.

20 May 2008

Meme! Knitting! Pictures!


Brigitte recently tagged me for a meme that is going around - her way of putting it was that she wanted to know more about me. And frankly, who doesn't ... ?

The rules: Posted at the beginning. At the end of the post, the player then tags 6 people and posts their names, then goes to their blog and leaves a comment, letting them know they've been tagged and asking them to read your blog. Let the person who tagged you know when you've posted your answer. Play nice, children.

1. What was I doing 10 years ago? Let's see, that would be 1998. I was working at the Biomedical Library at the University of Pennsylvania, and planning a trip to Arizona in July for my nephew's wedding.

2. What are 5 things on my to-do list today - in no particular order? Since it's evening, and there is nothing on my to-do list except go to bed, I'll choose 5 things on my to-do list for Wednesday. Those would be: exercise before work, go to work and not kill anyone (sounds like two things, but it really is just one. Trust me), go to Sebastian's choral concert, go with The Tim, Seb, and Karen for dessert and tea afterwards (we always go to the same place, it's a tradition), come home and go to bed.

3. Snacks I enjoy - Yes. Oh, some examples - chocolate, M&Ms, and this time of year, Rita's water ice or a gelati. Mmmmm, Rita's ...

4. Places I've lived - Wheeling, West Virginia; Teaneck, New Jersey; Chicago, Illinois; Notre Dame, Indiana; Washington, DC.

5. Things I would do if I were a billionaire - The very first thing I would do is write a big old resignation letter for my current job. Then I would likely give some of the money away, to some special charities and to family, travel, and put enough in the bank so that I don't have to live in a discarded refrigerator box under the overpass when I'm old(er).

6. Peeps I want to know more about - Well, practically everyone I know who would be likely to play along has already done this (I really need to get on the ball faster with these things!), so I'll tag the following people:

One of my new acquaintances in blog land, Marji; Carol in Florida (and I can't remember if you already did this one or not, sorry - but if not, now you HAVE to!); Kathleen, because she has recently moved, so I know she'll have something at least for question #4; Claudia, because I think her answers would be really interesting (and who knows, she may convince Mr Puffy to respond as well); and two others who shall not be named because I can't think of two more at the moment. If you realize you are one of the two others, please do your part! (Please. Think of the children, won't you?)


For those of you who are members of Ravelry, you can see one half of yet another mystery gift project for Christmas 2008 here.

If you are not a member of Ravelry, and would still like to see something knitting-related, be my guest ...


This past Mother's Day, The Tim, Karen, Seb and I did the 5K walk in the Race for the Cure, as we have for the past three years. We lucked out with perfect weather, and at the end of the race, decided this year's course was our favorite one.

Left: Philadelphia City Hall

Right: Shot of the crowd in front of us

At the end of the race, we allowed one of the papparazzi to take our picture (OK, so we found a guy leaning on the fence at the end, waiting for someone, and asked him. Potatoes, potahtoes.)

Left to right: Me, The Tim, Karen, Seb

After the race, on our walk home, we saw these two having a great time - you can't really see it here, but they each have an end of the same stick - such hilarity!

Then I forced Seb to pose with Jetsam. Because I could, and he would ...

17 May 2008

Sunny Saturday

Here it is, a nice and sunny Saturday, after a dreary, gray, and cold day yesterday. I have already gone for a nice long walk, and stopped at the bakery to get some goodies for later. On days like this, I really enjoy getting out early in the morning when everything seems bright and fresh. The fact that it is also Saturday is just the icing on the cake.

ABC-along 2008

If you have been paying attention, you know that we are now up to the letter J in the ABC-along 2008. So you probably saw this one coming ...

J is for Jetsam!

Here he is a few weeks ago, when he was "helping" me plant some flowers in the garden. Jetsam is now two years old, and he is still having as much fun as he ever did as a tiny kitten. One of his current favorite activities is to burrow under the rugs to the middle of the room, where he will sit for an hour or so before coming out. Whenever anyone walks by, you hear a little "Merp!" sound, and can see a paw under the rug trying to grab your foot.

As you may have guessed, we spend a lot of time straightening out the rugs here ...

The story of how Jetsam joined our family is here, if you are interested. I can say that he is still a sweetie, a troublemaker, and the ultimate optimist, in that it is still impossible to even come close to hurting his feelings! He is apparently of the belief that any attention is good attention ...

Here are a couple of pictures, taken recently when we were sitting out on our deck, and he was dying to join us - but because he would easily be The Cat Most Likely To Jump Off theDeck, he was forced to stay inside - the indignity of it all!

Left: "This poor little kitten would love to come out and sit with you."

Right: "OK, a breakout is the only possibility!"

Actual knitting content!

Hey, it happens ...

I have made more progress on Dotty:

I'm very nearly at the point where I will need to get ready to create steeks for the armholes and V-neck. This makes me nervous, as it never occurred to me that I would be doing steeks - I thought it would be one of those divide-at-the-armholes-and-continue projects . Lisa (our instructor) assures me that it will be fine, but what if my poor brain is so full of fair-isle, there's no room for steeks??

I'll keep you posted ...

I am also happy to report that I have finished another secret Christmas gift project, and have gotten halfway on another! As you know, I can't show you the pictures here, because I want them to stay a surprise to the recipients, so you'll have to wait until December, when they have been gifted, and once that's done, I'll have all kinds of pictures for you.

In the meantime, if you are on Ravelry, you can see the finished project in my notebook.

That's it for now, time to do more Saturday stuff!

13 May 2008

April Book Report

I know, it's nearly the middle of May, and I'm just now getting around to posting about things I read in April. Such is life when you are an international jet-setting celebrity. Also when you just take forever to get your act together ... anyway, it was a good month for reading!

Strange Pilgrims : Stories, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, was the first thing I read for the Short Story Challenge. Actually, I've been reading it for a couple of months - a story here, a story there. I had not been aware of this collection, until I saw it on another person's list for the challenge. I have read some of Garcia Marquez's work and really enjoyed it, so I thought it might be a good thing to delve into for the challenge.

What a great collection of stories! The overall theme is that of South Americans visiting Europe, and how they are strangers there, even though connected by heritage. The edition I read was translated by Edith Grossman, and I can only think that she really knows her stuff, since the writing was beautiful, lyrical, and sad, and made me wish I could meet Gabriel Garcia Marquez, to see if he is as wonderful in person.

I really can't choose a favorite story, but here is one of my very favorite passages in the book, from the first paragraph of the story "Sleeping Beauty and the Airplane":

"She was beautiful and lithe, with soft skin the color of bread and eyes like green almonds, and she had straight black hair that reached to her shoulders, and an aura of antiquity that could just as well have been Indonesian as Andean. She was dressed with subtle taste: a lynx jacket, a raw silk blouse with very delicate flowers, natural linen trousers, and shoes with a narrow stripe the color of bougainvillea. 'This is the most beautiful woman I have ever seen,' I thought when I saw her pass by with the stealthy stride of a lioness while I waited in the check in line at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris for the plane to New York. She was a supernatural apparition who existed only for a moment and disappeared into the crowd in the terminal."

It only gets better from there. I am so glad I found this collection, and can see myself reading the stories again and again.

"Why I Live at the P.O.," from The Collected Stories of Eudora Welty. This is another one for the Short Story Challenge, and I chose it because I read it in college, and it is one of my favorite short stories ever. First of all, the title is a great one, as far as I'm concerned. I mean, doesn't it just make you want to read the story??

The narrator tells the story of how things start to head south when her sister Stella-Rondo comes home to stay, leaving her husband and bringing a child who she claims is adopted. The family dynamic changes, as Mama, Papa-Daddy (the grandfather), and Uncle Rondo make a fuss over Stella-Rondo and her daughter, to the point where whatever the narrator says or does is seen as critical of her sister. In the end, she decides that the only way she will get peace and quiet is to move out of the family home to the post office, where she is the postmistress for the small town. The dialogue is really funny, and Welty makes the narrator someone you understand, and root for against the family and their accusations. I enjoyed this story as much this time around as the first time I read it.

In This Our Life, by Ellen Glasgow. This was the next book on my list for the Book Awards Reading Challenge. Winner of the 1942 Pulitzer Prize, it is the story of two sisters, Roy and Stanley (guess mom and dad wanted sons ...) - one good, quiet, and nice; and, one who is a party girl, and wants to see the world while having a good time. Things start to go downhill for everyone when the party girl steals her sister's husband, and they leave town together. They head to Baltimore, where they eventually marry and set up housekeeping. The eventual ending of the story leaves you thinking about how there was never a way for there to be a happy ending for anyone in the family.

I chose this book because I thought I could get it from the library. But though I requested it, it still has not arrived as of today. There were some copies available on Amazon, but I was waiting out the library copy, so I didn't order it. The finally, as April was winding down, I found out that a movie had been made, starring Bette Davis, Olivia de Havilland, and George Brent, so I got it from Netflix. I had read several summaries of the story, and thought seeing the movie would be better than nothing. The movie was well done, if melodramatic, and in some ways really brought the characters to life - I mean, who isn't mesmerized by Bette Davis chewing the scenery in a dramatic role? So, though I didn't have the chance to read the book (yet), I got the sense of the story, and saw a "killer" movie in the bargain.

Rise and Shine, by Anna Quindlen. I always think I don't like Anna Quindlen. She seems like one of those people who thinks that if you haven't devoted at least part of your life to motherhood, you don't get it. But whenever I read something she has written, I end up liking it. And I do think she is a good writer. So maybe I like her after all. Go figure.

Anyway, this is the story of two sisters, Bridgette and Meghan, who live in New York City. Bridgette is a social worker, and Meghan has a morning news/talk show, where "Rise and shine!" is her trademark phrase. The book covers a period of time in the sisters' lives where an unfortunate utterance by Meghan when she thinks her microphone was turned off, derails her career entirely. As the story unfolds, Meghan's life seems to fall apart more and more, as her husband walks out, and her son - the light everyone's life - is tragically injured.

I thought this was a pretty good read for the most part. The sisters' relationship was interesting to me, and the characters all change and some of them grow considerably during the course of the book. It's not my favorite book ever, but I would say that it is worth a look.

The Purrfect Murder, by Rita Mae Brown and Sneaky Pie Brown. OK, it's not rocket science, and it's not even the most intricately drawn murder mystery series, but I really enjoy reading about the characters in Crozet, Virginia, and their animals, who all talk to one another in these books. The animals - pets and otherwise - make clever and often very amusing observations about the humans, and the relationships in a small, rural town are actually quite interesting.

In this particular story, the town ob-gyn is murdered, most likely because he was known to have peformed abortions. The killer starts sending blackmail notes to women in the town who have had abortions, threatening to expose them. The depiction of a small town gossip mill is quite accurate and the small town politics involved is really pretty interesting.

The incestuous nature of powerful families is part of the story, and the clash with the "nouveau riche" who move to the town is always interesting. True, many of the characters are stereotypical, but I have to say that I have met plenty of people just like them, so I can't really fault Rita Mae Brown for that. I mostly enjoy the characterizations of the animals, and their conversations with one another. Corny and unsophisticated, yes. So sue me!

11 May 2008

Meet My Mom

Happy Mother's Day!

My mother as a little girl

This is how the conversation would go, whenever I would come across this picture when I was a little girl:

Me: Where did the horse come from?

Mom: People used to bring horses around, so they could take your picture.

Me (in my brain): Huh?

Me (in reality): Did you just happen to have the cowboy hat?

Mom: Oh for God's sake!

And that was that.

If you are lucky enough to still have your mom around, be sure to give her an extra hug today, or call her and make sure that she knows you are thinking of her. Because someday, sadly, your chances will run out.

But if you are lucky like me, you'll still be able to wonder in what universe people brought "horses around so they could take your picture" ...

Happy Mother's Day, Mom. We love you and miss you every single day.

10 May 2008

Maryland Sheep and Wool, stash edition

This morning I finally managed to get the pictures of my purchases from Maryland Sheep & Wool last Saturday out of my camera so I could show you what goodies I found. This year, I didn't actually buy too much, partly because I hadn't set aside as much money to take with me, and partly because I didn't want to buy something just for the sake of buying it.

Which is not to say I had a plan, like Wendy, who actually gave it some thought beforehand. In theory, I would like to do that, especially so I could buy enough yarn for a specific project. But the reality is that I am not that organized about these things.

Last fall, when I went to Stitches East, I realized when I got home, that all of the yarn I bought was some version of a pumpkin or rust shade. When I got home last Saturday, and was showing my treasures to The Tim (who as you can imagine was riveted), I realized that I had apparently been on a green kick, as evidenced below.

On the left are two skeins of Brooks Farm Fourplay. I have seen a couple of sweaters that the aforementioned Wendy made with this yarn, and they were beautiful. So I made it a point to take a look at their booth. This colorway just particularly appealed to me.

The picture on the right is two skeins of Soft Touch Lace from Shelridge Farm, in a shade called Pistachio. I love the color, it reminds me of a lighter shade of celadon green, and the yarn is so cushy. On top of which, the price was right! I was also pleased because Shelridge Farm is a company in Canada (or as we call it, Canadia), and I do love Canada!

I am hoping to use the Soft Touch Lace for the pattern I bought at The Mannings booth, the Lace Leaf Shawl by Evelyn Clark.

Ever since Ann posted a picture of the shawl she knit months ago, I have wanted to try this pattern. I have no idea when I'll actually get to it, but I have the pattern and the yarn, once all of my gift knitting is finished. (And once get the hang of lace by finishing another shawl that is a little more than halfway done, and languishing at the moment ...)

The last thing I'm showing you was a present for the kitties. I thought they deserved something from my trip, and at the price of one dollar, this fit the bill perfectly.

Much hilarity has ensued at our house, thanks to the felted yarn ball above. Well worth the cost, that's for sure!

07 May 2008

"I" is for Irony

A couple of weeks ago, those of us who live in Pennsylvania had a "two-fer" day on April 22 - it was Earth Day, as well as the Pennsylvania primary election. As a person who tries to be environmentally conscious, Earth Day is always a good reminder to me that I can keep trying to do more. As a person who loves to vote, Election Day is always something I look forward to very much.

By now you all know the results if you care, and if you don't, you don't. But the closer that we got to the actual day of the primary, the more calls/flyers/ads there were, trying to convince us to vote for individual candidates. For the most part, this drives me crazy. I make an effort to pay attention to who is running for what office, and what they have to say. Like everyone else, I interpret it for myself, but I usually have a good idea of who I want to vote for, and why. (This year being an exception, I must admit. I was finally somewhere that was "important" for the election, and I was totally uninspired. But I digress.)

The real kicker for me, though, was the actual day of the election/Earth Day. I got home to find this waiting for me:

Paper, paper, everywhere! And this is just what had been left at our doorstep or in our mailbox in the afternoon, as The Tim had already recycled the morning's amount. There it was, Earth Day, and we were being blanketed with paper! I could only feel dismayed at the thought that a lot of it would not be recycled, and that there would be random pieces littering the street for days afterwards (yes, and yes, in case you were wondering).

We want our candidates to inform us of their views on saving the planet, while they are also inundating us with pieces of paper that very few people take the time to read, and many never "bother" to recycle.

With apologies to Alanis Morissette (am I hip or what?), isn't it Ironic? It has stuck with me since that day, so I decided to use Irony for the letter "I" in the 2008 ABC-along.

Now, before you get all preachy and worked up over politics, direct mail, and the cost of gasoline, let me tell you that I know how it works. Politics and Propaganda was not one of my favorite courses in college for nothing (oh, propaganda how I love thee!), and face it, we've all been exposed to campaigns long before we can vote for president, senator, etc., when we are voting for class president, or homecoming queen, or whatever else comes along once we are part of any group.

And yes, I know that Al Gore, "Mr. Save the Earth" himself, sent out campaign flyers when he ran for president.

I just think it's ironic.

04 May 2008

Maryland Sheep & Wool, photo edition

It occurs to me from looking at other peoples' blogs, that the pictures they post from the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival include some animals, some vendors, and mostly people they saw/met/knocked down.

Sorry - you won't find that here. I realized when I was uploading the photos, that they were all of animals (except where the farmer shows up in the photo from the sheep herding exhibition). But to be perfectly honest, I go mainly to see the animals, then to see the vendors, and usually only see people I know on the bus. Last year I did go to the bloggers meet-up, and met some new people, which was lots of fun. This year, I didn't know where or when that was, or if they were even having it, since there was also a Ravelry meet-up. (Which I didn't attend, because I figured it would be uber-crowded, and I had plenty of other chances during the day to be in a large crowd ...)

So without further ado, here are my pictures - well, those that turned out - from yesterday.

First up, the alpacas:

I always love seeing the alpacas, they always look so content, and are usually pretty friendly, when they can tear themselves away from eating.

This guy was ready for his closeup!

Next were the goats, who were quite pleased with the attention they were receiving, since most of the little kids were pulling up grass and feeding it to them:

Then we headed to the sheep herding exhibition, which is always one of my favorite things. I am always impressed by the focus of the Border Collies, and the communication between the dogs and the farmer, and the dogs and the sheep. Plus, it amuses me to watch the sheep, who sometimes look as if they are working on a new plan to outsmart the dog ...

These three were sure they had foiled the dog's plans.

Then the farmer stepped in for a moment

But of course, in the end, the dog prevailed. (This is blurry, since it is an "action" shot. For once it's not completely due to my poor photography skills!)

We took one last walk through the barns before heading back to the bus. I liked this sheep family, but was really worried that the one on the left was going to wake up with a really stiff neck!

There were a lot of friendly animals this year, who would allow you to pet them, so I had an especially good time. I was with my friend Amanda (not to be confused with my niece Amanda), who is also a true animal lover, and I think that made it even better, since I never felt like I was keeping her from doing things she wanted to do, and - I hope - the feeling was mutual on her part!

01 May 2008


Quick! It’s an emergency! You just got an urgent call about a family emergency and had to rush to the airport with barely time to grab your wallet and your passport. But now, you’re stuck at the airport with nothing to read. What do you do??
And, no, you did NOT have time to grab your bookbag, or the book next to your bed. You were . . . grocery shopping when you got the call and have nothing with you but your wallet and your passport (which you fortuitously brought with you in case they asked for ID in the ethnic food aisle). This is hypothetical, remember….

Well! My very first reaction would be "WTF? Where did this cell phone come from, and how did my family know to call me on it???"

But since we are being hypothetical, once I got to the airport, I would go to an airport bookstore to see if they had books with detailed analyses of the current state of the world economy, and at a minimum, buy a copy of The Wall Street Journal and/or The Financial Times.

Now ... in reality, I would get home from the grocery store, and The Tim would either tell me about the call, or it would be on our voicemail. (Yes, we do have voicemail. Because we are all about the modern.) If this were the type of emergency that required The Tim's presence as well, I would need to find someone to come and feed the cats while we were gone before I left for the airport.

So, saying that had been taken care of easily, and I left the house for the airport otherwise in a hurry, I would check out the airport bookstore once I got through security and had promised ownership of my house to TSA in the event they found a killer pen on me or a shoe bomb. If my flight was actually "on time" (hypothetically of course), I would likely buy a shallow magazine to pass the time in the airport and on the plane.

If the flight had been delayed, or cancelled and I had to wait to be rebooked somehow, I would probably still buy the magazine, but also a book, though nothing too serious, and definitely paperback. I would take turns looking at the magazine, reading the book, and people-watching. I find that the airport is an excellent place to devise entire life stories for people. You generally have time to give them names, back stories, and a great story of how/why they are at the airport. (Like for instance, they were at the grocery store, and they got a call about a family emergency ... oh wait, that's what I'm supposed to be doing ...)