30 August 2008


Q is one of those letters that make you think. For instance, if you are playing Scrabble, and you draw a Q tile towards the end of the game, you have to be ready to either sink or swim. If you have a U tile, and there are any Triple Word or Triple Letter Score spots left, you can really clean up on points. But if all of the U tiles have been used, you're pretty much screwed ...

And remember being taught that Q *always* requires a U with it? Well, what about IraQ - huh???

I had kind of a hard time thinking of what I could use for Q in the ABC-Along 2008. Since we had just been on vacation, I tried to think of something I ate, or saw, or a place I visited. But sadly, Quito is in Ecuador, and I was in Puerto Rico ...

There are plenty of Q words, just nothing that grabbed me at first. And then I was doing something that made me decide what to use!

Q is for Quiz!

I love quizzes! Especially word quizzes, and of those, especially the kind where the words are hidden and you have to find them.* I can spend hours working through those. You know how some restaurants have paper place mats with word quizzes on them for children? Well, that's the only time I don't mind waiting for my food ... of course, then I get irritated because they are too easy, at which point The Tim will remind me that they are geared towards children. Well, excuuuuse me!

Then of course there are those goofy Blogthings quizzes, that tell you so much about yourself:

You Are an Eyebrow Piercing

You are unique, quirky, and more than a little eccentric.

You cultivate the weirder sides of your personality, and you don't mind sharing them.

Ever since you were a kid, you've had strong opinions. You've never been like everyone else, and you're okay with that.

And you've always been able to tell people exactly what you think - even when they don't want to hear it.

You love to create, dream, imagine, and communicate. You live in your own universe.

And unlike most people who live in their own little world, you're happy to invite anyone in! **

*The word quiz on the left is from http://www.puzzles.ca/wordsearch.html; and I don't own the book on the right, I just found the image of the cover on Amazon, and used it for illustration.

**As long as they remember that I'm in charge ...

29 August 2008

Look - knitting!

Myrtle, get out the smelling salts, I'm actually going to post about a finished knitting project!

Pictured above are the completed Blueberry Waffle Socks, served up with butter and pure maple syrup. I thought of all the amusing things I could say about fiber in the diet, breakfast of champions, and the like, but in the end I really just wanted to show you how well these turned out.

Here are the details:

Pattern: Blueberry Waffle Socks (a freebie!)
Needles: US 1.5
Yarn: Socka 50, Colorway 9420, 2 skeins
Modifications: The original pattern is written for worsted weight, but I just forged ahead, using the pattern with the yarn I had. I am really, really pleased with the way they turned out, and found the pattern to be interesting enough to keep going, but not so hard as to need 150% concentration on my part.

If you long check the info on my projects page on Ravelry, be my guest. I would encourage you to try this pattern, the resulting sock is not only attractive, but feels very cushy. The end result also looks more complicated than they are to knit.

Here they are, all by themselves, without additional props:

They are a Christmas gift for my nephew Chad, who lives in Arizona. He is not very adventurous as far as clothing, but I figured these were a color he could wear with jeans if nothing else. I actually finished them at the end of July, and I posted about them on the Year Long Gift-A-Long blog, but forgot until today to show them off on my own blog!

Oh, and just in case you've been wondering (who am I kidding, of course you've been wondering!):

The Recipe For Bridget

3 parts Craftiness
2 parts Ambition
1 part Instinct

Splash of Understanding

Finish off with a little umbrella and straw

I don't know about the rest, but the little umbrella part is my favorite ...

26 August 2008

Time to 'Fess Up ...

Well, as of approximately 8:00 p.m. last night, we are back in Philadelphia, doing laundry, going through stacks of mail, and putting things away. Fortunately, the weather is truly lovely, with pleasant sunny days, very little humidity, and cool nights. Because the end of vacation is depressing enough, without coming home to crummy weather *and* going back to work!

I will of course ramble on and on about our trip and my niece's wedding for quite a while I'm sure, with many pictures to show (but I promise not all six bazillion of them!), but for today, here's one of some of the flower girls, and the ringbearer:

These girls are all nieces of Keith (Julie's new husband), and the two with their backs to the camera are Eve (on the left) and Maddie (on the right), who are sisters, along with their cousin Sara, who was the oldest of Keith's nieces and nephews, and was responsible for making sure that the ringbearer walked down the aisle appropriately.

You may be thinking, "I don't see anyone who is a ringbearer, I just see a small dog." Well, that is Biggie, Jules and Keith's chihuahua, complete with tux, who served as ringbearer! So you see, it really was a family affair for everyone ...

But on to some catching up, and as the title of the post says, 'fessing up. The catching up is my next two letters in the ABC-Along 2008, which have to do with where we were, and what we saw.

So without further ado, I will say that O is for Ocean!

In this case, the Atlantic Ocean. Now, we go to the Jersey shore quite often in the summer, and so we are used to the Atlantic. But the Atlantic in this picture is quite different from our version in the northeast. This water takes absolutely no time to get used to, as it is nearly as warm as bath water. (Whereas, at the Jersey shore, a touch of the water can often send shivers down your spine!) You probably thought you were seeing an ocean in some of the pictures from last week, but those were pictures of the Caribbean Sea ...

Which leads me to the letter P. Originally, I was going to say that P was for Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh, and Philadelphia, and I had pictures representing the three Ps. But I decided that something else was more appropriate ...

I had such fun reading all of your comments and guesses as to where we were, but I will tell you now that P is for Puerto Rico!

This is a shot looking east from the tower of the Castle/Fort of San Cristobal in Old San Juan. Towards the end of last winter, The Tim and I realized that this coming October would be our 30th wedding anniversary (I'll pause while you all say, "ahhhh" ...), and that we should take what we call "a big trip" - meaning, going somewhere completely out of our normal experience, and not staying with friends or relatives. For our 25th anniversary, we had gone to Ireland, so we thought we might do something tropical this time around. We were looking into going to Costa Rica when Jules and Keith decided that they would get married in Puerto Rico. So we added time on to the weekend of the wedding, and decided that would be our big trip.

It was absolutely wonderful, magnificent, beautiful, fun, nice - well, I could go on but I'll stop. Everything worked out the way it was supposed to be, and it was a good combination of relaxing, sightseeing, exploring, and having a good time with family.

You all had some good guesses, but dmaxi figured it out right away! (The Tim was quite impressed.) As it turns out, she is a blogging friend who lives in Ireland, which seems like the perfect combination - a person who lives where we last visited, guessing where we just were! And, since last week was the 2nd anniversary of this blog, I have decided that she gets a prize. Now I know that for those of you who knew all along where I was going, that is not really fair, but I trust that you will somehow survive ...

So tomorrow, it's back to work which just, well, sucks. The only bright spot is that The New Evil Boss is at a conference this week, so I won't have to deal with her (at least not in person - I'm sure she has sent me plenty of "helpful" e-mails to give me advice/instructions while she is gone).

However, it will already be a Wednesday before a long weekend ... thank God for small mercies!

24 August 2008

Why in the world ...

are we wherever it is that we are????

Well, one of the biggest reasons was for my niece Julie's wedding!

Julie and her father before the ceremony

23 August 2008

Tropical blogging

It certainly is different, writing a post while watching the palm trees sway in the breeze ...

Well, the last couple of days have been busy ones. We left our first destination, to travel to another spot, where we stayed in a great bed and breakfast. We had a wonderful walk along the water, and a great dinner. The next morning, we had company for breakfast on the patio next to the pool:

He was quite fond of melon and oranges. However, he didn't seem all that thrilled to be spoken to - go figure. (Lorraine, be sure to show his picture to Zelda!)

From there, we headed to our next destination, and I took this picture from our hotel room.

Hey look kids - it's a rainforest! (As a matter of fact, we just returned from hiking there earlier this morning, and it was incredible.)

Maybe next time I'll have pictures to show you the main reason we are here - wherever it is that we are ...

20 August 2008

Gilligan's Island

Yesterday we spent the afternoon on Gilligan's Island. Here is the view from our little private spot.

We were there from 1:00 to 4:00, making it

... a three-hour tour,
a three-hour tour ...

19 August 2008

Where in the world ...

Is this post being written???

Clearly, we're not in Kansas - or Philadelphia - anymore ...

16 August 2008

The letter M and the letter N

I have fallen behind on my postings for the ABC-Along 2008, so today is for some catching up!

M is for Molly Bloom

This is a picture of our first cat, Molly Bloom, as a kitten (as a matter of fact, it was taken right after we brought her home from the shelter). Look how small she is! She never got a lot bigger, but I am 100% certain that she thought she was as big and as ferocious as any tiger.

Molly joined our family when we lived in Chicago. She was 6 months old when we adopted her, and since six months previously was June, we chose June 16 for her birthday, and named her Molly Bloom. She was (and still is) the cat against whom all other cats in the universe are measured.

She was an unusual cat, in that she loved to ride in the car, she played fetch, and she even took a little jaunt with us in a motorboat owned by The Tim's brother, along the Ohio River! She was quite the traveler, usually accompanying us on any trips home to visit, where she would curl up on the front seat in between us, with one paw touching The Tim (her true love), and sleep until we stopped. Then she would have to get up to see where we were. We gave more than one toll-taker on the Pennsyvlania Turnpike cause for a double take, let me tell you!

She loved dogs, but was not overly fond of other cats. She enjoyed visiting people (whether or not she had been invited), and would easily make herself at home just about anywhere. She was not pleased when other cats started to join the family, though once she realized that she could rule the others, all was well in Molly-land. We always told her that she was "the original, and still the best" and that is still true today.

She died from cancer about 10 years ago, and we still miss her every day. But we also know she is looking out for us, and believe that she is completely in charge wherever she is!

Whether playing with string, or cuddling, she almost always had this serious look on her face!

N is for ...

(Attention April - this is especially for you!)


For thoose of you not familiar with this term, the definition is here (it was one of my mother's favorite descriptive terms). Remember Gladys Kravitz, the across-the-street neighbor on the TV show "Bewitched":

Well, she is a perfect example of a nebshit. Always poking her nose into the neighbors' business, watching them out the window and placing her own (usually terrible) interpretation on what she saw.

I chose this for the letter N because I think all of us know at least one nebshit. I know several, to be honest. I work with a few, one in particular who drives me up the wall, pulling mail out of my mailbox to tell me what is there, or to comment on it, or walking up behind me and reading e-mail over my shoulder - aaarrgghhh! True nebshits are seldom treatable, as they do not see themselves as such, and even if you say something or get angry, they miss the point entirely.

And yes, I can be a nebshit as much as anyone else can be. (However, I was taught some manners as a child and so am able to control myself most of the time!) I truly believe that it's one of those things that is somewhere in all of us, but some people just have no filter for keeping it to themselves, or stopping themselves from snooping, eavesdropping, etc.

Often my response is to find a way to leave something around, or write something on my calendar, etc. that is totally wrong, to see if they comment. In a previous job, I was in a four-person department where our boss was a nebshit. The other three of us agreed to periodically write on our calendars things that were shocking or suspicious, to see if the boss commented (and trust me, she did). Once we decided that we would all write in lunch dates with the others' spouses. I don't know if she ever said anything to anyone else, but I didn't hear a peep out of her.

Besides which, she never ever commented on anything else like she had before either ...

14 August 2008

Gold Medal Reading

You, um, may have noticed that the Olympics are going on right now, so that’s the genesis of this week’s question, in two parts:

First: Do you or have you ever read books about the Olympics? About sports in general? Fictional ones? Or non-fiction? Or both?

And, Second: Do you consider yourself a sports fan? Because, of course, if you’re a rabid fan and read about sports constantly, there’s a logic there; if you hate sports and never read anything sports-related, that, too … but you don’t have to love sports to enjoy a good sports story.

(Or a good sports movie, for that matter. Feel free to expand this into a discussion about “Friday Night Lights” or “The Natural” or whatever…)

(For the record, I am not a sports fan at all, but I’ll watch almost any Olympics event, have indeed read books about the Olympics–and strongly recommend
The Second Mark, which yes, is about Figure Skating, but was a fantastic story and particularly enthralling in its view into life as an athlete in China, so no sneering at the sport, okay? The book was fascinating. I’ve also read a history of the 1896 Olympics (there’s also a good mini-series which just came out on DVD).

The only book I have read that almost fits into this category is Little Girls in Pretty Boxes: The Making and Breaking of Elite Gymnasts and Figure Skaters, by Joan Ryan. It is about the training, expense (monetary and physical), and obsession of some parents, coaches, and young girls who want to become Olympic-level gymnasts and figure skaters. I remember that I picked it up at the library after someone in a book group that I belonged to, who was an adult figure skater, mentioned it at one of our meetings. It was disturbing, amazing, eye-opening, and a real page turner, I have to say!

As far as books about sports in general, I have read a lot of books about horse racing (factual or fiction), and one or two fictionalized stories about baseball. I'm not one to pick up a book only because it deals with sports some way or another.

Am I a sports fan? Yep. Not a fair-weather fan, but also not such a rabid fan that I will dye my hair or paint my skin to match team colors. I get annoyed at the monetary aspects of sports that often seem to drive things, but will admit that most of the time, I pay attention anyway.

Oh, and I love "Friday Night Lights" - the TV show that is. I haven't read the book, for some reason I think it would just annoy me. Go figure.

10 August 2008

July Book Report

I did manage to read in July, even though it was too hot to even breathe, which leaves me uninspired to do pretty much anything. But once I'd get comfortable, reading required very little physical movement, so it was an excellent choice for a sweat-free activity! (Note: I do not perspire. I do not glow. I sweat. Sorry if that offends those of you with ladylike sensibilities, but frankly I'm surprised you are here anyway ...)

So here are the three titles that kept my brain going:

Buddhism Plain and Simple, by Steve Hagen. I have always been curious about Buddhism, since I knew very little about it. There is a book/incense/amulet/yoga store near where I work, and one day I asked the clerk what a good book would be for someone who just wanted to find out the basic tenets of Buddhism, and she directed me to this title.

I was fascinated. In the course of my formal education, I've learned at least the basics about a lot of the Christian religions, and Judaism as well. But beyond that, I have only the slightest grasp of other belief systems. Hagen writes very clearly, and provides examples from the everyday world to illustrate what he is talking about. The main thing I got from the book was the Buddhist belief that the world is in a continual flow (I am of course, oversimplifying vastly here), and that each minute we experience is so important, that we must try to really see so that we can appreciate what is happening around us and within us.

I really have no other clue how to describe this book, other than to say that I am glad that I gave it a look. I don't feel anywhere close to really understanding Buddhism, but the book did make me think, and made me want to try and remember to be more conscious and in the moment, which is a hard thing for me most of the time. If you are interested in all about Buddhist beliefs, I think this is a nice introduction.

Next up was The Bear, by William Faulkner. When I originally chose titles for The Southern Reading Challenge, I chose Faulkner's Selected Short Stories. But a lot of people mentioned this one particular story as being one of his best, so I decided to go with that.

It was really interesting. The language was incredibly evocative, in that I could picture the hunters' camp where the narrator stayed on his very first (and subsequent) hunting trips as he came of age. The Bear of the title is one that is legendary because no one has ever been able to even slow him down. There have been stories and eyewitness accounts of the bear having several bullets in him, and he just always gets away.

I liked the story overall, but I am such a wimp that I always experience an impending sense of doom when I start reading a story like this. I know that someplace along the line, one or more animals are going to be killed, maimed, attacked, etc., and that there will be at least one character who is going to die. So it was hard to read it very objectively, since I kept waiting for the inevitable to occur. I do think Faulkner's use of language is very different from other things I've read, and I like his descriptions of people and places. I may give another few of his short stories a try down the line, to get a broader perspective.

The last book I read during July was for The Novella Challenge, and it was Mrs. Dalloway, by Virginia Woolf. This was my first time reading anything written by her, and I was a little bit intimidated, since she seems to be one of those authors (like Faulkner) who people either love or hate, and whose writing is often called difficult and not easily understandable.

I enjoyed the book, though I think I will read it again at a time when I can do so over a shorter period of time. Even though it's not that long, there were often a couple of days in between reading times for me, and getting started again was slow. (As it seems everyone except for me already knew), the story takes place on the day that the title character, Clarissa Dalloway, is planning a dinner party. Over the course of the story, we are introduced to various characters that she knows, or has known at some point in the past. Their stories are intertwined while telling hers.

Reading this book really got me to thinking about the people that any of us come across during the course of any given day, and how we really do only know them in relationship to ourselves. It put me in mind of occasions when I have seen someone I thought I knew really well, in a context other than the usual one. Sometimes it's amazing to see a person familiar to you in a whole different light. I wondered if Mrs. Dalloway ever gave that kind of thing much thought. (Yes, I know she is a fictional character, but she seemed like a very real person.)

As I have been typing this, I realized that July turned out to be a very thought-provoking month - in my case at least, my choices were miles away from my usual summertime reading!

09 August 2008

So - before I was so rudely interrupted ...

I was resizing the pictures I had taken of the treats I had made. Yep, right in the middle, the video card just died.

So let's catch up.

Hey, look at the goodies!

What, you may ask, is in the above picture? Those are Caramel Crunch Bars, fresh out of the oven. When I saw this recipe, I knew I wanted to give it a try. The only thing I changed was to use semi-sweet chocolate chips on the top, instead of milk chocolate.

They are Y-U-M-M-Y! Like any recipe, the first time gave me a chance to learn things I would do differently next time, like letting them sit for a while before putting the chocolate chips on top and returning them to the oven. And I would let them sit longer before I cut them into squares. But trust me, no matter how they look, they are worth trying!

(These are selected "attractive" looking ones. The rest - not so much ...)

What I have learned ...

(Because there has to be something learned from every experience, right?)

It was weird being computer-less for slightly more than a week. Though I did learn one thing, which was that for any other negative things that are associated with, or caused by, using a computer at home, having a computer keeps me from eating when I'm bored! I realized that when the computer is working, if I'm bored and don't feel like doing anything else, I'll sit down for a few minutes and check my e-mail, read blogs, etc. Well, during the first few days, I realized that instead of doing that, I would go find something to eat. And I don't mean a piece of fruit, or an energy bar. I mean candy, cookies, cake - well, you get the idea. Fortunately once this clicked in my brain, I tried to avoid letting it happen. But it was still something that had never occurred to me.

And actually, the computer was fixed on Thursday, but Thursday night I was too tired to check in, and last night I went to a Viv Pickle purse party. A friend of mine had been planning it for quite a while, but had a hard time finding a date that worked for most people. We had so much fun, and let me tell you, creating your own purse is harder than you'd think! (But I persevered, just so you won't worry.)

Anyhow, it's nice to be back. I have a few things in the queue for future posts, which is one good thing about being away for a while.

In the meantime, please try to contain your excitement, and carry on as normal ...