27 September 2008

Political Pup

So as I have mentioned, Doughboy is spending the weekend with us, while his family travels out of town for a family wedding.

Last night, we headed out for our evening walk, about 8:00 p.m. As we were heading north, I could hear what s0unded like people yelling something as we got closer to Walnut Street. Then I remembered, that (for whatever reason), Sarah Palin was going to be making an appearance at a fundraiser at the Irish Pub prior to the start of the presidential debate.

(This is puzzling. First of all, because the Irish Pub is neither really Irish, nor really a pub. (Discuss.) And second of all, Center City Philadelphia is not exactly a hotbed of Republicanism. Not to mention that a lot of college students hang out at the Irish Pub on Friday nights, and she was messing up with their evening plans. But I digress.)

In any event, by the time we got to Walnut Street, there was a large crowd, consisting of people of all ages, races, sizes, genders, etc., protesting Palin's appearance. Doughboy found this very interesting, and managed to poke his nose through the crowd, so we were pretty close to the front (one woman said, "Well, of course he can come up here!").

The crowd chanted "Obama" a few times, but then they started chanting "Sarah go home!" All of a sudden, in the exact same tone and cadence, Doughboy started going "woof woof woof," and didn't stop until the crowd did. They started again, and he started again. It was really pretty funny. After about five minutes, we started to head home, and as we were walking down the next street, the crowd started again. Doughboy then did that kind of under-the-breath "woof" that dogs do, once again in perfect cadence, until they stopped chanting.

It would appear then, that Doughboy is a Democrat.

"My name is Doughboy, and I approve this message."

26 September 2008

Have You Ever ...

I saw this meme the other day on Chartroose's blog, and got a charge out of it, so decided I would give it a shot.

Have You Ever…

1. gone on a blind date? No. Though if the person was blind, and bringing his guide dog, it might have been enjoyable. I could have petted the dog and given it Milk Bones while ignoring the date.

2. skipped school? Sadly, no. If I wasn't sick, I was there.

3. been on the opposite side of your country? Yes. My sister lives in California, and I've visited here there, as well as traveled there for other reasons (usually work-related).

4. swam in the ocean? If it counts when you go into the water, but don't actually "swim" then yes, in both the Atlantic and the Pacific.

5. had your booze taken away by the cops? No, but the sheriff did come to our door once when I lived at home and tried to arrest me for assault. Turns out it was the mean alcoholic woman two doors down, they got the wrong address ... (plus she was old and wasted, and I was a sophomore in college - I mean, did they think we looked alike??)

6. lettered in a high school sport? When I was in high school, there were no officially sanctioned girls sports. Unless you count cheerleading, which I don't, and wasn't.

7. cried yourself to sleep? Plenty of times.

8. played a musical instrument? Only if you use the term "played" in the broadest sense. I longed to take music lessons, but my older sisters had begged for lessons, and then quit after two or three. My parents were unwilling to spend the money again. (Ironically, I would probably have been one of those kids who actually enjoyed practicing ...)

9. sung karaoke? No. But I do sing a lot around the house, often quite dramatically. The Tim and I do a particularly rousing rendition of "Wunderbar" from "Kiss Me Kate." (The cats hide.)

10. cheated on an exam? No. Though I have been aware of people cheating by looking at my answers. And I've always hoped they copied the wrong ones ... but really I never cared that much.

11. played spin-the-bottle? No. I found this boring even as a young girl. That's the trouble when you are born already being 40 years old.

12. laughed until some sort of beverage came out of your nose? Oh yeah.

13. watched the sun rise with someone you care about? Sure!

14. ever been arrested? I have never been arrested. I was however, once "detained for questioning" for 45 minutes by the DC Police (trust me, it's not nearly as interesting as it sounds).

15. gone ice skating? No. I always wanted to as a kid, but neither of my sisters would let me go with them, lest their friends see me and my 16 heads ...

16. been skinny dipping? No. Mostly because I've never been skinny - HA!

17. been on television? I was in a couple of audience shots on David Letterman's "Late Show" a few years back.

18. thrown up in front of a date? Nope. My sister has though. Which is highly amusing, since she was a "perfect" nice girl, and went out on a pity date with a guy she didn't really like. Then at the end of the date she threw up in his car. No way could I have topped that.

This isn't really one of those memes where you tag someone else, but if you feel the need to amuse yourself, go for it!

22 September 2008


"Come said the wind to the leaves one day,

Come o're the meadows and we will play.

Put on your dresses scarlet and gold,

For summer is gone and the days grow cold."

- Children's Song of the 1880's

20 September 2008

Sweet Baby James

A week ago this evening, The Tim and I headed over the Ben Franklin Bridge to New Jersey, to visit with our former next-door neighbors, Halden, Ben, James, and Doughboy. They had invited us for dinner and to see their new house.

(Yes, much to our dismay they moved. They needed more room, and couldn't find a house the size they needed that they could afford in the neighborhood. Fortunately, after visiting, we realized that they live lots closer than we thought - YAY!)

Anyway, it was great to see them, and they have a great house with a nice back yard that is even fenced in, so Doughboy can hang out barking at the cat next door (who, according to all reports, completely ignores him). It also has a large front porch, which as far as I'm concerned, is one of the best features that any house can have.

At the time they moved, James was a little over a month old, so we expected him to look quite different - and he did. He's filled out quite a bit - his parents say all he wants to do is eat! - and he has more hair than he did as an infant. He is now three months old, and such a cutie. I got to hold him, which he was willing to tolerate for a little while.

Doughboy was very happy to see us, and wanted to make sure that James didn't get all of the attention!

After dinner, Halden took James to put his pjs on him, and she also put the sailboat hat that I had knit for him on his head, so I could see how it looked. In the picture above, he is wearing it, and is sort of resigned. And he was willing to model it for a little bit longer, so we could get the picture above.

But, as you can see, he had had his fill of modeling when they offered to take a picture of him with us:

... in any event, the hat looked pretty cute! They are headed to Colorado next weekend for a family wedding, and they said they will likely go sailing while there, so they would try to take a picture of James wearing the hat on a sailboat. (I have a feeling they might be able to get away with it - but not us!)

In related news, that means that Doughboy will be staying with us next weekend, which we are excited about. The cats ... not so much ...

When are two halves not a whole?

When they are a single sock from two different pairs. I have managed to complete one whole sock, and am nearly finished with another one, from two pairs I am making for two different people for Christmas gifts. Since the yarn for each is a single skein, I decided to do my usual two socks alternately, but for different pairs. I'm pleased with how they are coming along, and must apologize because I cannot show you pictures. I showed you a picture of the first socks for one pair, the Southwest Socks, in a previous post. Unfortunately, I cannot show you a picture of the other sock from the other pair, as I don't want to ruin a surprise for someone who very likely checks the blog regularly. If you are on Ravelry, you can see pictures and details for both socks, here and here. If not, you'll have to wait for pictures after they have been gifted.

I know, sometimes life just isn't fair ...

12 September 2008

El Yunque

The day after my niece's wedding, The Tim, my sister Nancy and her husband Michael, and their daughter Lauren and her boyfriend Ben piled into our little rented car to go hiking in El Yunque.

Which reminds me - R is for Rainforest!

El Yunque is the only tropical rainforest in North America. It just happened to be located right near the resort where Julie and Keith got married. We figured that it may be our only chance to see any rainforest in person, and we were not disappointed.

There are several trails, the most difficult one being to the summit, which takes an average of four hours. As you can probably imagine, the morning after the wedding, none of us were particularly anxious to spend four hours hiking! So we opted to take the trail that would lead us to Cocoa Falls, one of the largest waterfalls in the park (El Yunque is part of the U.S. National Parks System). It was breathtaking, amazing, and one of the most unique experiences of my life.

We started at a tower, where you could climb and see over the forest from several directions.

Me at the top of the tower

View from south of the tower

Two views of the rainclouds coming in over the mountains

Small waterfall along the trail

Tree with exposed roots

Sky above trail to
Cocoa Falls

El Tim on the trail at El Yunque

Cocoa Falls

From the side and top
of Cocoa Falls

Lauren (left) and Nancy (right)
wave to the photographer
from pool at bottom of
Cocoa Falls

Unfortunately, we didn't see any of the tree frogs (though we heard them), or monkeys, or mongoose that live there. We did see some interesting birds flying around, and some very interesting plant life.

And oddly, a retired Philadelphia policeman was the person who was giving out maps at the Visitors Center! Proving the world really is smaller than you think sometimes.

10 September 2008

A Sally Field Moment!

In the course of two days last weekend, two of my very favorite people in the universe, Lorraine and Brigitte, named me in their posts for this award! You may remember that I had said last week was pretty icky, and reading their posts made up for it - after a week of being wrong in so many ways, it was nice to feel like there were at least some people who thought I was OK. (Plus, they live in Canadia, which as you know is one of my fave places in the universe.) So before I go any further, Thank you very much!

Moving along, the rules are:
1. Post the award on your blog.
2. Add a link (in this case, links) to the person/people who awarded you.
3. Nominate at least 4 others.
4. Leave a comment on their blog so they can pass it on.

Simple enough, right? Well, not when you feel like you have a whole bunch of friends now that you have started a blog, and they are all great. Plus, Lorraine and Brigitte nominated people I would have also nominated (Carrie K, and Chris). What's a person to do??

Well, I hearkened back to the days when I was new to all of this, and decided to nominate my first four blog friends, who I feel are only better friends than ever today.

Carol - from the first time I walked into Rosie's to help out, and Carol was there, we just hit it off. We both find great amusement in the mocking of others (because we of course are perfect), we both love kitty cats, and our birthdays are days apart (except, well, I'm a lot of years ahead of her). But beyond that, Carol's blog was the first one I ever read (or was even aware of), and she was actually the person who encouraged/pestered me to start my own blog. She has a husband and three kids that sound as fun as she is (wouldn't they have to be?). Carol is smart, opinionated, kind, talented, and I would walk through fire for her, because I love her dearly (but not in the way that makes Jesus puke). Best of all, she is coming to my house this Sunday to hang out and meet the kitties - I can't wait!!

Melanie - I came across a blog called Knit the Classics (which has been removed according to Blogger), and signed as a member. They had a swap shortly after I joined, and Melanie got my name. Not only did she send a fab swap package, but we had so much in common! We are both librarians (catalogers to narrow it even further), we both have cats, we love to read and write, and except for Jeremy Irons, we seem to like and admire a lot of the same people. (For the record, she is pro-Jeremy, wheareas I am vehemently anti-Jeremy.) She also likes to write letters! You know, the kind where you sit down, write with a pen on paper, and then send it in the mail?? Her blog is intelligent, informative, often very funny, and always a good reflection of herself.

Kim - I met Kim through Melanie. There was another swap (yes I know, but I do love packages in the mail!), and Melanie was assigning partners. She assigned Kim to send me goodies. Kim by the way, is an excellent secret swap partner - she sends very intriguing messages and e-mails that drive you nuts wondering who she is! The really funny thing is that about six months later, I signed up for another secret swap, and got another package from Kim - for a while I thought we might be permanent swap partners ... Kim is the best. She is an unabashed lover of all things Vanderbilt (I know nothing about Vanderbilt, but appreciate a true fan when I meet one), has a really wicked sense of humor, has two great kids who actually seem to like her (!), and likes both cats and dogs, and owns cats and dogs. No brainer, huh? Oh and also - she is the originator of The Knitter's Hunk contest, where this year's winner was crowned just today. Hopefully Kim and her kids will visit us in Philadelphia (next spring?) ...

Lorette - I don't specifically remember how I found her blog, but it was one of the first ones I checked regularly. Lorette is someone who just immediately seems like she would be lots of fun! She is funny, smart, willing to try almost anything knitting-wise, enjoys a cocktail now and then (mostly now), and - you're probably guessing this one - likes cats and dogs, and has cats and dogs! She tells great stories about her knitting, her travels, and her family. What's not to like?

And yes, my choices do have the recurring themes of animal-loving people, because I think people who love animals already start out with a certain sympatico. I like plenty of people who are not as insanely crazy about animals as I am, or are somewhat indifferent, but I'll admit that I don't really understand that part of their personality. :-)

Now I'm off to check some new blogs that have been nominated by others ...

07 September 2008

Three hundred!

When I logged in to Blogger, and went to click on "New Post," I realized that this would be my 300th post! I really hadn't been keeping track all that much, so I was surprised to see that the number is so high. Yeah, I know a lot of people who have done this for a while have more than a thousand, but I think 300 is pretty good for a two-year period.

A project that I can show you

This is what I have knit so far on sock #1 of a pair I'm calling Southwest Socks. They are a Christmas gift for my nephew's wife, Liesl. They live in Arizona, and the colors in this yarn reminded me of the various colors you see there, in the desert, the forests, and whenever you catch a sunset.

The yarn is Sock Hop, from Dancing Leaf Farm. I bought it last year at Stitches East without any particular project in mind. It's really soft, and great to knit with. I decided since the yarn had so many pretty colors, I'd just do a plain sock so that the pattern wouldn't compete with the yarn. I started these the first time on the plane to Puerto Rico - and then about four more times between then and the flight back to Philadelphia! I was beginning to think they were cursed or something, but after I set them aside for a few days and started fresh, everything was fine.

I spent part of yesterday and today cleaning out two closets on our third floor. I have had it in my mind for a while, but that was about it. Of course, I could have done it last weekend, when it was three-day weekend, and had another day left to relax, but such is life. There are a few small things to do before it's a fait accompli, but it feels nice to have the bulk of the work done, and things pretty much in order. Having said that, going up and down the stairs several times today has left me feeling more tired than I expected. So the rest of it will be finished tomorrow evening, which works out anyway, since The Tim needs to go through some of the stuff to see if it stays or goes, and he'll be home tomorrow.

I'm not the only one who needs to rest though, as you can see ...

The Garden Kitty had a busy day, snoop-ervising our activities, dashing up and down the steps, and making sure that The Tim didn't try to kill him (as he often does, by such terrible means as - getting up from a chair, or sneezing. You really can't be too careful, apparently).

But all of us survived, so I think it will be a quiet evening. It's just too bad that tomorrow is Monday!

05 September 2008

Book 'em!

What a crappy week - this cartoon is more telling than you can imagine. I saw it a couple of months ago, and I can't remember where, but it did make me laugh out l0ud, as I have/had a strong aversion to Jack Lord. My mother used to *love* the TV show "Hawaii Five-O" and he was the main character, who seemed like a real pain in the area below the neck. That was bad enough, but then I saw some interview with him, and well - he wasn't acting!


August Book Report

In other news, I only finished two books in August, though I had plans for at least two more. I took the one I was reading as well as two additional ones to Puerto Rico with me. But as it turned out, we had very little "down" time, so I didn't even finish the in-process one until after we got home ...

Early in the month, I read The Optimist's Daughter, by Eudora Welty, which was one of my choices for the Southern Reading Challenge (which ended on August 15, but I still have one more book to finish for it). I really enjoyed this book, and have decided that part of what I like about reading Eudora Welty is that she does give you characters, places, and events that illustrate life in the South, but never in a sappy, too-sweet way. The characters in this particular book are so well done, I felt that I could actually hear them speaking the dialogue as I read it.

The story takes place during a short period of time, when a man dies while out of town with his second wife (a younger, "newer" model), and the second wife and grown daughter work to make arrangements for his body to be taken home to Mississippi from New Orleans. Once there, they need to set up for the viewing, and the funeral service, which is to be held in the family's home. The other people in the town, and additional family members (particularly the wife's family) are as interesting and as funny as the main characters.

The new wife is really worried about how much money she will inherit, and what the daughter may try to "steal" from her. The [optimist's] daughter has to deal with her feelings about losing her father, memories of her mother, and the fact that she no longer has someplace to come home. Little details, such as the way the dresser in the master bedroom was arranged, or the way a little boy eats an ice cream, make you feel as though you are in the room as well, watching small, personal, and intimate moments of people you only just met.

It's a wonderful book and I would highly recommend it.

In Sunshine or in Shadow : Stories by Irish Women, edited by Kate Cruise O'Brien, and Mary Maher, is a collection of short stories written by women from Ireland, and those of Irish descent. They are contemporary stories, many of them about women at the time of the referendum to legalize divorce in Ireland in the 1990s. This was my final choice in the Short Story Challenge.

Like any short story collection, there were some stories I liked much more than others. As a whole, the stories are all at least interesting. My particular favorites were "Taximen Are Invisible" by Maeve Binchy, "The Orphan" by Mary Dorcey, and "Bishop's House" by Mary Gordon (who is one of my favorite authors anyway). Many of the themes are universal, but with an Irish sensibility, which added a different aspect to them. I am always interested to read a story or a novel where I can identify with a basic theme or character, but some part of the whole is literally or figuratively foreign to me.

The editors did an excellent job of choosing what stories to include, in my opinion. There was a good balance of the serious, funny, poignant, ironic, and surprising. I would say that it is worth giving at least one or two of the stories a read, if you enjoy short stories.

Two more pictures

I haven't posted many more pictures from my niece's wedding, mainly because there are approximately eleventy bazillion from that and our vacation, and I haven't gone through them very systematically yet. But these two were ready, so here you go.

Here's another shot of Biggie the ringbearer, this time so you can see the front of his tuxedo. (He was the only one wearing a tux, by the way):

And here are Julie and Keith after the ceremony. Actually, I didn't take this one, my niece Annie (Jules' youngest sister) took it with her iPhone, but it's one of the only ones of the two of them where they are standing still and you can see both of their faces well!

I can't believe it was only two weeks ago, but I do remember how much fun it was, and we are all still talking about how things worked out perfectly. Good times.

01 September 2008

Labor Day

~ What does labor want? We want more schoolhouses and less jails; more books and less arsenals; more learning and less vice; more leisure and less greed; more justice and less revenge; in fact, more of the opportunities to cultivate our better natures ~
-- Samuel Gompers