31 October 2008

All Hallows Eve

When witches go riding,
and black cats are seen
the moon laughs and whispers,
‘tis near Halloween

29 October 2008




28 October 2008

Happy Anniversary!

Thirty years ago today, The Tim and I got married.

I've heard people say that the longer a couple is married, the more they start to look alike ... but to be honest, I don't see it ...

Personally, I think we are very well matched.

24 October 2008


A few months ago, I came across a new (to me) blog, Molecular Knitting. I really enjoyed it, and when Brenda had a blog contest in September, I was the winner! Which of course, meant a package in the mail (be still my heart!), this time from California.

I received the package weeks ago, and even though I made sure to write and thank Brenda right away, I realized earlier today that I never showed you what she sent me. I expected the yarn prize, but it turned out to be a box full of surprises.

It was so much fun to open everything, and such a nice collection of things. The yarn is merino sock yarn from Creatively Dyed Yarns, and I immediately decided that it will be socks for moi. It is about as soft as it's probably legal for yarn to be ...

She also included a package from Charles Chocolates, which is near where she lives. It contains (well, contained) candied pieces of hazelnut in bittersweet chocolate. There was also a package of roasted almonds with sea salt, which is also now long gone, as I decided that both could be considered healthy foods. And I am all about eating healthy. Lastly, a pretty little pear scented candle, packaged to look like a small can of pears. The note she included said that everything was from places where she lives, or has lived in California. I think it is such a great idea to get to know other places through local treats or crafts.

Thanks so much, Brenda! Every single thing was something I liked.

Tomorrow, The Tim, Seb, and I are heading to Baltimore. My niece Amanda and her husband Pat are having a Halloween party. My other niece La Liz will be there with Greg and Zach, as well as some other friends of all of them that we know. (According to Amanda, one of the couples even changed their plans to come to the party once they found out we would be there. Do they need a life or what??) We are taking a Holiday Cheeseball and a pumpkin cheesecake, and there will be all kinds of other food and drink, so I'm sure a good time will be in store for all of us. I'm sure many pictures will be taken, for better or for worse ...

Oh, and one more thing - have you seen this site? Carol sent me an e-mail from it, and I laughed myself silly. Enjoy!

22 October 2008

Knitting Arizona

The Southwest Socks, they are finished!

After fighting with the toe of the second sock, I finally finished it on Sunday evening. The colors are a little bit brighter than in this photo, but this was the best one I could get, and it's not really too far off.

Here are the details:

Pattern: Yankee Knitter Classic Socks for the Family
Yarn: Dancing Leaf Farm Sock Hop, 1 skein
Needles: US size 2

Comments: I'm pleased with how they turned out, though they gave me problems from the get-go. Not so much with the pattern, since it was just a basic sock pattern, but I had to restart them several times, and then just as there was about 1 inch left to knit on the foot of the second sock, I was pulling yarn from the center pull ball, when a huge tangle of yarn came out! (I think it was Carol who called this phenomenon "yarn vomit," and that's just what it's like.) Anyway, it took me two evenings to untangle it to the point where I could continue knitting. Then when I got to the toe, I kept dropping stitches - grrr! But they are finished, blocked, and ready to be gifted, and I do like the final result.

They are a Christmas gift for my nephew's wife, Liesl, and the colors remind me of the Arizona desert. They live in Tucson, so I hope the socks will feel at home there.

If you are dying to see the Ravelry entry, it's here. Go crazy.

20 October 2008

I'll Take 'Potpourri' for $80, Alex

Ah, "Jeopardy!" How I used to love that show. Even after Alex Trebek took over, and I decided that he was just unbearable, I could still watch. But then they dumbed down the questions, and it was just too frustrating and painful to watch the contestants miss questions like "What state shares part of its name with North Carolina?" to which they would answer "Delaware."

Anyway, I am feeling somewhat scattered at the moment, so "Potpourri" seemed like a good description for this post. (Maybe another time, I'll do "Potent Potables" ...)

In any event:

1. Office supplies - one of my co-workers sent this picture around in an e-mail, and I think it would be an excellent addition to practically any office's supply closet.

The Evil New Boss asked me if I had seen the e-mail when I had one of my approximately 600 daily meetings with her. I said I had, since the person had sent it to everyone. ENB said that it "disturbed" her to even think someone would create something like that even as a joke. I said nothing aloud in response, but my brain was working overtime. Good grief.

2. In late September, when Doughboy visited, we headed up to Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia for the Carnavale of the Dogs 2008, an event sponsored every year by Commerce Bank. It was a lot of fun, though I think Doughboy was stunned to see so many dogs all at once. One part involved a costume contest. We met a full-bred Newfie (Doughboy is half Newfie-half Chow) who was dressed as Barbra Streisand:

Doughboy found her quite fetching.

Then we saw this pup, who is the opposite of Doughboy in every way, but was thrilled to see him nonetheless.

3. The Phillie Phanatic - I got a couple of e-mails from people who saw my last post, and wanted to know what type of a creature the Phillie Phanatic is. Duh, he's a mascot! (And that is everything I know about the Phillie Phanatic, really.)

4. The election and digital TV - I will be happy when the election is over, as I am tired of the campaign commercials, but I will be even happier once the switch to digital TV occurs in February 2009. Those commercials are bugging me even more. Yet you know there will still be eejits who are puzzled when it happens, 'cause they had no idea.

5. Knitting news - I have an FO that is blocking as we speak! Yes, I do actually finish things from time to time, believe it or not. I'll show you a picture in my next post. Yep, I can show a picture of this one. Gives you something to look forward to, huh?

6. Zach Attack - I've saved the best picture for last. The weekend before this past one, my niece La Liz, her husband Greg, and Zach came for a visit. The weather was great, and we had such fun with them. Zach and Jetsam wore each other out, and we did a lot of walking around. But of course our first trek was to the playground, and on the way, we stopped in Fitler Square, where there are several animal sculptures that kids especially love. La Liz took this great picture of Zach by the turtles.

Now is that one cute kid or what?? And I have to say, he is one of the nicest, most well-behaved little kids I've ever been around. (And though I am biased, I've also been around LOTS of little kids. Most of whom behaved appallingly. The little darlings.)

OK, I guess that's enough rambling for now. But don't worry, I'll be back with yet another fascinating post soon!

16 October 2008

Worth a Thousand Words ...


National League Champions 2008!

The Phillie Phanatic

10 October 2008

The Letter T; and FO sighting on Ravelry!

As promised earlier in the week, it's time for the letter T in the ABC-Along 2008.

T is for Tess!

I knew that for this letter, I wanted to use pictures of our oldest cat, Tess. The problem was getting a picture of her to use that showed her face, which is actually quite pretty.

This was my first attempt, and of course the second I snapped the photo, she put her head down. I have this labeled in my pictures folder as "Tess ignoring me."

I got a little bit closer one morning, while she was eating breakfast. Once again, I snapped the picture, and she moved her head, this time to eat.

The thing is, you don't mess with Tess. She is not the most accommodating of cats, and though she is quite affectionate in her own way, it is strictly on her terms. Simply put, if you don't do things her way, on her time schedule, you can often end up bloodied. We adopted her as a stray, and I have always suspected that she was owned by someone who abused her, which caused some of her behavior problems. With age she has mellowed somewhat (meaning we are all not nearly as bloodied!), but it's still best to, um, stay on her good side ...

In the end, I had to swipe a picture taken of her by Carol, during a recent visit. Of course she cooperated for Carol. (They all did.)

As you can see, she is pretty scruffy, and it's not just due to old age - she's always been scruffy! I used to spend way too much time trying to brush her fur to look nice and sleek. In the end, we'd still have a fuzzcat, and I'd be covered in scratches ... But the look suits her, and she is quite pleased to remain "natural."

In knitting news ...

Earlier in the week, I finished another project that is to be a Christmas gift. I was happy to finish, because I had gotten somewhat behind on my gift projects, and finishing something made me feel like I was back on track. This is another time when I can't show you the FO, since the recipient checks in here regularly. Now, granted, she wouldn't necessarily know if they were for her or not, but I would prefer that the surprise is total, so this is another case where you'll have to wait for the year-end wrap-up.

Unless you are on Ravelry. In that case, go here.

That's it for now. My niece La Liz, her husband Greg, and little Zach are coming for a weekend visit tomorrow, and we are really looking forward to it. The weather is going to be nice, so hopefully everyone will have a good time. I'm sure I'll have a picture or twenty to share with you the next time I check in ...

08 October 2008

Stitch 'n Pitch 2008, and Something Spooky This Way Comes

In the event that you don't know (or maybe even don't care), I would like to point out that tomorrow evening at Citizens Bank Park in South Philadelphia, the Phillies will take on the Dodgers in the first game of the National League Championship Series.

I [finally] made it to see a Phillies game at the new park (OK, so it's a couple of years old, sue me) this past August when I went to the 2008 Stitch 'n Pitch. It was really a lot of fun, even though it was one of those evenings when it was about 90 degrees, and 97% humidity. But my friend Sharrie and I headed down to the park after dinner, armed with our knitting and the desire to see the Phillies win. (Fortunately, we had our knitting, 'cause the Phillies sucked big time and they lost to the Florida Marlins, who also sucked big time, just not as much as the Phillies on this particular night.)

Anyway, it was so weird to see so many people of all shapes and sizes knitting and doing other needlework at a baseball game! It was crowded, and from what I could tell, the whole section reserved for the stitchers was filled. The only person I saw that I knew was Liz, who came over and chatted for a while, so we had a chance to catch up. Because even though we live approximately eight miles away from each other, I hadn't seen her in person for about a year and a half ...

Plus, there was beer and then later, ice cream.

In conclusion:

Tickets, beer, ice cream: $35.00
Seeing the ballpark: Excellent
Knitting during the game: Fun
Observing other spectators with a friend: Priceless

Creepy creepy creepy ...

A little while back, I signed up for The Very Vintage Halloween Swap. My swap partner, Brenda, lives in Texas, and has a pretty amazing garden - it has even been designated as a natural wildlife habitat, and she is only about 90 miles from Dallas!

I had a lot of fun putting together her package, and I would love to show you what I sent her. But since it didn't occur to me to take a picture before I sent the stuff to her, that's not gonna happen. So just think to yourselves how magnificent it must have been ...

I do have to say though, that it was not nearly as cool or as weirdly creepy as what she sent to me:

YIKES - he's really creeping me out! The wheels on the bicycle move, so I have had some fun having him "ride" over to the cats. (Well, actually Jetsam is the only one who tries to figure out what is going on - the Garden Kitty runs and hides, and Tess just sends me death-ray glances ...) This is definitely one of the best Halloween decorations ever, as far as I'm concerned. I think I'll wait to put it out after this weekend, since my great-nephew Zach is coming to visit, and I don't want his first overnight visit to our house to be remembered as a traumatic event!

Thank you Brenda, for such a great decoration, and something so wonderfully weird. It's a perfect addition to my other Halloween stuff.

05 October 2008

The Letter S - just slightly late!

I had finally caught up on the ABC-Along 2008, when I got a letter behind again! But it was because I was waiting to see if a certain picture showed up in what I considered a reasonable amount of time. Well, it arrived in the mail the other day, so here you go:

S is for Sisters!

You have no way of knowing this, but the picture above is a rarity. It is only the third picture that exists of only my sisters and myself! (The others are from when I was a baby, and then in 1988 when we were home to visit my mother before she died.) This is from the rehearsal dinner for my niece's wedding in August, in Puerto Rico. (From left to right: Mary Ellen (mother of the bride), Nancy, and me.) I think part of the reason we seldom had pictures of just the three of us, is because by the time I arrived on the scene, the other two were old enough to have their own lives and friends, and we really didn't do a whole lot together as a group - other than move from one place to the other when my father would change jobs.

My sister Nancy lives in California, and Mary Ellen in West Virginia, so there are occasions when two of us will be together, but not that many with all three of us. We always have a good time though, and look forward to seeing each other. I think it's pretty amazing that we have all made it this far and are good friends, and have no problem catching up when we are together. It seems like so many people that I know don't get along with, or rarely are in touch with their siblings.

Maybe it helped that we had, ahem, "unusual" (i.e., crazy) parents ... and that it appears to be an inherited condition!

Coming later this week: The letter T.

**Oh - and if this picture had not shown up in the mail this week, S was going to stand for Shoes - which I also love, albeit in a different way than I love my sisters ...

04 October 2008

September Book Report

September was a month of finishing up for me, reading-wise. I read all but one of the books on the lists I'd created for my remaining online reading challenges, even though some of them had already ended officially.

The first book I completed was The Keepers of the House, by Shirley Ann Grau. This was my final selection in the Southern Reading Challenge. The book won a Pulitzer Prize in 1965, and it deals with the scandal that ensues when a wealthy man's secret family of children born from his relationship with a black woman becomes known in the small Southern town where his family has lived for generations, and where his own daughter was raised in the same house with her half-siblings. The mixed-race children are eventually sent to schools in the North, and financed by the father, but never acknowledged by him as his own. When his one acknowledged daughter marries a man with political aspirations, the secret is exposed.

I really wanted to like this book, but I just didn't. I think it was due to the fact that I just couldn't bring myself to care that much about any of the characters. They were very well written, and Grau's descriptive powers are excellent, but even though I finished the book, it was mainly to just see if it got any better towards the end, and for me it didn't. I'm glad I read it, to find an author who was unfamiliar to me, and I think that in 1965, it would have been pretty groundbreaking. For me right now, it seemed awfully staged.

Next up, Shopgirl, by Steve Martin, for the Novella Challenge. I am a big Steve Martin fan as far as his comedy goes, and a couple of years ago, I saw a local production of his play, Picasso at the Lapin Agile , which I truly enjoyed. So I decided that I should give this novella a try. I knew that a film had been made of it, but I didn't see it, so I really didn't have much of an idea what to expect.

The main characters in the book are Mirabelle, Ray, and Jeremy. Mirabelle, an artist at heart, works at the glove counter at Neiman Marcus in Beverly Hills. Ray is an older, divorced man, who sees her there one day, and becomes totally enamored of her. Jeremy is around Mirabelle's age, and they are friends who at the beginning of the book, mainly get together to have sex when the mood strikes them.

The story deals primarily with the relationship of Mirabelle and Ray, and though neither one of them were awful, neither of them were people whom I found particularly appealing. Mirabelle never really gelled as a person to me, she was too much of a character who seemed to float through life, collecting experiences, but not necessarily taking much from them to make it seem that they mattered that much. Ray was a little more complex, in that we learn a little bit more about his feelings, the conflicts he faces emotionally through his relationship with such a young girl, and how his feelings change by the end of the book. Jeremy starts out as a slacker type, but by the end has changed considerably, and decides to pursue a mature relationship with Mirabelle.

My opinion - OK. Not great, not terrible.

The last two September books were also for the Novella Challenge. The first, No One Writes to the Colonel, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, was probably the one I found the most challenging to read. It tells the story of a colonel and his wife, now both older, who are waiting to hear about the colonel's pension, and are barely scraping by in the meantime. Though not completely destitute, they have to be very careful with their food and what money they have. Each time the mail boat arrives, the colonel goes to meet it, hoping it will bring news of his pension, so that they can stop worrying about how to make ends meet.

These are my favorite lines in the entire novella, in the second paragraph on the first page:

"For nearly sixty years - since the end of the last civil war - the colonel had done nothing else but wait. October was one of the few things which arrived."

Like all of Garcia Marquez's works that I have read, this one appealed to me very much. I think his ability to so perfectly capture place and time are what makes him one of the best, as far as I'm concerned. Also, the characters are always complex yet simple, and I never feel that I am being manipulated by the author to like the characters just because he may. They are presented as the saying goes, warts and all. This story, like so many others, does not end with everything tied up neatly in a bow, but it is rewarding nonetheless. I think that for a person to be responsible for translating a work by Gabriel Garcia Marquez into English, they must have a really developed sense of language and nuance, because reading his work makes you feel like you are being let in on some special story, some secret, that not everyone else can know.

Lastly, I read Daisy Miller, by Henry James, also for the Novella Challenge. This was my first exposure to Henry James, and I was curious, since I have always heard that he was difficult to read. In college, I was exposed to his brother William James, through several philosophy classes, and I found him to be a pretty interesting person.

I enjoyed Daisy Miller, as I will admit to liking stories about the time period when it takes place, when young men and women from America made their grand tours of Europe, and had new and exciting experiences. I can't say that Daisy was one of my favorite literary characters, because she seemed exceptionally shallow to me, but then again, the novella was so short, there was hardly time to know any of the characters except on the surface. I have no idea if this is what James intended for the reader, but I could see how it might leave some feeling as if they didn't get enough story.

All in all, a varied group of books for the month. There is still one title for the Novella Challenge left for me to read, though the official end date was September 15, but I'll read it anyway. (It's a book I was hoping go get to on my own anyway.) Part of me hopes I'll find some new reading challenges to expose me to some more new people, places, and books, but I'm also looking forward to just going back to reading something, just because - you know?