30 November 2009


Well, did you miss me?  (Yeah, you're thinking - what ... she was gone?)  Our DSL modem died, and we were offline until today when the replacement one arrived and The Tim hooked it up successfully.  I think he missed the computer more than I did, though I did miss writing blog posts, and sending snarky e-mails to friends mocking others. 

In the past ten days or so, I have thought of so many things I would write about when I could post again.  I'm sure there were hundreds of ideas, and of course they were all brilliant.  But just like Scarlett, they are gone with the wind.

Some things do however come to mind.

First of all, today was my last day at the penitentiary.  I'll write a post about that soon, but the last eight months have certainly been interesting and very often entertaining (even if for the wrong reasons).  Plus it's been nice to have a paycheck every two weeks.  I sure hope something else shows up soon, or at least seems promising so that I have something to consider.

Secondly, a happy belated Thanksgiving to all of you.  I hope yours was a good one.  Ours was low-key but really enjoyable, and to be honest I probably could have skipped meals since last Thursday and still have eaten enough to keep me alive.  But if you can't eat all of the Thanksgiving goodies, it seems to me that you aren't having a very good time of it.

Thanks to everyone for your kind words about my essay in Interweave Knits.  I really do love to write, so it was fun to have something published that I wrote because I wanted to, not because it was some kind of assignment.  Hannah, if you are reading, yes that was your Bon-Bon Socklettes pattern, and I had a blast knitting that pair!  A couple of people e-mailed me and/or commented asking if I was planning to write more.  I'm always writing, at least in my head.  I am also always winning awards and writing my acceptance speeches in my head, so it's really a lot of fun in there ... however, though I have no text for them, I do have titles for two books:  All This and Cancer Too!, followed up by the soon-to-be-holiday classic, Vegetarians - the Freaks of Thanksgiving.  Unfortunately, I am unlikely to make any inroads in becoming a famous published author with only titles to the books, so don't hold your breath.

During my time sans computer, I also realized that I never showed you a picture of a house guest we had during October.  This is Monty.

Monty spent a weekend with us, and as you can imagine, the cats were not amused.  Surprisingly (at least to them), they all lived and did not require medical attention.  I mean, you can probably tell from this picture that Monty is a killer, right?  He belongs to my friend Erika, and he is such a sweetheart.  He loves to cuddle, and though The Tim and I thought that was great, others were highly displeased.  But you know how it is, all of us have a cross to bear, and visiting dogs represent that to The Fur Patrol ...

So here it is the last day of November.  A good month overall.   Even the leftovers are gone though, so it's time to see what's next ... and time to start thinking about lots of baking!

20 November 2009

News Notes

Thanks to everyone for their kind wishes for The Tim on his birthday this week.  We had a nice day together, and then in the evening we sang "Happy Birthday" (during which the Garden Kitty *always* moans, er, sings along ...) and had birthday cake.  Earlier in the day, The Tim had to go and renew his driver's license, so he immortalized the Dotty vest by wearing it for his picture!  Before we left the house, he agreed to a modeling session, so you could see how nicely it fits him.  I chose this picture, because it turned out better than the others, plus he is actually smiling in it, so I liked it the best.  (He has a tendency to look very serious in pictures.  For instance, the new drivers license photo?  Similar to a mugshot ...)

In other news, I fear that I must engage in some shameless self-promotion.  The Winter issue of Interweave Knits is out, and if you look at the "Ravelings" piece at the end of the issue, you may notice that it is written by someone you know ... as in ME!  I was so excited that they said they were going to publish my essay, since it's a combination of two of my very favorite things - knitting and writing!  Those of you who spent last year reading about my holiday knitting may have heard way too much about it to want to actually read the piece, but don't say I didn't let you know about it ... :-)

And sports fans, guess what?  This is my 450th post!  You know what that means - I had to go through your guesses for when it would happen, and choose a winner.  No one hit the date exactly, but Chris guessed November 17 (three days before today), while Carrie K guessed November 24 (four days after today).   So - Chris you are the winner!  Congratulations!  I'm pretty sure that I have your mailing address, but just in case I can't find it, please send it along to me at: thekittyknitterATverizonDOTnet. 

And thanks to all of you for playing along - no one was really too far off the date, which was surprising to me, since I was thinking it might not be until sometime in December.

That's it for tonight - have a good Saturday.  I'll be working, but since it's towards the end of my gainful employment, it's worth showing up, don't you think???

18 November 2009

The Very Best One. Ever.

Men are like wine. Some turn to vinegar, but the best improve with age.
-- Pope John XXIII

Anyone who knows me, knows that I am not generally one to quote a pope - but in this case, I'm making an exception, because a) Pope John XXIII was a good one, and b) the subject of today's post proves this saying true Every. Single. Day.

And so, without further ado, let me say:

Happy Birthday to my very own Sweetie!

Whoops - not THAT picture!!**

This one:

(... as you can see, he's popular with the entire family!)

I hope you have a great birthday, and many more that we can celebrate together.  Love you!

** This is the first thing that came up in a Google image  search for  "Happy Birthday, Tim" ... what - you thought I wouldn't use it???

14 November 2009

Rainy Saturday

I don't know how things are where you live, but we are now [supposedly] finishing up the fourth day of a nor'easter here in Philadelphia.  Even though the temperatures have not been that low, the wind and dampness make it feel really cold.  Today I am grateful that I do not have to be at work in this, as I have the other days.  You haven't been damp and cold until you are out in it all day long!

Anyway, it's been hard to find inspiration on a lazy day like this one, but those of you who are paying attention (surely there's at least one ...) will notice that I have finally put a link to my pattern for the Zach Attack Hat on the sidebar. 

Now you can make one yourself if you so desire.  I was hoping to turn it into a pdf, all nicely formatted, but couldn't figure out how to do that and store it for free.  So you'll just have to print it out the way it is, but it is at least posted.  (Please let me know if the link doesn't work!)

I am also in the throes of deciding how much/what knitting I want to do for Christmas gifts.  I have nearly no money to buy anything, and will be reviewing the stash to see what quick projects I have yarn to make.  I made a list of my stash, box-by-box, and apparently Box #2 has the yarns not already designated for projects in it.  It will be fun to open it and see what I can find.

The Pickle Cardigan is coming along, though I do not have a current picture of the pieces already knitted.  Right now I'm working on the right front.  The sleeves and the left front are already done, so I'm making progress.  It's an enjoyable project, and even if I finish it during winter weather, it will be nice to have it next spring.

The Tim is enjoying the last few days of the year when he will be younger than I am, as his birthday is this coming Wednesday, and then we will be the same age.  I will be curious to see if he is suddenly "old" as he has said I am for the past 8 months.  Somehow, I doubt it, it seems that comments about age cease around this time ...

Anyway, off to check out the mysterious Box #2 - with the help of at least one cat, I'm sure.  Wish me luck!

11 November 2009

Veterans Day

Both my father and father-in-law were veterans of World War II, so each year on Veterans Day, I say a special prayer for them.  I hope that regardless of your feelings about the military overall, or any current conflicts, that you will think a kind thought today for those who are in active service, as well as those we remember.

In Flanders Fields

Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)
Canadian Army

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead.
Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

10 November 2009

A No-Show FO

During the World Series, I finished a knitting project that I had started back in August, to be a Christmas gift for this year.  It took me longer than usual, 'cause I didn't really work through it like I usually would, but I knew I could finish it with plenty of time.  Then I couldn't upload pictures since something had changed in the settings that would allow me to retrieve them from my camera when Tim cleared up that nasty computer virus that we had a month or so ago. 

But, the project is finished, and after all of that, I can't show it to you here!  Since it's a gift, I want to be sure that the recipient doesn't see it beforehand, though I'm not all that sure they would be disappointed.  But I would ...

If you are a Ravelry member, you can see and read all about it here.   If you are not a Ravelry member, you'll just have to live without seeing the wonderfulness until I post pictures after the holidays.  

Sorry - but sometimes life's just like that, you know?

08 November 2009

October Book Report

So - here are the books I read during October.  The ones with asterisks (*) next to the title are available for giveaway.  Anyone interested should leave a comment, letting me know the one you'd like, by Friday, November 13 (!).

The Moonstone, by Wilkie CollinsWilkie Collins is considered to be one of the inventors of the detective story (Edgar Allan Poe is the other one), and he has created a truly involved story with this book.

The Moonstone refers to a diamond taken as the spoils of battle from a depiction of an Indian god. The legend of the moonstone is that whoever holds it wrongly (meaning if it is not returned to its original location), will have tragedy befall them. The story begins when Franklin Blake is charged with the task of delivering the jewel to the niece of the late military man who originally stole it, on the occasion of her birthday. Rachel Verinder, the young lady in question, is thrilled with it, and wears it to her birthday party. However, the next morning, it has disappeared, seemingly without a trace. From here, the story traces the investigations to locate the moonstone, as well as how it changes the relationships of the various characters.
 Wilkie gives the story several different narrators, each one taking a different time period, and describing various efforts to not just locate the jewel, but attempts to repair reputations and relationships. This made the story both more interesting, and in some cases, amusing, as each individual has their own take on the different people involved, and what may have happened to create such a mystery.

The final resolution was pretty far-fetched, but as far as I'm concerned, it fit right in to the rest of the story and the time period involved.

I enjoyed this read, and it completes my commitment to read two titles for the R.I.P. IV Readers' Challenge. I would recommend this to anyone who likes some suspense and anyone who enjoys period literature. 
The Life All Around Me by Ellen Foster, by Kaye Gibbons.  One of my very favorite books EVER is Ellen Foster. As a matter of fact, a few years ago, when a local theater group did a dramatization of it, I nearly didn't go, even though we had season tickets, because I didn't want it to be ruined for me. Fortunately, it was extremely well done, and when I talked to the guy who had done the adaptation afterwards, he said that he knew it had to be true to the book, since so many people he knew were dedicated to it.

 Anyway, this book picks up Ellen's life after she has been a foster child for a while. She is now fifteen years old, and hoping to go to Harvard. The original Ellen personality is still there, just slightly more sophisticated. She is still friends with Starletta, and has processed a little more about how she felt about her parents and their deaths.
 I enjoyed this book, though not as much as the original story of Ellen. But this was a very reasonable "sequel" and did not suddenly make her a different sort of character. She still observes everything and everyone around her, and tries to make sense of what is often a cruel or ridiculous world.

The best thing is that she remains optimistic but not sappy, realistic but not jaded. Reading this book makes you appreciate Ellen, and if you are lucky, your own life in the process.
*The Invisible Mountain, by Carolina DeRobertis.  This book is one of those multigenerational sagas, but told about three of the women of the Firielli family of Uruguay. Beginning with Pajarita, a country girl who married an Italian immigrant and moved to Montevideo when it was still a small town; to Eva, her daughter who from an early age knew what she didn't want in life; and finally to Salome, Eva's daughter, whose life experiences go through the social revolution in the country of the 1970s. Besides the family's story, you learn a lot about Uruguayan history.

The title of the book refers to the "mountain" that inspired early settlers to name the town Montevideo (roughly translated to mean, "I see a mountain"). The idea of the mountain continues throughout, as it is seen first as a mountain, then as a small rise, and then as not even existing as a mountain at all during the changes going on in the city and the country.

This book is well-written in my opinion. You can create pictures in your mind of the three main characters, but also of their families, acquaintances, and the surroundings that they move to and from througout the story.

One of the things that I really liked about the book was that it gave you the sense of strong familial bonds in the Firielli family, but without being sentimental. Much like things that happen in every life, experiences, losses, and triumphs were depicted in what seemed to be true fashion, which made the characters much more authentic to me.

To summarize the book is nearly impossible without writing a long and involved review. But I can say that I found it to be a great read, about a very real-seeming family. If you enjoy family sagas, and you have any interest in world history, I think you would enjoy this book.  (Advance Readers' Edition)

In the Woods, by Tana French.  I had been wanting to read this book since it was first published. It is the story of the search for the murderer of a young girl in modern-day Ireland. One of the detectives involved was the sole survivor of a group of three children who entered to woods to play in the summer of 1984, and two were never seen again. Rob Ryan, the found boy, was standing next to a tree, gripping it for dear life, with blood-filled sneakers. He has never been able to recall any details of that afternoon.

Ryan and his partner, Detective Cassie Maddox, try to unravel the mystery of the murdered young girl, in the same woods. Her body is found at the site of an archaeological dig being conducted before a highway is to be built. The dead girl's father is the head of a local group of citizens who are trying to block the building of the highway.

This book is really well-written, allowing you into the mind of Detective Ryan, as well as giving you an idea of life in Ireland in the later part of the 20th century. The characters are interesting, flawed, determined, and at times herioc. The mystery of the girl's death leads to a series of revelations about members of her family, and certain deals being made by members of the government.

I really don't want to say much more about the book, not just because the story deserves to be read as it actually unfolds, but because there are a lot of things happening simultaneously with several characters that would be difficult to describe in a review such as this.

I would highly recommend this book - it's a great read!

*The Girl Next Door, by Elizabeth Noble.  Le sigh. I am pretty sure I lost some brain cells reading this one. Not that it was bad, but it was just not worth the time. I can imagine people would like it if they enjoy a lot of "chick-lit." I can only take so much, personally.

The story is about the lives of residents in a New York City co-op, and how their lives intertwine over a period of time. Some characters were more interesting than others, some more likable. But really, for the most part, their problems were cliches, and with one exception fall into the category of things that my sister calls "White Man's Troubles."

I grabbed this to read one day when I needed something at the last minute, and at a certain point, I had read more than half of it, so I figured I would finish it. I can't really say I liked it, but at the same time, it's not one of those that I disliked so much, it made me angry at myself for having read the whole thing.

For me, it falls into the category of "didn't really care."   (Advance Readers' Edition)

The Children, by Edith Wharton.  I was surprised when I saw this book on the shelf at the library, because I wasn't even aware it existed! But being a fan of Edith Wharton, I thought it was worth a try.

The story involves a civil engineer, Martin Boyne, who is aboard a ship on his way to visit Mrs. Rose Sellars, who has taken a summer home in the Dolomites. They are old acquaintances, and Mrs. Sellars' husband had recently died. Martin travels to her both to cheer her up, and because he feels that it would now be OK for him to confess his true feelings for her.

On board the ship, he becomes aware that the Wheater family will also be traveling. He realizes that Cliffe and Joyce Wheater, the parents, are people he knew back in his college days at Harvard. Long before he reunites with them, he has encounters with some of their children, and is both enchanted by them and puzzled about their histories.

The eldest daughter, Judith, confesses to Boyne that her parents have been marrying and divorcing and remarrying in the years since they knew him, and that the children are a mishmash of biological children, half-sisters and brothers, and stepchildren. The parents do a lot of traveling, and so do the children - though not necessarily together! The children, it turns out, are shipped back and forth to wherever their parents are staying. Judith has decided that she will do her best to keep the children together by the time she meets Martin Boyne.

Reading the book, you become aware of the fact that neither parent is all that invested in their children. They more or less think of them as a group that can take care of themselves, and they have a nurse and a governess employed to keep track of them. In their own way, they do love them, but mostly they are too busy with their society lives to pay much attention to them. Once the ship arrives in Italy, things take a definite turn, when Judith, the nurse, and the governess take things in hand regarding the future of the children and the family. Boyne becomes involved, much more than he ever thought he would, and the rest of the book details the struggles and relationships in this strange group. Boyne involves Mrs. Sellars in his attempts to help the children, and this has a definite effect on their relationship.

This was a great read. It had all of the Wharton trademarks - wealthy family, lavish settings, interesting characters. The story is both sad and comical, but never contrived or false. As the reader, you become very involved in the turn of events, and you have to keep reading to see what might happen.

I am so glad I found this book - it was well worth the time spent reading it.

Brooklyn, by Colm Toibin.  I have been wanting to read this book since reviews when it came out piqued my interest. The story is that of Eilis Lacey, a young girl who has finished her education to become a bookkeeper in Ireland during the 1950s, but struggles to find a decent job in what was then a really terrible economic situation. An Irish priest from Brooklyn convinces her mother and older sister Rose to have Eilis come to America, where he feels he can find her a job in the neighborhood where his parish is located.

Eilis arrives in Brooklyn, and begins working as a salesperson in a department store. Her experiences and the descriptions of Brooklyn during that time make for interesting reading, particularly when the first African-American customers start coming to shop there. She also meets a young Italian-American who introduces her to more of American life, such as Coney Island and the Brooklyn Dodgers.

A family tragedy causes Eilis to return to her hometown, and the longer she stays there, the more she feels that her life in America wasn't real, and that there is actually no reason for her to return. But Tony, her American boyfriend whom she secretly marries in a civil ceremony before returning to Ireland, writes to her on a regular basis, fully expecting her to return, and wanting to know when. Eilis goes back and forth for quite a while in the story, and I at least had no sense until the end of the book what her final decision would be.

I liked this book a lot. The ending left me wishing for a little bit more information, but at the same time was not contrived or fake.

An interesting read.

November is the last month at my Eastern State Penitentiary job, so I'm trying to cram in all of the reading that I can, since who knows what will be my routine after that ...

06 November 2009

Thank Yous

Well, I did survive my 9:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. day yesterday, though not without being cold, hungry, and sore (queue pityparty music ...).   It started to get colder than it's been for a while last night, and of course I was mostly outside, and then - worst of all - we didn't get a dinner break like we usually do!  Then when I got about 2 blocks from home, all of a sudden every single part of my person hurt like crazy ... I'm sure it was psychological, but I was so busy feeling sorry for myself, that I tripped up the steps into the house and actually scraped my chin!  Eeejit.

I do thank you however, for the following:

1.  Your kind notes and anniversary wishes to myself and The Tim.  We had very nice, quiet day together, and went out for a late lunch/early dinner.  Our original plan to go hiking at Hawk Mountain was scrapped when we woke up to a rainy day.  In a way, it turned out for the best, since we don't have too many days when we just hang out together.

2.  Your wishes and kind words about the Phillies, who alas, did not win the World Series this year.  However, I think they did a great job, and if only everyone's mojo had kicked in at the same time, I think they could have won easily.  But this year, the Yankees were the winners, and though I do not like the Yankees, I am happy that at least someone I know, Melanie, had a chance to celebrate.  But watch out, 'cause we'll be right back there next year!

3.  All of your compliments on the [finally] completed Dotty.  Tim has not worn it yet - I think he might be waiting until his birthday on November 18 to show it off.  But he does like it, and since he is more of a vest-wearer than sweater-wearer, I think it will get a lot of use.

4.  Your sympathetic comments regarding the aforementioned 12-hour day, and my cyberwhine about it.  As promised, I did prevail, and after I get through the day tomorrow, I have Sunday off to relax.  I'm pretty sure I'll make it ... ;-)

However, I must sign off now, as it is time for pjs and a cup of tea.   Some things are just *that* important!

04 November 2009


And that, my friends is the kind of week I've been having ... however, never fear, I shall prevail and be back sometime on Friday or the weekend. 

In the meantime, tomorrow is a 9:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. day at work.  I fear that when I get home from work, I will not even feel like checking e-mail, but instead will need to immediately do this:

01 November 2009

Alert the Media!

Remember this?

That slowly became this:

And then, eventually I learned how to create steeks. And it looked like this:

"Am I the only one that's wondering when she's gonna finish this???"

Finally, I learned how to cut the steeks:

Well ... ready or not, I have the latest picture to show you, so I hope you are sitting down and have not just taken a drink of something. 

*Please note that if you have a weak heart, you may want to just stop right now and move on to looking at pictures of bunnies or something like that.*

Ladies and gentleman, children of all ages, I present - at last - Dotty in all of its completed glory!

PatternDotty, from Rowan Magazine #40

Needles:  US size 3; US size 6

Yarn:  Various.  Base yarn is Reynolds Whiskey in Rose Quartz colorway.  (I learned that I love to knit with Whiskey, as well as drink whiskey ...)

Started:  As part of a class project at Rosie's Yarn Cellar, February 10, 2008

Finished:  October 14, 2009  (with a long break in 2008 to knit socks for Christmas gifts)

Modifications:  The pattern is written to be knit as a back and a front in separate pieces.  I knit it in the round.  Then I made an inadvertent modification - once I had the body nearly complete, I realized that the rows of dots were supposed to be offset from each other.  I like to think that I knit it in a way that made it my own.  (You know, "design feature" and all that ...)

If you really want the details about the yarns I used, here is the link to the project page on Ravelry.  The base yarn is not quite so pink-y, but more of a light beige/pink. 

The FO was gifted to The Tim this past Wednesday for an anniversary gift.  It fits him perfectly!  (When we are both home during the day and it's not raining, I'll try to get a modeled shot.)

This ended up being a really fun knit, though it took a lot of concentration and patience for me, especially at first (I must have cast-on and ripped and cast-on again about 4 times!).  But I did enjoy it once I had the rhythm going, and could see the pattern developing.  I will definitely try more fairisle knitting.

*In the event that you ignored my earlier warnings, and now find yourself short of breath, or collapsed onto a fainting chair, don't blame me.  I can only be responsible for so much, you know.