24 June 2011

Stitch 'n Pitch 2011

Before any more time passes, I want to tell you (and show you) all about this year's Stitch 'n Pitch.  A little bit more than a month ago, Carol happened to mention it on Facebook, and I said that I thought we should go.  A few more people expressed interest, and before I knew it, I was in charge of ordering tickets for myself and five other people!  Then one of the group had another friend who wanted to go, and she was able to get another ticket right in front of us.  So we were set, and everyone was looking forward to it.

Amazingly, a week ago this past Wednesday was a gorgeous day and evening!  You may be saying, well, it IS June after all, but we had already been through two heat waves.  April - who is not a knitter, but wanted to go to a Phillies game - and I met up and took the subway to Citizens Bank Park, home of the Philadelphia Phillies!!!

Sadly, at the last minute, Andrea had to be out of town for work, so another friend of Sally's was able to take her ticket, which worked out very well.  We met up with the rest of the group there - Carol, Liz, Sally, and two of Sally's friends, Dorian and Aileen** - and headed first to the "swag" table.  Some of the others had swag from previous years, so they took tote bags, but this is what I wanted:

The Phillie Phanatic!  And he's a bobblehead! 
And he's knitting!  And standing in half a baseball!

Next was to get something to eat and/or drink.  Carol and I opted for water (at least to start.  But then we didn't end up getting a beer later.  Fail.), while the others got beer.  We paid [dearly], and headed to our seats, which were right along the third base line (we were of course in the 400-level, but we could see really well).  I snapped this picture of Phillies pitcher Roy Halladay warming up:

(He looks sooo different on TV ...)

Then we needed to take lots of pictures, of course.

Sally (picture borrowed from Carol.
The one I have of her is just rude.)

April and Dorian became fast friends that evening.

Liz, Aileen, and Carol

Carol and I (don't ask)

The game started out with a lot of action and then just settled down, with the Phillies loading the bases several times and then striking out, and we were all quite dismayed to think that here we were, and Roy Halladay was pitching, and we were going to LOSE to the Marlins?????  But after a lot of people left in the 8th inning (oh ye of little faith), the Phillies tied it!  The ninth inning was uneventful, but then at the bottom of the tenth, a thrilling play led to a Phillies victory!  So worth staying to see ...

I have to tell you, I had one of the best times of my entire life that evening.  I haven't laughed so hard so many times for a long time, and of course I got so involved in the game, I had no voice the next day.  But I got to spend a beautiful evening with old and new friends, and my amazing Phillies, and it doesn't get much better than that.  (Though April's entertaining commentary on the subway home was hilarious ... and the two young guys sitting near us thought so, too, though they kept turning away so we wouldn't see them laugh ...)

If you have the chance to go to Stitch 'n Pitch with your friends, I highly recommend it.  And for those of you who can't, or don't have a nearby team - come to Philadelphia and go with us (I'm lookin' at you in particular, Kathleen).  There are few chances in this world any more to just go out and have fun for the heck of it.

Oh - and did I knit?  Well, I took my knitting with me, but between the game and the conversation, I never even pulled it out of my bag.  Some of the others made real progress on their projects, though.

** So.  I spent the entire evening confusing the identities of Dorian and Aileen.  Carol says it's because I can't remember who people are if they aren't Irish.  In my defense,we were all introduced quickly, and didn't much call each other by name for the rest of the evening.

20 June 2011

Goody Goody!

Well, I think it's about time I showed you something I have actually knitted, don't you?  To give you some background on this project, about a month ago, on a Sunday at Rosie's, my partner in crime Andrea and I were talking about how a) we have tons of sock yarn, b) we love to knit socks, and c) socks would be the perfect summer project - small, interesting, and with many choices for patterns.  We decided that we would declare this summer to be Sock Summer Sundays at Rosie's, and only work on socks.   (Later, Andrea would mention that this was a competition, but at the beginning it was completely innocent ...)

A couple of years back, I had joined the Rockin' Sock Club from Blue Moon Fiber Arts, makers of Socks That Rock yarns.  Besides the sock yarn I had bought on any given trip to a yarn store, I had 12 skeins of Socks That Rock yarn that I'd never even wound on the swift and ball winder.  So I decided to start with some of that.

This was a little bit after Easter, and one of the colorways was very spring/Easter-y to me, so I chose that for my first pair.  The pattern that had come with the yarn didn't really appeal to me, so I decided to try the Blueberry Waffle Socks pattern.  This turned out to be a wonderful pairing of pattern and yarn.  They took me longer to knit than I'd hoped, due to pneumonia, but in the end I was thrilled with how they looked!

Here is a close-up of the stitch pattern, which results in a very pretty as well as cushy fabric:

Pattern:  Blueberry Waffle Socks by Sandy Turner  (Ravelry link)
Yarn:  Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks that Rock Lightweight, in the Goody Goody colorway
Needles:  US 1 1/2
Modifications: None.  I really like this pattern the way it's written.

The only thing was, that once I was finished, I realized that they were pretty, springy, and cheery, but not really colors I am wild about.  Fortunately, at one point, my niece Annie had seen them, and asked if she could have them.  Score!   They'll be appreciated, worn, and I have birthday present knitted well ahead of time.  I'm so happy to know they will be loved. 

I've already started on my next pair of socks, and they will be for The Tim.  You'll just have to stay tuned to read all about them ... and other stuff I have to tell you ... oh the suspense!

16 June 2011


It's that time of year again - June 16 is Bloomsday.  If you live in Philadelphia, you can spend all or part of the day on Delancey Street, in the street in front of the Rosenbach Museum, listening to various readers, well-known and not, read through Ulysses, by James Joyce, which is the story of a day (June 16) in the life of Leopold Bloom, a resident of Dublin.  The thing I think is most extraordinary - and extremely romantic - about the book is that the day it takes place - June 16, 1904 - is the same day that James Joyce and Nora Barnacle (who was to become his wife) went on a date for the first time.

We usually spend at least a few minutes at the reading, which is interspersed with music, and draws a really diverse crowd throughout the day.  Our Bloomsday started this year with The Tim working during the day, and me with a day off.  My Bloomsday started with a trip to the vet with Jetsam for a checkup, which went well (as far as the results.  I don't think he thinks it went well at all).  When we first moved here, and had our original cat, who was named Molly Bloom ("the original and still the best"), and whose birthday was today, I would put her in her carrier, and we would go and listen for a while.  She didn't really like being in the carrier, but she liked people and attention, so she would have a very pleasant time of it.  You would probably not be surprised to learn that Jetsam had absolutely No. Interest. in any of it.  So we came directly home ...

But I walked up a little while later and even though it was still pretty early in the day, there was a good crowd.

I missed hearing who the reader below is, but he gave it his all.  Hearing the different people is as entertaining as the rest of it - some are clearly hoping to be memorable and dramatic, and others you can tell are wondering why in the name of God they agreed to do this!

This year was a beautiful day, with perfect weather, which makes the entire setting just a nice
place to be.

When The Tim came home, we had gorgonzola cheese with mustard on rye bread, and a glass of wine (red for The Tim, white for me), as we always do, and as Leopold Bloom does in the book.  And then with dinner, we each had a pint of Guinness, to top the whole day off.  (We will actively pursue reasons to enjoy a pint ...)

Another lovely Bloomsday. 

I hope yours was as well, whether or not you had the chance (or desire) to celebrate.

10 June 2011


No matter how much I have tried this past week, I haven't been able to talk myself into feeling better/happy/OK/content/whatever.  It's not that I'm terribly depressed, just sad and in one of those kind of funks where you feel like you could burst into tears at any moment. 

I'm sure the weather is part of it - you probably recall that I am not a hot weather person, and hot weather with humidity added is only insult added to injury for me.  It's supposed to be more pleasant for the next few days, and that can only help.

Another thing is that Ben, Halden, and James (Doughboy's parents and little brother) are moving to Colorado next week.  Ben is from Colorado, and I know he has always wanted to go back if he could.  His parents are there, and although they won't be living in the same town, they won't be as far away, which will be particularly nice for James.  (Halden's mother lives in DC, so she's been lucky enough to be nearby while they were here and in NYC.)  They were lucky enough to find good jobs at the University hospital, and they sold their house here without much of a problem.  Though I will miss them terribly, I am happy for them, and know they will enjoy the change.  I just feel like them moving away adds to my sadness over Doughboy's death - like while they were still close, a true link to him was as well.  They are having a goodbye barbecue next Saturday, and we can't go, because we are going to The Tim's oldest brother's third wedding. 

(If you are keeping score, The Tim's middle brother got married for the third time last June.  Now the eldest brother is marrying #3 this June.  Though at least this one is the first one who is, shall we say, age-appropriate.  Also, our eldest niece on that side of the family, who is 30, will be there with her new [second] husband.  We've met him and like him a lot, so it will be nice to congratulate them.  But seriously, we're missing a farewell barbecue for this???)

I'm getting over my pneumonia, and feel considerably better, but it's still frustrating to not have my usual level of energy back yet.  Not that I'm a ball of fire, but at least I'm usually a step above slug!

All of the above fall into the category that my sister Mary Ellen calls "White Man's Troubles."  And I am EXTREMELY aware that these are by no means the most awful thing that can happen to a person.  But sometimes, you just feel bad anyway, you know?

I am however, determined to feel the best that I can, and I can say that Jetsam and Pip help with that.  I will also use my reading and knitting to move along.  And tomorrow I hope to take my bicycle for a check before much more time goes by.  When the weather is not so extreme, I do love riding my bike, especially along the Schuylkill River Trail.

I'll live.  :-)

Here's to a nice weekend for all of us!

Sunrise, Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

04 June 2011

May Book Report

Well, May was not my best month.   It started out well but didn't end on the best note.  And my knitting and reading were not too steady as a result.  But I did enjoy the few books I did finish, so it wasn't a total loss!

Treasure Island, by Robert Louis Stevenson.  I never read this book as a child, but of course had heard about Long John Silver, "Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum," and other parts that were part of popular culture and vernacular. I'm not exactly what led me to decide read it, but I'm glad I finally did.

The story is mainly narrated by Jim Hawkins, a young boy whose father has died early in the book, and whose family's pub/inn is later ransacked by pirates, looking for a former guest at the inn, or at least the things he may have had with him. Jim and his mother are lucky enough to be taken in by the town doctor, and when the doctor hears Jim's tale, and sees that he actually has possession of a map that appears to show where a treasure is buried, becomes interested in recovering the treasure. With the help of a local official, the three - as well as a crew they have assembled - take off on an adventure to Treasure Island.

John Silver, the ship's cook, at first seems like a likable, and loyal crew member. But soon things begin to fall apart, and by the time they reach the island, there has been a mutiny. The bulk of the story tells of the time on the island, and has enough adventure, intrigue, and action to satisfy just about anyone.

I enjoyed this book because the story was written in a way that made it believable, but also made you feel that you were witnessing the events unfold yourself. I really enjoyed going along on this wild adventure.

The Eyre Affair, by Jasper Fforde.  I received this book as a gift. I had heard of Jasper Fforde, but had never read any of his books, so I was curious about this one.

The heroine of the book is Thursday Next, who is a LiteraTec - a group of people who work for the English government making sure that works of literature are not tampered with or changed. In this universe, England is still fighting the Crimean War, Wales is its own republic trying to block English influence, and time and space more or less move and twist around as needed. The story begins when the original manuscript of Dickens' "Martin Chuzzlewit" is reported stolen. The suspected thief is Acheron Hades, a master criminal and shape-shifter, who happens to have been one of Thursday Next's professors back when she was in college and before he took on a life of crime. Because of this, Thursday is made a SpecOps (Special Operations) agent to assist with Hades' capture.

From there, so many weird and interesting and funny things happen, it would be impossible to go into detail. Towards the end of the book, Hades - who has managed to elude capture - steals the manuscript of "Jane Eyre," and also Jane herself! Thursday becomes involved in this as well, and once again, it's not worth trying to describe things - you'll have to read the book yourself.

There is a LOT going on in this universe. Great wordplay, and literary references (some that I'm sure I didn't appreciate, not being extremely well-versed). Dodos have been brought back to life via cloning, and are pets (Thursday has one - a Version 2.1); characters have names like Jack Schitt and Braxton Hicks; Thursday's father travels through time and occasionally stops in for a quick visit. If you just decide you are going to read the story and not think too much about it, the book is a lot of fun. But it is also well-written enough that you want to keep reading to see what happens! I will definitely give another in this series a try.

The Likeness, by Tana French.  This book is Tana French's next after In the Woods, which I really liked. I was hoping I would like this book at least as well. I had a hard time putting it down!

Detective Cassie Maddox has transferred from the Murder Squad to Domestic Violence after an undercover assignment ends with her being stabbed. Her boyfriend Sam, also a detective, calls her to a crime scene one day, about an hour outside of Dublin. When she arrives, he is there with her former partner, Frank Mackey, and she sees the reason that Sam sounded so shaken on the phone - the murder victim they have found is a dead ringer for Cassie. To complicate matters further, her name is Lexie Madison - a name Maddox used for an undercover assignment a few years back.

This Lexie was a student at Trinity, and lived with four others in a large ancestral home called Whitethorn Hall. The group is very self-contained, and Frank Mackey talks Cassie into taking on Lexie's identity as part of an undercover assignment to try and find out who killed her. The housemates are told that she is in a coma, and when she goes to live with them, they have been told that she doesn't remember a lot of things, including how she was attacked.

This leads to a riveting story, with very intriguing characters. Cassie finds herself being more and more drawn in to being Lexie, and starts to feel safe and at home with the others. She learns about the history of the house and the surrounding community, where there is still a lot of anger about the treatment of the locals by the original residents. For a while it appears that the person who attacked Lexie must have been one of the locals. But as we learn more about Lexie's background, and the housemates, things become more complicated. And Cassie Maddox begins to feel protective of the others and the house.

This was a fascinating psychological study and thriller. I found the characters to be well-drawn and enigmatic, and started to understand Cassie's feelings about them. I also liked how the story didn't take a turn to become a sappy love story, but rather an adult relationship story, with people who were less than perfect, and resolutions that did not tie up into a nice, clean, predictable ending. I don't want to say much more, because if you are inclined to read the book, I want you to be able to enjoy it just like I did.

I'm afraid that this round, I don't have any books to offer.  The Tim wants to try The Eyre Affair, and the other two are books I read on my Nook.  (Though I think I can loan Nook books ... I'll have to investigate.)  But stay tuned, you never know what might show up in June!

02 June 2011

Things Learned While Sick

Last week was educational in so many ways.  I thought I'd share some things that stuck in my mind.

1.  Pneumonia is exhausting physically and mentally.  Besides the coughing fits and difficult breathing, the medicine rendered me more or less useless for most of the week.  I couldn't concentrate on knitting, or reading, or even just glancing at pictures in a magazine.

2.  Rather than waterboarding, I strongly feel that the U.S. government should force detainees at Guantanamo to watch daytime TV.  Particularly without cable.  I was ready to admit to just about anything to get away from it! 

3.  Oprah's farewell extravaganza took longer than Ronald Reagan's week-long funeral.  And even if you were ignorning Oprah's show itself, everything else you saw had a story about the ending of her show.  Oy with the poodles already.

4.  It's difficult to stay hydrated when you can barely stay awake.

5.  People will call you and say things like "Are you taking anything for your pneumonia?" 

6.  Pip is quite the talker.  If you talk to him, he responds most of the time.  My favorite thing last week was one night when I was having a particularly bad coughing fit, and went into the guest bedroom so that I wouldn't keep The Tim awake, since he was going to work the next day.  Pip joined me, and jumped up to sit in the open window, and look through the screen.  A small group of people were walking down our street, and one person had a really loud case of hiccups.  Every time she would hiccup, Pip would say, "mrrak."  When they got to our house, one of the group said, "What's that noise after you hiccup?"  The person said, "What noise?", followed by a loud hiccup, and Pip's response.  At which the person asking the question said "That sound - it happens every time you hiccup!"  This amused me greatly (and still does when I think of it!). 

7.  If you are sick enough, you stop caring that you are using all of your sick days.

8.  If someone is nice enough to pick up your prescriptions for you, be sure to tell them how many there are, so they don't have to turn around and go right back to the drugstore ...

9.  It doesn't need to actually be 95 degrees for you to feel like it is.

10.  No one wants to hear how sick you are after the second day.  ("Well, don't you feel better YET?")

Like the doctor told me, as long as I don't feel worse, it means I'm making progress.  Good thing, 'cause I'm not anxious to spend any more time with pneumonia as my companion anytime soon.  (Or ever!)

01 June 2011

The Return

Well, the worst of the pneumonia is past (I hope!), and I'm getting back into the swing of things.  Yesterday was my first day back at work since May 19, and needless to say, I was exhausted when I got home!  I still don't feel great, but the doctor told me that as long as I don't feel worse, I should consider it progress, and that it will be a few weeks until I feel "normal" and have my usual level of energy back. 

So, even though I am still feeling a bit icky, and still coughing a lot, I'm ready to start blathering again.  Stay tuned for a post or two in the next few days, and thank you so much for all of your notes and kind wishes.