28 August 2011

Aftermath and Other Stuff

Well, that was really pretty amazing.  Irene visited Philadelphia, and definitely left her mark.  Fortunately, we had no serious problems as a result.  We got more water in our basement than we usually do when it rains really hard for any length of time.  And our garden had all kinds of branches, leaves, etc. in it, as did the street.  But we are lucky, because tons of people very nearby have flooded streets, homes, and have lost power.  And of course, outside of our little corner of the world, lots of people elsewhere ended up with catastrophic results.

Everyone said that the media over-hyped Hurricane Irene here.  But I think that part of the reason it wasn't more awful for us was that the majority of people actually paid attention, stayed inside, and prepared the best they could.  Businesses closed, instead of telling people to make every effort to get in.  So I don't think it was over-hyped at all.  Hurricane Irene meant business, from what I saw and heard!

Jetsam spent the night sleeping under our bed.  Pip spent most of the night in the window, "talking" when the rain and/or wind would get especially severe.  Makes me think that he might have a future as a cat meteorologist on the Weather Channel ...

The good thing about a weekend like this is that because you are staying inside, you actually accomplish some things.  I had bought one of those cubbyhole-type things to store my some of my stash, and put it together last Sunday.  This also led to a rearrangement of the room where my stash, books, sewing machine, and the computer live.  So this weekend, I got a pretty decent amount of yarn put away, and at least made a path through the room.  I have made a promise to myself that I will finish the entire reorganization project (meaning books properly on shelves, etc., rather than just on the shelf to be off the floor) by December 1.  Ideally, I'd be finished long before that, but it just cannot be later!

Along with everything else, I have actually completed a knitting project!  It's not one of the ones I've blogged about - those are still in-process, though.

Around the middle of July, Fairmount Fibers announced a design contest, using one or two skeins of Manos Wool Clasica.   As you may or may not know, the only thing I have designed is the Zach Attack Hat (free pattern along the sidebar), and a cowl I knit for one of my nieces a couple of years ago, called Jules' Lacy Cowl (Ravelry link; no pattern written up yet).  I would like know basic design principles, but have no actual experience or understanding of how to really do it (plus it involves math.  Not one of my friends for the most part).  But I would like to learn just for myself, not because I think I will become a famous knitting designer!  Along with that, every Sunday when I am working at Rosie's, I spend 5 hours staring at a wall of Manos yarn.

My original idea was to knit a cowl that had oak leaves on it.  I even attempted to chart the leaf pattern, and got started.  However, after a bit, the "leaves" looked more like something you pick up when you are walking your dog.  So I decided to think of something else, and that worked much better.

Having said that, I cannot show you a picture of the FO because I'm still deciding what I want to do with it, as far as whether it will just be a freebie here, or if I'll see if Rosie's wants it for a Project of the Month, or ... well, currently I have about 42 ideas roaming around in my brain.  I'm not submitting it to the contest, because I sorta feel that it's a conflict of interest.  Plus the prizes are more skeins of Wool Clasica, which I love, but I am really trying hard to be careful about more yarn acquisition, other than what I have planned for specific things.

I can tell you one thing for sure - you WILL eventually get to see it!

24 August 2011

"Whether It's Cold, or Whether It's Hot ...

We will have weather, whether or not."

My mother used to always say this when people would talk about the weather.  It drove me NUTS.  Though I realize it's true.  Just like one of my favorite routines of the late George Carlin, where he would be the Hippy Dippy Weather Man, and he would say, "Weather forecast for tonight: dark."

As practically everyone knows by now, yesterday the East Coast had a 5.9 magnitude earthquake.  I was at lunch with a friend, and we heard a rumble, but both of us assumed it was subway underneath us.  Then we left the restaurant, and people were all over the place on the sidewalk, having emptied out of the high-rise office buildings.  Some guy ran up to us and said, "Do you know what magnitude that was?"  At which point we decided it was likely not the subway ...

When we returned to work, one of my co-workers said that the earthquake was proof "that Satan is extra busy."  If that is in fact the case, I personally think that Satan didn't put much work into it.  Just my opinion.

Our only "damage" at home was that The Tim's Mr. Bean bobblehead was knocked to the floor.  Not broken, which was a relief to one of us.  There may have been more, but frankly, anything else could also be the work of the cats.

So we breathe a sigh of relief at our luck, and hope it will hold out this weekend and that Hurricane Irene will decide to visit elsewhere.  Both events are for the most part out of our hands, so we'll just do the best we can.  Which is all any of us can do anytime, right?

Anyhoo, I have WINNERS in my blogiversary giveaway!  Thanks to everyone for your kind words, wishes, and for playing along.  Those listed below should send me their full names and mailing addresses.  If you don't have my e-mail address, you can send the info to thekittyknitterATverizonDOTcom, or via PM to thekittyknitter on Ravelry.

Marji will receive the pattern
Michelle (no link, sorry) will receive the Classic Elite Montera
Geekknitter will receive the Newport yarn

Congratulations to each of you, and once again thanks to everyone for commenting.  :-)

And that's it for now.  Have a good evening, and to anyone in the hurricane's path, I hope you'll just be able to say Goodnight, Irene and not worry about it. 

21 August 2011


Ladies and gentlemen, I give you my 600th post here on my blog, which was 5 years old yesterday!  Who'da thunk it?  Not me certainly!  When I started this blog, it was primarily because some of my knitting friends would get aggravated when I asked them what was new with their knitting, and they would say, "Well, if you would read my blog, you'd know."  So between that and the fact that I enjoyed swaps, which usually involved having a blog, The Ravell'd Sleave was born.  Since then, I've made many friends and from what I can tell, have many more readers than I could have imagined.  I still write as much for myself as anyone else, but it's also nice to know there are other people out there ...  Thanks to all of you for sticking around, and for even reading it in the first place.

Today would also have been sweet Tess' birthday, as well as the birthdays of both The Tim's father and mine.  We love and miss all of them, and ask you to send a kind thought out to the universe for all of them, and also hug someone special in your life.

In honor of these milestones, and the fact that I discovered that I have a total of nearly 4,600 comments, I'm having a giveaway.  There will be three prizes, and three chances to win. 

Third prize will be a pattern called Mabel's Scarf, by Larissa Brown.  This is a great pattern, and I have ended up with two copies somehow. 

Third prize will go to the 4,599th commenter.

Second prize is four skeins of this:

Classic Elite Montera, in a very pretty purple.  Enough for a hat, mittens, cowl, or incorporated into any other design. 

Second prize will go to the 4,601st commenter.

First prize is five skeins of Newport (DK weight), a yarn from the late, lamented Wool in the Woods.  It consists of 50% Rayon, 44%Cotton, and 6%Nylon, and has a lovely sheen to it. 

First prize goes to commenter #4600.

And if you were thinking you'd leave three comments in a row, don't.  Anyone who does is eliminated from the giveaway, because a) that's not fair, and b) no one does that regularly, so it would be a blatant ploy to win all three prizes.

So speak up, and take a chance - who knows, there may be other goodies in the packages as well ...

But mostly, thanks for being here for the last five years - I plan on staying around, so I hope you will too!

18 August 2011

That Personal Touch

This is neither about knitting nor reading, but just something I felt like writing.  It is something that on one hand amuses me, but on the other hand, really has me puzzled.

For as long as I can remember, people have always told me things that a) I didn't ask to know, b) that I usually don't want to know, and c) that I would be unlikely to tell even closest friends.  According to The Tim, there is a sign across my forehead that only I cannot see, and it says "Spill Your Guts." 

Don't get me wrong - I am good at keeping things that others tell me to myself.  It's not really a conscious act, I guess I've always been that way.  And often I understand when friends, family, or other relatives tell me things that I have no reason to know. 

But co-workers?  That just puzzles the bejesus out of me.  Case in point:  at work, I am on the Wellness Committee.  We recently started what is called the Academy Step-Up program, and those participating were able to pick up a pedometer from HR.  Everyone keeps track of their steps on a shared site, and each week a person is named as the one with Most Steps, Most Improved, Most for X number of Weeks - you get the picture.  It is my responsibility to send out the all-staff e-mails making these announcements, since apparently I am known as someone who writes "hilarious" e-mails to the rest of the staff.  (The head of our division recently said to the Interim Director at a meeting, "Who knew Bridget was so kooky?"  Seriously.)

Anyway, on Monday mornings, I send a very brief reminder to everyone to add their steps for the week to our online record by Wednesday morning.  Then, every Wednesday, I send an e-mail announcing the winners. 

Without fail, and easily within 10 minutes of sending that e-mail, I get 5-6 e-mail responses from people telling me why they didn't do well that week.  And I mean detailed info.  Not "I forgot my pedometer," but rather, "I had my pedometer, but then we went on vacation to Wisconsin, and I forgot it, but we did A LOT of walking."  Granted, this is not the personal type of stuff that I usually get (thank God!), but there's always someone explaining themselves.  And not necessarily the same people.

Now, I want the Wellness Committee's ideas to work, and people to be healthier, etc., but I really do.not.care. if/why/how anyone was able to log their amounts.  Also, I am not the Pedometer Police - the only "penalty" is not being able to be included in the tallies for any given week.  So it amuses me that so many people that I do not even know are writing to me in apologetic or defensive fashion to tell me their excuses/problems! 

But I also wonder - why DO people tell me this stuff?  Much like I don't care why people aren't logging their steps, I also *really* don't care to know about my co-workers' sex lives, or the neighbors' problems with each other, or that a customer in the yarn shop on Sunday gets terrible gas after she eats rice.  And it's not like I start the ball rolling by sharing something first.

Does this happen to anyone else?  Or will everyone in the world eventually tell me everything?

14 August 2011


Over the past two to three weeks, I have not had the desire or the inspiration to do anything that I usually enjoy.  At first, I thought this was only related to my knitting.  I'd reached a point on my Narragansett sweater where I needed help (kindly offered when we can coordinate schedules by Andrea) before proceeding, and though I am enjoying the Graydon Socks pattern, I just don't feel like knitting them. 

Then I realized I wasn't in the mood to read, either - did you see that, NOT IN THE MOOD TO READ??!  Usually, no matter what else I do or don't want to do, I always feel like reading something.  If not books, then I catch up on magazines.  But no go at the moment.

What about watching a movie, or TV shoes we like and have recorded?  Not really.

I really hate when this kind of thing happens.  It's not like I'm a regular ball of fire, but most of the time, there is something that not just occupies my time, but that I enjoy and look forward to.  I wouldn't mind if it was only one thing, but it seems to be all the things I normally enjoy doing.

Maybe the horrible summer has just really all caught up with  me, and even my brain has run out of energy. 

All I know is, the whole thing is extremely annoying! 

At least there are still things that can make me happy and entertain me, no matter what else is going on in my life or that of the universe.

Pip (inside) and Jetsam (outside) try to attack each other

As long as these two can keep me laughing, I know it will all be OK.

09 August 2011

June and July Book Report

I'm glad you all enjoyed the story of my "work" with the BBC.  I've been having a good time with the story, and promise to tell you when/if the episode ever airs.  I feel pretty sure that if any of my segment is included, it will be the shot of my white-gloved hands turning the page.  Ah, Fame, you are so fleeting!

But while I wait to be discovered and become famous, I thought I'd share with you my thoughts about what I've read in the past couple of months.  If nothing else, it may give you some kind of idea of what you may or may not want to think about reading yourself.

State of Wonder, by Ann Patchett.  So. I have heard so much about this book, and had thought I might want to read it. When my husband brought a copy home and finished reading it, I thought I'd give it a try. I've never read any of Ann Patchett's work before, though I know she is very well-regarded. For good reason, as the writing was pretty magnificent.

The story is told by Marina Singh, a doctor/scientist for Vogel Pharmaceuticals in Minnesota. As the story opens, she learns that her colleague Anders Eckman, who traveled to Brazil to check up on a doctor who is working on a new drug there, has died. No real explanation of what happened, just that he had a fever and was buried there. The letter is several weeks old by the time it arrives. Both Marina's boss (who is also her lover), and Eckman's wife Karen, want her to go and find out just what actually happened. This is primarily because the doctor doing the drug studies, Annick Swenson, was one of Marina's professors in medical school at Johns Hopkins.

What follows is a story of frustration, for Marina and for the reader. There are so many obstacles to be conquered before Marina can even *get* to where Dr. Swenson is, getting there becomes more of a focus than the why. She finally arrives, determined to get in and get out. However, as the story develops, she becomes more and more interested in what is going on, and the native people of the region. And Dr. Swenson eventually confesses that she has been wanting her to stay and carry on her work.

The entire story is leisurely, often in the most annoying way possible. When the end comes, it is rather sudden, and at least for me, somewhat surprising.

I will say again that the writing is what makes this book worthwhile. It's just that, for me, none of the characters really seemed that likable. Also, this book challenges beliefs and opinions, and to be honest, a lot of the time I just wasn't in the mood for it! I considered not finishing it, mainly because I found so little in the characters to keep going; in the end, I guess I am glad that I did finish it. Well-written, with
disturbing and thoughtful themes, but too rushed of an ending for me.

Murphy's Law, by Rhys Bowen.  This book is the first in a series of mysteries featuring Molly Murphy, an Irish immigrant in nineteenth century New York. In this installment, we meet Molly, and learn how and why she left Ireland and ended up in America. 

Molly is a young woman who has accidentally killed the son of the manor house where her family works and lives, when she resisted his advances, and pushed him back. He fell and hit his head on the stove, and was killed instantly. When the book opens, she is running away, hoping to go to London where she can hide out. Upon arrival in London, she fears that she is being followed by police, and is unexpectedly and fortunately taken in by Kathleen O'Connor, another Irish woman, staying in a boardinghouse with her two children prior to leaving for the United States to join her husband. Because Kathleen has been diagnosed with TB, she cannot leave Ireland, so she asks Molly to pose as her and get her children to their father.

While on the ocean crossing, Molly crosses paths with a rough guy named O'Malley, who is trying to make her admit that she is an impostor. Upon arrival at Ellis Island, she and the children have to stay for a few days before they can go through final processing. When they are finally released, she finds out that someone killed O'Malley, and they have arrested a young man who Molly befriended and knows is innocent.

Once arrived in New York, Molly delivers the children to their father, who has found work digging what will become the subway. She has no job and no family to turn to, and she is also determined to prove her young friend's innocence. She clashes with one of the detectives on the case, Daniel Sullivan, while also finding herself attracted to him.

The story continues as Molly tries to adjust to life in New York, find a job and place to live, and also track down a murderer. The descriptions of places are well-drawn, and evocative of the time and place, and though this is not an incredibly involved story, it is well-paced and Molly is an interesting heroine. I will definitely read more in this series, and think it is a perfect break from more serious types of stories. It is also entertaining for the time and place where it occurs, since New York at this time, and Tammany Hall politicians make for good stories.

Life's a Beach, by Claire Cook.  So, not the greatest book I've ever read. But it was a) free, and b) enjoyable enough to finish. The book's narrator is Ginger Walsh, a 40-something who lives in a room over the garage to her parents' house in Marshbury, Massachusetts, with her cat named Boyfriend. Ginger thinks of her situation as "temporary" even though her sister reminds her that it's been a couple of years. She has a boyfriend, Noah, who is a glassblower, and who calls or comes over when he feels like it. Which is fine with Ginger, but drives her sister, Geri, insane. Geri is a Type A, married with three kids, and agonizing over her upcoming 50th birthday.

Things are thrown into chaos when Ginger's parents tell her they are planning to sell the house and move to a condo. Which means she will have to find someplace else to live, and actually find a job. She has always been interested in jewelry-making, but like so many other things, has not put a huge amount of effort into it.

When she takes her nieces and nephew to audition as extras in a shark-attack horror movie being filmed nearby, and her nephew is chosen, she becomes responsible as his chaperone. Going to the set every day, dealing with the other kids' mothers, and becoming acquainted with members of the crew start to change her thoughts and her behaviors. As the book progresses and her parents make more and more preparations to move, various events make Ginger feel that it really is time for her to grow up.

Things end on a rather positive note, and it's OK in this book. Like I said, not a great work of literature, but a good read over a summer weekend. The characters are not always completely believable, but it is fiction, right?

A Fountain Filled with Blood, by Julia Spencer-Fleming.  When I saw in the plot summary that this story took place around the Fourth of July, I decided the weekend of the Fourth would be the perfect time to read it. I had enjoyed the previous book by Julia Spencer-Fleming, and was interested in reading more about Reverend Clare Fergusson and the goings-on in her congregation and in her town of Millers Kill, New York.

The book begins with the brutal attack on a gay man, the town's medical examiner, on his way home from a dinner party with friends. At the town Independence Day celebrations, everyone is talking not just about that, but about a new development being built that will be a luxury spa. However, the groundwater has been tested and shows high levels of PCBs. That is a problem or not, depending who you are in the community. Even the town's police chief, and Clare's friend Russ Van Alstyne, has to arrest his mother for rallying without a permit!

In the meantime, another gay man is attacked, and like the previous incident, it appears to be a hate crime. Whether or not to call it that becomes a bone of contention between Clare and the police chief. Then on an evening when Clare is walking friends' dogs, they come across the body of one of the people involved in the spa deal, with his throat cut. He was also gay, so at first it seems like part of a pattern.

As the story progresses, it becomes less and less clear whether it was a hate crime, or if the murder was committed by someone wanting to halt the development. Clare finds herself chasing clues and developing theories, none of which Russ really wants to hear.

I don't want to say much else, because I do think the book is worth reading to fill in the details and let you see what happens. The only thing I didn't like about the book is that after you read it, you realize that only one part of one of the crimes has been solved, and are left wondering about the others.

A good read, and I definitely want to keep going in this series.

Dog on It, by Spencer Quinn.   I really enjoyed this book! I don't remember who I know that had read this series and recommended it, but thanks to whoever it was!

The story is told from the standpoint of Chet, the canine partner in Little Detective Agency. His "partner" Bernie, is the human detective, and in this first installment of the series, they are trying to track down a missing young girl. In the process, they uncover links to real estate fraud and the Russian mob.

It is a fun and enjoyable story, and I always enjoy reading stories that take place from the viewpoint of animals. Chet is amusing as well as astute, and he and Bernie are fortunate to have each other.

I would recommend this to mystery lovers who are also animal lovers.
Pictures from an Expedition, by Diane Smith.  A few years back, I read Diane Smith's book Letters from Yellowstone, and loved it. A few months after, I saw this book at the bookstore, and picked it up, but never read it until now. I was not disappointed.
The story takes place in 1876, shortly after the Battle of Little Big Horn, when Eleanor Peterson, a scientific illustrator in her late thirties, leaves her post in Philadelphia at "The Academy" (which turns out to be the Academy of Natural Sciences - I work there now!), to take part in an palaeontological expedition sponsored by Yale College, to Montana. The expedition is sponsored by "The Captain," but lead by Dr. Patrick Lear, a war veteran who is determined to find dinosaur fossils, and contribute to the study of American lands and creatures. Eleanor is accompanied by her mentor, Augustus Starwood, an older man who is a well-known portrait painter and quoter of Shakespeare. When they reach Montana, there are already several people in Lear's camp, assisting with the dig, as well as rival scientists hoping to find something first, and Indians who are unsettled due to their treatment by the American government and white people in general.

Eleanor tells the story later (in 1919), through a series of letters to John Wilson of the Smithsonian Institution. He has asked for her assistance in identifying a collection of of drawings, paintings, and artifacts of Augustus Starwood, that have been donated by his niece. Each letter represents one of the items or groups of items, and through them, we are able to get to know each character as well as "see" the land as it was in that time.

The thing about this book is not just the story it tells, but the way it presents a different place and time in a completely understandable fashion. Eleanor Peterson is of course, an important character, but she lets the others develop and shine, and you begin to feel a sense of community with all of them. I think people today seldom think about how difficult this type of thing was in 1876, or how alien the Montana Territories would seem to explorers from Connecticut or Pennsylvania. It gives me a further appreciation of the leaps of faith taken by many who wanted to find something/learn something, even thought they often had little or no idea what the undertaking would be.

Different books, with different themes, but definitely an interesting group of titles!