28 February 2016

February Harry's Hundred Update

We are almost finished with February, with today being the usual last day of the month, but this year we have Leap Day, so there's still one left! (I wish Leap Day would be on the weekend ... it would be more special.  Instead, it's just a work day. Oh well.)

Anyway, being that I can kinda/sorta post new pictures now, and that there are some new items to show you for Harry's Hundred, I decided to go ahead and update you today.

I have to tell you, some of those Ravelry knitters are amazing in their production levels!  I'm not complaining, just impressed.  :-)

One person, knitgiver, has made 12 hats already for the project!  She was also knitting hats for another group, so they are all in this photo together, along with those so far for the other group.

And you may remember GringaTurista from the last update, where she had knit a pair of mittens - well, here is the coordinating hat.

She told me she is "just getting started" - wow!

As for people I know in real life (yay, I get to say that!), Kim has made these two hats, after having already made a scarf that was in last month's update.

Oh wow, red AND stripes - two of my faves!

And believe it or not, I actually have something completed, and something else underway (I know, amazing but slow).  First up, the completed hat, which I thought was a nice bright color for the cold days or nights.

My other current knit for this project is a Seafarer's Scarf.  I've made a couple of these in the past for The Tim, and he loves them, as well as having made them for gifts, and they were a big hit.  Everyone loves the way they stay around your neck, keeping you warm.  I have a little more done than is in this photo, but the pattern is one that is quick to complete, since it is not at all complicated.

I have to say that I'm feeling pretty encouraged at this point, and I am more than grateful to everyone who is taking the time to participate.

Goal:  100
Current tally:  18*  (I'm only counting completed items)

Not too bad for only the second month of the year, huh?  Onward and upward!

27 February 2016

Slow Saturday

Finally it is Saturday.  This past week was a long one, and it really shouldn't have been, but there you go.  I woke up on Thursday morning with the beginnings of a migraine.  I managed to keep it at bay - meaning it didn't go away, but didn't get worse - and made it to work on Thursday and Friday, but by last night, I just really needed to get into bed and rest/sleep for a while.  Which would be fine, except that for once, we actually had plans.  The Tim had bought tickets to a jazz concert for us as a Valentine's gift, and I had been looking forward to going.  But it just wasn't gonna happen.  So he went on his own, and apparently it was great, as we expected it would be.  I stayed at home in bed for the most part.  This morning I woke up, and though it's not completely gone, I think it may finally be on its way.  I sure hope so.  The good news is that I did keep it at bay.  I just wish I could have banished it altogether, but such is life.  Migraines suck.

I've been having a slow Saturday and plan to keep it that way.  Other than taking Dug for his morning walk, I've just been letting the morning unfold with no plan.  My big plan for the day is to make a crockpot dinner and to start sorting through my stash, since I haven't done that for a while, and I like to try and keep it under control.  A friend of mine is starting a learn-to-knit class in the Gayborhood** here, and put out a call for yarn and needle donations.  I have a feeling I'll be able to provide him with some good starting materials, and that makes me happy.  If I can give the stuff I no longer want to keep to someone or some organization that will be thrilled to have it, that makes me happy.

I have a few things I want to post about, but until my new laptop can process photos, I want to wait on that.  So let me just tell you about my co-worker and her knitting.

I don't remember if I mentioned that before Christmas, one of my co-workers said she wanted to learn to knit, and I offered to teach her.  She caught on right away, and was really motivated.  She wanted to make a pair of fingerless mitts for her mother as a Christmas gift.  We found a free pattern on Ravelry (which she immediately joined - "Wow, have you known about this for long?") and she got started.  Her finished mitts were Absolutely. Perfect.  I mean, just beautiful.  Yes, the pattern was simple and basic, but her stitches were perfect, as was her tension.  Apparently her mother loved them, and has requested another pair, this time with cables.

In the meantime, five of her friends and/or her husband's co-workers have announced that they are having babies.  She wanted to knit something for each of them.  I suggested hats, since a) they are relatively easy, b) they are small and quick, and c) she could become comfortable with knitting in the round and using double pointed needles.  (The aforementioned fingerless mitts were knit flat and seamed.)  I loaned her my Susan B. Anderson Itty-Bitty Hats book, which has wonderful patterns all based on a basic hat.

As of Friday, she has one hat completed, needing only a pompom to be ready to gift, and is halfway through her second one!  She is having so much fun with her knitting, and though she was a little intimidated at first by the double-points, now it's like she's a pro.  I think she has an aptitude as well as being motivated, but she was clearly meant to be a knitter!  I'm so glad I was the one to get her started.

It's always interesting to see how quickly some people take to knitting, and how others need more time.  I was a person who was motivated, but it took a while before I had enough control to make even stitches and get a consistent tension.  I still struggle with gauge (which may be why I usually make things where it is not a complete deal breaker), but I think that is not terribly uncommon.

What about you?  Did you struggle, learning to knit?  Have you taught anyone else to knit?  I'm just curious.

And in what might be the best news of all, today marks five years since we officially adopted this kitten:

When we adopted Pip, his foster mom said she thought he was a little over a year old.  The vet though, said he was likely 4-5 months, and I think she was correct because he grew quite a bit.  He's still not a large cat physically, but what he lacks in size, he makes up for in personality!  He is truly one of the sweetest kitties we have ever known, and he never misses the chance to comment on anything.  I'm pretty sure it never occurs to him that having only three legs should make him any less able to run, jump, leap, etc.  He really puts things into perspective when you are feeling sorry for yourself.  :-)

That's it for now.  Hopefully I'll be able to show you some new pictures next time!

**Please note that I am not being facetious using the term "Gayborhood."  It's an area in Philadelphia where the bulk of the residents are LGBT, and that's what the area is unofficially called.  It was originated by the residents, and if you live anywhere in the city, you have heard the term and probably been there.

23 February 2016

Whiskers on Kittens? Yes!

For this week's Ten on Tuesday prompt, Carole wants us to list 10 Of My Favorite Things Right Now.  

Needless to say, the song "My Favorite Things" immediately came to mind, and I do really like a lot of those things mentioned - being a cat lover, "whiskers on kittens" especially.  But I'm not going to let someone else create my entire list, so here you go.  I'm leaving out obvious things, i.e., Dug and the kitties, because they are my favorite things every waking minute.  This list is for Right Now.

1. My thermos of tea with lemon.  It warms me up, but is also a cozy bit of home while I'm at work.

2.  My MUTTS calendar.  This is the second year I've bought one for my office, and even when I am feeling the most down, it cheers me up.

3.  Thinking about going to Maryland Sheep and Wool.  It will be so nice to go again, and see all of the animals, yarns, people, and everything else.

4.  Instagram.  Apparently I love looking at others' pictures.  I have fun posting my own as well, but I really like seeing what everyone else shares.

5.  Fountain pens.  I love looking at them, and I love how something written with them looks.  Someday I will be able to afford one.

6.  Playing solitaire on my tablet.  I love solitaire anyway, but having it on my tablet means I can play a quick game whether or not I have actual cards nearby.

7.  Writing letters.  I have always enjoyed writing letters, but now that I have convinced myself that they do not have to be long and full of everything that has ever happened, I am enjoying writing them again when I have some time and something to tell.  A note is just as good as a letter, as far as I'm concerned.

8.  NARS Audacious lipsticks.  I had a gift card for Sephora, and recently bought two of these.  They are all named for women, and I bought Brigitte (for obvious reasons) and Audrey (because it is pretty and also because I love Audrey Hepburn).  They stay on really well too, which is a nice bonus.

9.  My new laptop.  The Tim bought me a new laptop as a Valentine's/birthday gift.  So far it's still getting set up, but it's really a nice laptop and has some great features that my old one did not.  My poor old laptop pretty much got used to death!

10. Sneaky little springtime flowers.  I see teeny indicators that crocus and daffodils are seriously thinking of showing up soon!  Such happy little flowers, and they always seem (to me at least) to appear suddenly to make you think, "Oh yes - spring!"

Happy Tuesday, everyone.

22 February 2016

Let's Just Start Again

Ugh.  These past few weeks have just been awful.  Fortunately, I'm still here, but I just have had a really bad time of things lately.  My work has  become pretty unbearable.  They have recently increased our hours, and though that does mean more money, it's not really a raise because our hours are increased.  I am now making $10 less an hour than I did.  Which would be different if I liked where I worked, but it's just made everything worse. I've felt just stuck and not really able to do much of anything once I get home.

Enough of that though.  Fortunately, we had planned a bit ago to go to Baltimore this past weekend and visit one niece and her husband, and also get to see another niece and her family.  After a few weekends in a row when the weather was just terrible, this weekend the weather was lovely!

This guy went with us, and had a great time!

We got to see my niece Amanda's kitties. They are both black kitties, named Clancy and Yuri.  Unfortunately, they are not impressed with Dug ...

This is Clancy - she is extremely talkative!  Yuri is very shy.

On Saturday, we got to go to my great-nephew Zach's basketball tournament game.

Here he is after taking a shot in the warm-up.  It was a good game, but they lost in the last 9 seconds by one point.  There is another game on Wednesday night, and if they lose, they are out of the whole thing.  If they win, they play in the finals on this coming Saturday.  It's amazing the variations in height among fourth graders.  :-)

And then later in the day on Saturday, we took a walk in my niece's neighborhood, and visited a [new to me] yarn store there, That's the Point.  It's a lovely little shop the sells yarn and also needlework materials.  I didn't spend much time there, since everyone else was waiting for me outside, but I did buy a skein of yarn produced from a local alpaca farm.  I figured I wouldn't be seeing that anywhere else.

We made our way back to Philadelphia yesterday after brunch, and spent the day catching up with laundry, etc.  I had taken today off work (thank God!), so it's been a lovely day at home.  I treated myself to a manicure, and signed up for the Loop bus to the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival in May.  I'm so glad that they decided to take a bus, now that Rosie's is gone!  I've missed going the last couple of years, so I'm really looking forward to it.

So that's the news from here.  I'm going to try to post more regularly, because I do enjoy it, and it helps me keep some perspective.  I have a couple of things to show you, and some other updates on some things.

Have a great week, and thanks for sticking around!

10 February 2016

Politics, World View, and Civility

I don't usually write politically-themed posts, because unless we are speaking one-on-one, and you really want to know what I think, I keep things to myself.

Don't get me wrong - I'm a very opinionated, political person.  I am not, however, a preaching type.  I find true discussions about opinions, facts, and philosophies interesting, but if someone preaches to me that a certain thing or person is the ONLY right one, I cannot wait to run away.  I love thoughtful, intelligent political discourse.

I'm not a big fan of politics, though.  Especially the kind that are related to any given presidential campaign.  And I don't know if it's because I'm getting older and grumpier, or if it actually is true, but this way too long campaign season has been one of the worst I can remember.  Not just the sniping back and forth, but the whole world view of the candidates and the lack of common every day civility.

I do believe that it's a mistake to only think about foreign policy to the detriment of thinking about the people in your own country.  Only thinking about your own country is just as bad.  The world we live in right now is truly a global community, whether or not anyone likes it.  You know the recycling mantra, "Act locally, think globally"?  Well, I think it applies to politics as well.

I am philosophically and I guess politically a democratic socialist; however, for my own person, I am actually rather conservative.  That does not mean I am automatically supportive of any candidate on either side.  I am spiritual, if not overly religious, but turned off by evangelically religious types.  I fervently believe that people should be responsible for their own actions, and their own selves.  I also fervently believe that government should help people whenever it can.

I am a one person mass of contradictions, with my own ideas and strong opinions.  I fully expect people to disagree with me, as I fully expect to disagree with them.  I am also only interested in having any conversation about it if it can be done in a civil manner.

To be perfectly honest, I'm not a huge fan of any of the presidential candidates.  I will do my research, and vote for the person who for better or worse, I think is the least of all evils.  I hope with all of my heart that whoever is elected next November will be a reasonable person who can get something done during their term.  I have to say I'm not really very optimistic about it, but you know how it is, hope springs eternal.

Sadly, I don't know the answer to how to make all of this work better.  I do wish the campaign season was not years long, but even with a shorter "official" time, I'm not convinced any of the current crop of people would be any more appealing, or civil than they are.

The other day, I read this blog post, and I think it's right on the nose about what a lot of people (including myself) want to say.  And I had to laugh at this line;

"That's just a sampling of the Democrats.  Let's not even get started on the Republicans."

Yes, I think it's funny.  But deep down, I wish it wasn't *that* funny ...

05 February 2016

Friday Letters

Hello there!  I've seen this on various other blogs over the past couple of months, and it has amused me.  Since I am in the mood to post something, but have nothing particular planned, I thought I'd give it a try.

Dear Hair ~ Tomorrow we are going to get you cut, and maybe even colored.  Perhaps you could work with the stylist so that what I tell him and what you actually do within 10 minutes of leaving the salon will be the same story, and how I look when I leave there will be roughly how I look until I go for another cut.

Dear Douchebag Neighbor ~ No, I do not want to sign your latest petition.  Partly due to your douchbag-ness, but partly because I feel that, if you want to make it "more like the suburbs," that you should move to the suburbs.  Many problems would be solved by this approach.

Dear Sweet Dug the Doodle Dog ~ Please try not to get explosive diarrhea again anytime soon.  And if you must (because face it, you're a dog), maybe wait until we are actually awake, instead of at 3:00 a.m. on a weekday when we have to go to work.

Dear Administration at Work ~ You must think we are all beyond dim if you truly believe that we think we have gotten "raises," when the only reason we are getting higher salaries is because you have increased our hours in a major way.  It still wouldn't be a popular decision, but if you would just admit the truth, you might be able to save a modicum of respect.  Though given your track record, maybe not ...

Dear Guy with the 10-month old Pit Bull Puppy Named Carmen ~ Thank you for letting me pet and cuddle your puppy, and be the recipient of so many puppy kisses!  It made my day.

Dear Samantha the Cat ~ Thank you for letting Dug sniff noses with you whenever we walk past your house and you are outside.  He is always puzzled when other cats just run away, so you make his walk an extra good one when we run into you.

Do you have any letters you'd like to write?

Have a good weekend!

02 February 2016

Don't Drive Angry, Phil

The title of this post is one of my favorite lines/scenes from the movie "Groundhog Day."

Appropriate not only because today *is* Groundhog Day, but because it works in the theme for today's Ten on Tuesday:

10 Moments/Events/Days in Your Life You'd Like to Repeat

I'm not going to mention the obvious ones like graduations, weddings, etc.  It's not that they weren't wonderful and memorable, but you want them to be that way. I want to include some of my quieter memories that show up occasionally, because they are the ones that I never want to lose.

1.  When I was four years old, we lived in Teaneck, New Jersey.  One day my dad came home from work and put a ball of white fluff on the floor - a kitten!  She had been found in the parking lot of his office, and he didn't want her to starve/get hurt/continue life as a stray.  This is the first family pet I remember.  At the time, we didn't know if she was a boy or girl, so we named her Frosty.  She was white angora.  She lived to be 16, and we all loved her, though she really only ever loved my father.

2.  In first grade, I got a stuffed dog for Christmas and I named him Augie Doggie (after a cartoon character).  My dad said we didn't want him to get lost so he made him a dog tag out of a piece of cardboard with paper glued on.  I remember sitting with him and making sure the he included all of the important information on that tag!

3.  Christmas 1967.  It was the last time we were all together as a family, with [seemingly] no worries, no sickness, and nothing terrible looming over us.

4.  October 29, 1978.  A week after we got married, we bought our first pet as a married couple.  His name was Hop Sing, and he was a yellow canary.  We used money we'd received as a wedding gift, as we had our priorities, you know!  We weren't allowed to have dogs or cats in married student housing, but we could have small pets like birds or fish.  Hop Sing was the best, and he completed our new little family.

5.  Christmastime 1978.  Our first Christmas as a married couple.  We had so much fun decorating our small apartment and getting ready to go home and visit everyone!

6.  Fall 1978.  My first time attending a Notre Dame football game in person.  The Tim went to grad school there, and at least at that time, all grad students got season tickets for themselves and a spouse for a truly minimal fee. I'd grown up in a family that had never set foot near the actual campus, but saw every game on TV (I learned people in this category were called "subway alumni"), so it was one of the most exciting things ever to actually attend the games!

7.  July 4 holiday, 1988.  We were home visiting my family, and my mother who failing rapidly from bone cancer.  When we were leaving, I told her that as soon as my comprehensive exam was over for my master's degree on July 20, I'd come back and visit with her for a couple of weeks.  She said, "I would love that."  She died on July 14.

8.  When we first moved to Washington, DC, one of my first job interviews was at the Library of Congress.  I didn't have a library degree yet, but had many years of experience as a paraprofessional.  Walking into the building to be interviewed was something I'll never forget!

9.  Also in DC, I went to tea at the White House!  I worked as an appointments secretary for a Senator, and all of us were invited to tea at the White House at the beginning of each legislative session. I was happy to go because a) tea at the White House, and b) the Reagans were out of town, and so I could go, because I HATED them and did not want to be there if they were!  It was amazing, and the tea and cookies were some of the best I've ever had.  Either because they were, or because it was all so exciting.

10.  End of May 2004.  The first time after my initial surgery when I could stand up completely straight without any discomfort at all.  It made me think that the torture of the physical therapy was actually worth it, and that I really would be OK.  :-)

Happy Groundhog Day!

01 February 2016

Happy St. Bridget's Day

Today is St. Bridget's Day, and many people post a poem in her honor.  Since she is my patron saint, it's only appropriate that I do so as well.

When All the Others Were Away At Mass

When all the others were away at Mass
I was all hers as we peeled potatoes.
They broke the silence, let fall one by one
Like solder weeping off the soldering iron:
Cold comforts set between us, things to share
Gleaming in a bucket of clean water.
And again let fall.  Little pleasant splashes
From each other's work would bring us to our senses.

So while the parish priest at her bedside
Went hammer and tongs at the prayers for the dying
And some were responding and some crying
I remembered her head bent towards my head,
Her breath in mine, our fluent dipping knives-
Never closer the whole rest of our lives.

-- Seamus Heaney