31 August 2017

Goodbye August, Hello September

Try to remember the kind of September
When life was slow, and oh so mellow.
Try to remember the kind of September
When grass was green and grain was yellow.

--  partial lyrics, "Try to Remember," written by
Harvey Schmidt and Tom Jones

Today's Think Write Thursday topic is "Hello September."  

Hello, September (on the last day of August) - as usual, I'm glad to see you.  But you also make me feel somewhat introspective when you show up every year.  I guess you never really stop thinking of September as a start, no matter how long you've been out of school.

September means (at least meteorologically) that summer is over.  I'm OK with that, since summer is not a fave of mine.  I do have to say that this summer was not as terrible as some of the previous have been.  The heat and humidity was not constant, so functioning and breathing was much simpler than it usually is.

However, at the beginning of summer we still had our sweet Jetsam, and now we don't.  Last summer I felt the same way about losing Dug the Doodle Dog.  But, time to start this September in a new way.

I like the way the light changes in September.  Even on my desk at work, there is suddenly a little sliver of sunlight on the corner that does not appear throughout the summer months.  

The trees start thinking about what is to come, and how to change their behavior.

Afternoon light dims a bit sooner.

And we are reminded that fall is on its way, by crisp mornings, fall sunsets, and new routines.

In September, I take stock of things for myself.  (I don't necessarily take any immediate action, I just take stock ...)

I do a lot of remembering.  People. places, experiences.  

I  know September means that we are in the last parts of any given year - perhaps some lost opportunities, but new possibilities too.

And always - a new notebook.  Some things never change.

(photos are from our September trip in 2016 to Acadia National Park in Maine)

27 August 2017

Sunday Night

Ugh  Back to work tomorrow after a week of vacation that even though it wasn't perfect, was still better than being at work.  I'm already telling myself that at least next weekend is a long weekend for Labor Day.  I hate wishing the week away like that, and am trying not to do it other than related to work.

Thank you for all of your kind words and concern after my last post.  To make a very long story short, I had been lucky enough to have two interviews for a new job at a place I think I would enjoy working.  I had not been assuming the job would be mine, but I felt I'd done pretty well at the interviews, and more importantly, it gave me hope that I could leave where I am, which is becoming more and more toxic every day.  So even though I hated going to work, I had hope.  Well, last Tuesday I got an e-mail from the HR person at the other place, telling me they were not "going further with your candidacy."  That's bad enough, but it was also the very first thing I saw on Tuesday morning, which didn't help.  Jobs of any kind are few and very far between around here, and it was the first call I've had for an interview in 2+ years of looking.  To say it was upsetting is putting it mildly.

I worked really hard last week to not let it ruin my whole week, and to concentrate on the good as much as possible.  For the most part, I was successful.  And as a dear friend said, try to focus on the small good things, and that you enjoy your life outside of work.  It doesn't solve anything, but it does help.  Those are wise words - I just hope I can keep them in mind.

So you see I am fine, and plugging away at other things.  Like my lemon meringue pie, which was a success - nice and tart but not too sour.  The last pieces will be for tonight (bad timing there!).  I am really thrilled with how well it turned out.

Our beach day was perfect - the temperatures were in the low 80s and there was no humidity to notice at all.  After we left the beach, we went and had a late lunch/early dinner at our fave clam shack, so that was a treat as well.  Sadly, it's the first time we made it to the shore this year.  Not that we usually go every weekend, but almost always it's more than just once by this time during the summer.

I've also been knitting of course, and I gotta tell you - I was really hoping the Scattered Wishes shawl would be finished by Labor Day weekend.  Not because it had to be, just because I thought that would be a good time for it to be finished.  I am on the lace border, which is 26 rows - 13 lace-patterned, and the other 13 just knitting back.  As you may recall, lace knitting and I do not have a solid relationship  And that lace border is kicking my butt!  Whether or not I've been using a lifeline, regardless of how slowly I go, it's just been a mess.  I am however, determined to "get" it.  I am back at Row 1 of the border, and will try my practice of *only* working on it first thing in the morning when I am freshest (and possibly only on weekends), and only do two rows at a time.  Every time I feel confident going past the second row I'm doing, I screw up.  I'm sure it's as much psychological as anything else, but I am determined to get it done!  Maybe just not by Labor Day ... ;-)

My socks are going well, and I've been reading a book I'm really enjoying.  This morning I spent about an hour and a half cleaning up in the garden.  Other than watering things, when it's really hot and humid, I just can't handle cleaning up.  But it looks pretty good right now  A few of the flowers we planted never made it, so I just pulled them up, but others are doing OK, and some are very happy!

This has also recently started:

Here is Pip, happily curled up and napping.  You can't necessarily tell from the photo, but he has decided that the small cubby under the table in our TV watching area, where I keep my laptop, is his new fave place to relax and hang out,  He barely fits, and it takes him a few minutes to get situated.  He's content to be there whether or not the laptop is.  Sigh.  He is a weird cat!  If any of the others attempted this, he would narc them out in a second, especially if they got on top of the laptop ...

The weather is still nice here, which is enjoyable not just during the day, but nice for sleeping at night.  I keep thinking of everyone having to deal with the hurricane and its after effects in the Houston area, and hope they get some relief sooner rather than later.  It looks as if a lot of people are checking in on their neighbors and trying to help one another, and I know that some Philadelphia firefighters left today for the area to do what they could.  When something like this happens, it really does take a village.

And that's all from here on a Sunday night.  I hope you had a good weekend, and that the week ahead will treat you well.  I'll be back soon with a giveaway to celebrate (belatedly) my blog anniversary, so stay tuned!

23 August 2017

Pie Day

Not to be confused with Pi  Day (March 14) ...

My mother was not much of a cook, though she loved to eat.  But once every summer, she would make a lemon meringue pie.  It was a *big* deal.  And always yummy.

The other day I stopped at the market near our house for a few things, and I saw that they had a box of Lemon Pie filling.  Hm, I thought - I have a pie crust in the freezer, and I'm home this week, maybe I'll make a lemon meringue pie.  So I bought it, and today turned out the be the day.

It doesn't look as nice as my mom's used to - she was really good at getting super high peaks on her meringue, and successfully spreading it so that no filling was visible.  But I think I did a pretty good job for my first attempt.  We'll have some later, and hopefully it will be good.  I already remembered one ingredient she would use that I forgot, but I'm hoping it will still be OK.  Lemon meringue pie always makes me think of summer.

This week has been OK, so far.   Monday afternoon we took Milo the Koodle to the vet for a checkup.  We've been so busy with Dug and then Jetsam the past couple of years, that it had been a while since any of the others had gone.  We were trying a new vet, and hoping for the best.  Milo was so freaked out, that when we put him in the carrier, he expressed his anal glands.  OH MY GOD THE SMELL!!!  Fortunately, the vet cleaned him up.  He got his shots, and was declared in good health.  Of course they made a huge fuss over him, which he loves.  And his report from the vet said he was "a good boy."  PUH-LEEZE.

Yesterday was just a terrible day. First thing in the morning I got awful news (nothing health-related, don't worry) and frankly it just ruined my whole day.  I couldn't stop crying.  I don't mean to be vague, but I just can't talk about it right now.  By the end of the day I was OK again, but it was one of those days that was so humid, it was unbearable. So unfortunately, it was a lost day.  

We had crazy loud and violent rainstorms overnight.  I was having trouble sleeping anyway, so I sat up watching most of the night.  Needless to say, I'm tired today!  But it was a day of doing stuff around the house, baking, cooking, and things like that.  The weather today was gorgeous, so we had a pleasant walk this afternoon, and will likely sit in the garden for a good part of the evening.

Tomorrow - a beach day!!  YAY!!

I've also been knitting away, and yesterday I finally swatched for my summer sweater top.  Ahem.

I finished one book today, and started another.  Though I have a few squares on my Book Bingo card filled, I'm not anywhere close to having a completely filled card like some other participants.  But I'm OK with that, because I wasn't thinking it was a contest, and I just wanted to see what I would be able to accomplish.  There's still a week or so left, so who knows, I may have more than I think by the time it's all over.

So it's been a week when I am more than happy to not be at work, especially yesterday.  Now the weather has improved, which helps everything anyway, so it's all good.  

How has your week been?

21 August 2017

An FO Post for Eclipse Monday

Hello everyone!  I hope you had a good weekend.  Ours was fantastic in Baltimore - though the last part of the trip driving there was blinding, torrential rain.  It could only go up from there, right?  Well, it definitely did!  And ... I took zero pics of anything.  Others took a few, so if we are FB friends you may have seen them.  But for a brief recap, it's mostly The Tim in his Mr. Bean t-shirt on our boat ride.  Good times!

I am quite pleased, because finally - between arthritis flareup, falling and banging one of my hands, and just general other stuff-ness - I have an FO to show you!  [cue applause and awe]


Project:  Bridget's Social Security Number Socks
Pattern:  I just use my go-to plain vanilla sock pattern for worsted weight yarn.  It's based on Classic Socks for the Family from Yankee Knitter Designs (Rav link)
Needles:  Size 5US
Yarns:  All of the yarns used at Plymouth Encore Worsted Weight yarn, left over from various and sundry projects over the years (trust me, I have plenty left!)
Modifications:  I striped the pattern, but otherwise nothing else
Notes:  These are QUICK.  Each one took only a few evenings or weekend afternoons to complete.  I made the gray one first and though I like it, decided it was too "serious."  So I decided to make socks that matched but didn't match, and changed around a couple of the colors.  I like they way they look and the fact that they are a quick project is quite satisfying.

These will go and live in my Box o' Socks until next year, when I can pull them out and wear them during the cold months in our house.  We have hardwood floors, so it can feel pretty chilly!

Since The Tim is on vacation this week, I decided to take time also.   We will be taking day trips and also doing stuff around the house/garden, taking The Koodle and Jack for vet appts, and other various things.  This afternoon, we're going to walk over to the Schuykill River Park, since Philadelphia is supposed to get an 80% effect of the eclipse.  It's a beautiful clear day, so we will be able to recognize that it's actually happening.  We have our eclipse glasses ready to go.  In a way, this works out to be our big activity for the day - our weekend was quite busy, so a day of more or less down time works well.

And that's that.  I hope this will be a good week for everyone.  Today would be my father's 101st birthday, which I just cannot imagine, and as you saw in my Friday post, it would be our Tess' birthday as well.  In another odd coincidence of life, The Tim's dad also had his birthday on August 21st!  How weird is that?  So happy birthday to three of the best!  We love you and miss you every single day.

18 August 2017

Furball Friday

This is our girl Tess, who died a few summers ago.  Her birthday is this coming Monday, and I've been thinking about her lately.  She was quite the character, as she never really settled down after being brought inside when we found her as a stray.  Even though she terrorized the other cats, she was really affectionate with us, and was one of the kissing-est cats I've ever known.  We miss her every day.

Enjoy your weekend.  As a matter of fact, enjoy it YOUR way - just like Tess always did!

16 August 2017

Knitting, Reading, Babying

Today is another Unraveled Wednesday, so it's time to show you what is going on with me as far as reading and knitting.  The "babying" part of this is my effort to not do too much knitting at all until my arthritis flareup has disappeared.  It's much better than it was, and if I can just knit a bit and then put it down for a while, it should be fine.   I just have to keep reminding myself so I don't get carried away!

Over the weekend, I started this book:

So far, I'm enjoying it.  There have been a couple of times when it's made me laugh out loud, and these days especially, that feels good.  I hope it will continue to be a good read - it aggravates me how so many books are good at the start and then suddenly it seems like the editor feel asleep.

During the past year or so, I've been usually only working on two knitting projects at a time, and that has been a good practice.  But currently I have three things going: my Scattered Wishes Shawl, my Social Security Number Socks, and these:

The Scattered Wishes Shawl does not look much different than the last time I showed it.  I got to the lace border, and was going along *very* slowly when I realized I'd made a huge mistake.  So I ripped back the 6 rows and will be starting over.  Not a big deal, but since it requires concentration, I just haven't picked it up in the past week after ripping out.  The lace also requires some needle maneuvers that I think are probably better done when my hand is in better physical condition, so it may be another week or so until I try again.

I finished the first one of my Social Security Number Socks, and have just finished knitting the gusset of the second one.  I switched around a couple of the colors, so they will match but not match once finished.  Which pleases me.

You saw the yarn above in last week's post, wound into a skein ready to knit.  This is the very beginning of the first sock of a pair.  I'm using the Solar pattern, which is easily memorized, and so far seems to be a happy match for this yarn.  Incidentally, the project bag is one of Mrs. Brown's Bags, but I got it as part of a combo from Yarn Ink - it was the July Bag + Yarn Club choice (and we nowhere near as expensive as the June choice on the website!).  I've always like the bags, and had hoped to get one, but the shipping was just too much for me.  This offer of the yarn and bag together was a better deal, and I'm glad I went for it.  The bag pattern is made from a print of this yarn knit up into a large stockinette swatch - how cool is that?

I'm making slow progress on each project, and haven't yet started the swatch I mentioned doing in the other yarn shown in last week's post.  Mainly because I hate making swatches for knitting in the round, but I'll get to it soon because I really do want to knit the item.  

On an unrelated note, we had a Customer Service workshop at work yesterday, and here is an actual exchange that happened at the beginning:

Instructor:  The most important thing to remember is that you should smile.
Attendee:  Are you saying this to men who are in these workshops as well?
Instructor:  Well, we are telling them to look approachable.
Attendee:  By smiling?
Instructor (big sigh): It's a well-known fact that people like to see women smiling, whereas it's fine for men to look approachable and serious.


And .... OK, I'll admit the "Attendee" was yours truly.   But ... but ... GRRRR.

13 August 2017

Random on Sunday

We are having a lovely day today.  The weather is nice (no humidity!), and the sky is bright blue with the puffiest clouds you could imagine.  We spent pleasant 1 1/2 hours at the pool (city pools close this coming Friday, we are trying to fit in as many visits as possible), where there were others around but it wasn't crazy busy (it probably is by now).  Came home, and I did some kitty cuddling while watching a podcast, and then after a few attempts, I successfully sewed together the shoulder seams on my long-finished-and-blocked-but-still-in-pieces Custom Fit sweater.  (Next up - sleeves!)  And now I am enjoying a glass of wine while sitting here writing this post.

Makes it seem like the world is nothing but perfect.  Of course it isn't and it never has been.  And this past week, especially yesterday's events in Charlottesville, Virginia prove that.  There is nothing I can say that hasn't already been said.  Suffice it to say that I am angry, heartsick, and depressed at what our country has become under someone who is so despicable, I can't even mention his name.  I am hoping, praying, and doing what I can to not just battle the feelings, but the ideas and the person.  We are better than this, and if we all step up, we'll be able to prove it.

Moving on to other topics, I have been trying really hard lately to pay more and better attention to what I eat and drink, and also trying to be more active.  I used to do a good job of all of that, without really thinking about it, but slipped back into bad habits.  I'm happy to report that in the past couple of weeks, I have been making real progress, and it's starting to feel like "normal" again instead of a huge effort.

Alas, I'm having another arthritis flareup, so my current knitting projects are languishing.  I know it's a waiting game until it all calms down, but it is frustrating nonetheless.  At least I can still read!

A retired curator at work who still comes in every day, gave me 5 tomatoes from his wife's garden, because he said they are being overwhelmed with tomatoes.  They are some of the juiciest, most tomato-ey tomatoes I've had this summer!  The Tim and I are hoping that he'll bring more.  He usually brings in goodies from his garden and offers them to us, and fortunately for me, I'm the only one who likes tomatoes!  (What is wrong with people???)

The other day on my way to work, I saw a woman walking an Old English Sheepdog.  He was the friendliest dog, and when I went to walk away, he tried to come with me.  The woman said that I was the first person who paid him any attention that morning on their walk.  (Again, what is wrong with people???)

My sister in  California called today, and was telling me that in the next few months, she is going to be really busy traveling.  My brother-in-law does workshops related to a specific part of business training, and goes all over the place doing them.  They have requested his workshop in Kuala Lumpur and Dubai, among other places, and Nancy is going along because she figures it will be a once-in-a-lifetime chance to go.  She said the flight from LA to Kuala Lumpur is 25 hours.  OK, that would be the down side ...

We are headed to Baltimore next weekend, and I am ridiculously excited about it.  I always look forward to going, and we always have the best time, but this time I am looking forward to it more than ever.  I think because we haven't really gone anywhere since Memorial Day, and that seems a long time ago.

Before then, however, I have my annual visit to the gynecologist tomorrow, and a haircut appt on Wednesday.  This week will be busier than any I've had for a while.  I'm not really looking forward to the first one, though I'm not dreading it either.  But ... well, you know.  Not something that is exactly "fun."  I am looking forward to getting my hair cut, since it's looking a bit shaggy.  It's just at the point where you start to think you might cut it yourself.  Fortunately, I have learned my lesson there.

Hopefully this will be a good week.  Let's do what we can to make it so!

09 August 2017

Halfway and Beginnings

Hello all - I hope your week has been going well.  Mine has been ... well, fine,  especially since we are again enjoying lovely summer weather, with low heat and no humidity.  Mornings are cool enough to wear a sweater while walking to work, which makes me happy.

Today I thought I'd join up again with Kat and others for Unraveled Wednesdays.  

Reading-wise, I started this at lunchtime the other day, and even though so far I've been only able to read during lunchtimes, I'm about halfway through (it's a short book).

So far, it's interesting - about life in modern-day Ireland during the recession when so many lost their financial safety nets.  Each chapter is told by a different character, and you learn how their stories are woven together while still being separate.

Moving on to knitting, I have one of my Social Security Number socks finished - I forgot how quickly worsted weight socks knit up!  I tried but could not get a decent photo, so you'll see them another day.  And I cast on the second sock, and think I might make some of the colors represent different numbers, so I can have socks that are the same but different.  Since they are to wear around the house, it will be fun to have a really odd pair. :-)

So those are underway, but I really wanted to work on some other things as well.  I've reached the lace border part of my Scattered Wishes shawl, which means only one or two rows at any given time, as even the simplest of lace patterns can be misinterpreted big time by me.  I'll get there, but I can't just sit and knit on that like I used to be able to do.

The answer: start another pair of socks and swatch for another project.

On the left, is the yarn for socks, from Yarn Ink, a new dyer (at least to me).  It's difficult to photograph, since it is very light, but trust me, it's AMAZINGLY PRETTY, with colors and speckles throughout.  The colorway is Beach Life, and so far I have a bit of a cuff knit, and oh do I love it!  

The yarn on the right is Quince and Co. Tern in the Dusk colorway.  Depending on the light, it looks lavender, or slightly gray, or purple-blue.  Even though it's August, I want to swatch for this pattern, and even if I can't wear it until next spring/summer, I'll have it, right?  

You may ask, why am I even thinking of knitting a garment, when I have - at best - a spotty history with garments?  Well, I just want to give it a try, and do it as properly as possible.  I *think* I have a much better understanding of swatching than I used to, after a class I took a couple of years ago at Loop.  Believe me, I'll keep you posted!

What are you reading and knitting these days?  Are you involved in any make-alongs in preparation for Rhinebeck?  I've noticed a few seem to be getting underway.  As you know, whenever I join a KAL or something similar, I seem to have a severe attack of knitter's block.  And since I'm not going to Rhinebeck (though I would certainly LOVE to someday!), I'm just going to enjoy seeing what others are making and enjoy their anticipation.  Vicarious knitting and travel can still be fun, you know?

04 August 2017

Old Photo Friday - Early August Edition

In one of Kathy's recent Q&As, she asked if we had a favorite summer photo.  I had stuff going on that week, and never got around to posting responses to that Q&A, but I immediately thought of the photo below.  I've posted it before, but it never ever ever ceases to amuse me.

I don't know what the initials on the caption stand for, but this was taken at the pool in Oglebay Park, which is a GORGEOUS municipal park and resort in my hometown of Wheeling, West Virginia, in 1938.  The woman on the far left who looks annoyed is .... you guessed it, my mom!  I love this picture because she looks so annoyed, while the others all look like they are enjoying being at the pool.  When I would ask her why she had this expression on her face, the answer was always some version of: "Oh for God's sake, how the hell do I know, it was a long time ago."  (Said in an *extremely* indignant tone.)

I think I love this photo because I find it so amusing, but also because it captures the essence of my mother - she loved to have a good time, but was easily annoyed.

Not that it is like anyone *I* can think of ... ;-)

Have a great weekend, even if others are annoying.

03 August 2017

So ... We Arrive at August

For today's Think Write Thursday, Carole and Kat provided the prompt "Hello, August."

So hello, August.  Like all other things, you arrive every year, regardless of whether or not I am ready, happy, or whatever.  And that is a good thing.  It means *I'm* still here to say, "Wow, it's already August."

Like all months, you have things I like and things I don't.  I used to dread you as a kid, since you meant school started again soon.  But I also liked you, because you were usually the month we went on vacation.

Right now, I guess you are OK.  I'm not happy about the fact that at least around here, you are still pretty hot and humid.  But I am happy that your arrival means that end of that is coming.  You are the month when the farmers' market has a lot that I look forward to seeing in abundance: tomatoes, corn, peaches, and early apples.  So I enjoy that about you, I think more than anything else.

I'm not pleased that I fell yesterday and really messed up my right hand/wrist and knee - nothing really drastic, just painful, uncomfortable, and not pretty.  At least I'm left-handed though, so I can still do most things pain-free.  And I know I didn't fall because it was August, so I'm not blaming you for that.  :-)

I did remember the #augustbreak2017, albeit a few days late, so that is definitely a good thing.  (Though I posted tomorrow's prompt today.  Sigh.)  I particpated last year, and enjoyed it quite a bit.  I like Instagram a lot, and it is fun to have the various prompts.  So thanks for that one!

I hope to spend most of your month trying to remember to live in the moment, enjoy my life, and be as happy as I can be.  So I think it will be OK, you know?

Having said that - if you wanted to cool down weather-wise, that would be great ...

02 August 2017

Undecided But Not Unraveled

A lot of the time when I finish a pair of socks I've been knitting for a while, I already have an idea of what I want to knit next - pattern, yarn, or both.  But this time - zippo.  Lots of things floating around in my head, but nothing that I have really been dying to make.

Thinking about it, I remembered that I did want to make myself a pair of Social Security Number Socks.**  I'd made a pair years ago as a Christmas gift for The Tim, and he still has them (though he deserves a newer, not-as-worn-out pair!), and I'd always thought I'd make a pair for me, but forgot completely until recently.

So, I think that may be my next project.  Of course this begs the question: What colors will I use?  I want to use Encore yarn, since they are around-the-house socks, and Encore wears well while also not feeling like icky acrylic.  I have a lot of Encore, both because I've used it for knits that were gifts like baby stuff, or gifts for people that I know can't be bothered to handwash anything.  I like Encore for that reason, but also because it does not require a huge investment of funds.  I have some that I bought on super sale when Rosie's closed, as well as odds and ends that are leftover from projects in the past.  What I'm saying is, I have a lot of color choices.  Which of course, means there is a lot of indecision happening before I even cast on ...

Currently, these are the choices.

However, since I can't cast on right away, due to an arthritis flare-up, it could all change by the time I actually do anything. Or not. Indecision, thy name is Bridget ...

As far as reading, I recently started this book.

It's been on my to-read list for a while, and my turn finally came up on the library's hold list.  Right now, I'm not sure if I like it or not.  I know a lot of people who have read it and loved it, but I'm reserving judgement until I have read a bit more.

I'm also listening to this, and really enjoying it:

I've liked Al Franken since he was on "Saturday Night Live."  He is reading the audiobook, and it's both funny and truly interesting.  I'm not very far into yet, since I haven't have a lot of chances to listen for any length of time.  But so far, so good!

Today, I'm joining Kat and everyone else this week for Unraveled  Wednesday, and am looking forward to hearing about what others are making and reading.

**Social Security Number Socks - I heard about these years ago on the Knitlist (anyone remember that??).  There are really no hard and fast rules, but the basics are that you determine each unique number of your own or someone else's SS#, and choose a corresponding color.  Then you knit stripey socks based on it.  The ones I knit for The Tim were plain stockinette socks, but you can be as creative as you like.

Example:  If your SS#s is 456-78-9012, you would start by knitting the color that you've matched up with the number 4 for four rows; the color for number 5 for five rows, etc.  For zeros, you can do a different stitch, or improvise however you like.  When I knit them for The Tim, I used black for the zero in his number.  

Anyway, that's the basic premise, it's up to the knitter to make it their own.

When I made the pair for The Tim, someone said, "Well, that just makes it easy for someone to steal your Social Security Number!"  Personally, if anyone wants to get down to my socks, count the rows, and figure it all out, and I haven't noticed, it seems to me that there are bigger problems happening ... ;-)