27 December 2018

Scenes from Christmas Day

Our Christmas Day was lovely, as I hope was yours.  In Philadelphia, the day was really nice - sunny, not too cold, not windy, and enjoyable for a nice walk or two with the pup.  Everyone was very pleased with their gifts, and I was glad I had knit a pair of socks for The Tim a while back, since I like to give him something hand knit every year, and if I had waited, that couldn't have happened.

Here are some photos I thought you might enjoy seeing.  (And yes, I do have Rudolph pajama bottoms, why are you surprised?)

Here we are opening kitty presents from Santa - Hamlet didn't want to miss anything!  In this photo, Milo and Pip are checking out Milo's catnip penguin.

Hamlet is blocking the view of Jack who a second after this lept to get the toy in my hand.

As for Hamlet, he had a good day, with a new bed from Santa that was all his own (not a hand-me-down), and a bone that was honey-roasted flavor and disappeared quite quickly!

There was a brief kerfuffle when the Koodle attempted to collect all of the kitty toys for himself, and when he failed, he left and went upstairs to sleep some more (kids, you know?); but that did not keep Pip and Jack from enjoying their new catnip toys.

Once they were all set, we looked to see what Santa had left in our stockings, and opened our gifts.  Both The Tim and myself did well.  The Tim had chosen a couple of his gifts himself, but was pleasantly surprised when he opened them, as he had forgotten completely!  I realized later in the day that it was the first time in years when I had not received a book or anything related to knitting.  Which is fine, my gifts were fabulous, but it was just a surprising realization.

We spent the rest of the day relaxing, reading, listening to Christmas music, and had a wonderful dinner.  After dinner, the two of us and Hamlet walked over to the light show at City Hall.  It was so cool!  They projected different images on the building as music played, and at one point, there was even a fairisle pattern wrapping it!  I was really annoyed when I realized I'd forgotten my camera, but I consoled myself with the knowledge that night time photos with my camera would likely not work that well anyhow.

The day felt so nice and long, which is always good on Christmas Day.  Yesterday we stayed put, as everyone was tired out from our festivities, so it was a good day to read, watch movies, and nap.  Today we had a few things we wanted to do, but now the rest of the day is our own.  The Tim works tomorrow, and I have a eye exam in the morning and am then meeting a friend for lunch who I don't get to see very often, so I can't wait.  Saturday afternoon, we are headed to NJ for the afternoon, to see Hamlet's previous family, and meet their new dogs.  He will probably be over the moon excited!  His former working partner dog will also be there, so 4 dogs going crazy will be the order of the day.  I'll try to remember to take my camera along.

That's it for today.  I hope you are enjoying your Christmastime, and/or your break from work if you have one. 

24 December 2018

It's All About Belief

Here we are once again, having reached Christmas Eve, a day of anticipation and excitement.  For some, it's a bittersweet time because someone is missing, or because things have changed now that they are adults.  For others, it's a really busy day, for instance if you are hosting the Feast of the Seven Fishes, or if you have toys to put together out of sight of curious minds, or if you just thought about buying some gifts.

Today it is my turn again to write a post for sprite's Virtual Advent Tour 2018.

And I want to tell you about believing, because the Christmas season is as much about belief as it is about anything else.  I'm not necessarily even talking about religious belief, though Christmas is at its core a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ.  There are plenty of people in the world who don't believe in Him, or the Christmas story.  I'm also not talking only about Santa Claus, the beloved character who brings gift and fills stockings and is one of the primary symbols of Christmas. 

What I would like to talk about is belief in something or someone you cannot see, or have never met.  For instance, I never met any of my grandparents, and have only seen one or two photos of any of them.  Yet, I believe they existed, not just because my parents existed, but because of all of the stories they told me about them.  I believe the Christmas story, not just because it is the tradition of my childhood, but because to me it seems very real and very meaningful.  I don't mind telling you that Christmas Eve and the retelling of the birth of Christ make me very emotional, because it seems like such a human story, and because, well, babies are in fact born.

I also believe in Santa Claus, for real.  OK, I know that any gifts I receive are from friends and family, and that I can even use the gift receipt to return or exchange them without having to book passage to the North Pole.  But you will never, ever be able to convince me that Santa and his reindeer do not exist.  Because I have no reason to think otherwise.  If Santa does not exist, why does Christmas seem like such a fun time of year?  When I was a kid, we had a few Christmases where Santa was not able to leave gifts, but he did leave a few things in our stockings, and that was as exciting as a thousand packages.  I know so many people who don't like this time of year, and/or think it's too commercial, or get sick of hearing Christmas music.  If Santa does not exist, why is it that none of their grumpiness or irritation rub off on me, a person who is very easily grumpy or irritated?  For some, this is a hard time of year because they are having troubles or have lost someone they loved.  Why would those intense feelings happen if they were not human and capable of feeling both love and loss?

I guess for me it boils down to my belief that Christmastime is about the belief in and of love.  It's a celebration - much more than Valentine's Day - of the fact that love exists, it remains, and that even if we can't see it as a physical item, we believe it's there.  If you don't love or have never loved anyone or anything, there is nothing to celebrate, nothing to enjoy, nothing to miss when it is gone.  I think most people believe in love - not necessarily the romantic kind, as there are so many other types.  And to love, be loved, and believe in love is always better than the alternative, if you ask me.

Jesus, Santa, gifts, carols - everything we associate with Christmastime - are all about the belief in love.  And love is belief more than anything else.  And belief gives us so much that makes us human. 

I hope this Christmas Eve is one of belief, hope, and joy for you and your family.  May the very best of the season be what you experience, and may you feel love above all else.  Always be looking up.

And if you are like me, I hope you are listening for, and that you hear sleigh bells during the night.  :-)

23 December 2018

Fourth Sunday of Advent 2018

Today on this final Sunday of Advent, when for so many, things are at a fever pitch, I am sharing one of my favorite musical arrangements of one of my favorite carols.  I hope you will enjoy this quiet piece of loveliness and that it will give you a moment of calm in the crazy.

And to all of you, but especially to Kym (she'll know why!), best wishes for a 
Happy Christmas Eve eve. :-)

22 December 2018

Find the Bumble

This year due to my somewhat limited activity, not all of our decorations were unpacked.  So for the ones that were, sometimes they ended up in new places.  This is technically an ornament, but has always been too big and too heavy for any tree we've had, so it is used for decoration.

Today I decided to put it on top of a huge print of a painting we have, and see how long it took before The Tim noticed it, if he noticed it at all.  I truly expected it would take a few days if he was going to see it.  About an hour after I placed it, he said, "I like how you put Rudolph and the Bumble on top of the FitzHugh Lane, that's great!"

The moral of this story is that it's a good thing I had not put money on this bet.  :-)

20 December 2018

Nice Things Are Nice

This is my last day of work until after New Year's (YAY!), and I am beyond thrilled about it.  I may not have any vacation or sick time left due to being out after the surgery on my wrist, but due to circumstances that are actually unfair, I do have a lot of personal days to use, and what better time to use them?  Makes the unfair seem just a little bit more fair.

Tomorrow's personal day is a medical day - you know, the yearly tests, scans, appts that let you know how well you are or are not doing.  I'm hoping mine will all say I'm doing fine, because I've had enough of it right now to last me several more years.

In any event, today is Three on Thursday, and I have decided to share three things with you that are nice at Christmastime.  (Yes, there are more than three, but you get what I'm doing here, right?)

1.  When a co-worker who is usually not that nice gets excited about a small gift you gave them.  As you likely know, my co-workers and I are not besties.  But every year, I like to give each of them some small thing for a Christmas gift because I love Christmas and I love giving gifts.  One person in particular makes Ebenezer Scrooge look like a giddy schoolgirl.  I bought her a gift card to a vegetarian sandwich place near our work, and enclosed it in a card with a cat on the front (to her credit, she is a cat lover).  To be honest, I really do not expect thanks - I do it because I like to and because it makes me feel the Christmas spirit even more.  But today when she opened it, she actually a) smiled, b) thanked me, and c) seemed very happy about the whole thing.  And that pleased me.

2.  Hamlet has a Christmas-themed bandanna that he wears (it originally belonged to Dug).  Whenever we are out for a walk and people see him, they generally smile anyway because he is such a happy creature, walking along.  But a lot of people have stopped to pet him particularly to comment on his festive wear.  They get to smile, he is thrilled with the attention, and it's all good.  I used to tell Dug, and I now tell Hamlet, that if you can make someone smile, you've done a good thing, since it may be the first thing they have had to smile about all day.

3.  Years ago, I had a co-worker at another job who was truly one of the oddest individuals I have ever met.  We got along just fine, and she had a really good sense of humor, but I never thought we were particularly close.  About ten years ago, she remarried and moved to Maine.  Every single year since then, she sends a box of homemade Christmas cookies to us.  (She was trained as a pastry chef, so they are particularly good!)  This never fails to amaze and puzzle me, but I also think it is just lovely.  Whenever I tell someone who knows her about this, they are just as puzzled and amazed.  It just proves that you never really know what to expect from a person.  (Though every year, The Tim gets worried if we reach the middle of December, and 'The Box' has not yet arrived ...)

Here's hoping that this Christmas season has brought, or will bring, something nice your way.

19 December 2018

The Name Alone Could Make You Sick

Does your family have any recipes/dishes/treats that are constant additions to holiday meals?  I mean, those specific to your family, not overall traditional holiday foods.

I was thinking of this earlier today, as last night The Tim mentioned a well-known family favorite, and wondered if any of his siblings made it as part of their Christmas dinner dessert.  I was first exposed to this "delicacy" the first year we were married, and had left my family's house to go have Christmas dinner with his.  All of his siblings were going to be there, and his Aunt Betty was bringing the much-anticipated dessert.

The contents are (and no, I do not know the specific measurements because I don't ever want to know):

grape jello
Cool Whip
chocolate chips

Now, don't get me wrong, with the exceptions of raisins and chocolate chips, I've known and eaten many versions of jello with some of these individual add-ons.  My mother was especially fond of bananas in jello, though never grape jello.  Anyway, this dish is put together in a very specific way, with the order of ingredients also specific (again, I do not have that information, but I can tell you that the Cool Whip goes on top), and put into a rectangular cake pan to set and then serve as the piece-de-resistance on Christmas Day.

I try to be adventurous with food, and like to try new things.  But I just could not bring myself to even take a taste of this concoction, because it was a) *very* purple, and b) very ugly, and c) IT IS CALLED "SLUMGUM."

Did you hear me there???? It's called SLUMGUM

Which begs the question of why something, especially a "dessert," has a name that makes it sound like it was scraped off a dirty sidewalk?  The Tim has no explanation for this, other than that's what they have always called it.  I remember at the Christmas dinner referenced above, his oldest niece, who was about 2 years old at the time, and visiting from California with her parents, said to her mother, "Do you see that purple stuff there?  Don't eat it, it's really yucky."  Fortunately everyone laughed, because I found it hilarious.

Anyway, as I was writing this post, I decided to search Google Images for "slumgum."  Most of the images had to do with beeswax, a few were macaroni and beef concoctions, but oddly enough, none of them included anything related to grape jello and additional ingredients ...

Here is one of the photos related to beeswax

Trust me, this looks way better than what I'm talking about!

18 December 2018

Christmastime with a Broken Wrist

Sigh.  "Next year will be different," I keep telling myself.  Yes, I am trying my best to be in the moment, and I am enjoying Christmastime overall, as I usually do.  But I have to tell you, this year has presented challenges, due to my limitations from a broken wrist. 

Some background first:  The Tim is famous for getting a tree for us during the first week of December, and then almost immediately putting the lights on it.  And then, nothing.  He wants us to decorate it together, but he is usually either sleeping, cooking/baking things he wants to make for the holidays, or at work.  So almost every year, the tree has lights only for a week or two, and then all of a sudden he decides it has to decorated THAT SECOND, regardless of what else I may have going on, or be in the middle of trying to get done.  The down side of this is obvious if you have read this paragraph.  The good side is that in the meantime, I've put out all of the other decorations and have cleaned up after myself, so other than vacuuming pine needles once the tree is finished, there's not much left to do.

This year, though, has not worked that way.  I have been going to occupational therapy 2 times a week, and I have about an hour's worth of exercises to do on my own every day a minimum of twice a day.  The days I go to therapy are especially hard, as those sessions are exhausting both physically and mentally.  But I have been doing my best to get out the other decorations and place them where I like them to be, which is fun.  Sadly though, I am not able to pick up the empty boxes and put them back in the basement, since I do not have the control in my hands and wrist yet.  Which means that there are boxes all over the place, because The Tim is a believer in wait-until-everything-is-ready-to-put-away and there are still one or two small boxes of ornaments to unpack (which we are doing tonight and will finish the tree one way or the other), so I can't really clean up.  He is not bothered by this, but it is making me CRAZY.  So I told him that tonight we are finishing up with the ornaments (because as far as I'm concerned, it should already be done), and the boxes need to be downstairs by the time I come home from work tomorrow (he has the day off). 

So what will I be doing this week before Christmas, when I am usually just able to enjoy things and do the activities I want to do (baking, knitting, etc.)?  I will be cleaning the house.  Which usually means a commitment of a couple of hours.  But when you have limited mobility, it takes a very very long time and every single thing is a Big Project. 

Now, I realize that in the grand scheme of things, this is truly no big deal.  But for me, it's really annoying.  I just keep telling myself that a) it will all get done, and b) next year, I will be able to do things the way I like to do them, and that makes me more of a happy camper. 

On a very positive note, I did successfully get the gifts wrapped that we send to family and friends so that they are well on their way.  I love wrapping things, but as with every single thing at this time, it was, shall we say "challenging."  Especially when you are not only surrounded by snoopervising kitties, but a large dog simply *has* to have his head resting on your knee while you are in the midst of it ...

I've also made toffee and one kind of cookie so far (The Tim has made several), and hope this weekend to make a batch of cranberry curd.  I'm sure we'll also tackle decorated spritz cookies, since we generally make those right before Christmas Day.

Maybe The Tim is lucky I can't lift much of anything ... you never know what could happen ... ;-)

17 December 2018

A Blast from Christmas Past

I was looking through Christmas photos for a particular photo (which I have not yet located), and came across this one from a few years ago. 

Boxes - entertaining cats since the dawn of time ... 

16 December 2018

Third Sunday of Advent

Making the House Ready for the Lord

Dear Lord, I have swept and I have washed but
still nothing is as shining as it should be
for you.  Under the sink, for example, is an
uproar of mice - it is the season of their
many children.  What shall I do?  And under the eaves
and through the walls the squirrels
have gnawed their ragged entrances - but it is the season
when they need shelter, so what shall I do?  And
the raccoon limps into the kitchen and opens the cupboard
while the dog snores, the cat hugs the pillow; 
what shall I do?  Beautiful is the new snow falling
in the yard and the fox who is staring boldly
up the path, to the door.  And still I believe you will
come, Lord; you will when I speak to the fox,
the sparrow, the lost dog, the shivering sea-goose, know
that really I am speaking to you whenever I say
as I do all morning and afternoon: Come in, come in.

-- Mary Oliver

15 December 2018

Blogger Is Not Being Festive

It seems that every once in a while without warning, Blogger decides to mess with me.  And I can never figure out why, or what happened.  Recently, it has not been allowing me to comment on some - but not all - blogs, even after logging in, completing the Captcha, proving I'm not a robot, etc.  Then this morning, I realized it never published my post from yesterday, though it shows as published in the list of posts.  Blogger, this is not festive AT ALL, and I do not appreciate it.  I'm guessing Santa and the elves are annoyed with  you as well ...

So if one day, a random post dated December 14, 2018 shows up, don't blame me!

Anyway, I'll repeat the photo I showed in yesterday's post, because I think you'll all enjoy it.  I think I have mentioned that the kitties, who are used to Dug, can't figure out why Hamlet didn't want to immediately cuddle and be friends with them.  Hamlet was never really around cats, so when he joined the family, he was not in any way aggressive, he just wasn't sure what to do.  He has gotten better, but he still doesn't quite get it when they try to cuddle.  But the other day, the Koodle got ever closer to his eventual goal.

Hamlet was snoring here, but as soon as I picked up the camera to take a photo, that one eye opened, which made me laugh!

Anyway, in today's post. I wanted to show you some photos that made me very happy!  You may or may not remember, a couple of years ago, I knitted hats for all of my nieces' husbands and significant others.  I got lovely thank yous, and was 99% sure they liked them, so that was nice.  But recently, my niece Amanda and her husband Patrick took a trip to Switzerland.  The photos they posted on Instagram and Facebook were so pretty, so Christmas-y, and made it look just as you imagine.  Then this morning, Patrick posted two photos on my Facebook timeline, thanking me for the socks I'd knit him a few years before, and the hat, saying that it kept him warm in Switzerland, and that he got lots of compliments on his hat from the Swiss "and one guy from Croatia." 

I told him thank you of course, but said that I'm glad my knits got to travel, even if I didn't! 

But seriously, you can bet that he and Amanda will get more knits - they would have anyway, as they are both extremely knitworthy, but this takes it up a whole 'nother level.

That's it for today.  Hopefully this will not just show up as "published" but will actually really *be* published!  I hope you are all having a good weekend.  We are cozy inside listening to Christmas music and doing Christmas things, while it is a rainy day outside.  It doesn't get much better than that.

13 December 2018

Especially Special

Most of our Christmas decorations and ornaments on our tree have a special meaning to us - we can tell you where we got them, who gave them to us, etc.  Since today is Three on Thursday, I have decided to share three things are are "especially special" to us.

This wreath:

This is one of the very first Christmas decorations we ever had as a couple.  When The Tim was in graduate school at Notre Dame, and we lived in married student housing, we had a small apartment and the door was in an enclosed hallway.  We wanted a wreath or some kind of decoration for the door, but couldn't really afford to buy one.  A fellow student of his suggested we do what she did and make one using materials from a local craft store.  Success!  This has traveled from apartment to apartment with us, and now to our house, where it hangs inside the front door.  Every year, I expect that I will pull it out of the package and it will be a mess, but it's hung in now since the Christmas of 1978.

This Rudolph and Santa:

(OK so this is two things, but they are ALWAYS together!)  The little stuffed Rudolph was a promotion from Duracell back in 1984 or 1985 - you sent in proof of purchase, and they sent you this stuffed toy, and he had a Duracell battery in his nose - when you press his one ear, the nose lights up!  I have to give them credit, it lit up until 2 years ago, so it did last a good long time.  (You can't replace it without tearing him apart, so we are living with a non-glowing Rudolph now.)  

The stuffed Santa is from a kit bought at JoAnn Fabrics the first year we lived in Philadelphia, which was 1991.  I had gone to look for fabric to make stockings for the kitties and though I didn't find that, I did find this kit.  It was simple to sew together, and like so many of our decorations, manages to look just as good from year to year.  Our cat Hannah used to love the jingle bell on the end of Santa's cap, and would sleep next to these two on the couch for most of Christmastime.

This Yule Woodsman:

I knitted this tiny guy (well, actually I knit two - the one above was for a swap, and then I knitted one for us) from a kit probably at least 15 years ago.  He hangs on our tree every year, and always seems just as happy to be there as we are to see him.  I am always amazed that I was able to successfully make two of these that turned out to look like they were supposed to look, since I was a fairly new - and not overly confident - knitter at the time.  

What about you - do you have any holiday items that are "especially special?"  Or, alternatively - any that you keep, but you don't really know why??

12 December 2018

Some Holiday Enjoyment for You ...

for all the wrong reasons.  Clearly, they spent tens of cents on the production values for this.

11 December 2018

A Missed Day, But Back on Track

Hello all - well, I missed posting yesterday, as I was dealing with a gastrointestinal bug, and basically spent the day in the bathroom.  It was frustrating, to say the least, but fortunately today is better, so I'm back.  :-)

How are all of your holiday preparations going along?  We are doing pretty well, which is a nice feeling.  Some plans got interrupted on Saturday, but we just moved along and it was all good.  Saturday evening, I made a batch of Butter Almond Toffee, which turned out really well.  Sunday morning, I met my friend Andrea for a coffee date, and then I came home, put dinner in the crockpot, and spent the rest of the day getting decorations out and organized.  So it was a good weekend overall.

Sunday night I woke in the middle of the night with my stomach churning, and that pretty much took care of sleeping much as well as most of Monday's plans.  Is it wrong that I am just glad it didn't ruin the weekend???

I'm not sure how the weather has been where you are, but here in Philadelphia, it's been a lot colder than it usually is this time of year, which is fine with me, but in the past few days, I've seen some interesting sights.  Granted, not everyone else bundles up like I do, but most people wear coats at least.  Last Friday, when I was walking back from my occupational therapy appt on my way to work, I saw a young woman coming towards me wearing sneakers, and a pink leotard and tutu.  No coat, no scarf, nothing else.  She did not appear to be homeless or otherwise compromised, though I wonder about her mental state.  Though maybe I shouldn't, because she didn't look like she was cold, even though the temperatures were in the high 20s.

Then this a.m., walking to work, I saw a woman with really bright green hair, short shorts and a bra top walking around.  Even if she was coming from a session at the gym, I would think that would have been an inadequate outfit.  But, who knows, maybe she is of hardy stock?

To recap, this is how I was dressed

while they were going around somewhat like this

So who knows?  Maybe *I'm* the one who's missing something ...

09 December 2018

The Second Sunday of Advent

Today I thought I would share a hymn, in honor of the day.  I have loved this one since I learned it in third grade.  To me it is an example of the mystery that Advent represents.

Have a good Sunday!

08 December 2018

Show-Off Saturday

Happy Saturday !  I'm waiting for The Tim to finish showering, and then he has offered to fix breakfast, so I figured I'd write this post while I was waiting.  I showed you the mystery packages of my Sweet Sparrow Yarns Advent Calendar a couple of weeks ago, and promised to share the contents with you.  Well, today marks eight days, and so I thought I would show you the first third of the contents. 

These colorways are, from left to right and top to bottom:  Creme de Cassis, Garland, Winter Wonderland, Red Ribbon Foxes, Tiptoe, Strega Nona, Turkish Delight, Starlight.  All are on different bases, so you also get a sampling of those as well.  

So much pretty, right???  And if I was better at photography, you'd be able to see that they are even lovelier - so far, solids, speckles, tonals, and some sparkle!  And every once in a while, an extra goody thrown in.  I am so glad I saved up to get this, I'm enjoying having a package to open every day, and even if I can't knit with it right now, just being able to do something "yarny" every day has been wonderful.

Dee asked me what I planned to make, and right now, I'm still deciding.  Since I can't knit right now, I have plenty of time to think about it ... 

But wait, there's more!  I had forgotten that I had also signed up for a stitch marker Advent Calendar from An Caitin Beag, so I have 24 tiny packages to open as well.  Here are the first eight days of those.

Again, I wish I could take better photographs, so you could see how lovely these are.  She is a jewelry maker/designer besides a knitwear designer, and some of these are just so pretty and intricate!  And being that I am always looking for stitch markers, I think I'll be glad to have all of these.

That's it for now.  Lots of things I want to do today, so after my breakfast, I'm gonna try to get moving for a fun and useful day.  I hope your Saturday is a good one as well.

07 December 2018

Trying Out TGIF

I always enjoy it when Kym does TGIF on her blog, and now Kat has done it a few times as well, so I've decided to give it a try today.

Thinking About - all of the things I want to get done around here this weekend.  None are things that will take all weekend, but all are things I need to just start, if you know what I mean.

Grateful For - the colder weather and the holiday season.  It makes me so happy, and though everyone else seems to wish it was summer, I love fall and winter and the dark nights coming early. 

Inspired By - physical and occupational therapists.  I've had enough therapy to know not just how hard they work, but how thankless it must seem occasionally.  I am always a very conscientious patient, and follow instructions, and do my assigned home exercises without fail.  But so much of the time, I see and hear others around me at the sessions that do nothing but complain, and who seem to truly believe that the therapists enjoy torturing them.  I say that as a joke, but I think you have to be foolish to really think that.  In any event, they carry on and most that I know seem to do it with a lot more grace than I could muster.

Fun - decorating the house and our tree for Christmas!  Those are two of the things on the agenda and I cannot wait.  I love it all, and we have a good time every year, remembering where we got some of our stuff, and who was with us, etc. 

Have a great weekend!

06 December 2018

Christmastime Silliness

I had something else in mind for today, but then I saw Carole's post, and decided to save that for another time, and instead do a variation of hers for Three on Thursday, because it's never a bad thing to be amused.

So here are three Christmas-related cartoons I've seen recently that amused me and that I thought I would share.

Awkward ...

Et tu, reindeer?


I hope your day is a good one, without awkward moments, lame come-ons, or kids that suck.  ;-)

05 December 2018

Reading But Not Unraveling

Needless to say, I have no knitting to either talk about or show you today.  I have been enjoying my yarny Advent calendar, and once I can get some decent photos with my camera, I'll share that with you, at least what I have so far.

But I am reading away, as I have been.  You may or my not remember that I like to read holiday-themed books when the holiday is here.  So right now, I'm reading two books related to Christmastime:

This one I received as a Christmas gift a few years ago.  I lost track of it and found it last summer (not really lost, just not where I expected to find it!):

I am a big fan of P.D. James, and am happy to have some things from her that I haven't read.  This is my lunchtime read for this week.

I started this one at home last night, when I wasn't in the mood to watch TV at all.  I only have read the first chapter, but so far I'm really enjoying it.  The only other book I've read by this author is The Shell Seekers, years ago, but I remember enjoying that as well, and though it was a long book, it didn't take me long to finish.  So we'll see if this proves to be similar.

I'm joining Kat and everyonen else today for Unraveled Wednesday, so if you are interested, take a look to see what others are up to - most likely with some knitting included in their posts!

04 December 2018

Too Many Meetings

Have you ever had a day at work when, in spite of your own efforts, you can hardly get anything accomplished?  That was my day today.  And it was completely out of my control, as it was one of those days when except for about 1 1/2 hours total, I had to go to meetings.  Ugh.  I think instead of management types going on and on about teamwork, fundraising, and "getting to one" (that one makes me especially stabby), *they* should all have to attend workshops about how to run efficient meetings, and they should not be able to call a meeting until they have proven they can do it well.

In my working life, I have had only two supervisors who knew how to run a meeting. They stuck to the agenda (first of all, they had an agenda!), said what they wanted to say, left time for discussion/Q&A, and then called it quits.  Two.  Out of many, trust me.

This sums up today.

On top of everything else, we learned that there will in fact be a holiday party this year for the staff.  In the past, this has been one of the few nice things that management does for us. There's usually really nice (and tasty) food, nice music, and people enjoy it.  It's generally one evening after work and is over by 8 p.m., so people can get home before midnight (well, most people if you know what I mean ...).   Most years, it's in early or mid-December, so when nothing had been said about it, we assumed the new regime had decided not to do it.  Then today it was announced that there would be a party, later in the month - and it is pot luck.  Now, I have nothing against pot luck when I'm getting together with a few friends that I know well.  But pot luck for 125 people?  Apparently it is a cost-cutting measure.  I'm guessing it will cost less, since fewer people will show up.  A lot of people have fairly long commutes, and I can't see them finding it convenient to bring a pot luck dish with them.  Also, I'm not sure where things can be heated up, which adds another layer.   I think I'll skip it this year, because the timing is especially awful, and I don't feel like trying to carry a huge dish/pot/bag/whatever of food from home to work.  Maybe they are counting on it being a bust, so they can just skip it next year?  Who knows.

I just hope we don't have to have another meeting about it ... ;-)

03 December 2018

A Bit of Progress - I'll Take It!

First of all, it appears I'm doing Blogmas - I just realized that so far, I've posted every day in December!  Which is fine, I just had not consciously planned to do that.  I guess it's like KALs - if I don't "officially" commit, it's not a big deal ...

Anyway, today was my visit with the orthopedic surgeon.  It's eight weeks ago that I fell and broke my wrist, and I've so far had four weeks of occupational therapy.  My x-rays showed that my wrist is healing very well, which is the best news if you ask me.  And, she told me that I can "wean off" the wrist brace, giving me specific instructions for when I *should definitely* wear it - but I can do that!  She was somewhat disappointed that I was not further along with movement after four weeks of OT, but was glad with what progress I have made.  The last time I saw her, she said, "At your next appt, I want to be able to shake your hand," and we did shake hands today, so she was pleased about that (as was I).  So now my OT can begin to include strengthening exercises, and I also think that not wearing the brace 24/7 will help with my range of movement. I am due to see her again in four weeks, but my appt is in 5 weeks, since she is not in the office on New Year's Eve.  ;-)

Still no knitting though - but I'll get there!

I used a Floating Day from work and just came home after my appt and OT, and I've spent a couple of hours getting out some decorations.  I know that some people clean their house and then decorate, but I do the opposite.  Getting everything out and placed causes a bit of a mess around here, and God forbid I clean before AND after - especially now when it takes me twice as long to do anything!  Today though I just unpacked some stuff and then ran out of steam.  That's fine, it's always a process anyway.

The weekend was nice, if low-key.  The Tim got us a Christmas tree, and by yesterday the lights were on it, so we have officially started the season!  That's always a good thing, if you ask me. 

And that is the news from here. I hope all of us have a good week.  If you are celebrating Hanukkah, I hope your holiday is lovely and full of light, with hope for the next year to come.

02 December 2018

Happy Birthday, Mom

My mother as a young woman

A few years before she died, I asked my mother if she thought it would be great to live to be 100 years old.  Her response was "Oh for God's sake," in a tone that immediately let me know that she thought that was the most ridiculous thing I could have said.  It very well might have been, because it was 30+ years ago, and even then, people living to that age were very few and far between.

Today would be that day - my mother's 100th birthday.  To be completely honest, I cannot imagine her at that age.  Mostly because by the time she died, she was so sick and so frail, that even the fact that I loved her so much would not have made it worth her still being  here.  

Nonetheless, if she could have been healthy, it would be nice.  I often feel a bit jealous of my sisters, who had the chance to know both of my parents longer than I did.  They were fortunate enough to know them for a longer time when they were both healthy and energetic, and needless to say, quite a bit younger.  

Having said that, I was lucky with my mother.  For the most part she was healthy during the time I had with her.  She was incredibly smart, and often wished she had the chance when she was young to have gone to college.  She loved to laugh and have a good time, and you could not play a game with her without playing for money, even if it was a penny a point.  "It makes it a lot more interesting," she would always say - and she NEVER let you win, just because you were a kid!  She even figured out a way to play Trivial Pursuit for money ...

I do remember one time when I was young, asking her why she didn't do something, because so-and-so's mother always did it.  Her response was, "Because you are not the center of my universe."  That shocks people when I tell them, but it just seemed like her answer to me.  I never felt any less loved or cared for because of that.  And to be honest, I think it is probably good advice for any parent.

She thought The Tim was just the best.  And of course, he played up to her all the time, because he loved her too.  Her given name was Geraldine, but everyone always called her "Gerry" (though she spelled it Gere, "because my mother said, that's how it was spelled").  No matter, The Tim *always* called her Geraldine, and that was fine with her.  They had many conversations about how I was a pain in the a** (all when I happened to be right there), and often found the same things hilarious to the point of tears.  The Tim often tells me that he would give anything to hear her laugh again.

My mom's life was in no way an easy one.  Money was scarce when she was child, and when she was an adult, but life was lived anyway.   She grew up in a household where her parents were separated at a time when that was incredibly unusual, with her mother and her aunt, who was a nurse.  She knew that it was just as important for women to get an education and be able to work as it was for any man.  By the time I was able to be somewhat independent (I am the youngest child), my father was sick and she had to worry about and take care of him.  After he died, she carried on and lived her life, and kept a good attitude even when she started having her own health problems.

I wish she could have seen her grandchildren to adulthood, and known her great-grandchildren - she would be telling anyone and everyone about how wonderful they are, whether or not anyone had asked.   She would get such a charge out of everyone, and be right there with all of our ridiculousness.  

In our house, Christmastime started on December 1, but *serious* Christmastime started after her birthday on December 2.  She hated it when she was a child, and someone handed her a gift and said, "This is for your birthday and Christmas," and as a result, I *never* give anyone with a December birthday only one gift.  She adored Christmas music, and would sing along whether or not she knew the words (which admittedly drove me nuts!), often just making things up.  She and my dad made everything special,  but outdid themselves for Christmas, which is I suspect why I love it so much.

She died 30 years ago this past July.  Not a single day goes by that I don't think about her at least five times, and admittedly, I still talk to her sometimes.  When December 2nd comes along, it's always bittersweet because she loved celebrating her birthday, but she's not here to do it anymore.

And so, today, when she would have turned 100 years old (for "God's sake" or not), I hope she is celebrating with my dad, and that she knows that even 100 years would never have been long enough to have her here with me.  And that she also knows every single year, she is with me during Christmastime, along with my dad and all of the memories that make it even better.  

Happy Birthday, Mom.  Love you.


This post is my first one in the 2018 Virtual Advent Tour, hosted by sprite writes again this year.  Please consider joining everyone there for at least one day - reading the posts is so fun, and it's a good way to mark Christmastime.

01 December 2018

29 November 2018

A Good Mail Day

I go to my Occupational Therapy appointments twice a week - Monday afternoons, and Friday mornings.  Each week I've had to go to my Monday session, it has either been pouring rain, or snowing/icing.  This past week, I left to go home after a particularly painful session, and when I got outside it was pouring even more than it had been when I went inside.  Traffic was seriously not moving, so I decided to walk home, since buses and trolleys were so crowded they were not even stopping.  By the time I got home, my self-pity party was off the charts.

I looked through the mail that The Tim had set on the table, and saw a package with a Customs Declaration sticker on it.  I couldn't remember having ordered anything at all from overseas, at least not in the past few months, so I was intrigued.  I opened up the package and this was inside:

Suddenly, any bad things about the day and the afternoon completely vanished!  I was so surprised and really pleased, but also mystified.  A week or so ago, someone posted a photo of this on Instagram, and I commented how I would love to have one.  But a) I didn't know where to get one, b) I didn't have any money to buy one anyway, and c) I have LOTS of tote bags, so didn't need it. 

It turns out that a long-time blogging friend who lives in Vancouver saw my comment and took it upon herself to send one to me!  She stopped blogging long ago, but I still "see" her regularly on Facebook and Instagram.  Apparently (and according to the logo in the lower right hand corner of the photo) the bags can be ordered from Ysolda.  So Maureen sent an order from Vancouver to Scotland which then got sent to me in Philadelphia - I am just flabbergasted that she thought to do this.

So, even though I didn't need another tote bag, I'm thrilled to death to have this one - I think it's especially appropriate for a knitting librarian, don't you? 

A good mail day, indeed.  Thank you so much, Maureen!

27 November 2018

Something I've Been Meaning to Tell You

I keep reliving this event over and over in my head, and not necessarily for the reasons you might assume.

The day I broke my wrist, Hamlet and I were out for a walk.  I stopped paying attention to where I was walking, and realized I was falling.  I put out my hands to break my fall, and as a result, knocked out some front teeth (that went through my upper lip to the outside, yikes!), and of course, badly broke my right wrist.  As well as some cuts and bruises, as one would expect.

I remember sitting up after I fell, and being in a bit of shock, a lot of pain, and very dismayed that something like this had happened.  Again.  I didn't see any other people around at first, and was wondering how long I would need to sit there on the sidewalk before I could manage to get up and head home (I was about 2 blocks from our house).

I heard a car door close, and someone said, "Are you hurt?"  I looked up, and a man who appeared to be in his late 30s-early 40s was standing there.  He was dressed in clothing that indicated he worked in construction or some related thing.  I told him that I was pretty sure I broke my wrist, and he offered to take me to the emergency room.  I asked if he could take me home, so I could put Hamlet in the house, and then my husband would take me to the hospital.  So he helped me get up, and helped me into his truck, and also put Hamlet in the back seat.  I gave him directions to get to our house, and he helped me out of the truck to the front door.

At this point, besides thanking him for approximately the 400th time, I asked him for his name, and/or address/e-mail so I could properly let him know how much I appreciated his help.  To which he replied, "Oh no, ma'am, I was glad to help.  And I don't want to be reported to ICE."

I can remember thinking, would someone actually DO that to someone who had helped them?  And then I realized that, yes, there are people who would do that at the first opportunity.  And I was truly saddened and ashamed to make that realization.

We tell ourselves, others, and our children that helping others is so important, and that kindness, empathy, and compassion should always inform the way we go about in the world.  Talking heads on our TVs tell us that America has become a divided nation, and children are separated from their parents indefinitely at our border.  Border agents tear gas migrants fleeing poverty and oppression, and our "leaders" say it's necessary and not that bad.

The holidays are here.  We just had Thanksgiving, where we celebrated abundance and brotherhood and were reminded to be thankful.  The season reminds us - regardless of religious beliefs or none - to remember those who are not as fortunate, and to help them if we can.  We draw closer to loved ones, realizing how lucky we are, regardless of what we complain about all of the time.

And here I am, not just thankful for the man who helped me, but frustrated that I was not able to let him know in a more coherent way how grateful I was for his help, because of a truly terrible person in charge, and his terrible, spineless allies who instead want me to turn him in because he is not here legally.

That's the end of the story, as far as my direct interaction with my helper.  But it has made me more committed than ever to do everything in my power to be like him - helping someone who needs it, even if the worst case scenario could come into play.

Say "thank you" to someone today.  Help someone if you can, no matter how big or small that help may be.  Do it because of him, and to help me pay his kindness forward.

And, lest I not take my own advice - thank you for reading and for your continued friendship and encouragement during my recovery.   You are all what the world is truly made of and what will prevail if we can just stay on track.

24 November 2018

A Bit of Catch Up

Hello and Happy Thanksgiving plus 2 days!  I hope your day was enjoyable.  Ours was quiet and very pleasant, though The Tim crashed shortly after dinner, so in some ways it was also short!  But he had been doing every single thing for the day, and I don't blame him for being tired.  We are still enjoying leftovers, so it's all good.

Yesterday was also pretty uneventful, though I managed to get some things accomplished.  The Tim had to work, so I spent the day working on putting some clothes away as best I could, and walked over to a local toy store for a Christmas gift for my youngest great-nephew, since I was afraid if I waited, the ones I wanted would be sold out.  Then I watched a Christmas movie that was so bad and so cheesy, it was good, which was pleasing. 

I finally have a few houseplants that are doing OK.  I used to have so many plants, but the light in our house is not the best.  The remaining violets I had kept getting attacked by the Koodle.  So it finally occurred to me that since the plant stands I had were just too accessible, I needed something else.  I bought one of those bakers' racks, and have some plants on the top shelf.  It's in between two windows, but not near enough to either for leaping cats to be successful.  Plus, it looks nice and I'm pleased with it.

The skinny, tall plant is from an avocado pit.  It seems quite happy, so I'm just going with it and we'll see what happens.  I'm not sure how violets would do here, but might get one or two and test it out.

The plant stand also came in quite handy for this:

A few months ago, I treated myself to a yarny Advent Calendar from Sweet Sparrow Yarns.  Jaclyn from the Brooklyn Knitfolk podcast had opened a package each day last year in her Vlogmas series, and it looked like such fun and such pretty yarns that I decided to try it.  So I saved up and signed up as soon as the slots opened.  Then I promptly forgot about it, so that when the package arrived, it was fun all over again! 

Yesterday I wanted to cheer myself up after having frustrations with my hand/wrist exercises, so I opened the package and took everything out.  The envelopes had a red and white string attached so you could hang them like a garland.  So I attached it to the aforementioned plant stand, and I love how it looks! Now from December 1 through 24, no matter what else does or does not happen in any given day, I have a little envelope to open with a yarny surprise inside!  And it also includes a full-sized surprise skein of yarn to open on Christmas Day, which is just really exciting if you ask me.  I must confess though, that even just the little envelopes, all decorated with snowflakes and a number, on the red and white string, make me smile.

My occupational therapy has been moving along.  It is extremely difficult and very painful, but I am making small progress, so it's worth it.  I have been going twice a week, and then I have exercises to do 3 times a day at home as well.  I see the orthopedic surgeon again on December 3, so I'm curious to see what she'll have to say.  The therapist assigned to me is nice, but she was a little off-putting at first, since she seemed to have the personality of General George Patton.  But I think once she could tell I was really trying, things got better. 

Tomorrow I have a haircut appointment (long story, but isn't it always?), and then I want to make one stop on the way home.  Other than that, my day will be paying bills and watching either some podcasts or if I can find one, another cheesy Christmas movie.  If the weather is as pleasant as they are predicting, Hamlet and I will probably take a nice, longer-than-usual walk as well.  Then when The Tim gets home from work, we'll have dinner and a quiet evening, probably watching some of the shows we've recorded.  A nice way to end the holiday weekend, if you ask me.

I hope all of you have a good rest of the weekend as well.  Enjoy your leftovers, if you have any!

15 November 2018

Thinking Ahead to the Weekend

You wanna hear something funny (unusual funny, not ha-ha funny)?  Thanksgiving and Christmas are of course two of the big holidays (at least in our house) and we get excited and look forward to them ridiculously.  But ... there are certain rules that are in place.

Case in point:  The Tim's birthday is always right before Thanksgiving - either a few days, or some years as long as a week before.  Therefore, we cannot "officially" begin to celebrate Thanksgiving until we have paid adequate attention to his birthday.  So, yeah, we put our the Thanksgiving decorations, and make our grocery list, but nothing gets started for the day until we've celebrated birthday day first. 

Anyway, his birthday is this coming Sunday, and this year I am somewhat limited in what I am able to do, but I have a few things I'm going to try.  This weekend has, fortunately, nothing else on the schedule, which is great since it's been a long and difficult week, but here are three things I plan to do at a minimum this weekend, in honor of Three on Thursday:

1.  Get a package organized with the pairs of birthday socks I made for my sister and brother-in-law in honor of their 70th birthdays.  If I have my act together, it could even get mailed on Saturday (but let's not get crazy here) - but even if it gets mailed on Monday, it will be there by the end of the week.  And this year, all of their daughters and families will be home for Thanksgiving and the weekend and are planning a celebration, so I wanted to send the gifts so we could be there in spirit.

2.  Figure out how to wrap The Tim's BD gifts (hello gift bags, that I can manipulate in spite of my splint!) and get them ready.  We "used" one of his gifts already last night, when we went to a production of one of our favorite musicals, "Sweeney Todd," presented by the students at the Curtis Institute of Music.  I have the pair of Christmas socks I knit for him, and plan to get him a bottle of his favorite scotch.  The cats and Hamlet are giving him Christmas pajamas, but they may not arrive before Sunday, so we'll see.  And I have decided to get a carrot cake from a bakery here that we really like, since I can't bake one myself.  He already said he wants to get Indian food delivered on Sunday, since he has to work and just wants to come home and just relax all evening. 

3.  Make my gift list for Christmas, which I have usually started well before this, but - well, you know, life.  It's not that much or that involved, but I enjoy it all more when I am organized.  Plus, it gets me in the holiday mood even more, which is never a bad thing.

This time of year is really crazy in our family - besides Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmastime, nearly everyone's birthday is between October 1 and December 30!  (Makes me really happy I'm on my own in March, lol).  But I love it, because it makes the whole time that much more fun. 

Now I just need to get through today and tomorrow at work, go to OT this evening after work and get my hair cut after work tomorrow, and I'll be all set.  I think I can, I think I can ... :-)

11 November 2018

On the Hundredth Anniversary

... of the 11th hour of the 11th year of the 11th month, I hope you will remember the young men who went to fight a war that was unlike any other, and that they were not remotely prepared to comprehend.

My mother had an uncle who fought briefly in World War I.  He was sent home with shell shock, and lived the remainder of his life in a VA hospital in Marion, Indiana.  My parents visited him once, but he of course had no idea who they were, or why they were there.  His story is one for another time.

But in the meantime, I hope that today - even if you end up in the rain - you will take a moment to say a prayer or have a thought for his soul, and all of the souls who only tried to do what was asked.

This is one of the few poems or songs that really captures the sadness of the war to me.  Have a listen, and be glad that these soldiers, those who came after them, and those who are in harm's way still, make it possible for us to have the right to rail against war.

08 November 2018

Time to Be Thankful

I just realized that two weeks from today is Thanksgiving Day, one of my most favorite of holidays.  Usually I am conscious of it well ahead of time, but I've let myself be distracted by so much this year, and it's time to make a concerted effort to get back on track.  So even though I can *easily* think of approximately 50 things right off the top of my head to complain or be upset about, I want to concentrate instead of thankfulness.  Since today is Three on Thursday, it's a good time to make note.  So, here are three things that are making me thankful.

1.  I am extremely grateful to live in an area where there are truly amazing teaching hospitals, that allow me to receive top-notch medical care.  My most recent trip to the emergency room at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (aka HUP) gave me an up-close-and-personal look at how hard the doctors, nurses, orderlies, and even the building people work on a regular basis.  Though I didn't want to be there and was upset, my care and the kindness of the staff left nothing to be desired.  My orthopedic surgeon is also stellar and everyone who works with her has been more than kind and helpful.  I know it's all of their jobs to be so, but I also know every day is not a good day, but they always put their best face forward.  God bless them all.

2.  Likewise, I am grateful that on Monday, I will begin Occupational Therapy.  I wanted to state this now, because I'm sure that once I start and they make me do things that I need to do but that are painful, it will be hard to feel grateful first and foremost.  ;-)

3.  I am thankful that I can make myself see the good things in my life.  Some days it feels like the universe and my body are busy working against me, and I get really overwhelmed by it all.  Then I tell myself to think of the good things.  Even if I don't immediately feel better, I know the fact that I can do this exercise means I'll be OK.

I hope all of you are happily looking forward to Thanksgiving as well, and that those of you who have already celebrated (hello northern friends!), or who do not observe that holiday are still finding some good things to make life worthwhile.  Take care.

03 November 2018

A Lovely Fall Saturday

Today is such a lovely fall Saturday - maybe a bit too breezy, but so nice otherwise!  Hamlet and I took a nice walk earlier, made more exciting for him by stopping at the Unleashed! store near our house and getting a toy for $2.00 - he chose a squeaky chili pepper.

A boy and his pepper toy

Then I walked up to the library to return one book (and left with two), then went on to the farmers' market which was fine, but frustrating since I can't really carry anything I wanted to buy.  But it was nice to walk around, see the goodies, pet some dogs, and come home.

A friend of ours is coming over in a few hours for a visit, so it will be nice to catch up with her.  Also, she is a night owl, so it's kinda nice she will be here earlier, so it won't be so late when she leaves.  Usually, she comes for dinner, and by the time she heads home, we're nearly comatose!

I have my next appt with the orthopedic surgeon on Monday.  There will be more x-rays, and then I'll either get a replacement of the same cast I have for a few more weeks, or get a portable cast that will come off so I can shower properly, and start some physical therapy.  It's still painful and annoying, but I know it will be for a long time, so I'm trying to not think about it too much! 

I really miss getting to knit, or stitch, or do much of anything.  I've been watching lots of knitting podcasts, which are at least like getting to hang out with some knitters.  It's a good thing I hadn't counted on knitting a lot of gifts this year, that's all I have to say.

I also missed getting out our Halloween decorations - for the first time ever, we didn't even have a pumpkin!  It never occurs to The Tim to get one, and I didn't want to press my luck with him by asking him to get one ... hopefully, I'll get a good report at the dr's and will be able to do more for Thanksgiving.  I just love having some things around to note the holiday.  The Tim likes them, but except for Christmastime, it never occurs to him to get them out for any other times.

I am able to type a bit more easily, but it's still slow and arduous.  I had hoped to do NaBloPoMo again this year, because I enjoy the challenge, but since it takes so long to type a post, I knew it was not a good idea.  Unfortunately, it means I am also not likely to do much responding to comments any time soon, and I apologize for that.  I am so happy that people are still reading and commenting, and I hope soon to be able to respond again regularly as well as regularly comment on others' blogs.  Slow and steady wins the race, I know.

And that's it for now.  I hope your weekend is lovely as well, with nice weather and good things to do.  Enjoy!