30 April 2018

Borderline Obsession

I don't know about you, but my weekend went by much more quickly than I think it should have.  It was Friday evening, and then suddenly ZIP it's Monday morning, and the alarm is waking me up.  Dear Diary:  WHYYYY???

It was a good weekend - not busy at all, and not incredibly productive, other than in my knitting.  The weather was very nice both days - Saturday was warm and sunny, and Sunday was cooler with sun in and out all day.  Saturday morning, The Tim and I went to a Lowe's near our house, because he wanted to get some tomato and herb plants.  We were successful with that, and we also got a rosebush to plant to replace the one that died a couple of years ago.  I hope this one "takes" - I loved the pretty roses right outside the door!  Fingers crossed.

But mostly all weekend, I worked on this:

As you may remember, I was working away knitting the sleeves most recently.  Well, they were both completed, and it was time to introduce them to the body of the sweater.  Keep in mind, this is the first time I've ever made a sweater that is constructed this way, so there was a lot of hope involved.  And from what I can tell, the operation was a success, so that's good.  I worked in this over the course of two movies ("The Space Between Us" [stupid], and "Suburbicon," [OK but much darker than I was expecting]).  By the end of the day on Saturday, I had both attached the sleeves and added some inches beyond that.  And I was pleased with how it was going.

However, on Sunday, it occurred to me that warmer weather was coming, and that meant I needed to decide how to proceed.  You see, I want to finish it because I want it to turn out and be wearable.  BUT - at the moment, it's really heavy to knit with all of the pieces joined, and could be quite uncomfortable for knitting if the weather is warmer.  So my choices were to a) try to finish it sooner rather than later, or b) let it languish until the fall.  OK, so I included the "b" option because it did briefly occur to me, but I wanted to go with "a" from the get-go.  Why?  Because it's so close to being finished at this point!  And it would be more fun for me to be able to pull it out next fall and think, "Well, I can just wear this right now," instead of still having to finish knitting it.

Which is reasonable and also makes sense.  Except that now finishing this sweater is ALL I can think about.  And it's not necessarily "hard," but I am at the point where there are both cables and decreases, so I need to pay attention to avoid having to rip back all of the time.  So for instance, this morning, I had to tell myself not to pull it all out for the 15 minutes I had to knit - because by the time I pulled it out, got the pattern set out and was ready to start, the 15 minutes would be over!  I'm already thinking about whether or not I'll have any time to work on it this evening, and any other evening this week.  And frankly, I have other stuff I should do!  But I am borderline obsessed now with finishing it.  I just hope that other than the few too-warm days we're supposed to have this week, that spring will both arrive and stay for a bit so I can get it done.

Plus, who knows if I'll see something shiny and become completely distracted???  It could happen, you know ...

27 April 2018

Things From the Week

This seems to have been a week where some people were in rare form - and not always in a good way!  It was topped off this morning for me when, on my way to work, a woman with a really cute dog came up and stood next to me waiting for the light to change to cross the street.

Me:  Your dog is really cute.  Is it a puppy?
Woman:  Just shut the f*** up and don't EVER ask me that!

Ooooo-kay.  I tried to think of why she was so mean and rude, and yes, maybe she had already been asked the same thing 100 times before I saw her.  But you know what?  She is lucky to have a healthy [looking] dog.  And I know that even when I was in the deepest darkest of moods, if someone said anything at all to me about Dug, I was nice in my response, even if it was a brief one.  Because it takes two seconds to say something nice and go on with being in a crap mood.


But other stuff also happened. 

Yesterday, for instance, was Poem in Your Pocket Day.  I was going to post a poem, but got completely distracted with this below, and was unable to think of looking up any other poem in the universe without laughing so hard I cried.

It's still hilarious to me today.  This will likely be one of those images where I will only have to think about it and it will amuse me.  Forever.  

Then there was the Bill Cosby trial, which has fascinated me from the get-go.

Last year:

Me:  Wow, look at these allegations against Bill Cosby - that's nuts!
The Tim:  Everyone has known about him for years, that's nothing new.

A.  No, everyone hasn't known - I didn't.  B.  How did The Tim know this???  He will often come up with things like this, and after I have time to think about it, I'll just wonder how in the name of a small black dog named Pete he of all people knew.  

In any event, I was irritated last year when they declared a mistrial and this time around for various reasons I really wanted him to be found guilty.  I was 100% convinced it wouldn't happen though.  But then it did!  I still can't believe it.  We were talking about it at work yesterday, and then when I got home, The Tim and I were discussing it for a while.  We stopped though because:

Me:  Isn't it ironic that it happened on the first day of the Penn Relays?
The Tim:  Yeah, he was always running around there, being recognizable.

Me:  Do you think now Bill Cosby has to go around to all of his neighbors, knock on their doors, and warn them he is a sex offender?
The Tim:  You are getting way too much amusement out of this.  Could we please talk about something else?


One more thing on that topic though, and then I promise to move on.  This article in today's New York Times is really interesting.

On the topic of funny headlines, someone on Twitter posted this headline:

Duchess of Wales Gives Birth to Baby Boy : Palace

and then commented: "Palace is a crap name."

And then apparently the Daily Mail (in the UK) had a headline that needed some editing:

Rachel Weisz Walks Red Carpet for First Time Pregnant with Rachel McAdams

Which reminded me of a clipping from our hometown newspaper that my sister sent to me a few years back that never fails to amuse me.  There was a picture of a heavy-set woman smiling broadly and a story below about how she had been elected to some local office.  But the headline right next to the photo said: "Blimp Visits Wheeling." because of local excitement that the Goodyear Blimp was going to be on display for some reason.  To use an expression of my friend Lisa, it's Fried. Gold.

Of course there were lots of other things good and bad that happened, but that's it for now.  I hope everyone has a good weekend, with some nice springtime weather.  We have no specific plans, but I have a few things rattling around in my brain, so who knows what may or may not happen?

25 April 2018


I'm currently experiencing a neither/nor existence.  For example, I'm knitting every day, but not spending any real amount of time on any specific project.  Case in point: I have been knitting sleeve #2 of my blue sweater, which I have really been wanting to finish.  Last night, I had 6 rows left until it would have been done.  And I left it.  Because I just couldn't be bothered.  

I would say the project receiving the most attention recently is my blanket - I added 3 squares (top, right) over the weekend.  But then I put it back down.  I do like the way it looks, but as I said, nothing seems to be "sticking" at the moment ...

I did finish reading a book over the weekend, and it was fine, but again - not inspired.  I've started this book, which I've had on my Nook reader for a long time.

Since it contains essays, I can easily pick it up and put it down, and don't necessarily have to have a block of time to read it.  So far I think I've read 4 of the essays, and enjoyed them, but like everything else, I'm not dying to finish them all as soon as possible.

Things are neither great nor terrible.  I'm neither ecstatic nor particularly depressed.  I feel like the guy on the greeting card who, instead of a smiley face, has just a straight line drawn where his mouth is.  You open the card, and it says, "Have a day."

Check out what others have going on for Unraveled Wednesdays.

23 April 2018

It Was One of the Good Weekends

Well, it's Monday again.  And time for another team-building meeting later today at work.  Ugh.  Whenever anyone says "team-building" I want to throw up.  But I'll save that for later, and instead tell you about my weekend.  Which was lovely.

Admittedly, there are very few times when I don't enjoy a weekend - I mean, any day not at work is a day well spent, if you ask me.  But you know how every once in a while, even if you weren't travelling, or counting money someone gave you, or eating massive amounts of chocolate that will have no negative affects on your person, it's still a standout weekend?  That was this past one.

Saturday we started out by making a trip across the bridge to New Jersey.   We generally go there because gasoline is cheaper (even though someone pumps it for you - how does that work out??), and if we have other places we want to stop (Target, Kohls, the liquor store,* etc.), it makes it a worthwhile trip.  This time, we wanted to go to Target, the liquor store, and I wanted to stop at the Cherry Hill Mall to return a gift that was the wrong size.  We got an early start, which made it all very pleasant, because we were able to avoid crowds.  And it was one of those outings where everything we wanted to get and do went smoothly.  So by noon we were home again and had the rest of the day to ourselves.  I walked over to Loop since it was Local Yarn Store Day, and boy was it busy!  Which made me very happy.  I did buy two skeins of Andorra yarn from Kelbourne Woolens, for the Adventura Shawl by Laura Nelkin.  I hadn't necessarily planned to buy anything, but they had the sample shawl(s) there and they were lovely, and since I had a store credit which would cover the cost and still leave some in the account, I figured I'd go ahead.  I purchased a skein if Kelly Green and Lavender. 

(Images from Kelbourne Woolens site)

Then I came home and spent the rest of the day and evening hanging out with The Tim and the kitties, and knitting on a couple of already underway projects.  All in all, a lovely day.

Sunday I was inspired to go to the gym and work out first thing (I know!).  Then after breakfast, I decided before I took a shower, I'd do some cleaning (Again - I know!).  I have to say I was quite pleased with myself to have both things completely finished well before noon.  After then cleaning up mine own self, I headed out to get a few items we needed that are not available at places like Target.  Then I spent the rest of the afternoon knitting, watching a couple of podcasts, and watching the Penguins/Flyers hockey playoff game (the Flyers lost, but they gave the Penguins a good run).  

Besides the niceness of the weekend, I can also report that last Tuesday, my new great-nephew was born!  (You may recall I made this sweater for him.)

Introducing Oden Cassidy Groff:

Here he is with his big sister Penn - I think this picture is so adorable!

But my *very* favorite one is this one, where Penn first visited her mom Julie and new brother in the hospital.

From all reports, everyone is doing well, and Julie and Oden left the hospital to go home on Friday.  I'm sure they have many adventures ahead.

They had narrowed down the name choices to Rowan or Oden (which of course we assumed was "Odin" but it's none of our beeswax how they spell it.  As The Tim pointed out, at least they didn't do the celebrity thing and give the kid a name like Doorknob or Paper Clip), and I'm guessing Oden was chosen in the end because it's less common these days.  Anyhoo, he has arrived and is healthy, so that is the ideal.

I hope your weekend was a good one as well.  The weather is supposed to be more spring-like here this coming week, so hopefully that will be the case.  After all, we deserve spring weather, not only because it IS spring, but because of having to endure the aforementioned team-building ... ;-)

*technically, we are breaking the law buying liquor in New Jersey and bringing it across the state line to Pennsylvania.  So if I ever mysteriously disappear, you'll know we were busted.

20 April 2018

Friday FO

Well, I realized last night that I finished a pair of socks a few weeks ago, and completely forgot to show you!  So today is the day.

You may remember at some point I showed you the wip version, with the happy combo of pattern and yarn. 

They are now finished and safely tucked away in my Box o' Socks.

Pattern:  Zigzagular Socks (free on Ravelry!)
Yarn:  Three Irish Girls Adorn Sock, in the colorway Molly (sadly discontinued)
Needles:  Size 1US
Modifications:  None
Notes:  These may be my favorite pair that I have knit so far this year, and one of my all-time faves!  I have had this yarn in my stash for a long time, and decided that it just needed to be a pair of socks this March.  I came across this pattern, which I had saved into my Ravelry library a while back, and since it was particularly created for variegated yarn, I thought it might be a good match - and it was.  This pair was just plain enjoyable to knit in every way.  The yarn is wonderful, the pattern is well-written and once you get through the first repeat, it's pretty memorable and doesn't require intense concentration.  I highly recommend it.

Here's another shot of the socks, where the color is closer to what you would see in person.

Happy weekend!  I hope whatever you have planned works out.  Our weekend is probably going to be quiet, though I am hoping to make it to Loop tomorrow for Local Yarn Store Day.  Especially now that Rosie's has closed, I want do my part to make sure that my two other local stores, Loop and Hidden River Yarns, stay in business.  Since Loop is about 1 1/2 blocks from my house, I'll probably head over there.  (Laziness usually wins out, especially on weekends!)

15 April 2018

Recipe : Italian Coffee and Walnut Cake

I realized the other day that I had mentioned this recipe, and then forgot to share it with you - sorry about that!  I came across this years ago, in a magazine whose name is completely lost to the mists of time in my memory.  It's one of our favorites, because it's pretty straightforward, easy to put together, and the result is so good. 

Italian Coffee and Walnut Cake

7 Tablespoons softened butter
1 1/4 cup sugar
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 3/4 flour, sifted with 1 Tablespoon baking powder
2/3 cup strong coffee**
7 ounces/~1 1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)

-- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit; grease and flour an 8-inch cake pan.

-- Cream the butter and sugar until fluffy, then beat in the eggs.

-- Add the flour alternately with the coffee until the mixture is smooth.  Fold in the nuts.

-- Pour the mixture into the cake pan, and bake for 1 hour, or until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean.

-- Cool on a wire rack before serving.

**We don't really drink coffee on a regular basis, so I have used instant coffee or espresso for this and it's been just fine; I've also sometimes gone to a local coffee shop and ordered a small black coffee and used that, so if you are not a coffee drinker, don't let that keep you from trying this recipe!

Also, the strength of the coffee changes the "color" of the cake - stronger coffee makes it darker (as in the photo above), whereas regular/not-as-strong coffee makes it lighter in appearance.  The taste is the same.

This cake freezes well, if you wait until it is completely cooled, then slice it and wrap each slice in plastic wrap, and place those in a ziploc bag in the freezer.  That way you can pull out a slice at a time to enjoy without it becoming stale.


I hope if you try this, you enjoy it.  We really like it - not too sweet, not really coffee-tasting, and a nice dessert,or a snack with a cup of tea.  Let me know what you think!

13 April 2018

Friday Foolishness on This Friday the 13th

I forgot that today was a Friday the 13th altogether!  Then this morning, I saw this meme on Facebook, and thought it was funny - some of the answers really cracked me up!

Here's what I've thought of so far:

What if Gloria Gaynor didn't love the nightlife?  What if she didn't like to boogie?

What if Santa Claus never came to town?

What if the Red Red Robin never came bob-bob-bobbin' along?

What if James Taylor was never your friend?

Feel free to play along if you like - I know I'm gonna be thinking about more of these silly things all day!

12 April 2018

Three Thanks

Recently, I have had additional reminders from the universe that I am a lucky person.  Mind you, I seldom forget that I am, but as is my wont, I spend more time complaining out loud than I do praising/enjoying/thanking out loud.  So for Three on Thursday, I thought I'd share, because maybe you could use some reminders as well.

1.  This morning I woke up, got dressed, ate breakfast, and walked to work.  There are four big things right there, containing smaller but just as important things within.

2.  I noted on the calendar it was April 12.  Which marks 14 years to the day of my first cancer surgery.  That's 14 overwhelmingly gargantuan things right there.

3.  I had to only open up my laptop in order to communicate with friends and family, and know what is going on in the rest of the world.  Those are innumberable things.

Are you reading this?  Well then, you're alive and probably doing OK, if not better than that.

Good for all of us.  :-)

11 April 2018

Other Projects

I mentioned in my last post that now that the baby sweater that I knit as a gift was finished, I could return to other projects.  One of them is My Blue Sweater, which was moving along rather quickly until it wasn't.  I'm afraid that I completely ignored it while working on the little gift.  I think it understood, because when I picked it back up to continue, it had not done anything nefarious to foil me - you know, like sometimes when you've ignored a project, and you pick it back up and don't remember where you stopped, or stitches have fallen off the needle, or the pattern has disappeared.  Nope, this was just patiently waited for me to pick it up again and give it some love.  I managed to finish the body to where the pattern said to pause, and got started on the first sleeve.  I've made some good progress, considering I had to rip back a couple of times when I realized I'd been working away, forgetting about increases ... I tend to mess up when I get too proud of myself.  :-)

Here is my progress thus far.  I'm liking the way it looks, though I will admit to being curious to see how the sleeves will end up attached to the body of the sweater.  But a little mystery is a good thing, right?  It's a pleasant knit, and a good one to work on while watching/listening to podcasts, or if you just want to knit but don't want to concentrate intensely.

My current read is also pleasing to me.  I decided to read this book when Sue of High Heels in the Wilderness mentioned it - she has never steered me wrong so far! 

I'm approximately halfway through, and enjoying it so much that I am purposely not reading it all of the time, so it will last.  Though I will have to finish before it's due back at the library!  I love how the writer discusses the way that what we wear can influence our feelings, our confidence, and how style is not fashion, etc.  It's very well-written, and each chapter is one that could stand on its own as an essay.  

I haven't started my April pair of socks yet, but I'm thinking they will be a shortie pair.  I finally wore the shortie pair I knit last year over the weekend, and wow - handknit shortie socks are a whole 'nother story from store-bought!  I should have known that, but to be honest, I just figured that short socks were never terribly comfy because they didn't cover any of your leg.  More the fool am I.

And that's my story for today.  I'm joining in with Kat and the others for Unraveled Wednesdays - stop over and see what everyone else is reading and knitting!

09 April 2018

Sick Day Monday

Hello all - I hope you had a good weekend.  Mine was nice - a good combination of being productive and not doing anything.  Then in the middle of the night last night, I woke up, and the cold that had been seeming to be on its way for a week or so, had apparently decided to arrive.  When I got up this morning, I felt so awful, I took a sick day from work.  I've spent a lot of the day sleeping, and between that and the cold meds, I'm feeling a bit more with it, so I thought I'd write a post, though I don't really have much to report.

Over the last week, I have gotten a fair amount of knitting done, which has been nice.  I had put everything else aside while concentrating on the baby sweater, so I felt a bit behind on things.  Fortunately, none of my other knitting projects have any outside deadlines, so it's not an issue that they were briefly ignored.  I am a little bit bummed, since I realized after paying some bills that I won't be able to join Vera and Dee this coming weekend at the Allentown Fiber Festival.  Yes, I *could* go, but I couldn't buy anything.  And I know I don't have to, but I like to get at least some little thing to remember the event.  So I'll just keep working with what I have, and hope to go next year.  The costs so far for my dental implant have really taken a huge chunk out of our finances.  The periodontist doesn't take dental insurance, and though they are nice enough to send in the paperwork for you, you still have to cough up payment when you're there.

Last night I tried a recipe for dinner that sounded like it would be really good, but it was a bust.  Not inedible, but definitely not worth making the effort.  I guess they can't all be winners, right?

Not much else is new otherwise.  Supposedly the weather is supposed to become more spring-like this week around here, so that will be a nice change.  I'm just glad that our daffodils survived after blooming and then getting snowed on!  They managed to hang in there and stay happy, which I guess is something we should all try to take to heart.  :-)

We'll see what else this week brings - I hope you have one that treats you well!

06 April 2018

Friday Foolishness

Seen on Pinterest


Serial killer


Prepare to die


Have a great weekend, everyone!

05 April 2018

Smart. Capable. Funny.

I wanted to write a post today, but nothing immediately came to mind.  So I decided that I would just leave it unless something struck me.

Then I logged on to Twitter.  Now, Twitter is famous these days for being full of Internet trolls, reactionary eejits, and otherwise annoying people.  And we all know they do exist.  My secret is to either not follow them in the first place, and/or to ignore them.  I find that Twitter provides a way to learn a lot about the world and our fellow humans in a good way as well, and decided that for Three on Thursday, I'd share Three People to Follow on Twitter.  As I was preparing to write, I realized that there were also three consistent words I would use to describe these individuals, and that served as the title for this post.

1.  Caroline O. (@RVAwonk) - she is someone who can present very detailed, involved information in a completely understandable fashion.  Her primary focus is public policy, and what Congress and the Eejit in Chief are doing.  Her analysis of various facets of the Russian involvement in our 2016 elections was, and continues to be, truly amazing and deeply informative.

2.  Chelsea Clinton (@ChelseaClinton) - you likely know her as the daughter of Bill and Hillary Clinton, but she is an advocate for many causes and groups, as well as an author.  I have included her on this list, because I find her graciousness (even if tongue-in-cheek) to be admirable.  As you can imagine, she gets a lot of negative and hurtful things hurled at her.  But she *always* responds in the best way!  For instance, on more than one occasion, someone has tweeted to her: "You and your family are the worst kind of trash, and your parents ruined America," or something much worse.  Her response is nearly always something like, "Thanks, Joe [or whomever] for sharing your opinion.  Have a wonderful day!"  I LOVE this.  You know it makes Joe even more irritated, but it could never be proven to be hateful. 

3.  Quinn Cummings (@quinncy) - do you remember a movie from years ago called "The Goodbye Girl," starring Marsha Mason and Richard Dreyfus, and based on a Neil Simon work?  Well, this person was the young girl who played Marsha Mason's daughter.  She has grown up to be a writer, comedian, and her tweets are spot on.  My favorite thing is her list of names for members of the press, Congress, and administration, particularly the current Press Secretary, whom she calls "Lesser Clampett."  I also like "Kremlin Barbie," it makes me laugh every time.  OK, maybe it's not nice, but she is clearly very smart and has some really great insights. 

Lest you think I'm some kind of liberal snowflake (I prefer "snow particle" thank you very much), I can assure you that I also follow accounts that do not fall into that category, and plenty that are just plain silly and make me laugh.  But the three listed above are thoughtful, articulate, women, who are not having any of your foolishness, and I think that is an admirable quality.

04 April 2018

Book Report for January, February, and March 2018

Because my brain is apparently unable to remember things I want to do, instead making lots of room for things I really don't care about at all, I didn't think until now to tell you about what I've been reading.  So here is three months' worth.  Hopefully I can get back on a monthly basis, but I'm not making any promises ...

All Roads Lead to Austen : A Yearlong Journey with Jane, by Amy Elizabeth Miller.  This read was a nice way to start the new year.  It wasn't quite what I was expecting, but that was just fine.

The author is a college professor in California, with a particular love for Jane Austen and her work.  She decides to take a year of travel and teaching for a research project, to see if people in other countries have the same kind of relationship with Austen as the Anglo world.  She visits Guatemala, Mexico, Ecuador, Paraguay, and Argentina, armed with pretty-good-but-not-great Spanish and copies of Austen's works.  In each place, she wants to have a group of readers read one of Austen's works and discuss it.   Can the people identify with the topics and issues that Austen addresses?  Do they feel any connection to her world?

The visits to each country are in and of themselves fascinating, and give the reader a chance to learn so much more about Latin America than [probably] most of us know.  As most of us probably would, she finds that in spite of her best efforts, she has made incorrect assumptions, and learns about the culture and develops some lasting friendships.  Her descriptions of the people and their lives are pretty fascinating.

When she has a chance to actually discuss Austen's work with readers in the various places, she is surprised and grateful to learn that for the most part, they are engaged and definitely have opinions related to Austen and her world.  Some of the universal themes - the roles of women, class struggles - come up across the board, but interpretation of the characters often really differs.  There are only a few times that she feels the readers found the world of Jane Austen completely foreign.

I was also amused by her continued efforts to find copies of the Nancy Drew books in Spanish.

I was sad to learn that public libraries are few and far between in the places where she visited, and also to learn that Paraguayans revere Rutherford B. Hayes!  Sometimes the tidbits were as interesting as the main thrust of the book.

I always wonder if I had the wherewithal if I would have the courage to travel alone to a place completely unfamiliar to me, with a language I did not fully know, for any length of time.  I would like to think I would do it, but I am not convinced to be honest.  Amy Elizabeth Smith provides the opportunity to let her try it while I experience vicariously.

Miss Kopp's Midnight Confessions, by Amy Stewart.  This book is the third in a series where I have yet to read the first two - however, even without the background of those, this was a good read.

Constance Kopp is an official under deputy in Hackensack, NJ in 1916.  She is a media star (a female sheriff?   Allowed to actually arrest people?  And she carries a gun!), and a woman who takes her job very seriously.  She is fortunate in that her supervisor, Sheriff Heath, is very supportive of her work. 

Her primary responsibility at the Hackensack jail is to oversee and help the female prisoners.  At a time when the current moral outrage is about young woman being forced into a life of white slavery, Constance has to convince judges that two women in her care in particular are not criminals - rather, they are young women who left home for something better, and willingly.  One of them was reported missing by her parents, and the other found in living as "man and wife" with a man that is not in fact her husband.  In reality, they were both looking for something more than their everyday lives.  The first woman, Edna, has brothers who are soldiers.  Since she can't join them at the front, she gets a job in a munitions factory.  But her mother wants her at home.  The second woman, Minnie, is younger (technically underage) and just wanted to get away from an unpleasant home life and have some adventure.  Constance does the work of a social worker as well as a cop in order to try and resolve the situation.

On a personal level, when her younger sister Fleurette leaves home to go off with a vaudeville troupe, Constance's beliefs that women who are old enough should be able to determine their own fates is tested.  Especially when her other sister Norma sees trouble, kidnapping, and conspiracies everywhere. 

I liked that Constance is tested in her beliefs and sticks to them even when her personal situation makes it hard to do so.  The series is based on historical facts and incidents (the Kopp sisters were real), and that makes it interesting as well.  I'll definitely go back and read the first two books leading to this one.

Faithful, by Alice Hoffman.  Shelby Richmond and her best friend Helene Boyd are in their final year of high school and ready to take on the world.  Until the night when the car that Shelby is driving on an icy road crashes.  Shelby survives - Helene is in a long-term coma. 

This is a book that looks at the "what ifs" and "whys" of surviving when someone else did not.  Shelby finds that she is no longer interested in life, feeling that she does not deserve love, friendship, or any kind of consideration.  The book is her story of what it is like when, in spite of your desire, you keep just going on.  You can't change the past, but you also just wish your future would stop.

Hoffman succeeds at making Shelby seem like an actual person.  She has faults, she makes some questionable decisions, but even against her better judgement, she tries to live some kind of life.  She doesn't do it on her own - people come in and out of her life and change it .

I think one of the best things about the book is Shelby's realization at the end that she is *allowed* to have a life of her own, and be happy.  Helene's parents understand this much better than she does, and as you are reading it, you also realize that sometimes the people who most understand the world are those who should be railing against it instead.

No Cats Allowed, by Miranda James.  I enjoy this series not just because the main character is a rare books librarian, but because the author actually seems to understand and know how libraries work, and whose job does what more than in other books I've read.

In this installment, Charlie Harris becomes the interim Director of the Library where he works in the archives and cataloging rare books, after the new director - a truly unpleasant man, hired from the finance world to clean up a mess left by the previous director - is found murdered. 

This book has a lot of twists and turns, but most importantly actually proves that the author knows library work.  A lot of the action involved Technical Services, the part of libraries that are behind the scenes, and handle things like acquisitions, cataloging, and serials. 

As more murders occur, and Charlie himself seems to be the target of the murderer or at least someone hoping to intimidate him, Charlie takes on the temporary role but wants to see if doing some digging into the files of the library provide any leads as to the what/where/why of the first murder, and to learn if later events are related.

This was a good installment, as there were enough things happening that the readers' suspicions kept moving from character to character.  I enjoyed this book.

The Best Kind of People, by Zoe Whittall.  This book was riveting.  It asks the question:  What happens when a family man, and respected community member is accused of something terrible?

George Woodbury, a science teacher at a private high school in a wealthy town in Connecticut, has a happy family, a beautiful home, and years ago, prevented a shooter from carrying out his plan at the high school.  On his daughter's 17th birthday, he is arrested, accused of improper behavior and sexual impropriety with some young girls at the school, at a recent ski trip where he was one of the chaperones. 

The book details how the community reacts, but more importantly, how his family is affected from the arrest through to his trial, a year later.  Isolated, mocked, and harassed, his wife and high school senior daughter see their perfect lives crumble.  His son, an attorney who escaped the small town surburbia life and now lives in New York City, tries to help his family understand and figure out what to do, even if he is at sea about it all himself.

The book is [unfortunately] very timely, but also interesting since it gives you an idea of the inner workings of each family member's mind and how they deal with not just the initial shock, but the seemingly never-ending horror of what is their new normal.

I don't want to give anything away, but I found the book to be extremely readable, sad, upsetting, and even surprising in places.  I think the author managed to capture the shock, the panic, and the eventual feeling of being worn down of each family member.  No one comes out of it unscathed, though each one of them finds a way - for better or worse - to go on with their lives.

My Life with Bob : Flawed Heroine Keeps Book of Books, Plot Ensues, by Pamela Paul.  Reading about other people reading fascinates me, and this book was really interesting.  The author is the editor of the New York Times Review of Books, and has been a reader all of her life.  She started keeping a Book of Books (aka Bob) when she was young, and continues to this day.  This book is a collection of stories of some of the books she had read and added to Bob, and memories connected to them. 

It can be said that she has written an autobiography, not just in book form, but formed by books.  I enjoyed reading the various types of books she has liked and disliked during the course of her life and her adventures, thereby also learning how much books mean to her.  As someone who counts on books to be my best friends, I an appreciate her memories of important life events and how a book or certain books were just right at the time.

I do have to say that I am tiring of books where the writer has the kind of life - even as a "poor" college student - to drop everything and spend months traveling.  I mean, I'm sure that's great, but as someone who could never even have fathomed such an opportunity, it's kinda hard to feel bad for someone who is doing this and has "struggles."  However, that is a personal beef of mine, and would not likely even register with a lot of people.

Murder in an Irish Village, by Carlene  O'Connor.  Siobhan O'Sullivan's life is much different than she thought it would be a year ago, when she was making plans to go to college in Dublin, away from the small village where she grew up and where her family lives.  But then her parents were killed by a drunk driver, and she stayed in Kilbane to not just watch over them, but keep the bistro that her parents owned afloat. 

One morning when she comes downstairs from the living quarters, she finds a dead body in the bistro - and not just any dead body, it's the brother of the man from the village who drove his car drunk into her parents' car.  The fact that she had run into him the day before after he had left town after the accident, and had a bit of an argument with him, makes her nervous.  Who killed him and why?  Is it at all related to her?  When her older brother James (a reformed alcoholic) is arrested for the murder, as he was seen fighting with the deceased, Siobhan decides it's up to her to find the person who is actually guilty.

I liked this book.  The story was well-paced, and it was not clear (to me at least) until the very end who was behind the mayhem caused in the village.  The main characters were pretty well-fleshed out, and the feel of the small town - good and bad aspects - was clearly presented.  Though there were occasional instances of the characters being "fake Irish" (aka most Americans' interpretations of them), they were overall believable.

This was a interesting and entertaining read, especially after I'd finished a couple of more intense books.

The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches, by Alan Bradley.  I do enjoy the adventures of Flavia de Luce.  When her mother's body is returned to the family for burial, Flavia decides she wants to use her chemistry skills to bring her back to life.  This way, her father will not be sad or lonely anymore, and maybe her sisters will not hate her as much.  Sadly, her experiment is interrupted, and she moves on to trying to determine who pushed a man with a mysterious message off the train platform, and what exactly is happening in an old family movie she finds.

As usual, Flavia's thought processes and commentary are worth the read alone.  But with the added intrigue and possible involvement of the British government, Flavia has much more happening than usual.  Besides which she is dealing with actual feelings of grief and bereavement over the loss of her mother.

I really enjoyed this book.

A Stash of One's Own : Knitters on Loving, Living with, and Letting Go of Yarn, by Clara Parkes.  I was really looking forward to reading this book, as I really enjoy Clara Parkes' writing.  A friend had a copy of the book and was sending it along from friend to friend to read.

I liked Clara's essay at the beginning.  The other essays just did nothing for me.  I completely read a few and then skimmed the others, and then gave up.  I'm not sure why I wasn't engaged, but I wasn't, so on to the next person it goes.

Twelve Angry Librarians, by Miranda James.  Charlie Harris has a lot going on - both of his adult children are ready to welcome his first grandchildren, he is busy with his position as interim director of the college library where he works, and a colleague has asked him for help during the annual meeting of a regional librarians' group.  Just prior to the start of the conference, he learns that someone he knew and loathed in library school has applied for the director's job, and will be attending the conference.  Their initial encounter doesn't go well, but when the man is later fatally poisoned, it's up to Charlie to find out who the killer is.  The thing is, practically everyone who had ever encountered the deceased had found a reason to dislike him.

I've said it before, but this author clearly has either worked in libraries or is close to someone who has.  In particular in this book, the issue of whether or not catalog librarians have a place in the future with everything being online comes up, and you really have to understand a lot of subtleties to even begin to adequately address the issue.  Miranda James "gets" it.

Another enjoyable outing for Charlie and his cat Diesel.  If you want an enjoyable read, especially when you are feeling stressed, this series fills the bill.

Chocolate Covered Murder, by Leslie Meier.  When one of the partners of a new, upscale chocolate shop is found murdered (and covered in chocolate!), Lucy  Stone is certain it's related to another recent murder in the town.  Her investigation leads to an international drug ring - and all of this leading up to Valentine's Day!

This is another enjoyable, light read.  Since I have not read any of the books in this series in order, I'm amused by how Lucy's children are in elementary school in one book, and then suddenly married with children of their own. 

If you enjoy cozy mysteries and holiday themes, these are worth checking out.

Word by Word : The Secret Life of Dictionaries, by Kory Stamper.  For a word/language nerd like me, this was a really great read.  It falls into the category of things you know, but you don't really know.  I mean, we all know how a dictionary works, and that there are people who are the ones actually creating the content.  But I doubt any of us realizes what is actually involved in being a lexicographer.

It was so interesting to read about the processes involved in putting together a dictionary, and the hidden pitfalls out there.  Now I wish I'd been able to be a lexicographer, but I also don't think I would have made the cut.

In any event, this is the kind of book that you really have to be a certain kind of person to enjoy - if it would upset you to know there is an entire chapter devoted to whether or not "irregardless" is actually a word (spoiler alert: it is), you may want to skip it.  Or you may want to read it so you can prepare your arguments against the decision ...

The Devil Drinks Coffee, by Destiny Ford.  I read this book because I've had it on my Nook for a while, and couldn't decide what to read next after finishing "The Goldfinch."  As I recall, it was a 99-cent promotional book.

Kate Saxee returns to her small-town hometown to become editor-in-chief of the local paper, after breaking up with her longtime boyfriend.  When she is sent to cover a story involving the discovery of a body in a local lake, it leads her to a full-fledged personal investigation of what happened.  The victim is a young girl who belonged to a prominent family and is found drowned.  But as Kate learns, there was actually more to it than that - the girl was pregnant. 

In the small, Mormon town, this story is pretty hushed up - which is very unusual, especially given the fact that Kate's every move, and every interaction with a male seems to be headline gossip.

This book was OK.  I wasn't really fond of Kate, and I'm glad I don't live in a small Mormon town.  I mainly finished it to see what really happened to the girl.  I'm unlikely to seek out other books in this series.

Slow Knitting, by Hannah Thiessen.  This is a relatively short, informative, and accessible book for anyone who knits.  The author discusses what knitting is and should be - and why we should pay attention to not only what we are making and/or whom we are making it for, but where the yarn came from, who produced it, and how the animals were raised.

Each section has a different theme - for instance, ethical sourcing or environmental impacts.  The language is both engaging and informative, and several designers and yarn company entrepreneurs are profiled.  Each section is followed by a knitting pattern using the yarns or type of yarn discussed.

I enjoyed this book.  It suggests that you should pay attention to your knitting as an extension of yourself, and related to the seasons.  Without being touchy-feely, suggestions to help the knitter be mindful of what they are doing are presented.

The last paragraph of the book is one of the more striking things I've ever read about knitting and/or making:

"Knitting is a small thing, but it is not simple - each time that we draw wool back from the wheel, bring yarn around the needles to make a stitch, or pin down the corner of a finished garment, we are touching thousands of lives.  The lives of knitters who have come before us: family, friends, and craftspeople.  The lives of those who have moved herds of fiber animals across the land, who have woken up in the middle of a February evening to tend to a lambing, who have expertly sheared a sheep.  The lives of those animals themselves.  This craft is not a lonely one, but one as warm and alive as the garments we make.  It is meant to be worn, meant to be shared, and meant to be gifted.  It is a meditation, a passion, and a necessity."

I highly recommend this book.

The Girl in the Ice, by Robert Bryndza.  Erika Foster is assigned to solve a murder case upon her return to work after a raid in which her husband, also a detective, was killed.  She is eager to prove that she can do the job, if still a bit personally shaky.  The murder victim is the daughter of a prominent member of Parliament, and Erika's supervisors want a resolution to things NOW.

This is an interesting story about a damaged detective who is still enough "on the job" to want to do the right thing and bring the killer to justice - however, she is not willing to take the easy way out, and just accept the first person who is brought in due to circumstantial evidence.  And in the meantime, the real killer is in no mood to stop - even if it means ending Erika's investigation and her life. 

This was a suspenseful, psychological thriller as much as anything else.  It was a real page-turner, and you really started to want Erika to be given a fair shake.

Do Penance or Perish : Magdalen Asylums in Ireland, by Frances Finnegan.  I read this book a few years ago for a class, and to be honest, forgot a lot of it.  So when I saw that a friend was reading it, I thought I'd give it a re-read.

This is a survey of the Magdalen Asylums, originally opened in the mid-19th century as part of a movement to remove "fallen" women from society and reform them.  Originally the emphasis was on removal of prostitutes from society, both related to the Contagious Diseases Acts in England and Ireland, but later it included unmarried pregnant girls or girls whose families found them troublesome or hard to control.  The women were forced to live lives according to the nuns' rules, mainly were employed in laundries and often never returned to live in outside society.   Those who gave birth were forced to give up their children, having never even held them.  The last Magdalen Asylum closed in 1996, which is astonishing.

This book is an academic feminist work, so it is not quite "popular reading," but it's still very interesting.


Have you read anything really good or for that matter, really bad lately?  I'm always happy to get suggestions or warnings.  :-)

03 April 2018

And a Good Time Was Had by All

Hi there!  I thought I'd post before today, but apparently I didn't get to it - I lead such an exciting life.  As in, cleaning for company, having company, cleaning up AFTER company, and having dr appts.  You know you are jealous ...

I hope you had a lovely Easter/Passover weekend.  We had a good one (the reason for the cleaning).  My niece Amanda and her husband Pat came for the weekend as they usually do on Easter weekend.  We always have so much fun, and fear not, the Inappropriate Easter Eggs were included.  I present 2018's offering:

This year, we have:  Carrie Fisher dying on a plane, Debbie Reynolds memoriam, #NeverAgain, Stormy Daniels duo, Trump, Stephen Hawking's wheelchair, Stephen Hawking being swallowed into a black hole, Eagles Super Bowl, and Hugh Hefner memoriam.  I was criticized for not boiling enough eggs for all of the ideas that were ready this year, but hindsight is always 20/20, right???  Needless to say, there was a great deal of hilarity related to this and just hanging out in general.  

I took yesterday off and had a nice day at home with The Tim and the kitties.  In the afternoon, I got the stitches removed from Part 1 of my dental implant procedure, but otherwise, it was a quiet and calm day of knitting and watching things we'd recorded.  I have a sinking feeling that a cold is looming, so it was nice to stay put.

I've fallen behind (so to speak) with my Box o' Socks efforts, since I was focusing on finishing the baby sweater in the previous post.  But now that it is on the way to its destination, I can get back to my other projects.  The socks I'm knitting are 70% finished, so I just need to get back to those, and my Big Blue Sweater is, I think, about 50% finished, so I'm not doing too bad.  And now that I have no real deadlines, I should be moving along at my usual pace.  I'm not in any big hurry for anything, but I don't want to let things sit for any length of time if I can help it.

There's not much else to report at the moment.  The snow that other places got yesterday was just rain here, so it's dried up by now, though it's supposed to rain today and tomorrow - April showers, right?  Everyone is enjoying Villanova's championship win last night in the NCAA March Madness, so that's fun.  It sounds like another parade is in the offing here!  And in the Women's NCAA championship, Notre Dame won, so that was exciting for us, as they are one of our faves.  To be honest, I was kinda afraid that the men's final would be Loyola vs. Villanova and that it would be way too stressful for me, as then it would have been the Jesuits vs. the Local team.  For better or for worse, that didn't occur, so I could concentrate on just cheering for the Wildcats.  :-)

I hope your week has started well, and that some kind of spring is finding it's way to you.  We have daffodils blooming in the front planter of our house!!!!