31 December 2021

So Long 2021

Just like always on December 31, here we are on the last day of the year.  I always see it as bittersweet, because you can't help but think of what was, what wasn't, and what could/should have been.  Much of life is that way, but I think New Year's Eve brings it to the forefront.

The past year has been good in so many ways.  Everyone in our house is first of all, still alive, and that overtakes anything else both good or bad.  We all managed to stay fairly healthy, with a few bumps along the way but nothing serious.  That first and foremost makes it a good year as far as I'm concerned.

And I managed to get a fair amount of knitting done, a lot of reading, a good spell of exercising and working out before something put the kibosh on that for a few months; I've done pretty well on keeping up with the house and to some extent, our garden.  

We were able to take a trip to WV for Memorial Day, and then a weekend in Baltimore in the fall, so we saw some of our family in person finally - whoo hoo!

WE PAID OFF THE MORTGAGE ON OUR HOUSE.  That is something I never thought happened to anyone, much less to us!

But as you likely know, and as I don't mind telling you, I have struggled mightily this year, mental health-wise.  It hasn't been good that way.  Even on my a best days, the darkness is only about an inch away, but most of the time I'm used to it being there and can just tell it to stay there and move forward with my life.  

Unfortunately, this year that was not the case.  And 99.999999% of it had to do with my workplace.  As I have mentioned, at the beginning of the year, our CEO decided to take over direct supervision of our dept when our previous supervisor took a sabbatical.  That meant that a tenuous situation took a serious nosedive.  He has no idea what any of us actually do, and more to the point, doesn't care and doesn't want to know.  Yet he is the one in charge of us and the one who evaluated us at the end of the year.  There is only one person in the dept he likes, and well, he likes her a bit too much.  Out of the four of us, there are two left - me and Little Miss Favorite.  She doesn't even speak to me (no one has ever figured out why), and for the near future I'm stuck with the two of them.  This is the same person who told me I was stupid in a meeting with other people, and who regularly finds ways to harrass and/or criticize me.  I've reported him to HR, but nothing has happened.  

I did learn before the holidays that one of the managers lodged a formal complaint about him with HR, which will lead to an official investigation, so that small amount of misery-loving-company made me feel a bit vindicated.

But it's been hard to get up each day, go to work, and repeat.  And even though I have tried really hard to leave it in the building once I walk out the door (something that I am usually able to do), it just hasn't been the case.  Even over this past week, the spectre of the holiday week being over and having to go to work has just been there, laughing at me.  Ugh.    

I really hope I can find something - anything - in 2022.  So far, I've been lucky enough to get interviews for 2 part-time jobs, and then failed to be the person chosen.  That's gotten harder each time.  So please keep a good thought for me, since being able to leave where I am would be a huge help.
But - I'm still lucky, because I am surrounded by love and ridiculousness that can make me laugh, even when I feel the worst.  For instance, this photo:

This is an official Koodle selfie.  Yesterday afternoon, I was sitting on the couch reading, and Hamlet was being a real goofball.  So I grabbed my phone to take a picture of him.  Just as I got ready to snap the photo, the Koodle jumped up, bumped me on the elbow, which apparently changed the setting to selfie mode, and here he is!  It's not a great photo, but frankly it's a heckuva lot better than any selfie *I've* ever tried to take ... 😀

So let's all hope for more of this in 2022, and less of You-Know-Who.  I have been telling myself that it just has to get better, even if it is worse right now.  I'm not a Pollyanna by any means, but with a brand new year around the bend, I want the good parts to outweigh everything else.  

So long, 2021 - you weren't easy, but it wasn't all your fault.  Let's hope that the new year will brush off some of your dust so we can just be ourselves again.

Here's to 2022 - hopefully a new job, more vaccinated people, more goodness in the world!  Let's normalize the pandemic as a thing of the past, right?

30 December 2021

How Easily I Forget

It's the time of year when "Year in Review" things are everywhere, and just like every year when they do them, I realize how much I forgot even happened at all; or someone will have died, and I'll remember thinking they had already been dead for years.  Does that happen to you?

I mean, not all of it is worth making the effort to remember, but there are some things that were SO big when they happened, and I at least apparently moved right on.

Case in point:

I remembered the inauguration and the insurrection, but until someone posted this photo, I forgot all about Bernie Sanders and his mittens:

(Source: New York Times)

And then remember how people were so anxious to knit a pair?  I mean, that was all pretty popular at the time.  Left my brain completely.

And this - completely forgot that it happened this past year - the ship stuck in the Suez Canal:

(Source: New York Times)

When it was happening, I found it weirdly fascinating, and wondered how they would be able to get it to move so they could get it out of the way.  Now it feels like it happened 20 years ago.

Rush Limbaugh died.  I forgot all about that, but was pleased to realize it again when reminded.  Same with anything Kardashian-adjacent (divorces, show cancellations) that happened that I had to hear about even when I didn't try.

Bill Cosby was let out of prison. Ugh.

On the plus side, a vaccine for Covid-19 was approved and available, but of course some people didn't get it due to their "freedoms" and so we are still in the pandemic.  Ugh.  But seriously, I forgot that at this time in 2020, we were all still hoping it would be a reality (the vaccine, not the stupidity).

Remember the approximately 2-week period when we were told that things were under control enough that we didn't have to constantly wear masks, even outside?  Again, I would have sworn that was 20 years ago.

Time is weird.  Fascinating, but weird.  Who knows what I'll have forgotten about by this time next year??

29 December 2021

Scenes and Gifts of Christmas Day

Well, I meant to post yesterday, but I had an awful headache in the morning, and by the time I felt better, it was late in the afternoon, so I decided to just wait until today.  

As previously mentioned, we had a wonderful Christmas Day.  I thought you might enjoy some of the scenes and gifts of the day.

First of all, Hamlet and His Big Weird Package.  This was from Santa, and required a lot of sniffing.  

But he was *very* happy with what was inside - a new bed!

Pip was annoyed that we took SO LONG to open presents - The Tim and I made our breakfast and ate it before we got started, and he let us know of his displeasure.

This was the view from the breakfast table.  Everyone was hinting!

The cats also got a bed from Santa, which has been a BIG hit!

Between resting in the new beds, and playing with some toys from Santa, Hamlet and the kitties had a lot of fun all day.  They were so busy!

Here is a gift Santa brought to me - The Gallery of Dug the Doodle Dog!

I love this so much!  The Tim and I both cried when I opened it.

And look at the one photo - The Doodle with his Koodle!  Look how *tiny* the Koodle is here, I forgot he was ever that small.

I got a tiny Baby Yoda in my stocking:

And I'm sure you can imagine that this gift from The Tim was a huge hit with me:

I asked him where he found these, and he laughed and said, "CVS."  Clearly not the one near us, though, since you're lucky to find things you actually *need* at that one!

He also got me this Gritty ornament, but I'm going to put him on my desk at work to make me smile instead.  Gritty is the mascot for the Philadelphia Flyers hockey team, and he is basically a very funny a**hole, and it amuses me to no end.

And finally, this little kitty ornament was in my stocking - I love his knitted hat and scarf!

I'll have to try and get photos of the mugs I got The Tim for Christnas - they cracked me up when I got them, and he LOVES them!  So stay tuned for those.

Today I have no specific plans but will likely write some thank-you notes for gifts we received, and then do some knitting.  Not a bad way to spend time, you know??

27 December 2021

The Second Day of Christmas 2021

Hello - I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas Day if you celebrate, and a wonderful long weekend in any case.  Ours was really enjoyable, and I'll have some pictures for you this week, I promise.  

This morning I had an appointment at 7:30 a.m. for my annual mammogram.  Now, every year I tell The Tim that I should get 50% off the cost, but he always points out that since insurance is paying for it, I should just not worry.  Which is a good point, but ANYWAY, on my walk over I stopped and took this photo:

This is the 1700-1900 block of a street in our neighborhood (the photo is taken from the end of the 1900 block).  Spoiler alert - these lights are up all year.  But nonetheless, they make me even happier when I see them during Christmastime.  It really is lovely to walk down these blocks, and be within the lights, and see the houses decorated.  For the rest of the year, they provide happiness whenever you walk past these blocks, but it just seems extra special right now.  And when it has just snowed, it really looks magical!

Earlier this year at some point, I had just received a refund check for something from my health insurance when Joanna of Stitching the High Notes started offering her Holiday Boxes.  She provided an overall idea of what would be included, and mentioned that it would be twelve days' worth of goodies. 

Now, as you know if you have read this blog for a while, that we celebrate Christmastime starting December 1 and ending on January 6.  I have always wished that the indie dyers who make Advent calendars would mix it up and also offer something for the 12 Days of Christmas, because it would be fun to still have some surprises to open.  

OK, so when I saw Joanna's description of her boxes, there I was with a refund check that would cover it.  When I asked The Tim if he thought I should use the money for that, he said something to the effect of "Do what you like with it - it's money you didn't think you had anyway."  So I ordered one, and it arrived in late November.  

Yesterday, I realized that it was the first of the 12 Days of Christmas, so I could open the first package!  It was a really lovely winter-themed project bag with a contrasting base in sparkly fabric, which is both a nice size, and really well-made.  Today, there was a very nice thermal mug.  Here they are:

Nice, right?  I'm so thrilled to have some surprises left!  The rest of the packages look smaller than either of these, so I'm intrigued as to what my be inside of them.  

Today is colder than it has been lately (which I welcome) but kind of dreary, so it's a good day to cozy up inside and read, knit, or whatever I decide to do.  The Tim had to work today, so it's just me and the critters, and it's not like they are complaining that nothing is going on.

I hope you can also enjoy your Second Day of Christmas, no matter what you may or may not be doing.  Take care.

24 December 2021

Christmas Eve at Aunt Mary's

Here we are, at Christmas Eve, and the end of the Virtual Advent Tour sponsored by sprite.  She asked me if I would like to write the post for today, since I've done it for a couple of years, and I'm more than pleased to do it.

Until I was about 6 years old, we lived out of town, away from the rest of our extended family.  My parents always had plenty of friends, so it wasn't like we were never around other people, but it was quite a shock to me when we moved back to the town where both of my parents had grown up, and all of a sudden I had tons of relatives who knew all about me, and I was just learning about their existence!

My father was part of a family that had four children: himself, his sisters Mary Agnes and Helen, and his youngest brother John.  When he was about 13, his father was killed by a train, and the kids were split up to live with relatives - my dad and my Aunt Mary went to live with one set of grandparents, and Aunt Helen and Uncle John went to live with their mother and her parents.  From what I was able to gather, they never spent a whole lot of time together as a family after that, and my father and my Aunt Mary were very close to each other as a result.

Aunt Mary married a wonderful guy from a really large Polish family, and they had four sons - the three older boys were in between the ages of my sisters and me, and the youngest boy was two years younger than I am.  Aunt Mary's birthday was Christmas Eve, and of course, that was when her husband Uncle Eddie's family had their big Christmas celebration.  So from the time I was pretty young, we always went to their house on Christmas Eve.

And oh, was it something!  Uncle Eddie's family would be there, and they were such a fun group of people - they loved singing, dancing, and just laughing together.  They treated us like family as well, and walking into Aunt Mary's house on Christmas Eve was like walking into a family reunion of people who had longed to see you for years (even though it was always just a year since we'd last seen them).  

And the food - homemade by Uncle Eddie, all of the pierogies, cabbage rolls, breads, and sweets, etc. that you could imagine.  Walking into the house, the smells alone made your mouth water, and even if you had just eaten dinner an hour ago, Uncle Eddie made you a plate, and no matter how full you were, you devoured every bite and it tasted better than anything you could ever remember eating!

But wait - then there was birthday cake!  Always a bakery cake (I don't think Uncle Eddie ever tried to make a cake for her, and the boys were typical boys of the time and likely couldn't even boil water).  Everyone - and there were usually at least about 40 people crammed into their small kitchen around the table - would sing "Happy Birthday," and we'd all have some cake.  Then everyone would move into the living room, admire their tree, and Aunt Mary would have small gifts for each person.

At the time, I thought this was just the best - it was *her* birthday, and we were the ones who received gifts!  It was never anything big, but it was a package to unwrap and take home, and frankly that was as exciting as anything else.  

I think of Aunt Mary and her family every Christmas Eve, and especially remember that it's her birthday.  She and Uncle Eddie both passed away years ago.  We never really kept in touch with our cousins, nor did they make an effort on their part.  When I was in college, I heard through a mutual acquaintance that the eldest had moved somewhere in the South to start over after kicking a drug habit; the next kid was in prison for drug dealing and theft; the third son had married, had a couple of kids and moved to Utah once he came out of rehab for alcoholism; and the youngest was married and working in the coal mine.  I am sorry to say that at this point, I know nothing about any of them, or even if they are still alive, and that's really too bad, because I know that would make my Aunt Mary sad to know.

But even now, my sisters and I still talk about "Christmas Eve at Aunt Mary's" and how much fun it was, and who would always be there, the food, the singing, the polkas, and the warm embrace of love to anyone and everyone who walked through the door.  They were like the rest of the family - hardly any money, making it through things as well as they could, and wanting the best for their kids.  Outsiders looking in probably felt sorry for them, since they never had a nice house, or a fancy car, and because their kids had so many troubles as they got older.

But Christmas Eve at Aunt Mary's was the highlight of the year.  And now I realize that it was because of the feeling of family and belonging, and unconditional love just because you existed.  Not the gifts, not the food, but the people, the excitement and huge greetings you received when you opened the door and crossed the threshold.  I've never experienced anything like it since, and that could be just my imagination and my memory telling me so, but I'm not convinced that is the case.

My wish for all of us this Christmas Eve is that we all have at least one small part of this feeling for the holiday.  Whether you are with the family of origin, or the family you have created; with your friends, or your roommates, or even on your own with some furry or other pet companions.  I hope that you will have one second of the feeling of being loved, being special, being welcome.  Christmas should be that as much as anything else.

Merry Christmas to you and yours.

And Happy Birthday, Aunt Mary.

23 December 2021

Letters to Santa

Dear Santa Claus - Hello, this is Pip.  I hope you are doing well, and that this year has been good to you.  Is the North Pole still in a pandemic?  I hope you will be careful on your trip, because I would hate for you to get sick with Covid-19, and also I would not want you to take it back to the North Pole with you.  But now that I think of it, you've gone through a lot of these things, haven't you, so you know how to stay safe.

My year has been pretty good.  My parents spent LOTS of time at home with us and even though for a few months they've been going back to work, they still spend evenings and weekends with us because they are very careful and don't go out places unless they have to.  We like it that they are home and that they are not sick, and I especially like it for cuddling but also because it gives me a chance to tell them even more than I usually do!  (I do love to talk, Santa - are any of the reindeer that way??)

Anyway, you probably are wondering what I might like for Christmas.  Well, a catnip toy is always a good choice, and it would be nice to get some treats.  We ran out of treats about a month ago (a MONTH AGO!!!), and our Ma keeps saying that we should just wait and see if you bring us some treats before we go and buy some.  I don't agree with that, and I have said so many times, but I don't think she is listening.  

Anyway, last summer my cousin Amanda gave us some Soups, I think they were from Friskies, and I LOVE THOSE.  My parents think they look like ... well, vomit, but they are wrong, they look like yumminess, and they are!  So if you think I have been extra good, one of those would be nice to eat on New Year's Day for dinner.

I guess this is a lot to ask for, and maybe some of these will be wrapped up from my parents, I guess you would know if that is the case.  So I'll leave it in your hands.  Please give my best to everyone at the North Pole, and I promise to be sleeping when you arrive!

Love always, Pip.


Dear Santa - Hi Santa!  It's Hamlet!  I love you!  I can't wait for you to come to our house!  I love Christmas!  I love you (I know I just said that but it's true)!!  

I love Christmas presents!  I hope you will bring me something fun, or even a treat!  I love it when I can chase a ball!  And I love it when my parents give me a treat!  My Ma bought me an Advent calendar, and every evening she opens one of the windows and there is a treat in there and it is yummy and it is so fun to see what it is, sometimes it is a gingerbread man, and sometimes it is a snowman, and sometimes it is a decoration, and every time it's a surprise and I eat it because it is so yummy and then I can't wait for the next day to open the next window, and what do you think the chances might be that maybe in these last couple of days one of the treats will look like a SQUIRREL??!!!  

I wish I could stay up to see you when you come to our house!  I would give you all kinds of kisses and cuddles and also I would kiss and cuddle the reindeer too!  I love you, Santa, so I promise to be asleep when you arrive, but please know I'm sending kisses and cuddles to you!

Merry Christmas Santa!  Don't forget about the animals who need some extra love and attention, maybe give them something special too!  I love you!

Love and sloppy kisses, Hamlet.


Hello Santa, I see that the others have already written their letters, so of course this is Milo the Koodle.  I have been very good this year (as far as Koodles go), and so I think I truly deserve something special.  Treats are always good.  I see that Pip has already told you about the lack of treats in our house for approximately one month.  I have tried to take legal action but it is difficult to do so when you can't use a telephone and are afraid to leave your house.  Plus, I've asked around and apparently there are no cats who are qualified attorneys, which when you think about it isn't really that surprising because cats have better ways to spend their time.  Anyway, please bring treats.

Also, I promise to try and be nicer to my parents because I know they do love me, but can you blame me sometimes for getting irritated with them (see treats problem, above)??  Maybe you could bring them a handbook on caring for your cat, because I'm thinking it could only help.

I hope you have a safe journey on Christmas Eve.  I will do my best to be asleep when you arrive, though if you could come either before 2 a.m. or after about 3:30 a.m. Philadelphia time, that would be best, because I do need to have my middle-of-the-night running and yowling session, and I'd hate for that to mean you skipped our house.

Thanks, Santa, and a Merry Christmas to you and yours.

Lots of love, Milo the Koodle.


Note from me:  Dear Santa, Good luck!  😊


Have a good day, everyone, and an extra special wish for a happy Christmas Eve Eve to Kym and her sister!

22 December 2021

Three Happy Things

I don't know about you, but I need to talk about some happy things, because in the past couple of days, things have been kind of awful on a personal and a work level.  So happy things it is.

As I mentioned previously, my colleague Jennifer is leaving and today is her last day.  We usually exchange small gifts at Christmas (because she enjoys Christmastime too), and today this was on my desk:

On the inside, a mini-skein of Fibre Company Amble, and a ceramic leaf button!  She said that she thought that would be plenty for a heel or cuff of a sock, which is true, but I might also incorporate it into something else, and who knows, maybe something else that could also sport the button - they look so nice together!

Also, I meant to share this the other day, but today is a good day to share it instead as it turns out.  I found this image and made it my background on my work computer:

Because I love Rudolph, and he makes me happy when I see him.

We got a notice this morning from The Bigger Big Boss, saying that we only have to work until noon tomorrow - YAY!!!  If they aren't giving us raises, it's the least they can do.  And that means I get to start my holiday vacation that much earlier, and if you don't think I'm happy about that, you really haven't been paying attention ... 😊

I hope your day will have at least one happy thing in it, because we all deserve each little bit of happy that we can find.

P.S. Several of you asked for the link to the cookie recipe that The Tim used and I talked about the other day.  He sent me the link, so here you go.  I hope if you make them, you enjoy them as much as we are enjoying ours (and I also hope that recipe is not behind a paywall - apologies if that is the case.)

21 December 2021

Winter Solstice 2021

"The edge of the solstice,
the barren darkness,
the wheel.
Nature knows 
that every cycle 
must return
to stillness and silence.
That every inhale 
has an exhale.
That every ending
births a beginning.
That the light
always returns
to a future
beyond imagination."

-- Victoria Erickson, Edge of Wonder

20 December 2021

Well ... Some Of Us Got Things Done!

Hello - I have to tell you that for a change, I am in a relatively good mood on this Monday.  It is the week leading up to Christmas Day, and we had a good and productive weekend.  And then when I got to work today, the woman who is the early morning security guard was telling me that her daughter was finally improving.  The daughter had surgery about a month ago - the kind that shrinks the stomach, you know something with "gastro" in it - because she was horribly overweight.  And she was not recovering well at all.  But apparently over the weekend, things started to look up, and she was improved every single day.  That made me so happy, because though I don't know the daughter, our security guard is such a great lady, and I had been feeling so bad on her behalf, because they were trying everything.  Good news like that is especially welcome on a Monday, right??

As I said, we had a good weekend, combining getting some things accomplished and then also just relaxing.  We finished all of our decorating, I finished all of the pre-Christmas Day cleaning, and some more baking was done.  The Tim made some pizzelles, and also some *incredible* cookies that were new to both of us.  I forget where he got the recipe, and the exact name, but they are chocolate chunks, cherries, and ginger and OMG are they amazing!  So rich, one is plenty (and that's saying a lot from me!).  

Of course, all of these activities required snoopervision from Hamlet and from the Koodle, so they took twice as long to accomplish.  Pip however, was apparently feeling quite taxed, and was unable to assist us because he was taking some much-needed rest.

You'll be relieved to hear that he is fine, and was also quite comfortable with this setup.

This week will be a sad one at work for me.  Our archivist's last day of work here is on Wednesday.  She is the one person in my dept that is bearable, and who knits as well.  She got a new job which will begin in January.  Which is great for her, because our terrible boss treats her only slightly better than he treats me.  So our dept of four people will now be only two, as the other person left in mid-November.  And even worse, the one person besides me who is left is the person who is the absolute worst.  Plus, she is the terrible boss' favorite in the world, and the two of them together is just more than anyone should have to bear.  Fortunately, she took this week as vacation, and since I'm taking next week off, I won't have to deal with her until January.  I'm not looking forward to it at all, but at least she isn't around right now.  I'll miss Jennifer, but she found a really wonderful sounding job that will even pay her considerably more, so I do hope for her that it works out.

That's all for the moment.  I hope your week goes well, and that if you are also counting down to Christmas Day, that it is enjoyable for you.

19 December 2021

Fourth Sunday of Advent 2021


Snow, by Anne Sexton

blessed snow, 
comes out of the sky
like bleached flies.
The ground is no longer naked.
The ground has on its clothes.
The trees poke out of sheets
and each branch wears the sock of God.

There is hope.
There is hope everywhere.
I bite it.
Someone once said:
Don't bite until you know
if it's bread or stone.
What I bite is all bread,
rising, yeasty as a cloud.

There is hope.
There is hope everywhere.
Today God gives milk
and I have the pail.

17 December 2021

Do You Hear What I Hear?


Today I'm joining sprite once again with a post for this year's Virtual Advent Tour.  She has been doing it the last few years, and I find it both interesting and a lot of fun.

Wednesday afternoon, when I was at home and The Tim was napping after his medical procedure, I was listening to Christmas carols, and singing along with some of them.  Singing Christmas carols was always something that everyone in our family did, as well all love to sing.  My father had a beautiful voice, and my middle sister has one too - my mother had a decent voice and I can carry a tune, but will never be asked to be a soloist anywhere.

And then there is my oldest sister, Nancy.  Nancy really loves to sing, and she never sings in anything but an enthusiastic manner.  The problem is, she cannot carry a tune even if one was handed to her in a bag.  I mean, she doesn't even come close to the mark.  But to her credit, she doesn't care, and still enjoys singing ... loudly ... and often.

I was thinking of one year when we had a plan to go as a family to Midnight Mass.  Both of my sisters were in high school, so I would have been in elementary school, and they convinced my parents that we should go to Midnight Mass because then we could sleep later on Christmas morning, and not have to interrupt/stop opening gifts to get ready and go out.  My parents finally gave in, and the plan was made.  

Now, it was pretty well known that if you wanted to get a seat in our nearby church at all, you had to be there absolutely no later than 11:30 p.m., and even that was pushing it.  On Christmas Eve, we were all ready to go, except for Nancy, who was still fixing her hair (being a self-proclaimed fashionista, she took longer to get ready than the rest of us combined).  She finally sashayed down the steps about 11:40, and suffice it to say that my dad was already annoyed.

Unsurprisingly, we arrived and there was pretty much standing room only.  My middle sister saw a friend of hers, who let her squeeze into the pew, and a couple of young kids got up to give their seats to my parents.  But Nancy and I would have to stand the whole time.  About ten minutes before the Mass started, some hymns were played and singing began.  The first one was "O Little Town of Bethlehem."  Well, Nancy was standing in an area of the aisle that had particularly good acoustics, and all of a sudden, all that anyone in our section could hear was her extremely off-key version of said hymn.  And as I said, we were all *very* enthusiastic singers.  As you might imagine, many heads turned and looked in our direction with either puzzled or amused expressions, but Nancy was so busy singing, she paid no attention.  And so it began.

On the way home, we were all having a good time being amused by everyone noticing Nancy's bad singing.  But my dad - who found it impossible to believe that she was that bad of a singer - kept asking her why she did it.  She would respond each time that she couldn't help it, that was just how it was.  Then he said to my mother, "Why do you let her do that??" which of course led to her saying that it wasn't her fault that Nancy couldn't sing, and how was she supposed to not let her sing, etc.  Of course, we all found it hilarious, but my dad was truly irritated with my mom, who then became really irritated with him, which made us think it was all even more hilarious.

Never again did we attend Midnight Mass as a family.  Apparently because my mother just couldn't find a way to not "let" Nancy sing poorly ... 

To this day, the first strains of "O Little Town of Bethlehem" make me laugh.

16 December 2021

Seriously These Past Couple of Days ...

Oh dear, you may have noticed I was MIA yesterday, which was unplanned, but also no big deal.  This week is clearly trying to get me, but HA! I am prevailing.  At least for now ...

Tuesday I wasn't at work, but I was at two medical appts - one that took all morning, after which I had 1 1/2 hours reprieve, before another appt that took all afternoon!  Neither were anything serious, it was mostly waiting while the respective physicians were behind on their schedules.  But nonetheless, I was really tired on Tuesday evening - waiting with no indication of how long it will last stresses me and wears me out.

The good thing is that on Tuesday evening, I finished the first of the pair of Christmas socks I'm knitting for myself:

I truly lurve this - both the sock and the knitting part!  It's Lollipop Yarns in the Christmas Waltz colorway.  Since I knew there was a good chance I'd want to knit yesterday, I immediately started on sock #2, so I could at least get cast on and the cuff ribbing underway.

Yesterday, not to be outdone by Tuesday, more medical stuff - but this time, it was for The Tim.  He had his colonoscopy scheduled, and I was the "support person" designated to accompany/wait for him.  Things looked promising, as they took him back to get started right on time.  But then it actually turned out to be 3 hours until he was finished!  He said there was a code called at one point, and then who knows what else was/was not happening.  The good thing is that they have a computer board set up in the waiting room and you can see exactly what part of the whole thing your person is in - for example, it shows the first three letters of the last name, first initial, and then, "In Prep, "Procedure in progress," and "In Recovery."  So it's not like I thought the procedure was taking that long.

I got started where I'd left off the night before:

And, by the time he was finally finished and we could go home, I had made it to the place where I will start the heel flap!  So although it all took a long time, I did get lots of knitting done!  

However, by last night, I was *really* tired - I mean, I'd still been catching up with the day before!  Today I have to be at work until 6:30, because I'm part of a program presentation, so it's even a better thing than usual that tomorrow is Friday, you know???

Yesterday, when we got home, this was happening.  All's well that ends well.  😊💖

14 December 2021


This past Sunday I was in the mood to bake, so I decided to get a start on some Christmas cookies.  And then I decided to try a new-to-me recipe because they sounded both uncomplicated to make and yummy.  I tried this reeipe.

It was in fact pretty straightforward, and other than the fact that you let the dough sit in the refrigerator for at least one hour, it didn't take much time until they were all baked.

But, of course, the actual dough and cookies that I made were not as attractive as the recipe photo.

I mean, the dough looked greener than I expected:

And  made the dough balls smaller than recommended, because I really think the recipe wants you to make cookies the size of a small platter!

Once you get them on the sheet, you press them down a bit, and add more sprinkles on the top.

The recipe claimed that the cookies spread out quite a bit, so I was careful how I spaced them on the cookie sheet.  But they didn't seem to spread that much at all - or maybe a) I missed something, or b) since mine were smaller to start, there wasn't much cookie dough there to spread ...

Anyway, I was pleased with the results:

I couldn't wait to taste them, since they have cream cheese as one of the ingredients.  When they actually come out of the oven and cool a bit, they taste pretty much like any sugar cookie tastes.  But if you wait, they are so much better - you get just the teensiest hint of cream cheese taste, which I happen to really like!

I can't say that these will become part of the regular rotation in our Christmas cookie repertoire, but I like to try something new every year to mix it up with our favorite standbys.  These were fine, but not extraordinary.  

I gotta say, it's pretty tough to break in to the regular Christmas cookie pantheon in our house, but at least we are willing to consider new members. 😊

Has any baking been going on at your house during this holiday season?

13 December 2021

Christmastime Creativity

I know those of you who read this blog will appreciate this Christmas decoration above, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.  And we are all in one way or another, creative and artistic and crafty, so we can enjoy others' efforts as well.

My nephew's wife Liesl is one of the most creative people I know.  She does all kinds of things, and she's one of those people who does every single thing well, no doubt about it.  She makes beautiful jewelry, is an amazing cook, and has always made a huge effort to stay connected with the family and make sure their kids are connected as well.  They live in Arizona, so we see them very seldom, but Liesl always sends a card or gift at Christmastime that makes everyone feel connected.

All of the kids (there are four of them) are now teenagers in high school and college, but when they were little, she used to include them in her creative endeavors.  The above decoration is an example, made and sent to us when there were only two kiddos in the family.  It's a piece of ceramic art, and if you really look, you might have already figured it out for yourself.  But the "face" is Anya's footprint, and the "antlers" are Jude's handprints - isn't that cool??  This falls into the category of something that I would never think to do, but once I see it, I think "Well, of course, that's an amazing idea!"  

For many years while their kids were little, we'd receive gifts like this, and they are some of our most treasured decorations.  And now, when Anya is a college senior and Jude is a sophomore, it's a lovely reminder of when they were little, and couldn't wait to participate in Mom's craft projects.  

It also makes me happy to think that someone took the time to not just decide what to make, but then took all of the work and trouble - and little kid wrangling - to make it happen and then put it all together to send.  When you spend that much time and effort on something, you seriously *want* the recipient to receive if from you.  

Of course, we don't have children, so I never had to give any thought to how to involve them in giving or making gifts, etc.  But I hope that those who work like this to make it happen always know how special gifts like this can be.

12 December 2021

Third Sunday of Advent 2021


JOY, by Carl Sandburg.

     LET a joy keep you.
Reach out your hands
And take it when it runs by,
As the Apache dancer
Clutches his woman.
I have seen them
Live long and laugh loud,
Sent on singing, singing,
Smashed to the heart
Under the ribs
With a terrible love.
Joy always,
Joy everywhere--
Let joy kill you!
Keep away from the little deaths.

10 December 2021

A Friday At Home

Yesterday afternoon, I decided that I was going to take a personal day today, because I just felt so tired and so sluggish.  I have been sleeping as well as I usually do - which isn't that great, but I've never been that good of a sleeper - but I was just feeling like I was dragging myself around the world.  I know that it has a lot to do with the stressful situation at work, which has amped up comsiderably in the past couple of weeks.  So on the spur of the moment I decided, since there was nothing that I specifically needed to be at work to do today.

Last night I just *had* to go to bed much earlier than I usually do, because I was just kind of sitting watching a show with The Tim, and missing most of what was happening, since I was dozing in and out.  

Well, I think my self-diagnosis (such as it is) was correct.  Because after going to bed really early, and then waking up this morning at 8:30 a.m., I feel So Much Better!  And I can't think of the last time I slept so late.  (Yes, 8:30 a.m. is late for me.  I realize that for a lot of people it is too early, but there you are.)

So today I plan to do as much or as little as I feel like doing.  I know that as soon as I go back to work on Monday, things will be extremely stressful again, and I'll start all over again, but that will be then.  In the meantime, I'm going to just go with my own flow.  

The only very specific plan I have for the weekend is getting my hair cut tomorrow, so the rest is just my time to decorate and do some baking (hopefully).  I found a new recipe for some sugar-type cookies that use cream cheese as one of the ingredients, so I want to try those.  I'll be sure to let you know if they are deemed successful.  

The Tim sent this to me yesterday, and I decided to share it with you.  I'm sure we've all heard of the Omicron variant of Covid-19, but did you know there is yet another one that's been discovered??

Here's hoping your weekend is free of bagpipes (unless you like them, in which case, go for it - the bagpipes, not the virus!), and that you can enjoy whatever you like about the holiday season, or even just simply a pleasant weekend.   Take care, and remember - if you are feeling too tired, get some REST!

09 December 2021

The Box

Yesterday was a looooong day.  I left the house at 6:45 a.m. and returned home at 7:15 p.m.  I really thought I'd never get home, you know?  Anyway, when I finally walked in the door, The Tim met me, and he didn't say "Hi," "Good to see you," or even "Go to hell" - nope the first words he said to me - in a reverential tone - were "The Box arrived today."

Magic Christmastime words:  The Box arrived today."

The Box:

Inside The Box:

And, the piece de resistance, what is inside the bag inside The Box:

You may be thinking that yes, it looks like we got some cookies in the mail, and you may also know that we bake cookies ourselves, so what is so special about The Box?

Well, about 25 years ago, I worked with a woman who I can truly say was one of the oddest people I've met in my entire life.  She is just ... odd.  Nice enough, but not a warm personality, extremely direct, not overly social, and could never be accused of being friendly overall.  But she is smart, and pretty funny in a sardonic way, and she loves cats.  At the time we worked together, it was (surprise) in a library, but that was her second career.  She had originally trained and worked as a professional pastry chef.  After years of doing that, she decided she was burnt out and switched to working in a library.

Through no real understanding of mine, she decided I was an OK person, and would talk and joke with me.  Then she started bringing in her baking experiments for me to try ("by the time I'm finished, I don't want to try it, and ____ [insert husband's name] doesn't really care, so you are my taste tester").  As I'm sure you can imagine, I was more than happy to try her concoctions.

After a couple of years working together, her husband died (which is sad anyway, but they were both a lot younger than me, so that just seemed extra sad).  She worked about another year longer, and then remarried her late husband's best friend, and they moved to Maine.  His mother still lived in Philadelphia, so they would come to visit here about two or three times a year.  Each time, this woman would e-mail, and we would meet to have coffee or something.  Which seemed weird to me, because again, I never really felt like we were actual friends, more like agreeable co-workers.  But, it was always nice to see her, and catch up and hear her stories about her new life in Maine.

But the really crazy thing is that beginning the year she moved to Maine, and every single year since, The Box arrives at the beginning of December.  It always contains three different kinds of holiday cookies, some old favorites but always a new recipe, and a chatty note from her, catching us up on things.  Now I know from working with her all those years, that she sent Christmas packages to her mother, her sister, her niece and nephew, and of course exchanged gifts with her husband.  Apparently we were added to her list.  Again, through no actual effort on my part or even awareness that we were so ... close?

I have to say that even though it surprises and puzzles me, I do enjoy it, and hearing her update every year, and realizing that I must have actually been someone she decided she likes.  

The Tim, however, has decided that his life is given new meaning every year when The Box arrives.  One year, it got to be late in the month, and we hadn't received it.  He wanted me to contact her and ask if she was sending on that year!  I nearly fainted when he suggested that - I know he was [sort of] kidding, but still ...  (Just so you know, it did get to us - she had just gotten behind on her baking!)

And so now you know the story of The Box.  This woman's mother-in-law who lived in Philadelphia died a couple of years ago, so they don't really come to town anymore.  Nonetheless, every year, I get her update in a long, newsy letter tucked inside The Box.

And The Tim finds his Christmas miracle as well.

08 December 2021

Just NO

First of all, thank you for the comments about my office decorations.  One funny thing is that technically, we are not supposed to have decorations that could in any way offend anyone.  But my office at work is so out of the way, that you only arrive there if you mean to get there.  And over the years, I've noticed that other very behind-the-scenes work spaces are the same with how they celebrate various holidays.  If I go down, I'm taking them with me! 😊

So, you know how I am always talking about holidays having "rules," especially Christmas.  Well, even if you refuse to admit it, I'm sure you have your own set of rules.  According to The Tim, mine are "vast" but I notice that he goes along with all of them so who's the problem there, bud, HUH???

I have one friend who, every year during Christmastime sends me some version of this, because she knows it infuriates me, which amuses the heck out of her:

NO. NO. NO. NO. to infinity and beyond.

Now.  I know that there are a bazillion versions of nativity images, sets, live action shows, etc.  And even more interpretations of said scene. That's fine with me, for the most part.  I like some, and ignore others.  But this one is something that I simply cannot and will not tolerate - for the people in the back:


Keep in mind that the aforementioned friend does not care about this one way or another, she just asked me once why I marked a Christmas card from her "Return to Sender" when it had a sticker seal on it of this variety.  When I told her that Santa at the Nativity scene is something that I find so annoying and appalling that I refuse to acknowledge it, I inadvertently started this tradition.  Sigh.

Yes, Santa is also known as St. Nicholas.  Yes, Santa shows up at Christmastime, and in a lot of ways for a lot of people, he is the best part of it.

Then there is Jesus.  Whether or not you are a believer, Christmas is the celebration of His birth. Which once again, if you believe, happened many many many many years before anyone even thought of Santa.  They are two separate aspects of Christmas, and though I'm sure that some of you have no issue with this, or even think it's lovely, in my world with my rules this is just a big NO.  

One time, The Tim pointed out to me that there is a well-known family story of how, when I was a little kid, I used to take all the people out of the manger scene, and put them on the sidelines while all of the animals went inside.  I then pointed out to him that according to all stories of this event, animals were present, and it was actually *their* living space to start.  He's never brought it up since ...

So, to review, according to my rules:

Animals at the Nativity = Yes.
Santa at the Nativity = DON'T EVEN THINK ABOUT IT.

Thank you for coming to my Christmastime TED talk.**

**P.S.  And even though I'm writing this for the humorous aspect, it's still true.  😉

07 December 2021

Christmas Decorations At Work

I am always struck on this day to realize that the Pearl Harbor attack happened during Christmastime.  I mean, I know that war tactics ignore things like that, but ugh, you know?  So, it would have been 80 years ago today that put my parents' marriage into the frame.  My dad joined the Army after the attacks, and was going to be stationed in El Paso, Texas, so my parents wanted to get married ASAP.  The problem was, at that time, you couldn't get married during Advent in the Catholic Church.  Which is why my parents' 80th wedding anniversary will be on December 26. 💗

Anyway, I thought you might enjoy seeing some of my Christmas decorations at work.  It will probably not surprise you to know that I'm the only person in my department who puts up decorations for anything, but I really don't care.  Because I love holidays, and having decorations - even if it's just a cardboard something - make everything better, in my opinion.  So here's a little tour for you.

This is the top of one my file cabinet (not showing the electric teakettle off to the side, which is there all year, and only Christmas-y in that it boils water for holiday tea. 😉)

Here's the top of one set of bookcases:

Here are some holiday cards that I have kept the fronts of to decorate.  All of them are ones that I received at work, either from co-workers over the years, or companies that send cards (we don't get those anymore, so I'm glad I kept the couple of good ones!).

Here's the top of the other bookcase in my office:

And a little set of erasers that were in my Christmas stocking a couple of years ago - as if I would use them as erasers, LOL.  (Some call number label covers are in the background holding them up.)

But I have to say, that out of all of my office decorations, this one is the most special.  The Tim gave this to me years ago, and told me it was for work, so I would always be able to have Rudolph with me.

I just love it SO much.  In my current workspace, it lives to the right of my computer so I can see it all day.  It makes me smile no matter what else is going on - and as you know, there's often A LOT going on in my department!  

So there you go - now you can see that even on the worst days during Christmastime, I have some old friends to remind me that everything will be OK.