03 December 2023

First Sunday of Advent 2023 - Hope

Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: you don't give up.
- Anne Lamott

01 December 2023

Happy December!


As the kids say, IFYKYK. 😊

30 November 2023

Goodbye November

Good morning (or hello whenever you read this!) on the last day of November. One of my most favorite months of the year, but also bittersweet. It's the month that my father died, and every year I am more aware of all of the things I have gotten to experience that he missed out on. It makes me feel bad, but it also makes me aware that my life has a lot going for it, even if there are blips along the way. 

This past November had a lot going for it. There was our weekend trip to New York, lots of sunny days and good walks, good knitting time, of course Thanksgiving, and then yesterday - finally after years of waiting for it to happen - our roof finally got fixed!! No more mini-Niagara Falls experience from the ceiling in the bedroom when it rains, no more buckets to have to maneuver around when getting to the closet. The work crew showed up yesterday around 7:30 a.m., and they were finished by 2 p.m. It was a wonderful way to end the month, and since yesterday was my middle sister's birthday, I told her that we were celebrating a new roof in her honor. 😂

So today I have some laundry already underway, and I want to put away the few fall/Thanksgiving decorations that we have. Then I am planning to do a good cleaning of the first floor. Today or tomorrow I'll sit down and pay some bills, so as you can see, glamor is still a large part of my life ...

In knitting news, I started a scarf for The Tim, which I hope to have finished by Christmas:

There are five sections of the scarf, and this is the first section completed. Now it's time to change up the red color to a navy for the next section. It's kind of an addictive knit, so I am hoping that fact will make it all doable over the next couple of weeks. If not, it will be ready for next Christmas, so it works either way.

Do you remember the story of the former co-worker/friend who sort of inexplicably sends us homemade cookies every year for Christmastime? Well, just like clockwork, the package of cookies arrived yesterday, and to say The Tim was excited is an understatement. For someone who never even met this co-worker, he really counts on her coming through every year! I'm grateful that she sends them (they are so good, she is a former pastry chef, so they are nothing like the cookies we make), but it still amuses/puzzles me when they get here. It's nice to have a friend who you never really realized was a friend, I guess.

That's it for now. I hope you have a good last day of November, and that you enjoy many more Novembers to come. The timer on the washing machine just dinged, so time for me to move some things around and get going on the rest of my day. I'm the sort of person who likes to get things done earlier in the day, and then have some time in the afternoon to myself. Tonight is The Tim's turn to cook, so I don't even have to figure out what is for dinner (and I also know if he is cooking, it will be something yummy!).

24 November 2023

Thanksgiving Friday

Esme decided yesterday that this turkey was not as scary as she originally thought, and was willing to let me take a picture of her next to it. She's making progress!

Hello and Happy Thanksgiving Friday, Black Friday, Finally Friday, whatever you call it. I hope for those of you in the U.S., that your Thanksgiving Day was a good one. The weather here was chilly, but very sunny, which was nice for those both marching in and going to watch the Thanksgiving Day parade.

It turned out that The Tim had to work yesterday, which was very disappointing, but we still managed to have a lovely late afternoon and evening, and a really yummy meal. And there's also plenty of leftovers, which is one of the best aspects of the holiday, if you ask me. The kitties got some special food, which they thought was a wonderful idea, so everyone at our house had a good day and evening.

Today I have been doing laundry, and finishing switching my winter clothes and summer clothes. Not the most fun day I've ever had, but a productive one. And I did manage to do some shopping for Christmas gifts online, finding a few things that were *exactly* what I wanted at a price that was reasonable to me. 

One of the things I was most excited to find is a gift for my great-nephew Parker who lives in San Francisco. He is about 11 years old, and completely obsessed with history. He wanted to dress up as Genghis Khan for Halloween, but his mother talked him into some other costume. So imagine how happy I was when I found this t-shirt to send him:

It cracked me up, and I have a feeling he will be quite seriously pleased with it. (He's a somewhat serious kiddo.) The right gift for the right person at the right price - win-win!

I just hope I get lucky with the rest of my ideas.

This is my last Gratitude Friday for this year, and as some of you who have read along for a while may recall, today is also the anniversary of my father's death. My dad and the holidays are inextricably linked for me, and I decided that my gratitude for today is for my parents. I truly think that I was lucky to grow up with them as my mother and father. They were - as is most of the family - batshit crazy in their own way, but they were also good people who did the best they could with circumstances that were not always the best. But oh did we always have fun! It was truly one of those cases where we were a family with very little money at all, but we had each other, and seldom were surrounded by any real kind of sadness. So many of our family stories are ridiculous and/or hilarious, rather than full of woe. And I know that is lucky, because I have met and know so many people who seemed to grow up with so little joy in their lives. I truly believe that my dad would enjoy the way we "do" holidays, and would join right in if he could.

I hope you have a lovely weekend, finishing off Thanksgiving and all that surrounds it. I have a few small things to do tomorrow, and also have to clean the bathrooms (I ran out of energy today), but most of the day is mine to do what I like. Sunday is a work day, and I'm sure we'll be busy since there is a special promotion going on (a holiday project bag) that seems to bring people out of the woodwork, both in person and online. That's sure to make the day fly by!

Take care, and I'll see you next week.😊

23 November 2023

22 November 2023

Quick, Call the Pope!

You know how you read/hear news stories about people who see amazing and miraculous things in everyday objects? You know, someone will see the face of the Virgin Mary in a random cracker from a box? Well, I'm always intrigued by those stories, but to be honest, never give them much credence. 

And then my friends, it happened to me. Yesterday on my lunch break at work, I pulled out my peanut butter and jelly sandwich* that I had packed, and unwrapped it, and lo and behold, my sandwich had the stigmata!

Do you see that? It's clearly a sign. Well, OK, it's just jelly seeping through the bread, but for a moment there, I was sure that I was destined for modern sainthood. But I was also hungry, so I ate the sandwich. I may be a believer, but I am also practical and hate to waste food ... 😊


I'm guessing that like most people in the U.S., a lot of you are busy getting ready for, or getting ready to travel for, Thanksgiving, particularly since it's Thanksgiving Eve (right, Kym?). I have a dr appt, and then plan to come home and get the stuffing started for tomorrow, which means that I will not be up until late this evening making it after dinner and cleaning up, etc. Are there other things - ahem, cleaning? - I could do today? Why yes there are, but I knew yesterday I wasn't going to do any of them. But I do want to make the stuffing, and enjoy that part of the holiday so much, so that's what I'm going to do. Which also means that the house is really going to smell good for the rest of the day. Win-win!

I am keeping my fingers crossed that The Tim will not have to work tomorrow, like he did last year. But he won't find out until sometime today, and it's out of our control, so it's just a waiting game. (Hm. I'll bet if I hadn't eaten my sandwich, I could have had some power over all of this. I really didn't think ahead ... 😉)

In any case, have a very enjoyable Thanksgiving Eve, if you celebrate, and if not, have a good Wednesday. It's stopped raining here, so things are looking up!

*Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are also known at the yarn store as the "Bridget special." Apparently one of my co-workers finds it highly amusing that I have that for lunch on a regular basis, and named it as such. 

20 November 2023

Just Like It Was Supposed To Be

Hello and Happy Monday of Thanksgiving week!  We are back from our overnight weekend trip to NYC to celebrate The Tim's birthday. Every single part of the weekend went well, and I think he had a great birthday.

We got up nice and early on Friday and headed to the train station for our trip. Both of us love taking the train, so that was as much part of the fun as anything. When we arrived, we went to our hotel first, to check in, even if our room wasn't ready yet. We took the time to sit and have a cup of coffee/tea, and take a little break before deciding on our plan of the day.

Our hotel (and a lot of the city) was already decked out for Christmastime.

We decided we wanted to check out the Morgan Library and Museum - someplace we've always wanted go, but hadn't visited yet. It was a short walk from our hotel, and since we lucked out all weekend with somewhat warm, sunny weather, it was really pleasant to walk around. 

The Morgan Library and Museun did not disappoint. The Tim took a lot of photos which I'll share whenever he sends some to me, but I was so astonished and amazed by the place and what we were seeing, it didn't even occur to me to take a picture. Amazing does not even begin to cover it. We were there for the bulk of the day there was just so much to see. If you have never visited, I highly recommend it.

We headed back to our hotel, enjoying the decorations and people-watching.

To quote The Tim: "Those are some big red balls." 

We had a lovely dinner and then walked around some more, taking a little stroll through Central Park before it got too late. I have to say, New York never disappoints - so many interesting things to see, even if they are let's say, not in the tour books! 😊

Saturday morning we had bagels for breakfast at a great deli, and then walked over to Rockefeller Center to watch people at the skating rink, and so that I could say hello the Empire State Building, my most favorite skyscraper, always.

And then, the reason for the trip:

We love this show, and have seen a couple of productions, but never seen it actually on Broadway.

It turned out that Josh Groban wasn't in the matinee that day, but his understudy was so good, I can only think the difference between the two is that I had never heard of the understudy before ...

Annaleigh Ashford was Mrs. Lovett, though, and she was fabulous, as expected. She really lived it up in the role!

We had really excellent seats, too!

After the show, we headed to the train station, but never fear, earlier in the day, we'd paid our regards to Broadway ... and George M. Cohan!

The train ride home was quiet and very pleasant, and we were home before we knew it, to a grand reception - and airing of grievances - by the kitties.

Sunday morning, I took the birthday boy out to breakfast at one of our favorite diners.

And then later we had some cheesecake slices from the diner with candles, "Happy Birthday" singing, and gifts. 

The entire weekend went even better than we could have expected. We were exhausted yesterday, since even though we love New York, it does wear us out. And when we came out of the train station on Saturday night, we said the same thing we always say after a trip there: "It's so quiet here!" 😀

17 November 2023

I'm Not Really Here ...

As you are reading this, The Tim and I will be on a train headed to New York City for an overnight visit as part of his birthday weekend. It should be fun, I haven't been to NYC for a while, and it's always a treat. We have the whole day today once we arrive to just do what we want to do (and of course we have too many plans) and then tomorrow is the matinee, after which we'll make our way to Penn Station and back to Philadelphia and the kitties, for the rest of the weekend's celebrations. 😊

But I didn't want to miss a Friday gratitude this week, so I wrote this post and set it to publish this morning. This week I'm grateful that both of us are still healthy enough and able enough to go on these little adventures together. I know we'll both be exhausted when we get home, and the change in our routines will throw us for a loop (not to mention interrupting the cats' usual schedule - uh oh!). But how great is it that we can even do it, and with a little bit of extra scraping around, afford to make it all possible? Even a couple of years ago, it would have been an unlikely thing - I probably couldn't have taken the extra day off work, or would have been made to feel guilty if I did. Friday is one of my days off, and I made arrangements long ago before we even had any plans for someone else to cover my Sunday shift so we could have a birthday weekend celebration. I'm lucky, and I know it, and I'm grateful for all of it.

I hope you have a good weekend, even if your adventure is at home, staying cozy, or getting ready for Thanksgiving, or just knitting or reading. I'll be back next week to catch up on things. Enjoy!

16 November 2023

Gifty-Gift Time

Hello and Happy Thursday! I hope the week has treated you well. Mine started out questionably - I woke up on Monday with a UTI, grrrr - but fortunately my doctor sent me a prescription right away, and by Tuesday afternoon I was feeling much better. Which is a good thing, because I had a lot I wanted to accomplish this week.

As I mentioned, The Tim's birthday is almost here - it's this coming Saturday, to be exact.  Of course we always celebrate, though the down side for him is that it marks the beginning of a four-month period where we are the same age, and he hates being "old" like me. 😏

And as you know, I have a pair of Christmas socks that I knit to give to him. But about a month ago, he said to me one day, "You have been extremely generous this year for my birthday, thank you." And I responded that I was happy I was so generous, and maybe he could tell me what I'd done that was so wonderful. He then informed me that I had bought two tickets for us to see "Sweeney Todd" on Broadway on his birthday! (Let me tell you, once I saw the invoice, I was shocked at how generous I had been. But you only live once, etc., and I was benefitting from this gift as well, so ...) I also have a t-shirt that the cats will give him, and who knows if I'll find some other little thing on my outing today when I go to a dr appt? 

So, yes, I would say he will be having a lovely birthday and birthday weekend. But it got me thinking about how this is the time of year for gifts, and I do love making gifts for people and finding things that I think they will really enjoy. I'm lucky that way, because I don't find the holiday season to be a chore. I have quite a few things I've collected and made along the way already, but yesterday I decided to actually poke around and make a list of what I already had. Then yesterday in the mail, I got a catalog from Uncommon Goods, which I *think* I've heard of, but I don't know why. Anyway, there was something there that I immediately decided would be good for one of my nieces and her husband. I showed it to The Tim, and he said, "Order that now." Here's the link to what they are receiving, and I'm ridiculously pleased to have found it. My niece will find it amusing, if not slightly "inappopropriate," and her husband's inner 10-year-old boy will enjoy it on a whole other level. Sometimes you just get lucky with what you find, you know?

How about you? Are you a person who loves choosing and giving gifts? Granted, I only give gifts to a very select group of people, so I never am in a situation where I suddenly have to buy something for someone I barely know or have never met. Maybe that's why I enjoy it so much, because it's not a chore for me. I think I just like the idea of finding something that a person might really like, or that I know they would like but may not be expecting to receive. 

Am I the only one who is happy that it's "gifty-gift time?" Let me know!

14 November 2023

FO Post: Finished with Time to Spare

Hello all, I hope your week has started well. This is a busy one for us, but I wanted to show you my latest FO, which I hinted at last week.

You may remember when I showed the start to a pair of Christmas socks I was knitting to give to The Tim for his birthday:

Well, I finished them last week, with ten whole days until his birthday arrives, an I'm so excited that I finally did it! I've been wanting to do this for so long, and at last it really happened.

Christmas stripey goodness!

Project: Gingerbread Waffles
Pattern: Blueberry Waffle Socks, by Sandy Turner
Yarn: The Cozy Knitter Bliss Sock Yarn, in the colorway Gingerbread House
Needles: US 1/2.25 mm

Notes: I had this skein of Advent-striped yarn from the Cozy Knitter that I thought would be perfect for these. They are Christmas-y, but not only the bright colors - the muted greens and browns are colors I knew The Tim would like.

Originally I was just going to do plain socks, but then I remembered how much I had enjoyed making the Blueberry Waffle sock pattern a while back, and how soft and cushy the resulting socks were. And I just thought that would be a nice combination with this yarn and for these socks. The white yarn for the heel was a mini that accompanied the skein of yarn, and needless to say, I had a lot of it left, which will be nice for several other projects down the road.

As for the main skein, once the pair was finished, it turned out that I had less than a yard left of the main yarn - phew, I just made it! But I am really in love with the resulting socks, and I can't wait to give them to him this coming weekend. It's a fun pattern to knit, and the combination of the stripes and the pattern stitches made it really engaging and able to keep me going. 

I also know that he will really like them, and it just makes me happy to be able to give him a handmade pair of socks to wear during the holidays.

Now, to work on the fingerless gloves for him for Christmas, and maybe a holiday-themed something for myself! 😊

10 November 2023

A Quick Trip to Baltimore

You know, I really need to use my brain differently. I was certain I had posted at least once this week, and then when I came to write this post, I saw that no, it's been a week. I have a tendency to "think" posts in my brain, and apparently that does not always translate to actually writing and publishing the post. Sigh.

Anyway, as I mentioned last week, we headed to Baltimore for an overnight visit last Friday after The Tim got home from work. We were lucky, because the weather was nice and though there was a lot of traffic, it wasn't stop-and-go or problematic at all. We spent Friday evening just hanging out and catching up, and we go to meet their new kitty, whose name is Freeway. Well, we got to see her, and I had the chance to pet her for approximately 5 seconds before she looked up and realized she didn't know me! 😊

Yes, it's hard to photograph a black cat! But much like our Esme, she *wanted* to be around, but was too scared to make the final leap and just stay in the room with us. She is extremely sweet, and somewhat chatty, and apparently you can win her over with cottage cheese. 

Saturday morning we had a bagel buffet for breakfast, and then we headed to the Baltimore Humane Society, where they were having their Dogtoberfest. It had been scheduled for the week before, but was rained out. So there was a costume contest, agility trials, and various other activities. My personal favorite was the kissing booth - so many puppy kisses!

Then we headed back to their house and decompressed a bit before heading home. I wish we could have stayed the whole weekend, but I've already asked for a few Sundays off, and didn't want to push my luck. But we crammed a lot of fun and ridiculousness into our short visit. We got home in mid-afternoon to a bunch of cats who were near death from starvation and abandonment (you know how that is), so their needs were immediately resolved, and everyone lived, you'll be glad to know ...

We were amused, because even though she didn't get a lot braver, Esme clearly was glad we were back home - she even followed The Tim around when he was fixing some dinner for us.

While we were with Pat and Amanda, we talked about them making a trip to Philadelphia during December, so I hope that happens. Amanda is off work the week between Christmas and New Year's and so am I (which is another story altogether), so she might come for an overnight herself if nothing else. Her 50th birthday is December 29, so we can hopefully find a way to celebrate together during that week.

We love living in Philadelphia, but one nice thing is the proximity to Baltimore, where so many of our nieces and their families live - the other lives in Brooklyn, which is just as easy a trip. (Especially since all of the other nieces and nephews live out west and we seldom get to see them.)


Then this week was a killer at work, and on top of that I worked an extra day as a favor to a co-worker who was traveling. Our manager has suddenly become *very* micro-managey, and besides all of the regular things we do, she had us doing a lot of cleaning and moving stuff. It nearly put me over the edge. 

Yesterday I got my Covid booster, and though I (fortunately) don't feel as terrible as I was afraid I would, I'm about two steps behind myself, and wow does my arm hurt! Still better than being deathly sick - always.

For my Friday gratitude today, I am thankful for time off from work. Even though I work part-time now, I'm still busy on days off with dr appts, house things, and other responsibilities, and it's such a nice thing not to have to make all kinds of arrangements to use vacation time, sick time, etc., like I had to when I worked full-time. It's such a bonus and cuts down on a lot of stress. And - sometimes, I even get to just have a day off during the week!

I hope your week has gone well, and that you have things that you can be thankful to think about yourself. No big plans this weekend, I'm hoping to get started on the fingerless gloves I want to knit for The Tim for Christmas (if you've been following along, you may realize that this means I finished the socks I was making for him for his birthday - FO post to come!).

Otherwise, I'm just gonna relax and start getting myself organized to see what I have to do or what is already done for holiday gifts that have to be mailed. I enjoy doing that, because I always give myself time to have fun with it rather than stress and that makes all of the difference.

So have a good weekend, whether you are busy or just able to take it easy. I'll see you next week with and FO post, and hopefully with other posts that I actually write and publish rather than just think I have ... 

03 November 2023

And Now It's November

November came to Philadelphia feeling like November should! It's been cold and sunny and that's fine with me. 😊

This past week has gotten away from me. I've been kind of out of it, and though for the most part, I was able to do what I needed to do, I just felt exhausted as a result. Then on Wednesday, I got my RSV vaccine, and I didn't sleep well that night because of chills, and yesterday I just felt awful. Which is not surprising, but it meant it was kind of a lost day. I managed to get one load of laundry done, and it felt like I'd done it on a washboard down by the river, I was so wiped out! 

This year we had zero trick-or-treaters. Zero. Sigh.

Alfie and Esme are pleased though, since we put out two new cardboard scratchers. Alfie likes the wavy kind, and destroys them big-time. He was thrilled with a new one! I got a box-style one for Esme, because I thought it might make her feel safer. I think it worked.

Don't get me wrong, the others use these and enjoy them too, but the photo above is from about 10 minutes after I opened them. 

Alfie is also quite pleased because he discovered the basket cat bed that is very near the heater on the third floor. He *just* fits into it - when others have used it, there's always been plenty of room ... just saying ...

Knitting-wise, I'm busy trying to finish The Tim's Christmas socks, since his birthday is 15 days from now. I think I'll make it, since yesterday I finished the heel and got onto the body of sock #2, but that's what I've been prioritizing at the moment, so nothing else has any progress to report.

And then in just a few weeks, it will be American Thanksgiving - whaaattt??? Don't get me wrong, I adore Thanksgiving, as it is the coziest and homiest of holidays in my opinion. But I just keep being surprised that it's well on the way to being here!

Which leads me to a Gratitude Friday, which I've decided to try and do for each week in November. And of course, I'm grateful for all of the things that I have, including just for my life, but that's kind of what we should all be grateful for, right? So I'm going to try and go beyond that level and find other things.

On this Friday, I'm grateful for a good (if twisted) sense of humor. I have to tell you, I'm not sure I would have made it to this point in one piece if I didn't have humor to keep me company. Granted, I often find things funny that shouldn't be funny, but that has its own beauty too. Being able to laugh about something, or find something funny to distract myself has helped me through some serious sad times and major lows in my life. I think having grown up in a family where everyone had a good sense of humor helped too, because no matter how awful things were, there was always something that could make all of us laugh until we cried. And then I was lucky enough to find The Tim, whose sense of humor is so ridiculously similar, it's almost scary. (His sister: "No one thinks you two are as funny as you do.")

So I hope you can find something to laugh about, or that at least makes you smile as you go about your day. And I hope your weekend has a good dose of laughter in it. I know ours will, since we are going to Baltimore after The Tim gets home from work tonight for an overnight visit, and visiting my niece and her husband is always a blast.

So happy November to all of us!

27 October 2023

Book Report - July, August, and September 2023

Yikes! I realized earlier this a.m. that I never posted my quarterly book reports for July, August, and September - and it's nearly the end of October! I probably thought about it several times when I was either away from the laptop, or just before falling asleep, and then of course started thinking about pie or something else and WHOOSH! - gone.

So here you go. The good thing with books is that it usually takes a long time for them to go out of print, and then even usually the library has them, so if you see something of interest, hopefully you'll still be able to find it.

Rock Paper Scissors, by Alice Feeney. This had a decent premise,  but became boring about halfway through. As much as I usually find the author's books readable, I gave up on this one.

The Heart's Invisible Furies, by John Boyne. This us a really intense book, covering the life of Cyril Avery, a gay Irish man, from shortly before his birth in 1945 until his death in 2015. It's a harrowing tale of growing up in a country where for so long, the Catholic Church ruled every aspect of life.

Cyril's mother, Catherine Goggins, traveled from her small town in the Irish countryside after bring thrown out of her family, her parish, and the town. Shortly after his birth, he is adopted by Charles and Maude Avery, a wealthy but strange couple, ill-suited to parenthood. Cyril travels through life hiding his real self, except when he can find a kindred soul for sexual satisfaction. Through a series of events, he and Catherine Goggins meet several times without knowing they have a connection.

Cyril's life covers most of the major events of the latter half of the 20th century, into the beginning of the 2000s. It's a riveting, often very sad and frustrating story, about attitudes in Ireland towards homosexuality,  attitudes everywhere about AIDS patients, and how people search for love in their lives. 

This is not a book for the faint of heart. 

Musseled Out, by Barbara Ross. This was a really interesting book in this series.

Julia Snowden is getting things closed up for the end of the season for her family's clambake season in Maine. She has to decide if she wants to stay there or return to her job and life in Manhattan.

But while in the closing up process, she becomes embroiled in a murder investigation involving a possible business competitor,  where one of the suspects is her brother-in-law Sonny.

A lot is included here, making it slightly different than the usual cozy. There's war happening between lobstermen in the area, drug trafficking, and the issue of oxycodone addiction. The author has managed to weave it all into the story in an interesting way,  while still keeping a lot of what makes us a cozy mystery.

It. Goes. So. Fast. : The Year of No Do-Overs, by Mary Louise Kelly. This book was interesting in many ways. The author is a reporter for NPR, and when her oldest child was a senior in high school,  she realized that there was so much she had missed in his life, and decided to be present for the last year the daily would likely all be living together under one roof full-time.

Kelly details times when her work sent her overseas, often to dangerous areas, and her kids were sick, or had a soccer game, etc. - the types of experiences familiar to so many working mothers. At different times, it occurs to her that maybe her kids didn't think anything of her absences, but she still feels that she should have been there.

I think this is likely more interesting to women with children, as the author writes about experiences  - at least in the most general of senses - that they have in common.

It was also interesting to read about some of the inner workings at NPR.

Jane Darrowfield, Professional Busybody, by Barbara Ross. This was just what I needed after reading a fairly intense book.

Jane Darrowfield is a divorced, retired woman who lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She has a son in San Francisco who she doesn't really speak to. Recently she's had some success helping her friend with uncomfortable things: switching hairdressers, dealing with nice, but difficult neighbors, etc.

So when she is contacted by the administrator of a local retirement community (after a friend recommends her), she dives in. Apparently there are issues among different groups in the community,and he would like her observations and advice.

But when someone is murdered, well, Jane has a whole different story on her hands.

A light, entertaining,  enjoyable book.

Dial P for Poison, by Zara Keane. After finding her husband having an affair with his legal assistant, Maggie Doyle leaves the San Francisco Police Department for her aunt's house in Ireland. She figures it will hive her a chance to recoup and also reconnect with those she knew from spending her childhood summers there.

But when one of her aunt's cafe customers is found dead in her seat after an event Maggie suspects foul play. Since the local police officer seems more intent in simply arresting her aunt and returning to his golf game, it's up to Maggie to try and figure out what really happened.

This was an enjoyable enough read, and a good palate cleanser.

The Golden Thread : How Fabric Changed History, by Kassia St. Clair. This is a fairly comprehensive story about textiles - from the very earliest threads found by explorers to techno-threads for astronauts and athletes.

The author divides the sections by time period and geography,  and has very clearly done a lot of research. There's a lot of detail here, so this isn't necessarily a casual read; but it's presented in a very readable way.  I learned a lot while reading this book, some really fascinating and some that was just interesting (like the relationship between NASA and Playtex!).

I do have to say that I borrowed this from the library, where others were waiting for it so I couldn't renew it right away, so I had to hustle to finish it before it was due - but it was worth it!

Against the Currant, by Olivia Matthews. Lyndsay Murray - with the help of her family - has finally achieved her dream of opening a bakery in the Little Caribbean neighborhood in Brooklyn, where she can provide the foods of her Grenadian heritage to locals,and introduce others to the delights of the cuisine. 

But when another local baker, who was not happy about Lyndsay's bakery and sees it as competition, is found dead with one of her knives and her charm bracelet at the scene, things get troubling. The other baker, Claudio Fabrizio, caused a scene at the opening of Lyndsay's place, and the police see her as the main suspect.

This was an OK book. I just felt that there was something vital missing, that would have made it more engaging.

The Lantern Men, by Elly Griffiths. When a convicted killer mentions there were other victims that he buried, he tells DCI Nelson that the only person he'll discuss it with is Ruth Galloway.

But Ruth has moved, moving in with her American boyfriend and now teaching at Cambridge.  But she agrees to return to Norfolk to help with the case, which bring she and Nelson back into each other's orbits. The legend of the Lantern Men - who appear to help travelers but in fact kill them - plays a large role in this story, as it begins to appear that someone has been doing just that.

A good installment but not my favorite.

The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid, by Bill Bryson. Such a fun and enjoyable read! Bill Bryson had written a memoir about growing up in the late 1950s/early 1960s in Des Moines, Iowa. it's a story of life when Americans were coming out of the restrictions of wartime, when optimism was high, and brand new products and ideas were sending everyone forward at warp speed.

So much of what Bryson talks about is a love story to his hometown and his family, but if you grew up during any of that period, you can understand every experience.

It's also a story of a time when each place had its own identity, before chain stores and big box stores were the same everywhere. Like Bryson, I'm glad I can remember those times and appreciate the fact that you could really feel that where you lived was different and special (for better or worse!).

The Girls, by Emma Cline. It us 1969. Evie Boyd is 14 years old. Her parents have divorced,  her father now living with his new, younger girlfriend. Once the summer is over, she will be sent off to boarding school,  not really something she relishes.

She comes under the spell of a young woman named Suzanne, who is under the spell of a man named Russell, who runs a commune. For a while Evie lives there, more to stay near Suzanne than anything else. But one-night when they dump her out of their car on the way to a nighttime "surprise" visit, it turns out to be a good thing.

I know the author was trying to make this seem like a version of the Manson Family and the Tate-LaBianca murders, but it lacked a lot. I only finished it because Evie mentions she "missed" the big event at the beginning of the book and I was curious as to how/why.

I just didn't think this was a very good book.

The Burning, by Jane Casey. Maeve Kerrigan is a detective with the London police, and she is assigned a case whereabouts woman's body is found in sn out of the way spot, tortured and burned. Their is currently a serial killer on the loose, torturing and murdering young women and then setting their bodies on fire. They call him Burning Man, and though many think this case is another of his victims, Kerrigan isn't convinced.

Through interviews with colleagues and friends of the victim, Kerrigan finds someone who seemed on top of the world, but was slowly unraveling.  But did any of her friends or colleagues want her dead? Is this a Burning Man murder with a slightly different M.O., or is it a copycat killing?

I thought this was a good read. There were places that I thought some additional editing could have helped tighten the story, but it didn't really make me lose interest. I would definitely read another in this series.

Lying In Wait, by Liz Nugent. What a strange book, though very readable. It's basically the story of how a murder affects two Irish families over the years. Each chapter is narrated by a different character, and as the story moves along,  you realize that one of them is a narcissistic psychopath. By the end of the book, you wonder two things: there are people who think they are so perfect that get away with anything, and that appearances can be extremely deceiving.

The book starts with a young woman's murder, though we're not really sure why it happened for a while. But the remainder of the book tells us how every person in each family ends up in the aftermath as the years go by. In the end, it's about one terrible character ruining lives like it's a game.

I'm not sure how much I actually *liked* this book; but I did want to read until the end to find out how things turned out.

Bad Summer People, by Emma Rosenblum. This book was pretty much what it was supposed to be - a story of rich people doing awful things, having "romantical problems" (a perfect phrase coined by the Fug Girls).

A group of rich people from New York descends on a small town on Fire Island for a summer of leisure, gossip, tennis, and affairs. This year, there's a new tennis pro, adding to the mix, as he is young and quite good-looking.

It's pretty much what you would expect, and slightly better done than usual. I must admit that a nugget of information - almost a throwaway line - at the very end was a real surprise to me, which was part of why I gave it four stars.

It's a summer read, and fulfills that.

You Could Make This Place Beautiful : A Memoir, by Maggie Smith. This is a lovely book and meditation on the author's life after discovering her husband was involved with another woman. Short chapters,  essays, and some of her poetry take us along on her journey to make a new and different life for herself and two children.

Of course the writing is beautiful and honest, but by the end of the book, her initial heartbreak and confusion has become a sort of strength. It is not a "happily ever after" ending, but it's one that the reader can appreciate and understand.

Murder at Lambswool Farm, by Sally Goldenbaum. I just enjoy this series.

This time, it's nearing the end of summer and everyone is looking forward to the run-through dinner at Lambswool Farm, which had belonged to series regular Birdie's late husband. It has been restored and revived as the ultimate farm-to-table restaurant. But on the night in question, the beloved town doctor, Alan Hamilton, collapses and dies.

Once it has been determined as arsenic poisoning, the town is abuzz with rumor and fear. Is it the somewhat friendly stranger whose car broke down and has stuck around for a while, or one of their neighbors? The Seaside Knitters decide to investigate, and they learn some things about the suspects along the way that surprise them.

As usual, there are several little side stories going on, lots of knitting, and good-sounding food. Cape Ann, where the series takes place, is one of my favorite places, and I enjoy spending time with this group of fictional friends.

Foster, by Claire Keegan. Claire Keegan does it again, with the story of a young girl who is sent to stay with another couple while her mother gives birth to another child.

The couple she stays with treat her with love and affection, something in short supply in her life up until now. But things happen, and soon she must return to her real family though she has decided that it isn't what she's been hoping would happen.

A short but really lovely book.

The Good Life : Lessons from the World's Longest Scientific Study of Happiness, by Robert Waldinger. I wanted to read this book ever since I saw an interview with one of the authors. It's a really fascinating, detailed account of results from s longitudinal study done at Harvard University,  also incorporating results from additional longitudinal studies. Using case studies as examples, we learn about the things that make people feel they have led a good life, the things that make them happy.

To an extent,  some of the results are not surprising.  Most of us can admit that being healthy, secure, and loved make life better. But this goes into more depth, and the biggest takeaway is that what gives us a feeling of a good life is relationships - but not necessarily only intimate relationships.  Any interactions with others, be it a hello to the mailman, waving to a neighbor, or even smiling at a stranger, can boost our feelings. Relating to the world around us, whether in a big, extroverted fashion, or in a quieter, introverted way, gives meaning and joy to our everyday existence.

The book is written for general reading, so though there are statistics and detailed descriptions, it's very accessible for a "regular reader. I read it chunks at a time, and that worked fine for me.

The St. Ambrose School for Girls, by Jessica Ward. Sarah Taylor arrives at St. Ambrose's against her will, her mother having done all of the steps for application, including the submission of an essay that Sarah hoped no one else would ever see.

Across the hall is Greta Stanhope, the Queen Bee of St Ambrose,who almost immediately hones in on Sarah - someone who is different,  dresses all in black, and clearly does not come from a money background. Fortunately,  Sarah gets a roommate who she adores, and who is clearly on her side.

Sarah's mental illness is a challenge for her, but she manages to function for the most part. But when some secrets are exposed, and everyone reacts, things change in a drastic way for all of the main characters.

This was a good if often harrowing read, but by the end of the book, Sarah has made some discoveries about herself, her mother, and the importance of relationships.

A Better Man, by Louise Penny. This was an especially good entry in the Inspector Gamache series.

When a young, pregnant woman in an abusive relationship disappears, one of the Surete officers asks if they can investigate as a favor to a friend. Gamache agrees to look into it with her.

Meanwhile, the spring thaw is underway in Quebec, and is proving to be more serious than most years, causing more dangerous and serious flooding than ever.

And of course, there is still a lot of criticism for Gamache's return, and lots of gossip and some resentment in the ranks. It's also the end of Jean-Guy Beauvoir's time at the Surete, before he moves with his family to Paris to work in private security.

Back in Three Pines, artist Clara Morrow is facing a crisis of her is - a collection of miniatures that she has painted and that are on gallery exhibit are receiving scathing comments and criticism.

As everything converges in the story, some truly unexpected and shocking things happen, changing the whole narrative.

Louise Penny has managed to weave together some really complex themes and events here, but it completely works. And this book is dedicated to Bishop, her late Golden Retriever, with a wonderful tribute to him and to all animals in the acknowledgements.

The Heron's Cry, by Ann Cleeves. I liked this book because there were several ways it could have gone and of course I missed anything that would have led me to the correct person as the murderer.

Here, Detective Matthew Venn is trying to figure out one murder, when another happens. They are related, but tenuously. The father of one of the artists in a collective is murdered, using a piece piece of her art. As the investigation starts, we learn that the victim was a physician who had recently taken a job where rather than treating patients, he was an advocate for those who had felt abandoned by the system, particularly in cases of mental health.

But when one of the other artists in the collective is found murdered in his workshop using the same kind of weapon, there's no immediate relation to the previous murder, except that both were known to the wealthy philanthropist who allowed his family estate to be used by the artists as their workshops and living quarters.

The story is interesting, delving into issues and problems dealing with mental illness and suicide, and showing how a lack of resources has put pressure on local police to deal with those suffering, much as is the case in the U.S.

Fellowship Point, by Alice Elliott Dark. Agnes Lee us a well-known children's author who has always spent her summers at Fellowship Point, a sort of family compound in Maine built generations before by her Philadelphia Quaker family members. When the land where the houses are - that also includes a bird sanctuary - is threatened with development, Agnes sets a mission for herself to make sure that never happens.

She enlists the help of her cousin and best friend, Polly whose family has the house next door in the compound. But Polly comes with her own challenges.

What starts like this becomes a lovely and often heartbreaking story of family, love, loss, and lost opportunities. We learn about the lives lived by the main characters, their families, and the things they wanted to try and forget.

There's so much more to this beautiful book, and though I didn't want it to end, it ended where it should.

I did enjoy the references to places I knew in Philadelphia which was where the families involved were from, and lived the rest of the year. But that would make no difference to any readers not familiar with the area.


And there you go, the good, the bad, and the ugly, so to speak. I'm glad that I remembered to post this now, because I always enjoy seeing what others have read/might be reading, and find out what they thought about it.

Tomorrow is our 45th wedding anniversary, which is supposedly the Sapphire Anniversary. I've decided that the mistake rib socks I knit for The Tim fit right into that theme because they are dark blue ... 😉 I found someone to take my work shift on Sunday, so I could have the entire weekend off, even though we have no specific elaborate plans. We had a plan in mind, but waited to organize it too late, so couldn't find a hotel. But next Friday we are going for an overnight trip to Baltimore, so we'll celebrate with my niece Amanda and her husband Pat, whose anniversary is today (18 years). 

So I predict a dinner out tomorrow and something special for dessert. And that's fine with me, especially since we are going away next weekend, and also in November for The Tim's birthday. I'll just enjoy a whole weekend without having to go to work!

I hope your weekend is a good one. Enjoy it however you can, and I'll see you next week.

25 October 2023

Hump Day Musings

Well, as you may know, our Phillies lost the last game they could lose in the series that could have sent them to the World Series. Sigh. It was all incredibly disappointing, especially since they started so strong. But it was clearly not to be. Yes folks, the D-Bags are headed to the Series, they will play the Texas Rangers. I hope the fans of those teams will show up and show their support. Needless to say, I don't want the D-Bags to win, and I have a personal bias against any teams from Texas, so I will likely read about who wins and loses but will not be watching any of the games. Besides, since they will all be in the west, they will start later around here, and as an old person, I go to bed not that much after they start. 😊 

But thanks anyway, Phillies - it was sure fun while it lasted!

In other news, Pip is sending me over the moon with his sweetness:


Can you stand it???

He is really so cuddly and sweet, and always has been. But there are just some times when it's over the top, you know? Right now as I type this, he is sitting on my lap, purring like a truck.

In my FO post from yesterday, if you saw it early in the day, I said the pattern for the mitts I made was a freebie. Vera was nice enough to  let me know that when she clicked the link, the  pattern showed as being $6.00. So I'm guessing that when I saw it, there was a short-term "Free" offer that I just happened to have the timing to see. So I apologize if you were happily clicking over to what you thought was a great free pattern, and suddenly it was a paid-for pattern! As soon as Vera let me know, I edited the post - thanks to her for letting me know! (Also go to her blog today for the BEST NEWS EVER!)

Speaking of best news, next week is Halloween, which means that Thanksgiving is coming, and Christmas after that (Vera got an early Christmas present, it seems to me ❤) - it's holiday time for sure. I just love this time of year, with so many happy things going on and all of the anticipation in the air. But it does also make me realize that the year is getting pretty close to the end, and frankly that part never quite computes with me. It always seems surprising, and I don't know why because it's not like it's only an occasional occurrence ... 

I think I've said this before, but one of the best things about my job a the yarn store is that I get to knit with yarns I would not otherwise be able to afford. We all have "store projects" assigned to us that we work on when things are quiet, and then those projects (sometimes just swatches) are store samples. Right now, I'm knitting something with a yarn completely new to me, Studio Misha & Puff. Apparently this yarn has a kind of cult following in Japan, and it's flying off the shelves in places where it's being sold. It's nice and squishy, I have to say, and they have lovely colors. But it would be pricey for something like a sweater, at least for me. So I'm enjoying the chance to knit with it at work. 

Finally, a recipe link to share. Do you like apple pie, but aren't successful with pie crust most of the time? Both The Tim and I have that issue (though his crusts are sometimes really good). Well, last weekend he made this recipe for Apple Pie Bars, and OMG are they good! He was the one who made them, and according to him, they weren't too difficult (I wasn't home when he baked them, though the house still smelled wonderful when I got home!). But I can tell you that they taste just like the best apple pie you ever tried. 

And that's it for this Wednesday. I'm off to a dr appt, then a few errands on my way home. But this afternoon, I'm hoping to do some reading and knitting. I also have to figure out what I'd like to fix for dinner, but I have plenty of time for that.

Have a good "Hump Day," and take care.

24 October 2023

Here You Go - A Tuesday FO!

Hello and Happy Tuesday! I hope you had a good weekend. Ours was nice - the play was a good production, not the best we've seen but it was enjoyable, and nice to have a night out. Then Sunday night I got a text saying that I was excused from jury duty on Monday, which made me happy. Since I had already arranged to have my shift at work covered, I just took a mental health day yesterday..

BTW, I got a lot of comments - not all of them nice - about jury duty giving me anxiety. And yes, I know jury duty is important, and it's not that I've never done it, etc. The main reason I get anxious is because my first time on a jury was when we lived in DC and it was a federal drug case. And yes, it was interesting, but also very intense, scary, and not very pleasant in any way. I always dread ending up with a serious case like that again. In any case, they didn't want me this time, so I get credit for at least a year. Fine with me.


But now on the most important thing - I have an FO! And not just any FO, one that means that other than stuff for The Tim and/or the kitties and/or anyone else I decide to knit something for at the last minute, I have finished my holiday gift knitting. 🎉

Project: AJ's Fingerless Mitts
Pattern: Manchester Mitts (Adult), by Kristina Schmidt 
Yarn: Berroco Ultra Wool, colorway Rosemary
Needles: US size 6/4.0 mm
Modifications: None


Notes: This is a wonderful pattern. First of all, it's very clearly written, and also quite easy. Using worsted weight yarn, you're finished before you even have time to get bored with the knitting! I made the Medium size, as these are for a teenage boy, and they also fit me. They were a bit tight on my hand model, but he has large hands anyway, so that didn't surprise me.

I highly recommend this pattern for a quick knit that gives you a great result. The thumb gusset adds to the overall attractiveness of the finished items. I can see this becoming a go-to pattern for me. Plus, I have enough yarn left for two more pairs if I wanted to make more.

So the gifts I needed to finish by November 30 in order to send to the recipients in time are done with plenty of time to spare. I'm so glad I got an early start this year and stuck with it.

Now, I'm hoping to finish the Christmas socks for The Tim for his birthday, then make him a replacement pair of fingerless mitts for Christmas, and who knows if I am on a roll, maybe something else? It could happen!

Here's hoping any knitting you have with deadlines goes well for you this year. This is the earliest I've ever finished things. It helps that they were small items, but nonetheless, I don't have to worry about hurrying to beat the calendar.

20 October 2023

Friday Random-ness

Hello there! I hope your week has been a good one. I've had an OK week, but nothing to get excited about. I think I'm coming down with a cold, and though I'm not seriously depressed at the moment, I haven't felt all that great emotionally so it's just been a week of kind of blah-ness. It happens.

So I don't have anything really to show you knitting-wise, though I have been knitting away on some projects - just no photos taken. And I haven't been in the mood to really go anywhere or do anything much, so I have no riveting tales of any adventures. But I didn't want to abandon you for a whole week, so here is some random-ness for today.

Do you ever get a specific taste for something, and you know you won't be happy until you can make it? That was me this week with potatoes au gratin. For some reason I got them on the brain, and then made them for dinner a couple of nights ago. They turned out perfectly, and frankly it was a nice treat, since we usually only have them (or scalloped potatoes) on big occasions.

I think I've mentioned this before, but I get really annoyed by people who have podcasts, or blogs, newsletters, whatever and then move some/all content to Patreon. I realize that it doesn't actually make a big difference in my life, because I don't "subscribe" or whatever, but it's annoying. You'll be reading along or watching, and suddenly they'll tell you that if you want to know about [fill in the blank], you should sign up for Patreon because that's where it is. Part of me thinks that they should just go ahead and do everything there, instead of talking about it all of the time. But it mostly annoys me because I'm not willing to have a million "subscriptions" that are for small amounts to track or care about. Anyway, my opinion and that's over for now.

The kitties are pleased that it's gotten cooler - it means that they have more places to seek heat and relax. The other day I caught Pip and Esme lounging happily on the bed in the spare bedroom. 

Esme is still pretty shy and skittish, though she is making progress, and she and Pip get along just fine (though Pip gets along with everyone and everything). I'm pretty sure they spent most of the day there. 

Alfie, on the other hand, was simply exhausted yesterday, since it was laundry day.

I can certainly understand how it can be tiring, though I do wonder how tiring it is to simply be on the bed next to or actually sitting on the dry clothes after they have been folded. But I'm sure it's a cat thing, and I wouldn't understand ... 😉

Our next door neighbors are having major renovations done on the outside of their house, and it's been really annoying. The workers are not very good at cleaning up after themselves, and they also keep blocking the door to our house so that you can't easily go in or out. They are also using our roof to store things, even though we have asked them not to do that. Ugh. Supposedly it will all be finished by mid-November, so I hope that is actually going to be the case. I won't miss the noise and the mess.

Are any of you doing the Stephen West KAL? I wasn't even aware one was happening until a guy came into the yarn store to buy some yarn for it, and told us about the controversy surrounding the first clue. That surprised me, since Stephen West never struck me as controversial, other than people thinking he uses too many bright colors. But this guy said that the first clue upset a lot of people because the design looked like a swastika. Apparently then Stephen West took that clue down and designed another one, because of the outcry. Then I was watching the Salt City Knits podcast, and Emily mentioned the whole issue. She said she had not been offended by the design, and had already completed it by the time he created a new one. She didn't want to re-knit it, so she was just continuing with what she had. She then showed it:

and I have to say, it doesn't look like a swastika to me either. But I also give Stephen West credit for taking the time to re-do the whole first clue, and addressing it right away. I really think that probably keeps it/kept it from becoming the next BIG THING in the knitting world. I feel like there have been enough BIG THINGS in the knitting world and the overall world lately, so one of them being lessened works for me.

Tomorrow we are going to see a production of "Assassins" by Stephen Sondheim at a local theater. We haven't been to see a play for a while, so I'm looking forward to it. We are big Sondheim fans, so when we saw it was being produced here, we decided it was worth it to treat ourselves.

Unless I am excused, I have to report for jury duty on Monday, and I have to tell you - it gives me such major anxiety when I have to go. I mean the kind where you lose sleep, feel nauseated, etc. I'm actually hoping that I live to be 75 years old, because then you are excused from jury duty, at least in Pennsylvania. (From the files of Stupid But True In The Life of Bridget.)

I also hope I won't get picked for a jury because next Thursday I have an appointment with the cardiologist, and I've been waiting a year and a half for it, so I hope I won't have to reschedule. Every time it would be getting near the time of my appt, the office would call and say they had to reschedule, so I really want it to happen without further delay!

Next weekend is our wedding anniversary, and I just remembered the other day that I already have a gift for The Tim - I knit him those Mistake Rib Socks in the tweedy yarn, so they are ready to go! That was a good realization, let me tell you! I may get something else like a bottle of the scotch he likes to give him with it, but that will be easy enough to acquire. YAY!

And that my friends, is all of my random blathering for today. I hope you have a good weekend, and if you are one of the knitters heading to Rhinebeck, I hope your travels are uneventful and that you have a good time. For the rest of us, enjoy and take care.