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. 

13 October 2023

Scenes From A Friday the 13th

Hello and Happy Friday the 13th, always a most excellent day!

We're a bit bleary-eyed but very happy today. We were all up later then we usually are, especially during a work week. 

Because we had to watch our Phillies win and move on to the National League Championships! It was more than worth being so tired today. And since they won at home, it was even more exciting.

Now they will play a series against the Arizona Diamondbacks for a chance to go to the World Series. You may enjoy this conversation from last night between myself and my beloved spouse - with the start point of saying that a lot of the sports announcers refer to the Diamondbacks and the "D-Backs."

The Tim: This is so exciting! But I can't believe someone would name a team the "D-Bags."
Me: No one has.
The Tim (looking puzzled): I think you might not be paying attention. They have been calling them that all night.
Me: No, they have been calling them the D-Backs, tonight and all of the time.
The Tim: It sure sounded like D-Bags to me ...

And that's another installment of When The Tim Tries To Be Involved With Sports. Thanks for tuning in. 😂


This morning, The Tim headed for work (where I'm sure he'll talk sports with his co-workers, being that he knows so much), and the kitties and I got started on a few things we wanted to do before we just took the rest of the day off.

Pip would just like to get a drink of water in peace. 

Esme and Alfie are looking too innocent for their own good.

And Milo the Koodle is resting after all of the excitement of last night. And trust me, a sleeping Koodle is the best kind or Koodle. ✔

I decided that it was a good day to make chili in the crockpot. So I got things going nice and early, and by now the house is starting to smell heavenly. I tend to throw different things into my "recipe" every time - for instance, you may notice some carrots in there. I don't usually add carrots, but these were in the fridge and getting towards the end of their shelf life, so rather than waste them, I chopped them and added them to the chili. I figure it will add even more texture, which I like. On my walk, I stopped and got a nice crusty loaf of bread to have with it for dinner. I like knowing that later it will just be a matter of dishing it up. And since it's good weather for it, I think it will hit the spot, so to speak.

So there you go - nothing scary or unlucky for us today, at least not so far, and hopefully not at all. This weekend, The Tim will be setting up our new computer, so he'll be busy with that. I don't have any specific plans, other than having to work on Sunday, but that's fine with me.

I hope you have a lovely weekend, and can get in some good relaxing time. Enjoy!

12 October 2023

This Might Be The Year

I hope your week has been going well, even if there is more sorrow and strife in the world. Sometimes I think that surely there won't be any more tragedy, but then I realize that if there is anything in the universe that is guaranteed, it's tragedy for someone, somewhere, even at the smallest levels. Then I remember that the reverse is also true - happiness and joy happen all of the time too, and I cling to that, even if we will never know what most of it is and when it happens.

My week has been fine. I taught the second and final hat class I was doing at the yarn store, and I think it was a huge success. It helps that the people taking the class were a) really nice people, and b) truly motivated to do it. Everyone arrived on Tuesday evening either ready for the last part (cable decreases) or only two or three rows away. When they were leaving, they were SO excited to no longer "be afraid" of cables, and two of them showed me a pattern and bought yarn for their next cable projects. That was the best result of all to me.

Otherwise it's been most of the same stuff, which is OK with me. Our next door neighbors are having major renovations done on their house, so there's a lot of extra noise, dust, and just overall mess outside, which makes me glad it's not a bad time to have the windows closed. Though the cats do not approve in any way, shape, or form, thank you very much. Alfie seems particularly offended, since we have the door to the garden closed and that has a direct effect on his ability to keep track of the squirrels running around. Won't someone think of the kitties???

My knitting is going well, and I'm especially excited about a new cast on. Every year, I hope that I will have myself together well enough to knit a pair of Christmas socks for The Tim to gift him for his birthday in November, so he'll have them to wear in December. Except for one year when I actually knit a pair of Christmas socks for him in July (which inspired my Christmas in July shenanigans), it's just never been a possibility. 

But this might be the year it happens.

Behold the start of a pair of Christmas socks that must be finished before November 18 - this looks possible, right?? I started these last Friday, and then didn't get near them again until yesterday, but I have knit even more than in this photo, so I'm nearly to the heel portion of sock #1. This is pleasing me so much, I have to tell you. I'm using an Advent skein from the Cozy Knitter, called Gingerbread House, and using the Blueberry Waffle Socks pattern. So far, I'm zooming along on them, so with a bit more than a month before I actually need to have them finished, I'm feeling encouraged. Even though it would not register with him what/who they were for if he saw them, I've been working on them on the days I'm home and he's at work, because I'd love for them to be a complete surprise. 😊

Other than that, I'm nearly finished with the last gift that will need to be mailed, which is also good news. My DRK Everyday Sweater hasn't seen anything happening on it lately, because I'm waiting for some new needles to arrive. The only needles I had in the correct size for the body are some Lykke needles I've had for a while, and though I generally love using them, they hold on to the Felted Tweed yarn a little too well. So I broke down and ordered a pair of metal needles in the size I need for the sweater. Yes, I know I should buy an interchangeable set, but I don't have the funds all at once at any given time, so it's not happening anytime soon.

Curious - do any of you have an interchangeable set of needles (or even sets)? Most of the people I know swear by Chiaogoo sets, but a couple of people have other sets and love them. I like wood/bamboo/whatever for a lot of things, but as mentioned above, some projects work better for me with metal needles. So that also makes me hesitant to invest in just one or the other.

OK, enough blathering for now. The sun has arrived, so I think I'll move some laundry around and then take a walk before I do anything else. Because it's nice outside, and I have the whole day to myself. Win-win!

06 October 2023

We Aren't Hoarders, We Just Keep Things ...

Hello and Happy Friday to all of us! It's gloomy and humid here in Philadelphia, and according to the local weather reports, we're supposed to get a rainy evening, rainy day on Saturday, and then some true fall weather settling in. Fine with me, I'm more than ready for cozy season!

The other day, I pulled out our box of fall decorations, as well as a large envelope where I keep paper decorations stored. There's a mix of fall, Halloween, and Thanksgiving decorations, and I always enjoy revisiting them. 

I was putting up a couple of paper decorations, and came across these two:

These are Halloween decorations that my nephew's wife sent to us, made by our great niece and nephew. The one on top is the work of Jude, and the bottom one is from Anya.

Who are now 21 and 23, respectively. 😊

We have a lot of holiday decorations from this particular family (4 children in all, they live in Arizona), but these are from the oldest two. And I love that their mom sent them to us all of those years ago. I love the randomness and little kid-ness of them, and how she wrote a message and their name at the bottom of each. Every year, they make me smile when I come across them. 

I posted these on Instagram, and every member of that family sent me a message, saying that they couldn't believe we still had them - even their parents don't have such artifacts!

So, as the subject line says, we're not really hoarders, we just keep certain things ... 😂

In other news, I've just been doing the usual stuff, nothing too exciting to report. My arthritis has really been bugging me, to the point last week where it was painful just to walk around. This week is better, but it's still annoying. I've been knitting and cross-stitching and reading, but have no photographic proof of such activities. This past week was a return to summer-like weather, which was not inspiring at all to me. 

I did teach my first class at the yarn store on Tuesday evening, and that went really well. I am teaching a class to make the Antler Toque, which you may recall I made for The Tim a couple of years ago for Christmas. Our manager decided that it would be a good way for people to learn to do cables, and so I had four enthusiastic students who feared cables when we started, but had made them happen when the class was over. This coming Tuesday is the second/final class, where we learn the cable decreases and take on any questions. I think it is going well, but it does make for a really long day. Fortunately it's my last day of work for the week, so I can catch up on sleep/other things afterwards.

No real specific plans for this weekend, other than my work shift on Sunday. Since tomorrow is supposed to be kind of rainy, I'll probably work on some projects inside. We will also be watching the Phillies game against the Atlanta Braves, hoping that our Phils can pull off a series of wins. An uphill challenge, but if everyone is firing on all cylinders at the same time, it can happen!

Let me know how you have been doing, what you have been working on, etc. I hope your weekend is lovely (unless you are cheering for the Braves, haha. Kidding not kidding!), and that you have the chance to do whatever you like. See you next week!