Thursday, December 21, 2006

Hockey and more

Correction and amplification from my last post to start. The Bruins' last game never did get as close as 5-2. The scoring toward the end went like this:


Just to be strictly accurate! Also, I forgot to pass along something one of the announcers said after the Bruins scored one of their later goals. It struck me so, I wrote it down so I wouldn't forget:
"You never take your foot off the snake."
I think I speak for more than myself, when I say, "Huh?" Honestly, WTF?

Anyway, the Bruins are in the second period as I type, up 2-0, and while I know they have plenty of time to screw it up, they're actually playing quite well. Even if they don't win tonight, I feel like their improved play is the nicest sort of Christmas gift they could give me. Watching them complete passes and make plays and not give up gladdens my hockey-fan heart.

Something interesting did happen in the first period that had me scratching my head a bit. Vancouver was called for a penalty, and Trevor Linden complained so much, from the bench (it wasn't against him personally), that he got an extra penalty. That isn't unheard of, but he actually got a 2-and-10, two minutes for unsportsmanlike conduct and another 10 minutes for, I guess, being super-unsportsmanlike.

What do you suppose he said? The mind boggles. That's a lot of time to get for bitching.

I doubt I'll post tomorrow or Saturday before I leave, though never say never, so it may be a little while before I'm back in this space. Happy whatever makes you happy!

The final word comes from one of Laurie's commenters today, who said something that I find, while not elegantly expressed perhaps, to be still most profound. Meditate on this if you like:
Fear of sucking is an invisible shackle.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

First blowout of the season?

I think it was. The Bruins won last night, 7-2, and they never trailed, and it was never closer than 5-2. I don't think they've won so handily all year. What is it with the Bruins and Ottawa in recent years, anyway? Even last season, when the Sens were good and the Bruins generally awful, we still beat them most of the time. This year, they haven't been quite as good and we haven't been quite as bad (consistently, anyway), and here we still are, beating them. It's funny, isn't it?

And Patrice Bergeron had five assists. Five! Wow. Marco Sturm had a hat trick; he looked so happy. I think it was his second in the NHL; first as a Bruin, anyway. Zdeno Chara was booed all night for the crime of being a former Senator who had the nerve to sign with another team, which is understandable from an Ottawa fan's perspective. It gets me thinking about Z, though.

He's a good player. I'm not saying he's not. But I haven't seen him as the Great Player I was expecting when the Bruins signed him. Other than his sacrificial, team-inspiring, 'block the shot with his body in a meaningless preseason game' thing, I can't think of any big, game-turning performances he's given. I kind of expected him to be more of a catalyst than I'm seeing. Playing against him, he certainly had a knack for getting between my team and where they were trying to go. Am I just not seeing it as clearly in reverse?

Don't get me wrong. He is a good player. And at six-foot-nine, he's certainly a presence on the ice. I'm sure he inspires his teammates in many ways. I think, in retrospect, I was picturing Ray Bourque Plus, and that's what I haven't seen. Anyone want to weigh in on this? Is it me, or is it him?

Monday, December 18, 2006

of blogs and bloggers

Isn't it great when you discover a great new blog? (And no, I'm not fishing; I know most of my legions of readers are friends or family, and godluvya for coming, but that's a whole different thing from today's topic, so I'll get back to it.) By luck or happenstance, you find a blog that makes you smile, or nod, or laugh out loud, or tear up, or whatever floats your emotional boat. I thought I'd share some favorites.

My first read when I'm blog-surfing is Laurie, aka Crazy Aunt Purl. I found her blog when I was looking for a hat pattern to knit, and stayed for everything else: knitting, cats, horrorscopes, pictures, videos, links, and a great take on life. Love ya, Laurie! Check your mailbox, though I swear I'm not stalking you! (The hat pattern is great, by the way, and so simple, but there's much more to it than that.)

Second, I generally read Stephanie, the Yarn Harlot. Although there is a lot more regular knitting content here, she also writes about family, neighbors, travel, and so on, and is amusing and inspiring and well, next time she comes to Greater Boston, I'm there (I was a little late to the Harlot bandwagon, so I didn't go when she was in Cambridge recently [this summer? last summer?]).

Then, Franklin at The Panopticon (which his website does explain, so I won't). In recent weeks, two different people have sent me links to him, which shows they do know me, and yes, I enjoy reading his blogging. He knits, too (I found his site from Stephanie's), but again there's more there than that. And if you go to his blog, you should know that Dolores is a sheep, okay? And don't call her imaginary unless you're ready to face the consequences.

Those are generally the first ones; then if I have time, I check out others:

Jennifer Saylor, with whom I used to work in North Carolina, back in the day. I enjoy her writing even when she writes about mathy stuff, and if you know me (which as previously discussed, you probably do), you know that's saying something (hello, English major!).

MonicaPDX, whose blog I found mostly because she also reads Stephanie and Laurie, and comments well. I enjoy her perspective on life as well as her helpful also-learning-to-knit-socks position.

And a new one (to me), Tammy at Polka Dot Mittens, also found through a pithy comment on Laurie's blog. I went back and read through her archives, and had a fine giggle. There were a couple of months when the postings were, well, a little slim, but after all anyone who is renovating the basement and preparing for a wedding is excused.

I just hope she's prolific going forward, because damn it, the bad thing about blogs is that you find someone whose writing you want to read, and then they don't write, and that's no fun! If I click into a blog for the first time, and see the most recent posting is from 2 months ago, and starts out talking about how long it's been since they last posted, they've lost me. They could be a great blogger, but it only leads to frustration. And who wants to volunteer for that?

If anyone wants to suggest others, please do so! For now, since I have boxes yet to unpack and a trip to plan for, I'm off to make cookies. Of course! And I'll post photos (sometime) of the wristwarmer: such a quick knit, I started it Thursday night and finished Saturday, and started number two! Fun...

Sunday, December 17, 2006

My inner child reads a lot

More than my outer adult, apparently!

I was reading this week's Publisher's Weekly (a trade magazine that I got hooked on during the B&N years), and noticed something about the bestseller lists. They break it down by hardcover fiction and nonfiction, paperback fiction and nonfiction, then rotate with audio, religion, kids, and other topics. Sometimes I study the lists, and usually find that I have read one, or maybe two, books of the top 15.

This week they listed kids, and I realized that of the top 15 kids fiction books, I had read 6, and planned to read 2 more. I looked back to the other lists, and hadn't read a one. That makes 0 for 60 on the so-called adult books, and 6 (or 8) for 15 of kids. Well! I found that quite interesting. I do read adult books, of course, but I'm not really ruled by the bestseller lists (obviously). With the kids books, I think there's more of a tendency for high-quality books to be on the lists, if you permit the generalization. Or perhaps I am talking nonsense. In any event, here are the ones I've read:

1. Eragon, by Christopher Paolini. Good book! The fantasy may not be ground-breaking, but the kid does it well (he was 15 when he started the first one, homeschooled, and his family self-published it at first; by 19, he was on the NYT bestseller list, whew). I've been meaning to blog about this, and the sequel, since my teaser a while back about the good audiobook I was listening to. The audios were very well done, and since some of the names of places and characters are, well, non-intuitive to pronounce, it was nice to hear them before I read them. Although that did mean I could say them but not write them, which was a little odd. I enjoyed both this and Eldest, and am looking forward to publication of the third one, which I think may be next year sometime.

2. Twilight, by Stephanie Meyer. Enjoyable vampire novel. I'm looking forward to reading the sequel, just out, New Moon, which is at number 5 on the PW list.

3. Eldest, the sequel to Eragon.

6. The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, by Kate DiCamillo. I read this cover to cover in a bookstore some time back. Charming story of a conceited stuffed rabbit who learns his lesson through a series of adventures. The illustrations are perfect, too, as I recall.

8. Peter and the Starcatchers, by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson. Funny and enjoyable prequel to Peter Pan. The audio is well read by Jim Dale, who brings the Harry Potter books to such marvelous life. The sequel, Peter and the Shadow Thieves, is the other one on my to-read list.

9. Terrier, by Tamora Pierce. This is a new fantasy series by a great writer of young female characters. Not that she doesn't write men well, too, but the girls are strong and interesting and smart, and if I had daughters, I'd hope they'd enjoy Pierce's books as much as I have. She actually has created two worlds, and one of them I can take or leave, but the Tortall books (the Alanna quartet, the Dane/Immortals quartet, the Kel quartet, and the Ali duo (? three is a trilogy, four a quartet, what's two?) are all really good. I enjoyed Terrier, too, though it isn't my absolute favorite. Still, not sorry I bought it.

And always glad to talk books, so if anyone has any questions about these or other books, bring'em on!

Friday, December 15, 2006

Friday and all

Look! I'm knitting! I even still remember how. You know, "knit read cats hockey"? I managed three-at-once last night, as I was knitting, with the cats, while watching hockey. The cats were in the On Lap and Next To Lap positions (in our house, Next To is also called 'better than no lap at all'), and although Pan made it clear that sleeping on my elbow would have been more pleasant if the muscles in my arm would stop moving, he persevered. And the Bruins even won. It was a good night, and off to a good start on the wristwarmer with the yarn I bought at Apple Festival.

I give you two images, since I think both the flash and no-flash versions show the yarn and pattern differently but validly:

I really like this yarn, both the colors and the soft of it. Jackie at the Knitting Room in Arlington gave me guidance for the "pattern" (repeating two rows, what could be easier), and she's going to help me with the thumbhole, too. After all, without that hole, they would be less useful!

I did have an "isn't today over yet" day today. Not a bad day, but I was just, you know, ready for the weekend before I left the house this morning. I leave on my trip a week from tomorrow, on Christmas Adam*, and then I will be 'ccr in FL' for a week. I have no idea if I will blog from there. I could, of course; but I may just be too busy walking on the beach, drinking fresh-squoze orange juice, and eating. Actually, it's even better than that sounds. I'll be spending time with my parents and my brother, and since we all live ridiculously far from each other, that doesn't happen every year (okay, it happened last year, but still, it's nice). I love that we're all excited about that.

* You know, the day before Christmas Eve

I had one of those world-upside-down moments today. I talked to my doctor earlier this week about my headaches, and he decided to refer me to a neurologist, so I called his office today to make an appointment. My PCP's office had told me that this guy was easy to make an appointment with, so I figured January, you know: that it wouldn't be months and months, the way it can be with doctors sometimes. I gave all my info to the woman who answered, and here's what she offered me: next Thursday.

Less than a week? Whew. What is the world coming to? Sure, I'll take it!

And, in further good news, it's less than a week to that magical day when I stop getting more darkness (because I really have enough, honestly), and start getting a little more light every day. Loving the solstice!

And finally, a word from our orange. Isn't it pretty? There's a sort of star in the middle. A Christmas orange, perhaps...

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Looking back, and forward

I saw this on another blog (which, of course, I can't find again), and liked the idea. It's perhaps a little self-indulgent, but after all, so is this blog.

10 years ago: 1996. I was living in Charlotte, NC. I had just moved in to share a house with a friend, where I was very happy. She and I were very compatible housemates, without being joined at the hip. We had similar ideas about when windows should be open or closed, and how frequently cleaning needed to happen, and we both cleaned out the lint trap on the dryer every time. Don't discount little stuff like that, it's far more important in a housemate than agreeing on religion or politics. (I wonder, if she hadn't died in 1999, would I have moved back north?) My cat-from-childhood, Honey, was alive and purring. I was working at Barnes & Noble, doing receiving (hiding in the back being the only way I survived retail as long as I did). Overall, it was a good time in my life.

5 years ago:
2001. Just after the terrorist attacks, I was still very jumpy. Still in Charlotte, but starting to think about moving north again. Out of retail, I had one of those get-me-a-job-that-isn't-retail jobs, where I liked the people around me and my immediate bosses, but above that, not the greatest company to work for. It was a time of transition for me.

1 year ago:
2005. I was in a new job that I had a very good feeling about (and rightly so, as it's turned out). Back in Massachusetts for a couple of years, resettling into winter weather (ugh, that's why I moved in the first place). Thinking about restarting the condo search, which was suspended before it got started when my last job announced the site was closing and you're all going to be unemployed.

1 month ago:
Mid-November. Driving myself crazy with packing at home, working on catalog at work. Crazy time.

Sort of normal life. Worked, went to Walmart after work to buy shoes (actually, they're ankle boots; I bought a pair last week in black, and they're so comfy, I went back for the brown), got Chinese take-out, did laundry. Nice and normal, with plenty of kitty-cuddles.

Literally, more of yesterday. Metaphorically, who knows? I'm in a very happy place right now, and hope very much to be as happy in the future. If I make my list and find the real Mr. Right, that would be great, but if not, you know what? That's okay. I'm good.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Talk of chocolate things

I enjoyed writing about ice cream last month, and what could be better? Why, chocolate, of course. Can we say it again? Chocolate... mmm.

So, one of the fabulous things about chocolate is the variety. Most chocoholics aren't too judgmental if someone likes a different type or variety or brand of chocolate than they do (deep down, they're probably glad the person won't be sneaking off with something that is rightfully theirs). Much like a knitter might not argue if you don't love the kind of yarn they do: they'll think you're wrong-headed and deluded, but at least you won't be in their way when that yarn is on sale! As long as you like chocolate, or yarn; otherwise there isn't much to talk about. (A rare exception to this is my brother, who doesn't like chocolate himself--it's one of his very few flaws--but who is the most obliging non-chocoholic imaginable. Who else would suggest going to see "Chocolate: The Exhibition", or would eat at a mostly-chocolate restaurant?) So here are some of my favorites types and brands and so on. Chocolate talk. (Let's see if I can control myself at all.)

Generally, I like caramel (with milk chocolate, by preference, and without nuts), and also mint (with dark chocolate), and buttercrunch (preferably without any nuts adhering to the chocolate), and either milk or dark by itself (though truffles don't generally ring my bell). I'm not generally a big fan of nuts in chocolate, or fruit, though there are exceptions. I don't scorn the occasional Snickers bar, or Twix, or Mounds (because sometimes you may feel like a nut, but I almost never do). For the good stuff, though, I have a few favorites.

Harbor Sweets is a big favorite, and has been for years. They're semi-local to me, in Salem, MA, and when I was a kid I remember going to the factory store, or was it a tour? Anyway, they're sold in various boutiques around the country, as well as on the website, of course. Every year, my mother sends me their chocolate-a-day Advent calendar (thanks again!), and let me tell you, that will spoil you for the little cheap drugstore ones for all time. I mean, what's the good of a chocolate a day if it isn't good chocolate?

My all-time favorite from Harbor Sweets has to be the Marblehead Mint, which is dark chocolate with little crunchy bits of peppermint. Delicious! I just ate one, so the delicious is fresh in my memory.

I am also very fond of the Sweet Sloops, which come in individual pieces or in bars (even better! the "pecan spindrift" on the individuals looks cute, but doesn't do much for my personal taste buds). They are buttercrunch at heart, with mostly white chocolate covering. They have a little touch of dark chocolate, too; in the bars, equal amounts of each. (While we speak of buttercrunch, by the way, I got some on sale after Christmas last year from Lands' End, of all places, that was delicious. Who would have thought?)

Harbor Sweets does plenty of other varieties, some I like more than others (Harbor Lights, with raspberry/cranberry in dark chocolate, yum), but these are the major favorites.

A newer company to me is also New England-y, Lake Champlain Chocolates from Vermont. They have an assortment they call Chocolates of Vermont, which contains four charming varieties: Honey Caramel (love it), Maple Crunch (like it), Evergreen Mint (love it; it's much the same as the Marblehead Mints), and Green Mountain (like it). It is nice to expand one's borders, don't you think?

What kind do you like? Why?

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Feline delusion, and almost a feline incursion

To start with the second first, we almost had a neightbor's cat break in to the apartment over the weekend. Well, not break down the door, certainly, but when I opened the door to go downstairs, this little furball tried to fly past me into my condo, which of course is the home of the Two Cats Who Still Aren't Sure Why We Had To Move Anyway. While I am quite sure they would have defended their turf, the repurrcussions (sorry) make me wince. I dropped the laundry and managed to pin the intruder to the floor, then scooped him up and got us both into the hall with my door safely closed before I put him down. I knocked on my neighbor's door, and when she opened it a moment later, the cat streaked in there. I said, "I hope that was your cat," and fortunately, it was (can you imagine if it hadn't been? Because she does have a cat, so if this one had been someone else's ... ugh.) She had been doing laundry herself earlier, and had no idea her cat had managed to escape into the hall. A happy ending and a cautionary tale all in one.

The feline delusion is Pan's, all Pan's. He has become convinced, in the last year or so, that he wants to be under the covers. He has never wanted to before, and if a blanket ended up on top of him, he would come out at once, shaking his head violently: the ears, mom, don't mess with the ears! Harold loves to be under blankets, always has, and will sleep happily for hours Underneath, unless Pan comes along and steps on him, in his total unawareness that there could be someone invisible on the bed or couch. Leading to situations like this:

How many cats do you see? One, or two?

But as I say, Pan has decided this is for him. Really. Let me in, let me under. But there are problems with the execution of said plan.

1. He can't generally get in by himself. Lacking Harold's years of practice, he will paw at the edge of the blanket, over and over and over, trying to find the switch that will open sesame for him. This is less than charming behavior when I'm trying to sleep, as you may imagine.

2. His dream of comfort under blankets rarely matches reality (he really doesn't like things on his ears), so he moves around and around, trying to find the position that is comfy. This is also not so restful.

As a result, I find myself, in bed, yelling, "No in! No under!" at him. What would the neighbors think?

Finally, in unrelated news, this is a little scary. I mean, some of it doesn't make sense to me, and some of it doesn't fit me, but some of it, well. Interesting.

You are The Hermit

Prudence, Caution, Deliberation.

The Hermit points to all things hidden, such as knowledge and inspiration, hidden enemies. The illumination is from within, and retirement from participation in current events.

The Hermit is a card of introspection, analysis and, well, virginity. You do not desire to socialize; the card indicates, instead, a desire for peace and solitude. You prefer to take the time to think, organize, ruminate, take stock. There may be feelings of frustration and discontent but these feelings eventually lead to enlightenment, illumination, clarity.

The Hermit represents a wise, inspirational person, friend, teacher, therapist. This a person who can shine a light on things that were previously mysterious and confusing.

What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.

Monday, December 11, 2006

I love these socks

It really is the little things in life, isn't it? This weekend I got a library card for my new town, and the library is so cute! I shopped around downtown, which has some charming shops that I will so be visiting for shopping next Christmas, as well as other occasions before then. And I have found warm socks to wear to work.

I ran across them in Marshall's, and tried one pair, since $10 a pair is a lot if you end up hating them. But, really, $10 a pair isn't too bad if you love them, especially if they usually retail for around $15-20+ (these are last season's socks, my dear, if you can imagine). The ones I bought are actually ski socks, but who cares? It just means they have a little extra padding at the heel and along the front of the calf, but it's not that obvious.

The brand is Smartwool, and they're warm without being itchy, knee-high without cutting off my circulation, and they keep my feet and lower legs warm, without getting clammy (I tried a pair of fleece socks, too, and the latter is their problem). They even come in discrete colors for unobtrusiveness. I mean, I don't mind wearing ski socks to work, but I don't want to look like I'm wearing ski socks to work, if you see the fine distinction. I went to another Marshall's and bought a bunch more, to help me get through the shiver season.

I've been fighting a bit of a headache today; it ranged from 1-4 on the scale. What I wouldn't give to never have one of these again. Still, at this moment in time it's gone, and Christmas music is playing, and dinner is in the oven. Not too tough to take, is life at the moment. And what more can I ask? I will emulate my cats, and live in the moment.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

The Head Scale, hockey, and just a little moving

So here it is, the how-bad-is-the-headache scale. It's an individual thing, of course, highly subjective, so if your descriptions would be different, that's not at all surprising. Feel free to suggest your own descriptors!

0 no pain; not even thinking about head (unless it is just after a headache)
1 slightly, intermittently aware of head, but don't usually get around to medication
2 medicate; starting to rub head
3 more aware of pain, less able to concentrate
4 pain starts to interfere with life, thinking, etc
5 medicine doesn't seem to be helping--—until it wears off
6 start of unconscious groaning
7 begin randomly walking around, trying to find something to do that doesn't hurt
8 can't do anything (read, tv, computer) because it all hurts
9 can't think of anything but head; railing against fate
10 want to die

This is a cheery topic, isn't it? Of course, I don't have a headache today, so I can be as cheery as I want. On a clear day, it doesn't seem quite real, the memory of headaches like this. Today, the PMS is fading; the acne seems to be diminishing; things are pretty good.

And the Bruins won. They are 10-3 in their last 13 games. Weird. Good, of course, but weird. I'm kind of afraid to pay too much attention, in case I jinx it. Superstitious, much? Uh, yeah. Knock on wood when you say that, won't you?

And just a little on The Move, since I have trouble ignoring the topic. Still loving the new place, but you know what? I'm ready to be settled. Unpacked. Places found for things, routines settled into. Staples and stores bought, extra errands done. But I'm not complaining, much. It continues to improve. I'm just a little tired tonight, I guess. I did 5 errands on the way home (although, I only did 3 yesterday and was home much later, so the number isn't the main thing), and filled and ran the dishwasher, and put things away, and paid bills, and wrote a thank-you note, and snuck glances at the Bruins game when they weren't looking, and I'm ready for bed. Which works out well, since it's time to get ready for bed.

Probably the period is why I'm extra-tired this week, actually. The joys of hormones. I know, I know, thanks for sharing, right?

Monday, December 04, 2006

hockey whiplash

It was 1-0 Montreal...

then 2-1 Boston...

then 4-1 Boston...

then 4-4...

now 5-4 Boston, and I'm listening to make sure that's still accurate.

(Add Montreal to the list of arenas with the obnoxious godawful horns, by the way.)

The unpacking is getting there, and the boys are managing to relax despite all the Changes.

Oh, crap. 5-5. I knew I should have hit "publish post" quickly. Gotta go, bye.

Friday, December 01, 2006

We have normality; repeat, we have normality

What a blessed relief to return to normal, or something approaching it (what's that saying? Normal around here is just a setting on the dryer?). I have Plenty of unpacking yet to do, but the worst of the weird is finally behind me.

Groceries? Check.

Laundry? Check.

Run dishwasher and disposal? Cooked, real meals? Check-check-check.

And, books unpacked? Check. Oh, not all of them, not by a long shot, but the fiction-etceteras fill the two big bookcases in the living room and gladden my heart, and the OED fills one of the small folding bookcases and makes me smile. I can't believe how comfortable I am here, after only a week. Oh, I still have tons to do, but it's not overwhelming, and I'm establishing places for things, and routines, and smiling.

Though I haven't felt all that well yesterday and today, which is tiresome. The Head, With Stomach. Not critical, not level 10, but annoying. (I've started to play with definitions of each level on my personal headache pain scale, which I'll share when they're done. Saying my head is at level 6 on a scale of 0-10 isn't as clear, as evocative, as saying I've reached the point of unconscious groaning, don't you think?) I called in to work yesterday morning, went in for a few hours in the afternoon when it waned, then was wiped out last night, and awoke today at 3:42 (a.m.!) with it back again. Which wouldn't be so bad, except I Could Not fall asleep again. Though I tried, and tried. Eventually I gave up, and got up, and though I'm past the teenage years of sleeping until noon, I don't choose to get up that early unless I have a plane to catch. Sheesh. By 10 a.m., I felt like it should be mid-afternoon. So it's been an odd few days, and the feeling of relief I had at one point this afternoon when I realized it is the weekend is hard to describe. Two days to get things done, or get nothing done ... glorious.

At some point, probably not this weekend, I need--no, I want to go clothes shopping. I want some warm slacks/pants/trousers that I can wear to work, since the Marketing Department of the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation is usually a wee bit chilly (read long unders and three shirts, with occasional shawl and gloves). Doesn't have to be very corporate, since chinos are fine (jeans on Fridays). Would prefer machine-wash, but can be dry clean if that's all there is. Warm. My brief foray last month was not successful, but now that I can devote some time to it, we'll see.

And I need jeans. At least, I'll be trying on all I have to confirm that none of them please me, but I have my suspicions. During the Move Event, I grabbed a pair that turned out to be give-to-Goodwill baggy, and when I put on another pair, a good friend informed that they really were pretty baggy, too. I certainly haven't lost weight in the last few months (probably gained back a pound or three), but I do believe her (she was coming up the stairs behind me). Not that I want skintight either ... it's so difficult to find them Just Right, isn't it?

The boys seem to be settling in, by the way:

I love the way their paws are all intertwined. Sweet kitty love.