Sunday, December 30, 2007

Of my Sunday

Sleeping late was very nice, but it cut into my to-do time today. I finished my laundry, and made a batch of cookies to take to a party tomorrow night.

Other than that? Largely cat maintenance. Pan always has a hard time when I go away, because unlike Harold, he hesitates to take the lovin' from substitutes.

Harold will throw himself, literally, at the petsitter, begging for attention, while Pan will more or less sit back and say, "You're not my mother." He allows some attention, but makes it clear that it is a poor imitation. (Every petsitter I've ever had for them has said the same thing. One nicknamed Harold 'the love hog' for the way he will push in front of Pan to get the scritches.) The result is that when I get back, Harold wants extra loving, but Pan needs it. Sometimes he wants petting and scritching, and other times just my lap to sleep on.

While I enjoy spending the time with him, I do feel brief pangs for the state of my to-do list, but the bottom line is that he's more important. He's my baby, and I worry about him. I want him to be happy. And although I wish he accepted my absences better, there is something to be said for being the one person who makes someone perfectly happy.

In other news, guess what? It's snowing! According to the paper this morning, we are only a small amount behind the all-time December record, I think they said an inch and a half, and we should get about 6 inches overnight. Oh joy. I'd better get to bed and rest up for another morning of shoveling out my car. Oh, ****.

In case I don't post tomorrow, I'll say it now: have a happy new year!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

A couple of nice presents

My department at work is a small one and very friendly. We have birthday celebrations and pot luck meals, and give each other little presents or cards for Christmas as well as having a gift exchange. I wanted to show you a couple of things I got this year.

One of my coworkers is a painter, and she made everyone a small painting on a magnet to hang on the cube walls. Some were flowers and so on, but for mine, since she knows how much I like sea shells:

Isn't that pretty? I think she did a good job, and it's a very thoughtful gift.

In the gift exchange, we draw names and, in a new twist this year, put a clue as to the identity of the giver on the package in place of a name. You had to guess who the giver was, and get it right, before you could open your present. If you got it wrong, the next person in the circle was up, and you waited until it came around to you again.

So mine said to so-and-so, and then, "Some of my first words were in Portuguese."* It took my recipient two guesses to get me, and it took me I think three before I guessed the clue on mine.

*We were living in Brazil at the time, and I picked it up from the maids. No, I don't remember it now, and no, we never had maids again. All the exciting stuff happened before I remember.

And here's what she gave me:

You kind of have to see it in person to fully appreciate it, but what she did was transform a photo I took of the babies into this print that looks more like a silk screen, and framed it. It's so neat!

She was sneaky, too, in asking me to send her the photo so she could send it to her sister. Very clever; I didn't suspect a thing.

Do you get anything fun at work this year?

Friday, December 28, 2007

Knitting Ornaments (Knitted Ornaments?)

I really wanted to blog about this before Christmas, but when one is working on Christmas presents, for people who read the blog regularly or even just sometimes, well, it lets the cat out of the bag, doesn't it? I wanted the surprise more than I wanted to write about it (though not by much). But now that the holiday has rushed past on its merry way, I am free again. So: look what I made!

I started with scarves, ornament-sized, a great way to use up leftover bits of yarn BTW:

As I was working on them:

And some in black for my brother:

I thought, I wonder how hard it would be to make a little sweater? I bet I could fake one without even bothering to search for a pattern.

So I did, and it worked! How neat is that?

I decided to make the front and back separately, instead of knitting in the round, though I may try it that way another time. I was afraid it would be too round, and I didn't want to fool with blocking; it's an ornament, it's supposed to be quick and easy! So here's what I did (my way of explaining may or not make sense to anyone else, so by all means, ask 'em if you got 'em):

I used stash yarn and size 2 US needles. Your results may vary. Gauge is hardly an issue here, unless you want a perfect fit for your Barbie doll.

Cast on 14.
K1P1 for 4 rows.
K1 row, P1 row six times.
K2tog, K across to last two stitches, K2tog. Purl next row. Repeat these two rows twice more, totaling 6 rows.
Bind off.

Do that once and you have a front, again and you have a back.

I actually sewed the front and back together before I made the sleeves, since I wanted to see how it would look. Turns out, it looked like this:

Promising enough that I continued!

For the sleeves, I cast on 12 stitches.
K1 row, P1 row five times.
K2tog, K across to last two stitches, K2tog. Purl next row. Repeat these two rows once more, totaling 4 rows.
K1P1 for 4 rows.
Bind off.

Do that twice and you have two sleeves.

I didn't do the world's best job of "finishing", but hey, I'm pleased with it anyway, and my parents liked it, too. Which is far more important.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

I'm home, my poppets!

Yes, I have spent quite a nice day at home, recovering from My Most Excellent Christmas Trip. It was wonderful, truly, but I so made the right decision to take this extra day off, even though I was coming home yesterday. The cats agree, so we're unanimous.

They have been limpets today, sleeping on my lap and on the couch and on the other couch and on my lap. Limpets. Remoras. Sweet and cuddly, but in a "make me feel guilty to get up to tend the laundry" way. Still, despite copious amounts of kitty maintenance, I managed to do four loads of laundry, catch up on the newspapers, e-mail, and blogs, and run and empty the dishwasher. I also did some unpacking, though not all.

But after I work tomorrow, I'm at the weekend (let's hear it for the one-day work week), so I should get things somewhat straightened out then. I'm also hoping to see my friends with the twins, who are home from London for Christmas, yay! You should see the Christmas card they sent me, with a picture of the twins in the hats and sweaters I made them.

I also need to finish my Christmas cards this weekend. I may not get them all out by Christmas, but I want them out before New Year's, for the love of yarn.

I spent part of the afternoon watching a marathon of The Biggest Loser on Bravo. It's very inspiring, or am I just suggestible? I watch Clean Sweep and want to declutter, I watch The Biggest Loser and feel the impulse to exercise. Good thing I don't watch things like American Idol or America's Got Talent and start having delusions!

I have so many things to blog about, but not tonight. I'll show you one teaser, though. Here's what I knit while I was away. The quarter is for relative sizing:

Friday, December 21, 2007

So Long, Farewell, Happy Holidays!

I don't know when I'll post next, but I can practically guarantee it won't be until after Christmas. I leave in the morning (over the river and through the woods), and the chances of me blogging from Grandma's are slim to none. I'll just have to take notes to remember everything I want to tell you!

Here's something for you today, though. It's the list (from of 2007's top out of print books, and I was pleased to see that on the U.S. list, two of them are knitting books! I mean, it's too bad that they're out of print, but cool somehow just the same.
6. The Principles of Knitting (1988) by June Hemmons Hiatt. An indispensable resource on hand knitting
8. Aran Knitting (1997) by Alice Starmore. History and how-to about the Irish knitting technique
It finally stopped snowing overnight, and the forecast for Sunday contains rain (gasp), not snow, if you can believe it. According to different sources, it's either the second or third snowiest December on record for Boston, which frankly disgusts me.

This morning I was flashing back to my last winter in Boston before I moved to North Carolina. This was 93-94, and all I remember was a steady cycle of going out in the morning and cleaning off my car, going to work, coming out at night and cleaning off my car, and going home. Lather, rinse, repeat. The Globe started to put a little drawing of one of the Celtics (Robert Parrish, maybe? he was 7 feet tall, wasn't he?) on the front page, and drawing the height of the snow as it compared to him. By the end of winter, they had drawn a snorkel on him, because it was over his head. I really, really hope this winter doesn't continue like that one ... but the portents are not encouraging.

Still, Christmas is coming. The family is gathered at Grandma's, and once I finish my packing and (hopefully) get some sleep, I'll be heading that way. Merry Whatever You Celebrate to you, and I'll catch up with you next week.

Remember, the days start getting longer now!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

"If it's Thursday, it must be snowing"

Thanks to Jack Edwards, the Bruins' TV play-by-play man, for that headline. Last Thursday, of course, there was so much snow that the Bruins, trying to fill seats, discounted the best seats (usually $80-ish to over $100) to under $20. If I hadn't had the three-hour commute that night, I might have gone, but there was no way I was leaving the house again.

It snowed Thursday, it snowed Sunday, it snowed today.

It only took me an hour and a quarter to get home tonight. Sad that that's not bad.

No, I don't think it's pretty. It's messing up the roads and I have to clean off my car again. There's nothing pretty about that.

No, I don't find it very funny to think that it isn't "really" winter until Saturday. We have more snow on the ground than we got all last year. This is winter.

And the next time they predict 1-3 inches, I will have the chance to practice my hollow laugh. That's what they were saying we'd get in my area today, and we got at least 6. Charming. Why do I even bother listening to them?

The side roads still weren't great yesterday, before this storm came along. Now we're back to slush one, I mean square one.

And the person who plows our driveway has buried most of the building's trash cans in a snowdrift that is almost as tall as I am. That thing won't be gone until spring thaw. It should make our trash situation very interesting, which is not something I want to be saying.

Meanwhile, my last Christmas present came in the mail today, so I have just a bit more wrapping to do. Dinner first, though: one of my neighbors is cooking something that smells delicious, and suddenly I'm so hungry!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Christmas Wrapping

Yes, I am finally getting to wrapping presents tonight, happy merry! And thank you to YouTube for letting me hear this from the beginning, since this year every time I run across it on the radio, I seem to be coming in at "... brought this tale to a very happy ending".

Got to get going. I hope your holidayness is going well!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Musical thoughts, Christmas and otherwise

What is it with music and the human brain?

I understand how I can hear a song on the radio while driving to work and be humming it all morning, and I don't even mind much as long as it's a song I like, but why am I then suddenly whistling "Immortal, invisible, god only wise...", which I don't believe I have sung since the year I spent in England in 1986-87? Where did that come from? It's all very well for Dave Barry to say that earworms are caused by radio waves, but that doesn't explain this one.

The other question currently besieging my few remaining brain cells is this: what is it about Christmas that leads to some truly bizarre duets?

I thought David Bowie and Bing Crosby was an odd pairing (and, well, it is), but in recent days I have run across Frank Sinatra with Cyndi Lauper, and then Rod Stewart with Dolly Parton. Say what? Who has these ideas?

Monday, December 17, 2007

I Won't Even Wish for Snow*

According to Barry Burbank with WBZ,
Boston's snowfall in the recent two storms totalled 18.1" with this month's total at 19.6" which is 2.5" more than the city received all of last season! Based upon records dating back more than 130 years, this is the 8th snowiest December behind the 22.5" in 2003.
And of course, that's the 8th snowiest December as of today, December 17th. I wonder where we'll be by the 31st. Keep in mind, too, that that's for the City of Boston. We frequently get more out here in the suburbs, away from the coast.

Can you believe it?

And guess what it's going to do Wednesday night? Go on, three guesses. You'll never guess...

Can we talk about something else? I have a question for any other Ravel-ers out there, a question of Ravelry etiquette. Have you ever had someone you don't know add you as a friend? (You can tell I've never done anything remotely like a social networking site before.) So far, the people who have added me as friends are people I know, either in real-life (whatever that really means these days) or through reciprocal blog-reading. Even someone I met once, we exchanged Ravelry IDs so we could look at each other's stashes and projects and so on, and she added me as a friend, and I was fine with that.

But someone I never met, never heard of? I looked at her profile, and although she does live in Massachusetts, I'm still pretty sure I don't know who she is. Why would she want to add me? Anyone? Ideas?

*I was listening to Christmas music on the way home, and Mariah Carey singing "All I Want for Christmas" came on, and when she sang that line, I muttered, "no kidding!" It seemed like a good title for this whining-about-the-weather post.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Around the Tree

After Christmas, I'll be able to explain why I had the camera close-up to my tree in the first place, but I thought I would share some of my favorite ornaments, since the alternative is scenes like this:

Pretty, but depressing. (That was Friday on the way to work.) This is better:

In grade school, we made ornaments out of real eggs (contents blown out, of course), using our imaginations to decorate however we liked. (I don't remember exactly when this was, but probably 4th or 5th grade--9 or 10 years old). I made two, one a random patchwork of fabric bits:

And one your classic bunny head:

The ears droop, of course, always have; what are you going to do?

Another time, we took foam balls and wrapped them in bits of fabric, for a quilt effect:

Then there's the hockey theme (of course); you can see a Bruins ornament below, but if you look closer at the top, you can see a pair of penguins playing hockey:

Doesn't everyone have hockey-playing-penguin ornaments on their tree?

Finally, since you can see the ribbon loop strands in some of the photos, I wanted you to see the "birds making ribbon loop strands" ornaments, too:

The one in the foreground holds the loops, while the one in the background has the glue. Of course.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

A New Record for My Commute

Well, today's storm was going to be a small one a day or two ago, they thought, but yesterday they started talking about 6 to 12 inches. Oh, guck. So today at work, those of us who could, left early with stuff to do at home.

I left at 1:15. It had only been snowing less than an hour, so you would have thought that would be enough.

Well, no.

My commute takes 25 minutes outside rush hour, and usually runs 30 to 45 minutes. Today, I would have expected it to be perhaps double, but instead it was three hours.

Yes, I got home at 4:15, and need I add I was in no mood to work? (I did, of course, after some kitty time, but really.)

We all heard about the storm, so why did the people in charge of plowing and sanding not get the memo? The roads were terrible, every one, back road and highway, and I didn't see a plow until I was almost home. Well, that's not quite true, I saw plenty of vehicles with plows on their fronts, but none of them were plowing. Terrible!

And there's more coming this weekend. Oh, joy. As someone said to me recently, why do you live here?

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Of winter (uck) weather and candy canes

Can anyone help me understand why I'm not that fond of peppermint, but I really enjoy candy canes? I mean, candy canes are peppermint, right? They are, aren't they? So why do I eat them, and like them, when the rest of the year I don't eat peppermint, hardly at all? It's a mystery ... but one I prefer to the conundrum of what is up with the weather this month.

Because honestly, by next Monday we'll have had as much snow and other crud as we did all last winter. There's a small-to-medium storm coming in tomorrow and another, a big one (it may be a Nor'easter! Eight to fourteen inches! Panic now!) over the weekend.

I think having advanced weather forecasting is a decidedly mixed blessing. Knowing what's coming may allow me to prepare for it, but it also rather depresses me.

So let's talk about something else. I learned today that I can create a calendar online, with my own photos, and have it be for sale to anyone who wants it. Do you think anyone would buy one? I could do New England scenes, or the cats, or something. Any thoughts?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Sorry, No Details

'Tis the season to not be able to write about certain things. I can allude, of course, but it's not really as satisfying.

Not that I won't tell what I can! I can tell you that I got a present in the mail today, one I ordered for someone else, that is, and I was very, very pleased with it! But that's all.

And I'm knitting ... something(s) ... and I like the way it's/they're turning out. No more than that, though.

I had a hair appointment tonight, and on the way over I was thinking of it in terms of lost knitting time (my, how I've changed in the last few years), and wondering how long I could knit under the cape, if it was plain knitting, without having to look at what I was doing. It probably wouldn't work, but it would be interesting to try.

Anyway, to make up for the lack of actual content, let me share a story that I simply loved reading. It seems there is a secret organization in Paris dedicated to restoring France's cultural heritage. They were "discovered" recently when they let the Panthéon's administrator know that they had repaired the building's clock.

Yes, they broke in, and set up a secret shop to fix the clock (which had been allowed to fall into disrepair in the 1960s).

These are my kind of criminals. The best line in the story? I vote for:
"The Panthéon's administrator thought it was a hoax at first, but when we showed him the clock, and then took him up to our workshop, he had to take a deep breath and sit down."

Monday, December 10, 2007

Probably I won't knit this, but...

But I am tempted!

Not for me, for my Dad, who grew up in New York City and is a civil engineer and why wouldn't he need a Brooklyn Bridge scarf?

Well, for one thing, he lives in Florida.

Hmmm. So probably not. But isn't it fun? Or funny? Or both?

It's from Son of Stitch'n Bitch. I saw this pattern mentioned in a review, and got the book out of the library to see what was involved. I haven't done double knitting before, so I'd want to try it in a smaller project before diving into this, but before I go there, there's just no getting around the fact that my parents live in Florida, and Dad does not need a nice, warm, double-knit scarf, no matter how a propos. It's only funny for that first moment of opening, and then what would he do with it?

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Thursday thoughts

Note to self: I must try, and really try, to get, really get, that everything is not about me.

So-and-so is not doing thus-and-so solely to annoy me. If it does annoy me, well, that makes it my problem, not hers.


Sometimes being a grown-up sucks, doesn't it? And I'm finding that I can't have ice cream for dinner every night.

I had a doctor's appointment tonight, and the doctor was running more than an hour late*. I got a lot of knitting done! The ruffles scarf is almost finished, so I should be able to give it to the twins' mother for Christmas (see how I try to appease the fates by saying 'should'). What to knit next? I have a couple of ideas, but I may just work on a plain old hat while I ponder.

*Not to mention that I went to the office and found that they'd moved down the street. "Oh, didn't you get a call about that?" No, if I had, I wouldn't have gone to the old office! Silly woman.

One of the errands I ran after the appointment was to the Post Office to get stamps for my Christmas cards. U.S. knitters, have you seen what they have this year? I was caught by surprise:

We must be taking over the world: they made stamps that look knit!


I zoomed in on the tree both because I like it the best, and because it's apt: I started decorating my tree tonight! Lights and ribbon loops are on, as is the top ornament. The other ornaments, candy canes, and icicles will be tomorrow, hopefully. I'm tired and my hands are pine-sticky, but it's so pretty.

And Harold helped!

I used to help my dad with putting the lights on. It's much easier when someone is feeding the string to you, instead of having to do it all yourself, right?

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

A new twist on political candidates, and brrr

On the radio yesterday morning, I heard two DJs discussing an unusual aspect of politics. They were opening the phones for a discussion of whether you would be more likely to vote for a candidate who could fly.

Like Superman. You know. Superpowers.

So, okay, this is a rock/alternative station, and thus not a really serious political discussion. But hey, they were talking politics! They did specify that the candidate would have no other superpowers, just flight, and though I didn't hear anyone calling in (I got to work before they returned to the topic), one of them mentioned that he had watched recent coverage of one of the candidates who didn't impress him, and how he didn't think his feelings would change if that one could fly.

Such a funny way of looking at it, don't you think?

The weather lately is getting on my nerves. I'm not a big fan of winter, and although snow in December isn't unheard of around here, it's supposed to melt in a day, two at the most, not linger getting grayer and more dingy. Instead, it has stayed freezing effing cold, and it's still icy and dangerous* underfoot in plenty of places, and yuck, me no likey.

*Two of my neighbors have fallen in recent days, I learned at tonight's condo meeting. One is afraid she broke her elbow, though as she said, "I'd know if it was broken, right?" I would have thought so, but what do I know?

What doesn't help is that we're having some sort of problem with the heat, and while it isn't broken (thank heavens, as it drops into the 20s), it is very, very chilly in here. For a residence, anyway. Not warm enough for me, anyway. We have someone coming to check it out, but until then, brrr.

Off to watch the rest of the Bruins game. Oh, let them hold onto that lead!

Monday, December 03, 2007

What Happened Today

See what happened today?

It started yesterday, but it Did Not Stop today (or never for long, anyway; why do I even listen to the weather-people? turn to rain, indeed).

What else happened today? Well, this:

I thought it was fun, but I'm like that. It actually turned over just before I parked for stitch and bitch, which was fortuitous, since today especially was no day to be messing with photography in motion.

This happened yesterday:

Look, a little tree! Well, I think of it as little, since only the top-ornament bit is taller than I am. It's possible other people have different size standards. I can't wait to start decorating; maybe tomorrow. Tonight I had to make cookies for a pot luck lunch tomorrow.

This also happened yesterday, but I wanted to share anyway.

So cute! I woke up this morning pinned by Pan, who did not want his heat source getting up, thank you.

Clearly my title needs editing, but I can't even be bothered. It's so past my bedtime! But I enjoyed stitch and bitch, the Bruins won, I did a load of laundry (clean long johns), and made the cookies. I have earned bedtime, I think!

Saturday, December 01, 2007

A Fast Knit

I started mitten number three on Thursday night, and finished it tonight, and started and finished number four tonight (before the Bruins game was half over), so the mittens are done! I do love a quick project, it's so rewarding. I started the first one on Thanksgiving, so that's 4 mittens in 10 days. Plus, I knit a little on the group scarf and another scarf during that time as well.

And as I've said before, almost anything is infinitely cuter when baby-sized:

The red pair is not identical, since I ran out of red yarn a row or two before the amount I'd used in the first of them. I'm okay with that.

I like how my transition-row experimenting turned out, too. Alternating colors on that row gave a fun, "portcullis" effect that tickles my fancy. Why yes, I am easily amused, how did you know?

Friday, November 30, 2007

Happy and Thoughtful

Friday always makes me happy, and today being November 30th is making me introspective, since it is the end of NaBloPoMo, the 30th day of my self-imposed daily posting.

I didn't think it would be terrible, trying to post every day, since I do blog most days anyway, but in fact I had very little trouble doing it. I thought that I would have at least the occasional fit of "oh, no, I haven't blogged yet" and/or "whatever will I blog about today", but in fact, neither was true. There were certainly a few days when I wouldn't have blogged simply because it takes time, and some nights I wanted to get into bed already. And there were a few instances of mild cudgeling of brain cells for "what happened today that I want to write about", but it never got dramatic (or melodramatic). I'm rather pleased about that. I'll have to get an "I did it!" badge sometime, but I probably wouldn't have done it tonight even if their site wasn't overwhelmed. Sometime.

And although I know I don't "have to" write tomorrow, I still may. I still have plenty to say.

In fact, if I'd had my camera with me while shopping tonight, I would be blogging about the extremely strange and to my eyes ugly Bruins cap I saw. But alas, no camera.

Anyway, I challenged myself, I did it, and so that means one of two things: I should challenge myself more often, or I should rest now!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

I am such a word nerd

Recently, Jennifer blogged about this online game, FreeRice, which simultaneously tests your vocabulary and donates rice to the UN's World Food Program. I had to try it, of course, and it is addictive.

The way it works is, they show you a word and four choices for what it means. The more you get right, the more rice is donated (it's paid for by advertising on the site, but I didn't find the ads at all obtrusive).

It also gives you a rating for your vocabulary, which goes up and down as you get things right and wrong. Now that is addictive! I would see my number dip and have to play a little longer to get it back up! I got my vocabulary level up to 47, and couldn't get it higher (though I will keep trying, of course; addictive, remember). I donated a lot of rice! I don't even know how much; I've been watching the words, not the rice tally.

And here's something I don't say very often: what a lot of words I don't know! I have to learn to trust my instincts, too, when I don't know the answer right away: many times I would first think the answer was one thing, but then select another as more likely, only to find that my first guess was correct. Somehow I know more than I think I do. Isn't the brain mysterious?

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

A book tree, and the other kind

How much fun is the book tree?

I found it on Boing Boing, which is a source for such a range of oddball stuff, words can hardly describe.

This weekend I want to get mine own wee* Christmas tree, of which I was self-deprived last year having just moved and having enough chaos in my life and home without bringing in a piece of the forest. But I miss my ornaments and that wonderful smell, oh that smell. Love it!

*Maybe only five feet tall, instead of seven. :)

I did toy with the idea of going to a farm and cutting one fresh, but someone at work said that she went to Smolak Farms in North Andover and did that and it was $60 for any size tree, which is probably a deal if you're buying one to fill the foyer of your McMansion, but seems like remarkably less of a deal for a small tree. Like it's twice what I'd like to spend. Actually, I'd like to find one for $5, but realistically, $30 is more within the realm of possibility. I'd also like to get one that isn't shedding needles on its way IN the door, so we shall see. If you feel like crossing your fingers for me, that would be appreciated.

I finished the second mitten tonight, and the funniest thing happened in the process. (Well, I think it's funny, perhaps fortunately.)

I started it at stitch and bitch on Monday, and since I was watching the Bruins game at the same time, I made the decision not to count rows but just to wing it in terms of making it like the first one. Today, when I started thinking about switching from the blue to green, I decided to switch earlier, rather than try to match where I switched on the first one and (inevitably) be off by one row. They don't have to be identical twins, after all, right? What does it matter?

I looked at the finished pair tonight, and they are identical. Hilarious: only when I'm not trying. Knitting has a mind of its own, you know?

Now to start the next pair. Well, not tonight, but perhaps during tomorrow night's Bruins game.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Steak for lunch

It's slightly late to be posting about thankfulness, since in the true American tradition we're supposed to forget Thanksgiving the instant the meal is over and jump right into Christmas, but what the hey. Thanksgiving is the big "food" holiday, and today I am thankful not to have food allergies.

Every year around Thanksgiving, my boss takes the department out to lunch, which is a very nice tradition if you ask me. I had a good bit of sirloin steak, with mashed potatoes and green beans, and when I didn't eat the carrot, my end of the table had a brief discussion about some of our food quirks, such as that I don't like cooked carrots, so if I'm making something like chili or stew, I'll chop them up very small so I don't get that soggy-bite sensation (carrots are supposed to crunch! maybe I watched too much Bugs Bunny as a child).

At the other end of the table, one of my coworkers had to wait until the rest of us were almost done before her meal came out, because when they brought the plate out originally, they had put dressing on the salad, and the steak was marinated. She has no food quirks: she has potentially life-threatening food allergies. I can't even remember everything she can't eat, but what I do remember is no wheat (which is in everything, including soy sauce and most salad dressing, if you know anyone who has to eat gluten-free you know what they go through), and no iodized salt, which is in just about everything else. She virtually never eats out because it's too much work to get the restaurant to do what she needs, even if they're willing (she had called ahead to today's restaurant, but obviously that didn't help).

Through it all, she has The Best Attitude. I would be the world's worst whiny brat in her situation, and she handles it with grace and humor. She loves to cook, has workarounds that taste amazing, is interested in what others have and never seems jealous that it's something she can't have: it's humbling and impressive. (It does make me think that perhaps there is something in the concept that you're only given as much as you can handle.)

I am very grateful that I have no food allergies. Nothing even makes my throat itchy: none of the can't eat ground nuts and what kind of fruit is in that. I have food quirks aplenty, but that's just my own silliness, and I'm thankful.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Bruins Won!

Tonight was a big game, in that the Bruins were facing the Flyers for the first time since Randy Jones rear-ended Patrice Bergeron into the boards and knocked him somewhere into 2008. There was talk of how the Bruins Must Win This One For Patrice. And talk of what would happen if Jones tried to weasel out of The First Challenge. (I tell you, the testosterone has been dripping off the sports pages for a few days now.)

And what happens?

Well, they did win, yay! Very important two points, I must say, and they played pretty well and Tuukka Rask got his second NHL victory.

But all's not right with the world. Honestly, did Philadelphia time-travel recently? Are they not aware that the days of the Broad Street Bullies are supposed to be long past? What was Scott Hartnell thinking, to hit Andrew Alberts from behind, hip-checking his head into the boards? Quite simply, what is wrong with this team? The Jones-Bergeron incident was not the first time they had a player suspended this season, it was the third, and they don't seem to be learning anything from it. Perhaps it's time to suspend the coach? Because this is ridiculous.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

The end of the weekend, with cat

While I was holding Pan and had a camera to hand*, I got this charming shot of Pan writhing on my lap. The angle is odd, of course, making him look rather like he's standing, but it was hard to get a good shot for some reason! Anyway, this is what he looks like quite frequently on my lap, as he leans back and relaxes into the belly rub and starts rolling.

*He has some odd spots of hair loss on his front paws. It clearly doesn't bother him a bit, as he lets me handle them without complaint, and I hate to bring him to the vet for what might be nothing (since vet visit plus heart condition equals stress equals bad), so I thought I could bring them pictures and ask if there's anything they can diagnose from that. I fully expect to be looked at like I have two heads, but that's okay as long as they look at the pictures, too.

He's my baby!

I am sadly seeing the end of the weekend approach. I love having all this time off (I know, four whole days, not really so much in the grand scheme), and got quite a lot of the things I wanted to do done, but still. I like my job quite a bit, for a job, but let's just say that if I won the lottery, I would not be working again (though I would give notice, I wouldn't want to leave them in the lurch, and of course I almost never buy lottery tickets anyway, so it's hardly likely).

I also slept quite a bit this weekend, which makes me wonder if my system was fighting something off. I feel fine, but I don't usually sleep as late as I did both yesterday and today, so I do wonder. I should try to get to bed early tonight, since I don't get to sleep late tomorrow, and give my system as much help as I can. I Do Not Want To Get Sick! Oh, please. Far too much to do. I'm going to keep my fingers crossed.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Who's There?

Who are you, and what do you smell like?

The person who Googled "weird catalog" found an entry that actually did have something to do with that.

The ones who searched for "Boston Bruins scarf pattern" and "knit a bruins scarf" and "hockey knit scarf" did not, though I wonder if they found one elsewhere, and what it looked like.

I think the search "hockey games ever played on christmas" bringing up my blog just goes to show that questions need to be as specific as possible. Those are all words I've used, sure, but not together. (If they meant the NHL, then no, I don't believe they've ever played on Christmas Day; not in the modern era, at any rate.)

The search "knit with cats" could have been looking for a number of different things, so it's hard to say. Maybe I was what they were looking for; more likely not.

In conclusion, I must say that it's a good thing I'm not trying to please everyone, for that way madness lies.

Friday, November 23, 2007

I Heart Jonathan Rhys Meyers

I liked him in Bend It Like Beckham, but in August Rush, well. It's enough to give a person totally unrealistic ideas about life and love. Sigh... And can we please not talk about how he was born in a year I remember? Thank you.

So, I liked the movie, and so did my friends, though we all had different degrees of difficulty with realism, likelihood, and probability. If you go see it, do tell me at what point your suspension of disbelief broke down, okay?

The Bruins won today, which was nice, and I got some knitting done, too. I have the group scarf from my stitch and bitch again, and it's going much better this time. Don't get me wrong, I still do not like seed stitch (I do not like green eggs and ham...), and pretty much have to sit with my eyes on it, saying, "Knit ... purl ... knit ... purl" all the way, but it is working, which is more than I could say last time. I'm not enjoying it, but I'm not hating it either, and it is working, which is nice. Satisfying. And on Monday, I pass it on!

I ought to go do some dishes now, but I have a feeling that some kitty maintenance is called for. The portable ones do not care for my going out, and require appeasing when I return.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Opportunities for Twirling

In honor of the holiday, I wore a dress today (gasp!), and one that has a full skirt. I found myself twirling a bit here and there. When I got home, I was ready to take it off (since it is almost floor length, and I'm not the sort of person who can manage that without stepping on the hem a bit, which is tiresome), but I had to twirl a few more times first. I just don't have the opportunity to twirl very much, and I seem to enjoy it. Twirl, twirl!

I had a very nice Thanksgiving Day, as I hope you did as well (assuming you're American, anyway). In addition to the expected (slept in, watched some of the Macy's parade, ate and socialized all afternoon), I also started and finished a baby mitten.

I want to make mittens for the twins for Christmas*, but hadn't gotten to stash-diving until today. I found the yarn left over from their sweaters, which seems fitting, so I tried it out, based on a pattern I found on Ravelry. It works! Of course, I haven't tried it on an actual baby, so we'll see how well it does in real-world testing, but I like the look of it, and it certainly was easy enough. I should (knock wood) be able to make three more before Christmas.

*I don't think their mom is a regular reader here, being a little busy and all, but if she pops in, Hi! Sorry to spoil the surprise!

So that was a pleasant little accomplishment for the day. Tomorrow is my own mini-Thanksgiving meal, and a Bruins matinee, and going to see August Rush with friends, and it's only day 2 of 4 in a row off. Ahhhh.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Thanksgiving prep

Last year, as you may recall, I moved on the day after Thanksgiving. It sort of threw my holiday for a loop, as it was hard to enjoy the excellent meal and company at my friends' house when I could feel the looming pressure of all not yet done and movers coming in the morning. (Why, yes, I was up most of the night, how did you know?) So the first thing I am thankful for is that this year is much less, well, like that. Instead of the peak of chaos, I am happily looking at a four-day weekend to relax in and enjoy.

The second thing I am thankful for is that tonight, I am making my angel salad. This is a dish that my family, my mother's family, always has at Thanksgiving, for longer than I've been alive anyway. When I describe the ingredients to the fully curious, I am sometimes told it "sounds like ambrosia", which it could be as far as I would know, never having had ambrosia. All I know is that Thanksgiving isn't Thanksgiving without it, and fortunately my friends let me bring it and don't even try to convince me that it should be a dessert (it isn't; it just isn't).

My wants are pretty simple for this meal: turkey (white meat), stuffing (and nothing "fancy", just basic celery-onion-bread-seasonings), mashed potatoes with butter, and angel salad. I'm not one who needs gravy (unless it's to rescue dry turkey or stuffing), and I don't like cranberry sauce. I'll eat some vegetables, if they're there, but I don't need them, and I don't even like pumpkin pie (forget about mincemeat: what is that, anyway?). I'll happily drink cider, but wouldn't feel deprived without it.

Turkey. Stuffing. Mashed potatoes. Angel salad. Must be Thanksgiving!

I'm going to the same friends this year; they're like my local family. It will be a good-sized group around an overflowing table, and will I have no doubt be a wonderful time, so I'm thankful for that, too. There's only one drawback.

No leftovers.

What kind of Thanksgiving involves only one meal of turkey? It's not that I want to be eating it for a week, but this is one show that should go into reruns, in my opinion.

So here's what I'm doing about it. Tomorrow, I'll bring my angel salad and a couple of other things to their house, and have a fine time. Then, on Friday, I'll cook my own little turkey breast, and make stuffing, and mash potatoes, and have an equally fine time, with the house smelling of turkey and yummy leftovers for the weekend.


The final thing that I'm thankful for today is that I live in such an interesting world. Along with a credit card offer, the Bed and Bath circular, the Consumer Reports 2008 buying guide, and eight catalogs, in the mail today I also received this card:

Yes, somehow, and I honestly have no idea how, I am among the chosen few being entreated to buy the Butter Butler, one of whose selling points is "Set it and forget it". As they say in the South, Do what?

I haven't looked through all today's catalogs, since I do already have a stack to get through, but just at a glance, if I was going to buy anything, it would be much more likely to come out of the Lake Champlain Chocolates catalog. The Chocolates of Vermont, say, or the Almond Butter Crunch. Or simply a Milk Caramel or Dark Peppermint bar. Mmm, chocolate.

Well, I must get angel salad-ing, so happy day before to you!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

My new best (kitchen) friend

Did I mention getting this for my birthday?

I don't think I did, and I have to tell you, I love it! I used it this weekend making chili, and I was practically asking it where it had been all my life. I had used it a few times before, and knew that it rocked, but wow, the onion and carrots and celery* just tornadoed into specks, almost instantly. It was wonderful!

*I don't like to bite into large pieces of cooked carrot, and cooked celery doesn't do anything for me either, so I chop them into tiny bits. As for the onion, who likes to chop onions?

Well, really, I just wanted to mention it. Now, I have a Bruins game to go watch, once I dislodge Himself from where he is trying to sleep on my wrist. The life of a cat...

Monday, November 19, 2007

Thoughts on Blogging

Do you realize that based on two recent posts, a Google search for UFO and cloning* could bring up my blog? How interesting blogging is: it really leads one to unexpected places.

*I haven't tried it, so I don't know how high up the list I'd be. Probably not that much, but certainly I'm not the site to visit if you want to clone a UFO anyway.

I don't know that I thought about frequency of blogging before I started, except to not want to be someone who writes that "I can't believe I haven't written in so long" post every few months, and nothing else. That's just frustrating, you know? To find a blog that you like reading and then they don't write ... sigh. I didn't know if anyone would be reading what I wrote (other than mama), but I knew I didn't want to do that to any potential readers.

What I've found, though, is that I rarely have trouble coming up with at least a brief something to write about. For someone who never finishes what she starts writing, that was kind of a surprise: I have a fair bit to say! Perhaps it's the novel-writing imagination I lack, which is a shame given that I really want to finish the hockey-novel-in-progress (except I don't know what happens next).

I don't always write every day (except this month!), but I write most days, and finding the time isn't usually a problem. The dishes can always be ignored for another few minutes while I tell you what happened to me today, or what my knitting is doing, or how cute my cats are. I sometimes wonder if I'd blog as much if I didn't live alone. Maybe, maybe not.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Our love is pure

Yes, we're both boys. But we've been fixed, so it isn't an issue.

And after all, this is Massachusetts.

We should all be so happy, I say.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Lessons from the Book Fair

I just typed that title and flashed back to book fairs at school when I was a kid, when I'd end up with a handful of Scholastic paperbacks, and while those are fairly fond memories, that isn't what I did today. In fact, I'm not sure how those in charge of the Boston International Antiquarian Book Fair would feel about the comparison, though one hopes they wouldn't mind.

Yup, I went into the city today. A small group was organized by the UMass Amherst Friends of the Library*, and I thought it sounded like an interesting time. Which it was! They had someone give us a little talk about the fair and book collecting generally, then handed out passes and away I went. It took me 2 hours to walk through, and that was by no means looking at every book.

*"Nobody ever graduated from a library. Nobody ever graduated without one."

I did look at most of the booths, though, and it was very entertaining. The first thing I learned was that some of the dealers come from much farther away than I realized: there were several from London, for instance. And all over the US, too. It isn't that I thought it was all Boston dealers (there is that International in the title), but still, the idea of them packing boxes of books to cross the Atlantic with, whew.

Other points of interest:
  • unusual titles included How They Carried the Mail and The One-Eyed Poacher and the Maine Woods
  • an Indian edition of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince that had a note on the back: "Copy Right in India" (sic!)
  • Winnie the Pooh in Russian for $100.00
Since when I go into your average used (not antiquarian) bookstore, I find that their idea of old is about five years ago, it was a treat to see actual old books. Not all were older than I am, but many were. And I saw a few books from my childhood, including Hilary Knight's Christmas Nutshell Library--for $300.00. Granted, it was in better shape than mine: in my set, the box edges are frayed and one of the four little books has no dust jacket (not that I care). It was strange to see it looking so new. And I saw a first edition of Eloise at Christmastime, though I didn't note the price (probably $100, it seemed that half the books I picked up were priced at that), lacking the interpretive little-girl-coloring-over-pages effect that my own copy has.

The absolute strangest thing I saw was a case of 50 artificial human eyes, in various sizes and colors, which apparently were used to fit people for artificial eyes. The only connection that I can see between that and books is that it's hard to read books with an artificial eye, and that's one tenuous connection. (Challenge: can you do better?)

The set of eyes cost $6500.00, by the way, which is exactly one-tenth the cost of the most expensive book I saw. I'm not saying it was the most expensive book there, either, I'm sure it wasn't, but there was a copy of Faulkner's Mosquitoes that cost $65,000.00 (sixty-five thousand dollars!), I can't even think why, or who, or what the...!

In closing, I give you a few photos I took today. I didn't take any in the Fair, since I wasn't entirely sure it would be allowed, or at least welcomed. However, as I headed for home, I caught this unusual city architecture shot:

And after I got home, I caught the dynamic duo in one of the classic poses:

I call this "I sleep next to my brother because he is in the spot I want to sleep in."

Friday, November 16, 2007

If cats could clone

Lately, I've been getting the distinct impression that the one of me is Not Enough for the two cats.

They each frequently come along and are quite dismayed to find that there is Another Cat on my lap when they wish to be there ("Who is that?").

Then there was the time that I was on the couch with Pan on my lap and Harold came along, assessed the taken-lap situation, and jumped up and lay across my chest, much to my surprise--and Pan's! (Pan stayed for a while longer, but left in disgust when Harold started wiggling around.)

One of them will be on my lap, like Pan was tonight, and jump down to go eat or something, then come back and be shocked, yes shocked, to find that the other has taken advantage of the vacancy ("I was only gone for a minute!").

So I think they may be looking into cloning me. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if they made 2 of Me, so that they could each have one who didn't ever leave the house (as I am sadly wont to do).

Of course, Pan will have to find time between baths.

He was washing his face, but doesn't it look more like he's making a rude gesture to the paparazzi? He hates the flash.

Meanwhile, Harold appears to be planning his escape.

Perhaps he needs cloning supplies? I've never cloned, but I imagine a trip to the hardware store would be involved.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

UFO no more!

A long time ago, I was knitting a sock, and even though it was a second sock, it was still moving along on the teeny-tiny needles very nicely, was in fact virtually done, when we had an Unfortunate Incident on the ferry.

I wasn't ready to deal with it (so close! where did the stitches go?), so I let it sit until I felt like tackling it. In truth, I might have taken it to my stitch and bitch group to deal with it while there was moral support around, but it's a dark blue yarn and the lighting where we meet is just not that good.

Tonight, for some reason, I said, "I'm ready!" and pulled it from its spot of languishment. There were only a couple of stitches that I could find floating free, so I tied them up firmly, and hoped for the best. And if the toe is not perfectly kitchenered, this way I can tell which was the first sock and which the second.

Oh, you want to see?

(I am not the first to mention that photographing one's own feet is an interesting proposition.)

A visit from the inspector general:

He likes it!

He rubbed all over it. Perhaps saying he likes it may be an exaggeration (he likes attention), but still, it felt like a seal of approval.

What shall I do with the remaining yarn? It's Schaefer Anne, and there's quite a bit left. Hmmm.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Judging a something by its something

Do you remember last week, when I mentioned and photographed the extremely strange catalog cover? Well, I finally looked at the catalog itself (you know, the inside), and it really is that strange! I mean, "they" say not to judge a book by its cover, but in this case, it's twoo, it's twoo! That's one weird catalog, my friends. Not weird-cool, either. Weird-disturbing. I want to see the houses of people who buy these things, but I wouldn't want to go there alone.

I've been alternating catalog lunches (bringing in several catalogs to leaf through over lunch) with knitty ones. I like knitting at lunch, but the pile of catalogs is so close to being out of control, sometimes I feel like I better act fast. Today I was knitting, though. I started another Ruffles Scarf recently (when was that? Oh, when I finished the cowl), using the alpaca Stacey bought in Peru, and I like the lighter yarn: it drapes more. See?

I like it coiled up, too (and it's more true to the color in this photo):

I just enjoy knitting this pattern; it entertains me to watch what it does. I probably won't keep it, anyway; it may be a Christmas present, if it's done in time. We shall see. I also want to make baby mittens for the twins, but that should be pretty darn quick, even to make 4, don't you think? Little hands! I just need to stash-dive to see if I have anything that will do, or if I need to get some. I bet I have something that will do, though. One tends to, doesn't one?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

I think that I shall never see

Although there is beauty in even the most muted of Autumn color displays, I admit to finding great satisfaction in a flaming red tree.

Even its detritus is lovely.

In the "interesting" category is this plant:

I mean, look at that leaf!