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!

Monday, November 12, 2007

What I Learned

Sometimes you have to try really hard to see the bright side, but heaven knows, I try. And here's what I have learned lately (it's a small lesson, but good to know):

I hate seed stitch.

We don't get along. We don't work well together. We are not compatible.

So now I know.

The way I found out is, someone in my stitch and bitch group thought it would be nice if we knit a scarf or two for Christmas for the waitresses we have regularly where we meet, and all of us would knit part of it, so it would be a group gift. I thought that was a lovely idea, and agreed to take part. Last week, the scarf was handed to me, and I learned that for me, seed stitch, which is extremely simple (or so it would seem), yet falls between the categories of "so simple I hardly have to pay attention" and "must watch and track every stitch and step of the way". That is, I really do have to pay attention to every stitch, but I can't seem to convince myself of it. I kept trying to do crazy things like talk to people while I was knitting (how radical!), and then I would look down and oh shit, look what I did.

It's knit one purl one, for the love of god, how can I have so much trouble with it!

But I do. For some reason, to get it right, I have to sit there and say "knit, purl, knit, purl" and not be distracted. I don't know why this is, but it is. At least I learned before I fell in love with a pattern involving seed stitch; I'm wise to it now, I won't get sucked in to that! Add it to basketweave as stitches I prefer to avoid. There's no shame in that.

Sunday, November 11, 2007


No, not despair: Despair. As in Despair, Inc, or Demotivators? Ringing any bells?

If you've heard of them, you're probably smiling, but if not, may I introduce you to a very funny, very twisted company?

I imagine everyone has seen motivational posters, the kind with a large nature photo and definitions of words like Leadership or Teamwork. Well, Despair has turned that on its head, using the same format to explore words like Apathy, Procrastination, and Idiocy, or take the more traditional power words and give them more realistic definitions:
  • Potential: Not everyone gets to be an astronaut when they grow up.
  • Quality: The race for quality has no finish line- so technically, it's more like a death march.
  • Consistency: It's only a virtue if you're not a screwup.
They're great fun, though most offices, no matter their sense of humor, probably wouldn't approve. I did put the calendar up at my last job, but only after they announced they were closing our site and laying off hundreds of us. It seemed so appropriate then.

They also make stickers to put on your shredder, that say things like "Suggestion Box" or "Enron document storage".

Then there are Bittersweets, which are candy conversations hearts that say things like "Aim Lower" and "Not again".

And then there's this, on their order form:

Now, I promised you yarn , didn't I? Well, here you go:

Not only that, but I actually caught the color in true life yesterday, or darn close to:

Isn't that something?

Saturday, November 10, 2007

What Saturday brought

Wait until you see the yarn I bought today!

No, I mean it, you'll have to wait. I want to photograph it in natural light, and with the time change, it got dark so early, ugh, that I missed today's brief window of opportunity. Perhaps tomorrow.

I can tell you its story, though. I've been being really good about not buying yarn, or otherwise frivolously disposing of my limited (by bills) income, for a while now, but last week I got an e-mail saying that my favorite LYS, the Knitting Room in Arlington, is closing by the end of the year (so sad! snif), and you know what that means: yarn sale!

Judging by the look of the store today, only ten days after the announcement went out, the inventory won't last another week (though apparently they'll still be running all the scheduled classes). I had a good time squeezing lots of yarn, and in the end I fell for this cotton-merino blend from Peru, Mirasol Cotanani, which I'd never even heard of before, but the color! You'll see. At least, it spoke to me, and what it said was "take me home". So I did. I don't know what it wants to be yet, so I put all but one skein away for now (I kept one out as a toy; you know).

I also picked up a couple of library books*, and bought cat food and appallingly expensive gasoline, so there were some ordinary accomplishments to the day as well. And I got a good night's sleep last night, and I got to hear the national anthem performed on the trumpet before the start of tonight's game, so there's something you don't see every day. Or ever, much. It wasn't bad, actually, though I wouldn't want to see it done every time. The Bruins are playing a bit better, I say cautiously, making some nice passes, but they haven't scored yet, so that would probably help, I'm thinking.

*And came home and read one of them, Dexter in the Dark by Jeff Lindsay. If you haven't read his books yet (this is the third in the series), and you like mysteries, then go, now, and pick up Darkly Dreaming Dexter. Go on, go! He's good. I had actually taken this book out of the library a few weeks ago, but it was one of those weeks that got away from me, and I didn't finish it before it was due back. Today I went in to pick up a hold (Bill Bryson's Shakespeare: The World as Stage, and saw Dexter on one of the new tables, so I scarfed it up. They're both 7-day books, so I figured it was only necessary to get one taken care of right away! As if I need an excuse to read...

Friday, November 09, 2007

Friday Random Things

Another odd thought while driving home: isn't the human brain amazing? I can hear just the first few seconds of a song on the radio and identify it instantly (Lola, by the Kinks; it was a live version!). I can do this for hundreds of songs. The reverse also holds: I can hear the beginning of a song and know I don't know it. It's not infallible, but still, it impressed me. It's something I can do without knowing how, like if I'm walking and see a pebble up ahead, and I know which foot I'll be able to kick it with when I get to it. If you gave me the math problem of how long my stride is, and how far away the pebble is, and which foot I start on, it would still take me a while to figure it out, but in live action, I do it without knowing how. Weird.

It was kind of strange that something I do all the time struck me so, but then I can be watching a hockey game and suddenly have this revelation: everything they're doing, they're doing on skates! I mean, I know, duh, but perhaps because I'm so uncoordinated myself, sometimes it just hits me how amazing that is.

At least, it can be impressive. If you're the Bruins lately, not so much. In their last four games, they are 0-4. Oh and four. Oh as in "oh, my stars" and four as in "for the love of pete". Their defense isn't actually that bad, but their offense seems to be missing. Five goals in four games is far from enough. And the injury bug is striking earlier this season:
  • First Manny Fernandez, the big, expensive, "he'll be great when he gets his game going, no really" goalie tweaks a knee
  • then poor Bergeron
  • Andrew Ference with a mysterious "upper core injury" (they used to save that mystery talk for the playoffs, but now it's year-round)
  • Shawn Thornton broke his foot
  • Bobby Allen hurt his arm
  • and last night, Aaron Ward took an elbow to the head, and has a concussion too (sounds like not as serious as Bergeron's, but he certainly was down-and-out on the ice for a couple of minutes, which was scary)
It's just so much more fun to watch when there's hope, and there was earlier on, but we're sliding downhill a bit. At the end of the game last night, I was pretty sure they weren't going to pull it off, just because they were playing like they didn't think they were going to pull it off. When they lose faith in themselves ... when they get 1:58 of a two-man advantage and not only don't score, but barely outshoot the other team ... well, I hope they pull themselves together, is all I'm saying. Otherwise, tomorrow night, I'll be reading with the game on, instead of "watching" the game.

But all is not depressing! For instance, the cats get cuter and cuter:

I mean, don't they? Really?

And here's the final thought for tonight. I passed this house this morning, and since I was stopped for a traffic light, I snapped a quick picture. While I'm sure the burlap-covered objects are bushes or something like, I can't help thinking that they look like petrified gnomes that someone is trying to disguise.

Or is that just me?

Elves, maybe? Dwarfs?

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Of books and authors

Philip Pullman, in case you don't know, is the author of The Golden Compass, a book that's just been made into a movie (it's one of the ones I'm looking forward to, if you recall). I've read a little about the religious controversy his books and the movie are raising, and I also read a really interesting article in Publisher's Weekly that I wanted to share. My favorite line of his in the interview is:
The space that opens up between the reader’s mind and the book is a private space.
That really struck me: so true, and neatly said. You can read the full article here, and if you're at all interested in the movie, the book, or the debate, I encourage you to do so.

I've read a couple of other good books lately, too. I got the new one in Laurell Hamilton's Merry Gentry series, A Lick of Frost, which I powered through in a night. The action in these books tend to happen only over a day or two, which I find slightly disorienting, because A Lot Happens ... but I can't put them down, either, so she's doing something right. I slightly prefer the Anita Blake series, though that's gotten increasingly weird, but basically if she writes it, I'll read it.

In a bit of contrast, I also recently (finally) read Crazy Aunt Purl's book, Drunk, Divorced, and Covered in Cat Hair. It was fun! If you like her blog, you'll like the book, so go buy it if you haven't already.

I have so many books on my pile or list, I expect I'll be writing another post along these lines before long. Read happy!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Heard on the radio

Today was a pretty day in New England.

Of course, I was wearing my winter coat, so that mitigated the pretty a little, but still.

If you've read here for any length of time, you know I don't write about politics much, if at all. That's because I don't follow it much; I don't have the stomach for it. (I really liked The West Wing, but in the real world? Not so much.) Tonight, though, I was listening to NPR on the way home, and heard something that struck me as odd. They were talking about how President Bush had called Pakistan's President Musharraf today, and then they played the sound bite, where Bush says that he told Musharraf two things, to hold elections soon, and to "take off the uniform".

It sounds a little ... funny, doesn't it? The commentator went on to say "give up the uniform", which sounds a lot better to me. Bhutto wants him to give up leading the military, as I understand it. Okay, fine. But "take off" the uniform?

"Take it off, take it all off" is what's running through my mind, I'm afraid. It's an unfortunate commentary on how my mind works, but it is what it is.

The other thing I remember from the news is that in a story about a soldier on trial, he's charged with not just disobeying orders, but "disobeying and disrespecting orders". Isn't that something? I can imagine someone who obeys orders being charged with simultaneously disrespecting them. I hope that's not possible, but in today's world, who knows?

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Some unusual things from today

This morning on the way to work, I came up alongside a truck that I could see had something unusual on the back. The first part I saw looked like a large cement rectangle, maybe 7 feet long and a couple of feet wide and high, and I wasn't sure what it was.

Then as I got closer, I could see a similarly-sized item in front of it, which was a little more shaped on top and apparently gold leaf (quite the contrast), and I drove alongside saying, "Mausoleum?" in as puzzled a tone as you might imagine. Finally, I could see the logo on the truck door, which was Paradise Grave Monuments (or something similar; I couldn't take a picture and I didn't write it down).

So, yes, maybe not technically a mausoleum, I'm not up on the finer points of the terminology in this field, but basically, that's what it was. One very, very plain, and the other oh-so-fancy. Interesting!

I also read an interesting story today, about a man who is traveling around North America to see 30 NHL games in the 30 arenas in 30 days. Wow! What a fascinating concept, and how interesting that it's even possible to see all 30 in 30. According to the article, the cost will come in at "well under $10,000", which really isn't bad when you consider the logistics of the concept. Apparently, he sat down with the schedule, pen and paper, and a spreadsheet, and it took 2 days to figure out how to do it (I kind of feel like, only two?). What a trip that would be!

And in the final item of interest from today, it's the latest in the catalog war, wherein I get more catalogs than I have time to look at. Lately I've been copying my boss, and bringing in a few to look at over lunch. Otherwise, they're getting out of hand. Some of them just sent a new one 3 weeks after the last one! I do recycle them, but what a waste! (And who has time to call them all and say stop sending them? I admit, I don't get to that very often.) Anyway, tonight was notable because I got three catalogs*, and I've never heard of any of them before!

*The number isn't the notable part; it's far from the record, which I think was 9 in one day.

They are:
  • Wolferman's (A Tradition of Fine Food Since 1888)
  • Betty's Attic (Where memories of yesterday live on today!)
  • Design Toscano, with such a startling cover that I photographed it, just for you:

Who do you suppose decided to put the "Big Foot, the Garden Yeti" Sculpture on the front, decked out in Christmas lights and a Santa hat? And who exactly is the Santa in the background shushing? The kid is asleep, and the yeti is looking the other way (permanently). Perplexing.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Cowl Complete!

Meet today's lovely model, Egbear:

Because the cowl, she is finished, but by itself, it photographs not so well:

You don't get the spirit of it, do you? But this is better.

I'm very pleased with how it turned out. I can wear it around the neck, where it is lovely and warm:

And I can pull the back up over my head, if I feel chilly around the ears but don't quite want a hat:

Is this any better, photographically, at conveying it? I can't decide, myself.

Side view:

It rolls a little at the ends, of course, since it is stockinette, but overall I think I made it long enough (it's 17 inches). I don't want it to be too bulky, and the knitting was getting increasingly awkward as I had more to move around the needles due to the twist. Not unworkable, but less enchanting than it was at first. I wore it most of today in the chill-hole I call work, and it worked out quite nicely. Around the neck when I'm just chilly, up on the head when the wind-chill at my desk gets to be a bit much. I like it! It's so satisfying to have made something that turned pretty much just the way I was envisioning.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

More cats, more laundry

Laundry success! Other than the sheets currently on the bed, which I will change if the bed is ever cat-free for more than 30 seconds, everything is clean. Whew!

Poor Harold was on the bed earlier, though I didn't know it until I whisked an afghan off and found I had uncovered him. He didn't even wake up right away! I left the room, stifling giggles, then looked back to see him, head up, wondering what happened. Wait, I was warm and snuggled and now I'm not... I found another blanket to cover him with, and he went back to sleep, but I did feel bad about it, a little.

Then there was Pan, who rediscovered the mirror once there weren't piles of laundry in front of it. He finds it fascinating: clearly, it is another room, but he can't find the way in. What's the trick to it? He can't figure it out. Look right...

Look up...

But I can't get past that cat, he's always in the way!

Perhaps if I think about it some more ... there has to be a way in!

Sometimes he looks behind the frame, too. I suppose I'm lucky he hasn't tried to get back there, and knocked it over. Somehow I feel that the 7 years of bad luck would slide right off a cat, and mightn't it end up on me?

Which I can't afford, though sometimes it feels like I've already been hit with some and just didn't notice the broken mirror. My head isn't too bad right now, though it isn't really good either. It was bad when I woke up yesterday, but gradually cleared. I wasn't happy to wake up to more of the damned sinus pressure today, but I'm hoping it will clear up again. Hope springs eternal!

I did get the six loads of laundry done yesterday, and made apple crisp (even though I didn't have vanilla ice cream in the house, which is so good with it), and made the rest of the apples into sauce ... not a bad day, overall, even if the Bruins did lose. Hopefully they will get revenge on Ottawa tonight, in the second half of the home-and-home. It would help if they would stop taking so many penalties; Ottawa got all three goals on the power play, so let's learn that lesson, please!

Finally, here's a gratuitous cat snuggle photo, just because they were so cute last night.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Of Cat, Laundry, and NaBloPoMo

Pan is having that day again.

He just has to be on my lap. Has to! And why do I keep getting up? Laundry, what's that? And why would I let another cat* on my lap, just because he got down for One Second?

*That other cat would be Harold. They were almost two months old when I got them, and they're 9 and a half years old now, but every once in a while, one will look at the other as if to say, WHO is THAT? And WHY is he on your lap?

So, I'm typing with a cat on my lap. It's easier than when he lies on the table, next to the keyboard, and occasionally stretches and hits the keyboard and makes the computer do something I don't even know how to do. (Does anyone know what, on the number pad end, makes Firefox reopen the last closed tab? He did that last night, and I'm damned if I know how.)

I just ran into one of my neighbors in the hall, coming in, and she said that the weather is miserable out (we're getting heavy rain and wind, remnants of that storm Noel). I could see that by looking, but it's nice to have confirmation that today was a good day to stay in and do laundry.

Yes, more laundry today, and probably tomorrow too. I have of course done laundry in the last few months, but I haven't been 100% caught up in longer than I care to think about. You know, that peaceful feeling when the only dirty clothes in the house are the ones you're wearing? I think that after I finish five or six loads today, I'll take the night off from it, and do the rest tomorrow. By then, it's mostly sheets and towels and blankets, which I still want to do, but I don't want to fall asleep in the middle of the Bruins game tonight either, and all those stairs do add up. I'll spare you the math: it's 12 flights of stairs for one load, plus four flights per additional load when done sequentially. So the 28 or 32 flights of stairs should be enough for today, I think. Not a bad workout, especially since half of them involve carrying clothes: not a great weight, but better than no workout at all.

And, since I joined NaBloPoMo yesterday, I'll be posting tomorrow! That's National Blog Posting Month, in case you haven't seen it around as I have. It's inspired by the National Novel Writing Month idea, and involves posting to your blog every day in November (well, I'm not posting to your blog, I'm posting to mine, but pronouns aside, you get the idea). The motto is, "Let's all post until the Internet explodes". I'm in!

I have to put the badge up here, but maybe tomorrow. When I have Pan on my lap at the computer, I have to have my feet on tiptoes to keep the lap level so that he doesn't slide off, and my feet are going to sleep. The things we do for love.

Friday, November 02, 2007

It may have been a tactical error...

In retrospect, perhaps choosing to watch the Halloween week episodes of CSI and CSI: NY on a night when I'm doing laundry, which is in the basement, was not the best idea.

Do you ever creep yourself out in the basement? Especially at night?

It's much worse when you've been watching the CSIs creep around haunted houses and horror film sets. Word to the wise. I did manage to finish the laundry, and of course was un-grabbed and un-molested, but still. Creepy. Normally I love the On Demand, but tonight it was not my friend.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Movies I'm waiting to see, and the one I saw

There are a couple of movies coming out that I want to see. Back in August, I saw a trailer for August Rush, which looked like just my cup of tea. And, it has Freddie Highmore (so great in Finding Neverland), Keri Russell (who was so good in Waitress), and Jonathan Rhys Meyers (who I liked so much in Bend It Like Beckham). Oh, and Robin Williams. This one opens for Thanksgiving. Can't wait!

Then I read about one that was very well-received at the Toronto Film Festival, called Breakfast with Scot. It gets two of my interests right away: hockey and knitting. Megan Follows, too! There isn't much info on this out, and no release date in the U.S. that I could find in a quick search. I hope it comes south!

Then there's The Golden Compass, based on Philip Pullman's books, which I loved (where do you think Pan got his name?). As with all "beloved books made into movies", I'm strictly in the "hoping they do the story justice" mode. Having books you like made into movies can be a mixed blessing.

Which also applies to The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, though as that doesn't come out until next May, there's plenty of time to get ready for it.

Then, I went to the movies Monday night, having been given a pass to see The Kite Runner. Whew! A very good movie, but there were a few scenes that have stuck with me longer then I would choose. It's very thought-provoking, which is normally good, but there were a few violent scenes that I actually wish I could forget. According to the friend I went with, who had read the book where I had not, the movie-makers actually toned the violence down, so I won't be reading the book, no matter how good it is (and it's supposed to be excellent). I have to sleep at night, after all. I usually go for the happy endings, and while there are exceptions, there aren't many.

Seen anything good yourself? Waiting for anything?