Sunday, December 30, 2007

Still A Little Christmas

We went over to my aunt and uncle's this afternoon and had Christmas. My cousin Becca had bought the family a Jeopardy DVD game but unfortunately it kept freezing up and having to be re-started, which was sort of disappointing. Becca seemed to like her wrist warmers, modeled here by Rachel. They are from Weekend Knitting and were done in less than one skein of Malabrigo in Indigo.


ML, your's are not the same, so don't get all excited...or disappointed. My aunt liked her scarf, my uncle liked his Prosecco and the other family members seemed to like their gift cards. So, successful all around, I think.

I got a wonderful onion chopping device, which is nice because my current Onion Chopping Device will be leaving for college in (weep) a couple of weeks. (Man, Rachel does a great job chopping onions and garlic. I think she has the patience that I lack.) And my aunt gave me five or six skeins (I think it was six but I can't remember for sure) of Mirasol Hacho in a blend of blues and purples and touches of pink. Yum! I'll try to get a picture of that in a day or so. And Becca gave me the Pop-Up Moby Dick. It's wild. And something I saw in the store and mentioned to Mr. Pointy Sticks...fortunately, he didn't pick up on the hint. Or perhaps Becca had spoken to him.

And Alaina gave us a tower of home-made cookies and fudge. Yum again.

Current Reading

I finished Swan Song and am now about half-way through July, July by Tim O'Brien. Pretty good. I have lots of good books awaiting me, too.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

In Which We Are NOT Very Productive....

Well, I couldn't have two days like that in a row, now could I?

Didn't do a lot today. Got some shopping done, got a second little birthday present for a friend, visited with my brother and his girlfriend (they stopped by to sample a lime cookie but I had sort of forgotten about them and they were still chilling...oops), bought buttons for Rachel's hat, started a Fiber Trends scarf (Oak Leaf and Acorn...in some brown Cherry Tree Hill sock that I got in the International Scarf Exchange and that I think will be great....so just as well I didn't get the brown Araucania).

And tomorrow we are supposed to get some wintery weather. Too much to hope that it'll be nasty enough to close work on Monday. Sigh. I could get into this working one day a week.

Friday, December 28, 2007

In Which We Are Very Productive...

Well, this was a busy little day...

My brother came over a little before noon and we made Green Papaya Salad together. And now the whole house smells like garlic and lime....and every time you open the fridge you get a new jolt of the smell. Man, seriously yummy.

Then we started the Chocolate Malt Sandwich cookies from Martha Stewart's Holiday 2006 cookie book. They are fairly labor intensive. You make the cookies first and let them cool (and they spread like crazy when they cook). Then you make up the filling of butter, cream cheese, half and half, semi-sweet chocolate and perhaps other calorie heavy items I am forgetting. Then you chill that and then beat it and then layer it between the cookies. And man, talk about rich! One cookie will do you for dessert. They are tasty but, as I said, sort of a lot of work for the cookie.

My brother headed over to his sweetie's house after we got the filling made and put in the fridge to chill. So I waited the half an hour and then built all the cookies. Sat down about 4:45 and started a hat for Rachel. The Hannah pattern from MagKnits. Got a chunk of that done and then Mr. Pointy Sticks and I headed over to Yamato for some dinner. Came back and by 7:30 the hat was done...except for putting on some buttons, which I will have to buy tomorrow. It's knit from Misti Alpaca Chunky (100% baby alpaca) and boy, is it amazingly soft. I'd like something out of it for myself.


It's darker than it appears in this picture...but full of colors when you look up close.

About the time I was finishing up the hat, my brother (whose sweetie was going out with a friend) came back and we whipped up the Lime Meltaways, also from the 2006 Holiday book. The dough has to chill for at least an hour and then we can slice it and bake it. Or, as is more likely, do it tomorrow. My brother went home after we got the dough in the fridge to chill.

Now....what can I knit? I started the hat for a new project and it's done. Maybe I'll pick up the baby blanket I'm working on.

Or maybe I'll go to bed.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

In Which We Go A'Gley

You know...like the best laid plans.

We were all set to head over to my aunt and uncle's this afternoon but she remembered that she had a luncheon engagement, so we have postponed until Sunday. Which may be just as well, as there is the chance that some cousins will be there, also.

So...a lazy day today with reading and knitting and interneting and listening to music. Not bad. Sure beats work!

Current Reading

Actually, the book I am still in the middle of is Swan Song, but I took a break from that and read Seaworthy, which was a Christmas gift from Mr. Pointy Sticks. I had it on my wish list because it is by T.R. Pearson, who is one of my favorite novelists (on, admittedly, a long list). This book is non-fiction, primarily about William Willis who was, to put it mildly, eccentric and rafted alone in both the Pacific and Atlantic in the '50s and '60's. (Think Thor Heyerdahl, but solo. Pearson also talks about Heyerdahl and some other rafters...the '50's were apparently a great decade for rafting across oceans.) Anyway, the book was fascinating...and funny in spots. I recommend it.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Now For The Weekend!

Hurrah! I made it through work today (such a struggle) and now have four days off. Then work on Monday and off Tuesday. Not too shabby.

While I did have some work to do today, it was slow enough that I managed to finish the bonnet for the baby (still need to do ties of some sort) and got the buttons sewed on the booties. Exhibit One: The finished booties:


(They remind me of cicadas. I don't think I'll tell the new Mom that.)

And Exhibit Two - Rachel's zombie models the baby hat. Which is unblocked still and looks, as the Yarn Harlot would say, like ass:


I think that the booties will probably be too small even for a newborn and the hat will probably fit in July. Just what your baby wants in Baltimore in July...a wool hat!

Oh well, I tried.

Monday, December 24, 2007

...And All Good Wishes

Christmas Eve

Well, there was the usual mad dash out this morning for "just a few things." Cat food, buttons for the tiny shoes, some stocking stuffers, some Prosecco.

Then my brother came over and we made Cheesy-Green Chili grits for tomorrow and Kentucky potatoes also for tomorrow (and my, I wish they were for tonight) and we were going to make (or rather I was going to watch my brother make and act as sous-chef) Green Papaya salad but the papaya, which had been purchased earlier in the week, was no longer so green and had started going sort of squishy.

Then my brother indulged in a little Nethack and headed off. I got some more presents wrapped and I think I'll make some cookies in a while. If only all Mondays could be this nice.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Oh no!

I think yesterday's post used up all my words.

Quiet rainy day today...I've been working on the Hat of Tinyness and reading and napping. Tomorrow....cooking.

Current Reading

I started Robert McCammon's Swan Song this morning. 956 pages of tiny print post-Apocalyptic thrills. Whee!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

I Think I May Need An Intervention

So...I go to The Black Sheep this morning really just to show off my booties (shameless hussy) and pick up 3 mm. needles to continue work on the Hat of Tinyness, but then I wander over to admire the Araucania sock yarn. You may recall that I bought a skein last week. I also, last week, bought a Fiber Trends pattern for an Oak Leaf and Acorn scarf. "Sarah," I thought to myself while looking at the pattern the other day, "I bet there's a pretty Araucania sock yarn in shades of browns that would work up beautifully in this pattern."

And sure enough, there was. Lovely browns...soft wool...browns....just...browns....

Don't get me wrong. I like browns. I love some browns. But heaped around the browns is a pile of skeins in riotous but beautifully blended colors, each one more tempting than the last. And there is one I keep coming back to which is golds, and purples, and orangey-pinks and okay, it sounds like crushed parrot or something but it was gorgeous!

"But Sarah," I think to myself in a calm and rational fashion, "you haven't done anything with the yarn you bought last week and you were really looking for something in browns, even though the browns aren't exactly thrilling you..." (Note to idiot self: I think there was a lovely skein with shades of greens...why not go for that!)

So what do I then do? Calmly and rationally wander over to the frigging Araucania Aysen and buy two skeins! Number 804, not that that means anything. But look how pretty!


Okay, it might look a little like Crushed Parrot, too, but I tell you, in person it's drop dead beautiful. And no, I have no idea what I'll be doing with it though I'm thinking a brioche stitch neckwarmer might be nice. (With credit to Grumperina for the inspiration.)

I wish I could have sat and knitted with the ladies, but Mr. Pointy Sticks was waiting in the car so that we could go to Barnes and Noble. So we headed down to Towson and the gods must have been smiling, because we found a spot right away. And I got the book I wanted to pick up for my step-mom and then Mr. Pointy Sticks kept wandering and wandering and I really couldn't complain because he was, in part, looking for stuff for me and wandering and while he wandered, I kept finding little presents for me, me, me. Which explains why I came home with Robert McCammon's Swan Song, Stephen Brust's Book of Jhereg and Maggie O'Farrell's latest which has Esme Lennox in the title. (Give me a break...it's upstairs and I'm down and my feet hurt.)

While we were there we fortuitously met up with my aunt and my cousin, Becca. I love running into people I know unexpectedly.* Such fun. I was also able to save my aunt $9 by letting her use my 30 percent off coupon on a book. And then we hit Trader Joe's and now we're home and I should be knitting.

But wait, there's more! I got a nice surprise package today from someone for whom I knit a scarf. And she sent some cute notecards and candy and some Christmas cookies and some hair ornaments and, piece de resistance (read that with a French accent, please) some adorable felted wool stitch markers. Four that look like little acorns (see, the gods are urging me to do that Oak Leaf scarf!) and one that is blue and has a weensy-tiny sheep embroidered on it! I may have to turn that one into a necklace, it is so appealing. Thank you, Kathryn!

Current Reading

I am indulging in another British mystery, though you might think I had had enough after three Bill Sliders. This one is Caroline Graham's Written in Blood, an Inspector Barnaby mystery. I have the vague feeling I might have read it before, but I am still enjoying it greatly.

___________________

* Like on Thursday evening. I was tired and didn't feel very good and we had taken Rachel and Steve out to get some shopping done and I didn't want to cook and it was getting late and no one wanted to be the one to decide whether to go home or eat out, and if we were going to eat out, where we might eat and I get annoyed because it sometimes seems that I am always the one to make the final decision and I also feel guilty that I don't just want to go home and cook a warm and nutritious dinner for my loving and beautiful family and sometimes I just wish that someone else would say, "Okay, tonight we're eating at ___!" so finally I said, "Okay, tonight we're eating at JJ's."

So we did and we had just sat down and were looking at our menu and Steve said, "I think someone's waving at you...." And it was Rachel's old friend Sarah and her mom who we hadn't seen for a year and they came and squooze in at our table and we had a wonderful time. Sarah's at Princeton and she's just incredibly cute (while at the same time being beautiful) and bubbly and vivacious and funny and her mom's really great and funny and fun to be with. We like them both a lot. It was one of those unplanned events that I think are often the best.

Friday, December 21, 2007

A Christmas Tradition I'd Rather Not Keep, Thank You

For quite a string of years there, in my twenties and early thirties, I seemed to get sick every Christmas. The past two days I've been feeling achy and sinus-y and headache-y generally bleah. I am hoping that I can kick whatever it is by Monday.

The second bootie is finished. Even Mr. Pointy Sticks, who because of his chromosomes is not naturally inclined to find things "cute," thought the first bootie was pretty charming. And asked where I got it. When I said I made it, he was properly appreciative. Or perhaps he just likes hearing me say "bootie."

And now the hat is started...I swear these size 1 needles make me feel as though I am knitting with toothpicks. But the end result is so charming.

Tomorrow I need to run to The Black Sheep (I know! What a pity! Weep for me!) and pick up some size two double-points, which I neglected to see I needed. And I may just have to look at the other Araucania sock yarn.....I mean, my arm might be twisted.

Oh, and I need some tiny buttons.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Awwww....


Isn't this just the cutest thing ever?!

Saartje's bootie, done in some C*Eye*Ber Fiber (colorwayLady J) sock yarn. The second one is about half done already and then I have to search for some tiny buttons. This may only fit the intended recipient for five minutes, but for those five minutes her cuteness quotient will certainly be raised! (If I do say so myself.)

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

In Which We Regret the Loss of Memory

So, I was riding home this afternoon and either saw something or thought of something or heard something on the radio and thought, "I should write something about that!" And now, alas, it is gone completely. I think my brain is full of holes.

However, I came home to a lovely surprise. We have a little Secret Santa exchange on Readerville and this year my Secret Santa sent me this book: Trail


I have been trying to take some pictures of the magnificent pop-ups in this book but they are, except for a tiny bit of color at the end, all white on white, and very hard to photograph. But there are butterflies and a lizard and a dragonfly. And a lovely little poem to tie the pages together. This present so brightened my day.

And the second pair of mitts are finished. Huzzah...and I cleverly (and it was oh, so complicated!) figured out how to reverse the spiral ribs on the second mitt so that they are symmetrical. Pretty knobby!

And now, alas, I have a nasty headache so I think I will be taking myself bedward for the evening. Well, maybe a quick stop at Ravelry first...

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Poetry Tuesday

Because my daughter has so enjoyed making biscuits from my grandmother's cookbook:

Legacies

Monday, December 17, 2007

In Which We Make Christmas Cookies

Today we had to be off to have the plumber come and to get Rachel to the dentist, so my brother came over and he and I made Christmas cookies. It was fun, despite my more than a little crowded kitchen. And the results?

Double Lemon Cookies



and Chocolate Pretzels.


The Double Lemon Cookies are a crisp cookie with some lemon zest in them and some confectioners sugar/lemon juice glaze dribbled over them. I think we made the glaze a little too thin but they are tasty.

The Chocolate Pretzels are from Martha Stewart's 2006 Holiday issue and are good*. They aren't overwhelmingly chocolate-y but they were pretty quick and fun to make. They are a sturdy cookie that would travel well.

Oh, and while waiting for the plumber this morning and waiting for Rachel at the dentist's, I started the first one of the second pair of mitts. Charging right along. And I got some yarn today from Webs with which to make Rachel a hat. Yummy.
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* Having eaten more than one since I posted that, I think I would change this rating....they are much better right out of the oven than they are cold. They really don't have a whole lot of taste and they are awfully dry.

Griswold

Because Kitt asked:


Here's a picture of Griswold, with a clementine for scale. He's a big ole Dutch oven and would make a rather large loaf of bread. He's about 12 inches across and 5 inches tall...maybe six if you include his lid. His insides are satiny smooth.

He sure does make a good pot roast.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Really, I'm Not Obsessing...

...but I remembered another cool thing we had at Christmas. Perhaps not every Christmas, but more than once. In the bottom of our stockings we would find these balls made of wound up strips of crepe paper. They were about the size of a Christmas ornament, I guess. And you would start unwinding the paper and as you unwound it you found little charms and doo-dads. I can't remember much of what we found, though I think one year one of us got a little tiny working compass. Of course, you couldn't sell them now because of the choking hazard.

Which leads me to charms we used to get out of gumball machines. Now they used to be so cool. We had a set of magnetic Scotties, black and white. I remember a stoplight with jeweled lights. An odd clown in a sort of blend of gray and flesh colored plastic. He was posed in a ring, like Leonardo's Vitruvian man...not one of the better charms. My brother could probably remember a lot more of them. They were sacrificed in the move to Virginia, I think.

Oh God, I am getting old. Next thing you know I'll be yelling at the kids to get off my lawn.

The second mitt is well under way and the first one has all his little ends woven in. He looks much more complete now and nicer.

And the main bathroom is thoroughly cleaned. Ugh. My least favorite job. If only it would stay clean. But no...people insist on using it.

And in a bit I'll be starting this week's pot roast. Guess I'd better go start researching some recipes. My brother brought me our grandparent's old cast iron Dutch oven. Boy, is it handsome!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

I Love the Black Sheep

I didn't get to stay there as long as I would have liked (or I'd probably still be there) but still, a nice 40 minute whirlwind visit. I picked up some Mama E C*Eye*Ber Fiber for the hat and booties I want to make. It was prettier in the skein than wound into a ball (I find that is frequently the case - and usually with these yarn cakes, as opposed to a hand wound ball...dunno why), and prettier in person than in this picture, but I think it is bright and pretty.


The trim of booties and hat will be in the solid green, the rest in the multi-color. I've been wanting to try Mama E's yarn so this was a good excuse.

And Tracy thrust this Araucania sock yarn at me and I had to get it....I mean, look at these colors! Yum.



And I got Malabrigo (or, as it should properly be called MMmmmmMMMmmmMMMalabrigo) for my cousins' hand warmers but I don't want to show the picture as at least one of them visit here. So there, ML! It's going to be a surprise! Though I'm already rethinking my color selections... Tracy had a pair of Malabrigo mittens worked up that she had me slip on my hands...I was almost tempted to shop-lift.

Sometime Later

Starting this afternoon at about 3, and taking a couple hours off to go to Borders and to have dinner out, the first mitt is now finished, except for weaving in the ends. It's not the best looking mitt in the world, but it sure is quick. And it looks a lot better on a hand then just lying on one's desk.

Opening the Floodgates

As long as we are talking about Christmas...

Another thing I remember fondly about my childhood Christmases...my brother and I each had our own special ornaments -- ones that we hung on the tree every year.

My brother's was about the size of a regular glass ornament, circular with a flat bottom, and it, too, was glass, but a heavy glass. Think of the kind of glass a drinking glass is made from. It was almost completely frosted, except that on one side there was a little window, surrounded (if I am remembering correctly) by a wreath of glittery leaves. If you looked into the window, you saw a small three-dimensional scene of Santa, walking toward you out of a small forest (that is, three or four little plaster trees). This scene was actually built on a little flat circle that was glued to the bottom of the ornament. One year the bottom fell out of the ornament and whoever fixed it (my father? my grandfather?) carefully glued the circle back on....backwards. So when you looked in, you saw little trees and a glimpse of Santa walking away from you. I actually preferred it that way. At some time later, the bottom fell out again and was glued in correctly and the ornament lost a little of its charm for me.

My ornament....oh, I loved my ornament. She was a glass ornament in the shape of a fairy godmother. She had a large circle for her skirt, a smaller circle for her bodice and smaller yet for her head, which went up into a long pointed hat. She had blown glass arms, too, one of which was holding a glass wand. She was deep green with yellow stars and moons painted on her dress and hat. She had a sweet painted face with two long yellow braids (out of embroidery floss or silk or something) that were glued on either side of her face. And she had a glittery silver tassel at the top of her hat where the hanger was. She was pretty big, as I remember. Perhaps 7 or 8 inches.

When I was 11 or so, my parents divorced and my mom, my brother and I moved to another state. In a scene that would have been too trite for a novel, when Christmas rolled around that year, we discovered that my fairy godmother had been irredeemably broken in the move. My brother's ornament, however, is still with us.

Awww...now I'm all nostalgic.

Today's going to be a good day. Mr. Pointy Sticks is waiting as I type this up quickly and we are heading out for some shopping and I get to go to the yarn shop! It's always a good day when a visit to the yarn shop is in the offing. I've got to go find my pattern for Saartje's booties. More later perhaps.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Sibling Non-Rivalry

I just had such a nice conversation with my brother. Well, most conversations with my brother are fun…he’s a funny guy and we get along really well. But this was one that made me hang up the phone wishing that Rachel weren’t an only child.

We started out talking about Christmas, because I asked him if my memory of his sneaking us down to the steps on Christmas Eve when I was 5 or so and showing me that Mommy and Lolly* were filling our stockings was a real memory or not. And he said that he really didn’t remember doing that (and he would have been 11 or 12) though he did allow as how it wouldn’t have been out of the question for him to do such a thing.

And then we segued into the Christmas presents we liked the best. Oddly enough, our separate choices occurred on the same Christmas…the Christmas we both got our second bikes. His was red, a three speed English bike (I think) and mine was blue…no training wheels. He remembers that he had been told, some time in advance of Christmas to stay out of the basement. He had, of course, immediately gone down there…but had somehow missed seeing the bike! So it was still a surprise to him on Christmas morning.

My bike had probably also been in hiding down there, but I think my parents knew there was little danger of my going to the basement. (It was kind of scary to me.) Christmas morning came and we opened presents and I remember my brother getting his bike and I remember getting an Etch-A-Sketch (which I think he might have broken that very day - I do know that he broke it at some point shortly after it was given to me and my mom got me a new one) and playing with stuff until my mom (and looking back from my own perspective as a parent, I am sure it must have been driving her crazy) asked me if I hadn’t noticed the blue bike. Apparently, I was convinced that the bike was for someone else…it never occurred to me that something so wonderful was mine.

Boy, new bikes. Remember that thrill of a new bike and how the spokes sparkled in the sun? Remember putting baseball cards on the wheels so they would go tickety-tickety as you rode? My brother remembers taking his bike out and doing lazy figure-eights in our street, just gliding along. I remember taking my old bike, the little red one with the training wheels and riding down the block to and along the little crab-apple tree lined cut-through to the street behind us, then riding up that street to Edmondson Avenue and back to our street, all by myself. I had to have been six at the most….can you imagine letting your six-year-old daughter do that now?

I also remember riding down the block to the Fitch's house to borrow Nancy Drew books from Nancy Fitch. The Fitches had a bulldog, named Brummel, who I think was probably a sweetie but who scared me to death. If I trundled down to the Fitch's, with my bike basket filled with mysteries, and Brummel was out on the front porch -- well, I just turned right around and pedalled back home.

From bikes, of course, in a logical segue, we moved on to skinned knees…and Mercurochrome**…and iodine. My brother remembers that we had a bottle of iodine…in fact, Lolly, being a chemist, might have mixed it up from scratch. He remembers that one of our parents had written “Iodine” on it and drawn a skull and cross-bones. I remember the Mercurochrome…the tiny brown glass bottle with the little glass rod applicator. It was a rather dreaded bottle. Though, my brother pointed out, it was sort of interesting to watch the substance change color as it dried…once you’d stopped crying.
______________

* Lolly is what I call my dad. Always have. And no one knows where it came from. For my first ten years or so I also called my mother Boppy. Again, no one knows why.

** Mercurochrome is no longer available...banned by the FDA. And yes, it did contain mercury. Hmmm....just what you want dabbed on open wounds. It was discovered by a physician at Johns Hopkins. I wonder if it sold in higher quantities in Baltimore than in other places?

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Woot!

Well, I am certainly chuffed with myself tonight. I was working away on my aunt's scarf and suddenly realized that, about 28 rows down, in one of the YO/K1/YO columns, there was a loose float of yarn. I stared aghast...we're talking about ripping back two days work....in mohair.

So, figuring I was either going to have to 1) ignore it (not an option), 2) frog it all the way back (not appealing), or 3) drop that K1 stitch down and see if I could pick it up correctly again...I opted for the third. And I did it! I was able to figure out how to catch the threads and keep the YO's nicely twisted. I can't describe what I did....and neophyte blogger that I am, it wasn't until it was all done that I thought "I should have blogged this!"....but it's done. And it looks fine. Thanks heavens it wasn't in one of the YO/slip1/k2tog/psso/YO columns. I don't think I could have reconstructed one of them.

Man, I feel like such a knitter.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Yummmm

Rachel made beer bread this afternoon and this evening she made a yummy soup. (Fried up bacon, drained most of the fat, threw in chopped carrots, celery, onions and garlic and sauteed it a bit. Put in two boxes of chicken broth and, when it came to a boil, threw in pastina....so good.) Maybe I need to re-think this college business. She could just stay home and cook!

Ten Minutes Later

Whew! I just hiked up the hill in the dark and the wind and yes, all the inflatables are lit up and yes, there has been another one (Snoopy as Red Baron on his doghouse) added since Sunday. I tried taking a picture, but between my gasps for air and the tossing around of the inflatables in the wind, none of them turned out.

This one didn't turn out either but it's kind of pretty. Prettier than in person, not jiggling.

Sad News

Terry Pratchett released this information today. This is just heart-breaking news. Rachel's first comment was "Why couldn't it have been Dan Brown?" and, while I can't wish ill on others (well, not publicly), I certainly do wish that one of the brightest, cleverest, most verbally adept authors I know wasn't facing this. This news (and possibly the still gray, gray weather) has me feeling rather melancholy.

Current Reading

I finished The Quiet Girl last night and, while I enjoyed it while I was reading it, I was left feeling rather....confused? deflated? stupid? I dunno. There just wasn't much there there. Or something.

But last night I picked up the Bill Slider omnibus that I had gotten from Powell's a day or two ago. I love Cynthia Harrod-Eagle's Bill Slider mysteries and this omnibus has Dead Ends, Blood Lines and Killing Time in it. It's a big ole paperback and not the most comfortable to read. And I may even already have one or two of these books in separate editions. But hey, I get to read about Slider and Atherton...I'm happy.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Poetry Tuesday

For today, we're back to stars.

A Nest of Stars

I like the thought of the hen with her clever secret nest.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Sauna

Thank heavens for layers. It is steamy hot here at work today. One of the staff directors who has a closed office rather than a cube, was inviting people into his office to feel his desk....the actual desk was hot. I was wearing a cashmere sweater with a long sleeved Chico's top underneath and I went into the lady's room before lunch and slithered out of the Chico's top. Somewhat better.

Well, Rachel has her acceptance to University of Mary Washington for the spring semester. Yay! (I really thought she would...but it's nice to know for sure.) I am so hoping that going there will give her a taste of how much fun college can be. It'll help, I think, that her good friend Margot is there. Margot likes it, so I am hoping Rachel will too, even if she does decide to leave after a year or so and transfer to the School of Visual Arts. Now, to find out when the semester actually starts.

But, gee, this has really made my day!

I am still working away at my aunt's scarf. I've finished the first ball of yarn and may only make it two skeins long, as my aunt is a somewhat tiny person.

And I finished my dad's hat. Shhh...it's for Christmas. (My dad and step-mom know about the blog but I don't think they read it, as they have the impression that it's all about knitting. Of course, if they do read it then there is one Christmas surprise ruined.)

Current Reading

I started, and am about half-way through, Peter Hoeg's The Quiet Girl. I really loved Smilla's Sense of Snow, even though, yes, the ending was sort of weak. And I tried one of his others (Borderliners) and just couldn't get into it at all. The Quiet Girl is a strange one...the main character has a hyperacute sense of hearing. To the point of being able to hear people's emotions. He gets involved in protecting some children who can, apparently, stop time. Time jumps around a lot in this novel and, though I'm usually fine with that kind of jumping about, this time I am having trouble at times figuring out exactly when we are. But the book is still keeping me enthralled. I don't know if it'll be one of the year's best but I'll finish it at least.

Oh, and I finished Hyperion this weekend. Eh. I realize that it's the first of two, but I thought there would be a little more closure than there was. It was all a big buildup for the second book. But I don't think I liked it enough to get the second one and find out what happened to the characters.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Feats of Clay

My brother, his girlfriend and I headed down to Towson this morning for the annual ceramics department sale. We went last year and I got presents for a friend and for Rachel. This year I was selfish and only got presents for me.

Two of the professors who work at Towson are married and have a website, Claymonster. (Go look at their other stuff...check out the Frankenstein mug on the Pottery page! I'll wait.) As it turns out, both of the things I bought were made by Cat Holt, the wife, who happened to be the person to check me out when it came time to buy them.



The mug is such a beautiful shape and feels so nice in your hand. And the colors are lovely...very soft and subtle. The Monster Jug...I just couldn't resist him. In fact, when I picked him up he grabbed my hand and just wouldn't let go.


I told her that there were three or four others that I really wanted, too, and she said, "I heard you laughing at them...I turned to [the woman sitting next to her] and said, 'That's why I make those.'" So that was fun. (I was actually thinking that perhaps I should have saved Jug for a Christmas present for Rachel but she tells me it's "creepy" so I guess it's good I didn't.)

Then we headed back to my house where we picked up Mr. Pointy Sticks and headed up to the California Pizza Kitchen for lunch. Very tasty.

On the way we passed this:



"Oh look," said my brother, "it's Inflate-O-World." (Copyright to my brother.)

Little something for everybody there...Mickey, Pooh, tilting tree, Grinch (hiding behind the tilting tree), non-tilting tree, Snoopy (hiding behind the non-tilting tree), Frosty. I really should walk up there this evening and see if it isn't all lit up. Anyone want to take bets? I'm betting yes.

Current Reading

Yesterday in Borders I saw, and could not resist buying, Joe Hill's 20th Century Ghosts. What a great collection of spooky, eerie or just plain weird stories. Though actually one of my favorite stories in the book (yes, I stayed up far too late because I just couldn't stop reading them) was about an autistic (I think) kid (who is the narrator of the story) and his father, a baseball coach. Really nice story with no hauntings or ghosts, just this great relationship.

Joe Hill, in case there is someone who's not been following this, is Stephen King's son. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree. (And man, does he look like his dad.) I expect Mr. King is mighty proud. His son is a heck of a writer.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Shrub: Sudden Surge in Popularity

At least in the Pointy Sticks household. The man has finally done something right. He signed an Executive Order giving Federal employees Christmas Eve as a holiday. (Though I wouldn't be surprised if Cheney was standing behind him reminding him in what order the letters went...."That's B. Good. Now U.....S....almost done.....H. Nice job! No, Mr. President, don't eat the crayon. Have this pretzel.") It's the sensible thing to do, anyway. With Christmas on a Tuesday, I think there were only about 3 people who were actually planning to be here on that Monday. (Two of them being Mr. Pointy Sticks and me...I've never minded too much coming in on C. Eve...it was always dead quiet and we were frequently released early anyway.) The government will actually save a good bit of money by not opening the offices...no heat, lights, computers...and heaven knows, the government needs to save every penny it can. After all, the Social Security trust funds won't last forever.

Maybe I'll spend the day making cookies with Rachel.

So yay...four day weekend!

My aunt's scarf is trundling along and seems to me to be looking more blue and slightly less pink. This Bollicine Etoile is really nice soft yarn. (Available at Webs. Closeout! Cheap!) So often mohairy yarns are itchy and prickly. But this is nice, even up around the face. Which is good, since that's where the scarf will be.

Last night my eye was caught by this yarn, sitting patiently beside my computer:


Which is ever-so-much-more a luscious, deep, rich poison green than it looks here. And I really wanted to grab it and start something. It's going to be a scarf for another Readerville friend but there is no reason to start it now. It's just the lure of the new. So I am valiantly controlling myself. But I have to admit I fondled it a bit last night. You know. Just to say hello.

Oh, and the pink chevron scarf made it safely to its new home and its owner sent me a nice thank you email. She seems happy with it. Good to know.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Christmas, You Say?

I turned to Mr. Pointy Sticks in the car on the way to work this morning and said, "You know, there are less than three weeks until Christmas. And I have hardly anything bought for people and I haven't done my cards and I have a Secret Santa swap I have to get done. And you know what?"

"What?" said Mr. Pointy Sticks, who knows a cue when he hears one.

"I just don't care. I'm not stressed about it. I'll do what I'll do. And that's it." I said.

The scarf for my aunt? If it gets done, great. If not, I'll show it to her and tell her she'll get it soon. The hat for my dad? Ditto. Christmas cards? Eh, think of the money I'll save...the cards I have aren't going anywhere and will seem fresher next year. (Besides, I haven't gotten any cards yet...I wonder if everyone feels the way I do?) I'll probably write notes to a couple of people but if they aren't sent before Christmas, so be it. And I am thinking that a couple of my cousins might like some fingerless mitts...but they'll probably be done after Christmas unless I really get a bee in my bonnet.

I just can't get excited.

Oh God, does that mean I'm all grown-up?

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

How To Burn Leave

Step 1) Make an appointment with your plumber for 3:00.
Step 2) Request and get one and a half hours leave for that day (today).
Step 3) Drive home through the snow to find a phone message from the plumber asking if they could come earlier because of the snow.
Step 4) Call the plumber back to say we are home.
Step 5) Be asked by the plumber if they could possibly reschedule because their trucks don't handle well in the snow.
Step 5) Stare blankly at your husband while he stares blankly at you and realize that you don't want to go out and do anything fun to justify that hour and a half....because of the snow!

Did I mention it was snowing?



You know, I was thinking this morning about how all the expert meteorologists we have out there now sort of take the fun out of it. There they were last night saying, "Snow expected with accumulations of about an inch." And then this morning, "Snow should be starting about 8:00 a.m., with accumulations of about 1 to 2 inches." And sure enough, at 8 a.m. I looked outside and, sure enough, the first flakes were falling.

But I guess they don't know everything. They are now saying we could get 4 inches or more. Every now and then there's a storm that comes through and sticks around for longer then anyone expects and dumps lots of snow on us. I'm sort of hoping this is one of those.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Poetry Tuesday

Not such a pleasant one today...but man, I remember this photo. I think anyone who saw it must have it seared into his or her brain.

War Photograph

And again, it's the last line to me that's the killer.

I'll try to have something less grim next week.

More later maybe...work is ghastly today.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Just A Note...

I'll add more later this evening...no time now because (Yay!) I get to leave work early.

But it's (Boo!) to go to my dentist. Oh well.

I've started a new scarf that will be for my aunt for Christmas (if it's done on time) or her birthday (if not.) Pictures tonight perhaps. Oh, and I was going to show y'all the bracelet I made. I know everyone out there is waiting with bated breath.

Later

Teeth are fine, if now slightly rattly in their gums from all the cleaning. I do love my dentist! Even (or especially) after the Year of Three Broken Teeth, Two Root Canals and Two Crowns (also known as the Year of Misery and Skinny Wallets....or 2005).

And here's a picture of my aunt's scarf:


Huh. It sort of took seeing it here to realize how pink this is turning out to be. In the ball the yarn (Bollicine Etoile from Webs) looks more periwinkle/pale blue. Now I am wondering if I should have used the darker blue I got...as seen on the top of the pile here:


She's not really the pink type.

This is going to require some cogitation. Meanwhile, I'll keep knitting of course. Someone might like the scarf!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

In Which We Miss a Snowstorm and Get Our Fridge

(I sort of wish now that I had titled all my posts that way...."In Which I Show Off Yet More Boring Knitting" or "In Which I Test the Internet's Tolerance for Silly Cat Pictures." Oh well, too late now.)

So, no snow here...looks like it headed north.

The Chevron V2 is packed up and will get sent off tomorrow. Here's a last picture or two of it.



And an extreme close-up. (Colors are much truer here. The first one is washed out for some reason.)



And for anyone looking at this Classic Elite Countess yarn on Webs, you might be interested in knowing that the yarn starts out pretty soft but after you wash and block it...man, it is soft as anything. I think I might have to order some more.

And we got the new fridge. The delivery time was supposed to be between 2:45 and 4:45. The guys showed up at about 6:15. They had apparently had some hellish deliveries. Ours went very smoothly...I think it took them about 10 minutes total. And the new fridge is humming away.



We think it's happy to be here.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

I Surprise Myself

The Winter issue of Knitters came today. There are actually a few things I like in it. Like the Chalk Stripes scarf. And the Winter Wheat sweater, which looks like a nice weekend sort of sweater.

And there are quite a few "uh...no"s...like this, and this, and this. Just to mention a few.

But I love the Chased Silver Sweater.

Had a nice evening tonight....dinner at Zen West (Shoot! I should have taken my camera!) with our friend, Don, and then a little visit to Daedalus, where I snagged some Christmas presents. So virtuous. The only thing I bought myself was a Pop-Up Peter Rabbit that's pretty cute.

I almost bought a Christmas picture book. When Rachel was small, every Christmas we'd buy at least one new Christmas story. And this one was cute, about a small mouse and his wish for Christmas. But really....it's not as though Rachel's going to curl up and listen to picture books with me. So I put it back.

The Chevron scarf is finished, soaked and blocking. Pictures tomorrow, perhaps. Then I can send it off to its new owner.

And this evening...well, maybe tomorrow, it is getting a little late....I start playing around with the yarn to make a scarf for my aunt.

And we get our new fridge!

Friday, November 30, 2007

Illicit Photos

Well, not really. It's just that I had my camera in my coat pocket and ended up taking it to work, which is strictly verboten. Oh, not like I'd get fired....but cameras really aren't allowed. (What they do about the no-doubt-hundreds of people who work there with cameras in their cell phones....is ignore them.)

Anyway, two little pictures from the car. First, a rather ominous sunrise.



And second, a cheerful little trailer of some sort. I mean really, doesn't that look like a happy little face with big dark eyes and rosy cheeks. No? It's just me?


I made myself a pretty bracelet the other evening. Maybe I'll get a photo of that later....

This Cracks Me Up!

Go here: Poncho....or Tree Skirt?

I always knew ponchos and Christmas tree skirts were really one and the same!

Chugging Along

...the Chevron Scarf V.2, that is. Slowly but surely. The hat? Sort of stalled...I hate those Bryspun needles. The Mystery Stole...put aside until I have the strength (and mental acuity) to tink back six rows or so and figure out what I did wrong. The socks? Stewing in their own juice. So, the knitting? Not really going all that strong. Though I did get all the ends woven into my log cabin blanket. I think I will be putting on an attached I-cord edging but the blanket has already been pressed into service in the rather chilly t.v. room. It's nice and cozy.

I should probably rename this blog...Two Pointy Sticks and a Heck of a Lot of Books.

Current Reading

I finished Susan Hill's The Pure in Heart last night. She certainly doesn't believe in easy endings. Good book, though I imagine it'll frustrate a lot of readers.

Today I brought Dan Simmons' Hyperion to work with me. It's a paperback and I've been hauling hardbacks all week, so I thought I could use a break. It's got a lovely cover.....





Really...nasty, spiky humanoid with unlikely anatomy stands amidst the misplaced sea anemones and watches full-rigged schooner sail through the grasslands? What's not to love? But this is the same Dan Simmons who wrote The Terror, a really great read (if you have your woolies on...that book is cold!) and A Winter Haunting, which was a cut above your normal ghost story. So I am hoping for good things. It's close to 500 pages of pretty small type, so if it is good I'll be in my happy place all weekend.

(It sort of worries me that this cover looks so familiar. I got this one from Amazon a week or so ago. I am now wondering if there isn't already a copy of this book lurking somewhere in our house. Sigh.)

Thursday, November 29, 2007

I'm So Easily Thrilled

Woot! I got an e-mail back from Adam Rex, the author of Smekday. No signings planned for Baltimore at the moment, alas, but I am strongly tempted to call The Children's Bookstore and put a worm in their ear.

Oh, visit the website: The National Capsule Project

Love the running Boov!

You know one reason I loved this book? I mean, it's funny...it's well-written...it contains fully fleshed out characters with all their quirks. But most importantly...no wizards! No magic! No multi-tome epic trying to ride Rowling's coat-tails. (Not that the Potter books aren't fun, but I hate it when they are held up as the be-all-and-end-all of children's books. I've only, I'll admit, read the first two and listened to the next one (or two...they sort of blur for me) and I probably would have loved them as a kid but, dare I say it, I don't think they are all that wonderful. There is so much else out there worth reading.)

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Back At Work

I have a dilemma. Well, sort of a dilemma. I’m knitting away on the Chevron scarf V.2 (I frogged the one I was doing in the Mirasol Hacho - the love for the little dashes of color did not outweigh the folding and the not-so-softness and the not-enough-color-differentiation-ness) and I’m on the second balls of each of the two colors I’m using. I have four balls of each. I am thinking that I really need to use three balls of each to make the scarf a good length…especially given the width of the sucker. (For some reason, wider scarves need to be longer to me to look right…to balance the proportions.) But that would leave me with only two balls of yarn…one of each color. With which I could do…not much. And would make the scarf pricier than the usual scarf I do for Readervillagers….

Ah, heck. Writing this all out helped. I’m just going to keep knitting until the scarf looks right. That’s the only way I’ll be happy with it. And I got the yarn at Webs' Closeout sale for heaven’s sake.

There, that’s solved.

Current Reading

I finished There Is Room For You last night and got into a little crying jag. It’s a beautifully written book about mothers and daughters and the unknown sides of families. And gives one a great portrait of India, both in the present (well, 1992) and in the last days of the English rule …clearly communicating the chaos and crowds and poverty but still making it seem understandable that someone could fall in love with it.

But in one of the last scenes…the main character, Anna, is in the airport in Calcutta to meet her mother, who was born in India to British parents, and her brother. And her seeing her mom and realizing how she’s aged but how much she needs to see her and giving her a hug…well, it just tipped me over the edge.

Anyway…I’d recommend the book. But you’ll probably want to hug your mom when you’re done.

Fortunately for my mood, the mailman bought a pile of boxes from Amazon and Powells yesterday and, while most of the objects therein were Christmas presents for others, there were two books for me…and one of them was The True Meaning of Smekday. I had read a review of this kid’s book in the NYTBR and the review had made me laugh out loud so I had high hopes for the book. The reviewer also said that readers who loved Terry Pratchett would be fans of this book. Well, that sold me.

So I started Smekday last night and let me say…the reviewer did not lie. It is a bright and funny book with (so far…I’m only on page 155) a great spunky heroine, an endearing alien side-kick, a cat and a flying car, more aliens, a tribe of lost boys living in the (deserted) Happy Mouse Kingdom…oh, just buy the book and read it.

The illustrations are great, too. Kaethe, this book is a sure fire hit for you and the girls. Oooh, Erica, you guys might like it too.

Later

I finished Smekday. I loved it. I wish it wasn't finished. Make sure that you don't miss the last illustration in the book. I finished the book and immediately shot off an appreciative note to Adam Rex. I hope he's working on something else. What a fun book!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Bleargh....

Mr. Pointy Sticks and I are both home from work today with a stomach bug of some sort...Rachel's also feeling queasy. No fun.

I was thinking about having Poetry Tuesday here on the blog. But you run into copyright infringement issues and I don't want that. In fact, the poem I posted last week probably shouldn't still be up. So, instead of posting a poem, here's a link to a poem I found and really liked:

Constellations

Let's see if that works.

Currently Reading

I finished up The Various Haunts of Men last night. Whoa! Some ending. I was fully planning to start the next Susan Hill but this morning, lying on the couch feeling icky, I just didn't want to get up and get it. So I reached out to the coffee table and picked up Charlotte Bacon's There Is Room for You. It's about a 35 year old woman, getting over the death of her father and her own divorce, who travels to India, the country where her mother was born and raised. Very good so far (about a third of the way through).

Monday, November 26, 2007

Susan Hill

So there I was last night, all finished with Land of the Blind, wondering what to read next (none of the books already in progress appealed to me (what a surprise!)), when my eyes fell on The Pure In Heart, a new Susan Hill novel that I got recently. "Wait a second, wait a second, what ho," I thought, "I have The Various Haunts of Men out in the living room." (Not only did I know that it was in the living room, I knew exactly where it was in the living room, which is always a crap-shoot.) Various Haunts comes before Pure in Heart, so I thought I probably ought to read it first. Since I knew where it was and all.

Susan Hill never disappoints. I ran across her years (as in decades) ago when I bought a copy of The Woman in Black without knowing much about her. And I loved it. I read some others of hers, all eerie, spooky stories. And then there was a book about her farm, nothing at all like the others, but wonderfully written. And now this mystery series. If you don't know Susan Hill yet, check her out. This mystery is a good British police novel, with some creepy overtones. (Plus, it's nice and fat at over 430 pages.) And it's gripping.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

It's Only Money...

Well, as of next Sunday we will have a brand-spanking-new refridgerminator. Our old one is only about 13 or 14 years old, but bits of it are falling off and drawers aren't running smoothly. So we're replacing it. Basically with exactly the same old uninteresting model. The space in which the fridge has to sit is constrained by cabinetry and it isn't a very large space. In fact, I wanted to look at bottom freezer models, but there are none small enough to fit in the space. But this one will be shiny and clean, with all its working parts.

For an extra $120 we could have gotten one in which some of the shelves slid forward a few inches. Didn't really seem like all that wise an expenditure to me.

So that was exciting.

Yawn.

I mean really, they can make appliances pretty colors or stainless steel or move around where the light bulbs are, but basically....they're machines. And not very exciting machines, at that.

Currently Reading

The other evening I said to Mr. Pointy Sticks, "I wish I had a really gripping book to read." I was, at that point reading:

  • When The Devil Holds The Candle
  • Ingathering
  • The Best American Short Stories of 2007
  • The Tattoo Murder Case
  • The Princess of Burundi

(Yeah, I haven't mentioned The Princess of Burundi before. It's a mystery. Swedish. I've really only just started it but it's not thrilling.) None of them gripping. All of them easily put-down-able. A minute or two after I said that, I picked up Jess Walter's Land of the Blind. And I haven't put it down except to sleep...or knit...or buy refrigerators. It's very good. Good enough that I am going to be sorry to see it end. Consider me gripped.

An Hour or Two Later

I've now finished Land of the Blind. Very good. That's the problem with the grippy ones...they're over too soon.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Random Saturday Afternoon Pictures

We just had a lovely fish chowder for dinner, made up out of my own little head. Pretty darn good.

Mr. Pointy Sticks and I were out and about today...doing some birthday and Christmas shopping. And I got a couple of pretty pictures, I think.

The tree out front.





Japanese restaurant signs in Towson.


Friday, November 23, 2007

You Can Tell I Was Excited...

I was so excited about my Scarf Swap scarf yesterday evening.....[How excited were you?].....it wasn't until quite some time later that I remembered that I had also gotten a big ole box from Webs in the mail too. So, for your delectation, I present:

The Latest Webs Purchase!

Six skeins of Bollicine Etoile, three in darker blues and three in light blues/pinks. Three of these, probably the lighter ones, are destined for a scarf for my aunt, who has requested one from me.



Three skeins of Filature Di Crosa Portofino in gorgeous poison greens. Destined to be a scarf for a Readerviller.



Four skeins of Classic Elite Inca Print in gorgeous reds. Look at them glow!



My new Cherry Tree Hill Sockittome from my Scarf Pal. Figured since I was on the Front Porch of Photography, I thought I would get another picture of it.



And last but not least, four balls of Mondial Solare, also for a Readervillager's scarf, I think. This one was taken inside because my buns were numb from sitting on the icy cold Front Porch of Photography to take the other pictures.


(And now does anyone else have that song Volare going through their head?

Volare, oh oh
Cantare, oh oh oh oh
Let's fly way up to the clouds
Away from the maddening crowds
We can sing in the glow of a star that I know of
Where lovers enjoy peace of mind
Let us leave the confusion and all disillusion behind
Just like birds of a feather, a rainbow together we'll find...

Well, you probably don't unless you're near my age.)

Christmas in November

I got my Scarf Swap scarf today! (I'd say International Scarf Swap except that mine came from Ohio...so....not all that International.)

But I love it. And all the goodies that came with it.


Lookie, lookie! a yummy scarf out of SWS, in colors that will go with two of my winter coats...well, actually three, since everything goes with black. There are cute little Christmas-y stitch markers hiding there behind the Chocolate Covered Pretzels (yum), there are Mary Englebreit notecards (one of which will probably be used for a thank you note I need to write) and a Mary Englebreit list pad (I love Mary Englebreit...such a clever Secret Pal I have!), there's a jingley, sparkley Christmas ornament, my lovely scarf and a skein of Cherry Tree Hill Sockittome in Earth. I wouldn't say I was usually an earth-tone kind of person, but oh, these colors are lovely. rich browns from mahogany to walnut to teak. Just lovely.

I like my scarf so much, I'll even put out a picture of me wearing it!


Thank you so much, Becky! (Becky is yoda knit.) You made my week.

Can we get started on next year's swap now?!

Ssssshhhhhhh....

It's so quiet here at work today, I think we could all curl up under our desks and have naptime this afternoon and no one would notice. That's one reason I like coming in the day after Thanksgiving. I save eight hours leave and it's a nice low-key day.

Can't decide what to do tonight. We are invited back over to my aunt and uncle's house. My cousin Mark (ML's brother) and his wife Kelly are coming up and it would be nice to see them. And great to spend more time with ML and Amy.

But....

I am beat. Usually by Friday evening I just want to sit in front of the computer or the tv and veg out. I don't know if I feel like being sociable again...even with family. And I don't know if Mr. Pointy Sticks wants to go over again, though I could always go by myself. Guess I can decide later.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Well, There's Another One Under the Belt

At least we weren't the only ones with disasters. My aunt and uncle had ordered Thanksgiving dinner from Wegmans. Last year, they did a bang-up job and all the food arrived needing only a minimal re-heating and everything was delicious. This year the food arrived....ice cold. The turkey needed cooking for 2 hours. The veggies were icy cold. The gravy was a congealed lump in a plastic container.

My uncle was not happy.

So we opened the wine, and stuck the turkey in the oven and generally made merry and then, thanks to a turkey that one of my cousins had cooked and sliced up earlier, we loaded plates with slices of warm turkey and cold veggies and stood in line at the microwave. So we didn't end up all eating together, as the first people were about ready for seconds when the last people were still waiting for microwave time. But it was tasty and we were all together. This will be my aunt and uncle's last Thanksgiving in their house as they are moving, at the beginning of 2008 into a retirement community/assisted living cottage. It's feeling very end-of-an-era here in my head. When I was little, we'd all get together at my grandparents. Oh, I know it wasn't every holiday, though it feels like it. And my grandmother and mom and her sisters would cook a huge and delicious dinner and clean up afterwards and the men would sit around and talk and the kids would all be underfoot. My mom and grandmother and aunts all seemed so happy, working together, laughing and carrying on.

I don't think I'll ever feel that grown-up.

My cousin Mary Linn was up from Virginia (and her niece Amy flew in from Chicago...sure was nice to see her again) and ML brought along a slide projector and boxes of slides that her parents had taken all over the world. Her dad, my Uncle John, was in the Army...they lived in Germany, Japan, Thailand. My Aunt Lois took most of the pictures and she had a very good eye. It's amazing how beautiful the colors still were in these slides, some of which were from the late 1950's. And my aunt looked so lovely. There were also pictures from a trip that my mom, my Aunt Lois, ML and I took in the early 70's to England. Fun to see.

Oh....and the cake this morning. Another disaster. It cooked up...the oven temp was a little off but I adjusted. And then, when I went to turn it out of the pan...the pan that I had sprayed so heavily with Baker's Joy that little alpine skiers could have slalomed down the sides...that pan...the cake came out, leaving huge chunks of itself behind. I almost threw the whole damn thing out the window. The unopened window.

Fortunately, the brownies were delicious.

Oh, and there's a new chevron scarf in town.


Rachel says it looks like someone's insides. Seems a little harsh to me.

The Baking Gods Were Angry

Happy Turkey Day!

We had disaster piled upon disaster last night in the kitchen. We were supposed to make dessert for T'Day dinner at my aunt's. So Rachel and I planned on:

  • brownies
  • tiny lemon pound cake bundt cakes
  • chocolate buttermilk cake

What we ended up with at the end of a long hot evening:

  • lovely brownies (thanks to Rachel)
  • some blobby little things that, if you squint closely, look somewhat like little bundt cakes
  • a semi-cooked (although a toothpick came out clean and the top was getting burny) chocolate cake that, when turned out onto a cooling rack actually ran out and left a puddle of half cooked cake batter on the stove-top
So I am now waiting for the dishwasher to stop, so that I can pull out the cake pan and make another lemon pound cake. And hope that this one turns out. I think I'd better put a thermometer in my oven. It can't just be baker's error. Can it?

Here's a link to the cute little mini-bundt pan we were using. Notice that they do not actually show cakes made in this pan, only candy.

Okay, off to see if the dishwasher has stopped.

Currently Reading

Last night I picked up Matt Ruff's Bad Monkeys. I'm almost done and I'm liking it a lot.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Yawn

An interrupted night last night chez Pointy Sticks. I was so sleepy this morning that it wasn't until about 10:30 that I realized that I was wearing two different earrings.

I am, I think, becoming disillusioned with the Chevron scarf and am thinking that perhaps the yarn wants to be something else. I am reassured as to the folding - fellow Ravelryers (Ravelryists? Ravelroids?) seem to have had luck eliminating the folding by a judicious use of an iron. But...I dunno. It feels sort of stiff. I think I might restart tonight with a different yarn and larger needles. Yes, I think the Chevron scarf will be taking a dip in the frog pond.

Probably won't be starting anything new tonight, though, as I have to go home and bake some cakes for T'day. We'll be eating at my aunt's and many cousins will be there. Should be fun. I think we should play some Charades.

Currently Reading

Still carrying When the Devil Holds the Candle back and forth to work with me but I'll admit I haven't cracked the cover in a couple of days. At home I am still reading away at The Chinese Tattoo Murder Case and I'm also reading Ingathering, a collection of Zenna Henderson's People stories. They are dated and a little hokey but still fun reading.

I am also reading, for a discussion on Readerville, the 2007 Best American Short Stories. This edition is edited by Stephen King. I gotta say, so far I've been disappointed in most of them. I mislaid my book for a while, so I haven't yet read the first five stories. (I didn't want the discussion to get too far ahead of me.) And of the others I've read...I think I've really only liked and admired "Wake." I recognize that the Mary Gordon story (the title of which escapes me) is well-written but I thought it about as bloodless and drab as its main character. "Riding the Doghouse" felt like a story that was meant to be the opening of a horror novel but it then just fizzled out. The story about the Jeepster and his murdered girlfriend (another title which has evaporated from my mind) was overly metaphored but once I got past that the story really grabbed me. But it was ruined by the last paragraph or so which seemed to me to be hammering the reader over the head with the Lesson to be Learned from This Story.

"Wake" has well-drawn, lively, flawed characters and an interesting situation. The opening sentence is a grabber and the voice stays true throughout the story. I thought it was fine. I also read, last night, the following story, "Wait." I thought it an sort of amusing trifle but ultimately meaningless and hollow, going nowhere.

So, Stephen, I ask you? What was it that really grabbed you about these stories? I wish he, as some other editors have done in the past, had written a little blurb before each story about why he picked it.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Poetry Tuesday?

You know how you start cruising the Net? Someone suggests an interesting link and that page has a link and then there's another and before you know it, 30 minutes has past and you're pages and pages away from where you started? And then, later, when you remember something you saw on that little jaunt through time and space you can't reconstruct where it was? Well, that happened to me lately. I had, on one of those wanderings found the poem you'll see below. And I read it and liked it. And it stuck in my head and a few days later I wanted to read it again and couldn't retrace my steps. And I had misremembered the place name in the title, so that didn't help. And I couldn't remember the poet. But someone on Readerville (Thanks, nbmandel!) figured it out. And here it is:

___________________

Adlestrop
Edward Thomas

Yes, I remember Adlestrop –
The name because one afternoon
Of heat the express-train drew up there
Unwontendly. It was late June.

The steam hissed. Someone cleared his throat.
No one left and no one came
On the bare platform. What I saw
Was Adlestrop – only the name

And willows, willow-herb, and grass,
And meadowsweet, and haycocks dry,
No whit less still and lonely fair
Than the high cloudlets in the sky.

And for that minute a blackbird sang
Close by, and round him, mistier,
Farther and farther, all the birds
Of Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire.
_____________________

I think that's just lovely.

And come to think of it, my finding it so randomly on my Web-wanderings echoes the whole idea of the poem, doesn't it? Fortunately, with a little help, I was able to rediscover the station.


(And just to take a little joy from the whole "Look at this lovely poem experience" I cannot for the life of me, even playing in the Html, get the final stanza to be spaced right. One more try and then I just leave it...muttering and cursing under my breath.)


But yes! I did it!!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Chevron Scarf

One Thing I Like About the Chevron Scarf:

While this is basically just a Feather-and-Fan pattern, by using the "knit through front and back loop" increase rather than a yarn over and by making all the reverse side rows purl rows, Hoverson has made the scarf seem a lot more sophisticated to me. Smooth, I guess, being better than holey and ridgey.

One Thing I Love About the Chevron Scarf:

I love the little dashes of color that the knitting through the front and back loop gives you. They look like little sparks of contrast color on some rows. (I'll try to get a closeup tonight.)


One Thing I Don't Like About the Chevron Scarf:

Like all Feather-and-Fan patterns, this one also wants to fold into thirds. I am hoping that a very strenuous blocking will help reduce that tendency, but I am holding out no real hope. In thirds, this is about the width of a 70's necktie.

One Thing I Think Could Be Better About My Own Chevron Scarf:

I should have used two colorways that were more different from each other. These are close enough that when one looks at it, the scarf looks as though it's knit all from one variegated skein. Which is fine but sort of irritating when one is going to the trouble of switching yarns every two rows.

One Thing That I Appreciate About the Chevron Scarf:

It's really making me excited to try some variations...what would it look like with a variegated yarn and a solid or semi-solid?...what about two solids?...on much bigger needles?...what if you put four rows of garter stitch between each repeat of the pattern?...or four rows of plain stockinette?

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Oh No, I Missed A Day!

I just had nothing to say yesterday and was in a cranky mood, to boot. So no post. On the other hand, it's the 18th of November and I've posted something like 23 times this month. I felt a little odd not posting yesterday since I think November is the "post something every day" month, but you know what? Screw it. I'm not going to post with nothing to say.

I had the real do-nothings yesterday. I did manage to make a trip to Target and got some exciting stuff like underwear and a Christmas gift for a cousin. I was not in the best of mood going in but man, I was really in a bad mood by the time I came out. It was semi-crowded...not really the full swing of holiday shopping but getting there. But all the people that were there were idiots. (Well, except for a friend of Rachel's and her Dad who were there...they aren't idiots.) People who park their carts in the middle of the aisle. People who stop their carts in the middle of a busy spot to talk on their frigging cell phones. People who have their sixteen children strung out in a line blocking the widest aisles. (Okay, there weren't sixteen children, only three. But the effect was the same.) People who leave their cart blocking the conveyor belt at the check-out so that you can't start unloading your own cart...and then try a couple different credit cards before deciding to write a check. Argh.

Today is better. Mr. Pointy Sticks and I did the grocery shopping and I've thrown together a pot roast. It sure smells good. I just had a yen for a pot roast lately. No carrots in this one but still...yum. Though the recipe called for a 28 oz. can of tomatoes which you then "squeeze into chunks in your hands." Well, let me just say that we may be finding splashes of tomato juice for years to come. And I'm washing my sweatshirt even as I type. Sort of a mess.

Last night Rachel decided to play some Playstation so I sat with my log cabin blankie over my lap and wove in some ends. Didn't get them all done by any means, but I made a start. And then I decided to start the Chevron scarf. This is from Joelle Hoverson's Last Minute Knitted Gifts and is a pattern that's all over the Web. I bought some Mirasol Hacho in two colors for it and last night I cast on and did a couple of rows. I'm not sure that there is enough difference in the two colorways, though they look pretty different in the skein.


I'm not sure how stripey it's really going to look. Which is okay...I'll just have to do another one in more distinctive colors. It's a fun knit and looks pretty. What more do you need? A fun knit and the aroma of pot roast. Yum.

Later -

The pot roast was yummy. That's a recipe I'll be using again.

Friday, November 16, 2007

At Least It's Friday

So here’s a quandary…

I had this friend. She’s someone I met at work almost 30 years ago. About 4 years ago she…hmmmm…I want to say “went off the rails” but that sounds too judge-y. Let’s just say that she had a lot of changes in her life…which, for her privacy, I won’t go into. She also got very snappy. It felt to me as though during every conversation we had I was either boring her to tears or she was picking at everything I said. She would frequently walk right past me desk without acknowledging my presence. I kept cutting her slack until about 2 -2 1/2 years or so ago when we were having a conversation about vacations. She was planning a vacation with two friends from work. “I dunno,” I said, “there’s no one here I’d want to vacation with. I mean, I go on vacation to get away from work, not take it along with me.” And she snapped something along the lines of “Well, nobody cares about your opinion because you never travel anyway.” And marched off.

And for a few minutes I was angry. And hurt. And then I realized that I just didn’t care. That she had sort of eroded our friendship down to this little nub and this last comment just snapped the nub right off.

Now she acts as though everything is normal. She just gave me a birthday present, which now means that, unless I can think of a tactful, non-confrontational way to give it back to her, I’ll be exchanging Christmas and birthday presents. But I sort of don’t want to. I know I should feel all warm and fuzzy about our past friendship…but I really don’t. I recognize that she is trying…hell, she drove down from Baltimore to be at my mom’s memorial service last year…but I just don’t care. We don’t have anything much in common. Other than work. (I mean, I could probably count on two hands the number of times we've ever gotten together outside of work.) And, unfortunately, she’s sort of tarred with the “oh-my-god-I-hate-work-when-am-I-
going-to-be-able-to-retire-I-am-so-damned-tired-of-everyone-I-
work-with” brush.

So…any tactful ways to return a present or do I suck it up and pretend everything’s fine and hope that eventually I feel friendly towards her again? And what is wrong with me that I can look back at 30 years of friendship and just say, “eh”?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

It's Only Thursday!?

Like the Mystery Stole, I am ready for this week to be over. No moves yet at work but surely it can’t be much longer…please, God.

My dad and step-mom are off tomorrow on their annual Thanksgiving trek to Florida. Driving the whole way. Which makes me a little nervous, though they’ve never had a problem. But that’s a lot of miles. And then they’ll do it again in January or February for their annual stay on Sanibel. (Must be nice. I’ve been there twice. I would love to go back again someday. I should work on that.) My dad is (unbelievably to me and probably to him too) 86. I hope I am as active and sharp and look as good when I’m that age. He’s a pretty incredible guy and a great dad. (Hi, Lolly! It’s the truth!) Actually, I don’t know that he checks in here at all…he knows about the blog but has the impression it’s all about the knitting.

And speaking of knitting, I got an email from Webs today. (I’m on their mailing list so this isn’t unusual.) But for some reason I am more tempted than usual to throw in a big close-outs order. I think it may happen this evening, after I go home and check and see what sort of desires Readerville people have for scarves. I haven’t knit any Readerville scarves for a while now. And I got those cool scarf books. And my aunt wants me to knit her a warm muffler. And there is always next year’s Synergy fundraiser. La la. I think that, yes, an order can be justified. Pay no attention to that stash in the corner.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Not-So-Mysterious Stole

I am so ready for this to be done. I have about 20 rows left and I just want it to be over. And today I was plugging along and realized that I had some sort of error a couple of rows back. And I just fudged some sort of messy solution and went on. But now it's bugging me and I have this sick feeling that I am going to make myself rip back to the error and fix it right. And I just. want. to. be. done.

It may just be going to time-out for a while and I'll work on some other stuff. Except I really shouldn't put it away with a mistake or I'll never remember to go back and fix it. But do you know how hard it's going to be to rip back three or four rows of close to 200 stitches apiece with the slip-2-knit-1-psso's and the k2togethers and the lace weight.....???

Argh. And now I'm babbling.

Here's an idea. We all hate spam, right? We all hate telephone spam even more than email spam, right? We especially hate the phone spam that is just some computer-generated message. Am I still right? I propose a law that would say "Okay, you want to be a phone-spammer...we can't stop you. But you have to hire real people to make the calls...no computer calls allowed anymore." Of course, then I'd be hanging up on some poor real person who couldn't get any better job than bothering people over the phone and I'd probably feel worse about doing that than I would hanging up on HAL...

But not too much worse.

Currently Reading

I finished Dan Simmons' A Winter Haunting this morning. Pretty tasty little horror story - one where you don't know what's really happening and what's in the narrator's disintegrating little mind. I hadn't, until someone on Readerville mentioned it, connected this Dan Simmons to the author of The Terror, which is just a fantastically scary and cold book. But they are, of course, one and the same. I think I need to read more of him.

What's that? I hadn't mentioned reading this? What about The Stolen Child, you ask? What about When The Devil Holds The Candle?

Shut up.