Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Yeah, Yeah, Happy Halloween

I offered to take the kids out yesterday afternoon to get a couple of pumpkins to carve but Rachel wasn't feeling well, so we all stayed in. So no holiday-specific decorations on our porch, but we do have candy and I'm sure that's really all the costumed rug rats care about anyway.

Halloween has gotten to be one of my least favorite holidays. As a kid, yeah, it was okay. I was usually too lazy to do much in the way of costuming favorite costume was the venerable hobo. But you got to run around the neighborhood in the dark and you got bags of candy. Then, with a kid who had grandiose ideas of my capabilities as a costumer ("Mom, I want to be a tyrannosaurus!") or who said she didn't want to dress up...until the evening before the class costume parade (if anyone needs a quick idea, I know a neat way to make a jellyfish pretty darn quickly), Halloween was just sort of a pain. And now it's all about having to answer the door a gazillion times an evening. I sometimes think about the people in our old neighborhood who put a big bucket of candy out with a sign saying "Please take one." Sounds like a plan.

What an old Grinch I am. Oh wait, that's the wrong holiday.

I am still knitting, despite there not being a lot of mention of it here. I finished the Poison Frog Scarf last night and I am on my third (of four) balls of yarn in the pinky-beigey-yellow scarf that I mentioned in an earlier post. I've decided to call it Monet's Haystack Scarf, because the colors really remind me of one of his haystack paintings. And, oh yeah, it's sort of scratchy.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Now If Only My Eyelids Would Stay Up...

The cats were more than usually obnoxious and unsettled last night. So there was not a lot of sleep going on chez Les Pointy Sticks.

Currently Reading

I guess, since I am on page 107, I have to admit that I am reading Ian Sansom's The Case of the Missing Books (which is billed as "A Mobile Library Mystery" - which I suppose means that there will be more of them). (Oh, look...there already is.)

It purports to be a comic mystery about Israel Armstrong, half Irish-half Jewish, who has come to Tumdrum to be the librarian, only to discover that the library is closed and that he will actually be in charge of (and driving) the mobile library. As soon as they find it, that is. And as soon as he recovers all the library's books from their various hiding places.

And it's mildy amusing, I suppose, though there is, so far, a little too much reliance on chicken shit as a comedic device. I'm sure chicken shit is a riot, but after about the sixth mention of it, it's about as funny as the Three Stooges. As is getting humorously sprayed by a hose and having one's pants set on fire.

And it's rather laborously example:

Then he rubbed his eyes and glanced around and behind him, to see if it was for real, this grim, godforsaken place, to see if he'd made some terrible, simple, idiotic mistake, had come to the wrong library maybe, or the wrong town, too tired after his long journey to be able to see that people were in fact flocking into some secret, fabulous library entrance, some little tunnel or nook, some rabbity-hole known only to the locals.

They were not.

No one was approaching with armfuls of books or tickets in their hands; there were no sour and pear-shaped OAPs; no straggle-haired young mums at their wits' end with smeary, miserable children dragging along for story-time; no one clutching important-looking unimportant documents to be photocopied in triplicate for their solicitor or the DSS; no wrinkled, stubby, fragrant winos; no schoolkids half-heartedly working on projects about ancient civilizations on the second World War or the processes of human digestion. No madmen. No one. None of them. The building was empty. The carpark was deserted. The library was shut.

Gee, do you think maybe the library was closed?

But you know, I've now invested 107 pages worth of my time. I guess I'll be sticking it out until the bitter end, being one who has a difficult time abandoning books mid-stream. But boy, I wish I could stay awake!

Monday, October 29, 2007


(When we were little, I used to drive my brother crazy by saying "vrrrrrrrr" when I was cold. "It's brrrrr," he'd say. But somehow vrrrr sounds colder to me.) Anyway, we haven't turned on the heat in the house yet, but we did pull the down comforter out.

So, no Rachel last night. She called and said that Amtrak was saying that there were lines down, or some such, and the train was, at that point, 30 minutes late. About half an hour after that call, she called and said she was going to stay over one more night. Said she was having a great time. So that's good. Of course, it means that we'll be making the trip to the train station tonight at 8:45.

Did some more spinning last night...still haven't gotten the emailed instructions that the instructor promised us. And why is it that, just as I get the rhythm down, the strip of roving I'm working on runs out? Joining new roving is definitely my most awkward part. And yes, my arms are still sore.

Later -

Rachel is home and brought Steve with her. Good to have her back.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Oh, I Forgot...

I couldn't go to The Black Sheep yesterday and not buy something, now could I?

Here you see -- some Supersocke Holiday sock wool in such a cheery yellow colorway. There were lots of pretty color, orange, lime green, blue and turquoise...but after fondling all of them, I decided to go for the yellow. And a skein of Schaefer Anne. No colorway name or number that I can see, but the colors just looked an awful lot like my aunt, so perhaps I'll try to get a lacy scarf knit up for her birthday. (I could shoot for Christmas, but that's getting a little close.) I got a tiny bottle of Eucalan in the lavender scent to try. (Way to arrange a photo...notice how nicely I obscured the label.) And the little red things? Little point protectors, free with purchase. I'll use them to hold my sock needles safely when I park them.

And my arms are a little sore this morning. From the spinning. What a wuss!

Currently Reading

I finished Generation Loss last night...couldn't put it down. It's gritty and grim and has a very unpleasant heroine...though sympathetic. I mean, I wouldn't want to know her, particularly, but you do feel sympathy for her. And creepy creepy end to the book. And it's very atmospheric...I felt sort of chilly the whole time I read it.

I've started Ian Samson's The Case of the Missing Books, but it hasn't really grabbed me yet, so I don't know if I'll stick with it. So it's not going on my list yet.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

My Head Is Spinning!

Well, not yet. My spinning class starts at 1 this afternoon and I am sure that my head will be spinning about 10 minutes later. I'm going to be taking my camera, so there should be pictures later.

We heard from Rachel and she's having a good, if quiet, time in NY with Steve and his family. She's making brownies today for everyone. Lucky.

Later -

Whoo-hoo! I spun. Or is it "I span?" It was quite fun, though I can't say the teacher impressed me a whole lot. She was nice, but came unprepared (she had hand-outs and left them home). She didn't give us a lot of one-on-one advice, though there were only seven of us. I don't think she said anything directly to me (about the way I was spinning, at least) the whole three hours. And it would have been nice if she had introduced herself and had all of us introduce ourselves and perhaps say what our experience was. was still a lot of fun and a worth-while three hours.

Here I am, all ready to go:

And look! My first yarn. I think I'll call it Fred. (The purple is called the leader. It's a bit of scrap yarn that you need to give your roving (the unspun yarn) something to grab onto.)

And by the end of the class, I had this:

I find that the hardest part if when I have to join a new piece of roving...things tend to go to Lumpyville then.

I felt so Ancient Greek.

Currently Reading

I started Generation Loss by Elizabeth Hand, which Kat sent me. It's so far grim and ominous and good. And it's kind of cool to think, when the book mentions Calais and Machias, "I've been there!"

Friday, October 26, 2007

Still Raining

And that's nice. And it's Friday, which is even nicer. And tomorrow is my spinning class and that's the nicest thing yet!

I put up a bunch more projects on Ravelry last night. As long as the Ravelry servers keep going, I can see that this is a great way to save all the details about one's knitting projects. It's a pretty spiffy little place. It's interesting to see other who have worked on the same patterns I see what they've done differently, what yarn they've used, stuff like that.

The red and blue scarf is coming along nicely. I did another 12 or so rows in the dark in the car on the way to work today. I am about at the end of the first (of two) skeins, so about half-way done. And last night, while watching The Office, I worked on the Scratchy Scarf. Okay, not really scratchy...but crisp.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

What a Lovely Rainy Day!

It's gray and rainy and puddly and cool and supposed to stay that way all day. Huzzah! We need the rain so badly. Of course, it would be even nicer if I could stay all curled up at home all day but I'll settle for just the rain. Of course, it makes the morning commute worse. People seem to get completely freaked out...."What's this stuff? Why's the road all wet?? Will my car still work? Maybe if I drive really, really fast I can get away from it!" Feh.

I've been playing around on Ravelry more and man, it could get addictive. Today I was skimming through the patterns section. Just the scarves. Just to see what sort of things are out there. And holy shmoly, there are some amazingly talented people out there knitting up the most beautiful scarves! It is both humbling and inspiring. I want to stay home (in the rain) and knit!

Only two more days until my spinning class! I am so excited about this.

I haven't yet ripped out the scarf I gave up fact, I haven't given up on it. I knitted on it on the way to take Rachel to the train this afternoon. (She's off to visit her boyfriend in NY.)

So here's a picture:

It's hard to capture the colors, but this is fairly close.

Currently Reading

I finished The Extra Large Medium this afternoon. It's a very English book, though I can't put my finger on exactly why...the eccentric characters perhaps...the sort of matter-of-fact acceptance of the supernatural... Anyway, I enjoyed it. Don't know what's up next. Any chance it'll be Red Seas Under Red Skies? Wanna bet?

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

New Beginnings

The Di-Ve scarf is now history. I haven't ripped it yet...I may finish it up as a short scarf for myself or for a present. Can't decide.

But on the way to work this morning I started another Boto scarf. This one out of 3-ply merino from 100purewool. It's bright red and blue. I think I'll call it the Poison Frog Scarf. I'm doing the Mistake Rib again. It's so nice and squishy. I've got about 6 inches so far. (As of the drive home I had about 13". So it's trundling along nicely.)

Duncan tries to remember if modeling is in his contract.

Currently Reading

I just finished Sujata Massey's The Bride's Kimono. My reaction: "Eh." I read, a long time ago, the first of the Rei Shimura mysteries and I remember it as being better than this one. There was an awful lot of angst over her boyfriends. And the dialogue was all rather stilted. And the mystery wasn't wonderful.

Next up is The Extra Large Medium by Helen Slavin. Someone on Readerville mentioned it and it sounded as though it could be an amusing read.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Yeah? What's It To You?

I am, for no particular reason, in a really crabby mood this morning. Everything is rubbing me the wrong way. Of course, that could be because I'm at work. Or perhaps I'm sleep-deprived.

I've started a new scarf for Ms. Boto. It's out of some yarn from Webs. Di-Ve Butterfly.

Wool, acrylic and alpaca. Much brighter in person...the pink is a hot pink and the yellow is acid bright. It feels soft in the ball but feels a little scratchy knit up. How does that happen? I'm doing a rib variation (Row 1: K2, P2. Row 2: Purl all the way across. Lather, rinse, repeat.) I'm not sure it's what I'm going to stick with. It doesn't seem to show up very well and I'm worried about how much it might curl. (Edited fifteen minutes later to say: Well, that didn't last long. I did a few rows and ripped it out. Retrying with a mistake rib.)

I was going to mention two books I got yesterday that have rekindled my scarf enthusiasm. But Grumperina did a great review of one of them here. (Her October 23 post.) Wild book.

The other one is this one:

Okay, some of the scarves are very simple. But some of them are just lovely and very evocative of the ocean and ocean life...kelp and sea cucumbers and waves. Nice. It's a thin book but packs a lot of inspiration.

Off to see if I can't get myself into a better mood.

Later -

Had a nice lunch with friends (see, now, there's a memory to hold on to...but will I?) and have knit about 8 1/2 inches of the scarf in Mistake Rib. And now I'm stopping because I think that (a) I should probably be using larger needles and (b) at the rate I'm using up the yarn, this scarf would only be about 40 or 44 inches long. So feh.

Later Still -

The scarf is history...I'm going to start another one tomorrow. Sigh.

Monday, October 22, 2007


I finished the blue-y, purple-y, green-y scarf for Ms. Boto today. Even got the ends woven in. I know some people (or maybe everyone) says to weave the ends in after washing, but, hey, I'm here, the scarf is here, my Chibi is here and there were 20 minutes left in my lunch hour, so they're woven. Pictures (in the unwashed state...but that won't look a lot different than the washed state) tonight perhaps. It's nice and long -- seven feet or more.


I was thinking, this morning in the shower, about memories and what makes a memory stick. Wouldn't it be nice to know that so that, during some pleasant times, you could do whatever it took and know that you'd have that memory to call up on demand?

My earliest memory, though for a long time I didn't know it was my earliest, is of going to see a baby calf with my Dad up in Berlin, PA, my Dad's hometown. When I mentioned this to him, some years ago, he gave me a sort of funny look and said that the dairy we had been walking to had closed down when I was 2 or 3. We always went to Berlin in the summer, so I had to have somewhere between, say, 18 months and 3 years old. Which does explain why I remember holding my hand way up over my head to hold on to my Dad and why the calf in my memory is so fricking huge! I think I was frightened, so perhaps that's why that memory held. My brother, though, can remember lying in his crib and seeing the sunlight on the wall. (I think that's right.) So what made that memory stick for him?

Another early and crystal clear memory I have is of one of my birthday parties. I was old enough to be in school because the kids from my class were all invited. And I remember Marius Masumas (I wonder where he ended up? He was, as I remember, really smart.) brought me this really cool music box. It looked like an old fashioned Victrola, with a horn and little records you put on it that played different songs. I remember the body of the Victrola was red plastic and the horn part was ivory plastic. I remember sitting on the floor, with Marius showing me how it worked, putting records on and off it. In my 40's, my Mom were talking about toys we had had as kids and I asked her where she thought the Victrola had gone. She gave me a funny sort of look and said, "What Victrola?" I described it to her in great detail and she said, "You never had anything like that." "Yes I did," I said, "I got it at the" and I just faded off, because we never had big birthday parties like that. Mom always believed that birthdays were only important to your family. It had to be a dream, but I remembered it as fact, as a sure and certain memory....even though I had no memory of ever having the Victrola around beyond that one occasion...even though I knew that Mom never had big birthday parties for us.

I still miss that Victrola music box. It was one cool toy.

I wonder what sort of memories Rachel will think about when she's fifty. Will she, like most only children, have no clear memories of her childhood? Will she remember the bad stuff...getting dragged to the car to go to school, getting yelled at because she would not brush her teeth? I hope there will be plenty of good memories for her.

So, what's your earliest memory?

Oh, and does anyone else out there fiddle with their blog as much as I seem to? I find myself going back to past entries and adding little bits here and there. Nothing major, just sort of expanding on things or adding a little funny. I even just went and deleted one of my own comments and re-posted it because I found two typos. I knew there was one and figured I could live with that but this morning I noticed another and deleted that sucker so it's reposted, correctly.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Things I Am Neglecting

Housework - But then housework and I have, alas, only ever had the most tenuous connection. But really, I should be working at clearing off the dining table which is covered in (a) beads and beading material and (b) various pieces of china...either pieces from my Mom or pieces that I took out of my old china cabinet to make room for pieces of my Mom's.

Mystery Stole 3 - Put aside for the ISE5 scarf and then the scarves I want to do for Ms. Boto, this is sitting gazing at me forlornly. I'm not even taking it with me to work anymore!

ISE5 Scarf - All I need to do is wash and block this and weave in the ends and wrap it up, along with the other goodies for my pal and send it off. Then I'll be done! In fact, as soon as I finish this post up, I am going to go upstairs and give it a good soak. So there. Which means that it probably shouldn't be on this list...but what the hell.

Red Seas Under Red Skies - It's almost become a joke, hasn't it, the amount of effort I put into avoiding this book that I actually really want to read! Which leads me to.....

Currently Reading

So, I finished Heartsick yesterday. It's a twisted little piece of work, all right. I'll be sending it along to my friend Janet, 'cos I think she might like it.

And then I picked up a Kathy and Brock mystery by Barry Maitland - Silvermeadow. Good solid police procedural. I wasn't sure what I might start next but then Mr. Pointy Sticks and I were in Ukazoo, a used bookstore near us, this afternoon and the Mister always takes longer than I do so I pulled The Bride's Kimono by Sujata Massey off the shelf and got far enough into it that I bought that's what I'm on now. to soak a scarf.

Oh, but before I forget...guess who discovered the macro setting on her camera? (Duh.)

Little cat feet. And here's a better picture of the stitch marker.

The cats do like having the windows open.

And now I really am off to soak the scarf!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Up With the Birds

Back from the bird walk. I can't say we saw anything too exciting. The best was the yellow-rumped warblers and they were all over the place.
Saw flickers, cardinals, downy and red-bellied woodpeckers. Wrens, sparrows of some unknown variety, another cuckoo (just briefly), a couple of hawks (red tail and sharp-shinned), juncos and chickadees. It was cool but not too cool. Here are a couple of pictures:

Near the entrance to the park. There was some mist early in the walk.

We were all very intent. (I'm not in this picture.) Though with the luck we were having we were probably intently scrutinizing some bird that turned out, on close inspection, to be....ta, da...a robin!

Sun through a cedar tree. You really can't tell from this picture, but the tree was still wet from the previous night's rain and the droplets were shimmering in the sun.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Couldn't-Be-Easier Carrots

After getting Erica's comment a few days back about my "fancy-pants" cooking (Hear that rustling sound? It's my mom's ashes, laughing.), I emailed her with my incredibly simple caramelized carrots method (it's really too loosey-goosey to be called a recipe). And she e-mailed me back last night to say that her girls "hoovered" the carrots right up. Guess they were a hit. Next time I make them, I'll take some photos and write up how I did them. Maybe I'll make them tonight...Rachel would like that, I think.

Katherine B. linked to this site on her blog. How cool. Who knew mud could be so beautiful?

Tomorrow morning, bright and early, Mr. Pointy Sticks and I (along with my brother and his girlfriend) will be heading to the Cromwell Valley Park for a birdwalk. We were there a few weeks ago and saw cuckoos (yellow-billed, I think they were) munching away at tent-caterpillars (saw other things, too - warblers, hawks). Should be fun, though getting up at 6:30 on a Saturday morning goes against my nature.

Later -

Okay, after getting an email from Amy wanting the recipe, here goes the carrots. First of all, you peel your carrots...we didn't have a lot of sturdy carrots in the drawer (though we had a number of floppy ones) and I'm not very hungry, so these are mostly for Rachel...six carrots.

Then you cut them into thirds like little logs, and cut the little logs into kindling...say fourths or sixths. Throw them into a frying pan and put enough water in to cover.

Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for about 15 minutes.

After they're nice and tender, drain the water and return the pan (with carrots inside) to the stove (medium heat). Put in a couple big pats of butter, let it melt and toss the carrots around until they are well coated.

Add a little sugar...I used about a teaspoon for this small pan full. I have used as much as a tablespoon for a big ole panful.

Let the sugar sort of melt into the butter and then toss the carrots around until they are sort of coated with the sugar-y butter mixture. (Now, I'll be honest...I think the original recipe has you pull the carrots out of the pan, stir the sugar into the butter and let it start to caramelize and then throw the carrots back in. But that's too much work. I told you, Erica, I'm a lazy cook.)

And here they are, all done. And now, they're all gone.

Currently Reading

I finished Bridge of Sighs last night...what a wonderful book. There's a paragraph or so I want to put here. I don't know if it'll be as good here cold but here you go. It's toward the end of the book and the person thinking this is Lucy Lynch, the main character:

The line of gray along the horizon is brighter now, and with the coming light I feel a certainty: that there is, despite our wild imaginings, only one life. The ghostly others, no matter how real they seem, no matter how badly we need them, are phantoms. The one life we're left with is sufficient to fill and refill our imperfect hearts with joy, and then to shatter them. And it never, ever lets up.

Blame love.

Anyway, I'd heartily recommend this one.

Now on to Heartsick by Chelsea Cain. I just started but I think it's going to be a creepy (in a good way) little thriller.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Isn't It Friday Yet?

Today I wore my handknit socks...these babies:

They are the only socks I've knit for myself (I've done a number of pairs for my daughter) and they are the first socks I ever did on two circular needles. They're a little too big...okay, perhaps a lot too big...but they are cushy and soft and warm and every time I put them on I think, "I really should make myself more socks."

Help me remember that.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Hey There, Mr. Postman!

Though I think we actually have a post lady....

Whether man or mouse, the postal carrier was very, very good to me today. I found in my mailbox (well, actually, stuffed between storm and front doors):

  • the t-shirts I ordered (and I am wearing the sheepy one as I type),
  • The Myth of Simple Machines- Laurel Snyder (a fellow Readervillian)

  • the yarn I ordered from my Yahoo group's co-op of yarn from (for some scarves and some hats)

  • and, most wonderfully, Brian Malloy's new book Brendan Wolf, which Amy from Think Knit offered up on Readerville's free books thread. (I loved Brian's first, The Year of Ice. I hear this is very different, but I still expect to like it.) But better yet, look at the adorable card Amy sent...with tiny knitting.

  • And inside, another treat! A Day of the Dead stitch marker. I may just have to mark a stitch that doesn't need marking, this is so neat. Thank you, Amy! (Not a great camera isn't so good at the close-ups.)

Not too shabby!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Pretty Sky

Okay, I know it's Tuesday and I have no idea what day people post sky pictures, but as we left to take my daughter's friend to her train this sky was stretched out over us and it was so pretty. Look at those puffy clouds.

Once we got into Pennsylvania Station, it was still pretty overhead.

Ms. Boto's scarf liked Penn Station, too.

Closing In on the End

I am getting close to the end of my ISE5 scarf. Close enough that I am at the point where I think, at the end of each repeat, "Do I want to do another repeat or just end it here? How about now? Should I just end it now?" I think I'll do one or two more repeats. Or more. You can't have too much cashmere, can you? But sometimes it seems that I am knitting and knitting and knitting....and not a lot of length is being added.

Then comes the washing and blocking and weaving in of ends. Can't do that until after Rachel's friend leaves (which is this evening, so not a huge delay) because the guest room bed is also the blocking surface.

And I'm about half-way through the purple-greeny scarf for Ms. Boto. Hurrah for finished projects!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Monday, Bloody Monday

Well, there's good news. The Maryland Sheep and Wool Show is only 201 days away! Sigh. That's a long time. Even before I took up knitting again, I loved going to the show. I love seeing the sheep, watching them being judged, watching the 4-H kids tending to them. Love watching the last minute trimming and tidying before the sheep gets led into the ring. (One year there was a tiny...I mean, teeny tiny....lamb bopping around in the crowd on his little springy legs while his or her mom was being tidied. I almost popped the cutie into my bag to bring home.) I love watching the sheep dog demos. Love the lamb-burgers and lamb sandwiches and lamb sausage. Love all the gorgeous yarn on display.

Someone on-line was complaining about the non-wool-related vendors...they didn't belong there, there were too many of them, they cluttered the fair up. She complained in particular about the knife vendor but I'll tell you, I bought the best paring knife ever there and may buy another one next year. I almost cut my finger off with this knife, it's so sharp. Almost cut my finger off and didn't even feel it.

Maybe this evening I can post some pictures from last year's S&W.

Later - And here you go.

I love the llamas and alpacas. This year there was a baby alpaca but I didn't get a good picture of it.

A bag of beautiful curly locks, glowing in the sun.

Mama and her twins.

Like my do?

Waiting to enter the ring.

Currently Reading

Still reading Bridge of Sighs and still loving it. Russo just draws his characters so clearly. You see them, flaws and all, and still love them. It's a fine book.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

"I'm Too Old to Learn New Crap"

...said Mr. Pointy Sticks. We are having mail issues. There seems to be some conflict between Verizon and our old BCPL mail...sending mail is tricky now and I'm not sure that anyone out there is getting my mail. Hello? Anyone there?

Rachel (I asked her last night if I could use her name here and she just gave me a sort of fishy eye and said, "Of course you can" complete with an implied "you idiot." So there you have it....Rachel = daughter) has a friend visiting and wanted to make sure that she went back to college well fed, so the house is full of the smell of roasting chicken. Yum. Rachel took care of that...she's become quite the chicken roaster. She's requested orzo and caramelized carrots so sometime soon I have to go up and get busy with that part of dinner.

We had a disappointing time at dinner last night. We went to Zen West, this great Mexican restaurant. Waited 15 minutes or so for a table but that wasn't bad for 7 p.m. on a Saturday. Got a table and the hostess brought us chips and salsa and after about half an hour the waitress came and took our orders. Brought us our water. An hour and 20 minutes after being seated we were still sitting there and all we had gotten was the chili con queso that Rachel had ordered as an appetizer. Yes, something was terribly wrong in the kitchen. There were trays of food piled up outside the pass-through that apparently weren't the right dishes. And at one point our waitress brought a huge tray of food to the table next to us but two of the things weren't things anyone at that table had ordered. A few minutes later, the hostess hustled over to that table with a sizzling plate of fajitas...they hadn't ordered them either. ( I should have tackled her as she sped past and captured the food for us.) We asked our waitress if we could at least get the tossed salads we had ordered and some more iced tea. Fifteen minutes later, after getting no salad and no new drinks and noticing that people seated well after us were being served, we decided to leave. The manager apologized profusely and wouldn't let us pay for the chili con queso or iced tea we had had. But was a disappointment. We rushed to Trader Joe's with ten minutes to spare before it closed and we all grabbed sandwiches (and some other stuff) but it wasn't the same.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Happy Things

Amy, over at Knit Think, posted on October 11th, some pictures of things that make her happy. And invited others to do the same. Taking that personally, here are a few things around my house which make me happy (excluding the husband, kid and cats, for the moment):

The little shelf in the kitchen that holds my collection of Zuni fetishes and some pretty yellow teacups. As well as the Bjorn Wiinblad wineglass that my aunt gave to my mom and my mom eventually gave to me.

The glass hummingbirds in my kitchen window.

A shelf in a cupboard with some old toys of mine and some of my daughter's, including, there in the back, the kewpie doll (Pinksie) that was given to me on the day I was born.

A cross-stitch of the moon that one of my cousins made for me.

"African Night," a picture my daughter made when she was eleven. (Sorry about the flash.)

So there you have it. Things that make me happy.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Whoo, and Likewise, Hoo!!

I just got my Ravelry invite! I've only looked around for a few minutes but it looks great! This weekend will probably be dominated by my trying to get a half-way decent picture to post. Perhaps I'll have Rachel draw me.

Hello, Credit Card!

While cruising knitting blogs today, I stopped in at Needle Exchange and she mentioned a t-shirt. A t-shirt with this picture on it:

Well, I now have one of these shirts coming my way. And because I apparently have all the self-control of a toddler in a toy store, I ordered a second shirt, too. A different design, that is. Now I have to decide which two old t-shirts to ditch, because I have a lot of t-shirts. Ooh, if it comes in time, I could wear it to my spinning class! Under my Franklin "It itches" sweatshirt, if it's cold enough.

I had a little e-mail correspondence with Ms. Boto, my daughter's writing teacher from high school. When I was still a parent of a child there, I donated some of my scarves to the writing class to auction off to help support the literary magazine. I did it last year as well, even though my daughter had already graduated. This year I thought I would just send a check (because they are not allowed to have a "raffle" for the scarves, because that's (gasp) gambling it sometimes seemed as though my scarf donations were more trouble for Ms. Boto than otherwise). But she said she would love some more scarves.

All a long introduction to say that this afternoon I started this scarf.

The scarf shuffles through the autumn leaves.

I started it while waiting for Mr. Pointy Sticks to pick me up and worked on it during the ride home. And I'm so bad because I want it for myself!! This picture doesn't capture the yummy colors in this yarn from It's so-o-o-o-o-o pretty.

Thursday, October 11, 2007


According to the Ravelry tracker, there are today only "606 people are ahead of you in line." At the rate they are going, I could get my invite tomorrow or Saturday. I don't know if I'm ready for this. I have to admit that when I signed up, I expected to have 6 months or more of waiting, listening to what people were saying about the site (so far I've heard nothing but praise, though I have read some people's comments deploring the amount of time they spend there), deciding whether or not I really wanted to join. And now the decision is here.

So I'll be jumping on the bandwagon...or one of the bandwagons. We're talking serious numbers of knitters, folks. I think I am most interested, at the moment, in cruising through the pattern section and comparing different versions of the same pattern done by different people.

I've done several more repeats of the scarf pattern on my ISE5 scarf and I am beginning to think that I might be close to the end. For one thing, the second ball of yarn is dwindling. And I really think it's getting close to long enough. The pattern called (I may have mentioned this already) for 27 repeats. I've done 38. If I do two more repeats, I will have increased the length by about 50 percent. I think that'll do. Then I'll have the fun of wrapping everything up all pretty and sending it off. And then the fun of waiting for my scarf to show up!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Is It Just Me....?

...or has the Ravelry queue really moved a lot lately? I just checked my status:

You signed up on August 21, 2007
You are #27420 on the list.
1384 people are ahead of you in line.
14424 people are behind you in line.
61% of the list has been invited so far

Seems to me when I checked a couple of weeks ago, there were over 10,000 people in front of me...but then numbers never have been my strong suit. Perhaps I am remembering the number that were in line behind me at that point. Whatever. I feel as though the end of the line may be in sight. Or, at least, is attainable.

(Got an e-mail from Ravelry, because I was worried about my change of address...and was told that they are inviting 500 -600 people a day! They have speeded up!)

Currently Reading

I have started, and am liking so far, Bridge of Sighs. Russo just writes such real characters. It's early days yet, but I like the narrator a lot so far.

And last night during dinner I finished Portable Childhoods. The last few stories in the book were stronger than the middle ones and I really liked the final one, "In the House of the Seven Librarians," about a child being raised in an abandoned library by "feral librarians." It had a light sweetness about it, without being cloying...and of course, was perfect for those who love books and libraries and librarians.

The library we went to, on a weekly basis, when I was a child, wasn't an old structure and certainly didn't have the secret nooks and crannies of the library in the story (though I wouldn't put it past the main library downtown, the one with the fish pond and fireplace in the children's room to have magical rooms tucked away), but I can sure summon it up in my mind clear as day. There was a foyer and when you walked in, the main checkout and return desk was straight ahead (and seemed so big to me). To the left was the adult section. We moved away before I was old enough to start exploring there, so even now the grown-up section retains a certain mystery to me.

But if you walked straight back, over the cork floor, past the water fountain with the always-sort-of-warm, odd-tasting water, you walked into the children's department. (The cork floor fascinated me. I remember one time sitting hidden between two sets of shelves and very daringly (I was a pretty timid child, obviously) slipping my foot out of my shoe to feel the floor.)

The picture books were all the way in the back, near the big bay window, where they used to have story-time I believe. I think I could still lead you straight to the shelf where Sugarplum, one of my favorite books when I was small, was shelved. There were small wooden tables and chairs (well, they seemed just the right size when I was little so they must have been small). And in the middle of the room was the children's librarian's desk. If I was lucky, Miss Stewart would be on duty when I went there. She was a wonderful librarian and friend. She knew what I liked (fantasy, magic, more fantasy) and never tried (as some children's librarians I ran into later did) to steer me towards other books. She, at least once, let me take a book home before it was checked into the system, because, she said, she knew she could trust me to take good care of it. (I wish I remembered now what book it must have been something special.) I hope for Miss Stewart's sake that there is a heaven and that she's up there, in a comfy chair, with a stack of books and a mug of tea or coffee (or glass of sherry) and the knowledge that her memory is still important to some people here on earth.

(Again, the line spacing is driving me nuts. I keep putting lines between my paragraphs, it looks great in the posting window, then I hit post and it goes all squinchy and single-spaced. I seem to have fixed it. Somewhat. At least all the paragraphs aren't smushed together. Perhaps I need to do all the typing and then do the formatting.)

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Wretched Commute...

An overturned truck on the Beltway this morning caused our usual 20 -30 minute commute to turn into one over an hour long. By the time we got off the Beltway at work, the sun was well up (it had been dark when we left the house) and there was the most beautiful sky in front of us. Of course, after carrying my camera around for four days, I didn't have it with me, as we can't bring cameras into my work place. So you'll just have to imagine this gorgeous peachy-lilac-golden cloud with rays of shadow somehow streaming out of the top so it looked as though someone had drawn the cloud as speeding away from us.

To make matters worse, the last 10 minutes or so of the drive were spent behind a car that was spewing exhaust and I still feel sort of headachey and ill from it. Bleah.

Oooh, I got my first spam comment on yesterday's post. I feel so special. Thanks heavens for the "delete" button.

Duncan approves of yarn pillows. (Gotta give the cats equal time.)

Monday, October 8, 2007

Begone, Spider

I've done about six extra repeats of the pattern on the scarf for ISE5. I'd put in a picture but I don't want to spoil the surprise in case my Secret Pal is cruising people's blogs. But wait! She doesn't know who I she would connect the scarf with my blog...but she doesn't have any way to connect the blog with my secret identity under which I e-mailed her. (I think I need to do that again sometime soon. I better check the schedule.) So, without further ado...

Currently Reading

Well, I gave up yesterday on Spider Light. Very disappointing. It started out okay. It's two intertwined stories, one set in the present, one in the past. In the present Our Heroine is a disbarred psychiatrist who just got out of prison after serving five years for killing a man (I think he was one of her patients...didn't read far enough to get all the details). The sister of the deceased man is now after Our Heroine to avenge her brother's death....her brother with whom she committed incest. In the past, the lady of the manor is a manipulative lesbian psychopath who seduces the young daughter of the local miller and arranges for her dissolute cousin to impregnate the girl...who loses her mind.....

It was about here I decided I had better ways to spend my time. I picked up Michael Marshall's latest, The Intruders. Now, this one is an attention grabber. Just as unrealistic, but written so as to just speed you along the story. I stayed up until about 2 am reading and grabbed the book as soon as I woke up in the morning. Finished it before lunch. Quite a ride.

And next I think I'll pick up Richard Russo's latest, Bridge of Sighs.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

A Saturday Sort Of Sunday

Since tomorrow's a Federal holiday, this Sunday feels like a Saturday...much more relaxed with the thought that tomorrow I don't have to jump up at 6 a.m. and head off to work.

I wound the second skein of the Carnival yarn up this afternoon. I told my daughter I was thinking about making the Flower Basket shawl with it. "Oh," she said, would you wear a shawl? I've never seen you wear a shawl." Which is a good point. I'm afraid I could look exceptionally frumpy. But the shawl is so pretty. And the yarn would be, I think, a good match. I think there is only really one way to find out. I'll just have to try it someday.

Currently Reading

I finished The Yiddish Policeman's Union last night. I feel sort of guilty because I read it in choppy sort of chunks. But I still liked it. I think I would have liked it better if I had stuck with it solidly and not read all sorts of other books at the same time. Of course, perhaps there was a little something lacking in the Chabon if I kept picking other books up. Who's to say? Reader flaw or book flaw?

After I turned the last page of the Chabon, I picked up Spider Light by Sarah Rayne. It looks, early on at least, as though it might be a creepy little read.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

The Long and Winding Road

I made a brief stop in at The Black Sheep this afternoon. At first I was going to hold off (don't want to become a nuisance) because I thought I would be there next weekend for the spindle spinning class (I can't wait for that!), but then I realized that the class will be on the 27th and I couldn't wait that long before stopping in. It was busy, which I love to see. I picked up a little something for the ISE5 swap and bought a new (to me, at least) Elsebeth Lavold book, called The Sunnyside Collection. Has a very pretty wrap sweater on the cover, which I like a lot. Showed it to Mr. Pointy Sticks and he said, "Ew, I don't like that. And the turban she's wearing looks silly." I'm not sure it would be the most flattering style on me, but I like it.

During Car Talk and Wait, Wait this morning, I decided to be useful (it was also, I'll be honest, meant to make sure I didn't fall asleep during them). So I got out my swift and wound up some balls of yarn.

These first two are yarns I got at Done Roving farm when we were in Maine in August. The blue, which is Wool and Kid, will turn into a hat for my brother's girlfriend. She really liked the color. And the red, Wool and Mohair, I just fell in love with. Such a pretty rich red and oh, so soft. I was not happy, however, to run across three knots while winding this ball. I don't know what it'll be. Perhaps a happy little scarf.

This is yarn I got off eBay...
from the seller Lotusblossom...
in the color Carnival. (Though really it looks more like a flower garden to me.) I have 1200 yards and am thinking it might make a nice Flower Basket Shawl. I got one of these wound, but I sort of lost my winding mo-jo, and This American Life was over. I'll get the other one wound one of these days. There's no's not like I have nothing to knit.

I've now gone four repeats beyond the suggested last repeat for the ISE5 scarf I'm knitting. I'll be doing a few more repeats, but then it'll be at the end, I think. I need to check and see how early we can send our packages out.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Wow! Look How Fast I'm Going!

Verizon came today and hooked us up with FiOS. Better read fast, 'cos this blog is speedy now!

And my, how fast pictures load.

Gizmo has a ribbon.

You couldn't tell, but that was very fast. Wham, bang, done!!

Tomorrow I am hoping to get up to The Black Sheep again. I feel as though I haven't been there for years. (I think it's been two weeks.) Don't know what I'll do off my ISE5 scarf, perhaps. And see if there is anything new in the store. Oh, and perhaps there will be a little something to put in the ISE5 swap box. And next weekend I get to go there for my spinning lesson!

Currently Reading

So last night I picked up By A Slow River by Philippe Claudel. (Yes, yes, I know....I have some other books going. Leave me alone.) This is an excellent novel, set in a small French town during WWI, though it's narrated by the man who was the police chief (I believe) from some time in the 30's. A young girl was murdered by the banks of the town's canal...and the real crime is in how the murder is "solved." This won a major French award and it is beautifully written. (And I guess beautifully translated, as the beauty comes through in English.)

(I swear, I can't for the life of me figure out why my paragraphs are sometimes space and a halfed and other times single-spaced. I thought it was something to do with the insertion of the photos, but I've played with this post a number of times and can't get these last paragraphs to behave.)

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Pigeon, Phone Home!

Interesting sight on the ride in to work this morning. There was a small truck ahead of us that was loaded with cages in the back...I thought perhaps it was full of chickens, but when we got closer, we saw that it was full of pigeons! Large pigeons. I am wondering if they were being trucked somewhere to be released to fly home. Either that, or there's a big squab dinner being held somewhere south of us. If I'd had my camera, I would have tried to do a Crazy Aunt Purl and snap a shot.

I am beginning to think that I need to rip out the top-down raglan sweater that I'm working on. "What raglan sweater?" you ask, "We haven't seen a raglan sweater!" And you're right. It's been languishing on the corner of my computer table for months now, after languishing beside my knitting chair for other months. It's knit out of oh, so soft yarn from, in shades of cream and gold and yellow and rust and brown and peach and wine. But I think it is way too huge. And, yes, before I rip I will put the stitches on holders and try it on. I think that even more then being afraid that it is too huge, I am afraid that its huge-osity will fit me perfectly. How depressing. I mean, I did want a sort of casual, floppy sweater. But I don't want it to look like I'm wearing one of Paul Prudhomme's cast-offs. Here's a not-very-recent picture. (There's some bad pooling starting up at the bottom there. I'll have to do something about that, at the very least.) Since this was taken, I've almost finished one of the sleeves.

Currently Reading

I've read some more in Portable Childhoods. The stories are okay though none seems to me to be as good as the first one, which I mentioned in an earlier post. Some of them read like not-very-imaginative Twilight Zone episodes. Predictable. And some are very sketchy. So...enjoyable, but nothing to write home about.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

24 and Counting

I have completed 24 repeats of the pattern for the ISE5 scarf. The pattern calls repeats, I think. I haven't even finished the first ball of yarn and, if I were to do only the number of repeats called for, the scarf would be...short. Puny. Minuscule. Cheap looking. It's already sort of a skinny little thing, even though I've tried to widen it a little. I don't remember the scarf being this skinny the first time I knit it.

So I will knit forward. I don't know that I will do 54 repeats, but I will certainly do more than the number called for. That way my recipient should be able to wrap the scarf around her neck a time or two.

My brain feels kludgy today. I have nothing smart to say.

So I'll let Terry Pratchett do the talking. This is from Feet of Clay (copyrighted in 1996) and is referring to a group of nobles who have decided that perhaps Ankh-Morpork would be better off if the Patrician remained permanently indisposed:

They thought themselves part of the march of history, the tide of progress and the wave of the future. They were men who felt that The Time Had Come. Regimes can survive barbarian hordes, crazed terrorists, and hooded secret societies, but they're in real trouble when prosperous and anonymous men sit around a big table and think thoughts like that.

Sounds like the Bush Administration to me. Well, maybe you could say any Administration is like that.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

I'm So Book-Unfaithful

My ISE5 scarf is coming along nicely. I think I have 15 repeats done of the 27 the pattern calls for. I think I'll probably be doing some extra, though.

And I really should be fringing my cousin's scarf.

Currently Reading

So, I sat up (too, too late) last night finishing up Feet of Clay. gee, I just love Terry Pratchett. I was thinking of putting a quote up here from the book (and perhaps I will later this evening) that just reminds me so much of the Bush Administration.

After I finished the book, I snacked the cats and brushed my teeth and headed to bed....and The Yiddish Policeman's Union was in the living room. Now, I've already said it was late and I should have just turned the light out but I really need to read for a few minutes before I go to sleep. Fortunately...well...remember I mentioned those stacks beside the bed? On top of one of them was Ellen Klages' Portable Childhoods, a collection of short stories. I think it was probably mentioned on Readerville, since that's where I get most of my recommendations. So I read the first story in the collection. (Yes, the whole story. I couldn't stop reading.) These are fantasy stories, "glimpses of what lies hidden just beyond the ordinary." The first story concerns the relationship between a lonely little girl and her family's cleaning lady, Ruby. It made me think of the cleaning lady we had when I was a child, Clara.

I called her, for reasons that have never been clear to anyone, Boof. She was, thinking back on it, a tiny woman, though very strong, with roughened hands, who smelled of Comet and cleanliness. She always let me watch her pour cream in her coffee (Mom always took her coffee black) and I loved to watch the swirls. Clara would wait until the cream stopped its swirling, and I was satisfied, before she'd stir it up. She was there when I came back from the hospital after my eye operation, though it wasn't her regular day. One time, when we were back in Baltimore after we moved down to Virginia, my mom and I tracked Clara down at the house where she was cleaning (at our old neighbors) and I got to see her again. I was about 12 or 13 at the time and I remember how small she seemed to me. She and my mom stayed in touch for some years by exchanging Christmas cards but then the cards stopped. And I guess Clara did, too. She was such a touch-stone of my childhood. This story brought a lot of that back to me. I wonder now what she thought of me, chattering away at her all day long.

Monday, October 1, 2007

How Nice of the Postman to Bring Me Something To Blog About

I was sitting at work and thinking that I had nothing to write about today...that perhaps this was the thin edge of the wedge. I would start posting only five times a week, then only alternate days, then once a week...and then, silence. Oh no! Can't let that happen!

Fortunately, the postman heard my plea and, although the mail didn't arrive until after five this afternoon (and what's up with that?!), I got a nice package from the Woolgirl. She had posted on her blog last week that she would be putting up some new Union Center Knits yarn. And posted some pictures, including one call Arbor. I fell in love...and today I got it in the mail. Along with some pretty stitch markers for my ISE 5 pal and a little something for the Daughter which I won't show because (although I doubt she does) she might just read this blog. And look! Woolgirl sent a little packet of Vanilla Cream lotion, along with a thank you note. So sweet.

I can't begin to describe the lovely autumnal colors in this yarn. Cream, pale sunshine, forest green, plum, pumpkin, wine, pink, oak, wheat, gold....beautiful. And soft, too. 450 yards. What could I do with this besides socks? I'm almost tempted to do a pretty lacy "welcome autumn" scarflet. Hmmm...just a little something to flip around my neck.

Of course, this blog could get a little pricey if I depend on things I've bought to give me blog post inspiration.

But look, here are the cats, slightly blurry, in a rare moment of amity. Duncan has taken to playing in our bathtub, which means that, at random times, when you reach down to give him some pats, you get a handful of wet cat. Rather disconcerting.