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 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's contains fully fleshed out characters with all their quirks. But most 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.


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


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:


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.


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?] 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 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?!


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.


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 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


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:


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-
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 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.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Hat...Now With More Inches

We have about four inches of ribbing now. And I am worried that I don't have enough yarn. I'm wondering if I should start throwing in some grey stripes now rather then wait until the end and have to rip back. And how long should I make it from edge to decreases? I'm thinking about 6 inches from where the ribbing would fold up.

And I have to your instincts, trust your instincts, trust your instincts. I put the hat down for a bit, picked it up and thought "Huh. I didn't realize I was on the second needle of a round. Didn't I just finish a round?" Looked back at the previous needle...nope, it was the first needle and I was now on the second. Despite a niggling voice in the back of my mind saying, "Are you sure you're right?" I plowed on and finished the round.

Only to discover that I had carried the yarn from the beginning of the first needle to the beginning of the second needle without actually knitting anything. So three needles full of stitches ripped back. Sigh.

May I just say how much I hate these needles? The only size 8 double-points they had at The Black Sheep on Saturday were Bryspun. I'll take a picture of them when I get home but they have very pointy ends. And pointy ends are fact, they're great if you're doing lace. Sure, they poke my hands but all double points poke my hands...these are just a little more painful than most. The real problem? Where the oh, so pointy end joins the straight and narrow of the needle there is a little step...a angle. And the yarn *thunks* over that step with every stitch. I just realized what it's's like driving on a concrete highway with the joints going thunk-thunk-thunk under your wheels. I hates them, my precious.

Monday, November 12, 2007

The Hat Proceeds

The hat is growing...the ribbing is somewhere between an inch and two long. So it's coming along. It'll be good car-knitting and sitting-at-my-desk knitting.

Rachel and I just took three scarves down to Ms. Boto to sell off to support Synergy, the school's literary magazine. She seemed pleased with them, though they weren't very exciting this year since I didn't realize until recently that she really wanted them. So they were quick knits. Next year's will be better.

Off to make soup for our dinner. It's not really cold enough for a light jacket but not cold...but the sky is grey and the leaves are turning and someone has a wood fire going in the neighborhood, so it looks and smells like autumn. Good soup day.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

How Cool Is This!?

Take a look.

No, closer.


My first tubular cast-on! Neat-o, huh! (I can hear all the non-knitters going "Huh?") Great thanks owed to Amelia Raitt's oh-so-clear instructions.

Liar, Liar....(or Do My Pants Feel Warm?)

Currently Reading

I know I said the other day that I was reading When The Devil Holds The Candle and, if carrying the book around in my workbag (okay, and reading the first couple chapters) counts, then I am reading it. But meanwhile, I am also reading The Tattoo Murder Case which is my go-to book for meals, since I don't care (too much) if it gets a splash of spaghetti sauce on it. And last night I finished Russell Rowland's The Watershed Years. It's a continuation of the story of the Arbuckle clan and their ranch in Montana...written with clarity and an easy prose, it's a fast read...and so satisfying.

Oh yeah, and last night I started The Stolen Child. The first time I started this book about changeling children it didn't click. This time it seems to have done so.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Black Sheep

I was able to stop into my favorite yarn shop and wind up the four skeins of Hacho that I want to use for the Chevron Scarf. And I showed Tracy the pattern for the Spit Curl Scarf that I bought on-line last night from And I ended up buying some yarn for it, too. A ball of Debbie Bliss Rialto in chocolate brown and a skein of Araucania Aysen (merino wool/alpaca/silk -- and incredibly yummy and soft) in a colorway that has blues and browns and roses and turquoises. Well, here's a picture:

Isn't that purty?

November Calendars

Chappy's Mom has a contest (this is her second year, I think) where she has people post pictures of their November calendars. She, like me, has a November birthday and she says she has noticed that November pictures are boring. So she asks us all to post November pictures on our blog. So here are mine. (Lousy pictures because if I use the flash, they turn into pictures of glare.) is the picture from the kitchen calendar.

This is the calendar in our office.

Do you detect a theme?

I wish I could take a picture of my calendar at work. It's got a great picture from Sendak's In the Night Kitchen. But alas, no cameras allowed at work.

And, just to see how far I can push the blog's readers tolerance for cat pictures....look at this sweet sleeping cat.... (I like the way it sort of loos as though he's sucking his thumb.)

Friday, November 9, 2007

Oh so fuddy-duddy...

So, I was just reading Cara's blog, which is wonderful and funny. But gee, it just makes me feel so old! I have no iPod, I have no tattoos, I have such a dull life.

Meanwhile, I am having mental images of Readervillians scurrying all over the Web, reading and commenting on each other's blogs because Readerville is still down and we all need. to. chat! In the worst way.

And I can smell my squash cooking, which probably means I should go check on it.

More later, probably, if the 'Ville doesn't come back up.

Later -

Thank heavens! Readerville is up and I can stop babbling....

Oh, and the squash? Delicious!


I hear people in the office here talking about the weather for the upcoming weekend. Apparently the weatherman is predicting snow...or sleet...or very cold rain. Something. But if you were to listen to the tone of the various conversations, you'd think the coming of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse was upon us. You know the guys - Death, War, Famine, and Pestilence. Though in the case of Baltimoreans in the winter I think they are Snow, Bread, Milk and Toilet Paper. (My theory is that everyone stocks up on bread, milk and toilet paper so that if the snow doesn't actually appear, they can mix up a gloppy white paste, throw that all over their driveways and have something to complain about.)

Got five or six more rows done on the Mystery Stole today at lunch. Slow progress, but progress none the less.

So here’s a little cat story.

We have the two cats (who have shown up here on the blog with some frequency). Gizmo, the gray, is 13…and not the brightest crayon in the box. Sweet but just a little dim. Duncan, the black and white (Mr. Pointy Sticks wanted to name him Two Tone), is 4, still an energetic youngster and, I would say, smarter than Giz. (He can and will open cupboards in search of food and catnip. He hasn’t figured out drawers yet.)

Gizmo tolerates Duncan for the most part without being terribly friendly. Duncan seems to like washing Giz (I wonder what that means as far as their hierarchy goes?) though he will sometimes get too enthusiastic and start chewing on Giz’s ears, which earns him a swat. And occasionally I’ll notice that Giz has an oddly rumpled spot on his side and realize that Duncan has carefully been styling in cowlicks.

Giz likes, as I noted yesterday, to curl up next to my computer and spend the evening there, close to me, snoozing and get skritches now and then. Duncan will, usually, decide to curl up on top of the bookcase near by.

But lately, perhaps because it’s cooler in the house, Duncan is wedging himself in next to Giz and curling up with him. This peeves Gizmo no end. So the other evening, Duncan came into the room and jumped up next to a sleeping Giz and began settling in. Giz woke up and glared at Duncan, looked at me, glared at Duncan…and Duncan ignored him completely. Duncan finally settled down, whereupon Gizmo stood up, stretched, did that little turn-three-times-before-lying-down bit and flopped back down…on top of Duncan’s rump. Then it was Duncan’s turn to wake up, glare at Giz, look at me, glare at Giz…and then fall back to sleep. You had to be there, I guess, but I can tell you, I was laughing.

Currently Reading

I finished the Jane Gardam book of short stories. I have a second one but I think I’ll save that one for a bit. Her stories are delightful…astringent and clear, like a good lemon sorbet.
Now I’ve picked up When The Devil Holds The Candle, an Inspector Sejer mystery by Karin Fossum. Set in a smallish town in Norway, this one is building up the tension nicely.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Such a Helpful Guy

Sigh. So all evening, while I was biking and while I was winding down from biking and while I was watching The Office, Gizmo was nowhere to be found. (Well, actually, I think he was up sleeping on Rachel's bed...the point is that he wasn't on the mohair throw folded on the corner of my computer table where he normally spends the evening.) "Great!" I think, "I can take that throw off and take some more yarn pictures and load them into my Ravelry stash...especially since Readerville seems to be down."

Two minutes before The Office's Giz, asking to be up on my lap. And where is he now?

Again. Sigh.

Grey Thursday

Currently Reading

(Gee, as much as I talk about books here, perhaps I should have called the blog “Two Pointy Sticks and a Heck of a Lot of Books” – which anyone who has ever visited our house would heartily endorse.)

I just finished Laura Ruby’s The Wall and the Wing and what a great romp it was! This is a kid’s book, filled with: an old man with grass for hair, orphans and wicked orphanage administrators, flying people, an amazing carousel, Punks, man-sized rats, the Richest Man in the World…and cats. Lots of cats. Cats who save the day. Such fun. And the acknowledgments even thank Readervillians, so I’m taking that personally. Anyone with small kids…this is a good’un. And there's a sequel! That's on my Wish List now.

Next up, a collection of Jane Gardam short stories, Going into a Dark House. The first one, about the death of the narrator’s mother while they are touring the garden of a Stately Home in England, had me in tears. But I do love Jane Gardam.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

What Ho! A Hole!

So, after four hours work or so, and several hundred dollars we have:

A hole!

And, more importantly, a new flange and a new seal and a reseated toidy and, voila! no more drip!

Thank god for plumbers.


I asked a fellow knitter on Readerville last night if she was in Ravelry. And she said she had seen it mentioned here but didn't know what it was. Which made me realize that if she, a knitter, didn't know about Ravelry, the non-knitters among you probably didn't have a clue. So here's what I sent her in an email about Ravelry:

Ravelry is sort of like Readerville For Knitters. I was a little hesitant about joining...did I really need this? But I signed up because, hey, there were 12000 people in line in front of me and they were only letting in 100 people a week (they are still in beta version...eventually they'll be open to the public) so I had a long time to think about it. Then suddenly they were letting in 500 people a day and bang, there I was with my own invite.

So I joined.

And it's so cool. You get your own "notebook" in which you can list (and put in pictures of) your projects, both finished and on-going, with all the details about what needles you're using and what yarn. You can keep track of your stash and your knitting library. You can chat with friends, and comment on other people's projects and yarns. You can swap and sell and buy yarn. You can enter the name of some yarn you might have bought on a whim and find out what other people are doing with it. You can get little reviews of yarns and patterns. There are forums where you can join discussions or ask questions. There are groups...people who knitting a certain pattern or who love the same kind of yarn or who live in the same area...

I have only started to scratch the surface. But it's wild.

Writing this to her made me think about what I liked about Ravelry. If she had asked me a month or so ago, when I was new there, I think my response would have been less enthusiastic because you really have to be there a while to realize all the resources that Ravelry makes available to you. I wonder if the couple who started it had any idea it would become so big.

Oh...and I'm home today...waiting for the plumber. What fun.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Raindrops Keep Falling...

But they really shouldn't be dripping on one's head when one is sitting in one's computer room....yes, we have a leak. work tomorrow while the plumber comes to visit. Makes me just as happy that we are such slowpokes at getting house repairs done since we already have one hole in the ceiling from a repair a year or two ago. La, la, lazy pays off for once.

I brought the Schaefer Anne to work with me today to play with. (I wound it in a ball last night, by hand off my swift. My dad had asked me on Sunday how long it might take to wind up 560 yards of yarn and I estimated an hour. I wasn’t far off. It took 56 minutes. (And boy, it looks even prettier in a ball then in the original hank, I think.) Anyway, I brought along some number 4’s and I’m working on a swatch to see how it looks. I think I like it. I like the look of stockinette but I think the curl factor is going to force me to do it in garter stitch.

Currently Reading

I honestly don’t feel that he’s a very good writer, but I am guiltily fond of Dean Koontz’s Odd Thomas books. The other day I saw that Brother Odd was out in mass market paperback form, so I grabbed it. (Can I rant a little about mass market prices? I mean, I don’t expect the books to be a quarter any more. But $8.00! For a paperback. Yikes!) Anyway, that’s what I’m reading now. But probably won’t be reading for long as it’s got pretty big type and reads fast.

I finished Isabella Moon yesterday. It has a rather grim ending. (A little bit of an understatement there.)\

Later -

Finished Brother Odd. Not as good, I think, as the first ones. Which isn't a terribly high hurdle to cross. But it was a quick, entertaining read.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Late News

Well, I'm bummed. Apparently the chicken-costumed dog is not Mr. Burns. Sigh.

This afternoon as I came out of work to wait for Mr. Pointy Sticks to pick me up for the ride home, the crows were kicking up quite a ruckus in the trees around me. I noticed several groups of crows flying in from the west...ten, twelve, fifteen at a time. Then, as I looked across the road toward the high school and slightly west, I noticed that the trees were filled with crows...perching among the thin leaves like some sort of strange fruit. It was almost like one of those Magic Pictures. I'd look and think, "Oh, there's a crow...and another...and two more...and God, that tree is full of them!" And then I looked across the street to the east...more trees filled with more crows. And then, as though there had been some sort of signal I couldn't hear, there was a huge outcry and the sky was filled with a cloud of crows - hundreds of them. I really felt as though I was an extra in The Birds for a couple of minutes there. Pretty cool.

And They're Off!....But Without Me

The new season of the Amazing Race started last night and I forgot all about it. Though I’ve been so off television lately that I might not have turned it on even if I remembered it. About the only show I really want to watch anymore is The Office. Even House has gotten a little tiresome. Oh well, more time to read.

Other than that, what a nice day yesterday. An extra hour of sleep, lots of knitting and reading (and okay, some grocery shopping, too – not my favorite thing to do but needed to be done), and then a lovely dinner with my family at my Dad’s house. My aunt and uncle were there, as well as my brother and his girlfriend, and the food was, as always, delicious. My step-mom made lasagna that was so light and scrumptious. Mine is always heavy as a brick. And ice cream cake for dessert. Yum.

And I was given lots of nice books (not that I needed books), including one on spinning from Mr. Pointy Sticks that has already, after just a brief skim, been useful, I think. He also got me some gorgeous amethyst and white topaz earrings. And Rachel drew me a sheep. And my aunt and uncle gave me some soup mixes and a soup cook-book that has some amazing sounding recipes in it. So many nice things.

The Haystack scarf is all finished up and I got all the ends woven in while sitting after dinner last night and chatting. So I have four scarves to take to Ms. Boto next Monday. (Federal holiday! Let’s all say “Hurray!”) I’ll be able to work on my Mystery Stole today at lunch, which will feel sort of odd, after not working on it for a month or thereabouts.

And I want to get the Schaefer Anne lace-weight yarn wound into a ball…perhaps I’ll try to do that this evening. And then I can start on the scarf idea that I have in my head. Not that it’s a terribly challenging design that I have in mind…just diagonal rows of eyelets zigzagging back and forth with beads at the eyelets. But I need to choose the right beads. And decide on the spacing of the eyelet lines. And whether I want them to be all regular (eyelet, ten stitches, eyelet) or perhaps stagger them somewhat and stop and start them (don’t worry…I know what I mean.) The latter will require more planning, but might be more interesting. Time to dig out some graph paper, I think.

Currently Reading

Isabella Moon is reminding me a bit of some of Sharyn McCrumb’s books. It’s set in a small Kentucky town, where the heroine, Katherine, who is escaping from a troubled past, finds herself contacted by the ghost of the titular young girl, who disappeared shortly before Katherine came to the town. If you can swallow the slight supernatural element, it’s not a bad read. Some of the characters are a little over the top (Katherine’s boss being a prime example), there’s an awful lot of sex and drugs, but the sheriff is a good guy.

I got so many appealing books for my birthday, who knows what I’ll pick up next.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Happy Birthday to Me, Happy Birthday to Me...

Everyone else in the house is asleep...not that it's that early. It's almost 10:30. Mr. Pointy Sticks was up and exercised and is now napping. The kids were up who know how late and are still asleep. That extra hour was lovely.

This evening we go over to my Dad's for a birthday get-together. I'm taking my camera but we are all so camera shy, who knows if any pictures will be taken.

Currently Reading

I finished up The Godmother last night. Well written and amusing...a little tedious at points when the main character was obsessing over things a little too much...good twist at the end. It's chick-lit, I suppose, whatever that means exactly.

Now I've started a mystery I picked up at Barnes and Noble last night: Isabella Moon by Laura Benedict. It's really too early to tell, but I think it'll be good.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Yay! Weekend.

I haven't had any pictures for a when in need.....Cat Face!

Mr. Pointy Sticks and I passed up the bird walk this Saturday...he's off playing tennis with a friend and I slept in. My brother and his significant other went. Now watch. This week they'll see all sorts of cool things. Like penguins. (Later - My brother reports that they saw a Golden Crowned Kinglet. But no penguins.)

One of the things I want to do this weekend is take pictures of some of my stash and start getting it up on Ravelry. I can't think about this too much because then I'll start wondering why exactly I want to do it. But I think that it might be good to have a record of what I actually have lurking in all those tubs in the family room. I might really get some odd looks fromt he neighbors with my camera and a whole Rubbermaid tub of yarn out on the ole Front Porch of Photography. Perhaps I should move to the back yard.

This is so-o-o cool. One of my favorite Readervillians lives in Nashville and has a dog named Mr. Burns...who was dressed as a chicken for Halloween. And today I go to Mason-Dixon and (if you scroll down about halfway) there is a dog dressed like a chicken who looks an awful lot like Mr. Burns! Virtual intersection! I cannot express in words how cool I think this is.

Currently Reading

I finished The Case of the Missing Books. I would not recommend it. At all. To anyone. Unless they need to balance an uneven table or something.

Now focused on The Godmother.

And everyone (well, a couple of people) on Readerville is reading and talking about The House of Leaves and their comments make me want to find my copy, which I've never read and which is in some box of books somewhere....

Friday, November 2, 2007

Where's My Shopping List?

November second already, eh? Guess I ought to start giving some serious thought to Christmas. I think I might be doing a lot of my shopping on Etsy this year. There is some seriously lovely stuff and I think I could find things that would make people happy. (Which reminds me, I need to ask my brother his opinion on something there.) Of course, one problem is that I keep finding stuff for me

Meanwhile, though, I need to think about some things for Mr. Pointy Sticks. I don’t think, alas, that there is much on Etsy that would interest him. Some nice vintage buttons? Sock yarn? Earrings? Not so much.

Rumors are flying at work...and they seem to be true...that the powers-that-be are really going to start cracking down on internet usage. They've been pretty free about long as we were getting the work done, we were fairly free to use the internet...couldn't download stuff, of course. But apparently the usage has gotten so high that the legitimate use is getting clogged up and slowed down. So I have begun weaning myself. Better safe than sorry. I'd rather be used to only getting on at lunch time because I've gotten there gradually, then to have it all cut off cold turkey. Though I remember when I started work, back in the Dark Ages, we were only supposed to use our phones for business. And that rule has pretty much fallen by the wayside. (Though actually, that rule would be easier to enforce these days what with everyone and their brother having cell phones.)

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Rabbit, Rabbit

Actually, I forgot (as I usually do) to say "Rabbit, rabbit" last night and this morning. I think I've only ever managed to do it once.

We didn't have many trick-or-treaters last night. Which means that this morning we have a large stainless steel bowl pretty much completely filled with candy. Some of which came to work with me this, la, how did that happen? Of course, the lack of little costumed munchkins may have been due, at least in part, to the fact (that we discovered last night) that our doorbell seems to have died. I'm not too surprised at that since the last time I heard it, all it did was go "bonk" in a dull and dispirited sort of fashion.

So, here it is November. And this weekend (just for my birthday) we get an extra hour of sleep. I tried to talk Rachel and Mr. Pointy Sticks into giving me their extra hours as a birthday present but they were having nothing to do with that idea.

November should be bringing good things. I've been working in the same Deputy Commissioner's office for all but a year and a half of my 28 year career. And, for most of those years, I've been in the same branch. And that makes one pretty familiar with the subject matter but can lead to stultifying boredom. And lately there have been some personnel changes I have been less than happy with. So for a while now I've been checking out job listings. But the problem with working 20+ years in the same office is that it basically makes you suited for....working in that office. So last week I asked my boss if there was a chance I could be moved to another branch. And there is! It's going to happen. Not right away because (a) the only other analyst in our branch has some medical issues that might be taking her out of the office for a while and (b) they've got to get two people in to replace me (heh, ego boost) and one is in a training class at the moment. So things to learn and new people to work with, without the bother of having to learn a new office's routines and rituals. So I'm happy. (We'll see how long that lasts.)

Currently Reading

The other evening I couldn't remember where I had put The Case of the Missing Books, so I started The Godmother. It's sort of chick-litty, I guess...single woman, with lots of married-with-children or married-and-pregnant friends, wondering if marriage-and-children is in her future. But it's pretty gripping so far. And the writing is a good bit better that Mr. "We-Can't-Have-Too-Many-Adjectives" Sansom's. (Turns out Missing Books was still in my carry-to-work bag.)