Wednesday, December 29, 2010

And So It Goes....

We had a lovely Christmas and I hope everyone else out there did, too. Even though I had my camera with me for the whole Christmasday festivities and post-Christmas, through-the-blizzard, take-the-daughter-back-to-Massachusetts trip I neglected to take a single picture! On the bright side...this post won't take long to load!

So...what was your favorite present? I can tell you what mine was....Mr. Pointy Sticks gave me the three-volume Complete Calvin and Hobbes! It was a complete surprise to me, even though he bought it at a Barnes and Noble when I was there shopping with him! I do remember him waving me away when he was buying something in the CD/DVD department and as I wandered away I thought, "Oh, he must be buying me some more Tchaikovsky!" (We had discovered that we were short of said composer in our music collection.) Then I thought, "But we've gotten Nutcracker and Swan Lake and Winter Dreams...what else would he think to get me? Ooooh, maybe they have the Fantasia DVD set!" Then I stopped thinking about it... What was even funnier (and more nerve-racking for Mr. Pointy Sticks) was that I got into line to check out up at the front of the store and he, unbeknownest to me, had started out of the store to stick the Calvin and Hobbes collection in the car. Only he set off the theft detector and had to go to the front counter (where, mind you, I am waiting in line), have the salesclerk wrestle the huge collection out of the bag and desensitize it, wrestle it back into the bag...whereupon, when Mr. Pointy Sticks picked it up, the handles broke off. The salesclerk was trying to get the box into a new bag but Mr. Pointy Sticks just grabbed the old bag (no, not me...the book) and hustled out to the car, all hunched over (he says) and trying to hold on to this massively heavy -- and slippery -- bag. And I was still in the line...completely oblivious to all the commotion. (And this collection really is heavy! I had it on my lap after I opened it and was sitting at such an angle that I had to ask Mr. Pointy Sticks to come over and pick it up for me before I could stand up!)

Another wonderful gift, in contention for favorite gift of the year, was from Rachel, who bought me a puzzle by Chris Yates. I was going to link to a picture of my puzzle, but he's taken it down from his page. It's an elephant as an @ sign. Trust me, it's very cute. She met him (and bought a truck-load of puzzles from him) at the Webcomics convention this past fall. Anyway, Yates cuts the puzzles from wood, by hand, and paints them in these lovely, rich, speckledy colors. They are a joy to work. And Rachel says he's a very nice guy.

We had a lovely afternoon/evening with my dad and step-mom and brother. More presents and a yummy brother made his cheese grits, my step-mom cooked the ham and the carrots and a baked apple dish, I made Green Potatoes from Sweden at my brother's request and they were both easy and delicious. (Also made some tasty broccoli that involved sauteing some garlic and pancetta (though I used tiny proscuitto cubes by mistake) and then tossing in the broccoli until it was crisp-tender....yum!) Since we were heading out the next day for Massachusetts, I left all the left-overs with my dad and he enjoyed them...made the potatoes into potato pancakes one morning, which was something I was thinking about all the way to Massachusetts in the car on Sunday.

The trip up north was fun. We were racing in front of the blizzard until northern New Jersey where it caught up with us. It snowed more and more heavily until New Haven, where we were pretty much in blizzard conditions. Fortunately, we headed north at that point and began out-running the storm again...the snow was considerably lighter. In fact, when we pulled into the hotel parking lot about 3 p.m., it wasn't snowing at all. I asked the desk clerk when it was supposed to start and she said, "I thought it was supposed to start about now." And sure enough, we got up to the room, looked out the window, and there was the snow!

Monday morning we picked up Cooper at the vet. I'm sure the poor animal thought he was being taken to yet another home (Rachel is his third owner). He seemed very happy to come out of his carrier in the home he knew. He was very affectionate this visit...actually sat on Mr. Pointy Sticks' lap for a while. Got some shopping done and thermal curtains put up in Rachel's room. Rachel cooked us a wonderful roast chicken dinner and we sat around eating and watching some ridiculous shows on HGTV...young couples buying their first houses...and paying $600,000!!! Unbelievable.

Tuesday's trip home was uneventful but l-o-o-o-o-n-g. Took us 9 hours rather than the usual 7. No real snow problems, just incredibly heavy traffic volume. We were happy to see home again. And our furry monsters seemed happy to see us.

Sorry for the lack of photographic evidence of any of this...I'm a lousy blogger.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Quick Catch Up

Only 11 (well, really only 10) days until Christmas! Augh. I've sent out a few Christmas cards...then I ran out of stamps. In fact, the last couple I sent out had some old stamps and some 2 cent stamps all glommed onto the envelopes...that's a sign one hasn't been to the post office for a while.

I've been having a hard time finding something to read after that Joe Abercrombie trilogy. Finally settled on an English mystery I picked up on a recent Daedalus visit. It's...okay. And I can't actually remember the title...something about a Chorister and an Abbey. And murder, of course. Oh, here you go...The Chorister at the Abbey. The Amazon reviews give it close to five stars, but I think I agree more with this:
"Slow pacing and unmemorable characters weigh down Howell's second Norbridge Chronicles mystery (after 2006's The Flower Arranger at All Saints), set in the north of England....The solution may strike some readers as a bit muddled, while others may find the police's near invisibility implausible."
I gave my coworkers their Christmas presents today (two cowls and a scarflet). I just couldn't wait and it is so cold here (and we were going out to lunch and it is so cold here I thought they might like to wear them). They seem to have been a hit. I think Elizabeth wore hers all afternoon. Unfortunately I didn't take pictures of them before I gave them away (although I thought I had...maybe I'll check my photo album again --, definitely no pictures). Lunch was tasty. We went to the Candlelight was so prettily decorated for the holidays. I had a scrumptious hamburger...why do my home-cooked hamburgers never measure up to a restaurant's? It was huge and made me completely uninterested in any form of dinner.

Rachel will be home this weekend! Hurrah! Only for a week, as we have to board poor Cooper while she is down here and that adds up fast. But oh, it will be good to see her!

Friday, December 10, 2010


This is a post for those of you who come here for the book right out and pick up Joe Abercrombie's First Law trilogy. That would be, in order:

The Blade Itself

Before They Are Hanged

Last Argument of Kings

These were just blow-me-away, don't-want-'em-to-end, good. I kept putting off reading the end of the last one. I eked those last 100 pages out over this past week (one reason for lack of posting of late...I've been immersed in these books). Alas, though, now they are read.

Okay, not everyone is going to love these books. Some people don't like fantasy. Though these are not sparkly unicorns, fairy dust and pointy-hatted wizards sort of fantasy. There are wizards...but some of them aren't very nice. And none of them wear pointy hats. In fact, for most of the people in this fictional world, magic is something from history...something made up or, at least, long gone from the world. And the books are...bloody. Lots of battles, described in lots of details. Torture. War and destruction. Anyone who likes George R.R. Martin's series should definitely check these out.

As in Martin's series, the characters here are unforgettable. Logen Ninefingers, from the North, a hero who speaks to the spirits and wonders if it is possible that he could become a good man. And indeed, when he's possessed by The Bloody Nine, he's not a good man. At least, not a man that differentiates between friend and foe.

There's Ferro, a woman from the South, with little room in her heart for anything but seeking vengeance against the Gurkish, a nation that took everything from her, raped her and enslaved her. (Note: She makes a good start on that vengeance in the books.)

There's Jezal dan Luthar, a callow youth who becomes a man...of sorts.

There's Bayaz, one of the aforementioned wizards, who gathers these three and a few others for a purpose that remains hidden until near the end. No pointy-hat wearer, he.

And there's Glokta dan Sanden, a hero in his youth, who is now broken and crippled after years of torture in the prisons of the Gurkish. Now he is home and in constant pain and...what's this?...working as a torturer for the Inquisition. He's a twisted mass of flesh and bone, with missing teeth and toes...and yet, somehow you come to sort of like him, sympathize with him, admire him.

And the end? Let me just say - Along with unicorns and fairy dust, Joe Abercrombie apparently doesn't believe in happy, happy endings. Satisfying perhaps, but not happy.

Great, great read.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Meditations On A Wish List

I’ve been thinking a bit about wish lists, it being the time of year when wish lists take center stage. And even after mulling it over I can’t say I’ve really come to any conclusion. But I think maybe I don’t like them…

Oh, they certainly have their reason for existence. My family was undoubtedly getting tired of getting me books only to have me try to hide my little wince and say “Oh, I already have this….would you like to keep it?” (though that, or something similar, can happen with wish lists, too, as I was gifted with something for my birthday that I threw on my wish list so that I’d remember to get it for someone else) And my brother has very specific wants that he does well to put on a wish list because I can’t say it would occur to me to buy anyone Maserati Tipo 60 and 61: The Magnificent Front-Engined Birdcages by Oosthoek and Bollee. (And, sorry bro, but when the cheapest one on AddAll is $147.90 it won’t be coming from me… I only wish I were that wealthy.)

And shopping for someone requires more thought if they don't have a wish list and there is always the chance that your gift to them will fall short. But doesn't gift-giving need to have some thought behind it? Otherwise, we could all just gather in a circle and shove cash at each other and where's the fun in that?!

But really…the wish lists take away a lot of the spontaneity. Yes, my Amazon wish list is 10 or 11 or 12 pages long, so it’s not like I remember everything on it. But there’s always a little sense of “Oh, yeah…this” that comes with opening a book or movie or game that’s been sitting on your wish list for three years. (I do sound like an ungrateful wretch, don’t I?) But there’s no chance for the experience of opening a present and realizing that, even if it never occurred to you to ask for one (or, even more excitingly, never knew such a thing existed), what is staring up at you is exactly what you wanted…the perfect, unasked-for, oh-my-god-that’s-so-me, I-love-it present. Of course, I suppose that there’s also less chance of opening an oh-my-god-what-were-they-thinking, where-on-earth-did-you-find-this, who-in-their-right-mind, sort of present, too.

I told you I had no answer. Just my gut feeling that Christmas is more fun without ‘em. And here’s a public announcement: I am not wed to my wish list! Feel free to stray. (Heh, for one thing, there’s no yarn on my wish list. Guess I could remedy that…)

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Augh! It's Almost December!

Hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving weekend. We had a nice Turkey Day, though I missed my VA cousin, who couldn't make it because her dog broke his leg right before the holiday. Let's all think good thoughts for Pongo. [Update: Unfortunately the vet's early diagnosis of osteosarcoma was let's hope he's a survivor.]

We got a little half-ham and a small turkey roast from Honey-Baked Ham and my, they were tasty! All neatly sliced, so sandwiches later were a joy. And there was other good stuff...two kinds of potatoes, spinach Madeliene, green beans with mustard sauce, sweet potatoes. And two kinds of pie for dessert. Another of my cousins hosted it. I didn't take my camera with me, because none of us like to have our picture taken, but I had forgotten that she had two new kittens. One of them, the male (by name of Sparky) pretty much vanished for the festivities, but the female (as yet unnamed though she may just stick with her shelter name...Turvy (her brother guessed it...Topsy)) was very sociable and spend some time curled up in my lap, purring and purring.

The rest of the weekend has been uneventful. I've about decided that maybe two-day weekends are better...I kept putting things off. "Laundry? I have days to do that!" "Cleaning the bathroom? I have days to do that!" "Making scones? I have days to do that!":

So I am sort of running around today, trying to get things done.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Whadda Day, Whadda Day!!

Rachel passed her driver's test, first time trying! Huzzah!

Now, honey, just don't be a Masshole.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Blah Weekend...

It is very frustrating to actually have some finished knitted objects and not be able to throw pictures up here. But that's Christmas, I guess.

Didn't do a lot this weekend. I had my last Stranded Mitten class and got the thumb started and well on its way. I just wasn't much in the mood for the class, though. In fact, I've been in a pretty foul mood all weekend for some reason...don't know why.

Today we went up to Target and I got a bunch of toys for the toy drive at work. That usually cheers me up and makes me feel good, but not this year. Man, the toys are junky. I finally found some cute stuffed animals and some markers and a big sketch book and a foot ball and some sort of jewelry kit. We went to Borders, too, and I picked out some books for their book drive. That was fun.

So, off to work tomorrow and, hurrah!, it's only a three day work-week. We ordered a half a ham and a little turkey roast for I just have to decide what veggies we might bring. Need to talk to Becca, I guess.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

That Little Reader

As I was rummaging through old Rachel pictures the other evening to put together the post for November 12th, I was struck by how many of them included Rachel and a book...even some really early ones. I mentioned this to Herself and she said, "Hey, put 'em up." So here, in a completely self-indulgent post, are pictures of my sweetie back when she was little...but already into her books.

Even if sometimes she just tried to eat them...

Sunday, November 14, 2010

How About Some Pretty Pictures?

It was another beautiful day here today, though a bit chillier than yesterday. Can't complain for November, though. I went out on the Front Porch of Photography to take pictures of my Loop purchases and ended up snapping some pictures of local trees, too.

This one is out in front of our house:

And this one is our neighbor's Japanese maple, which is looking stunning this year.

So, want to see what I brought home from Loop? I thought you might.

My signed sweatshirt is joined by Franklin's calendar, one of the two skeins of Lana Vida's Hannah, and the two skeins of Black Bunny yarn. Carol's colors are so beautiful and range from the bright:

to the softly subtle:
Ella Enchanted

The second skein of the Hannah (which is an amazingly squooshy yarn, springy and soft -- as it should be since it's alpaca, merino and cashmere) was the one I wound in the car and I've restarted the cowl I started unsuccessfully.

And, from the sublime to the ridiculous (not at least not so sublime), Mr. Pointy Sticks and I were in Tuesday Morning the other day and I found these:

The top skein (I got two of 'em) is an Araucania pima cotton and is so-o-o-o-o-o soft! The colors aren't beautiful...but they aren't hideous.

So there are some pretties.

I am waiting to hear from Rachel, with whom I spoke briefly this afternoon. She told me she was having "an adventure" and would tell me about it this evening. She also mentioned that she had been driving on the highway (good) and had gotten the car up to 80 mph (not so good). I told her that unless the speed limit on said highway was 75, that was a little too fast..."But, Mom!" she said, "everyone else was going that fast!"


Saturday, November 13, 2010

Road Trip!

It was a beautiful day today for a special trip, so Mr. Pointy Sticks and I headed off to Philadelphia.

Why Philly? Well, I heard that some pretty special people were going to be at Loop, which I had heard was a pretty nice yarn shop. Who were the people? Well...

Franklin Habit and Carol Sulcoski! Woot!

So I carted up Carol and Franklin's books to get them well as my second "It itches" sweatshirt that Mr. Pointy Sticks gave me for my birthday. (He was afraid that I wouldn't be able to find my original "It itches" shirt in time for the visit.) And I got to meet both of them and chat for a while. And I was able to check out Loop, which indeed is a very nice yarn shop.

And I did manage to find some yarn to buy...quelle surprise. Carol, who is the personification of Black Bunny Fibers, had her entire inventory there. I sort of wanted to roll around in it. I brought home two skeins and am sort of regretting leaving a couple of the skeins there. I also got a couple of skeins of yarn to make this nice cowl that was a free pattern on Loop's blog. And I got my hands on Steven West's book, which has some interesting and lovely stuff.

Loop has Koigu and I went in fully expecting to buy myself a couple of skeins and once again, I was struck by the dreaded Koigu Paralysis...there are so many pretty colors and color-combinations that I just can't decide...I fondle them and find matching dye lots and waffle about..and then put them all back on the shelf and walk away. Just overload.

Mr. Pointy Sticks and I walked around the neighborhood a bit...interesting and nice-looking place.

One neat thing about's next door to Spool, which is a sewing shop, affiliated with Loop. And Spool is managed (maybe both of them are...I'm not sure) by the daughter of my brother's best friend...a guy we've know since I was born. He was born on the same day as my brother, and we always called them the twins. They've known each other since kindergarten, I think, so I've known Don since I can remember. In fact, when I was a little girl I told my mom that I would have to marry my brother when I grew up. "Why do you think you're going to have to marry your brother?" Mom asked. "Because the only boys I know are Don and Wayne [another friend of my brother's] and they don't like me!"

Anyway, long story short...we got to meet Don's daughter (and jeez, she looks like her grandmother...I would have known her anywhere) and she was really nice. Showed us around both stores and gave us directions home.

I actually ended up winding one of the skeins up as I rode home.

And I may just have cast on.

Unfortunately I had to take it apart and then it was too dark to I'll try again later.

Nice day, and I have the best husband in the whole world.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Seems Like...Well, Not All That Long Ago

Rachel asked me specifically to post this picture of here it is. Our old cat Barney thought Rachel's crib was just the perfect cat bed for him. I liked looks as though Rachel is whispering something in his ear...or about to bite it off.

Of course, once I had the album out to find that picture, I couldn't resist throwing up some others.

Barney soon because a plaything and confidant. She was chatting away with him here...unintelligibly, of course.

Love the expression on this one. She had her shirt stuffed with sand.

She learned, early on, that we all tended to read at the dinner (or in this case breakfast) table.

The artist at work.


Another great face...though she was actually coughing.

Happy Veter[inari]an's Weekend

Had to take the cats to the vet yesterday. Duncan was not happy about it. The minute he saw the carry-case come out he lit off for the hills. We were chasing him all over the house and finally had to poke him out from under our bed from whence he dashed back to the living room and then the dining room where Mr. Pointy Sticks finally hauled him out from under the dining table.

Then we had to get him into the carrier...while he spread out his toes as wide as they could go and clung on to the outside edge of the carrier. Finally got him contained and out to the car. We had gotten Giz into his case before we tackled Duncan.

Well, Duncan yowled all the way to the vet. W- w-w-w-w-w-o-o-o-o-w-w-w-w! W-h-h-h-r-r-r-r! M-i-i-a-a-o-o-o-w-w-w-w! Fortunately, it's a short ride. I tried to get a picture of him but every time I turned around with the camera he would just shut up and glare at me.

Once we got there, and into the exam room, he was the perfect gentleman.

He sat next to Mr. Pointy Sticks and waited while they examined Giz.

Gizmo sat on the exam table and buried his head in my armpit (hence, no pictures). I think he feels that if he can't see the vet, the vet can't see him. Nice try, Giz! They had to take him in the back for bloodwork...he's a little anemic but his kidney function is holding steady. We could hear him yowling from the back and Duncan's ears kept reacting...I think he identified the yowling as someone he knew. Sure seemed that way. They carried Giz back in, wrapped in a towel, hissing and growling. He was one angry cat. As soon as they put him down he made a beeline for the carrier...he was ready to leave.

(That's a small pack of Starburst in there with him. Heaven knows how it got there.)

Duncan has put on some weight and should probably lose a pound or two (shouldn't we all?). He's the size of a small pony...After his exam I picked him up and he clung onto my shoulder with all his strength.

It was a quieter trip home and the beasts are good for another year. Duncan was rather anti-social and testy for the rest of the evening. And this morning he jumped up on the bed for his morning skritch but instead of doing what he usually does...patting at me and then letting me skritch his head while he butts my hand and purrs and purrs...he jumped up, patted me awake and then stared at me and very deliberately turned his back on me and sat down. that way!

In the knitting world, I've had some finishing...the first of a pair of socks for Rachel and a I-can't-show-you-yet Christmas present.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Happy Birthday To Morgan!!

Obviously all the best people have their birthdays in November...

This has been a delightful, if a little achy, weekend. See, I got my flu shot on Thursday morning at work (and man, it burned as it went in!) and for a day or two I felt no effects at all. For all it hurt while it was injected, my arm wasn't sore at all...and then last night I noticed that my neck was sore. And today I was sore all over...neck, back, shoulders...the backs of my knees... No fever or anything so I think it's just a mild least I hope that's all it is.

Yesterday my brother and his sweetie came over and I got some nice gifts...a pretty jewelry box from Sherrye and a stack of books and a movie from Justus. One of the books is a pop-up book of architecture that is pretty freakin' awesome. I should try to take some pictures.

Today Mr. Pointy Sticks and I went to Daedalus where I managed to find some treats for me but also got some Nabakov for Rachel (and a cool sketchbook) and some Christmas presents for a couple of people. I need to get into gear with Christmas!

And we had yummy lunch at Atwater's. I took a picture of my salad, it was so pretty. Perhaps I can get it posted this evening.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Happy Birthday To Me!

What a lovely day I had today...really, this has to go down in the books as one of my better birthdays.

When I went into work today, my boss gave me a box of Rheb's chocolates. Do I have the best boss in the world, or what?! We both adore Rheb's and she said when she was over getting some for her mom recently, she thought of me. She made sure to buy some creams because she knew we had always gotten buttercreams in the boxes we got Mom. What a sweet thing for her to do.

And then this evening we went out to dinner with Katharine Weber. I am not Miss Sociable but Katharine makes being sociable easy. She's a fascinating person and we had a tasty dinner at the Vietnamese restaurant and closed the place! I mean, they were piling the chairs on the tables! Katharine signed my book (with birthday wishes!) and gave me a luscious tin of Valrhona deep dark chocolate that came...get this...from Paris. Swanky, no?!

We talked some about True Confections and I told her how much I had enjoyed it. She mentioned that some people had told her that they really couldn't take the narrator and had to stop reading. And certainly Alice has her issues...but I still found that I liked her. I might not trust her completely but I liked her. The paperback comes out in December!!

Katharine's next book is a memoir about her family. Now, I am not usually a memoir sort of person...but by the time we parted this evening I was dying to read this book. It's going to cover her father's 800-page FBI file, his affairs with known spies (though he was not a spy himself), her grandmother's affair with George Gershwin, her grandmother's grandfather (I think it was) who may or may not have profited from another man's murderous spree in the gold-mining hills of Montana...and more. As she is telling us some of the stories about her family (the travails of her father trying to make a profit from 1,800 East German typewriters had me giggling) I thought, at one point, "Man, if I were sitting in the booth next to us, I'd be listening in just as hard as I could!"

And she had some good news...Caroline Leavitt, an author I adore, has a new book coming out. Katharine said she thinks this one is going to be big. Yay! I have loved all of Caroline's books and I can't understand why more people don't love her. Her books have big hearts and such true and living characters.

She also transmitted greetings from some old Readervillians who she is still in touch with. I know that one of the ladies, Cara, reads here "Hi, Cara!" (I'm a little in awe of Cara. She seems to be both very cool and a very honest person. And she has wonderful cats.)

Mr. Pointy Sticks and I finally wandered home about 10:30 (glad we're taking tomorrow off work!) and I opened my presents from him. Two gorgeous pairs of earrings, Country Weekend Socks, Johannes Cabal the Detective, and (my suggestion when he was panicking a little the other day) a gift card to Borders for more bookish goodness. And last but not least...a new "It Itches" sweatshirt. You see, next weekend we are going up to Philly and I'll get to meet Franklin Habit and I'd like him to sign my shirt. And I can't find it. I'm fairly sure I'll find it before next Saturday, but Mr. Pointy Sticks thought "better safe than sorry" and got me a back-up shirt in case the other one doesn't turn up. He's a thoughty guy.

So, other than the fact that I had my camera with me this evening and took nary a picture, this has been the best birthday ever!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Happy Day After Halloween

I think I am glad that this guy isn't my neighbor...but still...pretty cool:

Courtey of CynicalC

Sunday, October 31, 2010

A Tart Little Confection

Mr. Pointy Sticks and I will be having dinner Thursday night with Katharine Weber, so I pulled her latest book -- True Confections -- off my TBR stack and started it yesterday afternoon. And then I stayed up until 2 a.m. reading it and finished it off this afternoon. What a fun book! There seems to be more humor in this one than in the other books of Katharine's. The narrator, Alice Tatnall Ziplinsky, is witty and quite articulate and, as you read on, you realize that she's perhaps not completely reliable. At a young age she finds a job at the Zip's Candy factory and, soon after, she marries into the Ziplinsky family. The book is one long affadavit she is giving that covers the history of the company...and reveals some family and company secrets.

Another recommendation for all you faithful readers!

I have the unhappy task of knitting up some chemo caps for my cousin's wife...wish I didn't have to do so. I started one Friday and had to rip it out yesterday because there was no way it would fit over anyone's head. Started it up again last night and am back to about where I was when I ripped it out. It's just a simple beanie. I have plans for some prettier ones, too.

And tomorrow it's a new work week...but only four days, as I'm taking Friday off.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A Side-Step Into Politics...And Teeth

People who know me know that I am not a gung-ho political sort of person. I was excited about was so nice to have a candidate (and then a President) who could string words together in an intelligent fashion...who didn't talk like a brain-damaged five-year old...someone who seemed rational and smart and willing to listen. I still like Obama (and love Michelle and the girls), and would support him again in 2012, should he decide to run...but I'm also a little disappointed in him and in the Democrats altogether. They've done a lot but I think they could have done more if they hadn't been so eager to try to work with the Republicans...who showed, ultimately, that they aren't interested in compromise at all and seem to have no ideas of their own. And don't get me started on the Tea Party idiots.

But there are a lot of people out there whining about taxes and the economy and the terrible, terrible debt that Obama has rung up. And in case anyone out there runs into these sorts of people and feels like engaging with them, here are some facts that surprised me:

1) Americans paid their lowest level of taxes last year since Harry Truman’s presidency (USA Today).

2) This year we created 863,000 jobs in the private sector contrasting 673,000 lost under Bush (

3)The 10 year $1.1 trillion cost of the Medicare drug program, passed by a GOP WH/Congress, by itself would add more to the deficit than the bailout, stimulus, and health care law COMBINED (CBO).

In the area of teeth...I was back to Dr. Lambrow this afternoon for impressions. (I asked if he'd do Groucho Marx and he laughed a little (like he's never heard that before!) and then turned around and wiggled his fingers cigar-style and said "Say the magic woid!" Have I mentioned that I love my dentist?) I didn't think it would be a big deal but I got two big shots of Novocaine and am home now with it beginning to wear off...things are a little achy now in the sort of way that makes me think they might be more achy later. Given all the grappling and ramming and tamping and oozing and squirting that was going on in my mouth, I am very grateful (as always) for the numbing. Back in three weeks to get the real porcelain teeth installed.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Fresh, Fresh Seafood!

Which is both what we ate and where we ate this evening. Fresh, Fresh Seafood is a restaurant in Towson and this evening Don took us, and his sister who is visiting from Texas, out to dinner. The chef (and only employee this evening) is Rick, a charming host. And what did we eat?

We started out with some friend clams...very tasty.

For dinner, I had the fried shrimp, mac and cheese and collard greens with smoked turkey.

Tasty, but an awful lot of food...I couldn't finish. And while the shrimp were good, very tender and sweet, I sort of wish I had gotten something that wasn't fried. I'm not sure how well it'll be sitting later, all this fried stuff. (As it turned out...just fine. And really, for being fried, the shrimp were light and not greasy.) The collards were a little bitter but the smoked turkey was lovely. The mac and cheese was good too...I'd like to try some when there wasn't so much other food competing for my attention!

Mr. Pointy Sticks made, I think, a wiser choice...

Orange roughy in lemon butter sauce and a baked potato and garden salad. Nothing special in the salad but all the ingredients looked incredibly crisp and fresh and the tomato looked like a tomato with real flavor.

So, the food was good, but jesus, the service was slow. I know that Rick was working on his own. But for the first hour we were the only people there (four more came in while we were there) and it took us two hours before we got the check. A little more time than I want to take on a work night.

Would I go back? Definitely...though I think I'd like to go at lunchtime because they had a seafood platter on the lunch menu that sounded yummy...shrimp and scallops and fish. I should have asked...I might have been able to order that last night.

Shout-Out To A Reader

Hi, Morgan!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Another One Bites The Dust

Another weekend, that is.

We got a good bit done today...especially for us. Got some shopping done and washed both cars. Cleaned out the floor of the bedroom closet and put together a number of bags of clothes and shoes and such for the next charity that calls. I cleaned our bathroom yesterday and it's all sparkly now. I got some knitting done, too...several rows of the hat I cannot show here. (Some of the rows are rather complicated and take quite a while.) And I got the silly hat that I posted about below finished.

(The leaf on the end of the hat is curling...which I was afraid of. I mean, it's stockinette, of course it's going to curl. I am thinking that I might try to back it with a piece of fleece...or I guess I could knit up a second little leaf and sew it on the back and let the two opposing curls cancel each other out. That's probably the easiest thing to do.)

Oh, and guess what I found in the closet! The start of a sweater. I have no memory of this sweater. It's nice enough...I wonder if I can figure out how to finish it...I think it just needs sleeves. Good thing that no buggies had found it.

And got some reading done...I'm reading Joe Abercrombie's The Blade Itself and really enjoying it. It's a big sprawling fantasy novel...the first of the trilogy. I already have the next two volumes in my Amazon shopping cart.

So, boring as this post is, here it is...dedicated to my sick brother. Here you are, bro. Something dull to read! (Hope you're feeling better.)

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Hats Off!

Off the needles, that is.

Last Wednesday evening old Gizmo slowly and creakily made his way up into my lap and circled around once or twice and then, with a big sigh, settled down and started purring. Well, I couldn't bear to move him but there I book, no current knitting project, no crossword puzzle book. So I grabbed some needles and some yarn that was sitting there and cast on for a little hat.

I actually thought it was going to be a baby sized hat but I can fit it over my fat head...though I think it would look better on someone with a slightly smaller cranium. Anyway, here it is, drying on a towel:

After making the Greenleaf Baby Hat, I decided to put a leaf on the end of this one, too, since the colors are so autumnal. (Don't worry...the leaf doesn't actually stick up like a flag.)

Perhaps I'll offer it to my cousin Becca...she always says she has a tiny head. (It's full of brains, so it can't be that small.)

Sunday, October 17, 2010

How About Some Books?

I haven't had a book round-up for a while and I haven't updated my reading list over there on the right, either. Bad blogger.

So, since July (July!!!??? How did that happen??) here are some of the books that stood out for me.

The Taken - Inger Ash Wolfe - I still haven't a clue who this pseudonymous author is and, as long as she keeps putting out these mysteries, I don't care. I like her main character, a fifty-almost sixty year old female police chief. She may have personal problems, but she's a pretty tough old bird.

Noah's Compass - Anne Tyler - I found this to be one of Tyler's sadder books...but still, she makes you care so much about her characters that even when the story might not end the way you wanted, you're happy to have gotten to know everyone involved.

Faithful Place - Tana French - I think each one of French's books gets stronger and stronger. I liked this one a lot.

I'd Know You Anywhere - Laura Lippman - I enjoy Lippman's Tess Monaghan mysteries and yes, a lot of the reason I enjoy her books is because her old stomping grounds, that she writes about so well, are pretty darn close to, and overlapping, my old stomping grounds. But her stand-alone books are also really well written mysteries. This one centers on a woman who, as a young girl, was abducted by a serial killer...and who was the only young woman to survive. Now, just before the killer's execution, he is reaching out to her and trying, once again, to manipulate her.

Packing for Mars - Mary Roach - I'll buy anything Mary Roach writes. I think she could write about paint drying and I'd come away both chuckling and having learned something.

Winter's Bone - Daniel Woodrell - A bleak but mesmerizing peek at the life of Ree Dolly, a 16-year-old girl in the Ozarks, struggling to keep her family together and the bank from repossessing the family's home. Meth dealers, hard men and scarred women fill her life but she rises above them to fight for her home. Grim, but highly recommended.

Johannes Cabal the Necromancer - Jonathan L. Howard - What a romp! The author said he read Bradbury's Something Wicked This Way Comes and wondered "Where do evil carnivals come from anyway?" In his book they come from a deal with the devil. Johannes Cabal isn't a good man, by any means, but he's gotten the Devil to agree to give his soul back if he can only capture one-hundred souls in the space of a year. What better way than by tempting people at a carnival?

I Shall Wear Midnight - Terry Pratchett - My love for Pratchett knows no bounds. This final (?) volume in the Tiffany Aching series is wonderfully satisfying.

So those are the best of the books I read in the past three months or so. The worst? Would have to be The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas...full of unpleasant people. What a waste of time.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Second Mitten Class

So the intrepid stranded mitten knitters met again today for the second time. I had only gotten to the top of the thumb gusset and there I had run into stitch count problems again... I was afraid that I would be way behind everyone because we were supposed to be up to the decreases. But happily, we were all at about the same place. The class members are pretty well matched that way. And a nice group in general.

I talked to Jeannie and got it straightened out pretty quickly and kept up the knitting...for the three hours. And at the end of the class, I had completed eight (count them, 8) rows. That's s-l-o-o-o-o-o-o-w knitting, folks. Here's where I was at the end of the class.

(It's sort of hard to photograph red, I find. Plus, I had to take the photo with my left hand.)

At the end of the class I got everyone to put their mittens together so that I could take a picture of all the pretty color combinations.

Aren't they pretty? No surprise...the teacher's mittens are the pretty, almost finished, purple ones on the far left.

Next class in four weeks...or is it five? Anyway, onward and upward.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Thanks, Chris!

In fourteen-hundred and ninety-two,
Columbus sailed the ocean blue.
And in this duty he did not shirk,
So Federal workers got a day off work.

We thank you, Chris,
And your doughty crew!
We just wish this one day
Could turn into two.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

I've Got Class!

Yesterday was the first session (of three) of the Stranded Nordic Mitten class I am taking. What fun! And what hard work! Tracy kept walking through the classroom and saying "This is the quietest class!" I told her it was because we were all working so, so hard! I haven't worked so hard at a piece of knitting for some time.

So here we are, ready to go! I've got my yarn wound, my needles ready and my little Puppy Snips ready to cut anything needing cutting.

I had to decide which color would be the background and which would be the motifs...and finally decided I liked the red on the blue rather than vice versa.

And we cast off! I mean, on.... Here's the ribbing.

And here is the first section of color work.

And after three plus hours...we have an inch or so!

Whew! I told you it was hard work.

I should have been working on it today, but Mr. Pointy Sticks and I decided to drive down to Flag Pond, down in Calvert County, to see if we could find any shark teeth. Flag Pond is right near Calvert Cliffs and Calvert Cliffs are full of fossils...and they wash up onto the shore there. We have, over the several times we've been there found, oh, a palm-full of shark, crocodile and ray teeth...mostly tiny ones. I have a friend at work who spent a lot of time there (I'm not sure he goes as often now) and he found a tooth as large as his hand! That had to be some shark.

Today we only found (well, I say "we" was all Mr. Pointy Sticks) one shark tooth (a nice one about a half an inch long) and a crocodile tooth. But it was a beautiful day for the beach!

I love the beach...the sound of the water, the smell, the taste of was just a lovely day.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

It’s A Miniscule Globe…And A Damned Hat

(You can thank me later for not getting that particular earworm started in your head.)

I love stories like this. I am a member of Ravelry, the knitting (plus crochet and spinning and weaving) community that has, I think, over 300,000 members at the present. Recently, I asked a question in the Techniques section about a certain hat pattern (more about that later) and, soon thereafter got a message from another Raveler about the hat, as well as a “friend” request. On looking at that person’s profile, I saw that she was from Charlottesville.

So I wrote back to her and told her I had lived there from 7th to 12th grade and that my mom had lived there until 2006. She wrote back a little later, asking if I had gone to Charlottesville High. By this time I had visited her blog, and found out her name…let’s say it was Euphemia Rundsbottom, because I don’t want to use her real name without permission. When I wrote back to tell her that when I went to high school we all went to Lane – the pre-Charlottesville High days, I also mentioned that her name sounded really familiar to me. I wondered if perhaps she knew Mom, and I gave her information about Mom…that she had been a teacher and worked on the book sale there. And almost immediately I got a reply saying that not only had Zazu and her husband known my mom and step-dad, she thinks that perhaps we met, years ago, at my mom’s house! And on telling my brother this story, he said, “Oh, I had a nice conversation with Zazu’s husband at a recent booksale!”

Actually, my favorite experience with this tiny globe phenomenon occurred the summer my mom and I spent in Oxford, England. We were eating lunch at The Nosebag, a tiny little restaurant run by University wives that had scrumptious food. The place was packed and an Englishwoman asked if she could share our table.

We said “Of course,” and she sat down.

After a few minutes she said, “Am I correct that you are Americans?”

“Yes, we are,” said Mom.

“I have a friend in America,” she said.

“Oh,” said Mom politely, “where in America?”

“Charlottesville,” said the woman.

“Charlottesville, Virginia?!” we said in unison, and when the woman said yes, we said “But that’s where we’re from!!”

“Oh, really?” said the woman, in a very blasé manner, “Then maybe you know my friend.”

And the funny thing was, that Mom did…not well, she was a friend of a friend sort of thing…but still!! Of all the places in America that this woman could have had a friend…

Now, about the hat. I am knitting a lovely hat from Jared Flood’s book Made In Brooklyn. (I can’t show the hat because it may end up being a Christmas present.) And when I first started, I had a question about where certain rows began (the beginning point shifts back and forth a couple of times during the 53 row pattern…a concept that I still can’t really wrap my head around but I accept that it happens…). During the conversation about the hat, someone said, “Oh, don’t forget to check the errata” and kindly included a link to said errata.

“But I don’t need to go there,” thinks I cheerfully, “because the copy of Made In Brooklyn that I bought includes the errata sheet!”

As of last night, I had done 16 rows, including two rows that included some cute little bobbles…eighteen bobbles in all. Now, I had thought that the bobbles looked sort of small when I did the first row…and I had checked the errata sheet carefully…no corrections to the bobble instructions as printed…so on I knit. But, as I was putting the hat away last night, that niggling little voice that lives in the back of my brain said, “Those bobbles sure don’t look like the bobbles in the picture…” So I went to the on-line errata last night…and there are corrections to the bobble instructions!!!! Argh!! My errata sheet needs an errata sheet.

Now I need to decide…keep the tiny bobbles I’ve created…rip the hat back…start over completely…or just sit quietly in the corner and weep.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Not One Of My Favorite Wednesday Nights

Well, the dental ordeal is 1/2 over...or maybe 2/3 depending how you figure it. This afternoon was not fun, though part of the problem was that I sort of let myself get a little worked up. I am really not a fan of going to the dentist, though, as I have mentioned, I really, really, really like my dentist. (Big shout-out to Dr. Lambrow and his team!) After all the...well, insert, as Dr. Lambrow said, "a euphemism for grinding," I was finally able to relax a little during all the fitting of the temporary bridge. When it first went in, it was obvious that the back molar was way too tall. "Yowsa," said Dr. Lambrow. So there was a lot of grinding (so much nicer when the grinding is going on outside one's mouth) and fitting and pulling out and popping in, as though this temporary plastic mono-tooth was a piece of Lego and my head was the almost finished Lego edifice. But it fits nicely now and I have a month to let my gum heal before I go back for more impressions. ("Take my wife...please!")

And this evening it is feeling a little throbby but manageable with aspirin. Looks like I'll be back at work tomorrow. Dang it.

But I did manage to get some knitting done at lunch and, look!, I have another finished object. The cutest baby hat ever! (I can say that...I didn't design it, I just knit it.)

I fell in love with this pattern when I saw it on Ravelry and just had to make it. And decided to give it to my boss, the new grandfather, to send on to his brand new grand-daughter. Well, she's a couple of months old now, but this hat might come in handy this winter.

See...I'm all sorts of productive!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Oh, Pshawl!

Just to prove that it isn't all about buying yarn...

This lump.... a little spa treatment, soaking in a warm tub for an hour or so...

and is now stretched out and drying out.

Yay! A finished object.