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.