Thursday, November 24, 2005

A Thanksgiving without Turkey...

Today was the first Thanksgiving that I've spent without a turkey, relatives or even a greenbean casserole. Hubby went to Atlanta to visit his Dad but with term paper deadlines looming in the very near future (read: next week), I stayed home (I'm with them in spirit though--I used the "Georgia" font for this post). After dropping Hubby at the airport this morning, I fully intended to spend a long day in front of the computer, typing up a paper but, alas, I got sidetracked.

I'll just eat a muffin, drink some coffee and watch a little of the Macy's parade, I thought. Three hours later, I'm still on the couch, the coffee pot is empty and what do I have to show for it? The back and one side of my Grandma's christmas present; a pink wool cabled cardigan. The pattern is from an old Spinnerin magazine and the yarn is the highland wool from Soft and yummy!

Oh yeah, I did make up the title page and the reference page for one of my papers. But the rest of the afternoon, I was watching movies on the Hallmark channel, usually involving women who have sworn off love and find themselves swept away by men that are totally not their type. Quite predictable which made it easy to concentrate on the stitch pattern:

I also thought of a few things I am thankful for:

...a darling husband who is doing much better at getting his socks into the hamper
...old friends that I don't get to see nearly enough of
...a great family (and not just because they are 3,000 miles away...)
...a beautiful baby boy (kitten that is)
...a city nearly devoid of traffic since everyone went to Grandma's last night
...a yarn stash big enough to keep me from getting bored (and clothe half of the world) more month to finish the Christmas presents
...a semester that is almost over
...and too many other little things that I take for granted each day that I really shouldn't

Happy Thanksgiving!

Oh, by the way, my "Thanksgiving feast" consisted of some potstickers from Trader Joe's, a mini-bottle of wine and half a pint of New York Super Fudge Chunk (I swear, the Macy's parade made me crave it!) but I did use the oven mitt that I won at Crazy Aunt Purl's get-together on Saturday to take the potstickers out of the microwave. I won't tell you what word I had to say to get it, but it begins with "vi" and ends in "brator." Yes laurie, I did think of Monkeys today!

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Top 20 of 2005--part two

So I was originally gonna give you a list of 25 of my favorite books I've read this year. However, some of the books I've read are so lame that I'm embarrassed to recommend them to you so we'll just go with Top 20 instead.

11.Middlesex--Jeffrey Eugenidies
*my mistake, this should have been about #3 on the list. It's a fantastic story of a person
struggling to figure out whether they are male or female and goes back several generations to
incest and family secrets. Incredible book, really.

12. Rita Will--Rita Mae Brown
*autobiography of author Rita Mae Brown who writes the set of cat mysteries starring Mrs.
Murphy. She was also a leader in the early lesbian rights campaigns in the 1970s. Quite an
interesting life. And she was born and spent part of her childhood very close to my hometown in PA.

13. The Design of Everyday Things--Donald A Norman
* a fascinating examination of everyday objects and ways they could be made more user friendly. For instance, a door has a vertical handle on it so you try to pull it towards you to get out but instead you actually have to push on the door to exit the building. Very, very interesting and so commonsensical

14. Katherine Graham: The Leadership Journey of an American Icon--Robin Gerber
*This biography of Katherine Graham focuses mainly on her management style as publisher and then CEO of the Washington Post company. It is incredible the hurdles she had to overcome in her personal life and simply as a woman executive in a man's world to make it to the top. Easy read and very inspiring

15. The Rule of Four--Ian Caldwell & Dustin Thomason.
*It is similar to the DaVinci Code but with more emphasis on the characters' emotions. Set on the Princeton campus, it is the story of Princeton seniors who are trying to decipher an ancient book that will supposedly lead them to a great treasure. Not as exciting as the DaVinci Code but still a good read

16. French Women Don't Get Fat--Mireille Giuliano
*This is a different kind of diet book and it has a bunch of recipes that seem interesting--I haven't tried any of them out yet. A great way to examine the way we, as Americans, eat.

17. The Three Miss Margarets--Louise Shaffer
*the story of three elderly women living in Georgia who are guarding a deep and tragic secret. This book was so engrossing I carried it with me everywhere--I even read it in line at the grocery store!

18. How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents--Julia Alvarez
* A Cuban family relocates to America and their daughters struggle to both assimilate and maintain their cuban culture. A great coming-of-age-story.

19. The Fairest Among Women--Shifra Horn
*This is the story of an Israeli girl whose family is forced to leave their home because of violence and terrorism and how they overcame the daily challenges of being refugees in a foreign country

20. Quaker Silence: an Elizabeth Elliot Mystery--E. Kirsten Peters
*This mystery, set in Cambridge, MA, has a very skillfully-crafted plot but it is also explores the Quaker religion and associated religious practices. Not knowing much about Quakerism (despite being from PA), I found it very enlightening.

Ok, the other books I read this year were either for school or they were cozy little mysteries to clear my mind before bed. I'm hoping to get some more reading done as I have about a month break between semesters coming up. So, read any good books lately? I'd love to hear about them.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Put down the knitting and read!

Ok, you can read AFTER the holidays...Borders emailed me their Top 25 of 2005 booklists and after glancing at their lists, I thought I would make my own. So these books weren't all published in 2005 but they were READ in 2005. Yes folks, like every good librarian/nerd, I keep a book journal where I write down the titles, authors, type, month read and a few brief comments to remind myself what the book was about because I have difficulty retaining both book titles and book plots within the same memory slot in my brain. So here it is, my Top 25 of 2005, well the first installment. My apologies for the plethora of mystery novels--my life this year was very "thought intensive" so I kept my bedtime reading on the ligher side. Maybe when I'm retired I'll be able to give War and Peace the brain energy it deserves.

1. The Danish Girl--David Ebershoff
*a Danish painter transitions from life as a man to life as a
woman in 1930s Europe while staying married to his American
wife. Powerful book and who knew they could do sex-change
operations in the 1930s?

2. Run with the Horseman--Ferrol Sams
* terrific story of a boy coming of age in the South during the
Depression. Honest and poignant and wonderfully simple

3. Unprofessional Behavior--Will Manley
*a funny take on life as a public librarian

4. A Year of Past Things--M.A. Harper
* a ghost story/mystery set in New Orleans. Wonderful
descriptions of the French Quarter and the Garden District.
Also deals with the pressures and issues facing blended

5. Angels and Demons--Dan Brown
* I thought it was just as thrilling as the DaVinci Code

6. Jane Austen in Boca--Paula Marantz Cohen
* Pride and Prejudice set in a Jewish retirement community in
Boca Raton--very funny

7. Mercy--Jodi Picoult
* I love her books. Deals with euthanasia issues, extremely

8. Sullivan's Island--Dorothea Benton Frank
* a divorced woman starts over while working through her
family's past on Sullivan's Island, South Carolina.

9. Aunt Dimity's Death--Nancy Atherton
* Very cute mystery--stars a very helpful ghost!

10. To Shield the Queen--Fiona Buckley
*unusual mystery--the main character is a handmaiden to Queen
Elizabeth I

Read on. And knit on--get a book stand with a horizontal elastic band to hold the book open for you and you can do both at the same time (stick to the easy projects though, I don't recommend reading and cabling at the same time)

Monday, November 14, 2005

Procrastination Aids...

So you are at ______ (home, work, starbucks, jail) and you really don't want to ______ (wash the dishes, type up that office memo about refilling the paper trays in the copier, read that biography for class, polish your shiv) well here you go, two things to do that mean absolutely nothing, have no real redeeming value and allow you the freedom to put off whatever you are putting off for another 2-3 minutes (or more if you read slowly or take coffee breaks). Have fun.

What your name means

Birthday Calculator

Sunday, November 13, 2005

I am a greedy fiber hog.

So I was watching 20/20 the other night and they are doing a series looking at the seven deadly sins and how they manifest themselves in today's world. I just happened upon the segment about greed. I think greed is probably the most appalling of the deadly sins because it seems, to me at least, to be the one that affects the greatest amount of people. The other six mainly just hurt the person engaging in them (sloth and gluttony are the obvious self-destructive ones). Yes, wrath and pride/vanity can hurt people too but the greed of others touches all of us. Look at the big oil companies--billions of dollars in profits made while the people on the Gulf Coast were living in shelters, their homes and jobs gone. Or Wal*Mart (I haven't seen the new documentary but I am hoping to soon--let me know what you thought of it, if you've seen it), which doles out an average wage of $8.43 an hour and recently stated in a company memo that they would be adding physical labor to every job description to discourage people with health problems from applying for jobs in an effort to lower their health insurance costs. Yes folks, greed is not a thing of the past, it grows in proportion every year as the gap between the super rich and very poor widens and lengthens into a great social chasm.

I myself admit to some greediness--look at my ever-growing yarn stash. I could do with a little less. But you know what, I'm going to take that stash and do some good with it. I like to do some charity knitting now and again but next year, I'm going to make it a priority. I've decided to pick 3 charities and break up the "crafting year" into 4 month segments, designating one charity for each segment. I know there are a ton of charities accepting knitted goods so to be fair, in 2007 I'll switch and do 3 different charities. I've also tried to figure out what items are needed when and to make up the schedule that way so here's what I've decided to do:

--squares and possibly completed afghans for Warm Up America, which is currently sending blankets to Hurricane Katrina survivors and other people across the country--acrylic or washable yarns only

--wool hats, socks, mittens and soft baby clothes for the Friends of Pine Ridge Reservation located in South Dakota. Their winter starts as early as September.

--baby items for Stitches from the Heart
cottons and other washable yarns

Please join me if you have some spare time and spare stash!

Christmas present update: I finished a golf club cover for my soon-to-be-brother-in-law (it's ok, no way will he see this blog!) one down, only 9 to go to make the complete set...good thing I can read for school and do K2, P2 rib...The pattern is from Vogue Accessorize, if you are interested. It's done on #4s but I'm doing the magic loop method so it's speeding along and no seaming!! Gotta love it!

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Can you HEAR the bagpipes??

So I haven't been chatting on this brand-spanking-new blog because I've been, uh, knitting and eating and working and stuff. However, today I found a new and exciting way to give myself heart palpitations and I just had to share (And no, it's not because I finally took up that annoying hobby called "exercise" and yes, I still do not dare to enter the workout room in my building). No, today I opened up a calendar and actually COUNTED the number of days until Christmas.

Why did I do such an insane thing, you ask? Well, my new year's worth of planner pages came today and I just had to put them in the planner--well, just January because I have the pocket size and the poor thing can only handle 3 months at a time, which is fine because who really needs to plan more than 3 months in advance anyway? So I put in the 31 January pages and wrote in the important "dates to remember." And do you know what happened next? I began thinking how not so far away January is now and how it's actually that month after DECEMBER which is the month where Christmas lives and it's the month AFTER November which is, uh, NOW--and already 9 days old, I might add. And you know what, I found myself flipping to the 2-page monthly calendar for November and suddenly my pointer finger was no longer under my control. It began tracing its way across the page, back and forth, tapping each day as it went along (yes, it does that--makes me tap at things and say counting the numbers out loud--particularly annoying to others when playing board games or cards) speeding through November and before I could stop this monstrous thing it flipped to December and kept breezing from day to day, swishing over the lines too tiny to actually write anything on until it came to an abrupt halt on December 25th. Yep folks, Christmas is only 45 DAYS AWAY!

Now you may be wondering why I am so worried about an "event" that is 45 days away? Afterall, 45 days is a long time, right? It's longer than that flood that sent Moses out to sea and it's longer than most people go between haircuts. And there are lots of other things happening between now and then--like Veterans Day (that's tomorrow, folks) and 2 papers for my classes, and Thanksgiving and my final projects and my birthday (Dec. 16th) so why does that date loom in front of my like a cartoon ogre? You knitters know what I'm talking about. Especially if you are a knitter who feels compelled to make everyone she knows a handmade present (including the mailman who was so nice to bring my mail up to my third floor apartment last week when I was sick so I didn't have to put on shoes and go get it in the basement).

And since this is the second Christmas since the knitter has picked up her sticks she must find more complicated gifts to make--since most people already got a scarf last year. And of course, there is the added pressure of working in a yarn shop, which raises everyone's expectations of your knitting competency level. So Fair Isle sweaters and cabled socks on #2 needles it is. But I panic because even though I have already started a few projects, there are so many that I have to finish and even more that I have to both start AND finish. I'll keep you posted as I go along.

I did start a new project today--I picked up Vogue Knitting's Holiday issue yesterday and fell instantly smitten with Annie Modesitt's Plaid wrap. It is just lovely and I've decided to do it in fall colors of Crystal Palace merino frappe for its recipient (but I'm not going to say who that person is on the off chance said person should actually read this). After several false starts and 3 emails to Annie to clear up what was just a really stupid mind block on my part, I jumped into the project and completed the first 38 rows--only 394 to go! Luckily Magellan was on hand to keep the fabric from curling up on the circular's so his mom could take the picture. Thanks to Laurie for inviting me to a party at her home last month where Annie was staying during her trip to LA. I got to meet Annie and so I felt comfortable emailing her (remember me, the lady with the gold metallic bag at Laurie's party, sitting to your left and inhaling pizza?) and so I got pattern help directly from the source, so great!

Saturday, November 05, 2005

She has arrived

Ta da! I finally did it. I got a blog. It seems everyone I talk to has a blog and I'm tired of trying to explain why I, the loquacious being that I am, do not have a way of expressing my views to the multitudes in cyberspace. So here you go--you asked for it. It's not that I totally caved in to peer pressure or that I wanted desperately to be "in with the in crowd," it's more that I wished to give my poor darling hubby some peace and quiet. So I will talk to you, or rather at you if no one comments on my postings!
Ok ok, maybe I really decided to start a blog as a way of putting off a paper I'm researching for school. I tend to procrastinate except when it comes to the unimportant things (I started addressing my Christmas cards yesterday, for instance). But really, why research today when the paper isn't due for a month when I have a ton of Christmas presents to knit up that are due in, well, a month and a half? So you see, it is crucial that I work on the knitting today and the paper sometime next week, maybe--if I can squeeze it into my busy schedule of searching for Valentine's day cards and decorating the Christmas tree.