Wednesday, December 31, 2008


Tomorrow is the big day, the start of a new year.
The day when we put all our resolutions into effect and get a fresh start.
It's also the time to shed some of our bad habits, the ones that keep that proverbial monkey on our back.
But really, are all of our habits bad ones?
There are some things I do that really don't bother me.
As a matter of fact, I quite enjoy these activities, even if they drive others around me a tad crazy.
Too bad.
In 2009 I resolve to continue to do the following:

1. I resolve to continue to sing along in public to the songs that play in stores.

This annoys DN2; actually I think it embarrasses her, but sometimes I just can't help it. And if a good song comes on, you can bet I'll be singing. Even if I'm by myself.

2. On the same note, I resolve to continue to talk to myself in public.

No, I don't have a mental problem, I just enjoy the company I'm keeping, and we both think we're excellent conversationalists.

3. I resolve to continue to knit in public.

Yet another activity that annoys DN2, especially at the movies. Hey, once the
popcorn has been consumed, I have to find something to do with my hands.

4. I resolve to have more than one knitting project going at a time.

Seriously, how can you only have one?

5. I resolve to carry no more than two knitting projects at one time.

One to knit on, and the other to switch to when the first one begins to bore me.

6. I resolve to continue chain reading books.

The way my family tree works, I should live to be about 95. Subtract 10 years or
so for unhealthy living, and that puts me at 85 by the time I kick the bucket.
I'm 45 now, so I have only 40 more years of reading time left. I need to consume as much of the written word as I can.

7. I resolve to continue to carry at least one book, and sometimes two, with me at all times.

What if I finish one? What if I'm kidnapped and this is all I have to keep myself entertained? Seriously, these are things I think about. Operational risk.

8. I resolve to continue to horde chocolate so that no one else can eat it.

Do you think I'm able to keep all my bags of Cadbury Mini-Eggs throughout the year by sharing them with people? Hardly. For the record, I still have 2 bags left.
Now if I just let anyone get into that stash, do you think I'd be starting the new
year with 2008 Easter candy still on hand? I think not.

There you have it, all of my habits that I just don't think are bad ones and I'm going to keep on doing into the new year.
Tomorrow, perhaps, I'll share some of my resolutions to fix my life, but for now these aforementioned resolutions are spot on.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Busy Knitting

I would have blogged right after Christmas, but I was busy knitting.
Or thinking about knitting.
Or planning on knitting.
Or watching movies and knitting.
You get the picture.
Want to know why I was so busy?
I was spoiled at Christmas by these 2 fabulous gifts:

Knit Picks Harmony Double Points
(sock knitting here I come)

...these fantastic interchangeable circulars.

I had told DH I wanted the circulars, but he totally surprised me with the DPs.
How thrilling, seriously.
So you can see why I've been busy, right?
Now back to my sock.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Joyeux Noel, Mele Kalikimaka, Frohliche Weihnachten, et al.

Merry Christmas!

And here's a Christmas quiz so you can tell everyone you know, and some you don't, Merry Christmas in their own language.

You Can Say "Merry Christmas" in 13 Languages

You can say "Merry Christmas" in:


Enjoy your day!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Perfect CD for Christmas Eve

Did you make it through yesterday's post?
It was long, I admit, but it's fun listening to all the new Christmas music out there.
Again, I do it for you.
There is one other CD I purchased that I did not include.
It would have overshadowed all the other CDs, so it deserves a post by itself.
It is the PERFECT Christmas CD.
Would I recommend it to everyone?
Well let me ask you a few questions to see if you meet the criteria.

a) Do you like to hear funny stories about Christmas?
b) Do you like to hear these stories told by a man with a dry sense of humor?
b) Do you like to take these funny stories and then share them?
c) Do you like to laugh?
d) Do you like to laugh out loud?
e) Do you like to laugh so hard and unexpectedly that you spew liquid out of your mouth?

If you answered yes to any of the above, then this CD is for you.
It's definitely for me.
Stuart McLean's Vinyl Cafe: A Christmas Collection.
I've listened to this three times already, and that's no small feat.
It is a two-disc set, so that involves a lot of listening time, but Stuart McLean is the master.
I shush people around me if they talk while I am trying to listen.
And this has been on the second and third listen, so it's not new material.
I just want to savor every bit.
Taking a long car ride this winter season?
Then get this CD, and you won't regret it.
Sitting around knitting?
Again, this CD is perfect for that time.
Well if you have to do it, this CD will accompany you through that necessary drudgery.
I would like to provide you with a caveat.
I thought I knew Canadians pretty well, after all they're just across the lake from us, we use their coins as currency, and we love their country.
So I want to warn you that there are some Canadian allusions on this CD that I just don't get.
Don't let that stop you, the whole dang thing is one of the funniest things you'll ever listen to, and it's safe enough for your parents as well.
Have a wonderful Christmas Eve!
As you're reading this I'm probably at the mall spending my hard-earned money purchasing last-minute Christmas presents.
Tomorrow's the big day and I'm not ready!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

What's Christmas without music?

Welcome to my third annual Christmas music CD review.
I like to think I've begun an annual tradition by reviewing Christmas CDs.
I sure hope it isn't something that only I enjoy, but that everyone enjoys.
And whether or not this is true, I do have a bunch of CDs to review this year.
Let me review my criteria:

1. I buy new Christmas CDs
2. I listen to them
3. I tell you my opinion
4. I base it on 1-4 stars

That's about how it works.
And I have quite a few this year, so it will take a while.
Go get a drink, hot tea, coffee, cocoa, whatever you desire, and sit down and read for a spell.
Here we go!

First up is Faith Hill with Joy to the World.
No particular reason to start with her, other than I just decided to.
Listening to this CD is like hearing a soundtrack to a television special.
Faith wouldn't do that, though, I'm sure.....wait.....she's what? a tv special coming out?
Oh, my bad.
I guess she would.
It's a good thing she's not doing a charity holiday show solely for the purpose of plugging her latest CD.
Her CD, however, really does sound like a soundtrack.
It's okay, but nothing great.
Would I allow it to be music that would accompany as I shop through the mall?
Sure, because that is about what it sounds like.
Highly produced Christmas songs, with an original one, "A Baby Changes Everything," and she does a so-so version of "O Holy Night."
It's passable, but like most of her songs they are reverential without being inspirational.
And if you can understand what I mean by that, then more power to you.
P.S. Next time, Faith, don't pull your hair back so tight when you're on tv. The whole "big ear" look isn't working for you.

Number of stars: 2
(I'd give it a 1.5, but I don't want to be cruel. Well, not after the "big ear" remark.)

Next CD is A Lovely Way to Spend Christmas by Kristin Chenoweth who, surprise, surprise!, also happens to be on the same Christmas special with Faith Hill.
Boy, I will just never understand how these record companies time these things so perfectly.
Guess there's a reason why I don't work in marketing!
Oh Kristin, I really wanted to love, Love, LOVE! your CD, but instead I only Like it, and really only about half of it.
I adore Kristin, she's got so much talent. And even more importantly, she can go from singing opera to pop to Christmas tunes, and she always sounds good.
Reminds me of another singer I know.
It's like this lady at my church who just can't sing a song in a simple manner, and she always has to show off, even for the kid's Christmas play.
Enough of the flourishes!
It irritates me so.
Yes, we know you can sing, but sing with the group, not over them.
Kristin - man, she can transcend.
She can be perky, or reverential (and inspirational), and operatic, but not always on this CD.
It starts off goofy as hell.
Reminds me slightly of that whole helium/Marie Osmond thing.
And the first half of the CD is kind of weird, like, why are you using a Carpenter's tune on a Christmas CD - one that is clearly of television commercial quality and not for the holidays.
Which one?
Sure, you remember that one - it goes, "Sing, sing a song, Make it simple, to last your whole life long...."
Running through the words in my head I just can't seem to recall anything in there that conjures up Christmas.
Nope, not getting it.
So why is it on here? (I ask, acknowledging that I do love Karen Carpenter, and actually have a Carpenter's Christmas CD, and that song is not on there! How about that?)
After listening to this CD I've come to the conclusion that Kristin is trying to be too many different types of a singer on the first part. She's from Oklahoma, so there's a bit of a country twang, then there's the big bang sound, and the whole "Sing" debacle which, just by throwing in some words about Christmas still doesn't make it a Christmas song, especially one that started out as a Sesame Street song!
Again I digress.
I've lost focus, just like Kristin, but on the second half of the CD, she really finds out who she is and performs the last few songs in a truly lovely manner. If we could capture that half and dump the first part, we'd be good to go.

Number of stars: 2.5

I swear it is not my mood this year that is causing me to review (or spend money on) all these halfway passable CDs, but alas, here is another one.
Amy Grant's The Christmas Collection.
A greatest hits - who knew?
Not me; well, not really.
I do have, I think, two other Amy Grant Christmas CDs.
And I like Amy Grant.
So I have to ask - what happened here?
This CD is so blah, that it's the color beige, it's vanilla ice cream, and it's like mashed potatoes with no seasoning.
Get the point?
There's nothing on here that excites me, and remember - I've heard most of these songs before!
Would it be great accompaniment in a mall?
Sure, that's where it belongs.
Bland background music that is unobtrusive.
Good, without ever being great.
A regurgitation of supposedly greatest hit songs onto a disc that doesn't bring anything new to the table.
Okay, that's not true. There are several new songs on here, but nothing that makes me want to pull it out and listen to it again, and again, and again.
On the liner notes Amy writes, "Personally, I never grow tired of Christmas music which compels me to record new songs whenever I get the chance."
Well honey, hold off for a few years, would ya?

Number of stars: 2
(I'm feeling kind this year.)

If you like your Christmas classical, and by classical I mean authentic, and by authentic I mean Olde English (and in Latin and some French), then this is the CD for you. I admire Loreena McKennitt's talent - she has an amazing voice and the fantastic ability to arrange songs in fresh, new ways, while retaining their authenticity. Her CD, A Midwinter Night's Dream, is hauntingly lovely, and exactly what you want to listen to when arranging the holly by the doors and windows (keeps out evil, you know). I remember being in 5th grade music trying to sing "Bring a Candle, Jeannette, Isabelle" and just not getting the melody. Loreena McKennit sings the song in French, "Un Flambeau, Jeannette, Isabelle" and retains the beautiful simplicity of this lovely forgotten song. Much better in the original language. Doesn't make me want to go back to 5th grade and try again, but I'm glad to rediscover this song.
DN2 wanted to listen to "Emmanuel" because she thought it would be like the version with which she is familiar. Well it is, but it's in Latin. She was little confused, but it's worth a listen (Gaude!). Okay, that link is not to Loreena, but to something else, but you can hear this song and find lyrics to other songs in tons of different languages (or at least 85).
I digress.
As always.
I like this CD.
I like it quite a bit, and it suits this time of the year.
I will listen to it again next year for sure.

Number of stars: 4
I almost gave it a 3 or 3.5, but it really is So much better than Faith Hill's that it needs to have the rating boosted up.

I'd really love to rate Enya's And Winter Came but I can't seem to find it.
This is nothing new for me.
I lose Christmas presents too, and then don't find them until after the holiday.
Sometimes years later!
So I know I've listened to this CD, but it didn't really make that much of an impact on me, otherwise I think I would remember it.
And I do listen to these CDs more than once, thank you very much.
I sacrifice for my readers.
Enya is always calming, soothing, but really she carries the same tone throughout the CD.
I'd write more about it, but dang if I can find it.
Number of stars: ???
And I reserve the right to change this if I ever find the CD.

Well, remember when chanting was all the rage? And remember when Irish music was cool? Yeah, it still is, although not cool in the annoying way Kathie Lee Gifford insists it is to Enya (click on link for KLG's insulting interview with Enya). I bought this next CD thinking, well yeah, Irish, chanting, Christmas - what's not to like? Celtic Joy by Noirin Ni Riain is interesting, and beautifully done, but certainly does not put me in the mood.
It didn't really put me in any mood.
I paid a lot of money for this CD (it's all for you, dear readers), and wanted a GREAT chanting CD, but unfortunately, this one is not it.
The songs have Christmas titles, but they just don't evoke a Christmas mood.

Number of stars: 3 (for authenticity, recording in a monastery, great liner notes, and pure vocal talent - Amazing)

I have never bought anything by Melissa Etheridge before. I have nothing against her, I just haven't spent money on her music. So I surprised myself by buying Melissa Etheridge's A New Thought for Christmas where she is keeping Christmas kind of bluesy. And that's not necessarily a bad thing. She does a fine rendition of "Blue Christmas," and reworks many of the songs to remove any sense of over-religiosity and insert common thoughts about peace, for each other and for the world. It was entertaining, and certainly didn't sound distinctly like a Christmas CD (except for "Blue Christmas," of course).
This CD might not be for everyone, so if you want Christmas music that is not SO Christmasy, then you will like this CD.
Although please note that the word "Christmas" is sprinkled liberally throughout many of the titles, so clearly this is some kind of Christmas = peace CD.
Melissa changes "O Holy Night" and remakes it into "O Night Divine" which is an interesting take on the song.
The best song on here is really "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" which fits Melissa's range perfectly.
She sings it better than Bono.
I said it.
Now don't sue me, please, I don't have the money.
This is an innovative take on Christmas songs, and songs for the season, and I enjoyed listening to it.

Number of stars: 3.5

I've talked before about how much I like classical music, and I'm not going to insert links, because you should just go back and find it if you're really that interested. Trust me, in another year I'll forget I've talked about it and write about it again. So let's just keep moving forward, and don't call me a story repeater.
So, classical music.
Great stuff!
I know that Yo-Yo Ma has done plenty of study into the anthropology of music (that's what I'm calling it), by releasing his CD Appalachian Journey, so it really should come as no surprise to Yo-Yo Ma fans that he would do the same again with Christmas. Songs of Joy and Peace quickly became my "go to" CD for listening. It has everything you would want, singers, music, classical arrangements, and modern remastering of traditional songs. I don't think my kids appreciated it, but what the hell do they know - they listen to screamo music which I HATE.
On this CD you'll find James Taylor, Diana Krall, Allison Krauss (who is truly a musical genius), and Chris Thile from Nickel Creek (any bluegrass fans out there?).
There are a ton of other performers on here.
Actually there are 22 songs on this CD, so you can do the math, right?
Definitely a CD that can go from being party music, to cookie baking music, to folding the damn laundry music.
And it's not all instrumental; there are songs on here that you can sing along to as well.

Number of stars: Initial listen gave this a 3, but it quickly eclipsed that and became a 4

Have you ever sat in a room at twilight, and experienced the peace that comes as the light segues into the dark? If you have, and you want to evoke that feeling through music, I recommend Mary-Chapin Carpenter's Come Darkness Come Light: Twelve Songs of Christmas . It is peaceful, without being overly preachy; it is the same tone throughout the CD, without every song being annoyingly similar. It is that peaceful, magical time we experience as a day comes to an end, and the calm filters through our bodies and rests our minds.
There are some original songs on here, some remakes, and really, I just enjoy the hell out of it.
And while this CD is perfect when you're calm, if you're looking for something to listen to when you're cleaning your house, this CD is not it.
I'm afraid this CD might not transcend all times of the day, so I have to take that into consideration when assigning a rating.

Number of stars: 3.99
Because really, when do I ever clean?

If you've come this far, I thank you.
There you have it, folks, my third annual Christmas CD review.
That's a lot of listening, but it's just so much fun!

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Cover All Exposed Flesh

Life in a snowglobe is not that warm.
We have had so much snow, and it just keeps coming.
My kids are happy because this will be their first white Christmas.
It's pretty out there, but it sure is dangerous.
We went out in the truck last night (using 4-wheel drive), and took DN2 to a friend's house.
Our speed averaged 15 mph.
You just can't see the road, and SN2 kept asking me to do something fun, like doughnuts, or just let the rear slide around.
I told him no.
We were driving through a deserted parking lot at the time.
No cars around, so we could have had a good time with the truck, but still, no.
Want to know why?
This is why.
He said, "You never want to do anything fun."
I replied, "Wait a minute, it's after 11:00 at night and I came up here to help tow your friends out of a snowbank because their car got stuck while they were doing doughnuts in the parking lot. No fun here, buddy, you should be glad I came out to help."

He still doesn't get it.
And I let the high school boys attach the tow rope while I stayed in the truck.
They were cursing up a storm because they were so cold.
Silly boys.
Like I said, pretty snow, but very dangerous conditions.
Surprisingly, it snowed about 3 inches during the hour and a half we spent in church yesterday.
My guess is that we have close to 12".
And we have had blowing winds that cause white outs (and drifts).
I came downstairs this morning and the side door windows had frost....on the inside!
Today we are still in a storm warning until about 7:00, with lake-effect snow expected.
(Guess who's not going to work today, or tomorrow, or the day after!)
And the advisory tells us that it will be very cold (last night at 11:00 it was 11 degrees, although the wind chill was less than that).
So yes, cover all exposed flesh - it's not going to get warm again any time soon.

* I'll post pictures later when I can gear myself up to go outside in the cold.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Thursday Quiz - Jimmy Crack Corn....

Do you remember that song?
I had a friend who used to say that when he was asked a question about something he either didn't know the answer to, or didn't care about.
He would just say, "Well Jimmy crack corn."
It would make me laugh.
Well I was thinking about food today because I heard something important on the news.
Let's be honest, I was thinking about food with or without the news, but this is kind of exciting.
It's a new blog called Foodista.
Actually it's more than a blog, although there is a blog on there, but it is a site for recipes.
In a Wikipedia kind of way.
Very interesting stuff.
Well it's food, what's not to like?
It has recipes, and they are categorized, but not in the way Food Network or iVillage does things, similar, but not the same.
Anyway, give it a look.
If you find September 6th on the blog, there is a recipe for the kind of holiday food I am. If you search from the homepage, you can find out exactly what it is and where it came from.
And what is that, you ask.
Check out the quiz below.

You Are a Trifle

No doubt, you have many intricate layers. But deep down, you're a little squishy.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Enforced Resolutions

Choices for my New Year's resolutions have been made for me.
Thanks to the Governor's proposed budget, I will be giving up soda, beer and wine.
Soda will be taxed at 18 percent. Only non-diet sodas, though.
And I thought prices were high at McDonald's now.
Beer and wine tax will double.
Oh, but I can buy more Quick Draw lottery tickets at the gas station that will be increasing their gas tax.
So thanks, guv, I guess I know what I'll be giving up.
No more drinking and driving for me - at the same time, or apart.

Monday, December 15, 2008

You Are Not Alone

Yesterday at Sunday School, I was serving snacks to the kids prior to beginning the lesson when a voice appeared next to me and said, "You are not alone, Julie."
It startled me because it was unexpected, and for a fleeting moment I thought, "Am I having some kind of epiphany here and God is speaking to me in a woman's voice? Can I still pass out Oreos and listen to God?"
I quickly turned my head and it was only Cindy, and she appeared to be moving her mouth and speaking to me.
Seriously, I had to shake my head - it was the weirdest moment.
What she had to tell me, though, kind of threw me for a loop.
I sit on the Board of Christian Education at church (yes, I know, hard to believe, but it's a learning experience for all of us) and I am the co-Chair.
On Thursday our Chair sent an email to all of us stating that she was resigning from the board for personal reasons.
I put that email on the back burner (Scarlet O'H style) to think about once my paper was completed (22 pages, plus 2 pages of works cited, turned in 10 minutes before deadline, thank you very much).
Next Sunday is the children's program at church, and we usually have a reception after the program. The Chair of our Board is in charge of coordinating this event....and you see where this is going, don't you?
Well you saw it before me, I have to tell you.
Then I found out from Cindy, the voice of God, who, when I said, "Well Linda is here and she can help," told me, "No, she's with her daughter in another state who is in premature labor."
"Oh," I said, "Well I guess I am alone," to which Cindy said, "No, I just came to tell you that you are not alone."
Reassuring words anywhere you hear them, and from anyone.
Guess I better start working out a game plan.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Thursday Quiz - Christmas Carols

I love Christmas music.
As soon as I finish my paper and can relax, once the house is decorated, I'm ready to give my annual review of new Christmas music.
To get in the spirit, however, I've been listening to Pandora radio at work.
I got so excited when they sent me an email stating they had several different "genre" stations featuring Christmas music; they have classical Christmas, rockin' Christmas, Christmas jazz, etc.
I decided to give Rockin' Christmas a try - why not, right?
I like to sing along just like everyone else.
Now let me tell you about a Christmas song that I do not like - The Little Drummer Boy.
Excuse me if I've talked about this already, but I have to go through it again.
When I was in 4th grade I used to love that song. I watched the tv special about him, I would listen to the song on my little blue record player, but then over the years that "rum-pa-pum-pum" really started to wear on my nerves.
I stopped listening to that song.
So, I'm at work listening to Rockin' Christmas on Pandora and digging the first few songs (although they don't let you vote) - when what comes on? - you guessed it, "The Little Drummer Boy."
I can't listen to it - I try to vote it down so it won't play anymore, but since they've disabled that option I can't - so I switch to the next song!
Crisis averted.
Only problem - approximately 3 songs later what comes up again?
Another version of "The Little Drummer Boy!"
Kill me now!
On Pandora you can only skip so many songs in an hour, so I'm stuck listening to "The Little Drummer Boy" ALL THE TIME because it appears about every 5th song!
This is not hyperbole - this is fact.
I turned on Pandora yesterday morning to begin my day, and what is the first song that plays?
You guessed it - "The Little Drummer Boy."
Apparently that song is the iceberg lettuce that holds the Pandora sandwich together.
I switched stations to Classical Christmas.
I think I'm safe now because I'm pretty sure the Vienna Boys Choir has never sung that song.
Now here's a quiz that tells what Christmas carol I am this year:

Your Christmas Song Is "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas"

Have yourself a merry little Christmas,
Let your heart be light
From now on,
Our troubles will be out of sight

From baking cookies to giving gifts to everyone...
You enjoy brightening up the season for those you know

Meet Me in St. Louis is one of my favorite movies - and who doesn't love Judy Garland.
So I'll share "my" Christmas carol with you - enjoy!

Now let me know what Christmas carol you are!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Radical Knitter

I wish that title were about me.
No, if it were all about me it would be "Mediocre Knitter", or "Works Hard but Doesn't Always Succeed Knitter".
You can rest assured, however, that the next time I cross the border I'll be sure to keep my DPs in a bag.
Check out this hilarious, but true (?), story of a Radical Knitter as reported by Stephen Colbert:

H/T to Bronx Girl Knits - I saw this on her blog.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Christmas Sweaters

Take a look at some truly hideous, and joyously unattractive Christmas sweaters (and sometimes the bellies hidden beneath said sweaters).
Check it out.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Do-Re-Me, me, me, me....

I got this from Kat:

1. Five names you go by

a) Julie
b) Julia (really, this is not my name, please, people, stop calling me this)
c) Cool Jule (but really only by my brother)
d) Mooooommmmmmm
e) Beatrice (like Kat, this is my bar name, and my kids laugh when I tell them this - personally I was excited when Prince Andrew named his daughter Beatrice - I thought - they're doing this for me!)

2. Three things you are wearing right now:
a) black pants
b) black sweater
c) DH's socks (and boy is he pissed)

3. Two things you want very badly at the moment:
a) to win the lottery
b) for my paper to be completed

4. Three people whom I would like to see fill this out:

Anyone who is blogless or who has a blog - I'm fascinated

5. Two things you did last night
a) Watched a movie
b) Worked on my paper

6. Two things you ate today:
a) Corned beef hash (from a can...well, and cooked, I mean I didn't just eat it from a can)
b) Do-Si-Do cookies

7. Two people you last talked to on the phone:
a) My son
b) My mother

8. Two things you are going to do tomorrow:
a) Work on my paper some more
b) Go to a chorus concert

9. Two longest car rides:
a) Wherever I'm trying to get to
b) Whenever I'm heading home from where I've been

10. Two of your favorite beverages:
a) tea
b) milk

Bold the things you have done, unbold the things you have not done.
I have…

1. Started my own blog
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band (I'm thinking Rock Band counts here)
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than I can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland/world (All of them, thank you very much)
8. Climbed a mountain
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sung a solo (See #3)
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched lightning at sea
14. Taught myself an art from scratch
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty (whilst 7 months pregnant, thank you very much)
18. Grown my own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitchhiked
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Skied a marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of my ancestors (the country, yes)
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught myself a new language
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied (will this ever happen?)
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David
41. Sung karaoke
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had my portrait painted
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching
63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma (Can't anymore, though - Mad Cow disease exposure)
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi concentration camp (and never will)
67. Bounced a check
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten caviar
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone (only one, the pinkie toe - how obscure, right?)
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had my picture in the newspaper
85. Read the entire Bible (throughout the years, book by book)
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone’s life
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous
92. Joined a book club (do you mean like Book of the Month? if not, then no)
93. Lost a loved one
94. Had a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person (it's my dream!)
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a law suit (sure, Class Action lawsuits)
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee
100. Ridden an elephant

Friday, December 05, 2008

The Bard

Stop the presses!
I bought a new book yesterday.
I know, big surprise, but it's this one:

Funny, there were plenty of copies on the shelves, and no one was getting trampled so that others could get a copy. I guess now that we all know the resolution to Harry's life we're replete.
I haven't had a chance to look through it much, but perhaps after this weekend, or over Christmas vacation.
And I have a ton of books to read, but I'm always open to suggestions!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Thursday Quiz - Depressing Stuff

Perhaps you have heard the news -- we've been in a recession since last year.
There are only two letters keeping the word "recession" from becoming the word "depression," so I'm pretty sure we're close to the big one.
At least gas prices are going down.
Anyway, I didn't mean to bring all doom and gloom to a blog post, but I read an interesting article this morning.
I'm sure many of you remember this photograph by Dorothea Lange.

It is an alarming image, and one that stays with you, whether you have read The Grapes of Wrath or not (which is one of my favorite books of all time). I equate this photo with Steinbeck's book because I feel he wrote the penultimate book about, not only the Great Depression, or how fast you can sink into total and utter despair, but also how far humans will go to keep themselves alive.
Great stuff - very moving and poignant. If you haven't read it, please do.
This Lange photo is iconic on its own, without Steinbeck's help, but I never thought about the children in the photo, mostly because the mother's face is what holds my attention.
And then I read this article on CNN about the girl on the left in the photo.
This is what amazes me - she is the same age as my mother.
Now there's some food for thought, for me at least.
We're back in tough economic times, and the Great Depression was not that long ago that we've totally forgotten the devastating affect it had on America.
I often wonder if I would survive a depression, and of course there is a quiz that helps me to find out!

You Are 45% Likely to Survive Another Great Depression

Your habits are pretty on par with the average person.
Unfortunately, this means your chances aren't good in another Great Depression.
Start saving your money now. Living in debt isn't doing you any favors.
Also figure out how to live a little more cheaply. Every little bit you can trim will help.

Of course this quiz doesn't ask basic questions I think should be included, such as, can you make your own clothing (well no, not yet), can you make socks (why yes, I can!), can you prepare your own canned food (I think I could).
So I'm thinking that if they included the questions I believe should be in there, that raises my chances to about 50%.
I'm going for it.
Do you think you would make it?

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Sometimes what you're looking for....

This will be a stressful month.
I can tell that already.
I entered this month knowing that.
It doesn't make it any easier.
So much is going on that I'm having trouble focusing on getting anything accomplished because I need to get it all done.
Some of the stress is coming from knitting.
(A new category for everyone to blog about -- stressful knitting)
I began a Christmas stocking to give to the family we've adopted for work, and I'm on the foot, but haven't been able to knit on it for a while because I misplaced a needle.
Utilizing my Scarlet O'Hara philosophy for solving problems, I waited to think about it tomorrow.
After a doctor's appointment yesterday I ran out to Toys 'R Us to pick up a play toaster for the child in the same family. I had found one on the internet but never got around to ordering it, so I was in a panic to find one.
Honestly - a toy toaster?
A phone call to Toys 'R Us confirmed they had one in stock, and I wanted to make sure since our closest store is 15 miles away.
We got into the store, I asked where it would be, and we headed to that aisle.
The three of us looked in that aisle, looked in the one before it, the one after it, the one on the side, and just could not find a toaster.
SN2 told me to go ask a clerk again, and I said, "no, let me look just one more time."
Back into the aisle, and...there it was! - right in front of my face - at eye level!
We had passed it at least three times!
On the way home I passed JoAnn's and thought about pulling in to get another set of size 8 DPs to finish my stocking, but thought that I should just see what I had at home.
Last night while watching NCIS, I finally pulled out my Christmas stocking to see which needles were missing.
I sat there with my tub of DPs, ready to plumb its depth to find a substitute needle.
The stocking came out - three needles on the stitches.
Wait, what was this?
The extra needle was right there at the bottom of the bag!
The needle was never missing?
I wasted WEEKS not knitting this stocking - that needs to come into work with me on Friday - and the needle was right there all the time?!?!
If I've learned nothing else yesterday, besides an important lesson about not procrastinating, I need to remember that sometimes what you're looking for is right there in front of your face.

Monday, December 01, 2008

And What Do You Think?

Americans tend to have a love/hate relationship with big box stores.
I know I do.
I hate going to Wal-Mart, yet I'm drawn there at least once a week.
Part of the dilemma is we feel that these big box stores are responsible for closing the smaller, local stores. Americans tend to want one-stop shopping; a place where we can buy everything we need without making extra trips, but at the same time we hate to see the big guy win and ruin the cultural landscape.
What we forget is that these box stores once began as small stores, but through luck, hard work, and good business sense began to create chains, like Borders and Wegmans, for example. They didn't start out to be "the enemy", but we have begun to perceive them in that way over time.
Knitters don't really have yarn superstores; we tend to support local yarn stores and avoid buying yarn at chain stores. That the yarn sold in these big box stores is not specialized of course plays a part. As a rule, however, an LYS is the place to go for your yarn and knitting accoutrements.
We also encourage entrepreneurialism by supporting sellers on etsy.
Of course Ravelry is a great place to buy yarn, meet people, find new projects, track current projects, and find knit-alongs.
I am a member of Ravelry and don't use it to the fullest extent, but I have participated in some swaps and knit-alongs.
Ravelry is a great community, and it seems to have everything we all need, so long as you're a member.
I thought it was perfect, until I received this email message this morning:

2008 Knit and Crochet Alongs and Swaps has posted a new item, 'This site is now closed.'
Ravelry has pretty much taken over all Knit-Alongs, so this site will no longer
be updated. Thanks to everyone who ran Knit-Alongs and sent them in to be listed through the past 4 years.

This was a website that listed KALs and swaps month-by-month, and was a pretty good compendium for these items. You didn't have to be a member, so if you found a KAL or swap in which to participate, you went straight to the link that was provided.
Now this site is closed, having folded to the bigger community in Ravelry. People may still hold independent KALs and swaps, but they will have to advertise through word of mouth if they choose not to use Ravelry.

So I got to thinking, and I will posit a question for your consumption:

Is Ravelry becoming the Wal-Mart of knitting?