Saturday, January 31, 2009

Saturday Night's Alright for....Pasta

We like to eat spaghetti dinners on Saturday night.
Not the ones you get from a fundraiser, just what you make at home.
It's kind of a tradition.
We used to eat spaghetti and listen to Prairie Home Companion on Saturday nights.
Lately I haven't been listening to the show as much, and I miss it.
That's not what I'm here to talk about though.
I'm here to talk about pasta.
DN1 is always on a pasta kick - she loves pasta with vegetables.
We used to eat spaghetti with tuna (and parmesan cheese) - sounds weird, but it's good, and of course inexpensive.
You could make the dish better by adding butter, but it's still quite satisfying without it.
Locally we have a Barilla plant, and there was an article on one of our tv stations that talks about how good things are for the pasta industry right now, because it is a low-cost alternative meal.
Here's the article - and there's a video too if you care to watch it.
Interesting that they say their sales have increased by 15%, and that overall pasta sales are up 20% in the past year.
The Barilla plant is actually hiring - strange for this area at a time when Kodak just laid off another 1,000 employees.
Well, it's Saturday, and it's time for me to support the local economy, so I need to get to the store to stock up on Barilla.
I like my spaghetti thin, not thick.
How about you?

Friday, January 30, 2009

Friday again - and what am I doing?

This morning I woke up and a song jumped into my conscious mind as I leaped out of bed to shut off the alarm.
This is the song, and I think it's quite appropriate:

Oh yes, it is Friday.
Woo hoo!
Got big plans this weekend?
I do, for sure.
One of the things I would like to do today is show you a picture of a project that is going to get the frog kicked out of it.
This scarf.

You can see the cat, but you can't see all the cat and dog hair on the yarn.
(Well, and dust too, but I ignore that.)
I wanted to make a scarf for SN1, because he really wants one. I had made him one before, but he lost it, and I've been so busy not finishing other projects that I never got around to making him a scarf.
I found this pattern and thought, well I'll just use some Patons Classic and make up this scarf and we'll be careful when (and if) we wash it.
Seriously, I know this is a mindless knit, but it was too mindless for me, and I hate to tear out all this progress I've already made, but I just don't want to make this anymore.
Life is too short to knit ugly scarves.
Maybe next time I'll use this KnitPicks pattern and add a little spice into the scarf. If I have another ball of this yarn, and I think I do, I might make those socks from Vogue Knitting.
Then again, I might just have to go buy another two balls.
(tee hee - that sounds funny and perverse)
So today's choice is --

Yeah, this yarn is going back into a ball.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Thursday Quiz - What's a snowy day without comfort food?

Yesterday was a heck of a snowstorm.
No going out to get lunch for me.
And I've been bringing my lunch lately, mostly to save money, but also because the cafe next door carries the same thing everyday and who wants to pay over $3.00 for a tuna sandwich.
Fortunately I had made a big batch of macaroni and cheese on Saturday.
DH didn't care for it too much because I was serving a meatless meal, and the kids didn't like it either because it didn't come from a box and was orange in color.
Too bad for them - more for me.
I thought it was delicious, albeit a bit smoky due to the fire.
Well I had overloaded the pan, and I thought it wouldn't run over.
There I go thinking again.
So it did, and there were flames, and smoke, and you know the drill.
Now I have to clean that side of the oven - the non-self-cleaning oven.
Anyway, it was a perfect day yesterday for some comfort food, and everyone was eyeballing my mac and cheese.
I didn't share - maybe the next non-smoky batch.
Soup is also a wonderful comfort food, and here's today's quiz about soup.

You Are Chicken Noodle Soup

You are a traditional and conservative person. You value the past, and change frightens you.
You are very loyal, especially to your family. You prefer a low-key life, with lots of time spent at home.
You like soup because it's easy, quick, and cheap.
You tend to have a favorite soup you stick to. Why change a good thing?

I'm surprised I'm not tomato soup, because that's actually my favorite, but I must be wrong, because a five question quiz couldn't be inaccurate in its assessment.
Or could it?
What's your comfort food?

Updated: Speaking of comfort food, have you seen this latest dish? I can feel my arteries clogging just looking at pictures, and you know I love my bacon.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

What's to love about snow?

I got this one from DH. He's not a big fan of the cold or the white stuff my weather pixie is showing, so he can really relate to this one.

Gotta Love Upstate New York:

Aug. 12 - Moved into our new home in Upstate NY. It is so beautiful here. The hills and river valleys are so picturesque. I have a beautiful old oak tree in my front yard. Can hardly wait to see the change in the seasons. This is truly God's Country.
Oct. 14 - Upstate New York is such a gorgeous place to
live, one of the real special places on Earth. The leaves are turning a multitude of different colors. I love all of the shades of reds, oranges and yellows, they are so bright. I want to walk through all of the beautiful hills and spot some white tail deer. They are so graceful, certainly they must be the most peaceful creatures on Earth. This must be paradise.
Nov. 11 - Deer season opens this week. I can't imagine why
anyone would want to shoot these elegant animals. They are the very symbol of peace and tranquility here in New York. I hope it snows soon. I love it here!
Dec. 2 - It snowed last night. I woke to the usual wonderful
sight: everything covered in a beautiful blanket of white. The oak tree is magnificent. It looks like a postcard. We went out and swept the snow from the steps and driveway. The air is so crisp, clean and refreshing. We had a snowball fight. I won, and the snowplow came down the street. He must have gotten too close to the driveway because we had to go out and shovel
the end of the driveway again. What a beautiful place. Nature in harmony. I love it here!
Dec. 12 - More snow last night. I love it! The plow did his
cute little trick again. What a rascal. A winter wonderland. I love it here!
Dec. 19 - More snow - couldn't get out of the driveway to get to work in time. I'm exhausted from all of the shoveling. And that snowplow!
Dec. 21 - More of that white shit coming down. I've got
blisters on my hands and a kink in my back. I think that the snowplow driver waits around the corner until I'm done shoveling the driveway. Asshole.
Dec. 25 - White Christmas? More freakin' snow. If I ever get
my hands on the son-of-a-bitch who drives that snowplow, I swear I'll castrate him. And why don't they use more salt on these roads to melt this crap??
Dec. 28 - It hasn't stopped snowing since Thanksgiving.
I have been inside since then, except of course when that SOB "Snowplow Harry" comes by. Can't go anywhere, cars are buried up to the windows. Weather man says to expect another 10 inches. Do you have any idea how many shovelfuls 10 inches is??
Jan. 1 - Happy New Year? The way it's coming down it won't melt until the 4th of July! The snowplow got stuck down the road and the shithead actually had the balls to come and ask to borrow a shovel! I told him I'd broken 6 already this season.
Jan. 4 - Finally got out of the house. We went to the store
to get some food and a goddamn deer ran out in front of my car and I hit the bastard. It did $3,000 in damage to the car. Those beasts ought to be killed. The hunters should have a longer season if you ask me.
Jan. 27 - Warmed up a little and rained today. The rain turned the snow into ice and the weight of it broke the main limb of the oak tree in the front yard and it went through the roof. I should have cut that old piece of shit into fireplace wood when I had the chance.
May 23 - Took my car to the local garage. Would you believe the whole underside of the car is rusted away from all of that damn salt they dump on the road? Car looks like a bashed up, heap of rusted cow shit.
May 10 - Sold the car, the house, and moved to Florida. I can't imagine why anyone in their freakin' mind would ever want to live in the God forsaken State of New York.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

TV and socks

First up, did you see that they are delaying the date for the analog to digital switch?
The AP has an article discussing the Senate's four month delay until June 12th.
Honestly, I'm a Republican, but why would the Republicans block a switch?
I don't get it.
It's not even logical.
Ergo, it must be about money.
Truthfully, if I lost my job, the first thing to go would be cable tv, and I sure wouldn't rush out to buy a converter. We would be listening to a lot of radio to get our news.
Back to the old way - radio and newspaper.
Politicians (and I'm being non-partisan here and including all politicians) always seem to forget the little people who don't consider cable to be a necessity, or something that automatically fits into a budget.
Anyway, interesting stuff about this switch, and I don't think we'll realize the extent of the families that don't switch, regardless of the cost of the converter, until after the switch has taken place.
What's interesting about the switch is that it caused my mother to finally sign up for cable tv.
She has about 10 extra channels now, and is just as thrilled as a cat with new pajamas.
And speaking of socks...
Have you seen the latest Vogue Knitting?
There is a pair of socks in there that I would like to try.
Have you seen these?

The socks in the middle picture.
Plus I like the hat too that is pictured right next to it (although no one in my house does -- but I think Karzai's hat is a keeper too -- see a resemblance?).
(And I'd like to have the waist size of the model with the belt, thank you very much.)
What's interesting is the yarn used in the sock pattern is Patons Classic Wool, available in any major craft store, plus my local Ben Franklin.
I've never cabled socks, so I'd be interested in trying these, plus I have this particular yarn at home already.
Double nice.
I looked up the cost of yarn for some of the big knit sweaters in this issue - one is about $190 and the other is about $220 or thereabouts.
Wow, and they're really not even overly attractive sweaters.
I would wait for them to appear on the clearance rack at JC Penney, that's how distinctive they are.
Or I would knit them with much less expensive yarn.
There is a woman I know who learned how to knit, and she and I and someone else were having a conversation about knitting. I mentioned that I like to go to Ben Franklin, just because, and she said to this amorphous other person, who asked about Ben Franklin, that she thought they have nice yarn there but their prices there are a bit high.
I can't remember the gist of the entire conversation, but I do remember being shocked.
I thought, "Really? Ben Franklin expensive? Honey, you haven't shopped for yarn if you think that store is expensive."
That's what I thought - what I did was gape at her with my mouth open and the conversation took another turn and when on to something else.
Perhaps I should show this sock pattern to her.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Reading Roundup - Week Four

Mondays are the worst.
I hate getting up in the morning, the day seems so long, and then I have trouble staying awake past 8:00 at night.
It's awful.
After I post this, I'm heading off to bed.
First, I'm taking Major Knitter's suggestion under serious consideration.
Since I'm not taking classes this semester, she suggested I take some knitting classes.
That is a great idea, and thank you Major Knitter for that keen suggestion.
I was going to head out to Ben Franklin this evening and see if they had any classes, but I...well, you know...I was tired.
Two books finished this week - with still twice as many in progress.
I finished Lon Davis' Silent Lives (8), a book that provides brief biographies of silent film stars, directors, and other influential people of that era. Good as an introductory text for silent films, but it leaves out a lot of dirt (and detail) while still providing texts for further study.
Second book was Tom Holt's Valhalla (9), a severe disappointment. I don't know if I've gorged myself on Holt, or if this book just didn't fit for me, but it was just not good at all. On Good Reads I only gave it one star.
Even the idea of Valhalla being a place where in a big room you can spend eternity watching paint dry -- clever, but boring.
The narrative was so disjointed, and I could never get close to any particular character - even Odin, who was actually kind of an all-powerful nebbish (think Woody Allen, Director). I'm reading another Tom Holt text which is still not all that great.
How disappointing.
Alright now - I have a sock in the first stage of heel flap, a book to read, and a need to go back to sleep.
Which will I tend to first?
I vote for the Zzzzzzzz's.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Back to School....for some

Tomorrow is the first day of classes for the college.
You can tell the students are back because the traffic in town has increased.
Since we have one main thoroughfare through town that is about 3 miles long, trust me, you can tell when traffic has increased.
It's no Beltway traffic, like we left behind in Virginia, but it's enough to be an irritant.
For the extra 5 minutes it takes to get through.
Stop laughing, all you NYC, DC and LA readers.
And while the students will be bracing for their long walk to class through these low, low, low temperatures, I won't be.
Oh I'll be going to work, but I'm not heading back to school for the first time since 2003 and I can't believe how difficult it is for me.
Taking classes is almost like a compulsion - I have to do it.
I love going to them, and I love learning, so it only makes sense to feed my compulsion, right?
I just have to keep telling myself, "No!"
Think if I bought some sock yarn I would feel a bit better?

Saturday, January 24, 2009

You Can't Rush the Knitting Mojo

At 10:00 this morning it was 8 degrees outside.
What a perfect day to stay inside.
With that in mind, I accomplished quite a bit of movie watching today.
Oh, and I worked on a sock too.
I wish I could say it was done, or even at the point where I'm turning the heel, or even knitting the heel flap, but I still have about 3/4" to knit before I get to that point.
Knitting on size 2s just takes so much time for me.
Plus this particular sock had somehow dropped a couple of stitches -- you know how it is when you leave a sock alone for too long, they misbehave.
I know that's happened to you.
Once the dropped stitches were picked up, I just kept going, and going, and going....
Not quite like an Energizer Bunny, but for as long as I could stand a k2 p2 rib before needing a break.
What I watched in between my spurts of knitting was Then She Found Me, Burn After Reading, Step Brothers, and The French Lieutenant's Woman.
Like I said, with all that movie time, you'd think I would have gotten more accomplished on my sock, or any other knitting project, but sometimes, you just can't rush the knitting mojo.
I lose it so easily, I don't want it to disappear again.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Fridays are for Sleeping

Since I've been diagnosed as anemic, it's all I can do to stay awake in the evenings.
It was that way before too, but now I have a crutch.
So no knitting for me at all today, and none this week actually.
I've been reading a lot, and at a meeting today I picked up Temple Grandin's Thinking in Pictures so I can read it this weekend.
So no knitting but plenty of books.
Now upstairs to read until the book falls out of my hand as I snore my way into dreamland.....

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Thursday Quiz - It's a Vacation Location for Some

For many years DH and I wanted to get stationed in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
The timing was never right, and we eventually promoted ourselves out of positions there, so we never made it.
And by the time we were within spitting distance of retirement, they were poised to close it down and had made it into a one-year duty station, no more three year tours for families.
But oh all the good stories I have been told about that place.
It used to be a wonderful, I heard, like small-town America.
You were isolated, sure, but there were benefits as well.
It was right on the water, and if snorkeling, or sunbathing is your thing, then you could do it in spades at Gitmo.
I've known adults who were there as kids with their parents, and they loved it.
There were no outside distractions, so the community was close. Parents could keep their kids safe, because they knew most of the people on base.
I've known Marines and sailors who went there and thought it was a great duty station.
The liberty locations couldn't be beat (Bermuda), and they always had planes flying back and forth to the Mainland.
They even had a McDonald's!
Being stationed at Gitmo was a scary thing for some people, because if you went unaccompanied and without your family, you would be away from the people you loved for a year. For others, the fear of working at the minefield that separated Gitmo from the Cubans (although there were Cubans working on base) was something they didn't look forward to doing.
All-in-all, Gitmo seemed like one of those well-kept secrets, so I find it disconcerting to see the place that I dreamed of going to being so maligned.
Honestly, who heard of Gitmo before it became a place where prisoners are kept?
Probably not many.
And now the name Gitmo doesn't come across to people as a hidden gem but instead connotes terrorism, detention, and brutality.
As for me, I'll always think of Gitmo as one of the duty stations I always wanted to get to and never did.
I won't think of it as it appears in its present context.
So, with the imminent closing of Gitmo, and speaking of prisons (Lovely segue, Julie), I give you today's quiz about Slanguage.

Your Slanguage Profile

Canadian Slang: 75%
Aussie Slang: 50%
British Slang: 25%
New England Slang: 25%
Prison Slang: 25%
Southern Slang: 25%

I could hang in a prison, and I'd do okay in the south, but apparently I belong in Canada.
Less than two hours and I'd be at the Canadian side of the falls, eh.
Let me grab my toque.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Going Postal

Saturday morning I trekked over to the post office after hitting up the hospital lab for some blood work.
Surprisingly, for someone who had been fasting since 7:00 the night before I was in a relatively good mood.
The thought of breakfast was sustaining me.
The post office stop was necessitated by my need to mail a couple of packages - one, a book return to Amazon, for which I have been charged, and for which I hope now to be reimbursed since I've exceeded the 30 day return limit.
The second, a package to a certain knitter in the Bronx, as I told her I would send her a book.
I sent her two - because now I can tell DH I am fixing his perceived problem of having too many books in the house.
"No, all these books are not just sitting around here unread! Why just the other day...."
It used to be the post office was open from 8:30-1:30 on Saturdays.
Of course they changed the time, and I showed up at 8:50 thinking I was doing okay and surprised to find a good parking spot right in front.
(Our post office is on Main Street, and doesn't have a specific lot, so you have to wrestle with patrons from other businesses for a parking spot.)
Then I saw I had to wait another 10 minutes.
People, this is why I keep a book in the car, which I retrieved, thwarting the efforts of another waiting customer from engaging me in conversation.
(I'm anti-social, a misanthrope, and I'M READING - leave me ALONE!)
During my time in line, I noticed they had some Christmas mailing packages on sale.
Since I don't shop the day after Christmas, I thought I might grab ahold of a bargain while there was still one to be had.
When it was my turn at the window, I put my packages down, and the mailing packages, and realized I was at the window of the postal worker who drinks.
How do I know?
Because I can smell it on her every time I go there.
She has great hair! but I think she has a serious problem.
And I'm sure they're not helping her there either.
She tried to ring up my discounted mailing packages, but it wasn't working, and man was she flustered.
She turned to the back room where the mail is sorted, but the Postmaster was having a meeting with the mail carriers in there, so there was no help from that quarter.
She told me, "I'll have to wait until my boss is done with his meeting."
"No problem," I told her, "I do have these other packages to mail."
She asked if I was paying in cash.
As if! I wanted to reply.
This girl was on a mission, and she ignored my books and focused on ringing up these mailing packages.
She tried typing the numbers in, and scanning them, and she still couldn't get it.
I stood calmly at the window as people started coming in behind me.
(I could be calm - I was being waited on.)
This worker was so flustered - I even tried to help her by reading the numbers off a sign posted by the window which showed the discounted price - still no joy.
She left the window and went over to ask another worker, and came back even MORE out of sorts!
Looking at me she said, "I asked the girl who takes care of these and she said she wouldn't help me."
This poor worker was shocked.
I was actually kind of shocked too, because I thought – isn’t this a customer service-based operation?
Apparently not at our post office.
I kept my mouth shut.
Can you believe it?
I mean about the packages, not about me keeping my mouth shut.
I did tell the girl as she apologized, "It's no hurry, and I have plenty of time until next Christmas."
She thanked me again, and I told her, "I'm pretty easygoing, it's no problem."
Looking at me she said, "Well I'm glad someone around here is."
I ended up leaving my phone number and she said she would call to let me know when she knew how to ring them up and that she would hold them for me.
I didn’t get there on Tuesday, but I went today after my doctor’s appointment*.
The same girl waited on me, and do you want to know where my Christmas mailers were?
Back in the bin, waiting to be sold to another customer.

*normal cholesterol, normal BP, everything’s in good working order, but have iron-deficient anemia and am now taking 2 ferrous sulfate supplements a day, thank you for asking

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Free Radio BS

I like to listen to music and I really cannot work without it.
It entertains me, and I like to sing along.
Sometimes I sit in my chair and do a kind of dance – so professional, I know.
You should hear me hum.
Lately I have been listening to Pandora radio; I think I might have mentioned that already.
What is great about Pandora is you can set up a radio station based upon a song or an artist, and then they will play music that is similar. On iTunes the Genius function is comparable in setting up a new playlist.
I have created several radio stations, such as Tori Amos, Indigo Girls, Damien Rice, and Patty Griffin, but last week I came into work and was thinking about Bobby Sherman.
Who doesn’t spend their day thinking about him?
I pulled up the internet and went to the Pandora homepage, and at that point I decided that I needed to make a new radio station – one that featured Bobby Sherman.
Oh, and it was great. All these tunes from the 60s started playing, some familiar and some really obscure. I know Gary Puckett and the Union Gap, Tommy Roe, and Jay and the Americans, but I’m less familiar with bands such as Marmalade, The Insect Trust, and The Flower Pot Men. Still, it’s fun, because about every 10th song Bobby comes on and sings.
Today something strange happened.
It was more than strange - it was unprecedented, unanticipated, and it caused a bit of unease.
Modern songs started playing on my Bobby Sherman station.
And by modern I mean contemporary, such as – get this – Panic at the Disco.
I’m supposed to be listening to Petula Clark, with an occasional Herman’s Hermits hit thrown in every once in a while. Panic at the Disco? My kids listen to that band.
How did this happen?
That song must contain some of the same elements as Bobby’s songs.
What does this mean?
I’m still reeling, because I can’t figure if it was a random occurrence, or if I should expect it more often.
This caused me to wonder -- If I created a Panic at the Disco station, would Bobby Sherman show up on there?
That, my friends, is a question for the ages.
Does anyone know for sure?
Will we ever find out?

Monday, January 19, 2009

Reading Roundup - Week Three

Do you ever wish for a second chance with your time?
I feel as if this weekend was a total waste, and nothing was accomplished.
When I look at my knitting and reading, or lack thereof, I wonder exactly how I spent my time.
I did go to one place today:

Do you know where this is?
It's a place that encourages you to play, obviously.
It is none other than....Strong National Museum of Play!
While I'm there, I always do a little research.
That sounds kind of skeevy, and I don't mean it that way.
What I do mean is that they have library books all over the place, and if you have a county library card you can check out books.
I can't handle the overdue fees I am sure I would incur, so I never do, especially since I have a place that is a mere 6 floors away and does inter-library loans for free so close to where I work.
I do, however, look at all the books in the Reading Adventureland area.
There are so many YA books in there that I have never been introduced to, that I just like to go and peruse.
Today I came prepared with a notepad and a pen.
As I picked up a book and wrote down the title and author, one of the ladies who works there came over to me and said, "Don't tell me you do what I do."
I looked up at her and immediately knew what she meant.
"There are so many good books here that I have to write them down so when I go home," I replied, "I can..."
"...get them out of the library," we finished together.
Imagine, someone else as crazy as me.
Nancy Farmer's The Sea of Trolls was a book I discovered at Strong.
Today I wrote down the names of about 15 books or more.
Research, my friends, research for that elusive thesis topic that must somehow concern YA literature.
Speaking of YA lit, I only finished one book this week, The Tale of Desperaux (7). It was a Christmas gift from DN2, and I've read it, but I'll have to take it back.
The pages are all screwed up, and there are extra pages pasted in at the end, so there are actually two endings in the book.
I wonder if someone is missing an ending.
I didn't really like it too much.
It was a bit too simple for me, and although cute, I just wasn't into it.
And I haven't even seen the movie, which I hear is not all that great.
I have four books in various stages of completion, so perhaps I'll be able to get something finished this week since my list of books to read continues to grow by leaps and bounds.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Movies, movies, movies

Here's the trailer for the movie "Taking Chance" starring the Marine Corps family.
Well, and Kevin Bacon.

I worked with this lieutenant colonel who escorted a Marine who had died in Iraq from the DC area to Hawaii. I asked if he was at all uncomfortable wearing his alphas (jacket, tie, long-sleeved shirt, and trousers) all the way there on that long plane ride, and he answered evoking the sentiment this movie conveys.
"No, it's an honor."

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Working Stiffs

I've come to the conclusion that there are some jobs which I just could not imagine having to do.
Take these for example:

* Working as a garbage collector in Western NY in the winter
* Working as a mail carrier in Western NY in the winter
* Working as a linesman for the electric company in Western NY in the winter
* Working as a restaurant delivery person in Western NY in the winter
* Working at a fast food restaurant drive-through window in Western NY in the winter

Are you picking up on a theme here?
Yeah, it's cold, and it's miserable outside
So the worst job right now is:

* Working anywhere that puts you in contact with the outdoors in Western NY in the winter

And God bless those who are strong enough to keep working those jobs.
I couldn't do it.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Can't Chat

Sorry, can't chat right now.
I'm busy untangling yarn (thanks, cats), and frogging a scarf that just needed to be ripped out.
Pictures tomorrow - frogging today.
Ideas on how to reuse the yarn, much later.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Quiz - Signs of the Times

For supper last night, we drove down and picked up some pizza.
This pizza place has a drive-through window - how cool is that.
Unfortunately, the pizza and wings left a little something to be desired.
Not sure if it is because it is so cold outside, it's so cold in my kitchen, or it's a different crew in their kitchen, but they were kind of meh.
I did take a picture of the sign they have by their window, because I always like to see it.

Can you read it?
It says, "Blind Corner Swing Wide."
I know, it's the simple things that give me pleasure.
There's another picture in town that makes me chuckle every time I see it and I'll have to get a picture and post it.
Later, though, because we're still looking at -20 degrees today, or something like that.
DN2 told me yesterday that her classroom is so cold she felt like crying, and then the boy who sits in front of her actually did start crying because he was cold.
The kids don't dress appropriately sometimes, but that school is cold, and even though it is relatively new, it's probably still kind of drafty.
Anyway, I'm not talking about the weather today, but about signs.
Here's a sign quiz for you:

Your Rising Sign is Aquarius

You are an interesting mix of introspective and outlandish.
Waving your freak flag high, you really do things your own way.
While you may seem distant, you care very deeply for humanity.
You just have no tolerance for fools, slackers, or dullards.
And while you're fairly misanthropic, many are drawn to you.
Innovative and clever, people look to you for new ideas and trends.

Wow, "waving my freak flag high," eh?
That's the most interesting phrase I've heard in a while, and you can bet I'll be using it more often.
Especially with regards to my activities.
"Sorry, can't help you, but it goes against the ethos of my freak flag."
"Don't mind me, my freak flag is just waving high today!"
"Burning my freak flag would be a violation of my constitutional rights."
Wow, this is too much freaky conversation for one day.
What's your sign?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Hester and her Needle

I've got nothing to share, because I haven't done anything all day except get up, go to work, come home, and soon I will be getting ready for bed.
So let me tell you about my class last semester.
I studied Early American Literature, covering the period up to 1870.
Truly awesome professor.
I can safely say that, because I know he won't read my blog, so this is not a form of sucking up.
He really was outstanding in class, very entertaining, and chili pepper hot according to
Those funny co-eds.
Anyway, I was never a big fan of this period, nor was I a fan of The Scarlet Letter.
Truthfully, I don't think I even read it in high school, even though I was supposed to.
Have you ever read it?
Do you remember it fondly?
I only remember watching the film in class, and the girl who played Hester Prynne had those awesome eyes.
(I also remember watching the short film, "Young Goodman Brown," and not being able to figure out what really happened with Goodman Brown. So confusing.)
When I saw this book on the syllabus, all I could think was, "Damn," followed immediately by, "Well now I can make up for what I didn't do in high school."
It took me about 2 weeks to get through "The Custom House".
That's about 20 pages, folks.
I was discouraged, but determined.
After all, it's only about 180 pages or so.
I got through the book.
When it came time to decide what to write about, it seemed logical to me to write about something I enjoy doing research on: needlework.
With that in mind I wrote a paper about Hester Prynne and needlework entitled "Finding Her Voice: The Representation of Needlework in The Scarlet Letter."
In my paper (20 pages with 2 pages of works cited!), I wrote how Hester's needlework, although featured in Chapter V as "Hester at her Needle", is really used as an ancillary activity for her, and is primarily symbolic to Hawthorne, who presents her as a one-dimensional character. I believe that instead of needlework being just the primary activity through which Hester earns her living, her needlework skills offer her an identity and a voice, and this is the method through which she can express herself freely. By studying Hester's needlework, and the history of needlework, the reader can discover information about Hester's upbringing, how she might have earned a living before her sin, how she maintains connectivity to her Boston community, and about her sexuality.
Interesting stuff for such a supposedly-boring piece of literature.
When's the last time you read it?
I might have to look at my paper and make it better during this semester break.
Unfortunately I don't think it is thesis worthy, but then who knows.
By the way - Huge Kudos to Caroline for getting a chapter of her thesis published - that's a big deal!
And I got to read it (nanny nanny boo boo).

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Too Cold? Go to Bed

Right now it is too cold to do anything but go to bed.
Our temp right now is 21 degrees but it feels like 6, and then later it's supposed to be 4 degrees, which means we're in a virtual heatwave right now.
Tomorrow the high will be 12.
Coming home from work today it was so slippery that my car couldn't stop at stop signs but just kept sliding through.
Good thing I was on the back streets and no cars were coming.
When it's this cold there's nothing better than climbing into bed at about 7:00.
Since it's well past that time now, I'm off to get under the covers and read a good book.
No knitting for me - I can't expose that much skin to the cold.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Reading Roundup - Week Two

It's remarkable to realize just how much work interferes with my reading time.
Somehow I've got to fix that.
I remember being in middle and high school, and having to sit in class with my current book right there in front of me on my desk, and not being able to read it.
So many times I just wanted to tune out the teacher and open my book to read.
It was almost a compulsion.
When I was going through Admin School down at Camp Johnson, we had this huge women's head with benches.
Not sure why it was so large, everything inside was either cinder block or cement, kind of austere looking. And the camp certainly wasn't pretty, but that's a story for another time.
Anyway, we had taken a test, and once you were done you could leave the classroom.
North Carolina in the fall is still not that warm of a climate to stand around outside wearing a short sleeve shirt under a wooly pully, a skirt, and lovely oxford shoes.
So I took my book and went into the bathroom and sat on the bench to read.
The book was Stephen King's Different Seasons.
I sat down and just read, and read, and read.
All of a sudden I thought, "Wow, what time is it?"
I looked at my watch and realized I had spent an extra 20 minutes or so past the time the test ended sitting in the head engrossed in a novel.
Did I get in trouble?
Nah, my instructors loved me, fortunately.
But I should have realized right then, as a young 20 year old, that work comes first, then cleaning, and then pleasure reading.
Which is why I have little progress to report this week.
I did actually finish a book on January 1st that I failed to report last week: Monica Ferris' Thai Die (4). I had to look at my receipt from Barnes and Noble to realize that I purchased it on December 31, and read and completed it on January 1st.
Good thing I read a lot last week, so I can average this poor week in.
Thai Die was okay, not great. I've read all of Monica Ferris' other Betsy Devonshire books, and I like them pretty well. The series started out very strong, and they are very well-written, but this particular book moves the POV away from Betsy and puts other characters in as the protagonists. Not sure if I'm crazy about that, because I've come to expect Betsy to be the primary character, and if you've read Ferris' other books, you'll be disappointed to know that Betsy's friend Jill makes only one small appearance. A big difference from some of the other stories where Jill is as prominent a figure as Betsy.
This was a better book than Dead Men Don't Crochet, there's no doubt about that, but it was not the strongest book in the series.
Other than that, I'm in the middle of reading 3 other books that hopefully I can get through pretty soon, although I am enjoying them.
It's just this darn "having to go to work" responsibility that keeps stealing my time.....have I talked about this before?
Stop me if I have...

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Weekend Activities

I worked like a charwoman this weekend.
Still some things to be cleaned out - it never ends - but I did get this room cleaned:

Yeah, it probably still looks a tad messy, but I went through a lot of things and moved them around.
Heavy furniture + moving it myself = 2 Ibuprofen before bed.
And then my CD stand broke, so I have piles of CDs on the floor in need of a storage cabinet.
Fortunately they're not growing legs and walking away, so they can wait for another payday.
I sorted out some games in the closet.
Can you believe how many puzzles and board games we have?

With more still waiting for shelf space to be cleared so they can be stored too!

Want to come over and play?
When Major Knitter was here once we played Harry Potter Scene It? and she kicked our collective butts!
But, the piece de resisitance of my weekend activities includes this pair of thumbless mittens:

They should have been done because they are such an easy pattern, but time just ran out.
Size 10 DPs make for a quick knit.
I'm going to make another pair in Lumberjack Red (Wool Ease Thick and Quick) this week.
Fantastically warm - guess that's why they're called the World's Warmest Mittens (pattern in the book).
So it wasn't a wasted weekend, but there's just not enough time is there.
Why can't we have a George Jetson work week?

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Tote that barge, lift that bale....

I haven't been working on Ol' Man River today, but I have been busy cleaning and moving stuff.
Heavy stuff.
Oh, and I knit a mitten.
No pictures yet, mostly because it's not completely finished.
I still have to knit the thumb, but I can already tell I love these mittens.
They're so warm!
And there's snow today.
Drat, I'd hoped to be done with the pair so I could wear them to church.
Perhaps tomorrow.
And then on to that Lace Beanie.
But first, to bed.
My back is killing me.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Frogging, Fixing, Finishing

Which will it be this week?
I know you're on the edge of your seat.
Okay, so here goes.
I have this hat I'm trying to make.
It's a nice little hat, made of cotton yarn.
I started knitting it up on the Saturday before Christmas, made one small error (nothing major, I can live with mistakes), but then totally screwed up on the lace row.
Yeah, halfway through the hat.
This is what it is supposed to look like (Lace Beanie, a free pattern from Lion Brand):

I got the bright idea that if I just ripped out the offending lace portion I could pick up where I left off and finish it.
Unfortunately, it didn't quite work that way.
Picking up stitches is not my forte, nor is forcing them back into the needles, even on size 8 DPs.
Here's my hat, looking like a deformed doily:

(Can you imagine that on your table, much less on your head? Egads.)
I would still like to finish this hat, because for starters it is a good use of this random skein of Lion Brand Cotton Ease.
For another, I won't let this simple hat defeat me.
So with that, I will choose to rip it ALL out, and then....

Yes, I will finish it.
I'm sure you saw where this was going even before I announced my decision.
You're all so smart.
This hat is actually quite a quick knit, if you pay attention and don't get all stupid.
So this weekend I will be working on my Lace Beanie.
Hopefully by Monday I'll have a picture to post here, and of course here as well.
Wish me luck!!

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Thursday Quiz - TV Shows

Here's an interesting quiz, for those of you who like to watch the show NCIS.
I know I've talked about it before, because DH and I really like to watch it.
Sadly, I feel like my mother and my step-father.
"Oh honey, it's Tuesday night, NCIS is coming on."
So routinized.
Alas, what can I do, it's a good show!
(Even an Entertainment Weekly reporter discovered how good the show is!)
I like to watch the marathons on USA network as well, also because I can watch Psych on there (my new favorite show, coming out with a new episode tomorrow!).
For those in Ravelry, there are groups for tv shows - have you seen those?
I belong to several: NCIS, Psych, House, Ghost Whisperer, and Numbers.
All shows that I watch on a regular basis.
And what is surprising is that I use to limit my one hour shows to only two per week - that's all I could commit to.
Looks like I can commit to more as I get older, or else I'm happier sitting on my butt watching tv shows for at least five hours out of the week.
(And did you see they're moving House opposite The Big Bang Theory on Mondays? Seriously, that is wrong, so I will just continue to record House. Sorry.)
Anyway, I found this quiz on Ravelry in the NCIS group.
Kind of a cute quiz; check it out, this is who I am:

Now that's cool.
I don't mind being Ziva at all.
She can kick some tail.
Take the quiz and find out who you are.

(By the way, DH and I like to watch NCIS and find mistakes, I've said that before. This past week they found a body of a sailor who had been dead for 11 years. They pulled his ID card out of his jacket pocket to ascertain his identity. DH looked at me and said, "They weren't using those ID cards 11 years ago." He was right - it was a Common Access Card, which the Navy and Marine Corps started issuing in 2002/2003, concurrent with, or just prior to, the NMCI contract. The dead sailor should have had the old green ID card. See, this is why we like watching the show, it makes us feel smarter.)

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

...and speaking of bacon

So I'm in this group on Ravelry, perhaps I've mentioned this?
It's the Finish or Frog It group.
Anyway, another member of the group provided a link to this recipe for Bacon Roll-ups.
Tell me this doesn't look delicious.
Yum, yum.
And I can only imagine it made with pepper bacon.
Dang, just the snack for a wintry Saturday.
Another group member and I decided that it would also be perfect dipped in lite Ranch dressing (she suggested lo-cal, just to keep it healthy).
Seriously - who's making some this weekend?
Raise your hands so I can see them.
Take a picture, let me know.
And if you're feeling the need to get some veggies, check out this recipe for Bacon Cups.

H/T to Tinki

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Reading Roundup - Week 1

I'm keeping track of my WIPs with Major Knitter's Finish or Frog It group, and now I need to get a handle on my reading and writing.
One thing I've been wanting to do is write more.
Yes, I understand blogging is writing, but as with any craft, you have to take the time to work at it in order to get the best results.
So I realized that if I want to write, I should at least write something.
Perhaps I should start with reviewing books on Amazon.
Apparently I'll have to think over that for a few days before I actually put it into action, because I had this thought months ago and I still haven't done anything.
Seriously, though, on Amazon the book reviews are free, they are personal opinions, and sometimes others might find value in them.
But how to go about writing a review.
I really think there are different types of reviews: ones that are very scholarly, ones that are essays, ones that are very insightful, ones that detail every bit of the plot, and ones that are just slightly above illiterate, i.e., "this book sux".
I've read some reviews of books I thought were hideous and should have horrible reviews, yet people just gush about how great these books are.
Are you kidding me?
See, personal opinion, can't go wrong, and no one will shoot you.
So here we are on the 6th day of the new year, and I've finished three books, with one more in progress and heading towards completion. (That's the problem with chain reading, sometimes you have two or three books going in the ashtray at any one time, all at various stages of completion.)
What should I do now?
Well first I'll tell you about them, just in case you're interested, and then I'll take the time to write some reviews.
The first was Dead Men Don't Crochet (1).
I picked it up because I thought the premise looked kind of cute, and who doesn't like books that use a craft as part of the plot. Well this book was not so good. Who knew that crocheters hate knitters so much.
And too many characters, more than I could keep track of.
Some things the protagonist said were cute, and spot on, but overall definitely not a five-star rating.
I'd be interested to go back and read the first book in the series, this is number two, and yes, I read them out of order (Horrors!), but I don't know if I can.
There's something forced about the protagonist, and I just don't think I really cared for her that much.
I'm sorry to say I started this book on December 24th, and I never finished it until January 3rd. On December 26th, or one of those days right after Christmas, I picked up Monica Ferris' new book Thai Die. I wasn't feeling the groove on that one either, but for the record, it was better than Dead Men. Now I didn't prolong reading this book because I wanted to keep the fun coming, either. The book only has about 270 pages. Seriously, I can read that in a day.
Which is what I did with a book that has 404 pages - Tom Holt's The Portable Door (2). This book was something I have read before and enjoyed, so I chose to read it again, and then I picked up the second book in the series, In Your Dreams (3), another book I have read before but enjoyed.
I really appreciate Tom Holt's humor; he is quite clever, and he is as close to fantasy as I will get. Although I have read Mercedes Lackey, but not regularly. And if you've ever read any of Douglas Adams' Dirk Gently books, then the humor in Tom Holt's books is very similar.
Holt's protagonists are always unassuming nebbishes who are forced into becoming unassuming heroes. The underdog does have his day.
So that's my literature roundup for this week.
Stayed tuned for more next week, because I just requested another seven books through inter-library loan, including the third book in the Tom Holt series about Paul Carpenter.
Have I told you how much I love ILL?

(By the way, apologies to Knitted and Purled for being a copycat and borrowing your method of numbering your texts. I hope you don't mind!)

Monday, January 05, 2009

Ugh, back to work

Yes, it's back to work today.
Where, oh where, is my winning lottery ticket???
The one that will afford me enough incoming cash so I can stop working.
TCM needs me!
They can't run movies without me being here!
My yarn needs me!
My books need me!
I can't go!!!
Alas, I must.
Two weeks off should be more than enough to reach zen.
Well, at least I have MLK weekend on the 19th to look forward to.
It's a wonderful break in the midst of all that back to work hoopla.
So I'll be trudging through the snow today to get myself organized there at work.
Wish me luck!

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Bach in the Afterlife

Inside my head is a place you do not want to be.
I think some strange things, sometimes things that even scare or startle me.
But there are days when I wake up that I emerge from sleep with a song in my head.
Have you ever had that happen to you?
The radio is not on, I haven't listened to music while falling asleep, nor while asleep, and I still have a song looping through my dreams and into the moment when I awaken.
Take Saturday for example.
I awoke with Fleet Foxes "Tiger Mountain Peasant Song" going through my head over and over.
I haven't listened to that song in a while, and I don't know what would have prompted it.
And I like the song, I know the melody, it's just I don't know all the words, so I'm stuck hearing the melody and repeating the same words constantly.
I like to analyze my dreams and find out what would draw a certain dream in. My mother was complaining about the church I grew up in, and which she still goes to, and how much they have changed. That night I dreamt about the church.
I'm not good at any thing other than simple arithmetic, and I figure 2 + 2 = having a dream.
But I can't explain the musical phenomena.
I had surgery several years ago (11, to be exact), and when I was awakened from the anesthesia, I asked them if they were playing Vivaldi.
The doctor said, no, the radio was set to a soft rock station.
So why was I hearing string ensembles when I was under?
Truthfully, if death is Baroque music, then I'm certainly not scared of it.
I'll have the Brandenburg Concertos for the afterlife appetizer, thank you.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Projects for Foreign Films

No, this is not a post about projects or patterns that allude to foreign films.
Sorry, I'm not that creative.
I'm working at it, but you'll have to wait a decade or two.
This is a post about having a project that I can work on that is conducive to reading subtitles.
Really, you can't work on a project that requires your full attention if you're watching a film that also requires your full attention.
Referring back to my cross-stitching days, Hardanger comes to mind as a similar activity that would require the full attention of the stitcher.
So I have a project on hand that is useful, not too costly, and allows me to watch foreign films.
It's also kind of a boring knit, but in a place where our temps have been running about 16 degrees, and are accompanied by snow, you can bet your sweet bippy I need something to keep me warm.
It is a shawl:

Yeah, exciting I know, but believe me, it is easier to knit on size 13s and read the subtitles than when working on 2.75 MM DPs.
Don't believe me?
Give it a shot.
Anyway, on New Year's Eve day I made the decision/mistake of signing up for some of the cable pay channels - or should I say "premium channels".
All this in the midst of reading about the Viacom/Time Warner conflict.
Anyway, I thought I would sign up and try out HBO and Showtime for a month or so, and just cancel if I thought it cost too much, or we weren't happy with the choices.
And then on that same afternoon a movie came on that I have been wanting to see for about 4 or 5 years.
Guess it was a good choice, right?
And I'm so glad I finally got to see it; let me tell you about it.
It is a film about an Italian woman who is on a bus trip with her husband and two sons and she gets left behind at a rest stop. Instead of staying there to wait for them to pick her up, she decides to make her way home. But...instead of heading home, she goes to to Venice, a place to which she has never been, and where she begins a vacation of her own. She takes a job, forms a circle of friends, and slowly evolves from under-appreciated housewife into a woman in full bloom.
The film is called Pane e tulipani (Bread and Tulips).

What a delightful film!
I was smiling at the end.
And happy!
How many films make you sincerely happy when they finish?
Some you're just happy to have end, but this one wrapped itself up in a nice package, and it wasn't smarmy at all.
It was lovely, and I felt so good about the film because it was told in such a touching way, and then it ended so perfectly!
Unfortunately my Italian is not so good, so I did have to pay attention.
That's when I'm glad to have a simple project to work on that didn't require my full attention.
It was good to have on New Year's Day as well, since DN1 and I sat down to watch Fanny och Alexander again.
I love Ingmar Bergman films, I truly do, and I'd forgotten how good that film is.
It is slightly creepy, kind of freaky, existential fairy tale.
But wonderful, and the colors are so rich.
Sometime I'll sit down to watch the six-hour television version; for now I'll be happy with the three-hour cinematic release.
Anyway, my shawl is almost at an end.
So the question is, now what can I work on that is a similar boring knit so I can still watch my films?
I'm encouraging DN1 to watch Babette's Feast with me, and I need something to work on.
I only have 2 skeins of the Homespun left, and that shawl can only be so big before it starts dragging on the floor.
And don't say a scarf, because I have 3 hangers full of scarves in the hall closet.
I guess I'll have to take a look around and see what I can do.
I'm sure I'll figure it out, because if there's one thing I love doing, it is to sit on my butt with a knitting project and watching a movie.
For sure.

Friday, January 02, 2009

It's Friday, so it's time to decide

Major Knitter started a Ravelry group called Finish or Frog It. Details can be found in this blog post or at Ravelry.
I joined because I know I will use it to assess my projects on hand, ones that I should not have started and just should not be worked on by me.
Or for projects that are waiting for that little shove to get finished.
Personally I like to think of this group as the NLM - the Needle Liberation Movement.
So far I have this project to consider:
Doesn't look like much, right?
Actually it is a hat.
It is a hat that was almost to completion, but when I tried it on my head, I looked like Dumb Donald.
I started to tink it so I could get rid of some of the extra rows, but then it just got ugly.
And if you think this pile looks like a mess, you should see what it was before I untangled it.
Left alone with yarn for one day, cats can make a mess.
Given three months, it is a catastrophe.
Pun intended.
Considering that the pattern is not readily available, I can't remember what type of yarn it is (bought it from Elann), and I still have another 30 minutes of untangling time left, I think I'm going to be using today as.....

Once the yarn is reclaimed, I think I'm going to stick it back in my stash and wait for that moment when I find the pattern again.
Thanks to Major Knitter for starting this group.
It's just what I need to get the new year off to a good start.

Thursday, January 01, 2009


That is my resolution for this year: Organization.
I truly need to get myself organized.
From my head, to my finances, to my books (and by books I mean fictional texts scattered throughout my house), I need to get it together.
(Doing laundry on New Year's Eve was my prelude to issuing this statement and having my resolution take effect.)
I'm purposely taking a semester off from classes for this primary reason.
And if people don't like this rationale, I throw this at them:
I have a son graduating from high school in June and a daughter from college in May.
So, I plan on being organized (and have the house cleaned) by the time these months come around -- and I want to have a good time!
In addition to that, I want to organize my reading.
And I promise to work on my thesis during this time off.
At least I hope to.
(Pinky swear!)
Two things I'm already doing that will help me get organized:

1) I've joined NaBloPoMo where I've pledged to post every day for the month.
Oddly enough, the theme is "Change," which I think is synonymous with "Organization."
You see where this is going, right?
How will this keep me organized? It will help focus my thoughts.
I hope.

2) I've joined the Ravelry group "Hat of the Month." This, my friends, is not a chore, but a way to use up some of the stash in my closet. The patterns are provided, there are options for different hats, and it looks like it will be fun. I haven't introduced myself to the group yet, but I will, and you should consider joining too!

So there you have it, my New Year's Resolution - Organization.
Have you made any?