Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Friday, December 19, 2008
We seldom light an honest-to-goodness fire and I tend to use candles, instead. However, as I don't like to leave candles unattended, I seldom bother lighting them.
It scarcely matters, most of the time, because the love seat actually facing a tv and the cold, dark hearth is scarcely noticed. It being the Holiday Season - and very nearly Winter - the hearth was badly in need of some Cheer!
(Note: The string of lights is removed if the candles are lit, because the fire box gets quite hot!)
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
(Note: this is not the list that inevitably ends with Die Hard. That list will come later!)
We're nearly done with decking of the halls but we've still got cards to send and a wreath to buy. I did get the lighted door wardens set out on Monday night and they look very cheery alongside the twinkly Christmas tree. Colours are warm red and gold, this year. Because TonyP wanted to decorate quite early and I always want to keep things up til 12th Night, we decided to go faux.
Since we're actually having a tree, I decided not to do any additional indoor decorating. No last-minute flower-arranging extravaganzas.I would be satisfied if we could keep the place clean & tidy and reduce the number of boots & shoes nesting just inside the door, however. (Why is it that - just at the time of year when one desires a tidy home that can receive visitors at a moment's notice - one's entryway fills with piles of boots and mounds of god-knows-what?)
A few months ago, I decided to assist our local economy by shopping locally (as locally as possible), dining at locally-owned restaurants and seeing live music. The dining and the live music commitments have been a delight. We've attended such diverse performances as the NC Symphony's Holiday Pops concert, NC Jazz Rep's Holiday Concert, the Squirrel Nut Zippers, Hege V and Southern Culture on the Skids. We've danced our little tootsies off, dined with friends and even attended an honest-to-goodness company party! As for dining, we've already made it to ACME twice.
My plans for Holiday shopping have also gone quite well. Kitchenworks, as always, has just what I need when I need it. Ditto A Southern Season and The Original Ornament.
This scheme sort of falls apart when it comes to clothes shopping for myself, however.
Whil I was in DC, I surfed a few major department stores and saw some things that I thought would be terrific for the upcoming Winter. I decided to wait until I returned home and look for those same items in the same chains at the nearby mall.
For some reason, M*cy's decided to load our closest store with the cheapest-looking cr*p they could find. I looked for the this-season's-fashion that I'd seen in DC but it seems those NY folks think we live in sweatpants around here. They may have gotten that impression from the women's apparel buyers over at B*lk's who have - seriously - fronted nothing but sweats and loungewear. I'm not sure if everyone just decided to write off this last quarter or if they truly think we all live in our jammies. The people who stock the S**thp**nt stores never fail to under-estimate the taste and needs of their patrons. I know times are tough but, cripes, we're in the damn store with an eye to purchase something wonderful - do NOT send us off to order online and please act as if you've heard of customer service.
I despair of the state of retail in this country; I really do. The day of the department store has passed and the omnipresent M*cy's has played a considerable part in its demise. They've dissolved any trace of local character while simultaneously diluting their own brand. I'll probably vent a little bit more about retail matters, at a later time, because I started my retail career at a department store and take poor management, uninspired buyers and half-assed training as a personal affront.
I'm sure you're all trying to get ready to go out to the mall and do a little shopping and spread a little cheer, so I'll leave off venting. But, please: while you're out, do yourself a favor and stop in at some locally-owned shops in your neck of the woods. In them, you'll probably find the retail spirit and customer service live on.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
I've been having one computer-virus-related problem after another and really didn't mean to leave everyone hanging!
I finished the semester a few weeks early and we managed to get up to DC for a few days. Nothing rouses my Holiday spirit quite like bus exhaust and Metro air!
To add to the festive mood, we were delighted to see the viewing stands are already being erected on Pennsylvania Avenue!! And, as we won't be able to actually attend the celebration in January, we purchased a few souvenirs, in anticipation of the Inauguration, and joyfully strolled Pennsylvania Ave through a light snow.
I didn't take any pics but TonyP has posted a few.
Tuesday, October 07, 2008
Monday, September 22, 2008
Saturday, September 13, 2008
Partly, that's because I've discovered that the texting feature for my mobile doesn't seem to work and it would take time that I do not have to get the situation remedied.
Mainly, however, it's because my nails are too long and my vision is entirely too poor!
I've decided that texting from my mobile would require me to wear one of those enormous magnifiers around my neck - the kind that your grannie probably uses when she does needlework. Not exactly a trendsetting accessory and nothing that I'd be caught dead wearing in public. Unless they make them in black.
As for the fingernails.... I understand why the fashion is for short, short nails. It's hard enough for me to enter the correct phone number - entering an entire message is perfectly ridiculous! I clearly wouldn't last 5 minutes as a contemporary twelve-year-old.
Hmmm.........What I really need is a personal assistant. Someone to text for me.
Must get working on that!
After my polish dries.
Tuesday, September 09, 2008
This is my new "Water Lilies" shawl.
I have already made a scarf and pair of mitts, using this yarn and the same stitch pattern. The stitch pattern is comprised of interlocking fans made in double crochet and has long been one of my favourites. Not only does it work up very quickly but it's extremely simple to do. If you can make a Granny Square, you can do this! The only stitches required are: chain stitch, single crochet & double crochet (US).
I was working with an inexpensive yarn that I purchased simply because I liked the colour. As I worked, the variegated patches of greens and blues with ivory fans reminded me of Monet's water lilies. After I crocheted the scarf and mitts, I decided to use the remainder of the yarn to make a shawl to keep my shoulders cozy while I'm studying.
Here is a detail of the stitch pattern.
See how the clusters suggest leaves and lilies?
That's one of the things that I enjoy about crocheting with variegated yarns - they can be used to make really interesting patterns. Of course, if you work entirely in one stitch, the yarn will stripe - just like it does when you knit row upon row. I'm not really a big fan of stripes so I prefer to use those yarns for a more random look.
Thursday, September 04, 2008
Tuesday, I laid out the new lighting for the back yard and TonyP clipped the lights onto the power cord after work. (The instructions on the box said that no tools were needed but they neglected to mention that the clips can be awfully difficult to attach!) The lights certainly enhance the night-time view of that part of the yard and the result is quite charming. There's even a spotlight on St. Francis!
This was phase two of the lighting project. Phase 1 consisted of replacing the fairy lights on the back porch. Phase 3 will involve replacing the fairy lights in the jasmine arbor. It shouldn't take very long but - with a chance of an approaching tropical system - I'm content to leave that until later in the month!
By the way, I discovered that the drugstore at the local mall had an aisle of fairy lights ( what some readers will know as Christmas lights) in the middle of August!
God! How I love living in a college town!!
Thursday, August 14, 2008
A few weeks ago, we got up to the mountains for a couple of days. And, while we were in Burnsville, we stopped in at The Design Gallery. There is always a wonderful selection of artwork and fine crafts at The Design Gallery, so I thought I'd pass along the link to their website , where you can find a map, directions and so on.
In the same building as the Gallery, there's a small gourmet shop and a simply lovely yarn shop - YummiYarns.
Unfortunately, YummiYarns doesn't appear to have a website but this is a link to some pictures of the shop that are posted at The Design Gallery's website. The yarns are so much more than yummi - they're luscious!
The yarn shop is through the gourmet shop and straight on, past the piano.
Thursday, July 24, 2008
He is literally giving them away by the handful.
Details are at his purpose-built blog: Take My Comic Books.
(I can only imagine that this is really just so he'll have room for more comix!)
Friday, May 30, 2008
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Note: If it were left up to me, I probably would have shipped the unit back to Dell in teeny, tiny pieces, long before now.
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Friday, May 02, 2008
Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Monday, April 28, 2008
When the house lights went down at Rhythm Alley and the stage lights came up, no band got the people moving on the dance floor - or kept them dancing longer - than the Boys did.
The band broke up twenty years ago but, this upcoming weekend, the Pressure Boys will reunite to play a benefit for the fight against cystic fibrosis.
The details about the fund-raiser can be found on their website . Plenty more about the band can be found via the website of author Peter Cashwell , including a link to some photos of band members, past and present.
And, if you've got an ounce of sense, you'll be there - with your dancing shoes on.
I sure will.
Sunday, April 27, 2008
The conference was held on the campus of the University which (if all goes well!) will be granting my Master's in another year.
Now, the nature of my program is such that I am not required to set foot on campus.
And don't get me wrong - I wouldn't change that for the world! I love the fact that I can go anywhere and work on my own daily schedule. But the fact is that I enjoy visiting the campus, from time to time. Not only does it help me to feel connected to the institution but - thanks to some massive renovation - it's turning into quite an attractive place.
Outside the student union, there's a prettily landscaped area with a few benches, a swing and a verdigris statue of Minerva. I've walked past the spot a number of times and it has always looked like an inviting place to slam down a coffee and a veggie sub between classes. It's one of those spots that beckon to you through the window and makes it hard to think about anything but the upcoming lunch break.
And, on a sunny April morning, when the fringe trees and lilacs and azaleas are in bloom and you can hardly hear yourself think for dogwoods, there's really no sense at all in being indoors.
Between the morning and afternoon workshops, I sat at the feet of Minerva, drinking coffee and working crosswords. I sat in the sun for two hours and thought about absolutely nothing. There was a light breeze that carried the the sound of chimes, together with mingled fragrances of flowers, old buildings and library books. Rather than look for a clock, I listened instead for the chiming of the carillon. Synchronizing myself to campus time.
The afternoon workshop was dedicated to memoirs and the personal essay.
Outside the window, I was still able to make out Minerva, standing in a garden of fringe trees and lilacs - a place where being an artist and a student and a writer and myself could all weave together.
At least for a couple of hours, marked on the quarters by a carillon.
Thursday, April 24, 2008
I promised everyone that I would post the final results of my first hand-knitted sweater project and here it is!
Getting to this point was a tad circuitous and I'll tell you why. I was basing the dimensions of the front and back panels on one of my favourite sweaters. The problem was that the one that I used for reference was a rather bulky sweater. My own knitting looked quite droopy and blah at those original dimensions.
Monday, April 21, 2008
Monday, April 07, 2008
Some times, things just keep sliding from bad to not-quite-as-bad to sux and then back to bad again and one keeps checking the mirror, to see if the Cosmos has taped a big "Kick Me" sign on one's back.
My patience with computers, universities, deer, wood ticks and Microsoft is at an end and I would very much like it if everything would kindly return to normal ASAP.
Wednesday, April 02, 2008
I sorta went berserk, fearing that all of my grad school writing had been lost down a rabbit hole.
Cuz, to be perfectly honest, things weren't being backed up as systematically as they shoulda been.
Not that the subject hadn't come up - such as when my old laptop began to (quite literally) fall apart. Or when TonyP's sister lost her house to a fire and we began to obsess over what would happen if we were confronted by a similar disaster.
I just never followed up on any of it.
So, some things have been lost but a lot more turned out to be retrievable than we'd originally thought. And a lot more was salvageable from that fragile, antique laptop. The only writings that seem to have disappeared without a trace are the final versions of some of my poems.
But that's probably for the best.
A new computer is on its way and everything ought to be back to normal by the weekend.
Which is the real danger - that I shall become so complacent by the normalcy of it all that I'll forget those awful moments when it appeared that years of work had simply vanished.
Perhaps the loss of a few poems is a small price to pay, if it reminds me to take the time to back up my computer.
Thursday, March 27, 2008
^ I'm afraid that the pansies that I planted at the feet of S. Francis are a hopeless cause. The deer simply pull them up by the roots! I don't know if the new red hydrangea will far any better but I'm keeping my fingers crossed!
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Monday, March 24, 2008
Talk about early! There are several of these azaleas that are in full bloom! Most of the ones downtown are budding or just starting to open. (At my house, what azaleas have not been devoured by deer are still barely budding.)
Monday, March 17, 2008
But I decided to go ahead and decorate our front entrance.
Below, the Moon-Gazing Rabbit appears in the guise of the Easter Bunny.
Perched on the front porch of this twig birdhouse, the toad figurine is so lifelike that one could mistake him for Mr Bliggins, the actual toad resident of our azalea bed.
Monday, March 10, 2008
Wednesday, March 05, 2008
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
Fortunately, before I started getting all sneezy, I’d stopped by the local big box book emporium for some fresh reading. It took some searching but I eventually managed to locate the sole copy of Beverly Connor’s Dead Hunt that the store had gotten in. They only ever keep a single copy of her most recent “Diane Fallon” series in stock and I am beginning to think that I am the only person in town who has read any of her books.
Which is a shame.
Connor writes two “detectives”. The first series is comprised of archeological mysteries, featuring Lindsay Chamberlain. The series is out of print in the US but Connor’s website promises a new “Lindsay Chamberlain” title in the not-too-distant future. If you’re a fan of archeological mysteries, it’s worth seeking out this series on the web or in used book stores.
The second is the “Diane Fallon Forensic Investigation” series and Dead Hunt is the fifth title.
Diane Fallon is the director of a natural history museum in Georgia. She has a background in forensic anthropology and also heads a crime lab that is housed in the same building as the museum. Juggling criminal investigations, small town politics, museum administration and – well – life can be stressful so, for relaxation, Dr. Fallon enjoys spelunking.
In Dead Hunt, Fallon becomes involved in the search for a “black widow” while coping with allegations that the museum is purchasing illegal antiquities. She becomes, simultaneously, the prime suspect in a grisly murder and the target of a killer. And her neighbors are getting fed up with all of the excitement that seems to follow her home.
What makes Beverly Connor’s "Diane Fallon Forensic Investigation" books enjoyable is the way that she crafts mysteries that interweave past and present in unsuspecting ways. Her books are more character- and plot-driven mysteries than strict procedurals. And, they keep you guessing ‘til the end.
Frankly, she deserves more attention than she gets.
(Beverly Connor’s books are available online. For more information on the author, please check out her website. Image of book is from her website at: http://beverlyconnor.net .)
She’s taught herself to knit, by gum!
Well….only just. Barely.
But, a cell cozy, GPS cozy, pair of legwarmers and a Valentine’s prezzie ( scarf for TonyP) makes it pretty much official.
Previous forays into the land of English knitting were frustrating failures. Back in the 70s, there was a short sortie into Continental knitting that was a bit more encouraging. Ultimately, however, it proved just as fruitless.
Not that it really bothered me because I can crochet like nobody’s business. So, I’ve been quite content to admire the work of knitting friends (such as the oh-so-talented Knittin-Gin) without feeling any urge, whatsoever, to make any more attempts at the craft.
So, anyway….last month, I realized three things: 1) TonyP really wanted me to make him something, 2) He prefers knitted articles to crocheted (considers them more appropriate for a guy), 3) my ankles were cold.
Since I was in need of a pair of legwarmers (and crocheting them is tedious beyond belief!) I hied me hence to Fabric & Crap for some ballet pink yarn and bamboo knitting needles. Once home, I practiced with some seriously ugly practice-yarn-with-no-bounce-left-in-it and managed to fumble about until I had completed cozies for my cell phone and the family GPS.
Stylistically, my knitting style lacks provenance. It’s some bass-ackwards fusion of English and Continental, with the yarn held the way I do when I crochet. I wouldn’t dare knit in public, for fear of shocking the more knit-lit but it’s a method that works for me.
The legwarmers worked up very quickly. Encouraged, I purchased yarn for TonyP’s scarf and had it finished and blocked before Valentine’s Day!
My goals for knitting are humble. Generally speaking, I have entirely too many complicated, major projects so any knitting objectives need to be achievable, affordable and not overly ambitious.
I call my current project “Carolina Springtime” because the SWS variegated yarn in “natural pink” reminds me of the dogwoods and azaleas that grace North Carolina each Spring. It is a simple pullover inspired by a 1970s design in Make It with Mademoiselle (1977). My version is only a rough approximation because I am using a singled strand of variegated yarn, unlike the double strand of solid yarn called for in the original design. Similarly, the needle size is different and I opted for a slightly looser stitch. As the design is basically just four rectangles, I’m simply making up panels to the same dimensions as in the original and I want to take advantage of the natural curl at the edges.
Come to think of it…..the sweater would work up just as well in crochet!
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
After spending eleven days circling the classwork like it was going to bite me, I finally realized that there was no way that I was going to do my best work in that class. The subject didn't interest me and, after the bear of a semester that I had last Fall, I just couldn't see myself slogging through this one just to get through to the end.
I'm not pursuing this degree for professional reasons. This entire enterprise is meant to enrich myself and my life - to stimulate my brain - to cultivate my passions and the joy of learning.
The trouble is that I had become so focused on the work and getting the degree that I'd kinda lost sight of those objectives. The last couple of semesters, I've allowed myself to become too other-directed, dependant upon a syllabus and deadlines to get from one day to the next. During my weeks off, I've felt tremendous stress and anxiety because I didn't have someone to set clear-cut objectives for me.
This is only the second time that I've dropped a course since I began grad school. The first, I waited so long that I was a complete wreck by the time that I made the decision. The textbooks wound up flung against a far wall, their spines shattered. It was ugly but not senseless violence. It had become necessary for me to forcibly extricate myself from that particular class.
This time it was quite a bit different. I opened the syllabus and immediately realized that there were other things that I could be doing with my time - even if nothing sprang to mind. Still, I completed the first three writing assignments and prepared to hunker down and just get through the class.
That was when I realized that:
1) The material really didn't speak to my interests
2) I'd already written these three essays several times before, for earlier classes
3) This lack of enthusiasm showed in my writing
4) The professor either sensed this or simply didn't like my writing style. (Either way, I could expect a rather low grade which would ruin my GPA, which is stupid to worry about in grad school - but still....)
Withdrawing from class was a difficult decision but, ultimately, it was based on the fact that I only have three classes left in the program before graduation. One of those classes is in a required category, so there's little I can do about that one. But the other two are in my main area and I really want them to count!
I want them to engage me and fill me with joy!
I want to jump out of bed every morning, excited to work!
I want to love the research!
I want to feel transformed on a cellular level!
Maybe, next semester.........
Thursday, January 03, 2008
Caution: Do not attempt to view while drinking hot beverages or operating machinery!