Thursday, January 25, 2007


My dog, Huwie, was born today, 17 years ago. He's not with us anymore, gone to that great tennis-ball-filled Field in the Sky. He was a red-headed tri-color Pembroke Welsh Corgi. He was my devoted companion for 10 years.

He was a very active puppy, didn't want to sleep at night, (he was actually very good preparation for Gus.) We lived in Old City, near Front Street, in Philadelphia in the early 1990's, before that part of the city was woefully built-up and super-coolified. We took a twice-daily constitutional to the park at Front and Chestnut Streets (elegantly known to local dog owners as "The Poop Park"). The park had been developed during the Bicentennial and promptly neglected thereafter. It was populated by homeless people, who slept around the edges of the park and who would complain in the early mornings when Huw would joyfully and noisily run after a tennis ball and wake them up.

When Huw was a couple of years old, a neighbor told me one day that he (Huw) howled all day long while I was at work. Oh no, he's lonely, I thought. I decided I would get Huw a companion. I contacted the local rescue society and adopted Trevor, another red-headed tri-color Pembroke Welsh Corgi. Trevor was handsome and phlegmatic (though with a dark side that came out later) and athletic - all the things that Huw was not. They loathed each other on sight. Huw didn't cry during the day any more; he probably spent the day sleeping with one eye open to watch his enemy.

In 1996, I moved to Wheeling, West Virginia, and the dogs of course came with me. Trevor and Huw started getting into pretty vicious fights, and I decided to return Trevor to the rescue society. I didn't want to subject Huw to that. The night after Trevor reurned to the rescue society, as I finished up my shift as a bartender at the local bar, a phone call came in for me. Who would be calling me at 2 in the morning? Why, it was my downstairs neighbors; they wanted to know if I could come home because Huw had been howling all day. Damned if he did; damned if he didn't.

When I moved home after West Virginia, Huw ensconced himself permanently with my parents and stayed after I moved out. I didn't want to subject him to more time alone in an apartment all day, and besides, I don't think my dad would have let me take him. Dad and Huw had a special bond (see January 5 entry).

Huw was funny and affectionate and often worried (I spent a lot of time on walks saying things like, "That's just a trash bag." or "That's just a bush." or "That's just a spare tire." If that wasn't enough to reassure him, I would speak really slowly and ennunciate carefully, "That's....just....a.....trash.....bag...." as if that would make it clearer to him.)

Sometimes on walks, he would decide that he could go no further (and honestly, he did have really really short legs). He would exert Negative Canine Gravity, and there would be no budging him. So I would end up picking him up. Because he was so oddly shaped and heavy, I would have to carry him belly up. When I picked him up, he would throw his head back dramatically. This I called his "Victorian Lady with the Vapors" pose. One time the elevator in my building broke, and despite all my cajoling and pleading, I (in my business suit and heels) had to carry the Victorian Lady with the Vapors up six flights of steps.

Well, anyway, you know the drill. Everyone has a beloved dog who made them laugh. There was nothing special about Huw, except that he was himself, and I loved him dearly.

Here he is, looking rather dashing in a cowboy hat, which he wore without complaint...

Monday, January 22, 2007

Group of Shame: Vanquished!

Please ignore wonky placement of buttons (they're not sewn on yet), but the knittin's all done.

Cap Shawl Update:

(Why do I keep taking pictures of this thing? You can't tell at all what it is or what it's going to look like. And yet, I cannot help myself...)

My beautiful yellow lacy bag is growing. I just finished Row 161, which was the last actual lace row. The 11 rows remaining are just knit rows, with a yarnover row thrown in so that I do not die of the boredom of knitting 750 stitches round and round and round and round. Interestingly, the pattern called for 1700 yards of laceweight yarn, yet I started my second 850-yard skein of yarn at Row 153. I can't imagine that the final 20 rows and the edging will take 850 yards! Good God, I hope not!

So, I'm coming down the home stretch with this shawl, which has been extremely enjoyable. Loved the pattern, loved the yarn. I should be finished this week...I think. I don't know how long the edging will take. I've never knit on an edging, so that will be an adventure. I'd like to get it done before I leave for Long Island.

Look what came in the mail yesterday:

HA HA - just kidding. It was actually this:

Brand-new iMac. Ye olde eMac kept blowing up every day and doing weird things, so Matthew consigned it to the basement where it will live out an honorable retirement as the Photoshop Manager. Look at that picture. See the monitor? That's the whole computer. It's eerie. Macs rule.

Another Trip Knitting Speculation Stage Item:

Fiddlesticks Knitting Flirty Ruffles Shawl in Zephyr laceweight, color Sable. I deliberately picked a non-foofy color since the pattern is sort of foofy. Discuss amongst yourselves...

Phillies Countdown: 24 days until pitchers and catchers report. Phils signed Chase Utley to a 40-year, billion-dollar contract yesterday, which is as it should be.

Too Much Information? Dept: I had a routine colonoscopy this morning. I am telling you this, not because I want you to know every ding-dang thing about me and my innards, but because I want to urge the following people reading this to go get one. If you are over 50, or if, like me, you are over 30 and have any family history of colon cancer or polyps, go get a colonoscopy! People tell all kinds of horror stories about the procedure, but the truth is, for me at least, it was not and has not been that big a deal. Not painful, not embarrassing. Not as pleasant as dinner and a movie, of course, but a lifesaver. A nurse told me today that the fatality rate of colon cancer has dropped something like 3000% in the last 20 years because of colonoscopies. 'Nuff said.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Now back to knitting. Triumph over the Group of Shame! I finished the second Knuck and also the second bootee:

I have sincere plans to work on the last item in the GOS, but I was sidetracked. You may remember this:

This is the Cable Pullover for the January Tangled Web Knit-Along. Usually Mary (the owner) or I has a KAL sample whipped up before the KAL starts, but we got all distracted and busy and stuff, and neither of us even started a sample.

After I cast on a million stitches in the red mohair and did the ribbing, I decided I didn't want to do ribbing; I wanted the cables to travel all the way down to the hem. But the thought of ripping out a million stitches in mohair was dispiriting, to say the least, so I just put it down. Then the more I thought about it, I realized that, no matter how delicious the final product, I really don't want to knit a sweater in mohair.

So I returned all the mohair and bought Encore Worsted in my new favorite (unfortunately-named) color - Raccoon. This is the same color of Matthew's spiffy socks (or "sock")"

I've been plugging away at it (the KAL starts tomorrow), and must say it's much more enjoyable knitting in a plain yarn.

Plus I had enough $$ leftover from returning the mohair to purchase some delightful things to include in the Trip Knitting Speculation Stage or TKSS, which we will explore in more (excruciating) detail in the days to come!

First TKSS item:

Anemoi Mittens from Eunny Jang's blog, in Rowan 4-ply Soft and crazy-colored Koigu. Ponder....

Phillies Countdown: 29 days till pitchers and catchers report.

Monday, January 15, 2007

This morning, Gus declared he was going to make "Banana Cream". This turned out to be mashed bananas with clementine segments on top. After making it, he informed me that this is "an old classic Martin Luther King treat".

Well, the Eagles lost but I did my part to prevent it. I posted the ding-dang picture! The Sixers are hopeless and not so much fun to watch now that AI and C-Webb are gone (though I am digging the way Andre Miller plays); I haven't followed the Flyers in 30 years; so hmmm....I wonder what's left to think about on the Philadelphia sports scene? Oh yeah.....maybe this?

Don't I need one of these signs? I think I do.

February 28 is the first spring training game, and everybody has to report a couple of weeks before that so the end of the Dark Time is in sight. Yippee!

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Okay, had to post the Eagles picture before the game started because I posted it before the last game and they won and if I do anything differently and they lose it will be my fault. PHEW!


(more rational post next time)

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Trippy Knitting Goodness!

I'm going on a trip at the end of the month. Each January we go up to my Aunt Jane's house at the end of Long Island and house- and pet-sit while she goes skiing. Long Island out near Montauk in the winter is gloriously empty, desolate in an exhilarating, soul-stirring way.

Like this:

And this:

And this:

We love love LOVE every second we're there. And we haven't had a vacation since we went up last January, so we are really looking forward to this week away.

But more importantly, for me it means.....5-hour car trip...each way! And vacation! And that means .... specially-selected-5-hour-car-trip-each-way-and-vacation-knitting-projects! And even though we aren't leaving for two and a half weeks, the all-important Speculation Stage has begun. A shawl? A hat? Some complicated mittens? Ooooh, the possibilities are endless! The Speculation Stage is almost more pleasurable than the actual Starting Stage.

But first, there is this:

The Group of Shame. These are three projects that are thisclose to being done, but have been pushed aside for whatever reasons. These must be completed before any Delicious Vacation Projects can be commited to. In my defense, the ribbing on the blue cuffed bootees does make my arm shriek still, so I've only been doing a couple of rows at a time. But c'mon, MM, finish up the ding-dang baby sweater sleeve! And the cuff of the Knuck is only 5 or 6 more rows from completion. So I am turning my attention to this little group, and then my mind and conscience will be gloriously free to pick the all-important Vacation and Car Trip Knitting Projects. I will have pictures tomorrow or whenever I next post.

Baseball Hall of Fame note:

Slam Dunk! Or, uh, Grand Slam! I love both of these guys - no arguments here. And look at those baby blues on Ripken - yowsah.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Random Cultural Notes

In the world of music, I was listening to WXPN (88.5 fm in philadelphia, from the campus of the hallowed University of Pennsylvania) the other day, and they had a fellow named Ryan Shaw doing their free lunchtime concert. OooooWEE! Please go here and listen to "We Got Love". The play count when I visited this morning was 1,196; probably 1,150 of those were me. I lurve that song - it's full of soulful, poppy, throwback-y goodness. (I didn't like his other songs even a little bit as much, but no matter.)

In the world of television: I was thrilled this morning to discover that HGTV is now carrying "Knitty Gritty" - a tv show about knitting, by gum! I changed channels with alacrity (I was actually considering watching "Human Spontaneous Combustion" on the Discovery Channel), only to find that they were knitting fuzzy dice and steering wheel covers. Feh. Then they had a segment on how to knit with size 50 knitting needles and how you could combine four different novelty yarns (all from Lion Brand). The secret is to find a common color in each of the novelty yarns!!! Double feh. Is this show aimed only at beginners or hipsters? I was so demoralized I don't know if I'll check back in another day. I did turn back to "Human Spontaneous Combustion" - it was creepy. But not as creepy as knitting four different (but color-coordinated) Lion Brand novelty yarns on size 50 needles!

In the world of movies: My friend Anne gave me the French movie "Amelie" for Christmas. She raved about it, so much so that I told her to stop because she was setting my expectations too high. Well! I watched it this morning and it was completely and utterly delightful from beginning to end. Now excuse me while I go cut my bangs really short and find some fabulous gamine clothes in my wardrobe, so I can look exactly like Audrey Tatou.

Obligatory sports note: E-A-G-L-E-S! EAGLES!

Friday, January 05, 2007

Happy Birthday, Dad!

Today is my dad's 72nd birthday. We plan to celebrate with a gala feast of pizza and cupcakes. There are about 8 billion reasons that I love my dad, so it seems a little silly to enumerate even a few. But I'm going to anyway.

In no particular order:

1. Dad introduced me to baseball, which meant Tommy Hutton, the infield fly rule, the intricacies of keeping score, the last game at Connie Mack Stadium, 30 years of games at my beloved Veterans Stadium (including the last game), the first game at Citizens Bank Park, approximately 12 million moans about (take your pick) Phillies pitching/managing/hitting/lack of hitting. There were also approximately 30 serious discussions each March about how the Phillies "could win it all this year" (only one of these, in 1980, turned out to be true). Because of baseball and my dad, I learned that hope does indeed spring eternal, though sometimes you have to be slightly delusional.

Working on the next generation...

2. Dad has every scorecard from every game he ever attended. So do I.

3. Dad's love of all things Princetonian has given me the opportunity to shower him with orange and black knitted items - over the years he has received two pairs of mittens, one pair of tiger-striped socks, several scarves, and a hat with his class motto knitted in.

4. In 1990, Dad went with me to pick up Huw, the Welsh Corgi puppy I had picked out. This began a 10-year love affair between them interrupted only by my pesky insistence on Huwie living with me in the city. When I moved in with my parents briefly in the late 1990's, Huwie and Dad were permanently and joyously reunited. However, all animals adore my dad. We call him St. Francis of Assisi. Here's Funny, determined to be on Dad's lap, despite obstacles and common sense.

5. He is a good sport.

And a good grandfather.

6. On my mother's 70th birthday, she threw herself a huge party. When it came time to give speeches, everyone of course lauded her with much-deserved praise. Then she took the microphone and said, "Even though this is my birthday, I want to tell you about David. In 43 years of marriage, he has not uttered one single unkind word to me or his daughters."

That says it all. He is the nicest, brightest, kindest, funniest, most companionable father and grandfather you could ever wish for.


Tuesday, January 02, 2007


Yep, the tree went out on the curb yesterday. Everything else came down and was packed away except our outside lights, 'cause I kind of like them. (I wouldn't object if it became socially acceptable to keep them up all year round.)

Don't get me wrong - I love the holidays, every gaudy, garish, corny, overly-commercialized bit of them. But the second that Christmas is over, I want to move on. I love New Year's. I love the idea of a fresh start, a brand-spanking new year. I love the new beginnings and the resolutions and the beautiful optimism of it all.

If I had my act together, I guess I'd start some gorgeous complicated knitting project on New Year's Day, but it's honestly never occurred to me. I suppose I could make knitting resolutions too (learn a new technique, finish a languishing project), but I've never done that either. All that sort of takes care of itself during the year. I'd resolve to to use up more of my stash, instead of buying new yarn for each project I take on, but I've been heading in that direction for a couple of years now anyway.

So here's an update on what I've been working on:

Cap Shawl (be still my heart - o how I love this pattern, this yarn, this everything!):

Unfortunately, an uncompleted circular shawl just looks like a crazy lacy bag when it's still on the needles. I think this is why I like circular shawls better than triangle ones. The payoff when you bind off is mind-boggling. With triangle ones, you can sort of mock-block as you go along and see how it's going to turn out, but with circular ones you have to wait until you're completely done. Hence the somewhat unsatisfying progress shot.

Tantalizing close up:

Comfy socks for Matthew, in Encore Worsted:

As a veteran of many many socks knit in sockweight yarn, I must say that I LOVE knitting socks in worsted weight. I started this on Sunday at the store, and it would have been done yesterday if I hadn't worked on the shawl so much. I may make Gus a matching pair, for maximum unrelentingly powerful father-son matchy gooey goodness.

Second Knuck (remember these from when my friend Lisa visited?) nearly done:

Now if the temperature would just drop below 55 degrees, maybe me and mine could wear some of our ding-dang knitwear that I've knit with love and care, dammit!!

Monday, January 01, 2007

I was getting sick of looking at that picture of latkes, so pardon me while I throw a little Eagles love your way until I can get myself organized with a real post.

The Eagles clinched the division yesterday when the Cowboys lost to the 2-13 Detroit Lions. Then they beat the Falcons for good measure, behind A. J. Feeley. Good times. Goooooooood times.