Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 Year In Review

Here it is, the year in review. Can I just say that I am SO ready for 20142013-05-12 17.21.46

Shoe Queen matriculated from the college of her choice.


There also might have been a wedding.

Day 67 - The Things I Do For A Photo

I might have started but definitely not finished a 365 photo project. We will see if I can do any better in 2014. Hope springs eternal.


We traveled here and there.2013-05-14 19.43.48


Art show tie dyed

Naples. I SO want to have the guts to wear tights like this with WHITE shorts and black heels.

2013-03-30 08.23.38


2013-12-24 15.34.32

New YorkIMG_0868Tucson


And I might have actually done some work that people paid me for! Bailey 3Angela LoBue 1_aCh-Gr_1933_edited-1

I am always so tired after photographing a wedding. And then I look at the pictures and want to do it all over again.


There might have been some baseball. Is it summer yet?

DSA 63rd 2-01

My wonderful dad went home to be with Jesus. I miss him every day.


I got to hang with my oldest friends in the world. We have known each other…..Well never you mind how long we have known each other!


We might have sold a house and bought a house.


I might have spent an egregiously large amount of time taking pictures of cow butts at the fair.


And Bonobo breast self exam


There might have been some ornamental stealing that went on. Where are the police when you really need them!

And that was my year. Have a wonderful New Year. I will see you in 2014.

Monday, December 30, 2013

It Just Doesn’t Want To Be That

If you are a knitter you are going to understand this little bit of whining and general fiber bitching. (sorry, I said a bad word).

If you are not a knitter then you might want to come back tomorrow when I am, hopefully, doing my year end review. That will be sure to set you to napping because it has been SUCH a quiet year around here. Did you catch the sarcasm there?

Now back to the fiber that will not behave.

Yarn/fiber is not an inanimate object of our affection. It doesn’t just sit there and let a knitter do whatever we want with it. Not all yarns are meant for all projects much as we might wish otherwise. Sometimes it is just a matter of the wrong weight or composition of the yarn. Sometimes it is just the “feel” of the yarn. And sometimes the yarn is just a recalcitrant pain in my big fat bahookie and won’t cooperate no matter how much I might wish it to.  I SO wish right at this moment that I could say to that lovely and soft worsted weight yarn,


But alas, the yarn is not listening to me. Not listening at all. Not paying attention. Not playing nice. In fact, I am sure that if I turn around that yarn will be running with scissors.

I want to make this…..


This is Guernsey and we want to be together forever. I have been thinking about this wrap since just about the time Jared Flood put it up on Ravelry. My KnitSib, MamaC, just finished one and it is…oh it is…just fabulous. And when Knit Picks had that latest, evil and enticing sale…..I might have bought some yarn.

Yes, I know I have an entire cupboard full of yarn. But I just didn’t have the right yarn. Nothing in the yarn depository spoke to me and said that it wanted to be Guernsey. But the Swish Worsted Superwash said that it would LOVE to be a Guernsey. And I believed it when it told me that.

But it lied.

The yarn itself is lovely and soft and squishy and once it is washed and blocked will be marvelous. It just won’t be a Guernsey. I have cast on and frogged back THREE FREAKING TIMES on this actually very simple wrap.


Three strikes and you are out.

It isn’t that I made a mistake each time and had to start over. No, each time I was right on with stitch count and all the other things that go into a wrap. It is just that it didn’t look right. Yes, I know that it wasn’t yet blocked and that blocking can and does change things dramatically. I have had some lace projects that looked like a total disaster until I blocked them within an inch of their yarny lives and they then became things of beauty. But not this time.

I took the project to NYC with me, figuring that I would cast on yet again and make some headway since it is a boat load of hours of driving. And I did make head way. Pretty substantial head way. But each time I looked at the work that I had done…..

I just wasn’t happy.

Folks, I am a third of the way through the entire project and I am not happy. I put it in time out for almost a week, thinking that it was just being naughty and needed some time to get it’s little yarny brain with the program. I hoped. I prayed.

I took it out today and looked at it.


So, I am going to frog the entire thing and make something else. I know what I WANT it to be now. I have the pattern. I have all the yarn.

We will see if the yarn cooperates. Cuz if it doesn’t then it might just be going into the cupboard for a good long time.

Stupid yarn.

Friday, December 27, 2013

7 Quick Takes (Vol 240)


The presents are unwrapped. Santa is putting his feet up and having a reindeer sized glass of wine. You know what you have to do. When you are finished unwrapping the blather you need to click on the picture above to be whisked, at the speed of the crashing reputation of UPS, over to Conversion Diary to see what has been going on.

Blather that helps with holiday recovery.

HHBL and I are recovering from our New York City Christmas travels. One of the best things about a trip is actually coming home to your own “nest”. I think this is Friday but I am not sure as I have been confused about the days of the week since I left home. It felt like Saturday all day yesterday.

If this isn’t Friday then just leave me in my delusion. I will catch up eventually.

Let’s see what else we did over those days.

2013-12-24 13.11.04

We had sushi for lunch. And Thai for dinner. And fresh ham (which tastes like pork and not like ham because really it is just pork and not cured ham but still delicious.) And deli sandwiches. And grilled chicken from the little store down the street. And craft beer from a Long Island brewery. And about two dozen gluten free chocolate chip cookies. And VERY good wine from somewhere that I have no idea about. I was too busy drinking it to look.

The Norwegian knows his wine.

2013-12-23 11.11.32

We had very bad weather which made us wimp out on walking all over NYC. Pouring rain + walking in Manhattan? I have done that before and the experience does not need to be repeated.

2013-12-24 10.12.25

And we had very good weather which then meant we went out and walked 10.3 miles over the course of a day. Or 20,630 steps, whichever you prefer.

Both photos taken from Cartoon Girl’s front window. Not a bad view to wake up to. And at one time Carlos Danger Anthony Weiner’s office was right across the street.

2013-12-24 15.34.32

Cartoon Girl photobombed my panorama shot of Central Park and the skating rink.

Several times.

2013-12-23 11.12.43

The Ugly Wall Hanging found it’s final resting place at Cartoon Girl’s apartment. Mimi and I decided that 10+ years of hiding it in each other’s houses was plenty. And Cartoon Girl expressed an interest in actually using it as art (incomprehensible) so we have laid the Ugly Wall Hanging “gifting” tradition to rest.

When Sue and Doug brought that thing back from the Philippines I don’t think they had any clue what we would do with it over the years.

And where we would hide it.


2013-12-24 14.43.41I might have had at least one Starbucks Grande Blonde Roast every single day.

2013-12-24 14.44.00And I might have taken pictures of discarded shopping lists on the table at Starbucks.

To finish off let’s look at all the random photos I took with my iPhone. You know that is how I roll.

2013-12-25 07.48.00I was obsessed with the shadows on the building outside our hotel window. There are LOTS more of these on Big Bertha.

2013-12-24 12.02.38The shelves and shelves and shelves of photography books at The Strand bookstore. I resisted buying the new book on Vivian Maier but only because it was $50! And it weighed a ton which would have meant I would have had to carry the thing all over Manhattan.

2013-12-24 11.34.40Various boring buildings from a street perspective, just like every other tourist.

2013-12-23 16.46.042013-12-24 10.33.56People’s feet on the moving subway. There are more of these but I don’t want to scare you away.

2013-12-25 09.51.26

A lone glove on the ground in Kew Garden’s park. And in case you are wondering……..

As HHBL was……

I actually picked the glove up and took it home with me. It will be washed today and put away for a long term art project that I will tell you about when I am finished. Which may be a while.

2013-12-23 19.17.40

I also might have stood outside, barefoot, in the rain, with both iPhone and Big Bertha to get a half way good photo of the view from the terrace of SisInLaw and The Norwegian’s condo.

The things I do for photography.

And I forgot my tripod so this was the best I could do on a dark and rainy night.

Next time I am bringing my tripod AND the wide angle. The view is magnificent.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

That Toddling Town



The CityThat Never Sleeps

Guess where we have been enjoying ourselves. Well, actually we hunkered down inside yesterday because none of us, including the "New Yorker", Cartoon Girl, really wanted to hoof it around the city in the rain. We are whimps.

And it was raining....a lot.

We did venture into the city in the evening to go and have dinner at the home of HHBL's sister and her family. Food! Wine! Cheese! Oh the cheese. Seriously folks, these people know their cheeses. We had been steadily working our way through Brie and cheddar and Parmesean and Blue plus some others that I wasn't sure about.

And then The Norwegian cracked open the cheese that sort of looked like a Brie on the outside.....but when you cut into it the round just sort of collapsed into a mass of glorious, buttery, heart attacky cheesiness that oozed out over the cheese board and onto the table, necessitating us to have to scoop it up onto Water crackers and consume it.

It was life altering.

No one could remember the actual name of the runny cheese so I will just have to start testing various cheeses when we are back in The Frozen Northeast Ohio. I MUST know.

The rest of the meal was fabulous, as I knew it would be. The Norwegian always cooks something unusual for us. Last time we were visiting it was Cuttlefish. Did you know you can eat those? It was a whole HECK of a lot of work to prepare them which means that I will not be cooking them...ever. But it was good to be able to add it to "Debbie's list of unusual things she has eaten". This year it was a fresh ham PLUS the cracklings (nomnomnomnom) as well as a sweet and sour cabbage dish with a Norwegian name that I could neither pronounce or spell. But I could eat it...two helpings of it actually. Dessert as Cloudberries in whipped cream. Oh be still my beating (for the time being) heart. We felt privileged to have the cloudberries as they are not normally found in the USA without some effort. They are not commercially cultivated in Norway and are actually gathered only in the wild at a certain time of year. It is one of his Christmas treats for himself and he shared them with us.

Thank you Bjorn.

And oh the wine. I consumed more than my fair share of an absolutely stellar Malbec. And of course I forgot to write down the name. The Norwegian knows his wine.

And now it is back out into the city today. Hope you are having half as much fun as I am.

But my feet really hate me right now.


Friday, December 20, 2013

7 Quick Takes (Vol 239) Or….How Can There Only Be 4.5 Days Until Christmas!


Ho, ho, ho here we go. That is right…..4.5 days until Christmas. Let the panic begin. When you are done basking in the bright, holiday glow of my blather you need to click on the picture above to be whisked, at the speed of Santa’s reindeer, over to Conversion Diary to see what everyone else is doing.

Blather that is both naughty and nice.

This time of year there is SO much to do, or at least it feels like that. And yet, I want to spend all my time with my big, fat bahookie plunked in my chair reading all those “end of the year” lists of “notable people who have died” and “the best photos of the year” and “most noteworthy news stories of the year”.

I just can’t seem to stop myself. Guys I really, really love those kinds of things. That must have been why I always loved those “Big Book of Lists” that were all the rage when I was in Jr. Hi. and HS. Yeah, I was that nerdy. The internet just means that I can find all those kinds of lists at the click of my mouse.

I may not exit my woman cave until 2014.

And speaking of the woman cave……

It was TOTALLY trashed this week and had been that way for a while. I have had so many projects going and things happening and editing to be done that I just had been making piles of things on my desks. Yes, I have two desks.  Total disaster.

I know it is bad when I have to move a project pile in order to start or finish a new project. And I just cannot work that way. It makes me crazy….

Or crazier.

So I took some time yesterday to clean up a bit and put things away. I am much happier when life is organized. It still isn’t as organized as I need. And we won’t even TALK about the unfinished side of the basement. The place of chaos. That is going to be tackled with great vigor and cleanoutedness come the new year. For now, the desk and work space is manageable.

For now.

I hatehatehatehatehate disorganization.

I managed to mail the last of the Christmas presents on Tuesday…..and I didn’t murder anyone at the post office.

But it was a close thing. There was this one woman, several people ahead of me in line, who REALLY needed a big dose of Christmas cheer. In 3h enema proportions. I am not going to explain that and if you are a nurse you will already know. You can look it up on your own.

She could definitely have used a large dope slap upside the head. Really lady, do you think you are going to get any better service from that poor postal clerk if you berate her like that in front of the swarm of other people waiting to do the same thing that you are doing?

Like I said…..large dope slap.

Or 3h enema.

24 hours into the whole having to wear glasses thing, I am still liking them. I have noticed that the only place where they aren’t so great is when I am working on the computer. It isn’t that I can’t use the glasses then, it is the issue with the fuzziness at the edges of the field of vision, which I knew about going is as I have the seamless lenses.

But I think I can just use my cheaters for working on the computer. I will have to as it is a bit difficult to edit photographs effectively when they are blurry around the edges and you weren’t actually going for any Bokeh. Hard to know if your time spent editing and sharpening has been effective.

It is also just training myself to actually turn my head when I need to look at something rather than just moving my eyes. That way my field of vision stays clear.

And speaking of editing and photographs.

I got an email last night from a potential client that just knocked my socks off. Not sure if the job will materialize yet…but a good chance that it will. I am excited and fearful as the company is large, like nationally large. The job itself is local but it would be AWESOMESAUCE on the photo resume. And income is always good. This job is actually an outgrowth of a very small job that I did, for free, in May…which led to a bigger job in November….which segued into another job scheduled for January…..which was announced in a newsletter……which was seen by the recruiting department of another company……who contacted the newsletter people….who gave out my contact info….and thus another job comes to me.

I am scared spitless that I will actually get the job, small as it is.

I hate being so vague about it but nothing is definite.

Mimi sent our Christmas present money last week.

I spent it……..on yarn.

I KNOW! You are so surprised by this aren’t you. And yesterday I cast on a project with some of the yarn that came in the mail yesterday. Absolutely NO willpower where new projects are concerned. And of course I had to make a change or two to the pattern. Add a repeat. Change a needle size. Nothing major (she said confidently). It is Guernsey Wrap by Jared Flood and I have wanted to do one for a long time. Like since he put it up on Ravelry. I spent some time on it last night….and today I am frogging it. Not because I don’t like it but because I am going up a needle size. I gambled and lost on my needle size choice.

It happens.

I sometimes am more of a loose knitter. And with that in mind, even though the pattern called for sz 8 needles, I made the executive decision to use a sz 7. And no, I didn’t swatch. This is a wrap and I am lazy and I hate swatching. I don’t swatch for lace or wraps or socks. So shoot me.

So I will re-cast on some time today. And I will be using special stitch markers from Absinthe Yarn. Oh guys they are LOVELY. I usually just use plain old plastic rings, totally boring. But Kathy sent me some beautiful stitch markers when I ordered a skein of yarn from her Etsy shop and I have been dying to use them. Love, Love, Love.

Kathy and I actually went to high school together. We didn’t know each other all that well, running in different “circles”, and reconnected just a few years ago. We were both SO excited to find that we are KnitSibs of the heart. You should see the skein of hand dyed fingering weight yarn I bought from her Etsy shop!!! She had me at the name………Hot Flash.

I have not baked a single Christmas cookie this year.

And my waistline thanks me.

Gone are the days when all it seemed like I did in December was bake Christmas cookies for cookie exchanges and school functions. I kind of miss those days. But honestly I do not miss cookie exchanges. So many cookies that then had to be eaten. There were always the cookies that languished when all other kinds had been consumed with gusto. The lone cookies that no one really liked. The sad cookies of Christmas with no stomach home.

I will quit now.

But I may have to give in and bake one batch. Then the question becomes which kind of cookie should I bake? Now that is going to be a hard decision.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

That Is Four Eyes To You

The day has finally arrived.

The time has finally come.

2013-12-19 11.51.01

I officially have glasses that I am supposed to wear all the time.

Oh guys this is going to take a bit of getting used to. After having them for a total of 6 hours now I have come to several conclusions.

1. It is really, really, really nice not to have to take my cheaters off the top of my head ten thousand times a day so that I can read something or work on something. This is especially true in the car.

2. Having these things on all the time plays havoc with my depth perception at times. When I am walking out and about it almost feels like I am going to step off a curb or something. It threw me off several times in various parking lots today and I am sure that the other store patrons, who are already crabby, weren’t all that thrilled by the crazy haired woman who stopped in the middle of the row and made sure she wasn’t going to fall down a rabbit hole or something.

3. I had to have Chick-fil-A today to celebrate.

4. The “seamless” lenses are definitely different and will take some adjustment on my part. Different parts of the lenses are for different distances.

5. Right now I have a bit of a headache, which I was expecting. This will get better. And my friends in the “eye field” tell me that my eyes will eventually train themselves to use the glasses efficiently.

6. My biggest fear?………Losing these things. It isn’t like I can just go to Walgreens and buy another pair. But if they are on my face all the time then I guess it won’t be an issue…..I hope. But you know I am going to have a spare pair of cheaters in my purse just in case.

I sorta……….


Like them.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Nevah Again!

I do not like spending time re-inventing the wheel. I do not like to waste time. Wasted time is time that I could have been drinking a craft beer or knitting or both.

I drink craft beer because I have finally come to the realization that it is OK to pay $10.99 for a six pack of something that tastes so very delicious.

I knit so I do not kill.

Wasted time means that someone, somewhere, is going to get on my last nerve that would have been soothed by fiber and IPA. And we wouldn’t want that.

And so I have decided that never again will I sync my iPhone or iPad with the iTunes on my computer.


There really is no need to do that. I use iTunes Match to manage all my music on my phone and iPad. I can manage all my apps right on my devices. The only time I really need to sync a device with the dratted iTunes is when I want to put a non-Audible audiobook on my iPod. I never put non-Audible audiobooks on the iPhone, I just use the Audible app.

Nevah! Nevah! Nevah!

Everything came to a head this morning when iTunes, AGAIN, totally screwed with all of my contacts on my phone. All I wanted to do was to have Outlook add a couple of Contacts that were not on my phone. That doesn’t sound so hard does it?

Oh wait! We are talking Apple here. Sometimes things just don’t make sense.

Duplicates! Contacts put in the wrong place in the alphabet. Contacts missing completely.

Information run amok!

Nevah! Nevah! Nevah! NEVAH!

I then had to spend, on a day when I had other things planned, too much time putting Contacts to rights. Of course I had to be home because the roofers were replacing some shingles that had detached themselves from Chez Knit in the “Big Blow” last month and so I had to be home…..

But I had OTHER things that I needed to do rather than having to fart around with my screwed up Contacts. I use my Contacts every day. They are my lifeline when I am out and about. Or when I am not in the woman cave in the basement where my computer is located.

Darn you iTunes.

And so, even though it is really a duplication of effort (and I REALLY hate re-inventing the wheel) I will be putting new contacts into my Outlook on my computer AND in my contacts on my iPad. That means that my iPad will then seamlessly and without hassle back the contacts up to the cloud and then gently drop them down into my phone, just where I wanted them to be.

Take THAT iTunes syncing.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Warming Your Eggs

This is your PSA for the day.

You can thank me later when you are making a cake.

Recipes for baking always tell you that your eggs, the ones that you BAKE with, need to be a room temperature before you start doing anything else. You know that, right? Do you know why?

It is because eggs that are cold will not give you enough volume when you are baking. That is one of the reason why you are adding them, because they give “lift” to what you are baking. Isn’t baking wonderful!!

I wonder if eggs can give me lift in other areas?

But I digress.

I can tell you that, organized person that I am, I can never remember to get the eggs that I need out of the refrigerator at least 30 minutes before I am going to bake with them.

Flour? Check!

Sugar? Check!

Various dry ingredients? Check!

Wet ingredients? Check!

Eggs at room temperature?

Well dang.

But I have a little trick that can fix my frigid egg issue.

Warming your egg

Crack the eggs into a small container. Fill a larger container with enough warm, but NOT hot, water that the water will come half way up the side of the smaller container when said smaller container is placed in said larger container.

Gently mix the eggs and then let them sit for a minute or two, stirring gently every 30 seconds or so.

VOILA! Eggs that are warm enough to bake with.

The idea of warming the not so room temperature eggs in not a new one. You can find something similar on Baking Bites, only they recommend putting the uncracked egg into a pan with warm water. I used to do that, but it still takes a bit of time, almost as much as just letting them set out on the counter. It was a frustration.

And then I remembered my science.

I do occasionally use that Bachelor of Science.

What you want is for as much of the surface area of the molecules that make up the egg to come in contact with the warmth from the water, without the water and egg actually mixing. If you have the egg still in the shell, sitting in the warm water, it takes longer for the warmth to penetrate the shell and get to the yolk of the egg. BUT, if you crack the egg into the smaller container, gently stir it up and let the smaller container sit in the warm water in the larger container with occasional gentle egg mixing to re-distribute warmed and not warmed egg molecules…..the egg warms faster. And you get your Monkey Bread in the oven faster. Which means that you get to eat it earlier.

Well that last part isn’t really true because the Monkey Bread doesn’t get eaten until tonight.

And let me say again…..DO NOT USE REALLY HOT WATER. If you do, then you will have a very gently cooked soft boiled shell-less egg. An egg that tastes GREAT but is useless for baking.

Not that I would know anything about THAT!

Now don’t you feel smarter? Go forth and bake!

Friday, December 13, 2013

7 Quick Takes (Vol 238)


We are not even going to discuss how close to Christmas we are.

Nope. Not a word.

You know your yuletide rules. When you have ho ho ho’d your way through the blather here you need to click on the picture above to be whisked, at the speed of Chief Oliver’s smack down of Kanye West, over to Conversion Diary.

All the blather you will ever need, wrapped up in a Christmas bow.

I am at war!

At war with the little Christmas tree that I have placed out on our front step. I am so mad at the darn thing that I didn’t even take a picture of it in all it’s wicked meanness. THAT tells you how mad at it I am.

I have put this little, lighted tree up on our front porch for many years. First at OCK and now at new Chez Knit. But, here at Chez Knit our house sits up on a hill and faces southwest. The wind comes whipping up the hill and hits the front of our house….

And the little tree gets knocked over. At first I would just set it back upright in it’s little wooden box. After about ten times of that I got out the drill, drilled holes, stabilized the tree with bungee cords, put a ROCK in the box and called it stable….

Until it was promptly knocked over by the wind.

So I set it back up and TIED it to the post.

Where it stayed upright for a total of about 6 hours but then succumbed to the wind and fell over. And then it snowed so the tree was covered with snow which meant when I went out to set it to rights I got snow all down my sleeve.

And it didn’t stay upright.

So I have just left it, lying on it’s side, an amusement for all my neighbors.

And believe me, they are amused. I heard ALL about it on Monday at the Christmas party.

Maybe I should just let it stay there all year and change my address to West Virginia.

And speaking of the neighborhood Christmas party.

HHBL and I are the youngest people in our small neighborhood….by FAR. Sitting at a table with all my nearest neighbors I sort of felt like a grandchild taken to the annual Christmas party by her grandparents.

Let me tell you though, these people are HILARIOUS.

2013-12-09 19.45.46

John, our retiring association president, with his moving elf hat. The man has an absolutely WICKED sense of humor.

We tell people that we are the “vanguard” in the neighborhood. Eventually homes will be sold to “younger” people and we are just in on the ground floor.

Sunday night the door bell rang……

2013-12-08 18.01.42

We had Christmas Carolers!! They were kids from the church across the street. What a nice surprise.

I can tell you that in the thirteen years that we were at OCK I don’t think we ever had carolers come to the door. Of course, they would have had to slog up the 175 foot driveway after walking between houses that were generally WAY far apart…….

If I had had my act together I might have found something candy wise to give out as a thank you. But I was just so pleased and astonished that it didn’t occur to me until later.

Next year I will be prepared in case they come back.


I am getting glasses.


I knew it was coming. I cannot keep using “cheaters” that sit on the top of my head but that I am constantly putting on and taking off and putting on and taking off and……..

So I got myself to the local eye doc (located in a major store which shall not be named so you don’t yell at me), who looked to be a very tall 13 year old but was very helpful. He confirmed that yes, I was an idiot for using cheaters for so long and that I actually need MORE close up magnification than I am getting from my “3 pair for $12” glasses. And that I also need some help at “middle distances” such as my computer but that my far vision isn’t too bad.

Thank goodness SOMETHING wasn’t all that bad.

The exam wasn’t all that difficult other than the whole, “Is this one clearer….or this one?” I HATE those because I have to make a decision between two things that are blurry but neither one seems more blurry than the other. They are BLURRY OK! Let’s stick with that. No, the exam wasn’t the issue…..it was picking out the frames that made my brain want to explode. In the end I had the doctor and BOTH of the front of house technicians giving me consultation.

It takes a village to get Debbie a pair of glasses.

And a small bridge loan.

Glasses are EXPENSIVE.

I actually went to a mall yesterday to get a few Christmas things done.

I hate malls. ESCPECIALLY malls at Christmas time. Holiday cheer is totally absent in the parking lot as cars circle endlessly waiting for that “perfect spot”.

Thank goodness what I had to do at the mall could be accomplished with swift intensity.

People were fighting over my prime parking spot as I pulled out.

My boyfriend and I hung out together a couple of times this week.

2013-12-09 13.53.27

He TOTALLY understands what is required for a good selfie.

Christmas cards/letters. Sigh. Love getting them. Hate writing them.

For the past three years or so I just didn’t get around to it. Life was busy. I kept telling myself that I would sit down and write the letter but then January would roll around and…


But this year I am doing it!

Just a letter I think, bringing holiday greetings.

If I get to it.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

A Story of Friendship

I have wanted to tell all of the you the story of a friendship. I just haven’t gotten around to it until this moment.

It starts with a question.

How many of you really know the person who delivers your mail? Do you ever really think about who delivers your mail? Have you talked to your mail carrier? Most of us don’t have any interaction with the person who goes through snow or sleet (but not dead of night) to bring your mail to you. That is most likely because most of us no longer have a mail carrier who walks our neighborhood. They drive by in the ubiquitous white mail truck, stop in front of your mailbox, stick in the mail and move on.

But in my parents neighborhood, the mailman still walks the route.

The beginning of this story, and the friendship that followed, happened a number of years ago. My dad’s parents had retired from Christian ministry and for a time lived in a house located 4 blocks from my parents. It was a wonderful “retirement” home for them, a home that didn’t belong to the church that they were serving but to them, a place provided for them by my parents. Grandma and Grandpa never had a huge amount of money. Grandpa was a Presbyterian minister, serving both in large and small churches in New Jersey, Wisconsin, and Illinois. For all of their ministry years the houses that they lived in where the property of the church that they served. That is what made this small house a special place, it was theirs. After a few years in the “Park Street House” they decided that it was time to move to a neighboring retirement community where they could have their own condo but could have meals in the main dining room as well as many other amenities. They could be surrounded by friends. It was great.

And that is where Al the Mailman comes into the story.

Al has been my parents mailman for many years. I am not sure how long, but a long time. Usually he parks his truck at various places in the neighborhood and then walks from house to house, putting the mail into the mail slots or boxes located at each house. No mailboxes at the street! I know that Al gets to talk to people on occasion but I am sure that it is often a lonely job.

One day, a day when my father happened to be home, the doorbell rang. It was Al and he had a letter in his hand and a question.

Dr. A, I have a certified letter here that I am not able to deliver. It is addressed to an older couple who lived on Park, but they moved a number of years ago and there is no longer a forwarding address on file. However, I noticed that their last name is the same as yours. Are you related?

The answer to that was yes. The certified letter was for dad’s parents. It was from a law firm is California. What could a law firm in California possibly want with my grandparents? To answer THAT I have to tell you that many years before Grandma and Grandpa had taken one of their driving trips out to the Western states. And on that trip they had made friends (as they often did) with a couple from California. They exchanged cards and letters for many years but then the connection was lost. This letter, coming from a law firm in California, was to notify my grandparents that they were beneficiaries in this man’s will!! A not insignificant sum of money that allowed my grandparents to have some monetary independence in their last years.

Al could easily have just returned the letter, marking it undeliverable. But he went the extra mile, made the connection between my parents and my grandparents names, and thus the friendship between Al and my dad began.

Al is the only man on the planet who was afforded the privilege of calling my dad “Doc”. Dad HATED that name, except for Al.

My parents attended Al’s wedding to his lovely bride. They felt so honored to be asked!

If Dad was outside and Al was delivering mail, even though Al had A LOT of ground to cover, he always stopped to chat with Doc. 

The day after my father’s death Al rang the doorbell, handed us the mail and expressed his condolences. He was as shocked as the rest of us, having just heard from a neighbor about my father’s death.

That same evening, the front doorbell rang. It was dark outside, it was raining and we weren’t expecting any more visitors. I opened the door to find Al and his wife on the front step. Al had finished his rounds, gone home to clean up (he lives all the way in Chicago), come back out to the suburbs to pick up his wife from her job and then they had both come to the house to express their condolences and to pray with us. He put his arms around all of us (literally and figuratively) and loved us as we so needed on that night.

Al is the model of kindness and Christian compassion and I will be forever grateful to him for his friendship with my dad and for his over and above kindness in coming to “pray my dad home”.

Thank you Al.

Friday, December 6, 2013

7 Quick Takes (Vol 237)


I am not even going to think about how many days it is until Christmas. Denial is my middle name.

When you have mulled the joy, holiday blather found herein you know what you are to do. Click on the picture above to be whisked, at the speed of my rapidly approaching gift buying panic, over to Conversion Diary to see what everyone else is up to.

Jingle blather. Jingle blather. Jingleblather all the way.

Oh, I am so glad to be back to doing Quick Takes. Getting back into the normal rhythms of life is helpful. In general, when I am away for Chez Knit for any length of time then it takes awhile to feel back to normal. I was gone almost two weeks so I am figuring that it will be right about Christmas before I am all sorted out……

Just in time to go out of town again.

Oh well, there is always January……

When I will again be out of town.

February maybe?

Up until two days ago I was one of those people who stored their passwords on a piece of paper in a “secret” place where no one would ever possibly think to look…….

I know, I know. VERY bad idea Deb. Very bad security. Believe me, every time I pulled that piece of paper out of it’s really very insecure place I was reminded of my idiocy. I had my own little “encryption” thing going on with the actual passwords but I am sure any 12 year old could have figured it out.

But no more am I an insecure mess.

While Pilot Man and I were staying with Mimi he mentioned the password keeping program that he uses and loves. The first question that I asked him was whether I had to buy the app for BOTH iPhone and iPad separately or would it just download to both if bought on one or the other. That is a BIG pet peeve with me. If I buy an app I want it to be able to work AND snyc to both devices. None of this, “well you can have it on both devices but you have to pay us for the privilege of syncing between them.” I was pleased to find that DataVault would do just what I wanted.

People, I LOVE this app. And you have to know that I love it cuz I paid for it. I paid a whopping $9.99 for it!! I hate paying for apps but so far I am liking this one with great passion.

I feel so secure.

Yesterday I woke up and it was 60F.

Today I wake up to snow.

Mother Nature is a mean and nasty pain in my big, fat bahookie.

I should have put gas in Coco yesterday, when it wasn’t going to be freezing to stand out there in the wind.

Insert Dope Slap here.

It is funny, most of the time I feel somewhat adjusted to Dad not being here. It hasn’t been all that long, I know, and I will see him again some day. I know that on an intellectual level. And then the knowledge of his absence just jumps up and bites me on my posterior. I watched a documentary yesterday on the history of the James Bond franchise, and my first thought upon completion was, “I have got to send that info to Dad! He would love to watch it.”


The one thing that I absolutely have not been able to do is to re-listen to the last voicemail that he left for me. Dad wasn’t really a talking on the phone kind of guy. But he left me a voicemail on the day that he was admitted to the hospital. He sounds all funny and horse and drugged up….because he had pneumonia and was on heavy pain meds. He laughed about it on the voicemail and I laughed about it when I listened to it.

I went to re-listen yesterday.

Not going to happen.

I couldn’t even hit the “listen” button. But I want to make sure that I don’t erase the thing by mistake so I am going to have to do some research about how to convert it to an Mp3 and save it to my computer. I don’t want to erase it by mistake and I am not going to be ready to listen to it for a long time I would think.

I did not watch the live version of The Sound of Music last night.

Carrie Underwood is not Julie Andrews. I know that she said she wasn’t trying to be Julie Andrews. And I actually really like Carrie Underwood’s voice. But the Sound of Music is “sacred cow” territory for me so I just wasn’t going to even go there.

Instead, in honor of the 80th anniversary of the repeal of Prohibition, I had a Brew Masters and Brew Dogs marathon. All while drinking a Great Lakes Commodore Perry IPA.

HHBL and I have become beer snobs.

I am not sure how I started out with The Sound of Music and ended up with Brew Dogs.

Just the way I roll.

I woke up yesterday….

2013-12-06 11.11.46

And the idea for this ornament was fully formed in my head. I had to make them. There was no getting around it.

Sometimes I am like that. An overwhelming creative urge just descends on me and will not be denied.

Who needs to clean the bathroom or do work!


Fun photo shoots seriously make my week better. This is Katherine and Matthew, children of KnitSib Larissa. Who knew that my dad’s old down vest would come in SO handy.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The Great Dark Meat Turkey Caper

Thanksgiving day Pilot man produced a glorious, deep fried to perfection, turkey. It was a thing of beauty and a joy to behold. That is until we stood around and stripped it of all it’s deep fried turkey skin.

Oh my stars and garters deep fried carcinogens never tasted so good.

Over the course of the afternoon we all ate our fill of the bird…and the stuffing…and the mac n cheese….and the Onions Mornay….Party Potatoes…..salad. My waistline is expanding just thinking about it. All delicious and highly carbohydrate and fat centric. Just like Thanksgiving should be. But finally we were done overeating. And as we usually do in my family, we picked the turkey off the bone (well, Mimi actually did this) and put all the meat, neatly separated into light and dark, into plastic zip bags and temporarily stored on a blanket on the floor in the garage. It stays quite chilly in there despite the heater and therefore is a perfect place to store food items that will eventually be consumed but cannot currently inhabit a refrigerator that is already bulging.

And then we went about out business. We collapsed in a turkey induced coma for the rest of the day. We drank more wine and local, Chicago craft brews. Oh did we have excellent craft brews. My favorite happened to be Finch Brewing’s Fascist Pig Ale. It helps that my niece, Arin, is training to be a Cicerone (a beer expert). She knows her beer. The owner of said brewery is a friend. It is good to have friends like that. My cousin, John, also brews beer. Delicious beer.

Where was I going with this story?

Oh yes.

SO, Friday we actually went out to dinner. The local gyros place, The Smokehouse, was calling our name with a fierce intensity that could not be denied. Oh it was  good. So, so good. So garlicky and lamby and……

I digress again.

What I wanted to say is that we did not consume any turkey on Friday. So imagine the surprise, consternation and general shaking of heads when it was time to prepare traveling lunches for Saturday and we discovered……

The bag of dark turkey meat had been ripped open and, other than one little piece that was wedged in a corner, had been totally consumed.

What the HECK! Could a raccoon have done this? The damage was too great for a mouse or even an army of mice.

And so the blame fell on…..


Wrigley the Rambunctious Labradoodle. Wrigs is owned by my aforementioned niece. He is bigger than Max, has more energy than Max, is younger than Max and, when confronted with a bowl full of cat food (my nephew Austin also brought along his cat Chinese Food) cannot be swayed from consuming the entire bowl of kitty nibbles (Sorry Jana, I said the word nibble).

Of course it would HAVE to be Wrigley that had done the dirty turkey deed. Max would NEVER do that.


No I wouldn’t, Alpha, and I am disgusted that you would even contemplate such a thing.

And so we blamed Wrigley. He had gone back to the Windy City and wasn’t there to defend himself. I was self righteous in my condemnation. I was steadfast in my denunciation.

So, when Max started acting rather odd on Friday night, I didn’t really think about it. He was constantly wanting to go out and then stay out for long periods of time. That is not usually his pattern. He goes out, makes a circuit of the yard, leaves a peemail for the dog next door and then comes back in. Well unless there are “bigger” issues to attend to. But Friday night it was all yard all evening long. And after we “put him to bed” in the basement he kept barking as if he wanted to go out. Finally I just told him to cut it out and go to sleep.

Saturday morning we were up and out the door early, heading for home. Max was a bit sluggish and acting odd but we had things to do and home to get to and we just chalked his “mood” up to having to run around with Wrigley for several days, so I didn’t really think about it.

And then he started the farting in the car. Folks, HHBL drives a Prius. It is a small car. And Max is a big dog. You get the picture.

I began to wonder about that absent turkey.

THEN, when I walked Max at one of our stops, he actually did a “dukie”. Please tell me that I don’t have to explain what I mean by that. Just know that it the twelve years that we have been traveling with Max he has never, not ONCE, done a dukie in a foreign dog walk. It just doesn’t happen.

Until Saturday.

But the final coup de grace was when Mimi called Saturday evening to ask if Max was feeling all right. She wondered because when she had gone downstairs to the room where Max stays………she had found that he had dukied in a number of spot.

Folks, Max hasn’t had an indoor accident since he was 10 weeks old. He prides himself on that.

And then I knew….

Without a doubt…..


Turkey Thief

Wrigley, Aunt Debbie owes you a big fat apology and a chew toy. You are a good boy. You wouldn’t ever think about eating an entire bag of turkey.


Did someone say turkey? I LOVE turkey.