Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Stop the presses!

I still knit and have actually finished something! I love this Happy Times with Ryan Hitchhiker because its colors go with everything; the colorway is named Happy Times and I bought it at The Loopy Ewe while visiting with oldest son Ryan for his birthday, and it kept me company during youngest son Justin's surgery. This project has been my security blanket for a while now, so I kept knitting and finally bound off at 54 teeth. It will keep me cozy, warm, and thinking of happy times.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Ten on Tuesday - 10 Favorite Books of 2014

This week Carole asks about a topic near and dear to my heart - Your 10 Favorite Books from 2014. I'll spare you my sometimes rambling reviews here, but have linked the books to goodreads so you can better decide if any of these might be enjoyable reads for you. In my humble opinion, there are some definite must-reads in this list! My 10 11 favorites in 2014, in no specific order, are as follows:

1.  This Is How by Augusten Burroughs

2.  The Snow Queen by Hands Christian Andersen

3.  The Children Act by Ian McEwan

4.  Wave by Sonali Deraniyagala

5. The Secret History by Donna Tartt

6.  Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

7.  How Not to be Wrong by Jordan Ellenberg

8.  All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

9.  The Antidote by Oliver Burkeman

10. Wild Ones by Jon Mooallem

11. This Is The Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett - I couldn't leave this one out, so here's a bonus #11.

I'm very surprised that half of my favorites are non-fiction or memoirs; I think of myself as mainly a fiction reader. Goodreads also provides some other interesting statistics; I read 71 books in 2014, 18,459 pages, and my book star ratings approximate a bell-shaped curve, which is about what I would expect. I've never thought of reading as competitive, but it looks like I'm gradually reading fewer books and pages each year, so I'd like to make a conscious and concerted effort to read more in 2015. I hope to start by adding some books from all the other ToT lists today!

Monday, December 29, 2014

Loss for Words

Back on December 15 I wrote a post about my father. He had been in a serious car accident and had some fairly serious injuries. While these didn't initially seem life-threatening, that changed quickly, and I deleted the post. As the week progressed, his condition worsened, we said goodbye, and our family found themselves in the terrible position of waiting - waiting for more news, tests, doctors, hope, loss of hope, impossible decisions, lessening of his pain and ours, the end of suffering, peace.

Miraculously, my father did not pass away, although his recovery is tenuous and uncertain at best. I am at a loss for words to write about this, so I simply want to sincerely thank those who offered much-needed and greatly appreciated thoughts, prayers, and support. They helped more than you may ever know, and I am very grateful.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Amaryllis Cam(aryllis) - Week Three

A broken bone, Ten on Tuesday, the excitement of making our last undergraduate tuition payment, and stormy weather that made it far too dark to take pictures have all delayed week three of my amaryllis watch for a few days. It's snowing today and really still too dark for a decent picture, but Ruby, Rosa, and their new friend Blossom have been clamoring for their photo shoot.

Ruby and Rosa Week Three, with Blossom Week One
Ruby and Rosa have both doubled in height in the last week, but Ruby is still the slow and steady grower, while Rosa is a big show-off that shows no signs of any leaves. Hopefully Blossom will live up to her name with peachy-pink and white striped double-flowered blooms. So far, this is the extent of my Christmas decorating, but I may be working on that this afternoon.

Ruby and Rosa Week Two
Ruby and Rosa Week One

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Hot Damn, Woo-Hoo, and Huzzah!

I just made our last undergraduate tuition payment!!! I do think the Bursar could have acknowledged this in a much more celebratory way, but I'm sure the balloons, confetti, noisemakers, and champagne will be arriving shortly.

We'll probably do something practical, like put the extra money in our 401K, or spend it on home repairs and maintenance, but for now I feel like frolicing!

Hot Damn, Woo-Hoo, and Huzzah!

I just made our last undergraduate tuition payment!!! I do think the Bursar could have acknowledged this in a much more celebratory way, but I'm sure the balloons, confetti, noisemakers, and champagne will be arriving shortly.

We'll probably do something practical, like put the extra money in our 401K, or spend it on home repairs and maintenance, but for now I feel like frolicing!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Ten on Tuesday - the Happy Titanium Clutter All Around Me Edition!

Today's Ten on Tuesday is a really excellent one - 10 Random Songs From Your iPod.
Here are my 10 shuffled songs:

1.  "Guitar Sound" by Ronald Jenkees from Disorganized Fun

2.  "The Island: Come and See/The Landlord's Daughter/You'll Not Feel the Drowning" by The Decemberists from The Crane Wife

3.  "Titanium" by The Piano Guys from The Piano Guys album

4.  "Bad Day" by R.E.M. from The Best of R.E.M.

5.  "Le Hardy Rapids" by Music of Nature from Echoes of Yellowstone

6.  "Clutter" by Ronald Jenkees from the Ronald Jenkees album

7.  "All Around Me" by Flyleaf from the Flyleaf album

8.  "Let It Go" by Pentatonix from That's Christmas to Me

9. "Happy (Gru's Theme from Despicable Me 2)" by Pharrell Williams from the Happy album

10. "The Ashgrove" by Philip Boulding from the Elegance of Hammered Dulcimer album

This random list is so perfect for me today that I have to think that the universe randomized and provided just what I needed. I've created a playlist and am happily singing, humming, and dancing my way through it as I write. I'm really looking forward to reading everyone's random song lists, as I'm sure more crooning and cavorting will ensue!

Monday, December 8, 2014

The Best Laid Plans...

Change quickly when Youngest Son's x-ray looks like this:

While it's not the end of the world, the bone on the far right isn't supposed to be broken and pointing in an odd direction. Calling it a displaced fracture of the distal shaft of the right fifth metacarpal doesn't make me worry less. Now we have to wait and see if a closed reduction will work or if he'll need surgery to pin it, and try and figure out how he's going to take finals this week. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for good news and I wish his hand wasn't so swollen so he could cross his fingers also!

Update: We spent all day at dr. visits and testing, but Justin now has surgery scheduled for the 16th. It's a relatively minor same-day procedure to pin the bone so it will heal properly; this is important for a kid who lives for archery, fishing, and working on his truck! He's got some understanding professors who are allowing him to take finals this week with me as typist/scribe, so I've learned about limnology (freshwater science); later in the week I'll be broadening my horizons with ornithology, alternate ag. animals (alpacas!), and GIS! Thank you all for your concern, good wishes and healing thoughts; they helped calm a worried mother!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Tinsel Thursday

I started thinking about tinsel after reading the comments on Margene's post. You may remember the good old days when we had real tinsel, the kind with lead in it.

My father was almost a tinsel tyrant. After we decorated the tree with ornaments, he got out the tinsel and we all started carefully placing it on the branches, one strand at a time. That was fine for the first five minutes, but my sister and I quickly tired of one strand at a time and moved to the back of the tree where we could put on clumps of tinsel. After a few minutes, we were even more impatient and tried to get away with the Cardinal Christmas Sin of throwing tinsel at the tree. My father always noticed, reprimanded us, and gave us the annual lecture about how one strand at a time placed carefully and thoughtfully on each branch was the proper was to decorate. By this time my sister and I had often started crumpling the lead-based tinsel into balls to throw at each other.

But tinsel (properly placed!) did make our trees look like this.


The real tinsel was discontinued in 1972. I think my father stockpiled several boxes and we actually took it off the tree and tried to save it for a few years, but the strands broke and looked quite bedraggled. I wonder if I might have been a bit smarter if I hadn't been exposed to so much lead while decorating one strand at a time and my sister throwing lead tinsel balls at me?

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Ten on Tuesday - The Shop Talk Edition

Today's Ten on Tuesday topic is 10 Stores You Like (the brick and mortar variety). I'm not much of a shopper, but let's see what I can come up with.

1.  The Loopy Ewe is one of my favorites stores of any type. They do sell yarn and fabric online, but ever since Oldest Son moved to Fort Collins I've been thrilled to visit their wonderful store in person. Full of so much great yarn it's almost overwhelming, but Sheri and the Loopy Elves have things so well organized that I've always been able to find exactly what I'm looking for and much more.

2.  Bucks Country Gardens is a garden center that I really like. They have beautiful plants in every season, and I'm looking forward to making my annual holiday trip soon. Even if I don't buy anything, it's a real pleasure to look, stroll, and take in all the sights.

3.  Little Bros. is my favorite local liquor store.  Beer, wine, cider, craft brews, they have it all and they're only five minutes away!

4.  Penzey's is an excellent spice shop, with stores throughout much of the United States. I've only visited in person once, but the aromas are even better than you can imagine. Their double-strength vanilla and many types of cinnamon are second to none and well worth the price.

5.  Wegmans is a semi-local grocery store chain, with stores on the east coast from New York to Virginia. They originated in Syracuse, so they were my local grocery store when we lived there. They stocked bulk and natural foods before anyone else did, and have continued to grow into kind of a food wonderland. The closest one to me now is over 30 minutes away, which is a good thing because I always spend too much there.

6.  Finkle's is a nearby 94-year-old local hardware store. It is cluttered, charming, and eccentric, but also a great place to find what we've needed for our old house. They are the only place we can buy flush valves to fit our old toilets. The parts are much cheaper than replacing fixtures and it's a fun place to visit.

7.  The Fudge Shoppe is a local candy store, full of delicious homemade chocolates, and of course, fudge. It's a great place to buy gifts and eat samples while shopping.

8.  REI is a national seller of all things outdoors, and  I really enjoy their stores. It's where Oldest Son headed when he realized he would actually need a winter coat and boots when he moved to Colorado, and I have a fondness for comfortable walking socks from REI. Plus, I hear that they have a really wonderful sales associate working in the Fort Collins store!

9.  WoodsEdge Wools Farm is an alpaca, llama, and yak farm, but they also have a store at the farm that I really like to visit. Full of alpaca yarn, sweaters, socks, scarves (and also yak meat!), it's a really nice low-key shopping experience with the added fun of visiting their animals.

10. Nature's Own is a store I like in Old Town Fort Collins. They sell science and nature "stuff", including lots of minerals, fossils, rocks, and geodes. It's a lot of fun to browse, and where else can you buy a T. rex half skull for only $7500?

Making this list made me realize how much I shop online, how much I miss having a local book store, and how much I don't like big box stores.What are some of your favorite stores?

Monday, December 1, 2014

Amaryllis Cam(aryllis) - Week Two

Ruby on the left is growing very slowly but steadily, with the beginnings of leaves and the flower stalk just starting to show. Overachiever Rosa has shot up about three inches during this past week, but she's not showing any signs of leaves yet. Blanche had already been adopted by the time I got back to the grocery store, but I have a plan that will hopefully come to fruition by Week Three. Ruby and Rosa have two other amaryllis cousins cooling their heels, but they won't be ready to wake up for reblooming until late December or early January. This is my favorite kind of holiday decorating!

Ruby and Rosa Week 2

Ruby and Rosa Week 1