Sunday, 31 August 2014

The U.S. Open

Having a father who had been a professional football player, and was an avid sports fan, meant I grew up watching a lot of sports on television. Dad watched football, a sport I never understood, tennis, golf and occasionally baseball. I remember though, like his son, he felt baseball was a good sport to nap to.

I played tennis as a youth, as my Dad played, and it was a much easier thing to do then, with the number of public tennis courts in the local parks. When I married I tried golf for a time.

For some reason in my later years, I’ve become a sports fan, namely tennis and golf. I’ll admit, my eyes are not glued to the television during a match, not necessary with this thing called ‘instant replay’.

This week the second tournament of the FedEx Cup is being played (golf), along with the US Open (tennis).
I’m a Tiger Woods fan, but unfortunately he’s not playing for the next few months, but there’s still another fave of mine playing, in the Open...Roger Federer.

I think I first noticed Federer in those Gillette ads from the 1980’s, which also featured Tiger Woods and Thierry Henry. Did those ads appeal to women who do the bulk of household shopping, or to men who are sports fans?

I’m writing this as I wait for Roger Federer’s next match.

I hope he wins.

Saturday, 30 August 2014

The Alarms are Ringing, for Me and my Bra

My daughter gave me her unsolicited opinion on my undergarments. “You need a new bra,” she said.

“What?” I asked. “You don’t like the uniboob look?” Uniboob, that’s my term for when large size breasts are pushed together to form what looks like one big boob.”This old bra has lost its ability to lift and separate,” I told her.

But, she was right. My bra was old and worn. Buying new underwear was one of those things that I think about, but forget once I’m in the store.

I made buying new bras and underpants the purpose for my next shopping trip and came home with 2 bras and a 10 pack of panties.

The funny thing is, when I buy something new, I tend to set it aside, to save it for a special occasion, something other than lolling about the house. A silly habit I know.

I was behind in my laundry and looked in the drawer and found the bra I’d purchased last month, and pulled it out to wear. Later that day I went to Walmart to buy some yarn.

As I walked in the store the door alarm went off and I saw the store greeter stop a woman going out the door. How embarrassing, I thought.

On my way out the alarms sounded and the greeter approached, took my bags to ‘test’ and brought them back, telling me it was okay, I could go. But as I stepped forward the alarm set to blaring, again.

“It must be on you,” the greeter said. I suddenly realized the alarm that went off when I entered was triggered by me, and not the unfortunate woman leaving the store as I came in.

I looked at the greeter, a woman, and whispered, “I’m wearing a new bra.”

“That will do it,” she replied, nodding her head. “Did you cut the security tag off?”

“What tag?” I asked.

“There’s a special tag, under the brand tag that says ‘Remove Before Wearing’. It has a metal chip in it that sets off the alarm.”

Later, when I undressed for bed, I found that little tag, and clipped it off. I can now wear my new bra, with all its comfort and support, and be assured that I’m not going to be causing any upset at the door of the department store.

It’s a worthy concern, I could have ended up in a blooper video “The Shoppers of Walmart.”

Friday, 29 August 2014

Car Gadgets

When I drive I like to listen to rock music, loud and blaring. Unlike some people on the road, I don’t do this with the windows down, making my way through town. Rock music is for driving on the highway, the local station is for driving...local.

My car is old, which suits me as I feel we can sympathize with each other. We both understand that growing old is a process fraught with difficulties. I have some streaks of grey, the car has some rust spots, and we can both be temperamental.

The new cars are amazing with all their gadgets.

I was in my brother’s car recently, out for a country drive, on roads I thought I knew, sort of. I got confused at one point as to whether we were on the right road and my sister-in-law pulls out this GPS and confirms where we were and that the location we were seeking was just ahead.

A friend has one of those back-up cameras, which are built in, in the newer cars.

And then there are the built in DVD players. I was in my daughter’s car with her three kids and was amazed at the peace, if not total quiet. Two were watching the movie, listening with headphones, and the third listening to tunes on her I Pod. We were actually able to have a conversation in the front seat.

What was cute was listening to the kids’ response to what they were watching or listening to. There was some chatter, lots of laughter and some singing. Odd, as I couldn’t hear what they were listening to. I don’t know how distracting I would find that if I were driving. But, it has to be better than “Are we there yet?” or “Mommy, Bobby hit me”.

I always wonder though, when I watch that Ford commercial on TV. The one where the woman says “A caution light just notified me an accident could be imminent.”

What? Where?

I’m not sure what my reaction to that would be, maybe to slam on the brakes or to frantically look around so that I meander over the centre line. Maybe I’d like it to be a surprise, or at least hope I’d see it coming without the voice giving me a warning.

I expect that Velma, my car, and I will end our driving days together. I read that again and don’t want my words misconstrued. I didn’t mean that in a Thelma and Louise kind of end our days, but more of a used car lot, and ‘can you pick me up I don’t have a car’ way.

I don’t need all those extra distractions when I drive. I just like to listen to the music and think, plot and write in my head. If I was going to get any gadget for the car I’d get a tape recorder, because writing my thoughts in the notebook on the passenger seat is not the best thing to do.

All danger aside, I can never read my writing later.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Laughing Out Loud

I really like when something I see or hear makes me laugh out loud. It feels good, and takes you away from the ordinary bits of your life, just for a moment.

A good example was a Facebook video of a small child, not baby but not quite a toddler. She was laughing at her father, doing something as simple as ripping paper. She giggled away, more each time he tore the paper, until she couldn’t sit and fell to the side. There’s no sound quite so contagious as a child’s laughter.

There are many commercials on television that make you laugh, that give you that feel good feeling, you know, those Hallmark moments. But I love it when I’m reading a book and a scene makes me smile and laugh out loud.

I’m going to share this passage from Nora Robert’s book The Witness, because it made me laugh.

A quick synopsis for the scene. Brooks’ parents had to put down the dog they’d had for seventeen years. As much as they missed having a dog, the mother, Sunny, said she wasn’t ready to have another. The son determines that the mother feels disloyal at seeking out a replacement, but might take a dog in, if it was a gift. He shows up unannounced with a ten week old puppy.

“Oh.” Sunny actually put her hands behind her back. “Brooks, I told you. I’m not ready for_”........

.........“We ought to let him out, don’t you think?” Loren put an arm around Sunny’s shoulders. “At least take a look at him.”

“Some help you are. All right, let him out of there. It’s not right he has to be in a cage like a criminal.”

“That’s the thing.” Brooks set the crate down, opened the door and scooped out the bundle of wiggling, licking, yipping delight. “He’s about ten weeks old. If he doesn’t find a home in another month, say, it’s curtains. The green mile. Riding the lightening.”

Deliberately, Sunny folded her arms. “Stop.”

“Dead dog walking,” Brooks added as his mother sighed and his father struggled not to laugh. “What?” Brooks held the dog’s nose up to his ear. “You sure? Okay. He says he wants me to tell you ’Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen’,” Brooks sang in somber tones.

“Oh, give me that pup.”

There’s more, but to really enjoy the interplay between mother and son you need to read the book. I love how she struggles but can’t stay immune to the charm of a puppy, or her son when she calls him a brat and kisses his cheek.

The book is a mystery, with many levels, and to come upon this sudden lighthearted moment that made me laugh was a pleasure.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

The FedEx Cup Golf Championship

People have been surprised that in the past few years I’ve become an avid golf fan. Well, I became an avid golf fan because of Tiger Woods, and like many, have little interest if he’s not playing.

But Tiger or no Tiger, these last four weeks of golf are very interesting, especially if you like numbers. The race to the FedEx Cup starts with the first event of the season, and continues all year with points earned and accrued. A typical tournament winner gets 500 points, with fewer points given based on each player’s final position.

Last week was the first of four events, the tour playoffs, so to speak. The winner received 2500 points, 5X the points awarded for winning a regular tour event. Myself, I think that’s kind of unfair. A player could win four events throughout the season, and still fall behind the guys who win one playoff event. But they never asked for my opinion.

Last week it was The Barclays Championship. The top 125 players in the FedEx Cup standings played. This week it’s the Deutsche Bank Championship, and only the top 100 play.

The week after, the BMW Championship will be played with the top 70 players, then the final Tour Championship where only the top 30 compete.

I just marvel at how the winner can be so unpredictable, except maybe in those first few years when Tiger was the expected winner. Any player that makes the cut can’t afford to miss a tournament. That means four tournaments in a row, with travel in between, without a break, and coming right on top of the regular season. Talk about pressure.

Since 2007, when the FedEx Cup was first played, Tiger has been the only player to win it twice. Most years the final winner won at least one, if not two, of the playoff events. I still don’t know how Rory McIlroy, who won two playoff events in 2012, did not win the final trophy.
Oh, and did I say the winner gets 10 million dollars, sloppy seconds is not too shabby at 3 million, third place 2 and fourth 1.5 million. To round off the Top Five, fifth place gets a measly 1 million.

It’s worth the show just to watch the last tournament on Saturday and Sunday. One of the commentators is at the white board constantly with the predictions. If Joe Blow wins today then get the idea. Every day, every tournament changes the numbers, and I’ve always found numbers fascinating.

Besides, I don’t really have to pay attention, I can crochet, read, flip channels whatever, but I’ll watch the end, just out of curiosity.

Monday, 25 August 2014

Admitted Stupidity

I had one of those moments today where I felt really stupid. A real Duh! moment. Like I was suddenly a blonde or something. (Sorry Y.)

My son got me this great computer table. It's got wheels and a side table, so perfect for me, as I sit so much in my comfy chair when I write, play on the laptop. The woman he got the table from had dogs and the casters were full of dog hair, which he nicely cleaned out for me.

So, I've had the table for weeks and lately I've noticed that the table wasn't moving across the carpet as easily as it had before. It still worked, so I ignored it and just gave the table a little harder push when I went to get up.

Today it was really hard to push, and I figured I'd have to clean the casters. I don't have a dog, but my carpet is new and continually gives off a bit of fuzzy lint that I figured must have collected in the wheels.

I leaned down to check the caster and you'll never guess what I found....brakes. The casters had brakes that I'd never noticed before. Well, isn't that great. I must have hit the brakes on the one wheel without even realizing it and was working against it all this time.

Well live and learn, but don't I feel stupid. Good way to start the day, not the feeling stupid, but the laugh it gave me. My day can only get better, right?

Sunday, 24 August 2014

The Test of Friendship

Saturday night at 8 P.M. the television series “Doctor Who” aired their new season.

As a tease, I called my friend, an avid fan, at 7:58, and was going to say I needed help with a computer problem, something that happens to me often.

It was the same kind of thing I pulled on my brother as the Super Bowl was about to start.

The joke was on me...she never answered the phone. Was she home and ignoring all calls, or was she out, maybe watching the show with other like minded fans?

The true test of friendship, I’ve heard it said, is the friend who would be there for you, even if it was four in the morning.

I would have been there for my friend, LOL. I would have answered the phone even if the call came right before the long awaited season premier of my favourite show. But then I have the PVR option on my cable receiver and most likely would have had it set to record.

Like I said........................

Friday, 22 August 2014

The Christmas Challenge

Anyone who reads my blog knows I am constantly perusing Pinterest for new crafts and recipes. Even if I’m not in the mood to do something, I’m always in the mood to think about creating, to dream about what to make, get the idea.

The other day I was looking at ideas for Christmas ornaments. A few years ago I started making ornaments for my grandchildren, one each, every year, for their future Christmas trees. It started the year both my children had their third child, so my count was six per year and I worked back to each child’s beginning.

It wasn’t that hard to get caught up, 4 X three years, 3 X one year, 2 X three years and finally 1 X three years. I made a total of 30 ornaments initially but then it was just the six for every year thereafter. Sounds easy, but I’m behind as I missed last year, but I’m hoping to get caught up, hence the thinking of Christmas in August.

I found this terrible, tacky ornament on Pinterest, and shared it on Facebook.

When my children were small we had a kids’ tree in the family room. It was decorated with their handmade ornaments and some of their Disney and other favourite cartoon characters. But never would I have included Mylie Cyrus on her wrecking ball or Christmas ball. At least she wasn’t naked.

I got the following response from my daughter.

“Well, that just sucks because I was trying out my crafting skills and made you ten of them.”

To which I replied.

“Okay, you’ve thrown down the gauntlet now, just wait and see what you get to hang on your Christmas tree this year. Trying out your crafting skills...really?”

My daughter is not a crafting kind of person. After watching me paint, crochet and craft all her life, she’s never shown an interest in any of it.

Her reply.

“Ya, I guess that wasn’t so believable! Me and crafting skills don’t go together.”

I sent her a couple of pictures of really awful ornaments, as a joke. The funny thing is, she’s real particular about her Christmas tree and other decorations. It’s the one time of year when she goes crazy and for her the season can’t come soon enough once November arrives, and yet it all gets packed away by New Years.

This strikes an old memory, about the exchange of tacky gifts. I believe it was between my mother and my brother. I think he got a painted monkey carved out of a coconut shell (she did live in Florida) and in return my brother gave her a black velvet cushion with MOM painted on it. I’ll have to wait and see if he reads this and can clarify.

These are the fun memories of family life, and why I was so quick to jump on the challenge to make my daughter an extra special ornament for her tree.

For sure, every one of my grandchildren will receive their ornament, but for my daughter...I’m glad I have time to think and plan.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Frustration Solved

So, I posted about all the trouble I was having with a particular post. It had to do with a conversation held on Facebook and something I posted from Pinterest. Being on the lazy side I figured I could do a cut and paste and edit on Blogger.

I had to delete some stuff and then write the rest of the post. When I did a blog preview, the text didn’t appear. I guess I knew instinctively that the cut and paste from Facebook was the cause.

I tried another angle, cut and paste from Blogger to a Word document and started all over.

Still no go.

Then I decided to start fresh, in a new Word document, and would cut and paste to Blogger and publish from there. I wanted the same text and needed a copy of it so that I could retype it in Word. I tried to print a copy.

No go. The printer wouldn’t work. The new printer.

I called my friend who is my personal Help Centre for anything computer. She asked me if I’d done the download of the printer into my new/used laptop. No I hadn’t. So today I downloaded the printer program into my laptop, printed off a copy of the blog, and retyped it into a Word document.

I tried it out as a new post and hallelujah, hail to the king, will wonders never cease, and there it was.

Now I have to find that photo and add it in, I’m not taking any chances on screwing things up again, not after all this work.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

I Hate Change

As I get older I find myself less receptive to change, especially if it involves technology. For some reason, that I don’t quite understand, I decided last winter I needed a new laptop. Some of that may be because of the pop-up virus I’d gotten, and that I would be without a computer, for the time my laptop was in to be repaired.

At any rate, I bought a new Notebook, with a larger screen, still with DVD player and an SD card option. The problem had Windows 8. I got a Word program, downloaded it, set up my E-mails and favourites list and was good to go. For months I was good to go.

Recently, my daughter decided to help me out with it, since I seemed to have forgotten whatever my friend had taught me from the initial set-up.


I didn’t want the daily struggle to get used to Windows 8. I don’t have a cell phone and am not used to all this APP stuff. I just want to be able to do Facebook, play on the internet, and communicate through E-mail. And I want to be able to write.

I made what I call an executive decision and went back to where I had bought my laptop, used, and bought another one, used. It’s newer than the old one but comes with a less traumatic learning curve.

I took the old one in, to get the virus removed so I could give the laptop to my son, and sold the new one, at the family rate, to my daughter. She has a cell and is used to APPs, plus she has Windows 8 on her computer system at work.

Good deal for everyone. And strange as it may seem, the decision put me back to writing. I had been struggling with the new book and we’re up and running again, or up and murdering again. It’s another murder story.

I’m glad it all settled, and to have the laptop gone from the table where I swear its very presence was mocking me. See why I hate change.

Monday, 18 August 2014


There is nothing more frustrating as when you think you’ve finally learned, and are comfortable with a new skill, and suddenly the whole thing goes wacky.

I had a post for Sunday and the images came through but none of the text. I played and played and never got it to work.

Is it the new laptop? Shouldn’t be as I posted from this unit before. that time I didn’t have my Microsoft 7 program installed and wrote the text directly in the new post box, as opposed to cut and paste.

I’m writing this as a sample, to see if it’s an overall problem, or just that one.

Here goes nothing.

Post script. I just went through all the steps, and what do you know, it posted. So I'm going to go back and try again with the other post, retype it and see what happens.

Trial and error sucks.

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Yarn Bombing

I don't know when or where this action started, but I noticed a number of "yarn bombs" being posted on knit and crochet sites I perused on Pinterest. I was amazed at the number, the variety and the size of these bombs.

And to think I was complaining about getting my afghan finished.

Some of these show a real sense of humour.

I picked this one for my friend, a real Doctor Who fan.

And some just add a bit of colour, a sense of whimsy that might just add a smile to someone's day.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Fresh from the Oven

Yesterday I wrote about the smell of freshly mowed grass, and the images of summer it brings to mind. It also reminded me of another smell, one that evokes a good mood, or happy memories.

On the outskirts of Belleville there is a store called A Taste of Country. The building is an old stone farmhouse with a large board and batten addition, and an old sleigh in the front yard. It looks perfect in its country setting.

As you open the door to the addition the smell of fresh baking seems to surround you, to draw you in with a friendly, old fashioned welcome. You can't help but stop to breathe in the aroma, and your taste buds begin to tingle in anticipation.

To the right, just inside the door, are freezers packed with meat, vegetables, and other frozen delights. The shelves overhead are stacked with jams, jellies, salsas and such. The stock here is constantly changing, so when you see a bargain you want to take advantage.

The checkout counters are to the left of the door and the bakery beyond. Fresh bread, buns, cakes, tarts and cookies. I never leave without some kind of bread, and a 2 pack of the best butter tarts.

The rest of the store is a shopper's delight. I have found many unusual gifts there, but again, some of the stock changes, and if I find the item I want I need to buy it because it may not be there next time, as my visits are  infrequent.

They have some country decor items, made from wood or wrought iron, and lots of calendars and old style metal signs. When you cross into another room, at the back of the original house, there is a limited selection of clothes, shoes, and purses, with more accessories in the like of scarves and jewelery.

Yet another door leads into the two front rooms of the house, with the front door and original stairway. One area is completely filled with shelves of linens. Placemats, runners, tea towels, oven mitts, tablecloths and candles of every size and colour.

There's a kitchen section full of all those kitchen gadgets you immediately think you can't live without.

What else? Framed prints and other wall decor, seasonal items for summer now, Christmas later. There's a kids' section with books, stuffed animals and toys.

If you live in the area it is well worth the visit. Even if it's just for the smell of baking that reminds you of grandma's house. Memories, sweet memories.


Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Freshly Mowed Grass

I was taking a lazy morning, lolling about in bed, reading, as I only had...about a hundred pages to go. What can I say, it was a good story.

There was a breeze fluttering the curtains and I could hear the wind blowing through the trees. For a moment the quiet morning was disturbed with the sound of a whipper snipper.

I have to laugh as I'm writing this as I don't know any other word for that machine, the one the man uses to cut the grass at the edge of the garden and walkways. I can still hear the roar of the motor and the slap of the cutter as he makes his way along the maze of pathways.

And then I smelled it...freshly mowed grass. It's almost a cliche, when you think about it. You see it used in books to bring forth that image of a summer day, sunshine, warm temperatures. And that's exactly what it is outside today.

The weather channel had it wrong again. It was supposed to rain, and thunder, all day yesterday and through to some time this morning. But after it rained most of Monday night into Tuesday, we had clear skies, albeit grey and overcast. Today it's blue skies and sunshine.

Sounds like a good day to write. I have a murderer to catch, fictionally speaking of course, and have neglected him terribly. I need to get back into that story, for November will be here before you know it, and my NaNo story is forming in the back of my mind.

So where was I? Oh yeah, Detective Donovan had his third victim, and his first real lead.

Monday, 11 August 2014

I Hate Mondays

It's not hard to forget what day it is when you aren't tied to a work schedule. The days all blend one into another. I have an older friend who often gets confused and can show up for an appointment only to be told her appointment was the day before. If she can get a reminder call, it's a blessing.

Monday is my garbage day. I need to have my bags of trash out front by eleven, for the groundskeeper to pick up and place at the curb, outside the entry to my complex.

I'm not as much of a night owl as I used to be, so I'm usually up to put my garbage out. It's been my habit to check out the window and sort of...verify, that it is indeed Monday, by making sure there are other bags on the road.

Today it was after nine o'clock when I looked out and the road was garbage free. My first thought was I was mixed up on the day. Easy enough to believe as I'd had an unusually busy schedule last week. Then I had to wonder if it was a holiday, but we've had our August long weekend and next will be Labour Day, in September.

So, I waited, and once I saw other people had their garbage out, I carried mine to the curb, and felt I was once again oriented to time and place. I blame this confusion on all this summer vacation, with people being off work or away from home, schedules changed. Don't they know how that messes with my mind?

When I worked in the nursing home we used to have a big white board in the hall. Everyday the staff would change the day of the week, the date, and make a note of the weather. I sometimes feel like I need one of those boards, but as I live alone I would be the person to update it, and as I'd probably forget, why bother.

I love that the laptop has the time in the bottom corner, and with a touch of the mouse I'm informed of the day and date. I have a simple book, a school agenda, that I use to keep myself organized. Little reminders of where I've been, what I've done. Nothing so interesting as a diary I'm afraid.

Another week, another new beginning. I better check that agenda and see what I'm up to this week.

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Counting the Bells

I was reading in bed, early on this Sunday morning and suddenly became aware of the sound of church bells. I stopped reading, listened, and counted the bells, even though I knew it was eight o'clock.

Then I had to laugh, because I do this every time I hear the bells. Like I have to count to make sure the church has the time right. Like God would make such a mistake.

When the bells came again at nine, I trusted and did not count. At ten, the bells rang out the hour and then music, until just before the church service began at eleven.

Our town has many bells. The town hall has a bell tower and the hour and half hour are announced daily. I've been downtown, or nearby and heard the bells, and remember counting them at that time too.

I was always good in math and I like numbers. Thinking about this now, I realize I count things as a habit, as a way of passing time.

I count the rail cars on the train, when I'm waiting at the tracks, waiting for the bar to rise so I can continue on my way. I count the number of cars that make it through an advance green. Not all the time, most often when that first car has been particularly slow and I think I won't make it through the intersection before the light turns red.

Now I'm not OCD or anything, I just have a curious and busy mind that never stops. Sometimes it just needs a break from more serious things, and counting church bells is as good as a rest.

Friday, 8 August 2014

Hints for Christmas

Yesterday I talked about this sweater I made for my daughter that was a disaster right from the beginning. Since that time I have avoided knitting, and work exclusively in crochet.

So, it was with great surprise that I find my daughter forwarding me images, from items found on Pinterest I would imagine, for things crocheted.

The first was for a hooded hat/scarf thing for kids, done in animal colours with added ears. Cute, really cute, but the pattern was not available but had to be ordered on line.

The other night I received a link and a message that she wanted one of whatever it was the link was for. I didn’t know as I couldn’t open it, and sent her a return message.

I got a different link the next morning, (shows how much she liked it) and found it was for a pair of slippers, a kind of crocheted Ugg boot.

And once again, it required the purchase of the pattern. Could she not find anything she liked with a free pattern?

I played for awhile and went back to Pinterest looking to see if the pattern was available anywhere, at no cost.

I finally found a link to the pattern, published on Kindle, at the low cost of $2.99. As I also found five craft books for free, I figured each item averaged out to a cost of fifty cents each. A bargain.

Now I have to sort through my hoard of yarn and see what I might have for slippers. Christmas isn’t far off. And luckily, while I was doing all this searching, I found several techniques to make the bottom of the slippers…less slippery. Perfect.

Last year the family picture was taken with everyone wearing the hats I’d made them for the winter, I can see how it will be next year, with everyone showing off their new slippers.

I better get to work.

Thursday, 7 August 2014

The Demon Sweater

A few years ago I tried to switch from knit to crochet. It was my habit to make each of the kids and grandkids something for Christmas, and I aimed for some kind of clothing, like a sweater or vest.

My daughter is very fussy and didn’t like the look of crochet, hence the change to knitting.

I found a great pattern for a cardigan, one of those heavy car coat, change of season sweaters. I thought she’d like, and bought some yarn in a pretty purple heather, her favourite colour.

The sweater had a band up the front that became the collar, raglan sleeves and front pockets.

I made the back with little difficulty and started on the front. Ribbing, a different stitch on the front edge, add the pocket and then I came to the hard part. The pattern called for decreases along the sleeve side, the raglan, and at the same time, but at a different rate, increases along the front edge to form the collar.

I got it done, though it required a rewrite of the pattern that I could cross off as I went. Now the other front piece, trickier because button holes had to be made, equally spaced as I knit, before starting the collar and sleeve shaping.

I managed to do it, with the help of my notes, completed the sleeves and was ready to assemble my sweater. I was feeling a bit cocky, proud that I had managed this intricate (for me) pattern.

As I sorted out the pieces I found this knit square and wondered where it had come from. Bad, I know, but I never complete the whole test square for checking gauge, so I knew this was not a gauge sample. So, what was it?

Then I knew. I had been so engrossed in front edging patterns and button holes I had forgotten to add the pocket. I was thoroughly deflated. Did I rip back all those rows to where I could add the pocket? Did she really need two pockets?

Unable to face ripping out all that work I set the whole project aside, as it was March and Christmas was months away. I decided I would make the decision after the summer, for right then I needed a break…from knitting, from purple heather, from pockets.

End of story, I never took it apart, but finished it as is and gave it to my daughter, with the one pocket. She loved it, and not being a craft person, never knew the sweater was designed to have two pockets.

And the story doesn’t end there. 

For some reason, when she washed it, that cursed front piece stretched miserably out of shape. I thought it looked like the bottom button was maybe caught under the wringer and it was pulled during the wash, and put in the dryer with the damage unnoticed.

At any rate, the sweater was ruined. I took it back and took it apart, not an easy task, and used the yarn to make a sweater for my granddaughter.

My daughter and I have an unspoken agreement not to talk about it.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

A Mini Milestone

When I was a kid I had pen pals from all over the world, and loved nothing more than to see that blue airmail envelope that meant a letter from a friend. I’m sorry that those friendships went by the wayside.

Now, we can communicate without paper and stamps and it should be so much easier. I started this blog fueled by those old feelings. In the beginning I checked the Blogger Dashboard frequently, amazed at the number of countries that were represented as having read a post.

Today I can proudly say I have reached 200 posts, and over 4000 views.

When I began I intended to post once a week, but jumped right into daily posts with the A-Z Challenge in April. I like writing these essays on everyday life, about my life and about my writing.

Someone told me they didn’t like it when I referenced my health situation, and I can see that, I guess, it can be a bit of a downer. But it is my reality. I have Multiple Sclerosis, and Fibromyalgia. I have a bad back, neck and knee from osteoarthritis.

I have good days, and not so good days. My computer and my writing get me through both. So, I listened to what that person said and took all health references out of the regular blog. But, at the same time I felt I was being less than honest. I have been on disability for ten years, and in those years my life has changed in many ways. I’ve learned some hard lessons and decided I had experiences that I could share that might help others in the same situation.

To that end I started a second blog, dealing entirely with what it is like living with a chronic illness. I went back to the beginning, telling the story of my journey. If you are interested the link is below.

It’s amazing the difference it has made, I feel more like the old me in Midweek Musing, but can still show my other side in Scattered Thoughts and Stumbles. Do you like the name? I thought it pretty well described my life and shows I still have a sense of humour.

Monday, 4 August 2014

School Days, School Days

This is one of my favourite times of year. Not just heading into fall, but the start of the new school year because the stores are full of……..paper.

I have an ongoing love affair with all things paper. Binder paper, notebooks, sticky notes, and binders. I would not be lying to say people have made fun of my binders.

When I worked I organized in binders, and had a plethora of them on the bookcase behind my desk. For some reason I preferred binders to keep active files within reach.

When I quit work and began writing in earnest, guess what? I organized my writing in a binder, separated into categories by dividers. At the writing group I joined, I was mocked for my binder which I then used for notes from the meeting. It did not deter me.

Writing my first book I took all the information I learned from reading articles and books on writing. I did all the background work, the character studies, the setting, plot outlines and research notes, and stored it all in a binder for that book.

I’ve never really gotten out of that habit. Writing murder mysteries is detailed work, as timelines are important, such as what evidence is collected, interviews and when reports are available. I’ve done a lot of research into police procedure trying to keep it real.

I currently have a bookcase full of binders, of recipes, knit and crochet patterns, how-to writing articles, and of course my current book. When one book is completed I remove all the notes and file them for future reference, adding any research into a separate file.

Notebooks I keep for ideas, for blogs and books, as I like to be able to pick them up to read or update, without going to the laptop. I’ve changed some of my writing routine to where I write in bed at night, long hand, and transfer notes to the computer the next day, with a bit of an edit at the same time. That uses up a load of binder paper as I write big and messy, filling up pages with words, some scratched out and rewritten, some arrows changing the order.

I walked in the store last week and bought five small binder sized notebooks that, at a nickel each, I couldn’t resist. Same for the binder paper at a dime, even though I have plenty in the cupboard. I didn’t go overboard, I used some constraint.

And then there are the pens, pencils and markers, who doesn’t love the back to school shopping? I enable my addiction by buying school supplies for the grandchildren, and if some make it to my desk, well, that’s our little secret.

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Vacation vs Holiday

My daughter is away this week on holiday, and it got me thinking about the difference between vacation time and holiday time. Is there a difference? It’s all semantics, I guess.

The dictionary gives the meaning of vacation as: a scheduled period during which activity is suspended.

Holiday is defined as: a period taken as leave or a break from one’s normal occupation, esp. if spent away from home.

And there in lies the difference. The reason my daughter was so excited about her vacation this week was that she was going away on holiday. Vacation time spent at home is basically the same as an extra long weekend. Even if you fill it with day trips and activities, it still doesn’t have that invigorating, isn’t-life-grand, holiday feeling.

My daughter is away visiting the in-law family, at a family reunion. They had to travel, not just out of the province, but out of the country to the state of Michigan. The long drive was shortened by a night in a hotel, (a water park hotel so a mini holiday right there) a new experience for her and the kids.

I understand why she needed this break away. Work can call, and does, even if you’re on vacation, especially if work knows you’re at home. When I was on call for work, it was pretty much a 24/7 deal. Even if I wasn’t the one on call, my staff would still contact me because they knew I would listen and advise without any negative response. And they knew I was most likely at home.

My son and his family are also away, camping, sleeping in a tent and fishing on the lake all day. This is for them, a holiday, a break away from work both as a job and work about the house, even though all that work awaits them on their return home, the break away is worth the effort.

I have a friend who talks about going on a retreat, for writing. I think it sounds like a great idea. It sometimes seems easier to write away from home, away from the phone, the television, the chores, the refrigerator, all things that can tear you away from the work of writing.

I’ve written some of what I consider my best work sitting in McDonalds, writing long hand. No work delaying trips to the internet, no distractions, no looking at house work that needs done. When you need a break you scan the restaurant and take a moment to laugh at the kids, smile at the elderly couple having lunch, shake your head at the rowdy teens…and get back to work.

I’ve heard the phrase ‘stay-cation’ which means taking your vacation time at home. That’s just vacation time, but it ain’t no holiday. I really do think there’s a difference.




Saturday, 2 August 2014

Civic Holiday Weekend

The first Monday of August is the Civic Holiday in Canada, another summer long weekend. As I’ve not worked for many years, weekends, long or not, don’t seem much different to me than weekdays.

This holiday is one I tend to ignore as it’s forever linked with my Mother’s death, twenty years ago August 2nd.

Mom had been battling cancer for a number of years, had been through surgery twice. In June of that year it was discovered that she had a metastatic brain tumour. My kids and I had made the trip to Florida in July, the majority of my time spent taking her to doctors and for radiation treatments.

When we left I knew her time was limited, but I didn’t know how limited. She had my sister with her for a week after we left, and was then on her own. The treatments made her weak, and on July 29th she fell, and ultimately ended up in hospital.

I talked to one of her nurses, nurse to nurse, and was advised that the family should come, sooner rather than later. My brother flew down on the weekend and I had my plane ticket for Wednesday. I had arrangements to make before I could leave for an indefinite length of time. This was not a trip I was going to make with the kids so my daughter was staying with a friend and my son was at his Dad’s. I was in charge of the facility where I worked and could turn over all responsibility to my boss right after the holiday.

Tuesday morning, I was sitting in my office, trying to complete tasks before I left, when the phone rang. I heard my Mother’s voice, weak and shaky, say my name. It was hard to understand much of what she was said, except the words “I love you” that came through loud and clear.

She must have tired, for my brother took the phone and came on the line, apologizing for blindsiding me like that. He told me that Mom wouldn’t settle until she’d spoken with me, and he’d seen no other option but to call. I reassured him that it was okay and said I’d see him in the next day.

I made my way to my boss’s office before I lost control and ended up sitting in her office crying. She jumped into action, asking me where my ticket was and sending someone back to my office when I answered it was in my purse.

While I cried she called the airlines, found me another flight leaving in two hours and had me a seat booked along with a rental car. I was leaving for Florida. I called my daughter, who packed my bags which were, thankfully, organized for the next day, and she had me to the airport in record time.

I still don’t have much recollection of that first leg of the journey, but well remember the lay-over in Atlanta. I couldn’t sit still and paced the airport from one end to the other, as if my pacing would make the time go faster.

When I finally got on the plane they were playing quiet music with the screen showed serene nature scenes. It was too much and I sat in my seat, the tears running down my face. Once we landed in Tampa I was once again in control. A woman, sitting across the aisle with her father, had been watching me and voiced her concerns.

I explained my situation and appreciated her kind words. Now I needed to find the rental car reserved for me and make the more than an hour’s drive to the hospital. I was functioning on nervous energy and didn’t look forward to driving a strange car, on unfamiliar roads, at night.

I was trying to find the car place when I heard my name called. I turned, saw my brother walking in my direction and knew the phone conversation I’d had with Mom that morning would be my last.

I wasn’t really surprised, and if I’d had a moment of clear thought since that call, I would have realized that Mom’s urgent need to speak to me was because she knew she was dying. I’m forever grateful that she insisted and that my brother helped her make the call.

We had a quiet trip back to Mom’s place, and a few laughs when he told me of the ‘discussion’ he’d had with my boss when he’d called me back at work to inform me of Mom’s passing.

Apparently my boss, and friend, informed him I was on my way to Florida, and he argued no, I was flying out Wednesday. I guess I should have called him about the change of plans but everything happened so fast.

So, here we are, another Civic Holiday, another anniversary. I’ll be thinking of you Mom, and as always, love you, and miss you. 

Friday, 1 August 2014

A Comment on Nora Roberts

Anyone who knows me knows that Nora Roberts is my favourite writer. I love her characters, male and female, and thoroughly enjoy the variety of locales and careers depicted.

A female hostage negotiator paired with a man who won the lottery. Or fire chasers in Missoula. Then there was the bush pilot in Alaska and the Sherriff who had never been to the north country.

As a writer I marvel at the research required to make each setting so real, as setting is such a big part of the story. In her most recent books the romance is paired with a serious story, a murder or some kind of mystery.

Right now I’m reading The Collector, and noticed that there are certain similarities with these two main characters, and the main characters in her J.B. Robb series.

The J.D. Robb books are set in the late 2050’s and centre around police detective Eve Dallas and her husband Roarke, a multi-multi millionaire. Eve had a troubled, abusive childhood and is fiercely independent, dedicated to her job, and unsure of personal relationships. Roarke also had a troubled youth, and it has been fun to see their relationship evolve through the thirty plus books.

Roarke’s money has no meaning for Eve. She could care less about clothes, cars…things. If she wants for anything, she’ll get it for herself. Roarke understands her independence and takes pleasure in showering her with gifts, in spite of her objections.

In The Collector the female protagonist is a house sitter. Everything she owns she can cart from location to location in two suitcases. Her permanent address is a friend’s address, where she might stay between jobs. She’s fiercely independent, wary of personal relationships, sounds familiar right? And the male character is rich.

In Chasing Fire the female character is a fire jumper, again, strong and independent, her romantic interest also a fire fighter, but with a monied background.

I don’t mean that these similarities are a deterrent to reading these books, but more, given the number of books Nora Roberts has written, I admire the fact that she can take a proven story plot and make it so very different. Unless you had read, and reread these books as many times as I have, you probably wouldn’t even have noticed. But I read once for pleasure, and maybe twice, but I also read to see how the author writes, to learn from her success.

Take these 4 books, High Noon, Chasing Fire, The Collector and any of the J.D. Robb series.

The female characters are a hostage negotiator, a fire jumper, a house sitter and a police detective.

The men are a lottery winner, a fire jumper and arcade owner, and artist with family money and a self-made multi-millionaire.

The locations are Savannah Georgia; Missoula, Montana; and New York City. The J.D. Robb series is also set in New York.

Two of the stories involve revenge and in another the character was an accidental witness to a murder. Every J.D. Robb book is about murder, and revenge is often the cause.

See what I mean? Very creative. I think I read somewhere that there were only seven (?) original plots, and everything written is based on one of those plots.

I guess I’m no different, now that I think about it. In my three murder stories the female characters have not been part of the crime, but were pulled into the investigation because they were a witness, a consult and a relative. The male characters all detectives. In my stories the murders were a crime of passion, for self protection and finally for gain, by the bad guys.

I picked revenge for my current book.

If you ever wanted to write an ongoing series, I’d recommend you read the J.D. Robb books from beginning to end. I did this and made notes of who the original characters were, when new characters were introduced, and how their relationships changed. In a series there is a certain amount of background information that has to be given for each book to be complete as an independent story. This could be annoying if you were reading the books one after the other. I constantly marvel at the way the author does this without it seeming repetitive.

I admit it; I’m an admirer and a wannabe. I know each book I write is better than the last, what can I say, I’m on a learning curve.