Hey (Twenty) Nineteen

I don’t really care much about Steely Dan except for maybe a couple of songs, but “Hey Nineteen” seems to work for the purposes of this post title, so I’m gonna stick with it.

So, this is my first post of 2019 and I’d like to welcome all of you along with me to the last year of the 2010s. Nothing major has gone on since the beginning of the year just ten days ago, just a couple of updates on the knitting and reading front. But, I also figured I’d try and list what things I’d like to see happen or I’d like to improve on over the course of this year. So, without further ado…

  • The Bambina Baby Blanket is coming along. I have the bottom and right-hand side edges of squares done as well as four full rows of squares. I am currently working on the fifth row of squares and have maybe three or four squares to do before finishing that row. I hope to have this row done by the weekend, and since I typically work on these squares in the mornings, I’d like to have the sixth row of squares done by the end of next week (at which point it’d be halfway done). Its recipient is still about a month and a half away from making her glorious arrival on this planet (I borrowed the phrase “glorious arrival” from Vince McMahon, by the way; he once used the phrase to refer to his birth while cutting a promo during an episode of WWE Raw on his birthday). I have my fingers crossed that the last stages of her pregnancy and delivery will go smoothly for my sister-in-law and the Bambina.
  • Reading on The Fountainhead is going well. I’m halfway through the novel both in pages read and parts finished (it’s written in four parts, and I’ve already finished two, getting ready to start on Part III). I hope to be able to write a comprehensive commentary/review on the novel once I finish it. Some of the commentary may end up being political in nature because of the influence that Ayn Rand ended up having on certain politicians here in the United States, but I can promise you any commentary I have on it will be my own take. But first I need to finish the novel, which is one of two I am currently reading. Yes, two. And like Ayn Rand, its author was also born in Russia.
  • The other novel I am currently reading is one that I have had on both my Book Bucket List and my regular Bucket List, and one that should be tackled by any serious reader at least once in their lives: War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy. I’ve been reading it on my e-reader (thanks to Project Gutenberg, which has made the translation done by Aylmer and Louise Maude available as a free ebook) since New Year’s Day as part of a readalong being conducted on Instagram and Goodreads called “War and Peace 2019”. I’m using a different translation from the one recommended, and the book is split up differently as well. I’m six chapters into Book Two (out of 15 and two Epilogues). The goal of the readalong is to have the book done in about three months, which is roughly how long it took me to read Gone with the Wind (and that book seems just about as long as War and Peace). I’ve been reading a chapter or two at a time during the day and attempting to read The Fountainhead at night.

Now, what would I like to get out of my experiences in 2019?

  • I hope to get to spend plenty of time with both of my nieces this year, and I am so excited to get to meet The Bambina.
  • I hope to continue to grow more confident in my writing as my blog enters its third year of existence at the end of March and to continue to grow my following. As of this post, I have about 90 total followers, and I hope to reach 100 followers at some point this year.
  • I hope to continue to grow adventurous in my reading and trying to finish every book I start. I have not set a particular number of books to read as a goal; rather I want to read as much quality writing as possible.
  • If I manage to get through most of the ebooks in my collection (and don’t buy any more physical books this year), I will finally renew my library card and try to utilize it as much as I can.
  • I also would like to incorporate more crochet projects this year; I already have an idea for my niece R.A. once I finish the Bambina Baby Blanket. She will be turning three in June and I’m thinking of making her a Mermaid blanket, especially one she can grow into. I was also recently gifted a shawl pattern by a Ravelry friend who’d won a giveaway (but doesn’t really crochet) as a thank you for how much I’ve been keeping up on posting news and updates on the site’s Eurovision group. It has a really interesting shape for a crocheted shawl, and I’d love to get a chance to work this particular shawl for myself. I had a lot of fun with the Unicorn shawl I did in 2017, and I hope to have fun with this pattern, too. I’ll see about getting yarn for this one at the same time I get yarn for R.A.’s mermaid blanket, but that won’t be until the spring.

I realize that you just had to look at a lot of bullet points. I hope to go back to writing more essay-style posts soon.

And finally, here is the song I referenced in the title of this post, “Hey Nineteen” by Steely Dan. There’s no real reason I have this here other than the title.

Advertisements

Jingle Bells, Batman Smells…

That was a classic parodic take on “Jingle Bells”, which has been around since at least my childhood, which I remember as going:

🎶 Jingle bells, Batman smells

Robin laid an egg…

Batmobile lost its wheel

And Joker’s dancing ballet…hey! 🎶

(Some versions use “Joker ran away” as well.)

Today is what most people would call “Boxing Day”, but as that’s not really a thing here in the United States, we would call today “Just Another Wednesday”. No major shopping or anything like that, we just go on with our day and get ready for New Year’s Eve.

So, how was my Christmas? Not very eventful. I didn’t get anything in the way of presents or spending money, but I’m not bitter or upset at all. My dad is the primary “giver” in the family, and I hardly ever ask him for anything and even when I went on my last yarn run, I chose to spend my own pocket cash instead of using part of the grocery money for it (even though he said he wouldn’t have been bothered by it if I did). I never expect anything anymore and I don’t get my hopes up, so I never get disappointed, just pleasantly surprised if I do get something. Sure, it would be nice to be in a position to exchange gifts every year, but if all I have to offer is my kindness and a good meal some years, then I’m okay with that.

So that’s what I gave: kindness and a good meal. I decided to make a lasagna for Christmas this year, as sort of a nod to my late maternal grandmother, who we affectionately referred to as “Nanny”. (Her parents were from Sicily, and she grew up speaking Italian as a child; I believe her nickname as a grandmother may have come from the Italian word for “grandmother”: nonna. Her ex-husband, my grandfather, we called “Grandpa”; he was of Irish descent and as I previously mentioned was in the Coast Guard and died of Alzheimer’s in September 2014 at age 85, a decade and two months to the day after Nanny. They had been divorced for over 30 years at the time of Nanny’s death, but they remained on friendly terms for the rest of her life and neither ever remarried.) Nanny was an avid cook, and I like to think I learned my own cooking skills from her. She cooked all sorts of things, but she especially enjoyed cooking her own pasta sauces and making spaghetti. Around Christmas, though, she’d make lasagna for the entire family to eat (on top of that, did I mention she was also diabetic?), and it was always a treat when she’d make it. I’ve made my own tweaks to her recipe over the years, even as I approach the age where I will have lived just as long without her as I did with her (she died of cancer when I was 17, just a month before I started my senior year of high school). I like using crushed tomatoes instead of regular canned tomato sauce and oven-ready sheets of lasagna noodles instead of boiling them (I would have to constantly be spraying oil on them if I had to cook them because they stick together). It ended up coming out pretty nicely, with the exception that I didn’t distribute the cheeses properly, and so the top layer of the lasagna was considerably lacking in the cheese department. The good news is that I have enough boxes of oven ready lasagna in the pantry to make another lasagna in the near future.

I spent most of my Christmas Day doing laundry and watching TV with my mom. I’ve been watching Monty Python’s Flying Circus on Netflix, and it’s been many years since I’ve watched the series from beginning to end. I also started trying to watch Love Actually as well (managed about an hour; I have just a week before it leaves Netflix again). Tonight, as Survivor is currently in its offseason (the new season premieres in February), I will likely try finishing up Series 2 of The Tribe and maybe starting Series 3 (I only have 4 half-hour episodes left in Series 2).

The Bambina baby blanket is going well. I’ve finished 3 full rows of squares. Those 36 squares, plus the other 9 squares making up the right-hand side of the blanket brings me to 45 total squares out of 144. I have about 1/3 of my total number of squares finished, and it’s not even New Year’s Eve yet! I’m hoping to get most of the fourth row of squares in this weekend (I’ve been averaging 2-3 squares a day during days that my dad has off from work, and I usually try to get at least one square in on days that my dad does work and I only have the mornings available to myself).

Something else I haven’t mentioned here yet: the last time I went on a yarn run, I decided to look in the Walmart books section to see if there were any interesting books worth buying or if something on my “Want to Read” list was available. The section had considerably shrunk to make room for Christmas sale items, but I did manage to find a copy of a book from my “Want to Read” list to add to my collection.

So, I ended up buying The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. I hadn’t heard of this book until this year, but the synopsis sounded interesting to me. It’s been marked as “Want to Read” in my Goodreads list since April. If I hadn’t seen this one, I probably would’ve gotten Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi. I’ve heard a lot of good reviews about The Book Thief, and while it is a while off on my reading queue, I’m glad I was able to add it to the collection. Considering that this is right after All the Light We Cannot See, that means I’ll be reading two novels set during World War II back-to-back! As for The Fountainhead, I am only at around the halfway point of the novel, but I’m gonna try to read some more tonight right after posting this.

Anyway, I hope you all have had a happy, fun, and safe holiday season! We’re less than a week away from 2019: two months away from hopefully welcoming my second niece and three months away from both my 32nd birthday and the start of my third year writing this blog. I hope there are good things ahead in 2019 for all of us. Unless something major pops up between now and next Monday, I expect this to be my last post of 2018. And from me and my Bitmoji to all of you…

2018: The Snowless Knitter’s Year In Review

I know early December seems a little early to do a year in review post, but as the “review” part goes from January to November, I plan on ending this post with what’s been going on for me so far this month. I’m sure if anything comes up around Christmas and New Year’s, it will likely warrant a post of its own.

So, what’s been going on for me this year? I won’t bother to link to every single post I reference, as my archive on here is sorted by month and year anyway.

This is 2018: The Snowless Knitter’s Year In Review.

  • January: I rang in the new year with a finished project, the Unicorn Shawl (which was my first major crochet project in several years). I bought a copy of Hidden Figures and joined Goodreads. At this point, I have just a handful of friends on there, just about all of them people I’ve met through blogging or Ravelry, but it has been great for me to catalog and track my reading. I don’t really like reading on a deadline, so I decided not to do the Goodreads Reading Challenge, but I’ve done well enough reading at my own pace.
  • February: I entered a period of both blogger’s block and knitter’s block. I started a blanket, only to abandon it due to both lack of yarn and lack of passion. I ended the month with a day trip to South Florida to see a family friend. It took a bit of a toll on my mother because of the distance, but we did get a lovely picture of my mom and her friend out of it that is on the refrigerator, and my mom looks genuinely happy in it.
  • March: Our Keurig brewer went kaput, which resulted in my longest caffeine withdrawal in recent memory. We replaced it with a Ninja Coffee Bar (which itself has gotten temperamental, but nothing a vinegar solution can’t fix). I spent my birthday month trying to find things I loved about myself, and then celebrated my actual birthday with my biggest book haul of the year: Fahrenheit 451, A Farewell to Arms, Lord of the Flies, Catching Fire, and The Fountainhead. I closed out the month by observing my first blogiversary.
  • April: Not much of note.
  • May: My brother and my sister-in-law bought a house (and, if the math is right, christened it by conceiving a baby). I started “Rock Me on the Bias” and celebrated geekdom.
  • June: I paid tribute to one of the first female writers to inspire me (Anne Frank), extolled the virtues of air conditioning in Florida summer weather (you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone), and made my first real yarn run of the year. I also bought Looking for Alaska and All the Light We Cannot See, which I hope to finally begin reading in the early months of 2019.
  • July: I finished a shawl called “Close to You”, lost a game of yarn chicken on Rock Me on the Bias (but was quickly able to fix), and took an in-depth look at my love of The Golden Girls.
  • August: My blogger’s block struck again, I rediscovered my love of The Tribe (of which I am currently still rewatching the series from beginning to end, and about three-quarters of the way through Series 2), and slowly worked my way through A Fairwell to Arms.
  • September: I compared Ernest Hemingway to Marmite, dealt with our air conditioner breaking for the second time in three months, and publicly revealed my mom’s battle with Alzheimer’s.
  • October: I mused on solitude, talked a bit about a hurricane, made my first cheesecake (among other things), declares that “the future of literature is female”, and announced that my brother and sister-in-law were expecting another girl.
  • November: Talked about my experience at the voting booth and wrote a bit about Thanksgiving at my brother’s.

So, that brings us to December. So what’s been up with me this month?

Just a handful of things, really.

First of all, the knitting. I’ve gotten underway on a baby blanket that I am calling “The Bambina”, after my nickname for my unborn niece. As of this post, I have finished the bottom edge of the blanket and am on the last square of the right-hand edge. Once that square is finished, I hope to start filling in the rest of the blanket, one square at a time. The Bambina uses the same mitering technique I used for La vie en Rose et Violet, but this one is only using small mitered squares rather than a variety of shapes. I’ll also be working a border around it in soft white. I aim to have this done in time for me to be able to present it to my sister-in-law after she gives birth, hopefully right around when she’s due in late February.

I’ve also been making slow, but steady progress on my current book, The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand. I’ve just started Part II (of four) this week. The plot so far has jumped back and forth between the experiences of rival architects and former college roommates Howard Roark (the book’s protagonist and the titular “Fountainhead”, as in he is the source from which all the ideals the book is wanting to perpetuate flows) and Peter Keating. I am not going to spoil the book’s plot here, but there is a lot of stubbornness and a woman involved as well. I am only three chapters into Part II and the plot is starting to thicken. I plan on writing more here once I’ve finished reading it. I’ve set a loose goal of trying to finish it by the New Year, but I won’t be punishing myself if I don’t make it by then.

We’re on our second cold snap in the last couple of weeks, connected with a snow system that has primarily affected Virginia and the Carolinas. An old school friend of mine who now lives in South Carolina did share that she got snow at her house, but it seems like North Carolina has ended up getting the worst of it. The front passed through here yesterday after a bunch of rain came through, and it’s not supposed to get out of the 50s F today. We don’t have the heater on right now, but the room temperature has stayed steady enough. I haven’t gone outside much the last couple of days, but my Wonder Woman Wrap (which I have written about on here in the past) has made a wonderful cover for my arms and shoulders when I’ve had to step outside with the dog or to take out trash, especially when I haven’t wanted to pull on a sweater. I’m debating whether to wear it when I go grocery shopping tomorrow just to give that little bit of knitted nerdiness a little public display! All signs point to “yes”.

I hope to post again when Christmas comes around in a couple of weeks, or if some inspiration strikes me. I hope you all are having a happy, wonderful, and safe holiday season! Tonight marks the last night of Hanukkah 🕎, Christmas is two weeks from tomorrow, and New Year’s Day is exactly one week after that.

Stay warm, everybody!

End of the Year Book Tag

I saw this on Saucers and Sorcery and this tag was originally created by Ariel Bissett.

Anyways, enjoy.

Questions:

  1. Are there any books you started this year that you need to finish? The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand, which I have set a goal of trying to finish by the end of the year.
  2. Do you have an autumnal book to transition into the end of the year? No, I don’t really do seasonal reading.
  3. Is there a new release you’re still waiting for? No, I don’t pay a whole lot of attention to current authors and novels, although the next two books on my list are both from the 21st century, one of which won a Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. I’ve mainly been focusing on older books from my Book Bucket List.
  4. What are three books you want to read before the end of the year? Honestly, The Fountainhead is the only one, and I tend to read only one book at a time.
  5. Is there a book you think could still shock you and become your favourite book of the year? No, Catching Fire did a pretty good job of that for my 2018 reads.
  6. Have you already started making reading plans for 2019? I’ve decided I definitely want three books in my collection if I get Christmas money and have enough to buy books: Mockingjay, One Hundred Years of Solitude, and Slaughterhouse-Five. I’d also like to add Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison, and revisit both Animal Farm by George Orwell and Anthem by Ayn Rand (both of which we studied my freshman year of high school but I don’t really remember reading). We’ll see if I actually get the funds to do so. If not, I still have two physical books in my backlog and somewhere around 28-30 novels in my e-reader to go to (some of them public domain classic novels and others I bought with a gift card, several of them when they were marked way down in the Apple Books store).

If you liked this tag, feel free to copy and fill in your own responses.

Randomly on a Monday: 11.26.2018

Wow, it’s been almost three weeks since my last post! Time does go by fast these days, doesn’t it?

I haven’t had a whole lot of anything meaningful to write a post of substance lately, but a whole bunch of little things, so I figured, why not another Randomly post?

So, here’s how I’ve been recently:

  • We had Thanksgiving last Thursday; in past years, we wouldn’t really do much of anything because the relatives that did come over to our house when I was younger have gradually died off. Most years around Thanksgiving my dad’s employer gives away turkeys to its employees, but I usually ended up saving the turkey for Christmas (they store real nicely in the freezer). My dad didn’t bring home a turkey this year, and it didn’t bother me one bit. Perhaps this Christmas I’ll cook up what my grandmother loved to make for Christmas: lasagna.
  • The beauty of having in-laws, though, is that this year we actually got to go somewhere for Thanksgiving: to my brother and sister-in-law’s house on the other end of town! It was a small gathering: in addition to our hosts, their little girl, and me and my parents, we were also joined by my mother and father-in-law, my other sister-in-law (the sister of my brother’s wife), and my nephew. I still haven’t really learned all their names yet, so mother and father-in-law will be MIL and FIL, while A’s sister and her son will be known as B&B. J smoked his Thanksgiving turkey on his charcoal grill, which took about 7 hours to cook, but it was one of the most delicious turkeys I have ever eaten. The white meat on it was quite juicy and not dry at all (which always can happen when you oven roast it like I normally do). He has previously cooked whole chickens in this manner and they come out quite tender with a real nice flavor imparted by the charcoal. MIL ended up doing most of the cooking, with all sorts of side dishes like mashed potatoes, broccoli and cheese casserole, marshmallow yams (not really my favorite, so I skipped that one), stuffing, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, and a honey ham that was heated up in an electric roaster.
  • I did do a little bonding with the sisters-in-law as well, we ended up getting into an interesting conversation over true crime shows and making fun of Lifetime movies.
  • A is about 6 months along in her pregnancy 🤰🏻 right now and seems to be doing well. She is showing, but not heavily (she was the same way when she was pregnant with R.A.).
  • Speaking of the baby (who I will be referring to as “The Bambina” until she’s born), I have plans to knit her a baby blanket, and I’m hoping to get the yarn for it as soon as tomorrow. (I plan on asking my dad to take me to the local Walmart Supercenter instead of the Neighborhood Market when I go to get groceries this week, and I should have enough money on hand to cover the cost of the yarn.) The design I have in mind for The Bambina is a checkerboard blanket in two different shades of pink, with a small border around the edges in a third shade of pink. I’ve already done some test knitting to figure out the size of the squares.
  • We are about to have our first major cold snap of the season this week, with a cold front connected to a winter storm working its way across the Northeastern United States due to pass through here within the next couple of days. We won’t get much in the way of precipitation, but temperatures here will plunge into the upper 30s and low 40s overnight and we’ll have a few days where the high will not break 65 (which is downright chilly 🥶 for our warm blood here). It will definitely be “sweater weather” here for the next few days.

So, that’s what’s been going on with me lately.

I close this post with the song that always comes to mind when I think of cold snaps, “Sweater Weather” by The Neighbourhood.

The Nerd Super Bowl

Today is the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November: Election Day. It is something normally observed (unless you live in a state with off-cycle elections for certain offices) every two years. This year marks a set of elections between presidential elections, or what is colloquially known as the “midterms”. On the federal level, both houses of Congress face election — the entirety of the House of Representatives (which is up for election every two years) and about one-third of the Senate (each Senator serves a six year term and each seat is up for election every six years, but only one-third of the seats are up for election in a given election; for example, Florida’s Senate seats were up for election in 2016 and this year, but will not have a seat up for election during the next presidential election in 2020). On the state and local levels, a bunch of legislative and municipal seats are up for election as well as governorships, including in my home state of Florida. Both of the major party candidates for governor here are in their late 30s, by far the youngest candidates we’ve seen for governor in a long time. The Republican candidate served in the Navy before getting elected to Congress, while the Democratic candidate was the mayor of our state’s capital, Tallahassee, and could become Florida’s first-ever African-American Governor if he’s elected. Elsewhere, a transgender woman is running for Governor of Vermont, a Native American woman is running for Governor of Idaho, and a woman in Georgia could become the country’s first African-American female governor (although the governor’s race in Georgia has become quite contentious).

My Election Day started with a trip to the Florida DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles), where I finally took care of something that needed to be taken care of for a long time: I finally obtained a new, valid ID card. I got it primarily so I could go and vote without any hassles, but…I could also use it to buy some alcohol if I wanted to (and I’m actually tempted to get some Chardonnay the next time I go to the store…or some hard cider)…or get into bars…but I’ve finally gotten that taken care of. The DMV office I went to was relatively empty (despite the DMV’s reputation for long lines and bureaucratic stuff). This was mostly because we went to an office that wasn’t in the county seat, which is guaranteed to be one of the busiest. Thankfully, I got all my required documents together and ready to go. I was even prepared to tackle a bit more of The Fountainhead while waiting, but the whole thing only took me about 30 minutes from the time I went in to the time I walked out with my ID card.

Next, my dad had to get more cigarettes 🚬, and then we swung by the McDonald’s drive-thru to get some lunch before we went over to our polling place. (My dad had already cast his ballot this morning before coming home, and my mom was never a voter, even when she was mentally competent…she didn’t care much for politics.) It took about another 20 minutes for me to sign in and fill out and turn in my ballot. There were 12 different state constitutional amendments to vote on, which took the longest part (although I had already filled out my sample ballot as a guide after researching and analyzing what all the legalese in the amendments meant), and I decided to look over my ballot one more time before turning it in, just to make sure I filled in my choices for the partisan races properly and that I was sure that my choices for each amendment were the ones I intended. The nonpartisan races were kinda pick and choose unless I knew who the candidate was. These were mostly county races.

So, who did I vote for? I’m not telling. Some of my friends and acquaintances know how I lean, but this is meant to be an apolitical blog that is welcoming to everyone, no matter which way they lean. I will say I am confident in my choices on who I voted for and that I have no regrets.

Tonight, I’m gonna watch the returns come in and play some armchair pundit with a friend or two over messenger. Watching all these numbers come in results in a data-palooza that I like to call the “Nerd Super Bowl”. No matter how the results turn out, this is a historical day, as is any General Election Day here in the United States. I hope those of you who were eligible to went out and voted! Every vote matters!

Now, as I await the start of the Nerd Super Bowl 🏟 (which kicks off in earnest around 8:00 pm Eastern time), I’m gonna relax and drink some well-deserved coffee ☕️ and reflect on how I actually got done what I wanted done for once. That I actually put on my grown-ass woman pants and did some adulting today.

So, I’ve Got Something to Confess…

I’ve been holding on some information for the last few months that I didn’t feel ready to share publicly until the people involved were.

You see, it’s a family thing.

Now, I could make a whole big philosophical essay about the seasons of life, and muse about sappy stuff, but I’ve decided today is not one of those days.

I had to wait until the person involved made it Facebook official, and a few days ago she finally did.

Ready to hear my news?

Okay.

This upcoming February, I will be becoming an aunt for the second time. My brother and my sister-in-law are expecting their second child! They’re having another girl, and while I will not be publicly sharing the name on here, I can reveal that her first and middle initials will be R. M. (my first niece’s initials are R. A., by the way). And my sister-in-law made it Facebook official by posting a picture of the ultrasound on her page.

My sister-in-law’s birthday is on Valentine’s Day, but her due date is towards the end of February, so unless the bambina arrives early, they likely won’t be sharing a birthday.

I’m keeping my fingers crossed that this pregnancy goes smoothly and the bambina makes a safe arrival!