Happy Halloween!

Today is my favorite day of the year, besides my birthday.  I’ve always loved dressing up in costumes and eating candy 🍭🍬🍭🍬…and just the entire atmosphere that comes with Halloween has always made it a fun day for me.  I think back on various Halloweens throughout the years, and I remember the times that my brother and I would go trick-or-treating (the year where I was a princess and he got to be Superman comes to mind), the times where I’ve handed out candy, and I even think back to the year that I went trick-or-treating with my best friend, me as a beatnik and her as Ash from the Evil Dead series (played by the legendary Bruce Campbell).

This year, I’ll get to see my niece in a Halloween costume for the first time (she was almost 5 months old at this time last year, and she and her parents did not stop by for us last year…but my SIL has promised us that she will be making a visit today).  I have no clue what costume she will be wearing, but I know it shall be adorable, whatever it is.  We have our candy for her (plenty of chocolate so she can get extra messy while eating it…my dad said that was his “…duty as a grandpa…”), and I am fully prepared to take pics of her in her costume for my own collection.

Knitting and crochet-wise, the Wonder Woman Wrap is going well, and I finished the second-to-last section this morning.  All I have left is the Upper Border, the bind-off, and the weaving in of ends (of which there are a lot).  I hope next time I will be able to share some pictures of a finished wrap.

I also have a crocheted shawl in progress.  I got a cake of Lion Brand Mandala (which is a light worsted, gradient self-striping acrylic yarn), and the colorway is called…Unicorn 🦄!  I got a size H ergonomic hook for it, which doesn’t dig into my hand as much as a standard one, and so far I like how it’s turning out.  The pattern I’m using is called “Virus” by Julia Marquardt, and is a free pattern.  It is the first time I’ve crocheted directly from a charted pattern, and once I was able to examine the chart piece by piece, I started to get the hang of the pattern.  After the setup rows, it’s a four row repeat, with one more section added to each side of the shawl in each repeat.  I figure I should have the rows memorized within the next couple of repeats.  Here are some pictures of this one, that I’m calling the “Unicorn Shawl” in my Ravelry projects.

A cake of Lion Brand Mandala…I’m already into the next color!
Yarn and shawl together.

It’s only just gotten into the next color in the cake, a brief run of purple before it goes into pink.

I hope you all have a wonderful Halloween, if you choose to observe it, and please have as safe of a Halloween possible!  I hope to have pictures of a finished Wonder Woman Wrap next time I write.

Until later, everybody!

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They Did.  (Or, I Have In-Laws Now!)

If you’ve been reading this blog for the last few months, then you’ll remember that in Some Knitting and an Announcement I mentioned that my brother had gotten engaged.  Well, their engagement was a relatively short one, and they had their wedding day over the weekend.  This past Saturday, to be exact.  They had set the date about a month after their engagement, and they set the place for their wedding at a favorite local restaurant, a mom-and-pop barbecue joint which is a favorite in our family for its smoked pulled pork, their smoked beef brisket, their barbecued pork ribs, and (I must say) some amazing prime rib (I don’t eat steak or the like all that often, so it’s a treat when I do).

So, here is my experience of their wedding day, as captured though my trusty iPad.  Note that out of a want to protect the privacy of my family members, their faces will not be shown in detail in the photos.  I will also not be using their full names, but I will use their initials instead.  My brother (the groom) will be referred to as “J.”, my sister-in-law (the bride) will be “A.”, and their daughter (my niece) is “R.”.

The day before the wedding, I finally was able to get some new clothes to wear (not an easy task for a plus size woman like me), and I ended up settling on a pair of houndstooth print pants and a long-sleeved purple cotton/polyester v-neck top.  I had previously gotten some neutral eyeshadow to round out my makeup kit (although it is still not complete, even now; it still needs some eyeliner, some evening eyeshadow, some darker lip color, and possibly some mascara).  I figured with the atmosphere of the venue, super-formal attire was not required.  Heck, my dad wore overalls over a plaid button-up shirt!  And I was right.  Even my own brother didn’t wear a suit!  I’m pretty sure their pastor did, though.  We were asked to be there for a 4 pm ceremony; we got there at about 3:30.  While waiting for the ceremony to begin, I took a selfie (my brother was getting pre-wedding pictures taken all over the place…I won’t be able to show it here, but in one of the pro pictures taken of my brother and his daughter, my dad can be seen photobombing in the background, but it wasn’t on purpose).

Pre-ceremony selfie with okay-ish makeup job.

The ceremony took place outside the restaurant building, which has a barn-like façade (J. & A. are country music fans and J. especially is a bit of a redneck).  My brother built the arch that they were married under, and they also put together their own sign and a fence backdrop where guests could take some polaroids with fun props, and each pic was pinned with a clothespin to some wires spanning a picture frame that serves as a keepsake for the bride and groom.  I managed to get a panorama of of the ceremony area before the wedding.

A panorama shot of the ceremony area.

And I also got a couple of shots of the reception area.

The bride and groom’s reception table.
The reception area.

Of course, events like this never start on time, and this was no different.  The ceremony itself started at around 4:30, and it was a relatively simple ceremony compared to other weddings.  There were no bridesmaids or groomsmen (mainly because they were on a tight budget, but likely also to avoid any unnecessary drama or stress that comes with such positions).  They instead opted for a ring bearer (A.’s nephew, if I remember correctly) and a flower girl (their little girl R.).  My brother wore a simple black button-up shirt, dark blue jeans, a belt, and cowboy boots, and the ring bearer wore a similar outfit.  A. wore a white, one-shoulder gown with lace detail and a champagne-colored sash and…cowboy boots.  R. wore a white gown with her own little cowboy boots.  You can tell they like their country style.  The officiant was a pastor (I never asked about the denomination, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he was Southern Baptist, as this seems to be a common denomination here, and my brother and I both attended Baptist churches in the past), who wore a white beard similar to Abraham Lincoln’s, neatly trimmed with no mustache. This was an unusual wedding (only the fourth I’ve ever attended, the other three being for family friends) in that no vows were recited (rather, the pastor outlined the meaning of marriage and the bride and groom simply confirmed their agreement to the terms with an “I do”) and that no words were recited during the exchange of rings (again, the pastor outlined their symbolism).  Within a matter of ten minutes after her father had given A. away, J. & A. were pronounced husband and wife and sealed it with a kiss.  Here is the ceremony in a few pictures:


(That’s R. in the little wagon, by the way.  She can walk, but doesn’t quite have the stamina to stand still just yet.  She’s getting there, though!  And the key to getting a perfect kiss pic?  Photo burst!)

After the ceremony, everyone filed into the reception area and after some time for the bride and groom and their families to get their pictures taken, it was time for the reception dinner to begin.  It was buffet-style, with coleslaw, rolls, macaroni and cheese, French fries, baked beans, and barbecued chicken, pork, and beef brisket.  I had coleslaw, a roll, some mac and cheese, baked beans, and beef brisket (which I topped with a little of the house sweet sauce).  The bride and groom got champagne and beer, and all the adult guests of drinking age got two tickets to redeem for drinks at the bar.  I used both of my tickets on a couple of bottles of Miller Lite, and I think I may have been the only one at the entire reception drinking Miller!  Hey…I can’t help it if I’m a Miller girl (which is kind of a big deal, because most people here in the South prefer to drink Budweiser).

A nice, cold bottle of Miller Lite, with some of my mom’s plate in the background.
Beer selfie! Why not?

The reception went past sunset.  There was lots of music, laughter, and general hubbub.  Unfortunately, I cannot upload video directly here, but I did manage to catch some video of the kids at the wedding dancing to “Play That Funky Music” by Wild Cherry, a song that was about 8 times older than they were, with reckless abandon.  It was cute.  The bride and groom danced to “Love of My Life” by the country singer Sammy Kershaw, and then they cut the cake.


Unfortunately, we were a week too early for the first major cool down of the season (we have another cold front coming through this week, which will see several nights of temperatures in the 50s Fahrenheit, sweater weather for us Floridians), and we were getting warm and tired, so my parents and I left the reception at around 7:30, but not before we got Polaroids taken…and we got about three or four of them (a couple of them candids).  

J., A., and R. are now in the Carolinas for a family honeymoon.

I don’t know if marriage is in the cards for me, but I am so glad that I got to share in my brother’s special day.  Sure, I think about what I would want in a hypothetical wedding, but then I remember that I shouldn’t count my chickens before they hatch.  Soon, things will get back to normal, only now…I have in-laws.

I close this post with the two songs I mentioned here: “Love of My Life” by Sammy Kershaw and “Play That Funky Music” by Wild Cherry.

Until next time…

The First Signs of Fall, a Work in Progress, and Remembering

The calendar reads October, and although the autumnal equinox happened nearly a month ago, it hasn’t felt much like it here.  Save for a few drier days with highs in the low and mid 80s F following Hurricane Irma, the heat that has defined the Florida summer has stuck around all the way into our Tenth Month.  Some of the leaves are only now starting to get the signal, and the weather has started to dry up.  Autumn doesn’t come in an instant in Florida…it’s a transition.  And the biggest sign of that transition will be coming shortly.

Later this week, we will have our first cold front approaching the area.  Albeit, this will be a weak cold front, but it will pack the first punch that will finally knock the summer heat out of the atmosphere over Florida.  We may be seeing some of our last 90s F for the year.  (I use the Fahrenheit abbreviation because I do have some followers that live in metric countries that use the Celsius scale, so the Fahrenheit abbreviation is there to avoid confusion.)  After rain associated with the front clears out, the daytime temperatures should go down to the low 80s F, and nighttime temperatures will remain comfortably in the low 70s F.  There could possibly be another cold front approaching next week and knocking our overnight lows into the upper 60s F, which is close to sweater weather here.  Even though I was born and raised here, I’ve never been a fan of the heat and humidity that comes with the Florida summers…but the autumns and winters here make it worth staying here.

Now, you know by now I am never not knitting, and the sign of a true knitter is that one almost always has something on the needles!  This one is no different.  I started working on the Wonder Woman Wrap about a week or so ago.  I initially cast on in Red Heart’s With Love in Peacock, but I knew there wouldn’t be enough there to finish the project.  So when I went to the store, I was hoping to find another skein of it.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to.  So, I decided to start again, this time in a different color, and I decided to pick out Red Heart’s Super Saver in Burgundy, which I figured would pair well with the Soft White I already had in the stash (which I decided to use because I am not a huge fan of yellow).  I should let you know that the resemblance to Santa’s outfit 🎅🏻 is not intentional.

Up to this writing, I am almost finished with the Lower W portion of the Wrap, with about 4 rows left to go before I begin the first of the two Side Stripes.  I don’t have any circular needles longer than 29 inches, so the stitches are completely bunched up, but you can get an idea of the size of the wrap.

Casting on…
First stages of the Lower W
Showing off my work while preparing to Stitch & Pitch (knit and watch baseball)
Halfway through the Lower W section
Four rows left in this section, right in the middle of the Lower W. Note the short row triangle worked below it in Burgundy.

And now the Remembering: I realize I’m a bit slow to this, but two weeks ago, we had one of the darkest days in recent history.  That Monday morning, I awoke to the news that the deadliest mass shooting in American history had taken place, surpassing even the death toll at Pulse just a year ago.  Nearly 60 people were killed and about another 500 were wounded.  My heart breaks for those victims and their families, even two weeks later.  And then later that day came the news that one of Florida’s most legendary musicians, and a man whose song I had just featured on this very blog two days before, had died.  I am, of course, referring to Tom Petty.  Petty was a musician who I think just about all of Florida would be proud to claim as their own, despite the fact that he spent most of his career in California.  Despite that, Petty always kept some sort of connection to his Southern roots in his music, be it in twangy guitar riffs, maintaining a drawl in his singing voice, or his band incorporating thumping drums or swampy, melodic harmonicas into their songs.  His partnership with The Heartbreakers was one that seemed poised to stand the test of time, and his collaborations with his fellow Traveling Wilburys were the things of legends.  Tom was taken from us suddenly and way too early, and two weeks later my heart 💔 still breaks for him and for his Heartbreakers who have lost their dear leader.

I leave you with one of my favorite songs of his, “You Don’t Know How It Feels”.

I hope to be able to share with you all about my brother’s wedding soon, as it will be taking place this weekend.  Next time I write, I shall have legally gained my first-ever set of in-laws.

My Love Affair with Books

I’d initially started drafting a post with some philosophical drivel-dravel about conformity and all that stuff, but at times it felt like I was either being unoriginal or incoherent with the message I wanted to get across.  So I decided to trash it after remembering a conversation we were having last weekend.  Let me set up the scene for you.

As of this writing, my brother and his fianceé are a little over two weeks from their wedding day 👰🏻🤵🏻.  Last Saturday marked three weeks out from their wedding day.  My brother was home from work that day, and well…his fianceé (almost my sister-in-law by this point) had decided to have a beer…or few 🍻.  Well, she’s not mean at all when she drinks, but she does get quite…sociable.  She wanted someone to talk to, and the three of us (Mom, Dad, and I) all decided to come over and hang out with them and the baby…and getting to see her is always a bonus.  Well, during our evening there, we got into several discussions, including one about how smart my sister-in-law thought my family was, and she referred to me as a “f⁉️⁉️ing genius” on multiple occasions, wondering why I never finished my degree (she’s currently taking online courses towards an associate’s degree in the hopes she’ll be able to get a degree or certificate later on that will allow her to work in insurance, but was a medical assistant before she gave birth to my niece and is currently a stay-at-home mom).  For the record, I dropped out because of financial and transportation issues; I know I will need to have a discussion with my dad about finishing my associates degree eventually (and I’ve done some research recently, and one of the local universities does offer a bachelors degree in my desired major — and I do have one in mind now — that can be obtained online if I need to), but it’s a conversation I have not quite felt comfortable having up to this point.  Anyways, during this conversation, my dad revealed something that I don’t even remember knowing or learning: apparently, I have known how to read on my own since I was at least 4 years old.

I have had my nose in a book for as long as I can remember…in some senses, I’m probably a real-life Matilda, of course referring to Roald Dahl’s literary heroine who could read from a young age and move things with the power of her mind (well, unfortunately I’m not telekinetic 😬).  My first exposure to chapter books came in third grade, when I was introduced to the novels of Beverly Cleary by studying one of them in our class: Ramona Quimby, Age 8.  In the years that followed, I would not only read some of Ms. Cleary’s other novels (Henry and Ribsy, Beezus and Ramona), but I also discovered Ann M. Martin’s The Baby-Sitters Club series, Cynthia Voigt and her Tillerman cycle books, and as previously mentioned in a prior post, Anne Frank’s Diary of a Young Girl.  I remember reading the articles in our Reader’s Digest magazines religiously.  My mom had a small collection of classic novels that she bought through Reader’s Digest years ago, although I never could manage to finish most of them: Pride and Prejudice, A Tale of Two Cities, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, The Red Badge of Courage, Wuthering Heights, and The Scarlet Letter.  When I was about 12 years old, I discovered the Harry Potter series after getting intrigued by reading portions of the first book over a friend’s shoulder…I do not regret doing that, by the way.  It was one heck of a series.

High school, though…I will admit that high school did turn me off from reading books for enjoyment for a while.  I know English teachers have a job to do, and I understand that…but when reading became a chore, something I had to do, it took the enjoyment for reading away from me for a while, and it took years for me to find that enjoyment again.  I had to look for meanings, themes, and symbolism that was not very obvious to me, and I had to try and remember each and every single plot point, lest my teacher asks about it on a quiz or test 😫.  Needless to say, English was not my favorite class or my best subject in high school.  Sure, I’d read during those years after high school, but it was oftentimes news articles on the web or someone’s Wikipedia entry.  I think the only novel I remember reading during that time was The da Vinci Code.  Hell, everyone was reading The da Vinci Code during that time! It took a second look at those books I had so often ignored (for the most part) in high school and a moneymaking opportunity in order for me to rediscover my love for books.

A few years after I dropped out of college, I remembered the collection of books we had bought for my high school English classes, but had largely set aside.  Two of them in particular, The Awakening and The Great Gatsby, caught my attention and were actually enjoyable once I read those books with fresh eyes.  Then, about three years ago, my neighbor offered to have me babysit his daughter, who was 10 at the time, extremely outgoing, and full of energy.  Our personalities clashed quite a bit over the couple of summers that I sat for her, but the money I earned, though not a whole lot, was enough for me to add some more books to my collection: The Iliad and The Odyssey, The Divine Comedy by Dante, The Catcher in the Rye, and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.  During some grocery shopping trips, I was also able to get The Casual Vacancy, The Hunger Games, To Kill a Mockingbird, and the two sequels to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo that were authored by Stieg Larsson himself (two more sequels were written after Larsson’s death, both authored by David Lagercrantz).  The Millennium trilogy (named after the magazine that male lead Mikael Blomqvist runs in the novels) marked the first time that I actually enjoyed reading crime novels.  The Hunger Games, I managed to finish in a week…but I have yet to find its two sequels, Catching Fire and Mockingjay.  Then…another reading lull.  Although recently, that has started to ease.

So, the iPad I was gifted with a few weeks ago?  It comes with an ebooks app, iBooks.  Now, I am in no position at this time to afford ebooks, or at least the ones you have to buy.  However, the iBooks store does have a selection of books available for free, many of them older books that have already gone into the public domain.  (A lot of these books can also be found on a website called Project Gutenberg, which has compiled all sorts of public domain books, including many classics you may be familiar with, into digital editions both available for download and viewable in HTML.  For me, iBooks was a better option as I didn’t have to download an extra app to download the file and then put it into the reader…the app has both the store and an e-reader where I can read the books I’ve downloaded.).  Using this app, I’ve been able to find public domain versions of several classics and there are about 6 or 7 books already queued up in the bookshelf, almost all of them I’ve been wanting to read for some time: Moby Dick, War and Peace, Anna Karenina, The Jungle, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, and Les Misérables.  But the very first one I found is the one I’m currently reading whenever I have some downtime to myself: Ulysses by James Joyce.  I’m not very far into it yet, but I consider myself to be in for the long haul.  I hope these books will hold me over, reading-wise, for quite a while.  

I feel like I’m finally rediscovering what I lost all those years ago.  I don’t think I’m alone in this either.  I’m sure a lot of you lost a little bit of your love for books, too, when your teachers made you study them.  My love affair with books has been hot and cold over the years, but I feel like I’ve reunited with an old flame and that reading and I haven’t missed a beat.  I hope this is something that will continue with me for as long as humanly possible.

So, do you all have the same love for reading that I do?  Has it been a lifelong thing or have you had on and off periods like me?  What kind of books do you like to read, who’s your favorite author (or authors…it can be more than one if you want), and what’s at the top of your reading list?  Don’t be afraid to talk about your favorite books in the comments!