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…

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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!

The Irma Saga, Part II: The Waiting is the Hardest Part

After this particular part of the story, I could not get that Tom Petty song out of my head.  Which is why I referenced it in the title.

At this point, I should warn you that I don’t have a very linear narrative here…I will jump back and forth in time at points…just bear with me.

One of the biggest things we went through in the aftermath of Irma was one that a good portion of the state of Florida went through: being without power.  After going almost the entire storm without losing power (save for a few flickers throughout the day and evening), Irma finally knocked out our power on her way out of my hometown, at about 6:00 Monday morning, on September 11.  Yes, this is obviously a date of significance here, and because of Irma, this was actually the first time since that tragic morning in 2001 that the memory of those events didn’t really cross my mind (and having watched those attacks play out on live TV, the memories of those images are still ingrained in my mind all these years later…I can still replay those moments and memories in my head, which is why I haven’t felt much of a need to rewatch footage of those attacks).  We were just focused on trying to clean up and get our post-hurricane plans in motion.

Dad set up our generator on our back porch area, and it was this generator that would become our sole power source for the next 5 days.  We got this generator more than a decade ago after the nightmare that was the Triumvirate of Hurricanes in 2004, an experience which I discussed in detail in my last entry, The Irma Saga, Part I: Possibly the Longest Weekend of My Life So Far. Since we’ve gotten this generator, Irma has marked only the second time we have had to use it (the first time was after Hurricane Matthew, which knocked out our power for about 36 hours last year).  Out came the extension cords and power strips, and with a few configurations, we were able to use it to power the following: our refrigerator, the window unit air conditioner in the master bedroom (which my dad normally uses to keep himself from sweating profusely when he sleeps, a condition I myself seem to have inherited), a shop fan (which produces a fantastic cooling current, I must say), a pedestal fan, the living room TV and its associated devices, and an auto shop light that would serve as both a bathroom and kitchen light and a spare outlet for our coffee brewer or our microwave.

Now, about 6 million customers lost power because of Irma, and with household estimates taken into account, somewhere around 15 million people were without power.  That amounts to about three-quarters of the entire state that lost power during Irma.  Crews from all over the country came in to give our own linemen extra sets of hands to try and get the state back online as soon as possible.  We knew we were gonna have to be patient.  Sometimes our patience was tested, and that’s partly due to how my neighborhood was built.

My neighborhood is unusual in that not all of the houses on my street are on the same power grid.  The houses on my street were not all built at the same time.  My street is a short little street that runs from north to south in a straight line, with about 10 houses lining the western side of the street, and my house is the only one on the eastern side, just a little over halfway down if you go from north to south.  The north and south ends intersect with one street each, with the street on the northern end taking a path straight to the local US highway, and the one on the southern end connects with another street that also takes a path straight to the same highway.  Right next to my house is another intersection with another small street that ends in a cul-de-sac next to some woods, through which a trail runs that connects the end of that street with the corner of another nearby one.  Now, the houses on the southern end of the street, all the way up to my house, were built first, and they share a power grid with the houses that are on the street that intersect with the southern end of my street.  Our neighbor’s house, just across the street and one house to the right from my house’s vantage point, is one of the first houses on a separate power grid, which includes the little side street that intersects near my house and the street that intersects with the northern end of my street.

What all this means is that we didn’t all lose our power the same way.  My neighbor that I mentioned?  His loss of power was likely caused by either a blown transformer or a downed tree at the northern end of our street.  Since we’re on a different grid, that had no effect on our power.  However…the street that the wooded trail connects to?  A large oak tree managed to fall on that street, which is what knocked out our power.  This was gonna take much more than 36 hours to fix.

During this whole thing, I did not leave my street, so my dad’s updates from his drive home from work were my updates to the outside when it came to what was happening in my hometown.  He had Sunday off because of the storm, but was due to return Monday night.  However, I was so uneasy about how to run things that my dad decided to take Monday night off and return Tuesday.  Monday night I slept in my bed, while parents and the dog all slept in the master bedroom.  They got the air conditioner, set to a very cool 60 degrees, and I got the shop fan set up on my floor, all with the generator refueled and running through the night to power them.  The shop fan actually did help to relieve some of my sweating…much better than the very sweaty nights I would experience during a typical powerless night.  Tuesday, we were able to come up with a routine where my dad would refuel the generator before going to work, which would allow us to run the window unit while he was gone until about 7 or 8 in the morning, when it would run out of fuel.  (Not a long wait, as he typically gets home around 9:00 am.).  Tuesday  and Wednesday nights, I slept in the master bedroom and was able to keep my mom company, as she typically has night panics these days and doesn’t like to sleep alone.  (These nights, though, I wouldn’t go to bed until at least 11:00 pm so I could make sure our DVR programming recorded on time.)  The cool air helped me sleep with minimal to no sweating.  Thursday was my dad’s first night off from in his regular schedule, but I ended up sitting out in the living room to keep an eye on our back door, which had to be cracked open to allow the extension cords to run in from outside.  I tend to get very cautious when this happens, because I prefer all the doors to be locked at night.  I ended up trying to watch Frasier reruns until my dad woke me up at 4:00 am (he typically doesn’t sleep as much on his off nights because his internal clock is so used to him being active at night), so I got a few extra hours of sleep in the cold master bedroom.

How did we eat that week?  Well, with the power out, we had no use of our stove, which meant we couldn’t cook anything or even brew iced/sweet tea (which is my dad’s favorite thing to drink: he takes it barely sweetened, only about 1/3 cup of sugar per gallon, and with 5 tea bags steeping in the water, as he likes his tea strong).  We ended up eating mostly sandwiches, fast food burgers, and pizza that week.  When our power came back on, I was so glad to finally be able to use the stove again after a week!

On Wednesday, our neighbor knocked on our door that afternoon to inform us that his power was back on and that the crews had finally begun the process of clearing out the tree that had knocked out our own power.  Unfortunately, our power did not come back on that night.  The following day, my dad had not noticed any crews working in that area that morning, but were in another part of the neighborhood.  That afternoon, after a drive around the neighborhood, he did notice something in that area, though: a power pole had been installed, but had no line hung up (though the supplies were at the site).  I immediately perked up, because I knew it was only a matter of time before our power would be back on.  Sure enough, the new transformer and power line were installed the next day, and our power finally came back on at about 10:45 Friday morning…we were into our fifth day without power.  After turning off our generator, winding up the extension cords, putting the power strips back into their proper places, and all three of us each getting a good shower 🚿, we were finally able to go back to our normal routines and put the memories of Irma behind us.

Tomorrow will mark just three weeks since Irma, and it’s already feeling like a distant memory.  But as Floridians like myself have been reminded time and time again, just because the memories are distant doesn’t give us permission to become complacent about just of what Mother Nature is capable.  We Floridians have learned this in the wake of Andrew; of Charley, Frances, and Jeanne; of Wilma; of Matthew; and of Irma.  Outside of Florida, we humans have learned this lesson through Katrina and Sandy and Mitch…and even most recently through Hurricanes Harvey and Maria.  I hope those of you who live in hurricane-prone regions take this to heart.  Heed any warnings that are given, and take them seriously.  Don’t think that you can outsmart a hurricane…because you can’t.  You will save yourself a world of trouble, or even your life.

Now, I shall close this post with a clip of the song I referenced in the title, “The Waiting” by Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, probably the most famous rock band to ever come out of the state of Florida (although Lynyrd Skynyrd is a close second).

Until next time…

The Irma Saga, Part I: Possibly the Longest Weekend of My Life So Far

First of all, I noticed several of my followers left comments while I was away showing concern for my safety while this whole thing was happening.  With that said, I want to thank them for their concern for my well-being during Irma, as I would certainly extend the same if anything as disastrous came near their homes.

As you can see, I did indeed get through the storm in one piece.  And now you all get to hear about my experience of living through Irma!

Before I get to the Irma Saga proper, it’s probably best if I fill you in on my history with hurricanes.  Of course, I am a lifelong resident of Florida, so for many of us here, tropical cyclones come with the territory of living here, and we are very acutely aware of the risk that they pose.  I was too young and too far north to remember Hurricane Andrew, and while my family evacuated in anticipation of Hurricane Floyd in 1999, that storm ended up staying out over the ocean.  My first real experience with a hurricane came about at a very active and transitional time for me: August, 2004.  My maternal grandmother, one of my closest relatives, had died of cancer just a month earlier.  Nine days after her death, my senior portrait was taken.  In the very beginning of August, I started my senior year of high school.  But it was barely a couple of weeks into that school year when Hurricane Charley set his sights on Punta Gorda, Florida, and the I-4 Corridor from there.  I remember having to hear the sounds of the storm the night it arrived.  I could hear the thud of a tree falling by the edge of the woods near our house.  Our power was knocked out, and would stay down for a week due to the electric company not getting the call to fix our power grid, for some reason.  We ended up missing about two weeks of school because of Charley, and just as we were settling back into a routine, another hurricane, Frances, also decided to set her sights on Florida.  I remember our air conditioner blowing out just before the storm took out our power.  But that wasn’t the kicker.  On top of that, a pine tree in our backyard slowly fell onto our house.  However, it fell slowly enough that the wind basically cradled it to our roof instead of smashing it through our walls.  We were able to run across the street to our neighbor’s house before the tree hit the roof.  It did leave a hole in our roof, which we were able to patch up.  I can still see in my mind where that tree was, too.  Three weeks later came Hurricane Jeanne, and by that point I was simply thinking, “Not again…”.  And although our power was eventually restored after each hurricane, they left an effect that would last long after the storms passed, most notably when all the rainfall compromised the ground enough to cause a sinkhole to open in the road right by my high school a month or two after the hurricanes, one that would take almost the rest of the entire school year to fix.  A large maple tree that has stood across the street from my house for as long as I can remember has been slowly dying since those storms.  I remember when it would be full of green leaves in the summer; now, the top half of the tree is dead and a shadow of its former self, but somehow its lower branches still produce leaves year after year.  Those three hurricanes (and some of the last gasps of Hurricane Ivan) taught me so much about how to approach future hurricanes.  We now have our own plans in place for when storms like this come around.  But just because I know what I’m dealing with now doesn’t make dealing with them any less easier.

Enter Irma.

When the forecast models became clear that Florida would be affected by this storm in some way, shape, or form, my nerves began to build, only getting stronger and stronger as the days to landfall grew closer.  By the time Irma started making her approach towards Florida, my nerves were at such a level that was only rivaled by the health scare that my dad had a year ago and had to spend the night in the hospital.  From its landfall in the Keys until the remnants of the eye wall passed right by and right through my hometown, I couldn’t keep my eyes off of the storm coverage.  For some people, watching all that may be stressful, but for me, knowing what to expect actually helps to ease some of my worries.  Irma’s fury was getting stronger and stronger by this point.

At the storm’s peak, I remember the sounds of howling wind, rain slapping the sides of my house, and the *bang* of an exploding transformer on a nearby street.  Somehow, we managed to maintain power (with the occasional flicker) throughout the worst of the storm…only to have a fallen oak tree on another nearby street take ours out at 6:00 Monday morning, setting off a saga of its own.  Our house, thankfully, suffered no structural damage.  The worst storm damage we got was a couple of fallen oak branches to our Chrysler (which seems to be purely cosmetic damage).  There were two small dents in the hood, and there was a huge dent in the left front fender.


You see where the reflection caves in, just above the tire?  That’s where the dent is, and it measures about the size of my hand.  Luckily, the car is currently not in driving condition, as it is awaiting a replacement alternator.  Our truck escaped any damage.  Even now, two weeks out, my street is still lined with piles of dead oak branches with their now-brown leaves 🍁, all blown off from the numerous oak trees that populate my neighborhood.  Of course, as the destruction in the Keys has shown, we could’ve had it so much worse.  My family and neighbors only had to clear away oak branches.  People in the Keys will have to rebuild everything because of Irma.
We also did not flood, by virtue of sitting on land that is 60 feet above sea level and, in addition to that, being high enough and distant enough from our nearest waterway, the St. Johns River, to avoid it at its flood stage.  As of this writing, two weeks after Irma, the St. Johns is still at flood stage and is under an indefinite Flood Advisory until the waters finally begin to recede.  We also have a pretty good storm drain system for being in a neighborhood that sits on unincorporated county land.  While this storm was a rainmaker and singlehandedly put a lot of major places in Central Florida back into a rainfall year-to-date surplus, in my area it was nowhere near 2008’s Tropical Storm Fay, which spent a week over Florida and made landfall four separate times.  It drenched the entire state of Florida and had periods of almost stationary movement similar to that of Hurricane Harvey just last month.  (Fay actually did give us some street flooding, but no house flooding; I live on a hill.).  However, places like Miami, Jacksonville, Shingle Creek (considered to be the headwaters of The Everglades), and even places relatively near to me like Sanford and Astor got some pretty nasty flooding.

Waiting for Irma was quite stressful.  Going through Irma’s wrath was a bit scary.  After Irma, I’m glad that I still have my life, health, family, and a roof still over my head.  There are many who were not so lucky.  I hope those who lost everything in this storm are able to rebuild their lives and are able to return to some sense of normalcy.  And these sentiments also go out to those who’ve lost everything because of Hurricane Harvey in Texas and Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico 🇵🇷 and other places around the Caribbean that were hit by both Irma and Maria.

Coming soon, I will be posting about the power outage we went through in the aftermath of Irma, which I felt deserved its own post.  It was an…interesting experience, to say the least.  Until then…best wishes to you all.

While I Was Away (Or, Ermahgerd…Finished Objects!)

In case the title didn’t give it away…La vie en rose et violet is finally complete!


I actually finished this baby on September 6th (and I know this because I wrote the date down in notes I was keeping for the blog in the event of a much longer hiatus).  She turned out to be a thing of beauty.  It took me almost 6 months to finish, but I love how it turned out.

Name: La vie en rose et violet / Pattern: My own, improvised pattern using the mitering technique / Yarn: Red Heart Super Saver in various colors: shades of pink, purple, Black, and Soft White / Needles: US #9 29-inch circular needles (5.25 mm diameter, and that is not a typo as these were Boye needles, whose #9 needles are manufactured slightly smaller than the industry standard diameter of 5.5 mm for this particular needle size)

My “knitting void” that resulted lasted all of about an hour.  Then inspiration struck me.  I noticed there were a couple of mostly full skeins of some shades of purple left over, and I got the idea (💡) to begin a garterlac throw, one that you could sling over the back of a chair.  And so I started to cast on.

Here is my current WIP, Orchid (named after one of the shades of purple Red Heart has, or specifically “Light Orchid”, which is the lighter shade here, which I would normally call “lavender”; the darker shade is officially called “Lavender” by Red Heart).

You’ll notice I have two different colors of circular needles in that picture.  This is because I am actually using two different styles of garter stitch in this project.  With the exception of the base triangles, all of the dark tiers of blocks are being worked in purl garter stitch (almost every stitch in every row is purled, and the tiers are joined in this set of blocks with a purl 2 together; I use this stitch because I am starting on the wrong side of the work when I work each block, as picking up the stitches for each block results in a right side and a wrong side), and for some reason I tend to purl somewhat looser than I knit (I have very uneven-looking flat stockinette for the same reason, and I have to use two different-sized needles when I work flat stockinette, with the purl rows being worked with the smaller needle).  In order to compensate for this, I am actually working those darker tiers with a smaller needle (a US #7 circular needle, which the lighter-colored needle in the picture) to keep the fabric from looking too loose.  The lighter tiers of blocks are being worked in standard knit garter stitch (every stitch in every row is knit, and the tiers are joined with ssk decreases: slip, slip, knit), which uses my standard needle for afghans, my US #9 circular needle, which is the darker, green needle in the picture.  I was in the process of slipping the stitches from the smaller needle to the larger one to begin the next tier, and decided to take the picture while the slipping stitches process was at the halfway point so it’s not all bunched up.  I hope to be able to share much more of this project as I go.

Finally, I decided to dip my toes back into crochet a little bit, and thanks to a YouTube video, I did my first little experiment in amigurumi.  It’s nothing too complicated…just a little ball.

I had no fiber-fill, so I used old yarn ends to stuff it instead.  See?  I actually do crochet!  Actually, Red Heart and Lion Brand have both recently released gradient self-striping yarns, and I’m tempted to crochet a shawl with either one of them at some point.  I’ve also found a couple of patterns that I’m tempted to knit in the near future, the Wonder Woman Wrap (I finally watched the movie with Gal Godot and my current celebrity crush Chris Pine during the hiatus, and it was awesome…probably the best movie adaptation of a DC comic since The Dark Knight), and a cowl pattern I found through Tumblr called the Pine Sway Cowl, although I probably wouldn’t make it in green.  I think either black and gray or charcoal gray and a soft white may be a better combo for my tastes.  Both of those patterns are available for free, by the way (I obviously can’t afford Ravelry’s paid patterns, so I am always on the lookout for quality and well-designed free patterns).

So that’s what I was up to with the yarn while I was away.  Obviously, there is an elephant 🐘 in the blog here, Hurricane Irma.  Honestly, Irma deserves her own posts, and yes…I did say posts.  The Irma Saga will be a two-parter.

Hope you enjoy the pics, and have a great day!

OMG…I’m back!

You read that right…I am back, you guys!  My dad surprised me with a new tablet this afternoon…okay, actually not just any tablet…but an iPad!  I absolutely love the clarity of the screen on this, and it is just gorgeous.  He even had my name and the message “A great daughter” printed on it.  It also came with a card saying “Thank you for all you do.  Love Mom and Dad.”  (Believe me, being a homemaker is not an easy job…it actually takes a lot of effort to keep a household running smoothly and to keep my mother happy, among many other things.). I thanked him many times over, even though I did not ask for it, or for anything.  My dad is just the kind to randomly surprise his loved ones like that.  (Side note, he’s even been known to do this for my soon-to-be sister in law.  It involved a leaf blower and a kiddie pool for my niece.).  It’s just beautiful, and I have a feeling this is gonna be the beginning of a beautiful partnership.  I even tested out the camera on it on my dog, and it is just a thing of beauty.


Of course, my dog is a thing of beauty as well.

I know you’re probably wondering what’s been going on since I had to leave so suddenly, and I hope to write about those in the coming days, but you can understand me wanting to reconnect to the interwebs after about a month away, right?  Here’s a teaser of what I will be writing about in the coming days:

  • Knitting (duh…and I’ve been doing a bit of it!)
  • Crocheting (my first crochet project in quite a while, even though it was a small, quick project.)
  • And since some of you did express your concerns in the comments, I will be writing about my experience living through Hurricane Irma.  As you can see by my post, I am doing fine and am safe and sound, as are my family and my brother and his family.  Anyone who lived through the Three Hurricanes of 2004 that hit Florida in a span of six weeks will understand my experience (and yes, I lived through Those Three Hurricanes as well).

For now…I’m gonna be fiddling around with this new thing!