I’m Dreaming of a Mild Christmas

Hello! I hope your holiday season, no matter what you celebrate, has been a good one. Here’s a little rundown of how my Christmas went.

We don’t really decorate around here anymore, so our halls aren’t decked and there are no jingle bells or Christmas trees. In fact, our Christmas tree has been in our attic since 2011 (the last time we set it up, at the request of my brother’s then-girlfriend; they split up the following summer…he didn’t start dating my sister-in-law, A., until around 2014). We have never used a natural Christmas tree, we always used an artificial one. I will admit, though, that I do miss the decorating and the shopping and the presents. My friends are so spread out now that I don’t even make presents for people anymore. I’ve kinda lost the drive for it at times. Perhaps this drive will come back in future years. But it is nice to see my neighbors’ houses aglow with lights and flanked by all sorts of decorations, both the inflatable and the non-inflatable. Since this is Florida, our Christmas was not a White Christmas as it was in many parts of the north and midwestern United States, but it was quite nice. In fact, it was mild. Not too hot, just a tiny bit cool because of a weak cold front that had passed through the night before.

My Christmas morning did not involve unwrapping presents placed under a tree. It was just another relatively normal morning. I had slept in just a little bit (by maybe an hour) and when I awoke, my dad’s Jeep (which he got a couple of months ago after trading in his pickup truck; he decided to trade the truck in so that he could get a vehicle that was easier for my mom to get into) was already in the driveway, and then I realized he was in the attic getting something he was planning to give to my niece, R.: a handmade rocking horse that he had made for me and my brother nearly 30 years ago. We had also gotten a couple of books for her a few weeks earlier (a book about animal sounds and one about Frosty the Snowman), which I wrapped just a day or two earlier. He then gave my mom and me both some spending money (which I will talk about a little bit more in just a bit).

About 9:30 that morning, we drove the 3 miles down the road to my brother’s house, and when we got there, we spent the next 15 minutes at their door, with my dad constantly texting them and ringing their doorbell with no answer. We left and returned home, where my dad proceeded to call and text them every 5 minutes…with no answer. So, we go back at 11:00 am, and my dad starts ringing their doorbell over and over again. About 2 minutes later, my brother (who has obviously just woken up) finally answers the door. Turns out he and my sister-in-law didn’t get home until 6:00 am Christmas morning because A. (my sister-in-law) had been in the emergency room getting treated for a thumb injury that she sustained from a falling lamp the night before. After my dad gave J. (my brother) a piece of his mind (just of consternation, he didn’t yell at him or make a scene), he presented J. with the gifts we had for R., and then he also gave J. some spending money of their own for both J. and A. After leaving J.’s place, we went driving around to see what was open (I knew we weren’t going to get groceries because just about every store is closed on Christmas morning). We eventually found a 7-Eleven, where my dad went in to get some milk, coffee creamer, and cigarettes for himself (Mom and I do not smoke). Then we drove around a little more and saw that the local Steak ‘n Shake was open, and that was our Christmas lunch: steak burgers, fries, and milkshakes. We came home and ate, and after that Dad went to bed to sleep in preparation for his work day that night (which is nice, though, because where he works they pay their employees extra on holidays that they work on, and that includes Christmas and New Year’s, among others). Mom and I then watched the final four episodes of I Love Lucy that I had recorded earlier in the year on the DVR (I was on a mission to watch the entire series) as well as some stuff on Netflix. That evening, after Dad went to work, I watched the Christmas episode of WWE’s Monday Night Raw (this year marked the first time ever that WWE aired a live episode of Raw on Christmas Day).

The day after (Boxing Day to those of you outside the United States; we normally don’t use the phrase “Boxing Day” here in the States for December 26th), we finally went grocery shopping (and was able to get the stuff I needed to make a very basic turkey dinner, which I plan on making on either Friday or Saturday at the latest), and later that day I watched the I Love Lucy and Doctor Who Christmas specials. I thought Peter Capaldi got a pretty nice send-off, and I can’t wait to see what’s in store for Jodie Whittaker as The Doctor. Looks like she’ll be without the Tardis for a little while! And as for the I Love Lucy Christmas special, each year that it’s been aired since 2013, it’s been paired with a colorized classic episode, and this one was the one where she was in the fashion show for designer Don Loper (where she gets a nasty sunburn just before walking in the Hollywood wives’ fashion show in exchange for a $500 dress that she told Ricky was $100).

Ah, yes…the spending money. I’m not going to give the exact amount here, but it is enough to get a decent amount of what I want to get if I budget it right. About all I really want to get to wear is a pair of boots to wear with my houndstooth print pants. But…there is also an independent bookstore near my hometown that I want to go to so I can buy some books to add to my collection. Don’t get me wrong…I like the iBooks e-reader I have on my iPad, but…there’s just something about having a book in my hands with pages to turn with the fingers of my left hand (yes, this is how I read: book goes in either my lap or my right hand, and I turn the pages with my left). This bookstore, which I have visited only once before (about 13 years ago when I had to purchase books to read for an AP English class), has quite the collection, selling new and used books. I’m bound to find some gems in that store if I look closely enough! Even if I get the boots, I should still be able to get a nice number of books that should interest me. Who knows what I’d find there, but there are a few on my wish list that I’d love to get:

  • Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
  • Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  • Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
  • The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
  • Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston (note: she was actually from a little town near Orlando called Eatonville, and the city hosts a festival in her honor every January called Zora!Fest; a lot of her works were set in Eatonville)
  • All the President’s Men by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein
  • Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson
  • A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking

Of course, a random gem of a book could pop up when I least expect it.

(As for what I am currently reading, I am still reading Ulysses. I am only about 100 pages into it, and I am at the portion of Bloom’s journey where he attends a funeral. It can be a bit plodding to read at times, but if I managed to finish Gone with the Wind, then Ulysses shouldn’t be too rough on me.)

I hope your holidays were more interesting than mine, but perhaps I’ll be able to share my loot of books with you at some point in the near future. Also: stay tuned for a finished project. The crocheted shawl I was working on is finished, and I hope to be able to showcase it for you in the coming days!

Advertisements

The Pot of Gold

I was inspired to write this after a post I made on Tumblr talking about the relationship between Rory Gilmore and Logan Huntzberger on Gilmore Girls. For those of you who don’t know the story, Gilmore Girls is about a single mother and her daughter, both named Lorelai (although the daughter goes by “Rory” to differentiate), and their lives and relationships as Rory grows into a young woman in a small Connecticut town called Stars Hollow (where Lorelai chose to raise Rory, away from her Connecticut blue blood parents in Hartford, but she slowly lets her parents back into her life after Rory is accepted into a prep school called Chilton and the girls agree to Friday night dinners with the grandparents in exchange for Rory’s tuition). In later seasons, Rory attends Yale University and dates a guy named Logan, who comes from the type of Connecticut blue blood family that Lorelai was trying to keep Rory from their influence. Here is what I wrote in response to a post where a fan admitted that they did not particularly care for Logan:

Maybe because he came from old money and despite Lorelai’s old money upbringing, she made the decision to raise Rory away from all that influence. And just about everything that Rory has achieved, she worked for it (even though yes, her grandparents got her into Chilton, her graduating as valedictorian was 100% Rory’s effort, as was her decision to go to Yale). When she and Logan got together, it was as though she was betraying her roots to be with him. He spoiled her, for sure. (Not to mention his dad was an ass to her, and his mom looked down on her.) I think Jess was actually better for her, once he found himself and got his act together. Sometimes searching for that pot of gold is better than actually having it.

Note that last sentence: “Sometimes searching for that pot of gold is better than actually having it.” It gets me thinking. When we aspire to greatness or success, is it better for us to achieve our goals or are we better off constantly searching for more? Are we better off in a state of perpetual aspiration or settling for what we have?

Think about it. We all have had dreams and aspirations that have seemed to be out of our reach: I want to be rich, I want to perform at Carnegie Hall, I want to own a successful business, I want to marry that person I’ve had my eye on since kindergarten, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. But of the people that have gotten lucky enough to achieve such things, why do we hear of people who’ve gotten the pot of gold and then squandered it (especially in the case of large-jackpot lottery winners), or married that person and then cheated with someone else, or became successful and then lost the drive to continue being successful?

I normally would not be one to quote German techno music, but here this makes sense. In the beginning of their song “How Much Is the Fish?” (hold your laughter, please), Scooter’s frontman H. P. Baxxter tells us that “The chase is better than the catch.” (And then proceeds to babble and rap before asking the title question, “How much is the fish?”) Now, sure, the song itself is a bit ridiculous, but I think H. P. Baxxter may have been on to something. The chase is better than the catch. Why is that? As the cliché goes, getting there is half the fun. Trying to pursue that dream, or woo that person, or making that money (if you’re doing it the hard way and working your butt off) is part of the adventure. We can’t reach our end goals without forging the path ahead first. This is what it means when you are following the rainbow 🌈.

But of course, the pot of gold at the end is only a myth, and many times our realities don’t quite turn out the way we fantasized about them when they were only dreams. Sure, some people who become rich are able to stay that way, but there are just as many tales of people who go back to rags through bad investments, frivolous spending, and irresponsible management of their money (either by themselves or others). Businesses go under all the time. Fame can be fleeting…how many ’80s stars still get airplay on Top 40 radio? How many of today’s pop stars will still get airplay 20 years from now? How many Hollywood stars are a scandal away from losing their entire reputation? And no matter whether or not you’re famous, marriages end all the time, even those between high school or childhood sweethearts, for all sorts of reasons. I’m not a nihilist by saying this…I’m just being realistic.

I think as long as we keep that drive and that fire 🔥 to want to be successful and happy alive, though, we can all come much closer to getting what we want out of life. So I say, keep chasing the pot of gold. When you find it, look for another. Getting there is most of the work anyway.

And to end this entry is the Scooter song I referenced, “How Much Is the Fish?” Yes, I realize the song itself is a bit ridiculous. That’s why Jimmy Fallon featured it on The Tonight Show’s “Do Not Play List” earlier this year.

https://youtu.be/cbB3iGRHtqA

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.

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.

On Being 30 and Single

Pardon me for the radio silence…I’ve been chugging away on my afghan (about 3/4 of the way finished now on the main portion and I just got the yarn in the border color a couple of days ago), but other than that I’ve been dealing with general blogger’s block.  That is, until yesterday.  Let’s see, I recently started emailing an old friend of mine from when I was attending college (I only attended for three semesters at a local community college before dropping out due to financial and transportation problems, and I still have aspirations to return someday to finish the associate’s degree I started; this friend and I attended the same high school, graduating a year apart, but we didn’t meet until college), and when I informed him of my brother’s wedding date, he responded with a somewhat cynical email about all of his friends’ marriages that he’d seen fall apart.  I kindly let him know how cynical he sounded, and his response and my reply ended up being quite reflective of something that I don’t think gets talked about a lot in a real, honest manner: the experience of being a single thirtysomething.  What follows is reflective of my experience, and my experience alone, of being single and in my thirties (granted, I am only four months into being in my thirties, but I am in my thirties).

I don’t have much of a dating history, just one date in high school to my senior prom, and that was 12 years ago.  I haven’t been on a date since, and while it bugged me quite a bit in my 20s, it doesn’t bug me so much anymore now in my 30s.  Sure, I get the occasional questions asking why I don’t have a boyfriend or (on rare occasions) the assumption that because I don’t have a boyfriend that I’m into girls (sorry, I have no interest in playing with other ladies’ fun parts), but otherwise, it doesn’t bother me and I don’t care if it bothers anyone else.  Other than that one date, I really have no other experience other than that of being perpetually single. It hasn’t been easy, but I tend to approach this with the mindset that I’d rather date few men of quality than a sizable quantity of men and hoping I strike gold.  Unfortunately for me, there aren’t a lot of quality men where I live.  Where I live, the ones that aren’t married are the type where I take one look at them and I know I could do better.  Most of the quality men where I live have usually had the sense to move away to pursue better opportunities than what’s necessarily available in small town and suburban Florida.  And what remains are men of simpler means and simpler needs, the kind that like to go four-wheeling, mudding, or fishing.  I have never been an outdoors type of person.  Not a lot of these men are into reading the kind of books I like to read, or would be willing to pay attention to my thinking out loud about my knitting or other creative endeavors, or share my ideas and opinions on things that matter to me.  Sometimes I think I was born in the wrong part of the country.  I’m the kind of girl who knows what she likes and knows what she needs in a potential boyfriend or husband: I need someone who challenges me mentally; who is a voice of encouragement in whatever I decide to do; and who will allow me to be my own ridiculous, opinionated, goofy, intuitive self without trying place his own expectations on me and holding me up to be something I can’t.  I’m, among other things, a terrible housekeeper, a pretty good cook, a somewhat masculine woman in personality (though I am not above wearing a dress or a shorter skirt when I want to feel feminine, which isn’t very often), and unashamed of my geekdom.  I know by this point I will never be a girly-girl, a supermodel/beauty queen, June Cleaver, or a trophy wife…but I hope I can still be a nice match for somebody.  I know at this point in my life, though, I am not settling for anything.  I deserve the best, and I’m okay with admitting it.

It seems like society often looks down on people my age who are still single.  And true, a lot of people in my age group are starting to marry and have families of their own.  And yet, no matter if it’s the government or a religious group, most social institutions seem to value people more if they’re married: married people get tax breaks, married people get to have children without being judged for having them out of wedlock, married people are more trustworthy because the single person might try to *gasp* sleep with your spouse!  Sometimes it feels like in the eyes of society, though I may not be worthless, because I am single I am literally worth less in social capital.  Now, all this may have been an issue in my twenties, but honestly, now that I’m in my thirties, I don’t care.

I think I’m happier now being single at 30 than I was being single at 20; part of it is just understanding myself a little better as a person and being able to own my flaws, and the other part is just the fact that there isn’t really any pressure for me to fit in anymore. In your twenties, you’re coming out of adolescence and trying to find your place in the world, and people place a lot of expectations on you; in your thirties, you’re more assured of yourself and feeling more confident in your own decisions and aspirations. I feel no personal pressure to date, I feel no pressure to marry, and I feel no pressure to have a child.  I’ve accepted the possibility that my life may not necessarily include a husband or children. I could be happier when it comes to things I want to do in life (career, education, traveling, et cetera), but where I am right now is where I’m needed.  I could be happier with how I feel about my looks, but then again, it’s all superficial anyway.  But I’m content with where my life is right now for the first time in a long time.  I’m not angry with the world.  I’m not angry at anyone.  And I’m not angry with where life has taken me.  I could be happy, but if content is all the universe wants to give me right now, then I’m okay with it.  At this point I am just along for the ride, and I hope I can get as much out of life as I can.  I wasted my twenties with fear, anger, and cynicism.  I hope I won’t do the same with my thirties.

I hope other single thirtysomethings out there can take some solace in my thoughts and know that their worth is not determined by their relationship or marital status.  And those that do have love in their lives, know that what you have is rare, special, and something that not everyone will get a chance to experience in this life.  Cherish it, treasure it, and don’t let small things get in the way of the bigger picture.  And to those out there perpetually single like me, don’t fret over it; take the opportunity to learn great things about yourselves, appreciate all of your strengths and own your flaws, and don’t be afraid to put yourself first.  Singlehood should no longer be a scarlet letter, a badge of shame.  Singlehood may be a part of my life, but it doesn’t define my life.  I’m a geek, a knitter, an aunt, a daughter, a sister, a friend, a blogger, and a smartass who just happens to be 30 and single.

Some Knitting & An Announcement

It’s been an interesting week, to say the least.

First, the knitting.  I’ve had quite a bit of knitting time this week because my dad decided to take the week off from work (he used one of his vacation weeks), so it hasn’t been so busy around here.  I was able to finish another motif of small squares that I was working on (15 squares in a diagonal orientation, going from 5 squares in the first row, to 4 squares in the second row, and so on, all the way down to one square.  The rows alternated between pink and purple.

And here’s how it’s looking so far.

First, the wide shot of the whole thing.

image

Now, it is folded up in a couple of places to make room for most of it to be seen on my bed, but the section I was just working on is in the lower left-hand portion of the photo.  As you can see, it has pretty much caught up with the 25-square checkerboard I finished last month.  In fact, that pink square at the very upper-left hand corner of the latest section (which you will see in more detail shortly) marks 10 small squares up that particular side.  I have reached a pretty big milestone: I have filled in a little over half of this afghan, which measures 18 small squares by 18 small squares.  When I resume work on this project, I will be working some more on the right-hand side of the afghan and starting to fill that in.  Considering I started this nearly four months ago with some leftover scrap yarn and decided to go with it, it’s not bad at all.  (Of course, we have had to purchase more yarn for this over the months, but I’ve only added a skein or two at a time.)

Here are some more detailed pics of the most recent section I was working on:

The first pic is a wide shot as it sits on the afghan, the second is more of a close-up, and the third is from the angle that I actually knitted them onto the piece.  I started with a row of five baby pink squares, then the next row of squares was variegated purple, then a row of variegated pink, then the solid gemstone purple, and capped it off with the strawberry pink square.

All right.  I made a reference to an “announcement” in the title of this post, and I will string you along no longer.

The announcement is:

There will be a wedding in the somewhat near future.  No, not mine.

My brother and his girlfriend got engaged this week!

I found out the news when she sent a picture of her engagement ring to my dad’s phone on Wednesday night (although my dad had already gone to bed by then), followed by a simple text saying “We got engaged” about 15 minutes later.  I’m not expecting them to set a date just yet, so no word on any wedding plans for the time being.  Although I must say that I have been privately calling her my “sister-in-law” for some time now.  It’ll be nice for them to finally make it legal, and I’m very happy for them.

Until next time…have a great day!