Some people drink, I knit…..

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Pretty yarn,  isn’t it?  Thursday was a day from hell.  This is my version of a middle of the week margarita.  After feeling like I had been beaten up at work,  I had stopped at my LYS, Woolworks on my way home on Thursday and picked up a couple hanks of Malabrigo Rios.  Believe it or not, they are from the same dye lot (sort of)  but Jen & I unwound all the hanks and chose two that were somewhat close, without any lime highlights.  Aesthetically, I’m really the only one that cares about how close the shades are. This will be socks for Sweet Baboo, and he wouldn’t care if one sock was blue and one was orange.

Next was picking a pattern that would be different from the one that I’ve been making socks from for a couple of years now.  I love the pattern from Cat Bordhi (Socks Soar on Two Circular Needles, the very first pattern in the book, just a basic crew sock) but I thought I’d look for something else.  Well, that something else turned into a huge search (incredible how many patterns there are out there) but I didn’t want anything too complicated.  Then I found this pattern Quick Knit Socks and it was a free pattern — two of my very favorite things!!  Check out Chris’ site, Chris Knits in Niagara — lots of really cool knitting patterns.

Anyway —  I don’t do dpn’s, so I’ll do a little shuck and jive with the pattern so that I can use my two circular needles.  Nothing like creating something to clear out the cobwebs and drive away the poor little me’s!!!

Such possibilities…….

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I bought myself two nice, new, expensive (for me at least) notebooks.  Amazon calls them  journals.  I think notebooks are probably cheaper and journal sounds so la-dee-dah.  This is them.  Or is it they?  Anyway, here are my notebooks/journals. See?

And a brand new, never been bitten Bic pen.  Ahhhhhh………..

The reason being, I got an idea in my head that journaling would be good for my soul, or something like that.  At the very least, I could write down the randomness that invades my brain some nights that keep me from sleeping.  I like the idea of no one knowing what I’m writing, (mwah-ah-ah-hah) not that I have such fabulous secrets to keep to myself. I must write myself a note to make a list of promising secrets that I could write about.

But really, am I the only person in the world that loves, I mean really LOVES a brand new notebook and a brand new pen, to the point that it’s hard to make myself begin writing in it?  I look at it, all nice and new and shiny (the edges of both notebooks/journals are shiny gold, maybe that’s what makes them journals! 🙂 ) and the fabulous possibilities of what I could write, and how extraordinarily neatly I could write with that new, unbitten Bic pen, paralyzes me.

I’ve walked past them for three days now — just giving them a passing glance, don’t want them to think they’ve got the upper hand.  But even now, I can hear them taunting me from my craft room.

But in spite of all my grand ideas and literary dreams,  I’ll probably use them for grocery lists and keeping track of stitches when I’m knitting, or just notes to remind myself of something I’ll probably forget anyway.  Or some such like.

But, oh the possibilities………

A Little Happy Holidays Venting

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Christmas Eve day, I went to our local grocery store for a couple of things.  There were two young ladies, probably high school age, that were ringing their bells for the Salvation Army.  I could hear them saying “Happy Holidays” as I came through the door and was smiling to myself because it’s not often you see young people volunteering.

As soon as that thought went through my brain, I heard an old Biddy who was walking out as I was walking in  say to the girls, “I was going to give you a dollar but you said Happy Holidays to me instead of Merry Christmas so now I’m not going to.”  The two girls looked at each other in disbelief; I looked at the old Biddy and said, “Seriously?  You think they can read minds?”  The Biddy then shot me a murderous look and kept on going. Everybody in the area stopped talking and turned to look.  The girls looked mortified.

(Why, yes, as a matter of fact, I do take extreme exception to any kind of bullying.  I’m normally pretty placid until something like this happens, then my mama bear rears her head.)

So, she implies that she’s a Christian by rejecting the Happy Holidays greeting, that Merry Christmas is what she will accept and no other. Is she doing this because she is truly offended that Merry Christmas has been replaced by Happy Holidays? Does she think the girls are implying that she is of a religion other than Christian?  Does she not have a dollar in her pocket to give them?

Well, I thought a good Christian was supposed to be tolerant of other religions, which is what Happy Holidays is all about.  Perhaps she is one of those that wears her religion on her arm for all to see, but inside she considers herself such a good church-going person that she doesn’t have to adhere to Christian teachings.

I know people who are devoted to their religion and follow the doctrine in every aspect of their lives.  I also know people who aren’t fans of organized religion. Both are kind, tolerant and accepting of others.

If The Biddy truly felt that Happy Holidays was a personal affront, she could have acknowledged it with her own “Merry Christmas” just to prove her point and then been on her way. She could have worn a button that is prevalent in our area this year that says, “It’s okay to say Merry Christmas to me.” Instead, she chose to be a Grinch to two kids that were volunteering for a charity.  She certainly gave them a lesson about the joys of volunteering, didn’t she?  I hope this doesn’t turn them off from volunteering again.

Happy Holidays to me is the best way we have to acknowledge that there are several different celebrations going on at this time of year.  It’s not a definitive solution, but we live in a very imperfect world.  Pleasing everybody may not be possible, but trying to get along with everybody should be. Practice being kind.  If being kind isn’t an option, then being still should be. Taking a stand on every little thing is just too exhausting.  Save your energy for the things that really matter.

Washington DC trip — July 2011 — Arlington National Cemetery

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First of all, I’d like to advise you that if you go to DC in July, you are going to be sweating bullets!!  Temps were about 95 to 100 degrees and humidity was wretched. Water, water and more water is the order of the day.

Our first stop was Arlington National Cemetery.  In spite of the heat and humidity, there were throngs of people waiting to experience the Cemetery.  We only had about an hour and a half to see as much as we could, which really isn’t very long.  I would think that at the very least, one full day should be devoted to Arlington. We took a trolley tour that hit the highlights, but you only had time to take a couple quick pics and then hop back on the trolley.  You see pictures of  Arlington on TV or in books or magazines, but you need to see it in person to appreciate it.

Arlington National Cemetery had very humble beginnings.  During and after the Civil War, cemeteries were  burying more and more soldiers and were quickly running out of room. In addition,  there were many families that were too poor to have their loved one shipped home. As a last resort, they started burying soldiers at Arlington.

Arlington National Cemetery encompasses 612 acres.  As of May 2011, there were over 300,000 interred in the cemetery.  There are 27 burials per day, on average.  While we were there, we heard 3 different 21 gun salutes and saw a very large funeral  procession; six horses pulling a black artillery caisson, upon which a flag draped casket had been placed, followed by a riderless horse, which I believe is reserved for officers above colonel. The rhythmic “clip clopping” of the horses hooves as they pulled the caisson echoed on the pavement as a reminder that this is a solemn and sacred place. Visitors are asked to please be quiet and respectful if you happen upon a procession such as this and I can’t imagine anybody doing anything else.   The men and horses who train constantly for this duty are members of “The Old Guard“, also known as the Caisson platoon of the 3rd United States Infantry.

I found it interesting that the headstones that come to mind when you think of Arlington are not the only markers in the cemetery.  At the family’s expense, a personalized marker can be placed on their loved one’s grave.

BTW, the house in the far background is the Arlington House, owned by Robert E. Lee and his wife Mary.

President John F Kennedy‘s slate grave marker and Eternal Flame.  Jackie’s marker is just to the right of the President’s.  There is also a slate marker where two Kennedy infants are buried.

Senator Robert F Kennedy‘s plain cross marker.  I remember JFK’s assassination but I was in 4th grade when it happened.  RFK’s assassination made a bigger impact on me, I was in 8th grade and more aware of the world around me.

The Columbia was another “where were you when it happened” event.  I was on my way from work, about 1:00 in the afternoon to pick up Jodie at school because she was ill and I heard it on the car radio.  I was so stunned that this could happen, it was quite a few seconds before I remembered that I was driving on an interstate highway and needed to pay attention to what I was doing.

I searched for an aerial photo of Arlington Cemetery to show just how large it is.  No luck, but I did find this file photo showing the density of the markers.  Seeing and reading the names on the stones really brought home the fact that these are real veterans that are buried here.  For some reason, I had it in my head that the stones were plain. Duh.

A visit to Arlington should leave you with overwhelming feelings of respect, horror at the incredible loss of life, empathy for the families that lost these loved ones, and gratitude for the ultimate sacrifice that these heroes gave. At the very least, feelings of alternating sorrow and pride should be bubbling up inside.  I can’t imagine anybody leaving any other way.

Finally, our bus trip to DC was one day traveling down, one day sightseeing, and one day traveling back.  Sincerely, you need at least 4 or 5 days to see everything, and even then there will be things that you will miss.  We enjoyed it but would love to go back again with a laundry list of other things we’d like to do.

Museums and monuments are on deck!!