Friday, January 20, 2017

No News is Good News

In my efforts to cope today, I have declared a complete news blackout for myself (yes, that includes facebook also because I don't want to read anything about today's activities) and will instead spend the day doing all the good things I can think of. Some are selfish for my sanity, and some are less so.
  • Working (a necessity, so I can continue to donate to Planned Parenthood and the ACLU)
  • Donating to our local Food Pantry
  • Coloring bags for Meals on Wheels. Yes, it's a small thing, but every day volunteers bring warm meals to home-bound seniors and when the meals come in a decorated bag, they also bring a smile.
  • Assembling three different types of care packages for hospitalized children at the Hunterdon Medical Center
  • Writing emails to the Obamas, Joe Biden, John Lewis, Cory Booker, and calling my representatives
  • Knitting my Peace Cowl
  • Drinking
I will be raising my glass to all of the sensible, caring, concerned, and like-minded people that I know are out there, and I'll be drinking my second glass to all of us who demand equality and inclusion for everyone, in hopes that we can begin to help others understand the wrongs that are being perpetuated, and that bullying, xenophobia, misogyny, ignorance, and arrogance are not the way to proceed.

I'm also going to be remembering these quotes from two people I will miss very much:

"... what we’ve also tried to teach them is resilience and we’ve tried to teach them hope and that the only thing that is the end of the world is the end of the world." - Barack Obama during his final press conference

"You gotta get up." - Joe Biden

I'm going to try.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Memo to the President

For today's Think Write Thursday topic, Carole and Kat have asked us to write about three things we would do if we were President of the United States. Let me state that I have absolutely no qualifications for this job, and would make a very poor Commander in Chief. Don't you think only highly-qualified and eminently suitable people should hold this important job? So while I will never actually work in the Oval Office, I do have at least three ideas to focus on, so here is my memo to the next President.

To:          The President of the United States
From:      Bonny
Date:       January 19, 2017
Subject:  To-do list

I haven't been sleeping well lately due to some concern over the state of the United States, so in the interest of helping you out with the tough job you are undertaking, I came up with this list of three things I think you should focus on.
  1. Education
  2. Equality and rights for everyone
  3. Universal healthcare for everyone
I firmly believe that education is incredibly important. This doesn't mean only college, but all forms of learning - pre-school, K through 12, tech. schools for learning a hands-on trade, community college, continuing education. I'm not necessarily advocating free post-secondary education as I think people learn more, better, and have a real stake in things if they are contributing in some way. Whether they are paying tuition themselves, doing work-study, or receiving grants, we must do all that we can to make many forms of education more accessible and affordable (but none of that Trump University scam stuff).

Equality is another important area. Our government and President should be inclusive of ALL - regardless of race, creed, color, or religion. I'll admit that this is a goal that can only be begun and worked toward over generations, as it requires both legislation and a change in mindset to open people's minds and hearts. To begin the process and continue what has been accomplished so far, the President must believe in and work for equality at every opportunity.

Healthcare is also critical, and perhaps even more difficult than the others. I don't have any brilliant ideas on how to pay for this, but I think everyone both needs and deserves healthcare. Some of the hardest things in this area are going to be getting to the bottom of why healthcare costs so much in the United States, and beginning to think about quality of life vs. length of life. I'm not talking about "death panels", but we as consumers of healthcare need to take active responsibility for preventing disease with proper diet, exercise, and preventive medicine, and take a long, hard look at end-of-life care.

Yes, I realize it's a tough to-do list, but I am willing to help, as are millions of Americans. Give me a call and let's get it done together!
Read other Think ... Write ... Thursday! posts here, and sign up for Carole and Kat's great idea here.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Remember When

Remember when I used to knit? I do, and it's a fond memory. I still knit every day, but there are days when all that I can manage are a few rows, rounds, or even just a few stitches. My time has been pretty limited, but I have to admit that I also don't actively make time. It feels like since the election, there have been too many evenings when I've ended up just sitting with my knitting on my lap. While I may blame he-who-shall-not-be-named for many, many things, he is probably not responsible for my lack of knitting process or progress.

I have knit a few small things and made a tiny bit of progress on others, so my hope is that if I do a knitting catch-up here, this will strengthen my resolve to make time for knitting (and actually knit during that time) going forward.

There were some requested dishcloths for Christmas.

A hat for Justin in Texas.

And some Really Warm Mitts for Ryan in Colorado.

In the WIP department, I've got:

A Hitchhiker (of course!)

Some Really Warm Mitts for Me

and my Peace Cowl.

These three projects are just enough to keep me realistically busy and happy. Time to stop just sitting with my knitting!

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

A Bit Different ...

but incredibly delicious!

I got Ryan The Bob's Burgers Burger Book for Christmas. I've never watched Bob's Burgers myself, but Ryan does and I thought the book might give him some interesting burger ideas. He called on New Year's Day and raved about the recipes he had tried, so much, in fact, that I had to try at least one of them myself. His favorite (so far) is the "Bet It All on Black Garlic Burger", so I went on the hunt for black garlic.

Ryan had told me that it was not an easy-to-find ingredient, but for him that meant he had to drive about a mile to Whole Foods, find that they didn't carry it, then drive another mile to Trader Joe's where they had lots of it, and for a decent price. My nearest Trader Joe's is about 30 miles away, but Ryan assured me that the trip would be worthwhile. I went, spent some enjoyable time wandering the aisles, found the black garlic, and came home to give it a try.

This what the bulbs look like. It's easy to peel the skin off, place the cloves in a bowl, and mash them with a fork.

Yum ... black goo!

Mix a bulb of mashed black garlic with 1/2 cup mayonnaise and you get this delicious condiment.

The book recommends using a blender, but my blender jar is pretty big for such a small amount, so I just mashed up the garlic. You could use an immersion blender if brown mayonnaise with black bits seems a little off-putting. Then simply build your burger: bottom bun spread with black garlic mayo, some raw baby spinach, burger topped with mozzarella, and the top bun spread generously with more black garlic mayo.

I didn't have any baby spinach, but the mozzarella and black garlic mayo is such a delicious combination that I don't think I was missing anything. It's hard to describe the taste of black garlic, but it's kind of earthy, sweet, and almost balsamic-like. To make it, bulbs of garlic are heated for a long period of time (30-40 days at ~ 140°) in a humid environment, producing wonderful caramelization (that famous Maillard reaction).

I'm not sure what I'll try next, maybe a mushroom and black garlic risotto, an omelette with black garlic and mozzarella cheese, or a simple tomato sandwich with the black garlic mayo. Whatever it might be, I'm sure it will be incredibly delicious!

Friday, January 13, 2017

One Art

One Art

By Elizabeth Bishop
The art of losing isn’t hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother’s watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn’t a disaster.

—Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan’t have lied. It’s evident
the art of losing’s not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.

  • Elizabeth Bishop, “One Art” from The Complete Poems 1926-1979(Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1983)

My word for 2017 is Peace, and this poem seems intimately connected somehow. I came upon it last week, and have read and thought about it countless times since then. 

I am not a master of the art of losing. I keep thinking about how much I hold on to ... stuff, yarn, books, words, and emotions. The fact is, I don’t just hold on to things; I desperately clutch them close. Holding on does have a time and place. Holding on to truth, love, and wisdom are all good. For the sake of Peace, I need to search my heart and try to hold loosely whatever it is I’m clutching on to for dear life. We can continue to hold on to hope, while never forgetting about release and letting go. The prospect of loss may feel like an impending cataclysm, but none of my losses so far have brought disaster. Recognizing this may be the first step towards Peace for me. 

Thursday, January 12, 2017

You are cordially invited ...

The Think Write Thursday topic for today is an interesting one; plan a dinner party, inviting three people, living or dead. I've sent engraved invitations to three authors that I would honestly love to meet: E.B. White, Nathan Hill, and Bill Bryson. There are many authors I am interested in meeting, but because I'm currently reading a wonderful biography of E.B. White, Bill Bryson's The Road to Little Dribbling, and Nathan Hill's book, The Nix, was one of my favorites of 2016, I can't wait until they arrive this evening. 

I've asked each of them to bring one of their books in hopes that they will read a bit to us. Bill Bryson has a marvelous voice, and I'm sure that Nathan Hill and E.B. White will also read eloquently. I'm envisioning an evening of questions, answers, and lively discussion. How did Nathan (I'm already calling my guests by their first names!) deal with the struggles of writing The Nix for over a decade? How does success feel now and what's next? Tell me about video games, please! I'm going to ask Bill about his intense curiosity and how he continues to enjoy the preposterousness of life instead of becoming a grumpy curmudgeon. And I'm just going to ask Andy (that's what E.B. White's friends called him) how he kept his love of the world around him while living on a farm and butchering pigs and thank him for caring so greatly about how he wrote things.

The menu has presented some difficulties, but I eventually decided on a simple venison stew in the crockpot, made with venison I butchered and carrots that I grew. I have this (possibly misguided) idea that Andy will appreciate this, and Nathan and Bill probably won't object. I'm also going to serve homemade bread, beer (something English for Bill?), wine, coffee, and tea. Dessert will be pie, one blueberry and one apple, something Andy mentioned in his poignant essay, "Once More to the Lake".

I'm hoping that none of my guests are bored, by me or each other, but since we are all a bit older (except for that youngster Nathan, who is only 41), I can't imagine that it will be a terribly late evening. However long we end up sitting around the table, I do hope the evening is full of literary discussion, laughter, companionship, and maybe even friendship.

(Oh, how I wish that this could be a reality!)

Read other Think ... Write ... Thursday! posts here, and sign up for Carole and Kat's great idea here.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Have a Little Fun/Pun

I was browsing in a book store last week (a rare treat!), and came upon Have a Little Pun by Frida Clements. Since I stood in the store and laughed my way through it (twice!) I had to buy it. Some of the best ones:

And my very favorite:

I am seriously contemplating buying another copy just so I can trim out "For Fox Sake" and frame it for my kitchen wall. If you enjoy puns, I think this is a fun book to page through, laugh, and appreciate the illustrations. I'm not lion!