Friday, September 22, 2017

Nuts and Balls

This afternoon at 4:02 pm we'll officially welcome fall with the autumnal equinox in the northern hemisphere. This usually means cooler temperatures and a nice, crisp feeling in the air, but our weather has been warm and humid all week, with temperatures of 92° this weekend. Despite the warm temperatures, some leaves have begun to change, but it is also the season of nuts and balls in our neighborhood. 

Garden on the left, barn in the background, giant walnut tree on the right. 

My neighbor on one side has a huge walnut tree. It was originally planted almost 90 years ago, and as far as I can tell, people have been complaining about it for at least the last 30 years. Three different families have lived in that house since we've been here, and all of us hate the tree for different reasons. The biggest reason is the walnuts themselves. They have dented and stained my neighbor's white car; they are messy and there are hundreds (if not thousands) of them. I have to spend too much time picking up the ones that have fallen on our lawn (bushel baskets full!) before I mow. Walnut trees contain juglone in the leaves, roots, bark, and the nuts themselves, which is unfortunately toxic to many plants, like the ones growing in the garden we have planted nearby. I've offered to share the cost of cutting down the tree that nobody likes with each of the families that has lived next door, but it's still here, dropping nuts to taunt me. 

We've got our own nuts from two big oaks in our yard. They don't cause many issues beyond clogging the gutters. Now that acorns are dropping (and this is a big year for them) I've been cleaning out the gutters weekly, and shaking my fist at the squirrels who seem to deliberately throw them down on me.

My neighbor on the other side has balls instead of nuts. He has a sweetgum tree right next to our driveway, and while the leaves are prettily star-shaped, the spiky seed pod balls are a nuisance. The tree is laden with green ones right now, but they will be drying and falling soon. That means it's time for me to get out my gloves and snow shovel to clear them off of the driveway.

So welcome fall, welcome nuts and balls!

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Three on Thursday

Joining Kat and Carole for Three on Thursday.

1.  Decisions, decisions. We went out to dinner with friends last night, and the place they chose had an ambitious menu with lots of interesting choices. Kangaroo with purple smashed potatoes or maybe a wild boar or llama burger? I decided on wild boar and it was delicious. 

2.  My sourdough starter is coming along well with lots of bubbles and a lovely, yeasty smell. I'm still feeding it and waiting for it to develop a nice sour tang, and will maybe bake my first loaf with it next week. 

3.  Our town is hosting five Seward Johnson sculptures. I have some opinions and may write a longer post about them someday, but my first thought on finding this one was that this poor disgruntled woman might be a good model when I'm ready for some gradient hitchhiker photos. Yet another reason to get knitting so I finish before we have to return the sculptures.

Read other Three on Thursday posts here.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Unraveled Wednesday

Joining Kat and friends for Unraveled Wednesday.

I'm still knitting monogamously on my Faded Tardis Hitchhiker; hopefully giving it plenty of attention will ensure that I actually finish it someday in the nearish future.

My reading has been a little more scattered as I've been trying to catch up with too many books from Overdrive showing up all at once. Over the past week I finished Little Fires Everywhere and The Red House Mystery. Is anyone else surprised to find that A.A. Milne wrote a mystery? I was, but I also think he was smart to write only one and move on to Winnie-the-Pooh. I also started listening to What Happened, and am currently reading Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine. What Happened is great in parts, but I've also been glad to have Eleanor Oliphant on my Kindle for a break from Hillary. For some reason I was under the mistaken impression that Eleanor was similar to Don Tillman in The Rosie Project, a quirky character somewhere along the autism spectrum, but I don't think that is the case at all. I'm only on chapter 11, but there seems to be something darker happening, and both the story and the characters are compelling enough to make this a book I want to keep reading to see what's going on.

What are you making and reading this week?

Monday, September 18, 2017

Wild Weekending

Nothing says wild weekend like knitting in Newark airport on Saturday and Sunday nights.

Flights are no longer listed as "Delayed"; they are "Awaiting Aircraft" or "Air Traffic Control". Hmmm ...

My sister-in-law's flight was delayed more than an hour, so I did have the opportunity to have a lovely conversation with a man from India. He lives in Phoenix, had just returned from a trip to Iceland with his wife, but she had also just departed to Orlando to pick up their 16-month-old daughter from her parents. He admired my knitting and told me how much he had appreciated his Icelandic wool hat during the cold temperatures on his trip. He regaled me with delightful descriptions of how warm and comfortable he was while watching the northern lights outdoors in his hat, and I how I really needed to knit with Icelandic wool at least once in my life. Our conversation ranged from knitting to what makes a good parent to the varied behavior of people in airports and how and why travel is broadening, It was a wonderful way to spend time waiting and one of the nicest conversations I've had in a long time.

So I guess Newark airport wasn't so bad after all!

Friday, September 15, 2017

A Few New Things

Way back at the end of June I wrote about Ryan's encouragement to try one new thing each month. I have been making a real attempt at this, so it's time to catch up. None of these are earth-shattering or major, but just getting into the mindset of trying new things has been a very good thing for me.

Thank you, Kym! This daily reminder on my refrigerator is just what I need!

My new thing for July was an archery seminar at Cabela's. Both John and Justin shoot bows and it's always looked like something I might enjoy. The seminar was okay, but it was a long four hours that didn't really teach me anything new. I had hoped there would be some hands-on time actually trying bows at their indoor range, but that wasn't something they could do with 30 women. I did learn that archery is an expensive enough hobby that I'm not sure I'm ready to invest in just yet. I have been looking for used bows on ebay, but then there are also arrows, a sight, an arrow rest, etc. I keep thinking that money could buy a lot of yarn, but a bow is still under consideration.

In August, my new thing was that I finally got rid of our land line. I have been ranting about and threatening to do this for several years, and since we very rarely got calls that weren't somebody selling something we didn't want, we had basically stopped answering it. I was expecting a semi-important call but I wasn't sure how the name/number would show up on caller id, so I actually answered the phone for almost two weeks. That experience showed me that we were getting at least five or six nuisance calls every day, and paying $50/month for that privilege. As soon as I got the important call, I cancelled the land line and it's been fine so far. I have to make sure to keep my cell charged and keep it nearby but I don't regret the decision. Cable TV may be next.

For September, I went out to dinner by myself. My desire for fish and chips overcame my reticence, so I went back to the English brew pub, ate, took some photos as proof for Ryan, and found it was wonderfully pleasant. I went yesterday and was feeling exhausted after only three hours of sleep and my airport drive, so I didn't risk having a beer and falling asleep on the way home, but I took my Kindle, read a bit, and had a great dinner. John leaves again for work travel on the 24th, and since I'm no longer afraid of going out to dinner by myself, I will definitely do this again.

Have you done anything new recently? It's much more fun than I thought it would be!

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Three on Thursday

Joining Kat and Carole for Three on Thursday.

1.  I'm writing this ahead of time because if all goes as planned, I am now back home and sleeping. I left this morning at 3:00 am to take my sister-in-law, my nephew, and his fiancée to Newark airport. They are family, I love them, and want to help, but even those reasons can stretch a little thin at 3:00 in the morning.

2.  Then it's back to Newark airport on Saturday evening to pick up John and Justin returning from a trip to Montana. Their plane is scheduled to arrive at a more reasonable 6:30 pm.

3.  But wait; there's more! I head back to Newark airport on Sunday evening for the third time in four days to pick up my sil, nephew, and fiancée. Their plane is due in at 8:30 pm, and it better not be late.

The next time I go to Newark airport I hope I'm the one flying some where, and I hope it's not for a 5 or 6 am flight. Here's hoping your three things are much better than three trips to Newark airport!

Read other Three on Thursday posts here.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Unraveled Wednesday

Joining Kat and friends for Unraveled Wednesday.

I didn't even try to resist. When you're feeling inspired and excited, that's the time to cast aside the fiddly beads from last week and cast on with new yarn. I've always wanted to knit a gradient Hitchhiker, so from just two starting stitches I'm up to 15 teeth. I'm anxious to see how the gradientness (gradientosity? gradientiality?) plays out, so stay tuned.

The new and shiny also captured my attention in reading. I was all set to start Hillary Clinton's What Happened, but I got an email that my Overdrive request for it won't be ready until next week. (edit: It's here this morning, and I've just downloaded it, so today I'll be raptly listening to Hillary explain to me what happened!) I've been waiting for the publication of Little Fires Everywhere since January so that's what I'm listening to. It's set in the planned community of Shaker Heights, which wants to promise its residents “protection forever against…unwelcome change” and “a rather happy life”. What could possibly go wrong?!

What are you knitting and reading this week?