Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Now It's Summer

My first tomatoes of the season,

and my first tomato and mayonnaise sandwich.

Tomatoes are the reason I have a garden!

Monday, July 24, 2017


I wondered whether I should call this post "Weekending" or go with my alternate title of "Welcome to My Glamorous Life". It seems that many bloggers post updates on their weekend activities that are fun, exciting, relaxing, picturesque, or at least have plenty of photos of delicious food. Sorry, but I don't have any of that here for you today. Instead, I'm just going to truthfully tell you all the boring, mundane things I did (and hope that I can possibly provide more fun and excitement in the future).

The first glamorous thing I did was shop for ant bait and take it over to place in my mother-in-law's kitchen. She's been complaining about being overrun by ants and just didn't know what to do. Hopefully the Ultra Advanced Liquid Bait Technology will kill the ants in 24 hours as advertised.

That was so much fun I came home and paid bills. I pay most of them on line, but there are still an irritating few in that pile that require me to write a check, search for an envelope, apply a stamp, and trudge up to the post office.

While I was buying ant traps, I also got some new towels. After washing them four times they still had so much lint that I couldn't imagine actually drying myself off with them. Googling "how to get rid of lint on new towels" produced advice ranging from wash them with baking soda (didn't work for me), wash them with vinegar (also didn't work), or shave them with a sweater shaver (didn't try because that just sounded ridiculous to me). A trip to the laundromat for a spin through the commercial washer and dryer finally did the trick (or maybe it was just because it was the fifth time I washed them).

There was an exciting arrival of a recent Penzey's order. I do embrace hope; I do love people and try to cook them tasty food, and I also try to support companies like Penzey's that do the right thing. They don't just sell wonderful spices; they have a conscience and stand up for what they (and I) believe in.

To top off the parade of glamour and excitement, I scrubbed the kitchen floor, on my hands and knees with an old diaper. Traipsing back and forth from the garden to the kitchen can make the floor fairly dirty, and while I do mop it frequently, it looked like it needed a good old-fashioned scrubbing. I used cloth diapers for the kids and amassed a pile of diapers that make excellent rags. It was time to put them to use.

So, while it's not Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, it was my weekend and it was productive. Here's hoping your weekend included a little more fun and a little less scrubbing. 

Friday, July 21, 2017

Into My Own

I worked at the library yesterday, luxuriating in the air-conditioned coolness. It seems that many people had this same idea, so after I sat down at the last open table, I gathered up the books that had been left there, ready to return them for reshelving. The Collected Poems of Robert Frost was on top of the pile, and I sat down again to look through the book. It fell open to this poem, which seemed a special happy chance to me. Wishing you a good weekend, filled with poetry, beauty, and a happy chance or two. 

Into My Own

One of my wishes is that those dark trees,
So old and firm they scarcely show the breeze,
Were not, as 'twere, the merest mask of gloom,
But stretched away unto the edge of doom.

I should not be withheld but that some day
Into their vastness I should steal away,
Fearless of ever finding open land,
Or highway where the slow wheel pours the sand.

I do not see why I should e'er turn back,
Or those should not set forth upon my track
To overtake me, who should miss me here
And long to know if still I held them dear.

They would not find me changed from him they knew--
Only more sure of all I though was true.

~ Robert Frost

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Think Write Thursday

The Think Write Thursday topic for today is to write about what you do to beat the heat! We're deep into summer here and some of us love the heat and some of us hate it but either way we all have to cope with it. What do you do that works for you? Share your tips, stories and more on coping with summer heat!

I hate the heat, and I hate it even more so when combined with humidity. I try not to whine about it since that does make it seem even worse, but I am not always successful. Summer heat and humidity seems to sap all my energy, to the point where I'd like to just lie down with a cold washcloth on my head, but that's not very practical. Since summer's heat is a reality (and there is that "trying not to whine about it" thing I just mentioned), here's what I do to deal with it.

  1. Drink lots of cold beverages. Mint tea is refreshing, and even the sound of ice clinking in the glass makes me feel better.
  2. Try and get the hot chores done early in the morning. This means checking the garden, working in the kitchen (especially if it involves boiling water to make pasta salad or blanching vegetables to freeze), and mowing before it gets really hot.
  3. Wear evaporative bandanas. I'm not sure if these things actually cool me down, but they do keep the sweat out of my eyes. I wear them when I work in the garden, mow, and sometimes even when I work in the kitchen so I don't have sweat dripping all over. You don't have to tell me how lovely and fashionable I look. :-)
  4. Ignore John when he comes home and tells me his office was so cold that he had to wear a long-sleeved shirt and a sport jacket just to stay warm. Our house is an old one, without any existing ductwork, which means we don't have central air-conditioning. We do have a window unit in the bedroom so we can sleep, but the whole downstairs is open, so window units can't cool the space and the cost of installing central air in this house is incredibly prohibitive.
  5. If it's really sweltering, find a terrific book and retreat to the air-conditioned library. That's my plan this afternoon when it's supposed to be 95° again. I am taking my laptop to get some work done, but I've also got Grief Cottage and Magpie Murders packed in my bag to read as soon as I meet a couple of work deadlines.
  6. Swear that my next house will have central air and possibly be in Colorado where the dewpoint does not reach 75°F.
  7. Remember that in just a couple of months the delightfully cool air of fall will be returning and things will be better. 
So what do you do to cope with the heat? I'd love to try some new ideas and quit my whining!

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

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Unraveled Wednesday

Joining Kat and friends for Unraveled Wednesday.

I'm still knitting my Birthday Cake Hitchhiker, but it's almost time to start on the second skein. I like my hitchhikers with lots of teeth and plenty long so I can wrap them twice around my neck, so I almost always use a second skein. The excitement continues ...

I'm still reading for Book Bingo, and have finished Whispers Under Ground, and started the next book in the series, Broken Homes. I've become quite attached to a character in the series, Lesley, and I have to see what direction she is headed in. I'm also reading The Simpsons and Their Mathematical Secrets. It may sound like a crazy title, but it turns out that many of the show's writers have mathematical backgrounds and have written plenty of math into the show. Ryan has given a talk on math in the Simpsons and Futurama for entering grad students over the past three years, so I may need to ask for his slides and notes in an effort to make the topic more engrossing. It's an interesting book so far, just not the kind of compelling reading that I'm looking for at the end of the day. 

Carole and some other goodreads friends have read Grief Cottage, and it felt like just the kind of book I was in the mood for after I read the Amazon sample. I bought it on the spur of the moment and have been staying up too late to read it on my Fire; it is the kind of compelling book with that I'm looking for at the end of the day. I think I'm going to use it in the "That you want to read because of the cover" square on my Book Bingo card. The cover is dark and captivating, and makes an intriguing comparison with the large print cover on the right.

What are you knitting and reading this week?

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Eating From the Garden

Almost every morning I head out to the garden, take a look around, see what needs to be picked, and plan dinner around
what ends up in my basket.

I saw a cucumber or two.

We picked a basket full of string beans on Sunday, so there weren't any more ... yet.

Imagine my surprise when I looked carefully and gathered a decent-sized zucchini and ten cucumbers.
Now, what to do with them?

After a few hours in the kitchen, they ended up as cucumber salad (really just sliced cucumbers in vinegar, but my grandmother
always called it cucumber salad) and plenty of cucumbers spears for me to dip in 1000 island dressing.

I grated the zucchini and made a crustless zucchini quiche that honestly smelled so good I could barely stand to wait until it cooled.

We also had string beans and Napa cabbage salad for a really delicious dinner last night. I did a few sausages on the grill for John, but with vegetables this good and varied, who needs meat? Not me, and I'm looking forward to eating from the garden a lot more this week.

Monday, July 17, 2017


This weekend had a little bit of everything, ranging from the completely mundane (laundry and picking string beans in the garden),

to finally visiting the local English brew pub for fish and chips,

to some adventures on the roof clearing a clogged gutter before it started leaking down the inside of the kitchen wall. Some of you have seen this, but here are my steps to clear a clogged gutter:

1. Grab your phone in case you survive the fall and need to call somebody.
2. Go out on the roof and survey the situation. 
3. Stick your hand in the drain pipe opening to clear it. Do not get it stuck as it will hurt and bleed when you finally get it out.
4. When your hand doesn't work, make your own clog-clearing tool (patent pending, not for use during thunderstorms).
5. Go back on the roof, use your clog-clearing tool and rejoice as the gutter drains.
6. Congratulate yourself on a job well done.
7. Sit and knit for the rest of the afternoon.

8. Pour your self a stiff beverage to cheer your success. (courtesy of Kat!)

Sunday evening was was nice and quiet, spent with Grantchester and knitting. I hope your weekend had a full range of fun, enjoyment, relaxation, and productivity!

Friday, July 14, 2017

Random Bits and Pieces

A random bits and pieces post worked well last week, so I thought I'd try it again (maybe even as a regular thing?). It seems like a good way to share those little things I've collected, run across, or photographed throughout the week. I might have some real winners!

The week started with a spectacularly frustrating and aggravating situation that had been brewing for almost six weeks, but I was finally made aware of it on Monday. You probably wouldn't believe it if I recounted the whole convoluted story, so let's just say it was a perfect storm of incredible overreach, incompetence, and bureaucracy between the USPS, DMV, and an insurance company. The form above is called a change of change form (at least the name made me laugh) which is what you'll need if someone changes your address without notifying you. Check the Invalid Request box, submit the form to the USPS, cross your fingers and hope for the best ...

On a much better note, I'm usually paying attention to the floral show outdoors at this time of year, but the orchid blooming inside on my kitchen windowsill is looking quite beautiful. It's a pleasure to do dishes while appreciating the lovely purple orchids right in front of me.

We had a tradition when the boys were young that if the temperature reached 100° , we would have ice cream for dinner. It hasn't been quite that hot here lately, but the heat indices have been over the 100°  mark this week. I haven't yet resorted to ice cream for dinner, but there is still plenty of time left in the summer.

But this morning we're getting some much-needed rain and it's much cooler. So, at least for now, I'm not quite as cranky from the heat, hoping my change of change form goes into effect, and life is just a bowl of cherries (for breakfast). Hope your weekend is a good one!

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Think Write Thursday

The Think Write Thursday topic for today is to write about 3 good things that happened this week. We all know that focus on the GOOD is GOOD for us so let's do it!

I see the fawns (it turns out there are two of them!) almost every evening.

I stumbled upon a wonderful PBS program about Anne Morrow Lindbergh. The Lindberghs are a big deal here in Flemington, NJ. The house that they lived in when their son was kidnapped is about five miles from here, and I live a block away from the courthouse where Bruno Hauptmann was tried. The beauty of this program is that it focuses on Anne herself, as an accomplished aviator, mother, and extraordinary writer.  You can watch You'll Have the Sky: The Life and Work of Anne Morrow Lindbergh here

I entered the 21st century and finally bought a Kindle Fire. I've been using an eight-year-old Kindle keyboard, and while it still works, it has been slowing down and not charging well. I rarely buy something new if the old one still functions, but I couldn't resist 40% off on Prime Day. It's making reading even more pleasurable!

Three pretty great things and it's only Thursday! What's good in your world?

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

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Unraveled Wednesday

Joining Kat and friends for Unraveled Wednesday.

My knitting looks pretty much the same as last week (and the week before that), which is why it's just bunched up in a pile. Imagine a few more points on the never-ending hitchhiker and you'll have a clear picture.

I have finished several books for Book Bingo over the last week, A Full Life and I Contain Multitudes, and am excited to be starting several new ones. I picked up Invisible Emmie from the library for my graphic novel square. Graphic novels have not been my favorites in the past, but I was pleased to page through this one and see that it has a "semi-graphic" format. I think there is enough text to keep me happy and enough drawings to still make it graphic. 

I'm also excited to start The Hate U Give. I've been making a concerted effort to get the books I'm reading for Book Bingo from my local library, Overdrive, or listen to ones I've already got in my Audible library. So far, I've only purchased two books (Bambi and Bambi's Children), and they were inexpensive paperbacks.

So, in between mountains of laundry, knitting, reading, and work today, I'm going to be ripping these CDs into itunes so I can listen on my ipod. With these additions, my Book Bingo card is coming along nicely.

What are you knitting and reading this week?

Tuesday, July 11, 2017


One lily burst into blossom yesterday before the deer could nibble it ...

Four more buds to go!

Monday, July 10, 2017


It was a low key weekend around here, but filled with lots of things that I enjoy.

I made some snickerdoodles in case Justin came home for a quick visit to the DMV since Chris Christie closed New Jersey last weekend.

Things didn't work out for a visit, but I have cookies safely tucked away in the freezer, ready for next time Justin is here.

My Stargazer lily buds made it safely through the weekend, uneaten by deer. (I'm knocking on wood as I type this).

My sister-in-law gave me a gift of five bulbs years ago, and I planted them under my kitchen windows where I can enjoy their beauty and heavenly scent. Deer have nipped off the ready-to-bloom bulbs the past couple of years, so I'm keeping fingers crossed this year.

We had some rain and thundershowers, some that managed to soak me during a walk on Saturday, but thankfully I didn't melt. :-) It was well worth it because they also produced a stunning rainbow in the east and a beautiful sky in the west as the showers cleared.

I'm taking these as auspicious signs for the coming week!

Friday, July 7, 2017

Random Bits and Pieces

I've been wracking my brain to try and come up with something interesting to write about, but all I've got is a slightly related collection of small things, so random bits and pieces it is.

I found a dead garter snake in the lawn when I was mowing, and because it was relatively long and its skin looked pretty in the sunlight, I thought Justin would appreciate the picture I sent him. He replied with the photo below, which I did not like very much.

I worried about rattlesnakes when he was in Texas, but New York state is home to plenty of timber rattlesnakes. There are at least three dens identified by the NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation on the ranch where he is working, and they are a threatened species so there are laws protecting them. It looks like my worry may continue.

My purple cone flower blooms have really exploded. John was complaining about my flowers taking over his garden, until I pointed out that the bevy of bees in my flowers can only be good for all of his nearby vegetable plants.

Snow peas are nearing their end, and I hope to have string beans, cucumbers, and some rain soon.

I saw an adult bird fly away from this house every time I was near the front porch, but never saw or heard any babies ...

until I paid attention to the spider plant hanging next to the bird house. There are three baby birds who haven't fledged yet, so they spend their days standing in the nest waiting for food to be delivered. I do hope they learn to fly soon so I can water the plant and clean up the porch underneath them. Let's just say that spider plant has been well-fertilized.

And that Japanese beetle trap blowing in the background? I have several of them for these detestable insects:

They are out in full force, eating my roses and clematis. These two were harmed after the taking of this photograph. There is something satisfying about knocking them into a jar of alcohol and watching them suffer a bit. I am still lucky enough to have some beautiful roses that I've gotten to before the beetles.

And they're not eating my hydrangeas, so I'm grateful for that.

I hope your weekend is full of beauty, blossoms, and very few beetles.