Friday, August 18, 2017

Random Bits and Pieces

Some random bits and pieces that made me happy this week:

Sneaking a case of water (working outdoors, he drink a lot of it) into the bed of Justin's truck and then sending him the photo when he got back to the ranch 

A sister-in-law who sends me photos of the amazing seedless Armenian cucumber she grew (Too bad she can't save seeds for me. :-))

This one didn't make me especially happy, but it was interesting to receive a photo of the bear footprint Justin came across.
"Don't worry, Mom. It's just a 300 pound brown bear, not a grizzly."

Comparing photos of the garden, then and now

May 2017

August 2017

Rewatching Endeavour in anticipation of season 4 beginning on Sunday

Here's hoping your weekend is full of things that make you happy, both great and small. :-)

Thursday, August 17, 2017

If Wishes Were Dollars ...

I would be out purchasing a few things with my winnings.

Alas, I am not, but the prospect of a giant jackpot did make me compose my imaginary shopping list. Here's what I'd buy:

  • a new laptop for me
  • a new mattress (I would share with John)
  • a ranch for Justin so he could run it on his own in the ethical, humane way he would like
  • an endowed professorship in math for Ryan
That's about it. Justin mentioned that he would also like new rims and tires for his truck, but if I'm buying him a ranch, then he needs to pay for his own truck parts. This list would have been ideal if I had won the $430 million. The first two items total about $2000 (unless I went wild and got a Sleep Number mattress), and the remaining two would have set me back about $2.5 million each. I could have treated the kids equitably and given them things they both want, but they would still have to be working, productive, and responsible people. Plus, I would still have had about $424,998,000 left. I might even have bought a skein or two of really nice yarn. :-)

I think I had at least $8.00 worth of fun dreaming (and it looks like I'll have another chance on Saturday)!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Unraveled Wednesday

Joining Kat and friends for Unraveled Wednesday.

I finished some knitting, but there are still important details to complete before it's really done. While I work on those, I decided to take a look into some mystery project bags. 

In Penguin Bag #1 there are some socks for my sister. I promised them for her birthday (but I didn't say which one). Let's just say it was an embarrassingly long time ago. 

Deer Bag #2 has the No Regrets Hitchhiker I put on the back burner for a new Hitchhiker.

I found my Serena Socks in Barn Owl Bag #3.

No Regrets and the Serena Socks are good waiting room knitting, and I'll need the patience they instill during hours of waiting scheduled for next week, so I think I'll work on socks for my sister now. 

My reading has included the last several books I'm finishing for Book Bingo, but they just weren't providing the calm and peace I've needed after all the chaos of the past several weeks. When I feel like this, E. B. White is the writer I turn to, so I'm finding the solace, perspective, and achingly beautiful prose I crave in The Essays of E.B. White.

What are you knitting and reading this week? Whatever you're working on, I hope it's providing you with lots of what you need.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Four Years Ago ...

Ryan and I completed our epic 1765 mile trip, driving from NJ to his new home in Fort Collins, CO to start his PhD program at Colorado State University. The road was long, but the rewards were great, and things have only gotten better since then. Ryan is where he needs and wants to be, doing what he wants to do, working towards a bigger goal, and happy about all of it, so as his mother, I'm happy, too.

I wish I had taken pictures along the way, but I'm glad that I at least posted on facebook at the end of two very loonngg days of driving, and blogged about the trip after we had been in Fort Collins for a week. These have helped jog my memories of what was a pretty big deal then -- both the trip itself and Ryan moving so far away from home.

That's one of the main reasons I started blogging; Ryan's start on his adult life was such a big shift in my own life that I felt the need to write about it, and I'm glad I did. Through sharing my own journey and sharing in the experiences of others in this amazing community, I've met so many kind, wonderful, and supportive friends. It started when Kym "introduced" me to her sister in Cheyenne because Ryan didn't know a soul. Thankfully, I never had to bother Kym's sister, but I felt relieved just knowing that there was someone I could call in case any of the emergencies I worried about came to pass. Patty was next, after she messaged me on ravelry because her son Dan was also living in Fort Collins, and wondrous friendships have grown from there.

Yes, I had to take a first day of grad. school photo. 

Thank you for reading my reminiscences, and for all the kindness and support that you have all shown over the years. I've been the recipient of so much good, and I hope that I can give back in some way. Many people think blog friends are "imaginary" because we may not have met in person, but I know that all of you are real friends!

Monday, August 14, 2017

Monday, After a Dark Weekend

Hate, horror, threats, bombs
Right-wing, reckoning, evil
Do not kill us all

Sitting here knitting
I know there is just one side
Peace, hope, love, prayer

Friday, August 11, 2017

Random Bits and Pieces

I don't know if it's August doldrums or just lack of imagination, but I've been wracking my brain to try and come up with something interesting to write about. All I've got is a collection of small things, so random bits and pieces it is.

I managed to take some photos of several poppies before the petals fell. They don't last long, but are pretty in sunlight and shadow.

Slightly cooler temperatures and decreasing humidity make me think of baking. I woke up one morning this week with temperatures in the upper 50s and thought, "It's time to make the calzones." So I did.

Stuffed with pepperoni and cheese, they aren't the healthiest thing I could have baked, but since my diet has consisted mainly of tomatoes, corn, cucumbers, and zucchini, calzones made a nice change.

After my recent musical revelations with hick hop, I got the best recommendations from Margene and Vicki. Margene suggested Jason Isbell, and I've listened to two of his albums, The Nashville Sound and Something More Than Free. Vicki recommended Gregory Alan Isakov and the Colorado Symphony, and I've been listening to all three excellent albums pretty much non-stop on spotify. I used to use my ipod mainly for audiobooks, but now it's also got lots of good music on it. If you have any musical suggestions, I'd love to hear them!

Remember the picnic table that got in the way of a crashing branch?

The kind and wonderful tree guy dropped off new pressure treated lumber and said he would be back to do the repairs. I told him that wasn't necessary because Justin and I worked together, replaced the top, and it's almost as good as new.

I'm going to be testing my "new" picnic table by serving some homemade salsa made with garden tomatoes and a nice beer or two on it. Hope this weekend is a good one for you!

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Unraveled Wednesday

Joining Kat and friends for Unraveled Wednesday.

It seems like I post yet another picture of my (unfinished) Birthday Cake Hitchhiker every Wednesday, and every week I wonder when I am ever going to finish this thing. I did a little math to try and answer that question.

I currently have 49 teeth and 200 stitches, and plan to finish with 56 teeth. Each tooth (an 8 row repeat) increase the stitch count by 4 stitches, so I was trying to calculate how many stitches I have left to knit. After a couple of attempts, I finally arrived at an answer of approximately 13,696 stitches. I'm sure there's an easier/better/more precise way of figuring this out, but I'm happy that my approximation tells me why it's taking me so long!

I finished Magpie Murders, but since I know quite a few people are currently reading it or plan to read it, you'll get no spoilers from me. My thoughts (also spoiler-free) are here if you're interested. I've started two new books, and both are great so far. Where the Water Goes is an interesting, educational, and eye-opening book about "where our water comes from and where it goes". Specifically, it's about the allocation of the water in the Colorado River, and it's a fascinating story. Safe as Houses is a book that I happened upon at the library, and after reading the first story, I can tell it's going to be perfect for my "Collection of short stories" square. I really like the covers of both books, and what's inside is even better. 

What are you knitting and reading this week?

Monday, August 7, 2017

Musical Revelations

I (used to) hate country music, but this weekend has brought some musical revelations (and no one is more surprised than I am.) I'm not sure where my intense dislike of country came from, but it goes waayy back, and because I already knew I didn't like country music, I never listened to any. (Yes, now I see the problem with that.)

But then I got a text from Justin. His tastes in music are wide-ranging, and after a year in Texas, they certainly include country music. He has taken on the tough job of trying to broaden the genres of music that I listen to, and will often make suggestions.

It only took me two weeks, but I did listen to "Backyard Lullaby". My bias against country music kicked in at the beginning, but after listening several times, I was intrigued.

I asked Justin if he could recommend another similar song and he suggested "Workin' On" by Colt Ford.

I really like this one and have been listening to both songs pretty much nonstop this weekend. Once I started actively listening to the lyrics, I thought, "Hey, they're singing about my kid, me, and so many of us." I think that deep down we all have many of the same problems, and many of the same ways to try and cope.

Shutting off our pride, fixing bridges we burned,
learning how to live and learn
Keeping our demons down and our trucks up and running
Fighting with the man in the mirror til we gone
Yeah, that’s what all us good ol’ boys gonna go out workin’ on

Giving more forgiveness, picking battles worth choosing
Little less cussin’ and losin’ my temper and my tools
Dialin’ down my restless, outgrowing my reckless
Realizin’ what I got what I got before it’s gone
That’s what this good ol' boy’s gonna go out
Workin’ on

Owning up to my weakness, keeping it humble but strong
Doin’ the best I can with this flesh and bone

The song was originally written to bring attention to soldiers suffering from PTSD, and while I am neither a soldier nor a good ol' boy, these lyrics are completely honest and relatable for me, and I like the combination of rap/spoken word and a good melody. After Justin told me that this genre was called hick hop, I was really tickled. 

So thanks to Justin, Demun, and Colt for a revelation, some really enjoyable songs, and a new (dare I say?) love for a new genre. I have a lot of hick hop to check out!

Friday, August 4, 2017

Flora and Fauna

I'm still (always) trying to organize photos, but I'm also easily distracted. Here are a few that caught my attention from previous Augusts.

Now I'm going to get out and make sure I really see what's around me in August present. I hope you get a chance to do some of the same this weekend!

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Think Write Thursday

The Think Write Thursday topic for August 3, 2017 is to write a post to welcome August. Yes, another Hello post, in this case Hello, August. We like this because it's easy and quick, if you want it to be, but you can also expand on it and make it longer and more complex if the spirit moves you. 

Hey August,

Yeah, welcome, and all that stuff. If you've detected some slight sarcasm in my tone, that's good, because that pretty much conveys how I feel about your first two days.

August 1 saw me trapped in this very clever catch-22.

Upon arrival, I did try to see the receptionist, but since there was no staff present, I rang the bell. After 15 minutes, I tried to notify the receptionist that I had been waiting more than 15 minutes for testing, but there was still no receptionist, so I rang the bell and also dialed the operator and had the cardiology tech paged. This cycle of craziness continued while I sat in one of the dingiest waiting rooms ever.

Testing eventually commenced and I breathed a sigh of relief when it was completed. I was so glad they had asked me to arrive 15 minutes early (that's more sarcasm, August), but thought that surely your second day would be better.

So, back at the same hospital again yesterday, I was pointed in this direction and told to "follow the star". I didn't see a star, but thought there must be one just on the other side of those far-away doors. There wasn't, but I wandered around and asked for help from anyone in scrubs. Eventually I found the star ...

on the floor inside of the radiology department that I was looking for. At least the waiting room wasn't so depressing, and I was only held captive in the labyrinthine hospital for three hours instead of six like the previous day.

So, August, I'm glad you've gotten two kind of crappy days out of the way early. Can you please try to arrange plenty of sunshine, blue skies, puffy clouds, flowers, and maybe some sunflowers for the remaining days? Maybe something like this?

Thanks, August; you're the best! (Or you will be once you get your act together.)

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

Tuesday, August 1, 2017


Sunday was a slightly atypical late July day. We had wonderfully cool temperatures in the upper 50s overnight, and the humidity had dropped quite a bit. I decided I could stand heating up the kitchen by turning on the oven to bake something, and thought it would be a good idea to use up some of my frozen zucchini from last year before we're inundated with new zucchini in the garden a few weeks.

While I got out the ingredients, I started to think about the history of this recipe. I was an 11 or 12-year-old Girl Scout and our leader, Gail, used to bake and bring treats to our meetings. She brought zucchini bread, and it was the best I had ever tasted. I asked for the recipe, and being the generous person she was, Gail shared it with me. I made it as part of my cooking badge and Gail proclaimed that it was even better than hers. It wasn't, but she always knew how to make people feel good. From then on, this has been one of my favorite recipes.

As I grew up, my life intertwined with Gail's in many ways. I went to school with her daughters. I married John and saw Gail more often as she was my mother-in-law's best friend and had been her maid of honor. I visited with her youngest daughter when we had the surprise happy coincidence of attending a 4th of July party together at a mutual friend's house in Montana. A year or so ago, Gail moved into an apartment in my sister-in-law's house. Late last year she had surgery on two aneurysms, and things went well. She still had two smaller ones, but the doctors felt they could wait. Sadly, one of them burst, and Gail passed away at the end of May, but it was after a marathon game of pinochle with friends, and Gail was winning.

Gail on the left with her 100-year-old mother. 

We should all be lucky enough to know someone like Gail. Her obituary listed a paragraph of her volunteer activities, all of which she did because she was such a caring person. It also said that she "is survived by many dear friends", and that is so very true.

I've probably made hundreds of loaves of Gail's zucchini bread over the years. On Sunday I only made four, but I thought about the wonderful woman who shared the recipe with me every step of the way. I'm grateful for her friendliness, generosity, ready smile, and of course, her perfect zucchini bread recipe. I am so sorry that Gail is gone, but so glad that I had the privilege of knowing her, remembering her, and baking her delicious zucchini bread recipe.