Thursday, October 19, 2017

Three on Thursday

Joining Kat and Carole for Three on Thursday.

1.  As you read this, I am winging my way to Denver to visit Ryan in Fort Collins.

2.  We have big plans for things to do, hikes to take, places to eat, beer to drink, and maybe even a distillery to visit.

3. And yes, a visit to The Loopy Ewe is definitely on the list! 
    I'll be back here sometime next week. 

Head on over here to read more Three on Thursday posts.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Unraveled Wednesday

Joining Kat and friends for Unraveled Wednesday.

This week looks a lot like last week, but if you squint just the right way, you might see some small, subtle changes. I think the gradient is very slowly beginning to show in my Hitchhiker! I had it on my lap, and in the right light, the cast on at the point is obviously darker than what I am knitting with now. It's hard to see in the photo above, but after taking about 30 photos in different light on different backgrounds, this is the best I could come up with:

I think you can see the difference here, but even if I can't convince you, the yarn that I am knitting with now is obviously lighter than at the start. I don't have a scale so I can't tell how much I've knit with and how much I have left, but my plan is to just knit until I run out of yarn. (It's possible this may end up as the world's longest Hitchhiker.)

I'm reading Reservoir 13 as a real book that I was lucky enough to win on goodreads. It's interesting, but the plot is moving along slowly, so my reading is also. In the "never say never" department, I'm listening to Turtles All the Way Down. I swore that I was too old for John Green's YA fiction and would never read any more after I was disappointed by The Fault in Our Stars, but a title I love, and a couple of quotes from the book convinced me to give this one a try. 

     Worrying is the correct worldview. Life is worrisome.

     Anybody can look at you. It's quite rare to find someone who sees the same world you see.

So far, it's excellent.

What are you making and reading?

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Just Visiting

The population in my tiny little town recently grew by several temporary residents. They've just been hanging around quietly, not bothering anyone. I decided to take a look, up close and personal. 

I think I showed you "disgruntled shopper" before (Her real title is "Holding Out"). She is located across from the post office, and I stopped on my way to mail Ryan's birthday present. If possible, she looked even unhappier when I added my Priority box to her packages. I may ask her to model my Hitchhiker in progress if I can get it done before she leaves.

These two look like Biff and Buddy to me, but their title is "Yuck, Go Fetch". I'm not sure why Biff doesn't like Buddy licking his face, but if Buddy was my dog, I'd go in to Barkley's Gourmet Marketplace and get him a treat or two.

I found Mary Jane with her hula hoop ("Attic Trophy") in the garden at the library, a perfect location for her fun. I was fascinated by how real her denim jumper looks, but it's painted bronze.

I tried to tell these two that the train station where they were waiting is really a bank now, but it was almost like their ears were painted on. Don and Pete look like Mad Men, but the sculptor has called them "Frequent Flyers".

Poor "Weekend Painter" seems to have forgotten what he was painting. He has paint on his glasses, pants, and shoe, but no sign of the fence or porch that he might have been working on. I invited him to come to my house and paint, but he just ignored me.

Our visitors are all the work of  J. Seward Johnson, a sculptor and New Jersey native. His work is exhibited all over the world, but he's probably best known for his permanent collection at Grounds for Sculpture. I know several of you have visited and can attest to what an interesting, fun, and beautiful place it is. 

These pieces by Johnson were brought here as a short-term exhibit "to create maximum enjoyment of the sculptures and to drive foot traffic to our businesses.” The sculptures are enjoyable, but for me there is also the issue of what this is costing the town -- $20,000 for two and a half months. That seems like a fairly steep price to pay in a town that has some of the highest property taxes in NJ, and also has trouble finding money for a new fire truck, library books, and has to somehow fund a new $4.5 million water tower. There is much to be said for bringing art to where people live and work; I just wish it was at a more reasonable price. 

Monday, October 16, 2017


Some random scenes from my weekend:

I ate what is probably my last homegrown tomato and mayonnaise sandwich of the season. Sad, but delicious.

I went to the farm stand for apples and was treated to some beauty in the form of zinnia bouquets and a field still full of zinnias. It's fall, with fresh-pressed cider and pumpkins, but it was also a very summer-like 80 degrees.

I made a prime rib roast on Sunday. I've been making a concerted effort to use what's in the freezer and I found this forgotten at the bottom. I think I intended to make it as a special welcome home meal when Justin came back from Texas. His girlfriend (at the time) was going to join us, but she decided that she didn't really want an in-person relationship and dumped him a few days after he got back, so the celebratory dinner didn't happen. I decided that John and I should eat it before it got any more freezer-burned, and it was delicious.

And look at my crazy Christmas cactus, blooming in mid-October! I do have others, so I hope some of them save their blossoms until it's a bit closer to Christmas.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Adventures in Sourdough

I read Sourdough about a month ago, and it made me miss the days back in the 70s and 80s when I used to bake a lot of bread. Good sourdough is hard to come by in NJ (much of it is artificially soured with citric acid instead of a good starter), so I mixed up some of my own sourdough starter, let it sit and ferment, and then made some bread.

John's mother called in the middle of the process and needed some help, so I put my rising dough in the refrigerator, covered it with plastic wrap, and hoped I wouldn't be gone too long.

It had risen vigorously and was overflowing the bread pan by the time I got home. I just punched it down, let it rise again,
and was back on track.

The loaf smelled delicious while it baked and didn't look too bad. I did wonder why the top was a lovely golden-brown and the
rest of the loaf was so pale, but it looked and felt done, so I let it cool before cutting my first slice.

I excitedly cut into the loaf, anticipating the delicious taste of warm sourdough bread, but was greeted by something different  -
an oozing tunnel of unbaked dough in the middle.

The bread had been out of the oven and cooling for 15 minutes, but all I could think to do was put it back in the oven to bake some more.
It certainly couldn't get any worse!

I ended up with a distinctively odd loaf with a slightly different texture than normal, but it tasted great. I've made another loaf since then and it turned out perfectly; so good, in fact, that it got eaten before I remembered to take any pictures.

Now I just have to remember to feed my starter, use some of my starter, and keep it happy so I can enjoy sourdough bread
(the kind that is not half-baked).

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Three on Thursday

Joining Kat and Carole for Three on Thursday.

Even though not a lot of leaves have changed here (really just one maple in our yard), leaves are falling because it's dry, so leaf-sucking season has begun for me.

1.  Before:

2.  After:

3.  And a (slightly disgusting but honest) leaf-sucking selfie:

It's a dirty job, but somebody has to do it!

Head on over here to read more Three on Thursday posts.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Unraveled Wednesday

Joining Kat and friends for Unraveled Wednesday. 

It's the same old Hitchiker, and while I swear that there is a gradient evident in the cake, I'm beginning to wonder if it will ever show up in the knitting. Logically I know it has to eventually, so I'll just keep knitting, hoping that next week I will indeed have a gradient photo to show you. (I think I've written that several times before!)

While I'm knitting the same Hitchhiker, I am reading a terrific new book, The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning. One of my dear reading friends told me about it on Sunday, I checked Netgalley and saw that it was available, submitted my request, and was thrilled when I was approved and downloaded it to my Kindle by Monday. I'm finding it a delightful book so far. The author encourages people to downsize and begin to responsibly clear out their own things as they get older so relatives aren't stuck doing it all after they are gone. My sister and I had to do a massive cleaning after my mother died and I made a vow that my kids would not have to do that; I think this book will help me keep my promise!

What are you making and reading?

Monday, October 9, 2017


This was kind of a slow weekend, with muggy weather and humidity thick enough that I felt like I was slogging around in slow motion. I ran a lot of errands on Saturday and watched the interesting clouds that Nate brought.

 For some fun when all the errands were done, I shot my bow again.

First round

Last round

Not perfect, but everything is starting to come together. Every day last week, I practiced pulling my bow back without an arrow, to better learn the process and build up the shoulder, back, and arm muscles I need to pull and hold 35 lbs. The practice is starting to pay off; shooting felt much easier, smoother, even more fun, and I shot so much better. To be continued ...

We finally got some much-needed rain on Sunday and it looks like there is a lot more to come from Nate. That's fine; rainy days are made for knitting, so maybe the gradient will be showing up soon on my Hitchhiker. With green and gold leaves, and grey and gloomy skies, my yarn is the only blue around and I'm happy to spend some focused knitting time with it.

 Here's hoping you've got a bit of blue sky as you start your week!

Friday, October 6, 2017

C'mon, Hallmark!

I don't often buy greeting cards, usually preferring to hand write my feelings and sentiments in a blank card. We had a friend from England that thought greeting cards were a waste of money, so we had a fun exchange of a delightful Happy Christmas card that he had once sent us. Each of us in turn wrote the year on the original card and we sent it back and forth for almost 20 years. That pretty much sums up how I feel about Hallmark, but since I have October birthdays coming up for a couple of special people in my life, I headed to the card store to see if anything had changed.

Ryan's birthday is tomorrow and my father's is October 19th. My father won't be dancing at a party, but seeing cards placed around his room seems to make him happy, and another year is certainly worth marking. I looked at and read all manner of cards for almost 45 minutes, but had trouble finding anything appropriate for a 27-year-old math grad. student and an 86-year-old man in poor and failing health.

Vehicles adorn lots of the "His Birthday" cards, but these don't really fit Ryan or my father.

And then there are the sports-related cards. No again. Ryan has admitted that the last time he paid attention to any sporting event was when he attended a mandatory departmental Super Bowl party two years ago when the Denver Broncos were playing.

Golf, Mickey Mouse, and argyle seemed like an odd combination to me.

I would have considered one with realistic fish, but these did not appeal.

Then there were the really stereotypical cards. We all know that men use tools, go to work in a tie, grill, and drink beer.

Poor Hallmark really seemed to struggle with birthday cards for males. They all looked like they had to meet some sort of manliness quotient, but I was looking more for a nice, simple yet beautiful nature scene (that didn't also celebrate hunting and four-wheeling) and a well-worded sentiment inside. I couldn't find any of those, so I've resorted once again to my own cards.

I wonder if all the good cards had been removed (during the last week of September) to make way for Christmas? If you're shopping for ornaments, Hallmark is ready for you!

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Three on Thursday

Joining Kat and Carole for Three on Thursday.

When I went out for my stroll around the yard this morning, I was looking for things blooming. My mums are still tightly budded, but I did find a few blossoms.

1. One last clematis flower. We dug up this vine from John's grandmother's farm after she passed away and the farm was sold. By my best estimate it's more than 60 years old, and doesn't bloom very profusely even in the summer, so I appreciate this last hurrah in the fall even more.

2.  One last rose. There have been several years where the roses have bloomed even into November, but since things are so dry here, this year is not one of them. I pruned the roses back fairly hard last week, but left this poor bud in hopes it would bloom. I was happily rewarded, and cut the flower to appreciate inside. I think I'll enjoy it more than the deer would have.

3. The third (potential) bloom can be seen in the photo above. I have a big Christmas cactus hanging on the porch, and for some reason the squirrels love to tear down pieces of it. I've got all the big pieces in water to develop roots and replant them, but because this little piece already has a bud on it, I had to keep it in hopes that the bud would open and blossom. The glass that it's in is also from John's grandmother. She called it her sipper, and would have a few sips of wine from it in the evening. I need a bigger glass. :-)

Head on over here to read more Three on Thursday posts.