Friday, September 21, 2018

Mycology 101

It seems that everyone has had a wet, soaking summer, and because of the soggy conditions, fungi and mushrooms are springing up in everyone's lawns. The same is true in New Jersey. 

These just look like a multitude of big, brown ones from a distance,

but a little closer, I think they look like snickerdoodles.

Another type in the baked goods genus is this red velvet mushroom (that's what I call them).

I only catch these ethereal, almost transparent ones early in the morning as they seem to almost melt away as soon as the sun shines on them. With only one sunny day this week, they're sticking around.

 We have ugly, brown, stinky ones (that I originally thought were rotting walnuts),

along with cute little floriform varieties.

This interesting spotted one is a little more rare. 

I complained about squirrels yesterday, but they also provide some entertainment when they get into the mushrooms.

They love these red-capped ones, and completely destroy them by nibbling as soon as a fresh crop emerges. It only takes a few minutes before they start flipping around on the ground like the Three Stooges, chasing each other, falling out of trees, or sometimes just lying prone and sprawled on the ground. These mushrooms must be high in psilocybin because the squirrels certainly act high. I've tried to take videos, but no success so far. 

We have guidebooks for almost everything - trees, birds, fish, wildflowers, rocks and minerals - but none for mushrooms, so Mushrooms of the Northeast is on its way to my house. I'll be in both NY and MD next week, so I hope to get lots of use out of it for Mycology 102 and 103!

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Three on Thursday

Joining Carole for Three on Thursday, and today it's with three things I hate. I hope you'll understand better when I explain. 

1.  Squirrels
I don't have many tomatoes left in the garden, but the squirrels have made sure that there are even fewer for those last few tomato and mayonnaise sandwiches. They enjoy chewing holes in as many tomatoes as possible with their nasty little squirrel teeth. I wouldn't even mind if they ate one or two whole tomatoes, but they provoke my wrath by taking five or six bites out of eight tomatoes, leaving me with only a couple of good ones. 

2.  Squirrels
My neighbors have a huge walnut tree and the squirrels love walnuts as a main course after their tomato appetizers. I don't really care about the walnuts, but I do care about the little piles of walnut chewings that the squirrels leave everywhere - on the patio furniture, in the driveway, on the hood of my car, and on the steps into the house. I have to sweep up after the squirrels, and the walnut shells stain, so I have long-lasting brown stains everywhere.

3.  Squirrels
I expect the %$#&^*! squirrels to chew tomatoes and walnuts, but their worst infraction was gnawing off one of my limes. I ran out and rescued it before they chewed on the lime itself, and now I've moved my lime tree indoors into Ryan's room. 

I had to rescue the lime even though it's only the size of a large olive, but now I'm not sure what I'll do with it. Maybe make the world's smallest vodka gimlet, because anything is better than letting the squirrels have my first lime.

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

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Unraveled Wednesday

Joining Kat and friends for Unraveled Wednesday (now with actual unraveling)!

I knit a couple of squares for Kat's blanket project, and I have to admit they nearly kicked my butt. They aren't terribly difficult, especially once I was able to orient my miters correctly to start knitting the log cabin frame, but I had difficulty with picking up stitches neatly and consistently along edges. There are both cast on and garter edges, and I need lots of practice with both of these before I feel comfortable, things look good, and I contemplate a blanket of my own.

Janelle has finished seaming her epic sock yarn blanket, and as with all of her knitting, she is taking the time to complete the blanket edge the right way. After much experimentation, she found that on one long side of the blanket she'll have to pick up 480-496 stitches, so my complaints about picking up 54 stitches on the longest edge of these squares were not valid! She did share this helpful Very Pink Knits video resource with great information about picking up stitches, weaving in ends (smiles and umbrellas!), and seaming in garter stitch. Next time my squares will look much better, Kat!

I ended up knitting a third square after I realized I had accidentally picked up a size 7 needle instead of the 8 I used for the first square. I did unravel this one, but it only yielded two small lengths of the gray yarn that Kat is using for seaming. I'm looking forward to seeing the finished blanket and am sending Kat plenty of good seaming juju!

It felt good to finally finish up my squares, so I made myself finish two books that were dragging, Night of Miracles and The Overstory. Both were three-star reads for me, but just barely. I happily started fresh with two new books, Farsighted and The Art of Logic in an Illogical World. They are both nonfiction, complement each other, and are just what I'm in the mood for reading right now. 

What are you making and reading this week?

Tuesday, September 18, 2018


I just found out that the home I grew up in will be for sale soon. It's not listed yet, but I learned through a friend of a friend of my SiL that it will be within a month or so, and I am curious. The photo above is what it looked like when we sold it in 2009 and my father moved into assisted living. I've only driven past it once in the last nine years, but I've often wondered if the new owners tore down the shed and play house that my grandfather built? Did they replace the carpeting in the dining room that my mother accused me of slopping "pea juice" all over? (She always served peas in milk and butter, and I did drip a bit of it onto the floor one Thanksgiving, but my mother seemed to be holding me responsible for every old stain on the white carpet.) Do they know that my mother loved the house that she and my father designed so much that one of her last wishes was to stay in her home with hospice care and not be taken to the hospital at the end of her life?

My mother and father built the house in 1963. I remember being there when we bought the lot from my uncle, the well-drilling, cement pouring, and then the building.

We moved in the day before I started first grade, and lived there relatively happily until my sister and I grew up and moved out on our own.

So I'm fairly sure that the playhouse and shed are gone,

but I know that this rock right next to the driveway remains,

along with plenty of lovely memories of growing up here.

I think I might go rekindle those memories when the realtor holds an open house.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Sometimes Monday ...

... is a day when I express my gratitude for technology. Without it, I wouldn't have been able to receive these photos of sunset that Justin took as he flew into the Yukon Territory. 

No people, no snow, no polar bears (two people have asked me if he'll see any), and no addresses (only GPS coordinates), but that's just the way Justin likes it.

I'm hoping to see many more of his photos when he comes back from the wild in a couple weeks!

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Three on Thursday

Joining Carole for Three on Thursday, and today it's to say that spelling does count. 

A new sign was recently placed on the front of our municipal building, and it's creating quite a stir in town.

The county government has its own sign shop that makes the signs for towns within the county. They printed this one, but one of our borough's Dept. of Public Works employees placed the sign and didn't notice the problem.

The county sign shop also had a problem with that tricky plural/possessive apostrophe a few years ago on this sign in the park. (The bees also look like angry hornets to me, but that's not spelling-related.)

The borough's best (really the worst) one can't be blamed on the county sign shop. We got new police cars about five years ago, and they clearly had to be repainted. I make plenty of my own spelling errors, but luckily, they're not on public display!

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

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Because It Can't Be All Bad News All the Time

I've been listening to NPR this morning, and the stories about Tim Piazza, Venezuela, the Dallas police shooting, "fake news", climate change, and Florence have me blinking back tears. There is bad news every day, but maybe all the news is weighing heavier on my heart than usual because it's September 11th. Whatever the reason, it can't be all bad news all the time, so I'm sharing a few rainbow photos from back before we had rain every day.

Please ignore the table that I should have wiped off and windows that should be washed. I'm going to look for some positive things today, and I hope you have a chance to do the same. :-)

Monday, September 10, 2018


And it was a good one!

Saturday morning I went to the NJ Sheep and Fiber Festival. I'm lucky enough to live just 20 minutes down the road from the fairgrounds, and it's always a good time. This year it was even better because in addition to sheep of all kinds, yarn, new-to-me dyers, and even angora bunnies, I got to meet Dee and Vera in person! They are both lovely people and wonderful company to wander through a fiber festival with.

We asked a vendor to take our photo, and this was the best of three attempts.
 None of us is blurry in real life and we all look much better than this photo shows. :-)

Bridget was also there, but sadly I didn't get to meet her. I had some family obligations and had to leave after being there for only about an hour or so, but I still had time to see the sheep and all manner of fiber-providing animals.

And then there were all the vendors and yarn. This is a Goldilocks type of festival, just the right size to provide plenty of beautiful yarn, but not overwhelming.

White Birch Fiber Arts was new to me, and she had loads of gorgeous self-striping sock yarns, beautifully displayed with samples of how they knit up.

I had to get two skeins because I knew Ryan would covet the fingerless mitts I intend to knit with "Nothing Says Screw You Like A Rainbow" and I would feel like a terrible mother when I wouldn't give them up. This was my only purchase, but that is only because Wandering Wool didn't have the rainbow gradient she used to make this sample sock that stopped me in my tracks.

Luckily for me , Joelle has a website and said she would be very happy to dye some for me, so I know there will be matching sock cakes of this yarn in my hands and on my needles in the future.

It's a rainy, gloomy Monday and I'm back in MD, but the fun of spending time with Dee, Vera, and sheep along with the potential of rainbow knitting makes up for this dreary day. I do hope your weekend was as nice as mine!

Friday, September 7, 2018

Eighty-Two Years Ago ...

... there was an attempted burglary.

We bought furniture for the house in MD, but couldn't find a desk that we liked at the right price at furniture stores. We looked around at antique stores and yard sales before we found something we thought would work on Craigslist. It was miles away in Baltimore and we weren't sure that it would fit in my Subaru, but then the universe presented us with another option.

We were home in NJ for the weekend and headed to Goodwill to donate some of the stuff I've cleared out of this house. We decided to take a look through the store, just in case, and came upon this desk. I was skeptical because the top looked pretty beat up, it wasn't even attached, and some of the drawers were in bad shape. But when I looked at the price tag, we decided we could afford $24.00 to see if it would work.

We loaded it into my car in the pouring rain, and it fit perfectly with just a couple inches to spare. I drove it to MD last week, where we unloaded it into the garage and started taking it apart for refinishing. Things had gone well to that point (a really good price, it fit in my car), but it got even better.

When we took the drawers out, we found this penciled note on the bottom of one of them. "Burglars entered store Sun. nite July 19, 1936 and ransacked the office - opening the drawers that were locked in my desk but apparently nothing was taken - the same nite they broke into the Kauffman store Hatfield and took cash in register and the marks of tool used in prying open is identical in both places."

I am a sucker for stories, so this made the desk darn near perfect for me. I haven't been able to find out anything about where this desk was located or the Kauffman store, but when we're done sanding, fixing, and finishing the desk, I'm going to pencil another note about how the desk ended up in MD to continue the story. I love it, pry marks and all!

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Three on Thursday

Today I'm joining Carole and friends for Three on Thursday. Yesterday I had to drive back to NJ from MD, and it was one of those clench-the-steering-wheel, white-knuckle drives due to traffic, trucks, and construction. Luckily I can listen to my favorite NPR station all the way, so here are three things I learned from listening to WHYY yesterday.

1.  Andrew Wyeth was an interesting and complex person. On Radio Times, Marty Moss-Coane talked with a filmmaker and a Wyeth curator about the artist and a new documentary, entitled simply Wyeth, that will be shown on PBS' American Masters on Friday.

My mother loved "Christina's World" and took us to the Philadelphia Art Museum several times so we could see it and the rest of a Wyeth exhibit in person. At that time in my childhood it felt like a boring trek to stare uncomprehendingly at some dull, muted paintings. I'm not sure that I appreciate his paintings much more as an adult, but I did enjoy learning about Wyeth, his wife Betsy, and especially the fact that he painted Snow Hill above, one of his few paintings to show some color and joy.

2.  I know William Shatner from Star Trek and Priceline, but I learned that he has done almost everything, including "singing" Rocket Man. He was interviewed on 1A talking about his new memoir Live Long and ... What I Learned Along the Way. The host was a poor interviewer, and I'm still not sure whether Shatner is enthusiastic, crazy, or both, but I did learn that I can pre-order his new Christmas album.

3.  The last and best thing I learned from NPR yesterday was that Steven Johnson has written a great new book, Farsighted. I was so excited to hear about this that I had to pull over and write it down so I wouldn't forget. The subtitle is "How We Make the Decisions That Matter the Most", which sounded so intriguing and timely for me that I had to start the book last night. I don't think it's a self-help book, but more a discussion about how to consider all the factors involved in making consequential decisions. When I learned that the final chapter has an analysis of Dorothea’s decision-making in Middlemarch (one of Margene's favorites), I knew I had to read it. I'll let you know what I learn about decision-making. 

So what have you learned lately? Head on over here to read more Three on Thursday posts to learn what others are thinking and doing.