Thursday, July 12, 2018

Three on Thursday

While driving down here yesterday for settlement today, I tried coming up with ideas for Three on Thursday. My ideas all seemed uninspired, just plain dumb, or I didn't have a photo to go with the post.

But when I read Carole's post this morning about three luxuries, it was so good that I had to steal her idea. I was enjoying three of my luxuries at the same time!

Reading (The Garrick Year)

In bed (a comfortable hotel bed I won't have to make)

With the ac cranked way down (it's set on 64)

It's delightful to linger with these three luxuries because they don't often happen when I'm at home. We don't close on the MD house until 3 pm this afternoon, so my morning is pretty open. It's also wonderful to be reminded that these are indeed luxuries and appreciate them more. Thanks, Carole!

Now I'm going to head downstairs for some more luxuries - tea and freshly-baked scones. You can head on over here to read more Three on Thursday posts. 

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Unraveled Wednesday

I'm joining Kat and friends for Unraveled Wednesday. I've only knit a few more sections since I last showed you my Match & Move, but today the big news is that I filled the "With a cover that matches a current WIP" square for my book bingo card.

I'm playing book bingo in a very loose way this summer, reading what I want, when I have time, and putting the book into a square if it happens to fit. This one does! 

Coyote America was worth three stars for me. I'm interested in coyotes because I've always thought of them as a western species, but over the last few years I've seen and heard them regularly here in New Jersey. I wished for more science and less anthropomorphism from this book, but that coyote certainly matches my WIP!

What are you making and reading this week?

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Oh, Anonymous ...

... you say the dumbest, silliest, strangest things!

Yesterday Google seemed upset that I had 25 comments awaiting moderation and felt compelled to yell at me about my grievous lack of moderation. I don't think I have ever checked the "Awaiting moderation" section of my blog's comments in five years, so I clicked over to see what was there. The comments were all from Anonymous and he/she had some interesting things to say.

Sure, Anonymous. More content, less text, more images, coming right up, just for you.

I don't know which family member this might be, but I'm glad I could include almost all important infos, especially after my content deficiency noted above.

Thank you! I always try to write fastidiously.

I've wondered the same thing, Anonymous. 

I'm glad I could help your sister analyze knitting, reading, and random bits and pieces from my mundane life.

Wow, this comment is pleasant! 

Oh, Anonymous, you do make me laugh (hysterically)!

These spam comments were funny to read, but they do seem to be increasing based on the dates they were written, so I might have to turn off anonymous comments at some point. I didn't even understand how anyone (or any bots) would gain anything from commenting, but it seems like what they get out of it is a sleazy way for the commenter to get free links back to their site. Little do they know I'm not yet a famous blogger and their spam won't get them too far!

Monday, July 9, 2018

Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch

Last weekend we were invited to the deer ranch where Justin works in central NY. We've heard all about the ranch owner, his assistant, Justin's coworker, and the interns, but it was really nice to meet them in person along with their families, and spend some time visiting. My pictures are less than ideal, but that's mainly because I was too busy having fun and forgot to take many photos.

 This looks like just a field, but when you get a little closer ...

... you can see it's a field of sunflowers, planted just for the deer. They've already devoured almost everything in the first forage field Justin planted, but since this one is a little closer to the house and a couple of dogs, they haven't nibbled much in this one yet.

I asked Justin to send me a photo when the whole field was in bloom, but he said it might not get to that stage. The deer love the foliage and stems, so flowers might get eaten before they even open.

We ate, we chatted, and we shot bows. They have a great, safe target set-up and it was wonderful to be able to shoot my bow at a nice big target from different distances, especially since I haven't shot since winter.

Almost everyone was using fancy compound bows, and I got a chance to try one, but still liked my plain old recurve bow best. That's it leaning against the tree on the left, next to Justin's new one (which may have cost more than my first car). :-)

It was a beautiful day with lots of good food, fun, and meeting some very nice people. It was a delightful way to spend the weekend; now it's time to get back to some house details. I hope your weekend was as oasis away from work and worry like mine was!

Friday, July 6, 2018

In Which I Take a (Sort Of) Break

That's a somewhat silly title because I haven't posted since Tuesday, so I've already taken a two-day break. Looking forward, it will probably be much of the same, so I thought I'd tell you why.

The biggest reason is that we did buy a house in Elkton, MD, and for some dumb reason, I have ridiculously underestimated the time this venture would take. The house is the one I posted previously, and the past few weeks have involved lots of negotiations. The inspections revealed termites with damage to joists, an inoperable hot water heater, old windows that don't even open, a kitchen with a faulty stove, dishwasher, and sink, and many, many other little things. We had looked for a move-in ready house, thought we had found one that was close, but the inspections showed otherwise. We asked for lots of money to fix everything, negotiations went back and forth, and we finally arrived at an amount that neither we nor the seller are thrilled with, but it's enough to fix all the big things. We seriously considered walking away, but that would have put us back at the beginning. There were two other houses that we were considering, but even the cheapest one was $80K more, and that's money we just don't have.

So we decided to go ahead, and settlement is next Thursday. We chose the "good enough" house; we know its issues and have begun scheduling the fixes. I have a new hot water heater being installed on Friday, Home Depot is coming on Saturday to rip up old carpet and measure for new carpet to be installed the following Thursday. I'm hoping that there is hardwood under the carpet in the living/dining room, and because the carpet was installed 16 years ago I'm hoping that if there is hardwood, it won't need much refinishing. On Sunday, John and I are going to try and replace the garbage disposal and sink, fix the burners that don't work on the stove, and repair the dishwasher. Termite treatment is happening on Monday. Joist repair is scheduled for Wednesday, and somewhere in that week, we're going to shop for furniture. I really hope to find a bit of spare time to get a library card at the Elkton Library and maybe even visit my new LYS, Vulcan's Rest, in Chesapeake City. (Big thanks to Vera for her recommendation!)

I've procured home owner's insurance, scheduled electric, water, and sewer to be turned on the day we close, but haven't yet contacted Comcast to set up internet. Given my previous interactions with Comcast here in NJ, I thought that process might work better when I was actually in MD.

So my time has been taken up with details and all the seemingly hundreds of things that need to be done before Thursday the 12th. I enjoy posting every day, and I especially enjoy hearing from all of you, but that hasn't been possible for a few days now. I'm not leaving, but all this house stuff plus the activities of daily life and family mean that I'll be posting randomly over the next few weeks. I'm going to be in MD from next Wed. the 11th through Fri. the 20th, then back to NJ to regroup. Here's hoping I can successfully negotiate with Comcast so I might even be able to post from MD!

I'm wishing everyone a wonderful, relaxed, and relaxing weekend. We've been invited to the ranch where Justin works this weekend to meet the man who owns the place, his assistant, the rest of the ranch staff, and their families so I may even have blog fodder for Monday!

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Too Hot, Too Dry

I haven't talked about our garden much lately, but I think the photos below might explain why.

The spinach has all bolted.

 Zucchini leaves are wilting.

The popcorn doesn't look completely awful, but when you look a bit closer, you can see that all the leaves are curled. That's the plant's attempt to try and limit water loss when temperatures are high. My grandfather used to say that he could predict the temperature based on how tightly the corn leaves were curled, but my farming experience isn't good enough to do that.

The cucumbers look pitiful,

and the poor tomatoes are just terrible.

There is one seemingly heat-resistant volunteer plant in the bean row, so I'm trying to take especially good care of it. 

Worst of all are the splayed out Napa cabbages. The heads are still usable, but I don't know how long that will be the case. 

We've been watering early in the morning and again late at night to reduce evaporation, but I took these photos at mid-day
 and they show how stressed most of the plants are after several days of our high heat, despite twice daily watering. 

There is one thing in the garden that isn't painful and sad to look at - the purple coneflowers. There are
 also some black-eyed susans among them, and I hope they fare well enough to bloom. 

To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow ~ Audrey Hepburn
(along with the possibility of lower temperatures and a drenching thunderstorm or two!)

Monday, July 2, 2018

Sometimes Monday ...

... is a day for being hopeful.

Here's hoping for the best for you today (and I'm also holding a few selfish hopes for myself )!

Friday, June 29, 2018

Why Y?

I'm not the author; I just love that there is another Bonny Becker out there.

Dear Mom and Dad,

I miss both of you, and especially when I have questions that I wish I had asked you. Lately I've been wondering why "y" instead of "ie"?

I do remember asking you why you chose to spell my name with a "y" instead of the more common "ie" sometime when I was around 10 years old. You told me that you wanted my name to be special and original, like me. That lovely answer certainly satisfied me, and I still remember it 50 years later. I remember Grandpa singing " My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean" to me and telling me that it was my own special song. (That Bonnie is actually spelled with an "ie", but I couldn't distinguish the spelling while Grandpa was singing.)

So overall, I've been happy with my name, despite the month or two when I was five that I begged you to call me Diane, and the fact that I could never find pencils, key chains, or those plastic license plates meant for bikes at Spencer Gifts because my name was spelled differently.

But lately it's caused some issues. I worked with a woman for eight years, and she never did spell my name correctly even though I corrected her quite a few times.It's a small thing, but I still felt demeaned and less than. I guess the problem was with her and not me, but now it's the bank's refusal and my problem. We applied for a loan, and the spelling of my name has caused ridiculous complications. The first time we tried to close on the loan, my name was spelled "Bonnie" on all the documents. When I pointed out this error, we weren't able to close for five days while the loan department printed a new set of documents. On the second attempt at closing, I stared, dumbfounded, at the new documents printed with "Bonnie Y. Becker". Someone in the loan department had been told "It's a "y"", so that's what they did. Another week later, we tried again. This time the loan documents were printed correctly, but they made me sign them as "Bonnie Becker aka Bonny Becker". At this point, I didn't care, but was dumbfounded again that so many people steadfastly refused to believe that you had chosen "y" instead of "ie", even while they were staring at my birth certificate.

I wish I understood how and why you chose "y", but thank you for making me feel original and special. If only the rest of the world would pay attention to that small but important detail, then I would really feel special!

She not only has a lovely name, she writes great books, too!

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Three on Thursday

Joining Kat and Carole for Three on Thursday, and today it's with three things about The World Cup. Carole is on vacation, so while there is no Three on Thursday linkup, I had an interesting experience yesterday, and three things to share.

When we go to MD for "house stuff", John also has to work. His job has been transferred to a research facility that straddles the DE/MD line and we stay in a hotel in Newark, DE. Yesterday he went in to work early, told me that he would be back by noon, so I stayed at the hotel and read. I checked out mid-morning, sat in the lobby and pulled out my book to read, but was quickly distracted by all the people gathered around the TV, cheering and clapping. The TV was tuned to The World Cup. All the people watching seemed intense and intent, so I wandered over to see what was going on, and immediately became intent myself.

I have little interest in sports of any kind, but there were so many intriguing things about soccer and the matches that I watched that I wasn't even irritated when John didn't come back to pick me up until 3:30. (That's really saying something!) Here are three things I loved about The World Cup:

1.  The non-politicalness of it.
The first thing I noticed was that this is all happening in Russia, and not one person mentioned T*rump. The announcers, players, coaches, fans, and the crowd in the hotel lobby cared only about the games. 

2.  The unity of it. 
The analysts were an interesting multinational group that included English football forward female Kelly Smith, Dutch soccer player and coach Guus Hiddink, and retired American soccer player Alexi Lalas. The group in the hotel lobby included people from Mexico, Egypt, Poland, China, and the US, visiting PhDs doing astrophysics research at UDel, housekeepers, laundry workers, and hotel guests, but we were all enthralled and interested in the game together, no matter where we were from or our station in life. 

3.  It can give you a wider view.
To me, The World Cup is soccer, but others in the group called the game football. It was a great reminder of how the rest of the world often sees things differently from the US. American football is a big deal here, but it's only got 400 million fans compared to soccer's 3.5 billion fans. My immediate concern yesterday was the house inspection that showed termites, termite damage, defective appliances, plumbing issues and lots of other things that all add up to some very expensive fixes that neither we nor the seller want to pay for. But I watched Sweden beat Mexico, South Korea beat and eliminate Germany, and the beginning of the Brazil-Serbia match, and my concerns seemed a bit smaller. 

I'm sure there is plenty of politics in soccer; players, coaches, and fans who aren't feeling the unity, and those who don't want to take a wider view in sports or anything else, but I thoroughly enjoyed my time watching The World Cup, and might even be tuning in again today. Japan vs. Poland and England vs. Belgium could be good matches!

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Unraveled Wednesday

Joining Kat and friends for Unraveled Wednesday.

I am feeling a bit unraveled today because I have a knitting injury to my neck, shoulder, upper arm which means that I can't knit more than a row or two before I feel this deep nagging, throbbing, tingling, shooting pain in my right shoulder that gives me an intense headache and pretty much ruins my day. It might be related to knitting, or possibly my sloppy posture, too much time working at the computer keyboard, ironing for too long, or maybe picking four rows of sugar snap peas. I've been trying to treat it myself for the past four or five days, so today you only get a photo of the various gels, creams, unguents, and pain relievers I've tried instead of my Match & Move that is only four rows longer than last week. Arnica in various forms seems to be making small improvements; I'm borrowing a TENS unit from a friend tomorrow, and have a physical therapy appointment in two weeks.

I can at least read, especially since I've been listening to Coyote America and Mindfulness Meditation for Pain Relief. John thinks I might be over-reacting, but like everyone else, I hate pain that limits my daily actions. I won't mind if the physical therapist tells me to stop ironing, but I really don't want to limit my knitting. Fingers crossed (at least on my pain-free left side)!

What are you making and reading this week?

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Decisions, Decisions

After months of looking, we finally bought a house. I can't say that it was my first choice, but after looking at far too many properties, making four offers that didn't work out because of termites wood-destroying insects, expensive sewer issues, the fact that the seller didn't actually own the driveway that provided access to one of the houses, and one where we just couldn't agree on a price, we arrived at a decision.

It's a modest brick ranch in Elkton, MD, with three bedrooms, one bathroom, a one-car garage, and a great lot. The price was right, and after a little negotiation, we've arrived at the inspection stage. In fact, we're down here in MD this morning for the general and termite wood-destroying insect inspections. The house was built in 1952, so there may be some issues, and I'm pretty sure the electrical system might be among them. But we'll see ...

This has been an interesting (if frustrating) process, and I've learned quite a bit, mainly about how John and I see things differently, and also about how our sons are mature enough to offer good and useful advice. I looked at houses and pictured how we would live in them and utilize the space; John simply tried to decide if the house was a good value without picturing us in it at all. Ryan could look at pictures of various properties and immediately identify important pros and cons. Justin told John to quit overthinking and just make a choice. Ultimately that's what we did. John had too many choices and was almost paralyzed by actually making a decision, but with advice from the kids, we put an offer on this house. There were honestly two that I liked better, but mainly because the price was right and we will only be living here for two or three years, this is the one we went with. I hope inspections work out because I really don't want to start this process all over again.

The bedrooms are small and the kitchen is just okay, but overall, the house is good enough. I was reading The Upward Spiral while we searched for a house, and things became much clearer when I read this passage:

Go for good enough. Worrying is often triggered by wanting to make the perfect choice or by trying to maximize everything. When buying a used car, you want one that is cheap, reliable, safe, sexy, the right color, and fuel efficient. Unfortunately, no single option is likely to be the best in all those dimensions. If you try to have the best of everything, you’re likely to be paralyzed by indecision or dissatisfied with your choice. In fact, this kind of “maximizing” has been proven to increase depression. So don’t try to make the most amazing dinner; start out by just making a good dinner. Don’t try to be the perfect parent; just be a good one. Don’t try to be your happiest; just be happy.

So true, and so helpful. 

Monday, June 25, 2018

Bits and Pieces

I think I've blathered about most of my experiences in Fort Collins, and there are just a few remaining bits and pieces to tell you about. I'm going to squeeze all the blog fodder possible out of this vacation!

I love visiting at this time of year because I get to see Ryan's gorgeous clematis. His looks better than any of mine, and I often wonder how someone who doesn't care one bit about gardening has such beautiful flowers. This one clearly thrives on neglect!

Ryan also had some raggedy, hail-damaged hostas that took me a little while to figure out since we don't often get hail here. He had another hail storm after I left, and said the leaves are really tattered and full of holes now.

We always enjoy great cheese and charcuterie at The Welsh Rabbit, but we did pass on the Spanish cheese rolled in ants, sub insectum, and crickets.

And lastly, there was this delightful encounter in the Denver airport. 

I don't think the woman in the pink shirt is from CO, as I haven't yet met a rude Coloradoan. I was sitting behind her at the airport, and she loudly announced that she was "hungry for something a fat girl would eat". Then she turned around and asked what I was eating. I know I'm not thin but I really don't need a rude stranger to point this out to me. I tried not to accidentally stab her with my knitting needles. :-) 

And that's it from Colorado!

Friday, June 22, 2018

My Happy Place

I mentioned before that my main reason for visiting visit Fort Collins is to spend time with Ryan, followed closely by plenty of good eating and drinking around town. There is a third reason, or maybe it's even tied for second place - visiting The Loopy Ewe in person.

I've shopped online at TLE for years, beginning when they were located in St. Louis. I continued to buy yarn from them after they moved to Fort Collins. Five years ago Ryan chose Colorado State University for grad. school, and while I was incredibly happy for him, I was a bit sad that he would be moving 1700 miles away. My sadness was assuaged somewhat after I visited The Loopy Ewe in person. It is truly a marvelous yarn store.

Ryan usually goes with me, and he has turned out to be an excellent yarn-chooser. He pushes me to try new colors and combinations that I would never choose myself. I've bought some yarn just because he picked it out, but still with a bit of doubt. Despite my skepticism, I've always come to love it. The yarn for my Match & Move is the latest example. I was sure that there was no way I would enjoy knitting with the variegated brown, black, and white Wollmeise, but now it's one of my all-time favorites. So what did he choose this time?

Lots of good stuff, and we had loads of fun picking it out!

I bought too much to fit into my suitcase, so Loopy shipped it for me. 
It arrived here at home before I did, and it was like Christmas when I opened the box.

There will be a Hitchhiker or two, possibly with two colors, and maybe the beaded cast-off that Kym used on her One Week/Close to You. There will be a couple pairs of fingerless gloves for Ryan. Some of it will marinate in my stash until it tells me what it wants to be. I might knit another Match & Move with those wild bright pink and variegated pink, green, and black Hedgehog Fibers skeins that Ryan picked out and practically dared me to buy. He even chose a new knitting bag.

It was wonderful, and even though I don't need yarn, I bought plenty that I wanted. No matter what I make with these skeins, the projects will be special because they'll remind me of the terrific time I had with Ryan, yarn-chooser extraordinaire.