Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Unraveled Wednesday

Joining Kat and friends for Unraveled Wednesday, and I've finally finished my Match and Move

The pattern is very clever. Even while I was knitting it, I had a hard time seeing the big picture, and decided to just follow the directions and see what I ended up with. It all works out in the end.

I love the yarn. The multi-colored yarn is Wollmeise in Spice Schwammerl and the beautiful solid is Leading Men Fiber Arts in Copper Cloud. They're both yarns that Ryan picked out at The Loopy Ewe last year. Definitely not my usual, but they are lovely together.

But ... I don't love the finished object itself. I didn't love the endless garter stitch. I don't mind it in the Hitchhiker pattern, so that's probably not the real reason. The shape is odd and hard to figure out what to do with. The biggest problem that I've had is that I can't figure out how to wear it. I'm not the kind of person who can artfully drape a scarf around my neck and have it look good. Instead, it either looks like a bib, slides off in the middle of doing something, and I nearly strangled myself when I got it caught in my seat belt.

I think I'll live with it for a little while, see how I feel, and then decide if I've knit a Christmas present or if I'll keep it. Maybe if I added something to the ends like I was compelled to do with my most recent Hitchhikers? The whole time I was knitting, I heard this little voice whispering "It's nice, but it's not a Hitchhiker". Maybe I should listen!

What are you making and reading this week?

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Gifts From the Universe

I've been slowly gathering plants for the house in MD - gifts, cuttings, divisions, and of course an amaryllis. The windowsills are narrow and since it's a small house, I don't have a lot of extra tables to set the plants on. I brought a few plant stands from home, but could use a few more. There's no Ikea nearby, and I've been looking on Amazon, but everything was more than I really wanted to spend. Then the gifts from the universe started arriving.

I spied this one alongside the road in PA this weekend. It looked okay from a distance, and even better up close, so once I made sure the sign on it said "Free", I grabbed it. I still need to refinish the top, but that should just mean a little sanding and a few coats of polyurethane before it's ready for plants.

Two days later in MD we drove past what looked like a pile of trash, but I thought I saw something that might be wooden and just about the size of a plant stand ... and it was! This one didn't even need refinishing, just a good scrubbing and I'm all set.

This doesn't happen very often, but I'm grateful that that the universe has provided me with exactly what I need, and I even have an extra shelf or two for more plants!

Monday, November 12, 2018

Sometimes Monday ...

... is a day for getting back on track. I'm sorry for my abrupt departure, but I had a family thing (a big thing). I would tell you the story if it was mine to tell, but since it's not, please give your children an extra-tight hug and some good thoughts and prayers would be welcomed. I'm going to ease back into my regular life and talking to you guys is a big part of that.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

More Gratitude

It was so easy to compose my gratitude list yesterday that I even had a few left over and decided to continue counting my blessings. So, here are five more things.

Pop Tarts! I know they're not healthy and contain mostly empty calories, but I still love them. I haven't had one in several years, so I'm going to appreciate the six left in the box.

My second cup of tea on this chilly, rainy day.

This little sparrow spends most of the day sitting right here at the bird feeder. I think he might have some sort of beak malformation. I'm able to get relatively close to him, but not close enough to figure out what's going on. I'm glad to provide seed for him and grateful that he's chosen one of my feeders.

I'm grateful for the ability to vote. This seems especially true in these mid-term elections and I have very high hopes for the outcome, but whatever happens, I value the right to vote.

This so important, I'll say it twice. I'm grateful to be able to vote and also grateful for one more of Roger Angell's pieces. (E.B. White's stepson still has it.) Go vote and be "enthralled by the moment and its meaning."

Monday, November 5, 2018

Sometimes Monday ...

... is a day for gratitude. In celebration of Michelle's Gratitude Week, here are five things I'm grateful for today.

I got my mail, complete with the yarn I was waiting for! There was some more confusion, and I had to go pick it up myself, but my yarn is here!

I'm grateful that I had such a nice day on Sunday to pick up leaves, that I have the ability to wield a rake and the leaf sucker, and that they make such a nice, tidy pile in the street. There will be many, many more to deal with, but for now they're still fun.

Buds on all of my Christmas cactuses make me happy and grateful. There should be lots of flowers around here in the next couple of months!

The joy of having a comforting sequel to one of your favorite books is undeniable, even if it wasn't written by the same author. 

Lastly, I'm grateful that I'm only nine rows away from a/n FO. There is the finishing, weaving in of ends, and blocking, but hopefully soon!

What brings gratitude into your world?

Friday, November 2, 2018

High Hopes

or maybe medium hopes, but I do have some kind of hope for these books. I was anxious to get back to NJ to pick up these books that I had placed on hold. I've been disappointed in the past few books I've started and want to read something, anything, that pulls me into the story, has an interesting plot, or teaches me something. With plenty of wind and rain, this looks like a good weekend for reading, so I don't even have to feel guilty about lying on the sofa and doing just that. 

I was also excited to get back to NJ because there is some yarn I ordered for a Christmas knitting project in the mail that I had held. The post office was supposed to deliver it yesterday, but did not, so I do hope it's in my mailbox today. I don't know if the USPS understands how excited a knitter can get about a new project, but I'm sure if they did, neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night would stay these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds. The postal service and I have a love/hate relationship, so I even raked leaves from the front walk this morning so the mailman wouldn't slip. Fingers crossed!

Wishing you a good weekend!

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Three on Thursday

Joining Carole and friends for this November Three on Thursday, and today it's with three completely random photos.

One is a preview sky shot, reminding us of what is to come.

Secondly, the first lovely Christmas cactus bloom of the season.

And lastly, this one reminding us that it's a good idea to look more closely.

Head on over to Carole's for more Three on Thursday.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Unraveled Wednesday

Joining Kat and friends for Unraveled Wednesday.

I had hoped to have an FO to show you, but miscounting and unraveling have prevented me from doing that this week. Instead, I'll tell you the good news.

In my continuing efforts to explore Elkton, I went to the one and only coffee place, East Main Cafe. Ryan and I often use dirty chai (chai with a shot of espresso) as a benchmark for whether the place is any good or not. Fort Collins has three very good coffee houses that are separated only by which barista is working and how hot is it (one isn't air conditioned); Flemington only has one coffee house and the dirty chai is awful, the worst I've ever had. My hopes started to rise when I asked the barista if she could please make me a dirty chai, she knew what it was, and didn't use a mix. One sip, and I was elated; it was just how I like it! Not too sweet, not too peppery, but just right. It worries me a little bit that I was the only person there for two hours, so I'll make a point of supporting them whenever I'm in Elkton. 

My reading news is about the same as knitting. I'm undecided about whether to abandon Unsheltered and I also don't know if I should start Transcription. I'm pretty much done with Barbara Kingsolver lecturing me through her fiction (whatever happened to show, don't tell?) and I'm afraid I'll also be disappointed if Transcription turns out to only be a 2-3 star book. While I decide, I'm just going to enjoy this 4.5 star dirty chai.

What are you making and reading this week?

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Pleasantly Overwhelmed

After Saturday and Sunday, I wanted to take it a little bit easy yesterday. I washed and hung out all of our fiberglass clothing, and then it dawned on me that there was no immediate house project to work on. Vera had been kind enough to recommend a local yarn store, so I thought it was high time I paid a visit.

The Vulcan's Rest is in Chesapeake City, but I didn't know exactly where that was located. I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was a mere seven miles away, and packed with gorgeous yarn. I meant to ask about their unusual name (is this the Spock kind of Vulcan or the Roman God of Fire?) but I completely forgot once I was inside.

They carry so many types of yarn that I've never seen in person that all I could do initially was stand and look with my mouth open. In addition to all of the wonderful yarn there's a lovely sitting area up front and a big class area in the back.

Their whole name is Vulcan's Rest Fibers because they realize that knitting is not the only fiber-related craft, so you can also find supplies for crochet, spinning, weaving, and even pot-holder looms, needle felting, and reeds for basket-weaving.

They are looking for a tenant for the coffee shop that is under construction through that window you can see on the back wall. I'm afraid I might never leave when that happens.

I only bought one skein and some Chibi needles but I know I'll go back, soon! Thanks, Vera!

Monday, October 29, 2018

Sometimes Monday ...

... is a day of rest, mainly because you are so sore that you struggle to move. This weekend we insulated the attic in the MD house.

There was some insulation up there, but in the 66 years since it had been installed, it was very smushed down (technical insulator's term) and it had been placed upside-down.

John calculated, ordered 36 rolls, and since it wasn't doing anything just sitting in the garage, we had to suck it up (not without a face mask!) and put it in place.

I measured and cut sections and John laid them in place. It was hot, dark, and difficult, working on catwalk sections that we had placed on top of the rafters.

We worked on Saturday until we couldn't work any more, then got up on Sunday and worked until the job was done. I call it a success because nobody fell through the ceiling.

I honestly think it's some of the hardest work I've ever done and my knees, back, legs, and arms (and oddly, my thumbs, too) are more sore than I remember. But, hey, the house feels warmer already!

Friday, October 26, 2018

Look Who's Back!

A friend sent me this and was I ever glad to see her!

I've wondered where she ended up, and was glad to find out that she is now at the National Harbor along the Potomac River in Maryland. She looks even more realistic this time without the base that was attached last time. Her packages haven't changed; her lovely expression hasn't changed, and I'm guessing that she hasn't changed either. I am a bit concerned that she's hanging around outside of a liquor store, but it does look like it's in a ritzy neighborhood. The same old Disgruntled Shopper that we know and love!

I hope everyone has a good weekend, maybe even catching up with an old friend!

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Three on Thursday

Joining Carole for Three on Thursday, and today it's with three things I see on the way to Maryland.

First is the Delaware Memorial Bridge. It's always a guessing game to see which lanes are going to be closed. Today it's the far left lane.

Next is a lovely eight-lane highway. This is where you know the traffic is getting serious.

Now we're getting closer. See the Welcome to Maryland sign?

We're here!

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

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Unraveled Wednesday

Joining Kat and friends for Unraveled Wednesday. 

Ta-da! At long last, I've finally finished Ryan's birthday fingerless mitts.

Even though they're late, I still think he'll enjoy them.

I've learned my lesson, and in a few days when the yarn arrives, I'll be starting on his Christmas fingerless mitts. 

What are you making and reading this week?

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Monday, October 22, 2018


It was a lovely fall weekend here in central NJ. There was plenty of garden clean-up, pruning, and hopefully a final mowing. We've had several frosts, but not a really hard one yet. I spied a woolly bear on the mums.

His reddish middle section looked pretty large to me, so maybe a harsh winter? I'm going to continue to look for more. I've only seen two so far and need a bigger sample size.

We had guests for dinner on Friday, so I made Kat's apple cake for dessert. It was perfect - easy and delicious! I used one tsp. of vanilla and three Tbsp. of whiskey and everyone loved the taste. There were four of us for dinner, and not a crumb was left.

There was puppy wine from Justin's girlfriend. She's a vet. tech. and lives about an hour south of us, so she was very kind to drop off some wine she got at a shelter fund raiser. It goes well with apple cake, which I made again on Sunday when we had unexpected guests for dinner.

I was looking forward to enjoying a little piece with my tea this morning, but just like on Friday, not a crumb was left. So, thank you, Kat! Because of your cake (it's called Kat's cake in my recipe box now) we had a delicious weekend.

How was yours?

Friday, October 19, 2018

Thanks, Dad

Today would have been my father's 86th birthday. I mowed the lawn in MD on Thursday, and it dawned on me that I've been mowing twice as much this summer, and each time I've thanked my father. I'm not even completely conscious of doing it, but I whisper a little "Thanks, Dad" every time I mow on a slope. Here's the story.

I desperately wanted to mow the lawn when I was growing up, but my father didn't just fill the mower with gas and let me loose; he embarked on a series of safety-based teaching sessions. First, he made me change my shoes from flip-flops to sneakers and told me to never, never mow the lawn in flip-flops. Then I learned how to start the mower and he walked beside me while I cut a few rows. Our front yard was a long slope, and when we got to that part, he told me to turn the mower off and we would try it again next week. We did the same thing for the next few weeks, and finally he decided that I was ready to mow the slope. He turned the mower off, and explained in detail that I must always mow the slope from side to side, never, never up and down. Grass is slippery, and if I slipped, my foot would slide directly into the mower blades. He had me repeat this several times, and then we started to mow the slope, side to side. He walked beside me, we finished the lawn, and we mowed like that, together, with Dad supervising, for the rest of the summer.

He did finally allow me to mow by myself the next year, checking that I had sneakers on and with a warning about mowing side to side on the slope. It was my job to mow the lawn until I went to college, but then I didn't mow for years because I lived in apartments. We bought the house in NJ where the whole back yard is a long slope, and I thought of Dad for a moment almost every time I've mowed there.

His health started declining almost a decade ago, and he was eventually diagnosed with diabetes, heart disease, end stage renal disease, prostate cancer, bladder cancer, and complications with all of these. He was sick, scared, and in pain, and because of those things, our relationship deteriorated to the point that he would barely speak to me. My sister and I took him to daily radiation treatments, doctor appointments, the pharmacy, grocery shopping, and a million other things almost every day for several years, but he wouldn't even say hello or goodbye at the end. It was a difficult time for all of us by the time he passed away in January.

He was never a warm and talkative man, and things were quite sad, frustrating, and difficult at the end. But with all the mowing this summer, and being careful on the slopes, it finally dawned on me that even if he wasn't the kind of father I wanted, he had still cared about me, as evidenced by all the care he took with teaching me how to mow. I do apologize for this rambling post that isn't like my usual, but it's something I've been thinking about a lot, and I wanted to write it down as it has resolved a lot for me. So, be safe, go side to side on the slopes, and thanks, Dad.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Three on Thursday

Joining Carole for Three on Thursday, and today it's with three different sky views. I'm still working on organizing my digital photos, and yesterday I combined quite a few different folders labeled "sky", "skies", and "look up" into one, and then spent an hour or more going through all the photos. I've probably got more than 100 pictures of skies, so you may see more of them on future Thursdays.

First, a rainbow that appeared right in front of my house just as I went out to look for one after a thunderstorm. 

Here is a stormy sky during sunset. I saw this just as I reached the top of the cemetery hill during my walk. I didn't have my phone, so I ran home to get it. I'm glad I did because the view was even more dramatic when I got back to the top of the hill.

Lastly, this is one of my favorites, taken from our bark yard after Ryan and I had a very nice mother-son conversation. It's a pretty photo that always evokes loving memories.

I hope you have a lovely view of the sky above you today.

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