Friday, January 19, 2018

I Just Want to Read

For someone with a long list to accomplish today, I've gotten a late start, and I blame Lisa Genova.

She is a neuroscientist and author who writes fiction about people living with neurological diseases. She includes just the right amount of well-researched scientific detail to inform and educate the reader, but she also manages to beautifully portray the human side of the people living with these disorders. She has written about early onset Alzheimer's Disease, traumatic brain injury, autism, Huntington's disease, and now ALS. Every Note Played * will be published in March of this year, but I was lucky enough to be approved for an advance copy from NetGalley, and now all I want to do is read.

I woke up early this morning, told myself that I wouldn't be able to get back to sleep, and reading for a little bit would be a good idea. Three hours later, I'm having trouble putting this compelling book down and getting to work. The story is about a concert pianist who is diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease or motor neurone disease) at the peak of his success. How he deals with his progressive paralysis, the dilemma of the extensive caretaking he needs, and the reactions of the family he has estranged himself from make for some painful reading, but Genova's writing is beautiful, without a hint of overwrought drama. I know what the end will be, but I can hardly wait to see how it will be.

So after I make myself finish laundry, grocery shop, clean for some visitors, cook a few things ahead of time for those visitors, and review two strawberry and lettuce fungicide reports, I'll be back in the same place, happily reading a great book. I laughed when I saw the cover of the most recent Bas Bleu catalog; they get it!

I hope your weekend includes a wonderful book or two and some time to read.

* There is a giveaway on goodreads if you are interested in entering for a chance to win a copy of the book.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Three on Thursday

Joining Kat and Carole for Three on Thursday.

I spent two frustrating days in doctor's offices and hospitals this week, and took plenty of photos to go with the "Three Things I Dislike About Doctors" post I had written in my mind. On the way home I remembered my grandmother saying that nature and water were good ways to deal with day-to-day irritations so I stopped at a park to talk a walk with both water and nature. On a more positive note, here are "Three (Plus) Things I Enjoyed On My Walk". 

There were interesting and beautiful ice formations,

Berries available for birds,

And lots of hemlock foliage and cones for deer, squirrels, and mice.

My grandmother was right; water and nature put things in perspective beautifully.

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

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Unraveled Wednesday

Joining Kat and friends for Unraveled Wednesday.

My mother-in-law hates winter weather because she's very afraid of falling. She was complaining about it last week and told me, "If it's not snowing, it's dark." Today you get a photo of my Frostbite Fighter Sockhead Cowl in progress that shows sometimes darkness and snow happen at the same time. Putting my knitting in a snowy tree also showed me that it passed the weather test. I'm knitting this at a tight enough gauge that it should be fairly waterproof and be able to fight frostbite as I had hoped.

I'm enjoying knitting this and have been thinking about what stash I might use for one for me. I have some ideas, but my blue gradient hitchhiker is also calling me "Finish me, Bonny. You're so close and I want to be worn instead of stuffed in your knitting bag." I don't think I can ignore its plaintive cries much longer.

I finished two books this week, The Power and The Queen of Hearts, and am still reading The Woman Who Smashed Codes. Links are in the right-hand sidebar if you're interested in any of them, but I highly recommend The Power. Compelling, interesting, well-written, and disturbing, it may be the best book I read this year ( I just can't confidently declare that already in the middle of January).

What are you making and reading? 

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Charmed, I'm Sure

I've been continuing with my Swedish death cleaning, very slowly, but steadily. If I find myself with 10 or 15 free minutes, I try to use it to clean out a small space. Yesterday it was the hat cupboard in the armoire in our bedroom. I was doing fairly well until I got to these little boxes, and had to stop and take a closer look.

This is my charm bracelet. My grandmother (my father's mother that we rarely saw because she traveled a lot) brought it back for me from Copenhagen, and I remember thinking I was so sophisticated because I had a charm bracelet from Denmark with a toggle clasp.

It really is a reflection of my life growing up - a microscope for my keen interest in science, a baton from my time as a majorette in high school, and my years in Girl Scouts from Brownies through Seniors and then as a troop leader.

My mother's charm bracelet is loaded with movable charms that I love, like Jonah in the whale,

a real compass, a Bible that opens up to the Lord's Prayer inside,

a boat with a swiveling fisherman,

a harmonica that you can play (a little bit) and a flexible fish.

My mother was a postmaster at a tiny little post office for many years, and I remember being thrilled to find this opening and closing mail box for her birthday.

My sister and I were always amazed that my father had found our exact house as a charm for my mother's bracelet. We didn't realize that it was really just a standard split-level house, but it was fun to see our bedroom window over the garage in charm form, just like our real house.

We spent lots of time on rainy days looking through our mother's jewelry boxes, trying on her "fancy jewelry", and playing with the movable charms. This wishing well was one of our very favorites. It used to have a handle that turned to move the bucket up and down. Sadly, it got broken (let's just say my sister did it because I would never do something like that), but ...

all I had to do was open up the Happy Birthday cake to see that the candle and broken wishing well handle were still safely inside.

Not a lot of cleaning got done, but the trip down memory lane was wonderful.

Monday, January 15, 2018

This is What a Celebration Looks Like!

Justin has been having a very difficult time at his job for many months, and for many reasons. He's vented to us, sent late-night texts that are worrisome to his mother, and generally been miserable. I offered advice when I was asked, and sympathy and caring when it seemed that he needed it the most. I know that this is not really my problem nor could I fix it, but no mother wants to see her child so unhappy for so long.

Late last week, Justin called with some good news - finally! The details are not really mine to recount, but I think I do get to share that I grabbed a cider and literally danced when I got off the phone.

He came home for a quick overnight visit on Saturday to tell us the whole story, and I decided this was worth a celebration. When the boys were young, good grades, happy news, and sometimes just the fact that we were lucky to have such great kids got celebrated and marked with a special dinner. That's just what this occasion called for.

I admired the sun shining through the pie plates I got out to bread the chicken parmesan.

There were twice-baked potatoes to go with the chicken parmesan,

and a beer for each of us to raise to Justin and good news.

It may look like just an ordinary weekend meal, but I hope you can also see the hope, happiness, and relief that were a big part of this celebratory dinner. Here's hoping you've got good things going on in your world this week.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Three on Thursday

Joining Kat and Carole for Three on Thursday.

Every morning while I'm having my morning tea, I ask myself that eternal question, "What the heck should I make for dinner tonight?" I've been in a soup sort of mood, so here are three soups that I considered for dinner. 

Corn and Cheese Chowder
I like almost everything The Pioneer Woman makes, and this one had the added benefit that I have all the ingredients. It was a serious contender.

Sherried Tomato Soup
I found this one while I was perusing The Pioneer Woman's website, and I could almost taste a delicious dinner of homemade tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches. Drawbacks were that I would have to go to the grocery store for diced tomatoes and sherry.

Split Pea Soup with Sausage
This recipe sounded intriguing. I always make split pea soup after I make a ham, but to be honest, I just barely tolerate ham after the childhood trauma of being made to sit at the kitchen table until bedtime because I couldn't/wouldn't finish my awful slice of ham. I used the "spit it into a napkin" trick more than once and my mother pretended not to notice. Split pea soup without ham might open up a whole new world for me.

And the winner was ...

Split Pea Soup with Sausage! Easy, delicious, and no one was forced to sit at the kitchen table until bedtime.

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

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Unraveled Wednesday

Joining Kat and friends for Unraveled Wednesday.

This photo is a little over four inches of ribbing on my next cowl for Justin, Frostbite Fighter. I'm actually done with the ribbing and have started the next section of rounds and rounds of stockinette, but was running out of light yesterday afternoon and ran out to take a few photos. (*Scroll down to see the rest of the story.) I love the yarn and don't mind the mindless meditative knitting at all ... yet. There are still 14 more inches to go, so I've still got plenty of time for a little whining about endless stockinette and too much ribbing.

I'm reading The Queen of Hearts and listening to The Woman Who Smashed Codes and The PowerI think I'm going to have to do some monogamous reading to actually finish something. I'm splitting my time between them now, and while they're all very good in their own ways, I'm not making much progress with any of them. So no more fooling around with multiple books this week; I'm going to pick one and be faithful.

*The rest of the story:

This is the photo you take when you accidentally drop the ball of yarn you have been carefully trying not to drop.

This is how far the ball of yarn rolls despite your efforts to chase it.

What are you making and reading? 

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Before They Shrivel Up Completely

Remember this Christmas cactus that I bought back in December and my excitement over its ten buds on one segment?


This is what it looks like now.


As I feared, many of the buds dried up and have dropped off. Those ten buds are just shriveling up and disappearing, despite all my misting and care. Oh, well, there's always next year, and I do still have a few remaining blooms to enjoy on my other cactus plants.

And look, the sun is shining brightly and bringing us temperatures of 40 degrees today, which may be the best news of all!

Monday, January 8, 2018


This past weekend was all about staying warm and cozy indoors.

There was knitting (accompanied by a delightfully relaxing hot toddy).

There was cookie baking.

Because I had promised to make these for him back in November, Pickle Egg Rolls were finally prepared and fried for Justin. The verdict: a little weird, but still tasty. I would make them again.

And lastly, I was fascinated again by the sun-lit, sparkly frost on the windows. After more snow and ice today, I think this beautiful frost may start melting towards the end of the week.

I hope your weekend was a good one, too!

Friday, January 5, 2018

Fun With Frost

It was dark and -4 degrees when I left the house very early this morning, so I was concentrating on not slipping on ice, not getting blown off course by the wind, and crossing my fingers that my car would start (success on all counts). Thankfully, there was enough light when I got home to notice and take some photos of the lovely and impressive frost formations we've got going on.

I wish that the sun had been in the correct position to provide a little sparkle, but the temperatures are predicted to drop even lower over the weekend, so these frosty feathers aren't going to be melting any time soon. Hopefully, I'll be able to take some photos with the sun behind them tomorrow or Sunday. If we're going to be locked in the deep freeze, I'm glad it's at least pretty.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Three on Thursday

It's cold (really uncomfortable, bone-chilling, record-setting cold) over much of the country, so here are Three Ways You Can See Just How Cold It Is.

 A Frozen-Over Fountain

I'm not sure why they don't turn off the water (maybe the pipes would freeze?) but even the tiny little spray that is still working makes for some interesting ice accretions.

Ice on the Cliffs

These are the Palisades rock formations along the Pennsylvania side of the Delaware River. They're impressive enough at almost any time of year, but even more so when they become encased in ice. The really crazy thing is that people choose to ice-climb here. I saw some climbers walking along River Road when I was driving past, but had someplace to be so I couldn't stop and watch. It might also have been a little nerve-racking.

Ice on the River

I love seeing the beginning of ice formation on the Delaware River. It starts as "scab ice" (that's what everyone around here calls it) forming on the rocks in the river bed where it's colder than the surface. Eventually this ice floats up and the smaller pieces come together loosely into ice islands.

They are carried by the current, pushed to the banks by the wind, and gather on the bridge supports. I think it's beautiful, and the ice even has a voice of its own - a kind of gentle shushing as the river flows by.

Even winter's cold has a lovely beauty of its own!

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