Friday, December 7, 2018

I Miss You, G'ma

I've written about my grandmother before, and because she was a wonderful woman who deserves to have her praises sung, I'm reposting this from two years ago. I miss her and think of her almost every day, but especially today, her birthday.

Today is my grandmother's birthday. It's an easy date for me to remember as she always joked that it was "a date which will live in infamy". I don't know what year the picture above was taken, but that is how I often think of her. A kind and gentle woman, but photos don't show that she was also independent, creative, and even rebellious if it meant doing what she believed was right.

Born in 1904, she became a schoolteacher as many women did then. She met my grandfather, but didn't let the fact that Ohio schoolteachers weren't allowed to be married in 1927 deter her. They ran away to West Virginia, got married in secret, and kept that secret for a year by living apart. I marvel at the courage it would have taken to defy her parents, society, and jeopardize a job she loved and needed. She told me, "It isn't fair that a woman should have to give up everything of herself when she marries."

I was the oldest grandchild of five, and while she always made me feel as if I was special, I think my sister and cousins might all say the same thing. Even though we lived more than 400 miles away, my grandparents came to visit us at least four times a year and we spent two weeks with them every summer. Those were glorious days when she taught me to knit, sew, crochet, garden, and cook. On walks through the woods she showed me how to identify trillium, bloodroot, and dig sassafras roots for a spring tonic. I'm not sure when we started calling her G'ma, but she loved it and it stuck.

G'ma was an excellent seamstress, sewing dresses for us for every occasion. This is my sister and me in new dresses, with our mouths and hands full of the licorice and gumdrops G'ma kept in the canister in the kitchen, just because she knew we loved them. Her sewing abilities extended to drapes and slip covers, almost always without a pattern, but fitting perfectly.

G'ma excelled at traditional "women's work", but didn't think twice about doing "men's work", too. This is the cabin that she and my grandfather built, and the outhouse that she dug a six-foot deep pit for. I wish I had a photo of the wood-burning stove inside where she cooked meals, and baked bread and cakes, after she had chopped wood for it.

Because I know how much G'ma loved me and appreciate everything she taught me, I think of her almost every day. Sometimes it's when I'm making dinner (city chicken because cubes of pork and veal on skewers used to be cheaper than chicken). Other times it's when I'm thinking about taking some half-assed shortcut and hearing G'ma's voice saying, "That's not how we do things, Bonny!" But it's always with love because I would not be the person I am without G'ma.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Three on Thursday - Coming and Going

Joining Carole and friends for Three on Thursday. Today it's with three things about spending time in MD and NJ.

1.  We don't really have a set schedule because life (and long meetings at work and weather) happen, but usually we drive down to MD on Sunday night and head back to NJ on Thursday night. Winter should be interesting.

2.  This means that I spend time on Sunday and Thursday packing - my laptop, ipod, Kindle, phone, and knitting are must-have items, and there are often other things. Furniture, bird feeders, spices, clothing and shoes for a special occasion, and Hitchhikers have all been transported from NJ to MD, and sometimes back again. I always feel like I've forgotten something in both places.

3.  And then there is the matter of food. We came down to MD on Friday after Thanksgiving, so I had to freeze most of the leftovers in NJ. When we went back last week I got everything out and made a huge batch of turkey soup. I froze some in NJ and brought the rest down here to MD, but since today is Thursday and we're not done with the soup, I'm taking it back, along with the bread I made that will be stale in MD by Sunday night. I never know where we have milk and if it will be sour or not. John thinks we should just eat hoagies from WaWa (where we can also get milk) here in MD and I'm beginning to think he's right. 

I feel bad complaining about these relatively minor things when we're lucky enough to have two houses and this was our choice, but they're beginning to wear on me a bit. I did have boots in MD when it snowed, but no snow shovel (I borrowed one from a neighbor) and I haven't experienced the tragedy of leaving my knitting someplace I'm not, so I guess it's all good.

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

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Unraveled Wednesday

Joining Kat and friends for Unraveled Wednesday, and the daydreaming is strong today. 

I'm still working on the Christmas mitts, and this is the second one in the first pair. This is lovely yarn to knit, but I'm ready to knit something besides dull green. 

I've got another mitt to knit on a second pair, but 'll explain more about them later. (Christmas knitting, you know.)

This is what I'm really daydreaming about - a Sockhead Cowl for me out of this gorgeous yarn.

The color is hard to capture (it's not blue, but a really rich purple) especially in too-dark-for-photos winter light, so here is a slightly jarring photo of it on the red couch at The Loopy Ewe last summer when I bought it.

Even though I can't take a good photo if it, it is lovely and I hope to cast on soon.

I'm also daydreaming about books. I'm reading Calypso, and I think it might be David Sedaris' best - the perfect blend of humor and poignancy. Kat talked about The Folded Clock and it intrigued me enough that I might need to read it next. None of the libraries I use to access Overdrive has a copy, but one of them uses a recommendation feature. I can recommend that they purchase the book, and if they do, they will check it out to me. I did this, but the next screen made me laugh.

The only criteria for recommending other books must be that they are available. No Rock or Willie Mays for me; I think I'll buy The Folded Clock before that happens.

What are you making and reading this week?

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Best of 2018?

I got busy enough yesterday that I forgot to blog! Grocery shopping, raking leaves and trimming ivy that had been creeping over the neighbors' fence, laundry (always), helping John lay more tile, and then another one of my every other day trips to Home Depot to get stuff we forgot and return stuff we got too much of. When I finally sat down at the end of the day, I made a choice between reading and blogging ... reading won.

I didn't set a reading goal in goodreads for the number of books I wanted to read in 2018, and now at the end of the year I don't remember why. I think I didn't want to feel pressured and have reading feel like a chore, but now I feel like something is missing. I don't have easy access to how many books I've read, fiction vs. nonfiction, books borrowed from Overdrive, etc. I can still find that information; it's just not as easy. Last week Carole said she viewed the reading goal more as record-keeping than an actual goal, which now sounds like a good idea to me, so I think I'll start off 2019 differently and maybe even go back and fix 2018.

All of this has me thinking about my favorite books of 2018. It drives me nuts when I see these lists appear too early, but I've recently finished two wonderful books that I'm fairly sure will make the list. The first is Marilla of Green Gables. It's a prequel of sorts to Anne of Green Gables, one of my very favorite books. I started it with trepidation, fearful that it could never live up to the tone and delight of the original, but it comes very close. I gave it four stars and have been thinking about Marilla since I finished it.

The second book is Fox 8 by George Saunders and it is a marvel. It's really a short story about Fox 8 who has learned the Yuman language. It's original, heartwarming, heartbreaking, sweet, but not saccharine. This may be a story that you either love or hate; I gave it five stars and love everything about it (even the cover), but your mileage may vary.

By now I know that you Yumans like your Storys to end hapy? If you want your Storys to end happy, try being niser.

What have you been reading lately?

Friday, November 30, 2018

Randomly On A Friday

I've got a few random bits and pieces today, beginning with this llama I surprised during a recent visit to WoodsEdge Farm. He was concentrating on eating grass with his head down, but I laughed at his look of surprise when he looked up and saw me!

I both loved and hated The Handmaid's Tale, and the same was true of the Hulu series (it was almost worse seeing it on the screen in front of me), but I am sure that I will be reading The Testaments in 2019. Too bad none of the libraries I use to access Overdrive will let me place a hold on it ... yet.

What couldn't be fixed
Rose-Lynn Fisher

I think the photomicrographs that Rose-Lynn Fisher takes of her tears are just beautiful. They look like aerial photos, but are really pictures of her own tears. She began taking them after she reconnected with an old friend who died soon afterwards. The photos are different depending on whether the tears are air-dried or compressed beneath a coverslip, and settings on the camera and microscope, but I love the idea that her curiosity was piqued even while she was in the midst of sadness. I see several heart-shaped islands with tributaries and inner geographic land forms and cities above, all captured within a tear.

This photo is from five years ago, but it was lovely enough that I wanted to share. I'm heading back to NJ tomorrow and while I won't see any blossoms yet, I do hope the leaves have grown on both of my amaryllis at home. I'm excited to see what awaits me!

I'm done with all this random yakkity-yakking, and hope you have a wonderful weekend and your December gets off to a lovely start!

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Three on Thursday

Joining Carole and friends for Three on Thursday. Today it's with three things I've learned about home improvement projects.

1.  Just do it. Gather all the materials you think you'll need, read through the instructions, and don't forget you tube videos, but at some point you're going to have to stop preparing, just get started, and do it. 

2.  Don't overthink. This tile installation was over existing tile and we spent loads of time in The Home Depot and got differing advice from almost every employee we talked to. One said we would be fine, another said we had to use special leveling cement, and one said it was really too bad we hadn't thought about this before we bought the house. (I hope he was joking!) John put it down over the existing tile and we think it will be fine for at least three years when we sell this house.

3.  Don't underestimate the power of moral support. I've always felt guilty when I wasn't actively working on a project, but with this one I was really only providing moral support. Mary was kind enough to point out that this was a real and sometimes difficult job. It requires checking math and instructions, along with providing support and optimism for as long as the job lasts. I did those things and then spent an hour rolling out the tile with my rolling pin, so I didn't feel quite so bad. And I will be replacing the 1960s shelf paper in the bathroom closet single-handedly, so there is that!

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

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Unraveled Wednesday

Joining Kat and friends for Unraveled Wednesday. I had some revelations yesterday - gift knitting (or any knitting I feel that I have to do, especially with a deadline) can be boring; I seem to be easily distracted by shiny new knitting possibilities, but I do have the power to resist casting with really lovely yarn (at least so far). 

I'm still working on Christmas fingerless mitts, slowly but surely. It's amazing how fast I can knit in my mind, yet how slowly it happens in real life. While I knit another round of camouflage yarn, I've been daydreaming about that beautiful yarn I went back to the Loopy Ewe for, and what it might want to become. I'm thinking a Sockhead Cowl, but I'm not sure yet. It's time to get back to gift knitting and daydream some more.

On the reading front, I finished Farsighted, The Art of Logic In An Illogical World, Marilla of Green Gables, and Becoming, and reviewed them on goodreads so it's really final, and now I can start two new ones. Fox 8 and The Good Neighbor look very promising, but do yourself a favor and read Becoming. It was better than I even hoped.

What are you making and reading this week?