Monday, June 5, 2023

In a Pickle

I've been buying one of those small round watermelons each week for the past month and have been surprised at how good they've been. I usually cut them up into bite-sized pieces and then John and I have a ready supply of nice cold watermelon (especially welcome when it's 95 degrees like it was on Friday).


I was a little disappointed when I cut this one in half; it's not the bright red of a really ripe watermelon. But it still tastes okay, and then I remembered something that Vera mentioned - pickled watermelon rind! I looked for a recipe and decided to give it a try. 

I cut off the dark outer rind and then cut the rind pieces into spears, enough to fill two quart jars. Then I made the brine.

It looks a little dark and murky, thanks to the apple cider vinegar, but it smells delicious, thanks to the vanilla and pickling spices. The recipe calls for whole allspice berries but I didn't have any, so I just added an extra tablespoon of pickling spices. I doubled the brine recipe and had enough to fill both of my quart jars. 

I ladled the brine into the jars, and voil√† - watermelon rind pickles! You're supposed to cool and refrigerate them for at least 24 hours to let the flavors develop, so I haven't tried them yet. I'll report back when I do. The brine smelled so delicious, so I'm hoping the pickles are just as delectable. Fingers crossed!

Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Unraveled Wednesday

I'm happy to join Kat and fellow Unravelers for Unraveled Wednesday. I've got a pair of finally-kitchenered socks and the Hitchhiker-in-progress.

There's no sign of the Wollmeise roll gradient showing up in the Hitchhiker yet so I'll just have to keep knitting. 


I took a picture on the grass this week in case I need a reminder of what green grass looks like. We got about 0.1" of rain in May, so unless something changes in the next month we may have brown, crispy grass and be done mowing. I'm not really so concerned about the grass, but drought in general. (Fingers crossed for some significant precipitation.)

I finished a variety of books this week, all of them non-fiction. The first one was Margaret Renkl's The Comfort of Crows. She's written a series of 52 essays that follow the plants and creatures in her backyard for a year. She includes the personal along with the flora and fauna and there are delightful illustrations by her brother. One of the things I like best about Renkl's writing is that she is able to express joy and wonder about the natural world while still writing honestly about climate change. When this four-star book is published on October 24th, I'm going to buy a copy so I can read an essay each week.

The next book is one that I had high hopes for but it turned out not to be for me. On Our Best Behavior is subtitled The Seven Deadly Sins and the Price Women Pay to Be Good. I agreed with the basic premise of On Our Best Behavior - that women are raised to be "good" but most of the time there is a price to pay for this good behavior. The place I ran into some difficulty was with Ms. Loehnen framing her thesis in terms of the seven deadly sins. Her historical background on fourth-century monk Evagrius Ponticus and Pope Gregory didn't add much to my thought process, especially because the seven deadly sins were posited for everyone, not just women. I think that is up to each individual (man, woman, or otherwise) to try to live wholeheartedly while recognizing that meeting basic needs do not make you greedy, just as resting when necessary does not make you lazy. This book was three stars for me. 

Lastly was an interesting book I stumbled upon, Boundless by Christine Henneberg. It's billed as the story of an abortion doctor becoming a mother, but it's really the story of a young woman growing up and questioning her choices of medicine, marriage, and motherhood. Dr. Henneberg has written this story with honesty and vulnerability. She writes truthfully about wondering if she could manage to stay in medicine and still make her physician husband feel loved. The chapters are full of candor about how she loves to perform abortions, and even though this sounds like an odd thing to say, she realizes that she likes providing women with the freedom to make choices. She wrote the book in 2018 and a separate foreword in 2022, and even though she practices in California, she has had to ask the question about her patients: what would happen if they were in Texas? (and now a whole host of other states that have restricted access to abortion healthcare). This four-star book is timely and thoughtful.

What are you making and reading this week?

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I have a friend whose father has died. He is here from British Columbia and is staying with us for a week to attend the funeral and get some things accomplished. My blogging will be hit or miss over the next week, but I will be back for our Trespasses discussion on June 6th. 

Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Rickett's Glen (for old people)

We finally got to Rickett's Glen State Park last week, saw a few waterfalls, and had a nice time. 


We got there Monday morning and had some conflicting information from friends on the best way to approach the trail, but after some time standing in front of the sign and asking a photographer for his advice, we decided to approach the falls from the bottom. 


There are 22 named waterfalls in the park, and you can see quite a few of them by hiking in from the top. This is also the steepest and more difficult approach. We decided to start at the bottom, especially after the photographer told us that the trail was like a nice stroll through the woods (and he was right). 




We hiked about 2.5 miles in and then got to a steeper part of the trail with 25 or so steps cut into the stone walls but no handholds. That's where we decided to call it good and turn around and hike back. 



The waterfalls are lovely and the trail through the woods is very nice, with interesting stumps and textured tree roots. 





We stayed the night at our friends' cabin and then fished at a nearby lake the next day. 



The photographer that we initially saw at the map told us that the USPS is issuing stamps of waterfalls throughout the US on June 13. There are 12 different ones, including one from Ricketts Glen. These are some of the prettiest stamps I've seen in quite a while.

I'm glad I had started PT as that made this an enjoyable hike. We probably could have gone farther but we were all a little concerned about climbing up steep rocks without handholds. Aside from that it was quite a nice trip!

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Unraveled Wednesday: 5/24/2023

I'm happy to join Kat and fellow Unravelers for Unraveled Wednesday. I still haven't kitchenered the last toe on the socks I was knitting, but all in good time. I was thinking about starting my next project and was anxious to get going. 

Back in 2019, Ryan was still in Fort Collins and The Loopy Ewe was still there also. When I would visit Ryan, I had to also make a visit to The Loopy Ewe and I fell in love with Wollmeisen Rolls. These were essentially sock blanks that Wollmeise was dyeing, and I bought at least five of them. I've knit five of them but have been saving this last one, in the colorwayVergi√ümeinnicht (forget me not). Yarn is meant to be used and not just saved so I decided it was time to knit it. 

I knit my other four rolls directly from the roll, so that's what I started to do with this one but it was a crinkly, ramen-like mess. So I unraveled the whole thing, tied it up carefully, and soaked it overnight. 


I had wound it tightly enough that it wasn't drying after two days of hanging outside, so I got the kitchen chairs outand rewound it. 


There are still some crinkles in the yarn, but I was able to wind it into a ball and start a Forget Me Not Hitchhiker with it. 


And while I thought this was my last Wollmeisen Roll, I checked the website and found that they are
dyeing them again! (I may have ordered two.)

This week I read A Likely Story, but it was a slightly disappointing two-star book for me. The real star was Happiness Falls. It's the propulsive sophomore novel by Angie Kim, and it is a wonder, from the cover to the pages in between. (I recently described Absolution as "a marvel" so I needed a new descriptor.) I enjoyed Miracle Creek by the author and it's clear she has been doing extensive research and writing in the intervening four years.

A biracial Korean-American family in Virginia finds their lives turned inside out when their father and husband goes missing. Kim has written a wholly original missing person story, complicated by the fact that one of the family members, Eugene, has Angelman syndrome and cannot speak. The story is told mainly through 20-year-old Mia, complete with her thoughts, impressions, and philosophical insights. This book is packed full of action and I wanted to race through it to see what happened, but Mia's observations and footnotes made me slow down and take it all in. It's a family drama, full of secrets, but so much more. It's a book you can read, learn from, and read again to learn even more. That's just what I'm going to do. The book will be published on September 5, and I highly recommend it. 

What are you making and reading this week?


Thursday, May 18, 2023

A Gathering of Poetry: May 2023

It's the third Thursday of the month so I'd like to welcome you to A Gathering of Poetry. The poem I chose for today felt right as soon as I found it (or maybe it found me). 

Late Spring in the Mesilla Valley
Carrie Fountain
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Walking this morning,
I thought, What if I stop saying
the little no I’m always saying?
What if I drop it right here
in the middle of Rabb Road?
You know the guy down the street
who left his Christmas lights up
until after Easter? Well, did you see
all the odd little mirrors he hung
in the bushes alongside his house?
I keep thinking I’d like to be forced
into a conversation with yes.
It’s not enough to brace yourself;
eventually you must allow this world
to hit you in the face.
All night I’ve been getting whiffs
of some late-blooming honeysuckle.
Half of me says, Don’t breathe.
But only half.

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Fountain, Carrie. "Late Spring in the Mesilla Valley", Burn Lake. Penguin Books. 2010

You can read more about the poet here and here

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Thanks for reading and joining us for our monthly Gathering of Poetry. Be sure to visit Kym and Kat so you can gather more poetry and you can add your link below if you would like to share one of your favorite poems. The more the merrier!

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

Wednesday, May 17, 2023

Unraveled Wednesday

I'm happy to join Kat and fellow Unravelers for Unraveled Wednesday because I finally have a completed Peachy Keen Hitchhiker that I'm quite happy with.


I knit 54 teeth so it's just the size I like and I'm happy with my eyelet row placement. This project (my 25th Hitchhiker) makes me happy!

The raspberry cordial socks are almost done except for one last toe decrease. I'm making myself finish them before I start something that's hopefully a bit more exciting, and that I hope will be as lovely as my last project.

I finished several books last week: What an Owl Knows (excellent five-star nonfiction for me), and another five-star book, Absolution by Alice McDermott. This novel tells a story about "inconsequential good", set in Saigon in 1963. I wasn't sure it was going to be my sort of book, but it is a marvel. These books will be published on June 13 and November 7, respectively. I also read a quirky and meandering tale, The Librarianist by Patrick deWitt. It will be published on July 4 and was three stars for me. Lastly, I listened to Tasha: A Son's Memoir by Brian Morton. He tells the story of his mother's lively life, her slow descent into dementia, and all the difficulties that her family ran into trying to make sure Tasha was well-taken care of. Sad but still hopeful, I gave it four stars.

What are you making and reading this week?

Tuesday, May 16, 2023

Sorry, No Waterfalls

The trip we had planned to Rickett's Glen with friends got postponed when our friends had a death in the family. This was the death of a 103-year-old uncle who had lived a long and fulfilling life, but of course, they had to attend the funeral. We'll try to go next week instead. (Fingers crossed the weather cooperates.)

So instead of trying to hike in a lovely PA state park, I saw the orthopedic doctor. My hips have been bothering me for almost three months, sometimes to the point that walking and even standing is quite painful. I self-diagnosed it as greater trochanteric pain syndrome but thought that I needed to finally see a physician for a real diagnosis and treatment. 

I was able to get an appointment for last Friday, and after some x-rays and an efficient visit with one of the many orthopedic doctors, he confirmed my diagnosis (along with some arthritis) and asked what form of treatment I might be interested in. I told him cortisone shots in both hips and physical therapy, and that's just what he prescribed. Ryan has been telling me for a long time that I need to be more assertive and simply ask for what I want. It looks like he was right in this instance and I made sure to let him know. 

(I don't have a quarter in my pelvis; that's just the button on my jeans and the zipper below it.)

The doctor did the cortisone shots during the office visit and I go to my first physical therapy appointment on Thursday. I'm actually looking forward to it, especially because my hips are now slightly less painful after the injections. I may be a new person in 4-6 weeks or at least one who is actually able to hike somewhat comfortably at Rickett's Glen someday.