Monday, July 6, 2020

Ugly Fish, Part II

This past Saturday, July 4th, was Free Fishing Day in Maryland. That's a day that most states' fish and wildlife agencies offer during the summer to promote fishing, and it allows you to fish that day without a license. Justin had asked me if I wanted to try and catch a snakehead, and I said "Sure!" I am not much of a fisherperson, and as Free Fishing Day started to get closer, I began to worry about it a bit. Would I be able to cast with Justin's bait caster reel? Would I remember how to set the hook if I did get a bite? Would it just end up as a frustrating, disappointing day when we just wanted to have some fun family fishing?

Nope. It was neither frustrating nor disappointing.

It turned out to be the best day possible. John took us to the "snakehead spot" and Justin showed me how to cast (and corrected my mistakes) about 50 times. Like any skill, there is a lot to remember, and you need to remember and do it all in order, every time.

I had mastered pinching the line with my index finger, flicking the bail, casting, reeling in as soon as the spinnerbait lure I was using hit the water, and reeling at the right speed so the lure didn't drag on the bottom. Justin was going to show me how to set the hook just in case I did get a fish when he unexpectedly caught a snakehead! He handed me the rod and I reeled it in. He removed the hook and was rinsing the sand and gravel off for a picture when it got away in the creek. Justin takes fishing fairly seriously, so he was sort of heartbroken. He morosely cast a few more times, but you know what's coming next ... he caught another snakehead! He handed me the pole, I reeled it in, and this time we took the hook out and took a million photos far away from the water. 

So "I" caught my snakehead, I have photos to prove it, and that's what we had for dinner on Saturday. I am completely aware that Justin did all the work and I just reeled it in, but it was an exhilarating experience and also gave me a new appreciation for how skilled Justin is at fishing. His casts are perfect, placed exactly where he wants them to go, and he takes so many things into account. Like whether he has cast upstream and the line may be "bunched up" a little if what he is fishing for has teeth (snakehead do) and liable to abrade or nick the braid fishing line, and how big a mouth the fish has and whether they are likely to "short strike" so maybe he should use a trailer hook. I know this is much more detailed than any of you are liable to want to know, but I'll admit that I'm writing this post so I can look back and remember this day. It was a good one. 

Thanks, Hijo!

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Poetry on Thursday

Today's poetry isn't fancy or complicated, it just struck me as a nice summer poem.

The Chairs That No One Sits In
Billy Collins

You see them on porches and on lawns
down by the lakeside,
usually arranged in pairs implying a couple

who might sit there and look out
at the water or the big shade trees.
The trouble is you never see anyone

sitting in these forlorn chairs
though at one time it must have seemed   
a good place to stop and do nothing for a while.

Sometimes there is a little table
between the chairs where no one   
is resting a glass or placing a book facedown.

It might be none of my business,
but it might be a good idea one day
for everyone who placed those vacant chairs

on a veranda or a dock to sit down in them
for the sake of remembering
whatever it was they thought deserved

to be viewed from two chairs   
side by side with a table in between.
The clouds are high and massive that day.

The woman looks up from her book.
The man takes a sip of his drink.
Then there is nothing but the sound of their looking,

the lapping of lake water, and a call of one bird
then another, cries of joy or warning—
it passes the time to wonder which.

Billy Collins, Poetry magazine, November 2008

I intend to sit in those chairs this weekend, looking up from my book, sipping my drink, and
listening to the calls of birds. I hope you find the time to do the same.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Unraveled Wednesday

Joining Kat and friends for Unraveled Wednesday, with focused knitting on the Sunset Hitchhiker, and a new cast-on. I got an email that the beads I ordered for the Hitchhiker have shipped from Germany so I figured I better get knitting in earnest. Luckily for me, shipping will take at least 3-4 weeks, but I'd like to have it completed so I can sew the beads on as soon as they arrive. I'll spare you a picture because it looks much the same as last week, just more teeth. 

There will be a new baby in our family at the end of September so I cast on for a feather and fan baby blanket. This is one of my favorite patterns, but knitting a blanket in the heat and humidity of summer is not. Just imagining a pile of yarn in my lap when it's 92 degrees and 82% humidity makes me sweat and itch. It doesn't look like much so far, with just the cast on, garter border, and one pattern repeat completed, but you know the proverb: a baby blanket of a gazillion stitches begins with the first row. 

I finished A Good Neighborhood last week and it was an interesting three-star read for me. It proceeds very slowly for the first two-thirds of the book, but the last third is a fast-paced page-turner. I'm still listening to The Splendid and the Vile, and have added several more enticing books to my virtual pile - Song Yet Sung and Deadliest Enemy. I couldn't resist the last two books when Eileen described Song Yet Sung as one of the best books she had ever read, and Deadliest Enemy has a new COVID-19 specific foreword. I've listened to several of Michael Osterholm's podcasts, and have found him to be honest, reliable, and truthful about what he knows (and doesn't know) about viruses. I was glad to find a good science-based source for both education and practical information.

What are you making and reading this week?

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

One Little Word: It's The End of June Already!

When I first thought about writing an update for my word, I had to try and remember what word I had even chosen for 2020 (and search posts back to March to find out what it was.) That gives you a pretty good picture of how things have been going with Focus. 

The pandemic has made the months since March an especially hard time for me to focus, and I think that might be the way that many others are also feeling. But there is a very valuable lesson in that, too. Like breath during meditation, Focus isn't something you attain and you are able to focus happily ever after once it's achieved. Some days and some months have made it feel almost impossible, but each time I am reminded of Focus, during daily meditations, asking myself "Is this how I want to be spending my time?", and (hopefully) monthly blog check-ins, I can re-focus and calm my unsettled monkey mind. (And stop throwing stones at every dog that barks.)

Please visit HonorĂ© to read what she and others have shared about their words. 

Monday, June 29, 2020

Getting Together

... carefully.

Last weekend we celebrated my great-nephew's birthdays. My niece had planned this an outdoor party but thunderstorms forced us into the garage. I had seen many of these 12 people during the past month, but most of our interactions were through car windows or speaking at distances of at least six feet.

It was hard not to snuggle the little ones but it seemed prudent not to do that on our first real family outing.

Some of those little ones are always on the move so pinning them down for hugs would be difficult anyway.

We were treated to a lovely double rainbow that was much brighter and more beautiful than the pictures show, but hopefully, you get the idea.

It was a tiny little step towards the new normal and definitely different, but kids (and grownups) with squirt guns help make everything more fun and normal. 

I hope your weekend was a good one!

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Poetry on Thursday

The Way It Is 
Lynn Ungar

One morning you might wake up
to realize that the knot in your stomach
has loosened itself and slipped away,
and that the pit of unfilled longing in your heart
has gradually and without your really noticing,
been filled in -- patched like a pothole, not quite
the same as it was, but good enough.

And in that moment it might occur to you
that your life, though not the way
you planned it, and maybe not even entirely
the way you wanted it, is nonetheless --
persistently, abundantly, miraculously --
exactly what it is.

Ungar, Lynn. "The Way It Is." Poetry of Presence, Grayson Books, 2017, p. 31.

You can read more about the author here

I so enjoy Kym's sharing of poetry on Fridays, so I thought maybe I would share some on Thursday. This book has a dedication "to the poets who help us be mindful in a world that has urgent need of presence." I wish you mindfulness, presence, and calm as this week winds down. 

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Unraveled Wednesday

Joining Kat and friends for Unraveled Wednesday, with still more expressive dishcloths and more of the same old Hitchhiker.

I know I said I was done knitting these, but after receiving two more requests for WTF dishcloths I couldn't bear to disappoint the family members that seem to love them. They are a quick knit, and perfect car knitting. I can knit one on the trip from NJ to MD, and it keeps me from clutching the armrest in fear as the traffic whizzes past us at 95 mph on Route 95, and gives me a sense of accomplishment that I haven't just wasted a couple of hours on the road.

The Sunset Hitchhiker is proceeding slowly but surely. It's nice to see it stretched out on my MD neighbor's fence, and it was about time I acquainted these neighbors with taking photos of knitting. I started trying to attach the dishcloths to the fence with clothespins, and Ralph (my neighbor) wondered what I was doing. He responded to my explanation with a resounding "Cool! We could use one or two of those dishcloths!", so I guess the price of using his fence is knitting yet a few more. It amuses me how much people seem to like them, but maybe we're all in a WTF kind of mood. 

I read The Last Hours last week, but for me, it was a book with one-dimensional characters and no real plot. It's fiction about the spread of bubonic plague in England, and while I can respect the amount of research that Minette Walters did, I found some of the ideas that the stereotypical characters held were strangely out of place. It was really just a fill-in book while I eagerly waited to check out The Splendid and the Vile, but now I've got it downloaded and have started listening. So far, it's as good as I had hoped. 

What are you making and reading this week?