Friday, April 28, 2017

519


I don't usually pay attention to blog statistics, but I did take a look a while ago and noticed that I was approaching 500 posts. I thought about writing something special to mark the occasion, but then promptly forgot about it, as happens far too often lately.

Earlier this week I was on my way to the nursery and when I turned onto Rt. 519, I had a flicker of remembrance. Somehow I managed to keep the thought in my sieve of a brain until I got home and checked, and to my surprise I saw that post number 500 had whizzed right by and was well past. There are plenty of times that I struggle to link words and photos, but this one was easy. I turned around, headed back to the Rt. 519 sign to take a picture, and you are now reading post number 519. I know there are plenty of bloggers who have been around much longer and written many more posts, but I honestly never imagined I would make it this far and wanted to mark the occasion.

There are also plenty of times that I struggle to find topics to write about and the words to express myself, so I thank you very much for taking the time to read and/or comment. I truly appreciate it!

Wishing everyone a wonderful weekend and I hope you'll join me here on Monday for post number 520.


Thursday, April 27, 2017

Dual Purpose

I'm joining Kym today for Poem in Your Pocket Day, a day to choose your favorite poem, carry it with you, and share it with others. Also, the Think Write Thursday topic for today is to write a post that begins with the words, "Remember the time ..." So, here is my dual purpose PiYPD/TWT post.

I remember the time I heard Wislawa Szymborska read "A Tale Begun" on NPR in 2007 and I was immediately struck. While I haven't carried this poem in my pocket, I have carried it with me in my planner for the last ten years so I could read it often.The lines at the end still bring tears to my eyes. Perhaps it will also speak to you.



A Tale Begun

The world is never ready
for the birth of a child.
Our ships are not yet back from Winnland.
We still have to get over the S. Gothard pass.
We've got to outwit the watchmen on the desert of Thor,
fight our way through the sewers to Warsaw's center,
gain access to King Harald the Butterpat,
and wait until the downfall of Minister Fouche.
Only in Acapulco
can we begin anew.
We've run out of bandages,
matches, hydraulic presses, arguments, and water.
We haven't got the trucks, we haven't got the Minghs' support.
This skinny horse won't be enough to bribe the sheriff.
No news so far about the Tartars' captives.
We'll need a warmer cave for winter
and someone who can speak Harari.
We don't know whom to trust in Nineveh,
what conditions the Prince-Cardinal will decree,
which names Beria has still got inside his files.
They say Karol the Hammer strikes tomorrow at dawn.
In this situation let's appease Cheops,
report ourselves of our own free will,
change faiths,
pretend to be friends with the Doge
and say that we've got nothing to do with the Kwabe tribe.
Time to light the fires.
Let's send a cable to grandma in Zabierzow.
Let's untie the knots in the yurt's leather straps.
May delivery be easy,
may our child grow and be well.
Let him be happy from time to time
and leap over abysses.
Let his heart have strength to endure
and his mind be awake and reach far.
But not so far
that it sees into the future.
Spare him
that one gift,
0 heavenly powers.

~Wislawa Szymborska
From View With a Grain of Sand, 1993
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Read other Think ... Write ... Thursday! posts here, and sign up for Carole and Kat's great idea here.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Unraveled Wednesday

Joining Kat and friends for Unraveled Wednesday, where you can unravel the stories you are reading and share your crafting inspiration – knitting, crochet, spinning, sewing, quilting, weaving, drawing, watercolors ... whatever!


I'm still reading The Dark Flood Rises this week. It's a good book, but I really only make the time to read it for half an hour or so at night, and that means the danger of falling asleep is always nearby. I finished listening to The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane a couple days ago; my review is here if you're interested. The real treat in reading this week is listening to Lincoln in the Bardo. I'm only about a third of the way through, but already know that George Saunders is a genius and the narration is equally brilliant. 

In knitting, I regained some long-lost sock mojo to finish one of these socks and start the second. I had hoped to have the pair done by now, but maybe by the weekend? I do love the blue in this yarn and hope these will be comfortable walking socks.

What are you reading and knitting this week?

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Tomatoes on Tuesday


Also Brussels sprouts, Chinese cabbage, some very slow-growing peppers, poppies, and a new trick with cucumbers.


I planted most of these seeds about four weeks ago, and they're growing well. The tomatoes are getting almost too tall to fit under my grow lights, but I guess that's a good problem to have. A gardening friend recently shared his secret to early cucumbers - start them in cups and transplant into the garden. I've only ever sown cucumber seeds directly into the soil, but that could be why he has cucumbers in July and none appear on my vines until August. I thought it was worth a try ...

The last frost date here is May 15th, but it hasn't been below 40° overnight here for several weeks, so I'm hoping to be able to transplant most of these into the garden (in the background) in just three weeks or so. We've already planted peas, lettuce, spinach, turnips, and chard in the garden, but they're just beginning to germinate. I'll spare you any photos of 1/8" tall sprouts in brown soil.



These enthusiastic little plants are pink double poppies that I started from seed my sister-in-law saved for me from her gorgeous blooms. I'm not sure I'm going to be able to separate these enough to transplant any of them, so I also sprinkled some seed directly in the garden where I want them. Once I see if any seeds germinate in the garden beds, maybe then I'll try transplanting a few of these. This gardener has high hopes!

How does your garden grow?

Monday, April 24, 2017

Weekending


While I didn't March for Science this weekend, I did Wade for Science! A few local groups got together and sponsored a combined March for Science/Earth Day River Clean Up. We started at the Red Mill in Clinton, NJ and cleaned up along the banks and in the Raritan River itself. That isn't my photo because I had waders on and wasn't anxious to get my phone wet, but it it a picturesque site. I think it's even lovelier now that we removed hundreds of plastic bags, miles of tangled fishing line, 14 trash bags full of soda bottles, tires, a refrigerator, couch, sewing machine, and a playground slide. The final trash tally isn't yet available, but last year, volunteers at this event hauled out an unbelievable 12 tons of trash from 52 sites all along the river. 

I'm sure there will be more trash to clean up in the river next year, but I truly hope that people everywhere heed good science because:



Friday, April 21, 2017

My Way


Reading about Kym's encounter with The General compelled me to try and muddle through finishing this sock. I had knit it about halfway using double points, cuff down, with Lorna's Laces, and no nylon reinforcement. I was a little concerned that all my knitting so far had been the complete opposite of The General's proclaimed ONLY way to make socks, but after an afternoon in waiting rooms yesterday ...


it looks like MY way worked for me! In fact, it worked so well that I just might make another sock MY way to complete the pair. :-)


Wishing everyone a good weekend, with plenty of opportunities to do things YOUR way!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Sheds


Nope, not this kind of shed. 


Sheds like this!

Last weekend I had the fun of looking for sheds, shed antlers from deer. I've searched plenty of times before, but the difference is that I actually found one this time! It wasn't just sitting under a pine tree in plain sight, in fact, that's part of the challenge of looking. Imagine walking through acres of deep woods with lots of leaves and undergrowth, searching for something like this when only several inches of the antler might be visible.


I was so excited to actually see one after four hours of tromping through the woods that I didn't even think to take a photo as I found it. It wasn't clearly visible like this! Male whitetail deer (bucks) shed their antlers every year, usually between February to April in our area, and then grow a new set over the summer. Maybe that's part of the fun of finding an antler; no weapons are used and no animals are harmed. All you need is some patience, a desire to walk in the woods, and a keen eye.


Now that I've found one, I'll be keeping an eye out whenever I walk in the woods. If I'm lucky enough to ever find another one, I might try making some antler buttons for a knitting project!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Unraveled Wednesday

Joining Kat and friends for Unraveled Wednesday, where you can unravel the stories you are reading and share your crafting inspiration – knitting, crochet, spinning, sewing, quilting, weaving, drawing, watercolors ... whatever!



My Peace Cowl has stalled, at least until I have a rainy day (coming up tomorrow through Sunday!) when I'm not working outdoors and can make time to wind the second skein. I'm fairly sure I'm going to run out of yarn so I want to start alternating skeins to avoid that abrupt changeover line.


I've added a few more points to my Hitchhiker and am glad the apple tree's blossoms match the yarn nicely.

While my knitting is much the same, I've started some new books. I'm listening to The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane. It's mildly interesting so far, and certainly well-researched, but since I'm only halfway through, I'll reserve my opinion for at least a few more chapters.

I'm also reading The Dark Flood Rises on my Kindle, and it has captivated me so far. I've never read anything by Margaret Drabble, but I can look forward to reading some of her many, many books if this one turns out to be as good as I'm hoping.

What are you reading and knitting this week?

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Peer Pressure



If the mowing playlist and weed whacker are making appearances after a winter off that can only mean one thing ...


it's time to start mowing.

I might have let it go for another few days, but our lawn did look fairly overgrown after the neighbors on both sides mowed last weekend, so I had to give in to peer pressure.



We don't have one of those picture-perfect lawns, but it provides some semblance of grass, plenty of moss, and some colorful flowers that I enjoy, like creeping Charlie and dandelions.


It was a beautiful day and I welcomed the chance to get some useful exercise, appreciate the glowing green of the newly-leafing maple tree, along with the stunning red bud against blue sky.


The only slight negative happened when I was mowing along the sidewalk and the middle-schoolers were walking home past our house. I heard one exclaim, "Hey, look at that old lady mowing!" Not seeing any other old ladies mowing, I can only presume he meant me.


Too bad for you, kid. Old ladies get rewards for mowing that middle-schoolers only dream about.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Bleeding Heart


The Bleeding-heart

I know a bleeding-heart plant that has thrived
for sixty years if not more, and has never
missed a spring without rising and spreading
itself into a glossy bush, with many small red
hearts dangling. Don't you think that deserves
a little thought? The woman who planted it
has been gone for a long time, and everyone
who saw it in that time has also died or moved
away and so, like so many stories, this one can't
get finished properly. Most things that are
important, have you noticed, lack a certain
neatness. More delicious, anyway, is to
remember my grandmother's pleasure when
the dissolve of winter was over and the green knobs 
appeared
and began to rise, and to create their many hearts. 
One would say she was
a simple woman, made happy by simple
things. I think this was true. And more than
once, in my long life, I have wished to be her.


Mary Oliver
Blue Iris: Poems and Essays

Friday, April 14, 2017

The Key Things

The key things here are actual keys. I have a love for keys, especially interesting ones. I think this might have started when we closed on this house almost 27 years ago and they handed us our house keys.


John and I just looked at each other, laughed and put them on our key rings. They are more than four inches long and have quite a bit of heft, but we actually used them for a while until we got around to installing different locks.

We were also the recipients of two slightly smaller keys, one to the root cellar and one for the barn. 


Now these keys have a home on the kitchen wall.


My everyday keys are a bit boring with a routine Subaru key and a regular old Kwikset house key, but I also carry a tiny key that I found inside the wall when we were redoing the kitchen and the key to happiness.


Ryan inherited my fascination with keys and when he was four, he wanted some of his own. Santa was thrilled to find these rings of antique keys to start Ryan's collection.


Once people knew that Ryan was collecting keys it seemed that friends and family were happy to gift him with lots of unique keys and locks.

There are keys within keys,



beautiful engraved locks,


and this tiny one with its own self-referential keyhole.


Ryan's obsession grew to include 26 pounds of keys, locks, and key chains.


Keys lock doors, keep valuables safe, and can maybe even open hearts and minds. Originating from the Old English word meaning "serving to open, explain, or resolve", keys really are a key thing.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Unraveled Wednesday

What a pleasure it is to sit down to write a post, know what I'm going to write about, and have those things (reading and knitting) be important parts of my life. Join Kat for her Unraveled Wednesday and unravel the stories you are reading and share your crafting inspiration – knitting, crochet, spinning, sewing, quilting, weaving, drawing, watercolors ... 


This week I've found out that resistance is futile. After I finished my last Hitchhiker, I made some sort of rash statement about finishing some projects first before I cast on my next Hitchhiker. Mary bet that I would have another one on the needles by the end of April, and it turns out she was right. It was the perfect take-along knitting, for a road trip and a Decemberists concert, and I've had this JulieSpins No Regrets colorway marinating in my stash for too long. I love everything about this project even though I just started it. I'm willing to admit that I'm a bit less unraveled if I have a Hitchhiker on the needles.



I made a little more progress on my Peace Cowl, but yesterday's 85 degrees didn't inspire me to work on a fall/winter project. Maybe I'll make a push to finally finish it towards the end of the week when the temperatures return to normal.

My reading is the same as last week: Moments of Seeing. The essays entitled  Cleaning and Boys have provided some enlightenment!

What are you reading and knitting this week?


Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Peace in Poetry


When despair grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting for their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free. 
~ Wendell Berry

Monday, April 10, 2017

Weekending Down by the Water

The photos are neither close-up nor clear, and I think the audio and video are also pretty bad, so you'll just have to take my word for it. This concert was absolutely great and seeing The Decemberists in Ithaca made for the best weekend I've had in a long time!








Friday, April 7, 2017

Across America Part V

Last week we were leaving Yellowstone, and heading to visit some good friends in Lincoln, Montana, former home of Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber. It's also the home to a whole town of great people who know how to celebrate the Fourth of July. Even though we didn't get there until July 7th, they were still celebrating with fireworks, a rodeo, and plenty of beer.



I don't have a lot of regrets in my life, but there is one that comes to mind - that I don't have a photo of Justin in the greased pig contest at the rodeo. Try to imagine about 20 little boys running around in the mud trying to catch a very fast and very slippery little pig that had been greased with lard, and as silly as the whole idea sounds, you'll have a good mental picture. No one was successful except for the pig who did not get caught.


We spend a wonderful few days with our friends, but there were 2,308 miles that we had to drive back east. Remember all those swimming pool photos we took heading westward? Here are some more on the way home, along with a few others for variety.

A stop in Sidney, Nebraska so the boys could "drive" boats in Cabela's parking lot:


Swimming in North Platte, Nebraska:


Riding a dinosaur in Des Moines, Iowa:


Excitement about catching a fish in Oxford, Iowa:


Swimming in Oberlin, Ohio:


And home, 5,856 miles later.


It really was an epic trip, one that I'm glad we took. John still teases me about buying another RV so the two of us can travel around the country when we retire. I haven't yet told him that this trip was really so wonderful, I might even consider doing it again.

Thanks for sticking with me for five installments of Across America!