Thursday, August 31, 2017

Right Now August 2017


Here's what is going on for me Right Now on this last day of August ...

Reveling In Cooling temperatures and the slow approach of fall!

Grateful For - The joy that a nice warm cup of tea brings me on these cooler mornings.

Wondering About - The awful abomination that is our President. I'm still making my calls to MoC, but after Charlottesville, Phoenix, Arpaio, North Korea, and his complete lack of empathy and humanity for flooding victims in Texas, my last bits of hope are waning. I know we have to keep resisting, but Robert Mueller isn't moving fast enough for me, and I just see years of this awfulness ahead. 

Thinking About - 
My meals for much of September. John is traveling for three weeks out of the month, which means I don't have to make dinner if I don't feel like it, and I also have lots of opportunities to eat things that he doesn't like. Mmm ... Pad Thai!

Making Plans - So I don't waste too much of my "alone time" in September. I don't mind being home by myself at all, but spending much of the month reading until 3:00 am, then sleeping late, and not having enough energy to do anything except lie on the sofa in my pajamas, eat cookies, and read more does not sound like the best use of my time. (But it does sound like something I might do for a day or two ... )

Watching - The Escape Artist, a riveting PBS Masterpiece Mystery about a junior barrister whose legal skills have allowed many guilty people to go free. His legal cleverness means that he has never lost a case, but this also affects his personal life in a big way. The big draw for me is David Tennant; I would watch him in almost anything. So next up is Jessica Jones where David is the bad guy!

Looking Forward To - Lots of good books being published in September! Sourdough by Robin Sloane on Sept. 5th (I loved Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore); Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng on Sept. 12th (I also loved Everything I Never Told You), and What Happened by Hilllary Rodham Clinton on Sept. 12th. I don't know if reading this will make me feel better or worse, but either way, I do want to read Hillary's take on What (the he**) Happened.

Picking - All the beans, tomatoes, and zucchini.

Eating - All the beans, tomatoes, and zucchini.

Dreading - Cleaning out our two big freezers after all the garden produce is harvested, processed, and frozen. I do love having a freezer full of beans, snow peas, shredded zucchini, and tomato sauce for the winter, but I've just been putting things in the freezers willy-nilly and I'm going to have to restore some sort of order so I know exactly what I have and make sure I use it. 

Starting - (It's really Trying to Start) some hydrangeas and roses from cuttings. Fingers crossed for roots!

What's going on in your world right now?

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Unraveled Wednesday

Joining Kat and friends for Unraveled Wednesday.

I'm still working on my No Regrets Hitchhiker, and am back to "virgin" yarn after my ripping. I love the feel of this yarn, the name of the colorway, the delightful blend of colors, and the calm that usually comes over me after I've knit a row or two. There's a long way to go, but I'm in no rush.

The Last Days of Night is my last book for a Book Bingo square. While it's been a bit of a slog for me, but there have also been some interesting bits. It's about the "electrifying" feud between Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse. I'm never much in the mood for a story about two egomaniacal men with some saccharine romance thrown in, but there are some interesting descriptions of AC vs DC and the parts about Nikola Tesla are great. Hopefully I'll be done by the end of the week, and free to read whatever I want!

What are you knitting and reading this week?

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

How to Help

We've all seen the devastating photos and experienced the feelings of sadness, helplessness, and wanting to do something. I don't have a boat and can't go to Texas to help rescue people, but I can donate to those who can provide help. I know everyone has their own favorite causes, charities and budget, but one of Justin's friends in Texas let him know about several organizations that were new to me, so I'm going to pass them along.

First, Charity Navigator has compiled a list of their 3 and 4 star rated charities so you can be assured that your donations are actually helping those in need and not going towards excessive administrative and fundraising expenses.

American Red Cross

The Salvation Army

GlobalGiving Foundation

All Hands Volunteers helps by getting their extensive network of volunteers on the ground to help where they are needed most, like mucking, gutting, safe demolition, and rebuilding of destroyed property.

If you'd like to donate with children in mind, the Texas Diaper Bank is a good option. Surprisingly, diapers are not provided by disaster relief agencies, and the Texas Diaper Bank works to fill that gap by providing diapers and other necessities to babies, those with disabilities, and seniors.

Save the Children

And then there are the animals affected by the flooding. Austin Pets Alive! has been transporting animals from affected shelters to their facility in Austin, and they are expecting many more rescues in the days and weeks to come.

This unprecedented storm is still going on, and help is going to be needed all along the Gulf Coast, not just in Texas. There are times when action is needed in addition to thoughts and prayers, and this is one of them. Response, rescues, and rebuilding are going to be going on for a long, long time, so I hope you'll consider donating what you can to the charity of your choice.

Monday, August 28, 2017

A Little Weirdness from the Weekend

I happened to see several things that struck me as slightly odd (but entertaining!) over the weekend, and wondered what you might
think of them.

This first one is a sign on the inside of the restroom near the family waiting room at the hospital. The sign is not very evident until after you've finished, but once I read it, I wondered why the nursing staff needed to be alerted, why only female patients needed to check with a nurse, why before, and why the sign wasn't posted on the outside of the door since this checking in was supposed to happen before use. (I may have a tendency to overthink things, especially if they don't make any sense.) When I returned to the waiting room, I asked the nurse at the desk about the sign, and she looked at me like I was crazy. She finally said she had no idea what I was talking about, and when I showed her the sign, she just shrugged her shoulders and said, "No idea. That's weird." I agree.

This one is more entertaining than weird, but I was surprised to see the Back to the Future car at a local car show on Saturday. It was missing the crucial Mr. Fusion generator, and Doc was nowhere to be seen, but the DeLorean was still a pretty cool car.

This last bit of weirdness was the best. Someone is building a new house around the corner from us, and I've enjoyed checking their progress when my walking route takes me past the construction. I had to do a double take on Sunday and then zoom in for a close up.

Yes, that's an elk in the upstairs window. I don't know why someone would need to air out their taxidermy, but I was happy to see something so funny. When I got home and told John about it, for some reason he didn't believe I saw an elk looking out of the upstairs window until I showed him the photos. We went back to take another look, but the elk had disappeared. I was glad I had seen it; a little
bit of weirdness is a good thing once in a while!

Friday, August 25, 2017

Mycology 101

In the morning I usually carry my mug of tea outside, see what needs attention in the garden, and take a little walk around. I often see a mushroom or two, but with a fairly wet summer and lots of rain and humidity recently, the fungus growing conditions must be ideal. Yesterday morning I was surprised to find at least 13 different types of mushrooms in my yard, each one different, interesting, or weird in
its own way.

Some are normal, average, and even cute.

Others seem to burst through the ground in a pushy, demanding way.

There are some bright red ones,

and a tiny yellow one.

This one looks almost floral, with its cap split like petals.

And then there are the ugly, malevolent ones that have an evil look and smell.

I was glad to spy a few that look like the sweet ones fairies and frogs use for umbrellas in fairy tales.

Each variety seems to grow in its own preferred area of the yard, depending on how shady, sunny, and damp it is. There are a few that the squirrels like to chew on and then stagger around the yard, high on some sort of psilocybin. I don't know the names of any of them, but will be visiting the library this weekend to look for an identification book. I'm not fond of the ugly ones but the fairies are welcome to visit and live under any of the others!

Wishing everyone a lovely weekend!

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Ta Da!

Joining Kat and friends for Unraveled Wednesday.

My Birthday Cake hitchhiker is finally completed! I actually finished it a while ago, but it needed some ends woven in, blocking, and a bit of decoration. I think this might be my favorite one so far, but I always say that. This time it might really be true, and not just because I bought a cake completely covered with sprinkles just so I could pose my sprinkled hitchhiker with it. 

I knit it large enough (56 teeth) to wrap completely around my neck and have the ends hang down a decent amount in front. It's warm and cheery and will remind me of the fun I had choosing the yarn with Ryan at The Loopy Ewe.

Because I knit this to celebrate my 60th birthday and I'm trying to make it a year full of everyday small celebrations and lots of love, I thought this shawl could use a rose quartz star, a couple of hearts, and a few beads. It seems that my desire to sew things on the end of my hitchhikers is beginning to be almost as strong as my compulsion to knit them. Hitchhiker #11 is now done and waiting for cool weather, and hitchhiker #12 is well underway!

As happy as I am with knitting this week, reading is just sort of ... meh. I'm making myself read the last book I need for a Book Bingo cover-all, and it's a struggle. Historical fiction is not my favorite, and The Last Days of Night hasn't changed my opinion so far. It's a fictional account of the battle between George Westinghouse and Thomas Edison to determine who really invented the light bulb, complete with some eccentricity from Nikola Tesla. It's not a bad book by any means; it's just that there are so many other good books I'm anxious to read after I finish my Book Bingo card.

What are you knitting and reading this week?

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

That Was Interesting!

The solar eclipse yesterday was more interesting than I expected! The sun was only 73% eclipsed in our area, but one of John's coworkers took this great photograph as a reflection from their office building. I was afraid to attempt any direct photos of the sun myself and thought this was a clever way to do it.

My experience at 2:30 pm yesterday bordered on wondrous. I went outdoors with my pinhole projector, but ended up not even using it after I saw the shadows filtered through the natural pinholes created by the leaves on our oak trees.

The photos don't really do them justice, but the shadows were fascinating to me as I ran around taking photos of the driveway and patio. I did manage to find the one person that may not have heard about the eclipse when my neighbor asked what I was doing. I excitedly told him to look at the shadows that the eclipse was creating, and he said he just thought the diminished light meant it was going to shower, then went back to cleaning his grill. I thought he was crazy for not being more excited, and he thought I was a little nuts for taking photos of shadows, but to each his own!

Last night, NOVA had a really educational program that I wish could have seen before the eclipse. I haven't watched the whole thing (I may have fallen asleep because some guy was blabbering beforehand and NOVA started late), but I'll be re-watching on line. They talked about astronomers being able to study the sun's corona during the eclipse as the main reason for its importance, used some pretty good graphics to illustrate how and why eclipses happen (or not), and discussed science that sounded almost like science fiction. All things I never learned, didn't know, or may have forgotten, but it was incredibly informational and intriguing!

Monday, August 21, 2017

Bountiful Weekend

If you have a garden in August, you know that means there is plenty to do. On Saturday I picked tomatoes, zucchini, beans, and cucumbers. After that I shredded and baked,

I baked eight loaves of zucchini bread, but three were given away quickly.

blanched and froze,

peeled and sliced,

and made a big pan of ziti. This has nothing to do with the garden, but it was a special request. :-)

Working in the garden and kitchen much of Saturday meant that I felt free to take the day off on Sunday. I considered this partial Hitchhiker and it seemed sort of blah, so I thought of a way to make it better,

so I unraveled,

and re-knit while re-watching Endeavour. The yo, k2tog rows won't really show up until it's done and blocked, but I do like much better.

Hope your weekend was also bountiful and full of all manner of good things. Happy Eclipse!

Friday, August 18, 2017

Random Bits and Pieces

Some random bits and pieces that made me happy this week:

Sneaking a case of water (working outdoors, he drinks a lot of it) into the bed of Justin's truck and then sending him the photo when he got back to the ranch 

A sister-in-law who sends me photos of the amazing seedless Armenian cucumber she grew (Too bad she can't save seeds for me. :-))

This one didn't make me especially happy, but it was interesting to receive a photo of the bear footprint Justin came across.
"Don't worry, Mom. It's just a 300 pound brown bear, not a grizzly."

Comparing photos of the garden, then and now

May 2017

August 2017

Rewatching Endeavour in anticipation of season 4 beginning on Sunday

Here's hoping your weekend is full of things that make you happy, both great and small. :-)

Thursday, August 17, 2017

If Wishes Were Dollars ...

I would be out purchasing a few things with my winnings.

Alas, I am not, but the prospect of a giant jackpot did make me compose my imaginary shopping list. Here's what I'd buy:

  • a new laptop for me
  • a new mattress (I would share with John)
  • a ranch for Justin so he could run it on his own in the ethical, humane way he would like
  • an endowed professorship in math for Ryan
That's about it. Justin mentioned that he would also like new rims and tires for his truck, but if I'm buying him a ranch, then he needs to pay for his own truck parts. This list would have been ideal if I had won the $430 million. The first two items total about $2000 (unless I went wild and got a Sleep Number mattress), and the remaining two would have set me back about $2.5 million each. I could have treated the kids equitably and given them things they both want, but they would still have to be working, productive, and responsible people. Plus, I would still have had about $424,998,000 left. I might even have bought a skein or two of really nice yarn. :-)

I think I had at least $8.00 worth of fun dreaming (and it looks like I'll have another chance on Saturday)!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Unraveled Wednesday

Joining Kat and friends for Unraveled Wednesday.

I finished some knitting, but there are still important details to complete before it's really done. While I work on those, I decided to take a look into some mystery project bags. 

In Penguin Bag #1 there are some socks for my sister. I promised them for her birthday (but I didn't say which one). Let's just say it was an embarrassingly long time ago. 

Deer Bag #2 has the No Regrets Hitchhiker I put on the back burner for a new Hitchhiker.

I found my Serena Socks in Barn Owl Bag #3.

No Regrets and the Serena Socks are good waiting room knitting, and I'll need the patience they instill during hours of waiting scheduled for next week, so I think I'll work on socks for my sister now. 

My reading has included the last several books I'm finishing for Book Bingo, but they just weren't providing the calm and peace I've needed after all the chaos of the past several weeks. When I feel like this, E. B. White is the writer I turn to, so I'm finding the solace, perspective, and achingly beautiful prose I crave in The Essays of E.B. White.

What are you knitting and reading this week? Whatever you're working on, I hope it's providing you with lots of what you need.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Four Years Ago ...

Ryan and I completed our epic 1765 mile trip, driving from NJ to his new home in Fort Collins, CO to start his PhD program at Colorado State University. The road was long, but the rewards were great, and things have only gotten better since then. Ryan is where he needs and wants to be, doing what he wants to do, working towards a bigger goal, and happy about all of it, so as his mother, I'm happy, too.

I wish I had taken pictures along the way, but I'm glad that I at least posted on facebook at the end of two very loonngg days of driving, and blogged about the trip after we had been in Fort Collins for a week. These have helped jog my memories of what was a pretty big deal then -- both the trip itself and Ryan moving so far away from home.

That's one of the main reasons I started blogging; Ryan's start on his adult life was such a big shift in my own life that I felt the need to write about it, and I'm glad I did. Through sharing my own journey and sharing in the experiences of others in this amazing community, I've met so many kind, wonderful, and supportive friends. It started when Kym "introduced" me to her sister in Cheyenne because Ryan didn't know a soul. Thankfully, I never had to bother Kym's sister, but I felt relieved just knowing that there was someone I could call in case any of the emergencies I worried about came to pass. Patty was next, after she messaged me on ravelry because her son Dan was also living in Fort Collins, and wondrous friendships have grown from there.

Yes, I had to take a first day of grad. school photo. 

Thank you for reading my reminiscences, and for all the kindness and support that you have all shown over the years. I've been the recipient of so much good, and I hope that I can give back in some way. Many people think blog friends are "imaginary" because we may not have met in person, but I know that all of you are real friends!