Friday, September 29, 2017

Right Now September 2017

Here's what is going on for me Right Now on this penultimate day of September ...

Reveling In -  Cooler temperatures (finally!) and the slow approach of fall. I wrote this exact same thing last month, but then we had several weeks of heat and humidity. Now it seems like autumn may really be here to stay for a while.

Hoping - That we see some color in leaves instead of them just drying up, turning brown, and falling. We haven't had rain for 6-8 weeks and all we've got so far is dead, crunchy leaves and the remains of the squirrels' acorn feasts all over the driveway.

Drinking - I'm almost ashamed to write this, but I've been drinking Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Creamer in my morning tea. I don't even remember why I bought it in the first place, but I'm on my second bottle of the unhealthy stuff. It's 35 calories/tablespoon, so I've started actually measuring it into my tea so I don't "accidentally" pour in a big glug or two. It's not the worst vice a person could have, but I really do try to eat and drink real food, and there is barely anything real in this stuff. Hopefully I'll break free of the obsession soon. 

Planning - 
It's a big maybe, but I might visit Ryan in Fort Collins for a long weekend next month. I can't get him to commit to a specific weekend, so I'm trying to decide if that's due to his busy schedule or if he'd rather not have his mother visit for his birthday. 

Watching - Call the Midwife. I'm very late to this show but I had started to watch it once before, and John said that hearing the screams of all the women in labor made him feel faint. I don't doubt that at all (he had to leave the delivery room several times when the boys were born), so I'm enjoying it myself this week while he is in Denmark. All those hand knit baby clothes!

Making - Cheesy Panade with Swiss Chard, Beans, and Sausage. I came across this crockpot recipe while looking for something to do with Swiss chard. John plants it, but I think it tastes like weeds, so I tend to ignore it in the garden. I've got my cubed bread drying out and the rest of the ingredients ready to put in the crockpot for dinner tonight, with high hopes that beans, sausage, and cheese will hide the taste of the chard. I misread this as "Cheesy Panda" and emailed John that's what's for dinner when he gets home tonight; somehow he has managed to hide his excitement. 

Picking - The last of the garden produce - tomatoes, peppers, a few string beans, and some zucchini. By next month, probably only Brussels sprouts will remain.

Making, Part II - Zucchini pickles. I already have enough shredded zucchini frozen to last me until next year, so I'm making pickles. This is a win-win because I pick the zucchini when they're small, make something we'll eat, and don't have to leave giant zucchini on my neighbors' porches. I've already made dill pickles; the bread and butter variety are up next.

Purchasing - Another freezer. Just last month, I wrote that I was dreading cleaning out our two freezers after all the garden produce is harvested, processed, and frozen. The universe may have heard my whining and said, "Hey, I know how to help you clean out the freezer quickly!" Several weeks ago, our big 
23 cu. ft. freezer died, and I was forced to clear it out, decide that three-year-old shredded zucchini, defrosted limp string beans, and freezer-burned chicken breasts were not worth saving, then consolidate what was worth saving into our smaller 12 cu. ft. freezer. Our big action plan now is to buy another smaller freezer, transfer all the garden produce into it in an organized way, and defrost the old freezer so it will be ready to use for the rest of the stuff from the garden. I've got 15 Brussels sprouts plants and they are busy making lovely little sprouts that will need to be blanched and frozen.

Getting Rid Of - The big old (heavy!) broken freezer and hopefully an old refrigerator at the same time. I'm prepared to be extra-nice (and also pay extra) to get rid of these non-working appliances.

What's going on in your world right now?

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Three on Thursday

Joining Kat and Carole for Three on Thursday.

1.  John was traveling to Denmark on Sunday and sent me the text above. I've known John for 43 years, and he has seen me knit during all of those years. I'm glad he noticed women knitting, and glad that he texted me. He also gets some points for recognizing a hat and sock, but I hoped that after 43 years he might have been a bit better at identifying characteristics of nice yarn (or asked the Danish ladies about their yarn and where he could get some to bring home to me). Blue just made me laugh. :-)

2.  I am not much of a sports fan and pay very little attention to baseball, basketball, football, etc. But the protests against racism during the national anthem have gotten my attention, and I'm very pleasantly surprised that teams, owners, and Roger Goodell recognize that football players do not have to surrender their First Amendment rights, even if the President seems unfamiliar with the Bill of Rights. I've read articles about how this may be more of a labor-relations/contractual issue than a Constitutional one, but I am glad to see that players, teams, CEOs, owners, and the NFL Commissioner are making their own thoughtful choices, and also making Americans think about what the players are kneeling and standing for and why. I just wish more people understood this is about racial inequality, not disrespect for the flag, anthem, or veterans. I wonder what will happen during the World Series?

3.  I know this doesn't look much like a bow now, but hopefully it will after I put some pieces together, string it, put on that funny-looking glove and try shooting an arrow or two. Wish me luck; more later!

Head on over here to read more Three on Thursday posts.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Unraveled Wednesday

Joining Kat and friends for Unraveled Wednesday.

I'm still knitting on my Fading Tardis hitchhiker, wondering when I'll start to see the beginning of the gradient appear (and wondering how long before I bore you to tears with the same knitting project week after week). It's been hot enough recently that my knitting motivation has waned, but it's finally supposed to cool down a bit on Friday, so hopefully my knitting mojo will return along with cooler temperatures.

Several of you have already read my thoughts about What Happened, and I know some of you have read the book yourselves, but it felt like kind of a big deal in my reading last week, so I'm going to also post the review here. I was anxious to read what Hillary Clinton had to say, but also a little apprehensive that reading it would make me angrier, sadder, and more resentful. Readers will have to judge for themselves if it's a book they are interested in, but I was pleasantly surprised. I thought that Secretary Clinton had written as hopeful a book as possible under the circumstances, and at the end, I thought that if Mrs. Clinton could pick herself up and go on, then I certainly needed to do the same. It gave me a much-needed reminder that I could not wallow in hate, anger, and fear, but need to persevere and keep making phone calls and taking action. 

"For of all sad words of tongue and pen, the saddest are these: 'It might have been.'"

I supported Hillary Clinton and voted for her, so of course I wanted to read her take on What Happened. I'm not sure that question will ever really be answered, but in What Happened, she offers her views on the campaign, the election, and her life afterwards. I found the book to be an interesting combination of Secretary Clinton's own recounting of her life, personal and professional, and her take on politics, agendas, policies, and action. 

One of the things I found most surprising was that she blames herself for letting down her supporters. I personally think there is plenty of blame to be laid upon others, but perhaps naively, I do not blame Hillary Clinton for the loss. 

"Every day that I was a candidate for President, I knew that millions of people were counting on me, and I couldn’t bear the idea of letting them down. But I did. I couldn’t get the job done, and I’ll have to live with that for the rest of my life."
Mrs. Clinton does talk about how she misread the climate in the country and campaigning on fact-based policies and well thought out plans on how to fix things may not have been best strategy. Hindsight may be 20/20, but it still saddens me immensely that reason, logic, facts, and truth were not what the electorate wanted.
"Still, in terms of fighting the previous war, I think it’s fair to say that I didn’t realize how quickly the ground was shifting under all our feet. This was the first election where the Supreme Court’s disastrous 2010 Citizens United decision allowing unlimited political donations was in full force but the Voting Rights Act of 1965 wasn’t because of another terrible decision by the court in 2013. I was running a traditional presidential campaign with carefully thought-out policies and painstakingly built coalitions, while Trump was running a reality TV show that expertly and relentlessly stoked Americans’ anger and resentment."

"Usually when I meet people who are frustrated and angry, my instinctive response is to talk about how we can fix things. That’s why I spent so much time and energy coming up with new policies to create jobs and raise wages. But in 2016 a lot of people didn’t really want to hear about plans and policies. They wanted a candidate to be as angry as they were, and they wanted someone to blame."
While reading, I couldn't help but wonder if the Hillary Clinton that wrote this book could have won the election. She writes about the details of her life, walks in the woods with her dogs and Bill, watching HGTV, the books she has read and enjoyed, dinner and time spent with good friends, and most of all, her enjoyment of her grandchildren. She has presented a much softer side than we are used to seeing.
"There are times when all I want to do is scream into a pillow. But slowly, on a personal level, it has gotten better—or at least less terrible. I did quite a bit of thinking and writing, some praying, some stewing, and, in time, a good deal of laughing. I went on a lot of long walks in the woods with my husband and our dogs, Tally and Maisie, who took all this much better than we did. I surrounded myself with friends and caught up on some of the shows that people have been telling me about for years, as well as a lot of HGTV. Best of all, I spent time with my wonderful grandchildren, making up for all the bedtime stories and songs in the bathtub I missed during my long months on the campaign trail. I believe this is what some call “self-care.” It turns out, it’s pretty great."
I voted for her not because she's a woman, but because I thought that she was the most qualified candidate with a lifetime of broad and deeply relevant experience for the job of President of the United States. I'm fairly confident that I would not be worrying about nuclear war every day if Mrs. Clinton was President. I'm not nearly as sure as Secretary Clinton is that the fight was worth it, but only time will tell.
"Will we ever have a woman President? We will. I hope I'll be around to vote for her--assuming I agree with her agenda. She'll have to earn my vote based on her qualifications and ideas, just like anyone else. When that day comes, I believe that my two presidential campaigns will have helped pave the way for her. We did not win, but we made the sight of a woman nominee more familiar. We brought the possibility of a woman president closer. We helped bring into the mainstream the idea of a woman leader for our country. That's a big deal, and everyone who played a role in making that happen should be deeply proud. This was worth it. I will never think otherwise. This fight was worth it."

"I prayed that my worst fears about Donald Trump wouldn’t be realized, and that people’s lives and America’s future would be made better, not worse, during his presidency. I’m still praying on that one, and I can use all the backup you can muster."

What are you making and reading this week? 

Monday, September 25, 2017


We had the chance to make a spur of the moment visit to Justin and it was wonderful.

Fall is just barely beginning to show its changes in the trees and woods.

I admired a gorgeous hydrangea paniculata on the grounds.

And we spent lots of time sitting quietly, looking for deer.

Can you see the deer in this photo? 

It's a little easier to spot Justin in this one.

It was a truly lovely weekend, and I hope yours included plenty of nature, beauty, and family.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Nuts and Balls

This afternoon at 4:02 pm we'll officially welcome fall with the autumnal equinox in the northern hemisphere. This usually means cooler temperatures and a nice, crisp feeling in the air, but our weather has been warm and humid all week, with temperatures of 92° this weekend. Despite the warm temperatures, some leaves have begun to change, but it is also the season of nuts and balls in our neighborhood. 

Garden on the left, barn in the background, giant walnut tree on the right. 

My neighbor on one side has a huge walnut tree. It was originally planted almost 90 years ago, and as far as I can tell, people have been complaining about it for at least the last 30 years. Three different families have lived in that house since we've been here, and all of us hate the tree for different reasons. The biggest reason is the walnuts themselves. They have dented and stained my neighbor's white car; they are messy and there are hundreds (if not thousands) of them. I have to spend too much time picking up the ones that have fallen on our lawn (bushel baskets full!) before I mow. Walnut trees contain juglone in the leaves, roots, bark, and the nuts themselves, which is unfortunately toxic to many plants, like the ones growing in the garden we have planted nearby. I've offered to share the cost of cutting down the tree that nobody likes with each of the families that has lived next door, but it's still here, dropping nuts to taunt me. 

We've got our own nuts from two big oaks in our yard. They don't cause many issues beyond clogging the gutters. Now that acorns are dropping (and this is a big year for them) I've been cleaning out the gutters weekly, and shaking my fist at the squirrels who seem to deliberately throw them down on me.

My neighbor on the other side has balls instead of nuts. He has a sweetgum tree right next to our driveway, and while the leaves are prettily star-shaped, the spiky seed pod balls are a nuisance. The tree is laden with green ones right now, but they will be drying and falling soon. That means it's time for me to get out my gloves and snow shovel to clear them off of the driveway.

So welcome fall, welcome nuts and balls!

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Three on Thursday

Joining Kat and Carole for Three on Thursday.

1.  Decisions, decisions. We went out to dinner with friends last night, and the place they chose had an ambitious menu with lots of interesting choices. Kangaroo with purple smashed potatoes or maybe a wild boar or llama burger? I decided on wild boar and it was delicious. 

2.  My sourdough starter is coming along well with lots of bubbles and a lovely, yeasty smell. I'm still feeding it and waiting for it to develop a nice sour tang, and will maybe bake my first loaf with it next week. 

3.  Our town is hosting five Seward Johnson sculptures. I have some opinions and may write a longer post about them someday, but my first thought on finding this one was that this poor disgruntled woman might be a good model when I'm ready for some gradient hitchhiker photos. Yet another reason to get knitting so I finish before we have to return the sculptures.

Read other Three on Thursday posts here.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Unraveled Wednesday

Joining Kat and friends for Unraveled Wednesday.

I'm still knitting monogamously on my Faded Tardis Hitchhiker; hopefully giving it plenty of attention will ensure that I actually finish it someday in the nearish future.

My reading has been a little more scattered as I've been trying to catch up with too many books from Overdrive showing up all at once. Over the past week I finished Little Fires Everywhere and The Red House Mystery. Is anyone else surprised to find that A.A. Milne wrote a mystery? I was, but I also think he was smart to write only one and move on to Winnie-the-Pooh. I also started listening to What Happened, and am currently reading Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine. What Happened is great in parts, but I've also been glad to have Eleanor Oliphant on my Kindle for a break from Hillary. For some reason I was under the mistaken impression that Eleanor was similar to Don Tillman in The Rosie Project, a quirky character somewhere along the autism spectrum, but I don't think that is the case at all. I'm only on chapter 11, but there seems to be something darker happening, and both the story and the characters are compelling enough to make this a book I want to keep reading to see what's going on.

What are you making and reading this week?

Monday, September 18, 2017

Wild Weekending

Nothing says wild weekend like knitting in Newark airport on Saturday and Sunday nights.

Flights are no longer listed as "Delayed"; they are "Awaiting Aircraft" or "Air Traffic Control". Hmmm ...

My sister-in-law's flight was delayed more than an hour, so I did have the opportunity to have a lovely conversation with a man from India. He lives in Phoenix, had just returned from a trip to Iceland with his wife, but she had also just departed to Orlando to pick up their 16-month-old daughter from her parents. He admired my knitting and told me how much he had appreciated his Icelandic wool hat during the cold temperatures on his trip. He regaled me with delightful descriptions of how warm and comfortable he was while watching the northern lights outdoors in his hat, and I how I really needed to knit with Icelandic wool at least once in my life. Our conversation ranged from knitting to what makes a good parent to the varied behavior of people in airports and how and why travel is broadening, It was a wonderful way to spend time waiting and one of the nicest conversations I've had in a long time.

So I guess Newark airport wasn't so bad after all!

Friday, September 15, 2017

A Few New Things

Way back at the end of June I wrote about Ryan's encouragement to try one new thing each month. I have been making a real attempt at this, so it's time to catch up. None of these are earth-shattering or major, but just getting into the mindset of trying new things has been a very good thing for me.

Thank you, Kym! This daily reminder on my refrigerator is just what I need!

My new thing for July was an archery seminar at Cabela's. Both John and Justin shoot bows and it's always looked like something I might enjoy. The seminar was okay, but it was a long four hours that didn't really teach me anything new. I had hoped there would be some hands-on time actually trying bows at their indoor range, but that wasn't something they could do with 30 women. I did learn that archery is an expensive enough hobby that I'm not sure I'm ready to invest in just yet. I have been looking for used bows on ebay, but then there are also arrows, a sight, an arrow rest, etc. I keep thinking that money could buy a lot of yarn, but a bow is still under consideration.

In August, my new thing was that I finally got rid of our land line. I have been ranting about and threatening to do this for several years, and since we very rarely got calls that weren't somebody selling something we didn't want, we had basically stopped answering it. I was expecting a semi-important call but I wasn't sure how the name/number would show up on caller id, so I actually answered the phone for almost two weeks. That experience showed me that we were getting at least five or six nuisance calls every day, and paying $50/month for that privilege. As soon as I got the important call, I cancelled the land line and it's been fine so far. I have to make sure to keep my cell charged and keep it nearby but I don't regret the decision. Cable TV may be next.

For September, I went out to dinner by myself. My desire for fish and chips overcame my reticence, so I went back to the English brew pub, ate, took some photos as proof for Ryan, and found it was wonderfully pleasant. I went yesterday and was feeling exhausted after only three hours of sleep and my airport drive, so I didn't risk having a beer and falling asleep on the way home, but I took my Kindle, read a bit, and had a great dinner. John leaves again for work travel on the 24th, and since I'm no longer afraid of going out to dinner by myself, I will definitely do this again.

Have you done anything new recently? It's much more fun than I thought it would be!

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Three on Thursday

Joining Kat and Carole for Three on Thursday.

1.  I'm writing this ahead of time because if all goes as planned, I am now back home and sleeping. I left this morning at 3:00 am to take my sister-in-law, my nephew, and his fiancée to Newark airport. They are family, I love them, and want to help, but even those reasons can stretch a little thin at 3:00 in the morning.

2.  Then it's back to Newark airport on Saturday evening to pick up John and Justin returning from a trip to Montana. Their plane is scheduled to arrive at a more reasonable 6:30 pm.

3.  But wait; there's more! I head back to Newark airport on Sunday evening for the third time in four days to pick up my sil, nephew, and fiancée. Their plane is due in at 8:30 pm, and it better not be late.

The next time I go to Newark airport I hope I'm the one flying some where, and I hope it's not for a 5 or 6 am flight. Here's hoping your three things are much better than three trips to Newark airport!

Read other Three on Thursday posts here.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Unraveled Wednesday

Joining Kat and friends for Unraveled Wednesday.

I didn't even try to resist. When you're feeling inspired and excited, that's the time to cast aside the fiddly beads from last week and cast on with new yarn. I've always wanted to knit a gradient Hitchhiker, so from just two starting stitches I'm up to 15 teeth. I'm anxious to see how the gradientness (gradientosity? gradientiality?) plays out, so stay tuned.

The new and shiny also captured my attention in reading. I was all set to start Hillary Clinton's What Happened, but I got an email that my Overdrive request for it won't be ready until next week. (edit: It's here this morning, and I've just downloaded it, so today I'll be raptly listening to Hillary explain to me what happened!) I've been waiting for the publication of Little Fires Everywhere since January so that's what I'm listening to. It's set in the planned community of Shaker Heights, which wants to promise its residents “protection forever against…unwelcome change” and “a rather happy life”. What could possibly go wrong?!

What are you knitting and reading this week?

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

In Which I Exercise Self-Restraint

I told you about the sheep yesterday, so today is for fiber. I did not need any yarn, but had checked the vendor list and thought there might be something wonderful that should come home with me.

But then, with perfect timing, I got a call from Ryan. It was only 7:00 am Mountain Time on Saturday, so I knew something was up. After reassuring me that he was okay, he gave me the sad news that his computer had died, fixing it was iffy at best, could he please use the credit card to buy a new one, and he would pay me back. My heart sunk a little bit, but at least I knew about this before I spent too much on yarn. He's a poor graduate student so I know my chances of being paid back are fairly slim, but he's also using his computer to write his dissertation, so I couldn't say no. That is far more important than yarn, so I wandered through the vendor barns with my revised budget in mind.

It was fun to look at so much beautiful yarn from so many dyers. I had heard of some of them, but many were new to me. After several circuits around, I started to hone in on what I really wanted, and I knew that included something from Marianated Yarns. This is the yarn that Margene used for her Brilliant Spices shawl, and the colors are even more saturated and beautiful in person. The gradient and Marianade sets are stunning, so after a long time considering among eight that I loved, I bought Dragon Scales. I don't have a plan for it, but love each of the colors, singly and together.

This alpaca cowl kit from Berry Meadow Farm was under serious consideration, but on my way back to make a final decision I got waylaid.

I spied this at the June Pryce Fiber Arts booth, and was smitten by my absolute favorite color in a gradient, so I had to add Fading Tardis to my other purchase.

In the end I decided against the alpaca cowl kit, but only for reasons of economy. Now that I've posted the photo I'm feeling a little regret that I didn't get it, so we'll see how long my self-restraint lasts. I'm pretty sure that seeing the Visa bill with a new laptop on it will help with that. :-)

Monday, September 11, 2017

Sheep and Fiber

I was afraid that some family commitments might keep me from going, but luckily things worked out so I could get to the Garden State Sheep Breeders Sheep & Fiber Festival this weekend. This is a Goldilocks kind of event for me - just 15 minutes away at our county fairgrounds with lots of parking, no big crowds, lots of sheep, a parade of breeds, sheepdog herding, and three barns of vendors. Not too small, not too big, it's just right!

There were sheep of all breeds and colors.

After visiting all the sheep, I was awed the sheepdogs and their amazing abilities.

That'll do.

I even learned that there are sheep that don't need shearing! This shepherd's flock is about 50% Katahdin sheep, which she keeps because they shed their winter coat and don't need to be sheared.

The rest of the weekend was full of worry about those in the dangerous paths of weather and wildfires, but I was very grateful to be able to enjoy this oasis of peace and calm on Saturday morning.