Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Right Now - February 2017

I haven't written about current happenings since October so it's clearly long past time for a Right Now post. Also, I don't have anything else for today, and it is the last day of February, so this is what's going on ... Right Now.

Knitting - Still this Hitchhiker. I keep knitting and knitting, and it just doesn't seem to get much bigger. I know it must be growing, because I've started on a second skein, but that has caused some issues. The Hedgehog Fibres skeins are just slightly different, so I've been alternating them, which has caused me to start knitting from the wrong side more than once. I'm trying to be careful to have both skeins on the same side of the row when I put it down, but since I don't always remember to do that, I am at least getting faster at tinking long rows to correct my carelessness.


The warm weather and a burning desire to try my new Karbonz needles may have made me cast on this Creamsicle sock.



Looking For - A more varied menu for dinner. I cook almost every night, but it seems like I'm making the same boring things night after night. John isn't a picky eater, but he's also not a very adventurous one, so anything spicy is out. There is shepherd's pie, spinach and mushroom quiche, and ziti on the menu this week, but I'd love to hear any suggestions you might have. 

Looking Forward - To slightly warmer weather, as it seems that being able to grill solves a lot of my meal problems. Dinner during the spring and summer is usually something grilled, a good salad, and a vegetable.


Counting Down - To when I can start planting seeds for the garden. I alternate between lamenting that it's a whole month away and thinking it's only four short weeks until I start my tomatoes, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, and watermelons.

Reading - The Keeper of Lost Things which I'm enjoying so far. I really looked forward to the publication of this book as I have a love of the "lost things" genre, if there is such a thing. (Goodreads lists plenty of "lost things" books, so there might be!) I read Lost Property last summer and felt a real connection. Maybe this is related to my traumatic loss of a special birthstone ring when I was six.



Watching - Happy Valley and Lark Rise to Candleford. I love Happy Valley (even if it's a terribly mis-named show) and Sarah Lancashire is excellent in it, but Lark Rise to Candleford provides some low-key entertainment when Happy Valley gets a bit too gritty. Sometimes it's nice to watch something where the biggest problems are who is going to pay for telegrams and whether a widower should buy lace gloves for his maid. 

Wondering - If I'm smart enough to watch Homeland. Mary praised the show when she talked about Sara's Hell Yeah Homeland tumblr and podcast, but also warned me that some story lines could be confusing. John is traveling for a week in March, so I think I'll get the DVDs from the library, give it a try, and consult Mary and Sara's blog if I'm not clever enough to follow what's going on. 

Grateful For - More daylight at the end of the day. John and I usually walk when he gets home from work, so I'm glad that it's not getting dark until almost 6 pm. Plus, we return to Daylight Savings Time in just a couple weeks, so I'll be even more grateful for more light later.


Resisting - Starburst Jelly Beans. This is an old photo, but I noticed these among the Easter candy that made an early appearance immediately after Valentine's Day, and of course I've been thinking about them since I first saw those bright red and yellow bags on the grocery store shelves. Maybe I need to officially forego them for Lent. 



Avoiding - This speech. It's after my self-imposed no-news curfew of 8:00 pm. Also, I just don't think I have the fortitude to watch or listen. 

What's going on in your world right now?

Monday, February 27, 2017

Little Acorns

You'd scarce expect one of my age
To speak in public on the stage;
And if I chance to fall below
Demosthenes or Cicero,
Don't view me with a critic's eye,
But pass my imperfections by.
Large streams from little fountains flow,
Tall oaks from little acorns grow.

Lines written for a School Declamation, Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919)

When we go places, I like to gather acorns in hopes of rooting them and eventually growing some tall oak trees. I'm not sure why I do this, but I think it's fun to try and get the acorns to germinate. Acorns from all species of oaks except white oak require stratification, which just means that they need a period of cold to develop roots, stem, and start growing. I collect mature acorns from the ground in the fall, and place them in damp sphagnum moss in a plastic bag. Then I put the plastic bag in the refrigerator for 30-90 days.

Or until I come across the plastic bag when I'm cleaning out the refrigerator. That's what happened last weekend when I found a bag full of germinated acorns I had collected from where Justin used to work in upstate NY. The date on the bag was 12/13/15, which I guess means that I should clean out my refrigerator more often.


This is what the acorns look like once the root and stem have emerged and started growing.


This is an exciting photo of the newly-planted acorns in moist soil.


I was running out of space near windowsills, but decided that these might grow well if I put them in Ryan's room,
 watched over by our hundred-year-old oak tree to set a good example for them.


This exciting photo is one of the three oak trees I started from acorns I collected at Gettysburg College, where Ryan went to school. It really is more than a stick; you can see new green growth at the top, and after it grows new leaves in the spring and summer, they even change colors and drop in the fall. 

Here's hoping I can nurture some tall oaks in the future!

Friday, February 24, 2017

Spring (Inside and Out)

It's 70 degrees here and I've got hyacinths outside about four inches tall already, but there is one blooming inside.


It smells wonderful, and I think the little bulblet may even blossom.


The pink is beautiful and I really love the bits of green on the top of the opening flower.


I hope you get to enjoy something lovely this weekend, inside and out!

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Help!


I'm being held hostage in an ugly hospital waiting room with three Trump supporters while Fox News discusses the repeal of Obamacare. I tentatively tried to start a discussion with them so I could possibly better understand their views, but the first thing they told me was that anyone who didn't support him was "a crazy traitor". That was pretty much the end of our civil discourse.

Next time I'm stuck in a waiting room, I am definitely removing the batteries from the TV remote.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

SoS (the good kind)

I know there is plenty of winter left, but when temperatures were near 60 degrees last weekend, I had to get out in the lovely warming sunshine, peek under the leaves in the flower beds, and take a look around. I did resist the urge to uncover all the flower beds; surely there is more winter weather ahead?


There are tulips and hyacinths coming up.


Crocus that don't look like much now, but will probably be blooming in a week or two.


Mums are sprouting.


And I was really happy to see new growth on the columbines I started from seed a few years ago.


There was even laundry on the line.

Best of all were the snowdrops I found blooming in various places.




Sure Signs of Spring! (We just don't usually see them in February.)

Monday, February 20, 2017

Weekending


We ate.


We drank.


We reconnected.


We held babies.


We sang Happy Birthday.


We held more babies and ate some more.

It was an especially wonderful day to celebrate my mother-in-law's 84th birthday. See that kid with the big holes in his jeans? That's Justin, home from Texas. I don't know how long he'll be here or where his next adventure will take him, but I sure loving having him home!

Friday, February 17, 2017

Cooking Day


Monday is my mother-in-law's birthday, and it might be a big one. John thinks she is turning 83; one sister-in-law says 84, and the other is sure that she's going to be 85. Whatever her age, the weather is cooperating and the stars have aligned for a big birthday celebration tomorrow. It was planned on the spur of the moment as we're never quite sure whether my mil will be in the hospital or not, but it's all come together for almost every family member to be there tomorrow, except for those west of the Mississippi, and they will be with us in spirit.

Celebrating for the Becker family means food, so today is a cooking day for me. I'm making my mil's favorite cherry cheese pie, two crockpots full of creamy chicken and wild rice soup, and ten pounds of potato salad. We had lots of fun planning what everyone was going to make and I'm wondering how we managed this before group texts.

I'm hungry already, because the kitchen smells like warm and sugary graham crackers from baking the pie crust. I'm sure I'll have to taste the pie filling after I put it together and then there will be a tempting pound (or two) of bacon for the potato salad. It will most certainly be a cooking, peeling, chopping, mixing, and sampling day!

Hopefully I will remember to take photos to share on Monday, and I hope that all of you have something good to celebrate this weekend!

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Someday ...

Today's Think Write Thursday prompt is to write about something you’ve been putting off doing. We all have those tasks, projects, phone calls and more that we find excuses to avoid. What are you procrastinating about? And why? And, finally, how are you going to address it?

I wasn't going to write a post today. Not because I don't procrastinate (I do procrastinate - plenty!), but more because I didn't want to address any of the things I put off doing. But reading Carole's post about cleaning out her closet because she has a new mattress and box spring being delivered struck a chord with me. Cleaning closets comes relatively easily to me, but I have been having trouble with the buying a new mattress and box spring thing.



About 15 years ago, John and I did buy a new bed. It seemed perfect in the store, but the mattress was way too soft once we had it. We exchanged it for a different one which turned out to be way too hard. What we really needed was a Sleep Number bed because John and I want different things in a mattress, but they were a bit too much for our bed budget. We had already exchanged the mattress once, so we were stuck with the second one.





We tried to deal with the too-hard bed issue by putting a soft featherbed on top of it. That made it better, but still not the Goldilocks level of comfort we wanted. It bunches up with lumps of feathers, and the sheets barely fit. I've said that we're going bed shopping almost every month for the past two years, but it seems that something always happens and the bed-shopping budget gets spent elsewhere. Justin has an accident and needs help buying a vehicle, our exorbitant property taxes are due, our even more exorbitant car insurance bill has to be paid, or Justin cuts his thumb and we're faced with a $5000 bill from the hospital. 

So we are going mattress shopping. I'm hoping we'll find something affordable and comfortable for both of us so I can quit grumbling and swearing every morning when I make the bed and especially when I change the sheets. I'll write a post about my new sweet slumbering spot someday by the end of April. 

Read other Think ... Write ... Thursday! posts here, and sign up for Carole and Kat's great idea here.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Gifts

I've been lucky enough to receive some very nice gifts lately, from friends and the universe, and I want to be sure and express my gratitude.

The first gift comes from friends. Joe and Vicki are well into their 90s with lots of age-related infirmities and health problems. They rarely let these slow them down and joke that between them, they add up to one person that is able to both see and hear but still not get around very well. Vicki was having sewing machine issues so after a bunch of mishaps and some help from me, we finally got it working.


Vicki wanted to pay me, but when I refused, she went to her window sill and gave me this lovely hibiscus. Her brother came to the United States from Poland about 90 years ago, and brought the original plant with him. Vicki inherited the original when her brother passed away and has been starting new plants from cuttings for the last 20 years. I'm proud and honored to have this gift from a dear friend, especially because it's also a descendant of an immigrant. No immigration ban here!


The next gift was from the universe. During my walk, I spied something interesting on trash day. When I took a closer look, it turned out to be a discarded Norfolk Island pine. I didn't think it would survive freezing temperatures that night, so I heeded its quiet calls for help and carried it home. Many curled and brown branch tips showed that it had been deprived of water for quite a while, so I repotted it, cut off all the dead, dried parts, watered it well, and am now hoping it makes a recovery. So far, so good! It was sprayed with glitter (glitter on living plants is a terrible idea in my opinion), but I'll take care of that with a good shower when I can move it outside in warmer weather.

The universe presented me with another nice gift on a walk a few weeks ago. In our neighborhood, people often put unsold items out on the curb after they have a garage sale. Many times, one man's junk also looks like junk to me, but I found some treasure in the form of four pink pressed glass plates.


I've been using them as plant saucers, but they also work well as doughnut plates.


Thanks to friends and the universe for some lovely gifts!

Monday, February 13, 2017

Weekending

This weekend, I made sure to get out and enjoy the beauty of the snow we got while it was still around.


Snow-covered trees blended in with the gray sky before the fierce winds stripped them of their white blanket.


The day after the storm, I got to enjoy a brilliant sunrise contrasted with the gray whiteness of the snow.


Blue skies even made an appearance.


And there was a road less traveled. I couldn't resist making the first set of footprints on this woodland path.

Back home, a delicious mug of hot chocolate provided the perfect warm-up.

Hope your weekend included some beauty and warmth!


Friday, February 10, 2017

Nevertheless, She Persisted

By now, you've all heard and read about what happened on the Senate floor Tuesday evening. During a session debating the nominee for Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, Senator Elizabeth Warren (tried to) read a letter written by Coretta Scott King in 1986 to Strom Thurmond, then Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, detailing her opposition to Jeff Sessions for a federal judgeship.


Senator Steve Daines interrupted Warren, citing Senate Rule XIX which states that "No Senator in debate shall, directly or indirectly, by any form of words impute to another Senator or to other Senators any conduct or motive unworthy or unbecoming a Senator." The Senate voted along party lines, Warren was silenced, and Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell gave his now-famous explanation, 
“She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted."

Despite being told to be quiet by a bunch of men, Senator Warren did read Mrs. King's letter outside the Senate chambers, did not sit down and shut up in the following days, and Mitch McConnell unwittingly gave women a rallying cry that we will be remembering, shouting, and taking to heart for years to come.


I would be willing to bet that every single woman has been told to be quiet at some point in her life; I know I have. Sometimes it's a direct interruption, "Here, let me explain that" from a colleague at a meeting; sometimes it's a more subtle aside like, "Things would be so much better if you could just try to be a little more agreeable" spoken by a male. Women have heard these messages innumerable times, for much of their lives, which is why McConnell's words spoke to all women. He was so very clueless that I don't think he even understood how or why his own words about a woman reading the words of another woman would be used against him.

Luckily for all of us, Senator Warren persisted, as she always has. Unluckily for all of us, Jeff Sessions was confirmed as Attorney General, which is just one reason why all of us can not let this rallying cry become just a meme or simply words on a protest sign. There is nothing wrong with those, but I think it has to mean more. We've all been resisting, without much change to show for it so far, but "Nevertheless, she persisted" could not have come at a better time. Persist we must.


Thursday, February 9, 2017

Think Write Thursday

The Think Write Thursday prompt for today is to write a love letter. It could be a letter to a person, an idea, a project, a dream, a wish, a relative, a famous person, an ancestor or anything (or anyone) else you can think of.

Of course I love my husband, my kids, and my family, but my letter is addressed to some things that hold a very dear place in my heart right now ...


Dear Augmentin, Albuterol, and Codeine, 

Since all three of you are so important in my life right now, I just can't choose between you, and want to proclaim my deep and sincere love for each and every one of you. After feeling awful for 11 days, I finally went to the doctor, and once she and a chest x-ray diagnosed pneumonia, you entered my life with brilliant rays of sunshine and an angelic chorus, and made it so much better. 

Augmentin, I had high hopes for you from the first, and you did not let me down. After just a few doses, you began to help with my fever, chills, chest pain, trouble breathing, wheezing, and fatigue. For the first time in quite a while, I feel as if I can go on. You picked me up when I was at my lowest, and I love you for it. 

Albuterol, I've never used an inhaler before, but you were new and surprising. A couple of puffs and within 15 minutes you began to relieve my difficulty breathing, wheezing, shortness of breath, coughing, and chest tightness. I wish everything in my life worked that quickly. My bronchi and I love you for all you do.

Codeine, I've heard that a relationship with you can become addictive, and I can begin to understand why. You dealt with my constant coughing and finally allowed me to get some sleep. My husband doesn't even care that we're involved, as he is also able to sleep when I'm not coughing all night. I know we can't be together forever, but I love you and promise not to operate heavy machinery. 

Loving you with all my heart (and lungs),

Bonny
=========================================================================

Read other Think ... Write ... Thursday! posts here, and sign up for Carole and Kat's great idea here.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

And So it Begins ...



The only thing missing from the photo is my "I Hate Taxes" mug. 

Friday, February 3, 2017

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Hello, February


Dear February,

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
The finest one is that you have only 28 days.
There's Ice Cream for Breakfast Day on the fourth,
though I'm not sure we need more cold here in the north.
Valentine's Day is not my favorite,
but if I receive chocolate, I'll surely savor it.
Your Fastnacht Day is the best day of all,
Doughnuts may be even better than alcohol!

Sincerely,
Doughnut-loving Bonny

========================================================================
Read other Think ... Write ... Thursday! posts here, and sign up for Carole and Kat's great idea here.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Andy and Roger

If I had to name my favorite author it would probably be E.B. White, so I was excited to learn that Melissa Sweet had published a biography about this wonderful man, appropriately entitled Some Writer!. I finally finished savoring it last week, and was thrilled to find that Some Writer! was everything I had hoped for, and maybe even a bit more. Sweet combines her well-written text with detailed illustrations for a book that conveys the life of E.B. White in a way that I like to think E.B. White (called Andy by his friends) might have approved of. This is a tribute to his life, starting with his childhood, a terrible incident with a Longfellow poem, growing up in Westchester County, attending Cornell and meeting William Strunk, his years at The New Yorker, and on to the writing of his children's books. Sweet's illustrations are incredibly gorgeous watercolor and collage creations, inviting the reader to put aside the text for long moments spent investigating and appreciating her art.


She has also illustrated several other children's biographies, including The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus and A River of Words: The Story of William Carlos Williams. I've added these to my list with eager anticipation.


I thought I knew E.B. White's children's books well, but I learned quite a bit, and especially appreciated Sweet's inclusion of White's drafts of Charlotte's Web. This book is aimed at an 8-12 year old audience, but that should not stop adults from reading it. Anyone who has loved White's words will also love Some Writer!. 

It turns out that White's stepson, Roger Angell, is also a pretty darn good writer. During a rainy afternoon spent discussing books and the world with a dear friend, she went to her book shelf, pulled out Let Me Finish, and told me that if I liked E.B. White, I would also enjoy Roger Angell's writing. She was right. He is an essayist, known for his writing on baseball, and a senior editor and staff writer who has been contributing to The New Yorker since 1944. He is still writing, so I look for his essays, and was gratified to read his most recent one about the Women's March.

I have always been  amazed by how White's personal recountings of his daily life, thoughts, and words could be so applicable to me, a woman living her life 70 plus years later. I think he can express my feelings better than I can, and it turns out that Roger Angell also has that incredible ability. Me too, Roger.