Tuesday, January 30, 2018

No Words

There are many times that I wish I was more eloquent than I am so I could express my thoughts and feelings in a more articulate and meaningful way. This is one of those times. Maybe some of the problem is that there really are no words. My father passed away over the weekend, and there is no good way to convey that message and its attendant feelings in mere words.

My father had multiple acute and chronic illnesses and was in physical and mental pain for at least the last five years, so I am glad that he's no longer suffering. Many of you have offered kind wishes, sympathy, and support over those years, and I thank you immensely, then and now. I'm going to take a break from blogging for a while, but intend to be back soon when I regain some of my words and voice.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Riches of Rainbows

I couldn't come up with a single thing to write about today, but then I went into Justin's room and saw this:

There is a faceted crystal prism hanging in his window, and the sun was just right to cast rainbows all over his room.

On the deer mural that covers one wall,

 his blanket,

and the rug on the floor.

I tried to recreate the lovely display on the kitchen wall, but it just wasn't the same.

Here's hoping you get to enjoy a light, bright, and colorful weekend.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Three on Thursday

Joining Kat and Carole for Three on Thursday.

I heard someone use the word kerfuffle this week, and that reminded me of a game of sorts that we used to play at dinner. Ryan bought an old dictionary at a rummage sale because he wanted to have "big books" in his bookcase and not just picture and chapter books. One evening at dinner he asked what defenestrate meant, and we told him to look it up. He brought his dictionary down to the kitchen, looked up the word, put it on top of the microwave when he was done, and it's lived there ever since, for easy access during dinner. "I'm going to defenestrate you!" became the new threat between Ryan and Justin for a while. Yes, they were still fighting, but learning new vocabulary while they did it. 

For many years, our dinnertime conversation included trying to stump each other with words we had heard or read, and sometimes we just ended up paging through the dictionary looking for good words. I thought it was educational for the kids, but it was really just fun, and I learned plenty myself.

Three of our favorite words:

The words didn't always get used correctly, like when I was asked if I would please pour a copious glass of milk for one of the boys, and sometimes the definitions themselves caused a bit of confusion. Justin somehow associated ineffable with the unspeakable f-word he was never to utter, but that just led to him using ineffable instead. It was an amusing and handy misunderstanding from a parent's point of view, and sometimes I still use it myself (for those ineffable squirrels nesting in our attic).

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

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Unraveled Wednesday

Joining Kat and friends for Unraveled Wednesday.

Since my Frostbite Fighter Sockhead Cowl is really just a long stockinette tube with ribbing at both ends, it looks much the same as last week, just longer. I thought the stockinette part was knit to ten inches, I knit 11 and started ribbing, but the pattern says 12 inches, so I did unravel a bit and start stockinette again. Another inch or so, four inches of ribbing, and Justin's face and neck will be warmer. Knitting for him along with the prospect of getting back to my gradient hitchhiker next are spurring me on!

I just started Alternate Side by Anna Quindlen, mainly because I want to see how Ms. Quindlen is writing these days. I really liked some of her early books (One True Thing and Every Last One), but thought Still Life With Bread Crumbs was awful. Miller's Valley was good, but I want to see if she's kept the momentum. So far Alternate Side seems to be about parking, but I'm only at 12%. I hope there's a real story developing by the 20% mark. 

I finally finished The Woman Who Smashed Codes and found it as fascinating and riveting as everyone else. It's only the third week in January and I think I've already read two of the best books I'll read this year!

What are you making and reading? 

Monday, January 22, 2018

Randomly on a Monday

I've just got a few random things to share on this Monday.

I cleaned out the refrigerator and found about 20 really small, slightly dessicated apples in the fruit drawer that I couldn't just throw away. I'm not quite sure how they got there, but I peeled them with the intention of making sauteed apples to serve with meatloaf on Friday. Many of them cooked down quickly to something resembling applesauce, while others remained fairly chunky. I tasted them and thought this would make interesting apple pie filling, but we've managed to eat almost the whole batch, so no pie. There's just a small bowlful left, and I'm debating whether whipped cream would be a good addition or not.

In the winter my hands take a real beating despite my repeated moisturizing efforts and trying almost every hand cream available. January is the time it really gets painful when the skin beside my thumbnails splits. I sound like a wimpy whiner, but the cracks do hurt, and make doing dishes, knitting, and almost everything that I use my thumbs and hands for more difficult. I try to keep them lubricated with A&D ointment and covered with band-aids, but they inevitably fall off.

I was in the drugstore looking for something that might work, and saw a bottle of New Skin liquid bandage. When I read the ingredients, they sounded similar to Super Glue. A quick check of Google showed me that loads of people already do this, so my thumbs are now Super Glued and I can knit again!

In a first for me, I actually watched two football games. This was mainly because Justin was predicting a Patriots - Vikings Super Bowl and we both wanted to see if that was going to be the case. My takeaways from the games: I felt very sorry for the Jaguars mostly because they looked so sad, and I was shocked by how well the Eagles did. Good thing the Crisco Cops were on duty. Also, I really love the Vikings' purple and am going to search for some sock yarn in that incredible color.

My boots have been leaking for a while now, and I've been searching for the perfect waterproof and warm pair. John and Justin told me that Muck Boots were the only logical choice, but I resisted for quite a while, hoping for something a little cuter. I finally gave in and ordered a pair, and it turns out they were right. I'm not a fan of camo or pink, but these work so well I can overlook that. There is also the powerful feeling that wearing these tall boots gives me. I love my Big Boots and want to wear them everywhere!

Friday, January 19, 2018

I Just Want to Read

For someone with a long list to accomplish today, I've gotten a late start, and I blame Lisa Genova.

She is a neuroscientist and author who writes fiction about people living with neurological diseases. She includes just the right amount of well-researched scientific detail to inform and educate the reader, but she also manages to beautifully portray the human side of the people living with these disorders. She has written about early onset Alzheimer's Disease, traumatic brain injury, autism, Huntington's disease, and now ALS. Every Note Played * will be published in March of this year, but I was lucky enough to be approved for an advance copy from NetGalley, and now all I want to do is read.

I woke up early this morning, told myself that I wouldn't be able to get back to sleep, and reading for a little bit would be a good idea. Three hours later, I'm having trouble putting this compelling book down and getting to work. The story is about a concert pianist who is diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease or motor neurone disease) at the peak of his success. How he deals with his progressive paralysis, the dilemma of the extensive caretaking he needs, and the reactions of the family he has estranged himself from make for some painful reading, but Genova's writing is beautiful, without a hint of overwrought drama. I know what the end will be, but I can hardly wait to see how it will be.

So after I make myself finish laundry, grocery shop, clean for some visitors, cook a few things ahead of time for those visitors, and review two strawberry and lettuce fungicide reports, I'll be back in the same place, happily reading a great book. I laughed when I saw the cover of the most recent Bas Bleu catalog; they get it!

I hope your weekend includes a wonderful book or two and some time to read.

* There is a giveaway on goodreads if you are interested in entering for a chance to win a copy of the book.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Three on Thursday

Joining Kat and Carole for Three on Thursday.

I spent two frustrating days in doctor's offices and hospitals this week, and took plenty of photos to go with the "Three Things I Dislike About Doctors" post I had written in my mind. On the way home I remembered my grandmother saying that nature and water were good ways to deal with day-to-day irritations so I stopped at a park to talk a walk with both water and nature. On a more positive note, here are "Three (Plus) Things I Enjoyed On My Walk". 

There were interesting and beautiful ice formations,

Berries available for birds,

And lots of hemlock foliage and cones for deer, squirrels, and mice.

My grandmother was right; water and nature put things in perspective beautifully.

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

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Unraveled Wednesday

Joining Kat and friends for Unraveled Wednesday.

My mother-in-law hates winter weather because she's very afraid of falling. She was complaining about it last week and told me, "If it's not snowing, it's dark." Today you get a photo of my Frostbite Fighter Sockhead Cowl in progress that shows sometimes darkness and snow happen at the same time. Putting my knitting in a snowy tree also showed me that it passed the weather test. I'm knitting this at a tight enough gauge that it should be fairly waterproof and be able to fight frostbite as I had hoped.

I'm enjoying knitting this and have been thinking about what stash I might use for one for me. I have some ideas, but my blue gradient hitchhiker is also calling me "Finish me, Bonny. You're so close and I want to be worn instead of stuffed in your knitting bag." I don't think I can ignore its plaintive cries much longer.

I finished two books this week, The Power and The Queen of Hearts, and am still reading The Woman Who Smashed Codes. Links are in the right-hand sidebar if you're interested in any of them, but I highly recommend The Power. Compelling, interesting, well-written, and disturbing, it may be the best book I read this year ( I just can't confidently declare that already in the middle of January).

What are you making and reading? 

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Charmed, I'm Sure

I've been continuing with my Swedish death cleaning, very slowly, but steadily. If I find myself with 10 or 15 free minutes, I try to use it to clean out a small space. Yesterday it was the hat cupboard in the armoire in our bedroom. I was doing fairly well until I got to these little boxes, and had to stop and take a closer look.

This is my charm bracelet. My grandmother (my father's mother that we rarely saw because she traveled a lot) brought it back for me from Copenhagen, and I remember thinking I was so sophisticated because I had a charm bracelet from Denmark with a toggle clasp.

It really is a reflection of my life growing up - a microscope for my keen interest in science, a baton from my time as a majorette in high school, and my years in Girl Scouts from Brownies through Seniors and then as a troop leader.

My mother's charm bracelet is loaded with movable charms that I love, like Jonah in the whale,

a real compass, a Bible that opens up to the Lord's Prayer inside,

a boat with a swiveling fisherman,

a harmonica that you can play (a little bit) and a flexible fish.

My mother was a postmaster at a tiny little post office for many years, and I remember being thrilled to find this opening and closing mail box for her birthday.

My sister and I were always amazed that my father had found our exact house as a charm for my mother's bracelet. We didn't realize that it was really just a standard split-level house, but it was fun to see our bedroom window over the garage in charm form, just like our real house.

We spent lots of time on rainy days looking through our mother's jewelry boxes, trying on her "fancy jewelry", and playing with the movable charms. This wishing well was one of our very favorites. It used to have a handle that turned to move the bucket up and down. Sadly, it got broken (let's just say my sister did it because I would never do something like that), but ...

all I had to do was open up the Happy Birthday cake to see that the candle and broken wishing well handle were still safely inside.

Not a lot of cleaning got done, but the trip down memory lane was wonderful.

Monday, January 15, 2018

This is What a Celebration Looks Like!

Justin has been having a very difficult time at his job for many months, and for many reasons. He's vented to us, sent late-night texts that are worrisome to his mother, and generally been miserable. I offered advice when I was asked, and sympathy and caring when it seemed that he needed it the most. I know that this is not really my problem nor could I fix it, but no mother wants to see her child so unhappy for so long.

Late last week, Justin called with some good news - finally! The details are not really mine to recount, but I think I do get to share that I grabbed a cider and literally danced when I got off the phone.

He came home for a quick overnight visit on Saturday to tell us the whole story, and I decided this was worth a celebration. When the boys were young, good grades, happy news, and sometimes just the fact that we were lucky to have such great kids got celebrated and marked with a special dinner. That's just what this occasion called for.

I admired the sun shining through the pie plates I got out to bread the chicken parmesan.

There were twice-baked potatoes to go with the chicken parmesan,

and a beer for each of us to raise to Justin and good news.

It may look like just an ordinary weekend meal, but I hope you can also see the hope, happiness, and relief that were a big part of this celebratory dinner. Here's hoping you've got good things going on in your world this week.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Three on Thursday

Joining Kat and Carole for Three on Thursday.

Every morning while I'm having my morning tea, I ask myself that eternal question, "What the heck should I make for dinner tonight?" I've been in a soup sort of mood, so here are three soups that I considered for dinner. 

Corn and Cheese Chowder
I like almost everything The Pioneer Woman makes, and this one had the added benefit that I have all the ingredients. It was a serious contender.

Sherried Tomato Soup
I found this one while I was perusing The Pioneer Woman's website, and I could almost taste a delicious dinner of homemade tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches. Drawbacks were that I would have to go to the grocery store for diced tomatoes and sherry.

Split Pea Soup with Sausage
This recipe sounded intriguing. I always make split pea soup after I make a ham, but to be honest, I just barely tolerate ham after the childhood trauma of being made to sit at the kitchen table until bedtime because I couldn't/wouldn't finish my awful slice of ham. I used the "spit it into a napkin" trick more than once and my mother pretended not to notice. Split pea soup without ham might open up a whole new world for me.

And the winner was ...

Split Pea Soup with Sausage! Easy, delicious, and no one was forced to sit at the kitchen table until bedtime.

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

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Unraveled Wednesday

Joining Kat and friends for Unraveled Wednesday.

This photo is a little over four inches of ribbing on my next cowl for Justin, Frostbite Fighter. I'm actually done with the ribbing and have started the next section of rounds and rounds of stockinette, but was running out of light yesterday afternoon and ran out to take a few photos. (*Scroll down to see the rest of the story.) I love the yarn and don't mind the mindless meditative knitting at all ... yet. There are still 14 more inches to go, so I've still got plenty of time for a little whining about endless stockinette and too much ribbing.

I'm reading The Queen of Hearts and listening to The Woman Who Smashed Codes and The PowerI think I'm going to have to do some monogamous reading to actually finish something. I'm splitting my time between them now, and while they're all very good in their own ways, I'm not making much progress with any of them. So no more fooling around with multiple books this week; I'm going to pick one and be faithful.

*The rest of the story:

This is the photo you take when you accidentally drop the ball of yarn you have been carefully trying not to drop.

This is how far the ball of yarn rolls despite your efforts to chase it.

What are you making and reading? 

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Before They Shrivel Up Completely

Remember this Christmas cactus that I bought back in December and my excitement over its ten buds on one segment?


This is what it looks like now.


As I feared, many of the buds dried up and have dropped off. Those ten buds are just shriveling up and disappearing, despite all my misting and care. Oh, well, there's always next year, and I do still have a few remaining blooms to enjoy on my other cactus plants.

And look, the sun is shining brightly and bringing us temperatures of 40 degrees today, which may be the best news of all!