Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Unraveled Wednesday

Joining Kat and friends for Unraveled Wednesday.

There is a math/philosophy problem called Zeno's Dichotomy Paradox. Zeno was an ancient Greek philosopher who came up with a series of paradoxes related to infinity, and the dichotomy problem says that traveling from one location to another takes an infinite amount of time because each fractional part of the journey can be infinitely halved, therefore motion is impossible and you can never reach the destination.

This is logically absurd, and there is a mathematical proof which I can't claim to fully understand and won't bore you with (but if you're interested, see the video below which explains it concisely and clearly in four minutes). My mathematical ramblings are because this Hitchhiker is beginning to feel a bit like I should have named it Zeno's Hitchhiker; I think finishing it may actually take me an infinite amount of time. I fully intended to have it done by today, but a lawyer, NY Life Insurance, and RCN (the worst cable company since Comcast) have conspired to deprive me of quite a bit of knitting time. (I'm the executor for my father's estate and I could never have imagined how much time would be involved.) I'm just going to keep knitting, hope to be done some day, and hope Zeno was wrong.

I started listening to The Book of Lost Things last week, but just couldn't seem to focus or care about the story, so it's back on the shelf for later. I'm now listening raptly to an Arthurian retelling, The Winter King. This audiobook is 20 hours long, and it's part of a trilogy, so if it continues to be as good as it is at the start, I've got plenty of future reading lined up.

What are you making and reading this week?

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Amaryllis Watch

Daphne continues to delight.

She hasn't grown much in height, but she's slowly and gracefully beginning to unfurl the petals on one of her bud stalks, enticing me with cranberry streaked with very pale green. The second bud remains tightly closed, and I'm grateful. That means it probably won't open until after the first bud, prolonging the show.

Daphne also likes to show off her dramatic side a bit. Last night John wondered if I might be taking more photos of her than I took of our sons (no, not by a long shot). I'm afraid he might not appreciate Daphne's beauty and wonder, but I'm fairly sure you guys do. :-)

Monday, February 26, 2018

Sometimes Monday ...

... is a little foggy.

The photos are from a few weeks ago, but it's just as foggy (outdoors and in my head) this morning as I head back across the river again.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Tools for Cooking

I often use a knife and corkscrew when making a meal, but a few days ago I had to add pliers and a screwdriver to my cooking tools for the first time. I was determined to use the garlic-apple cider I wrote about last week to cook a pork roast as Carole suggested. I couldn't uncork the bottle initially, but after 15 minutes of prying, poking, cutting, and pulling, the cork finally gave way.

I did try a few sips while I browned the pork roast, and it was unexpectedly not too bad. I didn't initially taste garlic, but it was definitely there as an aftertaste.

After satisfying myself that it would be a much better addition to the pork roast than my mug, I poured in the cider, let the roast braise, and enjoyed the delicious aroma.

If you ever come across someone making their own cider and they ask you if you want a bottle of their finest garlic-apple, take them up on it! John and I both thought it made a delicious dinner, and I'm looking forward to the leftovers (and hopefully maybe even some more delicious varieties of cider from our friend)!

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Three on Thursday

Joining Kat and Carole for Three on Thursday.

Because I've been thinking about this a lot lately, today I've got the three best things about working from home.

  1. The chance to do something you enjoy, and do it your way (in your pajamas if you choose).
  2. When the weather turns incredibly warm in February you can work outside on the porch.
  3. The ability to set your own schedule (somewhat) so you can be available for family, join friends for lunch, throw in a load of laundry, or take a walk in the middle of the day if that's what your mind and body need. Go ahead; your boss approves!

And because nothing is perfect, I'm also including the three worst things.

  1. Many people seem to assume that you can't have a real job, be doing real work, or actually be very busy if you're working from home. 
  2. You never really leave the office. If there are still things to be done at 11:00 pm, it's often hard  to let them go until tomorrow.
  3. You are solely responsible - for being incredibly self-motivated, for the contracts you've signed, for being your own IT department, and for making sure the work gets done.
And because I work from home, I can write this post on a Wednesday afternoon after a walk. Now, back to work!

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

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Unraveled Wednesday

Joining Kat and friends for Unraveled Wednesday.

I finally finished the Frostbite Fighter cowl! Just in time because I was getting a little tired of stockinette and ribbing. Since Justin won't be home for a while, I had to recruit another model.

I think Snuggle would give it a thumbs up if he had thumbs.

That means I can now work monogamously on this.

Because that photo doesn't show the gradient very well, here's a less picturesque view of the back of the house. The gradient is still much nicer in real life.

It seems like I can only focus on one thing at a time, so reading has taken a back seat to knitting. I did start The Book of Lost Things. It's decent so far, but it reminds me a lot of Inkheart. I'll have to listen more to see if it's really as similar as I think.

What are you making and reading this week?

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Meet Daphne

You saw her briefly last week, but this is a more formal introduction. Meet Daphne.

She arrived with two flower shoots already peeking out of the bulb, and she's grown incredibly in just a week.

Her tag says she is single, mottled cranberry-red and white. I've resisted looking at her flower photos in the White Flower Farm catalog, as the surprise and anticipation is part of how much I'm enjoying her. She is providing an enticing preview in one of her buds.

Stay tuned for getting to know Daphne better in next week's amaryllis watch!

Monday, February 19, 2018

Catching Up

This was a weekend for catching up - with errands, laundry, ironing, and work. Don't worry; I'm not going to bore you with photos of those things. There was also snow, and I did take loads of pictures of its beauty.

There was a funny photo from catching up with family (I don't know what they were talking about, but it looks interesting) and a very sweet baby.

There was some catching up with knitting - binding off and returning to a well-loved project.

I could have used a longer weekend to catch up on everything that I have to do, so I better get started on the rest of it now. Hope your week ahead is a good one!

Friday, February 16, 2018

Good/Not So Good

If I use the "Popcorn" button, it warms things up for two minutes, and then the best part -- 
my microwave tells me to "EnJOY". That's Good!

I love blood oranges and I like Diet Coke, so how bad could this taste?
Well, it doesn't taste like blood oranges or Diet Coke, so Not So Good.

I got this Severe Weather Alert on Feb. 6. Usually these are for snow, freezing rain, high wind, etc., but this one informed me that there was no tsunami threat along the east coast. Yes, I live in NJ, but am about 75 miles from the coast. It made me laugh, and I am glad that there was no tsunami headed our way. That's Good!

We have a friend that has been brewing his own cider and we've been the lucky recipients of some of his experiments. The already empty bottle of apple-grape, and the pear and ginger-apple I've polished off since I took the picture were all Quite Good. That just leaves the brown bottle of garlic-apple cider. I'll admit it sounds like it might be Not So Good, but I think I'll taste it this weekend and then maybe cook it down in some spaghetti sauce if it's a little too experimental for me. I will be seeing this friend next week, returning the empties, and it would be Very Good if he kindly offered some refills.

I hope your weekend is filled with lots of Good!

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Three on Thursday

Joining Kat and Carole for Three on Thursday.

The Olympics and the athletes' stories are inspiring, but there have been some announcers who seem to imply that anything less than a gold medal is bordering on failure. I'm personally impressed by all of the participants, whether they win a medal or not. And then there are the rest of us, average people doing the best that they can in life, who will probably never be in a position to win public accolades and have their perseverance and successes praised. With that in mind, today I am awarding virtual medals to three people who I think deserve some recognition. I've thanked them in person; I only wish I could present them with real medals as a symbol for others to see. 

To the empathetic deputy in the Register of Wills office in Northampton County. She was welcoming, pleasant, kinder than she needed to be, and knew just how to conduct our transaction efficiently, even when I got a little unexpectedly emotional. 

To the friend who made baked macaroni and cheese for me, knowing that it is my favorite. This was an even bigger deal than simply providing food for a friend, because her son is severely allergic to dairy, so I know she had to clean her kitchen thoroughly afterwards to remove all traces of milk protein.

To Justin's boss' assistant. There are normally two other people working on the ranch with Justin, but for unavoidable reasons, he is working by himself for a week and a half. The assistant is a kind and thoughtful woman who has set safety guidelines for Justin during this time (like no chain-saw use) and is having him text her at the end of each day so she knows he is safe. He's also texting me, but she's closer than I am and will be there within 30 minutes if he has any problems. She and his boss are visiting Justin this weekend at the ranch to take him out to dinner and provide some human contact. It's not often that an employer treats you like family, and I am grateful for the care and concern for my son. 

Here's to all the people that deserve medals every day, even though they may not ever be up on a podium to receive them. 

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

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Unraveled Wednesday

Joining Kat and friends for Unraveled Wednesday.

So close! I haven't had time for much knitting lately, but last night I tried to make a concerted effort to finish my Frostbite Fighter Sockhead Cowl. I think I've only got six rows of ribbing to go, but I was so tired that I'm not sure I trust my counting. I fell asleep with my knitting in my lap several times before I finally gave in and went to bed. Hopefully I'll catch up with all my necessary duties this week and find a few free minutes to finish this project, because look what's waiting patiently for its turn next ...

My Fading Tardis Hitchhiker, at long last! I hope this doesn't sound too strange, but I actually knit a few rows on it during my father's viewing. It took the edge off of things for me, and gave me and our visitors something to talk about after they had expressed their sympathy. I can hardly wait to get back to its beautiful blues. 

Reading time has also been curtailed, but I was surprised to look back and see that I've finished three five-star books: Every Note Played, Reservoir 13, and Tell Me More. I'm currently listening to Redwall, but that's a family favorite comfort read while I wait for the next great book to find me. 

What are you making and reading this week?

Tuesday, February 13, 2018


Like many others, I have a love/hate relationship with Facebook. Many of my issues began during last year's election season. I thought that lots of people seemed to be confused about the differences between facts and opinions, were woefully deficient in empathy and the desire for equality, and I also discovered that Facebook is not the place for clear-headed, well-reasoned inquiries and discussions. Oh, the drama (and it's not always about politics)!

I've used Facebook less and less over the past few months, and have deleted the app from my phone and Kindle. I've come very close to deleting my account several times, but just can't bring myself to completely walk away. There are some people that I'm only connected with through Facebook and I want to maintain that. I can occasionally read some interesting articles, find some new recipes, see what books friends are reading that I might have missed on goodreads, keep up with Carole's exciting candidacy for Selectman Committee, and even see what my kids might be doing.

There is another feature that I like, and that's On This Day. It's just what it says; Facebook reminds me what I posted or shared on this day in the past. Most of them are inconsequential or even inane, but given my poor memory, I do enjoy these throwbacks.

We've had plenty of snow, sleet, freezing rain, wintry mix, and cold temperatures this winter, but recently Facebook reminded me that it really hasn't been that bad. These photos from the end of January 2016 showed me a real snow storm (three feet +) and that I had lots of help clearing it.

And these photos from 2011 remind me what will be appearing in the spring!

Monday, February 12, 2018

How to Garden in Winter

First of all, thank you. For your kind expressions of sympathy, emails, cards, and just being there. It truly does help, knowing that so many people are sending good thoughts, prayers, and hugs. I guess we're at that age where so many of us have had to deal with the loss of a parent, family member, or good friend, and the support of this lovely knitting/reading/blogging community is something I deeply and sincerely appreciate.

Those of you who have experienced this know there is much to do, and to be honest, I haven't wanted to do any of it. Notify people, make plans for a funeral, make choices that simultaneously feel overwhelmingly important and yet not important at all in the grand scheme of things, clean out, decide what to do with all the bits and pieces of a person's life, and then there is the business end of it. Death certificates, the bank, the will, the lawyer, Social Security, multiple insurance companies, doctors, cancellations, bills, and the seemingly endless phone calls. It was during one of those phone calls (I was on hold for an hour and 42 minutes) when this view from the kitchen window inspired me.

That's the garden, on an 18 degree day and encased in several inches of ice after a day of snow, sleet, and freezing rain. I certainly couldn't garden outdoors, but I could plug in my phone, put it on speaker, and garden inside while I waited.

I have a lot of plants, and while I move many of them outside after the last frost in May, they just kind of limp along inside during the winter. I have them in the best light I can provide, but many of my sunniest windows have steam radiators under them, and I don't want to cook the poor plants' roots at those windows. I tend to neglect watering, fertilizing, and pruning in the winter because it's a messy job indoors, but the perfect one when you're forced to wait on hold.

I mixed up some dilute fertilizer, grabbed my pruning scissors, and got to work.

The pots all have built-in drainage saucers, but they leak, so I water and prune in the kitchen sink before hanging the plants back up.

I water the larger ones in place and use a turkey baster to quickly suck up any extra water
 from the saucer before it overflows onto the floor.

All my little orchids get a good rinse and a little fertilizer in hopes that they might bloom again soon.

Hearing "We apologize for the delay. Your call is very important to us, so please remain on the line,"
 means that I have time to decide if I should keep that last poinsettia that just won't give up. I did.

I returned all my well-tended plants to their locations, cleaned up my mess in the kitchen, and then
 miraculously got to speak to a human being on the phone. They only partially resolved the issue,
 but my spirits soared when I checked the mail and found this incredible gift from Kym.

I missed planting my amaryllis bulbs last fall because that was the beginning of my father's real decline. I can already see the tips of two flower shoots, so I'm thrilled and hopeful for Amaryllis Watch. Kym often says flowers are magical, and these most certainly are.