Friday, June 29, 2018

Why Y?

I'm not the author; I just love that there is another Bonny Becker out there.

Dear Mom and Dad,

I miss both of you, and especially when I have questions that I wish I had asked you. Lately I've been wondering why "y" instead of "ie"?

I do remember asking you why you chose to spell my name with a "y" instead of the more common "ie" sometime when I was around 10 years old. You told me that you wanted my name to be special and original, like me. That lovely answer certainly satisfied me, and I still remember it 50 years later. I remember Grandpa singing " My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean" to me and telling me that it was my own special song. (That Bonnie is actually spelled with an "ie", but I couldn't distinguish the spelling while Grandpa was singing.)

So overall, I've been happy with my name, despite the month or two when I was five that I begged you to call me Diane, and the fact that I could never find pencils, key chains, or those plastic license plates meant for bikes at Spencer Gifts because my name was spelled differently.

But lately it's caused some issues. I worked with a woman for eight years, and she never did spell my name correctly even though I corrected her quite a few times. It's a small thing, but I still felt demeaned and less than. I guess the problem was with her and not me, but now it's the bank's refusal and my problem. We applied for a loan, and the spelling of my name has caused ridiculous complications. The first time we tried to close on the loan, my name was spelled "Bonnie" on all the documents. When I pointed out this error, we weren't able to close for five days while the loan department printed a new set of documents. On the second attempt at closing, I stared, dumbfounded, at the new documents printed with "Bonnie Y. Becker". Someone in the loan department had been told "It's a "y"", so that's what they did. Another week later, we tried again. This time the loan documents were printed correctly, but they made me sign them as "Bonnie Becker aka Bonny Becker". At this point, I didn't care, but was dumbfounded again that so many people steadfastly refused to believe that you had chosen "y" instead of "ie", even while they were staring at my birth certificate.

I wish I understood how and why you chose "y", but thank you for making me feel original and special. If only the rest of the world would pay attention to that small but important detail, then I would really feel special!

She not only has a lovely name, she writes great books, too!

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Three on Thursday

Joining Kat and Carole for Three on Thursday, and today it's with three things about The World Cup. Carole is on vacation, so while there is no Three on Thursday linkup, I had an interesting experience yesterday, and three things to share.

When we go to MD for "house stuff", John also has to work. His job has been transferred to a research facility that straddles the DE/MD line and we stay in a hotel in Newark, DE. Yesterday he went in to work early, told me that he would be back by noon, so I stayed at the hotel and read. I checked out mid-morning, sat in the lobby and pulled out my book to read, but was quickly distracted by all the people gathered around the TV, cheering and clapping. The TV was tuned to The World Cup. All the people watching seemed intense and intent, so I wandered over to see what was going on, and immediately became intent myself.

I have little interest in sports of any kind, but there were so many intriguing things about soccer and the matches that I watched that I wasn't even irritated when John didn't come back to pick me up until 3:30. (That's really saying something!) Here are three things I loved about The World Cup:

1.  The non-politicalness of it.
The first thing I noticed was that this is all happening in Russia, and not one person mentioned T*rump. The announcers, players, coaches, fans, and the crowd in the hotel lobby cared only about the games. 

2.  The unity of it. 
The analysts were an interesting multinational group that included English football forward female Kelly Smith, Dutch soccer player and coach Guus Hiddink, and retired American soccer player Alexi Lalas. The group in the hotel lobby included people from Mexico, Egypt, Poland, China, and the US, visiting PhDs doing astrophysics research at UDel, housekeepers, laundry workers, and hotel guests, but we were all enthralled and interested in the game together, no matter where we were from or our station in life. 

3.  It can give you a wider view.
To me, The World Cup is soccer, but others in the group called the game football. It was a great reminder of how the rest of the world often sees things differently from the US. American football is a big deal here, but it's only got 400 million fans compared to soccer's 3.5 billion fans. My immediate concern yesterday was the house inspection that showed termites, termite damage, defective appliances, plumbing issues and lots of other things that all add up to some very expensive fixes that neither we nor the seller want to pay for. But I watched Sweden beat Mexico, South Korea beat and eliminate Germany, and the beginning of the Brazil-Serbia match, and my concerns seemed a bit smaller. 

I'm sure there is plenty of politics in soccer; players, coaches, and fans who aren't feeling the unity, and those who don't want to take a wider view in sports or anything else, but I thoroughly enjoyed my time watching The World Cup, and might even be tuning in again today. Japan vs. Poland and England vs. Belgium could be good matches!

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Unraveled Wednesday

Joining Kat and friends for Unraveled Wednesday.

I am feeling a bit unraveled today because I have a knitting injury to my neck, shoulder, upper arm which means that I can't knit more than a row or two before I feel this deep nagging, throbbing, tingling, shooting pain in my right shoulder that gives me an intense headache and pretty much ruins my day. It might be related to knitting, or possibly my sloppy posture, too much time working at the computer keyboard, ironing for too long, or maybe picking four rows of sugar snap peas. I've been trying to treat it myself for the past four or five days, so today you only get a photo of the various gels, creams, unguents, and pain relievers I've tried instead of my Match & Move that is only four rows longer than last week. Arnica in various forms seems to be making small improvements; I'm borrowing a TENS unit from a friend tomorrow, and have a physical therapy appointment in two weeks.

I can at least read, especially since I've been listening to Coyote America and Mindfulness Meditation for Pain Relief. John thinks I might be over-reacting, but like everyone else, I hate pain that limits my daily actions. I won't mind if the physical therapist tells me to stop ironing, but I really don't want to limit my knitting. Fingers crossed (at least on my pain-free left side)!

What are you making and reading this week?

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Decisions, Decisions

After months of looking, we finally bought a house. I can't say that it was my first choice, but after looking at far too many properties, making four offers that didn't work out because of termites wood-destroying insects, expensive sewer issues, the fact that the seller didn't actually own the driveway that provided access to one of the houses, and one where we just couldn't agree on a price, we arrived at a decision.

It's a modest brick ranch in Elkton, MD, with three bedrooms, one bathroom, a one-car garage, and a great lot. The price was right, and after a little negotiation, we've arrived at the inspection stage. In fact, we're down here in MD this morning for the general and termite wood-destroying insect inspections. The house was built in 1952, so there may be some issues, and I'm pretty sure the electrical system might be among them. But we'll see ...

This has been an interesting (if frustrating) process, and I've learned quite a bit, mainly about how John and I see things differently, and also about how our sons are mature enough to offer good and useful advice. I looked at houses and pictured how we would live in them and utilize the space; John simply tried to decide if the house was a good value without picturing us in it at all. Ryan could look at pictures of various properties and immediately identify important pros and cons. Justin told John to quit overthinking and just make a choice. Ultimately that's what we did. John had too many choices and was almost paralyzed by actually making a decision, but with advice from the kids, we put an offer on this house. There were honestly two that I liked better, but mainly because the price was right and we will only be living here for two or three years, this is the one we went with. I hope inspections work out because I really don't want to start this process all over again.

The bedrooms are small and the kitchen is just okay, but overall, the house is good enough. I was reading The Upward Spiral while we searched for a house, and things became much clearer when I read this passage:

Go for good enough. Worrying is often triggered by wanting to make the perfect choice or by trying to maximize everything. When buying a used car, you want one that is cheap, reliable, safe, sexy, the right color, and fuel efficient. Unfortunately, no single option is likely to be the best in all those dimensions. If you try to have the best of everything, you’re likely to be paralyzed by indecision or dissatisfied with your choice. In fact, this kind of “maximizing” has been proven to increase depression. So don’t try to make the most amazing dinner; start out by just making a good dinner. Don’t try to be the perfect parent; just be a good one. Don’t try to be your happiest; just be happy.

So true, and so helpful. 

Monday, June 25, 2018

Bits and Pieces

I think I've blathered about most of my experiences in Fort Collins, and there are just a few remaining bits and pieces to tell you about. I'm going to squeeze all the blog fodder possible out of this vacation!

I love visiting at this time of year because I get to see Ryan's gorgeous clematis. His looks better than any of mine, and I often wonder how someone who doesn't care one bit about gardening has such beautiful flowers. This one clearly thrives on neglect!

Ryan also had some raggedy, hail-damaged hostas that took me a little while to figure out since we don't often get hail here. He had another hail storm after I left, and said the leaves are really tattered and full of holes now.

We always enjoy great cheese and charcuterie at The Welsh Rabbit, but we did pass on the Spanish cheese rolled in ants, sub insectum, and crickets.

And lastly, there was this delightful encounter in the Denver airport. 

I don't think the woman in the pink shirt is from CO, as I haven't yet met a rude Coloradoan. I was sitting behind her at the airport, and she loudly announced that she was "hungry for something a fat girl would eat". Then she turned around and asked what I was eating. I know I'm not thin but I really don't need a rude stranger to point this out to me. I tried not to accidentally stab her with my knitting needles. :-) 

And that's it from Colorado!

Friday, June 22, 2018

My Happy Place

I mentioned before that my main reason for visiting visit Fort Collins is to spend time with Ryan, followed closely by plenty of good eating and drinking around town. There is a third reason, or maybe it's even tied for second place - visiting The Loopy Ewe in person.

I've shopped online at TLE for years, beginning when they were located in St. Louis. I continued to buy yarn from them after they moved to Fort Collins. Five years ago Ryan chose Colorado State University for grad. school, and while I was incredibly happy for him, I was a bit sad that he would be moving 1700 miles away. My sadness was assuaged somewhat after I visited The Loopy Ewe in person. It is truly a marvelous yarn store.

Ryan usually goes with me, and he has turned out to be an excellent yarn-chooser. He pushes me to try new colors and combinations that I would never choose myself. I've bought some yarn just because he picked it out, but still with a bit of doubt. Despite my skepticism, I've always come to love it. The yarn for my Match & Move is the latest example. I was sure that there was no way I would enjoy knitting with the variegated brown, black, and white Wollmeise, but now it's one of my all-time favorites. So what did he choose this time?

Lots of good stuff, and we had loads of fun picking it out!

I bought too much to fit into my suitcase, so Loopy shipped it for me. 
It arrived here at home before I did, and it was like Christmas when I opened the box.

There will be a Hitchhiker or two, possibly with two colors, and maybe the beaded cast-off that Kym used on her One Week/Close to You. There will be a couple pairs of fingerless gloves for Ryan. Some of it will marinate in my stash until it tells me what it wants to be. I might knit another Match & Move with those wild bright pink and variegated pink, green, and black Hedgehog Fibers skeins that Ryan picked out and practically dared me to buy. He even chose a new knitting bag.

It was wonderful, and even though I don't need yarn, I bought plenty that I wanted. No matter what I make with these skeins, the projects will be special because they'll remind me of the terrific time I had with Ryan, yarn-chooser extraordinaire.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Three on Thursday

Joining Kat and Carole for Three on Thursday, and today it's with three random things.

1.  I grabbed a random Diet Coke in the Philadelphia airport before I took off. I was inordinately surprised when I discovered that Justin was accompanying me to CO, and Justin was equally impressed when I texted him the photo.

2.  "What is this strange young man doing?" you might ask. Testing pillows on the floor of Bed, Bath, and Beyond, of course. (He didn't find one that met his standards of comfort, possibly because he was testing them on the floor of Bed, Bath, and Beyond.)

3.  I miss this spot. It's the recliner in Ryan's living room, and the perfect knitting chair. It's much more comfortable than my own knitting chair here at home, and I have already informed John that I am getting one just like it for our new house in MD. 

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

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Unraveled Wednesday

Joining Kat and friends for Unraveled Wednesday.

So you've seen this photo (or a very similar one) many times before. I did take my Match & Move to CO and even worked on it, just not as much in real life as I did in my imaginary mind knitting. I felt a little silly hauling yarn back to The Land of The Loopy Ewe, but I had the best intentions to knit for hours while sitting in the airport and on the plane. 

You may know what happens with good intentions, so while I did knit in the airport, I fell asleep soon after we took off and didn't accomplish any knitting in my sleep. When I woke up shortly before we landed, I realized that I really shouldn't have wasted valuable space in my carry-on luggage by packing a second knitting project. You know, just in case I finished the Match & Move and for some reason I couldn't travel the 4.5 miles from Ryan's house to The Loopy Ewe for more yarn. I'll learn some day. 

This poor Hitchhiker went to CO but never got out of the suitcase. 

I'll tell you all about my trip to The Loopy Ewe later this week, but for now, here's a little preview. This yarn is definitely outside of my comfort zone, but I have several interesting ideas for it. For now, it's sitting next to me so I can pet and admire it. 

I did finish a couple of books recently, Us Against You and The Upward Spiral, and started two new ones, Coyote America and The Unthinkable. While I was picking up The Unthinkable from the library, I noticed this book on the shelf.

I wondered if The Universe might be sending me some sort of message. If so, I'm choosing to believe that the message is to knit as slowly as you need to and enjoy the process no matter what your speed might be.

What are you making and reading this week, fast or slow?

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Food, Glorious Food

And some glorious libations, too!

My main reason for heading to Colorado is always to visit Ryan, but another big reason is the incredible variety of food and drink that is available in Fort Collins. Our little town in NJ has a population of 4,000 while Fort Collins is a college town that is home to 144,000 people, so comparisons aren't really fair, but I make them anyway. Most of our restaurants here are boring national chains, with only three or four independent places to eat, and to be honest, they are not great. On the other hand, Fort Collins has an incredible variety and availability of food, and very few chain restaurants. I don't think that Chili's and Chipotle can compete with all the other delicious offerings!

We have a tradition of having a reuben almost as soon as Ryan picks me up from the airport shuttle; this time we chose Choice City. After many reubens over the past five years, theirs is the best, but there are also at least three other places that serve delicious sandwiches. We waited outside for our reubens, but they were so good (along with garlic mashed potatoes) that I didn't take time for any photos.

A new place that we tried was PizzaRev. I think it is a national chain but there aren't many locations so far. You choose your dough, add whatever toppings you desire, they bake it, and you have a tasty, custom pizza ready in just a few minutes. 

The pizza was good, but the real genius is the beer tap system.

I think there are at least 28 taps, each with a digital display of what it's dispensing. You give them your license and they give you a wrist band. You grab a glass, hold the wristband fob up to the PizzaRev logo and dispense whatever volume of whatever beer you want. I think it's brilliant for tasting, and after trying small samples of five or six different beers, I settled on a raspberry basil saison. It sounded a little strange, but through the magic of tasting, I found out that it is absolutely delicious.

When you're done, you return the wristband, get your license back, and pay only for the beer you dispensed. It's probably a good thing I don't live there because I would be tempted to taste and try too many beers on too many evenings.

We had breakfast at Lucile's with fresh beignets, trout, and poached eggs. (I think there is one in Boulder if you happen to visit this summer, Kym!)

There was iced dirty chai and chess at Alleycat Coffee House, 

and beer at The Mayor, a place with 100 beers on tap. Ryan doesn't go there very often because it's a bit over budget for grad student beer drinking, but not when Mom is visiting. They have almost too many choices.

We also ate at some of our all-time favorite places, Taqueria Los Camales (mmm ... tacos al pastor),

the good Thai place (Cafe de Bangkok),

and The Welsh Rabbit.

Ryan insisted that we go to a place that was new to me, and it turned out to be one of the best evenings (ever!). We headed for the gyro cart located in Old Town around 9 pm, but the gyro guy was just getting started and told us to come back in about 45 minutes. We wandered around for a bit, and ended up at Ace Gillett's, a bar with live jazz. Ryan and I both ordered caipirinhas, a Brazilian cocktail made with cachaça. I've never been able to find real cachaça, and lots of places substitute rum when making a caipirinha, but these were made with the real thing and were amazingly delicious.

After deciding that we really shouldn't each have a second caipirinha since one of us was driving home, we made our way back to the gyro cart, and I enjoyed the best gyro I've had in 30 years. We ate and talked while walking back to the car, and it was just a night of perfect enjoyment with Ryan.

Justin and I recently had a conversation about what would be the best superpower to have (so we are prepared and ready when they are handing out superpowers), and we decided it would be the ability to teleport. I wholeheartedly agree, and I would teleport back to Fort Collins for time with Ryan, a gyro, and a caipirinha (maybe even two this time)!