Thursday, February 28, 2019

Three on Thursday

Joining Carole and friends for Three on Thursday, today with three random things. I didn't return to the NO Extra Anything place this week, but will do it in the near future and see if I can find out more of the story.

This first one is a couple of weeks old, but it still makes me cringe, so of course I want to share it with you. These are Valentine's Day flowers I saw at the grocery store, but I wouldn't personally call this an upgrade.

It's just my personal preference, but I don't like glitter sprayed on poinsettias at Christmas, nor do I like roses heavily encrusted with glitter and odd white dust for Valentine's Day. I wonder if they sold many of these?

This second one is a bit weird, but I've never noticed this before. I was leaving Walmart, happened to look up at a flock of seagulls, and wondered about these clear "whiskers". They are on the upper edges of the yellow asterisk and all the white letters.

But then I noticed the probable reason for the whiskers ...

... to keep seagulls from roosting. Nobody wants to see Walmart * covered in seagull poop!

The last one is not weird, just interesting and nice. Justin visited a winery and brought me a present.

Sixty percent dandelion, 30% orange, and 10% raisin is definitely an escape from the normal! It's delicious, so much so that I had to have two glasses and keep myself from finishing the bottle.

Head on over to Carole's for more Three on Thursday, and possibly an escape from the normal!

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Unraveled Wednesday

I'm working on my Sockhead Cowl and listening too raptly to blog about knitting. Michael Cohen may have unraveled his own life a bit, but I'm hoping it's really Trump's presidency that is coming unraveled.

I'm also visiting with my old friend Chris Christie, who is actually making some valid points!

What are you making, reading, and watching this week?

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Which Little Word?

In the beginning of 2019, I had chosen Patience as my One Little Word, but then I read Kym's extraordinary post at the end of January and it felt like an important moment. I thought about it for ten minutes before finally realizing that I had to change my word. Kym's logic and reasoning for choosing Intention as her word this year made so much sense to me, but it was really her simple diagram that showed me why I needed to change my word to Balance:

Balance ==> Focus ==> Intention

This is such a logical progression, but you have to start with Balance. Everything starts with Balance! Right now, I feel quite unbalanced after several years of my father being sick and spending quite a bit of time contributing to the care, help, and transport that he needed, his death in 2018, buying the house in MD, traveling back and forth between NJ and MD, and the death of my mother-in-law last month. I desperately need to feel like I am living a life in balance again, but I know that has not been the case for several years, maybe even longer. I would love to "jump ahead" to focus or intention, but I know that's not what I need. So Balance it is, equilibrium between work and leisure, fun and serious, physical activity and rest, thoughtful consideration and spontaneity.

So far, my actions have been mainly questioning, reading, and thinking about Balance - what it is, what it might mean to me in my own circumstances, what it looks like to lead a balanced life, and trying to practice small steps towards Balance. It will be a slow process, but I think that by the end of the year, I might be able to place myself in the photo of a Life in Balance.

I am joining Juliann and hope you will, too, to read where others' words are leading them.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Sometimes Monday ...

... is a day to Just Begin. As Kat reminded me on Friday via Katrina Rodabaugh, “Begin this journey with whatever skills you have today and trust…You’ll improve techniques as you practice.” Excellent advice for invisible mending, sewing, knitting, almost anything, including taxes.

Tax time always brings a sense of dread and makes me feel disorganized, and especially this year. I don't fully understand Trump's tax plan, but I already know I don't like it because I can't deduct all of my property taxes (one of the joys of living in NJ is sky-high property taxes.) I also have to file in three states - as a partial year resident in NJ, partial year non-resident in DE where John works, and partial year resident in MD where we live down there. I still "help" Ryan and Justin with their taxes, so maybe I'll start with their easy Federal returns and then do their CO and NY state taxes. I spent Friday morning gathering all the necessary tax information in one place, so now I can act like a grownup and Just Begin. 

Friday, February 22, 2019

Friday Letters

I haven't written any Friday Letters for almost a year, but have taken my virtual fountain pen in hand this week to offer a thank you, write a sincere apology, and question bureaucracy. Let's open the mail ...

Dear Amaryllis,

I want to offer my sincere thanks for your many beautiful and non-stop blossoms. You started sending up shoots at the end of December, had blossoms beginning in mid-January, and you're still continuing with bright blooms at the end of February. I feel bad leaving you in the cold, dark house in NJ when I head to MD on Sunday, but I've always tried to make sure you have enough water and sunlight. You surprise and delight me every week when I return on Thursday night to a new blossom or bud stalk. I don't enjoy the drive, but you've made it more bearable when I know I'm coming home to the beauty that you provide. Thanks for making my winter much better!

To My Hyacinths,

I'm really sorry, and would like to offer my sincere apologies to you. Recently, I was too critical of you and your sparse flowers, and may even have called you spindly and accused you of lacking fragrance. Imagine my surprise when I got home yesterday and was greeted by your oh-so-wonderful springlike fragrance and found that you were no longer spindly. The purple one has even rewarded me with an extra little bonus bloom. People tried to tell me that you were doing your best, and now I can finally see that. I apologize for my impatience, and thank you for your magic.

Hey BC/BS,

I just can't use the salutation "Dear", and will refrain from commenting about the BS in your name. You probably remember me; I've been communicating with you for over a year about the claims for radiation therapy for my father (who, by the way, died in Jan. 2018). We have previously disagreed about whether his estate owes you $58,556.10 or not. The radiation therapy was performed in Sept. 2016, claims were submitted, and you paid them without any argument. But for some reason I've continued to receive bills from the hospital and EOBs from you saying you would still like me to pay $58,556.10. When I opened this most recent love letter from you, I was thrilled. I don't know if you've finally understood that you already paid for this, or if I just fought long enough that you and the hospital gave up, but I am relieved to read that I am not responsible for these charges. Because guess what? I don't have $58,556.10! Thanks for the up close and personal tour of bureaucracy and finally seeing things my way (just a year late)!

Wishing everyone a good weekend, with plenty of magical flowers, but free of bureaucracy!

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Three on Thursday

Joining Carole and friends for Three on Thursday, today with things seen around Elkton. I've been making a concerted effort to take a walk every day, and to make sure I have my phone so I can take pictures. I've seen some interesting/sad/dilapidated/beautiful sights and here are three of them. 

Downtown is a real mix of businesses trying to make a go of it - a coffee shop, two restaurants, a brand new brewery, along with lots of empty storefronts. It looks like Elkton also offers convenience if you need a bail bondsman with two places right next to each other and a shared entrance. Cut 'Em Loose is cleverly named, but you can call Angelucci collect. 

This sign is in the window of what I think is a liquor store. The main sign says "package goods" but the fireman's hat and balsa wood models seem out of place. I was tempted to go in and investigate, but the sign made me a bit fearful. After stating NO extra anything, at least they thank you for your cooperation.

I'm not sure if the AAAA Driving School is actually in business, but I'm betting they're first in the phone book. They do have a 5-star Google review from two months ago that states "Buissness [sic] was very clean and welcoming." Something tells me this may not be a real review. Most remarkable is the pay phone on the front, and it even has a dial tone!

After three fairly depressing things, I want to leave you with a happier bonus fourth thing. Elkton Florist is lovely, well-kept, and even has a painted elk. There is one other plain blue one in town, but this one looks more cheerful. John wants one for our yard, but that probably won't happen. 

Head on over to Carole's for more Three on Thursday.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Unraveled Wednesday

Joining Kat and friends for Unraveled Wednesday. I'm still plugging along on one of my Sockhead Cowls, hoping that it's still winter when I finally finish it. If not, I guess I'll be early for next year. The photo isn't ideal because it's a dark winter day and we're awaiting snow in MD. They're predicting 3-5" and it's caused quite a tizzy for several days. Schools were cancelled yesterday in advance of the snow, and it was all people could talk about at the library, grocery store, and yarn store. 

I had to go to the yarn store yesterday because my niece has had her baby, a sweet little girl. I knit three hats before the baby was born, but only one fit, and the other two were already too small. I was considering a cute baby sweater, but I talked to my SiL last weekend and she had one sweater done and yarn ordered for another one. We discussed baby socks and thought they would be very quick. I honestly thought I could knit a pair in an hour or two, but it turns out they take a little longer than that in real life. That's how far I can knit in an hour, so I've still got the foot to do, and oh yeah, a second sock. They're certainly smaller than adult socks, but a little more fiddly. I'll have to see if they fit before I knit any more socks. That's supposedly a 6-month size, but I remember my boys' ankles being fairly chubby, and I'm not sure the ribbing will stretch enough to get them on. There don't seem to be any babies in the neighborhood to try them on, so I'll just finish the pair and try them on my grandniece when I'm home this weekend.

I finished The Tommyknockers and it did provide hours of lovely listening to Edward Herrmann. Too bad the story was awful, but in an odd way that kept me listening as I really expected it to get better at some point. It did not, so now I'm just waiting for my next good audio book to find me. Any suggestions?

What are you making and reading this week?

Monday, February 18, 2019

Sometimes Monday ...

... is a good day to get things ironed out, literally and figuratively. Hope your week is off to a smooth start!

Friday, February 15, 2019

Not So Magical

Kym often say that flowers are magical, but I don't think the pink hyacinth got that message. Oh, well, I guess a spindly hyacinth with only 10 little flowers is better than no hyacinth at all. I hope the purple one can do a little better. And if not, I should be seeing magical hyacinths coming up outdoors soon(ish). I hope this weekend brings some small signs of spring to your kitchen or neighborhood. 

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Three on Thursday

Joining Carole and friends for Three on Thursday, today with three types of snow shovels. I know, it doesn't sound very interesting, but it dawned on me yesterday when I used all of them that it's really a matter of using the right tool for the job. We had different amounts of mixed precipitation, so it only makes sense I had to use different shovels. 

This yellow one is the pusher, because that's what it's best at. It's got a steel 24" wide blade and weighs 7 pounds, but it's ideal for getting under the crust of freezing rain and sleet and pushing the whole mess out of the way. It's almost too heavy to lift if it's loaded with snow, plus most of it slides off the sides if you try to lift it, but it's great for pushing. John and I each try to get to this one first because it's easier to push the snow than actually shovel it.

Next is the aluminum grain shovel, which we use for picking up the chunks of ice and snow that the pusher dislodged and getting them out of the way. It's nice and light so it's good for actual shoveling, but doesn't work on ice at all.

Last is the gift shovel. We don't know where this one came from, but we found it leaning against our front stone wall a few years ago. It's light plastic, holds a lot of snow, and has a metal edge on the front, so it works well on the slate stones of our walk up to the house. It's wide, but not too wide, and even though it's plastic, the metal edge on the front allows it to scrape ice and snow fairly well. Since it's lightweight, it's also good for raising over your head when you are cursing the weather gods and shaking your fist that it's snowing again while you are shoveling. 

Now that you've heard more about snow shovels than you probably ever wanted to know, head on over to Carole's for more Three on Thursday.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Unraveled Wednesday

Joining Kat and friends for Unraveled Wednesday. There's no unraveling going on with my knitting, but I am feeling a tiny bit unraveled myself. We had snow, sleet, and freezing rain yesterday (and late into the night), so I got up early this morning to start shoveling. After four hours it was time to take a shower and head to the dentist, then home again for another couple hours of shoveling. John is in MD, and I'm here in NJ to shovel everything myself. It's finally all done, so I'm treating myself this evening with the delicious warmth of the heating pad on my back, some Rumchata and chai, and knitting on this Hitchhiker. I'm still working on my Sockhead Cowls, but this Hitchhiker that looks like spring and is not winter grey loudly demanded my attention this week.

I'm still listening to The Tommyknockers like I talked about yesterday. It's kind of an odd story so far, but I do want to see where this plot goes, and of course, listen to Edward Herrmann.

What are you making and reading this week?

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Thank You, Edward

I usually have a real book, one on Kindle, and an audio book in progress. I've got plenty of real and Kindle books queued up, but have been searching for a good audio book. Nothing in my Audible library appealed to me, and I was getting frustrated searching Overdrive when I remembered Edward.

I have a voice crush on Edward Herrmann. His voice sounds simply perfect to me, and I will watch or listen to almost anything he does. I first knew him as Richard Gilmore on The Gilmore Girls and thought he was a wonderfully comforting presence on the show. I was happy to come across his characters on The Practice, How I Met Your Mother, and Grey's Anatomy. Someday I hope to see his portrayal of Franklin D. Roosevelt in Eleanor and Franklin.

Then I discovered that he narrated hundreds of audio books when I listened to The Boys in the Boat, a wonderful book about the 1936 US Olympic rowing team, made even better by Edward Herrmann's excellent narration. Next was Unbroken, which was also an ideal listen. So when I was at a loss for a decent audio book, I searched Edward on Overdrive. I now have hours of Edward Herrmann to listen to, ranging from The Tommyknockers to The Mysterious Edge of the Heroic World to Thomas Jefferson. I'm sure I'll have to take a break some time, but there are plenty on Audible that also interest me, like fiction by Wallace Stegner and David Guterson to biographies of Eddie Rickenbacker and Einstein.

I've started with The Tommyknockers, and while I was initially a little skeptical (it's authored by Stephen King and the reviews are all over the place), the first few hours have flown by. With more than 27 hours of Edward Herrmann in my ears, I'm like a pig in poop (just like my MiL used to say).

It's not Edward Herrmann's best, but you can listen and judge for yourself. 

Monday, February 11, 2019

Sometimes Monday ...

... looks a bit better than I originally thought. I started the day with problems with my phone, problems with my laptop, issues with a delivery from Lowe's, the first of three different shots of snow and winter weather, and a headache. I went outside to shovel the sidewalk and spied these very early snowdrops. I can hopefully go to Verizon after Lowe's hopefully delivers my freezer, and I'm happy to know I have snowdrops (even if they do end up buried under more snow and ice).

Friday, February 8, 2019

Amaryllis Watch

Some of my amaryllis are done blooming, some are still slowly growing towards that stage. Here are some shots of what's currently growing and blooming at my house.

It's a grey, rainy day today, heading towards a cold and snowy week ahead, so I'm glad to have a profusion of bright blossoms. Here's hoping there are bright spots in your world, too.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Three on Thursday

Joining Carole and friends for Three on Thursday, today with more food in and around Elkton.

I had the car again yesterday and decided to head to what I had heard was the best taco place around. I had been told that it didn't look like much, but the food was so good that people traveled 30 miles for tacos from this stand. I was excited and all ready for some delicious tacos al pastor but was greeted by this sad sight. Closed and for sale, so no tacos for me.

A little searching brought me to the only other taco place in Elkton. This is really the building where they prepare food for catering and their food truck, but they're open for take-out with a limited menu. I say "they" because I still don't know what the name of the place is, but since the big green flag says TACOS backwards, I figured I was in the right place.

And I was. No al pastor, but they did have grilled shrimp tacos. Messy, but delicious. 

It wasn't quite whiskey and a cheeseburger, but pretty good all the same. Head on over to Carole's for more Three on Thursday.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Unraveled Wednesday

Joining Kat and the Unravelers for Unraveled Wednesday. Last week I was working on two Sockhead Cowls, but I decided that I would rather work on one faster than two slowly. Now that I'm past the ribbing, it's just stockinette. I can see to knit stockinette, even at night, so I chose the purple Monkshood* one. I really love this color and would like to wear it while there is still some winter left.

I finished a couple of three-star books (The Gown and The Library Book), am still reading The Gift of the Deer, and started Golden Child. The latter is off to a good start, but it's disturbing so I can't read it before bed. It's not gory, but the book opens with the disappearance of a teenage son and his father has spent all night searching the brush in Trinidad looking for him. I'm a little concerned about what lies ahead in the book. I had awful dreams and spent Monday night tossing and turning, so maybe I'm a bit sensitive to stories about sons. This hasn't happened before (actually, I've just remembered that it did when I read Cujo years ago), but now I put Golden Child down by mid-afternoon.

What are you making and reading this week?

*I know Monkshood is a plant, but I did not know that it is the same thing as aconite or wolfsbane, has beautiful purple flowers, and all parts of the plant are extremely poisonous. Oral administration is the usual route (in wine in Greek mythology or fettucine in Midsomer Murders), but poisoning can occur simply by picking the leaves without wearing gloves; the aconitine toxin is absorbed easily through the skin. Yikes!

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Hi, Ho, Hitchhiker!

Today's hitchhiker is probably the one I wear most often. I bought the yarn for Happy Times With Ryan with Ryan at The Loopy Ewe during one of my first visits there. I loved the yarn, the colorway name (Happy Times!), and knew it was going to become a hitchhiker as soon as I bought it.

I wound the yarn in the Denver airport while sitting next to a cowboy who was fascinated by the process, cast on, and knit all the way home on the plane. I knit this one with 54 teeth and an 80" wingspan, yet another reason that it's one of my favorites.

When I was done knitting and taking photos for ravelry, I was on my way outside for some more natural light and walked past a bowl of Skittles. It dawned on me that the Skittles matched really well, so I grabbed a handful and used them in the photos. The dyer (Rhichard Devrieze) liked the Skittles photo and messaged me, so I was glad I got a chance to tell him how much I loved this amazing colorway.

The colors go with much of what I wear, so I've worn it at least four times in the past two weeks - to two funerals, dinner with John's boss, and a prospective book club meeting. That last one didn't go well, but that was because of a mismatch in reading taste, and probably not my hitchhiker.

Monday, February 4, 2019


Last weekend had some of the usual things - a little grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, and laundry, but I also did something new and fun. Justin took me stump hunting. He brought his recurve bow home and instead of target shooting, we went out for a walk in the woods and hunted wild stumps. Sometimes it was clumps of grass, leaves, icicles, or even actual stumps.

There was also plenty of enjoyable walking through the woods, down by the creek, trying not to slip down the steep side of the hollow and then climbing back up the other side which felt even steeper, and then an easy walk across the fields.

It was a bit cold, but we quickly warmed up during our afternoon of walking. Target shooting with my bow is fun, but stump hunting with Justin is even better.