Friday, January 31, 2020

Sky Watcher


We do seem to have lovely sunsets here in MD. 

I hope your weekend is a good one and I wish you a happy February tomorrow.

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Three on Thursday

I'm joining Carole and friends for Three on Thursday, today with three recipes I'm going to make, as soon as I find the ingredients.

Not Sprouted Wheat Bread, just a loaf of whole wheat that I baked

First up is Mushroom Millet Soup. The Yarn Harlot posted this on Instagram and it sounded good to me. I also want to be able to tell John that we're having birdseed soup for dinner. I've searched grocery stores in NJ and MD and the health food store in NJ, but couldn't find millet at any of them. It looks like I'll be ordering some from Amazon.

Next is Sprouted Wheat Bread. Reader and faithful commenter Becky left a comment last week that she had learned to bake bread from sprouted flour and enjoyed it immensely. I have never heard of sprouted flour, so I was curious and wanted to give it a try. I looked at all the grocery stores and the health food store when I was searching for millet, but there was no sprouted wheat flour to be found. I know I can order this from King Arthur Flour, but I had hoped to avoid ordering and shipping flour. When I finally have some sprouted flour, maybe I'll also try Sprouted Wheat Vanilla Chai Bars!

Last is a Caipirinha. It's the national cocktail of Brazil, made with cachaça (sugar cane liquor). There is a bar in Fort Collins that mixes a delicious caipirinha with real cachaça, but the liquor is hard to find in the United States. I've had them made with rum but I think that's a poor substitute. The last time John was in Brazil, he even brought me a muddler to mash the lime and brown sugar together, but it's just not the same without cachaça. 

Soup, bread, and a delicious drink, what a meal that would be! What are you cooking, baking, eating, and drinking?

Be sure to visit Carole for more Three on Thursday thoughts.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Unraveled Wednesday

Joining Kat and friends for Unraveled Wednesday, today with something different for me --  socks! While talking with my sister on the phone recently she mentioned something about ignoring her birthday this year. I thought for a few seconds and then it dawned on me that she will be turning 60. I'm the big sister, so I got over turning 60 several years ago, but I decided I could make her birthday a bit better by finishing the socks I had promised her several years ago.

Thanks to Ravelry, I could see that several actually meant that I started these socks 10 years ago! That is an embarrassingly long time so its high time to get these done. 

One sock is done except for kitchenering the toe, and the second one was about halfway down the leg. I finished the leg on the drive down to MD on Sunday and despite making multiple mistakes on the heel flap I finally got that sorted out by the time we reached south Jersey. I was happy to discover that John's truck, a Honda Ridgeline, happened to come standard with a yarn and counter compartment.

The heel is now turned, gusset stitches are picked up, decreases are done and I'm working on the foot. I love the yarn, love the pattern, and hope to follow Sarah's and Vera's examples of getting these socks done quickly. 

Reading has taken a back seat with the deadline knitting, but after reading an NPR article about the Youth Media Award winners and nominees, I added a bunch of these books to my Goodreads list. There is so much more diversity and breadth represented than when I was working in elementary and middle school libraries, and that is a wonderful thing. I'm looking forward to reading these books when I've finished the socks and am back to non-deadline Hitchhiker knitting.

What are you making and reading this week?

Monday, January 27, 2020

Sometimes Monday ...

... is a day to encourage my amaryllis.

I just repotted and watered the bulbs two weeks ago after their winter rest, and these are growing nicely.

There are no signs of leaves sprouting on these two yet, but it's well-known fact that a watched amaryllis never grows. I'm back in MD this week, so maybe they'll reward me with more signs of green when I head back to NJ this weekend.

Hope your week is off to a good start!

Friday, January 24, 2020

Sky Watcher

I don't have a lot of time today as I'm getting back to my regular life of work, laundry, and catching up on other mundane things after Ryan's visit. While he was here, it was all fun, fun, fun of eating out, many visits to the eye dr. and corneal specialist for his ophthalmic woes, instilling eye drops, and playing Scrabble because John refuses. For those reasons, coupled with the fact that the sky has been boring and monotone, and I'd like to think that my regular life also includes regular blogging, I'm just going to post this today.

Things are looking up here, even if it's just because it's the weekend. Snoopy has never let me down!

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Three on Thursday

I'm joining Carole and friends for Three on Thursday, with three things I learned this week. 

The spelling of ledeRyan and I were both surprised to learn that in the context of "bury the lede" the word wasn't spelled lead. This felt like quite a revelation, but I guess I hadn't seen the word in print before. Merriam-Webster also has some usage notes here. Homonyms can surprise you!

The cornea is made up of five layers.
Each of them is important to the structure and function of the cornea, and there are at least 20 different dystrophies (
disorders characterized by weakening, degeneration, or abnormal development) that can affect the various layers, the eye, and sight itself.

Blade Runner is a surprisingly watchable and interesting movie. Ryan was appalled that I had never seen it, so we remedied that one evening. Young Harrison Ford, an examination of what it means to be human, and a lovely soundtrack all made it enjoyable for me. Rachel is an intriguing character so Blade Runner 2049 might even be on my watchlist in the future.

What have you learned this week?

Be sure to visit Carole for more Three on Thursday thoughts.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Unraveled Wednesday

Joining Kat and friends for Unraveled Wednesday, today with new yarn and a new project. Ryan brought me three skeins when he arrived, as a belated Christmas present, and I was compelled to wind one of them and cast on right away.

These are Spun Right Round Classic Sock in Nervous Breakdown, and of course, I started a Hitchhiker. Ryan told me how much he liked the bright yellow and the pops of other colors and thought that even though it might be outside my comfort zone in terms of color, he thought it was unique, really interesting, and eye-catching. After he told me this for the third time, it finally dawned on me that he would like something knit from this yarn. While he hasn't exactly had a nervous breakdown, Ryan has struggled mightily with depression for several years, so I'm reading all kinds of meaningful things into this knitting. The darker gray and brown areas for depressive episodes, the pops of blue and pink for good days, and the fact that the bright yellow is always there with the promise of sunnier and better days. Crazy and/or weird? Maybe, but I'm a sucker for a good yarn name and knitting for my kids.

This Hitchhiker is at least twice as big now because we have spent a lot of Ryan's visit at the eye doctor and corneal specialist. It's a long story, but he has a corneal issue that has been mistreated as an infection by three doctors in Colorado since October. I took him to our eye doctor who straightened things out medication-wise and referred him to a corneal specialist who started treatment. This delayed his departure by a couple of days, but I'm taking him to the airport in a few hours and he has an appointment with a corneal specialist in Colorado tomorrow to continue treatment. It's always something, but hopefully, this something is getting fixed and his sight will eventually be fully restored to normal. I'm glad I had waiting-room knitting with appropriately-named yarn. 

Ryan also gifted me with this happy skein of Dream in Color Smooshy. Who knows? It might even become something other than a Hitchhiker!

I finally finished Snowball in a Blizzard this week. It was definitely informative, but also dense and soporific, so it took me six months to read. I finished Fever and am looking forward to our discussion beginning in February. I hope to finish The Murmur of Bees shortly because I'm thinking about The Topeka SchoolAmerican Dirtand Tightrope. So many enticing books to choose from!

What are you making and reading this week?

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Unraveled Wednesday

Joining Kat and friends for Unraveled Wednesday, today with an old UFO. 

Last weekend we had temperatures in the mid-60s, and since that doesn't happen very often in January, I wanted to sit on the porch and knit. My current Hitchhiker didn't quite fit the bill, so I got out a Sockhead Cowl that had been resting sadly neglected for just a bit more than a year. I wore my first Sockhead Cowl a few weeks ago, was reminded of what a warm and useful accessory it is, and once I picked up this amazingly soft MCN blend again, I knew this was what I wanted to work on. 

I spent an enjoyable few hours on the porch, rocking and knitting in the glider. Temperatures are now more seasonable with the chance for some snow later this week, so there is more winter to be had here. I've still got many inches of stockinette and then many more inches of ribbing to knit, but the round-and-round knitting is meditative. I hope to put my word into action and focus enough to finish this year and count it as a 2020 FO. 

In reading, I finished Dante's Inferno and found it so much more readable, beautiful, and optimistic than I had expected. I've been listening to Indistractable and The Murmur of Bees and reading Fever on my Kindle. To be honest, I'm loving the beautiful, lyrical, and engaging language of Bees and it's all I can do not to abandon the other books and listen to it non-stop. But I'm also trying to focus on books I need to read so I'll make myself finish them before returning to Siminopio's story.

What are you making and reading this week?
Ryan is here for a visit, so I'm going to be taking a short break to spend some time with him. See you later (maybe with a new project because he brought me yarn!)

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Read With Us: Fever

Since at least a few of you have already finished reading Fever, I'm not sure I need to do a promotional post for the book we've chosen this quarter, especially after Carole's post last week. But in case there are readers out there who are new to Read With Us or anyone who might be on the fence about this second book, that's just what I'm going to do. 

There’s still plenty of time to join us as we read Fever by Mary Beth Keane. (Interesting aside: she is also the author of Ask Again, Yes, which many of you may have read.)This month, we’re providing some background information about the book. In February, we’ll begin posting some discussion questions so we can talk about the book together. I hope you’ll join us! It's easy. There's nothing to sign up for or commit to. All you need to do . . . is read with us!

Whenever I read historical fiction, I find that I get more and more curious about the real-life story as I read, and that's certainly been the case with Mary Mallon. As I’m reading, I’m also doing quite a bit of Googling about her, the disease of typhoid fever, George Soper (the sanitation engineer who "discovered" Mary), and Mary's treatment by the New York City Health Department. 

Here are some interesting things I’ve learned:
  • Typhoid fever is a bacterial disease caused by Samonella typhi. Symptoms include a fever that can be as high as 103–104°F, headache, stomach pain, and weakness. A rash of rose-colored spots may be present. Without treatment, the death rate ranges from 20-30%. Treatment is with antibiotics, but antibiotic resistance is increasing.
  • The CDC estimates that worldwide, typhoid fever affects an estimated 11 to 21 million people and 5,700 people in the United States each year. It is spread through sewage contamination of food or water and through person-to-person contact.
  • At least three deaths were attributed to Mary, but because she used aliases and was generally uncooperative, some estimate she may have caused as many as 50 deaths.
  • Mary Mallon was the first asymptomatic typhoid carrier to be identified by medical science, and there was no policy providing guidelines for handling the situation. 
  • By the time of her second quarantine, Mallon was far from the only known asymptomatic carrier of typhoid fever. There were thousands across the country and hundreds in New York.
  • Other healthy typhoid carriers identified at the beginning of the 20th century include Tony Labella, an Italian immigrant, presumed to have caused over 100 cases with five deaths, an Adirondack guide dubbed "Typhoid John", presumed to have infected 36 people with two deaths, and Alphonse Cotils, a restaurateur and bakery owner. 
I'm pretty sure our discussion will bring up the rights of patients with communicable diseases, the prejudice against Irish immigrants, the treatment of Mary Mallon, and gender and social class distinctions in early 20th century America.

"Mary," I said, "I've come to talk with you and see if between us we cannot get you out of here. When I have asked you to help me before, you have refused and when others have asked you, you have refused them also. You would not be where you are now if you had not been so obstinate. So throw off your wrong-headed idea and be reasonable. Nobody wants to harm you. You say you have never caused a case of typhoid, but I know you have done so. Nobody thinks you have done it purposely. But you have done it just the same. Many people have been made sick and have suffered a great deal; some have died. You refused to give specimens which would help to clear up the trouble. So you were arrested and brought here and the specimens taken in spite of your resistance. They proved what I charged. Now you must surely see how mistaken you were. Don't you acknowledge it?"
Soper, G A. “The Curious Career of Typhoid Mary.” Bulletin of the New York Academy of Medicine vol. 15,10 (1939): 698-712.

I do hope you’ll join us over the next few weeks as we read and discuss Fever and Read With Us!

Read Carole's post from last Tuesday with even more information about the book, and watch for another post next Tuesday when Kym adds her perspective.

Monday, January 13, 2020

Sometimes Monday ...

... is a good day to choose a word. My one little word for 2020 is

How handy for me that Justin's girlfriend drives a Ford Focus!

For me, this is a logical progression after exploring Balance in 2019. It was a real aha! moment when I read an extraordinary post from Kym and it became clear to me that I needed to change my word to Balance. I paid attention to regaining and remaining in balance throughout most of the year, and it has been life-changing.

Kym's diagram Balance ==> Focus ==> Intention seems so well-reasoned and logical to me that Focus was my obvious choice this year. (Guess what my word will be next year?!) I'm looking forward to putting Focus into action, but I'm also not quite ready to let go of Balance. (I'm not sure I ever will be.) So while I intend to explore Focus, I also want to make sure that I continue to maintain an equilibrium between work and leisure, fun and serious, physical activity and rest, thoughtful consideration and spontaneity. I'm recommitting myself to daily meditation, which I know will help with both Balance and Focus.

Exploring things almost always begins with books for me, so I am reading Indistractable by Nir Eyal, and I have several other books in my Focus queue. I feel like I'm off to a good (and focused!) start. I hope to join Honoré on the last Tuesday of the month and hope you will, too, to share and read where others' words are leading them.

I'll leave you with a quote that explains why I think a bit of focus might be a good thing for the whole world:
The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe about us, the less taste we shall have for destruction.
― Rachel Carson

Friday, January 10, 2020

Sky Watcher




These changeable skies happened in just one hour! I hope your weekend includes some good weather; here in the east, we've got record temperatures in the mid-60s predicted!

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Three on Thursday

I'm joining Carole and friends for Three on Thursday, today with three interesting, funny, and/or weird articles I read this week. The news is increasingly concerning, depressing, and dire, but I promise you that none of these stories can be described like that (unless you are concerned about aliens or pigs.)

This photo doesn't have anything to do with the following articles; it's just a happy cross-section of grass under the microscope.

I know that you're all creative and express your creativity in many different ways. This article might be preaching to the choir, but it's nice to read that all this creativity is good for your health (and I would add your soul, too!)

A friend sent me this, and the combination of Jesus, KFC, and an alien named Stevie sounded so strange that I hoped it might be true. It did happen in Florida after all! Alas, it was fake news

My neighbor is in England for an extended visit with her granddaughter. She occasionally sends me links to news that she thinks I might find funny. This story happened in Siberia, but the ever-vigilant British reported on the three not-so-little pigs, complete with photos. 

Here's hoping the real news becomes a little less terrible.

Be sure to visit Carole for more Three on Thursday thoughts.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Unraveled Wednesday

Joining Kat and friends for Unraveled Wednesday, today with one last Rikke hat and a return to a Hitchhiker. 

This Rikke hat had a bumpy beginning when I was winding the skein. There were several places that looked like bleach spots and some of the plies had broken and frayed. There were also several places that looked like the yarn had been accidentally cut (maybe when a box was being opened?) It's my favorite color and not being one to waste yarn, I persevered, cut out the bleached and unraveled places, dealt with the cut strands, and ended up with lots of small balls. 

I started with the largest ball and things were fine, just more ends to weave in. I made a few slight changes with this Rikke since it might be for me. I used a size 6 needle instead of a 7 so the fabric wasn't so loosey-goosey and knit it a bit longer before beginning the decreases so I could have a brim to turn up and keep my ears warm.

Blurry but the best I could do

I never wear hats, so this will take a bit of getting used to. The jury is still out, but the real test may lie in the first walk I take on a really cold day.

And now it's time to get back to this!

I've just finished a couple of books, What a Fun Age and Red Lotus. They were just average for me (you can click on them in the right-hand sidebar for my thoughts.) Fever is up next and I hope many of you will be joining us. Carole's first promotional post is here if you'd like some background and compelling reasons to Read With Us. I'll be posting next Tuesday and Kym the following Tuesday before we begin discussing the book on February 4th. 

What are you making and reading this week?

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Through the Years

I saved my amaryllis bulbs from last year, but haven't started any of them this year. I may do that this weekend when I'm once again in NJ, but for now, I'm taking a look back at some of the stellar floral displays from years past.

There were too many outstanding ones for me to choose between them, so you get a bunch. I've got four or five bulbs resting in my root cellar, but of course, I didn't label them, so they'll be a surprise. Now I'm anxious to get home and start them all!

Monday, January 6, 2020

Friday, January 3, 2020

My Year in Books 2019

It doesn't feel right to start my 2020 reading without reviewing my 2019 year in books. Overall, it was a pretty good one. Goodreads tells me that I read 77 books, but that number doesn't mean anything significant to me. In previous years I didn't set a challenge number, but I missed keeping track of how much I was reading. My goals for reading are to gain enjoyment and understanding, but those aren't reflected very well in the number of books I've read (or even how many stars I've awarded.) So now I choose a random number and get to see this random compliment from Goodreads:

I read 55 works of fiction and 22 non-fiction. Some of my more memorable books include (in no particular order):

What were your favorite books of 2019? What are you looking forward to reading this year? I'd love to hear about them!

And don't forget about Read With Us, our bloggy book club! We read Just Mercy last year and will be starting our second book, Fever, shortly. Stay tuned for the first promotional post from Carole on January 7, followed by Kym and me in subsequent weeks. We'll begin discussing the book on February 4, so I hope you'll get your copy (available from a library near you or only $1.99 for Kindle) and come Read (and discuss) With Us!

Thursday, January 2, 2020

Looking Back

I'm Looking Back today, mainly so I can refresh my own memory. Right now I'm remembering some not-so-nice things that happened in 2019, like my pulmonary embolism and Ryan's accident. But surely there were plenty of good things, and you're welcome to come along as I remind myself of all that happened in 2019, the good, bad, and lots of things in between.


My mother-in-law passed away peacefully yesterday. This is the amaryllis that I got for her so she could have one that actually bloomed. I'm sorry she won't get a chance to see it, but I'll think of her when the blossoms emerge.


Target shooting with my bow is fun, but stump hunting with Justin is even better.


Guess where I'm heading? Colorado! I'll be back later (when I'm done eating Thai and Ethiopian food, tacos, and Creole breakfast, going to The Loopy Ewe, and most importantly, visiting with Ryan.)


The lawn here in MD is mostly grass and clover, but it's also got thousands of violets. John considers them weeds, but I think they are just beautiful.


My sister-in-law has her grandmother's bougainvillea, and I've always been envious. Now I've got one of my own.

Casting your line is a perpetual series of opportunities for hope, but fishing is good no matter how the catch is.
I did block my John Deere Hitchhiker and happily got ready to take some pictures. I had cleverly (or so I thought) left the tails on so I could tie it to the ivy and get some full-length photos. I took a few, but then it happened ... the yellow tail on the cast-on end broke, right next to the two beginning stitches.
There will be more sunflowers!
Her excited yelling signaled that the monarch was emerging.
I hope you have some glorious fall weather in your neck of the woods and you get to spend some time enjoying it!
The third Wollmeise John Deere Hitchhiker also reached the finish line. I think it might be my favorite, or it will be when it's dry and I can wear it.
We had sleet and freezing rain at the beginning. It was a bit treacherous but we were left with beautiful blue skies and sparkling ice on everything once it cleared.
It was a pretty good year, and now I'm looking ahead to a wonderful 2020 (for all of us)!