Tuesday, June 30, 2020

One Little Word: It's The End of June Already!

When I first thought about writing an update for my word, I had to try and remember what word I had even chosen for 2020 (and search posts back to March to find out what it was.) That gives you a pretty good picture of how things have been going with Focus. 

The pandemic has made the months since March an especially hard time for me to focus, and I think that might be the way that many others are also feeling. But there is a very valuable lesson in that, too. Like breath during meditation, Focus isn't something you attain and you are able to focus happily ever after once it's achieved. Some days and some months have made it feel almost impossible, but each time I am reminded of Focus, during daily meditations, asking myself "Is this how I want to be spending my time?", and (hopefully) monthly blog check-ins, I can re-focus and calm my unsettled monkey mind. (And stop throwing stones at every dog that barks.)

Please visit HonorĂ© to read what she and others have shared about their words. 

Monday, June 29, 2020

Getting Together

... carefully.

Last weekend we celebrated my great-nephew's birthdays. My niece had planned this an outdoor party but thunderstorms forced us into the garage. I had seen many of these 12 people during the past month, but most of our interactions were through car windows or speaking at distances of at least six feet.

It was hard not to snuggle the little ones but it seemed prudent not to do that on our first real family outing.

Some of those little ones are always on the move so pinning them down for hugs would be difficult anyway.

We were treated to a lovely double rainbow that was much brighter and more beautiful than the pictures show, but hopefully, you get the idea.

It was a tiny little step towards the new normal and definitely different, but kids (and grownups) with squirt guns help make everything more fun and normal. 

I hope your weekend was a good one!

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Poetry on Thursday

The Way It Is 
Lynn Ungar

One morning you might wake up
to realize that the knot in your stomach
has loosened itself and slipped away,
and that the pit of unfilled longing in your heart
has gradually and without your really noticing,
been filled in -- patched like a pothole, not quite
the same as it was, but good enough.

And in that moment it might occur to you
that your life, though not the way
you planned it, and maybe not even entirely
the way you wanted it, is nonetheless --
persistently, abundantly, miraculously --
exactly what it is.

Ungar, Lynn. "The Way It Is." Poetry of Presence, Grayson Books, 2017, p. 31.

You can read more about the author here

I so enjoy Kym's sharing of poetry on Fridays, so I thought maybe I would share some on Thursday. This book has a dedication "to the poets who help us be mindful in a world that has urgent need of presence." I wish you mindfulness, presence, and calm as this week winds down. 

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Unraveled Wednesday

Joining Kat and friends for Unraveled Wednesday, with still more expressive dishcloths and more of the same old Hitchhiker.

I know I said I was done knitting these, but after receiving two more requests for WTF dishcloths I couldn't bear to disappoint the family members that seem to love them. They are a quick knit, and perfect car knitting. I can knit one on the trip from NJ to MD, and it keeps me from clutching the armrest in fear as the traffic whizzes past us at 95 mph on Route 95, and gives me a sense of accomplishment that I haven't just wasted a couple of hours on the road.

The Sunset Hitchhiker is proceeding slowly but surely. It's nice to see it stretched out on my MD neighbor's fence, and it was about time I acquainted these neighbors with taking photos of knitting. I started trying to attach the dishcloths to the fence with clothespins, and Ralph (my neighbor) wondered what I was doing. He responded to my explanation with a resounding "Cool! We could use one or two of those dishcloths!", so I guess the price of using his fence is knitting yet a few more. It amuses me how much people seem to like them, but maybe we're all in a WTF kind of mood. 

I read The Last Hours last week, but for me, it was a book with one-dimensional characters and no real plot. It's fiction about the spread of bubonic plague in England, and while I can respect the amount of research that Minette Walters did, I found some of the ideas that the stereotypical characters held were strangely out of place. It was really just a fill-in book while I eagerly waited to check out The Splendid and the Vile, but now I've got it downloaded and have started listening. So far, it's as good as I had hoped. 

What are you making and reading this week?

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

How Does The Garden Grow?

Pretty well, given that this a year for haphazard weeding, occasional watering, and benign neglect.

The tomatoes have blossoms,

the zucchini and cucumber plants have monster-sized leaves (but no blossoms yet),

and the string beans are coming along nicely.

Corn and carrots are looking good,

along with my blueberries.

The bushes were loaded with berries, but I suspect the birds have been enjoying them. Maybe I'll still get a few.

That empty space and low fencing is where the snow peas were until John tore them out. They produced loads of peas this year, enough for us to eat them almost every night for a month and still blanch and freeze 30 quart-size bags. Blue bottles continue to sprout. 

The bee balm is looking especially majestic this year, and I love how the few sprigs of mint that I transplanted from NJ are managing to show the rampant ferns who's the boss.

Thanks for taking a tour around the garden and now I've got mint tea for everyone!

Monday, June 22, 2020

Ugly Fish

Justin came down to MD and discovered that we live in a fishing haven. I know we're near the Chesapeake Bay and also knew that there are several large creeks and ponds nearby, some in our backyard. He had done some research, found that MD has an interesting pricing structure for an out-of-state license (charging what the reciprocal state would charge someone from MD), and went in search of snakeheads. 

They are an invasive freshwater species of fish, native to Asia, and highly predatory. Once they get into a waterway they can decimate native species of fish. And they can get into waterways because they breathe air with their gills, migrate up to 1/4 mile over land by wriggling with their bodies and fins, and can survive on land up to four days. They have been established in MD since 2002, and the DNR seems to have accepted that they are here to stay. You are not required to kill them if you catch them, but it is illegal to transport live snakeheads.

Justin is usually a catch-and-release fisherman, but he had heard that snakeheads are quite good to eat, so we got to find out for ourselves. 

He caught two of them only a mile away from our house! Justin is not easily excited but I could hear the excitement in his voice when he called and said "I have very good news!" I went to pick him up as he had just fished his way up the creek from the house but didn't want to carry ten pounds of fish back. 

He fileted them and I fixed them two ways, baked and fried. They were both delicious and among the favorite things I have eaten.

Thanks to Justin for taking care of two invasive fish, and introducing us to the delicious taste of snakeheads. For such ugly fish they sure were good eating.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Unraveled Wednesday

Joining Kat and friends for Unraveled Wednesday, with a couple more expressive dishcloths, a return to my usual Hitchhiker knitting, and a couple of completed books. 

I think I'm finally done with my dishcloth phase. These are from another free pattern. It made me happy to knit them, and everyone I sent them to seemed quite happy to receive them. I'm not sure what it says that they may have been better received than some of the other things I've knit as gifts (including baby blankets!), but there you have it. 

Ryan got the complete set! 

Since I'm done with dishcloths, I'm once again knitting on the Sunset Hitchhiker. I caved and ordered beads that I think will go with it perfectly. If they match as well as I hope, I'll sew them on the ends. I wasn't going to order the beads until I finished knitting, but I rationalized it and told myself it was better to order them now since they are coming from Germany and may not arrive until the end of July. Surely I can complete the Hitchhiker by then (and if I don't there aren't really any negative consequences anyway)!

I finished The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly and The Summer Book this week. The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly was marketed as a Korean Charlotte's Web, and while I didn't quite get that comparison, it was an interesting little book. The Summer Book was quietly marvelous and is now one of my all-time favorites. I'm so grateful to Jane for recommending it, and I'm very much looking forward to reading Tove Jannson's A Winter Book. As always, you can click on the book titles in the right-hand sidebar if you are interested in my reviews or more information about the books. 

What are you making and reading this week?

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Purple Paisley

When you come across some purple paisley fabrics that you are quite taken with, the best thing to do is make more masks!

I set up a sort of assembly line over the weekend and made eight of them. They're still fussy to make, but I don't hate the process like I did when I first started sewing masks. 

John and Justin just looked at me quizzically when I asked them what they thought, which I think meant that they were not at all interested in wearing purple paisley masks themselves. So I kept four and sent four to Ryan, proudly wearing one when I went to the post office.

When I told Ryan that he could look for a package from me, he said that he had also ordered a real mask with a filter. I'm glad that he is wearing a mask, and even if he never wears these purple paisley ones, they still serve a purpose and say "I love you dearly and I don't want you to get coronavirus."

Monday, June 15, 2020

Effective Hand Washing

Today when I sing two rounds of Happy Birthday while I'm washing my hands, I'm going to sing it out loud and use my name. 

Happy 63rd Birthday to me! 

Friday, June 12, 2020


Our house in New Jersey has a big open field behind it, and every year about this time I keep an eye out for newborn deer. I almost always see a fawn hiding in the tall grass or at least semi-hidden in the hedgerow. Sometimes I don't see them until they are a couple of weeks old and out feeding in the field with their mothers. I've been a little concerned that I haven't spied any fawns this year, especially because it's getting late for them to be born, but I keep looking.

We've been in MD since Tuesday for mowing and pea-picking (and pea-picking led to blanching and freezing because we had so many). Our lawn down here is large and open, with one lone pine tree in it, with nowhere for deer to hide. After I mowed I went indoors to get a nice glass of ice water since it was 94 degrees, and then came out on the back porch to cool off a bit. I saw something in the lawn I had just mowed and wondered what I had missed. 

It was a fawn, in a very unexpected place. I wanted to tell the doe she had done a poor job of hiding her child, but it laid there calmly until early evening when its mother returned. Sometimes you can see things where and when you least expect them!

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Unraveled Wednesday

Joining Kat and friends for Unraveled Wednesday, with some more expressive dishcloths and the same old Hitchhiker.

We came down to MD yesterday so I could mow and pick more peas again today. There was fishing and knitting last night. I have had several requests for more expressive dishcloths so I chose this free pattern. It's quick, fun, and satisfying to knit, and may even make doing dishes slightly more enjoyable.

I'm not sure how many of these I'll knit before I move on to something else, but they are true potato chip knitting for now. I'm also working on the same Hitchhiker but I'll spare you another photo since it looks a lot like it did last week.

I finished several books last week, Poetry of Presence, How to be an Antiracist, and Wild Game. Each one was wonderful in its own different way, and you can click on the titles in the sidebar if you want to read more about them. I think Poetry of Presence and How to be an Antiracist are must-reads for everyone, and maybe I would also include Wild Game since it is our current Read With Us selection.  

What are you making and reading this week?

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Much More Than Just Old Hunks of Metal

I don't know if you remember these original and very cool bookmarks Justin made for me for Mother's Day, but it turns out he was also working on something else. It just took a little longer.

I present ... my lock. 

I really wish you could see this in person because it's a work of genius. (I may not be an impartial judge.) Justin took an old rusty lock that he found in an old burn pile, dismantled it, soaked the pieces in rust remover, polished all of the pieces with a wire wheel, put the lock back together, and then figured out a way to attach a Plexiglas door to the whole thing so you could see and admire the workings. 

You can open the door up with screw in the center, see how the lock mechanism works, and move the levers, slide the sliding bits, and generally marvel at both the lock and my youngest son's ingenuity and creativity. It looks like it's been painted, but that patina is what remained naturally after Justin painstakingly removed all the rust. We have old locks just like this on most of the doors in our house, so it's great to be able to understand what's going on inside when I turn the knobs or use a key to lock our doors.

It has pride of place on my kitchen table, right in front of where I sit so I can see, admire, and play with it every day. I love that Justin understands my admiration for old hunks of metal and has the imagination and cleverness to bring his interesting ideas to wonderful fruition. I love my old lock, and I'm willing to be nobody else is lucky enough to have one like it!

Monday, June 8, 2020

Another Trip to the River

This past weekend was sticky and humid on Saturday, but Sunday was picture-perfect with blue skies, puffy clouds, and a lovely breeze. It was just right for a trip to the Delaware River. I don't fish very often so it doesn't make sense for me to buy a fishing license, but I do know how to occupy myself beside the gently flowing waters (and a lot of that seems to be taking photos).

The fisherpeople prepared their equipment.

John waded in the water. 

I came across some interesting stumps,

an extensive patch of ferns,

some heart-shaped leaves,

and lots of phlox.

I built some multi-material cairns,

 and took a short walk to the nearby quarry pond for more lovely views.  

 I personally think the river is almost more interesting if you aren't fishing.

 Hope your weekend was also a good one!