Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Unraveled Wednesday

Joining Kat and friends for Unraveled Wednesday with a finally finished Sunset Hitchhiker. It's not blocked, and it's also dark and raining outside, so there are no good photos. Hopefully, I'll be able to get John to take a photo or two when it cools down a bit more and I actually start wearing it. I can't wait, for both the cooler weather and to wear my favorite Hitchhiker!

I thought about what I might want to knit next, and then I remembered how much I enjoyed knitting with Wollmeisen rolls. I have a Hitchhiker on the needles that I started over a year ago with a dramatic dark purple-to-blue gradient, and I've also got an untouched roll in VergiƟmeinnicht (Forget-me-not) that I'm itching to cast on. I think they will provide me with some immersive and pleasurable knitting that will carry me through a fraught-with-anxiety Election Day (and beyond). I knit a few rows during the debate sh** show last night, but I spent most of the time wondering what the he** was going on. 

Reading has provided me with much pleasure during this past week, with two four-star books. I finished Conversations with RBG and gained knowledge about Ruth Bader Ginsburg, her life, the Supreme Court, her decisions, and possibly (maybe naively) even a glimmer of hope for the future. I also read The Door and was very glad that several of my goodreads friends had read it and reviewed it so enthusiastically. I doubt that I would have picked this up on my own, but it is a compelling book and one that I'm sure I'll be thinking about for a long time. I also listened to The Female Persuasion, but this two-star book is barely worth mentioning. Based on a stellar review from Kat, I've started listening to A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. When she said it had unseated Apeirogon as the best book she has read this year, I had to pay attention!

What are you making and reading this week?

Monday, September 28, 2020

Randomly from the Weekend

This weekend was a bit different because we stayed in Maryland instead of going home to New Jersey. The lawn in NJ doesn't need to be mowed every week, and John wanted to do some work on the house here in MD. Probably the biggest reason for staying put is the construction on the Delaware Memorial Bridge. This has been going on for several months and will continue through October. No matter what day or what time we head north, we end up sitting still in bridge construction traffic for 45 minutes or more. It was a real treat not to be stuck in that mess!

So what did I do with my extra time this weekend? Remember Central Tavern, my favorite place to eat in Elkton? I picked up takeout for lunch on Saturday.

A delicious burger topped with a perfectly fried egg, buffalo chicken macaroni and cheese, and a drink pouch with cranberry juice, orange vodka, and peach schnapps provided me with a very tasty lunch and lots of leftovers. 

I spied a baby praying mantis on my walk home. He was only a couple inches long in real life but is obviously enlarged here. 

There is a new episode of The Great British Baking Show so after watching it I was inspired to do some baking myself.       Mmm ... pound cake. It was not a low-calorie weekend, but I did take plenty of walks when it wasn't raining.

One of the walks I took was to return Conversations with RBG to the library. My route back took me past a new elementary school. I was intrigued by their blue "support people" and the big "WE CAN!" I'm sure it's meant to send a positive message, but I also thought about my experiences with my own boys and seven years spent working in an elementary school library. I could think of quite a few examples of kids who would push the envelope if they heard "We Can". We can ... have ice cream for breakfast, stay up until 2:00 am watching scary movies, never eat vegetables, play video games as much as we like, never do homework ... The possibilities are endless!

And it wouldn't be a weekend if I didn't discover yet another mistake I made about twelve rows back on the current Hitchhiker. I had dropped a stitch and was unable to ladder it back up because of the rows of eyelets I've added. Unraveling ensued, then more knitting, and being much more careful. I'm certainly getting good knitting value out of this yarn (and it kept me from eating too much pound cake).

How about your weekend? I hope it was fun, interesting, delicious, and restful, and your week is off to a good start. 

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Poetry on Thursday

The poem I'm sharing today is one that I stumbled upon and it surprised me. The author is Barbara Kingsolver, and though I've read and enjoyed many of her novels and non-fiction, I never knew she wrote poetry. She has indeed and has published two volumes of poetry that I have somehow missed, including How to Fly, published just two days ago. It may be time for another covert mission to the library so I can read more of her poetry.

Beating Time
Barbara Kingsolver

Commemorating the removal of poetry as a requirement in Arizona's schools, August 1997

The Governor interdicted: poetry is evicted
from our curricula,
for metaphor and rhyme take time
from science. Our children's self-reliance rests
upon the things we count on. The laws
of engineering. Poeteering squanders time, and time
is money. He said: let the chips fall where they may.

The Governor's voice fell down through quicksilver
microchip song hummed along and the law
was delivered to its hearing. The students
of engineering bent to their numbers in silent
classrooms, where the fans overhead
whispered "I am I am" in iambic pentameter.
Unruly and fractious numbers were discarded at the bell.
In the crumpled, cast-off equations,
small black figures shaped like tadpoles
formed a nation, unobserved, in the wastepaper basket.

Outside, a storm is about to crack the sky.
Lightning will score dry riverbeds, peeling back the mud
like a plow, bellowing, taking out bridges,
completely unexpectedly.

The children too young to have heard
of poetry's demise turn their eyes
to the windows, to see what they can count on.
They will rise and dance to the iamb of the fans,
whispering illicit rhymes,
watching the sky for a sign
while the rain beats time.

Kingsolver, Barbara. "Beating Time." Another America, Seal Press, 1998.  
You can read an intriguing piece written by Kingsolver entitled "How Poems Happen" here.

I wish you mindfulness, peace, some magic, lots of attention, and lots of poetry as this week winds down.

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Unraveled Wednesday

Joining Kat and friends for Unraveled Wednesday with what I hope is the penultimate post about this particular Hitchhiker. I had hoped to have it finished by now after the baby knitting, but mistakes were made, unraveled, more mistakes made, and unraveled, so progress has been slow. Three more teeth and it will be done. 

It's a bit bunched up on the needles and not stretched out to its full length, but I'm quite happy with it so far. Sometimes I just have to stop and look at all the lovely bright colors. 

I finished Lady in the Lake (a pleasant three-star read for me), am still listening to The Door (compelling, but hard to explain why), and started Conversations With RBG. The last one is a real book that I got from the Elkton library in what felt like some sort of covert mission. I had to place a hold, go to the library when it was ready, call the library staff when I arrived and they would bring the book out. UNDER NO CONDITIONS WAS I TO GET OUT OF MY CAR AND PICK UP THE BOOK UNTIL THE STAFF MEMBER WAS BACK INSIDE THE LIBRARY. That was the text I got from them in response to my phone call, in all caps so I knew they meant business!

What are you making and reading this week?

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

A Week Without the Internet

Sort of. Kat originally got me thinking about avoiding the internet for a week with this post, and I told you about my decision to give it a try here. No more wasting time on Instagram, news sites, various political sites, looking at yarn I don't need, etc. I began Sunday with the zeal of a convert, proudly proclaiming, "No internet for me!" But several problems quickly became evident. 

I had bills to pay and because I pay most of them online, I had to go online to do that. Then I finished Lady in the Lake. I try to write my reviews on Goodreads soon after completing a book when the details are fresh in my mind, so I was back online to do that. I also placed several holds on books at my libraries via Overdrive, but I think we would all agree that books are a necessity. 

For the rest of the week, I checked fire updates, email, wrote a blog post or two, and read blog posts. But then on Friday evening, Justin's girlfriend (who is constantly on facebook and instagram) told me that Ruth Bader Ginsburg had died and this was the most important reason to turn to the internet. I needed to confirm that this very sad news was true and that the hypocritical Republicans would indeed act as expected. 

What did I learn from my week "without the internet"? Mainly that it's ubiquitous and necessary. It is evident in almost all aspects of my life, from looking for recipes to checking out books to streaming "The Crown". I cannot imagine trying to maintain my sanity during the pandemic without it and am very glad I have not had to. The internet is a tool, and like any other tool, it is up to me to use it wisely. In so many ways, it makes my life easier and more pleasurable. It's my personal responsibility to find the middle ground between being uninformed and wasting precious hours doom-scrolling. I think this week showed me that life without the internet might be possible, but it is so much richer if I use it sparingly and for good. 

Monday, September 21, 2020

Sometimes Monday ...

 ... is a day to express your most fervent hopes and dreams.

May they come true in 44 days!

I also mailed this on Friday, along with crossed fingers and much hope. I'm not too worried about it being delivered to the Board of Elections because I watched the clerk put it directly into their PO box. There were about 30 other ballots in the box and I hope they all voted for the right guy!

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Poetry on Thursday

The poem I'm sharing today is one whose original title appealed to me, especially as we enter into the season of changing leaves and sequined trees.

Poem Beginning with a Line from It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown
Maggie Smith
Just look—nothing but sincerity
as far as the eye can see—
the way the changed leaves,
flapping their yellow underbellies
in the wind, glitter. The tree
looks sequined wherever
the sun touches. Does anyone
not see it? Driving by a field
of spray-painted sheep, I think
the world is not all changed.
The air still ruffles wool
the way a mother’s hand
busies itself lovingly in the hair
of her small boy. The sun
lifts itself up, grows heavy
treading there, then lets itself
off the hook. Just look at it
leaving—the sky a tigereye
banded five kinds of gold
and bronze—and the sequin tree
shaking its spangles like a girl
on the high school drill team,
nothing but sincerity. It glitters
whether we’re looking or not.
This poem originally appeared in The Southern Review, Summer 2018
You can read more about the poet here
I wish you mindfulness, peace, sequin trees, the ability to notice the glitter, and some poetry as this week winds down. 

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Unraveled Wednesday

Joining Kat and friends for Unraveled Wednesday with three completed baby socks and a fourth on the needles. 

My imaginary knitting timeline of finishing a pair of socks in a day turned out to be inconsistent with reality, but I did manage to finish one sock in a day when I wasn't busy with the usual things that intrude into my knitting time. (If only John didn't want dinner every.single.night.)

Reading is one of the things that I've had a little more time for because I'm spending less time on the internet. I finished a surprisingly good book, The Boy in the Field, by Margot Livesey this week. It was a great combination of mystery, coming of age story, and family saga that I will be thinking about for quite a while. I'm still thinking about Hamnet three and a half weeks after finishing it but luckily I can hold several books in my mind at the same time. I started Lady in the Lake, and am finding it a light yet interesting read so far. 

What are you making and reading this week?

Monday, September 14, 2020

One Week

On Friday, Kat mentioned that she had been avoiding the internet because of the state of the world. This sounded intriguing and got me thinking about what a week without the internet would be like for me, what benefits and drawbacks I might experience. So I'm giving it a try, beginning yesterday. There are conditions — I will be checking fire updates from CO, I'm obviously blogging and I will be reading your blogs, along with checking my email. But no Instagram, news, checking Nate Silver's election forecasts on FiveThirtyEight (he got it completely wrong in 2016), looking at yarn, or any of the hundreds of other ways I waste time on the internet. I'll let you know the positives, negatives, and how it went sometime next week. Who knows, I might even accomplish a bit more knitting, reading, and be a little happier. 

Friday, September 11, 2020

Bright Spots

Far too often I pay too much attention to the tragic, unjust, or awful things that are going on in the world. There are plenty of them but doom and gloom all the time doesn't help anyone's sanity, let alone their happiness. I took a look around and started paying attention to all the bright spots that are really there every day, just waiting for me to notice them.

I paid attention to the literal bright spots in the colorful embroidery on the shirt I was ironing.

It was fun to find a bit of Ryan's childhood in our barn when I was putting oil in the mower. I discovered this bag with special marbles inside, and when I sent him the pictures he remembered hiding them from Justin about 19 years ago. 

John harvested about 20 pounds of carrots from the garden so I decided to make carrot souffle and a carrot cake. This shiny, new, sharp peeler made the chore a delight. 

You have also provided me with plenty of opportunities for moments of happiness. Sarah shared her cheerful blossoming sunflower; Carole managed to make me laugh at the impending sense of doom so many of us are feeling; I love the photo that Kat shared of Vivi and her chicken's first egg, and Kym gives us hope and poetry on Fridays. 

So, thank you. For reading what I write, for commenting, for providing friendship, support, inspiration, and so much more. I appreciate all of you and the welcoming blogging community, and I'm grateful for all of the bright spots. If you have any bright spots of your own to share, I'd love to hear about them!

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Poetry on Thursday

Today's poem is one that I've had in the back of my mind since I got an anxious phone call from Ryan on Monday (the emergency I referred to yesterday). He was in a panic, which kind of sent me into panic mode. We had talked before about the Cameron Peak Fire burning near Fort Collins CO since August 13th, but it grew explosively over the weekend (20,000 to 103,000 acres), and the eastward movement closer to his house and mandatory evacuations really worried him. Ryan moved to CO in 2013, after the nearby High Park Fire, and being from the east neither one of us have much fire experience. The apocalyptic-looking sky, falling ash, and daytime darkness from smoke didn't help, and it also doesn't help that he lives by himself. His first instinct was to get on a plane and fly back east, but we've been avoiding that due to virus concerns. Ryan had an accident just about a year ago driving back from Wyoming in a snowstorm. He flipped his car, totaled it, and mangled up his arm, so he is still a bit wary of driving in the snow if he doesn't have to. Long story short, we talked on the phone four different times on Monday and decided that he needed to pack a bag and gas up his car, stay where he was and wait to see what happened when predicted rain and snow arrived, drive south towards Denver if he truly felt unsafe in Fort Collins and stay at a hotel near the airport, and get a flight back east only if it seemed absolutely necessary. Ultimately he decided to stay home and for now, that looks like it was the right decision. He felt much better when he heard the Larimer County sheriff say during the Monday evening fire update that he didn't envision evacuations for Fort Collins or Loveland in the next 48-72 hours. 

Both of us have been watching the morning and evening fire updates and it looks like the precipitation and cooler temps have helped park the fire temporarily, but the estimated containment date is not until Saturday, October 31st. There will be warmer temps by the end of this week and presumably lower relative humidities and more fire activity. It's possible that Ryan and I both over-reacted, but now we have a plan for the future that feels like it balances fire and virus safety. (Many thanks to Eileen who offered me calm and reassuring words, based on her previous fire experience!)

This is not the only fire in CO, nor the only fire in the west. There are far too many fires as you can see from the Inciweb map, and they are all causing uncertainty, suffering, loss, and devastation. Fire season is a reality of life in the west, made worse by global warming and lack of resources. 

This is a photo of Horsetooth Reservoir in Fort Collins around noon on Monday. Snow moved in late Monday so you can see why I had fire and ice on my mind.

Fire and Ice
Robert Frost

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.

Frost, Robert. December 1920. "Fire and Ice", A Group of Poems by Robert Frost. Harper's Magazine. p. 67.
You can read more about Robert Frost here

I wish you mindfulness, peace, safety, and some poetry as this week winds down.

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Unraveled Wednesday

Joining Kat and friends for Unraveled Wednesday, with a finish and a start. On Saturday I finished the baby blanket, washed it. and dried it on the line. 

My search for a better photo location was easy as my blossom-laden autumn clematis is just behind my clothesline. It was buzzing with bees but I draped the blanket over the blossoms and quickly snapped a picture. The bees graciously allowed the photo and went back to their pollen-gathering.

The post office was already closed so I thought maybe I could knit a couple pairs of baby socks quickly and include them in the package. In an email to my SiL I said I should be able to knit a sock in a day, and maybe even a pair. An emergency (everyone is currently okay) and everyday chores intruded and as usual, my imaginary knitting is much faster than my knitting in real life. 

Things have calmed down a little bit, and since I left the blanket in NJ, I'm going to see what I can get done before I mail the package on Saturday. Hopefully, it will be at least a pair!

I haven't done much reading, and am still listening to The Boy in the Field and The Patron Saint of Pregnant Girls. I've also got our Read With Us book, The Women of Brewster Place, on my Kindle and am anxious to start. It seems that many of you are also excited about this book, and we appreciate that!

What are you making and reading this week?

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Read With Us: It's A New Book!

Have you been anxiously awaiting our new Read With Us book? Today is the day you get to find out what it is!

Kym discovered this list of 100 Best Books by Black Female Authors and suggested that it might be a good idea for us to choose something from it. You can also access the list here on Goodreads which I think is handy because you can click through to the included books.

"The result is a list of 100 masterworks, spanning 160 years of African American women’s literature, divided into sections from pre-emancipation to the present, including fiction and nonfiction, novels, plays, anthologies, and poetry collections and ranging in subject matter from the historical to the personal (and sometimes both at once). Taken together, the works don’t just make up a novel canon; they form a revealing mosaic of the Black American experience during the time period. They’re also just great reads."

Because the list is so extensive it took some time to choose just one. We felt that many people have already read the well-known writers like Alice Walker and Toni Morrison, and thought that people participating in Read With Us seemed to prefer fiction/novels. After winnowing down the choices, we all agreed upon The Women of Brewster Place by Gloria Naylor. 

Published in 1982, The Women of Brewster Place is a series of interconnected stories about exactly what the title proclaims, women who live in Brewster Place, an urban housing development. Winning the National Book Award for First Novel in 1983, this novel portrays the courage, the fear, strength, struggles, and the anguish of some of the women who hold their families together, trying to make a home.

I have had a little trouble getting this book from any of the four libraries I borrow from, but hopefully, that won't be the case for you. The book is available for Kindle for only $2.99, so it is now on my Kindle and I'm anxious to begin reading. We'll each be promoting the book beginning in early October, with the discussion to follow in November, so you do have lots of time to find a copy. I love interconnected stories and look forward to reading the stories of The Women of Brewster Place, and hope you'll join Kym, Carole, and I and Read With Us!

Thursday, September 3, 2020

Poetry on Thursday

Today's poem was authored by a prolific and well-known poet, E.E. Cummings. His eccentric use of punctuation, grammar, and form redefined poetry in the 1920s and still does. In a "non-lecture" at Harvard, he said, “So far as I am concerned, poetry and every other art was, is, and forever will be strictly and distinctly a question of individuality.” I wholeheartedly agree.

You Are Tired (I Think)
E.E. Cummings

You are tired,
(I think)
Of the always puzzle of living and doing;
And so am I.

Come with me, then,
And we'll leave it far and far away—
(Only you and I, understand!)

You have played,
(I think)
And broke the toys you were fondest of,
And are a little tired now;
Tired of things that break, and—
Just tired.
So am I.

But I come with a dream in my eyes tonight,
And knock with a rose at the hopeless gate of your heart—
Open to me!
For I will show you the places Nobody knows,
And, if you like,
The perfect places of Sleep.

Ah, come with me!
I'll blow you that wonderful bubble, the moon,
That floats forever and a day;
I'll sing you the jacinth song
Of the probable stars;
I will attempt the unstartled steppes of dream,
Until I find the Only Flower,
Which shall keep (I think) your little heart
While the moon comes out of the sea.

"You Are Tired" by E.E. Cummings. E.E. Cummings: Complete Poems 1904-1962. Liveright (July 12, 2016).
You can read more about E. E. Cummings here.

I wish you mindfulness, peace, ease, sleep, and some poetry as this week winds down.

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Unraveled Wednesday

Joining Kat and friends for Unraveled Wednesday, with some knitting and more knitting on the baby blanket. It's tough to get a decent picture of the whole thing. My default clothesline photo wasn't possible because it was raining, but this will do. 

My nephew's wife has two or three more weeks to go but I'd like to get this finished and sent off to Albany. I hate to trust the post office when I send hand-knits, but I guess I'll have to. I can insure the blanket itself, but the post office can't really compensate me for my time. Maybe I'll even have time to knit some booties or baby socks. Since they live in Albany I know it will be cold enough this winter for baby Lucien to need some woolly foot warmers.

This was a stellar week in reading. I finished Hamnet by Maggie O'Farrell and I'm convinced it may be the best book I read this year. My review is here if you are interested and want to decide if this might be for you. I highly, highly recommend the book. 

I always seem to enter into a slight "book depression" after I finish a wonderful book, wondering if the next one can ever measure up. I looked at lots of lists and was lucky enough to be able to download two new possibilities from the library: The Boy in the Field by Margot Livesey and The Patron Saint of Pregnant Girls by Ursula Hegi. The Boy in the Field is keeping me good company while I knit, knit, knit on the baby blanket

What are you making and reading this week?

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Right Now - Numbers in September

The first of September seems like a good time to write about what's going on in my world right now, telling the stories with numbers.

> 6 million - The number of Covid-19 cases in the United States. I have trouble comprehending a number that large, but it's about 30 times the distance from the Earth to the Moon, or 250 times the circumference of the Earth. 

>183,000 - The number of deaths due to coronavirus in the US. This far-too-large number is about 65 times the distance from LA to NY, 35,000 times as tall as Mount Everest, or just shy of the population of Tallahassee, FL. Even with some comparisons for perspective, it's still incomprehensible and far, far too many. 

63 - The number of days until Election Day.

2 - How many tacos I ate yesterday, also the number of ice cream sandwiches I consumed.

30 - The current length (in inches) of the baby blanket that I'm knitting, on my way to 40 inches or so.

3 - Movies I watched this weekend while knitting. (The Peanut Butter Falcon, Steel Magnolias, and The Natural).

1 - How many books I've finished recently. (Hamnet and I think it's most likely the best book I'll read all year.)

2 - Books I've started in the past day (The Boy in the Field and The Patron Saint of Pregnant Girls). Will either of them measure up to Hamnet? That remains to be seen. 

4.5 - Hours I've spent mowing lawns over the past few days.

5 - Loads of laundry completed over the weekend.

9 - New bugs to catch in Animal Crossing beginning today, there are also 7 new or returning fish. 

4 - How many farming implements we purchased recently. Farmer John is now the proud owner of a new-to-him tractor, brush hog, tiller, and cone spreader. I'm happy he'll have something to do when he retires as he begins to plant food plots on several acres of his great-grandparents' farm. 

Eleventy billion - This is how many acorns our two oak trees have dropped already, resulting in approximately the same number of squirrels cavorting through the yard. 

8 - The number of masks I've cut out and am ready to sew. This really means 32 pieces. 

Unknown number - How many days it will take me to actually sew those masks. 

1 - The number of my adorable great-nephews that started kindergarten yesterday. 

What numbers are showing up in your world right now?