Friday, December 31, 2021

Poetry for the End of the Year

I've been wondering how to mark the end of 2021, and this poem seemed to express what I had in mind.

In Any Event
by Dorianne Laux

If we are fractured
we are fractured
like stars
bred to shine
in every direction,
through any dimension,
billions of years
since and hence.

I shall not lament
the human, not yet.
There is something
more to come, our hearts
a gold mine
not yet plumbed,
an uncharted sea.

Nothing is gone forever.
If we came from dust
and will return to dust
then we can find our way
into anything.

What we are capable of
is not yet known,
and I praise us now,
in advance.


You can read more about the poet here.
Laux, Dorianne. "In Any Event." How to Love the World, edited by James Crews, Storey Publishing, 2021, p. 10.
May your New Year be filled with peace, mindfulness, good health, and the promise of more to come, along with some poetry as this year winds down. 

Thursday, December 30, 2021


I've been thinking all week about the highs and lows this year. Some are obvious - we're still in the pandemic but we now have vaccines, the former president is no longer in office but things are just as divided politically, and just yesterday I heard arguments for both sides about Bernie Sanders at Joe Biden's inauguration. He might have looked like a cold and grumpy old man, but by selling merchandise with this photo on it, he raised nearly 2 million dollars for charities in Vermont. There are times that I am cold and grumpy, but I have yet to benefit any charities by being a grumpy, old woman.

I've also been considering my personal highs and lows of 2021. I looked through old blog posts and made several lists but finally decided that just one of each stood out. 

We lost my 33-year-old nephew in May of this year due to an overdose. He had gone to rehab and been clean for three years, but some issues were just too large to overcome. His death has profoundly changed my sister's life and affected our whole family. I'm trying to learn the most helpful things to do and say for my sister. I'm also learning that there isn't much you can do or say that will make things any better when a parent loses a child, all you can do is be present and offer support, acceptance, and love.

The high point that stood out was finally being able to help Ryan move back from Colorado. We tried to do this in 2020, but it was fraught with innumerable difficulties, and none of us felt safe selling his house or traveling to move him before we were all able to be fully vaccinated in 2021. The housing market was crazy but we were able to buy a house here in the east because his house in CO had appreciated quite a bit. We were lucky enough to find him a nice house in a good location, and after packing, driving back from CO, getting his stuff unloaded into a storage facility while he lived with us for a month, we were finally able to move his stuff into his new house. It was only a couple of weeks later that he had a flooded basement after receiving 11 inches of rain from Hurricane Ida, but we helped out with multiple Shop Vacs and dehumidifiers. John has been showing Ryan how to do some electrical and plumbing work, and our exciting New Year's Eve plans include replacing the wax seal, flange, and bolts on one of his toilets. Excitement abounds!

The low this year was so very low and the high point was so good that it makes 2021 feel like a very manic-depressive year to me. What were some of your own highs and lows this year? My wishes for 2022 include health, happiness, safety, time spent in nature, creativity, and life lived on a bit more of an even keel. 

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Unraveled Wednesday

I'm joining Kat and the Unravelers for our last Unraveled Wednesday of 2021. First of all, I'd like to express a big thank you to Kat for hosting Unraveled Wednesday. It feels like an anchoring spot for me in blogging; even if I can't think of anything else to say, I can almost always come up with a post about what I'm knitting and reading once a week. I like writing these Unraveled Wednesday posts, and I especially like reading others' posts about what they are making and reading. So thank you, Kat, and I look forward to more Unraveled Wednesdays in 2022. 

While this is Unraveled Wednesday, it's also serving as What I Knit in 2021. I am not the most prolific knitter, but I managed to finish nine projects. 

These included a hat I knit for myself in January, a Sockhead cowl, a pair of socks, three Hitchhikers, and three Christmas Bankhead hats. 

This is certainly not an overwhelming number of finished objects, but I'm also happy that after three decades, I'm finally knitting a sweater. Now that I'm done with the Christmas Bankheads, I've returned to my Antler cardigan. The pandemic has taught me not to make any absolute promises, but I do fully intend to complete this sweater in the first few months of the New Year. It's even beginning to look a lot more like a sweater.

I talked about books quite a bit yesterday, so I won't ramble on about them anymore today. I do hope 2021 has been a satisfying year for you in knitting.

What are you making this week (or this year)?

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

2021 Reading in Review

It's difficult to look at a book-related website without seeing some sort of "Best Books of 2021" list. It's no different here today; I'm writing about some of the best books I read this year. In no particular order, here are a few of my favorites. These may not be the "absolute best books" (whatever that might mean) but for different reasons, I enjoyed each of them immensely. (The links will take you to Goodreads.)

Shuggie Bain  - I read this in May of 2021 after we chose it for Read With Us. I was a little concerned that it might be a difficult book to read because of the pain, sorrow, poverty, shame, and alcoholism, but there is also love, vulnerability, and perseverance contained within its pages. Months later I find myself still thinking about it several times a month. It was a remarkable book and one that I will re-read someday. 

Oh William! - This is Elizabeth Strout's third book in her Lucy Barton series, and I think it is one of her best. I've loved almost everything she has written, but especially this one where Lucy tells us about her ongoing and complex relationship with William, her first husband, their daughters, her career, and her childhood. 

Unsettled Ground - This was also a Read With Us selection, and the reason I put this one on the list is that it illustrated for me the importance of discussing a book and what I could learn from others through the discussion. Claire Fuller writes about people on the fringes of society and talking about this book helped me understand (and appreciate) some of the characters' actions.

What Strange Paradise - While this one was not enjoyable in the usual sense of the word, it was a great book because it provided me with a harsh but necessary look at the global refugee crisis through the eyes of children. Omar El Akkad has written the stories of the people involved, including the fear, suffering, risks, along with kindness and hope in a way that I won't soon forget.

The Five Wounds - I was surprised to find that I enjoyed a book in which so many of the characters are selfish and careless, but they are also realistically human and fiercely loving. Honesty, religion, faith, flaws, humanity (and windshield repair) - Kirstin Valdez Quade has written it all in stellar form in The Five Wounds. It's hard to believe that this is her debut novel, and I will gladly read anything else she writes. 

These Precious DaysWhile I've enjoyed several of Ann Patchett's novels (especially The Dutch House), I think I like her essays even more. This is the Story of a Happy Marriage was her first stellar collection, and These Precious Days is even better. 

The Tidal Zone - This book was my third Sarah Moss novel, and it was so good that I still want more. It's the story of Adam, a stay-at-home dad, and his family. One day Adam receives a phone call that his 15-year-old daughter, Miriam, has collapsed at school, and things unfold from there. I love Moss' language, intelligence, and extraordinary writing about the mundane and not-so-mundane.

Empire of Pain - This nonfiction book is horrifying, yet wonderfully researched and written history of the Sackler family. If that name isn't familiar to you, just think of the family as a group of ambitious, driven yet ruthless members who should be held accountable for the opioid crisis. The story is complicated and sordid and is still not over. 

Immune - I was delighted to find that this was a "Goldilocks" sort of book for me. Philipp Dettmer has written this with just the right amount of information - not too much to overwhelm and not too little to dumb down the complex immune system. I had a graduate course in immunology decades ago, but this is one of those subjects that has changed and been added to quite a bit in the intervening time. This is a brilliant book for explaining how the immune system works, how vaccines work, what happens when the immune system becomes too active, and so much more information that we all need to understand. 

So what is next in my reading queue? I've started The Sentence and The Lincoln Highway, two highly-rated books to carry me into the New Year. Some of the books that I'm eagerly anticipating have not been published yet, but they are on my tbr list so I can request them asap from the library. 

Why Has Nobody Told Me This Before? by Julie Smith (January 10, 2022)

The Final Case by David Guterson (January 10, 2022)

Lost and Found Kathryn Schulz (January 11, 2022)

Losing Our Minds by Dr. Lucy Foulkes (January 24, 2022)

Toxic Positivity by Whitney Goodman (January 31, 2022)

Life Without Children by Roddy Doyle (February 21, 2022)

and especially this one: Young Mungo by Douglas Stuart. We only have to wait until April 5th! 

If there is anything that you have read this year that you've especially enjoyed, I would love to hear about it in the comments. The same is true for any books you might be looking forward to reading in 2022. Here's to another wonderful year of reading for each of us!

Monday, December 27, 2021

Old Slippers, New Slippers

These are my old slippers. We've always called them "Cabeluggs" because they came from Cabela's and weren't quite Uggs. They are very comfortable, but over time the inner fleece lining has gotten worn and matted, to the point that they are really too big. Justin has been nagging me for a long time to get new ones, telling me that I'm going to trip down the steps someday and how much he hates the slapping, clomping sound they make on the stairs. I knew he was right, but sometimes comfort is hard to give up.

But he finally took matters into his own hands and got me new slippers for Christmas. They are very warm and comfortable, and more importantly, they fit better. No more clomping on the steps, and the soles are not slippery at all. They have cute acorn imprints on the bottom, and they also make me laugh. There is a tag inside that says "faux fur" and each time I put them on I'm reminded of a friend in elementary school that thought it was pronounced "fox". I wasn't sure I wanted to give up my old slippers, but now I'm as quiet as a Ninja in my new slippers. (And what 64-year-old woman doesn't like to feel like a Ninja and comfortable at the same time?!)

Friday, December 24, 2021

Friday Letters

Welcome to Friday Letters, the Christmas Eve edition. I've taken my virtual fountain pen in hand to write a few thank you notes. Let's open the mail ...

Dear G'ma, Mom, and Mrs. Becker

When the kids were young, I often had days where it was hard to feel like I had been a good mother - I yelled too much, got too exasperated, or just wasn't present enough.

I did have occasional moments, like when Ryan was six months old and I finally felt like I was getting a handle on the mother thing. I thought, "I could do this again", then Justin came along. I was thrilled because I also thought, "I know how to raise a boy", but he and Ryan are complete opposites, and I had to learn how to be a mother to a different child. 

It's also tough with grown children. Being a mother is still a big part of who I am, but moments to mother can be difficult to come by, and sometimes it's hard to decide what to do when the moments do occur. Do I say, "You should do this" and offer my unsolicited advice? Are they just venting and maybe it's better if I just listen? How do I know when to get involved and when to step back?

Sometimes, parenting is equal parts patience and persistence. All of this is to say thank you to three strong women who were excellent mothers and provided me with plenty of examples of what I should do (and sometimes what I should not do) as a mother. I look to each of you several times each week and thank you immensely. I'm sorry I didn't say it when you were here to hear it. 


Dear Covid,

You've created havoc, death, and illness throughout the world, and changed us profoundly. I remember getting my first vaccination and thinking it was a miracle. It was, but we still have a long way to go and normal is different.

You've affected me in many negative ways - missing my friends and family and fearing for them daily as many of them are essential healthcare workers or immunocompromised. But dare I say it, you have also brought a positive change or two. Most important to me is a clarification of what is really important. I always knew that family and friends, shopping for yarn, or browsing in the library were vital parts of my life. They still are, but now I think I can honestly say that I will never again take them for granted. When I think of how casually we used to get together to share a meal, a beer, or just a chat, I could almost cry. Now we are vaccinated, boosted, masked, and getting together outdoors at a distance, but you showed me how very crucial these people are in my life. I have finally simplified Christmas because of you, Covid, and while I despise you, I also thank you for the lessons learned.


Dear Readers,

I thank you so very much for taking the time to read what I've written here, and especially for your thoughtful, humorous, and kind comments. I know you're busy, with plenty of things to do, so I appreciate you choosing to spend a few minutes with me here. I've gained so much by blogging, and this would be much less satisfying if I was just writing for myself and not making connections with you.


The Christmas season has made me extra grateful for all that I have. I wish you peace, gratitude, good health, and your family and friends around you (in person or virtually), no matter what you may be celebrating at this time of year. 

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Unraveled Wednesday

I'm joining Kat and the Unravelers for Unraveled Wednesday, but am sparing you yet another photo of my Antler cardigan with some antlers. I haven't knit on the sweater at all this week, but am looking forward to inching closer to joining the sleeves for the yoke next week. Instead, I've been knitting hats. I've done this for at least the past three years - told myself I'm not doing any Christmas knitting, then felt terrible that I haven't expressed love for my family through stitches, chosen a hat pattern, and ended up knitting something warm for them. I've previously knit waffle hats and Rikke, but this year I chose Bankhead (Ravelry link).

It was an easy choice. It's the most popular hat pattern on Ravelry, with more than 10,000 projects, free, and written for five sizes from baby through adult xl. I've enjoyed it enough to knit two in quick succession, with the third in progress. I may even make a fourth one for myself. I rarely wear hats, but even I might wear this one. 

While hat knitting has been proceeding at full speed, reading has slowed down. I finished a library book, What Just Happened, and am almost done with another one, Small Things Like These. What Just Happened is a memoir of the pandemic by Charles Finch. Many of the reviews speak about how humorous it is, but I found it to be more poignant. Beginning on March 11, 2020, with "It now seems inevitable that in certain places where the virus is spreading, people will have to quarantine for a week or two", the author continues his diary through December of 2020. He marks the milestones of numbers of deaths, with 200,000 on September 21, and here we are 15 months later with an almost unimaginable 805,000 people dead in the US. It was well-written, but I think I will need to wait for a long time before I read another pandemic memoir. 

But Small Things Like These is providing the perfect antidote to pandemic nonfiction. A novella by Claire Keegan, it is set in cold and wintry Ireland in 1985, with Bill Furlong asking himself important life questions after an encounter at a Magdalen laundry while delivering coal. The writing is exquisite and I don't want the book to end. I know I'll be thinking about it long after I finish. 

What are you making and reading this week?

Monday, December 20, 2021

Sometimes Monday ...

 ... finds you without much to say. 

I've wracked my brain and just haven't been able to think of anything of consequence that might be even remotely interesting. We hung pictures at Ryan's house on Saturday and it finally looks like a real home? I have cleaned out the freezers and am enjoying being able to find things? (Elk burgers for dinner tonight!) I've decorated as much as I want to, bought as many gifts as I want to, but haven't baked at all? I've finished knitting a hat, am 17 rows away from completing the second one, and hope to have time for a third one? 

There you have it - almost everything that is going on in my life right now. But that's okay, I'll take calm and peaceful over a holiday frenzy any time. 

Because I think blog posts are always improved with a nice photo or two, I'll leave you with a sunrise and sunset from last week. They were both dramatic, and the red sky at morning did herald some high wind warnings. I hope your skies are lovely and calm and peace are prevalent in your world. 

Thursday, December 16, 2021

Bits & Pieces

Once again I've got a collection of single photos in my Miscellaneous file, along with an update. It's time to share these bits and pieces. 

Packing up the MD house has begun. I took a load of stuff to Goodwill before, and packed these boxes with things from the kitchen that I don't think I'll need between now and February. I brought them home to NJ and promptly unpacked them. There has also been a trip to Goodwill with things from the NJ house. We've spoken to the real estate agent and will probably list the house in early to mid-January. It will be interesting to see how this turns out, and there will LOTS more packing. At least I can reuse the boxes from Ryan's move.

I made a pheasant pie over the weekend. I was looking through a game cookbook, saw a recipe for pheasant pie, and mentioned that I had never tasted pheasant. Jess (Justin's girlfriend) said that she had pheasants in the freezer and I was welcome to them as long as I prepared them when she was here for dinner. My thoughts: it's a lot of work for something that tastes a lot like turkey. You have to boil the pheasants, pick all the meat off while you check for shot and bones, then prepare the filling, and put the pie together. It was a labor-intensive dinner. I didn't have any pheasant cutters, just turkeys, but I don't think that's why it tasted like turkey.

I don't know what these clouds are called, but they were interesting enough for me to take a picture. There is a book called A Cloud a Day that I told John would make a fine Christmas present for me. I don't know that he has ever listened to suggestions even when he has asked me what I want, but I think I might get this book for myself if someone else doesn't get it for me. 

Ryan and I had a celebratory lunch last weekend at Braveheart Highland Pub. As you might guess from the name, much of the menu is Scottish. For several reasons, it's taken him a couple of months to get his car registered in PA, but he was finally able to get it done. This seemed like a reason for a celebration, so we did. You can see the one remaining piece of the corned beef and cabbage spring roll appetizer (it was very good) and Ryan's bridies. Bridies are flaky pastries filled with minced steak and sometimes onions. We could think of a couple of improvements, so I've looked up some recipes and will be trying them at home in the next couple of weeks. 

In an update to the Tasmanian Devil light-up Christmas decoration I shared on Monday, guess how much they are? I had never seen one before, so I looked on eBay to see what I could find and was a little surprised completely astounded by the price. Apparently, they are rare, desirable, and expensive. 

There is even a guy selling replacement antlers in case yours might be missing or broken. I had no idea!

What kind of bits and pieces do you have going on in your life?

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Unraveled Wednesday

I'm joining Kat and the Unravelers for Unraveled Wednesday, with a little more progress on the body of my Antler cardigan. I've got about 16 inches knit so far, so only three more inches before I join the sleeves and the body for the yoke. Exciting times!

Because I'm a fickle knitter and mainly because my kids are more important than selfishly knitting socks for myself, I've abandoned the Christmas socks from last week to work on a couple of hats. I cast on Bankhead (Ravelry link) yesterday, and I hope to finish this hat in a few days and cast on another one. The boys have both said they don't really need me to knit anything for them, but it just doesn't feel like Christmas to me unless I make something for them. Almost everyone can use another hat. 

But first, I had a little unraveling to do. About five years ago, Ryan wanted me to teach him how to knit. I cast on, showed him the knit stitch, and handed the yarn and needles over to him. He was imagining a relaxing experience, but after giving it a good try, it turned out that knitting just made him more anxious. He decided that knitting wasn't for him, and since the yarn was some nice Madeline Tosh Vintage in Tart, he told me to go ahead and unravel it. I felt a little bit bad, so before I unraveled, I preserved his attempt at knitting with a photo for posterity.

Now the yarn looks like this.

This week, I only finished one book, Five Tuesdays in Winter by Lily King. I had looked forward to this collection of short stories for a long time, but I found it to be just average. Too many of these stories made me feel like I had come in during the middle of a conversation, without much context or introduction, and I spent more time than I liked trying to figure out what was going on. And once I did, the story was over too soon, often without a resolution. I gave it three stars, but I didn't like it nearly as much as the last King novel I read, Writers and Lovers

What are you making and reading this week?

Monday, December 13, 2021

Tri-State Holiday Decorations

I've traveled to MD, NJ, and PA over the past week, and everywhere I've gone there have been plenty of holiday decorations. When the kids were little we used to enjoy taking drives to look at Christmas lights in the evening, and I miss that. So I've been making a point out of looking for holiday decorations and taking pictures of some of the more interesting and original ones. I've shared these with my kids and now I'd like to share them with you. 

I'm truly not passing judgment on any of these or making fun of them. Many are not my taste, but I have not been appointed as Chief of the Holiday Police, nor am I the arbiter of good taste in Christmas decor. Don't forget, I am a person who once put an artificial, three-foot Christmas tree on a Corona beer box. To each his own!

I have never, ever seen a Christmas Tasmanian Devil, and this might be a first for you, too. He prompted quite a bit of discussion in our family. Ryan wondered why he seemed to be on some sort of toilet, but we decided that the white bit at the bottom might represent snow. I thought those yellow things protruding from his hat were supposed to be antlers, but John said they were sticks. I'm not sure that antlers or sticks make a lot of sense, and none of us understand why he is pointing at the viewer. 

I had to Google this one to fully understand it. During the day, it is simply an inflatable, spherical, white Mickey Mouse, but he's completely blank and without a face. I wondered if it was backward but I didn't feel comfortable wandering into their yard to check it out. But ... "the eight-foot-tall inflatable is actually a screen on which a projector displays precious and pixie-dusted holiday scenes." The Disney Fashionista website uses lots of exclamation points to explain that "projections utilize every part of the snow globe, including the ears, base, and hat!  It’s like having a mini Disney Parks light show right in your own yard!" It also comes with "heavy-duty lawn steaks" so who could resist?

This small army of toy soldiers, snowmen, Mr. & Mrs. Santa Claus, with a few reindeer is installed just down the street in NJ. I've always wondered how they store so many figures in a small house, and they seem to add a few more every year.

I'm not an electrician, but I'm pretty sure that it's not safe to use multiple extension cords rated for indoor use by wrapping them in a plastic bag and securing them with regular Scotch tape. (Every connection for all the figures above was made this way!) Luckily the firehouse is just two blocks away just in case. 

In case natural decorations are more your style, I present Rudolph and the equally weathered and aged skull of one of his family members. I don't think there is anything else I can even say about this interesting tableau. 

So how about you? Do you display any delightful, intriguing, or unique decorations yourself or have you seen any in your neighborhood? I'd love to hear about them!

Friday, December 10, 2021

Museum of Me: Favorite "Somethings" From the Holidays

The Museum of Me staff has been hard at work on this month's installation. As you might expect it's A Favorite "Something" from the Holidays. 

Many of my favorite holiday somethings are ornaments. I always thought this was true, but I proved it several years ago with the lengths that I was willing to go to display some of our ornaments. Ryan, Justin, and I had always gotten the tree together, and it was a fun and easy activity. The boys joked around, carried the tree, we were able to throw it in the back of Justin's truck, and then they helped to put it in the tree stand and bring it in the house. In 2018, Justin was in Texas, Ryan was in Colorado, and John viewed getting a tree as an odious task that he had no interest in. I wanted some sort of tree, so I resorted to setting up a three-foot artificial tree that Justin used to have in his room when he was in middle school. It looked small and insignificant, so I ended up placing it on an empty Corona beer box to make it a little taller. I hid the Corona box (sort of) with our traditional tree skirt, but it still looked like a small, sparse artificial tree on a Corona box. I wish I had a picture of it, but it's slightly embarrassing to even recount this, and it might be even more so if I shared a photo. It was about as bad as you are imagining.

So in 2019, I bought an artificial tree from Balsam Hill, and have been happy with it. It's not nearly as much fun as getting a tree with Ryan and Justin, but it looks nice, I can set it up by myself, and it has plenty of space for all my favorite ornaments. I haven't set the tree up yet this year (maybe this weekend), so on your visit to the Museum today you'll see two of my all-time favorite ornaments featured by themselves on a little Norfolk Island pine. (The Museum staff was specifically instructed not to place this little tree on a Corona beer box.)

The first piece in the holiday favorites is an angel that I've had since I was 5. Our church had a children's candlelight service, and all the kids in the congregation got to choose an ornament from the tree that stood next to the nativity. I remember considering very carefully which ornament was the best one and taking a lot of time. It may have been an attempt to move things along, but the minister came over, plucked this one off the tree, and said it looked just like me so it was clearly mine. I felt so special, so this ornament has always been special to me. The tinsel is tarnished and flaking off, but I can still recall a bit of that special feeling when I hang it on the tree. 

I couldn't decide between these two treasured ornaments, so the staff and I set both of them up for exhibit this month in the Museum. When I was in first grade, my teacher instructed all of us to make an ornament for homework, and then we would bring them in for our classroom tree. I wanted to make the most beautiful ornament but had no idea what it should look like or how to begin. Many times, my mother and I just weren't on the same wavelength, but this time she totally understood what I wanted. 

We dyed an egg pink (my favorite color when I was six) and then my mother blew it out. I was amazed that she could do this and sure it would break, but my mother assured me we could do it. We added glitter, holly leaves cut out of felt, and sequins for berries. For extra sparkle, we glued on rhinestones. 

I knew it was perfect when we finished it, and I remember it as being the most beautiful ornament on the first-grade tree. It's a marvel that it didn't get broken on the bus taking it to and from school, and even more of a miracle that it has lasted 58 years. Every year when I get it out I expect it to be cracked or broken, but so far it's remained whole. It's a bit of a Christmas miracle and one of the best remembrances I have of my mother. 

Be sure to visit Kym today for her new exhibit, and several other bloggers may also be participating. The Museum exhibits will be changed monthly on the second Friday of the month, so please stop by again in January for the next carefully curated installation. (The gift shop is on the right on your way out!)

Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Unraveled Wednesday

I'm joining Kat and the Unravelers for Unraveled Wednesday, with a few more inches done on the body of my Antler cardigan. I've got almost 12 inches knit so far, and with a bigger cardigan, I had to get some bigger antlers to take a picture. 

I also started another project - Christmas socks. Eight years ago after Ryan had moved to CO and wouldn't be home for Christmas, I was feeling a bit sad. As I sometimes do when I feel like that, I decided to peruse The Loopy Ewe's website. I came upon some Fibernymph Dyeworks yarn in a colorway called Home for Christmas. If one skein would make me feel better, then four skeins might make me feel really good. That's how I came to have four skeins of this lovely yarn that has been sitting in my stash for eight years. 

I grabbed a skein of this yarn minutes before we left to drive down to MD along with some needles. I wound it into a ball while John drove and I cast on Sunday night. I had a lovely Christmasy moment yesterday, knitting on my Home for Christmas socks, watching Die Hard (it might actually be a Christmas movie and Alan Rickman is a marvelous villain), while the plumber fixing the leaky water main shutoff valve in the basement sang Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree. I couldn't have asked for a better way to get some Christmas spirit!

I read some good books last week. There was a re-read of This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage (essays by Ann Patchett), Wish You Were Here (a pandemic novel authored by Jodi Picoult), and The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane (a YA novel that was highly recommended by Ann Patchett in her essay "Reading Kate DiCamillo"). Happy Marriage was just as good the second time, and Wish You Were Here had an interesting twist that made it different than just a rehash of what we've been going through. The real star for me was Edward Tulane. Even though it's a YA novel and a story about a china rabbit named Edward Tulane, it's not too childish or sentimental. It is a unique and interesting story that kept me reading to see what happened to Edward next in his journey, written with beautiful prose. I listened to the audio version, but will be reading the hardcover so I can appreciate the beautiful illustrations (and enjoy it for a second time). 

What are you making and reading this week?

Monday, December 6, 2021

Get Out!

Lately, my head has felt full of winter and Christmas. Once I turned the calendar page to December, it felt like winter was here, even though the season wouldn't technically change until the winter solstice on December 21st. Last year my extended family wasn't able to get together and exchange gifts due to covid, but we promised ourselves that we would hold a big summer gathering. Sadly, that didn't happen as we were in varying stages of vaccination during the summer months. We had planned Cookie Day on December 4th, but that would have meant that 19-21 people would be gathering indoors, and among those people are a family practice physician and a nurse practitioner who are exposed to covid-positive and non-vaccinated patients every day, two people with severely compromised immune systems, along with at least seven non-immunized children. We hated to do it, but we canceled cookie day. Keeping everyone safe is more important than a few cookies, and no one wanted to be in the awful position of possibly exposing someone vulnerable to the virus. 

Since we didn't get to exchange gifts in person last year, many of us got lulled into inaction this year. Several people assumed we weren't going to exchange gifts again this year, some people were busy asking for gift ideas and making their lists, and some of us are non-confrontational enough that we didn't even know how to approach the conversation about gifts. But after a lot of texts, emails, and phone calls, we've got everybody on the same page, and we've decided not to exchange gifts. Most of us have everything we need and more, and everyone finally got to the same place and decided that giving gifts just for the sake of it being the socially accepted thing to do on December 25th was just not something we needed to do. I can't tell you what a relief this has been to me. I don't like to shop, and even though I love these people, that doesn't mean I knew what they might need and/or want. To celebrate my immense relief, I went out for a wonderful long walk.

Even though my mind has been full of winter and Christmas, it's still fall and it's lovely out there!

It's a different kind of beauty than the vernal green of spring or the lush blossoms of summer, but fall definitely has its own type of spare elegance. I was feeling a bit overwhelmed with too much thinking and worry about Christmas. Next time something like this happens, I hope I remember to get out into nature and ground myself. I hope you had a chance to do something similar this weekend. 

Friday, December 3, 2021

Friday Letters


Today I take my virtual fountain pen in hand to write about a disappointment, an update, a note to myself, and an opinion. Let's open the mail ...

Dear Cupcake,

John went to work for a big staff meeting this week. It was billed as an important one, where lots of necessary information would be shared (it was not). He attended the meeting from his office via Microsoft Teams, as did most of the other staff members. This seemed silly to me, as this could have been done just as easily from home, but then he wouldn't have been able to bring me a cupcake. 

When the meeting was over, the manager announced that there were cupcakes in the break room. John heard what sounded like a stampede in the hall, so he cautiously went to the break room to see what was up. When the feeding frenzy was over, there were a few cupcakes left, and he was kind enough to bring one home for me. 

It looked delicious, enclosed in its own special package, and I resisted gobbling it down right away. I thought about eating it for breakfast the next day but decided to wait until after dinner. The smell of chocolate was powerful when I opened the package, and I reverently removed it from its container, expecting deliciousness. But ... after the first bite, all I tasted was disappointment. The second and third bites were the same, then I asked John to taste it. We were both surprised to find that it had little to no taste. The whipped cream was a little sweet, but that was it. Sorry cupcake, but just like the meeting, you were all style, no substance, and quite a disappointment.


Dear Whirlpool,

You may remember this picture from a few weeks ago, the dryer whose drum would not turn due to a broken belt. Now it looks like this.

You may not be able to tell from the picture but it's fixed. I would have taken photos during the repair, but I was holding the flashlight with one hand and the dryer drum with the other. John said it would be a simple 10-minute, job, and he was almost right. It actually took 25 minutes, but no swear words were uttered or even necessary. I call that a win!


Dear Bonny,

I know you've started going through closets and cupboards in MD, making a pile of things to take to Goodwill. Remember this picture in the future! When you see bed steps at a yard sale for $5 and think they are cute, just walk away. When you find an abandoned Spiderman fishing pole along the stream, leave it there. Most importantly, when you think "I could use a new shirt/pair of pants/jacket" remember that garbage bag full of clothes that you longer need. It's a small house but you've still managed to collect far too much stuff in it.


To the Supreme Court,

Please make the right decision. Roe has been the law for 48 years, so uphold precedent and remember that all women deserve legal access to every aspect of healthcare.


I wish you a lovely weekend with good-tasting cupcakes, appliances working as they should, your extra stuff cleaned out, and good decisions.