Thursday, April 15, 2021

New Beginnings

Hello and welcome to this week's poetry post and New Beginnings. Sometimes a poem suggests itself to me immediately, and other times I search and search but nothing seems quite right. And then there are the times when a friend sends you the perfect one. That is what happened this week when thoughtful commenter Becky forwarded 7 Poems to Read This Spring from The Atlantic. (If you think I'm including the link as a way to give you seven poems in one post, you might be right.) 

Kym said she was thinking about spring, but I especially love this poem because to me it includes many types of New Beginnings — spring, the end of an awful winter, maybe some hope as more people get vaccinated and we can meet for coffee (or at the ice cream truck), and my fervent hope for New Beginnings for all of us with someone, somehow.


Uptown, Minneapolis, Minnesota
by Hieu Minh Nguyen

Even though it’s May & the ice cream truck
parked outside my apartment is somehow certain,
I have a hard time believing winter is somehow,
all of a sudden, over — the worst one of my life,
the woman at the bank tells me. Though I’d like to be,
it’s impossible to be prepared for everything.
Even the mundane hum of my phone catches me
off guard today. Every voice that says my name
is a voice I don’t think I could possibly leave
(it’s unfair to not ask for the things you need)
even though I think about it often, even though
leaving is a train headed somewhere I’d probably hate.
Crossing Lyndale to meet a friend for coffee
I have to maneuver around a hearse that pulled too far
into the crosswalk. It’s empty. Perhaps spring is here.
Perhaps it will all be worth it. Even though I knew
even then it was worth it, staying, I mean.
Even now, there is someone, somehow, waiting for me.

From Poetry magazine, December 2018
You can read more about the poet here.

Be sure to visit Kym, Katand Sarah today to read their New Beginnings poems and join us next week for some humor in poetry!

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Unraveled Wednesday

I'm joining Kat and friends for Unraveled Wednesday, with a return to the Nervous Breakdown. After my unraveling of the socks last week, I ended up ordering a couple of skeins of bright Opal colors (pink and green) to use for the cuffs, heels, and toes. They hadn't arrived by the time I drove back to MD, so I've been focusing on this Hitchhiker.


I have a second skein of the Nervous Breakdown yarn, but I'm not sure how well it matches the first one. I found this Hi-Vis Yellow in my stash (I have no memory of buying yarn that bright!), and think I might use it somehow. Stripes, a large block of color, or both? I'll see what I feel like when I get to that point (or I might just ask Ryan what he likes better).

In reading, I finished The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street and The Light of the World. Duchess was not nearly as good as Helene Hanff's preceding book, 84, Charing Cross Road, but I was glad to finish her story. The Light of the World is Elizabeth Alexander's (our poet of the week last week) memoir about her marriage and the sudden death of her husband, and it was equally as good as her poetry. I'm still reading Woodswoman and Shuggie Bain, and equally immersed in each book.

What are you knitting, reading, and unraveling this week?

Monday, April 12, 2021

Sometimes Monday ...

 ... is a day when I can really begin to see (and believe!) some glimmers of hope. 




John and I both got our second Moderna shots last Wednesday, so I'm very glad and thankful to be fully vaccinated. The side effects kicked my butt on Thursday, but I slept much of the day and felt great on Friday.

Since we are on our way to feeling safer doing things (still masked and socially distanced), we are starting to think about the real possibility of helping Ryan move back east. We've just started to look online at possible places for him, and even though it's early days, it's exciting. In a few weeks we may even venture out with a real estate agent to look at some houses in person. Ryan has had his first shot, will get his second one soon, and is also ready to re-enter life. There are a lot of plans, packing, and driving that will have to occur, but it finally looks like they just might happen.

It's felt a bit like we have been living in suspended animation, waiting for our lives to begin again. I've been a little bit afraid that there might not be much of the life I once loved left when we were able to resume. This is the first time I've felt real hope and can see possible good things in the future, and I hope the same is true for you.


Thursday, April 8, 2021

Poet of the Week

For today's National Poetry month post, we've chosen a "Poet of the Week". There are thousands of poets, and we considered quite a few before we arrived at Elizabeth Alexander

Elizabeth Alexander receiving the W.E.B. Du Bois Medal in 2019.
It is Harvard's highest honor in the field of African and African-American studies.

She was the Inaugural Poet for Barack Obama's Presidential Inauguration in 2009 with "Praise Song for the Day", but that was the only thing I knew about her. Elizabeth Alexander was an accomplished academic and poet long before that, and continues to be an important voice as a poet, educator, writer, and cultural advocate.

Elizabeth Alexander was born in Harlem, but grew up in Washington, D.C., the daughter of former US Secretary of the Army and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission chairman, Clifford Alexander Jr. and Adele Logan Alexander, a professor of African-American women's history at George Washington UniversityI can only imagine the conversations that may have taken place around the family dinner table! Ms. Alexander holds degrees from Yale, Boston University, and the University of Pennsylvania. She is currently the president of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the nation’s largest funder in arts and culture, and humanities in higher education.

She is not only an academic. Her poetry book, American Sublime, was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize and The Light of the World was nominated for the Pulitzer in the Biography/Autobiography category. Ms. Alexander has authored or co-authored 14 books. She writes about what she knows — race, gender, politics, history, and motherhood. I think that she has written something for everyone.

Since this is a celebration of National Poetry Month, I'd like to share one of Elizabeth Alexander's poems. This one is entitled "Race" and it was intriguing to me as soon as I read it. It's a poem about "Great-Uncle Paul" passing as white and the family and wider implications.

Race
Elizabeth Alexander

Sometimes I think about Great-Uncle Paul who left Tuskegee,
Alabama to become a forester in Oregon and in so doing
became fundamentally white for the rest of his life, except
when he traveled without his white wife to visit his siblings—
now in New York, now in Harlem, USA—just as pale-skinned,
as straight-haired, as blue-eyed as Paul, and black. Paul never told anyone
he was white, he just didn’t say that he was black, and who could imagine,
an Oregon forester in 1930 as anything other than white?
The siblings in Harlem each morning ensured
no one confused them for anything other than what they were, black.
They were black! Brown-skinned spouses reduced confusion.
Many others have told, and not told, this tale.
When Paul came East alone he was as they were, their brother.

The poet invents heroic moments where the pale black ancestor stands up
on behalf of the race. The poet imagines Great-Uncle Paul
in cool, sagey groves counting rings in redwood trunks,
imagines pencil markings in a ledger book, classifications,
imagines a sidelong look from an ivory spouse who is learning
her husband’s caesuras. She can see silent spaces
but not what they signify, graphite markings in a forester’s code.

Many others have told, and not told, this tale.
The one time Great-Uncle Paul brought his wife to New York
he asked his siblings not to bring their spouses,
and that is where the story ends: ivory siblings who would not
see their brother without their telltale spouses.
What a strange thing is “race,” and family, stranger still.
Here a poem tells a story, a story about race.

Alexander, Elizabeth. "Race". Antebellum Dream Book, Graywolf Press, 2001

You can read a Poem Guide from the Poetry Foundation here

Be sure to visit Kym, Kat, and Sarah today to read their Elizabeth Alexander poems and join us next week for some poetry about New Beginnings!

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Unraveled Wednesday

I'm joining Kat and friends for Unraveled Wednesday, with some actual unraveling! After finishing the Creamsockles, I wanted to knit some more socks, this time in bright colors. I found those bright colors in Neon Nebula from PK Yarn on etsy. I cast on as soon as it arrived and started knitting happily.


But when I was approaching the end of the cuff ribbing I started to think. Because I used the Twisted German cast on, some of the yarn in the first orange stripe got consumed in casting on. It might have been better to use a coordinating yarn for the cuff, heel, and toes to solve this problem. So I searched my stash and came up with two possibilities.

The orange is probably better suited for socks, but that might mean I should start the leg of the sock with the pink stripe so I don't have too much orange next to each other. I haven't decided yet, partly because I'm not sure what the pink yarn is. So the sock now looks like this:


I'll quit overthinking and decide what to do soon so I'll have something to knit after I get my second vaccine shot this afternoon!

As for reading, I finished The Memory Collectors by Kim Neville and Night Waking by Sarah Moss. I'm taking a short break from reading Sarah Moss before I start Signs for Lost Children because I'm still reading Shuggie Bain (our next Read With Us book in case you missed that announcement). I've also just started a book that sounded perfect for reading just in case I'm suffering from post-vaccine side effects, Woodswoman by Anne LaBastille. It comes highly recommended from two people that I think are excellent judges of outdoor and nature writing, Vera and Jane

What are you knitting, reading, and unraveling this week?

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Read With Us (New Book Edition)

We had a difficult time settling on a new book for Read With Us. Suggestions were made, mulled over, books were read, and we still couldn't arrive at one. But finally, we're ready to announce the new book. 


Ta-Da! It's Shuggie Bain, a debut novel by Douglas Stuart. And as usual, I find the differences between the US and UK covers interesting.


Whichever one you read, Shuggie Bain is the recipient of the 2020 Booker Prize. The blurb on the prize page says, "Laying bare the ruthlessness of poverty, the limits of love, and the hollowness of pride, Shuggie Bain is a blistering and heartbreaking debut, and an exploration of the unsinkable love that only children can have for their damaged parents."

I'll be honest, I resisted reading this book for a long time. I was afraid it would be too depressing, too realistic. Yes, it is both depressing and realistic, but after reading about half of the book, I wonder why I was afraid. Poverty and alcoholism are very real problems now, just as they were in Glasgow in the 1980s in the throes of Margaret Thatcher's policies. I don't know very much about the political background of this time and setting, but I am learning more from this book, just as I'm learning about alcoholism and family dynamics.

We're compressing our normal schedule a little bit, but still allowing plenty of time for obtaining and reading the book. We'll do our usual promotion posts on  April 27, May 4, and May 11, with the blog and Zoom book discussion tentatively scheduled for June 8th. Hopefully you can find the book at your library, obtain a copy through Overdrive or Hoopla, and it's also available on Amazon, Audible, and your local bookstore (if you're lucky enough to have one)! I am reading a real copy from the library, but I'm also alternating my reading with listening to the audiobook. This has proven ideal to get the full flavor of the dialogue and dialect.

I don't know how the story will end or what will happen to Shuggie Bain, but I do know that despite the despair and bleakness, I have been completely engaged in the book. I do hope you'll take a chance with us, resist your fears, and Read Shuggie Bain with Us.

Monday, April 5, 2021

I Before E

 ... except after Y.


This is the newly-painted Contractor Pick Up at our local Home Depot. I'll be interested to see if they leave it this way. :-)

I hope you had a lovely Easter if you celebrate, and a very good weekend no matter what!

Thursday, April 1, 2021

We're Not Fooling!

A little while ago Kym came up with one of her great ideas and asked Kat and I if we were interested in coordinating some poetry posts for National Poetry Month. She thought that since we all post poetry fairly regularly, we could do something together. We've figured out some fun things to do on Thursdays this month, so we hope to provide you with some questions, answers, poets, themes, and of course, poetry.


We're starting National Poetry Month off today with our answers to "Why poetry?" What purposes does poetry serve? Why do we like it and what do we get out of it? 

Those are some deep and personal questions, but I would agree with Robert Frost and extend his quote to include "Reading a poem is discovering." I had the usual exposure to poetry in school. This included memorizing a few lines of well-known poems and learning how to write haiku in elementary school. In high school English we had units on poetry that included endless analysis of poems, and my teachers were most often concerned with their students arriving at the correct answer that was given in the teacher's edition. It was enough to suck any life, joy, or celebration out of the poems we were reading, and it definitely had that effect on me. 

But one day in 2007 I was making the bed and listening to NPR. There was a piece about the Polish poet Wislawa Szymborska in which she read her poem "A Tale Begun". She captured my attention immediately and I stood by the bed, mesmerized and spellbound. This was a poem that seemed to capture many of my own feelings, and she expressed them better than I could myself. That is probably one of the main reasons I enjoy poetry; it can express things I might not have even known I was feeling. It can unite people in feelings, language, and words. Poetry can provide delight, expose us to the unexpected, and show us details of the everyday. Poets give us economy of language, are evocative, and they are sometimes soothing and reassuring. Poetry is a way to express deep emotion, from intense joy to crushing grief. It has provided a meaningful way for me to deal with the pandemic. 

Szymborska won the Nobel prize for literature in 1996. The following is from her acceptance speech where she talks about the astonishment of everyday life:

"Astonishing" is an epithet concealing a logical trap. We're astonished, after all, by things that deviate from some well-known and universally acknowledged norm, from an obviousness we've grown accustomed to. Granted, in daily speech, where we don't stop to consider every word, we all use phrases like "the ordinary world," "ordinary life," "the ordinary course of events." ... But in the language of poetry, where every word is weighed, nothing is usual or normal. Not a single stone and not a single cloud above it. Not a single day and not a single night after it. And above all, not a single existence, not anyone's existence in this world.

Poetry reminds us that our world is astonishing in so many ways.

A Tale Begun
by Wislawa Szymborska

The world is never ready
for the birth of a child.
Our ships are not yet back from Winnland.
We still have to get over the S. Gothard pass.
We've got to outwit the watchmen on the desert of Thor,
fight our way through the sewers to Warsaw's center,
gain access to King Harald the Butterpat,
and wait until the downfall of Minister Fouche.
Only in Acapulco
can we begin anew.
We've run out of bandages,
matches, hydraulic presses, arguments, and water.
We haven't got the trucks, we haven't got the Minghs' support.
This skinny horse won't be enough to bribe the sheriff.
No news so far about the Tartars' captives.
We'll need a warmer cave for winter
and someone who can speak Harari.
We don't know whom to trust in Nineveh,
what conditions the Prince-Cardinal will decree,
which names Beria has still got inside his files.
They say Karol the Hammer strikes tomorrow at dawn.
In this situation let's appease Cheops,
report ourselves of our own free will,
change faiths,
pretend to be friends with the Doge
and say that we've got nothing to do with the Kwabe tribe.
Time to light the fires.
Let's send a cable to grandma in Zabierzow.
Let's untie the knots in the yurt's leather straps.
May delivery be easy,
may our child grow and be well.
Let him be happy from time to time
and leap over abysses.
Let his heart have strength to endure
and his mind be awake and reach far.
But not so far
that it sees into the future.
Spare him
that one gift,
0 heavenly powers.

View with a Grain of Sand, copyright © 1993 by Wislawa Szymborska, English translation by Stanislaw Baranczak and Clare Cavanagh copyright © 1995 by Harcourt, Inc.

===

Be sure to visit Kym and Kat today and read their answers to "Why poetry?" and join us next Thursday for our Poet of the Week!

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Unraveled Wednesday

I'm joining Kat and friends for Unraveled Wednesday, with the return of the second Nervous Breakdown. I enjoyed knitting and finally finishing the Creamsockles enough that I was compelled to immediately order some eye-searingly bright sock yarn. It hasn't arrived yet, and my fingers were itching to get back to knitting a Hitchhiker, so that's what I'm working on. I really enjoy the rhythm of knitting Hitchhikers and the joy that those colorful speckles give me. (They are much brighter up close and in person.)


On the reading front, I finished two books, Broken Ice and The Shallows, which are the second and third installments in the Nils Shapiro mystery series. They are both enjoyable 3.5-4 star books, and there is one more book in the series that I will read eventually. I accidentally left my copy of Night Waking in NJ, but luckily I've had some other reading, the real copy of Shuggie Bain I got from the Elkton library last weekend.  So far I'm finding it a compelling, immersive, beautifully-written book about some ugly (but very real) subjects. 

What are you making and reading this week?

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Fall Back

I'll admit up front that this post is the result of blatant thievery. Carole mentioned last week that she was thinking about ideas for blog posts, came up with the topic of "ask me anything", and invited people to pose questions they were curious about. In the comments Becky asked "What are the fall back recipes you make over and over again? I wish someone would do a post about this so I could get some new ideas. Cooking dinner must happen daily, and variety is not my superpower. I know this is a boring question, but it is something I struggle with daily."

I perked right up when I read that because I experience the same struggle on a daily basis. I thought if I posted some of my own slightly boring and often overused recipes, maybe you would do the same and we could all have a new variety of dishes to answer the eternal question of "what should I make for dinner?" So apologies to Becky and Carole for stealing this, but I'm desperate and tired of making the same things week after week.

I may make this a regular thing, but here are my first five recipes. I make these (or some simplified version of them) probably at least every other week or so. I chose these to start because they come out near the top of what Ryan calls the work/deliciousness ratio. The ideal recipe requires little work but produces something quite delicious, and I think these recipes qualify.

Chicken Pot Pie - I found this recipe a few months ago, have made it several times, and it is delicious. It's not a lot different than most other chicken pot pies, but the filling is made from scratch and I think the heavy cream in it makes it above average. 

Goop Chicken - We call this Goop Chicken because one of the boys once asked me what was in the goop and the name stuck. When a friend first gave me this recipe I thought it sounded slightly revolting. Italian dressing mix, cream cheese, and cream of mushroom soup? But it was something I could easily throw in the crockpot and everyone in our family liked it. That alone made it a worthy recipe. there have been fights at our house about not getting enough goop, so I almost always make it with three cans of mushroom soup, two packages of Italian dressing mix, and 8 oz. of cream cheese. I don't even care about the chicken (I just put chicken breasts in the crockpot and pour the goop mixture over them), I like goop on rice just fine.

Sausages with Peppers and Onions - This is another recipe that is easy to prepare. Just chop up peppers and onions, sear whatever sausages you like and place on top, and cook in the crockpot. Sometimes I use beer if I've got it, but I've also used water or cider and they work equally well.

Bacon Wrapped Cheesesteak Meatloaf - This recipe may look a little fussy, but I make an easier modified version of it. I season hamburger or ground venison, pat it into a rectangle, put provolone in the middle and roll it up. I usually put a few slices of bacon on the outer top, but rarely wrap the meatloaf in "a lovely bacon jacket".

Loaded Shepherd's Pie - Everyone in my family likes shepherd's pie, but one day Ryan said it needed more flavor. This recipe is proof that most things are made better by adding cheese and bacon. 

So there you have it, five of the fallback, foolproof, recipes I use with ideal work/deliciousness ratios. Please, please let me know about one (or more) of your own fallback recipes in the comments and rescue John and my family from eating the same thing night after night!

Monday, March 29, 2021

Sometimes Monday

 ... feels a little bit different than usual. 

The freshly rototilled garden with freshly planted peas.
 It looks like soil and straw now, but use your imagination.

Normally we head home to NJ over the weekend, to check the mail, pay bills, see Justin, clean as necessary, grocery shop as needed, and generally check on the house. This weekend we stayed in MD for several reasons. John wanted to look for shed deer antlers down here and we will probably go home to NJ next Wednesday and be there for a week because we are getting our second vaccine shots. It's also nice not to have to make the four hour round trip to only spend 36 hours in NJ doing chores and fighting traffic on 95.

My blueberry bush is beginning to bud.

I can't remember the last time we spent a weekend here in MD, but I have plenty of knitting and books so I was happy. I took some long walks, cleaned out the flower beds, bought some lavender, supervised John's roto-tilling of the garden, helped him plant peas, and even mowed a little bit (the onion and sedge grass was rampant and needed to be knocked down.) There is still lots of brown in the landscape, but more and more green every day. I got takeout from my favorite place (Central Tavern), made some not-half-bad pulled pork barbecue, and baked some sugar cookies. I even went into the newly re-opened Elkton library and checked out a copy of Shuggie Bain. Nothing terribly exciting or adventurous (although it was thrilling to visit a library in person), but it still felt different from my usual weekends. And in these times, even a slight alteration in the way I do things can feel like quite a change.

I hope your weekend was enjoyable, maybe a little bit different in a good way (hopefully without severe storms and flooding), and your week is off to a good start.

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Poetry on Thursday


In my search for a poem to share today, I couldn't stop thinking about the grocery store shooting in Boulder where ten people were killed on Monday. Ryan and I have talked every day since it happened, as my sweet, pacifist, lonely-because-of-covid son is now even more fearful of going to the grocery store. He's about an hour away from where this happened, and King Soopers is where he does his grocery shopping. Both Ryan and CO governor Jared Polis said “Never ever does it cross your mind that that trip to the grocery store could be your last moments on earth." Except that the danger has been there for years, whether we recognize it or not. You can be shot if you're Black, Asian, asleep in bed, watching a movie, or simply attending school, so grocery stores are not exempt. I simply didn't have the heart to say to Ryan that gun violence is always close.

Boy Shooting at a Statue by Billy Collins

It was late afternoon,

the beginning of winter, a light snow,

and I was the only one in the small park

to witness the lone boy running

in circles around the base of a bronze statue.

I could not read the carved name

of the statesman who loomed above,

one hand on his cold hip,

but as the boy ran, head down

he would point a finger at the statue

and pull an imaginary trigger

imitating the sounds of rapid gunfire.

Evening thickened, the mercury sank,

but the boy kept running in the circle

of his footprints in the snow

shooting blindly into the air.

History will never find a way to end,

I thought, as I left the park by the north gate

and walked slowly home

returning to the station of my desk

where the sheets of paper I wrote on

were like pieces of glass

through which I could see

hundreds of dark birds circling in the sky below.

Collins, Billy. "Boy Shooting at a Statue". Bullets into Bells: Poets and Citizens Respond to Gun Violence, Beacon Press, 2017.

===

From raising two sons, I know that pretend gun play may be part and parcel of being male. Justin once chewed his toast into the shape of a gun, and he used a banana when we took away a toy gun because he was pointing it at his brother. John and I taught them both that you never, ever point a gun at a person, and I wish that was a lesson that everyone could learn.

We all offer up thoughts and prayers, but we also know they are not going to solve anything. Joe Biden has called for a ban on assault rifles and improved background checks, but Congress has not been up to that massive task before. Here are some possible ways to take action:





===

I wish you mindfulness, good health, peace, freedom from gun violence, and poetry as the week winds down.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Unraveled Wednesday

I had hoped to join Kat and friends for Unraveled Wednesday today with a completed pair of socks, but it's just an almost completed pair of socks.


The second sock just needs a toe and then kitchenering, but I didn't want to rush and make a mistake. This will be my first pair of completed socks in four years, so they can certainly wait another day! My fingers are itching to get back to my current Hitchhiker, so that's what up next. 

I managed to finish two books during this past week. Thanks to Kat's review last week, I downloaded 84, Charing Cross Road from my library, and it was as charming as Kat said it would be. A friend has offered to loan me the followup/sequel, so I hope to read The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street in the near future. 

I rarely read mysteries, but I stumbled across Gone to Dust and was intrigued enough to listen. It features an ex-cop turned private investigator, Nils Shapiro, solving the unique murder of a woman covered in dust from multiple vacuum cleaner bags. This seriously compromises the DNA evidence, but Nils is likeable, intelligent, and able to logically reason things out. Both the characters and plot were well-developed, and I liked it enough that I'm listening to the next one in the series, Broken Ice

What are you making and reading this week?

Monday, March 22, 2021

Add a Bow Tie


I'm kind of at a loss for words this morning. I don't have anything specific to say (my weekend was full of chores and travel from MD to NJ and back again) but I didn't want to not post. So I'm sharing this photo that makes me laugh and wondering how you put a figurative bow on your chicken hat and get on with your life in the best way you can? Let me know your thoughts in a comment and maybe you can make us all laugh (or at least smile) on this Monday morning.

I'll start things off. If I want to make a statement and get on with things, I wear my "f**kity f**k f**k mask" It makes me feel more powerful and I just love how it looks like an innocuous floral print but says something quite different. It never fails to elicit smiles and comments from people around me, and I haven't yet received a negative comment.



So how do you dress up your chicken hat and get on with your life? I'd love to know!

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Poetry on Thursday


I've been feeling cautiously hopeful recently, after being lucky enough to receive vaccine shot #1, the gentle approach of spring, and maybe finally a reluctant acceptance of how things are instead of fighting the circumstances I find myself in. This calls for some hopeful poetry. 


This Morning
by Jay Wright

This morning I threw the windows
of my room open, the light burst
in like crystal gauze, and I hung
it on my wall to frame.
And here I am watching it take possession
watching the obscure love
match of light and shadow—of cold and warmth.
It's a matter of acceptance I guess.
It is a matter of finding some room
with shadows to embrace, open. Now
the light has settled in, I don't think
I shall ever close my windows again.


Wright, Jay. "This Morning." Soulscript: Afro-American Poetry, edited by June Jordan, Doubleday, 1970.

You can read more about Jay Wright here.

I wish you mindfulness, peace, good health, windows wide open, and poetry as the week winds down.

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Unraveled Wednesday

I'm joining Kat and friends for Unraveled Wednesday, with one Creamsockle sock finished and the second one cast on. Kitchener almost kicked my butt, but I prevailed in the end. I need to knit the second sock quickly so I don't forget the sock skills I've recently remembered. I haven't been doing a lot of knitting as I've been concentrating on taxes (boo!), reading (yay!), and more walking (hooray!) 


I finished several books this week; two of them were from Netgalley. I receive an Advance Reader's Copy from Netgalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I had three Netgalley books on my virtual shelf, so I thought it would be a good idea to actually finish and review them so I would continue to be approved for new books in the future. One was A Place Like Home, a collection of previously published short stories by Rosamunde Pilcher. The Shell Seekers will always hold a special place in my heart, so I was anxious to read this. It was a 4-star book for me, with an extra star probably just because they were written by Rosamunde Pilcher. 

Everyone In This Room Will Someday be Dead was also a 4-star book. I initially chose this one because I thought the cover was interesting and the title was intriguing. It's the story of a gay, atheist woman in her late 20s who is suffering from profound anxiety and depression. It's not a light-hearted book although there are some humorous and poignant moments. I thought it was a genuine portrayal of someone suffering from depression. 

And then there is Klara. I was excited to read Klara and the Sun because the author is Kazuo Ishiguro and the premise sounded both interesting and original. The first part of the book was quite good as the reader is introduced to Klara (an Artificial Friend) and her unusual abilities, but for me it devolved into a YA-type of romance. Since this is science fiction, I think detailed world-building is important, but I found it quite weak and could only muster 2.5 stars. (Your mileage may vary!)

If you are interested in reading my more detailed reviews on goodreads, just click on the book in the right-hand sidebar. 

What are you making and reading this week?

Monday, March 15, 2021

At Last!

I've wanted to see something blooming for quite a while now. I have a few leftover Christmas cactus blossoms, and I bought a miniature rose at the grocery store just for the flowers. But after several days of warm temperatures last week, I finally got my wish. 

Crocus just coming up (alongside a squirrel-chewed antler)

Crocus in an ivy bed (that needs to be cleaned out)

Crocus at the base of our big oak tree

Close-up crocus

And a little bunch of snowdrops

We're back to more seasonable temperatures now, but that's okay. I've seen the signs that spring is definitely on the way, and I have a snowdrop on my windowsill to remind me.