Tuesday, January 26, 2021

No Internet for Me


It looks the wireless adapter card on my 10+ year old laptop has died so I will be taking a break until I can replace it. I've tried disabling, enabling, and installing new drivers but nothing has worked. I'm writing this on my Kindle and it's painful enough that I know I won't be doing this more than once. I'm sorry that I probably won't be commenting on your blogs or replying to your comments but I hope to be back in a few days. Be well and I hope your technology is working!

Can You Go Home Again?

Thomas Wolfe wrote a novel called You Can't Go Home Again that was published posthumously in 1940, but I wonder if he was correct.

I recently heard that the childhood home I grew up in will soon be on the market. These photos are from 2012 when my father sold it to move into assisted living. My SiL texted me and wondered if I was interested in it for Ryan, and my immediate response was, "No! I know where all the problems are!" 

But I've been thinking about it a little more seriously. I think if the current owners do get it officially listed, I might make an appointment to see it or maybe go to an open house, partly out of curiosity, and partly to see what they've done to it over the past nine years.

At the very least I hope they have changed the decor. My parents built the house in 1962 and 1963, but they didn't change very much at all in 49 years. I'm sorry I don't have a photo of the bedroom that my sister and I shared with its multi-tonal blue shag carpeting. The real shame is that there are hardwood floors throughout most of the house, but it was all covered up with wall-to-wall carpeting. 

They did convert the garage to this sort of computer room after I had moved out in 1979. Looking back at pictures I can see why I'm not a big fan of knick-knacks, tchotchkes, and general clutter. :-)

If I do go home again, I will take photos!


Make sure to stop by Carole's blog today to check out the next promotional post for our Read With Us book, Leave the World Behind. And don't forget to mark your calendar for the Zoom discussion on March 2!

Monday, January 25, 2021

Not Enough

 I got the following email from the NJ Dept. of Health late last week:

This was somewhat heartening news, but notice that second sentence. I think they should have bolded and underlined it. The first way to get vaccinated involves simply waiting. Okay, I can do that, but I'm not content to just wait. I clicked on the link of designated vaccination sites listed under #2 and fell down the rabbit hole. After two and a half hours and a frustrating phone call, I ended up "pre-registered" at four different sites. I started with my county's Health Dept. and because all the appointment slots were filled, I was advised to call and speak to a Health Dept. nurse. I'm a rule-follower, so I did. The nurse asked me a bunch of questions about my age and health and then said that I was not really eligible. I have compromised lung function due to a pulmonary embolism, but she did not think it was compromised enough. I have hypertension (and take medication), but she said my blood pressure was not high enough. She asked if I was obese, and when I told her my BMI, it turns out that I am not fat enough. (By now I was laughing!) When I asked why the state had determined I was eligible based upon my pre-registration with them, she said it was really a matter of not enough vaccine. The county had only received enough doses to vaccinate 50 people (the population is 124,000), so I was eligible despite our previous surreal conversation, but there is just not enough vaccine. I wish the nurse had just said that in the beginning, but she did tell me to register at as many vaccination sites as I could, and hopefully I could receive the vaccine soon. 

So that's what I did. I'm now registered at several sites and I will hopefully be able to get an appointment at one of them in the near future. Some of them are two hours away, but I'm willing to travel if it means I can get the vaccine. I know there are many, many people who need and want the vaccine, and I was just trying to make an appointment for my place in line. My lung function may not be poor enough, my blood pressure high enough, and I don't weigh enough, but I really wish there was enough vaccine for everyone. I want the vaccine, I want my children to be able to get the vaccine, and I want all of you to be able to get the vaccine. I will just need to maintain enough patience and hope.

And now because every blog post needs a picture and this was not an overly cheerful post, I'll leave you with one of my favorite Bernie memes: Bernie takes on Beth Harmon in The Queen's Gambit.

And even better is the fact that Bernie Sanders has turned his inaugural image into a sweatshirt for charity. The
 Chairman Sanders Crewneck — named to honor Sanders’ assumption of the powerful Senate Budget Committee chair now that Democrats control the chamber — is on sale for $45, with 100 percent of the proceeds going to Meals on Wheels Vermont.

Hope you're having a good Monday (and finding that you are indeed enough)!

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Poetry on Thursday

The Inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris yesterday got me thinking about inaugural poetry. I thought it was a long-standing tradition, but only four presidents have had poets read at their inaugurations, John F. Kennedy in 1961, Bill Clinton in 1993 and 1997, Barack Obama in 2009 and 2013, and Joe Biden yesterday. I read all six inaugural poems and chose Robert Frost's "The Gift Outright" as my personal favorite. It has an interesting story behind it as an inaugural poem and you can find out more about it in the links below.

The Gift Outright
Poem Recited at John F. Kennedy's Inauguration
by Robert Frost

The land was ours before we were the land’s 
She was our land more than a hundred years 
Before we were her people. She was ours 
In Massachusetts, in Virginia, 
But we were England’s, still colonials, 
Possessing what we still were unpossessed by, 
Possessed by what we now no more possessed. 
Something we were withholding made us weak 
Until we found out that it was ourselves 
We were withholding from our land of living, 
And forthwith found salvation in surrender. 
Such as we were we gave ourselves outright 
(The deed of gift was many deeds of war) 
To the land vaguely realizing westward, 
But still unstoried, artless, unenhanced, 
Such as she was, such as she will become.

You can read more about Robert Frost and the inaugural poem he recited here.
You can read "Dedication", the poem Robert Frost wrote for the inauguration here
Read all the inaugural poems here

I wish you mindfulness, peace, good health, and the power of poetry as this week winds down.

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Unraveled Wednesday

Joining Kat and friends for a long-awaited Inauguration Day and Unraveled Wednesday, with some more teeth on the Hitchhiker. It doesn't look a lot different, just a bit longer, so I'll just show you a photo of my turtle progress marker in action. He's slowly but surely climbing up the edge. I'm wondering if he might be able to move a little bit faster as I hope to be less prone to just clutching my knitting in horror after the inauguration tomorrow. I have 36 teeth completed and ~ 23 teeth or so to go, or until I run out of yarn. With 29 days before Valentine's Day, I should be done in plenty of time to meet my self-imposed deadline. 

I read a wonderful book this week, Committed by Adam Stern. It's Dr. Stern's memoir during his four years of psychiatric residency at Harvard. It's also the story of his growth from an unsure first-year resident to becoming (somewhat) more sure of himself and his abilities to practice psychiatry. He also grows as a classmate, teacher, husband, and human being. There is a quote that really struck me:

I knew I would never be the version of the mythical Harvard psychiatrist that had existed in my mind four years earlier. I had seen too many examples of shared humanity among the patients and those trying to help them to be hung up on formalities. The space where that psychiatrist has once existed in my mind had been filled instead with hard-earned truths about what it means to connect to those people around you, to commit to them, and to purposefully keep moving forward.

Those are words that all of us can live by whether we are psychiatrists, patients, or simply average people trying to maintain our connections with others. I was lucky to receive a pre-publication copy, but I think it's well worth reading after the publication date in July of this year.

What are you making and reading this week?

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

21 in 2021

I'm not much for making lists of things to knit, books to read, or other things I intend to do (other than a daily loosey-goosey to-do list), but I was inspired by Sarah's post in the beginning of January. She made a list of 21 Things She Wanted To Do in 2021, and that got me thinking. If I had a list of things that I wanted to make, do, cook, read, or accomplish, it wouldn't have to be a rigid list of things I had to do. Instead, it could serve as a guide throughout the year, and I could add or delete things as I see fit. I've been working on it ever since I read Sarah's list, so here is my own list.

21 Things I Want To Do in 2021:

1.   Bake cinnamon-sugar doughnuts 
2.   Make jelly donuts
3.   Finish 4 wips
4.   Make 4 new dinner (entree) recipes 
5.   Read a graphic novel
6.   Complete 20 yoga sessions
7.   Meditate daily
8.   Read The Portrait of Dorian Gray with Ryan
9.   Read The Mill on the Floss
10. Write a card/letter to all relatives
11.  Make at least 3 Christmas gifts
12. Make at least 3 Christmas ornaments
13. Crochet at least 3 snowflakes
14. List the rest of the Dept 56 houses for sale
15. Breed flowers in Animal Crossing (green mums) 
16. Bake cinnamon raisin bread
17. Bake scones
18. Make Swedish meatballs
19. Try three new kinds of tea
20. Clean out the cedar chest
21. Read a fantasy series with at least three books
22. Swap one item on this list for something I'd rather do

I've made a small start on the list by baking cinnamon-sugar donuts (twice) and beginning the process of breeding green mums in Animal Crossing. Nothing earth-shattering, but I'll try to check on the list once in a while and let you know how it's going. 

If knitting a 2021 dishcloth like the one above is on your list, there is a free pattern for one here. (Not a Ravelry link)


Make sure to stop by Kym's blog today to check out the second promotional post for our Read With Us book, Leave the World Behind. And don't forget to mark your calendar for the Zoom discussion on March 2!

Monday, January 18, 2021


These are two of my favorite Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. quotes and nothing I might add will improve upon his words. 
Let's keep putting his words into action. 

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Poetry on Thursday

On Monday night when we went to the ER, I grabbed a tote bag that had my knitting and Poetry of Presence in it. When the doctor was done evaluating John, he asked what I was reading, and we talked about poetry a little bit. He told me that the Journal of the American Medical Association had been publishing poetry for a while and they were all available on JAMA Network. I was surprised to find 56 pages of poems there. I watched multiple people wash their hands as they each entered John's cubicle, so this poem seemed especially appropriate in this time of renewed attention to handwashing for all of us.

Handwashing 0347
by Ron Louie, M.D. 

At this time of night, my hands
know what to do, stubbornly,
poorly pre-programmed
but compelled and automatic still,
with the cold bracing water
and the glop of scented soap
unable to break their rhythm,
movements purposeful and synchronized
not just the deep creases of the palms
but the six webs between the eight fingers
counting the thumbs separately
each grabbed by the opposing fist
bent with friction and twisted firmly,
then sliding each cupped palm
around the flesh beneath the shortest fingers
surprisingly cooler than anywhere else,
moving down to surround each wrist
around and around to a vague spot
halfway to the elbow
with an unthinking brushing
of fingerpads and thumbs against ten shorn nails
before plunging it all
under what is thought to be a glistening absolution,
believing that traces of the past can be further diminished,
the hands now ready to be dry again, ready to go again
no matter what finished at 0344.

JAMA. 2018;319(24):2561. doi:10.1001/jama.2018.0094
You can read more Poetry and Medicine here

I wish you mindfulness, peace, good health, attention to handwashing, and some poetry as this week winds down.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Unraveled Wednesday

Joining Kat and friends for Unraveled Wednesday, with more teeth on the Hitchhiker due to car, emergency room, and parking lot knitting, a finished hat, and a win at yarn chicken. 

It may not be obvious but there are about ten more teeth on the Hitchhiker than there were last week. I knit in the car during John's procedure on Monday, in the emergency room on Monday night when he started bleeding and we couldn't get it stopped, and then I spent more time car knitting in the parking lot at a follow-up procedure on Tuesday. We were home for about an hour and a half and guess what? It started bleeding again, so back we went. Things seem to be okay now, so while it wasn't much fun for either one of us, I did get plenty of knitting time.

I had enough knitting time that I finished the hat and got to wear it on Tuesday. I also won at yarn chicken with only about a foot left over.

I read a wonderful book this week, Mathematics for Human Flourishing. I know the word mathematics in the title tends to turn people off, but if you see this book at the library and are at all interested, I would encourage you to take a look at it. Francis Su is an enthusiastic, empathetic, and emphatic math professor at Harvey Mudd College. Mathematics for Human Flourishing is based on his speech of the same name, given at the Joint Math Meetings in January of 2017. While he was speaking to mathematicians then, this book is written for a general audience. In it, he talks about five basic human desires that are met through the pursuit of math — play, beauty, truth, justice, and love. This is a novel idea to us, but the ancient Greeks had a concept called eudaimonia, a life composed of all the highest goods. Su points out that math can help build and develop exploration, meaning, play, beauty, truth, confidence in struggle, justice, community, and love.  If you are a human who wants to flourish and also help others to do the same, do yourself a favor and read this book.

This book is not about how great mathematics is, though it is, indeed, a glorious endeavor. Nor does it focus on what math can do, though it undeniably can do many things. Rather, this is a book that grounds mathematics in what it means to be a human being and to live a more fully human life.

What are you making and reading this week?

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Read With Us: Leave the World Behind

I'm here today with our first promotional post for the next Read With Us book: Leave the World Behind

The US cover has a picture of a placid swimming pool at night, but this calm image belies the turmoil within. The UK cover on the right doesn't give away much more, just the fact that deer figure into the story somehow. It's the story of how an upper-middle-class white family from Brooklyn and a wealthy Black couple from the Upper East Side deal with something going on out there, while accidentally sharing a vacation home. The elements of possible but unknown disaster are not just happening outside, but age, gender, wealth, and racial stereotypes are at play within, happening in the vacation home and in the characters' minds. 

So why do I think you should read this book? It's a disaster novel without a defined disaster, so Alam keeps the reader fairly close to the characters. I found them and their thought processes interesting. Amanda and her husband Clay are vacationing at an Airbnb on Long Island with their two teenage children. The Black owners of the house, G.H. and Ruth Washington, show up late at night, and we are treated to Amanda's internal monologue which has racist tones, but she is conscious enough of them to try to not appear racist. There is also an omniscient narrator that reveals only small bits of information to keep the reader just a bit more informed than the characters.

The characters' reactions to the unknown are also interesting - fill the bathtub with water, think that the cash they have stashed away might help them, or bake a cake. I read the book with a growing sense of doom; how were these people going to cope, get through the upheaval, and move to the "new normal" (how often have we have that term in the last year)? So my biggest reason for wanting people to read Leave the World Behind is that it raises more questions than it answers. This may not be the type of book you typically read, but it does seem ideal for the first Read With Us book of 2021. We had a wonderful "in-person" Zoom discussion of The Women of Brewster Place, and I predict that the discussion of this book could be even better. And isn't that why book groups exist - to discuss, explore, be exposed to other viewpoints, learn, appreciate, and grow? So we'd love it if you read Leave the World Behind and love it even more if you discussed it with us!

Monday, January 11, 2021

Sometimes Monday ...

 ... is chauffeur day. 

John is having a procedure done at 0-dark-thirty, which means we've had to leave the house ridiculously early this morning. It's a little bit more complicated by covid (just like everything else!) because I'll have to wait 4-6 hours for him. They have a waiting room, but I'm not anxious to breathe indoor air with other people so I think I may just wait in the car. It's supposed to be 22 degrees warming up to 36, so I may be just warm enough. (If only the sun was shining and glinting off the building like their website photo shows.) 

I've got a fully charged Kindle, my iPod, a hat at the decrease points, and of course, my current Hitchhiker. I may even have some progress to show you on Wednesday, especially since there will be a few more hours of chauffeur duty and waiting tomorrow morning, too. 

I hope your week is off to a good start (and that it didn't begin at stupid o'clock)!

Thursday, January 7, 2021

Poetry on Thursday

Winner 2020 Backyard Photo Contest, Birds & Blooms, Laurie Normandeau, Longmont, Colorado

I spent quite a bit of time this week searching for the first poem to use for Poetry on Thursday in 2021, but as soon as I read this, I knew it was the one. It has already helped me to build a bridge, to reach out and resolve a worrisome issue. Something happened that was better than all the riches in the world. 

Don't Hesitate
by Mary Oliver

If you suddenly and unexpectedly feel joy,
don’t hesitate. Give in to it. There are plenty
of lives and whole towns destroyed or about
to be. We are not wise, and not very often
kind. And much can never be redeemed.
Still, life has some possibility left. Perhaps this
is its way of fighting back, that sometimes
something happens better than all the riches
or power in the world. It could be anything,
but very likely you notice it in the instant
when love begins. Anyway, that’s often the case.
Anyway, whatever it is, don’t be afraid
of its plenty. Joy is not made to be a crumb.

You can read more about the poet here.
Oliver, Mary. "Don't Hesitate". Swan: Poems and Prose Poems, Beacon Press, 2010.

I wish you mindfulness, peace, good health, no hesitation when you feel joy, and some poetry as this week winds down.


I wrote this on Wednesday before the violence unfolded at the Capitol, and I've debated this Thursday morning about whether to delete it or not. I decided to leave it, mainly because of these lines: 

There are plenty
of lives and whole towns destroyed or about
to be. We are not wise, and not very often
kind. And much can never be redeemed.
Still, life has some possibility left.

I don't have any appropriate words, but Mary Oliver almost always does. I still have to believe that life has possibilities left and if you feel joy, don't hesitate. 

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Unraveled Wednesday

Joining Kat and friends for Unraveled Wednesday, with a hat in progress and a Hitchhiker on the needles. The hat is just a boring eight inches of ribbing as of now (but I do like the moss it's on). I knit Justin a Two by Two hat for Christmas and it has interesting decreases but they're not very prominent in the camouflage yarn I used. This is a repeat of that pattern so I can see the decreases. It may be for me or it may go in the Christmas box if nobody claims it.

The Hitchhiker is from a big 600 yd. skein of Dream in Color Smooshy that was a gift from Ryan. It looks sort of Valentine-y to me, so that's my self-imposed deadline for finishing it.

I'm off to a good start with reading and finished three great books this week. Miss Benson's Beetle and All the Acorns on the Forest Floor both earned four stars from me, and I gave The Reason You're Alive 4.5 stars and rounded up to 5. (Thanks, Patty!) If you're ever interested in reading my Goodreads reviews, you can just click on the book title in the Read section of the right-hand sidebar and you'll be whisked right to my well-reasoned thoughts and sagacious opinions. (I am kidding! They are just my ordinary, average thoughts.)

What are you making and reading this week?

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Time to Make the Donuts

I don't know why my brain is cluttered with old Dunkin Donuts commercials, but it is and I wanted to share in case you were born after this masterpiece aired in the 1980s. My donut pan was delivered yesterday afternoon, so it was time for me to make the donuts.

I used this recipe for my first try.

It took just a few minutes to mix the batter and get the donuts into the pan. This recipe is supposed to make eight donuts, but I made such a mess with my handmade piping bag (a plastic bag with the corner snipped off) that I only got six, but that was perfect for my pan. The batter is thick and delicious. 

They bake for only 9-10 minutes so I had a half dozen donuts in about the same time it would have taken me to drive to Dunkin Donuts. The only change I made to the recipe was in the amount of melted butter and cinnamon-sugar used to coat the donuts. The recipe advises one-half cup of melted butter (I used just two Tbsp.), one cup of sugar mixed with one tsp. cinnamon, but I used only three Tbsp. sugar with about one tsp. of cinnamon. My quantities were plenty. 

Six delicious cinnamon-sugar donuts!

I'll have to be careful because these were very easy to make and quite delicious. I definitely don't need to eat donuts every day, but it's nice to know I can make a batch to enjoy occasionally (after I do yoga or take a good long walk)!

Monday, January 4, 2021

Weekend: the Random Version

I couldn't seem to put together a cohesive post this morning, so today you get random bits from the weekend.

That photo above is from my nephew and his wife, showing that their son likes the socks I knit. (I figured you can't go wrong with a laughing baby picture.) I did offer to knit him a sweater because I think babies should be layered in wool in the wintertime (especially if they live in upstate NY). 

We're back in MD this week, and it's all laundry all the time. I haven't been here for three weeks and John hasn't been down in two weeks. Needless to say, he did not do laundry or clean at all when he was here by himself. I'm wondering if the sheets will dry at all if I hang them out? At forty degrees but sunny, it's a possibility there might be some drying.

Justin has run into a glitch with his job. It's a long story, but it comes down to the fact that they want him to take a covid test and delay his start date. I didn't think this would be a problem, but it took three hours of searching last night before I lucked into an appointment at a CVS about half an hour away. Nobody wants to test people who are asymptomatic because tests are still very limited (in NJ anyway). How are we going to control this without adequate testing? I know I'm not the first person to ask that question, and I surely won't be the last. 

I feel more at home in NJ than in MD, so I decided I needed to do something fun in MD to make it feel homier. My answer? Bake doughnuts! I don't know how I arrived at this, but my pan should be delivered today. There may be a doughnut post later this week. 

Luckily the pan I ordered only bakes six doughnuts because I also told Kym I would give yoga a try. I'm not a "yoga person", I'm not very flexible, and the last time I did yoga was in 7th grade when our gym teacher from India made us all start class with Salute to the Sun. 

Yoga, meditation, laundry, doughnuts - I'll barely have time to read or knit! I did finish two pretty good books yesterday, so I also need to write my Goodreads reviews and keep reading. 

I'll leave you with another baby picture. It's clear he likes his socks much better than that sweater. Hope your Monday, your week, and your year are off to a good start!