Monday, August 30, 2021


It was a pleasant weekend in my neighborhood(s) (MD, NJ, and PA) and I hope it was in yours, too. I did mainly mundane chores like plenty of laundry and cleaning, but it's good to get them done. If only they stayed done!

There were interesting clouds in the gray and humid skies and that heralded plenty of rain. I really can't complain since we weren't in the middle of a hurricane. 

There were also a few moments without rain when I spied this monarch on one of the sunflowers in MD. The garden is winding down and many of the sunflowers have been picked apart by the goldfinches so I'm glad this monarch could find a good one. 

I hope your week ahead is a good one!

Friday, August 27, 2021

I Wish I Had Known ...

 ... that vegetables could taste like this! 

John has never grown acorn squash before, but Justin's girlfriend saved some seeds last year and asked him to plant some this year. He got tired of the vines taking over the garden and producing very little, so he picked all of them (five or six), dumped them in the kitchen, and went back out to tear the vines out of the garden.

I had planned on turning the oven on to do some chicken thighs anyway, so I searched "how to roast acorn squash". When almost every recipe said "add some butter, sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon, and put them in the oven for an hour", I decided I could do this. Don't get me wrong, I do enjoy vegetables, but if they've got brown sugar and cinnamon on them, even better!

And they were good enough that I ate three acorn squash halves and no chicken. It tastes almost like pumpkin pie without the work of a pie. I've got three more squash to use, and I may even branch out and add cloves and nutmeg next time! 

Thursday, August 26, 2021

Poetry on Thursday

The world feels overly chaotic now, with rising covid numbers, politicians who won't take reasonable mask measures in their states (I'm referring to you, Mr. Ron DeSantis of FL), the real chaos that is going on in Afghanistan and the political fallout here, the massive earthquake in Haiti, and the everyday pain and suffering that many of us experience on a daily basis. Sometimes it's all too much. Meditation, prayers, and looking for the good can all help somewhat, but you know what else helps me? Poetry.

The Laughing Heart
by Charles Bukowski

your life is your life
don’t let it be clubbed into dank submission.
be on the watch.
there are ways out.
there is light somewhere.
it may not be much light but
it beats the darkness.
be on the watch.
the gods will offer you chances.
know them.
take them.
you can’t beat death but
you can beat death in life, sometimes.
and the more often you learn to do it,
the more light there will be.
your life is your life.
know it while you have it.
you are marvelous
the gods wait to delight
in you.


Bukowski, Charles. The Laughing Heart. Santa Rosa, California: Black Sparrow Press, 1996.

You can read more about the poet here


I wish you mindfulness, peace, good health, the recognition that you are marvelous, and poetry as the week winds down.

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Unraveled Wednesday

Even though I haven't knit much during the past two weeks, I'm joining Kat for Unraveled Wednesday. It's as much to spur myself on as it is to share my same old, same old knitting. Here's the Hitchhiker, looking much like it did a few weeks ago, except it's grown by a few teeth. 

My trusty turtle progress keeper is keeping track of any progress I make, and he's especially appropriate since it's at a turtle's pace. 

I'm picturing (possibly the right word might be imagining) going over to Ryan's house this weekend, relaxing on his recliner, with very few boxes to unpack, while Ryan prepares something delicious for dinner. I could get some knitting done, and it just might happen!

I have been able to do some reading. I finished Miss Buncle's Book and Miss Buncle Married after I switched to audiobook format so I could listen while I hoisted heavy furniture. I also read Wayward, an interesting novel about anger and feeling unmoored after the 2016 election, growing older, not being seen, breaking points, and Syracuse. I lived there for a decade in the 1980s so the descriptions of the city and its architecture spoke to me. 

The latest book that I read was unlike any other that I have read before. It's titled Personal Effects: What Recovering the Dead Teaches me About Living. Written by Robert A. Jensen, CEO and owner of Kenyon International Emergency Services, a  115-year-old disaster management company. I had no idea companies like this even existed, but they are an incredibly well-organized leader in crisis management planning and response. They provide mortuary services in mass casualty situations, including recovery, identification, and return of personal belongings. They have expanded to provide direct support to families by counseling, telephone inquiry centers and crisis communications. 

Mr. Jensen began his career in the Army and responded to the crash in Croatia that killed Commerce Secretary Ron Brown and others, and the Oklahoma City bombing.

Oklahoma City taught me an early and important lesson about large-scale catastrophes: Don't expect wisdom at the moment of death. Don't expect anyone to know where they're going or even what they're doing.

Later his company was involved with the bombing of UN headquarters in Baghdad, the September 11 attacks, the Indian Ocean tsunami, the earthquake in Haiti, Hurricane Katrina, and the Covid-19 pandemic. This book is not just a recitation of disasters and how he responded, but rather a careful recounting of the delicate procedures that Jensen and Kenyon have learned and perfected in dealing with multiple governments, local rules and customs, while maintaining respect and dignity for the victims and families. This book may not be for everyone, but it was educational, enlightening, and a valuable read for me.

One thing politicians, planners, and ordinary people need to remember is this: we don't control nearly as much as we think we do. Mass fatalities and crises expose that fact like nothing else. We have to learn to accept that fact in a way that we generally don't at the moment. But we also have more ability to respond than most of us realize. Don't fight the things you can't control. Focus on the things you can.

What are you making, reading, and focusing on this week?


Tuesday, August 24, 2021

For Want of a Phone Charger Cable ...

 ... a blog post was lost delayed.

I meant to write a post about moving on Monday, but somehow in my rush to pack things to return to MD, I managed to misplace my phone charger. I have duplicates of my Kindle, ipod, and laptop chargers in both NJ and MD, but only one phone cord that I've been carrying back and forth. I probably set it down somewhere in NJ, but that meant I couldn't charge my phone or download any photos. So no blog post happened on Monday.

I ordered a pack of two of them from Amazon and like Amazon does so well, they were delivered today. Now my phone is charged and I've got pictures. 

My view on Friday as I had to "guard" the storage unit when we couldn't get the door closed.

Hot, humid, and sweaty, but sitting is easier than carrying heavy furniture. 

Who bought this very heavy wood furniture? It took two of us just to carry the headboard.

The dining room table is put together. 

We're gradually getting there.

The world's heaviest bed has been carried in and assembled. 

It almost looks like home.

There are still curtains to buy and hang, lamps to buy, and a million little things for Ryan to do, but he's all moved in. (Next time, he's on his own!) 

Monday, August 16, 2021

Moving Week!

It's finally moving week - time to move Ryan's stuff into his new house. Our plan is to head over there this morning, rent a carpet cleaner, and clean all the carpeting upstairs (the previous owners had two dogs and two cats). We'll see how long that takes, and then begin cleaning the floors downstairs along with everything else that needs it.

After those things are accomplished, we'll start bringing over the boxes from the storage unit. It's only five minutes away from the house, but there are 28 boxes and some other assorted bits, so it may take us a while. We'll unpack what we can (maybe the kitchen?) and possibly bring over some of the smaller furniture (end tables, lamps, etc.). 

We might paint the red wall in the living room, but we'll see. Next weekend (the 21st and 22nd) we've got family members with two trucks and lots of muscle to help move the furniture. Ryan may be sleeping there by the 23rd!

I will be busy cleaning, moving, and unpacking, so I won't be posting here for the rest of this week. I may post a few photos on instagram (I'm @readknit if you want to take a look) and I hope to be back here on the 23rd. I hope you all have a great week ahead!

Friday, August 13, 2021

Just a Little Silly

There was an interesting conversation at our house last weekend, and it's made me smile all week whenever I thought about it. 

Justin was talking about weed-whacking at Einstein's house, and Ryan thought he was using "Einstein" in a sarcastic way, that he was weed-whacking for some guy who wasn't too bright. It might help to understand that Justin works on the groundskeeping crew at The Institute for Advanced Study. It's "an independent center for theoretical research and intellectual inquiry. It has served as the academic home of internationally preeminent scholars, including J. Robert Oppenheimer and, Albert EinsteinHermann WeylJohn von Neumann, and Kurt Gödel, after they immigrated to the United States." Since its founding in 1930, it has served as one of the "few institutions in the world where the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake is the ultimate raison d'être. Speculative research, the kind that is fundamental to the advancement of human understanding of the world of nature and of humanity, is not a product that can be made to order. Rather, like artistic creativity, it benefits from a special environment."

The campus at IAS comprises more than 600 acres and many buildings. One of those buildings is Einstein's house at 112 Mercer Street in Princeton. It's a private residence now, but since IAS owns it, Justin really was weed-whacking at Einstein's house. Ryan was astounded by this (as I am a little bit also) once he understood that there was no sarcasm involved. This led to a long conversation between the three of us about Einstein, and we started to look things up when we ran out of facts that we knew off hand. That led us to this extraordinary photo:

Yes, that's Einstein on the porch of that same house wearing fuzzy slippers. It's real, not photoshopped, and the original photo is owned by the Historical Society of Princeton. Ryan and Justin were immediately taken with this picture, exclaiming that they needed t-shirts with the photo on them. "How great would it be to weed-whack at Einstein's house while wearing a T-shirt with his fuzzy slipper picture?!" 

I'll admit that I'm also quite taken with this photo, that a man of Einstein's intellectual ability didn't take himself too seriously and had his picture taken with his fuzzy slippers on. I wasn't aware that a photo like this existed, but now it seems important for me to let everyone know about it. And to get Ryan and Justin t-shirts with the fuzzy slipper photo on them (and maybe one for myself, too). 

Thursday, August 12, 2021

Poetry on Thursday

I hope today's poem is one that many of you can relate to. And if not, try a nap (or even just a lie-down) on the couch and see if it doesn't help what ails you. I was tired, headachey, and hot, and I found this poem while reclining on the couch and pronounced it perfect.

Any Morning
by William Stafford

Just lying on the couch and being happy.
Only humming a little, the quiet sound in the head.
Trouble is busy elsewhere at the moment, it has
so much to do in the world.

People who might judge are mostly asleep; they can't
monitor you all the time, and sometimes they forget.
When dawn flows over the hedge you can
get up and act busy.

Little corners like this, pieces of Heaven
left lying around can be picked up and saved.
People won't even see that you have them,
they are so light and easy to hide.

Later in the day you can act like the others.
You can shake your head. You can frown.


Stafford, William. "Any Morning." How to Love the World: Poems of Gratitude and Hope, edited by James Crews, Storey Publishing, 2021.

You can read more about poet here


I wish you mindfulness, peace, good health, some small pieces of Heaven, and poetry as the week winds down.

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Unraveled Wednesday

It's time for my favorite day of the week, Unraveled Wednesday with Kat and fellow Unravelers. I haven't worked on the Highlighter Stripe sock at all since last week, but have concentrated on the Drachenblut Hitchhiker instead. It doesn't look a lot different from the picture last week, but there have been several teeth added, and red yarn for possible stripes has arrived.

A thunderstorm started when I was going out to snap a quick photo, so I had to take one indoors on the kitchen table. No matter how much I adjusted the color, the red yarn looks pink. The Wollmeise color is Herzblut (heart blood), so be assured it is not pink. 

I have managed to finish several books, and several stellar ones at that. The Sleepwalker was a decent three stars, but The Empire of Pain and Count the Ways were both 5 stars for me. Empire of Pain is a horrifying but wonderfully written account of several generations of the Sackler family and the large part they played in the opioid crisis. It was difficult to read, but it's also difficult for the families of the more than 841,000 people who have died from drug overdoses in the past 20 years. Ultimately it is the patient's choice whether they swallow that first pill, but Patrick Radden Keefe helped me to understand how complicated and sordid the story is, how many people (like the Sacklers) and corporations (like Purdue Pharma) have played a part, and it's not over. States, the Justice Department, Purdue Pharma, and the Sackler family are wrangling over bankruptcy proceedings. The Sacklers maintain they did nothing wrong and acted ethically, but you need to read Empire of Pain to better understand why that is such a lie.

Count the Ways was a delightful and poignant story about a woman named Eleanor and her home, family, and parenthood. Her own parents are killed in a car crash when she is 16, she buys an old farmhouse in New Hampshire, meets and marries Cam, has three children, and their lives unfold. Eleanor and her happy family life are not immune to tragedy, and throughout the book she learns the importance of grief, giving and accepting forgiveness, and letting go in some hard-fought lessons. I have two sons, but could still relate to Eleanor completely tearing the house apart to look for a missing Barbie shoe in a misguided attempt to make her daughter happy. I've started another book by Joyce Maynard as I was surprised to find that I haven't read any others (that I remember anyway). 

What are you making and reading this week?

Monday, August 9, 2021

Sometimes Monday ...

... is for farming!

We have some land just across the river in PA, near where John grew up. It's the land that remains after the 500-acre farm his great-grandparents and grandparents farmed was split up and sold, so it's kind of special. John and Justin hunt deer there and for several years Justin has been trying to provide better habitat for those deer. There is a creek on the property that we have cleaned up, he's providing better cover for wildlife by selectively cutting down a few trees but leaving them piled up, and he has also been planting food plots for the deer. The property hasn't been actively farmed in decades, so he's had to test the soil, apply lime and fertilizer, disk, till, plant, culti-pack, and hope for rain. 

He was there this weekend, mowing the summer food plots (a mixture of clover, sunn hemp, cowpeas, mung beans, guar beans, soybeans, wildlife grain sorghum, forage collards, black oil sunflowers, safflower, buckwheat, okra, and Egyptian wheat) in preparation for planting some fall food plots in the next few weeks. I took some diesel fuel over for the tractor and Justin must have seen me looking longingly at the tractor. He asked if I wanted to drive it, and of course I did. Justin gave me a quick run-down of the clutch, low, medium, and high range, the shift pattern, and then sent me down the row. (John hopped on, I think in fear that I was not going to be the stellar tractor driver that I turned out to be.) It's really kind of fun, and I even managed to turn around with the mower hooked on the back. 

Farming is a family affair!

Friday, August 6, 2021

Poetry on Friday

I haven't read or posted any poetry for several months, so I think a poem is long overdue. 

The Sunflowers
Mary Oliver

Come with me
into the field of sunflowers.
Their faces are burnished disks,
their dry spines

creak like ship masts,
their green leaves,
so heavy and many,
fill all day with the sticky

sugars of the sun.
Come with me
to visit the sunflowers,
they are shy

but want to be friends;
they have wonderful stories
of when they were young -
the important weather,

the wandering crows.
Don't be afraid
to ask them questions!
Their bright faces,

which follow the sun,
will listen, and all
those rows of seeds -
each one a new life! -

hope for a deeper acquaintance;
each of them, though it stands
in a crowd of many,
like a separate universe,

is lonely, the long work
of turning their lives
into a celebration
is not easy. Come

and let us talk with those modest faces,
the simple garments of leaves,
the coarse roots in the earth
so uprightly burning.

Oliver, Mary. "The Sunflowers." Dream Work, The Atlantic Monthly Press, 1986. 
You can read more about the poet here


I wish you mindfulness, peace, good health, the ability to talk with those modest faces, and poetry as the week winds down.

Thursday, August 5, 2021

Three on Thursday: The Zucchini Edition

I'm joining Carole and friends for Three on Thursday: the Zucchini Edition. We are obviously eating from the garden, and here's what was for dinner last night.

1. Stuffed Zucchini

2. Kolokithokeftedes (aka Zucchini Fritters) with Tzatziki Sauce

I thank Vicki for this recipe every time I have a glut of zucchini and cucumbers. It's delicious!

3. Zucchini Bread 

This fancy version (the bundt pan makes it fancy) was going to be for our neighbor, but then John and I each had a slice for dessert. Next time, Ralph!

We're not vegetarians, but we sure are eating like it this week. 

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Unraveled Wednesday

It's Wednesday so I'm joining Kat and the Unravelers for Unraveled Wednesday. There hasn't been any unraveling, but this photo looks almost exactly like last week's; now there are 29 teeth and last week there were only 22. I may also have ordered some solid red yarn for some stripes. I'm hoping this will spur me on to get to the end faster. 

But I also had the overwhelming urge to grab some sock yarn and needles and cast on an ankle sock when we left NJ for MD on Sunday. \I bought a boring brown pair of walking shoes and I need some bright socks to wear with them. There were a couple of false starts when I dropped stitches when John braked abruptly on 295 and I had to start over. I was still pleased that I had gotten to beginning of the heel flap by the time we were crossing the Delaware Memorial Bridge. This isn't a big accomplishment when it's just an ankle sock, but I'll take whatever small accomplishments I can claim.

I'm now at the end of the heel gusset decreases, so I wonder how far I can get on the way home. It might be one time I welcome a bit of traffic.

Reading continues the same as last week, with Miss Buncle. I'm also reading Empire of Pain, the story of the Sackler family and the opioid crisis, and The Sleepwalker by Chris Bohjalian. Empire of Pain is a horrifying (but educational) work of non-fiction, so I can only read so much before I have to put it down. Before I started reading, I didn't understand how the Sackler family and Purdue Pharma could be almost solely responsible for the opioid crisis, but I do now. Their ambition, selfishness, and greed has changed the world, and not for the better. 

What are you making and reading? 

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Right Now - August 2021

The beginning of the month of August seems to be a good time for a Right Now post. 

The garden and tomatoes in May

Enjoying - Watching the garden grow in MD. 

The garden and overgrown tomatoes in August

Holding - My tongue. I rescued most of our tomato plants as volunteers from the compost pile and planted them in groups of three in the tomato cages in May. I went out one day to thin them, and John said I should leave them all. I disagreed, but is mainly his garden, so I did as he wished. You can see that they have become quite overgrown, and even knocked over some of the cages. We're barely able to pick any tomatoes, and I desperately want to say "I told you so" but have resisted so far. We've been married 40 years so I'm finally learning. 

Looking Forward To - Ryan's moving day. We'll clean carpets and maybe paint a little bit starting August 16th, and then move some of the boxes and get them unpacked that week.

Also Looking Forward To - Help from family with moving Ryan's heavier furniture on the 21st and 22nd. The storage facility is only 3 miles away from the house, and we've got three pickup trucks and lots of willing help. 

Worrying about - The Delta variant. With the recent CDC report, revised mask recommendations, and the surge in cases yet again, I've returned to mask wearing indoors once again. I don't really mind wearing a mask if it protects me and others, but the surge in cases (especially in vaccinated individuals) is worrisome.

Making - More masks. I've had four or five "f***ity f*** f***" masks cut out and sitting on my sewing machine for months, but I abandoned them after we were fully vaccinated and was glad not to sew masks for a while. These masks express my feelings pretty closely, so I'm finally sewing them. 

Watching - Downton Abbey. I've watched it before, so it's a good show to have on while knitting. I do find myself wishing that I had servants to tend to some of my more onerous tasks (like freezing and blanching mountains of string beans and making tomato sauce). I think that I can manage to dress myself, so I won't be needing a lady's maid. 

Grateful For - Full freezers. I complain about the work of preserving and preparing food from the garden, bit I am grateful that we can eat from it during the summer, our full freezers, and that I don't have to buy vegetables in the winter.

Cleaning - The full freezers. We've got two in NJ and one in MD that are full of venison and vegetables. I've just been filling them up, so I will be cleaning them out, organizing, and giving Ryan some venison and vegetables when he's got his own freezer to put them in. 

Feeling - Scattered. This is mainly a result of going back and forth between NJ and MD. Fingers crossed we'll be done with this early in 2022. 

Discovering - That a large Dunkin' Donuts iced coffee makes the drive to MD more bearable. It was my turn to drive two weeks ago and I had a headache. I wanted to take some Tylenol but didn't have anything to swallow them with, so I pulled into DD and ordered a large black iced coffee. I took my Tylenol, got rid of my headache, and had a somewhat enjoyable drive. I'm sure the 297 mg of caffeine didn't hurt, and Justin thinks I'll enjoy it even more if I put my iced coffee in a Yeti

Wondering - How you communicate with your grown/adult children? Up until now, much of my communication has been by phone, text, or email. Justin has been around in person a bit, but both boys are now in NJ much of the time. I'm grateful, happy, and pleased, but still finding it an adjustment to do laundry and cook for four people when I've been used to doing it for just two. Ryan will be moving out toward the end of August, and Justin will probably go back to living with his girlfriend much of the time, so it's not forever. I've delegated and asked them to help, but am still getting used to the change. 

What's going on in your world right now?

Monday, August 2, 2021

Sometimes Monday ...

... is for roofing (and a little goofing, too).  

This is the pool shed in NJ. The above ground pool is long gone and the shed now houses a motorcycle and garden equipment, but it still gets called the pool shed.

For some reason, the shingles on the front half had really deteriorated over the past year. We had shingles left over from roofing the house and barn and John calculated that there would be just enough to do the shed. So he and Justin got to work. 

My job was to act as the "go-fer". Luckily there wasn't much to fetch, so I was able to stay on the ground, bag up the old roofing for disposal, and make sure there were no roofing nails and staples in the driveway. (Clearly, this was the most important task.) 

There were several problems, but that wasn't unexpected. John's calculations weren't spot on, so they were three shingles short, but made do somehow. They tried to save the roof cap when they removed the old roofing, but it wasn't salvageable. We had to go to Lowe's for two new sections of roof cap, and we celebrated with a well-deserved lunch out, toasting the new roof and the fact that I had done such a good job keeping nails and staples out of the driveway.

They finished installing the roof cap and posed for an American Gothic roofing photo about 30 seconds before it started raining. Job well done, guys!