Thursday, March 31, 2022

If You Start Some Shredding ...

I usually go through my file cabinet once a year after taxes are done and clean it out, shred, and make room for new things that belong there. Because we've been dividing our time between MD and NJ for the past three years, this annual shredding event hasn't happened during that time. So I started shredding on Monday and was reminded of one of the boys' favorite picture books If You Give a Mouse a Cookie when I found myself getting waylaid.

If you start some shredding, you'll probably shred and shred until the shredder overheats and you have to quit.

When you are taking the bag of shreddings to the bins, you'll go past the dining room table and see some things that should have been put where they belong (this year's tax file, a TV remote from MD that belongs with the TV, and a Christmas ornament that never got put away for some reason). 

When you head to the cellar to put the Christmas ornament away, you see the small refrigerator that you have been meaning to unplug and clean out for about three years. 

After cleaning out the refrigerator, you once again carry a bag of trash (and rotten carrots) out to the bins. When you come back inside you enter through the mud porch and see the mint plant that you have been meaning to re-pot for the past week. You go back outside to the root cellar where your potting supplies are located. You decide the root cellar is far too cluttered so you give it a quick clean-up and organize a few things. 

It's still a bit of a mess but will get cleaned out much more thoroughly later in the spring. You re-pot the mint.

You come back in through the kitchen to go see if the shredder is back to temperature and you can get back to shredding, but you see that there are dishes in the sink. You decide to wash the dishes. 

Once your tea mug is clean you can't resist pouring yourself a cup of tea and sitting at the kitchen table to enjoy it. 

There were no cookies involved this time, but I might need to bake some for the next time I do some shredding.

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Unraveled Wednesday

I'm joining Kat and fellow Unravelers for Unraveled Wednesday, with a little bit of progress on the Antler cardigan yoke. 

I didn't take the photo until late last night so the color is all wrong, but that's the first repeat of the antler cables on the yoke. I did have the second set done, but then I noticed I had introduced a row of stockinette in the purl columns between the cables. I considered calling it a design element, but I didn't really like it, nor did I want to remember to make the same mistake going forward. I thought about dropping down and fixing those five stitches, but there are 14 of those purl columns between the cables, and I didn't trust myself to fix 70 stitches correctly. So I tinked back patiently and now that I have made that mistake, I'm careful not to repeat it. On to more knitting and new mistakes!

I finished listening to Migrations (a three-star book for me but I've found myself thinking about the characters a lot) and French Braid. I had eagerly awaited this new Anne Tyler book, but it just wasn't for me. And then there was Chouette. I woke up very early on Tuesday morning and couldn't get back to sleep, so I browsed the library's shelves. The cover intrigued me and I didn't know anything about it, so I checked it out and started listening. I listened for a few hours and then couldn't stop listening. It is the most bizarre story I've ever read, and I can't begin to explain why I liked it, but I did. This is one I'm going to be thinking about for a long time. (My review is here if you'd like to read a bit more about the book.)

What are you making and reading this week?

Friday, March 25, 2022

Poetry on Friday

I came across this poem recently and it reminded me of my mother-in-law. I do the same sort of paring down with bouquets, and I'm sure many of you do also, so I'm sharing this poem with you today. 

Tadeusz DÄ…browski

Paulina, the gardener's daughter, cares
about flowers doomed to die.

If I bring her a bouquet, she frees it
from the ribbons and gently places it in the hospice 

of a vase. When the flowers weaken, she trims their stems
and plucks off their wilting leaves. She takes

the dead ones to the compost, from the rest
she forms a new bouquet. Thus disappear in turn:

poppies, anemones, carnations, damnations, and
forget-me-nots, until finally all that's left are

gypsophila and Judas' pennies. Paulina,
the gardener's daughter, sees a bouquet in the vase

even when it's not there anymore.


Translated from the Polish by Antonia Lloyd-Jones
You can read more about the poet here.


I wish you mindfulness, peace, flowers and bouquets along with some poetry as the week winds down. 

Thursday, March 24, 2022

They're Done!

My taxes are done, and this is all due to someone I now think of as my tax hero.

I've done my taxes myself since I was 16, and I just continued doing them once John and I got married. He makes a show of checking them over once I've completed them and it is good to have more than one pair of eyes on them since I am quite capable of making mistakes, but neither of us is a tax wizard. 

They've gotten a little more complex as the years have gone by, and buying the house in MD made them almost too complicated. I've soldiered on over the last three years, doing our Federal, DE (where John worked), NJ (which remained our primary residence), and checking tax law in MD to see what we were responsible for. I started the process for the 2021 tax year in February and after a week or so I threw up my hands in despair, and said, "I have no idea what I'm doing!" We had sold Ryan's house in CO and since our names were on the deed, we realized some of the capital gains, and we had NJ and DE as usual. John was in charge of everything I considered "retirement stuff" and he had sold some stock options and became vested in some RSUs. He didn't fully understand the tax implications and neither did I, but when the H&R Block tax software said we owed half a gazillion dollars in federal taxes, I knew it was time to seek help. 

I called a couple of friends who happened to recommend the same CPA, and he looked like he was rated highly. I called for an appointment in February and thankfully, he had a few openings. We went last Sunday afternoon with last year's tax returns and all the stuff I thought we might need. We sat with him for about 90 minutes, and he completed our Federal, NJ, DE, and CO returns. It was so efficient and almost painless that I wanted to hug him. We still owe about a quarter of a gazillion dollars, and his fees were an arm and a leg, but I would gladly have paid him more. He is e-filing everything, payments will come directly out of our bank account on April 18th, and he even got us a $68 return from DE. (Take that Delaware!) There was no fuss or shame, and I've finally learned what so many of you have realized long ago. It was worthwhile to consult a professional, and I think I've slept better since Sunday now that I'm no longer worried about taxes. John said that now that I had seen how to do it, maybe I could go back to doing our taxes next year. I just replied, "HA!" Next year we'll have the sale of the MD house to deal with, along with more RSUs, Medicare, and maybe Social security for me, so I fully intend to go back to my tax hero. It was the best thing I've done in a long time! 

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Unraveled Wednesday

I'm joining Kat and fellow Unravelers for Unraveled Wednesday. Care to join me in a rousing chorus of "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like a Sweater"? 

"A Lot" might be a stretch for this song, but the sleeves are now joined to the body and I have a couple more rows of stockinette to knit before I start knitting the antler cable yoke in earnest. It looks more like a sweater than anything I've knit in the last three decades!

In the reading department, I finished The Island of Missing Trees (it was excellent and will probably be one of my favorite books this year) and Groundskeeping (a pretty good 4-star book). I've started Remote Sympathy as a real book and am listening to Migrations as an audiobook. Both are books that I need to concentrate on so they're slow going right now, but that's okay. Sometimes it's nice to slow down and read something dense. (I believe Kym calls books like these chewy). 

What are you making and reading this week?

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Men in Trees

We got our trees trimmed last week. Usually, this is not a big deal and something we try to get taken care of every year or so, but because of covid and the fact that the guy who owned the company fell while climbing a tree, we haven't been able to get this done for over two and a half years. 

The guy who now owns the company called on Thursday to say they were coming on Friday, and he wondered if I could reserve parking in front of our house for their equipment. I called around and after six phone calls to the police, the Dept. of Public Works delivered those nice cones. The excitement was mounting! (Not really; we just lead kind of dull lives.)

The tree guys did bring an interesting new piece of equipment they called the spider lift. Here's why it's named that:

It has spider-like legs and they can even kind of walk it from one location to another. They've always used a bucket truck before, so this was new and interesting. 

I wanted to ask them if I could have a ride in the bucket, but I was a bit too shy. It did look like fun, 

but I doubt that I would have been having fun once we were up higher than the house. 

They also brought a guy to climb our smaller front maple trees and trim branches away from the power lines. I have a soft spot for guys who can do things like this and make it look easy. I kept wanting to yell, "Be careful!" but was able to keep my concerns to myself with quiet mutterings under my breath. 

At first, I thought the guy on the ground had the best job, but he spent almost four hours like this looking up, so I hoped he had someone at home to give him a good neck massage at the end of the day.

I know you can't tell from this picture, but the guy in the spider lift looked just like Matt Damon. I also have a soft spot for Matt Damon, but didn't want to ask him if I could take a close-up picture for fear he would never come trim the crazy lady's trees again. I was on the phone with Ryan while the tree guys (and Matt) were here, telling him about this guy, but Ryan refused to believe that Matt Damon was moonlighting as a tree trimmer. But I may have the last laugh if his next movie features Matt as a tree trimmer. Let me know if you're local to central NJ; I'll be glad to give you their number in case you want Matt Damon to come trim your trees!

Monday, March 21, 2022

It's Spring!

Or more accurately, the Vernal Equinox. Technically this arrived at 11:33 am yesterday, but we can celebrate now that it's "officially" spring. In honor of that occasion, I've got some simplistic poetry for you today, but it's one I loved as a child.

Pussy Willow
by Kate L. Brown

Pussy Willow wakened
From her winter nap,
For the frolic spring breeze
On her door would tap.

"It is chilly weather
Though the sun feels good.
I will wrap up warmly,
wear my furry hood."

Mistress Pussy Willow
Opened wide her door.
Never had the sunshine
Seemed so bright before.

Never had the brooklet
Seemed so full of cheer;
"Good morning Pussy Willow
Welcome to you dear."

Never guest was quainter;
Pussy came to town
In a hood of silver gray
And a coat of brown.

Happy little children
Cried with laugh and shout,
"Spring is coming, coming,
Pussy Willow's out."

Brown, Kate L. "Pussy Willow." First Poems of Childhood, illustrated by Tasha Tudor, Platt & Munk,1967.

This poem always said Spring to me as a child and it still does. I hope the weather and some pussy willows (or maybe crocus, daffodils, or hellebores) are saying Spring to you.

(Or Happy Fall if anyone happens to be reading from the Southern Hemisphere!)

Friday, March 18, 2022

One New Thing, Once Again

 A long time ago Ryan advised me that I should try something new every month. This was about five years ago, and I did just that for a while, finding an English brewpub nearby that served good fish and chips and taking an archery seminar at Cabela's and beginning to shoot a longbow. But like many new things, this idea faded away and I never made it a habit. I would love to continue to eat fish and chips, but the local brewpub has become just a brewery and doesn't consistently serve food anymore. I have kept up with archery although I haven't shot my bow at all over the winter.

But I've decided that it's time to revive One New Thing. This was my own decision and not due to any nagging by Ryan. I've been stuck in a rut, and one of those ruts is food. I seem to make the same boring things every week, and I'm tired of it.

So I'm back to trying new things. This week it's a big one (just kidding) - quinoa salad. I had never prepared nor eaten quinoa before so it was definitely time for me to give it a try.

It was easy to make the quinoa, chop a few vegetables, and put the salad together. I added a couple of diced cucumbers, used chickpeas instead of black beans because that's what I had, and left out the cilantro because that is not readily available in NJ in the winter. I loved it! The dressing with lime juice and cumin is delicious and definitely a new taste for me. I was excited to serve it with chicken for dinner, but both John and Justin wrinkled their noses and wondered why it "smelled weird". Justin cautiously tasted a spoonful and decided he didn't like it, but John didn't even want to try it. That's okay, more for me. And there really is more. I'm going to have to eat it for lunch, dinner, and snacks since I'm the only one who will eat it. But maybe John and Justin will get on the next One New Thing bandwagon with me. I'm searching for a sour blueberry beer that comes highly recommended from a very small NJ brewery. The closest place it's available seems to be at a tap and grill 25 miles away. Fifty miles round trip is a long way to drive for some beer, but I just might do it in the interest of One New Thing. Stay tuned (and I'd welcome any suggestions you have for New Things; they don't always have to pertain to food or drink!)

Thursday, March 17, 2022

The Check (May Be) In the Mail

When we packed up, moved, and sold the MD house, there were lots of things to discontinue. I had to cancel the Comcast account and return the equipment, cancel our electric service with Delmarva, close the water and sewer account with the town, and convince Allstate that they should allow me to cancel our homeowner's insurance since we no longer owned the home. 

I managed to accomplish all these successfully, and then there was the small matter of the refunds due to us. 

My last Comcast bill seemed to instruct me to make my check for -$57.30 payable to Comcast. I couldn't figure out exactly how to do that, so I called Comcast to ask about my refund. After being transferred three or four times, I reached someone who told me that I should receive a refund within 30 days. Okay, Comcast, I'll wait and be patient.

Allstate said that I should have seen a credit issued directly to my credit card by now, but I have not, so they will look into it. Okay, Allstate, I'll wait and be patient. 

The title company that handled the closing kept $300 in escrow so they could pay the final water and sewer bill. I've forwarded the bill to them twice, and hopefully, they will pay it before I have to send it a third time, and refund the remainder of the $300 to us. Okay, title company, I'll wait and be patient. 

I do wonder how long these companies would be patient if they were waiting for payment from me? (Maybe I should give them a due date and threaten them with some late fees!)

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Unraveled Wednesday

I'm joining Kat and fellow Unravelers for Unraveled Wednesday and an FFO (Finally Finished Object)!

Ta-Da! It's another Hitchhiker! The yarn is nice and soft and the lovely pastels are mixed pleasingly, but the yarn was aggravatingly splitty while I was knitting it. While I was blocking it I wondered what I would wear it with. I don't have any pink in my wardrobe, and while I guess it would go with gray, I'm not sure how much I'll wear it. I may save it for a gift when I figure out who it is really meant for.

Now it's back to the Antler cardigan so I can hopefully finish it while it's still cool enough to wear it. No matter when I complete it, there might be a parade to celebrate my first adult sweater in three decades. 

And while some people always have socks on their needles, Hitchhikers are my portable projects. Here's one I just cast on (only two teeth) with some lovely Rhichard DeVrieze Peppino I unearthed from deep within the stash. There are a lot of colors in these skeins so I don't know if they'll be too muddled for me once they're knit up, but the only way to decide is to keep knitting for a while. 

In reading, I finished The Paper Palace (ugh!) but started The Island of Missing Trees and Groundskeeping. I'm only about halfway done with Island and have just started Groundskeeping, but so far, they are head and shoulders above PP and more than making up for its awfulness.

What are you making and reading this week?

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Read With Us: Agatha of Little Neon Discussion

Hello and welcome to the discussion for Agatha of Little Neon by Claire Luchette. I personally enjoyed our second nun book more than Matrix, and it seems as if many of you did also. Maybe it was the writing style, the characters of Agatha and her sisters, or that Agatha seemed a bit more likable than Marie, but we're ready to discuss the book and see what you thought. 

Our format is the same as usual. CaroleKym, and I have each posted a question or two on our blogs today, and we will have an in-person Zoom discussion at 7:00 pm this evening. You can send me an email (email address is in the upper right) to RSVP and I will make sure you get an invitation with the Zoom link if you haven't already.

One of the questions that struck me while reading Agatha concerns rules, recognizing and following them. There are rules that Agatha and her fellow sisters follow as part of the Catholic church, yet some of "the men in charge had been reckless" and did not follow these same rules. This led to lawsuits and bankruptcies, affecting Agatha, Sister Roberta, and the rest of the Diocese in Buffalo. There were rules for the addicts at Little Neon in Woonsocket where the sisters were relocated, but many of these were to make things easier for the people who run the halfway house and not for the inhabitants to overcome their addictions. The rules that the principal makes at the school where Agatha teaches were made to police the students' appearance and forbid any lesbian exploration, with no real thought given. 

At the end of the book, Agatha begins to decide which rules to follow and which no longer have any use to her. Are you a rule-follower? Do you question the rules you follow? Do you think Agatha was successful at maturing and seeing that some rules might be hurting her rather than helping? Do you think Agatha lost anything by choosing to follow rules? Do you think Agatha abandons her belief in the Church and its rules or her belief in God? 

You could learn to live without a part of yourself ... I did. For years, I lived like this. And then I started to yearn for what I had lost.

If you have anything to say about rules and following them or not, I'd love to hear your thoughts. Please feel free to leave a comment and /or let us know your thoughts tonight on Zoom. I hope to see you tonight!

Monday, March 14, 2022

Museum of Me: March 2022


The Museum of Me was supposed to open last Friday with a new exhibit, but it was unexpectedly closed due to a plumbing emergency. Really, I forgot all about this month's prompt, but I did get recruited into being the gofer for John the Plumber while he cleared a bathroom sink clog. That's another fun story for another day. 

The plumbing is now working and the Museum is open, so please enter and follow the docent to the left so you can view the March exhibit - Something You Collect. 

Strictly speaking, I didn't really collect these marbles. My grandfather, mother, and my kids did, and I'm just the person who keeps them in jars on the windowsill so the sun can shine through them. My grandfather had a few of these that he used to actually play marbles with. My mother started playing marbles at some point in her life and added to the collection. It was a great rainy-day activity to sort through them with my cousins and we would each pick out our favorites. We didn't really understand how to play marbles and were terrible at shooting them. Nobody else was interested when we cleaned out my grandparents' house, so I gladly brought them home with me, where they entertained my boys for several years. Ryan and Justin also enjoyed dumping them out and choosing their favorites. The local toy store used to have small bags of marbles for sale inexpensively, and we added a few of those to the collection.

There aren't any especially rare or valuable marbles here, but that just means that they're much more fun to dump out of the jars and sort through. My favorite is probably the big blue, pitted one in the second row, second from the left. I like the color and my grandfather used to tell me it was his favorite shooter. There are two clay marbles directly to the right of the big blue shooter that my boys dug out of the dirt in the back yard, in addition to the old grayish-white marble above the clay ones. I can still remember how thrilled Ryan and Justin were to find these and how they came running into the house to tell me about the old treasures they had dug up. The rest of the marbles are just varying colors, sizes, and shininess, except for the two in the far lower right. Those are round and most likely plastic, but they aren't marbles. Justin liked to hide them in the jars so he could hear me exclaim, "How did these get in the jar? These are not marbles!" Maybe I'll ask him that tonight when he gets home. 

Thank you for visiting the Museum of Me for the collection that I didn't really collect. The Museum of Me exhibits will be changed monthly on the second Friday of the month, so please stop by again in April for the next carefully curated installation. (The gift shop is on the right on your way out!)

Friday, March 11, 2022

Poetry on Friday

Today's poem was written by Ukrainian poet Ilya Kaminsky. Born in Odessa in 1997, he came to the US in 1993. I'll let you draw your own conclusions, but I would hope that none of us can live happily through any war, even if we are not being actively bombed ourselves, trying to get out of a bombed hospital, or huddled in the subway trying to avoid bombs. 

We Lived Happily During the War

by Ilya Kaminsky 

And when they bombed other people’s houses, we
but not enough, we opposed them but not
enough. I was
in my bed, around my bed America
was falling: invisible house by invisible house by invisible house.
I took a chair outside and watched the sun.
In the sixth month
of a disastrous reign in the house of money
in the street of money in the city of money in the country of money,
our great country of money, we (forgive us)
lived happily during the war.

Kaminsky, Ilya. "We Lived Happily During the War." Poetry International, 2013,

You can read more about the poet here
My wish for all: mindfulness, good health, the cessation of war, along with some poetry as the week winds down. 

Wednesday, March 9, 2022

Unraveled Wednesday

I'm joining Kat and the Unravelers for Unraveled Wednesday, with very little visible knitting progress. I've been trying to clean out areas in the house that I haven't yet done, and fill a box or bag for donation each day. I worked outside cleaning out flowerbeds during a couple of unseasonably warm (72 degrees!) days. But we're back to more seasonable temperatures, snow, and rain. Because of these diversions, the Hitchhiker looks like this:

There's another reason for my lack of progress, and it's mainly due to this:

I read a couple of other books, Toxic Positivity and Four Thousand Weeks, but they were just average. Then I got approval from Netgalley for a copy of In Love by Amy Bloom, and once I started reading I couldn't stop. I started yesterday evening and read until 2:30 am. I haven't done that in a very long time, but the story was just too immersive to put it down. Amy Bloom has written quite a few works of fiction, but this is a memoir of how she accompanied her husband Brian with his suicide after he is diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. It's as gut-wrenching and heart-breaking as you can imagine, but it's also full of questions, love, humanity, and dignity. I haven't yet written my review, but it was a five-star book for me. 

My father was ill for at least twelve years with multiple comorbidities - heart disease, kidney disease, Type II diabetes, bladder and prostate cancer, and depression. My sister and I were the ones charged with taking him to doctor appointments and rounds of daily radiation. I'm not sure he had any quality of life, and in fact, he said he "just wanted to die" many times during those twelve years. Towards the end, I used to rant that we treated our pets better than we treated fellow humans because we were sympathetic to our pet's pain and suffering but every one of my father's twelve doctors was on a mission to preserve his life no matter what the cost (human, emotional, and financial) was to the patient. In Love is the story of how Brian Ameche and Amy Bloom met, married, and their lives together until Brian made the decision that he didn't want to suffer through a long, painful decline and how Amy Bloom and an organization called Dignitas in Switzerland helped him carry this through, told with strength and love.

What are you making and reading this week?

Tuesday, March 8, 2022

Pep Talk!

If you're feeling upset, in need of some cheering words of encouragement, or just want to laugh, this might be something of interest. You may have read or heard about the PepToc Hotline on NPR, from Clara Parkes on Instagram, or a myriad of other places. Peptoc is a free hotline project from the students of West Side Elementary in California. Two teachers, Jessica Martin and Asherah Weiss put it together after being impressed by their students' positive attitudes. 

If you're feeling mad, frustrated, or nervous, press 1. If you need words of encouragement and life advice, press 2. If you need a pep talk from kindergartners, press 3. If you need to hear kids laughing with delight, press 4. For encouragement in Spanish, press 5. 

I had to call on Monday morning when I was having trouble dragging myself out of bed. The life advice I received was "If you're feeling up high and unbalanced, think of groundhogs." This made me laugh, got me out of bed, and I've been thinking about groundhogs ever since. 

This was started as an arts project - art as a social practice, a conversation to contribute to the world. If you would like to donate to the school (they had a massive arts budget cut this year), you can click here. Jessica Martin, one of the art teachers who came up with the idea, said, "One of my missions in the art program for the school is to introduce kids to the broadest approach to creative practice as possible. Yes, we're doing painting and drawing, but it's important that these kids also are being exposed to art by artists who are pushing definitions of what art is and the role it plays in our society." Interesting!

Don't be afraid to call Peptoc at 707-998-8410. It certainly won't cure the world's ills, but it may make you feel better for a moment. The advice I received today was "Choose weird" so that's just what I'm doing.

Monday, March 7, 2022


How was your weekend? Mine was full of the usual cooking, laundry, and some cookie baking on Saturday. Part of Sunday was spent re-potting all of my MiL's plants. They probably hadn't been re-potted in over a decade, and while they are just run-of-the-mill houseplants like philodendron, several family members are emotionally attached. The temperature was approaching 70 degrees on Sunday, so I decided to stop being scared of the task and went to my BiL's house armed with potting soil, pots, and rooting hormone. It took me almost three hours, and I got involved and dirty, so I didn't even take any pictures. So please imagine six large pots of philodendron, four pothos, and two pots of arrowhead vine, newly potted and looking somewhat healthy. If you have a moment, please send some good plant rooting thoughts my way. I really don't want to be the person to kill my deceased MiL's plants. 

Then I spent wasted three hours on Sunday looking for a new printer. Our old one has been slowly dying, so I searched Amazon, Best Buy, and Staples, but couldn't find anything that even seemed workable. I've never successfully set up a wireless printer, so I wanted one that could print in color, scan, and copy, but also had wired and wireless connectivity. I also looked at the (shockingly high) cost of ink cartridges and didn't want one that locked me into an automatic ink subscription. That ruled out HP, and I spent way too much time looking at Canon and Epson models before narrowing my choices down to two different Canon models from Best Buy. I was about to flip a coin when Justin suggested I pour a glass of wine and think about if I really needed to buy a printer at all. He had just been to Staples to print his fishing license and said that he got three copies printed and laminated for less than $2.00. Much of what I print is taxes, and then I can go for months without printing anything. After finishing my wine, I decided to save $250 and not buy a printer. I will have to print at Staples occasionally, but they are about two miles away and open seven days a week. Justin did some quick figuring in his head and he thought I could print the few things I needed at Staples for about 15 years before I even approached spending $250. I left the printers in my Best Buy cart, but we'll see how we fare without one. The sense of relief I felt at finally reaching a decision that felt workable was worth quite a lot!

This article sums up my feelings about printers quite well. (And this one, too.)

Thursday, March 3, 2022

What's for Dinner?

This dinner was a winner! I don't know what to call it, but it was easy, satisfying, and everyone in the family liked it. I have very few dinners like this so I had to take a picture and tell you about it. 

I diced three chicken breasts, cooked them, and threw them in the crockpot. I added three cans of drained black beans, a large bag of frozen corn, some salsa, an envelope of taco seasoning, and let it cook all day. I had flour tortillas, so Justin put some of the chicken mixture on them, added Mexican cheese and hot taco sauce, and proclaimed it delicious. I also added cheese and scooped it out of my bowl with some hint of lime taco chips. John ate his over rice and was happy that it wasn't too spicy.

I'm going to have to resist the temptation to make this every week, but I thought it was pretty darn good and there are even some leftovers for me to eat with more taco chips. 

What's for dinner at your house tonight?

Wednesday, March 2, 2022

Unraveled Wednesday

It's Wednesday once again and I'm joining Kat and the Unravelers for Unraveled Wednesday. I won't bore you with the Hitchhiker that's almost done but still not quite finished, but I do have one last completed Bankhead hat. I thought I might need one with a deeper brim to keep my ears warm, so that's what I knit. Justin might actually be the person that needs it since he works outdoors, but it's in the hat box for whoever claims it.

I finished The Lost Garden and it was wonderful. The author, Helen Humphreys, is actually a writer of fiction, non-fiction, and poetry, and I would like to read more of all of her writing. The Lost Garden finds lonely horticulturist Gwen leaving bombed-out London in 1941 to supervise a group of girls planting potatoes in the Women's Land Army. Gwen is far more comfortable with plants than people, and this book tells the story of her quiet internal growth. There are times when the language can be a bit overwrought, but I loved the details about vintage plants, gardens, and the many different personalities of the girls in the Women's Land Army and how they interact with each other in the evenings. This book is a winner in the "flowers are magical" department.

I also read Life Without Children by Roddy Doyle, but it wasn't so wonderful. Even Doyle's use of lovely language couldn't save Life Without Children from winning the "sad, frustrated, and disgruntled old men during the pandemic" award from me. One man throws a mug at the wall during a fight with his wife and thinks that at least it didn't shatter, just broke in half "along an old crack", another contemplates abandoning his family while on a work trip, and yet another man searches for the son he drove away years earlier with his cruelty. It might have been better if I read this short story collection 10 years from now, maybe when we're all beginning to forget about covid or have completely gotten used to it. Doyle can convey emotion with his characters, but it's too soon and the emotions are ones we're all far too familiar with and would like to forget.

What are you making and reading this week?