Monday, October 31, 2022

Halloween, Fall, and What Comes Next

It's Halloween and we've reached peak color around here so I've got some photos of what fall looks like. 

This one isn't exactly picturesque but I was surprised to finally find our Spirit Halloween store just a few days ago! It always pops up in some empty store, usually in early September. (Here's how they do it.) We've got plenty of empty stores but I hadn't seen the Spirit Halloween store in any of my travels around town. I was surprised to find it on Friday in an old Pier 1, which then served as a Covid testing and vaccination center. I was tempted to go in but was in a rush, so I didn't.  

I have had to go into Walmart and have been mildly appalled at this awful headless decoration they have at the front door. The first time, I saw a young child crying was because they were scared and I could sympathize. It says something unintelligible, raises and lowers the ax in its hand, and is generally an unfriendly way to greet customers. I probably won't have to see it again as I bet they will be rolling out Christmas decorations tomorrow.

The rest of the photos show a little more of the fall scenery in the area.

And I got this in the mail on Friday as a reminder of what comes next.

I knew services like this existed, but I had no idea of the hefty price. It seems to me that part of the fun of the season is choosing and putting up your own decorations (but to each his own). 

I hope you have a Happy Halloween with all treats and no tricks and enjoy the rest of fall along with what comes next.

Thursday, October 27, 2022

Almost ...

While I'm at Ryan's shoveling, wheelbarrowing, and raking topsoil, I thought I'd give you a shutter update. John got the bright idea to paint our house shutters blue and he's finished (almost).

They don't look nearly as bright on the house as they did up close, and he even painted the outside window sills blue to match. I still like green the best, but given the scary acrobatics he had to perform on the ladder to replace the second-story shutters on the side, I'm fairly confident they will remain blue as long as we own the house. 

I park my car down by the barn and walk up to the house and I noticed something when I got back from some errands yesterday.

That sill at the top is still red. That big grate is the outlet for our attic fan and not easily accessible from inside. That means John would probably need to perform more death-defying acts of bravery on the ladder to reach it and paint it blue. I'm sure not getting the ladder out (I can't even lift it without help) and I'm definitely not climbing up there to paint it myself, so I've decided that sometimes being a considerate spouse means knowing when to keep your mouth shut. That's just what I'm going to do. (Maybe the next time we have the tree guys here with their ladder truck I'll ask them if they might consider doing it.)

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Unraveled Wednesday: 10/26/22

I'm happy to join Kat and fellow Unravelers for Unraveled Wednesday, especially because Kat was kind enough to host this Unraveled Wednesday at the end of her vacation. It's rainy, dark, and dreary outside here, so all I've got for you is a blob of blue sweater. I haven't yet reached the point where I separate the body and sleeve stitches, but I really hope to be there by next week. (We'll see how much the topsoil spreading project interferes with knitting!)

Even if I didn't get as much knitting done as I had hoped, I did manage to finally finish several books this week. I read Our Missing Hearts by Celeste Ng and while I enjoyed her previous books, this one was only two stars for me. Maureen is the third book in the Harold Fry trilogy, and thanks to Kat's recommendation and an eye-catching cover, I was able to read a pre-publication copy from Netgalley; I rated this one five stars. A History of Present Illness was a quick read that I rated as four stars because it was honest. And I finally finished Wolf Hall and An Immense World. I've been listening to these last two for weeks (and months in the case of An Immense World) but they were solid five-star books and I'm glad I read them. Wolf Hall was very long and I was interested in reading the second book in the trilogy (Bring Up the Bodies) but I think I'll have to wait until I build up my reading stamina before I attempt that one. The third book is even longer, so I'm considering watching it on Masterpiece Theater. 

What are you making and reading this week?

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

A Post About a Post

I mentioned that I was running out of ideas for blog posts and Ryan suggested, "How about a post about a post?" That made me laugh, so that's what I'm writing about today.

Ryan has this white vinyl fence around his property, a remnant from the previous owners who had dogs that needed to be contained. There's nothing wrong with the fence aside from a few missing balusters that we'll replace once we're done working on some projects. Soon after he moved in, we had to remove a big section of fence so they could bring his new shed in. 

His shed is the yellow and green one on the left and we had to take out the whole front section with the gate and a section on the side for access. The posts are set in concrete so we dug out one of them, but after much digging, John ended up cutting the other two off at the ground. He put a sturdy piece of wood back inside, slipped the cut-off posts over them, and screwed them back together. All the posts are now re-installed and sturdier than they were before.

But that is on the right side of the house. There is another project that we've started on the left side of the house that also involves a post.

Last year he got about eight inches of rain within a few hours and his basement flooded. We got things remedied in short order with three shop vacs and fans, but then we had to figure out how to prevent this in the future. After talking to several neighbors, the ones that had installed a second sump pump didn't have any flooding. So we did have a second sump pump installed, but the drainage from the original one was also a problem. It was only pumping water out a couple of feet away from the house and the sump pump drain is also at a low spot. Last Sunday we went over, cut off another post (you can see the white square at the bottom right of the photo above), and removed a couple sections of fence. 

Then we (and this is the "royal we" because I was not personally digging) dug a 30-foot trench from the house down toward the front yard. 

Then we laid pipe from the sump pump outlet in the trench and filled it in. 

Phase 1 of the project was completed on Sunday and it looks pretty good. Phase 2 begins on Thursday when we are having seven cubic yards of topsoil delivered. This will have to be spread over the side lawn to help create a better slope down towards the street and aid drainage away from the house. I didn't have to dig the trench but I suspect that I will be shoveling and raking topsoil on Thursday and Friday. (And then maybe I'll write another post about a post when we fix this fence post and finally complete the project.)

Monday, October 24, 2022

What I Watched This Weekend

I like to watch something on TV while I knit in the evenings. It doesn't have to be new or exciting, in fact, when it comes to knitting-appropriate shows, it's better if I don't have to pay close attention. I had read that the first two seasons of The Great British Bake Off (the originals that aired in Britain but not on Netflix in the US) were available on the Roku channel, so I decided to give them a try.

A younger and slightly less pretentious Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry are the hosts. (This season aired in 2010 so we were all younger then.) Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins are the presenters and I really enjoyed them. 

I've only watched several episodes in the first season (Cakes and Biscuits) but it was interesting to see what they did differently and what they still do. The first thing that surprised me was that they move the baking tent to different locations around the UK! Cakes were made in the Cotswolds, biscuits in Scotland, and bread in Sandwich. Stephen Noonan does a voiceover, but that only lasted for the first season. Mel and Sue do several interesting history pieces, such as the ties between religion and cake, the rise of women as bakers, the connection between railway travel and biscuits, and the history of shortbread. "Food historian" must have been a career choice for many in the UK a decade ago as they seem to consult a different food historian or food history expert at least two or three times in each episode. They've kept the same introduction and much of the same music so that was familiar. The hosts and the contestants seem more relaxed which I thought was refreshing. I've always wondered about the illustrations on TGBBO and was happy to find this bit about Tom Hovey. The illustrations in the first season are black and white and fairly rudimentary compared to later seasons. In the later seasons, the illustrations can oftentimes look better than the real baked creations!

Yes, there are interruptions by commercials, but I didn't mind them too much. For me, it was interesting to see how this show originated and has grown. I haven't felt the need to bake anything (yet) but there may be some scones in my oven if I watch more episodes.

I hope you had a lovely weekend and your week is off to a good start, possibly with some baked goodies of your choice!

Thursday, October 20, 2022

A Gathering of Poetry: October 2022

It's the third Thursday of the month so I'd like to welcome you to our second Gathering of Poetry post. Several friends and acquaintances have died recently so I have been thinking about them. When searching for a poem about death that still expressed comfort and hope, I came across this one. Maya Angelou wrote this poem upon hearing of James Baldwin’s death and read it at his funeral.

When Great Trees Fall
by Maya Angelou

When great trees fall,rocks on distant hills shudder,lions hunker downin tall grasses,and even elephantslumber after safety.When great trees fallin forests,small things recoil into silence,their senseseroded beyond fear.When great souls die,the air around us becomeslight, rare, sterile.We breathe, briefly.Our eyes, briefly,see witha hurtful clarity.Our memory, suddenly sharpened,examines,gnaws on kind wordsunsaid,promised walksnever taken.Great souls die andour reality, bound tothem, takes leave of us.Our souls,dependent upon theirnurture,now shrink, wizened.Our minds, formedand informed by theirradiance, fall away.We are not so much maddenedas reduced to the unutterable ignorance ofdark, coldcaves.And when great souls die,after a period peace blooms,slowly and alwaysirregularly. Spaces fillwith a kind ofsoothing electric vibration.Our senses, restored, neverto be the same, whisper to us.They existed. They existed.We can be. Be and bebetter. For they existed.====Angelou, Maya. "When Great Trees Fall." Celebrations: Rituals of Peace And Prayer, Random House, 2006.  You can read more about the poet here.====Thanks for reading and joining us for our second monthly Gathering of Poetry. Be sure to visit Kym and Kat so you can gather more poetry and you can add your link below if you would like to share one of your favorite poems. The more the merrier!

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

Wednesday, October 19, 2022

Unraveled Wednesday: 10/19/22

I'm happy to join Kat and fellow Unravelers for Unraveled Wednesday, with more Cloud Cover. There was a black cloud hovering over my knitting this week, and I had one of my worst knitting days ever last weekend. 

I was knitting along happily when I decided to count my stitches. I found that I was one stitch off someplace, but despite my best efforts, I couldn't figure out whether I had done an extra increase or forgotten to do one for the raglan sleeves. I figured one stitch wouldn't really matter that much and I could just add an extra one where it seemed to be missing, but since I've only knit one other sweater, I didn't know what I didn't know. And it bothered me - a lot. Enough that I decided to tink back and do it right. I ended up spending Saturday afternoon tinking back 42 rows before I got back on track. It wasn't the end of the world, and it was also a good reminder to count my stitches regularly, but it was still one of the worst afternoons I've spent knitting (or unknitting) in a long time. But all is well now in sweater world, and I'll soon be separating the body and sleeve stitches (provided I don't knit most of the yoke again for the third time).

Reading has consisted of much of the same as last week. I'm still listening to Wolf Hall (it's good but long), so for something different, I re-listened to Hamnet. It was just as good as I remembered, and maybe even better. 

What are you making and reading this week?

Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Read With Us: The Marriage Portrait

Our fall Read With Us book is entitled The Marriage Portrait by Maggie O'Farrell, and I think it's a fascinating book inspired by a poem describing a painting portraying a young woman who actually lived in 16th-century Italy. The idea for Hamnet was one that O'Farrell had in mind for many years, but she waited until her own son was past the age Hamnet was when he died. But in February 2020, she was writing about Robert Browning's poem, "My Last Duchess". She looked up the Duchess and downloaded a portrait of Lucrezia de’ Medici, the young woman who was married to the Duke of Ferrara when she was a teenager in the mid-16th century. 

"Just before lockdown began in the spring of 2020, I came across a small oil painting of Lucrezia de’ Medici, attributed to the studio of Renaissance artist Agnolo Bronzino. The portrait shows her against a dark background, in a black mourning dress, adorned with costly jewellery, one hand raised to her throat. What mesmerised me was the expression on her face: she looks anxious, her eyes filled with apprehension. She looked, to me, very much like someone who had something she wanted to say. I knew as soon as I saw her that I had my next novel, that I wanted to imagine the story she might have wanted to tell."

So why do I think you should read The Marriage Portrait? So you can be immersed in 16th-century Italy and in the intriguing story that Maggie O' Farrell has imagined and written about Lucrezia de’ Medici, and judge for yourself if this is the story that Lucrezia might have wanted to tell. 

This is what Carole had to say about the book last week, and Kym will be talking more about the book next Tuesday. Discussion day for The Marriage Portrait is scheduled for January 10, 2023, at 7:00 pm Eastern time, so mark your calendars. We'll ask questions on our blogs that day and then host the always fun, educational, and entertaining Zoom discussion.

We do hope you'll Read With Us!

Monday, October 17, 2022

Time to Make the Kimchi

Last week in the garden we had three heads of Napa cabbage that had been just slightly frosted. The frost wasn't a big problem but three heads of cabbage for just two people was a lot. I made a big batch of Napa cabbage salad and then remembered something else. I had gotten John a kimchi kit for Christmas and since it's been sitting in the pantry for three years, it was time to finally use it. 

First, you cut up the cabbage into bite-size pieces and brine it in salt water for 1.5 hours. 

Then you drain it and rinse it well to get rid of any extra salt. 

While the cabbage is draining, you mix the packet of rice flour with 125 ml of water and cook it for a few minutes to basically make wallpaper paste. 

To the cooled rice flour concoction,  you add chopped ginger, onion, garlic, dried seaweed powder, and red pepper. This is supposed to make a thick paste that sticks to the cabbage pieces and allows it to ferment.

Then you just mix the rice flour paste and seasonings together with the cabbage, put it in a big bag to ferment in the refrigerator for a week or two, and voilĂ , you've made kimchi.

It helped to have everything in a little box so I didn't have to search for rice flour or seaweed powder. John loves kimchi, so we'll see what his verdict is in a week or two. At the very least, it used up plenty of Napa cabbage and hopefully produces something good to eat!

Friday, October 14, 2022

Museum of Me: October 2022

Hello and welcome to The Museum of Me. This month's installment asks a question: What did you most look forward to about growing up?

The answer is an easy one for me. When I was five or six years old, I distinctly remember telling my mother that I couldn't wait to grow up because then I could do whatever I wanted. To her credit, she didn't laugh herself silly but she did tell me to hang my clothes up and no more backtalk. To me, it looked like adults got to do whatever they wanted while I was stuck hanging up my clothes, taking out the trash, going to school every weekday, and doing homework. Once my mother went back to work when I was 11 or 12, I had to add making dinner, watching my younger sister, emptying the cat's litter box, and doing laundry to my endless list of chores. Oh, woe was me!

But I had big dreams. I had a whole list of what I was going to do when I grew up. The first was to put my feet on the furniture. This was one of my father's pet peeves, and I understood why we weren't supposed to do it, but I still railed against being told what to do. 

Another thing was that I was going to eat candy whenever I wanted. 

I was going to go to bed late every night after watching as much TV as I wanted.
I was going to read as much as I desired without being told I should go outside and play.

I was going to own at least one tiara. 

Somewhere along the line, it began to sink in that growing up did not mean that I got to do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. As we all know, there are bills to pay, grocery shopping to do, dinner to prepare every. single. night, toilets to scrub, carpets to vacuum, laundry that never ends, taxes to do, insurance to purchase, doctor appointments, health concerns, and a myriad of other responsibilities. And I know I'm privileged and have things relatively easy. I have a house to live in, more than enough to eat, health insurance, a reliable vehicle, and I'm no longer responsible for raising children daily.

But yesterday after I fielded two different early-morning calls from my kids about some dramatic issues they were having, did two loads of laundry, hung them on the line, folded and put the clothes away when they were dry, took care of all of the garden produce, paid three different bills, went grocery shopping, and made dinner, I did get to sit down, put my feet up on the furniture, eat some gumdrops, and read. I didn't watch TV because there was nothing I wanted to watch, but I did stay up late (as long as you consider 8:45 pm late.)

Me, living the wild life - reading, eating candy, with my feet on the furniture at 8:45 pm.

I still don't own a tiara but someday I may peruse Amazon and look for one.

What did you most look forward to about growing up?

We'll be back on the second Friday of November with a brand-new installation. Thank you for visiting The Museum of Me!

Wednesday, October 12, 2022

Unraveled Wednesday: 10/12/22

I'm happy to join Kat and fellow Unravelers for Unraveled Wednesday, with some slightly unexpected knitting. I wasn't planning on knitting another sweater, but I have Sarah to thank for her inspiration. She knit this sweet Newborn Vertebrae sweater and I started wondering if this pattern was available in an adult size. It is, but I decided that it wouldn't look nearly as cute on me as it does on a baby. But this also got me thinking seriously about knitting another sweater. I have a lot of yarn left over from my Antler cardigan so after a little bit of searching on Ravelry I came up with a pattern that I think might be ideal. I knew I wanted a cardigan, and I hardly ever button them, so Cloud Cover (Ravelry link) works with my yarn weight and I can button it or not.

I was full-on inspired, so of course, I didn't take time to swatch. I just started knitting, and after 18 rows I was getting into the rhythm and understanding the pattern. The fabric felt a little stiff to me, so I did take the time to check my gauge at this point and I had too many stitches/inch. Not a lot, so I unraveled, went up a needle size, got gauge, and I'm much happier with the fabric. I'm knitting back to where I unraveled and beyond, and who knows? I just might have another sweater this winter. 

It doesn't look like much now, but it is a 24-row start on a sweater. 

I'm listening to the audiobook of Wolf Hall and this is ideal for sweater knitting. I did get an advance reader's copy of Signal Fires so I had to take a short hiatus to read it. It was so immersive that I finished it in two sittings. Dani Shapiro has written the story of two families, the Wilfs and the Shenkmans, with their interconnected births, deaths, losses, and recoveries. There is an accident at the beginning of the book, but after that, the plot takes a back seat to the well-developed characters in this character-driven novel. The author has written many books about family secrets and she is clearly the person to write this story about what happens when tragedy and its repercussions aren't acknowledged. A non-linear timeline often confuses and irritates me, but it is just perfect here as we are treated to moments in 2010, 1999, 2020, 2014, and 1970. I know this will be one of my favorite books of 2022, as I keep thinking about the characters (especially Waldo).

"The stars, rather than appearing distant and implacable, seemed to be signal fires in the dark, mysterious fellow travelers lighting a path; one hundred thousand million luminous presences beckoning from worlds away. See us. We are here. We have always been here. We will always be here."

The book was published yesterday so I would encourage you to place a hold at your library if it sounds like something you might be interested in. It was a stellar five-star book for me. 

What are you making and reading this week?

Monday, October 10, 2022

From a Frosty Sunday Morning

I was up early on Sunday morning and got to observe some things that I don't ordinarily see.

I hope your weekend was a good one and your week is off to a good start!

Thursday, October 6, 2022

Not Too Hot!

We grew hot peppers in the garden this year, and I whined about how hot they were here. They were really too hot for us, but Ryan has hung up a bunch to dry and we've given loads away to five or six people. I pickled a few, but that only reduced the heat a little bit. 

I read a silly article about soaking the peppers in Sprite to remove the heat, so I decided to give it a try. They conducted what sounded like a semi-scientific test, soaking peppers for an hour in plain soda water, soda water with lime juice, soda water with vinegar, and Sprite. There was no change in heat except for the Sprite-soaked peppers: "All the spiciness was gone. All of it. What was once a fiery chile now tasted like bell pepper." But I called the article silly because I tried a pepper after an hour in Sprite with no change. Then I tried it after four hours and overnight, again with no change. YMMV, but it didn't work for me - at all. 

But I did find something that worked enough to make them edible for me. Cowboy Candy! Vera had suggested this and I figured the four cups of sugar in the brine couldn't hurt. I didn't remove the seeds or veins from the peppers, just sliced them into rings, followed the recipe, and put them in the refrigerator. When I opened them yesterday after a couple of weeks, they smelled pretty good, so I spread plenty of cream cheese on a cracker just in case they were still really hot and cautiously tried one. 

Delicious! I ate three more crackers with peppers and that was about enough for me at one time. They had some heat but not enough to make my mouth burn. If there are still peppers on the plants when we go to the garden next week (and I hope there are), I just might make some more! 

Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Unraveled Wednesday: 10/5/22

I'm happy to join Kat and fellow Unravelers for Unraveled Wednesday but without any knitting today and no unraveling. 

Instead, I've got my first stab (insert needle felting laugh here) at needle felting. I'm new to this and it's slow going but it's also slightly addictive. First, I had to trace the pattern onto a layer of felt, and then I just started needling. I'm not very good at felting thin lines yet, so I hope to improve at that skill and I think it will look better overall when I can outline many of the areas in black like the picture suggests they should be. I've just started to experiment with the fine, medium, and coarse needles I ordered, and I also ordered this lovely wooden holder for the felting needle so my hand doesn't get too cramped. These accoutrements have improved things a lot, and I'm hoping this will be reflected in an improvement in my felting skills. This will take me a while but I am enjoying myself. It's (almost) magical!

My reading was composed of two and three-star books this week. I finished We Spread (this was just a weird two stars for me), Buy Yourself the F*cking Lilies (two and a half stars for this self-help memoir), three stars for The Book of Goose (good, but I felt emotionally detached from this book), and three stars for Wrong Place Wrong Time (it dragged in too many places but I liked how it talked about memory and motherhood). These links go to the books' listings in Goodreads; if you want to read my reviews for more specifics you can click on the books under "Bonny's bookshelf: read" in the right-hand sidebar. 

What are you making and reading this week?

Tuesday, October 4, 2022

I Made It!

I finally finished The Shire virtual walking challenge that I started way back in April! It was 145 miles through The Shire with Frodo and Sam and I completed it in 145 days. I gave myself plenty of extra time when setting my goal but didn't need all of it. 

I've unlocked the next challenge, The Fellowship, through Rivendell. There are a total of five Lord of the Rings Challenges but I think I'm done. They are not inexpensive and I don't really feel the need to record my mileage and virtually compete. I already have this cool medal,

with The Ring inside. 

I'm just going to keep moving and walking will be its own reward. 

Monday, October 3, 2022

Sometimes Monday ...

 ... looks like a day for meal planning. 

Ryan's birthday is on Friday and since he's now local, I'm making dinner for him. He lives by himself and even though he enjoys cooking, it gets to be a bit of a drag sometimes. My grandmother always said that food tastes better when somebody you love makes it for you, and I definitely think that is true. So I wanted to make him some good things, but not necessarily difficult, complicated, or fancy. I looked through my recipe box for inspiration and here's what I arrived at. 
  • Swedish Meatballs
  • Mashed Potatoes
  • Green Beans (from the garden)
  • Watergate Salad (from John's mother)

  • Mrs. O'Neill's Pound Cake - she was Ryan's 7th grade English teacher and one of the best bakers I know. I feel very lucky that she wrote the recipe out for me one day, and once I confirmed that she had forgotten a few things, it was perfect.

The pound cake is the best if it's made a day ahead of time, so that's what I'll be doing on Thursday. 

I can hardly wait to taste all these. They are some of Ryan's favorites (and if I'm honest, mine, too)!