Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Unraveled Wednesday

I'm happy to join Kat and fellow Unravelers for Unraveled Wednesday. I've got a pair of finally-kitchenered socks and the Hitchhiker-in-progress.

There's no sign of the Wollmeise roll gradient showing up in the Hitchhiker yet so I'll just have to keep knitting. 


I took a picture on the grass this week in case I need a reminder of what green grass looks like. We got about 0.1" of rain in May, so unless something changes in the next month we may have brown, crispy grass and be done mowing. I'm not really so concerned about the grass, but drought in general. (Fingers crossed for some significant precipitation.)

I finished a variety of books this week, all of them non-fiction. The first one was Margaret Renkl's The Comfort of Crows. She's written a series of 52 essays that follow the plants and creatures in her backyard for a year. She includes the personal along with the flora and fauna and there are delightful illustrations by her brother. One of the things I like best about Renkl's writing is that she is able to express joy and wonder about the natural world while still writing honestly about climate change. When this four-star book is published on October 24th, I'm going to buy a copy so I can read an essay each week.

The next book is one that I had high hopes for but it turned out not to be for me. On Our Best Behavior is subtitled The Seven Deadly Sins and the Price Women Pay to Be Good. I agreed with the basic premise of On Our Best Behavior - that women are raised to be "good" but most of the time there is a price to pay for this good behavior. The place I ran into some difficulty was with Ms. Loehnen framing her thesis in terms of the seven deadly sins. Her historical background on fourth-century monk Evagrius Ponticus and Pope Gregory didn't add much to my thought process, especially because the seven deadly sins were posited for everyone, not just women. I think that is up to each individual (man, woman, or otherwise) to try to live wholeheartedly while recognizing that meeting basic needs do not make you greedy, just as resting when necessary does not make you lazy. This book was three stars for me. 

Lastly was an interesting book I stumbled upon, Boundless by Christine Henneberg. It's billed as the story of an abortion doctor becoming a mother, but it's really the story of a young woman growing up and questioning her choices of medicine, marriage, and motherhood. Dr. Henneberg has written this story with honesty and vulnerability. She writes truthfully about wondering if she could manage to stay in medicine and still make her physician husband feel loved. The chapters are full of candor about how she loves to perform abortions, and even though this sounds like an odd thing to say, she realizes that she likes providing women with the freedom to make choices. She wrote the book in 2018 and a separate foreword in 2022, and even though she practices in California, she has had to ask the question about her patients: what would happen if they were in Texas? (and now a whole host of other states that have restricted access to abortion healthcare). This four-star book is timely and thoughtful.

What are you making and reading this week?

====

I have a friend whose father has died. He is here from British Columbia and is staying with us for a week to attend the funeral and get some things accomplished. My blogging will be hit or miss over the next week, but I will be back for our Trespasses discussion on June 6th. 

Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Rickett's Glen (for old people)

We finally got to Rickett's Glen State Park last week, saw a few waterfalls, and had a nice time. 


We got there Monday morning and had some conflicting information from friends on the best way to approach the trail, but after some time standing in front of the sign and asking a photographer for his advice, we decided to approach the falls from the bottom. 


There are 22 named waterfalls in the park, and you can see quite a few of them by hiking in from the top. This is also the steepest and more difficult approach. We decided to start at the bottom, especially after the photographer told us that the trail was like a nice stroll through the woods (and he was right). 




We hiked about 2.5 miles in and then got to a steeper part of the trail with 25 or so steps cut into the stone walls but no handholds. That's where we decided to call it good and turn around and hike back. 



The waterfalls are lovely and the trail through the woods is very nice, with interesting stumps and textured tree roots. 





We stayed the night at our friends' cabin and then fished at a nearby lake the next day. 



The photographer that we initially saw at the map told us that the USPS is issuing stamps of waterfalls throughout the US on June 13. There are 12 different ones, including one from Ricketts Glen. These are some of the prettiest stamps I've seen in quite a while.

I'm glad I had started PT as that made this an enjoyable hike. We probably could have gone farther but we were all a little concerned about climbing up steep rocks without handholds. Aside from that it was quite a nice trip!

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Unraveled Wednesday: 5/24/2023

I'm happy to join Kat and fellow Unravelers for Unraveled Wednesday. I still haven't kitchenered the last toe on the socks I was knitting, but all in good time. I was thinking about starting my next project and was anxious to get going. 

Back in 2019, Ryan was still in Fort Collins and The Loopy Ewe was still there also. When I would visit Ryan, I had to also make a visit to The Loopy Ewe and I fell in love with Wollmeisen Rolls. These were essentially sock blanks that Wollmeise was dyeing, and I bought at least five of them. I've knit five of them but have been saving this last one, in the colorwayVergiƟmeinnicht (forget me not). Yarn is meant to be used and not just saved so I decided it was time to knit it. 

I knit my other four rolls directly from the roll, so that's what I started to do with this one but it was a crinkly, ramen-like mess. So I unraveled the whole thing, tied it up carefully, and soaked it overnight. 


I had wound it tightly enough that it wasn't drying after two days of hanging outside, so I got the kitchen chairs outand rewound it. 


There are still some crinkles in the yarn, but I was able to wind it into a ball and start a Forget Me Not Hitchhiker with it. 


And while I thought this was my last Wollmeisen Roll, I checked the website and found that they are
dyeing them again! (I may have ordered two.)

This week I read A Likely Story, but it was a slightly disappointing two-star book for me. The real star was Happiness Falls. It's the propulsive sophomore novel by Angie Kim, and it is a wonder, from the cover to the pages in between. (I recently described Absolution as "a marvel" so I needed a new descriptor.) I enjoyed Miracle Creek by the author and it's clear she has been doing extensive research and writing in the intervening four years.

A biracial Korean-American family in Virginia finds their lives turned inside out when their father and husband goes missing. Kim has written a wholly original missing person story, complicated by the fact that one of the family members, Eugene, has Angelman syndrome and cannot speak. The story is told mainly through 20-year-old Mia, complete with her thoughts, impressions, and philosophical insights. This book is packed full of action and I wanted to race through it to see what happened, but Mia's observations and footnotes made me slow down and take it all in. It's a family drama, full of secrets, but so much more. It's a book you can read, learn from, and read again to learn even more. That's just what I'm going to do. The book will be published on September 5, and I highly recommend it. 

What are you making and reading this week?


Thursday, May 18, 2023

A Gathering of Poetry: May 2023

It's the third Thursday of the month so I'd like to welcome you to A Gathering of Poetry. The poem I chose for today felt right as soon as I found it (or maybe it found me). 

Late Spring in the Mesilla Valley
Carrie Fountain
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Walking this morning,
I thought, What if I stop saying
the little no I’m always saying?
What if I drop it right here
in the middle of Rabb Road?
You know the guy down the street
who left his Christmas lights up
until after Easter? Well, did you see
all the odd little mirrors he hung
in the bushes alongside his house?
I keep thinking I’d like to be forced
into a conversation with yes.
It’s not enough to brace yourself;
eventually you must allow this world
to hit you in the face.
All night I’ve been getting whiffs
of some late-blooming honeysuckle.
Half of me says, Don’t breathe.
But only half.

====

Fountain, Carrie. "Late Spring in the Mesilla Valley", Burn Lake. Penguin Books. 2010

You can read more about the poet here and here

====

Thanks for reading and joining us for our 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, May 17, 2023

Unraveled Wednesday

I'm happy to join Kat and fellow Unravelers for Unraveled Wednesday because I finally have a completed Peachy Keen Hitchhiker that I'm quite happy with.


I knit 54 teeth so it's just the size I like and I'm happy with my eyelet row placement. This project (my 25th Hitchhiker) makes me happy!

The raspberry cordial socks are almost done except for one last toe decrease. I'm making myself finish them before I start something that's hopefully a bit more exciting, and that I hope will be as lovely as my last project.

I finished several books last week: What an Owl Knows (excellent five-star nonfiction for me), and another five-star book, Absolution by Alice McDermott. This novel tells a story about "inconsequential good", set in Saigon in 1963. I wasn't sure it was going to be my sort of book, but it is a marvel. These books will be published on June 13 and November 7, respectively. I also read a quirky and meandering tale, The Librarianist by Patrick deWitt. It will be published on July 4 and was three stars for me. Lastly, I listened to Tasha: A Son's Memoir by Brian Morton. He tells the story of his mother's lively life, her slow descent into dementia, and all the difficulties that her family ran into trying to make sure Tasha was well-taken care of. Sad but still hopeful, I gave it four stars.

What are you making and reading this week?

Tuesday, May 16, 2023

Sorry, No Waterfalls

The trip we had planned to Rickett's Glen with friends got postponed when our friends had a death in the family. This was the death of a 103-year-old uncle who had lived a long and fulfilling life, but of course, they had to attend the funeral. We'll try to go next week instead. (Fingers crossed the weather cooperates.)

So instead of trying to hike in a lovely PA state park, I saw the orthopedic doctor. My hips have been bothering me for almost three months, sometimes to the point that walking and even standing is quite painful. I self-diagnosed it as greater trochanteric pain syndrome but thought that I needed to finally see a physician for a real diagnosis and treatment. 

I was able to get an appointment for last Friday, and after some x-rays and an efficient visit with one of the many orthopedic doctors, he confirmed my diagnosis (along with some arthritis) and asked what form of treatment I might be interested in. I told him cortisone shots in both hips and physical therapy, and that's just what he prescribed. Ryan has been telling me for a long time that I need to be more assertive and simply ask for what I want. It looks like he was right in this instance and I made sure to let him know. 

(I don't have a quarter in my pelvis; that's just the button on my jeans and the zipper below it.)

The doctor did the cortisone shots during the office visit and I go to my first physical therapy appointment on Thursday. I'm actually looking forward to it, especially because my hips are now slightly less painful after the injections. I may be a new person in 4-6 weeks or at least one who is actually able to hike somewhat comfortably at Rickett's Glen someday.

Monday, May 15, 2023

Museum of Me: May 2023

Hello and welcome to the Museum of Me. This month's installment has been slightly delayed due to the staff's forgetfulness, but we're open now and asking the important question: What would 10-year-old YOU think about the life you are living now?

The best way to answer that is to simply ask 10-year-old Bonny and see what she has to say. 


Hey there. I'm 10-year-old Bonny and 65-year-old Bonny has asked me to talk to you about her life today. (To simplify things, let's just call her old Bonny). Mainly because she is, and I bet she'd be the first one to admit it. I pride myself on telling the truth (most of the time), and that is one thing she has retained, even in her old age.


But sometimes she's not honest with herself. She would probably love to have a cat like Bitsy, and I'm sure she's told you about Justin's cat, Nugget (she tells everyone about Nugget!) but she has not yet gone out and adopted one. Old Bonny might not be assertive enough sometimes.


There are fewer adventures in the woods for old Bonny, but that also means she doesn't get poison ivy all over her hands and face.



She gave up building Estes rockets and cool lunar landing crafts a long time ago. She also hasn't worn flowered bell bottoms or a Snoopy shirt in decades. I never thought those things would happen!


I am not a big fan of getting dressed up and neither is old Bonny. She likes to wear comfortable overalls and sneakers much of the time, and that is one thing I approve of. After my father took this picture, I changed into play clothes, hopped on that big bicycle that you see on the porch, and pedaled away. Old Bonny has not been on a bike in years. She does ride a stationary bike for exercise, but where will that take her?


I love being around water, swimming, paddling canoes, and even trying to sink the boat I'm in just to see what happens. Old Bonny did fish for snakeheads in the creek in Elkton a few years ago and paddled a kayak last summer, but she didn't try to sink it, not even once. 


I think she's a bit too serious and doesn't seem to smile or laugh enough. Old Bonny might say she's got responsibilities and things to be concerned with, but having those things doesn't mean you can't still be happy. 

So what do I think about her life 55 years later? I never would have thought that she would be so much less active and sometimes seem like such an old lady. Her idea of having fun is getting immersed in a good book or an afternoon of knitting! But, there are still glimmers of the 10-year-old inside her, and maybe after this museum installation she'll remember they still exist and let them out more often. Probably not by building rockets, wearing bell bottoms, and sinking boats, but I do hope for more smiles, laughter, and physical activity for old Bonny. 

So how about you? I'd love to hear about what 10-year-old YOU might think of your life today. We'll be back on the second Friday of June with a brand-new installation. Thank you for visiting The Museum of Me!

Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Unraveled Wednesday: 5/10/23

I'm happy to join Kat and fellow Unravelers for Unraveled Wednesday. Last Wednesday just didn't feel quite right without you, Kat, so I'm glad you're back! My peach yarn finally arrived, so I've been working on the Hitchhiker. 


I've got at least three more teeth to go, but this is lovely yarn so I'm quite happy to take my time. I've been working outside, planting the transplants I grew from seeds in the garden and pruning, so my knitting time has been limited. Maybe next week I'll be able to show you a completed Hitchhiker and a finished pair of socks, but we'll see! 

I have been reading some pre-publication copies from NetGalley. I need to read these promptly so I can review them before the publication date, and I requested a few too many. I finished The Raging Storm by Ann Cleeves, and it was four stars for me. It's the third satisfying installment in the DI Matthew Venn Two Rivers series, and I'm already looking forward to the next one. I've also got What an Owl Knows by Jennifer Ackerman, The Librarianist by Patrick deWitt, and Absolution by Alice McDermott queued on my Kindle, so I better get reading. 

What are you making and reading this week?

====

I'm heading to Ricketts Glen State Park for a long weekend so I've got some reading and knitting time in the car. I'll be back here next week, hopefully with a few waterfall photos to share!


Tuesday, May 9, 2023

Read With Us: Trespasses


Last week Carole gave you a bit of background about our spring Read With Us book, Trespasses by Louise Kennedy. This week it's my turn. 

I don't think I'm giving too much away if I tell you that the book begins and ends in 2015 at an art exhibit. I haven't been able to stop thinking about several of the pieces that Louise Kennedy wrote about and was not surprised to find that there have been several exhibits on the Art of The Troubles. These have featured paintings, photographs, and sculptures, and I thought it might help if we were better able to picture some of the art referred to in the book. 

A sculpture looms large in Trespasses and the author thanks sculptor Bettina Seitz in her acknowledgments. Seitz has sculpted "ghosts" that she calls Ancestors and installed them on an island off the coast of Sligo. While these are not specifically related to The Troubles, I think you'll be better able to imagine the sculpture that Trespasses begins with after seeing a few of Seitz's ghosts. 

Another sculpture that was exhibited in the Ulster Museum's Art of The Troubles is the arresting "Woman in a Bomb Blast" by F.E. McWilliams. This description is from Art UK

'Woman in a Bomb Blast' is the largest of F. E. McWilliam’s 'Women of Belfast' series made between 1972 and 1974. These bronze sculptures of female figures, caught in an explosion, were McWilliam’s response to the bombing of the Abercorn Tea Rooms, Belfast, in March 1972 in which a number of young women were killed and injured. Although the source was specific, McWilliam considered these sculptures to be universal symbols of women as victims of men’s stupidity.

Another sculpture that is mentioned in Trespasses is Rita Duffy's "Veil". The description is from Art Fund:

Veil is a constructed chamber of six heavy prison doors from a defunct women's prison in Armagh. Within the doors are small viewing holes through which prison staff would have observed offenders. The gallery visitor is invited to peer through these holes into a blood-red interior, suspended with eighty glass tear droplets. the chamber is surrounded with salt representing shed tears.

Armagh Prison was the only woman's prison in Northern Ireland during The Troubles, and the prison population grew to over 100 women between 1972 and 1976. It was the site of many protests (hunger strikes and no-wash protests) by the prisoners and eventually closed in 1986. 

I hope this glimpse into some of the artwork in Trespasses will enable you to have a better mental picture in addition to Louise Kennedy's descriptive prose. Both the book and the artwork are alarming, arresting, and affecting. I hope you'll consider reading the book and will join us for the discussion on Tuesday, June 6, 2023, at 7:00 pm Eastern time. 

Monday, May 8, 2023

Weekending

My SiL, her husband, and their grandson made the four-hour drive down to Bucks County last weekend so we could all get together. I know you don't know these people but I've learned that it's often valuable to me to create posts like this to jog my own memory. So here are a bunch of pictures of people in our family.

John with my niece's youngest child (her fifth!)

John's younger sister with her granddaughter

John's older sister admiring baby Elizabeth.
(The woman with the long blonde hair is my niece, Danielle.)

Justin, Warren, Bill my BiL, and the front of Danielle. 

Warren, the fourth of Danielle's five children, looking up to (or maybe at) Justin.

An exciting game of Candyland (The board has sure changed a lot!)

We had a wonderful time together and we hope to do it again in June. I hope your weekend was as lovely as mine!

Friday, May 5, 2023

My Day As An Apprentice

John did a lot of work on Justin's house after we bought it - refinishing wood floors, painting, insulating, putting in a new kitchen floor, replacing some of the boards on the back deck, and many other things that needed to be fixed. I helped some, but mostly with small things, especially after I got asked not to paint because nobody wanted to see my brush marks and my taping was sub-par. (Fine with me!)

Justin has a big bow window in the living room. Since the house was built around 1960, it only has single-pane glass, which has always bothered John. We couldn't afford to replace the whole window, so John had this idea to make storm windows for it. He bought clear plexiglass sheets, used the router to trim each panel to the correct size for the window pane, and made, cut, and painted channeled wood blocks to hold the plexiglass sheets onto the outside of the window. I wasn't so sure how this whole thing would look, but yesterday was installation day. 

The pillow is for Justin's cat, Nugget. I was disappointed
that she didn't lie on her pillow and watch us.


I was in charge of removing the blue plastic wrapping from each piece of plexiglass, ensuring it was clean and free of dust and dirt, and handing John the correct pieces and associated wooden blocks while he used the drill to screw the blocks in and anchor each piece of plexiglass. The static electricity on the plexiglass attracted a lot of dust, but it was a chilly day and I was wearing gloves which helped. 

When John attached the first blocks I thought he placed them sort of haphazardly and it took me a few minutes to convince him to move them more to the periphery and in line with the existing window divisions. He did eventually see that I was right but that meant we had to move six or eight blocks, fill in the screw holes and paint over them.

We used gold-colored screws so while John was cleaning up, I painted the screw heads with white paint so they wouldn't stick out so much. We were working outside, and it was chilly and took over five hours, but I tried not to complain. John had already done most of the painstaking work so I got to be the gofer and apprentice. I'm still not convinced this will make a measurable difference and I wonder if it was really worth all the time and expense (plexiglass isn't cheap!) but it looks better than I thought it would. 


Today I'm staying home and looking forward to my usual chores of cooking, mopping the kitchen floor, and cleaning the bathroom. They're easier than my day as a storm window installation apprentice!