Thursday, September 28, 2023

The Power of Persuasion?

I'm not saying that Vera's struggle to get her washing machine fixed had any power to affect my appliances, but I am letting you know that mine is the second washing machine in our corner of blogland to fail. 

It happened last week when I went downstairs to get a completed load of laundry and hang it out, but instead, I was greeted with a washer full of soapy grey water and no lights on the display. It seems that something involved in the pumping out of the water (pump? transmission? computerized control board?) has failed. John is fairly handy and has often attempted to fix our broken washers and dryers, but this one may be beyond him. I don't know if it's even worth calling a repair person as a service call will be at least 25 or 30% of the cost of a new washer. We'll probably go to Lowe's and get one of the cheapest washers we can find since we entered the age of disposable washing machines at least one washer ago. We were both surprised that this one was seven years old and had lasted two years longer than our last one.

I had to go to the laundromat with the sopping wet, half-washed load of clothes and it is a different kind of place. There is one nearby, and when I went it was clean and not crowded at all. The washers take $4.00 in quarters and I dug plenty of change out of our basket before I went. It's just the people that were different. There was one older man who sat down near me and it didn't even seem like he was doing laundry. Maybe it's just a fun hang-out for him. Every time my washing machine drained, spun, or filled it made some noise and he was compelled to say, "Houston, we have a problem," and chuckle loudly. 

He did ask why I was taking pictures at the laundromat and that seemed like a fair question. I explained the blog to him and he wondered if "those people on the internet" who would be reading would really be interested in my saga of a broken washing machine. I assured him that you would all be enthralled, and after shaking his head, he said to be sure and tell you that I spoke with a handsome older gentleman who made my visit to the laundromat more pleasurable. So now I've done that and can tell him about it if he's there when I go this week.

I will probably go to the laundromat again tomorrow and then make the painful visit to Lowe's and maybe pick out a washing machine. I'm sending good vibes for all of your washing machines and hoping that these things don't fail in threes.

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Unraveled Wednesday: 9/27/23

I'm joining Kat and fellow Unravelers today, for the final Unraveled Wednesday of September. In the spirit of Unraveled Wednesday, I did indeed have some lots of unraveling. I made a mistake on my Hitch on the Move, and like with my previous one, I started to tink back. Except I could not find a good place to stop and knit forward (just like before). I told myself I wasn't really sure that I liked these yarns together and I already had a Match & Move that I knit with them. So, I ripped out the whole thing and this is what it looks like now.

These balls of yarn can just sit in timeout until they learn to behave and I figure out what they want to be. 

I knit a few rows on my Hitchhiker, but I just wasn't in a Hitchhiker mood. Then I remembered a Stephen West pattern I bought a week or so ago, grabbed some dk yarn, and cast on. I even had to learn a new-to-me I-cord Tab Cast On, but it wasn't very difficult after watching the youtube video a couple of times. I'd like to present to you my (Not a Hitchhiker) Woolly Waffle Triangle: (ravelry link)

I love waffle stitch and have plenty of dk yarn left over from my Antler cardigan, so I was pleasantly surprised to find this pattern. It's surprisingly staid for one from Stephen West, and I also found several other shawls of his that have really lovely stitch patterns, like Dustland Shawl (another ravelry link). It's been damp, rainy, and with temperatures only reaching 60, I have some incentive to finish this so I can wear it soon!

I've been concentrating on reading Wellness this week. It's a longish book at 624 pages, but I'm almost done. It's so good that I don't want it to end. I just picked up The Bee Sting from the library, so that will be another long one that I hope will be just as good as Wellness

What are you making and reading this week?

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

The Answers!

Yesterday I gave you a bunch of first lines from books and asked for your guesses about what book they were from. Today you get the answers!

1.   "The snow in the mountains was melting and Bunny had been dead for several weeks before we came to understand the gravity of our situation."

The Secret History by Donna Tartt

2.  "124 was spiteful. Full of Baby's venom. The women in the house knew it and so did the children."

Beloved by Toni Morrison

3.  "I write this sitting in the kitchen sink."

I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith.

4.  “When I stepped out into the bright sunlight from the darkness of the movie house, I had only two things on my mind: Paul Newman and a ride home.”

The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton 

5.  "Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice."

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez

6.  "This is my favorite book in all the world, though I have never read it."

The Princess Bride by William Goldman

7.  “There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it.”

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis

8.   “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.” 

Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier

9.  "In our family, there was no clear line between religion and fly fishing."

A River Runs Through It by Norman Maclean

10. "Where's Papa going with that axe?' said Fern to her mother as they were setting the table for breakfast."

Charlotte's Web by E.B. White

11. "I'm pretty much f*cked."

The Martian by Andy Weir

12. “You wake up with the answer to the question that everyone asks. The answer is Yes, and the answer is Just Like Here But Worse.

The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida by Shehan Karunatilaka

13. “I was born twice: first, as a baby girl, on a remarkably smogless Detroit day in January of 1960; and then again, as a teenage boy, in an emergency room near Petoskey, Michigan, in August of 1974.”

Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides

14. “Captain Ahab was neither my first husband, nor my last.”

Ahab's Wife by Sena Jeter Naslund

15. “I spent much of my childhood listening to the sound of striving”.

Becoming by Michelle Obama

16. "When Augustus came out on the porch the blue pigs were eating a rattlesnake --- not a very big one."

Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry

How many did you recognize? Several of these were mentioned last Tuesday in our Zoom discussion of The Seven Moons, so I hope there were some that were familiar. Thanks for playing along!

What's your favorite first line?

Monday, September 25, 2023

Hooked By the First Line

Last week I stopped by the library to pick up a couple of books they were holding for me, and while I waited to check out, I eavesdropped on a conversation that the patron ahead of me and the library clerk were having. The patron was excited to get home and read the book she was checking out because it had a great first line: "The story so far: in the beginning, the universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move." 

I thought this might be from Douglas Adams, but I wasn't sure which one of his books it was from. It turns out it was The Restaurant at the End of the Universe

This got me started thinking about great first lines. Here are some that I liked. I tried to choose from books that I thought might be more easily recognized, and I hope that at least one or two of them are giveaways. Do you recognize any of them? Feel free to leave your guesses and your own favorite first lines in the comments. I'll provide a list of the answers tomorrow. 

1.  "The snow in the mountains was melting and Bunny had been dead for several weeks before we came to understand the gravity of our situation."

2.  "124 was spiteful. Full of Baby's venomThe women in the house knew it and so did the children."

3.  "I write this sitting in the kitchen sink."

4.  “When I stepped out into the bright sunlight from the darkness of the movie house, I had only two things on my mind: Paul Newman and a ride home.”

5.  "Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice."

6.  "This is my favorite book in all the world, though I have never read it."

7.  “There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it.”  

8.  “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.” 

9.  "In our family, there was no clear line between religion and fly fishing."

10. "Where's Papa going with that axe?' said Fern to her mother as they were setting the table for breakfast."

11. "I'm pretty much f*cked."

12. “You wake up with the answer to the question that everyone asks. The answer is Yes, and the answer is Just Like Here But Worse."

13. “I was born twice: first, as a baby girl, on a remarkably smogless Detroit day in January of 1960; and then again, as a teenage boy, in an emergency room near Petoskey, Michigan, in August of 1974.”

14. “Captain Ahab was neither my first husband, nor my last.”

15. “I spent much of my childhood listening to the sound of striving”.

16. "When Augustus came out on the porch the blue pigs were eating a rattlesnake --- not a very big one."

Friday, September 22, 2023

Museum of Me: September 2023

Hello and welcome to the slightly-delayed September opening of the Museum of Me. It's actually the third Friday of the month and the new installment has been delayed for a week because I completely forgot about it. But the doors are open now and the September installment considers the important question: What did your day look like when you got home from school?

From the picture above you might guess that my after-school activities first included a snack, and you would be right. My mother might have made brownies from the Duncan Hines mix that she always used and my sister and I would each have one. Oftentimes, my mother would join us except she cut her brownie into four tiny pieces and ate them each slowly. We used to tease her and ask if she was hoping that some of the calories would leak out that way, but I guess it's just how she liked eating her brownies. But this is where I also learned that life might be unfair. My sister, who was tall and thin throughout our childhood, would eat four or five brownies, but my mother would say, "I think you've had enough, Bonny" after I had just one. (I was not tall and thin.) If we were having Oreos for an after-school snack, I would eat two while my sister would have a whole row of Oreos, sometimes followed by a big bowl of ice cream. The snack was the highlight of my day when I got home from school, up until my mother went back to work.

I don't remember when this happened but she worked part-time at this tiny little post office near our home. Mom was at work when my sister and I got home, so sometimes I ate two brownies, but then the real work started. I was expected to make dinner! That often meant I had to simply put a casserole in the oven that my mother had prepared ahead of time, but sometimes it meant that I had to actually slave away and make dinner. All I can recall is making meatloaf (but surely we didn't have meatloaf every night), with my hands in the bowl kneading together meat, eggs, breadcrumbs, and ketchup. I probably asked myself why I was working my fingers to the bone while my sister ate whatever she wanted and watched Scooby Doo and After School Specials, but this seemed to be expected since I was the oldest. I'll have to ask my sister about this the next time we chat, but her remembrances may differ slightly from mine. :-) 

So what I remember about my day when I got home from school was brownies, making meatloaf, and life isn't fair. Those aren't bad memories. 

So how about you? I'd love to hear about your after-school activities, and if they included snacks and life lessons. We'll be back on the second Friday of October (or when I remember) with a brand-new installation. Thank you for visiting The Museum of Me!

Thursday, September 21, 2023

A Gathering of Poetry: September 2023

It's the third Thursday of the month so I'd like to welcome you to A Gathering of Poetry.

I love fried clams but don't have them very often. Quite coincidentally, I ate a plate full of fried fried clams and came upon this new-to-me Mary Oliver poem on the same day. After reading it, I'm not sure I'll be able to enjoy fried clams without guilt, but I do like the poem  (almost as much as I like fried clams). 

by Mary Oliver

Each one is a small life, but sometimes long, if its
place in the universe is not found out. Like us, they
have a heart and a stomach; they know hunger, and
probably a little satisfaction too. Do not mock them
for their gentleness, they have a muscle that loves
being alive. They pull away from the light. They pull
down. They hold themselves together. They refuse to

But sometimes they lose their place and are tumbled
shoreward in a storm. Then they pant, they fill
with sand, they have no choice but must open the
smallest crack. Then the fire of the world touches
them. Perhaps, on such days, they too begin the
terrible effort of thinking, of wondering who, and
what, and why. If they can bury themselves again in
the sand they will. If not, they are sure to perish,
though not quickly. They also have resources beyond
the flesh; they also try very hard not to die.


Oliver, Mary, “Clam”, What Do We Know: Poems and Prose Poems. Da Capo Press, 2002.

You can read more about the poet 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, September 20, 2023

Unraveled Wednesday: 9/20/23

I'm joining Kat and fellow Unravelers today with my second Hitch on the Move. I felt compelled to work on it this week and was able to knit more than last week since my vertigo is slowly waning.

I'm knitting it with a slightly larger needle than last time and I do have plenty of yarn (I think), so I hope I can make this one a lot larger than the first. 

As for reading, I finished two books last week. Pearl is a brief, sad story about grief and great loss. Siân Hughes tells a tale that begins in childhood, progresses through troubled adolescence, and continues to troubled motherhood. This novel felt more like a series of connected vignettes, and I had trouble with the cheerful voice of narrator Laura Brydon recounting all the pain. For me, this served as a reminder that just because a book has been nominated for the Booker Prize doesn't mean that it will be an enriching or enlightening read. Two and a half stars rounded up.

I also read a pre-publication copy of After AnnieI read several of Anna Quindlen's books ten years ago or so, including Miller's Valley, One True Thing, and Every Last One. They were enjoyable, but Still Life With Bread Crumbs aggravated me so much that I quit reading her novels. I'm happy to say that After Annie was a wonderful read for me, free of any aggravation. I read it in two sittings which rarely happens anymore.

Quindlen tells the compelling story of Annie, her husband, four young children, and her best friend, and what happens to them after Annie literally drops dead on the kitchen floor. They all grieve in their own ways, some of them cope in better ways than others, and some of them grow in good ways. It's heartwarming and honest, but not maudlin. The author has written one of the best stories about death, loss, grief, change, and hope that I've read recently. This book will be published on March 12, 2024.

What are you making and reading this week?

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Read With Us: Time to Discuss!

Today is the discussion day for our Read With Us Summer selection, The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida by Shehan KarunatilakaKymCarole, and I are each posting discussion questions on our blogs today, and you are welcome to respond in the comments. I would also encourage you to reply to others' comments if you choose. This is a book discussion, after all, so there are no correct answers or right opinions. I've been looking forward to discussing this book ever since I finished it, and I don't know of a better bunch of people for a book discussion than all of you.

Here's my question: Maali’s character is complex. At the beginning of the novel we’re told: If you had a business card, this is what it would say. Maali Almeida. Photographer. Gambler. Slut. (p. 1). Yet despite his flaws, the Booker judges described him as ‘wonderful company’ and ‘cheerfully unapologetic about what others might see as his failings’. What is it about Maali’s character that makes him so likable?
I think it mainly has to do with his authenticity and unapologetic nature. I have more opinions, but want to give you a chance to express your ideas.
So what do you think? I can't wait to hear your thoughts!
And don't forget we will have an in-person Zoom discussion at 7:00 pm Eastern this evening. You can send me an email (the 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. I hope to see you there!

Monday, September 18, 2023

Right Now: September 2023

Here's what's going on in my world Right Now in the second to last week of September.

Reveling In -  Cooler temperatures (finally!) and the slow approach of fall. It's been delightfully cool at night (in the upper 40s to mid-50s) with 70s and 80s during the day. I have been leaving the windows open and the house smells wonderfully fresh. Of course, this also means allergies, but they make drugs for that.

Patting myself on the back - For cleaning out my pantry cupboard. I threw away some old spices and organized all the things I kept. I know I don't lead a very exciting life, but sometimes I just like to open my pantry and enjoy the view. I'm making a concerted effort to actually use the items on the pantry shelves before I buy more (which happened after I found that I already had 480 PG Tips tea bags and didn't have to order any more). 

Drinking - Now that I can find and see all of it, I'm choosing from my assortment of tea. There is nothing like a nice warm cup of peppermint tea (or any of the other nine types of tea I have) to end the evening. 

Listening To - Bach Trios, delightful arrangements of Bach's works played on cello, mandolin, and bass. After this, it's The Goat Rodeo Sessions from the same musicians with the addition of Stuart Duncan on fiddle, banjo, and mandolin. These guys are good!

Watching - Unforgotten. Kym mentioned this show last week, and I've become slightly obsessed. It's a British police procedural where they investigate historical crimes, with Nicola Walker and Sanjeev Bhaskar playing the main investigators. I love how the stories are slowly unraveled over a season, with thoughtfulness and sensitivity and without the usual US violence. I have to make myself do laundry, vacuum, and prepare food before I sit down to watch so I don't end up just sitting and watching all day. 

Learning - How to patch a tire, the easy way! I got a roofing nail in my back passenger tire and developed a slow leak. Ordinarily, I would have gone to the auto mechanics, they would have taken the tire off, told me they tried to patch it but were unsuccessful, and then they would try to sell me two new tires. Justin offered to show me how to fix it, in four minutes without taking the tire off. Using this kit, first, you remove the offending nail, then ream out the hole with the reaming tool. Then you take a really sticky plug strip, push it all the way into the tire with the plugging tool, and then pull it out, sealing the tire. It's been three weeks and no leaks! I'll probably regret saying this, but I'm excited to try this myself the next time I get a nail in my tire. 

Getting - The new covid booster later this week. I still haven't had covid (unless it was so mild I didn't even realize it) but I'm anxious to continue that streak since I'm 66 years old with somewhat compromised lung function from a pulmonary embolism. I made the executive decision not to get my flu shot for a few weeks, mostly because I felt poorly for 24 hours after both vaccines on prior occasions. I was afraid the effects would be multiplied if I got both vaccines at the same time.

Grateful - That my vertigo seems to be resolving, albeit slowly. I still have to be careful for a couple of hours when I get up in the morning, but with some meclizine and continuing repetitions of the Epley maneuver and vestibular exercises, it is dissipating. I made an appointment with an ENT but the first appointment I could get isn't until October 13th.

Reminding You - About the Read With Us discussion of The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida on our blogs and Zoom tomorrow. Please RSVP to Kym via the link on the right-hand side of her blog if you would like to receive an invitation to the Zoom discussion at 7:00 pm tomorrow night. I hope that many of you can join us!

What's going on in your world right now?

Thursday, September 14, 2023

The One Where We See Some Elk

Our trip to Benezette, PA last week was really wonderful! We had a good time with John's sister and her husband, and we were lucky and got to see some magnificent elk. 

First, we headed to the Elk Country Visitor's Center where we got maps, brochures, and plenty of useful information from two helpful employees. There are several elk viewing sites set back in the trees where you can set up with your binoculars and wait for elk. They are crepuscular, meaning that they are active at dawn and dusk, feeding on grass and a herbivorous diet. After feeding at dawn, they retreat to the cooler woods to rest and digest their food; elk are ruminants. 

Elk live in male or female herds for much of the year, but in the fall, the female cows come into heat. Male bull elk gather female cows into "harems" and compete with other bull elk to keep their harems intact. This competition consists of posturing, bugling, and sometimes even confronting each other with their antlers. During this time a bull may have up to 20 cows in his harem which he defends fiercely. A bull with a harem rarely feeds and he may lose up to 20 percent of his body weight. (Crazy males and too much testosterone!)

We were lucky to see two mature bulls with massive antlers meet each other in the field in front of us. No actual confrontation took place, but it seemed as if they were each taking stock of the other and sizing up the competition. There were several cows and calves that the larger one tried to keep confined to the wood's edge.

Breeding season is just beginning, so this activity will continue through September and October into early winter. The elk prefer wooded areas and sheltered valleys during the winter, and then the calves are born in the spring, and the cycle repeats. 

I mentioned bugling but I wasn't able to get any good audio clips of this unique elk vocalization. The YouTube video below provides some good examples of this sound. We didn't see any elk close up on Saturday morning but heard lots of bugles in the early morning fog. It's an eerie sound from an inspiring animal. I would definitely go back to see and hear the elk again and hope maybe you get a chance to do it in person someday. 

Wednesday, September 13, 2023

Unraveled Wednesday: 9/13/23

I'm joining Kat and fellow Unravelers today with just a tiny bit of knitting. I woke up last Thursday morning when we were supposed to leave with a bad case of vertigo. I've had it before but this episode left me feeling especially nauseated, dizzy, and just plain crappy. After doing the Epley maneuver numerous times and taking meclizine, I felt well enough to travel four hours in the car. I was borderline okay as the passenger in the car but I didn't want to tempt fate by also trying to knit. This episode took several days to resolve so all I have to show for knitting this week is six teeth on a Hitchhiker. 

I grabbed this confetti yarn before we left because I felt like knitting with something cheerful instead of the Wollmeise I talked about last week. I may continue with this and work some more on my Hitch on the Move which I haven't touched in several weeks. 

Reading with vertigo didn't work too well either, so I didn't finish any books last week. I have started a couple now that I'm feeling a bit better, and hopefully, next week's Unraveled Wednesday post won't be so skimpy on knitting and books! (I will be back tomorrow with an elk post.)

What are you making and reading this week?

Wednesday, September 6, 2023

Unraveled Wednesday: 9/6/23

I'm joining Kat and fellow Unravelers today with a finished Captain Ahab Hitchhiker. 

I wasn't sure that I liked the dark brown at the end while I was knitting it, but when I look at it overall, I do like the transition from blue to green to brown - very much. I don't know that I would have named it Captain Ahab, and I wish I could ask the dyers at Wollmeise what was on their minds when they dyed this. 

I have the same question about my next Wollmeise roll. This one is called Yoga and is shades of brown to green. I've unraveled it, soaked it, and it's all wound, ready to cast on the next Hitchhiker. I'm going to have plenty of time in the car over the next week and yet another Hitchhiker is perfect for car knitting. I'm not sure I like the brown blobs you can see in the unrolled photo, but the only way to tell is to cast on and see what it looks like knit up. 

We're leaving tomorrow to visit John's sister and her husband again. He and John will work on my BiL's TR4 again, and the four of us will also be heading to Benezette/Saint Mary's to hopefully see some of Pennsylvania's elk herd in person. 

I finished two books last week and both of them were a bit surprising. The Art Thief was about the world's most prolific art thief, Stéphane Breitwieser. He is thought to have stolen more than 300 objects and works of art from museums and churches. He managed this by choosing mainly small paintings and items that were easy to carry out, and with the help of his girlfriend as a lookout. Breitwieser didn't steal for financial gain but kept everything in his apartment's attic. He said he appreciated the items more and kept them in better condition than the museums had, and seemed to use this reasoning to justify his lack of impulse control. Breitwieser had no remorse and saw himself as an "art liberator". He got caught when he and his girlfriend returned to wipe away his fingerprints. He stated that he had always meant to return the objects, but magnifying his crimes, his mother threw some of them in a canal and also burned others. He only spent a few years in jail, and this seemed far too little for what was really the loss of far too many works of art. 

The second surprise was The Lost TicketRom-com and chick lit are two of my least favorite genres, so I can't quite explain why I borrowed this one, but the pleasant, uplifting story that wasn't overly saccharine sweet proved to be the perfect read for someone in the depths of dark grumpiness and anger at most humans. It's a story about friendship, hardships, parenthood (what to do and what not to do), growing old, and how not to judge a book (or people) by what's on the outside.

What are you making and reading this week? (I'll be back next week, hopefully with a few elk photos!)

Tuesday, September 5, 2023

What's Not for Dinner

This weekend I was at a complete loss for an answer to that oft-asked question, "What's for dinner?" and decided to page through some cookbooks. I've weeded out most of the cookbooks that never got used, but there are still a few that I've kept for sentimental reasons. This one was my grandmother's from 1927. 

My grandmother was an excellent cook, but I never saw her use a recipe. I was surprised to come upon this one when we were cleaning out her things and I had to keep it. 

This warning in the beginning gave me pause, but I trust that anyone reading this will not demand that Ioan the book to them, forcing me to "borrow it back." But I'm going to throw caution to the wind and give you some recipes that I decided not to have for dinner. 

Despite the ease of preparation, I did not serve Broiled Frogs' Legs as an appetizer. 

There was also no Celery Custard on the dinner table.

I can hardly picture how this entree is prepared, but it seems to involve slicing bananas, placing them inside split round steak, laying strips of bacon across the top, and baking for 40 minutes (or just 30 minutes if you like your Baked Banana Steak rare).

And we also did not have Peanut Butter Soup. I was a little curious about how this might taste, but I definitely would have left out the onion. 

For the record, I did make Spaghetti Pie, which I like better than regular spaghetti. It's something my grandmother used to make with leftover spaghetti, and I think it's much tastier than Baked Banana Steak.

What are you having for dinner tonight?