Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Unraveled Wednesday: 2/28/24

I'm joining Kat and fellow Unravelers on this last Unraveled Wednesday in February with my Hydrophily once again. I've just added the first of five stripes in the penultimate shade of my gradient. 

The photo below gives you a slightly better idea of what several of the gradient shades look like.

I still have quite a bit of knitting left to do - nine more repeats of the 14-row pattern to finish the full span of the gradient. I did just receive some new yarn for a project that a fellow blogger so kindly enabled recently, and I am anxious to wind the yarn and cast on. It's possible you might even get to see a different project next Wednesday. 

I did get to knit quite a bit yesterday because we were at Ryan's while he and John tried to diagnose, disassemble, reassemble, and fix his water softener.

They were successful at diagnosing (the cam got stuck in the backwash cycle), disassembling (see above), and mostly successful at reassembling. Five hours of their efforts still didn't fix the problem, but Ryan now has some plumbers coming to maybe fix or more likely replace the water softener. I was glad I was able to tend to my knitting and stay out of the way as there were many utterances along the lines of "Gosh darn this dratted water softener and its chintzy plastic parts!"

I did finish The Poisonwood Bible last week. I won't review it here since so many of you have already read it or are finishing it for our Read With Us discussion in March. I will say that this was my second time reading it, and I feel like I was a more mature reader this time and able to appreciate all that Barbara Kingsolver put into writing this book. 

What are you making and reading this week?

Monday, February 26, 2024

The One Where I Learn Some New Vocabulary

I'm currently reading a pre-publication copy of The Bright Sword: A Novel of King Arthur by Lev Grossman. I have a soft spot for almost any form of the King Arthur story and this one is no exception. I've only read 13% so far and I'll talk more about the book later after I finish, but for now, I'm having fun learning some new vocabulary words.

I like to think I have a slightly better-than-average grasp of words, and that may be because I read slightly more than the average person. In 2016, the average number of books read per capita in the US was 12. I'm pretty sure many of you read more than that so maybe you feel the same way about vocabulary, but I'm not judging anyone's reading habits. 

When I read a book, I often encounter one or two words that I'm not familiar with, look them up, and learn something. In The Bright Sword, there are many more than just one or two words. Here are a few of them so far. If you scroll down past the book cover, you can see what they mean.







Mi-parti cotehardie





Machicolationsopenings in the floor between the corbels of a projecting gallery or parapet, through which molten lead, etc., might be cast upon an enemy beneath.

Tercemainly in the Roman Catholic Church the third of the seven canonical hours of the divine office, originally fixed at the third hour of the day, about 9 a.m.

Gambesona quilted garment worn under mail.

Gonfalons - banners suspended from a crossbar, often with several streamers or tails.

Gallimaufrya hodgepodge, confused medley, or jumble.  

Flampet - pork and figs that have been boiled in ale, then baked in cheese, then encased in pastry.

Mi-parti cotehardie - a long-sleeved medieval garment that was usually thigh-length and belted for men and full-length for women and that was made to fit closely often by buttoning or lacing.

Paludamentuma cloak worn by officials and military officers of ancient Rome, especially during wartime.

Lughnasadhan ancient Celtic festival held on Aug 1. It is also celebrated by modern pagans and is also called Lammas. 

Almonera person whose function or duty is the distribution of alms on behalf of an institution, a royal personage, or a monastery. 

Hippocrasan old medicinal cordial made of wine mixed with spices.

So how did you do? No doubt, there are so many new-to-me words because of the period and setting of this book. We still display gonfalons of a sort; there are plenty of gallimaufries in government and politics, and enjoying a bit of hippocras sounds like it might be a good thing. We just don't use those words anymore, but that's kind of a shame!

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Unraveled Wednesday: 2/21/24

I'm joining Kat and fellow Unravelers on this Unraveled Wednesday with my Hydrophily.

I've made more progress, completing all five rows with the third contrast color, and if you look carefully, you can see the first row in the fourth contrast color. Color-wise, I'm halfway through the contrast color gradient, but since the rows are getting longer I've got a lot more knitting to do. That's fine with me since this is very pleasurable knitting. 

Last week I finished Bear by Julia Phillips. It's a bit difficult for me to categorize and review. It is well-written with a strong sense of place (San Juan Island), and Julia Phillips writes a story about two sisters caring for their sick mother. Elena and Sam are both working service-level jobs while trying to care for their mother, and it's clear that they will not be able to get ahead. I'm not giving anything away by revealing that a bear eventually shows up, and his appearance changes the dynamic of the rest of the novel.

I was surprised by the hands-off approach taken by the Washington Department of Fish and Game in this book and taken aback when I realized that Sam and Elena were not young teenagers. I don't know of many young adults who would be equipped to deal with their circumstances, but both sisters' actions seemed more immature than I expected when I checked their ages. The biggest issue I had was the question of "WHY?" I asked with increasing fervor and intensity about Elena's behavior, but it was never answered. Three and a half stars rounded down.

Thank you to Edelweiss and Hogarth for providing me with a copy of this book. It will be published on June 25, 2024.

What are you making and reading this week?

Monday, February 19, 2024

Who Knew?

 Over the weekend I made a new recipe from a new cookbook I got recently. 

I almost always make some kind of bread when I make soup, and decided that English Muffin Bread would be a good choice. When I looked at the recipe, the first line said "Weigh your flour". I know recipes always advise this but I've stubbornly stuck to dipping a measuring cup in my flour container, leveling it off with a knife, and dumping it into my mixing bowl. But I bought a digital scale back when I knit my Hitch on the Move to weigh my remaining yarn and I keep the scale on top of my microwave. This is right next to my flour container and mixer, so I decided it was time to finally try weighing my flour. 

I was a little bit surprised that the 360g the recipe called for was equivalent to only about two and two-thirds cups of flour the way I usually measure it. I didn't weigh any other ingredients but I was very pleasantly surprised at how smooth the batter turned out with minimal mixing.

And the bread turned out beautifully. I think I'll keep weighing my flour, especially because the scale, flour, and mixing bowl are all within a couple of steps of each other. 

So the answer to the question I asked in the title is possibly lots of bakers, but now I know, too. You can teach an old dog new tricks!

Thursday, February 15, 2024

A Gathering of Poetry: February 2024

It's the third Thursday of the month so I'd like to welcome you to A Gathering of Poetry. I came across an excerpt of this poem in an audiobook I was listening to (A Quiet Life in 7 Steps by Susan Cain) and immediately looked up the whole poem. I'm often amazed at how well poets and poetry can express what I'm thinking and feeling, and this one was a perfect example. 

The Art of Disappearing
by Naomi Shihab Nye

When they say Don’t I know you?
say no.

When they invite you to the party
remember what parties are like
before answering.
Someone is telling you in a loud voice
they once wrote a poem.
Greasy sausage balls on a paper plate.
Then reply.

If they say We should get together
say why?

It’s not that you don’t love them anymore.
You’re trying to remember something
too important to forget.
Trees. The monastery bell at twilight.
Tell them you have a new project.
It will never be finished.

When someone recognizes you in a grocery store
nod briefly and become a cabbage.
When someone you haven’t seen in ten years
appears at the door,
don’t start singing him all your new songs.
You will never catch up.

Walk around feeling like a leaf.
Know you could tumble any second.
Then decide what to do with your time.


Nye, Naomi Shihab. "The Art of Disappearing". Words Under the Words, Far Corner Books, 1995. 

You can read more about the poet here


Thanks for reading and joining us for our monthly Gathering of Poetry. You are more than welcome to 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, February 14, 2024

Unraveled Wednesday: 2/14/24

I'm joining Kat and fellow Unravelers for this Valentine's Day Unraveled Wednesday with a wonderful new project. 

It's Sarah's wonderful pattern, Hydrophily (Ravelry link) I chose a lovely gray BFL and a six skein gradient that ranges from pink to deep purple. I plan on doing five "lobes" in each color, and I've just finished the first one in the third color, so only 19 more to go. Each repeat consists of 14 rows, and there have been several times that I've said to myself, "Just 14 more rows!" It really is an addictive pattern, and each time I do the Lotus Cluster Stitch at the end, I marvel that Sarah could have come up with an idea as lovely as this and then figured out how to knit it. Thanks, Sarah!

I finished two books this week. The publisher's blurb calls I've Tried Being Nice "a collection of humorous essays about a lifelong people pleaser", and while I found this to be true, it's also a lot more. Ann Leary is the author of several novels but she is also a great storyteller. Some of the essays in this collection are about trying hard to be a people-pleaser, something that I think many women can see in themselves, but at least one of them is concerned with that lightbulb moment when you realize you have no interest in pleasing a particular person. Ann Leary recounts her adventures with being far-sighted and having one-sided hearing loss that resulted in her blaring "Love Shack" in the grocery store and also her interactions with bats. I don't like bats at all but I could laugh at Leary's essay because the bats were not in my house, or on my pajamas. Some of the essays are more poignant, like the one entitled "Three Drinks Short".

The only book I've read by Ann Leary is The Good House and I found it both enjoyable and poignant. I've Tried Being Nice is funny, poignant, honest, and full of great stories told well. Thank you to Edelweiss and Marysue Rucci Books for providing me with a copy. This book will be published on June 4, 2024

I can't give you a simple reason why I requested Real Americans from Netgalley. The cover was interesting, I haven't read anything by Rachel Khong, but I am a big fan of multi-generational novels. This one spans three generations of a Chinese-American family beginning with Mei, her daughter Lily, and Lily's son Nick. The book is divided into parts with each one centered on a different protagonist. I'll admit that there were times that I felt a bit confused and wondered what had gone on in the intervening years, but it all comes together in Mei's section at the end. There were some aspects concerned with science (science fiction?) that I found distracting but the overall story was an intriguing one. The author writes in simplistic yet descriptive prose that is a pleasure to read. I was especially interested in Khong's idea of making decisions for your children, and what can happen even when you have only good intentions.

Thank you to Netgalley and Knopf for providing me with a copy of this book. It will be published on April 30, 2024.

What are you making and reading this week?

Friday, February 9, 2024

Right Now: February 2024

I last did a Right Now post in October of last year, so I think it's time for one. The picture below doesn't fit with anything I'm doing right now; it's just a photo from Justin's trail camera that I liked. 

Watching - The West Wing. I know it's a fictional TV show, but there are a lot of seasons, interesting characters/actors, perfect to knit to while watching, and most of all, it helps me avoid real-life elections and politics. I'm not sure what I'll watch when I finish The West Wing, but hopefully, it will be equally diversionary.

Listening To - Supreme Court oral arguments on Trump v. Anderson. I'm not interested in any news about Tr***, but I am interested in Norma Anderson and what the Supreme Court has to say about Section 3 of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution (the Disqualification Clause). It's not a bad thing for me to learn what "self-executing" means or to maybe understand more about the Constitution. 

Avoiding - Any other news about Tr***. I know he'll most likely be the Republican nominee and I'll have to face that fact eventually, along with the possibility that he may get re-elected. All things in good time, but this is not the time for me to hear or even think about him at all. 

Hoping - That Medicare and Social Security have finally arrived at a decision. I've been signed up for Medicare for two and a half years and I thought everything was fine. I reached my full retirement age in December 2023 and thought that a little extra money might be nice so I signed up to receive Social Security benefits. Since then, Medicare and SS have made various decisions (sometimes three different ones in a week) ranging from yes, we'll pay you your full SS benefit, to we're holding your SS benefit for some unknown reason, to determining that I owe them $3800 in back Medicare payments. I hope/think/have my fingers crossed that it's straightened out but will know for sure once I (hopefully) see some $$ by direct deposit on the 17th of this month.

Making - Split pea soup, homemade soft dinner rolls, venison pot pie, sausage quiche, meatloaf, and chili. I don't care about The Super Bowl at all but may need to make some loaded potato skins in the air fryer to celebrate Taylor Swift's boyfriend and all those other guys who will be playing. 

Enjoying - Eating my Funfetti cake. I've even had a piece for breakfast. I think it tastes better if I'm wearing my Funfetti Hitchhiker. 

Drinking - Peppermint tea and sometimes when I want to go wild, I add a glug of Godiva chocolate liqueur. 

Knitting - Something special that is not a Hitchhiker (more about it on Wednesday). But I've also realized that a Hitchhiker is my comfort project, one that is easy to carry with me and work on for a few moments when I need to. I will be casting on a new Hitchhiker shortly. 

Treating - My hands right. That means doing my own manicure (I don't use polish), buffing my nails, and using plenty of Happy Hands hand cream. Knitting is much more fun when I'm not snagging my yarn with rough skin and hangnails. 

Very Glad That - I finally admitted I didn't know what I was doing where taxes were concerned and found a tax guy. I was in tears three years ago when we had to file NJ, MD, DE, and CO (from selling Ryan's house) state taxes along with federal income taxes, but this guy is great and he is well worth whatever we've had to pay him. I delight in simply putting the tax forms that arrive in a folder and taking it all to Brian in March. 

Not Buying - Any chocolate candy for Valentine's Day. I often have my grandmother's cut glass candy dish filled with Hershey's Kisses or maybe even peppermint patties if they're on sale. That was okay when the boys lived here because they ate most of it, but now I'm the one that eats it all. I've got some dark chocolate that Jess brought me from Madagascar and so far I've limited myself to breaking off two pieces and enjoying them occasionally, but I'm going to try not to buy any more candy for the candy dish. 

Trusting - That the universe is unfolding as it should.

What's going on in your world right now? 

Wednesday, February 7, 2024

Unraveled Wednesday: 2/7/24

I'm joining Kat and fellow Unravelers on this first Wednesday in February with a finally finished Funfetti Hitchhiker!

I was excited to get it done, blocked, and be able to wear it.

All of the cheerful colors make me happy and it goes with almost everything.

I enjoyed the knitting so much that I used two full skeins of Marianthi Yarns sock yarn in Kaleidoscope (but it will always be Funfetti to me). I kept knitting until I didn't have enough yarn for even one more tooth, so it's my largest Hitchhiker so far at 59 teeth. It's possibly also my favorite (so far, and having an excuse to make a cake was pretty nice, too).

I didn't finish any books this week but have been reading The Poisonwood Bible for our Read With Us discussion on March 19th. I've also been working on a couple of books from NetGalley, Real Americans, and The Bright Sword. Thankfully, they're all different enough that I can keep them straight. 

What are you making and reading this week?

Tuesday, February 6, 2024

Read With Us: The Poisonwood Bible

By now you probably know that we're reading The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver for our Winter 2024 "classic contemporary" fiction choice. This was first published in 1998, and quite a few of us initially read it sometime around then. I first read it in 2000, only gave it three stars, and was so infuriated with the patriarch Nathan Price that I was glad to be done with it. 

I know some of you have already reread the book for Mary's book discussion but I've been dragging my feet a little bit about starting my reread. I'm anxious to see how I feel about the Price family and the whole situation in the Congo but I hope I don't end up feeling incensed again. 

The Poisonwood Bible covers a span of years from 1959 to 1994. In 1959 an overzealous Baptist minister named Nathan Price drags his wife and four daughters deep into the heart of the Congo on a mission to save the "unenlightened souls of Africa". The five women narrate the novel. From the outset, the attitudes of the five women cover a wide spectrum. The mother, Orleanna passively accepts the turn of events, as she passively accepts everything her husband tells her. Fifteen-year-old Rachel resents her separation from normal teen life.  Fourteen-year-old Leah, who alone shares her father's ardent religious faith, is enthusiastic. Leah's twin Ada, crippled and mute from birth is a keen observer, and views the move with a wry and cynical detachment. Five-year-old adventurer Ruth May is both excited and frightened. One thing that the women share, however, is the unwavering faith that they are carrying with them a culture far superior to the one already existing in the village of Kilanga, and that they will therefore be masters of their new domain.

Kingsolver structured this novel differently, with each of the narrators speaking in the first person. The reader sees the story through the eyes of the character narrating at the time; Nathan never speaks to the reader but his self-righteous voice still looms large. Only the women in the family narrate the story, so we learn about Nathan Price through other characters' thoughts and feelings. 

The story is primarily set in the Belgian Congo, which becomes Zaire during the tale. Some segments are set in Atlanta and Sanderling Island, Georgia, and others in Johannesburg, South Africa, and the French Congo. In addition to the Price family's experiences, the novel takes place in a dramatic political setting. Congo's fight for independence from brutal Belgian rule, the murder of its first elected prime minister, the CIA coup to install his replacement, and the insidious progress of a world economic order that robs the fledgling African nation of its autonomy provides a cataclysmic setting to match the moral and existential upheavals of the Price family. 

Kym and Carole will be talking about the book and giving additional information in their promotional posts throughout February. Discussion day for The Poisonwood Bible is scheduled for Tuesday, March 19, 2024, 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.

This is a book that really needs to be discussed to be fully understood so I'm very much looking forward to hearing your thoughts. I do hope you'll read The Poisonwood Bible with us!

"Don’t try to make life a mathematics problem with yourself in the center and everything coming out equal. When you’re good, bad things can still happen. And if you’re bad, you can still be lucky."