Friday, May 31, 2024

No One Is Above the Law

I know that all of you have heard the news from yesterday, and while it was exactly what I had hoped for, I also know that it may not change what happens in the future at all. But my own reaction surprised me a bit. I got a little teary-eyed, and when I thought about why, I think it was because I imagined him hearing "Guilty" 34 times. I think it's the first time he's been held accountable in any way for all of his chaotic and illegal actions. Did anybody else have a reaction to the verdict? 

I wish I could find a mug that said "I just want to do some
 knitting and pretend like Trump won't be President."
I'd use it every day between now and November.

Michael Tyler, the Biden campaign's communications director, wrote in a statement:

"In New York today, we saw that no one is above the law. Donald Trump has always mistakenly believed he would never face consequences for breaking the law for his own personal gain. But today's verdict does not change the fact that the American people face a simple reality. There is still only one way to keep Donald Trump out of the Oval Office: at the ballot box. Convicted felon or not, Trump will be the Republican nominee for president. The threat Trump poses to our democracy has never been greater. He is running an increasingly unhinged campaign of revenge and retribution, pledging to be a dictator 'on day one' and calling for our Constitution to be 'terminated' so he can regain and keep power. A second Trump term means chaos, ripping away Americans' freedoms and fomenting political violence – and the American people will reject it this November."

I can only hope he's right. I hope you all have a wonderful weekend and maybe take the chance to celebrate just a little.

Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Unraveled Wednesday: 5/29/24

I'm happy to join Kat and the Unravelers today with a completed pair of socks.

I had to pat myself on the back for completing a Christmas gift seven months early. I don't think I've ever managed that before!

I've picked up my Hitch on the Move again. I've started on Body Pattern II but have quite a while to go. I'm going to just keep plugging away. 

I finished two books this week, and they were both four stars for me. The Living Medicine by Lina Zeldovich. It is a captivating (possibly only to me and a few others) exploration of the world of bacteriophages, what they are, how they have been used, and possible uses for human health in the future. The author, a science journalist with the capacity for explaining scientific ideas so they can be understood by a general audience, takes readers on a journey through the fascinating realm of bacteriophages, shedding light on how they may very well rescue us.

Bacteriophages, often referred to simply as phages, are viruses that specifically infect bacteria. Discovered in the early 20th century, bacteriophages have been recognized as important players in various ecosystems, particularly in the context of human health and disease. Phages typically consist of a protein coat surrounding their genetic material, which can be either DNA or RNA. They come in various shapes and sizes, ranging from simple structures to more complex ones. Phages are abundant in natural environments, including soil, water, and the human body. They play a crucial role in regulating bacterial populations and shaping microbial communities. They are key players in horizontal gene transfer among bacteria, influencing bacterial evolution and diversity.

They have been used to target and kill specific pathogenic bacteria that cause infections, including cholera and dysentery, beginning in 1919. Phages can be selected or engineered to specifically target particular bacterial strains while leaving beneficial bacteria unharmed. This targeted approach is particularly valuable in the era of antibiotic resistance when traditional antibiotics may be ineffective against certain bacterial infections. They have also proved useful in treating chronic infections by methicillin-resistant Staph aureus (MRSA) which is notoriously resistant to antibiotics and they may serve as possible treatments in the future for chronic conditions.

Much of the bacteriophage research was done at the George Eliava Institute in Soviet Georgia, but it was largely destroyed in 1991 in the Georgian Civil War. Scientists worked to save whatever phage cultures they could and about 50 people still work at the Institute on phage production. There is still much research that needs to be done into specificity, resistance, immunogenicity, safety, and regulatory hurdles, but Zeldovich's book serves to remind us that bacteriophages helped in the past and may have even more uses in the future.

Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for providing me with a copy of this book. It will be published on October 22, 2024.

Deer Season by Erin Flanagan is a book that I borrowed from the library as kind of an extra, just in case I finished everything else I was reading and found myself without a book. I intended to listen for just a few minutes but found that I was quickly pulled into the story and wanted to see what happened next. Deer don't play a big part in this debut novel, but rather it's a story about Nebraska farm life in a small town, the people that live and work on those farms, and a missing teenage girl named Peggy. Flanagan tells us the story from multiple points of view, including Alma, a forthright farm wife who wanted a child more than anything but has had five miscarriages; Milo, Peggy's younger brother trying to find his way through adolescence and a terrible situation, and Hal, a developmentally delayed young man who is a suspect in Peggy's disappearance. There is small-town drama about some large issues, but no gratuitously overdramatized writing. The mystery is balanced with well-developed, emotionally rich characters. It's a calm and forthright tale about people that I cared about, and I look forward to reading Erin Flanagan's other novels. 

What are you making and reading this week?

Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Tiny Needle Tuesday: 5/28/24

Seeing the lovely hand stitching and samplers that so many of you are working on has had me thinking about what kind of stitching I might enjoy. Counted cross stitch is something I've done before so I gave it a try. My work on this particular sampler was short-lived when I didn't enjoy changing the floss color often. It has been languishing in time-out since December. Then Vera stitched a gorgeous sampler all in blue and Dee started a sampler composed of many different designs with each of them worked in only one color. I started spending lots of time on Etsy and once I found Vivsters shop, I simply had to choose which design spoke loudest to me. 

I decided this was the best one to start with:

I liked the idea of stitching interesting small motifs with one color at a time and I thought this design was beautiful. I had to order a big piece of Aida cloth (the design is 29" x 15" on 14 count) and floss, but they have finally arrived. I've cut the Aida down to what I hope is the correct size. It will be a large piece when it's completed, and I'll have to figure something out besides the binder clip arrangement. They are often in the way but I was anxious to get started. 

The pattern is a bit daunting at 24 pages, but I've just printed out two so far, the one I'm working on (upper left) and the floss key. The journey of a gazillion cross stitches begins with just one motif (or part of one)!

Friday, May 24, 2024

A Lovely Meetup

I met up with Dee and Vera yesterday and we had quite a nice day. We began with coffee, bagels, muffins, and plenty of chatting at a nice coffee house. (It smelled delicious and I may have to return someday for one of their cinnamon rolls). We started out chatting about doctors, medications, and hearing aids, but we did get out of old lady mode and moved on to discussing cats and other fun things. I did manage to knit six or seven rounds of the toe decreases on my sock and I think Dee knit quite a few rounds on her sock. I got to admire Vera's gorgeous Shakerag skirt and it's even prettier in person. Vera even remembered to take a photo. We each took one, so you can see three different photos of two of us if you visit each of our blogs. 


We had a nice lunch just a bit down the road before we headed home. I'm not sure we solved any of the world's problems but I had a very nice day. Big thanks to both Dee and Vera for the invitation!

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Unraveled Wednesday: 5/22/24

I'm happy to join Kat and the Unravelers today with a sock and three-quarters. 

I barely knit on the way to and from my sister-in-law's and only knit a few rows during our lovely cocktail hours. I have worked on the sock here at home and am just a few rows from starting the toe decreases. I am meeting two very special people tomorrow for coffee, conversation, and knitting, so I may finish them then. It's more likely that I'll knit a few rows and spend much more time laughing and enjoying meeting up with these two, but that's just fine. I'm sure that by next week I'll have a finished pair of socks and can get back to my Hitch on the Move. 

I finished an ARC this week, The Glassmaker by Tracy Chevalier. I have loved several of Tracy Chevalier's previous novels, for her writing, the stories she told, and what I learned. The Glassmaker contains some of these things, but I found it lacking in some areas. Chevalier tells us about glassmaking in Murano, Italy, focusing mainly on the Rosso family. It starts in 1486 when Orsola Rosso is envious that the men in her family can work with glass to produce goblets, bowls, and other beautiful items. As a female, she is relegated to household chores, but she finds a female glassmaker from another family to teach her how to make glass beads. I found the glassmaking interesting and educational, but I wished for pictures of some of the beads. I imagined chapter headings illustrated by a color drawing of the beads as Orsola learned and became more masterful.

There is a trite love story that didn't add much to the book for me, and then there is the matter of the odd timeline. Chevalier vaguely introduces this idea in the prologue: “The City of Water runs by its own clock.” The story begins in the 15th century and ends in the present day, covering a bit more than five centuries, yet Orsola and her family members have only aged about six decades. They experience The Renaissance and the Age of Enlightenment, two World Wars, the Plague, and Covid-19. It was an original device but also confused me quite a bit and I struggled to see why the author would make this choice. I thought it was a confusing distraction, and gave the book three stars. It just didn't come close to her previous books, The Girl With the Pearl Earring, Remarkable Creatures, or The Lady and the Unicorn for me. 

Thank you to Edelweiss and Penguin Random House for providing me with a copy of this book. It will be published on June 18, 2024.

If this book sounds like one you might be interested in, there is a giveaway on Goodreads. 

What are you making and reading this week?

Thursday, May 16, 2024

A Gathering of Poetry: May 2024

It's the third Thursday of the month so I'd like to welcome you to A Gathering of Poetry. We may have provided you with more poetry than you wanted during National Poetry Month in April but we're back to sharing poetry once a month. I spent an afternoon looking through my poetry books but couldn't find anything that felt right. Since I had all the poetry books out, I decided to clean and organize the bookcase. While doing that, I spied a dog-eared page in my copy of Map: Collected and Last Poems. I stopped to take a look and realized my poem for this month had found me. Cleaning the bookcase can wait.

From The Marginalian, Maria Popova 

by Wislawa Szymborska

Island where all becomes clear.

Solid ground beneath your feet.

The only roads are those that offer access.

Bushes bend beneath the weight of proofs.

The Tree of Valid Supposition grows here
with branches disentangled since time immemorial.

The Tree of Understanding, dazzlingly straight and simple,
sprouts by the spring called Now I Get It.

The thicker the woods, the vaster the vista:
the Valley of Obviously.

If any doubts arise, the wind dispels them instantly.

Echoes stir unsummoned
and eagerly explain all the secrets of the worlds.

On the right a cave where Meaning lies.

On the left the Lake of Deep Conviction.
Truth breaks from the bottom and bobs to the surface.

Unshakable Confidence towers over the valley.
Its peak offers an excellent view of the Essence of Things.

For all its charms, the island is uninhabited,
and the faint footprints scattered on its beaches
turn without exception to the sea.

As if all you can do here is leave
and plunge, never to return, into the depths.

Into unfathomable life.


Szymborska, Wislawa. "Utopia". Map: Collected and Last Poems: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015.

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!

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Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Unraveled Wednesday: 5/15/24

I'm happy to join Kat and the Unravelers today with a sock and a third. I finished the first one, cast on the second one, and I'm past the heel, picking up gusset stitches, and beginning the gusset decreases. Just a foot and toe to complete and I'll have a pair!

I tried the Finchley graft (youtube video link) that Vera wrote about recently on the first sock and it seemed slightly easier and faster than doing Kitchener on the toes. I'll have to try it a few more times to get more familiar with it and really decide which method I like best.

I finished one ARC last week, but it was just average for me. A Great Marriage was the first book I've read by Frances Mayes (she is probably best known for Under the Tuscan Sun), so I wasn't sure what to expect. This is the story of Dara Wilcox and Austin Wilcox who meet and fall deeply in love. The book opens with a prenuptial dinner at her parents' house, and it's all perfect until some wine is spilled. Several family members see this as a possible bad omen, and it turns out to be just that. Austin receives distressing news that disrupts their plans and the wedding is canceled. Dara flees to California to visit with friends, then heads to South Carolina to help restore an inn. There are moments of angst and some drama, but it reminded me of a Hallmark movie in book form. My mother-in-law used to love to read books with very mild dramatics (where nobody suffered from serious illness or died) and the ending was all tied up neatly with a big bow. This book made me think of her as she would have loved it.

I found the author's writing style difficult to read. She used a lot of sentence fragments and once I started noticing them, I had difficulty concentrating on what she was saying and found myself paying attention to how she had written it. But if you like your books to be mainly romantic escapes where nobody really suffers and characters live happily ever after, this one may bring you enjoyment. (And as a bonus, it has an arresting and interesting cover!)

Thank you to NetGalley and Ballantine Books for providing me with a copy of this book. It will be published on August 13, 2024.

What are you making and reading this week?

P.S. I'll be back tomorrow with some poetry, but I'm visiting my SiL for a while and will be taking a short break until sometime later next week. See you then!

Thursday, May 9, 2024

What's for Dinner?

I don't remember where I first came across this recipe but I've made it quite a few times and it's one of my favorites. It's easy; there are no special ingredients, and it makes a lot, so there are always leftovers (which is a good thing). Oh, and it tastes good, too! 

It's called Crockpot Cheesy Sausage Tortellini. 

In case you can't read my scribbly writing, here's the recipe with my notes:

24 oz chicken broth (I use unsalted)
18 oz frozen tortellini
5 oz fresh spinach (it comes in 10 oz packages, so I just cut it up and add the whole 10 oz)
1 can diced tomatoes, undrained (I usually use a 28 oz can)
1 kielbasa, cut up
1 block cream cheese (I use Neufchatel cheese and usually just half a block)
salt, pepper, 1.5 Tbsp Italian seasoning
1 c shredded mozzarella cheese
0.5 c shredded Italian cheese blend (I usually don't use plain mozzarella, but use 1.5 c of the Italian cheese blend instead)

Just dump all the ingredients in the crockpot, mix them well, and cook on low for 3-4 hours. Stir it a few times to incorporate everything and mix the melted cream cheese into the chicken broth. One hour before serving, add the shredded cheese and stir once more. 

You could easily make this meatless, and if John wasn't eating dinner here, I would most likely substitute hot sausage for kielbasa and add some crushed red pepper flakes. You could probably substitute ravioli for the tortellini if you prefer, but I think tortellini feel "fancier". There is still some left over in the refrigerator and I might claim it for dinner tonight while John eats venison steaks. Happy eating!

Wednesday, May 8, 2024

Unraveled Wednesday: 5/8/24

I'm happy to join Kat and the Unravelers today, with some stripes on a sock. 

I've only knit with Must Stash yarn once before when I used the bright Vespa for some fingerless mitts for Ryan. 

Initially, I was a little disappointed with the way the sock was turning out because the stripes in the Denali yarn aren't quite as crisply defined as I hoped. The brown and some of the green and blue stripes look "heathery" to me. But it looks a little better if I look at it from farther away and it is beginning to grow on me. Maybe I'm just being too fussy! The pale lavender heel works well, so I'm just going to keep knitting. I'm a little embarrassed to say that I was afraid that I might like this colorway so much that I would have a hard time gifting them to Jess, but that's no longer a worry. They look like Denali colors; I hope to have a Christmas gift done early, and I may make myself a pair of short socks with the leftover pale lavender color. 

I only finished one book this week, but it was great. Goodreads tells me that I've read 41 short story collections, and only one was worthy of five stars. Now that I've read Table for Two there will be two. I was a little wary about reading this volume. I enjoyed The Lincoln Highway and Rules of Civility but had trouble with A Gentleman in Moscow despite multiple attempts. But no worries, this is simply one of the best books I've read this year.

Short stories almost always suffer from the problems of not being long enough, not providing enough detail, or ending just as the reader begins to enjoy them. Far too often I'm simply left wanting more. That was not the case for any of the stories included here. Towles is a master of language, so each story feels precise and specific. I found details I loved and things that I had thought before myself, expressed far better by the author.

"... what you're probably heading home to are the compromises of marriage. These will govern when, what, and how you eat. They'll govern when, what, and how you watch. So, the canceled flight can create something of a temporal oasis—a twenty-four hour period in which no concessions need to be made to anyone."

 I can't pick a favorite story from this book. If anything, "Eve in Hollywood" is the weakest part of the collection. It's the novella continuing the story of Eve from Rules of Civility. All of the short stories are complete, perfect little glowing jewels, and I very much hope that Towles publishes more short stories.

What are you making and reading this week?

Monday, May 6, 2024

A Nugget Retrospective

Justin & Jess were only gone for six days so my Nugget-sitting time came to an end last week. I've missed scratching her ears, giving her extra treats, and sitting with her while she purred loudly. I don't miss cleaning her litterbox, but that's still an important part of responsible cat ownership. Since cat-sitting her may have been the most enjoyable thing I've done recently, I'm here to share a few photos. Justin texted me when they were in the airport on their way out and said, "Don't hesitate to send pictures of Nugget whenever you visit her." I thought this was sweet, so I made sure to take plenty of photos. If adorable cat pictures aren't your thing, we will return to some (less cute) knitting and reading content at a later date. 

Wednesday, May 1, 2024

Unraveled Wednesday: 5/1/24

Kat is on vacation so there is no official Unraveled Wednesday today. But it is Wednesday and I have unraveling, so there you go. It is also May Day! My kids think I'm talking about something that happened 100 years ago (it was only 61 years ago in 1963), but we had an actual May Day celebration when I was in first grade. This included a tall pole that teachers had hung crepe paper streamers from the top and all the girls did a sort of dance holding onto the end of a streamer so the streamers ended up woven around the pole. I'm not sure ours looked as nice as this short video from 2017, but it was fun.

But enough about things from 100 years ago. Let's talk about knitting now. 

I started knitting Jess' socks. She always wears anklet socks so I already have a break on these gift socks. This is the cuff, a few rows with the Denali yarn, and then the beginning of the heel flap. 

When I took it out of my knitting bag and really looked at it, I wasn't happy with those three rows of Denali. I didn't like how this section of the self-striping yarn looked next to the pale lavender contrast of the cuff and the beginning of the heel.

I had just barely started so it wasn't a big deal to unravel it. 

I think that I'll cast on again with the Denali, and do only the heel in the contrasting lavender. I haven't started yet because I picked up Justin & Jess at the airport last night and didn't get home until 1:30 am. I know enough not to knit when I'm functioning with too few hours of sleep!

I spent a lot of time cat-sitting Nugget at her house last week, so I didn't finish any books. I enjoyed playing with her, hiding treats for her to find, and just sitting with her while I scratched her ears and listened to her purr. 

What are you making and reading this week?