Friday, June 28, 2024

A Few Good Books

I usually include the books I have read in Unraveled Wednesday posts, but my book reviews have been getting longer for some reason. Adding them to an Unraveled Wednesday post makes those posts far too long, so long that even I wouldn't want to read them (and I wrote the darn reviews). Last week I finished three books, and wrote long(ish) reviews, so here they are in case you might be interested.

The first was Summer Solstice, which I know many of you have read. I wish it had a better cover (because I do judge books by their covers), but there you go. What marks the start of summer for you? For me, it's probably the summer solstice along with the first sighting of lightning bugs. This year, summer has arrived with a vengeance, with high heat, humidity, and that awful stickiness I dread.

"I try not to fight it anymore. I embrace the sweat, the damp at my back, between my breasts, the insect tickle of a drop riding the slide between the muscles that line my spine."

I can't quite bring myself to embrace the sweat like Nina MacLaughlin advises. This next quote rings a little more true for me:

"But my body likes the cold-dark half of the year so much more, that friction, when the heat comes from the inside, when we make the heat ourselves. And so, unlike the fruit flies, unlike the rhododendrons, the honeysuckles, the peonies, the turtles, the bears, the dahlias, the daisies, the tulips, and the corn, I go dormant for a while, slink into a sort of a hibernation. Let's talk again late August when we really start to notice less light and the shadows start to shift."

Summer does have its charms and one of them is that it does come to an end. This one was four stars for me. 

This book was a lot different from what I usually read, but I can't often resist the offer when a publisher pre-approves me for an advance reader copy. Told in dual timelines, Songs for the Brokenhearted tells the stories of Yaqub and Saida who are Yemeni and meet in an immigration camp in Israel in 1950. The second timeline is set in 1995 and deals with Saida's daughter, Zohara, who has moved to the United States but returns to Israel when her mother dies. We learn more about Yaqub and Saida as the book progresses, and Zohara learns more about her mother as she comes together with her family and clears out her mother's house. She has always had a distant and complicated relationship with her mother but begins to learn much more about her mother and the secrets she kept.

 This book dealt with topics I honestly knew very little about, such as Yemen, Yemeni immigrants and culture in Israel, the Oslo Accords, Yemeni women's songs, and "disappeared children" from immigrant camps. Parents were told that their children had died but thousands of them were actually adopted out. Ayelet Tsabari has written a novel that tells truly interesting stories, ones that many people have never even heard about.

"If we're only relying on written history, what stories do we miss? What happens to the stories of people who were illiterate? To marginalized communities? Whose stories are written in history books? And who decides which stories to include?" 

Thank you to Random House and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this book. It will be published on September 10, 2024. I also gave this one four stars.

Sarah recommended Piglet and I'm so glad she did. (Thanks, Sarah!) It's probably not a book I would have picked up myself, but I was drawn into Piglet's story as soon as I started listening. She is a 30-something cookbook editor engaged to Kit. He is seemingly almost perfect, and Piglet has arranged a seemingly perfect life, from preparing luscious meals to moving into an ideal home with Kit to leaving her middle-class upbringing behind (except for her childhood nickname). But cracks begin to appear, and 13 days before the wedding, Kit betrays her. Hazell has made a choice not to reveal exactly what that betrayal was. This bothered me initially, and plenty of reviewers have complained about it, but ultimately I think it helps to immerse the reader more completely by letting them come up with the worst perfidy they can imagine.

The book is structured chronologically, beginning 98 days before the wedding and leading up to the day itself and afterward. I'm not going to reveal the outcome, but this book packed quite a punch for me. It has a lot to say about expectations for women, those that we have for ourselves, style over substance, and hunger in all its forms. I was so enthralled that as soon as I finished it the first time, I started re-listening to the book for a second time. I'm glad I did because there were things I missed about Piglet herself from the very beginning. The descriptions of food are lush, the writing is adroit, and Lottie Hazell is an author I will definitely be looking to read more from in the future. Four and a half stars rounded up.

I'm not sure why I liked Piglet so much. Maybe because I was also given a not-so-wonderful food and size-related nickname as a child, and have only outgrown it now that my father is gone. Maybe because I often felt that there were many expectations (usually food-related) that I was never able to live up to. Whatever the reason, I thought it was a terrific book. 

And check out these different covers: 

UK cover

Australian cover

I'm not sure why the poor Aussies only get half an apple, and I really don't think it goes with the book. A big, greasy hamburger or stack of donuts is much more fitting. (The choice of covers and their differences is always interesting to me!)

What are you reading? I hope you have a good book or two lined up to help make your weekend a good one!

Wednesday, June 26, 2024

Unraveled Wednesday: 6/26/24

I'm happy to join Kat and the Unravelers today with something a little different. Monday was a fairly nice day weather-wise, but it was 93 yesterday and today it's supposed to get up to 95. I couldn't face working on my HotM shawl; my hands feel even stickier when I knit with wool and it lies across my lap and makes me feel even hotter (and grumpier). So I started thinking about Christmas presents again. 

Ryan insists that I've knit him quite enough socks, hats, fingerless gloves, and even Hitchhikers, but he has said that he could use some potholders. I spent time perusing Ravelry and while there are knitted potholders, a great many of them are crocheted. That is definitely not my forte, but I would be working with cotton and it wouldn't be in my lap making me hotter, so why not give it a whirl? 

I found a pattern that seemed easy enough (I can do single crochet and count!) with the added benefit that it made me laugh. Topflappen (rav link) means potholder in German, so I started crocheting topflappen. 

My first attempt was with Sugar 'n Cream yarn and a crochet hook that was too small. I stopped and unraveled because this topflappen was far too stiff, in fact, almost bulletproof. I unraveled it and went in search of better yarn and larger crochet hooks. 

After making an even bigger mess of my stash closet, I did find some Peaches & Creme which felt slightly nicer, and a few bigger crochet hooks. My next attempt wasn't quite so stiff, but it's still not a real pleasure to crochet.

I think I'll finish this one, wash it, try it out, and see if it's gift-worthy. I also have some Dishie cotton which feels nicer, so I may try that, but I think that I just don't enjoy crochet very much, so there's not much use blaming the yarn and hooks. 

I did have what seems like a good idea while I was writing this, and it might be worth pursuing. I found a couple of dragon potholder patterns that I think Ryan would like (they're knit - hooray!) that I could make, knit plain backs, and sandwich them together so they would be thick enough for serviceable potholders. That might happen sooner rather than later if this summer continues the way it's started.

I read three books last week and due to some long-ish reviews, I'll put them all in a separate post on Friday. I'll let you be the judge of whether they are long-winded or detailed!

What are you making and reading this week?

Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Read With Us: It's a New Book!

Today is the day we announce a new Read With Us book for summer! You might already be aware of this if you were able to attend the last Zoom discussion for How to Say Babylon, but now everyone will know. This one doesn't fit neatly into one genre; the publisher describes it as a time travel romance, a spy thriller, a workplace comedy, and an ingenious exploration of the nature of power and the potential for love to change it all. Welcome to The Ministry of Time by Kaliane Bradley.

From the publisher: "
In the near future, a civil servant is offered the salary of her dreams and is, shortly afterward, told what project she’ll be working on. A recently established government ministry is gathering “expats” from across history to establish whether time travel is feasible—for the body, but also for the fabric of space-time.

She is tasked with working as a “bridge”: living with, assisting, and monitoring the expat known as “1847” or Commander Graham Gore. As far as history is concerned, Commander Gore died on Sir John Franklin’s doomed 1845 expedition to the Arctic, so he’s a little disoriented to be living with an unmarried woman who regularly shows her calves, surrounded by outlandish concepts such as “washing machines,” “Spotify,” and “the collapse of the British Empire.” But with an appetite for discovery, a seven-a-day cigarette habit, and the support of a charming and chaotic cast of fellow expats, he soon adjusts. Over the next year, what the bridge initially thought would be, at best, a horrifically uncomfortable roommate dynamic, evolves."

KymCarole, and I will be talking about the book, giving additional information, and doing promotional posts throughout July. Discussion day for The Ministry of Time is scheduled for Tuesday, September 17, 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.

The hardcover, Kindle, and audio versions of the book are all available from my library with a bit of a wait. Hopefully, we'll all have plenty of time to place a hold, get the book, and read it.  The Kindle and hardcover versions are priced reasonably on Amazon and I'm sure your local bookseller could order a copy for you if you're lucky enough to have a local bookseller. I'm in the process of listening to the audio version and reading it on my Kindle, and that dual approach is working well for me. 

I do hope you'll read The Ministry of Time with us. I can't resist a genre-defying book with an intriguing cover and an original premise. A book that's a lot of fun and intriguing seems appropriate to read during the summer. 

Come Read With Us!

Monday, June 24, 2024

Remember This?

Of course, I don't expect you to remember this mural I wrote about nine years ago, so I'll recount the story. This mural was painted on the side of our abandoned Agway building and in one of the Friday Letters I used to write, I had a small rant about it because the building was due to be demolished. After much discussion and arguing about what to paint, a local artist just took matters into his own hands and painted Big-Headed Music Boy for just the cost of materials. This is what it used to look like:

Much the same, but a lot brighter. It has definitely faded in nine years, but so have many other things. 

But back to the story. The owners of the lot had plans approved for a small complex with apartments and a few shops. But then the mayor and town council thought maybe they could come up with a better plan. Again, there was a lot of discussion and arguing, but also the mayor and members of town council changed at least twice. This served to reset the discussion and arguing all over again, which is why the abandoned building and its fading mural are still standing nine years later. 

So I've learned a lesson; it's not worth getting upset about things that are not important in the scheme of things. (This is something I need to be reminded of again and again.) I ranted about painting a mural on a building slated for demolition, but here it is still standing. 

Besides, we've got something new to discuss and argue about. This is an abandoned train station not far from the mural building. It was going to be demolished because it was falling down, unsafe, and kids were playing in it. The bulldozers were all ready but then someone cried, "Hold on there; it's historic!" I'm thinking of starting a betting pool on whether it will fall down all by itself in the next nine years. 

Thursday, June 20, 2024

A Gathering of Poetry: June 2024

It's the third Thursday of the month so I'd like to welcome you to A Gathering of Poetry. June seems to be the perfect time for a poem about fireflies, so that's what I'm sharing. I've been seeing them for a week or two and now I look for them every night. 

These Fireflies
by Sue Owen

Now we see them, then
now we don't, these
tiny stars whose only hope
is that they will outlast

the night, if they stick
to it and burn, if they
blink again in the face
of the blind darkness.

And whose will will
win after all as these 
fireflies dot and scamp
and burn there, trying

to show us that light
and smallness matter,
even if their own glowing
will soon fade out of sight?

Even if dimness plans
to step in and put out
their gay flit of fire?
We who watch them know

that it is their burning
that always wins, as brief
as it is, as fragile, and
that this kind of magic

stuns even the old crawling
night that dozes, as the 
fireflies dance above it,
as if to light its dream. 


You can read more about the author 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, June 19, 2024

Unraveled Wednesday: 6/19/24

I'm happy to join Kat and the Unravelers today. In fact, it may be the highlight of my week. Like much of the country, it's hot and humid here and I don't even have enough energy to spread out my HotM and take a photo. None of my animal friends has any motivation either, so here's my knitting in an uninspired and uninspiring lump. It looks much the same as last week but I have knit 25 rows or so. Maybe partly because of the weather, it feels like I've reached that never-ending part pf the project but I really would like to finish it in the near future. 

At least the mandevilla is pretty and hasn't suffered from the heat yet. 

I did read an interesting book last week, Sing Like Fish: How Sound Rules Life Under Water by Amorina Kingdon. My sister and I used to play a game when we were swimming at my aunt's pool. We'd both duck underwater, one of us would say something, and then the other would try to guess what had been said. I don't remember that we were very successful at deciphering the burbles and gurgles, but it's part of why I wanted to read Sing Like Fish. I know sound is important underwater and wanted to learn how fish and other animals use it. I learned far more than I ever expected! Kingdon writes about the anatomy of fish ears, dolphin calls, and beluga echolocation. She explains how sound travels underwater and behaves differently in water, moving in currents, and off the seafloor, and can even be altered by temperature and salinity. The author also writes about sound production by ocean dwellers; fish have a surprising number of ways to produce sound. Sound plays an important role in feeding, mating, parenting, navigating, and warning underwater and all of our human-made sounds can affect and interfere with these. You might wonder if you could possibly be interested in a book about sound underwater, and if it's this original, captivating book, my answer is a resounding yes. This one was five stars for me. 

What are you making and reading this week?

Monday, June 17, 2024


It was a relatively quiet weekend here. John, Justin, and Jess are on a fishing trip in Montana, but since Ryan and I are less enthusiastic about fishing, we stayed home. John has been away for our anniversary (43 years) and my birthday (67 years) but that's okay. I celebrated my birthday with Ryan and it was one of the best in a long time. 

My mother used to make something called Supper on a Bread Slice. It involved putting raw hamburger on top of half a loaf of French bread and baking it. Getting the hamburger fully cooked involved baking it for about 45 minutes, so the bread was well beyond crusty and you could easily break a tooth. I hated the stuff but Ryan has been tinkering with the recipe to make it edible. It's actually more than edible; it's delicious. For my birthday he made his latest variation - chicken bacon ranch on a bread slice.

He's already thinking about his next two iterations - barbecue chicken and chicken parm on a bread slice. 

He also made me a cake. It was chocolate, deliciously moist with coffee and cinnamon. It got a little gooey on top and the lid sank into the cake, so he scraped the top off and re-iced it. Ordinarily, his cakes are picture perfect, but we ate both the bowl cake and had proper pieces and they were delicious. 

Ryan was kind enough to send me home with leftovers so I could have the traditional birthday cake for breakfast on Sunday.

It was the perfect birthday, no pressure to have fun (but I did) and no big fuss (which I dislike). Here's hoping your weekend was equally enjoyable!

Friday, June 14, 2024

A Few Nuggets

I'm sharing just a few pictures of Nugget. I've been going down every other day to collect the mail, water plants, give water to the reptiles (shudder), clean the litter box and then, of course, visit with Nugget. 

She usually sits next to me on the sofa while I scratch her neck. I've tried to take her collar off so I can remove her bandana, but I haven't been successful so far. I don't think she needs to wear a bandanna in a slightly hot house in the summer. 

This isn't a great picture but I had to take one. After I scratched her neck for a while she decided she wanted to sleep on my lap for a half hour. That has never happened but I think she was so glad to see me that she wanted to make sure I didn't leave too quickly.

But I did leave, and here she is looking at me accusingly from inside while I was on my way out. The neighbors might think I'm a little nuts for yelling, "Sorry, Nugget" repeatedly. 

But I'm going back down today for more of the things that have to be done and then enjoying Nugget's company. Maybe we'll watch a movie together and I think she deserves some treats. (If only I didn't have to tend to those repulsive reptiles!)

Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Unraveled Wednesday: 6/12/24

I'm happy to join Kat and the Unravelers with my slightly larger Hitch on the Move and a few different animals are posing with it today. 

It's getting too big to fit the whole thing in one photo, but here it is folded up a bit. 

And a closeup of Relaxing Rabbit and Joggi the Hedgehog. 

There are no photos with Nugget or reptiles (yet). I've only been down to Justin's twice and was concerned about giving the snakes and lizard water and making sure their cage lids were secured. Then I sat with Nugget and gave her treats and neck scritches while she purred so I could recover from my reptile ordeals. Maybe I'll get a little braver as this week progresses. 

I finished two books this week, one newly published and one that will be published in September. The first one is Clear by Carys Davies. It's simply a beautiful, luminous novel. Written with spare, gentle prose, Davies tells the story of Reverend John Ferguson, sent to evict a Scottish island's lone inhabitant, Ivar. He was part of the Highland Clearances in 1843. After only a day, John falls off a cliff and is tended to by Ivar, who knits him socks and feeds him porridge. John and Ivar don't speak the same language but they still manage to communicate. I don't know why I've never read anything by Davies before, but this book full of quiet optimism and dignity makes me want to read more. I borrowed a copy from the library but have thought about it so much that I bought the audiobook so I could listen to the superb narration by Russ Bain. This was four stars for me, but I could easily stretch that to five stars after a second listen.

The second book was Death at the Sign of the Rook by Kate Atkinson. I eagerly anticipated reading Kate Atkinson's newest Jackson Brodie novel and it did not disappoint. Reminiscent of an Agatha Christie country house cozy mystery, Jackson, now a private investigator, is called to a Yorkshire town to investigate the rather tedious theft of a painting. There is an atheist vicar, a duchess, several aristocrats, and quite a few other characters who may have been meant as a homage to Christie, but often felt like stereotypes (except for the dogs called Tommy and Tuppence). The action proceeded ever so slowly until all of the characters finally converged, something that I had been hoping would happen through much of the book so the pace would pick up. It does, and there is plenty of humor, but this was not my favorite Jackson Brodie installment. (But even an average Brodie book is better than none at all!) Three and a half stars rounded up because of the humor. Thank you to Doubleday and Edelweiss for providing me with a copy of this book. It will be published on September 3, 2024.

What are you making and reading this week?

Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Read With Us: Time for A Discussion

Today is the discussion day for our Read With Us spring selection, How to Say Babylon by Safiya Sinclair. KymCarole, and I are each posting a discussion question or two 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 are my questions: Esther, mother to Shari, Ife, Lij, and Safiya, plays a dual role as both enabler of her husband Howard's strict rules and protector of her children. Is Esther's character more admirable for her protection and resilience or more flawed for her complicity? How does this duality reflect on the broader dilemma parents face in difficult circumstances?

As parents to two sons, John and I almost always tried to present a "united front" and come to an agreement on how and why we were raising and disciplining the boys. But I know there were instances where we had to compromise and times that both of us felt that we were enforcing rules we didn't completely agree with. The safety, mental health, and well-being of our children were always primary, but oftentimes parenting means treading a fine line between enabling rules and protecting your children from rules you may not wholeheartedly support. So how do you think Esther did?

I'll be glad to share my thoughts about these questions tonight during our Zoom discussion. These questions on our blogs and the Zoom discussion are your chance to express your ideasSo what do you think? I can't wait to hear your thoughts!

The in-person Zoom discussion will be at 7:00 pm Eastern this evening. If you haven't RSVP'd to Kym already you can send me an email (the email address is in the upper right) and I will make sure you get an invitation with the Zoom link. I hope to see you there!

Monday, June 10, 2024

I Can Hear Clearly Now ...

I know the song is "I Can See Clearly Now" but my father used to sing "I can hear clearly now" (and my sister thought the next line was "I can see all icicles in my way").

But I have hearing aids now, so I've been singing about hearing clearly. Back in May, I went to my audiologist and not surprisingly, my hearing test showed mild-moderate hearing loss. 

Frequency (Hz) is on the x-axis and Hearing Level (dB) is on the y-axis.
Outside of the highlighted box is considered hearing loss.

I talked to the audiologist about hearing aids and was impressed but ... they started at $5500. My regular Medicare plan doesn't cover any of that, so I left without ordering hearing aids. That amount of money just isn't in my budget.

John got hearing aids about seven years ago when he was still working and his came from Costco. I decided to make an appointment there and see what I thought. The hearing test they performed showed the same results as the one from the audiologist, so I tried a sample pair of hearing aids. They worked, almost too well, as there was just a cacophony of carts clanging, people talking, cash registers beeping, and music in the background. I did decide to order hearing aids and have been wearing them for about a week.

And they're okay. They're rechargeable so I don't have to mess with batteries. I haven't had any problems inserting them. The first couple of days the sound of my clothing swishing and my hair rustling almost drove me nuts, but they are paired with an app on my phone and I remembered the specialist's instructions that I could turn them down if they seemed too loud. I've been using them turned down two clicks and that has helped with the background noise. I have a follow-up appointment in a couple of weeks for some fine-tuning if necessary. Costco has a generous policy that allows me to return them within 180 days for a full refund if I'm not happy. I don't see myself taking them back, but it's still early days. My brain and I are still getting used to them. I have a family picnic to attend in a couple of weeks. There will be 30 people or more there with lots of young children, so I'm interested in hearing how well they work with multiple people and screaming kids. 

Ryan has nagged me for almost a year about how often I say "What?" and told me I really need to do something about my hearing. Justin doesn't even know I got hearing aids but he probably won't have much to say. The real test was when I wore them and visited Ryan last week. He knew I was getting them but didn't notice that I had them in. When I  was getting ready to leave, I asked Ryan if he had noticed how many times I had asked him to repeat himself. He thought for a minute, said "None" and looked more closely at my ears. He got a big smile on his face and congratulated me on doing something about my hearing. So did I just spend $1500 to show my kids that I love them and care about hearing what they have to say? You bet I did!

Thursday, June 6, 2024

Three Books on Thursday

I usually include the books I have read in Unraveled Wednesday posts, but my book reviews have been getting longer for some reason. Adding them to an Unraveled Wednesday post makes those posts far too long, so long that even I wouldn't want to read them (and I wrote the darn reviews). Last week I finished three books, and wrote long(ish) reviews, so here they are in case you might be interested.

I requested The Briar Club from Edelweiss because the publisher's blurb mentioned that it was set during the McCarthy era. That sounded intriguing and became even more so once I started the book. The book opens with a murder, and subsequent chapters explore how this happened, each from a different character's viewpoint. A diverse group of women live in Briarwood House, a rooming house in Washington, D.C. in the 1950s. They all have secrets, desires, and wishes, but they begin to bond and come together during the tenant's Thursday "Briar Club" supper evenings. The pace is slower than other Kate Quinn novels, and there are also some slightly odd insertions of recipes and Briarwood House itself speaking. The recipes accompany the storyline but are an unusual interruption. I found the sentient house simply strange, both because it was speaking and the things it said were mildly unsettling. But the story is still good, and Quinn's extensive research is evident. The author's historical notes at the end answer the question about where she got the ideas for the book. 3.5 stars rounded down.

Thank you to Edelweiss and William Morrow for providing me with a copy of this book. It will be published on July 9, 2024.

The Far Field is an exploration of identity, loss, and the complexities of human connection set against the backdrop of the tumultuous region of Kashmir. The novel follows the journey of Shalini, a young woman from Bangalore, as she seeks to unravel the mysteries surrounding her mother's past.

Vijay's writing is both lyrical and evocative, painting vivid images of the lush landscapes of Kashmir and the multifaceted characters that inhabit it. Through Shalini's quest, the novel delves into the political turmoil and cultural divides that have long plagued the region, offering a nuanced perspective on the Kashmir conflict.

One of the novel's strengths lies in its richly developed characters, each with desires, fears, and contradictions. Shalini herself is a deeply flawed yet compelling protagonist, driven by a mix of naivety and determination as she navigates the complexities of love, friendship, privilege, and betrayal. One of the novel's big weaknesses is that Shalini does not seem to have learned anything from her journey. The author highlights the dangers of imposing our perceptions and ideologies onto others, even with the noblest intentions. Shalini's naivety and misguided actions serve as a cautionary tale, illustrating how the road to hell can indeed be paved with good intentions.

The novel challenges readers to question the ethical implications of intervention and the blurred lines between altruism and exploitation. It's a poignant reminder that genuine empathy requires more than just good intentions; it demands a deep understanding of the complexities and nuances of the situations we seek to address. Three and a half stars rounded up because of the excellent audiobook narration by Sneha Mathan.

Soil was recommended to me by a friend (thank you, Jane!) because she knew my son had lived in Fort Collins for several years. While I initially read it because I wanted to learn about gardening in this high plains area that receives little rainfall but is also subject to hail and strong winds, I learned about much more. Dungy tells the story of moving her husband and daughter to predominantly White Fort Collins and transforming her homogeneous suburban lawn into a pollinator garden with native plants. This multi-year process involved removing the sod, spreading newly delivered soil and mulch, and then planting, watering, and waiting. This is not simply a gardening journal; along the way, Dungy also writes about marriage, motherhood, racism, social justice, and nature writers who may (or may not) have written in isolation. I appreciated the author's points about John Muir and Annie Dillard writing in solitude, and Mary Oliver having the time to wander the forest and write poems without having to provide meals for children.

There is a moment when the author is a bit prickly and I didn't understand why. She is upset because the pastor at church used language in a sermon about "getting along with people who might have voted differently" in the 2016 election that she felt was hurtful and dangerous. She told him, "All those people you listed, we are not 'on the outside of society looking in'. We are part of this society! We are at the very center of what America has been built upon. But the rhetoric you used during your addition to that prayer is the rhetoric of exclusion." The pastor apologized and said Ms. Dungy should always tell him if something he said or did was hurtful. "These must have seemed like generous gestures to him but he took no agency. He made me responsible for calling his attention to the hurt he caused." I am not a Black woman, so I'm not intimately familiar with the author's experiences. I don't wish to inflict pain upon others, but I don't know what I don't know. One of the ways I can learn is if others help to teach me, and it seems that was what the pastor was asking for.

Several reviewers have complained that the author jumps from subject to subject; she tells her stories non-linearly, but I enjoyed her writing style. For me, it helped to highlight the interconnectedness of nature and gardening with day-to-day life. There are times when the prose may not be cohesive, but Camille Dungy reminds us that gardening, the natural world, massive wildfires, and racism are parts of our daily lives and are all related. Three and a half stars rounded up.

What have you been reading lately? 

Wednesday, June 5, 2024

Unraveled Wednesday: 6/5/24

I'm happy to join Kat and the Unravelers today with more of my Hitch on the Move. I fear that it may look much the same from week to week, so I thought about ways to make my photos a bit more interesting. I love it when JoJo smiles and puts her paw on Kym's projects to show her approval, so I've attempted to recreate something similar. 

Here are my well-trained cats, Lizzy and Susi, posing with my HotM. All I had to do was call them over and they came and posed with my knitting to show their admiration. 

They posed nicely with the balls of yarn, without any playing or tomfoolery. They really do know how to behave nicely even if they may not have quite as much personality as JoJo. 

Beginning next Tuesday, I'm watching Nugget for a week and a half so I hope I can get her to pose as nicely with my knitting as Lizzy and Susi do. I'm also caring for the snakes and lizard that Justin and Jess have, so who knows what animals might appear in future knitting photos. 

I read three books last week but the reviews got a bit too long (maybe long-winded?) to include in this post. You can look for them in a post of their own tomorrow.

What are you making this week?  

Tuesday, June 4, 2024

Tiny Needle Tuesday: 6/4/24

Last week was one that I spent trying to get better settled with stitching, so not a lot of progress was made. 

I finished the first motif and did six whole cross-stitches on the one below it. 

Last week I had the Aida cloth in a hoop and had used binder clips to keep the extra fabric out of the way. That quickly got cumbersome and heavy so I ordered a scroll frame. The Aida cloth is 29"x25" so the scroll frame was even more cumbersome and heavy. 

I returned the scroll frame and decided to try this for Plan B. I'm going to try and go back to the hoop (maybe a slightly larger one) and then I can use the "Universal Craft Stand" pictured below to hold the hoop. I may still have to pin the extra cloth out of the way, but I have high hopes that it will work because I won't have to hold the weight of the hoop myself. 

I wanted something that would allow me to work on this piece because I really like it and wasn't quite ready to give up yet. It didn't even cost much from Amazon, so I hope to assemble the stand later today, get my sampler back in a hoop, and get back to stitching. Fingers crossed that Plan B works!