Sunday, July 12, 2020

2020 Project 365 – Week Twenty-eight


Last week I ranted about the Blogger changes & several of you mentioned sticking with the OG version. I shall try going back to that today & see what happens. If I’m unsuccessful please expect a rant next week. (To be clear, there might be a rant next week whether or not Blogger cooperates because rants are a dime a dozen around here these days).
Sunday, July 5th                                                              
Dr. M & I are always excited to see a hummingbird visit our hanging baskets! Please enjoy these not very fabulous pictures.


Monday, July 6th                            
After the long weekend, I forgot how to office so I left my lunch (a frozen dinner) at home. Fortunately I remembered all this lovely fruit!


Tuesday, July 7th                                                                 
Wildflowers!


Wednesday, July 8th                                                          
New mask – I think it’s perfect!


Thursday, July 9th        
Took a selfie to remind people what I look like without a mask. My cousin Josh said, The last thing a Cheeto sees?" I had to show him what I had on my desk at that exact moment. Ha!


My boss gave us gaiters in case we liked the style better. I like it, but I think Dr. M will find it a lot more useful – it covers his whole beard!


Friday, July 10th                                                                      
Another day, another new mask. That makes three “fun” ones and a couple of more utilitarian ones. I think I’m set now!


A different type of visitor to our hanging basket.


Saturday, July 11th                
Our morning glories have been quite lovely. And the little wildflower planters are fun too. Dr. M spent a good couple of hours trying to figure out what the pink ones are – Silene Armeria, aka Sweet William Catchfly, or Garden Catchfly. The blue ones are cornflowers.



Almost forgot to do the photo shoot for this scarf. I took a jillion pictures because I was trying to capture the green – it kept looking gray. This one definitely has wool in it, so you won't see it again for about 6 months. 


It seems like every day there is some new insane thing to shake my head about. So many outrages and injustices – it boggles the mind! I try not to think about what our country will look like if we reelect our current “president.” Today I’m in “wear my mask & let the idiots fall where they may” mode. Tomorrow? There may be ranting!


Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Book Reviews – the June Edition


I apparently spent the entire month of June with my nose in a book. I read seven books! What the heck! I was spurred a little bit because I had several library books I’d waited on forever that became available at the same time.

1. Fierce, Free, and Full of Fire: The Guide to Being Glorious You, by Jen Hatmaker. ★★★★★ The author says: In this book, I break it down into five self-reflective categories—who I am, what I need, what I want, what I believe, and how I connect—and by working your way through them, you will learn to: own your space, ground, and gifts (they are YOURS, sister); be strong in your relationships and lay down passive aggression, resentment, drama, and compliance; say GUILT-FREE what you want and what you need; and welcome spiritual curiosity and all the fantastic change that doing so creates.

You with me, beloveds? If we do this work on our own selves now, not only will we discover a life truly worth living, but we will free our daughters to rise up behind us, with spines straight, heads up, and coated in our strength.

The Bug Says: That description reads like a typical self-help book, but it doesn’t feel like one. While the writing style is worlds away from Glennon Doyle’s book, the message is similar and just as electrifying: you are allowed to be yourself no matter what boxes your world erects around you. I’ve always chafed at boxes, but I also REALLY dislike any kind of conflict. This gave me a little boost to see if I can break free from some of my confining spaces.

2. Hideaway, by Nora Roberts. ★★★★ Caitlyn Sullivan had come from a long line of Hollywood royalty, stretching back to her Irish immigrant great-grandfather. At nine, she was already a star—yet still an innocent child who loved to play hide and seek with her cousins at the family home in Big Sur. It was during one of those games that she disappeared. Some may have considered her a pampered princess, but Cate was in fact a smart, scrappy fighter, and she managed to escape her abductors. Dillon Cooper was shocked to find the bloodied, exhausted girl huddled in his house—but when the teenager and his family heard her story they provided refuge, reuniting her with her loved ones.

Cate’s ordeal, though, was far from over. First came the discovery of a shocking betrayal that would send someone she’d trusted to prison. Then there were years spent away in western Ireland, peaceful and protected but with restlessness growing in her soul. Finally, she would return to Los Angeles, gathering the courage to act again and get past the trauma that had derailed her life. What she didn’t yet know was that two seeds had been planted that long-ago night—one of a great love, and one of a terrible vengeance.

The Bug Says: This is another fine novel by one of my favorite authors. She writes the best dialogue, and most of her heroines aren’t stupid. I hardly ever yell at them, so you know she does a good job of writing strong women. Ha!

3. Necessary as Blood, (Duncan Kincaid & Gemma James #13), by Deborah Crombie ★★★★ Once the haunt of Jack the Ripper, London's East End is a vibrant mix of history and the avant-garde, where elegant Georgian town houses exist side by side with colorful street markets and the hippest clubs. But here races and cultures still clash, and the trendy galleries and glamorous nightlife of Whitechapel disguise a violent and seedy underside, where unthinkable crimes bring terror to the innocent.

On a beautiful Sunday afternoon in mid May, a young mother, Sandra Gilles, leaves her daughter with a friend at the Columbia Road Flower Market and disappears. A few months later, her husband, a Pakistani lawyer, is killed.

The Bug Says: I love this series (obviously, since I’m on book 13). This is no cozy British mystery, but even so there is something comforting about reading a Scotland Yard murder mystery. Maybe it’s because I listened to the audiobook and I love the British accent? (This is also true of the next book, although it’s set in the London of the WWII blitz instead of present day).

4. The American Agent, (Maisie Dobbs #15) by Jacqueline Winspear. ★★★★ Beloved heroine Maisie Dobbs, “one of the great fictional heroines” (Parade), investigates the mysterious murder of an American war correspondent in London during the Blitz in a page-turning tale of love and war, terror and survival.

As the Germans unleash the full terror of their blitzkrieg upon the British Isles, raining death and destruction from the skies, Maisie must balance the demands of solving this dangerous case with her need to protect Anna, the young evacuee she has grown to love and wants to adopt. Entangled in an investigation linked to the power of wartime propaganda and American political intrigue being played out in Britain, Maisie will face losing her dearest friend—and the possibility that she might be falling in love again.

The Bug Says: This is another series that I love. She reminds me a bit of Sherlock Holmes because she gathers all kinds of seemingly innocuous information & then uses it in the end to find the killer (or rather, usually she’s just naming the killer who has been there all along). This one was just as interesting as the previous ones. And I really had no idea until the end whodunit!

5. The Daughters of Erietown, by Connie Schultz. ★★★★ Hidden desires and long-held secrets, the sacrifices people make for family and to realize their dreams, are at the heart of this powerful first novel about working class people in a small town. By the popular Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist.

In the 1950s, Ellie and Brick are teenagers in love. As a basketball star, Brick has the chance to escape his abusive father and become the first person in his blue-collar family to attend college. But after Ellie learns that she is pregnant, they get married, she gives up her dream of nursing school, and Brick gets a union card instead.

This riveting novel tells the story of Brick, Ellie, and their daughter Samantha, as the frustrations of unmet desire for sex, love, identity, and meaningful work explode their lives. The evolution of women's lives over decades of the second half of the 20th century is explored, in a story that richly portrays how much people know about each other and pretend not to--the secrets at the heart of a family. 

The Bug Says: I read this book because I follow Connie Schultz on Facebook. She is an award winning journalist who lives in Cleveland, but she’s also the wife of Senator Sherrod Brown. I was prepared to be kind while reading it, but it is actually a very good book! I don’t often willingly read novels about generations of families (see British mysteries, above), but this one was engaging and left me afterword wondering how Sam was doing. I missed her & Ellie! I highly recommend picking this one up!

6. The Silent Patient, by Alex Michaelides. ★★★ Promising to be the debut novel of the season, The Silent Patient is a shocking psychological thriller of a woman’s act of violence against her husband—and of the therapist obsessed with uncovering her motive…

Alicia Berenson’s life is seemingly perfect. A famous painter married to an in-demand fashion photographer, she lives in a grand house with big windows overlooking a park in one of London’s most desirable areas. One evening her husband Gabriel returns home late from a fashion shoot, and Alicia shoots him five times in the face, and then never speaks another word.

Theo Faber is a criminal psychotherapist who has waited a long time for the opportunity to work with Alicia. His determination to get her to talk and unravel the mystery of why she shot her husband takes him down a twisting path into his own motivations—a search for the truth that threatens to consume him...

The Bug Says: I got very behind on book club books. I think this was the book for May? It’s because I didn’t want to purchase the book (and the next one, below), so I had to wait until they were available at the library. This book was pretty good. The writing style sort of reminded me of somebody reading someone else’s notes from the file. Kind of dry? I don’t know – it was hard for me to get into it in the beginning, but it did pick up momentum, and there is a twist at the end that had me reflexively giving it 4 stars. Such a great twist! But in the end I backed it down because of how hard it was for me to stay engaged until the last third of the book. HOWEVER, I still recommend that you read it & tell me what you thought of the end.

7. No Exit, by Taylor Adams. ★★★ A brilliant, edgy thriller about four strangers, a blizzard, a kidnapped child, and a determined young woman desperate to unmask and outwit a vicious psychopath.

On her way to Utah to see her dying mother, college student Darby Thorne gets caught in a fierce blizzard in the mountains of Colorado. With the roads impassable, she’s forced to wait out the storm at a remote highway rest stop. Inside, are some vending machines, a coffee maker, and four complete strangers. Desperate to find a signal to call home, Darby goes back out into the storm . . . and makes a horrifying discovery. In the back of the van parked next to her car, a little girl is locked in an animal crate.

There is no cell phone reception, no telephone, and no way out. One of her fellow travelers is a kidnapper. But which one?

The Bug Says: This is another one where I wavered between a 3 and a 4. It was a romp to read (in a gory, sadistic, evil villain matching wits with an intrepid heroine sort of way), but there were so many little things that drove me crazy (whose iPhone hovers at less than 10% power for that many hours?). Also, by the end, I was like, come on – another plot twist? However, it was fast paced and very satisfactory despite the fact that not all of the good guys lived.  

On my shelf now: The One-in-a-Million Boy, by Monica Wood and I'm Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness, by Austin Channing Brown. They are both excellent and I already know I’m going to want to recommend them to you. What are you reading?

 


Sunday, July 5, 2020

2020 Project 365 – Week Twenty-seven

Blogger has updated its interface and I am NOT AMUSED. The spacing is weird, I have to add pictures one at a dang time (I used to upload them all, and then just insert them where I wanted), and I can’t just type in the labels anymore – I have to scroll through the whole list to find the ones I want. I have a jillion labels. Labels might be a thing of the past (I mostly use the search feature when I’m trying to find a post anyway). Okay, rant over. For now.

Sunday, June 28th                                                             

Dr. M spent some time with his dad & the hydrangeas that are from his mother’s funeral. 

I spent some time with my dad and Sue, and picked some blueberries. When I commented that the thing on the right was NOT a blueberry, my dad yanked it up & sent it home with me (garlic – yum!).

Monday, June 29th                            

The moon! 

Tuesday, June 30th                                                                 

Another day, another mask situation. 

Our neighbor’s daylilies are lovely! 

Wednesday, July 1st                                                         

I posted this about being glad my new curling iron came with that warning, and then things took a bawdy turn – especially after I read the instructions. And all I can say about that is OUCH.

 


Thursday, July 2nd       

One of my coworkers’ husbands brought us patriotic donuts. Yum! 

That evening we had a visitation from the blissed out Roy. 

Friday, July 3rd                                                                     

I had the day off from work – woo hoo! I finished up this project – another non-sock item made from sock yarn that I’d had for about 5 years. I actually mostly finished it a couple of weeks ago, but I was POSITIVE I had another skein of the yarn in the house somewhere. I did another pretty exhaustive search on this day & had no luck. It’s fine – this is supposed to be a scarf, not a shawl anyway. Photo shoot to come after it dries. 


Saturday, July 4th                

We spent part of the day with Dr. M’s dad. We had bbq & baked beans with fried okra (I don’t know why the only picture I took of that was the okra). And then we had cupcakes, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Dr. M spent some time talking with his dad & I spent some time picking blueberries. I think it’s fitting that I began and ended the week with blueberries! 

I often have a lot of conflicting feelings about this day, but this year it was more troubling than usual. I’ll let Frederick Douglass explain (and my goodness, I read an alternate opinion of him this week & now I’m giving him side eye!). 

I’ve had a lovely long weekend, but I don’t mind going back to work (at least I won’t mind once I’m up and out of the shower – pre-shower I will be a little salty about it). When I’m out of my routine I can spiral down into complete lethargy with a touch of depression. I did get some housework done, so I feel good about that, and I finished a couple of books and started on THREE more. But I’ll bet my screen time was through the roof! What did you do with your down time? (If you had some – and I don’t want to hear it from my retired people – I’m looking at you Daddy.)

 


Sunday, June 28, 2020

2020 Project 365 – Week Twenty-six

Hello out there! I’m feeling a smidge more alert than I was when I wrote last week’s post. A smidge. There is no guarantee, however, that I will be any more coherent. I can’t wait to find out – can you?

Sunday, June 21st                                                             

Happy Father’s Day! Spent some time with Daddy & Sue, but did I take a single picture? No I did not. Instead you get this test run for the new scarf (excuse my face – Sunday is a makeup free zone). I don’t know – I’m not at all sold on it. However, it does sort of match those yellow pants. Anyone else in love with it & need it in their life?


Monday, June 22nd                           

It turns out that our mystery plant in the wildflower bed is bee balm! I love it!


Tuesday, June 23rd                                                                 

Got my hair did! Basically she toned down the brassy highlights & gave me more layers. I like it! 

Walked into the office to find this escape in progress.

Wednesday, June 24th                                                        

Starting a new project & was organizing all the colors of this yarn that I have.

Wildflowers!

The Roy got a haircut! He’s a whole new dog! It turns out that he isn’t as chunky as we thought – he was mostly fur. His owner says that she didn’t recognize him when she went to pick him up – and he has a lot more energy.

 


Thursday, June 25th      

Still working on my project. I was playing around with color & design (note: not my spiritual gift). I’m going to make one of these four designs using 2” square blocks.

The double orange daylilies are gorgeous this year!

Friday, June 26th                                                                   

I was about to take a big ole bite out of my breakfast burrito & realized that I was still wearing my mask. Oops.

It was Take your Dog to Work Day! I was kind of obsessed with Pebbles the Siberian husky.

Now that I’m wearing a mask at work every day I decided to order an extra one for me from a blog friend, along with a couple for Daddy & Sue. Dr. M tried out the one for Daddy – love it!

Saturday, June 27th                

Spent some of my morning on the deck working on the new project. Can you tell which of the four designs I decided to use?

I did a walkabout to check on the flowers. My two little wildflower boxes are producing such delicate little blossoms. The big wildflower bed on the other hand – not very delicate at all!


I am about at my wits end trying to figure out why people are so belligerent about wearing masks. It makes no sense. It reminds me of the O Brother Where Art there Quote: “It’s afool that looks for logic in the chambers of the human heart.” Ah well, I’ll just keep wearing my mask and waiting for a vaccine. What is your state of mind these days?

 


Saturday, June 20, 2020

2020 Project 365 – Week Twenty-five

I’m sitting here typing this leaned back in my recliner with my eyes closed. That’s how lively things are around here. Just the way I like them – low key and chill. Well, that was nice, but I guess I’ll have to open my eyes to write the rest of the post – it is about pictures, after all. J

Sunday, June 14th                                                            

I took a little walk around the old homestead to see what was what.


This is a total mutual love affair. 

Monday, June 15th                          

I’m not saying the Supreme Court’s decision about discrimination against LGBTQ folks was because I was wearing my pride band, but I’m not saying it wasn’t.


Tuesday, June 16th                                                                

No picture – just this sad screen shot. I’m pretty sure there won’t be baseball this year. I’m trying to not read anything about it because as long as I don’t, then I don’t have to be mad and disgusted at all the parties involved. And anyway, I’m not sure it’s at all safe to play baseball.


Wednesday, June 17th                                                        

The hydrangea at Dr. M’s dad’s house is blooming!

I asked the interwebs if I should add watermelon to my salad (spinach, apples, grapes, feta, almonds). The results were inconclusive, so I added the watermelon anyway. It was good!

Thursday, June 18th       

Ms. Pinky Two-Tone showing off her two tones.

I really should have taken another step just to stave off the apocalypse, but frankly I couldn’t be bothered.


Friday, June 19th                                                                    

My mom’s birthday. Miss you Momcat! It was also Juneteenth, which I have actually known about for years, partly because it’s the same day as my mom’s birthday & partly because I’m married to a historian.

They’ve been feeding us at work on Fridays & this time I got a breakfast sandwich as big as my head. That bread was as big as two slices – HUGE! I ate half & Dr. M had the other half for dinner.

Saturday, June 20th                 

I finally finished this shawl. When I bought the yarn I thought I’d make socks, but it turns out I’m intimidated by socks so I fell back on something I felt more comfortable with. However, I’m not sure the pattern I picked works well with this very busy yarn. We’ll see what I think once it’s dry & I can style it.

We’ll end the post the way we started it – with flowers. We were thrilled to finally see those purple coneflowers – the first ones we’ve seen in the 3 years since we planted the wildflower bed.

I’m not really much of a cusser, but the way things have been going lately my interior monologue has become rather ripe. I sure hope that the rally in Tulsa isn’t as deadly as I’m afraid it will be. Meanwhile, I’m just wearing my mask, trying to elevate black lives, and celebrating with my gay friends & Dreamers. What are you doing?


2020 Project 365 – Week Twenty-eight

Last week I ranted about the Blogger changes & several of you mentioned sticking with the OG version. I shall try going back to that t...