Ranty Thursday.


Okay, I am officially tired of this COVID-19 quarantine thing.

My book group met safely in a park over the summer. When the weather turned cold last month we met, masked and distanced, in a large meeting room at my library. But now that Wisconsin has turned into such a hot spot we are declaring a hiatus until after the holidays. We will see how things look in January, whether the steeply ascending case count has leveled off and whether our governor rescinds the current safer-at-home/avoid-all unnecessary-outings order. Two of us in the group have health conditions, and two of us have spouses with serious health conditions, so we are being prudent, as much as it hurts.

Now my newly formed knitting group, which includes two retired nurses, has decided on the same thing. No meetings until the new year.

Neither group has explored the possibility of Zoom or Google Meet yet. I am sounding out the members to see if there is any interest. Zoom free account limits meetings to 40 minutes; I don’t think Google Meet has such a limit. Have any of you used the latter? Sing out in the comment about your experience.


How are things in my area? Going from bad to worse. The case numbers more than doubled in the last 12 days, from 796 to 1,629. We had only 2 deaths up until October 23; now we have 8. Nothing like New York City in April or El Paso now, of course, but our rate is 3,760 per 100,000 people. That puts us nearly as bad as Gallup, NM, was last spring.

Smokey and I still hunker down at home almost all the time. He makes a major grocery run every couple weeks and a milk run more often. I have made any number of trips to various banks’ drive-through windows, necessitated by my treasurer duties. But beyond that, pretty much zilch. It’s a good thing we get along so well. It would be hell on wheels if we didn’t.


Enough with the ranting. Here are a couple good news stories.

  • Want to help out voters in Georgia? Vote Forward is an organization that connects volunteers with potential voters via hand-written letters from the former.  A template and guidelines are provided.  More information at the link.
  • People all over the country are painting rocks and sending them to a man in Irving, Texas; he and family place them along a local hiking trail. If I were any kind of an artist I would do that, too, but I’m not so I won’t.
Posted in Rants, various | 10 Comments

Unraveled Wednesday, 11/18/20.

Joining Kat and friends on Unraveled Wednesday.

Knitting.

Darned little knitting has gone on hereabouts. I added the i-cord bind off to the latest BSJ, but I didn’t add quite enough stitches when I turned the corner at the lower front. Corner is rounded, which is not what I was going for. But maybe I should just live with it and keep knitting.

I came across a couple of lovely skeins of sock yarn that I think I will make into a Hitchhiker. The prospect of continuing the afghan slog is just not lighting up my fun meter.

Reading.

I picked up another book from my bookshelf — The Greenlanders by Jane Smiley. Smiley is one of my favorite writers, so I tend to buy her books rather than borrow them from the library. Not sure if I will finish it, though. It hasn’t really grabbed me, and it is rather a l-o-n-g book. Set in the 14th(?) century in Greenland, it tells of a family’s members’ lives and arguments and tragedies and triumphs. Not rated yet.

Oh, look! I somehow figured out how to format the book cover next to the text! Yay, me!

Watching.

The Queen’s Gambit on Netflix. Seven-episode miniseries that tells the story of an orphan girl in 1950s Kentucky who learns to play chess and becomes a prodigy. A few klunker moments, but overall very well done. 4★

Posted in Unraveled Wednesdays | 1 Comment

Fiber fantasies.

Knitting as rehab.

Okay, here is the correct link for that worm tutorial I mis-linked last week.

Stephen West.

Plied by Neanderthals.

“…it’s always either icy cold or unpleasantly warm and your yarn smells like sulfur…”

Word.

Posted in LInks knitting | 4 Comments

And the corona marches on…

Photo by CDC on Pexels.com
These IVs are all for one patient in an Oklahoma ICU. The cluster is called an IV thicket.

Mental health.

And more.

Posted in Coronavirus | 4 Comments

Dripping links.

You’ll never get away with anything.

Well, that certainly didn’t end the way I expected it to.

My ancestors are proud of me, too.

Gorgeous stained glass and tile work.

Perfection not required.

Advice for a novice writer.

Posted in Links | 4 Comments

Furry feathered Friday.

Sprinkler. In the living room. Yeah, this was the link that got put into last Friday’s Furry post by mistake. If I could find the link that should have been there I would put it here. But I can’t, so I won’t. Just enjoy the living room sprinkler again.

Want to sacrifice a few thousand brine shrimp?

Penguin pumpkin.

Remember when you were pregnant and walked like this?

I totally agree with the one about witches and black cats. I decreed a couple years ago that all our pets must be black because I was tired of not being able to wear dark colors with the perpetual frosting of light-colored fur.

Posted in Animals | 4 Comments

When the world has got you down, here are some pick-me-ups.

My SIL sent me this article from the Washington Post that has a list of feel-good books. We could all use one like that sometimes; I need to share. I haven’t read any of these, so I cannot comment on them. But they sound like they are worth reading.

Redhead by the Side of the Road by Anne Tyler. This little book packs a lot of subtle power. Micah Mortimer, a 40-something eccentric, thrives on routine and rigidity — to the frustration of those around him, including his girlfriend. When he’s thrown off-kilter by a barrage of surprises, he’s forced to question his structured lifestyle. It’s a sweet, simple tonic for our chaotic times.

Anxious People by Fredrik Backman. Backman’s new novel is a satisfying remedy for pandemic anxiety. An inept bank robber accidentally interrupts an apartment open house, taking the would-be buyers hostage — which leads to hours of confusion, revelations and connection. It’s laugh-out-loud funny and will help restore your faith in humanity.

Beach Read by Emily Henry. The title is apt. Henry’s earnest novel is about a jaded romance author and stagnant literary writer who rotate into each other’s orbits for the summer, much to their mutual dismay. As they embark on a challenge designed to help them both banish writer’s block, the creative — and romantic — sparks fly.

Humans of New York by Brandon Stanton. I have been following Humans of New York on Instagram for a couple years. The stories are sometimes heartbreaking and sometimes poignant., but always worth reading.

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig. A library that contains an infinite number of books: talk about the dream. But, plot twist, each is about a life that could have been, had one made different choices. Such is the premise of Haig’s whimsical novel, which introduces a young woman so miserable that she intentionally overdoses. When she wakes up, she’s in the Midnight Library, which guides her on a journey to figure out what makes life worth living.

Dear Emmie Blue by Lia Louis. Emmie Blue is just a teenager when she releases a red balloon into the sky — and, you guessed it, falls in love with the boy who finds it. Fourteen years later, they’re best friends, he’s engaged to someone else and she’s pining. It’s a swoon-worthy British rom-com with big heart and a heroine worth rooting for.

We Are Santa by Ron Cooper. Santa Claus is coming to the bookshelf. Cooper, a photographer, has profiled 50 professional Santas, including an Orthodox Jew, a Scottish-kilted bagpiper, a veteran with a prosthetic hand and a woman. It’s a lovely way to catch some holiday cheer — with photos as absorbing as the text.

Party of Two by Jasmine Guillory. Romance is a bipartisan cause — and in her fifth novel, Guillory delivers the hottest politics of the season. Olivia is a Black lawyer who starts dating a hotshot White senator, which gets complicated when their relationship goes public. Settle in for a Hallmark-esque dose of frothy fun.

Keep Moving by Maggie Smith. Smith, who wrote the viral poem “Good Bones,” survived loss and new beginnings — and we can, too, she believes. In Keep Moving, she reflects on finding optimism in the dark days following a collapsed marriage and other struggles. “Write breathe on your to-do list,” she advises. “Write blink. Write sit and eat. Then cross everything off. How satisfying! Give yourself credit for living.” It’s all about kindness, hope and why we need to keep moving, no matter what life hurls at us.

You Had Me at Hola by Alexis Daria. What a trope: Actress falls in love with her leading man. And Jasmine, a soap star, is determined to avoid doing exactly that. Which is a problem, when you consider the electric chemistry she experiences with her co-star — and not just thanks to the help of an on-set intimacy coordinator. The novel is as fun as your favorite telenovela.

The Authenticity Project by Clare Pooley. Julian Jessop, a lonely septuagenarian, thinks we could all stand to be honest. So he writes his ugly truths into a green notebook and leaves it at a cafe, where five people find it and add their own frank entries. The truth-telling strangers become friends and confidants, and it all feels like a warm hug.

All Adults Here by Emma Straub. What’s so funny about a family in chaos, you ask? Well, this is Straub — queen of the entertaining, feel-good novel — so plenty. In this book, family matriarch Astrid witnesses her longtime nemesis get struck and killed by a bus, which sends her on a journey to make amends with her adult children, who are stumbling through their own issues. It’s big-hearted and warm, with relatable characters.

Heart Talk: The Journal by Cleo Wade. In 2018, Wade — an artist-poet-activist who’s been called the “millennial Oprah” — released “Heart Talk,” a collection of poignant poems and affirmations. Her new, complementary journal offers a year’s worth of prompts designed to inspire self-discovery, personal growth and creativity. Wade is like an encouraging friend checking in to help foster positivity during the pandemic.

It’s Not All Downhill from Here by Terry McMillan. McMillan — whose previous books include “Waiting to Exhale” and “How Stella Got Her Groove Back” — is adept at creating characters who feel like friends. Her new novel centers on 60-something Loretha, who has to reinvent her identity and plans after unexpectedly becoming a widow. It’s a celebration of living your best life, no matter your age, and the power of female friendships.

The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune. Linus is a solitary case worker in charge of making sure that a group of misfit kids with magical powers are safe at their island’s orphanage. As he meets — and falls for — their caretaker, Arthur, he realizes the beauty of choosing your family and welcoming joy and wonder. It’s a witty, wholesome fantasy that’s likely to cause heart-swelling.

Channel Kindness by Born This Way Foundation Reporters with Lady Gaga. Lady Gaga and her mother, Cynthia Germanotta, created the Born This Way Foundation to help make the world a kinder place — a timely pursuit. This new anthology spotlights 51 stories by young changemakers: teens who created movements to teach their peers to practice self-love and to de-stigmatize mental health issues, for example. “Channel Kindness” is a wonderful antidote to the division and despair that have tainted much of the year.

Posted in Books, Reading | 5 Comments

Unraveled Wednesday, 11/11/20.

Joining Kat and friends on Unraveled Wednesday.

Knitting.

I finished the latest BSJ, yay!

Well, as you can see, it is not quite done yet. I am doing the i-cord bind off, which takes roughly a century or two because one must knit three stitches to bind off one. After that are the shoulder seams, sewing on a couple buttons, and making and attaching the i-cord frog I have in mind. So it will be done sometime in 2023...

Reading.

In Harm’s Way: The Sinking of the USS Indianapolis and the Extraordinary Story of Its Survivors by Doug Stanton. This one had been on my bookshelf for years. I think I probably picked it up at a library book sale after hearing Smokey tell me the ship’s story. The USS Indianapolis was the ship that delivered the atomic bombs to the Pacific island from which they would be flown to Hiroshima and Nagasaki. After making that delivery the ship headed to the Philippines, but on the way it was torpedoed and sunk. Roughly a thousand sailors made it off the ship, but, due to a series of communication glitches, no one knew the ship was sunk and that the men were floating in the Philippine Sea. Of the 890 who survived the sinking, only about 300 survived exposure, dehydration, saltwater poisoning, and shark attacks. 3★

People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks. This one has been on my bookshelf for years. Someone gave it to me, saying that I really needed to read it. I think I left in on my bookshelf, unread, because I assumed the book in the title was the Bible, and I had no interest in that subject. But when I ran out of library books, I picked it up. Nope, it was about a 15th century Jewish book and the various people who possessed it over the centuries. 3.5★

Still no new library books, so I next chose another one from my bookshelf: Medicine Walk by Richard Wagamese. I think a friend loaned me this book several years ago, (There is a lesson in that; do not loan me a book unless you are okay with not getting it back for years.) This one is totally different from my usual fare. It is the story of a Native teenager, abandoned nearly at birth by his father and whose mother died in childbirth, being reunited with his father. Father is a long-time drunk whose liver is failing fast, and he has chosen to ask this son to take him on a ride into the wilderness so the he can be buried there. The story, the language, and the descriptions are wonderful. 4★

I am reading my way through Ann Cleves’ Vera Stanhope series. Telling Tales is #2 in the series and was an enjoyable read. Hidden Depths, #3, was not quite as good; whenever a book has a group of similar characters that play similar roles in the story, I always have a hard time keeping them straight. Silent Voices, #4 in the series, was better. However, in all the Stanhope books I have read so far, Cleves pins the murder on a character without having given the reader any real clues as to the perpetrator. I found that a bit annoying, but overall I still enjoy the stories and will continue the series.

At this rate I might actually read all the books on my bookshelf that I have bought over the years.

Posted in Unraveled Wednesdays | 8 Comments

Triumphant Tuesday. The rants, they keep on coming.

Posted in Politics, national, Rants, various | 8 Comments

Fiber Monday.

How to make a worm: a tutorial.

Posted in LInks knitting | 5 Comments