Monday Questions | 11.22.21

Monday Questions | 11.22.21

It’s the Monday before Thanksgiving… do you have your lists ready? Or do you just have a singular list? Or do you have no list (and just a super brain) and have no issue remembering all the things to do this week!?

Yes, I noted that I asked three rapid fire questions… this week has a sense of urgency to it, doesn’t it? As I sit here and type this I can hear the washing machine diligently working away in the basement. It sounds like it is almost done and I will need to head down to move things along down there!

But… I have my lists… yes more than one. I have the Thanksgiving Feast List/Timeline and the Things That Need to be Mailed Before Month End List. One is looming larger than the other because of the general clusterfuck that is the Post Office these days. (16 days ago I mailed a birthday card to my son in law… which has yet to arrive and his birthday was the 18th… I truly hope it gets there before he arrives home to celebrate Thanksgiving with his family!) Anyways… the Post Office is adding unnecessary stress to my life!

But… now for the REAL questions! Ha!

Question One:

What is the one thing that must be on your Thanksgiving table to make it feel like Thanksgiving?

(My answer… my nana’s ewy-gewy-rich-and chewy Sweet Potato Casserole… this year I am trying a lighter version sans marshmallows.)

Question Two:

Is there something new that you are adding to your table this year?

(In my mind this is always a dicey idea… but, I could use some controlled risk in my life this week so I am adding Bonny’s Cranberry Pie to our table this year!)

I am eagerly awaiting your answers! See you all back here on Wednesday for some Unraveling!

To Whom It May Concern | 11.19.21

To Whom It May Concern | 11.19.21

A couple of weeks ago, Bonny wrote some letters… they were so good! (And so inspiring!) I thought it might be fun to write a letter or two this week! Thank you Bonny for inspiring me! (I see that she wrote some more letters this week as well!)

Dear Neighbor’s With the Holiday Lights:

I really enjoyed seeing your Halloween lights in October during Sherman’s Evening Constitutional! They were just so fun but I was slightly confused to see that you went from Halloween to Christmas overnight and I thought I’d take a moment to introduce you to the joys that are November (you know, that month between October and December…) November is full of really lovely days! We celebrate Veteran’s Day and Thanksgiving Day. For the rest of the month it is all about savoring Autumn… leaves changing color as well as cooler days and nights. It just seems, well, commercial to be putting up and turning on your holiday lights on November 1st. I completely understand wanting to put holiday lights out while the weather is mild, but you know that you don’t have to actually turn them on immediately don’t you? Just a suggestion for next year!

Signed,
Your Neighbor who loves November

My Dearest Big Foot,

News Flash! Sock One is DONE! I hope to begin Sock Two later today. I think it will go a bit faster than the first sock because I seem to have more knitting bandwidth these days… which is a very good thing!

Love,
Your Knitting Half

And finally this week I really need to pen this letter (or ten) in reality… not just here in the blogosphere!

Dear Mental Health Crisis Centers of Michigan:

Yes, I realize that Crisis is a singular term… but really? Do you honestly think that a person having a mental health crisis has just one single problem? I did look after talking with all of you for any Mental Health Crises Centers of Michigan and found them to be a non-existent entity. You gave me a Mental Health Crisis after spending days calling and talking to therapists at your facilities only to be told that my loved one had “too many crises” and that they could not help. It made me understand in a profound way why we have so many homeless people… they too are probably in the crises category and deemed “incapable of help.” I knew that our mental health system was woefully lacking, but I did not truly understand how broken it is until this week. Despite your lack of help in even giving me other alternative places to call… by some miracle we stumbled into a place that would take my sister, no thanks to you at all. In fact, you all told me there was no place in Michigan that would take her. You really missed the mark on that one, unless you think Holland is really The Netherlands.

Signed,
The Woman who called you all this week

That is all I have for this week! Have a good weekend and perhaps write a letter or two! See you all back here on Monday.

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood from Pexels

Unraveled Wednesday | 11.17.21

Unraveled Wednesday | 11.17.21

Cooking and baking is both physical and mental therapy.  — Mary Berry

It seems that those points in time in my life when I have been the most stressed, the making relief that I turn to is cooking. So we have an enormous pot of chili that will be something easy to pull out for many meals. I also pulled out my tried and true bread recipe and it’s yeast-y goodness filled my kitchen with the best smells yesterday. And kneading bread is the absolute best frustration releaser on earth!

I have barely knit a stitch… I cannot settle my mind or my hands to do that… it is better to read something that encompasses my mind. Thus… Big Foot Sock #1 is still not done. (Although the fit thus far is very good!)

I did sit down at my sewing machine on Friday, turned on an audio book, and quilted The Advent Calendar. AND!! I love how it turned out. (full beauty shot coming soon!) The final steps are hand-sewing the binding, then attaching twenty-four buttons… and, yes, I am struck by the irony of binding a quilt (which I can do) and binding up the (self-made/inflicted) hell-scape that is my sister’s life (which I can’t do). All that aside… my goal is to have this in the mail by Friday!

The reading this week was so good:

O BeautifulO Beautiful by Jung Yun
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Can you leave your hometown and leave behind all the problems that it holds? That is what Elinor Hanson finds out as she takes a job that brings her back to the North Dakota town where she grew up.

There is intrigue. There are fascinating characters. There is racism. And there is greed… all simmering under the surface.

Yun’s prosaic writing is what drew me in and her story kept me. O Beautiful is not what I expected… it is so much more. And the best part? It did not have a tidy ending… and the wondering about that is perhaps the best lingering thing about this book! I highly recommend it!

I would like to thank Macmillan Audio and Netgalley for this ARC.

What Strange ParadiseWhat Strange Paradise by Omar El Akkad
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow.

Just wow.

This might be a small book but it is not a light read. El Akkad takes us to the world of the refugee from a unique perspective… from the eyes of a child. The writing is almost like El Akkad had a quiver of arrows… and when they were gone – his story must be done. Those arrows absolutely pierced my heart and my mind. This is a book that I will not soon forget… this is an absolute must read!


That is all I have for today… what about you? What are you making and reading this week?

As always, if you wrote a post to share please leave your link below!


Poetry On Monday | 11.15.21

Poetry On Monday | 11.15.21

In a week that did not at all turn out as I hoped or even in my wildest dreams imagined this poem from last Friday has been my lifeline.

At some point, Elizabeth Bishop renamed the poem… but I found her original name, Early Sorrow, to be so profound for me. But, the new name… Sestina… has stuck in my head and the words of the poem keep echoing there as well. It is a good time to plant tears… not very bright or cheery for a Monday but every day can’t be all sunshine and rainbows…

Sestina by Elizabeth Bishop:

September rain falls on the house.
In the failing light, the old grandmother
sits in the kitchen with the child
beside the Little Marvel Stove,
reading the jokes from the almanac,
laughing and talking to hide her tears.

She thinks that her equinoctial tears
and the rain that beats on the roof of the house
were both foretold by the almanac,
but only known to a grandmother.
The iron kettle sings on the stove.
She cuts some bread and says to the child,

It’s time for tea now; but the child
is watching the teakettle’s small hard tears
dance like mad on the hot black stove,
the way the rain must dance on the house.
Tidying up, the old grandmother
hangs up the clever almanac

on its string. Birdlike, the almanac
hovers half open above the child,
hovers above the old grandmother
and her teacup full of dark brown tears.
She shivers and says she thinks the house
feels chilly, and puts more wood in the stove.

It was to be, says the Marvel Stove.
I know what I know, says the almanac.
With crayons the child draws a rigid house
and a winding pathway. Then the child
puts in a man with buttons like tears
and shows it proudly to the grandmother.

But secretly, while the grandmother
busies herself about the stove,
the little moons fall down like tears
from between the pages of the almanac
into the flower bed the child
has carefully placed in the front of the house.

Time to plant tears, says the almanac.
The grandmother sings to the marvelous stove
and the child draws another inscrutable house.

Elizabeth Bishop ©


I learned last week that my years-estranged sister has been evicted (yet again) and has spiraled down to the bottom of the bottom of the bottom of the mental health ocean. There are volumes to this story that I am just not ready to share and my Monday is going to be full of making calls, asking lots of questions and I am hopeful that I will find an answer or two. I am sorry, but I have closed comments for this post… I hope you all understand.

See you all back here on Wednesday.

 

 

Unraveled Wednesday | 11.10.21

Unraveled Wednesday | 11.10.21

This week the making is beginning to feel like it needs to be at a “fevered pitch” but its is not. I wanted to have the “calendar”  portion of the Advent Calendar in process… but it is not! I want to thank you all for your tips and encouragement… I am experiencing a great deal of FOMU (fear of messing up) but I think I have a plan mapped out both in my head and on the fabric… invisible mapping, but I think it will work… now I just need to take the bold words that Carole shared to heart and just “drop those feed dogs” and give it a go!

Thankfully, every ornament is done…all 4 layers of them! Whew!

Instead of overcoming my FOMU of quilting, I knit a hat that is all ready for a little soak, which is a good thing because we have a four-letter word weekend forecast! Gah!

The reading this week… there are a couple of excellent books and one that very much fell flat for me. If you are looking for a good book recommendation… I strongly recommend Oh William! My goodness, it was just so brilliant!

Oh William!Oh William! by Elizabeth Strout
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is the way of life: the many things we do not know until it is too late.

Elizabeth Strout absolutely saved the best for last with Oh William! I loved the 2 previous books, My Name is Lucy Barton and Anything is Possible – they were really a wonderfully told story, but Oh William! takes that story to a new level. At times it very much felt like I was sitting and listening to Strout… rather than reading it. Her prose is really brilliant, and she manages to insert an aside exactly as one would if you were sharing a cuppa and talking.

I wanted to “ration” my reading so this book would not end. And I highly recommend this entire series… and save the best for last!

I want to thank Random House and Netgalley for providing me an ARC of this book!

How to Love the World: Poems of Gratitude and HopeHow to Love the World: Poems of Gratitude and Hope by James Crews
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I received this beautiful little book of poems from a friend (Thanks, Kym!) and I have been reading a poem or two a day, each morning to either begin or end my meditation time. I have probably read through all the poems at least twice… and just because I am marking this book “finished” here does not mean I am done with it.

These poems of hope and gratitude have been the most perfect way to start the day. I find myself wondering if I just keep reading one or two each morning… how long will it take for me to memorize them? Because they are all memorize-worthy!

If you are feeling overwhelmed with the state of the world… pick up this book and let the poet’s speak to you, fill you, move you to a better place, and perhaps even become a sharer of gratitude and hope in the world! I highly recommend this book!

Everything Happens for a Reason: And Other Lies I've LovedEverything Happens for a Reason: And Other Lies I’ve Loved by Kate Bowler
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I am not sure what I imagined this book was going to be, but it was not that… and not in a good way. At times, I felt much of what Kate is trying to share came across as trite, and frankly, she has profound luck… which I could not stop thinking about as I listened to her talk.

And while I have heard “everything happens for a reason” with sickening frequency in a faith setting (exactly where it should never happen), I don’t think I ever felt as she did when she heard it. I felt like she really believed that she should have had a “lucky” life because of her faith… except that is not how it works. And she did have incredible luck to be working in a place that moved mountains to get her an experimental cancer treatment. (I found it incredibly ironic that she gave God none of the benefit for that…)

I had originally given this book 3 stars, but since have downgraded it to 2 stars.


And, that is it for me this week… Steve is taking a longer weekend (thanks to Veteran’s Day) so I will see you all back here on Monday!

As always, if you wrote a post to share please leave your link below and thank you!


Monday Questions | 11.22.21

Monday Questions | 11.8.21

(a weekend update, and an answer!)

Debate over the Vintage Mixer continued on Friday evening and we made a plan for Saturday morning. Our plan… if and when it became too full to move around and still maintain safe distancing that would be our key to leaving. We arrived a little after the doors opened, hoping to avoid the initial rush of opening, but we still got hung up in a bit of a line. And from roughly 10 am to noon we had a wonderful time. We looked at so much fun stuff! We people watched all the “Vintage-dressed” people! (They are just so fun!) We had a beer and some Pie Bird Potato and Leek Breakfast Pie (yes, beer for breakfast!) and we did a tiny bit of shopping before it became almost impossible to move at all. It got so busy and so full. I have to confess that the female portion of the attendee’s seemed to have major issues with keeping your mask on correctly, despite there being signs EVERYWHERE about covering your nose and mouth. The men did not seem to have this issue at all, and frankly… I was a bit outraged at the women (can you say stupid??)

I was sad that I did not see a number of vendors that had previously attended… and most notably, Rick Sebak was not there.  And we only bought 2 things! But what fun things they are! We got a set of vintage cocktail glasses and a very old little cast iron pug. I have plans to put out the Dickens Village this year and I thought this little pug would be perfect companion for Fezziwig!

Last week, Patty expressed curiosity about my Cinnamon Syrup making so I thought I’d share my little concoction with you all! Years ago I found a recipe on Pinterest for Cinnamon Syrup but it was way too sweet for my taste… so I tweaked it quite a bit. My recipe: 1.5 cups of water, 1 – 8″ length cinnamon stick or 3 small sticks (note… I buy cinnamon sticks from Costco, they are larger, fresher, and less expensive that the regular grocer – but they don’t always have them in stock) and 3/4 cup brown sugar (not packed… just loose scoops). Bring the water with the cinnamon stick to a boil and once it is boiling, turn off the heat and cover the pot and let it steep for 20-30 minutes. Remove the sticks and add the brown sugar and stir until dissolved. Voilá, the perfect hint of cinnamon-y sweetness to add to your coffee. (And if you froth your milk and sprinkle it with a tiny bit of ground cinnamon, you have yourself an incredible treat!)

And finally… my question of the week involves those ever-present stacks of paper that live in a house. Sadly, Steve and I are both paper collectors… but different sorts of paper. I like to print out recipes because I can make notes on them, but the kitchen drawer is overflowing and so this morning, I am culling the recipe herd and only keeping the ones we really love and I will be putting them in a new recipe book. Steve’s paperwork is a bit more “all over the house” than mine – he is a receipt and coupon hoarder. He doesn’t know it, but they are all going in the trash this morning… but how long do you all keep receipts? (and I am not talking grocery or fast food receipts… and yes, he keeps those too… sigh) I am talking ‘big ticket’ items, warranty items, etc.

But really, I want to know… how do you battle the Paper War?

That’s all I have for this morning… the stacks of paper are calling!

 

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