Friday, July 29, 2022

How I Spent My Summer Stay-cation

Isn't it always the case that time goes by faster than normal when you're on vacation? I feel like this week has flown by, but it's been a really good one with a lot of quality time with my kiddo. It hasn't been a complete vacation because I still had to do things like cook meals and stay on top of the laundry, but I haven't checked my work email since last Friday afternoon and have been focused on prioritizing pleasure over obligation. So here's a snapshot of what I've done this past week.

I've finished reading four books.

I knit a baby sweater (still unblocked):

Entrechat by Lisa Chemery

Rainbow and I did some sewing (to be finished this weekend):

Pepin Tote from Noodlehead Sewing Patterns

and some baking (not shown are zucchini bread and homemade pizza dough from earlier in the week:

Fresh raisin challah

All that and I still have two more days off! Be sure to check back on Monday for a long-awaited FO post. Happy weekend!

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Unraveled, Week 30/2022

Good morning, friends! It's Wednesday, and that means it's time for the weekly link-up with Kat and the Unravelers, quite possibly my favorite day of the week!

I have some pretty exciting news to share today: This Wednesday is the last one you will see the big gray sweater because it's DONE.

We had our family dinner this past week on Sunday (we normally do it on Friday nights, but last Friday was Rainbow's performing arts camp concluding performance), so I took the sweater in progress with me to present to my brother. At that point I had completed the collar and button bands and sewn in one sleeve cap. I think he didn't fully understand how it was going to come together and so his reaction was quite as enthusiastic as you might expect. But that's okay. I did some additional seaming while we were at my parents' and then finished it up that evening at home. Yesterday I soaked it and laid it out to dry (I'd blocked the individual pieces before seaming, but the collar/button bands hadn't gotten the treatment yet and I also find a blocking after seaming helps everything to settle into place), and the buttons I ordered should be here tomorrow. So when we see him again on Friday night, I'll be able to present my brother with a completely finished sweater. Of course I'll be getting some modeled shots to share so that I can do a proper FO post.

It's been a good week of reading, with three books finished -- two of them just yesterday!

I'm still on a quest to be a Maggie O'Farrell completist, and it had been a while since I'd read one of her books, so last week when I was between library holds I picked up Instructions for a Heatwave, which felt appropriate given the record high temperatures around the world. This story takes place over few days in July 1976, when a family comes together after their father leaves one morning to pick up a newspaper and doesn't return. As they try to figure out his whereabouts and his reason for disappearing, we learn that every member of the family has a secret they've kept from the others. The writing is lovely and the character development is superb. I really enjoyed this one and gave it 4 stars.

The next library hold I was waiting for was You Made a Fool of Death with Your Beauty, the latest book from the author of The Death of Vivek Oji, which I loved. The author has been amazingly prolific in the last few years and, what's more, has published books in a number of different genres. This latest book is romance, a genre I don't typically read, and I suspect it's because of that that I didn't really enjoy this book. Someone who is a fan of this genre might have a totally different reaction to this book, but I didn't really like the main character and also didn't think that the writing was particularly good (it certainly wasn't the gorgeous writing that I so loved in Vivek Oji). I gave it 2 stars.

Finally, I finished another audiobook. I found myself caught up with podcasts again over the weekend, so I borrowed the next book in the Maisie Dobbs series, An Incomplete Revenge. This series has become my go-to when I need something entertaining to listen to while I'm out exercising but that doesn't require too much thought. In this installment, Maisie is investigating a series of petty crimes and small fires that seem to occur about the same time every year in a town where no one seems to want to talk about them. It deals with themes of prejudice against outsiders and the changing social structure in post-WWI Britain, and there are even some hints about the next war. I gave it 3 stars.

I'm currently reading the Toni Morrison short story Recitatif, which I picked up earlier in the summer at my local independent bookstore, and I expect I'll be able to finish it later today. Then I plan to start something from my very big TBR pile!

What are you making and reading this week?

Monday, July 25, 2022

Growth in 2022: July

I can't believe that July is almost behind us; the year seems to be speeding up as we get further into it. But this week I am on vacation and focused on enjoying the bonus time with my kiddo. As it's the last Monday of the month, it's time for a check-in with my One Little Word and a link-up with Carolyn, who so kindly hosts our monthly reflections.

It's been a busy month with a lot of demands on my time -- work, synagogue board responsibilities, parenting, and of course reading and crafting. It would have been stressful enough without COVID also making a visit to our house, which required additional mental and physical energy in the form of cleaning, making extra meals to deliver to the invalid's door, and checking in with Rainbow to ensure that her anxiety related to her father's health didn't overwhelm her.

In what seems to have become a regular pattern with my One Little Word, I didn't really appreciate the Growth in my life until later. There is plenty of talk out there about imposter syndrome -- the phenomenon where fully capable people feel like frauds despite evidence to the contrary -- but I don't know of a comparable term for fully grown adults who persistently feel like they are still children. Whatever the name for that is, I've got it. I have lived on my own, held down a job, and birthed and raised a child, but there are still plenty of times when I look around for the adult in the room (spoiler alert: it's me). In this past month, without noticing, I've been "adulting" an awful lot. While the Mister was isolating with COVID, I had to run the household. As the new fiscal year has begun at our synagogue, I've taken on my duties as secretary and a member of the executive committee, which has meant participating in additional meetings in which big decisions have been made. I've had to put some boundaries in place at work with a coworker trying to dictate my work process. These weren't things that I made a conscious decision to do  or had to psych myself up to do at the time but rather things that I just did because they needed to be done. Does this mean that I've finally matured? Maybe. But I think it certainly shows some growth on my part.

Sunday, July 24, 2022

A Final Spin for the Tour

The Tour de Fleece (and, naturally, the Tour de France) wrapped up today, and thanks to several hours at my wheel yesterday, I finished one more skein of yarn for the year -- well, technically two, if you count the wee mini skein that came with it.

This skein used 11 of the mini batts that came in my giant bag 'o fluff from HipStrings. The tag that came in the bag said simply "TdF 2022 Bits n Bobs," so I have no idea of the content. Obviously there's wool, but what kind, I could not tell you. Similarly, I could identify bits of silk of different colors and some sparkle here and there, but really what I was spinning was a mystery. And I think that's what made it so fun. I picked out the more neutral batts from the bag -- four that were cream with some black silk and a hint of a pale pink, four that were a medium gray, and three that were a dark gray with tons of colorful add-ins -- and split them so that I spun them in that order onto three bobbins. Then I plied them together, and because the batts weren't all the same weight and I split some up, there were obviously some areas of overlap in the transitions. When the first bobbin ran out, I wound of the singles from the fullest remaining bobbin and made a plying bracelet; the mini skein is a two ply created from just those singles when the second bobbin ran out (there were more, but they got all tangled and I decided I didn't want to fight with them).

The finished yarn is roughly sport weight -- I couldn't make my singles as consistent as I do with combed top just due to the nature of the carded prep, so it's a bit thicker in some places and thinner in others -- and very nearly 440 yards. The skein was still a bit damp when I photographed it, but once I'm sure it's dry, I'll weigh it to get a sense of how much fiber I used. The mini skein is about 10 yards of heavy lace weight, and I'm just going to add it to a little baggie I have of small skeins like this that are really not enough to do anything with but are too cute to throw away.

Something I really love about this skein is how it reads as neutral colors from far away, but when you look closely, there are really a ton of bright colors in it. Spinning batts with a lot of textured elements is also a bit outside my comfort zone, so it's good for me to do to stretch my spinning skills. I still have about a dozen batts in the bag, so I'll be spinning more of them soon!

It wasn't my most productive Tour ever, but I very much enjoyed it, and really I think that's what counts. I plan to spin some more this week as well, because the organizers of the Ravelry event have announced that spinning will continue to coincide with the Tour de France Femmes. I didn't even know this event was happening until a couple of days ago, but I really could not have picked a better week to take a vacation!

Friday, July 22, 2022

Same Old, Same Old

We have made it to Friday, friends. It's been a long week. One reason I so rarely take time off from work is that it ends up being incredibly busy both before and after as my coworkers anticipate my absence by loading me up with work, and that's been the case this week. I just need to make it through today and then I get to relax for the next nine days.

I wish I had something more exciting to share, but I'm still chugging along on the sweater. The collar and button bands aren't that much knitting in the grand scheme of things, but the rows are very long and a bit slower to knit because there's the weight of the entire body of the sweater on the needles that has to be manipulated. On the plus side, I am almost done with the short rows shaping the shawl collar (they get shorter as I go, too), so pretty soon I'll just be working back and forth again and will only need to may more attention to what I'm doing when it comes time to do the buttonholes. On my to-do list this weekend is to dig through my button collection to find something suitable.

I'm not knitting quite every spare minute because I'm still spinning for Tour de Fleece. Yesterday was a challenge day, and the challenge for me was just to find time to spin (see the aforementioned piling-on of work). Luckily I had a Zoom meeting for work in the afternoon, one where I had to sign on and listen but didn't have to participate, so it was a perfect time to get in a little time at my wheel. I'm roughly halfway done with the third bobbin of singles, so my hope is that I can finish it up today or tomorrow and then ply before the Tour wraps up on Sunday.

In another instance of same old, same old, I have some disappointing new from the garden. I moved the tomatoes and peppers to the front yard this year because it gets a ton of sun, and they were doing really well (provided we remembered to water them!). The increased sunshine helped with growth, but I'm still dealing with the same old problem of critters getting at my plants. First, some bunnies (I'm assuming) ate Every Single Leaf off my pepper plants; they've started putting out new leaves, but I doubt they'll grow back in time to produce any peppers. Then yesterday I went to harvest my first tomato, only to discover this:

I found another one that had been gnawed on later in the day. I guess next year I need to put some screens or cages around the plants to keep little mouths off of them!

The weekend is shaping up to be very hot and muggy with a good chance of thunderstorms, so I plan to stay inside the air conditioning with my knitting for much of it. I'll likely be back on Sunday with a Tour de Fleece wrap-up and then Monday it will be time for our monthly One Little Word check-in. Have a great weekend and stay cool!

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Unraveled, Week 29/2022

Happy Wednesday, friends! It's going to be another hot one here, like it is many places right now, so other than my walk later this morning, I'll be hiding in the air conditioning with my knitting. As per usual, today I'm linking up with Kat and the Unravelers to talk about what I'm making and what I'm reading.

You already know what I'm making -- though I'm hopeful this is the last Wednesday I'll be talking about it. Yesterday I wove in ends and blocked the sleeves, and last night I seamed the shoulders and picked up for the button bands and collar on my brother's sweater. I'm officially done with the cabling now, as this last bit of knitting is all ribbing.

I have not counted how many stitches I've picked up, but it's probably at least a couple hundred. This bit of knitting it's exactly going to be fast, but it's all relative. I've done so much knitting already that it doesn't feel too daunting.

I probably should be focusing exclusively on the sweater, but the Tour de Fleece wraps up this Sunday and I'd like to finish one more skein before it ends. I've completed two of the three bobbins of singles using a selection of batts from HipStrings and just started the third (not shown) yesterday afternoon. I've been spinning during my work meetings, and I have two of them tomorrow.

After doing some serious reading recently, this past week I've turned to some lighter stuff and finished two books.

The Cartographers just came out in March, and I'd had it on hold at the library for a while. It follows Nell, once a promising cartographer at the New York Public Library whose career was destroyed when she found what seemed like a worthless map. When her father suddenly dies and she finds the map hidden among her things, she realizes that it is anything but worthless and may hold the key to the secrets of her family and the death of her mother. This is a fun romp through the world of maps with some added fantasy. The writing isn't anything spectacular, but if you need a page-turner for some summer entertainment, it's a good one. I also found it really fascinating that the basis for all the drama was a real story (be sure to read the author's note at the end). I gave it 4 stars.

Last weekend I found myself without much to listen to in my podcast feed, which meant it was time for another audiobook to accompany me on my walks and runs. I'd seen Crazy Rich Asians the movie and tried to read the book with my eyes once before without success; it turns out that audio was the way to go. It was an entertaining listen in a soap opera kind of way, but after a while the listing of all the designer labels got to be a bit exhausting. I think I might actually like the movie more because it's all visual, but I will say that the narrator did a good job of doing different accents and voices. The book was a fun diversion and did its job as an exercise distraction. I gave it 3 stars.

Yesterday afternoon I decided to start another Maggie O'Farrell book as part of my long-term plan to read all her books, and given the current state of the weather, it seemed appropriate to select Instructions for a Heatwave. I haven't gotten very far in it, but I'm already enjoying being back in O'Farrell's prose.

What are you making and reading this week?

Monday, July 18, 2022

Now That Was a Weekend

Good morning, friends! Even though I am sucking down my coffee this morning, I am feeling rested and refreshed from a weekend that was finally quiet and relaxing. Partly that's due to the fact that yesterday was a rainy day, forcing me to be inside. But we also weren't overscheduled or really scheduled much at all, and that meant plenty of time to knit, spin, and read.

First, I have to thank you for any good thoughts you may have sent my way on Friday regarding my blood donation. I was a bit worried when they tested my hemoglobin and it was too low, but they tested again and I was more than fine. I completed my donation in about seven minutes!

I would have liked to have started off the week with finished sweater sleeves, but I'm not quite there yet. I am close, though! I'm about halfway through the sleeve cap shaping and am hopeful that I can finish up today or tomorrow. Decreases are worked at both ends of every right-side row at this point, so the rows are quickly getting shorter.

How do you like our new duvet cover?

On today's to-do list is to block the fronts and back so that as soon as the sleeves are done, I can seam the shoulders and get started on the collar and button bands. My brother's birthday is tomorrow, but realistically we likely won't see him until the weekend, so this present might still be considered on time!

I did a fair amount of spinning yesterday while reading a library book. I decided that rather than spinning up all 13 oz. of my HipStrings mini batts, I'm going to spin a few skeins using a selection of them in each, and the first one is well underway. This one uses the more neutral batts, three shades of them in a gradient-ish progression, and I'm almost done with the second bobbin. The Tour de Fleece runs through Sunday, so I'm hoping to have at least one more skein complete before it ends.

Finally, some good news from the garden -- looks like we'll have some ripe tomatoes to eat soon!

There was another one starting to change color, too, but the one that's slightly red here was the very first fruit to start growing, so I'm not surprised it's the first one that we'll probably get to eat. I should note that this photo was taken on Saturday, before all the rain, so it's entirely possible that there are more that are changing color today.

How was your weekend?

Friday, July 15, 2022

Already Planning the Next

I wish I could say that I was ready to start the weekend with two finished sleeves for my brother's sweater, but I'm still a way off from that; I've got a couple of inches still to go before I start the cap shaping. Work has been busier this week, and last night I had a board meeting (at which I had to start my official duties as secretary and take notes), so little knitting has happened since my last post. But I am already planning my next sweater project, which will be for me and will use some yarn that arrived earlier this week.

I've long admired that summery tops that Mary seems to churn out, and I really liked the tank she recently test knit, so I decided to make a couple for myself. I did not have much summer-appropriate yarn in my stash already (pretty much all the cotton is dishcloth cotton), so I broke down and made a Knit Picks order. And it went on a little adventure to get to me. The Knit Picks warehouse is very close to me in Ohio, so usually my orders get to me pretty quickly. I was checking the tracking, as I usually do, and saw that my order had arrived at my local post office (about a mile from my house) on Sunday evening. Great -- I figured it would be delivered on Monday. But I guess my yarn wanted to do a little sightseeing first. It got sent out to an eastern suburb of Pittsburgh on Monday, then to a regional distribution center, before it came back to the local PO and was finally delivered on Wednesday. Even at that point, the tracking said it was "delivered to local agent for delivery"; don't ask me what that means. I suppose it doesn't matter that it took longer to arrive, because it's not like I'm ready to cast on now anyway, but it certainly does demonstrate the USPS's inefficiency!

The green yarn is Cotlin, which I'm planning to use to make myself a Twofer Tank (Ravelry link). It's what I'm planning to cast on as soon as my brother's sweater is finished. The red is Lindy Chain that I'm going to use for an Anther. I probably can't finish that one in time to wear it this summer, but it's certainly something I could take to Florida.

This afternoon I'm scheduled to donate blood -- cross your fingers that my hemoglobin is high enough today!

I hope you have the best weekend possible!

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

Unraveled, Week 28/2022

Happy Wednesday, friends! It's been a long week already, even though we're not officially halfway through it. I am looking forward to the week off I am taking at the end of the month, not that I will be going anywhere -- I've taken so little time off from work because I've been working from home that I had hit my limit of accrued vacation time and needed to take some of it or I couldn't earn anymore!

As per usual on Wednesdays, I'm linking up with Kat and the Unravelers today to talk about what I'm making and what I'm reading.

Surprise, surprise -- I'm still knitting sleeves. My brother's birthday is next Tuesday, and it's now looking unlikely that I'll be completely done by then. I did finish the increases on the sleeves (the orange marker on the sleeve on the right above shows where that happened) and the pattern calls for working another two inches straight before starting the sleeve cap shaping, but there's an important note in that instruction: work two more inches or to total length desired under the arm. I double-checked the measurements my sister-in-law took for me using one of my brother's store-bought sweaters, and it's a good thing, because he needs more length than another two inches. His total length from the underarm is 19.5 inches. Right now, I'm at about 16. So I still have a bit of knitting to do. And I have to say that I'm feeling much less stressed about this project since I told myself that it's no big deal if it's not done by next Tuesday -- after all, my brother isn't expecting it, and even if he was, he won't be wearing it anytime soon!

I started a new spinning project last night for Tour de Fleece using a set of mini batts from HipStrings. I have no clue what's in them, so this is going to be a very fun spin!

Reading has been slower this week, unsurprisingly, so I've only finished one book. But it was a good one!

The Painted Drum
is the next book we're discussing for the Erdrich-along, and it is a bit different from the previous books we've discussed. In this book, we learn the origin story of Fleur Pillager, one of the central characters in many of the previous books we've discussed, but she's really a minor character in this one, as she's only in one part of the book and is a baby for that part. But this book is classic Erdrich -- gorgeous, complex writing that requires the reader to slow down and fully appreciate it. There is tragedy in this book, but out of that tragedy we get a beautiful story of sacrifice and healing that provides a fuller appreciation of Indigenous customs and ritual objects. I gave it 4 stars.

I finished the book yesterday evening, so I've only just started my next book, The Cartographers. I'm only a chapter in, but I can tell that it's going to be a lighter read, which is just fine with me.

What are you making and reading this week?

Monday, July 11, 2022

Can I Get Another?

Another weekend, that is -- this one went by way too quickly! After last weekend, when I was busy cleaning and cooking and doing all sorts of things, I really wanted to have the weekend off. Alas, that was not to be. Saturday involved cleaning and a lot of laundry (five loads!), and yesterday had three Zooms. Two of those Zooms were knitting related, but that's a lot of time spent in front of the computer.

On the plus side, I did manage to finish up my first finished skein of the Tour de Fleece -- finally!

This is Southern Cross Fibre 50% superfine New Zealand Merino/50% silk that I spun end to end and chain-plied. I wish you could see this in person to get a sense for how much drape it has! I was skeining it up while I was on my first Zoom of the day yesterday, and Mary asked me how much yardage I expected it would have after it was washed. I explained that while my Super Skeiner makes a two-yard skein, yarn usually shrinks up after it's finished, both because I wind it under tension and because the twist in the wool reactivates when it's washed. I conservatively estimated that my skein would measure 60 inches around once dry -- but it's actually closer to 66, so I have nearly 540 yards in this skein!

It's most definitely a light fingering, and the shine on it is really amazing. Don't ask me what I'll use this skein for -- I have no idea!

Meanwhile, I've continued to work on the sweater sleeves and have just joined a second skein of yarn to each. I have three more sets of increases to work.

It's very likely that I won't finish the whole sweater by my brother's birthday -- there's still quite a lot of knitting and finishing to do, and I have only about a week left -- but I don't think he will mind one bit if I  give him a sweater in progress as his gift. He's certainly not going to be wearing it anytime soon!

I did have to pause this knitting briefly yesterday when I had MacGuyver a way to keep my Fitbit in action after the connector to the wristband completely broke off yesterday. I ordered a new one, but it won't be here until later in the week and I want to keep my step streak alive. Knitting to the rescue!

I used some unknown yarn from my scrap bag and knit a cuff that comfortably covers the tracker. I figure if it gets gross from exercising in it, I can just toss it when I'm done. But so far, so good!

How was your weekend?

Friday, July 08, 2022

Good News and More Good News to Come

I haven't formally declared Friday to be a day for encouraging or happy news on the blog, but it's starting to be a regular occurrence. Something about the end of the week, when we're all ready for work to be done and the weekend to start, seems like a good time to focus on the positive. So I have some more of that today.

First of all, our family has finally been reunited, as the Mister finally tested negative on Wednesday! He'd felt pretty much back to normal last Thursday and really only had a few days of sickness, but we were being very cautious and staying apart/wearing masks until we were sure he was no longer contagious. I'm still sleeping in the guest room until I have a chance to strip the bed and wash everything (and to be perfectly honest, I haven't minded the snore-free sleep!). Rainbow actually was sleeping with me until last night because I think she was anxious about her dad, but her only bad sleep habit is stealing the covers.

Speaking of Rainbow, we decided that it was high time she get her booster shot, so we took care of that yesterday:

The cutout behind her is Dr. Jonas Salk, who you have probably heard of for his efforts to create the highly effective polio vaccine, but you may not know that his research and the trials for the vaccine where done here in Pittsburgh. Fun fact: That cutout used to live in my office because of a big event we did years ago to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the polio vaccine!

After yet another hiccup with the sweater sleeves (I apparently wasn't paying enough attention and knit a half dozen or so rows on only one sleeve rather than both), they're back on track. I've finished the first section of increases and have eight more sets to go. Here they are with my hand for scale:

I think I really need to buckle down and work on these every moment I can find if I want to get the sweater done on time, especially because I need to allow time for blocking and drying. Of course, if I don't manage to get it done, I'm sure my brother will be happy to get an almost-done sweater as a gift.

I am still spinning a bit each day for Tour de Fleece, and as of this morning, this is all that's left to spin to finish the singles for this project:

That's maybe an hour of spinning time left, so I'm hoping I can squeeze that time in today, provided work cooperates.

As to the additional good news to come, it's some really good news. You may remember that almost exactly a year ago, my brother- and sister-in-law lost a baby. A few weeks ago, they told us they were expecting again, and on Wednesday, they went into for their scan to find out the sex. This was the sum total of the communication we received from my brother-in-law afterward:

Yes, that's exactly what you think it is in the middle! He'll be making his arrival around Thanksgiving, so this rainbow baby will be needing some fall/winter knitwear. Once the sweater is done, I'll be knitting some tiny things for my new nephew -- and Rainbow has already started a crocheted blanket that is flying off her hook!

I hope you've found some happiness and joy this week in spite of, you know, everything. Happy weekending, friends!

Wednesday, July 06, 2022

Unraveled, Week 27/2022

One really nice thing about having Monday off is that on my second day of the week, it's already Wednesday, arguably my favorite blogging day, as it's the day I link up with Kat and the Unravelers to talk about what we're making and what we're reading.

What I'm making shouldn't come as a surprise -- until further notice, it's my brother's sweater.

I had a bit of a hiccup on Monday night in which I managed to forget to do the cables on one of the two sleeves, so I had to rip that one back and reknit a half dozen rows. Then I discovered that I crossed a cable where I shouldn't have on the other sleeve, so I had to fix that (fortunately I only had to drop those four stitches and pick them back up). Now, though, I seem to be on track. There are a lot of increases to do -- something like ten increases every four rows, then eight every six rows -- and the new stitches need to be incorporated into the stitch pattern, so this isn't something I can do while reading with my eyes, but that just means I've primarily been working on it while watching TV in the evenings.

Meanwhile, I'm also trying to squeeze in at least a little spinning every day for Tour de Fleece, and the bobbin is slowly filling.

The strip of fiber left to be spun is shrinking (it's maybe a couple of feet long now), so I'm hoping that these singles will be done before the week is out.

Reading has been continuing, though perhaps at a slightly slower pace this past week because life has just been busy. I've finished three things since last week.

Do you remember a couple of years ago when quite a lot of people read and loved The Murmur of Bees (me included)? Well when I saw that an Amazon First Reads offering last year was another book by the same author, I didn't even bother to read the synopsis before picking it. It turns out that was a good move. In Tears of Amber, we find ourselves following two families in East Prussia, the far eastern edge of Germany, as they struggle to survive World War II. I have read many books set in this era but none quite like this. These families are German and somewhat loyal to that identity but not necessarily supportive of the Nazi regime. They have lived for years with the neighbors who are suddenly enemies and are really more interested in farming their land than fighting. This book reminds us that while there were plenty of civilians who supported the regime's policies and believed in its principles, there were also those who simply wanted to live in peace, and it really brings home the devastation of war even to those who aren't on the front lines. I gave it 4 stars.

Over the weekend I found myself with not much to listen to in my podcast feeds, so that meant it was time to borrow on audiobook from the library. I have slowly been making my way through the Maisie Dobbs series and found the fourth book was available without a wait, so I started listening on Saturday and finished it up yesterday. In Messenger of Truth, Maisie is charged with investigating the death of an artist shortly before the opening of an exhibit of his work. The year is 1931, and while the horrors of WWI are still echoing, there are also some hints to what is coming in WWII. Maisie also wrestles with the very real consequences of what life is like for the haves versus the have nots. I enjoyed this book, though I figured out one storyline about halfway through. I gave it 3 stars.

Finally, I finished a short story from Kate Quinn that was another Amazon First Reads selection for this month. I've gotten pickier in what, if anything, I pick from this program, but I have enjoyed my previous reads from this author and thought I'd give it a try, especially as it's only about 50 pages long. Signal Moon is part historical fiction and part science fiction, with dual timelines set in 1943 and 2023. If you enjoyed The Rose Code, then you'll like the historical setting and be familiar with the women who listened for enemy radio transmissions that were then passed along to the codebreakers at Bletchley Park. But the science fiction element felt a bit out of place to me. As I said, it was a quick read, so I won't discourage you from reading it if you like Kate Quinn's books (especially if, like me, you can get it for free), but I don't think it was her best effort. I gave it 3 stars.

Last night I started the next selection for the Erdrich-along, The Painted Drum, and I am delighted to be back in Erdrich's world. Her writing is just exquisite. I haven't gotten very far because I have to read it slowly, but I hope I'll be able to get through the book in time for next weekend's discussion.

What are you making and reading this week?

Monday, July 04, 2022

An Alternate Celebration

Good morning, friends! Today is, of course, July 4, Independence Day here in the United States, but I'm not too keen on celebrating that holiday today given recent events in this country. But it is a day off for me, which is cause for celebration anytime, and I'm finding some other reasons to be happy today.

First, an update: The Mister is feeling almost completely back to normal and has been out to run and bike over the weekend. He did another test this morning and sent me this photo:

So he's still positive, but see how pale that line is? We're hoping he'll be negative in another day or two, but for now he'll continue to isolate in our bedroom. The other good news is that neither Rainbow nor I has had any symptoms (other than my psychosomatic ones early last week), and we seem to have gotten into a good routine for meals and such.

I did not get a ton of crafting time in over the weekend because I spent a lot of time outside (exercising and working in the garden), but I have made progress on my brother's cardigan!

Both pocket linings are complete (and they and the front pieces are the same size, despite how they look in this photo), and I have started the sleeves, which I'm knitting at the same time. Once the Mister is fully recovered, I'll be blocking the back and fronts and seaming the shoulders so I can knit the button bands and shawl collar; the pattern calls for doing that first before setting in the sleeves, which makes sense because it means less weight on the needles. I've got 15 days to finish this sweater, and I suppose I should also look to see if I have appropriate buttons now in case I need to order some.

I also spent some time spinning over the weekend, as it is Tour de Fleece time and at this time of year I try to spin every day the Tour de France rides.

I think I've got about a quarter to a third of this fiber left to be spun into singles and I'm hoping to make a decent dent in it this afternoon while I watch last night's episode of Endeavour (I decided to watch a Disney+ series with Rainbow instead of watching in real time).

In addition to getting all the enjoyment I can out of having a Monday off, I've also started out the day by making donations to the National Network of Abortion Funds and Josh Shapiro's campaign. Perhaps I'll also contact my elected officials later. Rainbow and I plan to make a bread pudding later on, and the two of us will have dinner with my parents tonight (the Mister will get his dinner to go). I doubt we'll watch the fireworks, but I'm sure we'll hear them.

Whatever you're doing today, I hope you find something enjoyable and joyful in this Monday.

Friday, July 01, 2022

Time for Some Good News

We've made it to Friday, friends, and it's also a Friday before a long holiday weekend here. My office is closing at 2, so I'll be able to get an early start on it. And I'm very thankful for that, because it's been a very stressful week. I thought I'd finish off the week by sharing a few good things, because I think we all can use all the good news we can get.

First, I want to thank you all for your good wishes for the Mister. He is feeling pretty much back to normal (save not fully having his sense of taste back) and worked -- from home, obviously -- a full day yesterday. I'm going to insist that he continue to isolate through Sunday, and I'll likely continue to sleep in the guest/stash room until he's 10 days past his positive test, but I'm feeling much less anxious about his health.

Next, I finished my sock -- and I love it!

I'm going to try to knit the mate sometime this month, but for now I'm focusing on finishing my brother's sweater. His birthday is on the 19th, and I want to get it done by then.

In good news from the garden, after lackluster results the past several years, I decided to move our tomato plants to the front yard, where we get sun all morning. That turned out to be a really good move -- look at this:

The last time I counted, we had 13 or 14 tomatoes growing on our two plants, and we have a lot of flowers as well. It may be a while yet before we can harvest any, but my mouth is already watering thinking of a juicy tomato warm from the sun.

Finally, today is the official kickoff for the Tour de Fleece! I moved my wheel into the den a couple of days ago (it was still in our bedroom), and I'll be endeavoring to spend some time spinning every day of the Tour this year.

I hope that you have a restful, relaxing weekend and that you're able to find some good news in your life!