BINGO: The Wrap Up

Now that summer is wrapping up (although not really; we're having a late surge of hot-and-steamy here this week), it's time to wrap up SUMMER BOOK BINGO.



Would you look at that.

A Bingo Blackout!

If you're a Book Bingo purist, well, you might just take issue with a few of my squares.  But I'm here to stand tall and proud in the Taking Poetic License category.*  (And I feel totally justified because I read The Corrections.  And Lolita.  And that absolutely abysmal Beneath the Marble Sky.  Those have to count for something!!!)

You can check out my previous book selections here and here.  The rest of my squares:

By An Author Born the Same Year as You:  That, my friends, is where The Corrections comes in.  Because me and Jonathan Franzen, baby.  1959.  (I hated this book.) (Bonus points . . . because I also read Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser, who was also born in 1959 -- on CHECK THIS OUT -- the SAME DAY as Jonathan Franzen!)

That You Think You Will Dislike:  Now, to be fair . . . I don't read books I think I'm going to DISlike, so this is a stretch from the get-go.  (Although sometimes I DO read books I think I'm going to LIKE . . . but end up DISliking.)  Anyway, this square was fulfilled by The Bees by Laline Paul -- a book I felt quite lukewarm about going in, and ended up LOVING coming out. 

At Least 800 Pages:  Nicholas Nickleby.  (But you already know all about my relationship with this one.)  I really did enjoy old Nick, although it's not my favorite Dickens.  (That would be Great Expectations.)

About a Subject that Challenges You:  Applying some of that poetic license again here . . . I'm counting Nature of the Beast by Louise Penny.  Because murder of a child challenges me.  Also guns.  

About a Religion With Which You are Unfamiliar: Because I read so much, I've become familiar with almost all religions.  BUT.  I had never read a book set inside a monestary for nuns.  Enter . . . In this House of Brede by Rumer Godden.  I can honestly say -- I never expected to be so captivated by nuns!  I plowed through all 672 pages in 3 days. 

Manga Poetry:  When my Bingo card came up, I wasn't freaked out by the "over 800 pages" square . . . I was freaked out by the Manga square.  Because I read a Manga once.  Long ago.  (When Erin was kind of into them. . . in, like, 7th grade.)  And, really.  That was enough for me.  So . . . I substituted the Manga square for my own, made-up Poetry sqaure.  And then I read Poems New and Collected by Wislawa Szymborska.  (And my life is much the better for it.)  Excellent.  Just excellent.  (I am not passing judgement on Manga as a genre.  It is just not MY genre.  I tried it once.  Life is just too short for any more.)  (And, besides . . . I read The freakin' Corrections!!!)

That You Saw Someone Else Reading:  I saw Margene reading Mink River by Brian Doyle.  And I am SO GLAD I did!  (A terrific book.)

By An Author of a Different Culture:  For this square, I read Kartography by Kamila Shamsie, a Pakistani author.  This book . . . was breathtakingly beautiful; one of those books that just made me gasp - over and over.

And, there you have it!



*And sure, I may have stretched things a bit on some of the squares.  But keep in mind . . . I read lots of books with lots of pages this summer!  Not only Nick, coming in at 817 pages, but also The (freakin) Corrections at 635, In this House of Brede at 672, She's Come Undone at 465, and The Art of Fielding at 512.  That's gotta count for something!





September = Fresh Start (And, yeah. You're in the right place.)

And suddenly you know:  It's time to start something new and trust the magic of beginnings.
                                                                                                     ---Meister Eckhart


If you've been reading my blog for awhile, you may remember that I think of September as the beginning of the year.  (I guess that old academic calendar is firmly embedded in my psyche.)  

September . . . just always reminds me of new shoes and fresh crayons and a new lunch box. Starting over in a new grade with a blank slate and a year full of possibilities.

So now seems like the perfect time to roll out a fresh look for my blog!  There will likely be some further tweaks as I work with this new format, but it's a good start.

September.  Let's begin!


My special thanks to Vicki, who designed my new blog banner and provided much-needed technical support along the way.  XO Vicki!   

Extra . . . Ordinary

The ordinary acts we practice every day at home are of more importance to the soul than their simplicity might suggest.
                                                                                                            --- Thomas Moore


Today for Ten on Tuesday, Carole gives us an interesting topic:  Ten Seemingly Ordinary Things That Bring Us Joy.  

It got me thinking.

Ordinary.  What a . . . strange word.  It's not usually employed as a Good Thing.  Or as a compliment.  I mean, really.  Who wants to be ordinary . . . in a world where EXTRAordinary is King?

But I rather like ordinary-ness, myself.  

After all, it's the
routine . . . the ordinary things . . . that form our lives and provide us with structure and foundation.

While extraordinary is certainly nice once in a while, ordinary things . . . are special, too!

For me, these seemingly ordinary things bring joy.

  1. Sitting in the sun, especially when it's been AWOL for awhile.
  2. Walking around in my garden with a cup of coffee.
  3. Sleeping with the windows open on a chilly night.
  4. Picking herbs to use in my cooking.
  5. Waking up to a hot cup of coffee.
  6. Crossing things off my to-do list.
  7. Driving with the sunroof open.
  8. Deadheading and weeding in my garden.
  9. Bringing in the mail.
  10. Having good, sharp knives in the kitchen.

How about YOU?  What seemingly ordinary things bring you joy?


Join the fun!  Sign up to recieve Ten on Tuesday prompts here - or read other lists here

Right Now . . . August 2015

August . . . Oh, August.  You've been such a challenging month.

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Hot.  And Cold.

Dry.  And Wet.

On.  And Off.

And yet . . . we've made it through.  Here we are, still standing at the end. 

Here's what's happening for me . . . RIGHT NOW.

Watching . . . Rain. And a little fog.  Capping a very chilly week.  A harbinger of what's to come, I'm afraid.  (Although they say Very Hot all of next week.)

Reading . . . Just finished Nature of the Beast.  (The newest by Louise Penny.)  (Very, very good.)  I'm also reading Out of the Woods: A Memoir of Wayfinding by Lynn Darling.  Also So Big by Edna Ferber (for my book club).  And - drum roll, please - with a bit of poetic license (ahem), I'm going to have a Summer Book Bingo blackout this year after all.


Knitting . . . I probably ought not be writing about my knitting right now.  Because Frustration and Disillusionment.  (Plus knitting with linen for several weeks now.)  But here goes: I'm nearly finished knitting this.  But so frustrating.  Because it is torquing like CRAZY.  (And knitting with linen is so dang ugly.)  (I'm not sure blocking will help.)  (Cross your fingers that it behaves after a bath.)  Next up . . . this or this.  (Both are in my lineup.)  (But not in linen.)

Listening to . . . More John Mayer.  Turns out . . . I'm a fan.  (Who knew?)  (This is a great cover of my favorite Tom Petty song.)  (Although I'm not so sure the link will remain live, so watch it quick!)


Dreading . . . Another week (at least) of the pool being closed at my gym.  Yeah.  Now that I've made swimming a regular part of my fitness routine (thanks to my oinky knee), they've closed the pool for regular maintenance.  Only . . . not so regular.  Because they Found Something.  And now they have drilled out all the tile from the pool deck, revealing only sand.  And pipes.  And an empty, lonely pool. (I'm afraid this won't be a quick-fix.)


Drinking . . . It's been unseasonably chilly here.  And wet.  So . . . chai, please!

Planning . . . A little October adventure.  (She said, with a wink.)

Humming . . . (We're just ordinary people, you and me. . . ) 


Wondering . . . How it can possibly, possibly be September tomorrow???  Already.

Itching to . . . Plant All the Bulbs!

Organizing . . . Yarn.  And fabric.  And art supplies.  (But not really.)  (Right now it's all just laying on my basement floor.)  (Completely undone.)  (But Progress.)


Delighted by . . . Releasing my "own" Monarch into the wild.  Yep.  This guy (or gal???) emerged from a crysallis in a Mason jar right in our library.  Unfortunately, we missed the final emergence when we were up at the lake last weekend.  But this is what we would've seen, there at the end, if we'd been home.


Celebrating . . . Our 34th wedding anniversary on August 22.  We were up at the cottage, scouting a river, on our actual anniversary, but we went out for a special dinner this weekend to celebrate.

Celebrating MORE . . . This weekend was JoJo's "Gotcha Day" . . . August 28.  She's been part of our pack for two years now!


How about YOU?  What's happening for you . . . Right Now?


Find a Patch of Beautiful

Whenever you are creating beauty around you, you are restoring your own soul.
                                                                            ~Alice Walker


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My front garden border is bursting with beautiful blooms right now.  PeeGee hydrangea.  Autumn Joy sedum.  Some greenery I can never remember the name of.

So I gathered some together and brought them inside.

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I challenge you to do the same.  Find something beautiful.  Bring it closer to you.

Restore your soul!

Just What I Needed

Hello friends.


Earlier this week, my mom and I visited the new Japanese Gardens at the Frederik Meijer Gardens in Grand Rapids.  While we were there, I picked up this little Jizo for my own garden.

Jizo Bosatsu (Japanese Buddhism) is known for his vow to benefit all suffering beings and his commitment to stay with them until “the hells are empty."  He is the special protector of women, children, and travelers -- helping those at important life crossroads who may be facing new challenges.  Jizo, especially, helps children that have died navigate the transition between life and death.  Possessing unflagging optimism, courage, gentleness, and a nurturing love for all beings, Jizo plunges fearlessly into any place or situation to aid those in need. 

I have always been drawn to the Jizo, and having this little statue in my garden makes me smile. He will be a reminder to me, as I continue on my JOURNEY, that while life gives us many challenges and brings us to many crossroads, we are not alone.

Just what I needed!

Soak Up the Sun

Summer is waning, my friends.


Oh, it's still plenty hot.  Humid, too.  But I can sense the change coming.  I see it in my garden.  And in the clouds.  The days are getting shorter, the sunsets are coming earlier.  

There is still much of summer to enjoy and savor, though. 

I'm feeling the need for a little blogging vacation -- to refresh and reenergize . . . and to soak up every moment of what's left of my favorite season.

I'll be back in a week or so.

See you then!

Leaves of Three. . .

Let it be!


Most of you probably are familiar with this garden scourge . . . but some of you might not be.  This, my friends, is poison ivy.*

Ugh. I hates the poison ivy.  And, unfortunately, I find it in my garden all the time.  I went on a fairly extensive "search and destroy" mission over the weekend - with good success.  (And by that, I mean no rash.)

Inspired by my gardening mission, and being a creature of habit, I decided to bring you my own** Ten on Tuesday today - Ten Facts/Stories About Poison Ivy:  

  1. Poison ivy only causes an allergic reaction in humans.  (This is why my dogs can run around and then poop right in it and never have a problem.)
  2. Urushiol (the oily organic allergen in poison ivy) is what causes the nasty, itchy skin rash when you touch the plant.  (When I showed Tom the chemical structure for the usushiol compound, he said, "Oh, it's a catechol."  Apparently also an ortho-hydroquinone.)  (See how it is here?)
  3. According to this website, most people get the rash from touching leaves while gardening, hiking, or looking for a ball lost in the weeds.
  4. Tom can attest to this.  Once, when he was coaching Erin's soccer team, he kept retrieving out-of-bounds soccer balls in the weeds.  A couple of days later, we discovered "the weeds" were thick with poison ivy.  He was miserable for days and days.  (It is one of the only times in his work-life that he has had to take sick days.)  (Because it's hard to go to work when you can't put on pants.)
  5. Brian would add that shooting-your-BB-gun-in-the-woods-up-north-with-your-friends can also lead to contact with poison ivy.  (Spring in his sixth grade year was really miserable.)
  6. I am really careful when gardening.  In certain areas of my garden, I always wear my garden shoes (yeah, most times I garden in flip-flops. . . ) and gardening gloves, and I poke around a lot before I do any heavy-duty weeding.  When I find poison ivy, I carefully dig it out and move on.  When I'm finished gardening, I jump in the shower and scrub.  (So far, so good.) (Although at any Master Gardener gathering I've ever been to during the summer months, there will be someone in attendance with an incredibly nasty poison ivy rash.)  (Because we all think it will never happen to us.)
  7. I think I've been pretty lucky, because according this website, urushiol can stay potent (on objects) for up to 5 years.  (I probably shouldn't touch my garden trowel with my bare hands for awhile after this last weekend.)
  8. It takes direct contact with urushiol to cause a poison ivy skin reaction.  That means . . . if you touch someone with a poison ivy rash, you will not get it yourself.  You only spread the rash if you have the urushiol on you . . . and then you touch someone else.
  9. You can get a skin reaction, though, if you touch SOMETHING that has touched poison ivy.  Garden tools, for example.  Or dogs.  Or your shoes.  (So be careful.)
  10. Do NOT try to eradicate poison ivy with a lawn mower or a weed wacker, or by burning it.  Because then . . . the urushiol will be airborne.  (And then you'll really have trouble.)  (I've heard horror stories.)

My advice:  Keep a close eye out for those leaves of three.  (And don't go chasing soccer balls.)


* Although this post is focusing on poison ivy, there is another garden scourge in today's photo . . . bindweed.  Not poisonous.  But really awful all the same.  (Despite it's sweet little morning glory-like blooms.)

** Carole is off on vacation for the next couple of weeks, so no "official" Ten on Tuesday posts until September.

My Weekend With Nick

I enjoyed just an ordinary weekend here at home; a good balance between chores and kicking back.

But I did spend (nearly) every minute with Nick.  
(As in Nicholas Nickleby.  My "over 800 pages" square for Book Bingo.*)

Nick and I took the dogs for a long, long walk on Saturday morning.


And then, we spent quite a bit of time out in the garden, weeding and deadheading mostly.  (But we also got rid of quite a lot of poison ivy together.)  (Because Nick is always ready to lend a hand.)


Nick was right there by my side as I took got on with the usual household drudgery.


And he didn't mind hanging out with me while I got ready for a night out.  (He may have enjoyed the movie - Mr. Holmes - but I made him stay home all the same.)


On Sunday, when it was altogether too hot and humid to spend more than a few minutes outside, Nick and I organized my yarn stash and recorded it all on Ravelry.  (Photos, too.) (More on that another day.)


And then, Nick and I treated ourselves to a fair amount of knitting.


Still.  It wasn't enough.  Nick and I will be hanging out a bit more today!  
(Like . . . for about an hour or so.)


*  Don't feel too bad for me, because I LOVE Charles Dickens.  He is brilliant!  A bit wordy . . . but wonderful, once you get into the rhythm of his writing.  (And no one, absolutely no one, does "come-uppance" or "karma" better than Charles Dickens.  Always so satisfying!)