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Hello!

Hello and welcome. I stopped blogging after a decade and four months because I believed I’d had my say. Closing down and moving on was the thing to do. I did. I chilled, I did new things, read a small stack of new books, drew a lot, read a slew of blogs, cooked up a storm and worked on being the best me possible. Here I am again in a knitting frame of mind, hoping we can hang out, share our stories, create together and learn from each other. And while we’re at it . . . bring on the yarn if you are so inclined.

Black & White & Brown All Over

p. 262

Used to be, I read a book at a decent pace, sometimes rushing in my delight at the words carrying me along like a raft on a river. Reading has become less thrilling, less fulfilling and often seems pointless in recent years. Are there no great writers now? It’s all fluff, sex and violence . . . or it all seems to have been written before by the last of the great wordsmiths. Wonderful writers are a dead breed.

I have more and more often turn more frequently to authors from other cultures in my quest for the next best storyteller, be it fact or fiction, or a mixture of both, the memoir. I feel like I am drowning from word-thirst in a sea of books. Inks and paper have changed, making me ill, so perhaps a lack of worth-while reading is a blessing cloaked in irritants. Perhaps there will never be another To Kill a Mockingbird, The Color Purple, Angela’s Ashes . . .Perhaps great writing has peaked and the curve is turned downward. Perhaps it has flatlined, needing to be revived.

Nuri, the storyteller in The Beekeeper of Aleppo, meets another refugee, a young woman from Somalia. Angeliki is damaged but she has a delightful wisdom that makes her the most knowledgable woman in the story; her breasts leak milk. She covers her face in talcum powder, believing she is dead because of the poison in her blood; she has tufts of “unruly, frizzy, hair, full of life.”

friz·zy| ˈfrizē | adjective (frizzier, frizziest) formed of a mass of small, tight curls or tufts: frizzy red hair.

The young Somalian often covers her face in the white talc before page 262, and I delight in Nuri’s noticing. The imagined image intrudes at odd moments, but it stuck in my mind’s eye when yesterday, I took cod from the milk it soaked in to turn it in the glass bowl. The fingers of my left hand were momentarily covered in white, and I was struck by the beauty of dark and light. Okay, it was cream because I’d used the last of the milk for cornbread. The thick white coat faded away slowly and rather dramatically as the thick liquid dripped back into the bowl. Five fingers decked out in kabuki-white makeup made for three dramatic photos. Since I cannot decide which I like most, the trio is presented here to avoid bias.

What is black and white and brown all over?

(Black ink on white pages in a book held in a brown hand, of course!)

Come Fly with Me

American housefly

I grew up believing there were three kinds of flies: the American house fly, the horse fly, the bluebottle . . . Dang! Let me regroup.

Growing up, I was familiar with these flies before today: The American house fly, the horse fly, blow fly, fruit fly, Crane fly and the Tsetse. I am now acquainted with hover flies, flesh flies and flies I have yet to identify. Flies like the camera and do not mind being photographed. They will pose for free as long as you keep your distance.

Take a look at these beauties.

a convention?

See what I mean?

Oops! Sorry.

Now you see what I mean.

My First Book

books being loved by me, one practically loved to death

My first book? Yeah, it’s like that seeing as how I haven’t recalled the last time I ordered a book that didn’t make me ill. This is from a woman who has not stopped reading since learning how. Sleep doesn’t come easy without my reading sleeping pill. So perhaps you can imagine how trying it has been without new books to keep me company. Rereading old books just isn’t the same, so I finally broke rank and resorted to digital and audio. It’s not the same but they do give me a fix. 

crack and sniff?

The first thing I did after taking it from the box and careful packing was to sniff—tentatively, to be sure, and then I inhaled. While the fresh smell of ink was still attached, I didn’t sneeze, my nose did not drip-burn-itch, or require blowing or wiping. My eyes didn’t burn my skin didn’t itch . . . I felt positively rich! 

“The Bee Keeper of Aleppo” was in  baking soda quarantine for months before the smell was absorbed. It’s been slow reading though since I feel the pages must be savored. Who knew when I’d find another scentless bonafide book to read? I can’t quite fully immerse myself in the story, but there are moments when I feel like I’m there—not as a refugee but in the parts about bees and nature. And the PTSD episodes. Perhaps it’s a slow read because it’s often a painful read? 

the boy, the mole, the fox and the horse
the blue willow bookshop bookmark
front to back and back again

The intro to “The Boy, the mole, the fox and the Horse’s” was the second best part of the read for me. Charlie Mackesy spoke like a friend—like a neighbor I especially like because we have a love of gardening in common. He encourages us to start in the middle, scribble on the pages, crease the corners and leave it well thumbed. Now here’s an author who knows how a book should be enjoyed. 

two pale horses book ends

Although beautiful and artful, the text isn’t easy to read. My brain stalls and staggers at the unfamiliar script but the drawings mollify my initial annoyance. Reading should be a graceful, smooth flowing indulgence. The words should flow as easily as the lines in the illustrations. Oh, the lovely ink lines! Some of them take the eye around and around, up and down and all over, with grace and ease. Then the words trip me, make me falter and crash because I cannot read them. The colored pages are like sugar on my tongue. They’re like vanilla beans in a bland custard. They are like m&ms in a plain sugar cookie. They’re simply delicious. They sate a long neglected sweet tooth. They’re like the cake mole likes so much. When mole talks of cake, I see Mary Berry’s Victorian sponge with whipped cream and thinly sliced kiwi! And pomegranate seeds sprinkled around and about. Ooh la! 

Might I be somewhat jaded? After all, it is my first book after a very long while. And, “The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse” came at just the right while.  I hope you will add “The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse” to your reading list. I hope you will support independent booksellers. It’s okay to support Barnes & Noble too. Celebrate and support all booksellers.

An aside: Oddly enough, the book reminds me of Winnie the Pooh and company. Go figure, huh?

Giddyup!

An Offering

an offering

I’m spending more time outdoor since the builders, plumbers, repairers and painters have invaded. It’s taken some adjusting to find a degree of peace and quiet among all the strangers, amped noises, chemicals and home-healing that’s going on in my sanctuary. Being more of an introvert than an extrovert makes me an ambivert. Ambivert is a new word I recently picked up for another blogger. Wish I remembered where so I can thank them. This descriptor is a better fit, so I’ve adopted it although I am more one than the other or both.

chaos and then some

I wasn’t sure I’d survive all the stress that comes with feeling fully invaded, but I have, until now. Yesterday I was on the verge of shouting “Everyone out! Just get out!” All the paint fumes and the latex poison pushed me to the edge. My body swelled in protest. I didn’t recognize myself when I looked in the mirror. My nose was so swollen I told my sister if it grew much larger it would need its own zip code. My top lip swelled and pushed against my teeth, leaving deep indentations. The brain fog was scariest of all. I looked for my phone and discovered it in my hands. Again, it went missing and JC found it charging on my dest. I’d gone up and downstairs three times, outside twice, and had him call me because I couldn’t find it. We knew I was in trouble when I started seeing black spots and forgot what I was saying mid-sentence.

me and my canon

For two days in a row I packed a bag, filled a Klean Kanteen, took my book and spent eight hours on the patio. I went indoors for bathroom breaks only. The open windows pushed the fumes onto the patio! Funky scented dryer sheets drove me indoors to don one of the N95 masks I purchased last year. Had I known, I would have stocked up.

Last night was even worse. Nothing got rid of the fumes. Open windows, fans, nasal spray . . . nothing worked. Open windows allowed the artificial scents from dryer sheets to enter and mingle with the nasties. I found Benadryl with an iffy expiration date. Using my inhaler quieted my noisy lungs. I took so much “stuff” and sprayed liquids up my nose until I worried that I might OD in my sleep. Then I could not sleep for hours after bedtime and lights out.

Survive I did but woke hoarse with a sore throat, post-nasal drips, two headaches, sinus aches, ear ache, full body aches, a dry mouth from too many antihistamines . . . all topped off by anger. Or is it impatience? Annoyance? Sometimes I confuse the three.

I have not been outdoors yet. There was a major storm last night. The bathroom window was left open so you know there was blame. I accept it. I’m just grateful that I didn’t die in my sleep. *grin* Sure wish I felt better. Am even more grateful that I feel at all.

From the Lips to the Hips

Don’t know why but my kitchen is busier than normal. I’m often hungry. My appetite has improved. I’m a human who hasn’t wanted to eat breakfast since third grade yet these days I’m often hungry around eleven ante meridiem. I’ve no idea why.

Wait. Is it the “oil?” Oh. Hmm. I still have food issues though, so perhaps? That delicious apple crisp was a little easier to eat the second day around. I have an aversion to cooked fruit. It’s the texture. Meat is still a major problem at frequently odd times. It’s gotten so I can barely eat shrimp after I clean them. The same goes for fish and chicken if I have to clean the cavity, pull overlooked feathers, and all are bruises. Ugh! Just typing that made my mouth fill with saliva and my stomach lurched. There’s nothing wrong with my gag reflex. Here’s hoping I can deal with the quiche after messing with those weirdly discolored crab claws.

juicy fruit
pear crisp

It’s interesting how three of the things I’ve eaten this week share the same coloration. That pear was disgustingly perfumed. I peeled it and it tasted much better. The pizza was difficult but it’s we always get great pizza. There’s only a small corner of the pear crisp left. It’s for JC.

pepperoni

I just took the quiche from the oven. It’s a beauty! It looks perfect but the proof is in the taste. I should have taken better care with the aesthetics, like crimping the crust prettily. Sorry. There are ingredients for one more quiche that are earmarked for minis. There will be shrimp and crab in the little ‘uns. It doesn’t take much seafood for a nine incher so there will be more than enough for the minis.

What’s your recent meal splurge? Are you cooking and baking more elaborate dishes or meals? Do you set the table with cloth napkins instead of using paper? Homemade ice cream is on tomorrow’s menu.” From the hips to the lips” is alive and kicking. Beware!

Unmasked

I do not believe in the nonsense that “no good deed goes unpunished.” If it were true, few of us would ever do good things. Or so I reckon. I do wonder why some good ideas sometimes go south.

An Easter napkin
Pillow case lining
A cotton placemat
Two napkins and quilt fabric.
Made with a favorite napkin.

So far, all the masks I made are too large for the intended owners. Every mask fits JC perfectly. I used smaller patterns for those I believe have smaller faces. Such consideration was natural since my daughter is a small person. So how could this happen? How did my peeps wind up unmasked? I believe the masks, made from fabric purchased for a family reunion quilt and favorite dinner napkins, are simply meant for someone else. Had the Universe simply said so, I would have listened and made extras. EC will give them to someone in need. Where I will find more beading elastic is beyond my ken though. Things always work out in the end. Mark my words. Included will be fabric for the middle protective layer too.

There’s good news too. An e-mail came yesterday to say the fabric ordered last week will arrive in good time. Life is good.

What’s Black and White and a Major Surprise?

I took my morning walk along the back forty much earlier today. Cleaning and laundry, making beds and doing dishes could wait. Routines can be disrupted and often should be in the pursuit of knowledge and happiness. The world beckoned as usual and this time I responded. The quiet was simply amazing. It cured what ailed me.

The air was fresh and unpolluted with scented dryer sheets. How women can believe manmade scents are better than nature’s own still stumps me. We’re assaulted by too many scents. Those dryer sheets stink, and they trigger allergic reactions in those of us who are sensitive to artificial scents. What is wrong with clean, fresh, stink-free air–the air God gave us? If you must have perfumed indoors, why not grow flowers, cut them and bring them inside? And for those who hate “killing” flowers, think for a moment. Why do you think they grow? They die soon after reaching their peak growth anyway. Go natural, y’all! Go natural.

So, what’s black and white and . . . surprise, surprise, surprise. . . GOLD? Why, it’s the Spilosoma virginica! My feet were dragging this morning although I packed my camera bag and headed out earlier than usual. It’s already hot before noon here, and it seems there’s less fresh to photograph. Less new-fresh-exciting. Or so I thought, so I went out less enthusiastic than and day before, and sat down first, reluctant to start my clockwise trip. There have been no new flowers, no new insects, no new lichen or insect eggs . . . Each new fig looks pretty much like the one from the day before. Practically all the weed flowers have died after reseeding. Beetles are beetles. The jasmine is flowering but they’re the same flowers from yesterday. The cardinals, bluejays, doves, wrens, sparrows . . . all the same old but just as amazing. Their song still thrills and I appreciate each note, but long for something new, human nature being what it is. So I sent up a little prayer. I said a little prayer and gave thanks for something new, and got on with it. I discovered the miracle of an answered prayer at the three o’clock marker. And here we are.

My answered prayer lay on a leaf of the unidentified little plant in the whole of the back yard. I give it some love each day and marvel that it thrives so beautifully, and seems to be free of predators, unlike the willow, the fig or even the grasses. I don’t know its name but am willing to bet Ellen Abbott does. She never answers my queries though since she thinks I’m a spammer. Ellen teaches me about Texas flora and fauna via her blog posts. There’s always a teacher. How wonderful is the Internet.

I just realized that I never . . . (JC just knocked–chased away my train of thought before it left the station.)

gem of the day

So, I saw something white on the little mystery bush that grows in a clay pot along the fence at three o’clock. White stands out in a sea of green. I wonder why a moth is white. Wouldn’t it want a better disguise? Moths have predators as well. Closer inspection revealed the fulness of gem of the day.

amazing grace

I didn’t know that I could still squat, having had knee surgery after a meniscus tear. Well, the knees bent today, allowing me to get a better shot.The human body is as mazing as our world.

ermine-cloaked
female

I still believe I’m one of the most fortunate people on the planet. While I do enjoy viewing the bigger picture, I’m drawn to examine the less familiar–the smaller world in which humans are giants. The returns on my investments enrich my life beyond measure.

A World Unto Itself

I have enjoyed every day of spring this year. I do declare that it seems to be the best one ever. Being homebound takes nothing away from it in any way whatsoever. My days have been pretty much business as usual yet each one is still special. Yes, I have let go of the guilt since it’s an exercise in foolish thinking. Our lives are the way they are because we have built our lives to be the way they are. Enough said on the topic. Right? Right.

I spent less than a morning missing the lovely damp-to-sunny days that have marked this spring. All the white-sky days made part of the world special. There’s been more blue sky with all sorts of clouds the last week and I relish it. Yes, it’s almost as hot as summer now but each day is doable. Sure there is less to photograph and examine but what’s replacing what was is just as interesting. Change always comes bearing its own unique gifts. Most times I don’t even have to look hard since I stopped whining about what has come to pass on to the yesterdays. I won’t even wonder about what I might have missed. The NOW is always the place to be. And in this wonderful world that’s a lovely place to be. 

So, with a camera and a new macro lens in hand, I boldly go out to meet and greet the day. I always begin my exam in a clockwise direction. Lately I’ve done a counter clockwise stroll. It throws me off though. 

Do you like your backyard? I’ve been partial to ours since before we moved in. We got to tour our future home before the inspection and the back yard turned my knees wobbly. There wasn’t a speck of grass anywhere—just yards of soil. It was like a fresh canvas and I had all the paints in the world on my palette. Oh, happy day! And here I am.

My backyard is a world unto itself. There’s so much to discover. See for yourself.

A big stinker creates and even bigger stink when it feels threatened.

Jaded
I’ve taken more than a liking to my lichen.
Giant stinker
A stinker
Busy we be.