Things I Am Learning About My Schedule and My Life

  1. I really, really don’t have time to garden once fall starts and school gets going with full intensity.
  2. I am consistently tired by Saturday night, because Saturday is so full of catch-up.
  3. I am consistently completely exhausted by Sunday afternoon, because I was already tired on Saturday night, then I got up early Sunday to go to church and was out half the day.
  4. I shouldn’t plan elaborate meals and desserts for the weekend. Definitely stop doing that and just plan on pizza.

Come On Out of the Bunker: Muslim Edition

Despite living on the East Coast, and in a location situated between two major cities, I’ve had surprisingly little contact with Muslims. Don’t get me wrong; I see lots of Muslims around, we pass each other walking here and there. I see lots of people around. It’s a crowded area. I mean that in my day-to-day life, we don’t talk or hang out, really.

When I heard Donald Trump and friends describing, on a variety of occasions, the desolate hellscape that is our United States, I began to think. I began to think about how I have never once seen my country, for all its problems, in that light.

Specifically, I’ve been thinking about the interactions I’ve had with the Muslims in my area. Just a few interactions, as I said. Just a couple memories.

1. I took my kids to the park, and as we walked in I saw a large group of Muslim people. Easily identifiable. Each woman wore a black abaya and niqab. The men’s clothes looked more Western. My boys were there to ride skateboards, and they went off on a path. I sat down on a swing to wait for them, idly kind of swinging gently, and wondered how long I had to stay before gathering them to go home, the shortest period of time I could spend without the park trip not really counting or having to hear lots of complaints. I get they need to go to the park, but oh, it is so boring to sit there by myself. I feel I need to keep an eye (they’re skateboarding, after all), so I don’t like to read or knit, and if I have no friend to talk to it is torture.

I’m not sure how long I was sitting there before one of the ladies was approaching me. I couldn’t imagine what in the world she would want with, specifically, me. Did one of my boys push one of hers? Was one of my sons hurt, and she could see from her vantage point? Had I done something to bother her? My mind was racing because people around here often keep themselves to themselves, and if you do talk it’s so casual, no walking across the park directly to speak to someone. Maybe it’s like that where you live, too.

So she was standing there in front of me, walking to the swing didn’t take that long, and this is what she had to say:

“Would you like a push?”

You all, when I hear people going talking about how the Muslims need to leave this country, how the US shouldn’t let them in anymore, and even worse things than that, it makes my heart hurt. She wanted to push me on the swing. She wanted to be a friend.

2. My kids used to be part of a play group and there was a Muslim woman who was also a member of the group. She is funny, kind, lovely, an attentive mother, and an active member of her religious community. I won’t say her name for privacy’s sake, but she has one. I think that’s important to remember.

3. There is a Muslim group which comes to my husband’s workplace for retreats. They are gracious guests and the kitchen looks forward to buying halal food for them, because it tastes better than the food the kitchen usually gets.

No one in the kitchen has ever been poisoned, turned into Muslims, or harmed by eating it. They’ve just enjoyed some delicious food.

4. I see lots of Muslim people at our local shopping mall. I have to say, in all honesty, I do fear there will one day be a shooting, but never once have I feared the shooter would be a Muslim. I’ve seen enough crime statistics to know it’s extremely unlikely.

Anyway, I see Muslim people there. They’re doing the same thing I am: shopping and seeing the sights. Wheeling strollers, as I once did. Walking together, having a day. Once in a while I see my worried eyes mirrored in their own. I bet they worry a whole lot about violence in public, too. We all worry together quietly as we walk around the mall.

So, this is my experience, living on the East Coast of the United States in close proximity with Muslim people. The key word is people. There are a bunch of us here, and we can, should, need to live together. Each life has value, every single one. Do you know? Each one of us was made in the image of God.

I wonder if those who are so afraid of Muslims they feel they must banish them realize that if our Muslim citizens and guests are gone, there will still be people who are different. We all have differences. Guess what? YOU are the different one. YOU are “the other,” too.

I’m sorry the United States feels desolate to some, but if you are tempted to take that view, have a look at some numbers, some statistics. A diverse population is a beautiful thing. We’re so blessed to live in a time and place where we can experience it.

Donald Trump does not speak for me. He does not describe a US I recognize. I hope people of all kinds will continue to cross our borders, to make a home here. People who will do great things, and people who are tired, poor, the “wretched refuse” of their lands, people whose spirits desperately need to rest. This is the United States we all need. With the help of God, it’s the nation I will vote to have.

The Weather Had its Chance to Cooperate, I’m Moving on with this Thing Now

When I lived in my parents’ house, my favorite breakfast was ice-cold pumpkin pie. My mother spices hers until it’s more brown than orange, and the filling when cold has no trace of wobbliness. Everything about her pie seems like the only real way for pumpkin pie to be–the color; the texture; the ridiculous, over the top spiciness; and the exact flavor of her handmade pastry, something I cannot replicate although I’ve tried.

Spiced pumpkin is great. The explosion of spiced-pumpkin everything, everywhere is great. Seasonal products are fun, and the idea of an informal, national celebration of a vegetable delights me. It feels old-fashioned and friendly, light when there’s lots of other stuff to feel heavy about.

The forecast is 90 degrees today. It would have been nice if the weather could have participated in fall, but too bad, we’re still doing it.



The Republic of Tea Pumpkin Spice tea: I got a sample of this flavor in the mail, and I was suspicious. I hadn’t been impressed with the strength or quality of the green tea I tried from The Republic of Tea, and wasn’t very interested in trying a black tea. It was free, though, and already in my house, so of course I drank it. It’s great, if you go for beverages that taste like a craft or candle store, which I very much do. That’s one of my favorite beverage genres, in fact. Each morning, I drink two cups of tea with milk and sugar, and that’s my wake up tea, it is sacred and I need it to be rich and creamy and strong enough that I can imagine the spoon standing up in it. This tea is less strong than my usual morning sweet teas, but I compensate by using less water per bag. About 6 ounces is good. It’s a fun treat.

Pumpkin Spice Cheerios: Naturally the sight of Pumpkin Spice Cheerios on the shelves was exciting, but I’m a serious Cheerio person so I worried a little. When I eat Cheerios, I only like the original, plain ones, and I eat them dry (does anyone else do that, it can’t just be me) and I munch on them as a snack. Comfort food. Would Pumpkin Spice Cheerios also be comfort food? No, but they would be like tiny cookies, and that is also very good.

Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte: IN A BOTTLE. Has this been available forever? I just noticed it. It came right home with me. Of course it’s not like a freshly-made latte from Starbucks. It is, however, a yummy coffee drink I’m glad to have in the fridge.

Belvita Pumpkin Spice Breakfast, um, cookies?: Gingery, pumpkiny whole grain healthy-ish cookie substitutes, or at least that’s how I think of them.

Pumpkin Spice Blended Chobani: Reappearance of a favorite. When I’m wishing I had planned ahead and bought dessert (but inevitably did not) I top it with whipped cream.

That’s all for now, but we’ve got months, and for once I’m not using those words to end a rant about Trump.


I finished this project and never blogged about it. It’s the Swoon cardigan, designed by Juju Vail and Susan Cropper (Ravelry link here). It’s from the book Juju’s Loops. I see there are copies available on Amazon (link), but I got my copy directly from Loop (link).

Juju’s Loops is, so far, my favorite knitting book of all time. I’ve made a bunch of the patterns, and I love them all.

Anyway, Swoon. Here is a photo of the whole thing.



It’s a lightweight cardigan, very boxy, and the pattern is one-size. Mine is smaller than it should be because I wasn’t paying any attention to gauge. Really, I don’t know what I was thinking. The thing is, it’s knit in lace weight yarn, I realized my mistake about 1/4 way through, and there was no way I was ripping it out. No way. So, it fits me, but please don’t use my version as a size reference. It will be larger if you follow the instructions correctly.

So, it’s this boxy kind of flowy thing, and it’s meant to have the feeling of a shawl, but with the convenience of a cardigan (click on the Ravelry pattern link above to see it on Juju Vail, and you’ll see it in action), meaning you’re not needing to watch where the ends are all the time or make sure it’s adjusted just so like when you’re wearing a shawl. I loved the concept, and I love how it works in real life.

Here it is, folded up. You can see the lace detail around the front:



Here is lace around the front, around the edges of the sleeves, and you can see the hem detail:



Here I’ve turned over the folded sweater so you can see the hem from another angle, as well as a detail of the stitch pattern used for the body:


One more shot showing a sleeve, the hem and a bit of the body, from the back:



I knitted my Swoon in Madelinetosh Prairie yarn, the shade is called Opaline. This is one of my favorite things I’ve made so far.

A Useful Map Outline Book

I’ve needed a book like this for years, and I’m not sure how I didn’t find it before now with all the looking I do. Oh well, we have it for this year onward, and I’ve been using it a lot in the last couple weeks.


If someone said to me, I have this book, and it’s called “Uncle Josh’s…” I wouldn’t hear past Uncle Josh. That’s the kind of thing that drives me nuts. I would stop listening, spend the rest of the time they were talking being annoyed someone would call a book Uncle Josh’s anything, then change the subject as soon as possible. That’s why I had to find this book on my own.

It’s a great book.


The book claims that every single place in the world is on at least one of the maps. I guess with a world map included in the book, that’s a safe claim. Even so, it seems to me from looking through it that there are close-up maps of every region.


Plus, there are full-page maps of each of the states in the U.S.


I know you can find outline maps online, but I always found it to be a pain to find exactly what I wanted when I wanted it. In this book, so far I have always found exactly the map I wanted.

Plus, there are options. I can get the place on different maps, and choose which map to use based on what I want to highlight about the surrounding area. We use this book as we study history. Sometimes we’re talking about the movement of people, and I want to point out how far a group’s current location is from their original location, so I’d choose one map for that. Another time, I may want the kids to notice why certain cities would have cooperated (or been rivals), and what water was nearby to facilitate travel between the cities or to a central location, so I would be sure to choose a map that clearly shows surrounding seas. That sort of thing. I can choose the map to match the emphasis of day’s lesson.

Very useful, wish I had it a long time ago, A +, highly recommend.


Biding Time

Hiding from the sun and heat. I’m done this summer, I really am.

We never read this in school. What a great book. My older son has already read it, and my younger son definitely needs to.

With all the ugliness encouraged by certain of our presidential candidates, the events in this book feel too close and especially heartbreaking. Once, when I was school-age, a world like this seemed so far away to me, but it’s not, is it.