my favourite reads of January 2024

Elizabeth Zimmermann’s Knitter’s Almanac (1981)

(I bought my copy for $5.75 at the World’s Biggest Bookstore, according to the price tag on the cover. That would be in the late eighties, I guess. I was such a cool teen.)

Elizabeth Zimmermann is my favourite knitting writer and teacher, bar none. She was smart and funny and no-nonsense and I’m positive she was the reason I decided so early on in my knitting career to work things out for myself and not blindly follow patterns.

Literary Lapses by Stephen Leacock (1910)

Speaking of being a cool teen, this particular edition was published in 1982 and I’m sure I asked for it for Christmas not all that long after, proving I had the tastes of a septuagenarian even as a child.

Leacock himself might have been a bit of an ass, but he did have the knack for writing humour. There’s nothing like reading a book published over a hundred years ago to highlight how much things have changed, but it’s also amazing how human nature hasn’t changed at all. His observations on people’s behaviour are the real winners in this collection.

Mossy Trotter by Elizabeth Taylor (1967)

Not that Elizabeth Taylor. Ugh, how tiresome it would be to share a name with a major celebrity.

This is an entertaining novel for children about a boy who doesn’t want to participate in his mother’s friend’s wedding. It was well-observed (read: definitely written by the mother of a young son), although I thought the ending was a bit flat and abrupt.

The Pebble Spotter’s Guide by Clive Mitchell (2021)

As a huge fan of both collecting pebbles and collecting identification guides, I can’t believe it never occurred to me to look for a pebble identification guide. This one is geared to the UK, although I did recognise a few I’ve picked up here. The author’s enthusiasm is as charming as the watercolour illustrations. Now I just need to find the Canadian equivalent.


January 2024 in photos

I love January. It’s cold and cloudy most of the time (the best weather) and quiet and peaceful because everyone else is too depressed to make many demands. I love wearing layers and cuddling under a blanket to read or knit and spending hours at my desk reflecting on the previous year (and all the targets I missed) and planning the year ahead (and all the goals I’m sure to fail to reach). Happy times.

A pair of eagles against a rare blue sky.

A mid-afternoon look across Wellington Dyke.

My snow-shovelling partner.

Trees in the backyard at the tail end of a snowstorm on January 29.

One of my mourning dove friends.

Eagles eagles everywhere.

Looking across the fields toward Blomidon.

Always a sucker for hay bales.

A slushy Minas Basin.

If you put a brightly coloured tractor in your field, I will take a picture of it.

Yet more eagles. Seriously, they are everywhere this year.

And a hawk, for variety.

I felt like thrumming, I guess.


my favourite things of the past few weeks

December is a lot. The cooking, the baking, the shopping, the wrapping, the cleaning, the cards, the finishing of handmade projects, the four million little things to prepare and remember. I get a little more organised with every passing year, but I’m not sure I’ll ever be organised enough to not feel overwhelmed for a couple weeks in the middle there. We had a lovely week with everyone home, though, and all the work was worth it, of course.

*My favourite people

*My favourite granddog

At her great-grandparents’, tuckered out by late Christmas afternoon and using Santa as a pillow. He’s been around so long there are probably pictures of little me doing the same thing.

*One of my favourite grandcats

This is Nadja, waiting impatiently for me to make a fresh cup of green tea she can share. Her brother, Simon, never stops moving and is harder to get a picture of.

*My favourite birthday present: Shaun the Sheep

Charlotte, genius crochet toymaker, designed him herself, which is no mean feat. Makers understand just how much skill goes into crafting something like this.

*Gecko!

Charlotte looked in on a friend’s geckos while she was away for the holiday and you better believe I was getting in on that. There were three geckos, but this one was the most outgoing. I could have watched him (?) eat mealworms all day.


my favourite things of the week

For November 27 to December 3, 2023

*A visit with this handsome young man

I knitted a blanket for his upcoming first birthday and I think he liked it – if dragging it along while blowing raspberries means he likes it, which I’m pretty sure it does. It’s been a while since I spoke toddler, though.

*A visit with my crow friends

My walking companion is too polite to say so, but I bet he is heartily sick of my need to stop and chat with the crows during every outing. They’re just so smart, and they’re my neighbours, after all. Seems rude to walk on by without a word.

*Big, moody skies

This time of year brings the drama and I love it.

*’Embroidery Woman’ (1817) by Georg Friedrich Kersting


my favourite reads of November 2023

The funk continues. I read more in November than October, but wasn’t all that thrilled with most of it. I think I need to stop being tempted by the New Arrivals section of the library website and stick with my own reading lists because I’m spending too much time on recently published disappointments and not enough time on the kind of classic old-timers I know I prefer.

Anyway, these two are fairly new and not disappointing:

The Clementine Complex by Bob Mortimer

I ordered this one when I saw it was nominated for the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for Comic Fiction (which it has since won) and realized it was the same loopy Bob Mortimer I have enjoyed watching on Would I Lie to You? It’s a fun little mystery about a guy trying to track down a woman he met in a bar because (1) he liked her and (2) she is his alibi after a work acquaintance he’d met up with for a drink is murdered. It’s equal parts goofy and suspenseful. Fun.

Work It Out by Sarah Kurchak

I confess I ordered this solely based on the subtitle: A Mood-Boosting Exercise Guide for People Who Just Want to Lie Down. I thought it would be about how people who enjoy sedentary hobbies (like me) might find some motivation for not sitting down quite so much. If I had done even two seconds of research, I’d have discovered it’s geared toward people who don’t move enough because they’re struggling with depression, anxiety, ADHD or any other condition that makes it hard to jump out of bed and run ten kilometres every morning. I ended up reading the whole thing anyway because it has a lot of good advice. I’d group it with How to Keep House While Drowning (which I read in August 2022) for smart resources on how to gently and compassionately cope with mental and/or physical hurdles to life-enhancing activities.


my favourite things of the week

For November 20 to 26, 2023

*The most vocal cat I’ve ever met

This beautiful black cat popped out of the brush during one of our post-lunch walks out to the dykes and boy, did it (she? I think) have a lot to say. It was really cold that day so I hope she had a safe home to return to.

*Autumn colours persisting

The woods were still pretty yellow for November 22.

*Getting caught in a surprise snow squall

Thinking the overcast skies were harmless clouds, I suggested we push our Wednesday walk further (and further and further) and was rewarded with driving snow and bitter winds the whole way back. Still kind of fun, though.

*Eagles

In the photo above you can see a lump near the top of the middle tree, which we assumed was a large bald eagle because we’ve seen dozens of them this year. Surprise – it was two eagles, and the chittering they did to each other when a smaller bird/possible lunch innocently flew by was amazing to hear.


my favourite things of the week

For November 13 to 19, 2023

*Admiring this ram and his family

*After-lunch walks to get some fresh air

Except the day the manure spreader was out.

*This downy woodpecker

Easily amused, I never tire of watching them sit on their bums to eat, legs stuck straight out.


my favourite things of the week

For November 6 to 12, 2023

The weather last week was dull and grey, which was great for my overall mood and conducive to brisk after-lunch walks, but not so great for photos. I took only one the whole time.

*A blue jay wanting me to share my morning oatmeal

Luckily, I found a few more photos from last week’s trip to PEI that I don’t want to forget.

*Porcupine!

I’ve seen a bazillion dead porcupines, of course, but never a live one. This guy was ambling down the side of the road and was not interested in modelling.

p.s. Did you know a baby porcupine is called a porcupette? I mean, come on.

*Evie plotting how to join the oyster fisherman on his boat

*Sunset

The sky was beautiful, but we were late for supper and there was no time to stop so Foster took this one from our moving car as we raced back to Anna’s.

*The world’s sassiest dog

This is Miss Evie listening patiently to our explanation about why eating discarded tissues found in the woods is not a good idea. Unsurprisingly, she rejected our advice.


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