Idle hands? Never

I’m a slow knitter, but I almost always knit while enjoying family tv time. I’m also not an experienced knitter so I’m constantly having to look up and learn/re-learn new terms and techniques. These are the reasons why I love knitting (and crocheting, too…all this applies to crocheting).

Thanks to knitting/crocheting, watching tv isn’t a complete waste of time because I’m 1) hanging out with the family, 2) analyzing plot and dialogue for my own writing, and 3) creating something useful ultimately.

Having to learn new terms and techniques works my old brain, and keeps me on my toes.

I’ve finally finished the throw I started last year. Here it is being blocked after washing.

Since I’ve finished that, I needed a new project to work on. So I had to dig out the swift and bobbin winder to ball up some new yarn. It’s kind of a hassle to set these things up, so I always wind a bunch of hanks while I’m at it.

This is the new color of yarn that I’ll be using (sitting on the rather pretty cable knit throw, if I may say so myself).

Want to know what I’m knitting next? Stay tuned!

Do you have a favorite hobby? What is it? Tell me on Twitter.

Blogging’s for the birds

This week, we were treated to a whole bunch of wonderful birds that are either stopping to eat on their migration farther north or have arrived here in our southern Indiana paradise for their summer breeding stay.

(I know, you never hear the word “paradise” paired with “Indiana”…for pretty good reason, usually. 😆)

I’ve already shared some photos on my Instagram and Twitter accounts, but, really, you can’t share enough bird photos, m’right? So here are some highlights of what we’ve seen in the past month.

A lone Evening Grosbeak showed up unexpectedly one day…

It sat around for a day, eating and resting, then disappeared like it was never here.

Then there are the year round residents who mostly keep to themselves and don’t drop by to say hi much, like this male Purple Finch (with a Red-bellied Woodpecker on the left, being camera-shy).

Another infrequent visitor to the feeders is the Pileated Woodpecker. The female has been dropping by for meals for several weeks now, but this male only showed up recently. Pardon the big black wall on the right hand side. I was trying to sneak up on the bird.

And one of my favorites is the Red-headed Woodpecker! They like to hang out on our hilltop and play hide-and-seek around our dead trees, but they usually decline our dinner invitations.

People often ask why the Red-bellied (above with the Purple Finch) is not called “Red-headed”…these people obviously have never been lucky enough to see a real Red-headed.

Then there are the migratory birds that give us a thrill when they pass through, like the Rose-breasted Grosbeaks. Here’s the solid gentleman…

and his female companion (or maybe not his female).

Others show up to eat and breed, like the Baltimore Oriole…

and eat, and eat some more. Jelly, suet…gimme!

Another brilliant breeder is the Scarlet Tanager. They’re tropical birds related to warblers and their stunning coloration never fails to wow.

The Gray Catbird is one of my favorites because I love the calls and songs of mimic birds. For a drab bird, it’s still pretty handsome!

Everyone talks about Bluebirds, and granted, the Eastern Bluebird was in decline for a while so we should definitely care for them, but my “bluebird of happiness” is the Indigo Bunting. Our FOY (“First Of Year” in birder-speak) popped up yesterday!

And lastly, but not leastly (it’s my blog and I can make up words if I want to), this cheeky fellow is a first year male Red-winged Blackbird. They’re on our property year round but I never tire of them. This juvie is still trying to get its color on. That shoulder patch is not nearly red and has no yellow beneath. Maybe eating more suet will help? I say that about doughnuts for me.

Do you have unusual birds migrating back to raise a brood or just passing through? Let me know on Twitter or IG!

The earth sings in blossoms

Yesterday was Earth Day which has become mostly like a Hallmark holiday. Really, every day should be “Earth Day.” It’s the only planet anywhere nearby that can sustain us, and yet we’re wrecking like a cranky, egocentric toddler would a toy.

The three Rs – reuse, reduce, recycle – coined a few decades ago, are still good advice for treading lightly on a planet that needs to home for future generations.

I hope you had a chance to go outside, bask in the company of something green and spring-y, and reflect on how our little planet gives us life.

redbud blossoms
apple buds
Nanking cherry blossoms
little dots of violets
the goji berry plant that is indestructible and un-fruiting to our dismay
and just a random photo of a luna moth in our backyard last week, looking worse for wear…I think it’s a female but I didn’t get a clear enough look at its antennae to know for sure

#STEMpathy- Be A Tree by Maria Gianferrari

Not only is Maria Gianferrari’s writing wonderful, but Queen of Physics is mentioned in here AND there is a giveaway! Go enter. 🙂

wild delight

I am delighted to be sharing our book, Be A Tree!on Wild Delight, with a post focusing on STEM texts.

Be a Tree! invites you as readers to imagine how you’re like an individual tree, and how together we can cooperate like forest trees do.

Educators and parents can use STEM books not only to teach STEM topics, but we can also use them to teach kids kindness, compassion and empathy for the natural world and its inhabitants, and by extension, humans too. To that end, I would like to propose a new hashtag: #STEMpathy

Be a Tree! explores how we can learn from forest trees—they talk, help and protect each other and share resources through a network of fungi called mycorrhizal (mike-O-rye-zal) fungi in a so-called “wood wide web.” Scientist Suzanne Simard discovered that when douglas fir trees were chopped down, their neighboring paper birch trees suffered too…

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I had an inkling

So I’m taking this excellent class with Tom Froese at Skillshare, and for an assignment, he wants us to assess our own art and see what we like and why.

I think for me, and for others who’ve given me feedback in the past, my ink drawings are some of my strongest works. Here are a few examples; what do you think?

polar bear
pika
brown bear
rock hyrax
red panda
field mouse, I think?

And lastly, my attempt at making a comic…

So what do you th-ink? Is ink my strong suit? 😄

Perfect Picture Book Friday: Queen of Physics

Gabi Snyder, the author of the hilarious book TWO DOGS ON A TRIKE, shared a terrific review of Queen of Physics on her blog for the Perfect Picture Book Friday post this week!

Cover of Queen of Physics

Title: QUEEN OF PHYSICS: How WU CHIEN SHIUNG Helped Unlock the Secrets of the Atom

Written by: Teresa Robeson

Illustrated by: Rebecca Huang

Sterling Children’s Books, 2019

For ages: 5 and up

Themes/topics: physics/physicists, stem, atoms, beta decay, women in science, Chinese Americans

Opening spread:

In China, in the small town of Liuhe,

the Wu family celebrated the birth of a child.

The child was a girl.

A girl!

What would become of her?

Publisher’s Description

Meet Wu Chien Shiung, famous physicist who overcame prejudice to prove that she could be anything she wanted.

Wu Chien Shiung’s story is remarkable—and so is the way this book does it justice.” —Booklist(Starred review)

When Wu Chien Shiung was born in China 100 years ago, most girls did not attend school; no one considered them as smart as boys…

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Show ’em who’s moss!

My parents’ front yard in Vancouver was so shady that a quarter of it wasn’t grass but moss. It was the softest thing ever, and my sis and I would choose to sit in the shade just to sit on the moss instead of the prickly grass. And don’t get me (or, really, the Spousal Unit and Kid1) started on the useless monoculture that is North American lawns. LOL!

Mosses are fascinating plants. If you want to learn more about them, head to this Encyclopedia Britannica page. If you just want to see some pretty pictures, stay right here and scroll down! 😄

Don’t these look like Mother Nature’s ikebana arrangements?

Wishing you a nice weekend filled with beauty!

[Nonfiction Wednesday] The Queen Of Physics Is An Asian Immigrant Woman

I love this wonderful review of Queen of Physics!

Gathering Books

Myra here.

We are delighted to dedicate our Wednesdays to featuring nonfiction titles, as per usual. We would also be linking our nonfiction choices with our reading themes throughout the year, when we can.

We are pleased to launch our quarterly reading theme from April to June this year onMigrants, Exiles, Refugees: Stories Of The Dispossessed.Essentially, we are on the look-out for books with the following themes:

  1. Stories of exile and movement from one place to another – either by choice or by circumstance

  2. Narratives on im/migrants, belonging and exclusion

  3. Tales of people who are in transition and displaced from their homes

  4. Stories of seeking refuge and sanctuary and finding forever homes

  5. Narratives of loss and dispossession


Queen Of Physics: How Wu Chien Shiung Helped Unlock The Secrets Of The Atom (Amazon | Book Depository)

Written by Teresa Robeson Illustrated byRebecca Huang
Published bySterling…

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A little bubbly

Some people celebrate with champagne bubbly, I celebrate with this other kind of bubbly:

Sourdough. Tasty and my body doesn’t react weirdly to it like it does to alcohol.

I made a few things with the discard because I’m an immigrant who inherited my mom’s motto of “never waste food” (she lived through WWII as a kid and never forgot about starving until the day she died), and can’t throw out perfectly good starter.

What am I celebrating? Well, I still can’t tell you because, again, publishing. But let’s toast with sourdough, shall we?

Chopped liver

I had my own moment of the Sun Ra quote that says, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own country among his own people.” Or, as this BoredPanda post hilariously shows…

For me, it wasn’t a bookstore but the local library that I practically lived in for the 15 years I homeschooled.

Despite the fact that there are very books in their children’s collection about notable Asian-Americans, let alone a female scientist, they only had one copy of Queen of Physics…until it won several awards at which time they bought 3 more copies for a grand total of 4. Meanwhile, they have on order 4 copies of a recently released, humorous book about a cow. Because, as we all know, cows are more important than an immigrant scientist who worked on the Manhattan Project and who helped several Americans win Nobel Prizes.

But, I’ll quit whinging about it even though I have several (many) more thoughts on the topic.

Instead, let me share a photo of some of the beautiful seedlings the Spousal Unit started several weeks ago:

Aren’t they cute? These have now been taken down to the unheated greenhouse to toughen them up for planting and he has started another batch of veggies in the utility room.

What about you? Do you have a garden? Have you been under-appreciated by your own town? 😝