Monthly Archives: March 2019

The Widow – watch it!!

How to review The Widow without any spoilers?

The Widow is airing on Amazon. The premise is this: Will Mason is in the Democratic Republic of Congo when a plane crashes. His wife, Georgia, is told that Will died in the crash. Three years later, she becomes convinced that he is alive and sets out to discover the truth. There. That may spoil the first 5 minutes, but no more.

The series is set in Africa, with some scenes in Rotterdam, and Wales. The acting is outstanding. The plot twists and turns are twisty and turny. It’s great.

I encourage you to watch it, nonexistent readers.

#TheWidow #Africa

The View From Here

Fundamentally Rural

My husband is shopping for a vehicle, specifically one that can “haul things” or “tow something.” We are in our 60s and live in the suburbs. The only things we haul are garbage cans once a week and the odd piece of lumber maybe twice a year. We don’t tow anything. I gave up on this issue when I realized that part of why I fell in love with him is that, like me, he has a rural underpinning.

These days I hang out a lot, reading, painting, knitting. But I grew up in the country and have, in the past, worked on the roof, helped dig a homemade septic tank, fed chickens, weeded, mowed, sanded, and slept outside without a tent.

Years ago I was visiting a friend who said he had hired someone to run a wire from the stereo into the next room, in order to mount a speaker on the wall. Put “hired” in italics please. I was, to use the trendy word, gobsmacked. One characteristic of fundamentally rural people is figuring out how to fix things, improvise, do it yourself.

Another rural trait is, apparently, the urge to own a vehicle that can do rough work.

I’ve never lived in an apartment, even in a city. I would never be able to get my husband to take off his shoes inside. There are stacks of this and that in the (very small) yard. I’m interested in silk, so he planted a white mulberry tree to feed the silkworms I will eventually raise.

One more thing – I think projects are part of our rural framework. My husband and I, and both our adult children, always have projects going, whether it’s picture framing, welding, spinning and knitting yarn, weaving, building, or organizing.

So, fine, we can get a pick up just in case we need to haul or tow something.

2020 Democratic Presidential Candidates

Sites that discuss the Democratic candidates for president and their positions. I will try to keep this updated.


Five Thirty Eight

PBS Candidates & Positions

Public Integrity


I Side With

Talking Points Memo

Rolling Stone


#2020 #2020democrats #2020election


“Racism for Dummies” Meme

There is a meme going around about how “we’re all the same.”

It is invariably posted by a white friend who has a loving heart, means well, sincerely believes that “we’re all the same underneath,” and lives in a mostly white town.

What to do? It’s awkward to challenge someone, I’m pathologically averse to conflict, and I don’t want to start a fight. And yet . . . this meme is fundamentally inaccurate and represents a classic example of white fragility.

First, this frames racism as a bad personality trait of some bad individuals with bad ideas. Thus, if you “don’t care if someone is black, white, or purple,” then *presto* you’re not a racist.

But what if racism is defined differently, as a pervasive system of white advantage (see, even here, I’m afraid to say “white supremacy” because I don’t want friends to take umbrage). What if racism is more than a character flaw that is especially common in Alabama?  And isn’t the option of defining racism in a way that excludes you and then putting race out of your mind the quintessential example of white privilege?  You think African Americans ever get to not notice race?

Secondly, it’s factually inaccurate. A person who has experienced job discrimination, police harassment, being followed in a store on the assumption that they might steal, being assumed to be dumb, dishonest, or lazy, having people assume that they owe their position to affirmative action, rather than hard work — this person is most assuredly NOT the same inside as someone like me who has never had to deal with any of these awful stresses.

If a person is actually interested at all in race or racism, then a great place to start is the book White Fragility, by Robin DiAngelo.

Let’s just say this – I can pretty much guarantee that when a white person says “I don’t see color,” “We are all the human race, that’s what matters,” or “I was raised to treat everyone the same,” that the people of color in the room are mentally rolling their eyes.

#race #racism #whitefragility

Losing Weight, Part Five.

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

Part Four


Exercise.  Every medical study agrees that exercise is important for good health and longevity.   What about exercise and weight loss?

I believe walking 30 to 45 minutes every day is a key part of losing weight.  You don’t need to jog, lift weights, or swim a mile to lose weight.  But a good walk is very helpful.  I think it helps metabolism or blood pressure or the immune system, maybe all of them, I’m not a doctor.  Just walk at least 30 minutes a day. Even if it’s hot or cold or damp.

Portions.  You will quickly discover that restaurants serve huge portions and that hostesses nag you to have second helpings. Not your problem.  You don’t have to “eat everything on your plate” like a little kid, and you can just pat your rapidly shrinking tummy and assure the host that you’re stuffed.

Sticking With It.  Not going to lie, it’s easy to backslide. Remember I said I’d lost 50 pounds?  Yeah, actually I did it twice, after I fell off the low carb wagon.  Do whatever helps you stick with something. Shopping for clothes a size smaller is fun, that might work.

That’s all for today!



Losing Weight, Part Four. Nuts and Bolts

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

What to expect: You’ve bought whatever combination of fruits, vegetables, cheese, eggs, meat, spices, fish, fowl, and coffee or tea makes sense to you. If so inclined, you’ve found recipes for grain-free substitutes for ingredients. You’ve maybe read the labels if you have processed food around. Time to take the plunge.

1. First Two Days. You might feel weird the first two days, because your body is used to the sugar high from cereal, bread, and so on. You might feel a little shaky or have a slight headache. Feel free to gripe. I’ll bet that on the third morning you wake up feeling more energetic than you have in ages. I’ll also bet that you will have lost a pound by now.

2. Dining with Friends. I don’t know about you, nonexistent reader, but I hate calling attention to myself. I hate the idea of everyone at the table wrinkling their brows over my “weird diet” or of a host feeling anxious about “what can you eat?” I try to keep it brief and simple. I urge people to make whatever they normally would and say that I’ll skip anything not on my list. This isn’t a perfect solution. Sometimes people put you on the spot or have Strong Opinions to share. Sometimes the hostess serves bread, a rice casserole, candied yams, and chocolate cake. If that happens, just eat a little bit of everything (a LITTLE), decline the cake on the grounds that you’re full, and don’t worry about it.

3. Restaurants. It’s easier in a restaurant, because you aren’t going to hurt anyone’s feelings or get them in a tizzy. If you order a burger without a bun, they will often set it in a bed if lettuce and tomatoes. If the meal comes with fries or the salad has croutons, push them aside.

4. Weaknesses and Mental Tricks. I have a weakness for desserts, yours may be different. What if you feel resentful and deprived because everyone else is slathering butter on warm sourdough bread, sipping wine, and groaning in ecstasy over the double fudge chocolate torte? Some ideas –

First, this isn’t forever, unless you have a metabolic or medical condition (in which case, I am not a doctor, etc.). This is about losing weight, simply and briskly, without joining a group, keeping a notebook, etc. If you are walking 35 minutes a day (more on that in a minute) and are not eating second helpings, you can lose 40 pounds in 2 or 3 months. Then you can OCCASIONALLY have chocolate cake.

2. At restaurants I sometimes just get up and walk away when the waiter is taking dessert orders. I come back in a minute when the danger is past.

3. Just make it a rule, so you aren’t having will-power battles 50 times a day.

4. Dissociate a little, just don’t think about the presence of whatever tempts you.

5. Just do it. You don’t have to like it, just do it.

#diet #weight

Losing Weight, Part Three, How To.

Part One

Part Two

Part Three: Not Eating Grains and Sugar

We eat so many grains and so much sugar because they’re cheap and filling, give you a quick (if metabolically unhealthy) boost, (did I spell metabolically right?), heck, they may be subsidized by the government for all I know.

Grains are a big part of most of the common things we cook and love – lasagna, pizza, spanikopita, tacos, granola, cereal, rice, corn fritters, not to mention key lime pie and chocolate chip cookies.

So, how do you give them up? I prefer cold turkey – just do it. When you lose a pound in 2 days, it’s encouraging.

Tips and tricks.

1. Prepare. Think of ways to make changes and go buy that stuff. Buy celery if you’re going to put peanut butter on celery instead of bread.

2. New rituals. I had a nightly habit of red wine, corn chips, and ice cream. I devised a new ritual involving herbal tea. I know that sounds lame, but I use a lovely pottery mug, add spices, and play it up.

3. Be sure to include fat in your diet. Apple chunks and cheese is filling. Fat keeps you from feeling hungry.

4. Drink lots of water, tea, etc., which will help you feel full.

5. If you want, explore new vegetables, and ways of making grain free pie crust, spaghetti squash spaghetti, things with nut flour. The internet is probably full of that stuff.

Next up: pitfalls and challenges.

#diet #weight

Losing Weight, Part Two.

Part One

Part Two: One Weird Trick.

To lose weight rapidly and safely, stop eating grains and sugar. There it is, the only important thing you need to do. The rest is just discussion of what that means, how to do it and why, and what to expect.

People are fat because they eat grains and sugar, period, the end. If you stop eating grains and refined sugar, you lose weight. Once you lose enough weight, you can resume eating grains and sugar (unless there is a metabolic reason not to, such as type 2 diabetes), but if you aren’t restrained, you will gain it all back.

Yep, this is the low carb thing, with a few twists and tips.

Sugar is sugar.

“Grains” unfortunately includes bread (yes, even multigrain whole wheat bread), pizza, pasta, wine, beer, bagels, pita bread, tortillas, muffins, buns, rolls, pie crust, crackers, cookies, and yes, even artisinally curated dry crackers. It also includes corn, corn syrup, potato chips and fries.
Avoiding sugars also means giving up fruit juice and being careful about fruit. Six dried apricots is pretty carbalacious.

The Good News – You do NOT have to have a fat free, or low fat diet, unless there is some other medical reason for it, I’m-not-a-doctor disclaimer goes here.

Fat does not make you fat any more than tomatoes make you red. You need fat! Fat is what makes you feel not hungry. Go ahead, add a spoonful of whipping cream to your coffee and a pat of butter to the broccoli.

#diet #weight #weightloss

How to Lose Weight, A Symphony in Several Parts. Part One

Part One: Introduction.

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or other health care professional, and this is not medical advice. In other words, I know I’m right, but don’t take my word for it. I am not a doctor and do not rely on this or any blog instead of consulting your doctor.

How I know that I’m right about how to lose weight: I was always skinny until my 40s, when I put on some weight. I participated in a university study in which participants did a LOT of exercise but were told to eat whatever they wanted. I gained more weight and my blood sugar went way up. I read books, especially those by Richard Bernstein. I lost 50 pounds in 4 months. You probably can too, and here is how.

Losing weight is not as complicated as the books and articles make it seem.

Here are some things that you do NOT need to do to lose weight:

1. Join a gym, have a complicated workout plan, or run 5 miles a day.

2. Pay to join a group in real life or online.

3. Make your life into a big science project. You do NOT need to write down everything you eat, including the calories, carb content, glycemic index, etc.

Go ahead and do these things if you want. Running every day and lifting weights is healthy, some folks like support groups, and others like keeping detailed records of what they eat. But none of this is necessary, so if you don’t have time to keep a food log or can’t afford a gym membership, don’t worry.

I am breaking this into bite sized blog entries because I hate reading long scrolly blogs and my nonexistent readers might feel the same way.

#diet #weight #losing weight

One Last Job

How many movies have you seen, nonexistent readers, in which a criminal decides to go straight, only to be lured into One Last Job?

See, for example, Thief, Heist, Getaway, Sexy Beast, and Unforgiven.

But it’s not just criminals! Sometimes legal writers are coaxed back for one last job after retirement! Maybe a 2 or 3 month 29 hour a week gig?

Stay tuned, NRs!

Hello Darkness, My Old Friend

A crime that is committed between midnight and 6:00 a.m. may feel late at night but is technically the next day. The district attorney describes the events as occurring “during the early morning hours of March 11.”

During these early morning hours I think about all the things. Ancient history mixes with ideas for knitting a cardigan, which fades to a detailed political speech about whatever flickers into view, which leads to a plan for how to sketch a rock sitting on a plate . . . to anxiety about It All . . . an idea for soup . . . what should I do with the collection of every issue of The Knitter? . . . are young people having fewer children? . . . can the Democrats win in 2020? . . . and what is wrong with people who like that repulsive man? . . . I bet there are some good trails in Briar Chapel . . . my mother would have been 92 today . . . I miss her . . . Will anyone miss me? . . . can UNC get to the final four this year? . . . which would be more fun, Rhinebeck or Stitches South? . . . need to look up Gate One tours and find a good trip for Staples and me . . . he hates the idea of a cruise . . . but maybe . . .

The warm little cat stretches out a paw with that saltine smell of a healthy cat. At 2:00 a neighbor leaves for a night shift job and shadows pass across the wall and I keep thinking about all the things.

#darkness #insomnia #earlymorning

View From the Steps


This is a watercolor of the view from the steps behind the W_____ house.  Too much green I think, too much yellow-green, but the mountains are nice.

A thing! I did a thing!

Blogs are so boring when the bloggers blog about themselves. Who cares if you’ve been thinking precious thoughts about X or reconsidering Y?

And yet, I can’t resist telling the world that I did a thing about which I am proud, even though no one cares. The thing was that I figured out how to add an icon to my website, which is another thing, like a blog, that no one cares about but me.

An icon! The thrill comes from the fact that I have zero training or education in coding, etc.


Aw heck, the icon didn’t show there. But when I googled on my phone and clicked “add to my home screen” it was right there.


See?  It’s the pink thing!


Cloud Macchiato!

The Washington Post just reviewed a new coffee drink –

“Starbucks’s Cloud Macchiato is like a cozy, coffee-flavored bubble bath”

Can’t Wait!

The Times They Are etc.

A few years ago someone suggested that I watch the Key & Peele “Substitute Teacher” videos and enjoy a good laugh. I watched and I laughed. You can Google them if you want – Go ahead, I’ll wait.

The humor seemed harmless, even edgy, at the time, and reviewers wrote that Key & Peele were breaking down stereotypes and “exposing systemic racism.” Huh?

The premise of these videos is that a veteran teacher from an “inner city” (read: black) school is substituting at a white middle class school. The “humor” arises from the fact that the teacher (1) has developed a furious loud demeanor, presumably as a survival mechanism in “the inner city”; (2) is so used to “black” names like “D’Angelo” that he cannot pronounce names like Aaron or Denise; (3) thinks that a student who wants to go to a chess club meeting is referring to a downtown club, and; (4) assumes that he is in a battle with lying lawbreakers, again presumably based on his previous experience in a largely African American school.

What the hell? Why did I laugh? How did I not see how racist this is?

Boy have things changed since then. No one would get away with those videos now.

It reminds me of the recent scandal over yearbook photos of white students in blackface makeup. I guess they thought it was good clean fun at the time. It wasn’t. What do you think, nonexistent readers?

#Key & Peele #race #racism

Essex Serpent

I’d give Essex Serpent a bunch of stars.  Good book.  Possible spoilers to follow.

Essex Serpent, by Sarah Perry, is set in coastal Essex, England, at the turn of the 20th century.   Cora Seaborne is recently widowed, after suffering years of physical, sexual, and emotional abuse at the hands of her deceased husband.  She travels to a rural area in the company of her son (who is clearly on the autism spectrum, although this was not recognized at the time in which the novel is set) and her companion Martha, an ardent working class socialist.  Her intention is to study and discover fossils and other natural curiosities.  They fetch up in Aldwinter, a small town in the grip of hysteria over a possible Loch Ness style monster.  Cora develops a relationship with William Ransome, the local preacher, who is married with children.  William’s pretty wife, Stella, is dying of TB throughout the book and does not begrudge William and Cora their relationship.  A plot ensues and people interact.  In the end, there is no magical monster.

Okay, that’s the plot.  Here are a few thoughts:

A scary serpent/creature/whatever is generally assumed to be a phallic symbols of sexuality.  However, this guy seemed more likely to symbolise the darkness in all of us, or the darkness of superstition.

The relationship between Cora and William can be seen as an awakening after their respective periods of arrested development.  During her marriage, Cora was subjected to physical, sexual, and emotional abuse.  Simply put, femininity and female sexuality did her no favors. She reacts by trying to start over, adopting the non-sexual clothing and curiosity of a child.  William had a happy but very traditional marriage. Neither of them had had the experience of having a pal of the opposite sex.

Do you think they will be together after Stella dies?

The minor charachters are very well drawn – the old beggar, the red-haired fisherman’s daughter, the wealthy couple.

I wonder why the author had Cora’s son be on the autism spectrum?  Was it to have a character whose observations and questions were divorced from social mores?


I basically hate Twitter, and I especially hate the fact that it has become the universal forum for expression of thoughts.

I don’t hate social media in general. I have a blog and I’m on Facebook, Instagram, Tumbler, ello, Ravelry, Disquis, Flickr, and a dozen others. I just hate Twitter.

The problem with Twitter is that it’s awful to use on a phone. It’s okay on a full sized monitor, but so what? On a phone it’s small, crowded, confusing, cramped, clunky, and a no doubt some other C words I’m missing.

For example, say you like someone’s tweet. In other apps there are icons right there to like, share, recommend, etc. In Twitter you click the tweet and get a list of options, most of which I don’t get.

I don’t like the competitive aspect of who has the most followers. When Trump has a zillion followers, how can it be a sign of wit or wisdom?

I don’t understand Twitter ratios and I’m not interested in learning a new math formula.

I mostly hate the way Twitter has defeated my attempts to use it. I am old it’s true, but not technologically illiterate. I have a website for which I did all the Xhtml coding. But for some reason, every time I reload Twitter on my phone I end up deleting it. I hate Twitter.



Mystery of the day – why did I binge watch both seasons of Bordertown on Netflix?

Bordertown is a police drama set in Lappeenranta, Finland, near the Russian border. It features the customary staples of such shows: brilliant but quirky detective, earnest young detective learning from him, pretty young women in peril, possible perp introduced 7 minutes into the show who turns out not to be the bad guy, medical examiner quipping about corpses killed in grotesquely creative ways.

But Bordertown also has its own unique flaws! For example –

The worst dubbing ever. One can forgive the fact that the dubbed in voices don’t match the actors’ mouths because the actors were speaking Finnish. But the dubbing also doesn’t match the captioning, and sometimes the difference is significant – the dubbed voice says “Go to hell you bastard” while the caption says “I think you should leave now.” ALSO, the dubbed voices of the main characters have the odd wooden affect of an embarrassed 6th grader forced to read from Shakespeare.

Moreover, the quirky detective has a special personal “method” of solving crimes using a “memory palace.” His secret method consists of putting lines of duct tape on the floor, appearing to play Twister with himself by moving his hands or feet into sections of the tape, and then grimacing while he tries to remember clues.

One more uniquely bad thing – Bordertown presents Russia and the Russian people with the same nuanced sensitivity as that employed by Trump when discussing Mexicans. In this show the Russians are always more violent, crude, venal, and untrustworthy than the Finns. Who knew that Russians were the (I can’t think of a substitute for N-word) of Finland?

So why did I watch it? I dunno. The acting seemed good – if only they had just had captions and skipped the dubbing.

Finland is pretty in the 15 minutes of summer – there wasn’t a single scene in which it was cold or snowy.

Oh, and I absolutely loved the names of Finnish children – Lumi, Onni, Esa, Joona, Reko.

The relationship between the FSB agent and her daughter was good, and well acted.

Bottom line us probably that knitting TV only has to be good enough to stave off boredom during the wrong side rows.

#Bordertown #KnittingTV #ReviewBordertown #Finland