Things in the Woods

that I saw today. No mushrooms though. We got the necessary rain over the entire weekend, but I think especially the plunge of our night time temperatures has slimmed the chance of any more mushrooms.

The beautiful base of a beech tree.
A very large frog - as large as my hand. He peed on me when I picked him up.
A very large frog – as large as my hand.
He peed on me when I picked him up.


I haven’t been to the library in, well, probably about 20 years. Way back when I worked in Landsberg, which is our Kreisstadt or county seat, I had a library card and frequently went there.

At some point, I lost my wallet (and my library card) and began working in a town in the completely opposite direction, and never bothered to go back to the library.

Via a tip from my cousin A., who told me that she gets the majority of her audiobooks from the library, I got curious and did some research. It appears that libraries, in addition to their “old” style of lending books, CDs, etc., are now offering their content via online services (not just here in Germany, apparently stateside as well). What it boils down to is that, once you have a library card (I drove there and got a new one this week), you can checkout ebooks and other media content from the comfort of your sofa, have an audiobook streamed onto your device or read an ebook on your tablet or PC.

I think this is just absolutely mega-cool!

Kitchen Mishaps

I’ve never made a peach pie before, but thanks to an article/recipe in the Süddeutsche (Munich’s largest newspaper) I was inspired. It spoke so heartily of the exquisite autumn pleasure of the combination of a piece of warm peach pie served with a dollop of vanilla ice cream, that I decided to make one.

Just now, while standing in the kitchen making the Pâte Brisée* for tomorrow’s pie, it occurred to me why Julia Child is such a hero to me. Sure, she was a splendid and talented cook, her kitchen skills are worth at least 5 Michelin stars and she is very charismatic in those old videos – but what lets her really get under my skin is the fact that she too, had her chaotic moments like that time when the pancake flipping went badly (at about 2.30 min).

Thinking back on those moments make me feel much better about the mishaps I have in the kitchen, when later I discover I have a bit of pie crust stuck to my head or my arm, or like that time when I was trying to hold the mixer with my jaw to free my hands to grab something and got my ponytail caught in the beaters.
(The ponytail survived, the mixer didn’t, and the beaten egg whites had to be dumped).

So, a big toast to Julia Child and the wonderful things she taught us. What a legacy!

And now it has just occurred to me that I am making an american desert with a recipe from a german newspaper, encased by a pastry crust from a french cookbook written by an american woman. How absolutely international. I’m practically a one-woman United Nations. 😉

*Pâte Brisée is very similar to pie crust, but due to being made with butter and the special technique used to make it, turns out much, much flakier than any pie crust I’ve ever made. I substitute it for all pie crusts, regardless of what the recipe says.

Such A Rowdy

The optometrist called me on Monday to let me know that one pair of glasses were ready for pickup. I put on some shoes and got in the car to head down there. As always, there was no place to park.

By Flodur63 - Eigenes Werk, CC BY-SA 3.0,
An aerial photo of our little town. Von Flodur63Eigenes Werk, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Over the last two years, this part of “downtown” of our little town of 8,000 was renovated, partly to make the creek that runs through the center of it go underground in some areas, and as a result, the parking places have been drastically reduced. You are only allowed to park in the areas specifically designated by the white painted lines.

I found some empty space on the side of the street and parked there, even though it wasn’t designated, and hoped to be in and out of the store relatively fast. I got lucky.

Two days later, the optometrist called to say my reading glasses were also ready for pickup. This time, there was no empty space, so I had to park where the diagonal lines specifically forbid it, since it presents a bit of an obstacle to pedestrians passing over the bridge over the creek. Again, I was in and out again in a snap – and got lucky again.

It seems that at least the guardian angel of parking offenders is on my side right now, but I think I should stop pushing my luck.

It’s also nice to have such excellent eyesight again.


The Knitting Pattern From Hell

I started a new sweater about three weeks ago and boy, was it a struggle to get to where I am.

It’s another raglan sweater knitted in the round on circular needles with a lace pattern on the first 8 inches of the edge. The problem with the pattern is that the first 10 rows or so start with a sl-k2tog-po.

If I’d only known at the beginning of the project. I cast on 294 stitches, knit two inches and noticed the holes of the lace pattern weren’t lining up. Full of self-doubt, I unraveled  it all and started over, paying exact attention to the pattern. Again, the holes were all over the place. I repeated the above a third time. I couldn’t understand what I was doing wrong, though I knew what the end result should look like, I wasn’t anywhere near it and began to experiment which what I should be knitting to achieve the desired result. It was way off. And by this time, I was becoming unraveled. At one point I threw the whole thing at the hedge out in the garden, where it stuck, looking like some looney tree decoration.

Finally, on my fifth try, I realized what the problem was. If the sweater is being knit in the round, and the sl-k2tog-po is done at the beginning of the round, the marker for the start of the round needs to be moved one stitch to the right before doing the sl-k2tog-po. Otherwise, each row is “moved” one stitch to the left of where it ought to be. The manufacturer failed to note this fact on the pattern.

I was a thrilled little happy camper when I finally and beautifully finished the 8 inches of lace pattern, only to realize that I had become so obsessed with the lace pattern that I completely forgot about gauge.

Yes, I unraveled  it all and started over for the 6th time, casting on 294 stitches. (Am I the only one who hates casting on?)

Don’t anyone ever say that I lack perseverance.
Here’s a picture of what I struggled with:

This is the one that got unraveled – it wasn’t wide enough and I restarted with larger needles.

Puberty Revisited

I’ve been watching Pretty Little Liars on Netflix. Don’t ask me why. Lord knows, I’m not the targeted viewing audience.

I was intrigued by the mystery of it, but as early as around Episode 3, I wanted to happy-slap all of those *itches into some kind of sense. At the beginning, I really wasn’t sure if I was watching a mystery series or a scripted fashion show. Someone please tell me that kids nowadays are not dressing like that just to go to school?

The only thing that has kept me watching is the fascinating way the writers manage to “dance” around the very center of the plot and at the same time, redesignate the villain from one character to another throughout.

I’ll see where it all goes. Maybe. Probably.

Get Over It

Everyone out there is moaning and groaning about the lack of a headphone jack on the new iPhone.

First of all, if the lack of a headphone jack is all that you have to moan about, consider yourself lucky and please be quiet. It means you most likely are healthy, have a roof over your head, and food in your refrigerator. Those are the basics, everything else is luxury.

Secondly, there is something called Bluetooth. It has been around for a long, long time and is quite useful. I’m not stating this  to flout myself as technically advanced, but I have had a bluetooth headset for years. Believe me, it is wonderful to not have to be physically attached to a device when you are listening to something. Plus, the headphone cord doesn’t snag on the doorknob and rip out of your ear when you leave/enter a room.

Thirdly, if you don’t like it, don’t buy it.

That is all.

On A Whim

..I visited my optician last week. I’ve been thinking about going for months now, but just hadn’t “gotten around to it”. So, when I exited the bank last week and saw that the optician’s door across the street was propped open and the place was empty, I went in to have my eyes rechecked.

Though my farsightedness has gotten a bit worse, which is, of course, a normal result of aging, the person who checked my eyes was more than a bit surprised, as apparently, my astigmatism has improved, and apparently that is rare.

I have no idea what  might have caused this – neither did the optician – but I have an idea of what might have influenced it.

Perhaps – only perhaps – it’s because for knitting, I’ve been using the “adjustable” glasses that I posted about here. They obviously do not offer any type of correction for astigmatism – how could they – and maybe the hours I’ve spent wearing them have somehow forced the eye to correct itself.

I really have no idea, and no scientific knowlege about this. But it’s good news for a change and I’m looking forward to the new glasses.

Ravings of a Sane Lunatic

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