Forum Holitorium

From Geese to Gooseberries

Lake Neusiedl (Neusiedlersee), the largest lake in Austria, is less than an hour’s drive southeast of Vienna. It is one of the few lakes in Europe that is not connected by waterways to any sea. Only 1.8 meters deep at most, nearly 80% of its water comes from precipitation. A few weeks ago when most of eastern Austria was experiencing drought conditions, the water level of the lake was so low that there started to be talk of diverting water to it. Thankfully there has been a fair amount of rain since then. The climate around the lake is dry and sunny. Most of its perimeter is covered in reeds (der Schilfgürtel), making it a haven for a myriad of birds.

When I came to Austria years ago, I was shocked to find out that access to the water of most lakes is not free. In my hometown on Lake Michigan, the great majority of the shore is owned by the city and accessible to the general public. On Lake Neusiedl, bathing areas all charge a fee. There is a lone pier at the northern tip of the lake at Neusiedl am See where you can walk out and greet the lake for free. On the eastern shore, a bike path goes through National Park Neusiedlersee-Seewinkel. There are observation towers along the path from which there is a good view of the lake and many birds. The area we were at is one where greylag geese (Anser anser) breed. With the exception of two great white egrets (Ardea alba), most of the birds I saw were greylag geese families.

The silver lining to not being able to visit family and friends in the U.S. now is that not only do I have time to explore Austria during the summer months but I also can savor all the fresh fruit that is coming into season. Like gooseberries.

I associate gooseberries with British cuisine, something I know very little about. Gooseberry fool seems to be the most common recipe out there: ripe gooseberries mixed with sugar and cream. Before today, the only thing I had ever made with gooseberries was jam. This afternoon I made gooseberry clafoutis. If you want to be technical, it was actually a flaugnarde since real clafoutis only has cherries as the fruit, but clafoutis is easier to pronounce (kla-FOO-tee) than flaugnarde (flow-knee-YARD). Call it whatever you like since the taste is not affected by the name.

Gooseberry Goodness

Top and tail 250 g gooseberries and place in a greased baking form. In a bowl, whisk two eggs with 3 Tbsp sugar and a pinch of salt. Add 4 Tbsp whole wheat spelt flour and mix well. Add 50 g sheep’s milk yogurt and 50 ml water and stir until smooth. Pour the batter over the gooseberries and bake in a 200° C oven for 30 minutes unti the top is brown.

What do you like to make with gooseberries? Are there any traditional recipes with gooseberries where you come from?

I debuted my pigeon blue linen top on my outing to Lake Neusiedl. It fits perfectly and is exactly what I had hoped for: a lightweight shirt that is cooling despite long sleeves and will let the air through on hot days. The cranberry v-neck is also done, though I hope I don’t need to wear anything that warm for at least three months. After three v-neck projects, it’s time to shift my focus to other design elements.

May you find a silver lining or two in your current situation!

From the Center Out

From the kitchen window, we spy on what’s going on in the crows’ nest. The nest is high enough above the sidewalk that passersby have no clue what is transpiring above their heads. Birdsong is no longer center stage as we move from high spring to early summer. When it isn’t raining, the constant clamor from the playground does its part to drown out the avian soundscape as well. So when the weather is good, we seek out the quiet places.

Along a dirt through the woods road, this: puffy clouds mirrored in muddy waters, reeds that hide ducks, green foliage.

Yellow-green grass sways in the light breeze while an evergreen band of trees delineates the end of the blue kingdom of sky.

Another day, another walk, this time among the elders living in the park at Stift Lilienfeld. Do you have a favorite tree or two? You should. Mine are the yew (Taxus baccata) and pines (any will do). Ruddy trunk ready to slough off bark at any moment, what can you teach me about endurance and tenacity?

In the evenings, the needles wouldn’t stop flying. Last night I arrived at the end of the ball of yarn and bound off. My attempt at the crochet chain bind-off ended in a knot I couldn’t ravel, so the knot became incorporated into a regular stretchy bind-off. Until the knot reared its head, it had been a pleasure to knit. Now that it is finished and blocking, it’s clear that it is not what I had hoped for: a square shawl big enough to fold into a triangle and wrap around my neck. Instead, I have a rounded square that reminds me of the full moon shining in the sky. Perhaps it will adorn a table someday in a dwelling yet to be discovered.

I am drawn to patterns that move out from the center. There is something about starting from one point and getting bigger and bigger that makes me feel like I am acting in alignment with the nature of things. That is how we humans start: one cell that divides into two cells that double into four cells and so on until we reach adult size. A stone thrown into a pond triggers ripples over the surface of the water. The rays of the sun rush out into the universe and warm our skin. A rosebud opens and becomes a flower that spreads its petals. There are infinite ways to move out from the center.

May you learn from a favorite tree!

Creative Explosion

My goal for the week is to take a break from actively keeping up with what is going on around the world and not read the news. Every now and then it’s good to simply pay attention to what is in front of you or what people you know tell you. It’s day three and the rewards are quite clear: greater creative output and less stress to get my work done thanks to fewer distractions. The blue linen pullover now has two sleeves and awaits a v-neck border. Meanwhile, the border of the cranberry v-neck turned out marvelous. The body just needs to be lengthened an inch or so and then it will be ready for cold temps. I frogged yet another failed attempt at making a shawl/scarf/cowl with a Schoppel Zauberball 100 skein whose colorway is Lange Bank (official English translation: On the Shelf). The names of Zauberball colorways are nearly as delightful as the colors themselves. The German expression “auf die lange Bank schieben” (literally “to push on the long bench”) means to put off doing something because you don’t feel like doing it, i.e. to procrastinate. In American English, to be on the shelf means to be out of use. In British English this apparently means something quite different. If a woman is on the shelf, it means she is considered too old to get married. Sounds like something out of Austen or Trollope or James. But I digress.

Said skein has been reborn as this square shawl. The start was auspicious. When you knit from the center out, there are different techniques for casting on. There is a method called the Emily Ocker cast on or pinhole cast on that allows you to pull the yarn end and tighten the knitting so there isn’t a gap in the center. I have tried to do this cast on several times but have never figured out how it works. Well, yesterday I thought it would be worth trying again in the interest of learning a new technique. In less than a minute, I had twelve stitches on four needles and was ready to go.

Good thing I am moving forward with the Zauberball because there is more yarn waiting in the wings. Last week I received a surprise gift of baby alpaca yarn in two vibrant colors. The orange is darker than it appears and the magenta is, well, magenta. There is enough for a generous shawl in each color. There are a few contenders already, found in my file of knitting patterns that I have actually printed out. Printout status indicates a high level of desire to knit the pattern and not just a passing fancy from seeing a nice picture at Ravelry.

It’s been busy in the kitchen too. First, castagnaccio, a chestnut “cake” that is more like a bread in my book. The cake or bread litmus test is decided by the presence or absence of sugar. Castagnaccio tastes sweet but has no sugar – just chestnut flour, water, raisins, pine nuts, and rosemary. And soon will come the reward for writing these lines: a slice of sour cherry buckwheat pound cake. Since buckwheat flour has no gluten, it will not rise on its own. I mixed spelt flour with buckwheat flour and used sour cream as the fat. The result: a dense, moist crumb whose flavors hearken Polish and Russian cuisine. The sour cherries deliver an invigorating tang.

May you find the right level of remaining informed and being creative!

Danube or Bust

The sunshine invited us to come out and play, so we headed northwest through the Wienerwald, which was swarming with cyclists and pedestrians, until we arrived at Burg Greifenstein on the Danube. For over a millennium, the fortress has kept watch over the Danube just upstream of the Vienna Gate (Wiener Pforte), the geographical term for the place where the Danube enters the Vienna Basin (Wiener Becken). It has survived Hungarians, Turks, Liechtenstein family members, pestilence, and fire. Many have perished in the dungeon in its tower. Since being outdoors still remains a better option than indoor confinement, we took a walk along the Altarm, the arm of the Danube that is a favorite spot for swimmers.

To cross to the island seen in the back of the picture above, you go across a short and narrow bridge that is part of the bike path along the Danube. Unfortunately, it is impossible to linger and enjoy the view of the waterfall without being run over by hurried cyclists. It’s a pity because it is a lovely setting. I managed the picture below but couldn’t take one of trees gnawed by beavers without triggering a collision. After the bottleneck of the bridge, we went off to the right on a dirt road where cycling is prohibited and had the island mostly to ourselves.

At the tip of the island, there is a view of the hilly Wienerwald. Since humans can only reach it by boat, the small island to the left is likely an oasis for ducks and other birds. It’s been so long since I have seen Mallard ducks that they seemed exotic.

To the left, the view is all Danube, all the way downstream toward Vienna. Turning further to the left, we had a view of the locks and Greifenstein hydroelectric power plant, but since most of us need a picture of a massive concrete structure as much as we need another crisis situation, I’ll omit a picture from that perspective.

Moments of grace: a ladybug crawling on my shoulder as I rested and gazed downstream; a slowworm crossing the path. Despite its snake-like appearance, a slowworm (Anguinis fragilis, Blindschleiche) is a lizard. One of the most common reptiles in Austria, it poses no threat to humans and spends most of its time hiding under objects. If in danger, it can shed its tail and grow a new one that is slightly shorter. The slowworm was named Reptile of the Year 2017 by the Austrian Herpetological Society (ÖGH). After some time spent basking in the sun like good lizards do, we slithered back to hide under the roof of our apartment building in the Vienna Basin.

May you have moments of grace observing the world outdoors!

Collective Contagion

Like peace, the birds have been elusive this week. I thought I had captured one in the picture above. Wrong. As my country of birth abandons public health measures in the name of making money and spirals into Civil War 2.0, my country of residence remains fixated on getting people to go out, spend money, and worship the sacred cow of summer holidays – no worries about a second wave of COVID-19 as long as the coffers of the tourism industry fill up. The air in Vienna is progressively more polluted, the noise of everyday life is drowning out the birds, and little seems to have changed. Was I naive to hope that things would be different?

Since reading the news too long inevitably leads to tears, all I can do is attempt to remain calm and carry on with my quiet life, being as respectful and kind as I can. Maybe that’s the course of action we need to navigate through the Scylla and Charybdis that is 2020: collective calm, quiet, respect, and kindness. No need to worry if that becomes contagious.

All week I promised KA cake. All week I remained engrossed in work until the cake hour had passed. Yesterday I finally conjured up a strawberry pound cake, inspired by this great post analyzing the ingredients in pound cake. My recipe:

Mix 4 eggs with 190 g sugar until well blended. Add 90 g ricotta, 40 g water, 80 g olive oil, and 1/2 Tbsp vanilla extract. Mix in 230 g whole wheat spelt four and 11 g baking powder. Stir in 200 g sliced strawberries. Pour in a loaf pan and bake 50-60 minutes at 170°C.

Last summer I knit an asymmetrical linen shawl with a sage green gradient yarn. When I tried it on right after binding off, I realized I would never wear it because it didn’t fit right. Discouraged, I cast it aside to deal with at a later date. Last week I started over again with the yarn. Just one more handle to go and then I’ll have a new bag for summer adventures.

A ray of light in a dark week: this radio interview with Dr. George Archibald, the co-founder of the International Crane Foundation in Baraboo, Wisconsin. The cranes of the world are mostly doing well thanks to his decades of advocacy and education in countries all around the world. There are no breeding pairs of cranes in Austria, but other species such as the Northern bald ibis (Geronticus eremita) and the Eurasian thick-knees (Burhinus oedicnemus) have benefited from the collective pause in human activity these past months. Though the ibis received no help in breeding this year due to coronavirus restrictions, it successfully nested in Salzburg on its own. I’ve seen them near the Konrad Lorenz Research Institute in Austria’s Almtal. With a beak reminiscent of the plague doctor’s mask, the ibis reminds me how birds are related to dinosaurs. The endangered Eurasian thick-knee has made headlines by breeding in an area that should be traversed by a highway east of Vienna. In February a court recently (and surprisingly) decided that the highway can’t be built because it would disrupt its breeding grounds.

Other rays of light reflect off these vegetables – ratatouille time is approaching.

May you be infected with calm, quiet, respect, and kindness!

Seams Nice

A flash of red out the window is one of the great spotted woodpeckers, which soon moves on to the next tree to search for something tasty.

Soon after, the yaffler arrives. There must be something about that tree because it gets a visit too.

There has been a lot in the news about the spread of COVID-19 at meat packing plants in the U.S. and Germany. In Austria, there has been spread among agricultural laborers from Eastern Europe who have been flown into the country despite COVID-19 because they will work for lower wages than Austrians would. Why is our system built on exploitation? How can we change it? What can you eat with a good conscience? Woodpeckers have it a lot easier than we do.

When I shop for strawberries, I only buy Austrian strawberries in season because they taste better and they come from nearby so have fewer food miles. This was easier when I lived in Graz because I only ever bought fruit at the farmers’ markets. In Vienna, I go to the supermarket because there are no farmers’ markets nearby. One supermarket carries Austrian strawberries in season and Spanish strawberries the rest of the year. I don’t know who picks the Austrian strawberries, but the supermarket strawberries grown in Spain are definitely picked by underpaid migrants. Since there were no Austrian strawberries available this week and KA didn’t want to come home empty-handed, he bought Spanish-grown strawberries. Their smell was aggressively in your face strawberry, and their texture was not that of a proper ripe berry. So I did something I rarely do: bake with strawberries.

Strawberry crisp: Slice 500g/1 pound strawberries and put in a baking dish. Mix 1 cup of rolled oats with 1/2 cup of ground almonds. Rub in 2 Tbsp butter and enjoy the even texture you get working with your hands. Cover the strawberries with the topping and bake in the oven for 40 minutes at 170°C/340°F or until fruit bubbles at the sides and the crisp is as golden brown as you like it.

Back in February, I finished knitting the pieces of a cardigan with an unusual construction. Last weekend, the spirit finally moved me to block and seam it. I took my time and am pretty satisfied with the seams. The merino-alpaca blend is so slinky that the cardigan refused to remain on a hanger for a picture. Wearing it feels like being wrapped in a soft blanket. It’s too warm now, but come fall it will keep me cozy. Certain Ravelers were unhappy with where the seams fall, and I get it. If I don’t tug the seams up onto my shoulders, the arms are too long and it feels odd. If I wear it out of the house, I will most likely need a pin to secure the generous collar together. I’m not sure I would recommend the pattern because of possible issues with fit, but it made for a pleasant knitting experience. It had been on my to knit list for years. Plus it was fun to knit something other than a top-down raglan; I proved to myself that I am capable of seaming sweaters and needn’t shy away from patterns with set in sleeves.

May you have a pleasant experience when trying something new!

And may someone please help me identify the tree in the picture above!

A Walk in the Weinviertel

The Rough Guide to Austria that I bought for my first visit in 2003 has this to say about the Weinviertel region: “The huge swath of Lower Austria that lies between the Danube and the Czech border is probably the least-visited area in the whole country. The northeastern half, the so-called Weinviertel, may be the country’s agricultural heartland and chief wine-producing region, but its flat, featureless landscape holds little of any great interest to the tourist.” But we’re not tourists anymore, are we? The age of tourism has come to an abrupt halt. Now we are all just people out for a walk and fresh air, with or without dogs, appreciating the landscape in which we find ourselves.

Landscape, meaning 2b: a portion of territory that can be viewed at one time from one place. Panorama is by definition superhuman and unsustainable, a perfectionist’s pipe dream.

As many Viennese do, KA’s sister moved here to get out of the city. Not attractive to tourists = affordable. At first I didn’t think much of this area, but as I become more familiar with it, its understated charms are winning me over.

At the start of our walk after lunch, there was a man with two large dogs, otherwise we were able to shapeshift from wary social distancers to a small band of humans treading lightly on the earth. Leisurely limping like a character in a Beckett novel, I paused to take pictures and fell behind the rest of the group. Our natural state is silence.

Concerning ivy, there seem to be two camps: those yearning to cut it down off of trees and those who greet its dark green leaves on the ground like an old friend.

If I ever have a house in the country, its colors will be off-white and dark brown with green and red. One day it too will decay.

Since our visits to this area are confined to weekend afternoons, I am not sure how those buildings that are lovingly kept up are actually used.

Wine cellars built into hills are fairly common here and in the northern part of Burgenland. They remind me of the sod houses built by European settlers on the prairies of the Great Plains.

Grapes have been cultivated near the Danube River in what is now Austria since at least 4000 BC. Nearly half of all grapes grown in the Weinviertel are Grüner Veltliner.

If our group had sat down with a bottle of Grüner Veltliner to toast our health and the spring, no one would have noticed except the birds.

Many might have found the sight of a tablecloth and fresh flowers without people uncanny, yet it was a serene scene.

High spring: elderberry and lilac blossoms; lovely golden-orange flowers on the bush whose name I never cease to forget.

Keep on straight ahead at the fork in the road, and you will reach the orchard. Stop to rest and listen to the leaves rustle in the breeze.

What did the great stay-at-homer Emily Dickinson have to say about orchards?

 

Some keep the Sabbath going to Church –

I keep it, staying at Home –

With a Boblink for a Chorister –

And an Orchard, for a Dome –

 

Some keep the Sabbath in Surplice –

I just wear my Wings –

And instead of tolling the Bell, for Church,

Our little Sexton – sings.

 

God preaches, a noted Clergyman –

And the sermon is never long.

So instead of getting to Heaven, at last –

I’m going, all along.

 

Find peace in the landscape in which you find yourself!

Linen Lessons

Greetings from the parallel universe of Vienna, where COVID-19 appears to be beating a retreat and things are slowly getting back to normal – plus those masks and minus any travel outside of Austria. The horse chestnut trees are in full bloom, branches and leaves rustling in the wind. It’s cool outside, and as much as I would like to let the fresh air in, a chill comes along for the ride too, so the windows have had to be shut. Today it is still wool weather, but by the weekend, linen may be welcome.

I was so pleased with the pigeon v-neck after I tried on the body. It would be loose and roomy but who wants a skintight pullover on a hot summer day? The neckline also turned out quite nicely, and I like the eyelet detail. Things fell apart when I finished the first sleeve. When I tried it on, the sleeve was too short and more importantly too tight. The proportions were jarring: loose billowy body plus fitted sleeves. Either everything should be close fitting, or everything should be loose; this is not a maternity sweater. (And while I am on my soapbox, I do not find that A-line tops flatter all women.)

It became clear I needed to frog and start over. My frustration was incredible since I have already tried out three or four different projects with this beautiful yarn: Sparrow. I love the color and struggle with how it is taking forever to find the right pattern. The silver lining: the linen has started to soften from being handled so often. I also know how it looks at different gauges because I have tried with U.S. sizes 3, 4, and 6. I was quite upset over the weekend. But all emotional drama eventually subsides. When it did, the only thing to do was to start over again. Now I am using a pattern I tried knitting years ago in cotton but abandoned when the armholes became too batwing for my taste. The chest circumference is smaller than that of the previous pattern and there are instructions for long sleeves, so I hope it will fit better and be more my style. I plan on incorporating eyelet rounds too.

It is common to need two different needle sizes when you knit with linen – one for knitting back and forth and one for knitting in the round. I knew this when I knit the red linen tee a few weeks ago, but I didn’t have the right circular needle so there is an abrupt change in gauge that looks like a design element (I hope). Pigeon v-neck 2.0 looks good so far. I started on a size 6 for the v-neck section and switched to a 7 when I joined to knit in the round. A part of me doesn’t like the looser gauge of this pattern, but I contradict myself: a week or so ago in a moment of weakness, I cast on for a crewneck sweater in laceweight linen. That sweater – should I complete it – will definitely have a loose gauge.

Linen starts out crisp then softens as it is used and washed, becoming better with age. Isn’t that a good image for how we are as human beings? We start out crisp, perhaps with rigid ways of seeing the world and great expectations. We peak physically some time in early adulthood, and then it’s on to worrying about skin, sarcopenia, and bone loss. As we become more experienced and go through the wringer of life, we soften and become less judgemental and more understanding of others. We eventually realize that there is more we don’t know than know and appreciate all gentleness and kindness that comes our way.

The grass just got cut and the starlings appeared shortly afterwards, looking for a snack. Many people do not like starlings, especially in the US where they are a non-native and invasive species. Yet they sing beautifully, as I have recently discovered by listening to them outside my window. When Mozart lived in Vienna, he had a pet starling. If you’re interested in a good story, check out Lyanda Lynn Haupt’s book Mozart’s Starling or this article on why we should learn to live alongside these underappreciated birds.

Wishing you a soft and gentle week with birdsong!

COVID Chronicles 8: Corona Buns

Just after the last blog post was published, a new bird came to visit: a common redstart (Gartenrotschwanz). I know very little about Phoenicurus phoenicurus and haven’t seen him since, but I was pleased that he posed so nicely for the camera. A part of me is sad about shops opening up and more people going back to work because I have enjoyed the more frequent and varied wildlife sightings. Yet last week I read an email from a friend that echoed my sentiments: She wishes she could just go shopping to look around and see what was there – not buy anything, not worry about covering up, just take a look. Unfortunately, it will still be a while before we can do that.

Reining in daydreams of browsing through stores with yarn and books, I pulled out some yeast and made panini di ramerino, rosemary raisin buns made in Tuscany on Holy Thursday. My original plan was to bake these on Easter Sunday, but at the last minute I decided I wanted a real holiday – even from baking or cooking – so Easter was a celebration of leftover (resurrected?) pizza. Ramerino is the Tuscan word for rosemary. In the spirit of avoiding food waste, I used some bought-fresh-but-dried-up-while-ignored sprigs that have been lying around for weeks. The dough rose beautifully. When I pulled the tray out of the oven, it struck me that with all those raisins poking out, each bun resembled a coronavirus. Let’s hope this delicious offering will appease the COVID-19 gods. The buns were so good I may bake them again as an excuse to use up the remaining desiccated rosemary.

Rosemary-raisin buns (from Heike Kügler-Anger’s Cucina vegana)

In a small bowl, crumble 42 g fresh yeast and mix with 1 Tbsp sugar and 50 ml lukewarm water until dissolved. Add 6 Tbsp flour. Let the mixture sit for 20 minutes.

In the meantime, soak 150 g raisins in water. Mix together 500 g flour (a third of which is whole wheat flour), 3/4 tsp salt, 1/4 cup olive oil, and 1 tsp dried rosemary. Add yeast mixture to the dough plus 200 ml lukewarm water and mix together. Drain the raisins well, add to the dough, and knead it until smooth. Let the dough rise 90 minutes.

Shape the dough into 8 round buns. Place on a baking sheet and let them rise 20 minutes. Bake 20 minutes at 180°C.

Taste tests in this apartment have indicated that the buns are good 1) alone 2) with white bean spread 3) with honey 4) with jam.

May you take something tasty out of your oven!

COVID Chronicles 7: Baking Alchemy

Maybe it’s easier to stay at home if you frame it as baking bread. For the recipe to turn out delicious, the dough must rest. But it’s not really resting. Critical chemical processes are at work below the surface. Bubbles form and burst, nudging the dough to grow and expand until it doubles in size. The ancient alchemists sought to transform “base” metals like lead into “noble” metals like gold. Modern cooks seek to change basic staples into tasty concoctions: flour, water, and salt into bread; flour, sugar, water, eggs, butter, raisins, and cherries into cake. After it emerges from the crucible of the oven, the end product is indeed greater than the sum of its parts.

Commonly grown in Austria and Germany, spelt (Triticum spelta) is an ancient form of wheat derived from emmer and goat grass that is higher in protein than wheat. Its flour is readily available in supermarkets here, and many claim it is easier to digest than standard wheat. The raisin-cherry Gugelhupf above is made with wholemeal spelt flour, as is the loaf below. Paging through my kitchen notebook, I found a spelt loaf recipe that I made a few times and liked. The recipe does not call for 100% wholegrain flour, but that is what I used, upping the amount of water by 30 ml. The loaf turned out moist, dense, and rich in flavor. I have been toasting it and slathering it with white bean spread for breakfast. I’ll also use it to make Welsh rarebit (cheddar and beer sauce).

Simple Dinkelbrot: Dissolve 1 package of dry yeast or one cube of fresh yeast (42 grams) in 300 ml lukewarm water. Stir in 500 grams spelt flour. Let it rise one hour. Knead briefly and put in a baking tin or loaf pan. Let it rise one more hour. Preheat the oven to 170° C/340° F. Bake 40 minutes.

Two more chapters to go, then I will have reached the end of my journey through Germany from 1919 to 1939. I have my neighborhood bookseller to thank for the discovery of Julia Boyd’s enthralling Travellers in the Third Reich. It chronologically pieces together descriptions of the Germans and Germany found in the letters, diaries, and other writings of English-speaking foreigners who spent time in Germany between the first and second world wars. Samuel Beckett and Virigina Woolf were there, as were Charles Lindbergh, W.E.B. Du Bois, Diana and Unity Mitford (Check out The Sisters: The Saga of the Mitford Family by Mary S. Lovellfor another good read that encompasses all the political turmoil of the first half of the twentieth century and then some within one family.), and many others. Boyd has also written books on Elizabeth Blackwell, the first woman to earn a degree from a medical college; the expat community in Beijing at the beginning of the 20th century; and Hannah Riddell, an Englishwoman who went to Japan as a missionary and became an advocate for lepers at the end of the 19th century. They all sound interesting and have been added to my booklist.

There have been two failed attempts to pick up the stitches around the v-neck of the cranberry pullover – apparently it’s not the right moment yet. The pigeon blue linen v-neck continues to grow. It is delightful to see the yarn coming out of the felted project bag I made while stashbusting last year.

May you experience an alchemical transformation while staying in place!