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I had a fun day last Saturday at the Sheep & Wool Festival in Rhinebeck, NY, with my knitting pals, Annie and Lil. I did not come home with a sheep, a yak, a goat or a sheepdog, though I was very tempted on the latter, but alas we have no sheep to herd. I did find three gorgeous skeins of yarn to finish a project I have been working on. This was a scarf that I had finished, but I thought it needed more to make it even more special, so I unbound it and am adding yarn to it. Backwards to go forward, that’s my knitting motto! After six hours of non-stop walking (including a bit of walking in circles as I have no sense of direction), I longed for a hot tub when I got home. The weather was unseasonably warm, and I had clocked a number of steps! There's a photo above of a sheep being fluffed; I am sure there is a correct term for this, but I am going with fluffed.

I do not like getting up in the dark. I clearly remember the days when we used to change the clocks the third weekend in October; I need the hour back that we gave up last March. NOW! Is anyone with me?

Last weekend was a wonderful bookish blur. Ron Chernow’s sold-out keynote presentation at the Morristown Festival of Books on Friday night was fabulous. For anyone who thinks that history is dry, spend an evening listening to Chernow and your mind will be changed. His talk was full of anecdotes about Ulysses S. Grant, those of him as a soldier, a general, a husband, a father, a leader and a president. He moved from one story to the next at a brisk pace that had the audience riveted. A copy of his book, GRANT, was part of the ticket price, and it was lovely to see attendees weighing the heft of the book, which clocks in at 1,104 pages, with reverence. My husband started reading it as soon as we got home. The crowd was completely engaged, and he was impressed with the questions that were asked. I agree. Clearly people were passionate about the subject matter --- one woman had been touring a number of sites where Grant had lived and traveled; another was related to a historical figure mentioned in the book. In fact, Chernow said that the questions brought up some nice memories from his research with what they referenced. Lovely evening. And he was very available to speak with guests at the sponsor party.

As many of you know, I love to cook. Many of my go-to cookbooks are written by Yotam Ottolenghi. His recipes are innovative, flavorful, surprising --- and, yes, they often challenge me, but the results are worth it. Last night, Nicole and I went to the 92nd Street Y for an event where he and his co-author, Helen Goh, talked about their collaboration, SWEET, which is a dessert cookbook. They were interviewed by Ruth Reichl. One of my favorite questions from the audience was what common kitchen utensil they each consider essential. For Yotam, it is a juicer and a microplane zester; he loves lemon, as do I. I probably would pick those two and a santoku knife that we have that I use for cutting everything, which makes my husband crazy, as he uses the right knife for each thing. For Helen, it was an offset spatula; she carries one with her all the time.

This week has been a total whirlwind; the quiet of summer seems so far away. But it’s brought me some moments that remind me why I love what I do.  

Yesterday morning started early with the Children’s Book Council Annual Meeting, where YA author Jason Reynolds was the featured speaker. I have heard a lot of authors speak through the years, but his talk will be remembered as one of the most inspiring and thoughtful ones. He spoke from the heart about his writing and interacting with his readers. What impressed me was the way he spends time trying to understand young people on their terms --- and he is adamant that everyone who works with kids does the same thing.