The baby is TWO!

I spent a good chunk of Saturday with Ali & the kids in one combination or another.

Yesterday, I drove out to their house with pizzas for lunch to celebrate Davy's second birthday!

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There's a video clip on IG wherein I finally captured Davy's adorable infamous cheeky side-eye grin. He does it a lot but it's never been recorded before! Ali made zucchini cake with some zukes from my garden... cream cheese frosting & sprinkles... mmmm!

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Ginny showed me some of the changes that have taken place at her Fairy House. I'm in love with that half-log!! Pinecone-on-a-stick is also quite charming.

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I couldn't pass up a Flo photo op! First of all, chickens never (hardly ever) stand still... and Flo least of all. Or so it seems... that feather hat she wears is rarely ever still!

It was a great weekend. I won't see the kids until we return from Scotland, and I've already promised a sleepover! Plus goodies from Scotland!!

We leave tomorrow! It's hard to say whether I'll pull off an actual post while we're gone. The best place to keep tabs would be IG!

 


Zucchini hunter

He came up empty-handed last night.

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What are the chances he missed a whopper? I'd say they're pretty good, based on experience! haha.

Things are beginning to look a little bedraggled.

Oh my goodness, what a difference a nap makes! I left work an hour early yesterday and slept for an hour-and-a-half... later than I usually like to take a nap, but I still went to bed early, too!

I'm a new woman this morning. Thank god.

 


Weekending

I set my alarm for Saturday morning -- a rare occurrence these past few years -- so I wouldn't be late for the workshop with Mel Kolstad at Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum, where I letterpressed my heart out for six hours!

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As predicted, I didn't glue down/collage a darn thing, but I have so much fodder for future work/play/inspiration. I was super into circles, guitars, chickens, and a particular dancing girl. The illuminated letter blocks are mine that I brought from home, along with some old tissue/pattern paper, and the photo postcard that now has a big chicken in the yard.

I snagged a couple of old card catalog & library cards, a receipt from a coffee shop in Taiwan, part of a map, and an image of some "underwater fairies" or something -- material that spoke to me. I also have a big bin of ephemera that I collected after my first workshop with Mel and, to be honest, take a bunch of the same to the curb every two weeks in the recycle bin!

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I have a feeling there may have been one or two of these bad boys right under my nose back in the late '70s/early '80s when I worked as a typesetter for a local shopping guide & print shop, along with some old wood type. No one cared! I came in at the beginning of "computer photo-typesetting" with dedicated computers for the task, fonts on film strips, paper that was processed with developer & fixer. There are a number of these at Hamilton, along with plenty of bigger & smaller models -- and the museum itself is full of historical machinery!

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I was assessing my printed materials yesterday and stumbled upon a starting point for next time! 

Also yesterday, Rusty & I got our 3rd Covid booster shots. I didn't get a nap, didn't sleep well last night, it's chilly & raining today (and yesterday), I didn't dress properly... and I'm FREEZING (even with the space heater at my feet on HIGH)!! And so tired. All related, I'm sure.

I better get myself used to it, as we're likely to experience the same in Scotland. I do hope we'll see some occasional sunshine, too. I've often read that it's typical to experience "all seasons" & "all weather" in a day!

 


What's up?

RIP, Queen Elizabeth II.

King Charles* just doesn't roll off the tongue like Prince Charles has for my entire life! I remember a period of time when it was rumored that Queen Elizabeth would skip him altogether in the line of succession. I don't know if she could really even do that, but such was his not-so-great standing for a while!

As is often the case these days, I'm thousands of miles away but broke the news to Kate, who was in a bit of a work bubble and unaware of what was going on in her own backyard! So to speak.

My mother would have been enthralled. A teenager when Elizabeth became queen, my mom was a "royal watcher." She watched (live) every possible second of Charles & Diana's wedding, Diana's funeral, William & Kate's wedding. She'd have loved George, Charlotte & Louis, the Platinum Jubilee!

It looks like we'll be arriving in Scotland just after the funeral. I'm okay with that.

Charles ... “to my darling mama.”
“I want simply to say this: Thank you. Thank you for your love, and devotion to our family and to the family of nations you have served so diligently all these years. May flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.”

I'm misty!

OK. So, besides that... WHAT'S UP??

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Yesterday, we met Ali & the kids at Ledgestone Vineyards & Winery for a fun evening of music. Rod's band was playing... he's the purple dude on the left.

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The grapes must be getting close!

Tomorrow, I'm heading over to the Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum in Two Rivers to exercise some creative chops at a workshop called "Cut & Color - Creating Collage with Vintage Cuts." I know the instructor, Mel Kolstad, and took a collage workshop from her several years ago. I may not have an actual finished project at the end of the day, but I'll be printing my little heart out and soaking it all in!

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Rusty continues painting "56 miles of ocean and sky..." which I still have not seen in person. I may get to accompany it to Mexico on the install trip, though. Hopefully in winter!!

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Kate is up to her eyeballs with work, but by the time we arrive she'll have finished the gallery gig on Calton Hill and work will be 100% virtual for various organizations... but totally on vacation while we're there. She tries to take a "nature day" once a week or so, and last week it was in the Pentlands!

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I'm looking forward to an Airbnb cleaning date with Ali next week, followed by lunch! It will be nice to have an undistracted visit with only her!! So far, the kids are doing great in school. Davy misses the kids during the day -- especially his big brother and sticks to him like glue after school! On Wednesday she shared the following about Malina: "The first thing she reports to me after school has been how many times she has cried 🥲. Today was ZERO!" Ginny is making loads of friends. Junah doesn't like doing homework. NO SURPRISES!!

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Maddy is settled back home in Australia... and planning an epic hike with Viv! The "little" 4-day hike at Pictured Rocks while they were here was just a primer for hiking the Bibbulmun Track in Western Australia. That's 1000+ km/623 miles and coming up in just a couple of weeks!

*As I'm writing this, multitasking in a bunch of different ways, including chatting with Kate, she writes: Just saw a tweet where someone was like “I’m not going to be able to say King Charles without adding Spaniel I’m afraid” 😂

Have a great weekend, everyone!

 


Unraveled Wednesday: Temperature Rising!

I'm joining Kat & the Unravelers today for Unraveled Wednesday...

KNITTING:

I've been working a bit on my Temperature Blanket project again! I posted this photo on IG last night:

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I've been knitting some rows in the color ZINNIA (= HOT!) and had just picked a vase of my own zinnias, so photo op!

Bonus photos for the blog (possibly later on IG):

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These photos make me so happy! I'm currently heading toward the end of August, in terms of time, and the days (if not the nights) are HOT, but getting shorter. I have around 150 rows to go on this panel.

READING:

By the time I received the paperback copy of The Lewis Man, I was already nearing the end, so only read a few pages from the actual book! I dove straight in to Book #3 of The Lewis Trilogy -- the paperback is in hand but proving a bit challenging as the chapters do not align. I'm making progress, though, as I had a few hours of listening in the car yesterday. I expect to finish by the time we depart for Scotland (13 days!), and will likely take This Golden Fleece: A Journey Through Britain's Knitted History for vacation reading (if any).

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I switched my day off this week so I could go to Madison yesterday for the funeral of Brian's mom, Doris. She died last month, just a few days after celebrating her 100th BIRTHDAY! She was born & raised in Maine and enjoyed a lovely birthday lunch of lobster rolls with some of her kids & grandkids. I really only met her a few times, but she's always felt like part of my extended family, too. She broke her hip about six months ago, which seemed to signal the end, and until that time had been in her own home. Cheers, Doris! RIP.

 


Unraveled Wednesday: Darning done

I'm joining Kat & the Unravelers today for Unraveled Wednesday (though not exactly linked because this post was scheduled in advance)...

KNITTING:

Viv's socks darned, done & dusted!

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Maddy's, too!

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Both pairs packed in Maddy's luggage, beginning the journey back to Australia today. Now summer really feels over! What a great time we've had!!

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Now that the mending is done...

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I have this back in my lap! This is my panel and I just turned the page to August... about three-quarters done!

READING:

I'm still awaiting the paperback copy of The Lewis Man, second book in The Lewis Trilogy by Peter May, so am currently only listening! Since I'm awaiting "pages," I've picked up This Golden Fleece: A Journey Through Britain's Knitted History again. I just finished a chapter about Scotland and the Highlands. Perfect timing. We're on our way in three weeks!

 


First Day = Best Day

"It was the best day of my life!"
--Junah

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Everyone was smiling at the end of the day! They all made friends! Most of them remember their teachers' names!

Can't ask for more than that. We had a lovely get together last night to hear about the kids' (and mom's) day. It was nice enough to eat outside -- flies were a nuisance, but we didn't let them ruin it. It was lovely (as captured above).

 


1st Day of School!!

This just in:

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The only tears shed were by Ali when she was riding her bike back home after dropping them off. (I was worried about Malina!) (Not a morning person!) I can't wait to head out there tonight so we can hear all about it!!

 


Friday!!

Yay! It always seems like such a long week when I have Monday off...

Is Flashback Friday still a thing? Remember this from two years ago?

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Safe At Home... for Davy, but it was still a few weeks before he was born!

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Making progress through my modified (of course) chart.

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I hadn't begun sewing up the rows yet.

That was such a great project. I still have a couple of Safe At Home pillows on my To-Do List. Ducky was a mere 10 days old at this time, too! I was measuring cushions & windows, and buying new foam & fabrics.

What a crazy time. There was little discernable change in my day-to-day home/work bubble (other than an epic knitting project and a travel trailer in the driveway), but the "outside world" was certainly different.

Anyway. My mammoth sunflower bloomed!

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You may have seen it on IG, but I couldn't get the entire photo to fit! Here it is in all its glory... Rusty thinks at least 9' tall. (I'm terrible at estimating height, length, distance... you name it.)

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Maddy's taking off for Stevens Point this evening with her friend Katy to attend a wedding this weekend.

Rusty continues work on a 25' long commissioned painting -- I haven't seen it yet in person but hope to make it up to his studio this weekend. He's posted some progress pics on IG.

I will be darning the last sock, soaking & blocking a new swatch, and hopefully doing some sewing.

Have a wonderful weekend!!

 


Unraveled Wednesday: FO

I'm joining Kat & the Unravelers today for Unraveled Wednesday...

KNITTING:

I've finished the dishcloths! The photos were taken in this morning's pale light... it's changing; I'm seeing a few colorful leaves and even some falling leaves, too.

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I had seven hanks of Rowan Handknit Cotton and knit a cloth from each, plus a scrappy willy-nilly Log Cabin-inspired cloth to use it all up.

  • My Ravelry Project Page: Nai-Nai's Favorite 
  • Pattern: Nai-Nai's Favoriteu by Ali Crockett
  • Yarn: Rowan Handknit Cotton (Aubergine, Raspberry, Sea Foam, North Sea, Feather, Slate, Blushes)
  • Needles: US 7
  • Start to Finish: July 16-August 23, 2022

The Aubergine cloth was already given away to Maddy's friends Katy & Andrés.

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I'm going to send a couple home with Maddy, take a couple to Scotland for Kate, and give a couple to Ali, and that leaves one for me!

READING:

I finished The Blackhouse and immediately started the second book in The Lewis Trilogy by Peter May, The Lewis Man. I'm both listening and reading again -- or will be as soon as the used paperback arrives (by the end of the week, I hope). There are some familiar characters but already very different story(ies).

 


Weekending

I had a long weekend because of a schedule change at work. And today I'm staring at the calendar in disbelief... are we really only a week + a day away from the end of August??

Already???

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I had three big kids over on Sunday night for the last (ugh) sleepover of the summer!

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I delivered them home in time for orientation & pics at school. Ali had packed their backpacks on Sunday night, and they took all their stuff to school yesterday. We plan to head out there with pizzas next Monday, after their official First Day, and so that they can bid farewell to Maddy... I take her to ORD a week from tomorrow (ughhhhh!).

In other weekend news...

BEFORE:

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DURING:

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AFTER:

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That job took ALL DAY! We figure it's been 30+/- years since our major bathroom overhaul (there have been a few minor overhauls since then), and that brass faucet has looked awful for 25 of those years... I'll spare you the close-up. It started dripping a week or so ago and was deemed "unfixable," so I got to go shopping for a replacement!

Rusty ended up doing a lot of sawing to remove all the old stuff, but the sink came through unscathed, and there was only one incidental trip to the hardware store!

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One of my favorite features is that the faucet swivels! It's also taller and that makes it easier to fill my Waterpik*. The faucet handles also sit a little higher (and they're not so pudgy), so it's easier to turn on the cold water without knocking the soap into the sink.

I was so excited that I didn't even wipe out the sink before taking photos and had to do a little "cleaning" with Photoshop!

Next up: I was also authorized (by the guy who'd rather do almost anything other than plumbing) to buy a new kitchen faucet! That'll be a project for another day -- not today, but soon. Very soon.

*A couple of dentist appointments ago, my hygienist suggested a Waterpik after I complained (once again) about how difficult it is to floss: crooked/jammed together teeth, a small mouth. I go to the dentist more frequently than most because of periodontal maintenance... I have deep pockets (not the kind I'd really like, unfortunately) and I know that flossing would be very beneficial. Anyway, I bought a Waterpik that day... and used it a few times. When I 'fessed up at my next appointment, she said that adding just a little bit of mouthwash might jazz it up a little, but my dentist said something that really stuck with me; he said to 'use it until you can't live without it.' I vowed then to use it every day until the next appointment. I offered myself a little reward of new sandals if I kept it up... which I purchased in advance so I could wear them in Denver! Then I really had to make good on my "vow," and I DID! #1, I definitely got to the point where I couldn't live without it -- I even took it to Denver! My teeth never felt so polished for so long between actual polishing. #2, At my appointment last month, my "pockets" improved -- every single one -- by at least 1mm, and some even more. So I continue to use it every day and plan to take it to Scotland, too!

 


A busy day off

Laundry on the line. Helping Rusty with a home improvement job. More laundry (eventually also on the line). Weeding and pruning. Mending some of Rusty's jeans. Cleaning out some crap (i.e., filling a bag for donation). Ironing. Kiddos over for haircuts. More laundry (at Ann's). Knitting. Other than missing nap time, it was a pretty good day off!

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I shared this photo with Kate yesterday and she responded, "This vacation is BYON -- Bring Your Own Napkins!" You might recall that she chose some fabric at Fancy Tiger Crafts when we were in Denver so I could make her some "housewarming" napkins, and I plan to make delivery next month! I expect to get about eight napkins from each piece that we bought -- this white w/black lines and coordinating black w/white lines -- so she should be set! I bought a tablecloth on clearance ($4) at Target last year and plan to make a few napkins from that to replace some worn ones in my own drawer!

I'm planning to make them with mitered corners and there are a ton of videos out there, but if anyone has a FAVORITE method for mitered corners, I'm all ears.

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My sister Ann wanted to buy the kids backpacks for starting school. Malina's & Junah's arrived yesterday... and I just had to giggle when Malina put hers on. Is she wearing the backpack or is it wearing her?? haha. Ginny's ought to be here by the time they're here again on Sunday for a sleepover (I have Monday off next week instead of Wednesday).

It was gorgeous yesterday, so a lot of time was spent outside, and the kids' haircuts were done on the driveway in the shade of the garage. We weren't always outside, though, and I had to laugh when I walked through the living room and saw this scene on the couch...

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...they're usually on a bookshelf in the front room.

And then I absolutely did laugh aloud when I walked into the bedroom and saw this:

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Ginny had asked me earlier in the day about wearing earrings... that she knew how to do it even though she didn't have holes in her ears... so I suspect that she was behind this!

(I'm on the second-to-last chapter of The Blackhouse... about an hour of listening time. I expect to finish tonight!)

Finally, there was plenty of chalk art on the driveway yesterday.

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It's Spongebob... with TWO HANDS (on each side) and lots of legs... à la Malina!

 


May all your weeds be wildflowers

There's another round of weeding in my future, particularly in front of the house where one of the ash trees was removed a couple of years ago and where I haven't done much since.

I can't be sad about some of the "weeds" in my garden, though.

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But the ugly weeds have to go -- some of them even have pickers!

I patched Ali's sock heel last night.

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Ali & kiddos will be over tomorrow afternoon -- after Ginny's school orientation -- for off-to-school hair trims. Picture day is Monday already! And the first day of school is a week later. The kids are SO excited. It'll be nice to give Ali her sock (I hope she hasn't misplaced its mate).

Anyway, I did the prep work for one of Viv's heels last night, too, so darning will commence this evening!

Update: Monday's mood improved late in the day, and Tuesday started a-okay!

 


A Monday-est Monday

It started out not-so-great and, despite a glimmer or two, it's not getting better... yet!

Back in my more verbose days of blogging -- much more stream-of-consciousness days of writing -- the very act could sometimes turn a blue mood around. Maybe that's still true. Let's find out!

Maddy returned from Milwaukee with another friend in tow -- Genie traveled from Ireland to the States to attend a reunion of Girl Scout Camp counselors. They took off yesterday for a few days of fun -- this time as camp attendees. I hope they all have a blast!

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Maddy also delivered her cross-stitch pillows to their recipients over the weekend, so I can show you the fronts!

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And a back! She was happy to show me her neatness... which she learned from me, and I from my mother, and my mom from hers! Mom, Grandma & Great Grandma are/would be pleased.

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Here are a couple of close-ups of the fronts, plus an action shot!

I started my sock mending project over the weekend, first by working duplicate stitch over a worn spot on one of Maddy's heels -- it wasn't a hole yet, but it wouldn't be long. Preventive maintenance, let's say. These are all 100% superwash merino worsted-weight socks which I'm mending with doubled 75%/25% superwash merino/nylon fingering-weight (sock) yarn; all yarns dyed by me. Hopefully those patches will hold up.

(I won't be knitting 100% wool socks for anyone again!)

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Then I tackled an actual hole.

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The black patch is the "preventive" stitching. The multi-colored patch was done using Swiss Darning, which is also sort of duplicate stitch -- it's worked the same, even if there isn't an existing stitch to duplicate. I watched a few YouTube videos and didn't really find a favorite, but I got the gist of it. I think for the first time ever, I used one of my darning eggs for its intended purpose!

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Both of Viv's socks have quite large holes and will take some concentration. First, I'm tackling a small repair on one of Ali's socks. I was intimidated by that repair, which is why it's been sitting for a while (months), but it's pretty small in comparison and piece o' cake!

Well, I'm not sure that I feel better... but I don't feel worse, so I guess that's a win! Hope you're having a good Monday!!

 


Walking

Our trip to Scotland is coming up in about 5 weeks, and preparations continue!

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Our Historic Scotland membership materials arrived yesterday. As members, admission to many of the places we want to visit will be free -- and we've already booked entry times for the most popular sites. I bought memberships for Rusty & myself, and also for Lady Kate! (I couldn't help myself when that title was presented in the dropdown menu options!) I have coordinates for her 10x10 plot -- it's not too far off our main route, and I really hope we'll have time to visit.

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I added over 5 miles to my North Coast 500 virtual walk yesterday and am approaching Scrabster, where we'll catch the ferry to Orkney! We booked all the ferries and finalized accommodation last weekend. I might be a little short of closing the loop before we depart, but I'm okay with that. I think it would be cool to log a few miles in actual Scotland! (Also, doesn't Glengolly sound like a fun place to visit? I might have to poke* around.)

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Three-point-two of yesterday's miles came from a morning hike along the Niagara Escarpment on the Red Bird Trail at nearby High Cliff State Park. We wanted to go early in order to beat the heat/humidity, and I'm sure glad we did! I was trying out new hiking shoes and poles, and I'm happy to say that they both passed! I got used to the poles without any problem and with few adjustments (turns out my left pole needs to be a little shorter than the right). We'll be doing a lot of driving in Scotland, but there will be plenty of opportunity for some hikes, too.

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We found a few interesting fungi specimens on our hike yesterday. This photo reminds me of a rugged, mountainous landscape in miniature.

After a shower and a nap, I helped Maddy make a couple of cross-stitch pieces into pillows! I just happened to have the correct size/shape pillow forms, and the backing is material leftover from making cushions for Ducky.

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I measured, cut & sewed, and Maddy did the stuffing & final stitching. They are gifts for a couple, and though the stitched designs are quite different, I love that they'll coordinate. I'm under strict orders not to post the fronts until they've been delivered to recipients later this week!

*Have you ever used Pegman in Google Maps to have a look around? If you click on Pegman (bottom right) you can drag him to an area that you want to explore. You're looking to drop him on a blue line, or a blue 0r orange dot -- places where the Google car has been, or where people have shared photos. When you're finished, click "back" at the top left.

 


About last month

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I shared some photos on IG/FB yesterday from our photo date with Mary last month... these are different. Looking at these, you'd never imagine what a struggle it was to get Junah to wear that shirt! Davy's patience was MIA. At the end, we all grabbed an ice cream treat (incentive for the kids to cooperate) and met at the end of the street -- just as it started to rain and Malina was not happy about the thunder!

 


Maddy to myself

Everyone has departed for (their current) home except Maddy. Rusty's been away this week, too, teaching in Door County, which means I've had Maddy all to myself and, wow, it's sure been nice. I can't remember the last time that's happened. It's especially nice since she's the one I've seen the least over the past few years due to distance (and, especially, Covid travel restrictions).

This week, among other things, we've run errands, had lunch out at a nice restaurant, knit & stitched together, cleaned (both Airbnbs) together, cooked & eaten together, sat for a chat on the pergola (with beverages)... it's been great! (Have I said that already?)

She's even cooked & baked:

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Last night's Spring Rolls with Peanut Sauce. Oh, so fresh. It was so hot -- mostly humid -- yesterday, and this was perfect. Light, fresh & cool.

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This is one of my favorite pictures of the summer so far! Maddy with her BFF Katy and partner Viv on the 3rd of July, having just returned from celebrating the 4th with Katy's family in Door County, and just before departing on their hike at Michigan's Pictured Rocks.

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Maddy & Katy have been friends for a long time! This is before we built the garage! And not the first/last backyard clothesline tent soiree. Aren't they adorable?

Tonight we're getting together with Ali for dinner out... and TRIVIA! haha!

 


Unraveled Wednesday: More dishin'

I'm joining Kat & the Unravelers today for Unraveled Wednesday...

KNITTING:

Continuing with the (now) near-mindless dishcloth knitting!

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I finished the Aubergine cloth last night and the Raspberry was last weekend's project, joining the first one in Sea Foam. Maddy & I have been watching TV and working on our projects most evenings (when she's around), and these are perfect for that. She's working on a cross-stitch piece for her friend.

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I still have four hanks of Rowan Handknit Cotton in my basket -- North Sea, Feather, Slate & Blushes -- along with a little bit leftover from each cloth, so may do a wild & crazy version at the end to use it all up!

This weekend, I'm planning to darn holes in the pile o' socks from Maddy, Viv & Ali. When the dishcloths are done, I'll get back to the Temperature Blanket. And my Musselburgh is still around here somewhere... I'm thinking that will be perfect Scotland vacation knitting!

READING:

I am also continuing reading/listening to The Blackhouse.


I'm slow in the best of times, and things are still "busier" than usual around here, but I'm making progress... a big secret was revealed during this morning's commute!

 


Eye Candy Friday

My first-ever sunflower!

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There's another one right behind it, and a "mammoth," too. Focus isn't the best, as there was a breeze last night. (It's been so great to have the air conditioner off and windows open!)

Have a great weekend!

 


Unraveled Wednesday: dishcloth edition

I'm joining Kat & the Unravelers today for Unraveled Wednesday...

KNITTING:

I knew that my blanket project would not be suitable "up north" knitting, and didn't think my Musselburgh on DPNs would work all that well, either. 

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When the #mdkdishclothkal was first announced, I knew I wanted to participate, and ordered some Rowan Handknit Cotton. Trust me, I have plenty of Peaches & Cream and didn't need more cotton yarn, but I was interested in knitting dishcloths in a lighter weight. It might be sacrilege, but I'm not really a fan of P&C dishcloths... they're a handful!

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I'm knitting Nai-Nai's Favorite, which I believe I read about at Vera's. I love the textures!

As you know, it's been busy around here and my concentration hasn't been spot-on, so there are a few little mistakes here and there... but if there's one place I can overlook those, it's on a dishcloth!!

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I'm excited to finish and use it! It does indeed feel... less of a handful. So far. Stay tuned.

READING:

I am currently reading/listening to The Blackhouse by Peter May. It's the first of a trilogy set on Scotland, specifically the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides.

 

I believe I first heard about these books in a post of Kat's, and Kate just happened to have traveled with a paperback copy... which she happily left with me! I also wanted to listen, and it's worked so well for me when I bounced back and forth between pages & audio with Young Mungo and Firekeeper's Daughter. The chapter numbers are shifted by one, but that's easy to track.

Anyway, I'm enjoying it so far, especially because we'll be spending a few days on Lewis & Harris in September!

 


Whirlwind winding down

We had a great weekend up north!

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There was a lot of time in the water -- jumping off the dock, kayaking, canoeing -- sitting on the porch, a little shopping with kiddos (break time for Ali), and some creative pursuits.

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Kate brought activity books & sparkly crayons, and what a hit they were! Rusty sat in the shade and made a little watercolor of the cabin for my Uncle Jim. His place is loaded with art of all sorts from various family members.

There was so much cuteness...

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Maddy & Viv gave Kate & Ali these great hats from Australia.

We drove up on Thursday, returned on Sunday. On Monday, Kate & I drove down to Chicago in preparation for her departure on Tuesday. We went on the Chicago Architecture Center's River Cruise for the first time, and we both learned a lot. It was great to see some of the iconic buildings from a slightly different perspective, too. We went all out and stayed at Sofitel, where I'd opted for a slight upgrade previous to arrival, but learned that our upgrade had been upgraded upon arrival. Oh my. We had a lovely suite and it worked out so great because Kate had to get up early on Tuesday to do a little work prior to departure.

I dropped her off at O'Hare and made only two stops on the way home, arriving late afternoon. Maddy had wanted Viv to experience a Wisconsin supper club, so we took the opportunity to go to George's Steak House -- an iconic establishment here for almost 100 years! None of us had ever been, though it had long been on my list. We were not disappointed... CHECK!

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On Wednesday night, Rusty & I prepped Annie's house for guests arriving the next day, while Maddy & Viv made dinner for us. After dinner, we all went down to Hydro Park for the Wednesday night concert... this week happened to feature one of Rod's bands! There was dancing and lots of "sword fights" with long blades of decorative grass. What a group.

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Maddy & Viv left for Milwaukee yesterday to stay with Katy & Andrés for the night, making the trip to O'Hare a little easier for Viv's departure today. I think she's boarded her flight as we speak. Maddy will be spending the weekend with her friends there before returning here on Sunday -- we get her for another whole month, more or less!

The house is going to be quiet this weekend, about which I have mixed feelings. I miss my peeps! (Only 1 month + 28 days until we go to Scotland, though, so there's that to look forward to.)

I had a book club meeting last night. We discussed my YA-themed pick, Firekeeper's Daughter. You may recall that I'd asked for recs for a YA read last month, and there were a LOT of good ones! I picked this book, recommended by Kym, mainly because of its setting in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and to learn a bit more about Anishinaabe culture, which is also relevant to my geographical location. It did not disappoint, and there was lively discussion. I had forgotten that I already had the Audible version of this book, no doubt on another recommendation, when I ordered the paperback, so I was able to both listen & read the book -- it was helpful with some of the native terms that were used throughout the book. I know quite a few people who are reading or have read this book!

We didn't know it, but a trivia contest started right about the time we finished our meal & discussion, and five of us decided on the spot to stay & make a team! It was so fun!! We were floored to learn at halftime that we were in 3rd place! In the end, we ended up 4th -- and that was more than any of us expected. Out of the money, but chuffed!

I hope you have a great weekend!

 


July

I have experienced the same photo-loading hiccups that Kym recently wrote about in relation to using Typepad as a blogging platform. I've reloaded, muttered, and muddled through for a while. I told her "...there's no way I'll ever have the time/energy to transfer 18+ years of blabbering and make it look nice. I'd have to archive and start over... or quit. (!!!!!)."

A WEEK PASSES... during which I've archived my blog (again), while I consider making a move. That part was easy.

In the process, I discovered that I wrote ONE SINGLE SOLITARY BLOG POST in all of May!! I have looked back in disbelief a few times, but there's still only one post.

The moving? I don't know when that will happen because right now, I am burning the candle on both ends, as well as in places not meant to be set on fire!

But here we are, closing in on mid-July, and... I've never had a month with ZERO posts.

So... HELLO!! HOW ARE YOU ALL??

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Maddy, Viv & Rusty all arrived on June 27th, which you know because I did blog about that, if ever so briefly! Ann's month-long guests vacated her house on June 30th (so I cleaned it), and Ann & family came up on July 2nd. I drove down to Chicago on the 4th of July to pick up Kate. I worked three days last week, with get-togethers every night in some combination or other. I also had a dentist appointment in there somewhere, a couple of lunches out, trips to get paint & plants & groceries.

The photo above is from "Breakfast On The Farm (at Ali's)" on Sunday. Rusty's touting the t-shirt the girls had made for him... after I shared the FB/IG ad with them. It really is perfect. Ali had one made for Rod, too, and it's adorable!

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On Sunday evening, everyone came over for a photo shoot! That's a quick screen grab that our photographer shared with Ali while she was making her first pass through of all the images. Bodes well, I think, for what's to come.

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Looks like a party is going on at that Airbnb!! haha.

On Monday, we all got together at Ann's to enjoy "Breakfast for Dinner." Mimosas! One of their older sons came up from Madison, and it was great to see him -- it's been quite a few years since some of these cousins have seen each other. I wish I'd thought to grab the littles for this photo op. It was so fun hanging out on their front porch!

Annie was able to spend more than a week at her house -- much of it solo, as Brian & the boys had activities & appointments in Madison. She putzed & puttered & had a great time! It was so cool to walk over for a visit. We said our goodbyes on Monday, as they left yesterday morning for a few days at a friend's place up north, and Ann will be flying back to Peru on the 18th. The boys will be stateside a week or so longer, during which time we may or may not see them! (I'm cleaning their house for guests this Fri-Sun, then readying again for guests 7/21-8/1, so not much "unoccupied" time).

We're heading up north (a different up north) tomorrow, returning on Sunday. We're looking forward to a slower pace, pine trees, the lake, canoeing & kayaking, and (mostly) unplugging! Then on Monday, Kate & I are going to Chicago, as she departs on Tuesday! Yes, I am looking forward to spending the night at a luxury hotel and eating some very fine food while we're there!

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Maddy & Viv (and occasional guests) have been staying in our Airbnb, so that's been a nice break with everything going on. They had a GREAT hike last week, Tuesday-Friday, at Pictured Rocks, feeling empowered upon their return... and with only a couple of blisters. It only rained one night (the first). Maddy & Viv are gearing up for a big hike in New Zealand in a few months.

I've spaced out more than once recently, including completely forgetting what I did with M&V's Christmas gifts! It finally dawned on me one morning as I was waking up, and of course they were in the most logical place they could be! It's just that that's not where I remembered last seeing them. Lordy. Among the gifts was the watercolor of one of their chooks, nicknamed "Goopy Boot" because of a bung foot. Maddy had posted a great photo of her on IG in November, which is when I suggested a portrait be made! So Rusty did that and I gathered some other little items, but never got them posted in time for the holidays, or even after the holidays... and then, y'know, their visit was imminent (5 months or so). Anyway, a few days after their arrival here, they learned of Goopy Boot's passing, so I really needed to locate the loot! They were so happy to have such a lovely reminder of this little hen that they loved so much. Yes, there were tears.

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We've all taken great interest in watching a spider spin his web every night on the back porch. He's living inside the bell of a windchime hanging out there. It's mesmerizing and relaxing to watch.

Because it's been/is a coupla weeks, y'all! And I really wouldn't have it any other way.

 


Weekending

I'll cut right to the chase...

OH, HAPPY DAY!!!

I drove down to Milwaukee yesterday afternoon to pick up Maddy & Viv. They had a nice couple of days there at Maddy's friends' (Katy & Andres) new house to "land" and plan/prep for a hike at Pictured Rocks that Maddy, Viv & Katy will be doing next weekend.

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Ali happened to be at a pond-side outdoor family-friendly gig that Rod's band plays at each year and the timing was perfect for stopping by on our way through. You can see how that went!

Rusty arrived home at about the same time we did, following his month-long trek to Oregon & Northern California. Ann & her family arrived in Madison on Saturday and we'll see them soon. I pick up Kate at ORD a week from today.

THE CONVENING HAS COMMENCED!

 


A barn

It might not surprise you to learn that I have a shortcut to Kate's page on Colossal. She frequently edits the daily email, but exercises her writing chops every now and then, too.

Occasionally, I click over to see what's new. Today, I was bowled over by a barn and I just had to share!

GO SEE/READ!!!

Here's a video preview:

It's a stunning project, and I can't wait to see more as it progresses.

 


Weekending

Perhaps I should rename my blog... Random & Weekending & Occasional Unraveling. heh.

It was a GLORIOUS weekend! The weather was just right -- 70s, sunny, breezy -- and we needed that so much, especially on a weekend. Today & tomorrow we're back in the mid-90s (with dew point close to 70 - ugh), and in the 80s otherwise as far as I can see. I took my cue from the weather and mowed lawns on Saturday morning.

Ali came over with the kids around mid-morning and they hung out while I took a shower, and then we all headed out to Target! I've never been shopping with four kids before... I can't even think of a time when I went with all three of mine at one time (at least not without protest -- Maddy hated shopping!). We survived! No meltdowns, no tears, not even very much whining... though Ginny is super stealthy, just casually adding things to the cart.

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I took a good number of photos over the weekend and it's hard to choose a favorite... but this might be it, even though not everyone is showing their best photogenic self! Actually, I didn't even take that photo... Ali did!

Junah had some cash burning a hole in his pocket, and LEGO was on his mind.

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He got busy building as soon as we got back, barely breaking to eat a hot dog for lunch.

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I bought some craft stuff and the girls were busy with that. Ginny was delighted to learn how to mix red & blue paint to make purple, not to mention yellow & blue to make green!

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(Malina had just eaten an ice cream sandwich!) There's a fun series of selfies with Davy on IG, and a few other photos/selfies of/with the kids.

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Sidewalk chalk & bubbles came out, we traipsed through the back yard & garden... it was a lovely day!! And I even had time for a nap.

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Sunday began with coffee in the Garden Room.

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Then I put together an IKEA shelf that I've had hanging around for too long, and did a very little bit of rearranging in the Garden Room to fit it in.

I puttered, did some cleaning -- and cleaning out -- and then met my current Airbnb guests at the pergola for a beverage and a nice chat. She was a brand new elementary teacher about the time we moved to Appleton, and it turns out she was one of Michael's! I told him that I hoped she was a nice teacher, and he said he'd remember if she wasn't!

Maddy & Viv start their journey today! It's very early Tuesday morning in Australia right now, and about 12 hours from the first leg. Unfortunately, the friends they were going to visit in Seattle for a few days have Covid, so there had to be some last-minute rearranging of plans. They'll end up staying a night at a hotel in Seattle before catching a flight to Chicago, then making their way to Milwaukee to visit with other friends for a couple of days. I'll be driving down there to pick them up on Saturday or Sunday -- whatever they decide. Bonus is a day or two extra here! I reminded her that the #1 requirement for travel right now is PATIENCE -- stay calm & cool & roll with it -- but I hope she doesn't have to tap that well. At least they don't have to worry about tests -- NZ just dropped their requirement yesterday. I also reminded her that we survived Aer Lingus/Detroit... thus, can handle anything! It's a packed itinerary: Orange > Sydney > Auckland > Los Angeles > Seattle > Chicago > Milwaukee > HOME! That's over 6-7 days, total, and not all of it by air, but still a lot. If you can send some GOOD TRAVEL JUJU their way, it would be appreciated! I shall be monitoring it all from here. haha.

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Finally, my catalpa tree exploded in blooms over the weekend!

I hope you had a great weekend, too!

 


Right Now...

June 2022.

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Admiring... peonies! This is one of Ann's.

Anticipating... a houseful of people in 2+ weeks!

Celebrating... my son-in-law Rod's birthday was yesterday, and can you believe that he & Ali will be celebrating their 9th wedding anniversary next week??

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And Mack is going to be SEVENTEEN tomorrow! Time, time, time... why you gotta go so fast??

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Drinking... the occasional ice-cold sparkling beverage (with or without spirits) using some recently made Rhubarb-Basil Shrub! It was especially refreshing last night after mowing TWO lawns, and nearly gone by the time I remembered to take a photo. I mixed the shrub with sparkling water and it was the palest pink... so pretty.

Enjoying... day-off naps. They've become a highlight! One recent day, I got out of bed in the morning and then crawled right back in... and got my nap in early that day!

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Knitting... the next row on this/my panel is #405! I'm approaching "the end of May 1959," the "nighttime" stitch count is 19 now -- almost exactly 1/3 of the daytime number -- and there's only one more decrease before the nights start getting longer again!

Looking forward to... getting the upstairs (Airbnb) bathroom floor painted while Maddy & Viv are "here" but off on an adventure for a few days.

Needing... to get Organizing... my workroom... always and forever!

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Planning... our trip to Scotland later this year. Kate & I will be putting our heads together in a few weeks to try and hash out what's reasonable. Our vacations -- especially to places like Scotland -- tend to be road trips and I'm using an app called Wanderlog to plot the course, which is extremely ambitious at this point and involves a few ferries. The ferry schedules alone are a trip, as both frequency and time can vary depending on the day of the week! One of my favorite things about the app is that it will "optimize the route," so it's easy to add whatever cairns, castles, standing stones and beaches we might be interested in without having to figure out the best way to get there myself. We'll see. So far, we have plane tickets, a rental car, and a hotel for one night in Inverness! So much more to do... Luckily, we'll be staying at Kate's for the few days in Edinburgh.

I've also purchased plane tickets for a trip to meet Kate in London around my birthday! It'll be a quick trip, the main impetus being an exhibition at the Fashion + Textile Museum -- Kaffe Fassett: The Power of Pattern. The only other thing I really want to do in London is visit Harrod's. I'm sure that ideas will emerge.

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Pondering... this bird nest situation at Ann's! Lordy, that is a high, narrow ledge on which to build a home & raise a family!

Reaching... Ullapool! I have just a little over 40% of the North Coast 500 virtual walk under my belt, and from "here" (heading north) it's all new to me!

Sewing (mending)... NOTHING! Maddy & Viv will be bringing home hole-y socks, plus I have one of Ali's, so maybe at least some darning will get done!

Watching... Shameless. Whoa. I'm sure this series isn't for everyone, but I'm enjoying it quite a bit. There are 11 seasons and I'm only a few episodes in with S2... so it'll be a while! William H. Macy has been nominated for 6 Emmys for his role as Frank Gallagher and it's not hard to see why. I'm also recording & watching (when time allows) MasterChef Back To Win, MasterChef Junior, and So You Think You Can Dance... I just can't help it.

But last night, y'all. I wasn't expecting to be so riveted by the first Jan. 6 House Committee hearing! I thought I'd wait & catch the highlights, but Ms. Cheney drew me right in and I could not turn away.

Wondering... What's up with you right now!? And wishing you a great weekend!

 


Weekending

I had an unexpected last-minute Airbnb booking late Thursday afternoon for the weekend, so had to abandon my Duolingo practice and spring into action to get ready for a Friday arrival! I might have finally learned that I need to be prepared for anything!

That done, I crossed a bunch of other stuff off my list over the weekend, and it feels so good! There are still a couple of stragglers, but I'll get to them soon... after I ready the Airbnb for the guests arriving on Wednesday! (There's no rest for the wicked, as my mother would say.)

One of the things I accomplished over the weekend was buying and planting plants in our decorative planters.

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You may have seen my post about that on IG over the weekend. I've had this wicker fern stand forever, and it's always been on the back porch, but it's never held a plant of any kind. The cats loved it and would jump up and nap inside... especially after Rusty made it cozy with old porch pillows and a rug. We'd even spot cats in there that weren't even ours!

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Not our cat!! We nicknamed this one Ferdinand!

It's been a while since it's been used as a cat bed, though, so I decided to buy some plants.

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You can hardly see it now in its spot under the Marriage Window...

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...but once these incredibly bright coleus grow a bit, it'll be easier to spot!

I was pleasantly surprised to find that I can enjoy that planter from a couple of other vantage points.

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This is from the other side of the Marriage Window... as things grow, I may have to move it a bit!

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And this is from one of the kitchen windows... it's visible from three of four!

I have the need to mention -- just in case you've missed it -- that Maddy & Viv will be showing their faces here THREE WEEKS FROM TODAY!! I cannot wait to hug m'girls!! And I'll be driving down to Chicago, FOUR WEEKS FROM TODAY (yes, on the 4th of July), to pick up Kate!!

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Oh, quick favor... I'm looking for recommendations for a YA read. It can be any genre, even part of a series, preferably not terribly long. Thank you in advance!

 


Unraveled Wednesday: Slow goin'

I'm joining Kat & the Unravelers today for Unraveled Wednesday...

KNITTING:

I've made some progress on my Temperature Blanket since last we met, even though I've barely knit a stitch in a week.

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I had "turned a page" on my chart, though, just before this little break, and that means I'm about half-way through my panel... heading into "the summer of 1959," and the colors will be shifting.

Work is very slow on Musselburgh. Though I cast it on for traveling, it never saw the light of day in Denver. It's been my project for group knitting, and there hasn't been a whole lot of that, either. I'm thinking Christmas for this project, so there's time... and I'm excited about the first color change taking place!

READING:

YOUNG MUNGOI should be finished just in time for next week's discussion!

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One thing that's not slow going right now is anything in my backyard! My Blue Angel Hosta went from this...

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...to this...

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...in less that a month!

It's been quite the rollercoaster spring weather-wise with huge swings in temperature! 

I've been busy with Airbnbs, but guests are arriving at Ann's today for the entire month, so there's some relief... and then the next "guest" will be Annie & her family! And as of now, I have only one guest scheduled this month at my place (for over two weeks... added relief)... and that means that my next "guests" will be Maddy & Viv!!!!! And fewer than five weeks until I pick up Kate again at ORD.

It's getting real, and I cannot wait!!!

 


3TT: Structure

I'm joining Carole & friends today for Three Things on Thursday... (because I need some structure!)

  1. We're back from Denver

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I lost my (prescription) sunglasses Sunday/Monday somewhere between here & there! In my youth/younger days, I was perfectly happy to squint in the sun, but I've smartened up since then. I cannot/will not be without sunglasses! That pair was getting old -- there've been more than a couple prescription adjustments since I bought those -- and I'd made a mental note to myself to get them replaced by September at the latest. Unfortunately, I can't even get in for an exam until June 2nd, and it would be another week or two before a replacement pair was in-hand.

So, Amazon to the rescue with same-day delivery of a pair of Fit-Over Sunglasses... they're ENORMOUS and I'm feeling a little Jackie-O, but they're actually pretty great!

2. 8 Miles a Day = 20%

I rented neither scooter nor bicycle in Denver, but holy cow, did I put on the miles! I averaged over 19,000 steps/day over four days, which translated to just over 8 miles/day. That's about 3x my "normal" day. We walked everywhere except for transport from/to the airport, the return trip from the Denver Botanic Gardens (having walked there and then walked all around!), and Sunday when we rented a car to go to Garden of the Gods (where we walked all around!).

Anyway, all that hoofin' added up to having 20% of the North Coast 500 under my belt already! 

3. Spring!

Finally. It's feeling -- and looking -- a bit more like Spring!

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When Kate finished working (she's recently written a couple of articles featuring embroidery (!!!!)) yesterday, she went down to do a little clean up of the garden. This is a zoomed in shot from the bedroom window this morning -- and I'm thrilled to see hostas emerging!

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I have a 4-day weekend beginning tomorrow (or today at 4pm), and it'll be full! Shopping & lunch with Kate & Ali tomorrow, followed by an overnight with the girls. On Saturday, the girls have a salon date, after which... shopping & lunch! On Sunday, I'll be roasting my last organic chicken from the CSA farm for a family dinner. And on Monday, I'll be taking Kate to ORD for her return to EDI. Cleaning/readying the Airbnbs as needed, too.

Whew.

I hope to be posting with a bit more regularity soon! Have a great weekend!

 


Homecoming

Well, as you might imagine, it was a pretty great homecoming for Kate! There were a couple of close calls, but we even managed to keep it a surprise for the kiddos! There's some video in my IG story for a few hours yet, if you'd like to share the experience.

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This photo sums it up!

I made lasagna (using some of my own roasted tomato sauce) and then we had cake!

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Two cakes, actually! I thought I'd surprise them with a cake -- and Ali thought the same! Hers was homemade lemon poppyseed, using some of her sourdough discard, and mine was not homemade... but it was from the best bakery and they did a great job with the decoration. We re-lit those candles at least four times so everyone could have a turn blowing them out, and somehow it all got turned on Davy once!

As much as I'd like to have these two weeks off while Kate is home, I still gotta work and there are many ways to spend my vacation/off days coming up, mainly the Family Whoop-de-doo in July and our trip to Scotland in September, so I need to budget. The next two weekends are long ones, and that'll be nice. She's also working a bit while she's here, including in Denver, which was the impetus for this trip, plus there's a sister to hang with and friends to see! It's not like we'd be spending every minute together, anyway.

I'm all set to meet up with my mom's old friend on Friday morning in Denver, and either that afternoon or Saturday I hope to be renting a bicycle and making my way to Fancy Tiger Crafts. Maybe the botanical garden and/or zoo, too, and clocking some virtual miles in the process!

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Just had to share this girl's style -- top to bottom! I said, "Strike a pose!" She's wearing the Cockleshell Cardigan that I made for Ginny...

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...having outgrown the matching one that I made for her! It occured to me that it won't be long before the kids have all outgrown the knits I've made... so might need to work on something other than a blanket one of these years. heh. It sure is grand to see them over and over. I made the sweater that Davy's wearing, too! Fourth kid to wear it and still going strong.

Woke up this morning and opened the blinds, as usual when in the months when it's light enough to see something. I don't often see anything, but sometimes...

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...I do! That's a terrible zoomed-in and taken-thru-two-panes-of-dirty-glass photo, but what a nice surprise! There was another further down the ravine, too.

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And, finally, I was relieved to see bloodroot in the garden last night. When the temp shot up over the weekend, the snowdrops all exploded, but I didn't see a single bloodroot -- not even a sign of one. My garden is usually flooded with them, so it was disconcerting not seeing any, and thankfully it was just a fluke of the weird weather.

 


Birthdays!!!

I can't wait until July when we'll be able to have a photo made that's like this one:

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But today I'm using it to mark my girls' birthdays all together, since I didn't do individual posts this year! (from left...)

  • Ali was born on April 16th (middle)
  • Maddy was born on April 25th (youngest)
  • Kate was born on the 22nd (eldest)

It's an even year, so their ages are odd numbers!

Kate's test was negative and she's about three hours from landing at O'Hare as we speak! Squee!!!!