Our time in Valencia was so different this visit compared to last because of Las Fallas. The daily events, the crowds, the noise, the fireworks. We stopped at Mercado Central and that, in a nutshell, highlighted the difference between our two visits to Valencia -- it was all but deserted! Many businesses close altogether for the final few days of the festival.
We didn't fail to notice that it was spring!
Or the interesting logo of one of the Falla artists (maybe that was just me).
We had plenty of time before La Cremà, so took a walk around The City of Arts & Sciences. We'd visited before at night, so it was nice to see in the daytime. It's so beautiful and... other-worldly.
Contributing to the noise of Las Fallas is the fact that every kid in the city has a small box of their own fireworks to shoot off! Often carried around their necks, they're about the size of a shoebox (a boy in the photo above is carrying one on his arm), and there are entire stores and catalogs devoted to the selling of items with which to fill it. I saw young boys setting up/blowing off their own mini-mascletà type displays. I saw young fallera in traditional dress, no more than 4 or 5 years old, plopped on the ground and lighting off firecrackers. I saw old men toss extra goodies into kids' boxes as if handing out candy at Halloween. It was all quite something. And I didn't see anyone get hurt.
On the day after La Cremà, the festival officially over, most people went right back to work/school. Ann, Brian & the kids had an extra day off, but laid low and prepped for their return to work/school the following day (which would be our departure day).
Rusty took off for some time at the beach.
Kate & I took a walk to Old Town. We found some lunch, did a little shopping, and made our way to The Church of San Nicolás, aka The Valencian Sistine Chapel.
It was all pretty incredible, but the ceiling was over the top (as it were... heheh). Not an inch was unadorned, and so much gold!
I can't imagine the visual overload awaiting visitors within... we put it on the list for next time! (With a nod to my mother who always left something for next time, no matter how likely it was that she'd actually return... it was the idea of it, looking to the future, holding out hope.)
It was a beautiful day! And it was so festive with all those flags flying.
I think we saw this facade last time -- I know we were right there -- but there's also a "skinniest house" right there and last time there was a market of some sort in the square.
It's so cool, though, isn't it?
In our wanderings, we also found ourselves at the Plaza del Ayuntamiento, and you'd never have known that a 9-story tall, wood & papier mache graffiti-decorated sculpture was burned there mere hours before.
"We were standing here," and I'm taking the photo within feet of where the sculpture was located.
We had a nice dinner and final evening together in Valencia. Ann, Brian & the boys were off to school & work the next day, and Rusty, Kate & I shared a cab to the airport for the next phase of our trip.
Randomly, this is Addison's favorite snack and, I have to say, it would also be mine if I could find them here (or anything even close)! They're like flat crispy bread sticks -- smears of dough, actually -- studded with sunflower seeds. Yum.
I started a new Entrelac Scarf on Sunday evening, and as early as then I was questioning whether I liked the width.
Again on Monday night while I knit... and again last night. I did not keep very good notes on the previous versions that I knit; neither were my pictures very good. But I think this may be a bit of deja vu.
It sure is pretty.
But I'm not going to have that question niggling at me -- louder and louder and with more and more regret -- so I did some literal unraveling just this morning.
I'm ready to start again. I'll be happier with 24 sts instead of 32, a longer rather than wider scarf.
On the reading front, I am listening to Lincoln in the Bardo for the second time -- starting again almost 2 years to the day that I finished the first time. I am one chapter from the finish of My Brilliant Friend... I was planning to read that last night but I was too pooped.
I'm off today... chiropractor appointment, a stop at the P.O. to mail some paperwork to England, some errands to run, Ginny's second ballet class (squee!), and book club after that! I just realized that I have a 3-day weekend ahead and I'm looking forward to that. I really want to do a little (machine) sewing!
Two-thirds of my kids are out of the country, but the remaining one-third and I had a marvelous day!!
We took a few photos and... Ginny!! That girl pretty much stole the show! Personality is oozing from every pore.
A local floral designer had a pop-up shop at Kaukauna Coffee & Tea, so Ginny and I ran up there (so I could buy myself a bouquet), but by the time we got there -- a mere :30 after it started -- all that was left were two bunches of fresh eucalyptus! Obviously, it went over way better than anyone expected.
I bought the eucalyptus, anyway, and combined it with some bleeding heart and fiddlehead ferns, fresh from my garden, to make bouquets both for me and for the Airbnb guests due later in the day.
After photos, Ali and I walked down to meet our friends for "Momosas" and brunch and, boy, did we have a great time! I can't remember the last time we all got together, and it definitely won't be so long until the next.
On our way back we took a detour for a stop at the antique mall. We ran into a dealer that used to be in my mom's antique mall, who I haven't seen in years. Ali was in late elementary/early middle school when I was managing that mall, but she remembered her, too. It was really fun to catch up!
I continued sewing, trying some new things:
And started a new knitting project (after a week of virtually no knitting whatsoever):
I think this yarn will make a fun Entrelac Scarf! It's Melilla by Cascade. Perhaps there will be enough progress to warrant a photo for Unraveled Wednesday!
Our last Airbnb guests had a problem with the lockbox and, in trying to figure it out, I accidentally reset the combo... and it became a big problem for me! I tried cracking the combo a few times, but eventually took my spare key to have a couple of copies made...
But I continued trying to break in! Adding to my list of talents, and with a bit of help from Rusty in the manufacture of "tools of the trade," I "cracked" it on Saturday afternoon!
I can't believe it's been two months since we were in Spain & England!! I still have to write a couple of posts to wrap that up. Now that everything involved with an overseas traffic/speeding violation has been taken care of, I might be more in the mood...
There's a random selection of images from the previous couple of weeks or so. I've finished Sleeve #1 and am currently doing the embroidery & appliqué on Sleeve #2. I've already done a little beading, but the majority of it will be done last.
It's been a couple of weeks, people! It started with An Evening with David Sedaris, followed by a day off and getting the Airbnb ready, CPR/AED/First-Aid & Blood-borne Pathogens training, a couple of meetings, a birthday, an art opening/overnight at the lakeshore, a Make.Do pop-up shop at my LYS, a new furnace installation, another meeting, a first ballet class, another event... plus, I worked all five days this week.
I AM READY FOR THE WEEKEND!!
There is plenty happening/to do, but I'm looking forward to Momosa Day and brunch at 313 Dodge with Ali, her bff Abbey, and Abbey's mom Ellen -- one of our favorite mother-daughter duos!
I'm only a tiny bit sad that I forgot about Macro May and #memademay, but #100daysknitorious2019 is plenty. I don't need any more on my plate right now (I'm delighted that I recognize that!). Maybe I'll do Macro September or October, instead.
Joining Carole & friends for Three Things on Thursday...
1 -- We celebrated Ginny's 3rd birthday last Thursday!!
Little Superhero (all.the.heroes) Gin is getting feisty... standing her ground these days and taking no shit (esp from her big brother).
2 -- Last night was her first-ever ballet class!
The first few minutes were very reminiscent of dance classes with Junah, in which there was almost zero participation... it's just not his thing, and that's OK (we tried). Ginny girl had no interest at all in floor work and stretching last night. Once the dancing started, though, she was all in. Whew! And so darn cute.
Y'know how you do something and then forget about it? Such as purchasing tickets for an event months in advance?
Totally fell off my radar. Luckily, there are numerous ways to get a reminder these days -- this morning, it was Facebook, and I was almost dumbfounded. How could I forget? It's on my calendar, too, but I'm not even sure I'd have looked at that without some sort of prompt. Mondays aren't usually too busy on my social calendar.
Well, surprise! Tonight, we're spending "An Evening with David Sedaris" at the Weidner Center in Green Bay!!
I learned of this event not long after I finished listening to Calypso last year, which I loved. Can't wait!
This isn't the first (2004) nor even the second blog post I wrote about Maddy's birthday... from April 2006:
Oh, what a busy, busy week this is!
Fifteen years ago today, we welcomed Madeleine into the world! Some of us found her to be quite fascinating. ; )
My labor with her was pretty quick -- and I knew better some of the things I could do to help it along. When the doc arrived at the hospital at about 8:30 and saw me still walking the halls, he mumbled something about having been called too soon, that I wasn't even close if I was still walking. I had a different doc for each delivery, and even though this was our family doctor, he didn't know much about my birthings. Shortly before 10:00, my nurse (same labor nurse I had for Ali -- and she was an elementary school classmate) allowed me to get up and go to the bathroom. Well, that did it! Maddy was delivered a few minutes later by the nurse who was telling me not to push (I had no choice, of course) while DH was hollering down the hallway for the doctor who was visiting at the nurses' station (he didn't make it in time, but did knock about $300 off his bill); the nurse handed me the little baby bundle and said, "Here, hold her; I've got things to do!"
Happy 15th Birthday, Maddy! (My baby...)
My adventurer! This girl loves nature and the wilderness more than just about anything. She's winding up her latest vineyard gig in New Zealand right now. Viv's finished hers in Oz and is headed to NZ where they'll travel and visit friends for a couple of weeks before heading back to Australia. They'll be home at Christmas, so I'm looking forward to that!
Happy Birthday, Maddy!
_ _ _ _ _
I had a reminder this morning that it's my Great Great Grandmother Sarah Nutting Drake's birthday today, too.
She'd have been 173. Pictured here ca. 1916 (age 70!), with her grandchildren -- my Grandma Blum and two of her three brothers. I just love her. She scares me to death, but I love her!!
This isn't the first (2004) blog post I wrote about Kate's birthday, but close (2005) and it's a little more interesting:
It's Katie's 20th birthday today. Twenty years ago today, I woke up at a little after 4:00 a.m. I started writing numbers down on a piece of paper (which I still have): 4:19, 4:25, 4:29, 4:35 -- 5:17, 5:23, 5:30 -- 6:53, 6:57, 7:03, 7:10 -- some of these were written in DH's hand, some of them have numbers following them, signifying duration, I think, and a couple of have the words "very mild" written after them. There's one line that reads, "Shower 3 or 4." Yep, it's a record of my contractions. They pretty much started off at 5 +/- minutes apart and stayed that way all day. I sent DH to work, and called my doc (the only person I know from Saskatchewan) to see if I should wait and keep my regularly scheduled appointment that day or just come in whenever. I kept track until 11:24 when I left the motel. I drove myself -- in a manual transmission Subaru, hitting the clutch between contractions -- the 15 miles to DH's workplace so he could take me to the hospital. At 10:00 p.m., I finally gave birth to a 6 lb. 10 oz., 20" redhead. Happy Birthday, Katherine!
Oh, that's right! We were between houses/closings and were living in a motel! Rusty (aka, DH) visited on our "tour of homes" when we were in Oregon three years ago. That was something... you do what you need to do, eh?
Kate has about another week in Portugal, then she's going on "vacation" in Scotland with her friend Shannon. After that she has gigs in NYC and in LA, and she'll land at home for a while in mid-June. You do what you need to do, eh??
I might have enough yarn to squeak out a baby-sized pair of these! The worse thing that could happen is that the toes are knit in purple or something. I'm going to try a different cast-on, suggested by Kat™, and forego the smaller needle. (I really don't mind the cuff, though.)
Ginny tried them on last night -- including the one that needed a kitchenered toe and still had needles in. She was so happy and excited, "Are they done yet?" I almost sewed it up right then, but the reality of kitchenering a toe in the middle of a 3-kid whirlwind kicked in and I resisted the urge.
Instead we spent some time outside, had hot dogs, decorated a cake (sort of Jackson Pollock style), and then sang Happy Birthday and blew out candles when Ali & Rod returned from their birthday date.
I just love Ginny in that video! And Jün with his sweet "mistakes." Haha.
I'll be casting on today, and am hoping to have the baby pair done by May 5th to show as a sample. I/Make.Do have been invited to do a pop-up show at my new LYS, Casting On, on the Sunday of the local Spring Fiber Frolic (yarn crawl)! I'm so excited! And looking forward to spending some time in the dye studio over the next couple of weeks!
So I went in search of the first blog post I wrote about Ali's birthday:
It's a birthday! (April 16, 2004)
I've been humming/singing all morning: "I am sixteen, going on seventeen..." Today kicks off our birthday season with Ali's 17th. She/her friends are planning a little get together tonight -- they insist that she go to the local coffee shop (where they must have something planned) and then they'll come over to our house. Last year, they'd made a big cardboard cake out of boxes and a boy popped out -- in only his underwear! I can't imagine how they'll top that, but I'm sure they will!!
So, 17 years ago today I felt twinges when I woke up, but decided to go to my preggo exercise class, anyway. That certainly got things going a bit more, but I didn't stop there -- went to work to pick up the resume that I'd been working on for my brother AND delivered it to him at his job. Yep, things were really going then. I called my husband (to take me to the hospital) and my mother (to watch Katie) and did my best to manage 'til they got there. I tried to remain calm -- Kate wasn't even two and I didn't want to alarm her. I recall laying on the floor with Katie bouncing a big ball all around me. The troops arrived around 1:30, I continued popping Tums like they were candy in the labor room (heartburn all through that pregnancy -- just the thought of green peppers had me gurgling), and Alison Louise arrived at 3:30. When they told me she was another redhead, I didn't believe it 'til I saw for myself! Wow!!!
And spring arrived that day. I literally watched the leaves pop out on all the trees from my hospital room. It was Easter Sunday when they let me go -- 70 degrees and we had a picnic dinner outside! Seventeen years... seems like yesterday.
I can do the math -- she was 17, I've been blogging for 15 years -- but WHAT??
I still remember Kate bouncing that ball around me, that terrible heartburn, and Ali's arrival... Thirty-two years, a husband and three kids of her own... and it still seems like yesterday.
I "enjoyed" a 3-day weekend, dampened just a bit by the onset of a cold and, of course, income taxes. Whatevs. Three days off = three naps! Taxes are done & dusted; I wasn't in the mood to agonize... it could've been (has been) worse.
We had Airbnb guests arriving on Friday afternoon, so I spent the morning readying.
A new duvet cover, lightweight cotton blanket, and decorative pillow cover were fun additions to the bedroom. I also added black-out liners to the curtains (after cutting & hemming them).
I also watched the buds on the last (surprise) amaryllis stem begin to open:
The bottom photo was taken this morning. You can still see a little snow in the back yard and ravine. We were in the middle of a blizzard at this time last year, left to deal with a couple of feet of snow... so I'm not complaining.
Otherwise, I just blew my nose a lot while I did some sewing and knitting.
I'm getting close to finishing the first sleeve of my Alabama Chanin Car Jacket. There are more photos on IG, if you're interested. And Ginny's Rye socks will be finished as soon as I kitchener the toe.
My energy & enthusiasm are still pretty low. The sun is shining and that helps! Hope you had a great weekend!
The main event right now is my Alabama Chanin Car Jacket project, and the minimum :15 stitching time that I've committed to for #the100dayproject. Yesterday was my 8th day of stitching and I am so happy with the progress I've made.
Day 1, April 2nd, picking up where I left off some time back:
Day 7, April 8th:
There's been applique, cutting, embroidery, and beading!
And this is what I accomplished yesterday, on the 8th day of stitching:
And what I've accomplished along the way:
Of course, 15 minutes each day is just long enough to get situated, to decide what I'm going to work on, to love my thread, to needle my thread, and to take a couple of stitches! But even only :15 each day for 100 days would equal 25 HOURS. On every day but one, I think, I've worked for at least twice that amount of time. It's a process and it's slow, but consistency is the key... and I am loving it! Again!!
I finally started listening to Daisy Jones & The Six! It has a cast, which I love (and was one of the things I enjoyed most about Lincoln in the Bardo). Jennifer Beals is Daisy, and Benjamin Bratt & Pablo Schreiber are brothers & bandmates and they are excellent. I'm only a few chapters in and I can't wait for more... I was a little mad that my bookmark got screwed up and I couldn't listen in the car this morning. I fixed that now, so I'm all set for later...
I'm still working on Ginny's Rye socks. I just knit the heel flap of the second sock, so getting there!
Las Falles is... incredible! And impossible to "sum up," but I will give it a go. I shared a few posts on Instagram along the way (there's one linked later in this post), and the hashtag #falles2019 (or #fallas2019) are pretty great.
Las Falles is the biggest celebration in Valencia, held annually March 1-19 in commemoration of Saint Joseph... and/or spring. What it actually has to do with Saint Joseph and how/what this spectacle actually commemorates/relates is beyond me.
It's a party! Pure and simple. And it has many facets, not the least of which is noise and fire. It's a slow build, hitting a crescendo during the last five days/nights. That's when the falles appear.
Valencia is comprised of many communities, also known as falles, and each one constructs two sculptures every year of papier mache (or, as I've been told, more recently of polystyrene).
Guess which image was blocked on Instagram?
Each community has a large sculpture (sometimes enormous), often political or satirical in nature, and another smaller one for children (infantil). We had the chance to page through a publication about each community's design inspiration, designers, falleras, and cost -- there were something like 395 of them! Times 2. And some costing in the neighborhood of €300,000.
The detail is incredible.
The events during Falles, according to Wikipedia (which is a pretty good article) are such:
"The wake-up call" each morning at 8 am when bands play and firecrackers are set off. I heard bands, but never at 8 am... and the firecrackers were going off 24/7. I wouldn't have believed it if someone told me that fireworks & firecrackers would become "background noise," but it most definitely does.
Crowd gathering for the final mascletà, as seen (and heard) from our perch at the Plaza de Toros.
This is an explosive, percussive, coordinated display of firecrackers and fireworks, almost choreographed, that occurs every afternoon in the Plaza del Ayuntamiento. This also seems to build each day, and pyrotechnics compete for the honor of providing the final mascletà. The crowds are huge, and I never saw this happen, but I certainly did hear it and see the smoke.
This was the major winner. It was in a distant community, so we took a bus to see it. Do you see Bo Peep?
All of the falles are to be finished by March 15th in order to be judged for the competition.
L'Ofrena de flors
All day long on March 17 & 18, falleros and falleras make their way to a large wooden frame in the shape of the Virgin Mary with an offering of flowers. These flowers are added to and arranged on the frame to fill in the "dress."
Els Castells and La Nit del Foc
We missed some of the earlier displays, but we definitely made our way to one of the bridges spanning Turia Park for La Nit del Foc ("The Night of Fire"), which began at 1:30 am. Wow. Seriously, Valencia during Las Falles is a pyrotechnics dream.
Cavalcada del Foc
I didn't see this, but that's okay...
Notice the flower bouquets for the Virgin Mary's dress.
The traditional dress and costumes worn by the fallero and falleras is colorful and quite pretty. And they're all ages -- from infants (see the stroller, above, but I saw even younger) to their grandparents. I don't know the historical significance of it all, but there's a hierarchy to it all and almost nothing happens during Las Falles unless there's a fallera present to strike the match or give the signal to begin.
On this, the last night of the celebration, all of the falles are burned. The falla infantil are all burned first, at around 10 p.m. There are fireworks going off here and there. There's usually some sort of small mascletà and/or ground display around the falla, which are strung and stuffed with fireworks. A fallera lights the fuse and... stand back. We saw one infantil burn. The main ones begin to burn around midnight. In addition to each neighborhood's falles, there is a large "city" one in the Plaza del Ayuntamiento. This year it was a nearly 9-story tall, traditional wood & papier mache structure in the shape of a seated woman, decorated with graffiti. It was quite beautiful. This one was to burn around 1 am.
Instead of watching any of the larger neighborhood falla burn, we made our way to the Plaza del Ayuntamiento for the burning of the main "city" falla. Annie knew someone who knew someone, and for €25 each, we found ourselves on a 2nd story balcony with a fabulous view, unlimited snacks & beer & wine, and arguably one of the best spots in the city.
This is part of the crowd gathered for the event.
It was very dramatic, as all the lights went out (the illuminated building in the rear is the post office!).
Then the fireworks began... it was incredible. There are a few video clips in the embedded IG post, below.
Queue the dramatic music... I'm not sure what it was, possibly the Spanish national anthem, or maybe an important Valencian piece. It was dramatic with the flames, pieces falling off, everything...
We were probably 100' from the inferno -- and I mean inferno. We all had to vacate the balcony, and I thought my forehead was going to have blisters.
The clean-up crew was standing by. Katie & I were walking down there the next day and you would never have known that a 9-story tall lady statue burned there the night before.
Every neighborhood had a mess to clean up! And they did. It was just one more amazing part of this whole mind-blowing thing we witnessed.
I think that's as good as it's going to get. There might be one more quick post about Valencia... stay tuned!
I had plenty of yarn left over (and still do), so decided to knit a pocket across the wider side of the asymmetrical front -- in stockinette instead of garter, just because.
I found the perfect buttons at my new LYS, Casting On, where I'd also purchased the yarn on their "soft opening" day.
Oh, those colors are just so yummy! I haven't had the pleasure of seeing Malina wearing this sweater yet. Hopefully that'll happen soon!
<rant> I am mad that I bought this pattern. First, I already have a very similar pattern that I like a lot, which is also knit in one piece but in a slightly different manner, and has less seaming. Second, while paying $6 or even more for a downloadable pattern is pretty standard these days and I've never balked at that before -- designers deserve to be compensated for their work -- what I'm used to getting for $6 and what I got are two very different things. A photo would have been nice... even a clear line drawing that was larger than a thumbnail would've been great! Just sayin'...
Harumph. Get off my lawn, too. </rant>
I've been working on a pair of socks for Ginny. This was my "travel knitting," and I actually knit while traveling for a change (jumpstarted by a 5-/6-hour delay)!
This is one-half of a pair of Rye socks from Tin Can Knits. (An incredibly detailed and well designed FREE pattern with both color photos AND drawings.) As usual, even my stretchy cast on is a bit too tight (also, Ginny has chubby legs... which I have a feeling will soon be slimming as they lengthen), so I'm just leaving the ribbing unseamed -- it's actually kind of cute turned down like a little cuff. I had her try them on the other day before I kitchenered the toe, and sock #2 will be on the needles soon! Anyway, I sure like how they're turning out.
I downloaded the audio version of Daisy Jones & The Six before we left on vacation -- because I thought I might want to listen during flights or something. But I didn't. It looks like fun, though, and I might plug it in soon! Maybe I'll listen while I work on the #the100dayproject
We went down the hill to 313 Dodge on Friday night for our local going-out version of Friday Night Snacks:
Janel & Kristin recently changed the menu and I had a gift card that I kept forgetting to use (third time's the charm!). Oh yum. We had/shared the Cheese & Charcuterie Platter, Asian Chicken Meatballs with Pickled Veggies, and Roasted Beet, Pesto & Burrata Salad, along with beverages... and we were too full for dessert! I almost doubled that order of meatballs... I'm glad I didn't because they were huge! Oh darn, dessert might have to be a separate trip sometime.
While procrastinating about finishing our taxes*, I spent the weekend catching on up sleep (also possibly fighting off a cold or something) and long overdue mending & sewing, finishing a baby sweater, putting together a stubborn IKEA bench, shopping & cooking, cleaning/readying the Airbnb apartment, and hanging out with kiddos!
The kids and I started out riding bikes, but ended up taking a walk down in the woods and on the trail below our house.
I thought this dead tree looked like a dragon or a gnarly dinosaur.
And was delighted to find even the smallest promise of spring (as I'm watching sn*w flying around outside my window this very moment) (they say we could be close to 70°F on Sunday - it's spring, indeed)!
This morning's sunrise was a beauty!
I've been thinking about a 100-day project for a while, stymied a bit at what I'd actually do, but it came to me just as the #The100DayProject came along. Starting tomorrow, I am committing to at least :15 of sewing each day on my Alabama Chanin Car Jacket! I'd really like to finish that project... because there are so many more projects that I'd like to sew! I'm looking forward to setting up a dedicated project work space, and getting to work.
*I will get them done... I've never been late nor filed for an extension, and I don't aim to start now.
Let the recap begin! I may test the limits of both Typepad and my readers with the number of photos in these posts!
Our vacation was basically in three parts: Quiet - Crazy - Quiet.
Part 1 was arriving in Valencia and immediately vacating for a quick trip to Galicia, aka, the Atlantic Northwest.
Part 2 was returning to Valencia for the insane craziness that is Las Fallas.
Part 3 was a few days in Cornwall... to decompress.
Right off the bat, we were delayed about 5-6 hours when there were issues in Chicago... something about the jet bridge bumping into the plane, leaving a 1mm dent in the fuselage, and though everyone (ground crew, etc.) was OK with it, someone didn't want to sign off, so it ending up requiring approval from HQ in Toulouse, France (where it was the middle of the night, of course). So stupid -- and something that should never have happened in the first place. We were all lined up and ready to board... then we all sat down (thank god for knitting) and then the vouchers appeared. Finally underway, we missed our connecting flight in Madrid. Thankfully, we were fairly quickly booked on a train; re-bookings didn't appear to be going smoothly for everyone on our flight. We had to make our way to the Atocha Station, and I was really glad that I'd been there/done that before! I haven't been in too many train stations, but Atocha has to be among the most beautiful!
We finally made it to Valencia, hailing a cab from the train station to Ann & Brian's apartment. We all immediately ran out to look at some of the falla being constructed and to get some food & drink. Firecrackers were going off all around us -- all around the city -- day and night! Incredibly (I wouldn't have believed it), after a while, it all just becomes background noise. Anyway, much more on Las Fallas later.
We'd made the majority of basic plans & bookings during the holidays when we were together. Originally, we'd hoped to visit Bilbao and Santander, but flight schedules didn't work very well, so we shifted to westward... as far west as we could! We flew into Santiago de Compostela on Thursday, rented cars, and drove out to Cabo Touriñán -- it's the most northwestern point in Spain!
We stopped at Restaurante Leandro in Santa Comba, along the way, for lunch. Ann is a big fan of both TripAdvisor and anyplace with a menu del dia (menu of the day). Typically, it's offered for the mid-day meal, generous servings at a very reasonable price, and includes a few choices for each course, along with dessert and wine (or water). We had a very fine meal on this day, which concluded with this stellar Flan de Queso! It set the dessert bar very high for the entire trip (never quite to be reached).
This was the view from our Airbnb. Oh, what a joy that was! There's a small group of sheep right in the middle of that photo (perhaps if you click, it'll will enlarge enough to see them). Rusty couldn't stand it, and immediately took off to explore the shore!
Maria and her daughter, Alba, were our hosts. Maria greeted us, not speaking a word of English, and my Duolingo lessons didn't really get us too far! Ann & Brian were a bit behind us, for some reason... never mind, somehow we communicated the important stuff! Alba spoke a little bit of English, and the boys are quite good with Spanish these days (Ann & Brian, too, but the boys even more). I got comfy and decided to try out some of my Spanish words, Ann es mi hermana. And then I tried to say something about Brian being Ann's esposo, which garnered laughter from everyone, so I'm sure I didn't do that right... heh.
We settled right in... some following Rusty's lead, others heading into town for provisions.
We observed some very interesting things at this house in the north of Spain.
I don't know how typical it is, but there was an entire room -- bedroom-sized -- strung with clothesline for indoor drying. What is typical is the lack of dryers. Every place I've been in Europe/UK has had a washing machine -- usually small, tucked under a kitchen counter or in a small adjoining area, though I've yet to spot a dryer. Usually there are drying racks/lines outside of windows -- laundry is easy to spot! If the Atlantic Northwest is anything like the Pacific Northwest... well, there you have it! Genius, really.
The other thing was the bedding. First, there was one long pillow encased in one long pillowcase, spanning the entire width of the bed, whether twin or double. I like my pillow a bit firmer than Rusty does, and I'm also a bit of a scruncher. There was no scrunching! We weren't really fans of that situation. Second, fleece sheets! This is a step beyond flannel, people! I'd never heard of fleece sheets before, but they seem readily available on several sites, including Amazon!
On Friday, we hopped in cars and did a bit of exploring. This part of the trip was a big question because Ann & fam don't usually do "road trip" vacations, mainly because the boys get antsy and sometimes Mack suffers a bit of carsickness. Luckily, we weren't going too far!
First we headed up to Muxía. There was a street market happening, so we just parked and got out to explore. There were lots of rocks to climb on, and treasures to be found.
We hopped in the car again and drove down to Fisterra on Cape Finisterre (Land's End). Most of our stops in Galicia are points along the Camino de Santiago (the Way of Saint James).
These markers show the way... this one happens to be the 0 km marker at Finisterre.
We found some refreshment at the cape:
And food in Finisterre. Ann had O Pirata on her list and we were not disappointed!
Everything was super fresh, well prepared, and so tasty!! We basically had a customized menu del dia, made just for us. Plus, some of the best bread any of us have had in a while. It was cool to see a fisherman come in with his bucket o' fish to sell.
Another interesting thing we saw in Galicia were these:
They're everywhere -- in the villages, in the country -- all long and narrow, on "mushroom stilts" (that's what we called them), with ornaments at each gable end, one of them always a cross. Some were higher, lower, older, newer...
They're corn cribs!
Stunningly beautiful corn cribs. That's the light from the lighthouse visible at just right of center, above.
We all went out to the lighthouse at various times, on foot or by car. It was peaceful and lovely.
I'd definitely return... there's so much more to explore!
Santiago de Compostela was our destination on Saturday, but first we made another quick run up to Muxía. I remembered that there was a church site there that I'd wanted to visit!
Nosa Señora da Barca (Our Lady of the Boat) is sited beautifully. The church was nearly destroyed in a fire several years ago; the structure has been restored, but the interior is "representational" -- a large photo backdrop of the altar. It was the entire site the intrigued me... the church, the unusual stones (the boys really enjoyed climbing), and the sculpture.
A Ferida ("The Wound") by artist Alberto Bañuelos is in remembrance of the Prestige oil spill that poured nearly 18 million gallons of oil into the ocean off the coast of Muxía in 2002. We could still see evidence of oil on coastal rocks... that doesn't ever wash away.
We had just a quick overnight stop in Santiago -- mainly to visit the Cathedral, which was a nice walking distance from our Airbnb.
A 5-year-long restoration of the exterior was completed last summer.
Now happening on the interior! There wasn't much to see, but it was still quite fascinating and... GOLD! Very gold. Even with all the scaffolding and draping, it GLOWS! This will continue for the next year, all to be complete in time for the Holy Year 2021.
We returned cars and flew back to Valencia on Sunday!
If you'd like the CliffNotes version...
...here's our "entire" vacation in 2 minutes and 37 seconds!
Stay tuned for the spectacle that is Las Fallas -- Part 2 to come!
We returned from vacation on Monday, which happened to be Malina's 1st Birthday!
This is one of my favorite photos* from the day of her birth. Ginny was sleepy... and obviously not so sure about early morning developments! Junah also looks sleepy, but he is the dreamiest lovingest cuddliest kiddo in the early morning and he looks slightly more accepting and intrigued!
It's been a fantastic year!!
She's the happiest baby and has quite the personality these days, and it won't be long before she's walking!! Watch out world!
Hola!! Popping in to say that all is well, we're having an amazing time! Off to Cornwall tomorrow for a few days before returning home on Monday (I'm pretty sure... the days are getting fuzzy).
I have managed, by pure luck, to unintentionally knock a few things off my bucket list here... such as, I never have to see another fireworks display in my life (if I don't want to), because nothing is going to top what I have seen (heard & felt) here!
There are some posts on Insta & FB... I am never going to be able to share it all!!
Anyway, I can't let my 15th Blogiversary/1st Day of Spring pass without a post, also a quick mention of the 14th anniversary of The Quit a few days ago.
The crescendo of Las Fallas happened last night with fireworks/mascleta and the burning of this nearly 9-stories tall falle. We had a balcony view and I am pretty sure my face would have melted off if we'd stayed out there the entire time. It was flipping amazing!!
Thanks for reading and for your comments and for coming along on these crazy trips of all sorts, whether in Spain or my own back yard! xo
It'll be that way for a while! "Wherever" is currently Amsterdam for a few hours' layover on the way to Valencia.
I was in low-key vacation prep all weekend, and it's going pretty well! I've crossed quite a few more things off this list since I snapped this photo.
I am more relaxed than I think I've ever been!
Things were going well enough that I took some time to dye yarn on Saturday morning, and then cleaned up my studio on Sunday morning. And when Ali brought the kids over for a visit on Saturday night, the big kids ended up staying overnight!
That started with a bath and ended with a slumber party in the living room. Ginny fell asleep against my shoulder before we were half-way through the first bed-time book!
They're playing together better these days -- if not always together, then at least side-by-side. They both know how to push the other's buttons, though!
We did a little craft project in the morning (also some Spirograph doodles) and then it was time to go! I didn't mention anything about our going away or not seeing them for a while because Junah was pretty upset about it the last time... not so much that we were going, but that he wasn't! He wants to go to Spain, too... RIGHT NOW!!
I gave them a subscription to Little Passports at Christmas and he is certainly interested. With good reason, I suppose, having family living or visiting in Spain, New Zealand, Portugal, England, and Scotland!
Final laundry and packing will happen this evening, and we're off in the morning!
We're flying Iberia to Spain next week and, though I was tempted by their very nice offer to upgrade to Business Plus, with its diverse menu, wine cellar and reclining bed, I opted to just choose and/or purchase our Economy seats in advance. I tried and tried and tried... and finally, this morning, was able to make it all the way through the process -- in English and without getting kicked off the site. We have confirmed seats on every leg of our journey, now, except from Valencia to London, and that's a fairly short flight so I'm not too concerned. It's the 8+ hours on a plane when I need a little wiggle room... preferably with a view.
G is for... Galicia!
We're so excited to explore the Costa da Morte in the Atlantic Northwest! I feel very lucky to be going there -- thanks to cheap flights -- because it would be way too far for us to drive there from Valencia, given our timeline, even for road-tripper vacationers like us! I thought that Spain was probably a little bigger than Wisconsin, but didn't realize that it's 3X bigger!!
I is for... Inventory!
It's release day for Mason-Dixon Knitting Field Guide No. 10: Downtown!
I have a few available in the coffee shop and a few online -- I'd be happy to send you one! (I am dying to make some of those nesting cowls.)
F is for... (not) Freaking out!
I'm going on vacation in a few days -- for two weeks! I haven't been on a 2-week vacation from work since the early '80s. Ha! I realized that I didn't even take ONE full week off last year, it all got parsed in 4- or 5-day long weekends.... quite a few of those, I guess, and that's fine, but there's something about a whole week off. Two. Man, I just don't even know. Anyway, I'm trying not to freak out about the house & the cat (we have a great -sitter), and whether it's going to snow while we're gone (because, ugh!), and how/what I should pack, and travel knitting (the above-mentioned cowls, if I have some suitable yarn, otherwise I'm leaning toward another pair of worsted socks), and when we should leave for the airport, and the language, and currency...
This weekend will be devoted to laundry & packing. And, hopefully, watching some snow melt.
P.S. I didn't receive a single email notification of comments on yesterday's post! Ugh. It's such a pain sometimes. Typepad said that they had some problems yesterday morning, but that all seemed to be working by afternoon. I still haven't received a notification. I'm curious about today. It's kind of a pain responding to comments when I don't get an email. Thank you all, so much! I am thrilled that I was able to find such a perfect gift idea for Lady Kate, and love that some of you might have future Lairds and Ladies in the family, too.
Joining Carole & friends for Three Things on Thursday...
1 -- The second stem of my gorgeous, delicate amaryllis has begun to bloom -- six buds!
I love it so much! It's right in view from my seat at the table -- the Garden Room is one of the best features we made in this house, especially wonderful in (a long snowy) winter.
1b -- I'm pretty happy that we'll at least see stem #1 of amaryllis #2 in bloom before we leave for Spain. I may have our house sitter send me photos as it develops. That's not too weird, is it??
2 -- Good company, good food & drink, fun & games.
Rusty & I met Ali and her friend/co-worker Kristin at 313 Dodge, which is co-owned by friend and former co-worker, Janel, for Beer/Wine Bingo Night! We shared & enjoyed some yummy food (last chance for a few things, as the menu is changing next week) and had a blast playing BINGO! I never won a game when I used to go to Sunday night Bingo at the local Catholic church, but I won last night!!
I conveniently placed my morning pick-up order with Kristin before we left, and had this most delicious avocado toast for breakfast today! So good.
3 -- You may call her LADY KATE!!
Kate's early birthday gift arrived just in time on Tuesday afternoon!! She happened to be sitting at the kitchen table when I brought in the mail and I just handed it to her with little fanfare -- other than a big excited grin! I hadn't got around to telling Rusty that I'd pulled the trigger on this (though I'd mentioned it to him as an idea several months ago), so it was a little surprise for him, too! I don't know how I first became aware of Highland Titles, but I've followed them on social media for years, and this was finally the year. Kate's reaction was EXACTLY as expected, she was thrilled, Rusty was thrilled, I was thrilled... it's the best gift ever!
She's planning to be in Scotland in May with her friend Shannon, and definitely in this very part of the Highlands, so I hope they go scope out Kate's "estates." Haha! I'll keep you posted.
Now to find something equally as inspired for Ali & Maddy!! Their birthdays are coming up right quick.
Hey Friends! A quick catch up with non-related cute kid pics.
He looks ready to take on the world!!
Rusty & I went to a closing reception for an art show on Friday evening and, upon our return, discovered that the water wasn't very hot... and a big puddle on the floor around the water heater in the basement.
Fifteen minutes later, our second Airbnb guests arrived!! OMG.
There wasn't much to do but inform them, apologize, and then work at getting it fixed. They were SUPER gracious, insisting that they were here mainly to relax and hang out.
Sitting on my lap, playing peek-a-book with mumma!
Also, it snowed on Friday night.
So, while Rod came over on Saturday morning to go with me to pick up the water heater I'd purchased on Friday night, Rusty shoveled...
(There was an option for delivery, but the estimated date was March 13th. Hahahahahahaha. Who orders a water heater in advance... just because??)
How gracious were our guests? The guy came out and offered to help get it down the basement!
Rusty & Rod had it in and installed by mid-morning.
I'm not happy that we had to buy a new water heater right before going on vacation, but I've already come home from a week-long vacation (with three little kids and all the associated laundry) to find that the water heater had given it up while we were gone.
There are two things that I'm happy about. First, it's bigger -- 50-gallon capacity instead of 40. Second, our water pressure seems to have improved. A couple of years ago when they re-did all of our water lines and everything, they guys were all saying how much better our water pressure would be... but there wasn't really any change, until now!
Kate is leaving tomorrow for an extended time away, starting with a visit to NYC. We'll meet up in a couple of weeks in Spain, but I don't expect to see her home until June or July, or maybe even August! That's going to be so weird.
So Ali & the kids came over to hang out on Sunday night, bid farewell to their Auntie Kate, and humor their grandmother.
I love how Ginny's stealing the show!
I am/have been busy getting the books caught up and straightened out for a meeting with Ali's accountant tonight. I was a bit behind, but I'm feeling very good about it all... establishing processes is helpful!
Maddy's taxes are all but finished, too.
I started ours (the easy stuff), but it looks like I'll be waiting until after vacation to finish. I'll be refreshed & renewed!! Haha.
Our guests loved their stay, even with the water snafu! And our third Airbnb guest arrives this evening for a few days! (This whole thing continues to blow our minds.)
Joining Carole & friends for Three Things on Thursday...
1 -- With the help of my fashion consultant, Kate, I ordered new glasses yesterday! I went to a new place because... long story. It's very close to work, though, and they let me take some frames home to try/get opinions. I was OK with the couple that I brought home, but knew that I could use another set of (better) eyes to help me choose. My consultant will soon be leaving for an extended period, so I grabbed her while I could! They're going to be my first pair of Transition* lenses... and I sure hope I like that! I was assured that if I truly hated them, they'd re-grind.
*ETA: Transition sunglasses. I've never had anything but no-line bifocals since that became part of my prescription.
Speaking of glasses, as I wiped mine off for the zillionth time the other day, I thought a) wouldn't it be cool if they could make lenses out of Gorilla Glass? And b) if I could use that amazing liquid screen protector stuff on them?
2 -- We welcome our second Airbnb guests tomorrow night, a couple on a weekend get-away from Milwaukee -- another "reason" that we never considered! We usually get away to there! Haha.
3 -- My gorgeous amaryllis is fading but still gorgeous... and there's so much promise!!
The days are getting longer y'all! We're up to over 11 hours of daylight (and gaining every single day)! There's reason to open the blinds when I get up in the morning now. The colors were so soft and beautiful at dawn today, and then I noticed that the moon was still hanging there, too.
Anticipating... Sunday night and the OSCARS! But first, tomorrow is Day 2 of the Best Picture Festival: The Favourite, Vice, Black Panther, and Bohemian Rhapsody, along with the Animated Shorts.
Celebrating... the approaching end of February -- less than a week to go!
Excited about... March! I am so ready.
Itching to... put some catch-up book work behind me, and I'm getting close!
Looking forward to... VACATION!!
Three weeks from today we'll be exploring Costa de Morte along the Galician coast in Spain -- the "Atlantic Northwest."
I have my International Driving Permit, our Airbnb is booked, and I am ready!!
Needing... to get some footwear suitable for traipsing around the "Atlantic Northwest." I'm really in need of some waterproof/hiking shoes. We're going to be traveling very light, and footwear is always the most challenging part of that situation.
Planning... "DYE" days. I've only missed one calendar date so far!
Sewing... Nothing, really, at the moment -- at least not actively. I have dreams, though. I might bring a small Alabama Chanin project on vacation for Annie & me, and possibly for a friend of hers.
Watching... Soundbreaking. I happened upon E4 by chance once night on PBS as I was actually turning off the TV but was immediately hooked and stayed up to watch it all!
"Music has been a constant in human history, an intermingling of voice and instrument that for all its local variation and increasing sophistication nevertheless endured in more or less the same form for centuries. Then came recording––and music was forever transformed. Soundbreaking, an eight-part event television series, traces this ongoing sonic revolution, and explores the nexus of cutting-edge technology and human artistry that has created the soundtrack of our lives."
There isn't usually much idle time in my world, but sometimes things really rev up for one reason or another, and I feel like this is one of those times. I'm a go-go all the time-o!
Thankfully, I know that this, too, shall pass. So, I'm cruisin'...
I had off last Friday and started with an early morning eye exam, followed by a visit to my chiropractor, and then zipped home to gather up Gin & Jün and jump into Kate's car for a trip to The Big City! Our destination was the Milwaukee Public Museum.
This fascinating if graphic exhibit, punctuated by special effects of the thunderstorm variety, was... endlessly fascinating to these two! And, hopefully, not too traumatizing!
No, wait, it was the ESCALATORS that were even more fascinating. Haha!
I can't believe I'd never been to this museum before!!
We also enjoyed the butterfly exhibit. And this ^^^ was just incredible to see!
The museum also has an "Old Milwaukee" exhibit with a trolley car, cobblestone streets, and shops. It morphs into the "European Village" exhibit wherein each house, room, or shop is decorated in the traditional manner of a different country.
I was more than delighted to see plentiful knitting in the Latvian Room!
There was also knitting in the Irish House. You can see just a bit of a spinning wheel to the left. And I noticed St. Brigid's Cross on the wall as I cropped the photo! There was knitting/spinning evident in other rooms, too.
The kiddos stayed overnight on Friday because Rod had a gig out of town that came with a free hotel room, so Ali spent her first night without the kids in nearly 11 months! (The other grandparents had the baby.)
Saturday was Day 1 of the Best Picture Festival, which began with a screening of all the nominated Live Action Shorts. Holy moly. The BPF wraps up this Saturday and begins with screening the Animated Shorts. They had adorable "OSCAR" statues made of balloons flanking the theater entrance, and handed out ballots at the end of the evening so we can all play along at home.
In other news, I'm knitting a sweater for Malina.
It's in Malabrigo's WASHTED which I purchased at my new LYS, Casting On. If the sweater is a little bit big -- perhaps fitting her sister -- I won't really mind. I did rip & re-do the sleeves last night, though, as it looked as though I was knitting for a baby gorilla!
Lastly, I'm going to blast you with amaryllis photos. There are four flowers in full bloom and another just opening. There is also another bud coming up.
This plant is much smaller and daintier than the big ones I'm used to from the grocery store or wherever. It's just stunning. In the last photo, you can see two bud stalks from the larger plant that have also finally started to grow. So exciting.
Our Airbnb guest checked in on Monday and sent me a wonderful message about how beautiful the place was and she could move right in... that's always the stick by which we measure, too! Whew.
I can hardly believe we're mid-week and March is right around the corner. Ya-freakin'-hoo.
Joining Carole & friends for Three Things on Thursday...
Thing 1: It's Go Time! I mentioned the other day that we published Kate's/the upstairs apartment on Airbnb, and that there had been some interest.
It's been nine days, we've had eight inquiries, and we are so surprised! Of those:
One canceled booking by a woman whose son attending a nearby university would be recovering from outpatient surgery; upon further review, it turns out a traditional hotel (with long walkable hallways) would be better suited for his post-op needs.
Two declined bookings: one because the apartment wasn't suitable (she didn't read the listing limitations); the other because of too short notice!
Two that weren't possible: one because the number of guests suddenly increased and exceeded our capacity; another was a pre-approved request for dates that someone else snagged before it was accepted!
One pre-approved, awaiting confirmation.
There are two confirmed bookings! The first one is for Monday-Friday -- as in this coming Monday! So we are getting all the last-minute things done. And Kate, in the meantime, is also packing for a quick work/art trip to Nebraska... also keeping in mind upcoming longer trips to the UK & Europe! It's all a little crazy.
The other confirmed booking isn't until mid-April, but who knows what will happen between now & then! We truly didn't expect much until summertime, and then... maybe a family reunion, a wedding. None of these bookings or inquiries are for reasons that had even crossed our minds. So. What do we know?? Haha.
Thing 2: It's Almost Drive Time! I need to get an International Driving Permit (IDP) for Spain... a trip that is coming up right quick! (YIKES!!) I've had my application filled out for weeks, and finally had Rusty take some "passport-type photos" the other night, which I sized & printed, so I could bring the whole she-bang with me yesterday. Then I noticed that they required check or money order, and didn't accept cash... I don't know about you, but I haven't carried my checkbook in a very long time. I needed to make a deposit for work and happen to have my HSA account at the same institution, and they let me draw a $20 MO from there. I happily made my way to AAA and she told me that my photos were too big (even though they were processed to passport specs -- GAH!!). They could take photos there, and I'd have done it... if they'd accept a credit/debit card from a non-member, or I'd had a check with me, or a MO for $32 instead of $20. GRRR. I resized & reprinted photos last night -- and tucked a blank check into my wallet -- and will try again today!
Thing 3: It's Yarn Time! I've never knit a Fade (though I have printed out at least a couple of patterns), but that almost looks like it could be one! I've had some fun in the dye studio over the past couple of weeks. I've made it a point to put "DYE" on my calendar on my days off -- making it a priority on those days, not just a thing I do when I have time. There are a few last-minute tweaks before a website update later today -- shooting for noon CST!
I tried to "have a word" once -- maybe twice -- and it never went anywhere. I know there's not right way or wrong way to do that, but for it to really mean anything it takes commitment in a bunch of ways that I'm just not good at.
Every once in a while, a word crosses my eyeballs and I think, "That could be a contender."
This morning there were two, discovered as I was perusing a compilation of ancestors' marriage records, and they go so well together!
Experience and Patience.
Experience Ellis, 1687-1750, one of my great x7 grandmothers.
Patience Martin, 1684-1722, one of my great x8 grandmothers.
Likely Puritans in the tree! Aren't those the greatest names? Experience and Patience... things I use, to varying degree (and sometimes take for granted), every single day!
_ _ _ _ _
I enjoyed a fairly low-key weekend.
It was cold but sunny on Saturday, and I accompanied Kate on an outing to hit some thrift shops in Green Bay... for no particular reason, though we have finally published the apartment listing on Airbnb and there are a few not-urgent things on that list. In less than a week we've already had some inquiries and even a booking that was later canceled! Plans change... sometimes quickly!
I am just a little bit sorry that I left this on the shelf. There was something like this in my childhood memory, but I'm not sure of its origin. My mom did paint by number back in the day, and it's possible she did "elegant mosaic craft" as well!
Fun fact: there was a dedicated Green Bay Packers section in just about every shop we visited!
Rod was half of a duo playing nearby on Saturday night, and I watched the kids while Ali & Kate went to see the show.
Jün & Gin had brand new washcloths (Superman & Elsa) and toys from a stop at the dollar store, so naturally we filled the tub with bubbles! Look at that baby... she pulled herself up to peer into the tub several times, to join in the giggling.
I managed a little dyeing on both days (it sure helps to put it as a to-do on my calendar), made a a couple of nice dinners, continued my DuoLingo streak (24-going-on-25 days!), did a little book work, and a little knitting (so close with Ali's socks). I didn't get to anything sewing-related, as hoped, but it'll all still be there...
I am currently working on Ali's second sock! A couple days after my last Unraveled post, I ripped out the first sock and started over because I knew it wasn't going to fit. It might be a bit more complicated, but I really do love Ysolda's Long-tail Tubular Cast-on! (Did I mention that I saw Ysolda at Rhinebeck? Even spoke to her... well, no, I basically grunted as she handed me a Ravelry pin. Completely starstruck! I could have talked to her about so many things, but no...)
Anyway, it's apparently my go-to cast-on. In addition, I went up a needle size (US 6 instead of 5) and started with a few more stitches.
I finished the first so Ali could try it on last weekend -- it fit perfectly and she was so happy! I can't wait to finish the pair, and I'm thinking they'll be an FO by the weekend.
Since I took the photos yesterday afternoon, I've made a heel flap & turned the heel. I'll knit the gusset tonight so that by Knit Night on Thursday, I'll be working the mindless foot. Christmas knitting ought to be done well before Valentine's Day!!
I am reading My Brilliant Friend. There's been a lot going on around here, so I've only read a couple of pages every night. I haven't been listening to anything. I'm going to have to suspend my Audible account for a while!