The Great Silence

It's sometimes a little ridiculous, but I've long received Rob Brezsny's Astrology Newsletter email every Tuesday morning. And every once in a while, it really strikes and chord and/or makes me think. The last three weeks have been pretty darn good, each provoking on its own, but I also feel a thread, a slow build.

Two weeks ago, he wrote about Count von Count:

SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): On the kids' TV show *Sesame Street*, there's a muppet character named Count von Count. He's a friendly vampire who loves to count things. He is 6,523,730 years old and his favorite number is 34,969—the square root of 187. The Count was "born" on November 13, 1972, when he made his first appearance on the show, which means he's a Scorpio. I propose we make him your patron saint for the next four weeks. It's an excellent time to transform any threatening qualities you might seem to have into harmless and cordial forms of expression. It's also a favorable phase for you to count your blessings and make plans that will contribute to your longevity.

Last week, he wrote about Paul Valéry:

SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): In the course of his 73 years on the planet, Scorpio author Paul Valéry (1871–1945) wrote more than 20 books. But between the ages of 25 and 45, he passed through a phase he called the "great silence." During that time, he quit writing and published nothing. Afterwards, he returned to his life's work and was nominated 12 times for a Nobel Prize. Although your own version of a great silence is less extreme than his, I'm happy to announce that you will emerge from it sooner than you imagine.

And this week, about John Cleese:

SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): Scorpio comedian John Cleese does solo work, but many of his successful films, albums, stage shows, and TV programs have arisen from joining forces with other comedians. "When you collaborate with someone else on something creative," he testifies, "you get to places that you would never get to on your own." I propose you make this your temporary motto, Scorpio. Whatever line of work or play you're in, the coming weeks will offer opportunities to start getting involved in sterling synergies and symbioses. To overcome the potential limitations of social distancing, make creative use of Zoom and other online video conferencing. (Here's more from Cleese: "The way an idea builds as it careens back and forth is so unpredictable. Sometimes it depends on people misunderstanding each other, and that's why I don't think there's any such thing as a mistake in the creative process. You never know where it might lead.")

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I am definitely feeling "the great silence" right now. In fact, this post -- with nothing but the title -- has been in my drafts since last Thursday. There are things going on, I'm posting here and there on IG and sometimes even FB, but I just don't feel like talking about any of it right now. I'm having a hard time concentrating at times, and it often feels like everything is going in slow motion -- one or two rows on a shawl every night, one chapter away from finishing a book (just read it already), plodding one foot in front of the other... I am desperately trying to not even let the word "depression" enter my thoughts, even though I am surely feeling that way. It's extraordinarily hard for someone who thrives on making plans for the future -- big trips, little trips, day trips -- to not be making any plans at all. It doesn't make me feel better that we're all in the same boat, more or less.

Here are a bunch of pics mostly of cute kiddos from over the weekend, guaranteed to bring smiles... and you just can't help but feel some hope!

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Kate took some video & photos of Rusty and I setting The Marriage Window in place the other day... and the un-/re-remodel is coming along fantastically! It's been a super fun project for all of us.

xo


3TT: I ain't got much

Joining Carole & friends for Three Things on Thursday...

It was a gorgeous day yesterday and here are three photos!

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I drove down to my CSA farm again to pick up plants and soil that I'd ordered a few weeks ago. Mostly herbs (mostly basil), but also a few tomatoes and a zucchini. I've never grown zucchini but we sure do eat a lot of it, so we'll see how it goes. I'd also placed an order to pick up at the farm store -- asparagus, spinach, and radishes again, but this time some local eggs, too.

What a gorgeous day for a drive! Today is much the same and the weekend will be warm, too, but with a chance of some rain. I have a day-off switcheroo next week, Tuesday instead of Wednesday, so a nice long weekend to enjoy it!

 


Putzing along

We put together a couple of puzzles a while back and I've been meaning to glue them together.

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This one is the Yoro Park Puzzle from Slowdown Studio, and it is destined for the Airbnb. The box that it came in is super cute (and a lot smaller) and resides on a shelf in our living room, so we also get to enjoy the image. The puzzle was harder than it looks! I'd never heard of Yoro Park before... it looks very interesting! Anyway, my Mod Podging skills won't be winning any awards, but it's done... now I need to find a frame.

The other puzzle is much bigger, so I'm glad I got my feet wet with this one.

After almost 10 weeks without an Airbnb guest, and my will-they/won't-they waffling with resulting scramble on Friday to get ready, we pulled it off. He sent the sweetest message on Friday night:

Saturday was gorgeous and they took a day-trip up to Door County. It's a little early for cherry blossoms, but it sure was a great day for a drive.

I got a little goofy and tried on some sunglasses that were delivered for Kate on Saturday.

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Tom Ford and Fendi! That's around $900 of designer shade right there, that she scored on super super super sale. They look 900% better on her, but I had a laugh.

Well, I probably won't ever have a Hills Hoist of my own, but I do love hanging my laundry out, and was able to do that on Saturday.

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Rusty's been moving right along with the project.

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It was a wet dreary mess yesterday (and today, improving tomorrow), so he was in the basement painting some windows.

I think I have all the yarn wound up for the Safe At Home Baby Blanket!

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I've moved the middle of "E" down to "I." They're both Kool-aid dyed yarns that I made specifically with this project in mind. I wouldn't mind one more darker/richer option for "G," and may toss the stash once more to see what I can come up with; otherwise, I'm happy with these colors. I'm determined not to buy anything new, and I don't really want to dye anything new, either.

I do want to finish Romi's Mystery Shawl before I begin this, though, and I finally started on the final clue last night while watching TV.

We're watching "The Great" on Hulu... have you heard of it?

Well, we didn't actually watch it last night because of a glitch, but it's good! We like it better than we thought we would.

As mentioned, RAIN yesterday...

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So, we finally rearranged the living room.

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A few pieces of furniture are (or will be) gone. It'll take a little while to "settle in" but I think I like it... there will be some rearranging on the walls, at some point, too.

I can't wait to see the kids' reaction!! (Our cat is a little confused...)

 


TGIF!

What a(nother) week! Let's catch up.

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On Monday, I took delivery of a delightful package from the UK. I've been following the work of Suraya Hossain at Mahliqa for a while, and recently ordered the limited edition set of Thistle Stitch Markers that were produced for the 2019 Edinburgh Yarn Fest. I've never been to EYF, but I have been to Edinburgh and, in fact, it was just about 6 years ago (as my social media timelines are beginning to remind me)! I look forward to the day when I can possibly return, and I sure wouldn't be sad if it was to attend EYF.

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Rusty's been working on the remodel/un-remodel/re-remodel of the back porch most afternoons. I took this photo on Tuesday afternoon and yesterday, he had the other wall framed and outside window sills in place! We'll get all those windows installed and then eyeball placement of the "marriage window" before he can frame that in... there's a lot going on there and we're just going to "have to see."

I'll tell you one thing, it's getting more exciting every day -- the prospect of doubling the "garden room" space and have it actually usable has us all feeling a little giddy!

During a recent Zoom-chat with Cara & Ann, Ann asked me to ask Maddy about the Hills Hoist, which I did, "...have you or Viv ever heard of it?"

Maddy replied by saying, "Hahaaa! Viv is very proud of this! They are everywhere. Pretty sure every one of Viv's family members' houses have one!"

And then on Tuesday, she sent me photos of theirs (at Viv's mom's, where they've been quarantined) in action!

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Have you ever heard of Hills Hoists? (Also, can you buy hummus in a bucket... with a handle... one large enough that it can repurposed to hold clothes pegs?)

I had Wednesday off of work -- my usual day off every week. I won't say that my mojo returned, but I sewed up the pile of masks anyway.

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Part of my slowness is due to the fact that, though not resistant to wearing a mask, I sometimes feel resentful about having to wear one, no matter how beautiful, cute, cheeky, or fun. I get mad (at no one in particular, and everyone!) that we're in this situation, I feel sad, and then I find something else to do...

Change the scenery/task a million times a day so as not to dwell on the clusterfuck happening all around me. Wisconsin is nutso right now.

On a brighter note, I had an inquiry on Wednesday for a weekend stay at the Airbnb -- Thu-Sun. I started pulling it together on Wednesday night, but didn't want to "go all the way" unless I knew for sure (so many queries have fallen through or were bogus to begin with), and still didn't have a firm booking confirmation, when I went to bed around 10... early (for me). I checked my phone when I got up at 4 a.m., and sure enough there'd been a reply to confirm at closer to 11 (my usual early bedtime). Then I tossed & turned for an hour before getting up at 5 to finish before heading to work. Kate did all the last-minute stocking and fluffing -- and, oh yeah, she & Rusty had to break into the lock box! Ha. Anyway, it feels good to have people up there. And, there's a couple from NYC arriving the following Sunday to quarantine for two weeks before going to visit her parents in Green Lake. The bookings don't make up for all the cancellations, but at least it's something, and we love having a nice place to offer.

It's an absolutely gorgeous day today, and tomorrow holds promise, too! I hope you have a good weekend.

 


Monday!

I don't know why the exclamation point, I'm not all that excited about Monday(s).

I hope you had a good weekend! Mine was good. I had watched the kiddos on Friday evening so that Ali could do her baking to fulfill Mother's Day orders at the shop. (Rod needed some relief, having already had them all day! And most of the days that Ali is working!) So, because of that, she let me off from my "volunteer" stint at the shop on Saturday. I took that opportunity to drive down to my CSA to pick up a farm store order that I'd placed online. It's almost an hour away, but the drive is one of my favorites along nearly the entire east side of Lake Winnebago.

Lake-winnebago-mapIt was nice & sunny! I didn't see a soul at the farm when I plucked my order from the fridge. OMG. Baby Beets. ASPARAGUS!! Spinach. Radishes. I'm not sure I've had fresh-from-the-farm asparagus before... it was so good. They were big stalks, but so tender.

I also took a really great nap on Saturday!

Ali & family came over again on Sunday for Mother's Day brunch... pretty much all provided by Ali. She made the best quiche I've had in a while, as well as some coffee cakes, and her specialty and favorite, the French Opera Cake.

Junah & Ginny hopped on their bikes and I walked along -- it was so chilly, but felt good to be outside. We went to the local park, where the playground is closed, but they had fun riding around on the softball field. I'm sure that would be frowned upon in "normal" times, though, in "normal" times it would likely have been in use for its intended purpose. There are a couple of other ball diamonds within view/earshot of home and it's so weird to have them quiet... usually, the field lights would be on until 11 p.m. most nights and we can hear cheering, traffic, and sometimes even the crack of a bat.

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Anyway, Ginny picked flowers for her mom and for me... these were for Ali. It was cold and I needed my hands free so I could put them in my pockets; she picked dandelions for me and stuffed them in her own. I looked at this photo for quite a while this morning... I'd posted it on IG yesterday, but the view on my desktop... WHOA. There are some new lines! Well, I guess I won't be accused of "having work done." Heh. By this age, my mother had already had a facelift. There was only 20 years difference in our age to begin with, and a youthful appearance was always very important to her, so we were frequently mistaken for sisters -- which she absolutely loved, as you might imagine. A few weeks ago, during a Saturday "volunteer" shift with Ali, a customer came into the shop and during conversation learned that Ali and I were mother/daughter. He was surprised and exclaimed that he was sure we were sisters. It's the first time that anyone has ever said that about me and any of my daughters. I almost cried... not because I was "happy" about it (grain of salt, there was also quite some distance between us), but because it made me think of my mom... and I would have loved to share that bit of news with her!!

Meanwhile, back at home...

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...maybe I should have my photo taken through the playhouse window! I might have popped the contrast on these photos when I posted them to IG, but they're otherwise untouched and they sure have a lovely glow, don't they? The spiderwebs and dirt make a pretty good filter! Haha.

I unraveled and reclaimed some yarn for the Safe at Home baby blanket over the weekend, played around with some design ideas, and started organizing my yarn for the project. I even wound up a few hanks (my winding set up is not very ergonomic, but that will soon change).

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I'll be holding the yarn double and am using multiples for almost every color (some are leftovers from other projects and quite limited).

 


Friday things & more house stuff

EYE CANDY FRIDAY - MACRO MAY!

I almost let Macro May slide by this year, being out of sorts and all that, but decided to jump in again and I'm so glad I did. So, here's a little Eye Candy for your Friday.

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Bleeding hearts. Fiddlehead ferns. Hens & chicks. All from my own back yard!

 

SAFE AT HOME

I've begun knitting the skies on my Safe At Home audition:

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And there's a shot of the back. I meant to try a mitered sky between the 2nd & 3rd house, but forgot. Heh. It's a quick little seam to sew up, at least (and I can "use an end").

I mentioned in reply to a few people yesterday that I ran across a knitter who was using this house motif AS A BORDER on more of a patchwork-knit blanket, which I think is brilliant! I wasn't enamored with either the patchwork pattern or the colors she was using, but I could easily jazz that up and make it my own -- my brain is thinking along the lines of a Safe-at-Home+Albers-y+Parcheesi-ish mash-up -- stripey, colorful, fun, and mostly square! I was sharing this idea during a chat with Cara & Ann and Cara suggested/we riffed on random houses, "their" house, "my" house, "meaningful" houses, paths to connect them. Oh boy oh boy oh boy... some of that might be a path too far, but who knows?! I might actually plan this thing... and I think I'll be winding & organizing yarn this weekend.

P.S. This is SUCH a great use for my Briar Rose Fibers leftovers from Nightshift! Still planning on making a pillow with this.

 

MORE HOUSE STUFF (which turned into a bit of a story!)

Rusty & I have been dreaming/doing "house stuff" since we met.

He was in the process of finishing the house at Cape Kiwanda when we met, and sometimes I'd help; other times, I'd sit and knit and watch. Eventually we added on (I dug the trench for footings!), and we even got married in that house.

We'd rented a house "in town" (Tillamook) together for a while before we officially "moved in together," and did a lot of work there (it was pretty awful).

Not long after we were married (and our family was growing), we bought a house up the coast at Cape Meares, and did a lot of work in that house, too, including rebuilding a huge deck, adding a sun room and patio, and a re-do of the kitchen -- which I never fully enjoyed because, by then, we were moving to Wisconsin.

We rented a house in Appleton and left our mark there, when Rusty rebuilt the back steps.

Finally, in 1987, we bought our current house, where, as you might imagine, we've done a.lot.

Back in the '80s, when Rusty built the house at Cape Kiwanda, he frequented a place called "The Other Lumber Company." It sold used lumber and stuff -- before it got classy and started to be called "architectural salvage"! The windows, doors, greenhouse panels, etc., he used in that house had all been previously owned. This was something I totally got into, having always had a thing for "fixer-uppers" and antiques.

So, backing up to somewhere between our meeting/renting/finishing/getting married, we would occasionally take a trip to Portland and end up at places like Hippo Hardware and antique shops. We bought a few things that we needed & intended to use right away, but we also bought things that we just plain fell in love with and had to have, thinking... we'll find a place for it! We bought a pair of stained & leaded glass doors from Denmark in that manner, which we never did find a use for and sold 15-20 years later at my mother's antique shop. Her shop had an entire floor rented to a fledgling architectural salvage outfit -- Urban Evolutions -- which is still in business today, having grown and changed quite a bit since then -- and, incidentally, where we bought the huge "science room" cabinet for our kitchen that had been salvaged from a local high school.

Anyway, the very first thing we ever bought together in the "we will use it someday" vein -- before we were even married, so a commitment, if you will -- was a leaded/pressed glass window. We never did find a use for it, but we could never bring ourselves to get rid of it, either... it was meaningful! So it's been stored in the basement for all these years... recipient of loving, reminiscent glances from time to time.

Kate calls it "the marriage window."

Though we've not bitten off any big new projects in recent years, we still do plenty of dreaming. A few years ago, there were some sketches done with the idea of adding a second bathroom in the laundry room, but that never really went anywhere. Last year, Kate had an idea to add a "funky addition" to the porch... which was super cool in theory and on paper, but maybe next to impossible to actually execute. Recently, she & Rusty brainstormed an idea to make that funky addition an actual addition to the garden room -- pushing it out to and reclaiming a mostly-unused corner of the back porch. They approached me with the idea as if they had something to sell, but I was on board right away, and the brainstorming continued... re-work (again) the old porch windows, use the extra windows (salvaged, of course) from the garage project, should we add a door out to the porch...??

I won't bore you with the entire jagged thought process, but eventually *** LIGHTBULB MOMENT *** the "marriage window" finally found its place!

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It's dirty and heavy (I've helped Rusty flip it a few times already) and needs some TLC, but it's so damn cool and I'm so freakin' excited that it has found a place -- that it will finally be part of our home...

That's a terrible photo, and I'd certainly have taken a better one had I realized that this post was going to take a turn! There will be plenty of opportunity in the weeks ahead... Rusty is making the first intentional trip to the lumber yard today for 2x4s. Stay tuned!

 


3TT: Grasping

Joining Carole & friends for Three Things on Thursday...

Grasping at straws, I am...

Today I am sharing THREE ROWS OF PICTURES IN A GRID ON A WALL.

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As you may know, Kate has worked on & off (currently off) at a used/buy-sell book store for quite a while. Occasionally, a really awesome book would come in but it was bound for the dumpster because it was damaged in some way (and therefore not sale-able)... and, occasionally, such a book would be rescued!

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Such was the case with Wooden Houses, which had a broken spine. She's had it for a while and, upon picking it up recently, had a little thought bubble about hanging some of those photos on the wall. We ordered some record album mounting things, Rusty mounted them all for us on foam-core, and we did the deed yesterday in the still-vacant Airbnb*. She did most of the eyeballing, figuring, marking, and pounding; I juggled pencil, level, hammer, and nails.

The photos are so cool! There's so much to look at and examine in each one. And today I saw The Wooden Architecture of Russia, which made me think of my mother (these few days before Mother's Day), so naturally it's on the way to my mailbox. My mom visited Russia on a "school trip" in 1974, while a nursing student & single mother of 5 teens/pre-teens. She would have loved this book!

*The Packers schedule is released this evening and we had more than a few bookings within minutes of the announcement last year... it will be interesting to see what happens tonight. So many events have already been canceled or postponed...

 


Unraveled Wednesday: Building Houses

I'm joining Kat & the Unravelers today to share what I'm knitting and reading... 

KNITTING

I keep plugging away at Romi's Mystery Shawl 2020, but last night I decided to make some roofs instead.

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I haven't picked that project up in a few days... my mojo is not where I need it right now! But I think I've come up with the yarns for the baby blanket version of this, and we'll just see how it goes.

SEWING

I have the same lack of mojo in the sewing department, but, once it's located, there are at least 7 face masks ready to sew up.

READING

I have finished The Story of More: How We Got to Climate Change and Where to Go from Here. I didn't enjoy it as much as her memoir (because memoir), and I even speeded up the playback toward the end. I will re-listen to the last part about all the things we can actually do.

I'm occasionally listening to Stephen Fry read Harry Potter, and enjoying it very much. Yesterday I downloaded Seamus Heaney's translation/reading of BEOWULF, which I read in high school (in Old English, because that's how our English teacher rolled for senior year), and it's great to hear... but I want to listen and read along at the same time, so will need to resolve that soon.

On top of the stack on my nightstand most recently is Sarah Read's The Bone Weaver's Orchard, recent winner of The Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in a First Novel. Now, horror is NOT usually my genre, but Sarah... Sarah is a knitter, a librarian, and a neighbor! Well, she lives across town, but I KNOW HER! She used to live in CO with her husband and two sons, and worked at Interweave and at The Loopy Ewe, and she still does a lot of freelance writing/editing... and even some knitting. I bought the book ages ago for Rusty (who attends the writing workshops at our library led by Sarah) (now online), and am finally getting around to it myself. IT'S GOOD... and not too scary (yet).


Four

Ginny turned 4 on Saturday!

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We had a "distanced" celebration yesterday at their house. Thankfully, it was a beautiful day (though very windy) and there was lots of room for everyone outside.

Among Ginny's gifts was the DVD for Tangled -- aka, Disney does Rapunzel.

When she opened it, she exclaimed, "It's Rapunzel... with another man!!"

Apparently, she's been watching a Barbie version and the heroine's must look similar, but the heroes do not.

😉 🤣

 


Come What May

Well, April flew right on by, didn't it? March was such a slog. I have no idea what this month will be like... COME WHAT MAY.

I do know that there will be flowers.

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I love these pale yellow tulips in the back yard.

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The bleeding hearts are almost there! My garden is full of them (and I'm not sad).

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Rusty brought Pan out to the garden yesterday. (Not really Pan, but that's what we've always called him... actually more like Daphnis or Dionysus -- especially with the grapes.) He's around 30 years old now! Maddy was pretty little when she and our neighbor Luke tossed the original "flutes" (made of plastic tubing) down the hill. Rusty replaced them with these copper pipes that are ever-so-much-better than the original.

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The Kool-aid yarn got the vinegar spa treatment the other day, so I'm ready to proceed with loosely sorting my colors. I want to make sure I have a pretty good range and balance of light/dark, warm/cool. I think I'm there...

I hope you have a great weekend!

 


Shrinky Dinks

Once upon a time, the kids & I made Shrinky Dinks. Remember those??

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They were in a Toy Story mood, but there was also a purple My Little Pony (Ginny) and a pretty cool key (Junah). Unfortunately, I didn't take any photos of their projects, but we sure had a blast!

Ali supplied the sheets we used:

 

Afterwards, I ordered more for future, including some with patterned sheets, which might work well for the kids in a free-form way.

I couldn't resist doing a couple myself, and used designs from the Anni Albers book I'd purchased at Black Mountain College Museum when Kate and I visited Asheville in February.

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It's been decades since I made a Shrinky Dink, and there was a bit of a learning curve. That's what came out of the oven, and I learned two things: 1) an insulated pan might not have been the best choice, and 2) whether insulated or not, preheating the pan is probably a good idea.

I have to admit that I sort of loved them all curly like that, but I stuck them back in the oven...

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I was able to flatten out the bigger piece (1-7/8″ x 2-1/4″), but the smaller one wouldn't come apart!

It was really fun!!

 


Weekending

Our "nature break" this week was going to be at the local nature center that's "right in our own backyard," but instead it turned out to be -- literally -- IN OUR OWN BACKYARD.

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Garden clean-up underway! Truthfully, it was mostly Kate and a little Rusty, with observation by me. It doesn't look like much, but there was a lot of cleaning out. Soon, we'll get some mulch for the path and a few more plants.

I'll also be picking up herb & tomato plants from my CSA  in just about 3 weeks! (I'd better start getting ready.)

I had a few more packets of the stuff, so did a little more Kool-Aid dyeing -- also with a couple new ones that I snagged on our last trip to the store -- and just found a couple more that I'd stashed a long time ago. But I think I'm pretty good with what I've dyed so far. I need to spread everything out and double-check all my colors.

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I joined Mary's Sunday Knitters Zoom Meet-up yesterday and someone sounded the alarm about Kool-Aid dye and colorfastness! After a little research, my method was good/recommended, but as an extra precaution I'm going to pop it all back into a hot citric acid or vinegar bath.

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I finally put stitch markers in to mark the repeats in Romi's Mystery Shawl and, as you might expect, it really helps!! I still have a ways to go before I begin the most recent clue... but I keep plugging away.

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I'm also plugging away at my "practice piece" for Safe At Home. It looks a little scary! A lot of those ends are already woven in and just awaiting trimming -- or maybe just a quick run back in the other direction first. I need to knit roofs and skies, and then a border... and then a back (or maybe that could be fabric). I'm thinking rectangular/bolster pillow... and I'm thinking of one for each of my homies. Heh.

 


HBD 2020

Madeleine's 29th birthday is today! Kate was 35 on Wednesday! Ali hit 33 last Thursday!

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And, with that, Birthday Season has concluded!*

I don't think I've mentioned that Maddy has written a blog post -- possibly a one-off, but maybe there will be more? Basically, in a nutshell, life has turned upside-down down-under just as it has everywhere else. Maddy & Viv thought they'd be working/living in Western Australia for a while, but will be turning around and heading back to New South Wales (today, I believe), to hunker down and, after quarantine, work on Viv's parents' farm. She'd begun to plan on coming home in November for a visit, around my birthday more or less, but that's pretty unlikely now. I really don't know when I'll hug her next. Thank god for all the different ways that we can connect these days.

Alison is hanging in there at the coffee shop, reduced schedule/hours, limited menu, and basically a one-woman show! Online ordering, for the most part, touch-free pick up or curbside delivery are allowing her to hang in there. I think Kate & I are going to basically be "volunteers" on Saturdays. We were up there today and it was fun, plus we get to hang out! But she's probably going to have to call at least one of her employees back -- if they're willing -- for weekdays. It's a very tricky situation on many levels right now...

Kate's been hunkered down here, after her trip to Scotland was cut short last month. She's finished painting the Airbnb and we're slowly getting the decor updated and the whole thing put back together. I actually had two inquiries last week, but, alas, neither of them resulted in a booking. She's also been beading earrings like a madwoman and opened an Etsy shop: Glass Brick Beadwork. You can also check out @glassbrickbeadwork on IG.

A few have inquired about Ann, and things are proceeding there, albeit with a hiccup or two. They still plan to move to Peru this summer (they've just rented a house and I had a little video tour)! (I can't wait to visit!) They've been on lock-down in Spain for five weeks now? I think? Restrictions are slowly beginning to ease. I won't see any of them this year unless I'm able to travel there this fall (and not be in quarantine the entire time) or they return for Christmas, as originally planned (and also aren't in quarantine the entire time). The boys won't be coming here this summer, as camp has been canceled and everything's been thrown off -- they'll just all travel to Peru together -- and that means a postponed Auntie Camp! Maybe we can have a holiday edition.

*(Ha. At least for a week -- another month, anyway -- when Ginny turns 4!) (Yes, FOUR!)

 


The week that got away

I've been doing a lot of putzing this week and wish I had some real thing or accomplishment to show for it... lots of little stuff. I bounce around here from one thing to another like a pinball, and it seems like it's GAME OVER awfully quick everyday.

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It doesn't help that it's been chilly, windy and gray for most of the week. It looks like the sun might break through a bit later today, and shine/warm up for the weekend, but next week looks pretty gray and drippy. Ugh. /gripe

Yesterday, I finished cleaning out a small chest that I had in the living room which we decided to move up to the apartment. It was full of random -- and some very aged -- knitting & related stuff, including a small sandwich bag full of Kool-Aid packets and a print-out from Knitty (Fall 2002!) about dyeing yarn with the stuff.

I'm still pulling together my yarn palette for the Safe At Home blanket and thought that a couple of those Kool-Aid colors might be just right. Obviously, I'd planned to, but never actually dyed with Kool-Aid before and, welp, it just couldn't be easier. Dissolve the powder in water, add yarn and heat for a while, let cool, rinse & let dry.

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I used Berry Blue, Lemonade, Lemon Ice, and Orange. I used two packets of each, except for the Lemon Ice which was not really any color at all... I had dissolved one packet of it and just added it to the Berry Blue pot. (I didn't want to waste it? I dunno...)

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Anyway, there it is just after adding the yarn. The color is soaked up fairly quickly, and... FRUITY!

I went down this morning to finish up and, well, these colors are not too bad. This is spun-dry and might lighten up a tad when fully dry.

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I'm especially taken with that pale "Lemonade" yellow.

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Meanwhile, I just couldn't wait to get a feel for knitting that blanket, and decided to give it a go with the Briar Rose Fourth of July Nightshift Kit. Intarsia is not something I do very often, but this isn't too bad! I'm thinking I have enough of this yarn (and variety of colors) that I can make a pillow cover.

I hope y'all had a good week!

 


Making & Improving Things

Some random stuff going on over here:

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Kate has finished repainting the bedrooms upstairs. I love the sunshine streaming into this room (which used to be our bedroom when we occupied the entire house)! It's also more than a little depressing, as an Airbnb Superhost who really relished the role, to see nothing but cancellations and uncertainty in the future. Weddings, reunions, and conferences have been canceled, postponed, or are happening via other methods. Not to mention the impact on our income. Blah. I try not to languish there and look ahead, instead. We're doing a re-do of decor and then I'll update photos and the listing... we'll be ready, come what may.

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Kate also helped me make some vegetable dumplings! Yum. She helped make dumplings in December when Maddy, Viv, Katy & Cito were here -- MK&C having just visited Japan -- but I didn't get in on the actual making then. It was fun!

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I got new tires on my car -- new front brakes and an oil change, too! Pretty mundane, but I'm very happy about it all (especially the tires -- that was way overdue).

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Rusty's been doing some repairs to the plaster-and-lathe ceiling in the laundry room. That's also a chore that's way overdue -- WAY WAY WAY OVERDUE! We got a good deal on some new laminate flooring at Restore just around Christmas -- the current floor in here is just painted particle board, and it's deteriorating -- but I proposed that we had to start at the top. I'd really love a complete re-do in this room, and we've pondered major renovation, too, but I think we'll just stick with ceiling & floor right now. And a little re-arranging (likely some purging) of some of the stuff in there. Out of necessity, due to previous owners being inattentive to their dog, that was the first room in the house that got any serious attention -- paint, wallpaper (which we found in the basement), and floor -- that was 33 years ago! (Hm. Not bad mileage for a much-used painted particle board floor, I guess!)

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In addition to knitting and stitching, I did a little sewing for Malina & Gin... these are Baby Raleigh tops from Little Lizard King (a free pattern, available in two size ranges). The main fabric is vintage from a friend's stash (and lining is vintage muslin -- maybe old curtains -- from mine) and I just couldn't be happier with them. And, yes! I've downloaded the adult-size cross-back apron pattern that Kym linked to today!!

 


3TT: Three Recipes

Joining Carole & friends for Three Things on Thursday...

I think we're all cooking a bit more, whether we want to or not. Here are three recipes that are high on the rotation list and that we really love... maybe you will, too! There's a little bit more involved than just opening cans (oh, that is a really great reward for opening cans!), but not much!

STEAK AND ONION PIE
(inspo: videojug)

Special note: Thaw puff pastry according to package directions, usually about 40 minutes
Serves: 4
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour
Oven temp: Preheat to 400°

1.25-1.5 lbs. steak, diced (I used sirloin)
1 c. flour, seasoned with salt & pepper
6 T. vegetable oil
2 onions, peeled & chopped
1 T. chopped fresh parsley
1/2 T. tomato puree (or paste. I didn't have either, so used a squirt of ketchup)
3/4 c. beef stock (or bouillon)
salt & pepper
1 pre-rolled puff pastry
1 egg, beaten

Sprinkle the seasoned flour over the meat and mix in well. Heat the vegetable oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the beef and onions. Stir well until meat is browned, about 5 minutes.

When meat is browned, add tomato puree/paste/ketchup and stock. Season with salt & pepper. Stir well, cover, and turn down heat. Simmer for 30 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat and add the parsley. Pour into an ovenproof dish and spread evenly. Unroll the pastry and lay it over the dish, pushing down the edges with your fingers. Cut away excess, if necessary. Brush the beaten egg over the pastry.

Bake for 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve hot!

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I had a really good seal, apparently, and it came out of the oven looking a little bit like a roast turkey! Ha! It settled down after a few minutes... and it was delicious!

You can watch this in a video lesson here:

^ ^ ^ ^ ^

Roasted Portobello Mushroom Tacos
with Creamy Slaw & Crispy Shallots
(inspo: Plated)

Serves: 2
Prep time: 30-40 minutes
Oven temp: Preheat to 425°

1 lime, halved & juiced
2 shallots, thinly sliced into rings
1 clove garlic, minced
4 large portobello mushrooms, cut into 1/4" slices (I recommend using more)
1/8 oz. fresh cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
2 scallions, trimmed & thinly sliced
1/4 tsp. ground coriander
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. smoked paprika
1-1/2 T. olive oil
6 corn tortillas (or flour, if you prefer)
3 T. mayonnaise
3 T. sour cream
Slaw mix: 1-1/2 c. each shredded cabbage & shredded carrots (or whatever comes in the bag)
3 T. canola oil

Toss mushroom slices with coriander, cumin, paprika and olive oil, along with 3/4 tsp. salt and pepper to taste. Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast in oven until lightly browned and tender, 15 minutes.

Warm the tortillas. (Wrap in foil and put in oven, or however you prefer).

Whisk together the mayonnaise, sour cream, garlic, lime juice, and cilantro. Season with 1/4 tsp. salt and pepper to taste. Add the slaw mix and scallions; toss to coat.

Heat the canola oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. When the oil shimmers, add the shallots in a single layer and fry without moving until crisp on the bottom, about 1 minute. Stir and continue cooking until crisp all over, about 2 minutes more. Use a slotted spoon to remove shallots to a paper towel-lined plate.

To serve, top the tortillas with the roasted mushrooms, add the slaw, and top with crispy shallots.

^ ^ ^ ^ ^

Italian Spinach and Tortellini Soup
(inspo: Weight Watchers)

Special note: A one-bowl meal!
Serves: 4-6
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes

2 tsp. olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 (or more) zucchini, halved lengthwise & sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1-1/2 tsp. dry Italian seasoning
3/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. red pepper flakes (if desired)
45 oz. reduced-sodium vegetable broth (or broth of choice)
1 or 2 14-1/2 oz. cans diced tomatoes (I like fire-roasted)
1/2 c. water
1 9-oz. pkg. cheese tortellini (or more, if you like!)
4 c. loosely packed baby spinach, chopped if you like (I usually use a lot more)
1/4 c. chopped fresh basil
3 T. grated Parmesan cheese (or similar)

Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion begins to soften (about 3 minutes). Add zucchini and cook, stirring occasionally, until it is crisp-tender (about 3 minutes). Add garlic and seasonings, stirring constantly until fragrant (about 30 seconds). Stir in broth, tomatoes, and water. Cover and bring to a boil. Stir in the tortellini and cook according to package directions. Stir in spinach and cook until wilted (about 1 minute). Ladle soup into bowls and sprinkle with the basil and cheese.

^ ^ ^ ^ ^

I'd love to hear what you think if you make any of these! Bon appetit!

 


Unraveled Wednesday: Taking it literally

I'm joining Kat & the Unravelers today to share what I'm knitting and reading... and doing. And there's big news! As usual, I've buried the lead, so see if you can find it. Heh.

KNITTING

Um, yeah... so this happened:

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I was so close to finishing the first of two repeats of this section and dropped a couple of stitches. Perhaps I'd have had better luck fixing it if it was one of those patterns where you just "purled back" on the WS row, but stitches are manipulated on both sides and there are increases besides.

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I must have slightly more than zero patience, having even attempted to fix it, but that's it. While Annie & I had a video chat the other day, I ripped back to a certain point and re-wound the yarn. I'll be getting back to that shortly.

In other knitting news, I've bound off my Nightshift shawl and wove in all the ends.

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I meant to give that a soak today, but didn't quite get around to it. I'm not crazy about the width-to-depth ratio and hope that it will improve a bit with the wash. I am absolutely in love with the concept/stitch patterning and the yarn/colors, though. It's simply stunning in person.

Also in the realm of knitting, I'm thinking of knitting a blanket. I've been thinking about it for a while now, and originally thought that perhaps I'd knit another bigger Parcheesi (I've always wanted to), but then I saw the Safe at Home Blanket by Margaret Holzmann, and I think that's going to be the one. I think that it'll be the perfect thing to wrap a new grandchild in come September... all kinds of things will be knit into that!

It's Ali who is expecting. She sent a video of the kids a while back where they announced that they're having a new sibling... or "swibbelling," as Ginny put it.

SEWING (sort of)

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I had thought that perhaps I'd finish this quilt for the baby... and who knows what'll happen between now & September... maybe I'll have a CHOICE! I laundered it last week and hung it on the line for a second so I could take a photo.

I have an IG friend in São Paulo who wanted to see some close-ups, so I obliged with 10 -- if you'd like to take a look. I am looking forward to giving this a good press and determining whether the fabric I have in mind for backing will actually "go." If not, I'll have to go shopping!

I've been working on my Alabama Chanin Car Jacket.

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It's taking a while to get my mojo going... but I'm plugging away.

DYEING

As in I actually did some today.

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I'm trying to match -- or come close -- to some yarn that I dyed a while back, at the request of a customer. We'll see. (I'm a terrible note-taker and record-keeper.) It felt good to get down there and clean things up a bit, though!

READING

Same as last week.  ;)

 


Sk-eye Candy Friday (and more)

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We did, indeed, head out on a little road trip yesterday. We drove about 1.5 hours N-NE -- not far from where Annie used to live -- to find the waterfall at Veterans Park. Oh, it was so worth it!!

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There was a stairway down to the river and some paths along the shore.

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And a really lovely foot bridge over the water!

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I think we all had wet feet, but it was just all too tempting to explore! There was still a fair bit of snow on the ground in places, too.

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We sat down to soak up the sun and listen to the water... next thing you know, I was having a little lie down on the rocks. That's when I took the first photo in this post.

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And turned the camera around for this one. That big rock certainly wasn't warm, but it wasn't freezing cold, either. The coolness felt good and the sun felt good and it all just felt so good.

And then on the way home there was this:

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Crazy spring weather!

I hope you all have a great weekend... there's a holiday or something, isn't there? Gah.

 


3TT: Road Trip

Joining Carole & friends for Three Things on Thursday...

We kinda needed to bust outta here last week, so we took a drive out to 1) Lake Michigan. That's about an hour east of us, and it was a nice day for a drive.

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It just so happens we were on a small portion of the 2) Ice Age Trail.

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Yes, that's my husband wearing a jacket and knit cap... while walking barefoot on the shore.

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I don't think I'd ever seen Lake Michigan so calm (panoramic view).

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We stopped at 3) Cato Falls on the way home -- just because it was there and we'd never been before. It's not the most exciting waterfall you've ever seen, but we enjoyed watching two guys in short whitewater kayaks shooting in and out of the rapids. It was a nice park and not all that far from Ali's, so I'm looking forward to taking the kids there once the playground is open again.

It's chilly and a little windy, but super sunny. And I filled up my gas tank for less than $15 last week... I think we're going to go explore some other park today -- hike a trail or find a waterfall!

 


Unraveled Wednesday: Mystery, 100 Days, and More Cooking!

I'm joining Kat & the Unravelers today to share what I'm knitting and reading... and doing.

KNITTING

Well, I'm still working on Nightshift, but after Zoom Knitting on Sunday (hosted by Mary) and seeing both Kat and Margene working on Romi's Mystery Shawl 2020, I caved...

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These are the two yarns I originally chose. The lighter one is by Lambstrings Yarn, Tralala Sock in a color called "Home Again." The other one shall go unnamed... as I went to wind it up, I discovered three distinct ends. Um, that's not good. I was willing to go wind a couple of balls, but it was a tangled PITA mess. Not interested in that at the moment, so I grabbed a hank of some of my own stuff that's been around for a while.

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It's a bit more vibrant. I hope it will work out.

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And here's where I'm at with that project. Next step is to cast off the top edge of that triangle and then I don't know... it's a MYSTERY!

READING

I finished His Other Life: Searching For My Father, His First Wife, and Tennessee Williams the other day, but still need to generate my BINGO CARD and find a square for it! Yes! In case you haven't heard, Bingo has begun early this year. I rarely get a Bingo, but I love the opportunity to explore different books & genres that I wouldn't otherwise do on my own.

So now I'm back to Centering In Pottery, Poetry, and the Person, by M.C. Richards -- inspired by the visit to North Carolina and the Black Mountain College Museum.

And I'm listening to Hope Jahren read her book, The Story of More: How We Got to Climate Change and Where to Go from Here.

But what I really want to listen to right now is Stephen Fry reading the UK version of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Book 1. Dare I admit that I've never read a single Harry Potter book? Certain members of my household have read some of these... and re-read and re-read and re-read... certainly numbered in double digits by now. Anyway. Unfortunately, it can't be downloaded, but there's more how-to info/links here on The Verge.

DOING

Another 100 Days of Sewing - Alabama Chanin style, mostly on my Car Jacket, but I have a few other items cut, stenciled and ready to go from my visit with Kym last fall.

For the record, here's where I stand/begin with that project:

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Two finished sleeves.

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Collar and two pockets/pocket flaps with a bit of a start -- they are smaller pieces and have traveled with me on occasion.

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One side of the back underway -- I'd say not quite half-way. So that's where I've begun, with the other side of the back and both fronts yet to go. And then sewing up. Oh yeah.

MORE COOKING!!

My sister has really started something...

...and Alison has run with it!! ❤️ Bon appetit!

 


Monday morning smiles

So, over the weekend, my sister Ann posted a video to her YouTube channel called "My Cooking Show."

She made it to help inspire the students at her school... but also because she's always wanted to have a cooking show, and there's no better time than now!

This morning, Alison posted the cutest response (in three parts):

 

 

Happy Monday! I hope you're smiling, too.

 


3TT: Thar she grows!!

Joining Carole & friends for Three Things on Thursday...

Thing #1

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Peonies!

Thing #2

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Snowdrops!

Thing #3

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Bleeding Heart!

THE SUN IS SHINING TODAY! After a prolonged period of clouds and rain, the sun is brightly shining this morning and these things will no doubtedly grow a little. The Bleeding Heart, especially, always seems to quickly blast out of the earth. It never ceases to amaze.

BONUS - Thing #4

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Ruby Rhubarb!

Twelve years ago, my friend Ann shared a cutting of her rhubarb plant with me (because how did I not have any of my own?). Since then, Ann has moved from Long Island to Buffalo! I meant to send her a cutting last year for her new house, but it fell off the radar... but this year, for sure! TODAY!!

 


Unraveled Wednesday: Nightshift

I'm joining Kat & the Unravelers today to share what I'm knitting and reading.

I can't believe how long it's been since I've done an "Unraveled Wednesday" post! North Carolina! It seems like not only a long time ago, but also another world...

I guess it was a different world in February.

KNITTING

I knit a baby sweater while we were in Mexico, but still need to do the finishing... and instead of doing that, I'm knitting on my Nightshift shawl.

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I'd made a little headway on the bind-off the other day, and then decided/realized that it wasn't quite as big as I want it to be. I'll admit that I never did a swatch and have no idea what my gauge is or how it compares, even now. I have a feeling that the shawl will grow a bit once it's blocked, but I'm not sure if it'll be a little or a lot. Whatever! I am really enjoying the knitting and combining colors and I'm just going to keep going for a while.

It's fun keeping an eye on the Ravelry group, too, and though not the most active group on the web, I'm pleased that there are 37 members!

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When I noticed that there was green & gold in my kit (or anytime there's green + gold anywhere), the Green Bay Packers came to mind... even though the shades are off. (That green is probably my least favorite color in the bunch, actually.) Anyway, I was avoiding it for a while, but then decided to just embrace it, so there are two "green & gold" sections in my shawl.

I wonder if we'll have a football season this year.

And then I wonder, how is that even a question? So crazy.

READING

My "vacation read" was His Other Life: Searching For My Father, His First Wife, and Tennessee Williams.

Though I didn't read a lot on vacation, I enjoyed the book and so it's the one I grab every night when I crawl into bed.

I'm not listening a lot, either, but when I do plug it in, I'm listening to Hope Jahren read her latest book, The Story of More: How We Got to Climate Change and Where to Go from Here.

DOING

These are strange times...

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...so I've also started a puzzle. I've had this one for quite a while -- 1000 pieces, all children's book covers -- with the idea of gluing it together & framing it for Ali to hang in the playroom or one of the kids' rooms. I had to beg a card table off of Rusty (from his studio/gallery, where it was displaying stuff that no one will be seeing), but I'm all set up now. We're not huge puzzlers, but this one is going to be so fun!

 


Scenes from limbo

I haven't been going on daily walks, but at least a few times a week. It's been very wet here... and dreary. Finally, today, the clouds are breaking up a bit!

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The photo above is from early last week on the Konkapot Creek Trail, which is just below our house. I used to walk down there all the time when we cared for Maddy's beagle. Lately, it's been with the kids... exploring (and sometimes getting wet)!

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There areas in our part of town that have alleys and we enjoy walking the alleys almost more than the street. This was one of at least four "log cabin" birdhouses that I spotted in an alley the other day. They all had green trim and branch details -- including a little twig cross in each gable end.

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The kids' grade school is no longer a school, converted to offices and business spaces now. It'll be 130 years old next year! I'm so happy it was still a school when my kids were little; it was a nice little walk (or bike ride) to-and-fro.

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One thing that's turning green around here, with all the rain we've had, is MOSS! That blue spot is spilled house paint from last summer. It doesn't really bother me; in fact, I think it looks great with all the colors of the brick!

Like many, I've also been cooking a lot.

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I roasted two chickens last weekend and then used the carcasses to make two batches of chicken/bone broth in my Instant Pot. We used one batch of that for chicken soup, and I've frozen the other for later use.

Otherwise, I've been rambling around the house, doing a little here and a little there. I finally made a little headway in my workroom the last couple of days, but it's just hit or miss... there are no deadlines and there doesn't seem to be any real purpose or pressing need to do anything. There's so much available time...

We did venture out to Home Depot the other day to get some plaster and paint. Rusty did some repairs in the apartment upstairs, and Kate's been painting. We're lucky to have a "change of scenery" and something to do just right upstairs. I canceled the only booking we had for April, and the next one isn't until late May -- and iffy, even then.

I finally sat down and got a little caught up on blogs this morning -- still a ways to go -- and can't believe I was three weeks behind already!

 


Mexico

Maybe someday I'll feel more like writing about our vacation (or anything)... until then, a video place-holder. I haven't used my 1SE app in quite a while, but it came in handy today.

I hope you all are well.


Well, this happened...

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Junah---1st-tooth

Junah left a two-part note under his pillow, instead of a tooth. Luckily, the tooth fairy understood and delivered some goodies, anyway!

_ _ _ _ _

Our governor has issued a "Safer At Home" order for the next 30 days. I may need to go to work on occasion, as I am in a support position for an essential business, but I don't plan to spend any more time there than necessary... and am a little bit grateful that I can do that. I have contact with a handful of co-workers, none who are vulnerable, and public interaction is extremely rare -- and should be zero if all follow orders!

Stay well, my friends.

 


Dreamer

I had a dream about my mom early this morning. I think it's the first time she's been in a dream (that I remember) since she died, almost six years ago.

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She visited me at work, except that I was outside and it wasn't my real work, and I was so surprised and happy to see her!! She was the same but different -- definitely older, a bit more frail, but super stylish and as beautiful as always! I held her face in my hands and we smiled and hugged and... I was just so happy to see her!

And that was it. And everything. I think that's all the dream "meant" or was supposed to be... just me so very happy to see my mom.

And now I'm crying again.

 


Fin de semana -ing

It usually all goes out the window when it matters, but...

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After adding 60 days in a row, maybe something will stick! Yay Duolingo!

On Saturday, I worked on finishing the Alabama Chanin A-line Tunic that I made with fabric from Spoonflower.

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This included learning how to take apart my sewing machine to dislodge stuck fabric. Turns out you're not supposed to "reverse" with a walking foot? I'm sure I did that all the time on my old machine. Hm.

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Ali & I also went for our first pedicures of the season. I'm usually a bit more predictable/traditional with red polish, but this is fun! Ali declared, "That says 'VACATION'!"

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And with that in mind, I cast on a project that's more portable for vacation. This is another Garter Yoke Baby Cardi for a new baby in the KC&T family. Sonny came a little early and spent his first week in the hospital, but he's home now... and I think he needs a sweater for spring! I love my little honeycomb stitch markers (and especially the cork-topped glass vial that they came in) that I got at Wool & Honey last October when I visited Kym in Michigan. I can't exactly remember the yarn right this second, but I realized that I bought the yarn there, too!

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"Finishing" by A-line Tunic had mainly to do with the bottom edge. I didn't necessarily want to hem it, but it needed something. My in-seam pockets are the best I've done, so far, but are still an inch or so too low and I feared that if I actually put something in them, they'd peek out the bottom. I took my cue from an Alabama Chanin Alina tunic that I purchased a while back during a sale.

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Basically, I cut 1.75-inch strips to add to the bottom, turning up the seam and top-stitching it in place. Essentially, it adds about 1.25 inches overall, gives a bit of heft at the hem and just looks more finished.

The sleeves (mine are elbow-length) are finished the same way on the Alina tunic, except it's a narrower strip and lightweight jersey was used there.

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I still want to fell the seams of my A-line Tunic by hand. I did some and then took it out -- running into difficulty around those pockets, where the seam wants to go forward and I want it to go backward. I think I'm just going to have to go with the flow!

Ali & the kiddos came over for a last get-together before departure -- Kate to Scotland on Tuesday, and Rusty & I to Mexico on Wednesday -- and it began with a video chat with Maddy!

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My girls all together at the kitchen table. Heh.

I hope you had a great weekend!

 


"No," said Jün.

As an aside, "You know, that's short for 'Nona'?"

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I don't know why, but that's one of the first things that popped into my head when I was waking up this morning. He slipped that in a couple of weeks ago and it still makes me laugh.

He's holding the bird feeder that he built using a "kit" that Rusty fashioned. It's going to be sunny & warm all weekend, with winds from the south, and I'm told we're to watch as the migratory birds will begin to return.