3TT: Good news edition & randomly related photos

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

Thing 1:

Kate found a fabulous flat-share in Edinburgh -- lots of room (both private & shared) and a great location! Occupancy as of July 1st, but possibly sooner (her current Airbnb term is up on the 22nd).

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The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh is about a 40-minute walk from the new flat. She was there today and had to share the rhododendrons with me. They're spectacular! One of my favorites, and I've never seen rhodies as big & lush as in Edinburgh.

Thing 2:

She also found a part-time gig at an art space with a fantastic view!

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(This is not the view.) I assembled this collage with stills nabbed from a video that Kate took as she walked through an enormous hedge at the Royal Botanic Garden. It's like an X-ray in the middle. So cool.

Thing 3:

Maddy is also starting a new part-time job next week -- at a brewery! It's very close to the winery where Viv works -- a half-hour drive from where they currently live -- and perhaps they'll relocate if all goes well.

The current scene in Maddy's backyard:

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Maddy said while snow isn't unusual, they're not used to it sticking/sticking around so much!

Meanwhile, we're in a heatwave that doesn't appear to be letting up anytime soon! I am looking at 80F predicted for Tuesday and thinking of it as a relief! We are/have been hovering more around 90F and there's ZERO precipitation... and it looks like it will continue for as far as I can see.

Time for a Dilly bar.

 


Unraveled Wednesday

I'm joining Kat & the Unravelers...

CROCHET:

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It's growing... but these are busy days! There have been a few evenings of late when I didn't even lift my hook. I've just started joining the two rows worth of circles that I have ready, and added a couple of hexagons last night while the boys & I watched S2E2 of LEGO MASTERS... wherein stuff was blown up with glitter, dust, water or slime. Yeah. It was great!

READING:

No one was more surprised than me that I finished Shuggie Bain in time for last night's group discussion! I found it to be a very compelling read, and it was especially enjoyable to alternate listening & reading. (I loved the narrator's voice, and kept thinking that he sounded like a mash-up of Alan Cumming and Sean Connery!) Now I'm back to An American Quilt: Unfolding A Story of Family & Slavery, thinking/hoping that we'll be returning to the quilt in the last 30+/- pages. I've also begun listening to Sinéad O'Connor read her memoir, Rememberings

 


Summertime!

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It's so HOT!!! We've been flirting with 90F for days and that will continue all week. Water balloon fights FTW!

The boys are both taller than me! Junah has stars in his eyes! (It's so cute.)

 


June

It's a whirlwind! Kids, work, business & banking, planting stuff, building LEGO monster trucks, laundry, cleaning, crocheting... y'know, the usual, but with temps ramping up & stuff.

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Tomorrow afternoon, I welcome what will no doubt be my favorite Airbnb guests EVER! I'm even picking them up at the airport and providing a car for the duration of their Stateside visit... their first since Christmas 2019. I'm so excited to see & hug my sister Ann & her family!! I know that Mack & Addie will have grown, teens that they are, but I think it's going to be SHOCKING nonetheless. Voice changes, too. First order of business will be getting vaccinations going, and also high on the list is Mack taking the test for his Temps! As in driver's license. GAH!!!

 


218 Hexagons...

...make a SQUARE(-ish sort of blanket)! It's basically 15 rows x 15 rows.

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Tonight, I'll start the circles for Rows 16 & 17 (I make two rows at a time) and then, maybe by next week, turn them into hexagons when I join them to the blanket. With the holiday and an extra day off, I'm only working two days next week, so maybe a little extra time for the fun stuff!

I thought you might be interested in where I take these blanket photos (until it doesn't fit, anyway).

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This is the walkway right off the back porch. I can get some elevation, if needed, by standing on the steps.

(I'm in the market -- taking recommendations -- for a portable pressure washer to clean the porch floor/siding, and deck. The porch is so dusty!) (I pick up herb & veg plants at my CSA farm tomorrow -- planters will soon be filled!)

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Then, this morning, Facebook Memories reminded that The Marriage Window was installed one year ago on this day! That sure was a fun little project, and we sure do use that room a lot.

 

 


Weekending

Whew! Saturday was busy, starting with a trip out to Ali's to watch the kiddos for a few hours.

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Guess who's crawling?? He's already trying to pull himself up and get on his feet, so maybe we have an early walker on our hands! He's fittingly wearing the KEEP CALM AND CALL GRANDMA shirt.

Before Rod left, he hooked up Ducky for me to haul home.

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I have an appointment on Wednesday for new tires. There was very little sign of mouse activity during storage, which was pretty awesome since I discovered that Kate never opened the pouches that contained the mouse-repelling sachets... she must have thought that the pouches were the thing!

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Our across-the-street neighbors offered to let us park it in an empty spot next to their garage, so here's my new view backing out of the driveway. The only camping trip actually on the books is way off in September, but hopefully I can fit a few quick trips in... available campsites are tough to find, though! My best bet is probably to think "mid-week getaway."

On Saturday afternoon we all got together for a video chat!

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I'm stealing Kate's image from her IG story, but how great is that?? It was super chaotic (it's clear that Davy needs his own phone!) but so fun! All the folks in the US/Wisconsin are on the left, on the right are Kate in Scotland, Annie in Peru, and Maddy it Australia. Ann's time & ours is the same right now, but Maddy joined us upon waking (on Sunday morning, for her) and Kate was heading straight to bed!

I was up late on Saturday, watching TV and crocheting... late enough to pop out just before midnight to see the ISS (always a thrill). I also noticed a long string of lights crossing the sky and wasn't sure what it was, but learned yesterday that they are Starlink satellites, part of the SpaceX program. You can track them yourself!

So I took it pretty easy yesterday, outside of a little laundry and giving Rusty a haircut, and also took a nap! Quite shy of "pampering," I even soaked my feet and read my book for a while. I wouldn't have guessed that I'd be so into Shuggie Bain, but I'm really enjoying the alternating reading/listening and I'm zipping right along.

 


Random update

I shared some photos a couple of weeks ago from when Mary was over... here's the real deal!

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It was totally worth a bit of my garden getting smushed! I think that top photo was taken at the exact same time as I snapped mine. Poor Davy was not in the mood, having just awakened from a car nap, but such is life, eh? Mary gets it. I'm sure I'll share a few more images from this session in the near future.

I found a "present" this week as I was turning over the Airbnb for a guest arriving tomorrow.

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My first-ever container of night crawlers in the fridge! At first, I was wondering who I could give them to... and then I realized that I could return them to their natural habitat in my own back yard for our mutual benefit!

A moment for hosta appreciation...

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The color and texture just slay me... these were big fat purple-y/green shoots barely poking out of the ground a month ago.

PSA for IPA-lovers. I was delighted to find Bell's Light Hearted Ale in my grocery store a while back -- if I'm going to trust anyone with an IPA that's lower in calories & carbs, it would be Bell's -- and it tastes pretty great!

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Occasionally, I peruse the aisles/coolers to see what's new... and sometimes I actually find something! And another brewery I'd trust with such a thing is Dogfish Head! This is also a pretty great tasting brew.

There has been some crochet progress... it seems a little slower going these days, but it's going.

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I just started on Row 14, and Row 15 is ready to join, too.

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I knocked over my box of colors a while back and it took a while, going off of some photos I'd taken, to get them back in order. I had done a little switching that was never recorded, so it's all very random, and these couple of rows even moreso!

Finally, I am doing my first-ever successful read/listen, thanks to Kym mentioning that she'd done the same, with Shuggie Bain. She'd told me (and I know it to be true) that the chapters in the book don't always align with the chapters in the audio book, but they do in Shuggie Bain! I may not finish in time for the book club meet-up, but I am really enjoying reading this way, so who knows? I've also pre-ordered the audio book of Sinéad O'Connor's Rememberings. The To-Read list never gets any smaller, does it?

 


Making do

One good thing about having the Airbnb is...

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...that when I order a rug for the Garden Room and it's WAY TOO BIG, I can find a place for it upstairs! (It's all very eclectic, just like the rest of the house.)

I was up there yesterday doing things like putting down new rugs and making beds... oh, that's a funny story. I did all the laundry last week and brought it all upstairs, and the flat sheets for both beds were missing. I spent a few days pondering, looking, trying to remember if they were even in the loads I did. Where could they be??? I randomly found them in a cupboard yesterday, and I'm 99.9% sure that I didn't put them there... so extra load of laundry! Y'know, some people don't bother with a flat sheet when there's a duvet cover and I think that might be what happened. Anyway, I had spares, so it's not like I'd short-sheet anyone, but sheesh, that kind of stuff is crazy-making.

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I stopped at the record store the other day and got the replacement needle for the turntable, successfully keeping my bristles down when the salesman's response to my query made it clear that he didn't think I had a clue. I showed him... not only did I have the make & model, but I also had pictures! I also bought a simple cleaning system, so I cleaned & listened to three albums yesterday -- Farewell to the First Golden Era by The Mamas & The Papas, The Age of Aquarius by The 5th Dimension (the first album I ever called my own), and Innervisions by Stevie Wonder. Turns out it's Stevie's 71st birthday today! Oh, I remember his run of Grammy-winning albums in the '70s, and I owned most if not all of them. The sleeve from the record I played yesterday has my ca. 1973 signature on it.

In other news, the stumps have finally been ground out and...

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I'm not sure what to do there now... not certain that my vague plan is a good one. Tops on Rusty's To-Do List is making an enclosure to hide the ugly trash & recycling receptacles that were formerly mostly hidden by a big tree trunk. Anyway, it sure looks different.

 


Art break

Junah's been drawing a lot lately, especially Petey from Dog Man. Petey was even on the Mother's Day card that Junah made for me!

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And, he's even had a few drawing sessions with Gin. Junah's on the left, Ginny's on right.

Oh, my. ❤️

 


Weekending

I celebrated Mother's Day by cleaning the Airbnb apartment... all weekend! Well, I did have a couple of breaks. I talked to Ann a couple of times, and also to Kate!

Kate's on Day 5 of her 10-day mandatory isolation. She can leave only to drop her Covid tests in a mailbox.

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She discovered this on the other side of the building where her Airbnb is... it is not her view, so she had no idea! It'll be so great to discover what's along that trail in just a few more days. She's going a little stir crazy, but brought her beading supplies with her (she's been making earrings for months, selling them at the coffee shop but likely soon finding a UK venue), and she's in a cute apartment -- I can't imagine enduring 10 days in a crappy hotel room (doesn't matter how many stars... that's way too long to be cooped up in one room with shitty seating & lighting).

As mentioned, the bulk of my weekend -- and Rusty's -- was spent cleaning the Airbnb. It was a reminder for me of why I like doing short-term rather than long-term rentals. They were terrific guests in that we barely knew they were there and they left me with a couple of new small appliances and kitchen gadgets, but they didn't do a lot of cleaning and did a lot of cooking with oil... things were grimy. So much, after only four months!

Annie said, "Oh, that must be like spring cleaning. I love spring cleaning!" And I laughed, because I'm not that excited about cleaning in the spring or any other time, but I channeled her enthusiasm, along with my mother... striving for "Marj Perfect!" I thought of her a lot yesterday because Mother's Day, but also because she would have loved this endeavor -- I actually think of her very often when I'm up there.

Anyway, I'm so thankful for Rusty -- he did some repairs & maintenance in the bathroom, including painting the ceiling, and did almost all of the floors! I have some finishing up to do on Wednesday for weekend guests arriving on Friday, but not bad.

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We found a spot above the sink for this cool painting that one of Kate's art friends did of the kitchen.

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I will be going on a quest to replace the phonograph needle (I think that's what needs done). I have this one in my Amazon cart, but first I'm stopping at a local record/stereo shop on my way home tonight.

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The info I needed was on the bottom, of course, and I couldn't lift the arm high enough to see it -- or even get my phone under it, so I employed a mirror!

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There's a neat back room in the apartment that is off limits to guests mainly because it provides access to the attic and to the rooftop (I've watched mile-away fireworks from up there) and it would just be too irresistible! It has a ton of storage -- cool drawers built in under the steep attic steps, along with another cupboard -- and a window! It's three stories up from the back garden and, unfortunately, the only place where the garden is visible from up there. So I guess it's my Secret Garden Window.

In other news, the stump grinders could finally do the job this morning!

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I asked him to send me pictures! (That's Not Lazy's truck in the first photo... they moved out a week ago but he's still switching out/parking vehicles on the street. I'm not going to tolerate that for much longer.) (I'm becoming my mother in many ways!! I love you, Mom!)

 


Happy Mother's Day

I was pleasantly surprised last Friday evening to discover a change/addition to my back yard view.

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First, I zoomed in.

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And then I walked down to take a closer look.

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Isn't it perfect???!!!

Kate had found a similar item in a catalog, but the family put their heads/talents together and made one -- with far less money and a lot more heart!

Once installed and after some discussion, it was decided that something was missing, so it was back to the workshop...

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And now it's absolute perfection!!!

We also had a fairly last-minute photo session on Sunday as part of our Birthday/Going-away/Mother's Day Extravaganza! These are a few of my quick shots.

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Party

  • Ginny's 5th Birthday / Kate's Going Away / Mothers' Day Extravaganza!

Happy Mother's Day!!

 


Y'all, it's been a week

I forgot to mention that, on top of everything else going on, our most recent Airbnb guests departed on Sunday. They originally booked for a month beginning the end of December, but extended to the end of January, then February, then March, and finally April + a couple of days! They were amazing, but it was really weird to have people in our "short-term rental" for that long. I have new guests arriving a week from tomorrow, so I have a lot of cleaning & prep to do, but I'm not really worrying about any of that right now!

I'm taking it easy. Cracking a beer or making a drink when I get home from work. Relaxing on the pergola or porch. Crocheting...

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I finished another row last night, and the next one is ready to go! I haven't run into any weird ones in a while, so I guess I've figured it all out and learned how to properly count.

I love it so much.

 


Unraveled Wednesday: It's a wonder I'm not

I'm joining Kat & the Unravelers today to share...

CROCHETI'm still devoted to my crocheted blanket, even if it's a little slower going these days.

READING: I finally finished The Midnight Library... having sped up the audio to 1.5! Ugh. It wasn't awful, but it did seem to go on and on and on with this life and that life and another life, not to mention the root life. I have about 50 pages to go in An American Quilt: Unfolding A Story of Family & Slavery... I do occasionally speed read my actual books, too, do you?

IN OTHER NEWS: LIFE!!

OMG, you would not believe what's all been going on around here. In approximate order...

There's been a lot of weird activity next door over the past few weeks or so. The current owner has been there for 12 years, having moved in with her three kids when the youngest was just about in kindergarten... and is now in college. The eldest skedaddled ASAP after high school and I haven't personally seen him since. The middle child, who we call "NOT LAZY" for reasons of his own making (and, uh, as you might expect, is truly the laziest SOB you'll ever meet) was recently engaged and it's obvious that he's been (slowly... one might even think lazily) moving out. The recent random occasional appearance of vans from a remodeling/renovating company, also a BIG van from a moving company, increased action over the weekend, Rusty's social media "friendship" with Not Lazy, and his chance run-in with the youngest on Sunday night... all led to learning that she sold the house and THEY'RE ALL MOVING OUT!!

(I think she called one of those "We Buy Houses 123-456-7890" numbers.)

Anyway, that's a whole lot to process... right next door!

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Meanwhile, it's an actual category: Ann's New House!

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Just over a week ago, Annie sent me a listing for a house in my neighborhood, and a week ago last Sunday Rusty & I walked over to check it out... walk around, look at the foundation, etc. Rusty happened to try the back door, which was held shut with a bungee cord... "Hello! Anyone home?" Well, of course there wasn't. So we gave ourselves a quick little unencumbered tour. (So quick that he forgot to re-bungee the door and had to go back later.) It's old, has had some systems updates, but hasn't really been touched much in many years... and even with all that, was a million times better than the first property she asked me to check out. After our tour, I did some research. Turns out, the house belonged to a 92yo woman who died a couple of years ago; she was born in that house, lived there for her entire life, and died there per her wishes. I remember that there was an amazing flower garden in the back yard quite a few years ago, the footprint is still visible.

Anyway, official showings didn't begin until Friday and bids were going to be opened on Monday. I went over on Friday afternoon with an electrician, and met her remodeler guy, to look things over. Ann put in her offer... and wrote a nice letter. And on Monday night she texted that they got the house! She didn't have the highest offer, but the letter clinched it for her. There's a ton of work to be done, and I'm thankful that she'll be here in June/July to oversee things (if it's even closed by then).

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They sent Ann this photo of the house from many years ago... the fancy stuff, including the porch, is long gone/changed, but...

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...it's the same with mine. The similarities are striking! I believe my house is just a few years older than hers.

My sister is going to be my occasional few-blocks-away neighbor (closer even than my mom was)!

And I think, holy cow, she could have been my literal NEIGHBOR!

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I had an extremely overdue re-re-rescheduled hair appointment early yesterday morning. Canceled 14 months ago, I put it off for quite a while even when they reopened, but eventually made a date. Then had to cancel because of a work schedule conflict. So I rescheduled and had to cancel that because of the opportunity to get the Pfizer jab. The new date turned out to be the morning of Kate's departure, but I just couldn't cancel again (for fear of being banned for life).

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This is the before pic, but the after isn't much different -- trimmed an inch, smoother, and it smells so nice -- I just couldn't handle anything drastic yesterday!! Haha.

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Kate's rapid test for Covid was negative on Monday, which set the ball rolling for final departure prep! It's been very relaxed and measured... paring down, moving things around, making plans, and yesterday was no different. She drove Rusty & I down to the airport in Milwaukee yesterday, with one last stop at Culver's for lunch, to drop herself off... NEW ADVENTURES AWAIT IN EDINBURGH (AND THE GREATER UK). She arrived in London early this morning (our time), caught a cab to the train station, and is currently on the train to Edinburgh where she'll self-isolate at an Airbnb for the next 10 days, and then... stay tuned.

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<INSERT ALL THE EMOTIONS RIGHT HERE!!> 

 


Five!

We celebrated Ginny's 5th birthday yesterday! We had a party, and even a photo session... I nabbed a few, myself, and this is one of my favorites!

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Our Ginny girl... how can she already be FIVE??

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She's a joy.

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And she sure loves her little brother!

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Happy Birthday, Ginny Girl!! You are one of a kind, and so special!!

 


Thank you!!

I have to say THANK YOU for all the birthday wishes for Maddy and comments on my last post. It was one of those fluky posts where I didn't get notified of comments (the hyphen? the word "something"?), so I wonder where y'all are for a while and then I see that you've dropped by but it's a PITA to reply without the notification email (and I've been struggling with replies lately, anyway).

  • It IS a milestone to have all my kids in their 30s!
  • Count me IMPRESSED with your ability to not only spot but even to recognize/name the knits!
    • I started Oblique for me, finished it almost 10 years later for Maddy.
    • Cowl by Kate! She knit cowls for both Maddy & Viv (sent "for Christmas").
  • Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

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That was quite the To-Do List the other day, huh? It's the LONG VERSION, for sure, and so comprehensive, that I'm making it my Master List! So far, we've made some good progress in one category:

Outside/Gardening

  • Compost, topsoil, mulch where needed
  • Repair pergola planter & ready for the Snowcicle Oakleaf Hydrangea
  • Ready garden areas for veg/herb plants (picking up 5/20)
  • Stump grinding scheduled (Monday 5/3)
    • Kill the snow on the mountain (death by a thousand cuts) - started
  • Plant all the other plants on order!
  • Paint garage & back door

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Rusty makes the first pass, basically defoliating the snow-on-the-mountain.
Fingers crossed... I haven't had anyone share a success story.

The hydrangea was delivered & planted right away. That's some lovely moss up there that I hope will fill in that entire area between the walkway and the garage. We've also planted a few very small yews & things that we hope will quickly grow to provide some privacy (more accurately, to block out the view to the neighbors'). And all the other hardy perennials have also been planted. I'll be taking delivery of a few more plants over the next few weeks.

I got a call on Tuesday about the stump grinding that they were hoping to do Wednesday or Thursday morning (depending on weather). I woke up early Wednesday morning and had the sudden realization that I never saw the flags or markings from Diggers Hotline (gas & water are very near the stump on the west side)... so texted my guy (early on Wednesday morning) and let him know! He must have been on the horn right away because flags & paint were beginning to appear even before noon yesterday. Grinding is scheduled for Monday!

And, lo, a potential new category has already been added to the list!

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I'll have an update next week on whether it becomes an actual category.

 


And then they were all 30-something

I'm late with this post, but the important thing is that I was also on time!

Happy 30th Birthday, Maddy!!!

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There's quite a time difference between here and Australia, not to mention the logistical challenge, but I couldn't let my baby's 30th birthday go without doing something!

I knew that she & Viv were going on a quick getaway to mark the occasion and I even got Maddy to share the Airbnb listing with me... unbeknownst to her, it was mainly so I could try to arrange something with the host (who turned out to be kinda-but-not-really-all-that-willing). At first I thought about having a birthday cake delivered, but nixed that for a couple of reasons... and also thought it would have been fun to surprise Viv, but had to enlist her help in the end.

With Covid and other various limitations, I had to find establishments that I could communicate with via email, and from whom I could order online, and I wanted to make sure I wasn't hijacking the girls' plans! I was able to send a gift voucher for a great restaurant that foodie friends recommended to Viv -- Maddy knew they were going there, but didn't know that it was a gift from us until they were there -- and had a planter of succulents delivered with a card to the Airbnb. As you can see, Maddy was surprised!!

I guess next year I'll be making similar arrangements in both Australia and Scotland!! (If tests & everything go as planned, Kate will be on her way a week from today!)

 


Right Now: To Do

Oh my goodness, it's the time of year when I start to go a little bonkers with all of the To-Do Lists & things floating around in my brain! Seems like a good time to write it out (in no particular order, though some things are time sensitive), and this doesn't all fall solely on ME!

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Party

  • Ginny's 5th Birthday / Kate's Going Away / Mothers' Day Extravaganza!

Crocheting

  • Finish Hexie Love Actually
  • Assess remaining yarn (Unicorn Tails)

Ducky*

  • New tires (because one is flat-flat-flat)
  • Replace at least one amber marker light assembly
  • Replace at least one tail light lens/assembly
  • Figure out water/plumbing situation

Airbnb**

  • CLEAN & ASSESS FOR SUMMER GUESTS
  • Re-do caulk in bathroom/tub

Home

  • Continue cleaning/purging of laundry/computer room in order to...
  • Lay new floor in laundry/computer room
  • Reconfigure computer desk/area
  • Get some estimates for refinishing the kitchen floor
  • Have the bedroom carpeting cleaned
  • Clean my workroom

Outside/Gardening

  • Compost, topsoil, mulch where needed
  • Repair pergola planter & ready for the Snowcicle Oakleaf Hydrangea
  • Ready garden areas for veg/herb plants (picking up 5/20)
  • Stump grinding scheduled (date TBD)
    • Kill the snow on the mountain (death by a thousand cuts)
  • Plant all the other plants on order!
  • Paint garage & back door

Taxes

  • Finish them!

Spring Cleaning

  • Refrigerator (continue)
  • Recessed lights in kitchen
  • Upper cabinets in kitchen
  • Windows
  • Wipe down bathroom walls
  • Clean out dresser/cedar chest/closet/under the bed
  • Clean out upstairs linen closet/bedroom

Knitting

  • Start the remaining Safe At Home pillows
  • Make a sweater?
  • Teach Junah & Ginny to knit

Dyeing

  • Dye some yarn!
  • Tie-dye / Indigo w/Boys & Kids (Auntie Camp)

Sewing***

Quilting

  • Mom's Log Cabin
  • Cheater Quilt for Junah
  • Wedding Ring (kit)
  • Figure out what to do with: Black & White w/a little Red

Misc.

  • Spit for 23andMe

 

*The first campground reservation has been made! We'll definitely go out prior to this, but Rusty will be teaching a weekend workshop in September and he suggested that we camp! I've already scoped out a brewery and we'll be very near Wollersheim Winery & Distillery. I am hoping to arrange/rent summer storage for Ducky in a recently vacated spot right across the street (instead of in our driveway).

**Current guests have been here since just after Christmas (!!), and will be departing by May 2nd. It's the longest anyone has been up there since I switched it from long-term to short-term rental, and I'm dying to get back up there. I have a few guests booked for various weeks through the summer and into September, but the most exciting thing of all is that Annie & her family will be up there for three weeks in June!!

***The Molina pattern was assembled & cut out last night! I'm planning on using a gigantic scale sort of abstract floral print that I ordered from Spoonflower quite a while ago... hopefully all the pieces will fit (fingers crossed).

 


The Earth Day Birthday Girl

Another throwback photo, found yesterday when I was cleaning/sorting/tossing stuff (instead of working on taxes).

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Kate is 36 today! She says she's about 16 in this photo, and she's probably right. Sheesh. She bought the car (her first) when she was in high school, and took it to college, too.

Late yesterday afternoon, we took off for Madison... destination L'Etoile.

Two weeks ago, we were sitting out on the pergola, fresh from Pfizer Jab #2, when I read that the announcement that L'Etoile was open again and accepting reservations. I booked then & there... for two weeks from the date (fully vaccinated!), which was the day before Kate's birthday (let's call it a combo birthday/farewell), and checking off one of my bucket list items.

It was definitely one of the finest dining experiences I've ever enjoyed, beginning with tiny savory macarons! We also enjoyed a delicious "take" on French Onion Soup.

First Course:

Kate - Scarpinocc (lamb, chevré, green garlic, watercress, pecorino)
Rusty & Vicki - Kinilaw (red snapper, ceviche, coconut, lime, chocolate, cilantro)

Second Course:

Kate - Roasted Chicken (maitake, corn polenta, ramps, chanterelle conserva, honey mustard jus)
Rusty - Masa Fried Halibut (sea scallop, carrots, ancho chili, citrus pico de gallo)
Vicki - Rainbow Trout (watercress, summer truffle, smoked trout chawanmushi, lemon vinaigrette)

Third Course:

Kate - Beehive (brown sugar cake with lemon curd and strawberry buttercream, honeycomb crunch, honey ice cream, strawberry sauce)
Rusty & Vicki - Chocolate Pavlova (the description is no longer there, but with cherries & cherry sorbet, and delicious!)

Chef Tory Miller is an Iron Chef with whom I have one degree of separation, and L'Etoile has been on my radar for years. It was so worth the 4-hour round trip!

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We were sent home with a lovely reminder... for today's breakfast.

 


Unraveled Wednesday: Hexies All The Time

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

CROCHETING:

The last time I shared an "official" Unraveled Wednesday blanket update, I was seven rows in, and now I'm three hexies away from finishing Row #11!

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I am still gobsmacked that it's working so well. I love it more and more! There are some very weird color combos in a few of those hexagons... there are also many that are perfection, and often I'm surprised. Details & more pics on my Ravelry project page if you're curious.

READING:

I will likely finish listening to Futureproof: 9 Rules for Humans in the Age of Automation by Kevin Roose today. It's not my usual type of book, but it's interesting and enlightening, even for someone at little risk of losing her job to a computer. AI (Artificial Intelligence) touches our lives every single day in a myriad of ways and, while "controlling" may be too harsh, it (algorithms, data, analysis) definitely influences us in ways we might not even realize.

Perhaps then I will get back to & finish The Midnight Library, I know I'm not the only one who found it a bit of a slog through the middle.

Though I should probably start reading Shuggie Bain!  

And An American Quilt: Unfolding A Story of Family & Slavery is still on my nightstand. I used to read a little every night, but lately I've been prioritizing sleep (sort of, because I'm still a night owl and stay up too late) over reading.

 


My Back Yard

This photo was taken on Sunday, April 11th at about 10:00 am:

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And this one today, Tuesday, April 20th, at about 6:15 am:

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Sunshine! Rusty put the patio plants out early (top photo), and I warned him that it was TOO early (as I do every year), and with a few frosty mornings lately, they've been tucked back inside. I'm going to try to take a semi-regular series of these photos.

Monty Don and Gardeners' World have been a balm over the past year, and an inspiration... to Kate more than anyone, especially as her interest in gardening has been growing over the past few years.

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She was trimming the barberry  on Saturday when Flat Stanley arrived from Peru (via Florida)! Well traveled, he'd been to England and Spain, too, and will soon head home to California... but not before lending a hand around here!

I took a walk down the hill to look for may apples, and I found some!

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There's a nice patch down there, and they remind me of my mom. The snowdrops are nearly finished, and the dogtooth violets, aka trout lilies, have appeared -- the leaves, anyway. No flowers yet.

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There are other types of flowers blooming now, though, and the girls are happy to pick (and adorn) bouquets!

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And, finally, the first of many sidewalk masterpieces. The parallel lines are marking the shadow line of the roof as it creeped eastward (pretty quickly, actually)!

 


Weekending: Birthday Chaos!

We had a fun & raucous birthday chat on Saturday! Here are four screen shots and you can see everyone involved, including Viv and her new nephew Arthur! Maddy & Viv were visiting Viv's family in Wagga Wagga, and the rest of us were in various locations at our house!

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Yep, that's a diaper change happening right before your eyes (he looks so happy about it)!

Hope you had a fun, weekend, too.

 


Birthday Bonanza Begins

And today, we have a two-fer!

Ahollyhocks

Alison is 34 today! She's standing in a patch of hollyhocks that used to grow on one side of Balza's DX service station, which was demolished not long after this photo was taken.

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It's also my Aunt Arlene's 91st birthday! Arlene is the eldest in my mom's family. She's holding my sister Karen in this photo, probably late 1960/early 1961, at my grandparents' house in Marshfield, WI. If this photo had been taken today, you might, at first glance, think that my grandparents are looking at their phones... but, no. Grandma is looking at a Polaroid picture, and Grandpa is staring into his coffee cup. My cousin Cindy is at left and that's just the cutest smile ever! So much to love about this photo.

Happy Birthday to Ali & Arlene!

 


Heartstrings

Your heartstrings are not shoelaces -- they were never meant to be knotted.
Angela Panayotopulos, The Wake Up

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I originally found a much longer quote, but this sentence pretty much cuts right to it*. As the reality of Kate's departure to Scotland becomes more... well, real (three weeks from today!)... I had a rather teary call from Maddy in Australia last night. Having heard some dreary prediction about travel as we were accustomed not returning until 2024, it was the last straw. She & Viv have both been working their tails off, so they're tired, there are other obligations, few friends, no time for hanging out or doing "anything fun," anyway... yadda yadda... and maybe it will and maybe it won't!

It's just so... ARGGGHHHHH!

And Maddy has a milestone birthday coming up! Thankfully, they'll be able to get away for a very short birthday celebration! And this weekend, in celebration of all the April birthdays (in case you've forgotten or are unaware, Ali on the 16th, Kate on the 22nd, and Maddy on the 25th), we're going to have a group video chat/toast. Looking forward to that!

In other news, Annie flew to Florida to get vaccinated and was able to get the one-and-done J&J jab yesterday. Then, of course, the J&J vaccinations were suspended today because of the extremely rare possibility of blood clots, but go ahead... tell a hypochondriac about how rare it is! Heh.

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Boss Baby is ready to tell you whatever you need to know!

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*The Wake Up will be perfect for Book Bingo (sounds like it's a GO!) if I get "supernatural fiction" or something similar!

 


Springing continues

Tulips will soon be blooming, the rhubarb, irises and bleeding heart are starting to come up, and the bloodroot is literally EXPLODING out of the ground.

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One of my favorite phases of the bloodroot emergence is the "cloaked" period, where the leaf slowly unfurls to reveal the flower bud -- it looks like it's wearing a cloak. This year, within a very short time, it was cool, then a little wet, and then HOT, and those flowers are just not waiting for the leaf/cloak to open, they're just pushing right through the top! Crazy.

You might spot a few snowdrops in that photo. There must be a million of them in bloom in the ravine!!

Kate & I had our second Pfizer jabs on Wednesday morning, and ran a few errands on the way home. Then I helped her move some things into a storage unit, but not before closing the car door on my hand.

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OWIE!! That's also hard to capture in a photograph. The bruising is evident today into my index &  middle fingers. Thankfully, I had full use/movement right away, though certainly tweaked a nerve or tendon in there -- thankfully, that was only temporary and I haven't had any more "tweaked" feelings. I grabbed an ice pack right away and iced it in between moving two loads into storage.

And then I took a nap.

Because I had a reaction to the first dose of the vaccine -- somehow getting through the day-after at work -- this time, I took a precautionary day off and I really needed it! I slept most of the morning yesterday, with pretty low energy otherwise. (Good for crochet, and watching Monty Don!) It's so crazy how Kate & Rusty had no real reactions at all... nor did they suffer all that much when we actually had Covid (not that I'd want them to suffer!), and wonder if there's a correlation. I sort of doubt it, as there are no doubt countless random contributing factors.

I shall leave you with one of the best pick-me-ups I've had all week. I nabbed this screenshot from a Snapchat video that Ali sent the other day. Ginny & Malina were giving Davy a push in a swing at the park. He was loving it! And I sure wish you could hear it!

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Have a great weekend!

 


Spring is springing

I awoke to thunder this morning, with scattered thunderstorms predicted until at least noon.

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The high temp is in the mid-70s (F) early this week, but, y'know, it's Spring In Wisconsin, so we'll see highs in the 50s again next week. Heh.

That's my budding lilac bush!

 


Weekending

Kate will land in the UK a month from today! It's going to be a crazy-fast month and there's a lot going on, so I'm making a promise to be easy on myself...

I haven't been stitching much. Now that the weather is getting nicer and there's still so much more daylight left when I get home from work... it's just not happening.

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I still watch TV in the evenings, though, so I'm making some progress on my crocheted blanket. I even took a few moments yesterday before the hullaballoo began to finish a row and take a photo.

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I hope you had a nice weekend! Here are the highlights of mine:

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Jün's top teeth are slowly emerging (aren't they big??)... and there are two more loose on the bottom!

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Ali's always saying how much Ginny looks like me when I was little... it looks like she might have the same chin(s) when she's older, too! Haha.

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Even without a smile, Malina makes a pretty cute bunny! (She was just.not.having.it!)

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Look at the greening up behind Davy!! He's also working on some teeth! And wearing a cute, easy-to-knit sweater (Ravelry link) that I finished when Junah was a babe (it's quick, too, even though it took me a long time!)! So springy!

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Here's to a good week! Who else is having egg salad for lunch today!!

 


Busted out

Yesterday, we masked up...

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...and headed down to Chicago! There's a busy month ahead before Kate heads to Scotland, and we've begun crossing a few "do before departure" things off the list.

When I recently read that The Purple Pig was opening their dining room again (at 50% capacity), the deal was sealed. I've had Bisa Butler: Portraits at The Art Institute of Chicago on my list for a while, and we got Monet and Chicago as a bonus! At first, we talked about a quick overnight trip, but instead decided on an even quicker day-trip, and on a weekday in order to avoid crowds as much as possible.

We timed our arrival to coincide with the restaurant's open and had a great lunch. It was my first time to The Purple Pig since they moved (almost two years ago!) into a larger space. We'd been visiting the old location (practically next door) on nearly every visit to Chicago since we discovered it, so I was happy to return!

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From there, we walked down to the AIC, where we flashed our digital tickets, which I'd purchased in advance, including the special ticket required for Monet. Upon entry, we could join a "virtual waiting list" for the special/popular exhibits, including Bisa Butler, as the museum was limiting the number of people allowed in each at any given time. We received text updates and finally a notification that we were at the head of the line!

The Monet exhibit was great... I learned a lot about his history with Chicago and collectors there, and I took a few photos.

Bisa Butler: Portraits did it for me, though. It was absolutely stunning...

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The exhibit runs until early September, and I think I'm going to have to return.

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There is just so much to see in every piece!

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I was struck by the man's suit, above, and how nearly every element of it was a different fabric... 

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...the sometimes subtle, sometimes not so subtle differences in background fabric(s).

The colors!!!

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And they way she uses them is just breathtaking...

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I loved how each section of this striped background fabric was quilted in a different way. A couple of stripes that are intersected by the figures are quilted differently above and below.

The scale and subject of some of the prints is just crazy... in a good way!

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I was fascinated with the way things were pieced...

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...and how shadows would be created with piecing, or by adding a sheer layer over a print. The "movement" and dimension -- especially in the large-scale prints -- in all of it -- sort of blew my mind.

And also SHOES!

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Even the bottom of this shoe... (not to mention every other little thing!)

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So many details.

 

There were only two entrances to Millenium Park open -- on the Michigan Avenue side -- and Cloudgate was barricaded, as well...

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...which was weird but also beautiful.

 


3TT: Malina

Joining Carole & friends for Three Things on Thursday... and those things are YEARS!

HAPPY 3rd BIRTHDAY, MALINA!!

And now I'm going to share a lot more than three pictures.

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Because she's just too darn cute!

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And the sweetest.

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That smile just doesn't quit.

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She's funny, thoughtful, fierce, and wise... couldn't ask for more.

HAPPY 3rd BIRTHDAY, MALINA!!

 


Unraveled Wednesday: 7 Rows In

I'm joining Kat & the Unravelers today (or not) to share what I'm knitting crocheting and reading!

CROCHETING:

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I'm one motif shy of 7 rows complete! I started to join the last one in (top left) last night and, whoa... that's one loosey-goosey circle and way too many stitches in the end!

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Often, I fudge, but this one's getting a rip & re-do.

READING:

I am listening to The Midnight Library, and I am really enjoying Carey Mulligan's performance, but I'm tiring of the story... I have about 3 hours to go, but taking a short break for this:

Futureproof: 9 Rules for Humans in the Age of Automation by Kevin Roose. Kate just finished reading -- and recommending -- it, Rusty nabbed her hard copy, and I just downloaded the audio book. Looking forward to it. Kate can't stop talking about it!

An American Quilt: Unfolding A Story of Family & Slavery is still my bedtime reading. I'm slow.

What are you making and reading?


Let's build a fort!

So, Friday night's cooking class with Marcus Samuelsson was great, but what a pace! Even with a few strategic interruptions & questions, I'd never have gotten food on the table without Kate's help! She shopped and prepped -- everything mis en place -- and mixed drinks... I'd never have kept up myself! The food was delicious... a collards & radicchio salad with vinaigrette, and tamarind-glazed halibut served over Carolina Gold grits. Mmm.

Saturday was low-key. It was a lovely day for a walk... and also for a nap. Feeling like I deserved the nap that I couldn't take on Thursday, I didn't set a timer like I usually do, and slept for a little over two hours.

Early Sunday afternoon, we had a scheduled disruption with our Airbnb guests -- long-term guests that have been here since just after Christmas (originally for not so long, but they've extended a couple of times). I'd ordered a new couch & scheduled delivery before I knew they were extending their stay, and Kate also needed to get some things from storage up there prior to & readying for her UK move. It didn't take long, and I sent them a couple of gift certificates for the trouble.

Just as we were finishing upstairs, Ali & the kids came over. I'd made cupcakes in the morning & we had a few presents for a low-key birthday celebration for Malina -- she'll be THREE on Thursday!

It was another nice day, even if not as sunny, and Rusty took the three big kids for a hike down along the creek (Ginny got wet).

When they returned, Junah wanted to go into "the woods" (our ravine).

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Pretty soon, everyone was down there, and Kate & Ali were helping the kids make a fort, gathering & using downed trees & limbs (of which there are plenty).

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I watched from the windows, at first, because this guy was napping. When he woke up, I bundled him up (it was breezy) and we watched from a comfy seat in the back yard. (He's working on Tooth #2!)

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Soon enough, I was down the ravine myself, and ushered inside the fort by the general contractor (instigator) himself to share a (log) seat!

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This was the view from inside (a little panorama).

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I'll see their fort everyday when I open the bedroom blinds or look out back from the Garden Room!

Meanwhile, evenings have been spent crocheting and watching TV. We've recently discovered BILLIONS (fabulous cast!), and we're loving it.

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I've made enough progress that my blanket can actually serve... to a degree, anyway (coverage is not complete). Haha.

I hope you had a great weekend!

 


On the edge of 17

I am delighted to have been administered the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine on Wednesday morning, but holy hell, Thursday was awful! Somehow, I stuck it out all day at work but felt like I never quite woke up. I took a snooze on the couch when I got home, went to bed early, and slept soundly, so I'm feeling much better today. I'll have to take the day after the second dose off of work, or at least have it optional. I had slight soreness at the injection site and had chills a few times, otherwise OK except totally out of it all day. Heh.

Also on Wednesday, I celebrated 16 years of the QUIT! That almost 117,000 cigarettes that I have not consumed, and loosely in the area of $30,000-37,000 saved, plus other health benefits.

That's so crazy!

I actually felt fine all day on Wednesday, and made corned beef (in the Instant Pot) for St. Paddy's Day, and Colcannon for the first time... definitely not the last, but it's only going to be a once-a-year thing with all that butter & cream. (It was SO good!)

If Wednesday couldn't have been any better, Kate also received her UK Visa! She has a 90-day window from mid-April to travel, and hopefully things will continue to improve in regard to Covid and travel/quarantine restrictions between now and then-ish.

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Photo from last year, when the Garden Room was still small. Haha.

Spring begins tomorrow, and it's 17 years ago tomorrow that I published my first KNITORIOUS blog post!

That is also crazy.

We're in for some good weather & sunshine this weekend -- 60F on Sunday! I hope it'll be nice in your neck of the woods, too. Have a great weekend!