Made it!! Internet is spotty (currently posting from the boys' bathroom during mid-night potty break - I'll take it when & where) but I've got it! Almost nothing has gone according to plan. Having an amazingly great time!
Made it!! Internet is spotty (currently posting from the boys' bathroom during mid-night potty break - I'll take it when & where) but I've got it! Almost nothing has gone according to plan. Having an amazingly great time!
Delayed flights and missed connection (by only :15... so frustrating).
One daily flight to Rio.
24 Hours in Houston.
The view from here.
Next up: 9 hours at the airport.
This morning's photo:
Two sleeps to Rio -- one in my own bed, one on an aeroplane -- and then I'll be sleeping pool-side, behind the two doors on the right!
The airline just called to tell me that it's time to check in online!
Of course I've known that English isn't spoken much in Brazil, but I realized yesterday that I've actually never been to a non-English speaking country before -- not even Mexico. That prompted me to make doubly sure that I have contact info and back-up contact info, and a Plan C!
I have LOTS to do! I continue to update my lists and reminders, striving to streamline everything, but even so I may start bouncing off the walls soon!
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Ten on Tuesday: 10 Tips for Sticking With Your Fitness Routine
1. I don't have 10 tips for this.
2. I don't even have one.
3. Fitness routine?
4. It's the missing component.
5. I've been very satisfied with the results that have occurred in my body over the past 4-5 months by just changing how and what I eat.
6. Last Saturday I was back down to pre-Christmas weight and then some, marking my lowest weight so far on this journey.
7. There's been a lot happening in my life and the lives of people around me, so I'm quite happy right now to limit my focus to the food aspect.
8. I have a gym membership and I know how to use it.
9. I just haven't used it in quite some time.
10. I'm looking forward to spring and hopping back on my bike -- the 30+ pounds I've lost will make that even more fun, I think!
It's "3 sleeps to Rio," but mashing it up with "3 sheets to the wind" makes me laugh. I'm not staggering (yet), but may be getting a little punch-drunk!
The extended forecast in Rio, for as far as I can see, is for temps in the 80s (F) and scattered or PM thunderstorms every single day! I was bummed about that for a bit, but the partial sun peeking out from behind the clouds and raindrops made me feel a little better, and I also realized that it also means dramatic weather. I do so love dramatic weather!
Dramatic weather in the mid-Atlantic rainforest? I'll try it!
Annie sent me this morning's photo of the boys in the pool, above, and said that the forecast for today was also rain; it was over by 9 a.m., though, and had been mostly sunny since!
I know the weather can change in an instant, and I'm counting on a little bit of everything -- and trying to prepare.
Meanwhile, after last week's "January thaw," the temp plunged over the weekend and it was cold outside!
I had an outdoor photo shoot tentatively scheduled for Saturday afternoon. It was iffy in the morning, but was better by afternoon and it was a "go." The young woman has been Ali's BFF since high school and she works part-time at the coffee shop. I've taken photos of her family a few times over the past couple of years. Her boyfriend called me to schedule a couple's session - at least that's what he told her - for her birthday. In reality, he was going to propose and I was in on it (and in possession of a HUGE secret)!
I don't think I have to tell you that she said YES!
Or that they're both ridiculously happy.
And also adorable.
LOVE! Ain't it grand?
Five little words every traveler should know, don't you think? That interesting phrase was among the first I came upon in the free Brazilian Portuguese flashcard app I downloaded the other day. "I am not single." "I am an extrovert." "I am extremely generous." "Is your house far?" "We are joyful and creative." "I am ready."
There are some more useful ones: "I am on vacation in Brazil." "I am at the beach with friends." "I am thirsty."
"The party is in the backyard" is probably the most useful, so far, since I'll actually be going to a Churrasco a week from Saturday!
I made a great dinner last night (if I may say so*) and we bid farewell to my niece Jena, who had been visiting for a couple of days, and my sister Ann and her family after their unplanned visit this holiday from Rio de Janeiro. The sweetest part of that, for me, was saying, "See you next week!" when I gave my good-bye kisses. Hello. I cannot wait!! It was fun to show Annie my swim suit -- more fun to actually be OK with the idea of wearing it! I am VERY far from LOVING how I'll look in a swim suit, and I'm sure I'll be the only woman on any beach in Brazil wearing a one-piece (unless you count those possibly wearing one piece) (ha!). The last time I bought swimwear, I successfully avoided the water and returned it to the store on the way home! Anyway, there are certain things/places that Annie's been wanting to do/go that her husband isn't interested in, so it was fun talking about all the things we're going to DO next week! In Brazil!
I love "doing" vacations."
Oh, and that reminds me: Whatever's available and listed in the Make.Do Shop will be up over the weekend, but it'll all come down and the shop will close for a little while. I'll ship any orders on Monday/Tuesday. Things being what they are, priorities have conspired to put dyeing in the back seat of late, but don't worry (or do, it's up to you), I'll be back!
*Roasted Broccoli, Cauliflower & Shrimp
4 lbs. shrimp, raw/thawed & peeled
8 c. (roughly) broccoli & cauliflower florets
Fresh lemon juice
Salt & pepper
Heat oven to 425F. Normally I'd maybe use 3-4 Tablespoons of lemon juice; Mom's not tolerating the acidity of citrus very well, so I used barely a Tablespoon. About a teaspoon each of salt and pepper were combined with the lemon juice, then added to the shrimp and it was all tossed very well.
The original recipe calls for blanching the broccoli, but boiling a huge pot of water for one minute of cooking time seems idiotic to me, so I just loaded up my Pampered Chef 2-Qt. Classic Batter Bowl with veggies (do not add water) and put it in the microwave for about 3 minutes on high. When I do this combo again in the future, I'll cook the broccoli alone for 2-3 minutes and then add the cauliflower for 2-3 more -- the broc needs just a bit more time than the cauli; it was good, but could be better.
Combine the veggies and the shrimp in a large baking pan (I used the 12x15 +/- that I use for roasting tomatoes). The shrimp were larger than I usually use, so I roasted for about 8-10 minutes, removed the pan and stirred it all around, then roasted for another 8-10, until the shrimp are done!
SO easy. There's lots of room for playing around, too, which I love in a recipe. I've been much more adventurous in the seasoning of foods lately, but some things -- like shrimp -- are perfect with nothing but salt and pepper. Yum.
I served it with a bowl of simple mashed sweet potatoes and it all made a very pretty plate.
I'm still bitter over the demise of yesterday's post, but it's time to Just Do It again. New plan: upload all the photos, then add the words.
Last year, for the first time ever, Rusty flew out to California for his more-or-less annual ocean/beach infusion. He was in a position to give up his seat for a later flight on the way home, as is sometimes requested, and was awarded a travel voucher in return. Offered up for any of us to use, I had thoughts about Rhinebeck, Kate had thoughts about visiting west coast friends and, just like that, a year goes by, expiration is looming, and Brazil is on the table.
I did some research and found that it would cost $x in addition to the voucher, which just so happened to be the total cost of a flight to Brazil on a different airline (practically from my back door, too). Well, that's sort of a no-brainer, huh? I booked a mid-January flight to Rio on the other airline -- and still had a voucher to use!
This year, Rusty's trip west not only occurred later than usual, he'll also be away longer. He's working his way from the first stop in Idaho, through Washington and Oregon, and eventually all the way to his brother's and dad's in Southern California. Also gone for my birthday, we determined that he'd be in the Bay Area then and, well, wouldn't it be nice...
I landed in San Francisco early Friday afternoon. Rusty'd packed a little lunch and our first stop was at the beach for a snack. Having done only a drive-by of Chinatown when we were there in 1995 with the kids (not to mention that my main focus then was on a 4yo, not sightseeing), I wanted to visit there and also Fisherman's Wharf.
Chinatown on a Friday afternoon is very busy! We walked up a crowded "local" street and back down another that was definitely more geared toward tourists. I was intrigued by the roasted birds of all sizes in the windows -- chickens and ducks, certainly, but also some small enough to fit in my hand. Rusty found himself at a bakery counter ordering what he thought were two large almond cookies... and, um, they were not almond cookies!
I posted the photo from Alioto's on Fisherman's Wharf the other day. The view was spectacular, and we had a fabulous dinner. Rusty had trout, I had sand dabs (similar to flounder), and we shared dessert.
We stayed in San Rafael -- the first night in the guest room, but the rest of the time in the houseboat.
Our host (Rusty's been here before) helped to build the houseboat in 1980, then lived in it while he built his househouse. It is absolutely adorable, full of light from leaded and stained glass windows, and beautiful wood throughout!
It was very hard to leave.
Huey Lewis and the News have been to China Camp, too! This picture hangs just to the left of the open door you can see back there.
When I turned, I saw myself in this O-L-D cigarette machine on the other side of the doorway.
There were photos of John Wayne around the place, too, Blood Alley having been filmed there in the 1950s.
On the way to our main destination in Berkeley, we did a little recon to see if the warehouse that Rusty lived in and managed for his friend Tim in the early '70s was still there... and it was!
We made our way to Lacis and I just don't know what I can possibly say. If ever you find yourself in the area, just go... take your time, and be sure to ask for a tour of the museum.
Celia and I also made our way to A Verb for Keeping Warm (keep an eye out for the start of an AVKW Marin). Great shop -- friendly, nice selection of yarn, and also fabric, sewing machines and work space!
We enjoyed a delicious dinner with Celia, her husband, her brother, and a family friend, followed by a walk to Ici for dessert.
Mmmm, Celia and I had Cranberry Lime Sorbet, I'm pretty sure Rusty had Cookies & Cream.
On Sunday -- the best weather of all the days I was there (and none of them was bad) -- we hit the beach! Specifically, we drove out to Point Reyes National Seashore.
The waves were amazing -- again -- so I let Rusty hang on North Beach while I scouted Drake's Beach, South Beach, and the Chimney Rock area.
I am reminded of Scotland for some reason... and I must not be the only one because we drove through Inverness on the way here, plus there were a lot of other Scottish place names in use throughout the area.
And then it was Monday and a noon-ish flight back home. I managed to squeeze in a stop at Dharma Trading Co. on the way to the airport!
It was a quick trip, but jam packed and a perfect way to use that voucher!
It's always interesting to navigate in a city via second-person GPS -- where someone (me) is monitoring the electronics and relating directions to the driver (Rusty). In that fashion, we took an extraordinarily scenic drive to my cousin Gail's house in Duluth.
If you're not familiar with Duluth, it's hilly -- like San Francisco -- but with the added excitement of winter!! So here I am from the same spot, looking down at the entry to the house. The chicken coop (shown below) is right below me.
This is the garage -- I was overcome by it all, I guess, so you'll have to imagine the beautiful view from the upstairs studio. Gail's jewelry studio -- RockOn Jewelry -- is up there. I don't know how she gets any work done. There's also room up there for her boys' instruments and whatnot.
We met Gail's husband, John, and my cousin Gordy for lunch at Lake Avenue Cafe (I had the Squash Spaghetti Salad -- yum!). (I'll talk a little more about trip food in another post.) After some adjustments by both photographer and subjects, we had our picture taken.
Aaaaahhhhhhh. We did not mind one single bit driving up the scenic North Shore again on Tuesday afternoon.
Our destination was East Bay Suites, Grand Marais, where we planned to settle and make our base for a few days. It was spectacular.
We had a kitchen, and a local food co-op was practically next door, so we were able to stock the 'fridge, cook for ourselves, and eat in for a few meals. Not to mention coffee. We're sort of snobs about that.
It's a great little town, and very "arty." The North House Folk School is incredible, and I would love to visit sometime and take part in a workshop. The Grand Marais Art Colony had just held Plein Air Grand Marais and we were delighted with both the venue and the show! We visited a number of terrific galleries during our visit.
Are you bored yet? More to come... food, knitting, yarn, adventures!
Still making waves in northern Wisconsin...
These clouds just KILLED me.
While I was mostly unplugged during this vacation, I did update and share camera-phone photos on FB the whole time. (I haven't even looked at my actual camera photos yet!) It would be more accurate to say that I contributed to social/electronic media, but was not much of a consumer. I posted but didn't interact on FB much, nor did I blog or answer many emails; I barely used my phone and, while we watched a couple of movies in the evening, we didn't watch TV at all -- I had very little knowledge of what was going on in the whole wide world.
It was really pretty great, though I think it's made re-entry harder than I've ever experienced.
Anyway, I loved Ali's comment on the photo above: Ohhhh, Dad's expressions are priceless.
Because, of course, they are.
This is the lake at Superior (above) and if you look closely (or click to embiggen), you can see ships! I lived in Superior for a year shortly after high school graduation and I never paid attention to, much less appreciated, Lake Superior.
True and very sad story.
I didn't recognize a single thing as we drove through Superior. I never had a car when I lived there, and might have been more aware had I ever driven anywhere. It seemed much more spread out than I remembered. We did stop at Fabric Works and I found a little skein of yarn to take home.
Rusty had done some recon via Google Earth prior to departure and one place he wanted to check out up-close-and-personal was the area on the other side of Duluth's iconic Aerial Lift Bridge. There are a couple of major bridges in that area and we experienced them all!
I didn't connect with my cousin until late Monday night and knowing that we'd likely head back to Duluth on Tuesday, we didn't go far north to find lodging. The Island View Resort at Knife River was cute enough to check out and, boy, am I ever glad we did! That's our view from the cozy porch. The place was clean as a whistle, which is saying something for a 75-year-old resort cabin. The words "Marge Perfect" were even uttered a few times -- a term coined by my sister to describe to her sons the level of clean she was looking for, based on my mother's standard. The boys made a little plaque. Trust me, it is not a term we use lightly around here!
The Lighthouse at Emily's was just down the road, and we lucked out with live music (on Mondays) as accompaniment to dinner.
One last view from the porch!
We pondered many options when planning our little early fall get-away vacation. Now that I think of it, though, it was always North -- we never really considered heading East or West or South.
We knew we'd drive and that we had a week -- it was Fall Fest at the Farmers' Market on Saturday, so Sunday was departure day. We knew we'd want to return on a Saturday so we'd have a buffer day on the other side.
The Maritimes *sigh* always on my list. Can't be done from here in a week, though.
I didn't think a week was enough for any of it. I like driving vacations, but not vacations when there's nothing but driving!
We settled on going part-way around Lake Superior -- the east end -- with the North Shore as our destination. We'd have the option of going to Canada (Thunder Bay or Nipigon) if we wanted. I remembered that Kathy camps on the North Shore and that Holly's been there and even had a favorite place to stay.
It actually turned out pretty great for a lot of reasons -- #1 being visiting some folks. My cousins Gail & Gordy live/work in Duluth; their dad, my Uncle Cliff, recently moved into a Memory Care unit at a facility in Superior; my Uncle Bob lives half-way between Superior and my sister Karen's, and we planned to spend our last night away at Karen's on the way home.
We took US 51, a familiar route north, but we were in unfamiliar territory once we passed the turn-off to County Road FF at Mercer. We pretty much kissed the Upper Peninsula of Michigan at Ironwood, then took a left toward Ashland.
And then to Bayfield, where all of these photos were taken, and where found a place to spend the night. And not just any old place! It wasn't the first place we called because it's so well known and I doubted there'd be a vacancy, but lo and behold...
While there wasn't any room at The Inn, there was a room at another of their properties, Le Chateau Boutin. Some might think of it as second fiddle, but it was simply gorgeous! That's it up there. Oh, the porch was spectacular! It was nice enough on Sunday evening for sitting (and knitting) and we both thought it was way better than the (first fiddle) Rittenhouse porch. Our bedroom -- oh! With a real fireplace in front of which we cozied up to watch a burning log. The view through the windows is from the bed. Yeah. I could wake up to that every morning!
We walked down to a cute place called Maggie's, on Manypenny Avenue, for dinner. (I love saying, "Manypenny Avenue.") There are a million fabulous places to eat up there. I see now that Wild Rice must be related to Maggie's. I was vaguely aware that it was up there somewhere, having seen it on an episode of Wisconsin Foodie a while back, but couldn't remember... and I guess I didn't really try. It gives me a reason to return.
In the morning, we walked over to the Rittenhouse Inn for breakfast (I sat next to that glorious fireplace). Most of these sky views are from the iron bridge between Le Chateau and The Inn. Then we walked downtown and peeked into a couple of shops.
I was surprised by the size of the upstairs yarn shop at Brownstone Centre, and with a good selection of commercial yarns. Alas, I didn't make any purchases there. We went next door for a good cup of coffee, up the hill to an orchard where we bought a big bag of Cortlands, and hit the road!
Have I mentioned that I fell in love with a lake?
On Saturday morning, my friend Kate picked me up and took me to Wausau to take photos of her, her sister, and their mother -- there's a bunch of brothers in the family, too, but this was a "Girls Only" affair. Actually, one brother was there when we arrived, helping "Mom" set up her new iPad, but he didn't hang around for long.
Recently having reason to glance back, I'm surprised to see that it's already been 4 years since I picked up a camera with some intent. I recall that, in addition to photographing babies and kids, there was a glimmer of desire to capture women -- mothers & daughters, sisters, friends -- which I never really pursued. I had instant recollection when Kate asked me to do this for them. It was a lot of fun -- I was probably more relaxed than almost any other session (which means only slightly less nervous), and I'm happy I agreed; hope to do it again.
Kate is an artist and a knitter. We'd both noticed that there was a "yarn bombing" event happening in Stevens Point on Saturday and, while we weren't able to participate, we stopped by on the way home to see it.
This community project at the Riverfront Arts Center was done to create awareness of an exhibit opening this Friday - Common Threads - Stories and Visions in Fiber. I won't make the opening, but would really like to see the show before it closes.
The bleedin' 'arts (I am compelled to say it that way this year) are from my back garden -- I ran down on Saturday evening to take a few photos while there was still some light. They're just everywhere! And one of my favorite flowers.
Four days until the next birthday... which is great, because I've a little more to talk about.
I drove down on Sunday with Kate and Al. They kindly indulged my swerve through Highland Park to search for the house I lived in when I was in first grade! I finally learned the name of the street... lo and behold, I was likely within a block or two the last time I drove through there! I recognized the house right away, mainly because all that's visible from the street is the garage -- everything else disappears behind a hedge -- just as it was back then.
We traced the steps I took everyday to my friend Missy's house -- which I also recognized on sight -- on my way to school. Sometimes we'd dawdle... doing rain dances on the way... and be very late (I recall once being a half-hour late!) even though the school was only a few blocks further. Of course, I found my school on Sunday, too, and it hasn't changed at all except that it's "smaller" now!!
Missy is one of those long-lost people I'd love to find someday -- and I might have a chance if only I knew how to spell her last name! We only lived in Highland Park for a year, but it was a very memorable year. I had the best first grade teacher in the whole wide world, Mrs. Kelly; and I had my first inkling of romance; and I had a fun and adventurous friend; I watched the Osmond Brothers on the Andy Williams Show, and got my first record player, and somehow Can't Get Used To Losing You is always the soundtrack for that place & time; and my little baby sister was born!
It was a great few days away -- a nice little Spring break. There were many others on Spring Break, as well, and I've never seen so many American Girl dolls in my life! We were pretty close to Michigan Ave. and American Girl Place. My favorites were the ones that weren't so new -- there were a few -- with mussed up hair and well-worn clothes.
There were plenty of other things to see... a sampling.
This is the only yarn I saw the whole time... I didn't do any knitting, except for a few rows in the car on the way down, and never made it to any shops. I thought about it, but it just never happened.
We had a fun little spa break -- a quick hand soak, neck & hand massage -- for AVEDA Earth Month.
We found lots of great food, of course! The Ram Restaurant & Brewery was a well-deserved stop after a few hours at IKEA! My sister was in town at around lunch time on Tuesday, so we spent a wonderful couple of hours at The Purple Pig. It was delicious! Katie met a friend for Happy Hour on Tuesday and, on said friend's recommendation, we sought out The Doughnut Vault on Wednesday morning. They sold out of chocolate just two people ahead of us, so we will just have to go back!
Redhead(s) In Trouble! (Not really.) (I used to have that album... don't know if I still do.)
After being on the schedule for three days, we finally made it to The Field Museum late Wednesday morning. Wonderful time with the mummies, dinosaurs, kids & families on Spring Break, and field-tripping school kids not on Spring Break!!
I grabbed Kate this morning and we ran over to Hidden Valley Farm & Woolen Mill for their Holiday Open House. It was my first time there and it was great to see what they -- and other local artisans -- had to offer.
Also, I found out that the big bag of fiber I've been lugging around in my trunk is alpaca. Kate has one, too, both given to her by a co-worker who moved a few years ago. We didn't have Kate's with us, so we don't know if it's alpaca, too, or something else. Oh, darn, we'll just have to drive out there again sometime. It would be nice to get that fiber processed!
Kate's always been much more interested in the spinning aspect of things. I threw out the idea of a beginner's spinning class for her as a Christmas gift. I may have offered to accompany her to class... you know, for moral support.
Not only did I get to visit Silver Lake with Margene (one week ago today!), I was also able to photograph a fresh Different Lines there with Margene as my model! A little overwhelmed was I, what with being at Silver Lake with Margene, and the moose, and the kids, and SILVER LAKE with MARGENE! They're pretty standard FO shots... except, you know, they're at SILVER LAKE! Whew!
- Project: Different (Different Lines Shawl) by Veera Välimäki, 100% Rain
- Yarn: Malabrigo Sock (eggplant) from Iris Fine Yarns, Appleton, WI
- Yarn: Knit Picks Bare Superwash Wool & Nylon, fingering, Make.Do.Dyed for Project Spectrum in a shade of pink that reminded me of Grandma, so called "Virginia"
- Needle: Susan Bates Quicksilver 6US/4.25mm
- Mod: Knit one row and cast off in contrasting color
- Start to Finish: August 31, 2011 - September 26, 2011. Finished while at the Rocky Mountain Knitters' Retreat at Alta Lodge in Utah!
I had a great and busy and quite productive weekend -- cooking, knitting, dyeing, harvesting, dyeing some more! Also gearing up for a brand new, twice-monthly Knit Night at the coffee shop beginning this Thursday... Wish you were here!
You know, I can hardly believe that we're in the last third of September already! It's been pretty jam-packed with goings-on, and I guess that's why it's flying by -- all good, but a bit too whirlwindy for me. It's the "lazy" and "hazy" parts I like best about Those Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days of (late) Summer!
It was only a week-and-a-half ago that I was at Wisconsin Sheep & Wool Festival -- it seems so much longer than that! My one and only purchase there, greatly encouraged by Rae, was a huge hank of mohair from Ewetopia Fiber Shop in Viroqua, WI.
A slightly more easterly route home from Iowa earlier this summer means we missed Viroqua by about 15 miles. I'd like to visit someday and, since LaCrosse is still on the list of Sister Weekend possibilities, it's likely that someday I will.
Yep, it's as soft as it looks. So pretty! I have to admit that the sample Fern Lace Mohair Shrug hanging in the booth sort of sealed the deal. It looked so warm and cozy and I'm all about that with the onset of autumn! The colors are more reminiscent of summer -- sky, water, grass -- they ought to be nice, hopeful reminders in the dead of winter of what's to come.
I think I'll be winding this baby up and taking it with me to Utah! I'm flying out on Friday to meet up with Margene and heading to the Rocky Mountain Knitters' Retreat at Alta Lodge on Saturday & Sunday. I'm.so.excited. I've lamented to and commiserated with Margene, possibly more than any other blogger I've "met" in the past 7.5 years (and possibly because I've "known" her almost as long), about "the curse of the internet" -- we're so close and yet so far away! I'm actually pretty lucky in that I have met Margene -- five years ago at Rhinebeck. The atmosphere at a festival can be pretty frenzied, though, and I'm looking forward to a more laid-back and relaxed atmosphere... at a ski lodge... in Utah... in autumn. Oh, it's going to be wonderful, gorgeous, relaxing, inspiring, rejuvenating, maybe even clarifying!
That means there's only two more sleeps... and I'd better start getting my shit together. Other than the above (not yet wound, as we speak, never mind locating needles, etc.), my camera and "some clothes," I've no idea what I'm bringing or how I'm packing!
But first, I went to Escanaba (in da moonlight, even). I think I've covered the recent crazy-busy, so we shook things up a bit in order to preserve our sanity and took a mid-week overnight road trip to wherever the road led.
We packed up as soon as I got home from work and the road led us to Mickey Lu's in Marinette for a burger. And then to Cottage Ten (not Four, as pictured) at Sandy Shores Resort just a few miles south of Escanaba. Long-time owner, Rosie, passed away in June, but her mark is everywhere. There's a vintage retro vibe, for sure, and everything was spotless. So cute. We just stayed in a "room" but a week in one of the actual cottages would be divine. Our front-porch "neighbors" were a couple from Germany travelling with their two young-adult children -- and they were very nice neighbors!
We sort of liked Escanaba. It's the first place I moved to from my birthplace of Milwaukee when I was just a baby; the first of many such moves (annual, at least) in my first 8-9 years. Needless to say, I don't remember it at all, and my only other memories of Escanaba are that it's a place we'd drive through to get to Mackinac Island!
Anyway, we found the Swedish Pantry downtown and started our day with Swedish pancakes for breakfast. And then we just drove -- up the bay and down the bay, and then over to Norway.
I'd spotted a story about Rainbow's End Alpacas in one of the Michigan tourism magazines and decided that it needed to be a destination. It was a nice drive, a really great location, and there was yarn. What's not to love? The shop has lovely light with nice, big windows (with a view of the farm and alpacas) and a fireplace with comfy chairs -- I can imagine how cozy that must be in January!
And now I'm going to press some fabric that I just washed for a project. Woo!
Not really. And I was going to post something else, but I read a few entries on Facebook from a photographer friend who is vacationing with her family in Ireland right now, and I felt a pang...
Happy weekend! Ours is going to be cold and gray. Good sweater sewing-up weather, I guess.
More accurately, on Sunday evening, it was a tornado. One minute we're storm-watching on the porch, the next minute -- sensing that it was *time* (pretty much just after we heard a big bang, all the lights went out, and stuff started hitting the windows) -- we're in the basement. We were only there for a moment, and when we came up we could see siding, shingles and insulation littering the yard, in the trees, all over the street. There was significant damage to over 100 homes -- two of them on my street, exactly one block away! I believe it's five homes that will need to be razed, and one of those is only another three-block walk. Power was out all night, finally restored at 6 a.m. There were lots of downed power lines, and many trees were lost. Luckily, there are barely buds yet, much less leaves, on the trees -- that would have made a drastic difference.
* * * * *
Meanwhile, one last (for now) batch of photos to share from our vacation. This was on Sunday, April 3rd -- Mothering Day! From the first day in London, I'd noticed advertising in shop windows and quickly realized that I'd get to celebrate Mother's Day twice this year!!
We drove from Betws-y-Coed back to London on Sunday, dodging rain and making a few stops along the way.
We stretched our legs on the grounds at Stokesay Castle in Shropshire.
And we did finally make it to Tintern Abbey, but with only five minutes before closing we weren't allowed entry. All of my photos were taken from this side of the gate. It never even occurred to me that it would be an "admission" sort of place. Too bad, because the weather had improved and the late-day light was just starting to get interesting!
*I* drove back to London -- well, to Wembley where we returned the car, just as departing traffic from a football event at the stadium was at its peak! We wrestled our bags onto the tube one last time to Regent's Park Station on the Bakerloo Line. ("The Bakerloo Line" is one of those things I like to hear -- and say out loud -- repeatedly. Betws-y-Coed, Tal-y-bont, Bryn Celli Ddu are others.) We kissed Katie good-bye at 5 a.m. on Monday morning and loaded bags into a taxi for the trip to Heathrow!
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It's been over a week since our return and I am still on a vacation high -- and absolutely cannot wait for next time! Kate returns this afternoon and has another week's worth of her own adventures to share -- including a day with Maddy before her departure on Saturday for the continent (Brussels until yesterday, Trier as of today; Strasbourg and Frankfurt yet to come) and standing in line for hours in the early morning to score a ticket for Frankenstein!!
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Warm Hats Not Hot Heads - Update!
Way back in February, I talked about knitting and politics and the Warm Hats Not Hot Heads project which hoped to promote and raise awareness of civility amongst our elected officials. I knit a hat for Wisconsin Senator Herb Kohl and, in the spirit of civility, also for Congressman Reid Ribble. I'd hoped to personally hand-deliver the hats and my letter to their respective local offices, but my schedule never meshed with their office hours; however, I did manage to have Alison deliver them!
Upon returning from our vacation, I listened to a delightful message on my answering machine from Marlene at Senator Kohl’s office, telling me that the cap “is absolutely lovely” and that she didn’t know when she’d been “so touched - by your efforts and by the message in your letter.” She looked forward to sending it to Sen. Kohl and “wanted to call and thank you for your kindness. I know he’s going to appreciate it…”
I also had a couple of canned recorded messages from Reid Ribble’s office about his upcoming local appearances -- apparently, they just added my phone number to their database. I’ve had no personal response from him or his office.
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I would like to talk about knitting again sometime, but suppose I actually have to start knitting again in order to do so!
I don't know what I was expecting, but Wales blew me away with its beauty.
We stayed a couple nights at The Lodge Hotel in Tal-y-bont, Conwy. I couldn't come up with it on the GPS -- thought it was actually in Conwy, for one thing. I phoned and the innkeeper gave me turn-by-turn directions through the amazing walled town of Conwy, right to the parking lot where he said he'd meet us out front -- where we found him waiting! The accommodations were as wonderful as the hospitality.
This is Betws-y-Coed, an adorable little village a few miles south of Tal-y-bont, where we stopped for coffee and whatnot on Saturday morning as we made our way to Anglesey. The sign out front of the white unit on the left read, "To Let." Oh, wouldn't that just be the perfect place to spend a summer?
You may say that I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one... my girls dream even BIGGER! There was talk of buying and extended visits (and raising sheep)! This makes me happy. If nothing else is certain in the world today, uncertainty definitely is -- we're in the midst (on the brink) of enormous change -- and I'm happy that my girls have hopes and dreams -- and that they are big BIG dreams!
One thing I noticed about Wales was the activity. People DO things in Wales! Perhaps it was because of the weekend, but everywhere we looked there were cyclists, kayakers, hikers, campers, surfers. Let me tell you, to be a road cyclist in Wales -- anywhere in the UK -- takes some pretty serious dedication and absolute fearlessness; there's barely room for two cars on most roadways, not to mention lorries, and being a cyclist in the midst of that? Makes me shiver.
One of the many reasons we ended up at a B&B in West Kilbride is because the village is believed to have been named after Saint Brigid.
Alison bore witness to some of my last-minute packing, in particular the decision to pack my St. Brigid sweater, despite its bulk and the taking up of MUCH precious luggage space. (Have I mentioned that I've learned valuable, indelible lessons about packing for an overseas trip?) I justified it, in part, because it did provide some nice padding for the laptop in my carry-on bag.
There was no way we were leaving town without a visit to the beautiful hillside cemetery in West Kilbride and a photo shoot. A far cry from what I pictured in my head (for one thing, I don't think I was wearing 7-day-old jeans in my head), it is what it is... me wearing my St. Brigid sweater and standing by a Celtic cross headstone in a Scottish cemetery in West Kilbride, Scotland!
And, yep, sheep -- you can see them in the photos both above and below... little white specs!
We left there on Friday morning after breakfast. We needed to drive down and pick up Maddy at the train station in Conwy, Wales, by 6:30 that evening.
I'd had to tell Maddy the night before that her precious pup, Mickey, had died. Mickey had escaped the house a couple of days earlier, as sometimes happened in the 7 years she's been in our family, and, no doubt, she followed her nose, as beagles do... and she always did. We'd been much more diligent and this little trick was becoming rare. Usually she'd come back fat and happy; sometimes she'd have a little tummy ache; this time, she must have found something really, really bad. My heart aches for Maddy, and the house is just not the same without Mickey!
When Addy found out about Mickey, he said that she's with Remy, Bompa, and Sharon! Remy was Annie's dog that Addison never even met and Bompa was his grandpa who died when he wasn't even 18 months old! That sweet little boy with a wise old soul... he just feels things and tells it like it is!
RIP, Mickey. We miss you. XO
I can hear my mother singing that song!
Have I mentioned the sheep? Sheep are E.V.E.R.Y.W.H.E.R.E. in the UK. Everywhere!
Lucky us, in late March, many of those sheep have a lamb or two or three at their side. OMG, the cute. They're skittish little things and it is extremely difficult to photograph a green hillside full of sheep or capture the extreme adorableness of little lambs -- the picture in your mind is likely better than anything on paper (or screen) -- and the real thing is simply indescribable. From the first to the last, we never tired of seeing them.
The additional pay off for trekking to Bryn Celli Ddu in Anglesey, Wales, were the lambs that had snuck under the fence and were running and jumping and playing on and around the mound!
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Home. Catching up.
Sharing the love.
We've stayed most of our time in Scotland at Millstonford House B&B in West Kilbride, North Ayrshire, Scotland. I don't remember exactly how I stumbled upon it, but it just seemed right from the get-go -- all of it, from the farm-fresh eggs at breakfast and availability of bicycles, the proximity to castle ruins and islands and coastline and Highlands, to the Craft Town Scotland designation that appeals to the artists and artisans amongst us and the connection to St. Brigid that appeals to me (knitter of sweater of same name).
While I often refer to "the curse of the internet" -- that it can bring us so close to people whom we may never meet -- I usually only feel that way when a far-away friend really needs a hug, or when it would be just great to join them for knit-night, or pop in for a cuppa and some catching up.
When I mentioned to Yvette where we'd be going, she told me some of the shops in the area that we might check out -- including Old Maiden Aunt Yarns, which I'd never heard of before, located right in West Kilbride! This is completely the opposite of "curse of the internet." This is "what in the world did we do without the internet?" (and, I might add, "...Garmin, too?")
Tomorrow, we head for Wales and meeting up with Maddy for a couple of days before we (most of us) head back home. Kate will spend a few days in London with Maddy before heading to Barcelona, I believe, and before Maddy departs with her group for the "continental tour" portion of their program.
We visited Inverlochy Castle before heading south from Fort William this morning (Wednesday).
Castle Stalker in Appin.
Random scenic view. I pulled over... um... actually, one does not ever just "pull over" to the side of the road in Scotland, or anywhere in the UK that I've driven. The roads are narrow and there is NO shoulder. I meant to turn onto a road, then into a cemetery but missed them both because the signs are right >< there when you need to turn and there's often little or no warning. I turned around, instead, in someone's "driveway" -- it's all so different here -- I don't think she was too happy -- and then scooted off the drive leading to an attraction of some sort. There are frequent "Parking" turn-outs, but they aren't usually where there's something amazing to see or there are trees blocking the view.
That said, I am freakin' driving in the Scottish Highlands, man, and I am NOT complaining! Nor will I ever complain about narrow roads at home. I will complain about rude American drivers, though... it's all so different here. I don't think I've seen a single stop sign, and traffic lights are the exception rather than the rule. I still think roundabouts are kind of a pain, but I also see their benefit(s) and maybe I'll try harder.
Anyway, the rain made the colors POP today and, oh, it's just so beautiful!
These are at Jubilee Point in Argyll Forest Park.
We're back at our B&B -- it's an "activity day" tomorrow!
The Highlands. This is near Glencoe. We had a wonderful dinner this evening in Fort William, then had a walk about the village and stopped at a pub for a pint. Southerly, back to our west coast B&B tomorrow!
This is amazing.
So far, we've balanced the active days and not-so-active days pretty well. After a long plane ride, we spent a day walking around London; after a day of driving to Scotland, we ferried to an island where we rented bikes and rode the 10-mile isle circuit!
...the Isle of Cumbrae. The Isle of Arran was also on the list of possibilities, but we all liked the idea of riding around the entire island. That means I'll have to come back another time to visit Machrie Moor.
The beauty is incredible -- and we are so fortunate to have hit a good patch of weather. It's likely we'll see more clouds and some rain over the next few days.
We ended up in Bishop Auckland last night (Saturday) and the table was set this morning for our cooked breakfast before we headed off for Scotland.
I'm driving! Well, so is Kate... but I'M DRIVING! On A roads and B roads and M roads, on the other side of the road, on roads with many, many roundabouts, on roads where chickens and sheep may also share the road, on roads that are more like a paved wide path! Not only that, I've been driving down those roads on the other side of the car! There is nothing quite like it.
After two cancelled flights and a last-minute drive to Chicago -- in less than stellar conditions, but improved as we made our way south -- we arrived in London only three hours later than originally scheduled. That does mean that someone is going to have to drive a vehicle back from Chicago upon our return...
We made it and we're glad! It's spring in London and I've been told we've had the best days of the year so far. Daffodils and other flowers are blooming everywhere, and trees are budding. I've walked a million miles, ate some delicious sandwiches, stopped for some lovely coffee, visited and shopped and saw a lot of sites! We met up with our friend Maro this evening (Friday) and went out for fish 'n chips; it was wonderful.
The reports from home are great (always a relief). More to come, though I'm not sure exactly when!
The weather outside is frightful! Our flights have already been rebooked to later departures, so we're spending more time than expected at home than at O'Hare today but will arrive in London only three hours later than originally planned.
There are still weather advisories, watches and warnings, 99.9% of schools in the area are closed today, and it's actually snowing again. It's possible that we'll get bumped back again, but I'm keeping my chin up and hoping for the best -- hanging on to a glittery nugget from Katie who told me that she was in the vicinity of the airport last night (when things were pretty bad) and she saw airplanes coming and going.
We considered having someone drive us to Chicago -- the weather isn't quite as bad there -- or even driving ourselves, but that opens other cans of (unpleasant) worms and we've decided to just go with the flow and the airlines' automatic rebooking... It's all an adventure, right?
So to help keep the thoughts happy and up, let's move forward with a little preview of what we'll be doing.
Leaving our home, dog and cats in capable hands, we'll take a Wednesday evening flight from O'Hare, arriving in London and likely hugging Madeleine by noon-ish (local time) on Thursday. We'll settle in and rest for a short time and then probably hit the streets, meeting up late for coffee with a former neighbor girl (now woman) and classmate of Ali's -- still friend of us all -- Maro, who lives in Greece but will be in London! Katie actually went to Greece and visited Maro on her last trip to Europe.
One or two people might get up VERY early on Friday morning to stand in line and see if tickets might be secured for Frankenstein! If so, we'll likely be SRO on Friday night. (The more delayed we are, though, the less likely this will be; I have consoled myself with the thought that perhaps they will hit Broadway and then I can go to New York again.) (That works for me!) During the day on Friday, we'll see London a la Maddy and Katie.
Sometime on Saturday, Rusty, Kate, Al and I will make our way north a bit and pick up our rental car. It is going to pain me to leave Maddy behind in London, but she is there for school and that's important. This is not the last we'll see of her, though, and so we look forward...
We'll drive (drive!) north in a sort of easterly way, seeing whatever we fancy, finding a place to stay the night, sightseeing our way to and through Edinburgh, over to Glasgow, and then, by Sunday evening, to the west coast where we've secured lodging at a B&B for our entire time in Scotland.
On Monday, I expect to take in the sights, possibly ferry over to the Isle of Arran. Or maybe back to Edinburgh or Glasgow. It's all a bit unstructured, which suits us!
On Tuesday, we'll be driving north into the Highlands. Originally, I wanted to go up to Inverness (actually, the further north I looked, the further north I wanted to go) and drive down the Loch Ness shoreline but, unless we want to spend our entire vacation in the car, it's just too far. I've decided to save that for my next visit. We'll probably go westerly -- I'd love to see Stirling Castle, visit the bonnie banks of Loch Lomond...
...maybe over to Oban, up to Fort William -- I'd be thrilled (for some reason) if we made it all the way out to Mallaig. Truth be told, I wouldn't be opposed to double-booking and staying over up there somewhere -- going with the flow!
Wednesday will be more of the same -- a variation of either Monday or Tuesday -- it all depends!
On Thursday, the girls and are doing something fun and fibery! I am indebted to Yvette, who no longer blogs but is a FB friend, for mentioning a recent trip home to Scotland (from France) which prompted me to ask questions and she told me about some yarn shops close to our location. (And, OMG, this is where I declare my love for the World Wide Web and technology and the amazingly wonderful and connected world in which we live!) There'll be more on this, but all I'm going to say right now is that I am very (squee!) excited about Thursday and can't wait to share!
On Friday, we'll leave Scotland and head south to Wales where we'll meet Maddy -- possibly picking her up in Liverpool or thereabouts. That's all a bit unplanned yet, too. Dumfries, The Lake District, The Pencil Museum... come what may! We'll spend Friday and Saturday nights in Wales, and head back to London on Sunday.
The return flight leaves bright and early on Monday morning! Katie's actually staying on for another 9-10 days; she and Maddy are talking about taking the Chunnel to Paris!
Remember that? Way back in October?? Berkeley???
We walked to a cafe for breakfast, plotted our course for the day, and took photos all the way home. We still had a few hours before the rental lenses were due back, so we drove over to the Port of Oakland.
After returning the lenses, we decided that it was a beautiful day to drive to the coast.
We drove to Pescadero and had lunch at Duarte's -- cute place with a lot of history, and oh-so-yum.
On the way to the beach, we searched out a geocache!
We spent a relaxing evening on Monday -- knitting and chatting. Oh, and then way too soon it was Tuesday morning and time to leave.
I am so thankful for all of the wonderful people I've met -- both virtually and, luckily, also in reality -- and the amazing experiences and opportunities that blogging has opened to me. I have been to both coasts, now, as well as a few spots in the middle because of it -- I wish I could do it more often, there are so many others I'd like to visit. It's occurred to me more than once, in a daydreamy way, that working as a yarn rep within a nice, laaaarge area, could satisfy several of my needs -- and wants.
And may I add that I am, quite simply, verklempt. I sincerely thank you for your wonderful comments, emails, and calls about Parcheesi -- and everything else. Thank you so much for reading my blog, and for stopping in now and then to let me know...
I have never had more fun at the grocery store -- particularly in the produce department. Once permission to photograph was granted, we slapped on lenses (15mm fisheye and 100mm macro) and tried not to get in anyone's way (too much) (one tends to get lost in the world that appears through the viewfinder).
I've lost count of how many photos I took on this trip! Here are a few faves from Berkeley Bowl.
Artichokes -- one of my favorite veggies. I can get them in Wisconsin, but I'm usually lucky if I can find enough decent specimens for our whole family from the paltry number available at any given time.
The Berkeley Bowl set on Flickr.
And I guess I'm in: NaBloPoMo 2010! I've done this a few times over the blogging years -- successfully, for the most part. I think.
Arguably, signing up for NaBloPoMo might NOT seem to be one of the 10 Ways to Simplify Your Life -- this week's Ten on Tuesday topic -- but (and I'm totally riffing here) I might be able to spin it my way.
10 Ways to Simplify Your Life
- Make lists
- Clean out
- Pare down
- Establish a filing system
- Use online resources for banking & shopping (when it makes sense to do so)
- Cook & bake extra and pack yourself a lunch or two when putting away leftovers
There's always the photography and always the knitting, but they don't seem to mash up as often as they should these days!
Brilliant Miriam Felton's Dimorphous Mittens, which have been on my list for a long, long time. I cast on the first inner mitten on a Thursday, while at the spelling bee. I cast on the second inner mitten the following Thursday, in the car on the way to Milwaukee, in order to have something to knit on the plane while winging westward. They were both finished (ends woven in and everything!) by last Thursday, when I cast on the first outer mitt. The outer mitt knits up quickly without a cuff. The keyhole is fabulous, and that three-stitch I-cord bind off is, well, absolutely brilliant.
I rode along on a quick trip to Egg Harbor in Door County with DH on Saturday and knit much of the way, making great progress. We drove back along the bay and stopped several times to marvel at the big waves -- and even swells -- on the water that day, not to mention the very dramatic sky.
I have the thumb and bind-off to finish on the second mitt, a few stitches to graft on both, and then I can go button hunting!! I am hoping to find something perfect in grandma's button box. There may be a few more details on my Ravelry project page.