Walking

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 


About last month

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

 


Maddy to myself

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

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

She's even cooked & baked:

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

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

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

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

 


Unraveled Wednesday: More dishin'

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

KNITTING:

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

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

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

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

READING:

I am also continuing reading/listening to The Blackhouse.


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

 


Eye Candy Friday

My first-ever sunflower!

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

Have a great weekend!

 


Unraveled Wednesday: dishcloth edition

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

KNITTING:

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

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

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

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

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

READING:

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

 

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

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

 


Whirlwind winding down

We had a great weekend up north!

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

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

There was so much cuteness...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I hope you have a great weekend!

 


July

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 


Weekending

I'll cut right to the chase...

OH, HAPPY DAY!!!

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

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

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

THE CONVENING HAS COMMENCED!

 


A barn

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

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

GO SEE/READ!!!

Here's a video preview:

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

 


Weekending

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Sunday began with coffee in the Garden Room.

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

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

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

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

I hope you had a great weekend, too!

 


Right Now...

June 2022.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 


Weekending

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

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

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

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

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Not our cat!! We nicknamed this one Ferdinand!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 


Unraveled Wednesday: Slow goin'

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

KNITTING:

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

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

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

READING:

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

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

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...to this...

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...in less that a month!

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

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

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

 


3TT: Structure

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

  1. We're back from Denver

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

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

2. 8 Miles a Day = 20%

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

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

3. Spring!

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

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

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

Whew.

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

 


Homecoming

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

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This photo sums it up!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 


Birthdays!!!

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

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

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

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

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

 


Three More Days!

Can you stand another Random Friday post? It's been a busy week.

This was the view Monday morning out our bedroom window...

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Not what anyone wants to see in April, especially in the latter half!

Yesterday I took a stroll at a nature preserve close to work, and the scene had greatly improved.

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It's not going to be very warm or sunny today, but the forecast for tomorrow is 73F!!! It'll pretty much be a flash in the pan, but it will be nice... and I know that better weather is not far off.

I had to laugh the other day when I got this notification on DuoLingo:

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It cracked me up that I'm getting good at... SHOPPING! I sent a screenshot to Ann and said, "I am my mother's daughter!" (She was a shopper extraordinaire!)

I'm closing in on 10% of the North Coast 500!

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That's a screenshot from this morning of where I am and what's ahead. I love the snowy mountains! I've seen a lot of lush greenery, too, so it just depends on when the Google cam was passing through any given area. Anyway, it won't be long before I'm in more familiar territory, as we traveled a part of the NC 500 route during our visit in 2014.

I am counting all of my forward-moving activity (via Fitbit) for this challenge because a) 500 miles, b) I really hadn't paid attention/had no clue about the distance covered in my daily steps, and c) did I mention 500 miles?? I also gave myself the maximum allowed time to complete the challenge. Even with my extremely sedentary job & hobbies, I manage a few miles every day; if the kids are over and/or it's an Airbnb prep day, there can be many many more, and I'm well ahead! The weather has been most uncooperative for walking outside, but I'm doing it when I can, and I feel more motivated to ride my bike this summer, too.

It's only three more days until Kate is home! Three days after that we'll be heading to Denver. I made time between running errands to stop in at the Wednesday Afternoon Knitting Group to get my travel knitting started.

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I'm a bit further along now, enough to measure for gauge and figure out the rest of the pattern. I'm knitting Gauge Dye Works' Our Solar System on a One-way Trip to MUSSELBURGH on US3 DPNs! haha. (Am I the last to jump on that bandwagon?) I dithered between size 3 & 4 needle... I think the 3 will work out ok!

There hasn't been a ton of action on the Temperature Blanket this week, but enough to warrant a photo... I'm just starting March 1959.

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It gives me great pleasure to state that this photo was taken indoors and in natural light at around 6:30 this morning!

I hope you all have a great weekend! I'll be busy cleaning, planning, ordering birthday cake, and readying for m' girl's visit.

 


Random Friday

Our taxes are done. Ali's are done. I have a tiny bit of coffee shop bookkeeping to do for her for 2022 taxes -- she didn't sell until the end of January -- and we (the accountant) want(s) to get that out of the way ASAP. I'm so looking forward to boxing all that stuff up!

It's only TEN DAYS until Kate's home!

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I received a parcel from her the other day. One of the benefits of having a daughter living in the UK is that I get TWO Mothers Days! (Unfortunately for me, Australia observes the same date as the US!) She sent me a cool tea towel depicting Edinburgh, a cute card with a "SUPER MUM" pin, and a funny memo pad where I can check my mood(s) and also indicate whether it's "For now" or "Forever."

Ai & the kiddos were over on Wednesday after dance class. I made pigs-in-a-blanket with mini hot dogs and they were a hit! Except that Ginny didn't like the "blanket." Who doesn't like the blanket? Haha.

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Jün & Gin had a blast going through all the photos & photo books that I've had printed. One of my favorite things to do at my grandma's house was to look through her photo albums, so I was extra happy to see them so interested. Just wait until they discover the boxes of old photos...

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The kids will all be over tomorrow, too, while Ali celebrates her birthday (35!!) on a day-date with her hubby, and then the three big kids will stay overnight.

It would be so nice to spend some time outside with them, but the weather is decidedly NOT GREAT right now -- though a bit better than four years ago when we were buried in snow! It's been extremely windy most of the week and high temps only in the 40s. Not great walking weather, either!

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I'd had a pretty great DuoLingo streak going a while back -- 300+ days -- and then I didn't. It's taken quite a while but I'm back! Today will be #24.

Wishing you all a great weekend!

 


Unraveled Wednesday: Chilly Colors!

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

KNITTING:

I'm a little pinched for time but wanted to share my progress!

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I am currently about half-way through January 1959 and by the end of the month, I'll be using the "coldest" color on my chart. There are a lot of color changes! I carry them as much as I can, but don't like to do that for too far, or with very many colors.

This represents Milwaukee, and I'll be literally turning the page on my chart at the end of January and from there to the end it'll represent the weather in Escanaba -- which is actually Green Bay, WI.

READING:

YOUNG MUNGO!

 


Weekending

Now that taxes are done (more or less... I'm still answering random questions from Ali's accountant), I'm moving on to some things that have been neglected for way too long.

One of those things is the table in my workroom. Things started piling on before Christmas and just never stopped. One big reason for tackling that particular project now (besides the obvious) is that I couldn't find the keys for the storage unit that Kate & I rented last year. She's going to be home two weeks from today (YAAAYYYYY!) and one of the things she wants to do is grab some stuff.

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Ta-da! It was one of the things that got dumped from my purse when we went to Puerto Rico in February (as evidenced by all the other things I found in that particular pile) (obviously not missing most of it).

My table isn't entirely cleaned off yet, but I made progress and I'm feeling full-0n "clean up/clean out" mode coming on.

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You may have seen this photo on Instagram on Saturday. It's grown by quite a few rows since then, and I'll have a "live" update on Wednesday, but can I just tell you how happy those cool blues, pinks & purples make me?? They represent temperatures that weren't on Rusty's chart at all. One thing I've noticed in my panel vs his is how much more frequently colors jump the "divide" between daytime & nighttime. So interesting... still highly entertaining!

I do need to start something suitable for travel again, as Kate & I will be heading to Denver a few days after her arrival. I have some special yarn on order for a couple of Musselburgh hats and some socks, and hopefully it will arrive by then. Otherwise, well, I'm sure I can find a WIP that wouldn't mind some attention. heh.

Rusty & I went out to Ali's yesterday afternoon. They will be replacing the windows in their house soon, except for a special corner window in their living room, which was too exotic for the window company, so Rusty will be repairing it... and he got a little head start yesterday.

We also had lunch and hung out with the kids. Ginny got the knack of riding a two-wheeler without trainers! I don't have any photos because I was too busy assisting, reminding, and cheering her on. She's going short distances right now, but that won't be for long. ZOOM!!

I had departing guests at both Airbnbs over the weekend, so did my preliminary work... walking over to Ann's a few times, adding to my MILES. Only 479.9 miles to go!

I chatted with Ann yesterday. Cooked a great dinner both nights -- Avgolemono Soup on Saturday, Pan-Roasted Cod & Potatoes on Sunday (thanks Martha & Marley Spoon -- those recipes will definitely go into regular rotation).

I noticed my Crown of Thorns looking pretty good yesterday and never really paid attention before, but the flowers...

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...grow out of other flowers. Each tiny flower produces one or two more, sometimes three or four "tiers," and the color is so pretty.

 


500 Miles

On a bit of a whim the other day, I signed up with The Conqueror Events to walk 500 miles! I'll be walking (or cycling) (never jogging or running) in real life, but an app will be marking time/distance on a virtual map -- specifically, a map of Scotland's North Coast 500. I've given myself plenty of time to do it, my Fitbit is linked & my steps are added once a day, and I'm excited that I'll be putting down a bunch of steps on the actual North Coast 500 come September.

I'm not making any declarations, but I am trying to make some lifestyle changes/adjustments, and this seemed like fun... my usual "scenery" is definitely not very motivating. I figured I'd learn more about a place that I'll be visiting and maybe discover a must-see thing!

You might imagine that virtual walks were pretty popular during lockdown -- one of my FB friends walked the Camino de Santiago then and it was fun to see her updates. When I finish, I'll get a pretty swanky medal (could have opted for a shirt, too).

I'm barely out of Inverness but marching on! I'll let you know if I find anything interesting...

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I recently discovered some amaryllis bulbs that I'd put in the basement to "chill." They were pretty dried out and I wasn't expecting much (especially from the smallest, which is actually "offspring" of the medium one), but they've come back to life!

I'd ordered new bulbs last season. You might remember the one that was deformed (from a bug, I think), but it has an offshoot now, too; the other one was pretty slow to start and is now just a fountain of leaves -- there was never any sign of a flower stalk.

My timing isn't that great, but there's never a bad time for flowers, right? And if I work on timing, there could be a pretty good show next Christmas season.

 


Unraveled Wednesday: Panel One is DONE!!

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

KNITTING:

I am one-fifth finished with my Temperature Blanket project!

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It starts with December 26, 1947 at the bottom and ends with December 26, 1948 at the top -- with a couple border rows in black at each end. My bound-off edge will need to be re-done (as usual). I must have been rushing last night!

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This photo gives you a better idea of scale.

READING:

I had a very timely notification the other day that my Audible pre-order was ready, so YOUNG MUNGO it is!

Today I'm buckling down, though, and finishing the task that is taxes. Yuck. My reward will be casting on MY blanket panel this evening and knitting some of those new colors!

 


The return of Vas Gr

After a long stretch of Fr Mus, L Leaf & Avo, I'm thrilled for the return of Vas Gr & Fjord!

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There are fewer than "3 weeks" left to knit on Rusty's panel, and it's basically just those colors plus a stripe of Lime or Sulfur here & there to the end.

I am getting so excited to start my panel and right away, on the third row, I'll be knitting a brand new color -- Turq! And then soon more new ones -- Astor, Iris, Ssalter, Htrope, Umarine, Bberry, Peony. It's quite a range of temps for November, from a crazy 68F to -1F.

My chart is minimal & compact, so I don't have room to spell out all the color names!

  • Fr Mus = French Mustard
  • L Leaf = Lotus Leaf
  • Avo = Avocado
  • Vas Gr = Vaseline Green
  • Turq = Turquoise
  • Ssalter = Seasalter
  • Htrope = Heliotrope
  • Umarine = Ultramarine
  • Bberry = Billberry

Amazing colors!! I think of them by their "for short" names.

 


Weekending

Last time the kids were over, Junah, holding a small container of white chalk, asked me where a chalkboard was... "Why do you have chalk if you don't have a chalkboard?"

Huh. Why do I??*

So I fixed that and ordered one forthwith, along with some colorful chalk and an eraser.

Zero regrets...

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There was zero input from me about what to draw, and I plotzed when I saw Junah drawing my gnomes! He also drew a magnifying glass that Rusty had near his reading chair, and the giant "pea pod" at the top is actually the little red canoe on bottom left in the photo. I shared some of the photos with the fam yesterday and Kate said that it looks like Junah's gnomes are about to hop on a Viking ship!

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Earlier, Ginny showed me a book of drawings that she made out of napkins... lots of hearts and rainbows, and windows! The sun is in the sky, and also the moon -- in a few different phases.

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I love absolutely everything about this!

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That's Ginny, Davy, and Malina in the first drawing. When I asked where Junah was, she ran off and then came back... "That's Junah... (giggling) with a beard!"

*Because it came with a set of autumn themed chalkboards that I used for decor in the Airbnbs. I do have a small slate, but it has a 4th of July drawing that my mother did... so that's not ever getting erased.

 


3TT: Some numbers

Three Things on Thursday... 

Thing 1:

I have about 150 rows to go before Rusty's temperature panel is complete!

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This was taken early yesterday evening... there was a fair bit of knitting afterwards to a couple of episodes of Yellowstone! I am so excited to start another panel!

I am especially happy with how much Rusty likes it!

Thing 2:

Stats!

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Are you still playing Wordle everyday? I think of it as a good way to engage my brain every morning. I've played more games than this, but for the past 54 days, I've been playing exclusively on my phone; therefore, accurate stats. Most days, I also play Quordle... usually after my brain's been good & engaged for a while! haha. I like that there's a practice mode.

Thing 3:

My #1 daughter has her #1 official Colossal by-line.

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Check it! 

 


Random newsy bits

My weather app and the weather are on two different planes this morning, and I couldn't be happier. It's been gloomy/damp all week and I expected the same today; instead, the sun is shining (though some clouds) and it's wonderful! It may still rain later, but I've thoroughly enjoyed the surprise sun break.

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Kate picked up the keys to her new flat yesterday -- hers & only hers! She gave us all a video tour and it's adorable! Lots of storage, a small guest room, a big bathroom (by Euro standards), and an amazing kitchen. I'll share more photos as she settles in. The flowers are from her new landlady!

Meanwhile, she will be here a month from today! That visit will include another #whirlwindarttripwithkate! Man, it's been a while. This time we're going to Denver, which also ticks another box on my list of revisiting places where I lived as a child. I'll also be meeting up with an old friend of my mom who still lives there -- Char lived in the same apartment complex and had a son, Davy, who was my age. It was in Denver, when I was 18 months old, that my twin sisters were born, and we lived there for about a year.

I am giving the CSA a year off. I will visit their farm store from time to time, and I've ordered plants! I won't pick them up until mid-May, but I'm looking forward to growing basil, celery, zucchini, tomatoes, watermelon, and bush beans. 

I'm so excited that Maddy, Viv & Kate have all secured their tickets for visiting in July, as have Ann & her family. It's going to be a fun summer!

And Rusty, Kate & I are knee-deep in planning a late September trip to Scotland! It's going to be epic if it all pans out: more Highlands, Orkney, Harris & Lewis, Skye, and Edinburgh. Y'know I love planning a vacation, and usually I'm pretty loose about it -- one or two things set in stone, and the rest is "come what may." But when time is short and there are multiple ferries operating on schedules that can vary depending on what day of the week it is, then planning ahead is crucial. And I'm on it! So much fun.

Regarding all of that... fingers are crossed, I'm knocking on wood, and wishing on falling stars!

It occurred to me that I never shared a finished photo of the laundry room here.

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We're so happy to have that job done, and we cleaned out so much junk & streamlined/optimized a few things in the process. As of today, the tops of the washer & dryer are still visible!

Last, but definitely not least, it's Malina's birthday today!

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Can you believe that this little sprite (sporting evidence of a yummy Girl Scout cookie) is FOUR today?!!

 


3TT: Gozalandia

I've been having a hard time putting together a post (or two or three) about Puerto Rico. There's a lot going on right now -- in the world, in my life. I wake up one day, such as yesterday (my day off), thinking that I'm going to tackle taxes & bookkeeping, only to end up running out to buy a laptop for a certain adorable nephew in Peru (his logic board fried), shipping it to arrive across the state by Friday to Annie's boss (who happens to be visiting for a few days), who will then schlep it back to Lima/said nephew. By the time that was done, it was noon. I grabbed a quick bite for lunch, and then had a scheduled video chat with Kate to get her taxes filed & paid (she was running into a roadblock), along with some other chit-chat (for an hour), and then I needed a nap. Ali & the kids were due after dance class! I guess I did get some tax-related stuff done, as originally planned, but it wasn't mine!

So let's try small bites, shall we?

I'm joining Carole & friends today for Three Things on Thursday... 

The only concrete engagement on our vacation "itinerary" was a guided trip to Gozalandia Falls on Saturday, from which I have three photos to share.

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I had a couple of vouchers from Airbnb -- perks for maintaining Superhost status -- and we'd enjoyed our first Airbnb Experience in Mexico (just before the world shut down in 2020), so I searched for something similar in Puerto Rico. Our host/guide was Reynaldo, and he was intimately familiar with the whole property, having helped build some of the infrastructure (paths, stairs, etc.).

Rusty's taking a dip in the pool at the first falls. There is also a rope swing for sailing out over the water -- hopefully beyond the big boulder just under the surface -- and splashing into the pool. Rusty didn't do that, but it sure was fun watching other people do it!

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It wasn't easy getting photos without people in them! Certainly most visitors found their way all by themselves, and we could easily have visited and enjoyed these falls without a guide.

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But without Reynaldo, I would never have walked up behind one of the falls. Nor would I have hiked through the river from one waterfall to the other. I have few photos because all my stuff was in Reynaldo's dry-bag backpack, and good thing. I didn't fall, but I definitely needed my hands to steady myself a few times, jumping from rock to rock, sliding down bigger boulders, and needed all my wits about me instead of worrying about my phone getting wet (or dropping it). It was a fun -- wet & dirty -- challenge!

I didn't know just how dirty until we got home -- after stopping at the supermarket -- and noticing that my butt was not only wet, but super muddy, too! Rusty never told me! I bought a small bottle of laundry detergent on our next trip to the store and did some laundry in the sink. (Because my packing skills were MIA when prepping for this trip and I actually had only a few appropriate/practical/things-I-wanted-to-wear clothing items.)

BONUS:

We learned that the movie A Perfect Getaway was filmed at Gozalandia Falls!

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The movie is actually set in Hawaii, but it was cheaper to film the waterfall scene in Puerto Rico, even having to truck in thousands of flowers... and equipment, crew, etc.! I was surprised to see Timothy Oliphant as one of the leads, along with one of the Hemsworth brothers, and we enjoyed it more than expected.

 


Unraveled Wednesday: Ooops!

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

KNITTING:

Y'know, Rusty's panel for the Temperature Blanket.

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It's coming along... I'm at about 200 "days."

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My stitch count was off last night and I found a dropped stitch. I didn't have a crochet hook handy, so it's on hold for now.

READING:

I finished listening to AGATHA OF LITTLE NEON the day after our book club discussion. I had less than an hour of listening when we met, so I was able to fit together some random pieces from the conversation!

I am currently listening to MIRACLE AND WONDER: CONVERSATIONS WITH PAUL SIMON by Malcolm Gladwell, Bruce Hedlam & Paul Simon, with contributions from others such as Sting, Rosanne Cash, Art Garfunkel. It is fascinating!!

 


18

It's the First Day of Spring and it feels like it!

It's also the 18th anniversary of my sitting down to create this blog! How about that? It kinda blows my mind! It's overwhelming to think of all that has happened in these 18 years (much of it recorded within). The biggest perk is having met so many wonderful people -- some virtually, some in real life. I can't imagine my life without any of it.

My first blog post didn't even have a photo, but I did talk about knitting (of course... it's almost all we talked about on blogs for a very long time) and being inspired by knitters! Though the platforms have changed, and we can be connected in many other ways, I continue to be inspired by knitters... and so much more!

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Rusty's panel of the Temperature Blanket with shadow from the pergola. I'm just about half-way! I'm not super excited about the sections striped with Cumin & Ginger (especially that big one just finished on the top left), but it is what it is. There are so many exciting colors that aren't even tapped for this panel... I can't wait to move on!

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I don't know how I managed to purl half a row in a 100% garter stitch project... but I did! And I'm leaving that, too.

Thanks for being here!

 


17

It's the "golden birthday" of THE QUIT!

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Seventeen years! Or 6,210 days!! And probably upwards of 124,000 cigarettes & $35K that hasn't gone up in smoke.

I'm chuffed!