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June 2012
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August 2012

It's almost finished!

The end is in sight and everyone is working so hard to finish the mural!! I'm very proud of my husband's work, my kids' work, and Ali's employees -- all of whom have been involved in this project from the beginning. I'm not sure about blood or tears, but I know there's been a lot of sweat given up in the name of community pride and involvement. Way to go, peeps!

I love this photo! (All shamelessly stolen from Ali.)

Almost... not quite. Just wait 'til you see... it's gonna be AMAZING!! The perfect finish.

Speaking of amazing... there was weather in the area late yesterday and that can make for gorgeous skies!


Last weekend in July

And I am tapped out.

On Saturday, there was the farmer market, of course.

And it was another week with Alison as my market partner! And, oh, what a beautiful morning (and entire day) it was!

Reconstruction of the canal continues behind us. What you don't see in the photo above is the Main Street bridge, which disappeared early last week. In the grand scheme of things, it will be replaced with a pedestrian (and, hopefully, bike) bridge. It seems like the whole city's torn up and I frequently find myself "on automatic" and ending up in the middle of a construction zone.

Sunday was Art at The Park. I wonder if you can tell which booth in this row might be my husband's. (Hint: Oceans and Dreams.) Katie recently began volunteering at the local art museum that sponsors this show, and they put her in charge of the volunteer effort. Ali & I greeted people to the park for the first couple of hours, and then I spent another hour or so booth-sitting for artists so they could take a facilities break.

I sat at booths for a woodworker from Marshfield (where Joy was, and I'd hoped to have visited, at Knitting Camp) and for a glass jewelry maker. I didn't really see much more of the show, though I did end up with a new pair of earrings, so apparently saw enough!

Remember Oswald? It's been over six years since I knit him for Alison (and two or three more for some of her friends). He rode shotgun in her car for quite a while, has been mascot at the coffee shop, and sometimes comes along for the ride... to the UK last year and on our Door County bike ride earlier this year... this time, to the art fair!

That neon yellow is the color of the shirts they gave to volunteers. Yikes. Katie thought she was getting a weird sunburn on her neck and under her chin from the reflection!! One thing is for sure, there was no question about who the volunteers were, and you could spot one from a mile away!

Oswald, making fresh squeezed lemonade that much more refreshing (and cute).

And visiting one of our favorite local food trucks.

As for knitting during the Olympics, I am... knitting during the Olympics. Or not. Last night, I found myself in that rarest of states, sitting idle like a lump on a log watching TV. Usually when that happens, I'm watching TV with my eyes closed. Anyway, I had too many ideas too late in the game to settle on anything without feeling pressured and rushed -- and I'm just not up for one more challenge right now. Sometimes it's fun, but this isn't one of those times.

I think the heat and humidity have begun to take their toll. It's sure been a weird summer so far.


Let the games begin

Our Tivo was diagnosed with hard drive failure last weekend: DEAD. The replacement arrived yesterday and is up and running, but everything I'd saved and/or programmed into the old one is, of course, lost.

Opening Ceremonies of the Olympics, London 2012, is the first thing I programmed into the new.

I'm not sure I'll get any knitting underway during the games. #1, I sort of forgot about it. #2, I can't find the magazine that has the pattern for the Latvian socks I was going to knit as part of that KAL at the same time. #3, I don't really like knitting socks that much so why bust my ass over that. #4, Maybe I can figure out something by this evening.

Or not. Blech. Maybe I don't need the pressure of one more thing... I am so easily caught up in these things and then so often regret it.

So, we'll see. No matter what -- whether for sport, personal challenge, or pleasure -- I will be knitting during the Olympics!

Meanwhile, it's no secret that I left my heart in Scotland (or found my soul) (something happened over there)... love this:

Love Scotland.

Have a happy weekend... Let the games begin!


Remember me?

I can't believe it, but I think it's been almost two years since I posted anything about the mural. It's coming along!

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It's hard to get a good overall view (especially with a camera phone) because it's very long and also snakes around a curve. Rusty's been there every morning this week to take delivery of the lift, courtesy of the city, to paint in that high gray spot (it'll be the river).

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Ali and some of her fellow baristas have been working on the coffee shop!

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The bridge that connects our city (this is the old one).

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Shops on Second Street.

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Our public library.

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The historic "mansion." (Also, a nod to the farmer market on the right.)

And plenty of memories... things that are no more:

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The old hotel.

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The feed mill.

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The train depot.

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And, of course, no mural updated is complete without my favorite swimmer! He's holding up pretty well.  ;)

I think it'll be a wrap this summer!


Ten on Tuesday: Market edition

Ten on Tuesday: 10 Great Things About The Farmer Market

Manning a booth and being a vendor makes my perspective on our local market a little different this year! Most of the Great Things are the same, no matter what my view, as I also shop the market every week.

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1. Local farmers. I love that I can buy from people that I "know." My farmers have faces and names, we have conversations and share smiles. I love that. Our immediate neighbors at the market are an extended family of farmers and they do a few markets in the area each week, taking turns at manning the different stalls; so far, I've discovered two of the young women are also knitters/crocheters!

2. Fresh fruits, vegetables, and meats -- most of them locally grown and many of them organically grown.

3. Fresh flowers, herbs, and plants. So much beautiful color! And last week, I kept catching big whiffs of basil in the air -- so wonderful!

4. Participation of local businesses and vendors. My community is fairly small and one of the largest Saturday farmer markets in the state is less than 10 miles away, so we do need more than just farmers to fill the spaces each week.

5. Egg rolls and spring rolls. Every week. There's always a line. They're always fresh and delicious. I believe "egg rolls" is the sole reason for some visits to the market.

6. Baked goods, kettle corn, mini donuts. There's an Amish bakery in attendance nearly every week with everything from cookies and pies to breads and pasta. Mmmm. The kettle corn is made fresh, right there; I've been buying the smaller bag and it lasts all week. So far, I've been able to resist the donuts, even when I catch a whiff now and then... thankfully, they haven't been there every week.

7. Coffee! Just as there are regulars at the shop, there are regulars at the market, too!

8. Crafters. They are interspersed throughout and add some variety. The bead and jewelry market are very well covered; there are some interesting decorative painters, woodworkers, some knitters/crocheters/sewists, some that defy description...

9. Music! It's different every week and I've enjoyed every single act. It was a two-piece polka band a couple of weeks ago and I just loved them! Totally laid-back, just doin' what they do... At one point, they were playing along and then I heard, "Well, that's all we know of that song..." and then they launched into another. So entertaining -- funny and fun to listen to. Music makes a huge difference at the market.

10. People! It's the thing I like best about being a vendor at the market. It's fun to see familiar faces, faces I haven't seen in a while, faces I haven't seen in a VERY long while, the same faces every week, different faces... it's always fun! I'm a people-watcher from way back and every week there's reason to smile. I've especially loved teasing out yarn lovers (and potential yarn lovers) in my community -- I've always known they were there!

TOMORROW: Remember the mural project? I'm working on an update!


Meanwhile, back at home...

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Husband continues his summer project.

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The tomatoes are beginning to bear fruit. Yum.

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I am knitting. This is a small cloth knit using leftover hemp.

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Since I finished the shawl and am in between, it's a good time to knock out some more hexagons! Hexies are great for knitting at the market, too, and I'm still not tired of them. I love them all but, right now, this type is my favorite -- just a few rows of one yarn at the beginning or end and the rest in something else.

I had a surprise visitor at the market again on Saturday! Actually, it was a surprise for us both, since she didn't even know I'd be there. Tracey used to cut, color, and curl my hair a long time ago -- back in my big hair days! Here's Tracey's work (makeup, too):

(oh, I was so much younger then...)

Anyway, her parents still live in the area and she brought her mother to the market. I haven't seen Tracey in quite a while -- I drove up a few times to have her do my hair, but two hours on the road + whatever in the chair is just too much time to give up on my day off! She used to do my mom's hair, too, and Mom happened to walk up at just the right time. She was about to tell me that the woman standing at our tent looked just like Tracey (a very distinctive head of hair), when lo and behold!

What else? Oh, I made Corn Salad a la Kim (and Carole) with fresh corn and tomatoes -- so good! My mods: I did not seed the tomatoes and I made the full amount of dressing but will cut that in half next time.

I started to study and set up to record the Olympics on Friday and my Tivo died on Saturday. A new one is on the way and should be here in plenty of time for Opening Ceremonies.

Yikes! That's Friday!!

Anyway, after quite a few years of having first a cable box DVR and now Tivo, I am amazed at how hard it is to watch TV on someone else's schedule! And I've only watched one show! Inspector Lewis and Sargeant Hathaway won't even pause for a bathroom break! Not to mention that all I have is network. I watched a lot of Netflix via Tivo... having finished Mad Men, I'm currently watching Breaking Bad. That show hits home on a number of unhappy levels, but I love the dark humor... I have laughed out loud.

Anyway, I knocked out a couple of big projects over the weekend (finishing this afternoon) that had been looming. In another week or so, they ought to be all wrapped up and I am so relieved.

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Look! After two years, I've discovered a "macro" mode on my camera phone!


Catching up...

...and catching my breath. Here are a few photos from O'Hare prior to departure on Tuesday.

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The last two were taken by Addy. That boy always did love the camera! I love these blurry photos.

And, following, the first photos from Rio:

Front door and stairwell. The house is huge, I guess, but they'll eventually be moving to an apartment.

One of two living rooms. I don't know about furniture.

My favorite (click for big), the view from the porch, though that could be a slum.

Annie wrote yesterday that Mack was the only one who slept well on the Tuesday overnight flight, and was also the crabbiest on Wednesday. They were taken directly to school and given a tour by the Director's secretary who, of course, immediately fell in love with Addison (little charmer). There are monkeys in the trees at school! Their new home is amazing and they all slept wonderfully on Wednesday night. Despite the current lack of internet (except at school) and hot water, she write that "all exceeds expectations!"

We miss them loads and are looking forward to more regular and frequent communication -- especially Mom (she was able to talk with both Annie and Mack today!). New normal.


Knitting a mystery

Well, this day got away from me! I am looking forward to a less hectic period and a couple of weeks (even one would do) of a more normal schedule. It would be nice not to have to think too hard about what day it is.

The first time I tried a mystery shawl, it didn't turn out very well and I never finished. I'm glad I didn't give up on them altogether, because: Take 2 = Success!

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It's my first-ever project with lace weight yarn. It wasn't a terriby fussy or difficult pattern. Once I got the hang of things, I was even able to knit it while tending the farmer market booth -- putting it down and jumping up, as needed, to mix drinks or talk about knitting and yarn and easily picking up where I left off.

I'd purchased the yarn ages ago and dyed it a while back. It ended up being my signature magenta color -- the default color that everything ends up being around here, it seems, when I don't have a clear direction in mind. The second time in the dye pot was successful, yielding a slightly warmer, deeper, richer red.

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I am quite happy!

* * * * *

I had word this afternoon that Annie & her family have arrived in Rio de Janeiro. This was the scene at O'Hare yesterday. I thought it would be a miracle if all 20 checked bags arrived at the same time and location that they did.


Ten on Tuesday: Everyday Things

Ten on Tuesday10 Everyday Things That Make You Happy

Well, today (the past few) is about as non-everyday as it gets, but that's probably the best time to focus on the everyday things... the little things.

1. Morning coffee. Dark roast. Rusty makes it every morning. He pre-warms the thermal carafe with hot water, then pours that water into our coffee mugs (and my travel mug on work days) to warm them up, too!

2. My "back yard." The weather's been awful lately, but I love to take my knitting out to the pergola on nice days. The wooded ravine is behind me, freshly painted garage and house in front of me, and things are growing all around me... it's lovely and peaceful.

3. Flowers. The irises by the back porch, the lavender at the back of the garage, the container tomato plants on the patio... chicory and queen anne's lace at the side of the road... the purchase bouquet on the kitchen table.

4. Stopping at the coffee shop every morning. I always say hello to Frankie on my way in. As I'm leaving, I always say, "Have a good day, Frankie!" and he says, "I always do! You know that. I always have fun when I'm down here." Sometimes I deliver his morning oatmeal or a coffee refill; I always leave with a smile.

5. My zippy car. It's not particularly sporty or anything, but it does have some zip. I sure do love some zip!

6. Knitting. Everyday.

7. Tivo. Often accompanies the everyday knitting. And I hardly ever miss cable... I'll admit, I'd love to check out Dallas, but guess what? I'll live. And someday it'll be available somehow... if I'm still interested.

8. Mail. I love getting the mail... I love getting mail, but I also love the ritual of getting and sorting the mail.

9. Air conditioning. Our window units and fans are working OT this summer!

10. Family. Everyday. Near or far. Whether they're driving me nuts or not.

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My sister Ann modeled the finished TTL Mystery Shawl yesterday in nearly 100F weather! That's sisterly love for ya! More details on the shawl tomorrow.

I'm heading out shortly, part of the departure committee that will be delivering Ann, Brian, Mack & Addy to O'Hare as they begin a new chapter of their lives, living and working in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil! All I can say is thank god for technology and the ability to stay in touch. It also helps to know that they'll be back to visit and that they (hopefully) won't be gone forever. Much as I'd like to and as great an opportunity as it would be, I'm not sure I'll be able to afford a trip down there, so I am truly happy about all the different ways we'll be able to keep in touch.

BONUS: #11. Technology!



Departure time is fast approaching and my sister is going just a little bit crazy. She's also taking time for some important things -- and people -- and I'm sure that's helping to keep her off the ledge.

Yesterday, after a rocky start but only a little over an hour late, we spent the afternoon at my brother's. One of my older nephews, the two littles and Annie, Kate and I drove up for a lovely lunch made by our sister-in-law, and a welcome (breezy) cruise on their pontoon boat. Mack and Addy took turns "driving" the boat and they were just pleased as punch.

We went through Clintonville on the way and, having not been through there in a while, myself, we drove past Grandma & Grandpa's house. I was surprised to see a for sale sign out front and spotted some notices on the front door... we had to check it out.

The front door was hanging by one hinge. The notices were about the house being considered vacant and abandoned, and something about something else -- not good. We looked through the dining room window -- Grandma's sheer Priscilla curtains still hanging there -- and it looked like splotchy mold or something growing on the hard maple floor, the basement door was open, but otherwise everything looked just as it did the last time I peeked in the windows.

The front porch was in pretty bad condition -- in need of paint and some of the boards seemed badly warped, but the beadboard ceiling was in even worse shape. We walked around the side and up the driveway, noting the spot where Grandpa always parked his oil truck and recalling the box of Tootsie Pops he always had on the front seat, and gazed at the back of the house. Grandma's big garden area was completely neglected, the flower beds untended, the windows and door to the cellar were askew like the front, but otherwise it looked pretty good... the same.

My brother said that it's likely beyond saving -- would cost a fortune to clean up and put right -- and will probably, eventually, be torn down. The previous owners vacated in foreclosure. A pipe froze and burst in the upstairs bathroom (there was an exhaust fan in that bathroom and I remember going up there as a teenager to smoke cigarettes) (why wasn't the water shut off?) and the house was flooded. Like, literally flooded... the basement filled with water and no one knew anything was going on until water started running out the windows and into the street.

That beautiful old historic house -- once a "hospital" and doctor's office -- that holds so many memories. It's the only house we ever knew as our grandparents'. I am heartbroken.

Photos are all from June 2006, the last time I trespassed traipsed around that house (the first time it was for sale) with Sharon.


It's been almost 18 months since I gave up Diet Coke which, in this case, means all caramel-colored carbonated beverages -- nay, it pretty much means all carbonated beverages.

I'll have a glass of something fizzy when we're out to eat -- really, who can resist the Freestyle? And I sometimes splash a little ginger ale or lemon-lime into some cold tea at home. It's surprising how infrequently I buy it... and it's not a matter of utmost urgency anymore if there's nothing fizzy in the house. I barely even think about it... honestly, I felt the same way about it that I did about cigarettes and I barely think about them, either.

I drank more water, but overall I'd say that my water consumption increased only slightly over the past 16 months. I've just never been a big fan of plain water. When I first joined WW, I had to jazz it up with ice and lemon and use a straw; I wouldn't drink it any other way.

So, I replaced the Diet Coke with water, but it was definitely not a 1:1 thing.

Recently, my cousin shared a blog post (from last September) she'd found entitled: September is World Alzheimer's Month: Could Chronic Dehydration Be the Cause Behind Alzheimer's? Our family is all too familiar with the devastation that is Alzheimer's.

I read the article and, well, you could say that I read it with a grain of salt in regards to Alzheimer's, but it did give me a jolt and drove me to action, um... to the well. There is no doubt in my mind that I am dehydrated and probably have been for years. I made up my mind to drink more water -- a lot more water! Alzheimer's or not, I just really need to drink more water.

I'm trying to be more diligent with other necessary changes, mainly continuing to be aware of and cut back on all types of sugar, eating more veggies, more fish. It's not easy... there have been a lot more parties in my life than usual, lately, and a lot more ice cream cake... I can only be so good when faced with ice cream cake.

I've been diligent about the water, though, trying to drink 80-100 oz. everyday -- not always getting there, but trying...

...since last Sunday.

Seriously. And I write this because by Tuesday -- only a couple of days -- I could feel a difference in my body -- the same way I felt a difference when I gave up Diet Coke. There's less overall puffiness & fluffiness.

It was driven home last night when, after a day of not being so diligent (it was a day with ice cream cake) and without prompting, Katie said that my ankles looked better. I've experienced edema for a few years, to varying degrees, and disconcerting enough that I once went to the doctor about it (heart was okay) (he gave me "water pills"), and now my ankles are always somewhat puffy -- actually, I'm pretty sure it's my whole body that's puffy, it's just that gravity pulls it down when it's extreme.

Exercise helps, water helps, diet helps... I'm thinking of diving even further into the diet aspect.

Anyway, just wanted to get this down.

Our bodies are something else, aren't they?

* * * * *

Just about to pull the TTL Mystery Shawl from the lavender Eucalan bath and block it out! Stay tuned.


Survey says...

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Not clown barf! Virtual friends/readers of the blog have said so, and knitting group friends have said so! (It's not much bigger than last time, but stay tuned because I'll be humming now.)

After casting off the last stitch on the TTL Mystery Shawl at knitting group the other night, I enjoyed a dish of mocha salted caramel gelatto and lemon basil sorbetto (I could marry that sorbetto) while pondering what next to pull out of my bag of tricks. My choices were Beekeeper hexies or the Hundertwasser Lokken.

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I want to see how Lokken's going to turn out; I'd sort of left it in the dust the past few weeks while working full-on TTL, so I had to take a few minutes to get reoriented and adjust. When I pulled it out, people was noticed -- and were intrigued enough to come over for a closer look. I overheard someone say that my crazy Hundertwasser version appealed to them so much more than the photo in the pattern! I love that version with the two-color self-striping yarn. It's all very interesting.

And in other news...

  • About 2-3 days after agreeing to buy my sister's 7yo Hyundai -- mainly because it was a pretty good deal with great terms, not because there was an urgent need -- Katie posted the following on FB:

saab story no. 3

brightly painted saab
with leaking steering fluid
will drive no longer

RIP saab no. 3. you were the last in a line of greats.

  • There was more wrong than just leaking steering fluid... there were noises, etc.
  • About 2-3 days after giving up all hope of finding the "intelligent key" keyless ignition/entry fob that disappeared a year ago, or so, and deciding to bite the $350 +/- bullet to replace it (and have a spare), I opened my sewing machine case to do a little take-up job for Maddy and GUESS WHAT I FOUND?
  • Obviously, despite best intentions, I haven't done any sewing in quite a while!


Hit it!

A bullet list today with Saturday Sky.

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  • I'm leaving shortly for my sister's to pick up a few things that she wants to store while they're in Brazil for the next 2-4 years... or longer if they decide to go somewhere else before returning.
  • Later, I'll be making a family dinner at Madeleine's request before she departs late tonight for 10 days on a Canada wilderness canoe trip where she'll be chaperoning a group of high school kids. Miraculously, all the girls' schedules work out so they'll all be here!
  • I love that we're having a family dinner by request.
  • Amy was another "surprise" visitor at the farmers' market last Saturday! It was so great to meet her -- especially since she'll soon be moving to PA.
  • Who's coming to see me next??
  • Thankfully, the heat broke in the nick of time and the market was quite comfortable... I'm not complaining, but chilly, even, what with a strong breeze and slight chance of rain (which thankfully never developed). I was happy to have brought a light cardigan, and we put up the back panels on the tent as a windbreak.
  • It's been a pretty great weather week, so far, not quite as warm as predicted.
  • Knocking on wood.
  • Yarn came in the mail! I love it when yarn comes in the mail.
  • I've recently dyed and sent some, too.
  • I cast off the TTL Mystery Shawl last night; blocking won't likely occur until the weekend.
  • I'd better get going...


Have I mentioned that it's hot?

Oppressive heat combined with very high humidity makes for not a really great week. I'm so glad that the camp counselor girls have the week off and aren't... building campfires. Ugh, it's hard even to think, and seems to take twice the energy as usual to do any little thing. It's exhausting to drive, much less walk or run.

But walk I did, downtown on the morning of the 4th to see the runners and walkers participating in the Firecracker 5K. I broke a sweat just standing there, I just really can't imagine what it was like to run -- I know a few people who did, though. Can't imagine...

Also, with 4th of July right in the middle of the week and different days off, time is doing weird things -- the holiday was only two days ago, but it seems like a week, at least.

Here are the camp girls after a light (and pasta-salad-cool) 4th of July lunch at Mom's. They all took off early yesterday to spend a couple of days at Six Flags and in Chicago. Maddy actually has the next couple of weeks off, too, as she's chaperoning a group from the high school that's heading up to Canada -- the same wilderness canoe trip that she (and Katie) did in high school. So, technically, I guess she's not really "off," but it's something she's wanted to do again ever since returning the first time, so it's not exactly like "work."

I've been keeping cool, watching my dad Don Draper on Mad Men, going over occasionally to pound on and/or wiggle the air conditioner to keep it from rattling (so annoying), and knitting. With wool. I am currently 2/3 through the last main (extended) section of Kirsten's TTL Mystery Shawl and I can't wait to finish!

Meanwhile, yesterday was a 1st Thursday and that means Knit Night! We had a great group of new and familiar faces, and my friend Ann brought her spinning wheel! She's been spinning for the Tour de Fleece. Another friend, Kate, brought her Color Affections -- two finished and one underway! With apologies for crappy phone pics, take a look (when she's finished with #3, we're going to have a good and proper photo shoot):

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The weather's supposed to break overnight, and not a moment too soon with the market happening tomorrow morning. I hope it's not raining but, honestly, if it came down to rain or more of the same, right now I'd take rain in a heartbeat!


We are family


And this will be the last portrait of siblings for a while. In less than two weeks, Annie and her family will be in Brazil!

I couldn't help but think of Sharon... This was the part of family gatherings that she hated most, and she'd have done her best to slip away before anyone thought to bring the cameras out!

(We all look pretty happy. Obviously, Karen didn't get the memo. I think I have the whitest legs! Michael's socks sure are white, aren't they?)