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April 2014
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June 2014

Scotland is for Selfies... especially at Castles

I started with the selfies even before departure. Here we are, having both sailed through security at our local airport with TSA Pre-check. Rusty had his paint box packed in his carry-on, which included a few tools and things, and that was enough for a special look-through and no TSA Pre-check for him on the way home. I had it, though, and I'm not ashamed to say that I used it. I was hot, I was tired, I comfortably waited for him at the end of that long, long line. Heh.


I started taking them at every castle we visited and next thing you know, the SCOTTISH CASTLE SELFIE SERIES was born!


Edinburgh Castle


Inverness Castle


Urquhart Castle


Eilean Donan Castle


Dunrobin Castle


Old Man of Storr (not a castle, but towering)


Eilean Donan Castle again (WC/coffee break)


Balloch Castle

 Once in selfie mode...


Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh


across the street from Mackie's of Scotland - Ice Cream (also maker of good potato crisps, including Haggis & Cracked Black Pepper flavor) (when in Scotland...)


at Inverness Castle - River Ness behind us


in the rental car at Inverness, READY TO GO!


I have no idea where this is! Judging from attire and windblown-edness, it's somewhere on the Isle of Skye, maybe near Storr.

I think the smiles say everything that needs to be said here.  :)



Ten on Tuesday: Memorial Day Weekend

Ten on Tuesday/Wednesday:  10 Things I Did Last Weekend

Well, it was definitely not a typical weekend -- holiday or otherwise! We returned home on Tuesday (yesterday) from 12 days in Scotland, so the weekend was the end of a pretty great vacation.


1.  On Saturday morning, I woke up at Croft 23 after the last of our 5-night stay. People, there is truth in advertising! If nothing else, just take a minute to watch the slideshow at the top of that page; minus the brilliant sunsets, the northern lights, and the sheep (they were apparently happy elsewhere last week), it was just that beautiful. Mark and Jan were our warm and welcoming hosts, and they were marvelous. Mark is an amazing landscape photographer and it's worth a "Like" on Croft 23's Facebook page just for the almost daily photo.


2.  Later on Saturday morning, on our way to Glasgow, we stopped at a castle to use the facilities, and also to get coffee... and a selfie. Ha. Yeah, we really did! We'd already visited Eilean Donan Castle as admission-paying tourists several days before.


3.  We drove through more of the never-tiring Scottish Highlands. Even after six days of driving through the Scottish Highlands, we still pulled over at almost every opportunity to take photos!


4.  We had lunch at Crannog Seafood Restaurant -- a place I've been to before!! Fort William was as far north as we'd ventured three years ago and it was on our way to Glasgow this time, so we retraced some steps. It was kind of fun to feel a bit familiar with a place.


5.  We arrived in Glasgow for the first of two nights at an adorable 2-bedroom 3rd-floor walk-up in the west end that I found on airbnb. It was my first airbnb experience and it was good; the place was just as advertised, easy to find, very clean, and well appointed. Cute enough to live in!


6.  On Sunday, while Rusty walked about Glasgow*, visiting galleries and museums, Katie and I drove west and met up with Yvette! I've cyber-known Yvette for years -- 10 years, to be exact (through the magic that is searching the archives, I've determined that the first time she commented on my blog was May 31, 2004!) -- and had missed her move back to Scotland from France three years ago by mere weeks. It was so fun to meet!!


7.  We drove a bit north, again on some familiar roads, to another familiar place. We'd visited Portencross Castle at West Kilbride a couple of times three years ago. I'd scattered some of Sharon's ashes there -- because she loved Scotland and had influenced our decision to go there (instead of Ireland) -- and it didn't feel right to be so close and not visit.


8.  On Monday, we returned our rental car in Glasgow. We had one of the most uncomfortable encounters of the trip -- any trip any of us have ever been on -- when a guy from the rental company gave us a lift to the train station. He obviously didn't want anything to do with us -- because Americans? tourists? -- no greeting, no response, completely ignoring questions and attempts at conversation, or grunting a barely audible one-word response. Thankfully, it was a short drive! It was a quick train ride back to Edinburgh for our last night.


9.  It may seem strange that our last meal in Scotland was at Wannaburger -- basically American fast-food burgers, fries & shakes -- but it is what it is, and it was really good! I'm more than a little envious of the food scene in the UK, and these weren't your typical American fast-food burgers! Wannaburger is a favorite of the American students in Edinburgh -- comfort food. Anyway, we ate very well in Scotland. If Wannaburger was the worst, then it was the best worst. Heh. I feel as though I've gained 20 pounds in the past two weeks (is that possible?). Anyway, while Rusty took one last walk-about in Edinburgh after dinner, Katie took me to a fun and gorgeous place called The Voodoo Rooms, right around the corner/behind our hotel for cocktails (mine, left, is Where The Wild Things Are, and Kate's is Mother Earth)


10.  Finally, having learned a little bit about whisky on this trip, we enjoyed a lovely last view from the lounge at Motel One while the sun set on our visit, capping the night with a glass of single-malt... neat (eventually adding a wee bit of water to taste).

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Vacation was quite lovely. I fully intended to blog along the way, but our days were packed and connectivity limited. Don't worry, I'll fill you in!

* * * * *

*The Glasgow School of Art was on the list but was devastated by fire just days before our arrival in Glasgow. One of Glasgow's -- indeed, Scotland's -- great treasures, firefighters took extraordinary measures to save as much of the structure as possible, well deserving of a lovely Thank You.


Ten on Tuesday: Let's learn something

Ten on Tuesday:  10 Things/Subjects I Wish I Knew More About

I don't know... this may be another less-than-10! Most of the time, if there's something I truly want to know more about, I dive in and learn. It's not usually exhaustive research and I don't become an expert, but I've always learned more and possibly enough.

There are other things that I sometimes idly wish I knew more about -- art, history, mythology, literature, politics. I've found that my desire for this type of knowledge is often greatest after a conversation with someone to whom the word "pretentious" might apply. And, really, I know enough to happily function on a day-to-day basis. I have an open mind... things fall in.

I like to learn, but I am not an academic. I do things. I learn and make and do. Make.Do.

Most recently, over the past couple of years, I've actively pursued (in varying degrees) learning about and doing these things:

1.  Being a childbirth assistant/doula.

2.  Hand sewing.

3.  What is/how to make a moulage & sloper for pattern-making.

4.  Food and nutrition.

5.  Quilting!

I've continued to learn a little more about:

6.  Photography.

7.  Dyeing yarn.

I haven't really finished learning about any of those things but, you know, the need for certain areas of knowledge waxes and wanes like most everything else in life.

I would like to learn:

8.  Web design, HTML, and CSS. I have a leg up on the HTML because of my experience years ago as a typesetter. I can make a pretty good site (just updated Oceans and Dreams last night), but I'm certain I could make both O&D and this blog better.

9.  How to predict and/or control the future and/or weather.

10.  That way, I'd be better informed in order to pack for my vacation!!


Haha. And with that, I believe I've just entered the giddy stage of vacation prep!!




Four months old today!!


It just keeps getting better and better.  :)


New things!

On Monday afternoon, I waited knitted at a coffee shop and started something new.

She knits! That's some #NoroKureyon on 8 US DPNs... something new! Also #macromay #photojojomacro #knitting

It's Noro Kureyon cast on to a bamboo DPN, and the beginning of this:

Pop! #knitting #NoroKureyon


Meh... brown circle, black square. Trust me, it's going to get way more exciting than this because, you know, NORO! Also, I'm thinking of mashing this up with somethin' and putting a little spin on the pop. I'm not sure yet, but there's an idea rolling around. Each square is a little easier and quicker than the last; so far, three squares are done. This was started with an eye toward airplane/vacation knitting.

Then on Monday night I did this:

I had the old Husqvarna humming tonight. Opportunity knocked and I started another something new (oh, let me count how many ways of new)

A quilting class. Opportunity knocked and I started a quilt! I love quilts, always have, but was sure they'd be too tedious or time consuming. It was a quilt design that hooked me on cross-stitch, and I worked several (until sampler designs nosed in); when I was looking for a design for a mosaic table, I naturally turned to a quilting book; Parcheesi isn't a quilt design (that I know of), but it sure would make a great one! Except for a hand-pieced and appliqued pillow made at a Sister Weekend several years ago for Mom and a fairly half-assed machine-sewn high chair seat cover, I have worked quilt designs in most anything except fabric!

I haven't worked on it (or much else) since Monday night, but I plan to have the Husqvarna set up and humming again soon. You know, in my spare time.

I'm taking my TREK to the bike shop for a tune-up so it'll be ready when we're back -- the weather is FINALLY getting better! I've decided to cancel my fitness center membership; it's just not working and I can use that money elsewhere! I'll soon be hiking the Highlands, have some cycling events lined up in June, and in the meantime... I've been PLANKING! Why have I not started this sooner? Quick & easy, I can do it almost anywhere, and I can feel it.

Have a great weekend!


Life in macro

macro n.  anything very large in scale, scope, or capability

* * * * *

That's sort of how it is these days... though there are many very large things! Ha. I'm not complaining, I am a responsible -- capable -- human being, I know my limits; it's just the way it is right now, the usual ebb and flow, not necessarily good or bad, I'm doing my best to fit it all in.

#Spring is springing in #Wisconsin and it's about freakin' time. We may even see 60F tomorrow. #macromay #snowdrops

Scilla - Macro May photo #2

I took the photo above as I left Mom's last Friday evening, using the macro setting on one of my phone's camera apps (I have a Samsung Galaxy S4).

My new Photojojo lenses were already here on Saturday! SUPER fast -- I ordered on May 1st, they shipped the same day, and were in my mailbox on May 3rd. All of the photos that follow were taken with a Photojojo lens.

Cactus flower... New toys! My Photojojo lenses arrived today! I will need to practice stillness. :) #macromay #photojojomacro

Cactus flower - Macro May photo #3

I went into the Garden Room intending to take a photo of my late- (or early-?) blooming amaryllis, but had nothing to brace against so all those photos were way too blurry. I found something to lean against and aimed at this little cactus flower instead.

Bloodroot. #Spring #Wisconsin #wildflowers #macromay #photojojomacro

Bloodroot - Macro May photo #4

On Sunday I took a walk to the back yard to check out all the bloodroot that's blooming.

Playing around! More bloodroot (I have a lot). #photojojosuperfisheye #wisconsin #wildflowers #mybackyard #spring

Playing around! More bloodroot (I have a lot). (Photojojo super fisheye lens)

The super fisheye is the only lens that doesn't fit on my phone when it's in the case. Luckily, my case isn't too difficult to remove!

She knits! That's some #NoroKureyon on 8 US DPNs... something new! Also #macromay #photojojomacro #knitting

Noro Kureyon - Macro May photo #5

Seashell... not at seashore. #macromay #photojojomacro

Seashell... not at seashore - Macro May photo #6

Thread (Button Craft, of course!). #macromay #photojojomacro

Thread (Button Craft, of course) - Macro May photo #7

Gotta say, I love them! I'm thrilled with these lenses and the quality of the photos. They could very well end up being one of my best purchases of the year! A little tripod would be next on my wish list, because being STILL is the name of the game for macro shots! A remote shutter release would be a bonus. Oh, GADGETS! I do love them... sometimes.

Calm before storm. #photojojopolarizer

Calm before storm (Photojojo polarizer lens)

Having barely reached 60F so far this year, the temp is predicted to rocket up close to 80 today, followed by storms later!



April flew right by!


Last Tuesday was a "5th Tuesday" and that means a special night out for the Tuesday night knit group. The group alternates 1st & 3rd and 2nd & 4th weeks between two coffee shop locations, but it's a bit more festive when there's a 5th week -- this time it was Basil Cafe. Yum.

So far, May is dragging -- in the way that the days/minutes can drag but the weeks will surely fly by. Vacation time will be here before I know it and there's lots to prep for, both in terms of traveling and upcoming obligations.

I treated myself to a set of cell phone lenses from Photojojo, among them a macro lens (as well as wide, fisheye, super fisheye, telephoto, and polarizer) -- I don't have them yet, but I can't wait to play around with them! I'll be taking my Canon along to Scotland, of course, and considered taking a wide-angle lens again, but not only is that expensive ($2300+ to buy, $200+ to rent), it's also very heavy. The camera on my phone is no slouch, and this way, for about $100, I have a bunch of my favorite types of play-around lenses for always. I will use these much more.

Happy Mother's Day!


I don't know if I'll be able to keep up for the whole month, but it's Macro May! And I don't know if anyone else is taking macro photos this month, but I can't think of May without also thinking "macro."


Wednesday with Grandma : Sound asleep

I've signed on to do a big gig in Milwaukee next month, hiring my niece to help, and tomorrow I'll drive down with Ali & Junah to meet up and do a little reconnaissance. The event will be at Lake Park, and it's going to be a blast to shoot there!


Wednesday with Grandma : Waking up

I'm aiming to start throwing stuff into my suitcase this weekend, too. Not officially packing, but I have so many little notes to myself floating around -- both physically and in my head -- about what to take and how to pack... I really need to start making it visual. The main goal is to pack light and that means thinking and planning. I think it's when I wait 'til the last minute, as I often do, that I end up taking way too much -- 4 pairs of pants, 6 tops, 2 cardigans, 4 pairs of shoes for a weekend; packing for every possible scenario and/or mood and just not thinking.

Have a great weekend!