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March 2020

Takin' a Leap! Care to KAL?

In a little email exchange yesterday, blog reader kayT had a BRILLIANT idea! And I thought that Leap Day was the perfect day to launch. No time like the present.

Kay also has a Nightshift Kit ready to go, and noticed that others... ahem, Robby... expressed interest in knitting one (and I know there are others) (Bonny, for one). Perhaps there are others amongst us!

Maybe it's been on the back burner, or you just took delivery of a kit from Briar Rose Fibers after Kym's feature of dyer Chris Roosien last week (me me me), or you're thinking of ordering one, or you have a collection of worsted weight to play with (you need 150 yards each of six colors)...

Whatever the case, let's take a leap and KAL!

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KAL details are still in formulation (because I've been busy Banging Out My Main Squeeze today) (squee! it's done!!), but the Knit-Along starts NOW and will end on Victoria Day, which falls on May 18th this year. It's only Victoria Day in Canada, I know, but it's almost always on my calendars and I used to live in Toronto when I was little and my name is Victoria... but I never have the day off! So, there you go. Let's celebrate and do some knitting!

Join us? Anytime! I'm going to cast on tonight.

 


Random Friday Things

I saw this when I made my regular stop at the coffee shop the other day:

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IS THAT EVEN A QUESTION?

TOILET PAPER OVER!!

Forever and always! Clearly, the early morning regulars at the coffee shop feel the same way. Haha.

(Yes, I have been known to flip a roll!)

It's been a crazy week y'all. There are some time- and energy-sapping things happening in my galaxy, about which I'm unable to divulge at the moment, and I'm anxious for their resolution. It's not all about me, but it'll mean some changes for me -- in a good way, I think! It'll be an interesting summer...

And I'm looking forward to our vacation in Mexico even more, if that's even possible.

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I'm sure you've noticed that the days are getting longer!! The sun is just beginning to brighten the sky now when I get up for work. We're at just a little over 11 hours of daylight each day. Ya-freakin-hoo.

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I had an excellent knitter's mail day yesterday! A package from Briar Rose Fibers arrived with the makings for Andrea Mowry's Nightshift.  And the second installment for the Colourwork Club arrived from Ysolda (yes, I still have to knit the first.)

Vacation knitting planning has commenced!

I started sewing up my Main Squeeze last night... but I think I'm going to listen to the voice in my head, take out that seam, give it a bath and properly block it (this afternoon). Maybe I'll be able to finish tomorrow, maybe not.

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Kate and I went out for sushi last night (it's been ages) and this was the light fixture in our booth. I should have taken more photos because it changes color! The sushi was SO GOOD!

It looks like another couple of cold days over the weekend, but then next week we're looking at 40s (F) and that is more than welcome!

 


The Story of More

I don't have a lot to report today, but I just read an email from Goodreads about new releases and I haven't been so excited about a new book in a while!

 

The Story of More: How We Got to Climate Change and Where to Go from Here, by Hope Jahren, will be released on March 3rd (and is already pre-ordered, thankyouverymuch)!

You may recall that I was a big fan of her first book, Lab Girl!

 

Still one of my all-time favorite listens! So, I just wanted to share!

Ad: This post (more than most) contains affiliate advertising links designed to provide a means to earn a small commission. Emphasis on "small" commission, and also on the fact that I don't link to stuff that I don't use and/or love myself. Thank you!!

 


Weekending: Sunny Days!

I drove out to Ali's on Friday night to pick up Ginny & Junah for a sleepover! It's pretty much due east through open farm country and it was windy, so there was a lot of blowing snow which made driving... challenging. Saturday was sunny & warm, so it was all-clear by the time I returned them (+ Malina) on Saturday night. Sunday was sunny, too, and warm! Ah.

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Ali & Rod brought Malina over on Saturday morning and after she had a nice nap, we got busy doing all sorts of things, including a trip to the candy store! At Christmas, I'd given the kids (and Mack & Addie, too) certificates for custom chocolate bars -- they can choose Milk, Dark, or a blend of chocolate, up to four ingredients (Crunchies, Dried Fruits, Nuts, or Sweets), and optional spices. I'd planned an outing for all of us in December, but then illness threw a wrench into that!

Anyway, after choices are made, you can watch as they blend it altogether and put it in a mold. The table with the blue springs at top right is a shaker table -- they put the bars on there for a few minutes to get air bubbles out, and then it's popped into a freezer for :10 to set.

(That's a looonnnnng ten minutes when you're 6 and almost-4!)

Junah chose Dark Chocolate + Gummy Bears + Marshmallows + Peppermint Pieces + Sprinkles. Verdict? Too sweet, he said!! Ha. Next time, he'll substitute at least one of those sweets with Potato Chips, Pretzels or Rice Cereal.

Ginny chose Milk Chocolate + M&Ms + Marshmallows + Sour Patch Kids + Vanilla Chips. She did not seem to mind the sweetness! Ali had a taste and was surprised when she bit into Sour Patch Kids!

It'll be fun to do it again this summer when the boys are here.

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I did some knitting over the weekend, finishing the second sleeve and starting on the back. Last night's progress brought me just about to the raglan decreases. The end is in sight, and I'm so looking forward to a finished sweater!

Tonight, I pick up Kate from her trip to Prague!

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I had separate messages from Kate & Annie, both of them telling me about their great travel partner (I already knew that!) and how much fun they had! I can't wait to hear more.

 


3TT: Making/Doing & Dreaming

I thought I'd share three things that I'm working on! If you follow me on IG, you've likely seen all of this but there are a few more details/updates here.

Thing #1

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I'm Banging Out my Main Squeeze. Since I took this photo, I've knit the other front and started the first sleeve. I'm just past the increases on that sleeve, so expect to finish that one and get a start on the second at Knit Night tonight! There's a glimmer of hope that I might actually finish by the end of the month.

 

Thing #2

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I'm really pretty chuffed about this Alabama A-line Tunic. I'd intended to make a dress but didn't take into consideration the width of the fabric when I ordered it from Spoonflower. But hey, a tunic with in-seam pockets is JUST FINE!!

I've sewn it on my machine -- including the neck & sleeve edges, which I just turned under a quarter inch and stitched. I'm still getting used to my "new" machine, so there's a little wonkiness on one neck edge, but nothing that most people would even notice. I'm going to fell the seams by hand, because I like the way that looks, and still have to determine how I'll finish the hem (if I finish it at all). This is Spoonflower's Organic Cotton Knit fabric, which is technically a lighter weight than Alabama Chanin's Organic Cotton Jersey, but it feels a bit heftier/more substantial as a single layer, for some reason.

I plan to be wearing this in three weeks when we're on vacation in Mexico!

 

Thing #3

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I stopped in at my local antique mall the other day to measure a dresser, but spotted this quilt top folded up on a chair in the front window and made a bee-line! The shop owner, who is also my neighbor and a high school classmate (though we weren't chummy then), said that her mom gave it to her 40 years ago, and that she thought the pattern was "reverse bow tie." From my TINY little bit of research, I'm gonna say no to that... the bow tie quilts that I've seen are a bit more angular (the circles are octagons). I don't know what this is called and I don't care... I LOVE IT!! And it reminds me a lot of the cheater panel quilt that I made for Malina, but much smaller scale. It'll need a little TLC here and there... someday. Meanwhile, I just keep looking at it and showing it (with a squee!) to all who enter my home!

 


(Last) Weekending

I am so happy that we decided not to skip a visit to Biltmore this time! IMHO, it seemed like a hefty admission price -- even without all the optional add-ons (of which we opted for zero) -- but now that I've visited, I can see why. The house is gorgeous and well-cared for -- loved, even. It's off-season, so there were some things happening, such as refinishing of the wood floor in one of the halls, and repairs to the walls. The walls were plastered and stenciled, so there was a craftsman touching up the paint and it was so cool to watch him for a few minutes! Spring is just barely beginning to spring, so there were obvious signs of work being done in the gardens.

Oh, the gardens!

But first...

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Yes, I sprung for the tourist trap photo op!

I took a few photos inside, but honestly, it's difficult to capture -- and, sometimes, I'd just be stunned by what I was seeing that I'd just forget that I even had a camera, or know that I wouldn't be able to capture half (swimming pool, bowling alley, kitchens and store rooms).

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This servant's room, with its sweet "counting sheep" garland at the foot of the bed, certainly caught my eye. It was quite a nice room, too, and the staff was paid very well (New York City wages) back in the day.

I shared an orchid-centric post on IG the other day, so I'll (mostly) spare you those photos here. The Conservatory was...

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...well, it's February and we came from cold snowy Wisconsin...

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...it was so warm and green and colorful! And huge.

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I love that orchids can be so different. That little wisp of a thing was quite small, though not the smallest. It was just something to see, as was that BLACK variety. The orchids were mostly gathered in a specific area. There was another amazing flower at every turn!

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There was also a separate room for cacti and succulents -- a cool variety of size, color, and texture.

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In terms of plant life, there wasn't a whole lot happening in the gardens yet. I was enchanted by the walls with their espalier trees, and was very happy to find blooming hellebores.

The admission price also included trolley transportation to different locations/parking within the estate, and a wine tasting, which we really enjoyed. Overall, I think it would be a very different experience to visit in high summer -- there were definitely people around, but it wasn't crowded in the least and we didn't have to wait for anything.

So, that's pretty much a wrap on our Asheville highlights... except for a word or three about food.

  • We enjoyed lunch at Farm Burger on Saturday, knowing that it would be good because we ate there last time, too!
  • On Saturday night we went to Sierra Nevada Brewing in nearby Mills River (actually, right in between Asheville and our Airbnb)... and I cannot get over it! It wasn't even on our radar, but we saw the sign a few times and it had good reviews when we searched for nearby dinner options (plus, I'm a huge fan of SNB's Hazy Little Thing) (and now I have some swag)! It was enormous, and the drive/entry to the property was amazing (lighting shaped like hops). We had a little bit of a wait, so went upstairs to the "High Gravity" room and enjoyed a beer and some live music. Our dinner was fantastic!! Along with Biltmore, I would definitely visit SNB on another visit to the area!
  • And Ingles. I remembered Ingles from last time... and, I just have to say, what a fantastic "grocery" store. I want one.

I hope you had a great weekend!

 


Direction

Y'know, they are #whirlwindarttripswithkate (a four-day trip, two of which were all driving), but we pack in as much as we can... this will be my last post about our visit to Black Mountain College Museum, and then there will be a post or two about our visit to Biltmore.

We all, I suppose, hope to in some measure, at some point, achieve fineness in our work, but what is really exciting is the feeling that we are growing, that we are discovering things that we hadn't known before—and especially that there is so much ahead that has not been realized. And, for me, Art is the name of a direction, not a product.

–Joan Potter (Sihvonen) Loveless (1928-2009) from Three Weavers (University of New Mexico Press, 1992);
she studied weaving with Anni Albers at BMC 1944-1948

Oh, that last sentence!!

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Experienced weavers were invited to sit down and work on this piece! My experience is limited to a child's BRIO loom -- I have no idea how those foot pedals work -- so I just admired.

Here are a few more pieces from Question Everything! The Women of Black Mountain College that stood out to me.

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Lolita Georgia, Weaving Class Notebook, 1935

Lolita Georgia was the spouse of Black Mountain College faculty & founding member, Frederick R. Georgia. She was at BMC from 1933-1937. This is a page from her weaving class notebook, from a class taught by Anni Albers.

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Anni Albers, Untitled, 1950, cotton and bast

Anni Albers (1899-1994) originally intended to study visual arts, but the way things worked at the Bauhaus in 1922, female students were restricted to the weaving workshop... which is terrible but also terrific & serendipitous, as Anni Albers became one of the most influential textile artists of the 20th Century! She and her husband, Josef, came to BMC in 1933, after fleeing Nazi Germany; Josef was head of the new school and also head of the painting program, while Anni taught weaving and textile design; they left the school in 1949.

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Elizabeth Jennerjahn, Untitled, ca. 1960, textile with applied fabric wall hanging

Elizabeth Schmitt Jennerjahn (1923-2007) first attended BMC in 1943-44 as a student, studying art with Josef & Anni Albers. She left to study dance in New York City with Martha Graham, returning in 1948 with her husband, Warren (Pete) Jennerjahn, to study with Merce Cunningham, also working as a student teacher in 1949; the Jennerjahns left BMC in 1951.

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Susan Moore, Composition with Dot, date unknown, oil on canvas

Susan Moore (1926-2013) was a student at Black Mountain College in the summer of 1946, studying design and painting with Josef Albers and Jacob Lawrence.

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Evelyn Williams Anselevicius, Untitled (from the Geodesic Series, ca. 1970s, tapestry

Evelyn Williams Anselevicius (1923-2003) was a BMC student in 1947. She became known internationally for her large-scale woven tapestries, often using Mexican rug weaving techniques and wool that was spun & dyed in Mexico.

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And, of course, Ruth Asawa (1926-2013), who attended BMC from 1946 to 1949.

Have a great weekend!!!


3TT: Question Everything

Joining Carole & friends for a follow-up to last week's post about three artists at Black Mountain College (the obvious idea of which only occurred to me this morning as I was brushing my teeth).

 

1 - Suzi Gablik

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Tropism #3, collage and oil on canvas

I learned that Suzi Gablik was only 16 years old when she attended Black Mountain College in the summer of 1951, and studied both painting and writing.

It was one of those defining choices in life. Although I was only there for two months, in that unorthodox environment, my maverick self, which was not easily accommodated at home, had the time and provocation to emerge.

She gave up practicing art in the 1970s to focus on writing art history and criticism, believing that she could effect more social change that way.

 

2 - M.C. Richards

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Snow, letterpress on paper
(Portrait of) M.C. Richards, Skywinding Farm, Scaly Mountain, NC, ca 1970s,
Type C print by Jonathan Williams


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Raku pot
Alchemical Form, stoneware

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I'd ordered M.C. Richards' book, Centering In Pottery, Poetry, and the Person, before leaving for NC and it was waiting when I returned... never even thought to ask Kate if she had it, because she has A LOT of material about BMC. (And she does have it, of course!)

The person that had the strongest and most far-reaching effect on me was M.C. Richards. Albers opened my eyes. M.C. opened my mind and I will be forever grateful to her. --Carol Singer Kalbfeld, BMC student 1947-1948

 

3 - Hazel Larsen Archer

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Interior of the Quiet House, gelatin silver print
Ruth Asawa, ca. late 1940s, vintage gelatin silver prints

Hazel Larsen Archer taught photography with an emphasis on "seeing" rather than on technique.

 

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Question Everything! The Women of Black Mountain College was a beautiful show! We also wandered through the reference library and more exhibits in the lower level, and both left with some items from the shop... including the last two tote bags they had in stock (which we both need like a hole in the head). Ha. They're so USEFUL.

I'll have one more post about our visit to Black Mountain College Museum!

 


Unraveled Wednesday: Mitts & More

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

KNITTING

I love starting/knitting a project while I'm traveling because it's always a reminder of the trip!

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I started the beaded Nugget Mitts while we were in North Carolina. The loveliness of this pattern is that the beading is all done in one row! I did that on the first mitt while we enjoyed a little downtime one evening, and now it's perfect travel knitting... and I did a bit of that during the daylight hours on the drive home.

I brought a lot of knitting with me, but this is the only thing I worked on. It was right back to work yesterday -- with a bunch of stuff to catch up on at home -- so I'm just going with this right now and will resume Banging Out a Cardigan when I have more than a second to think & breathe.

Ali & the kiddos were over for a bit last night.

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Malina is now wearing the little Beatrice Top that I knit for Ginny -- and topping it off nicely, too! I knit much of that top while on a #whirlwindarttripwithkate to St. Louis in 2017.

READING LISTENING

I didn't do any reading on vacation, but we listened to quite a few podcast episodes:

I don't usually listen to podcasts very much, but these were so interesting!!

I still haven't picked up my book since returning home, but I have resumed listening to The Dutch House on my commute.

♠ ♣ ♥ ♦

The trip was really great. Even though it was only for a couple of days, there's a lot to digest & share, so I'm going to start small... and right now.

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Our Airbnb (plus) cottage was just about the cutest darn thing you ever did see... or ever might stay in.

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We each had our own bedroom, separated by the bathroom -- those are the windows you see on the side of the house -- with a comfy & cozy living room and a very nice kitchen. The porch was big and welcoming, and there was a patio and a separate fire pit in the back (which we didn't use, but so nice!).

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Great amenities, attention to detail & decor, and lots of little touches -- that's what makes it PLUS! That's a special designation for properties that go above & beyond... it's not available in my area, but you can bet that I'd be shooting for it!

Potentially mutually beneficial shameless plug: If you'd like to try Airbnb, use this link to save up to $55 on your first trip — and once your reservation is complete, I'll get a little credit to use toward future travel, too.

I've stayed at 28 different Airbnb properties in the last six years -- from Scotland to Spain, New York to Oregon, Michigan to Mexico, with many points scattered in between and some quite close to home. You won't be surprised to learn that I freakin' love Airbnb! They haven't all been as stellar as this adorable cottage, but I can honestly say that I've never had a dud. Next week it'll be a year since we welcomed our first guest as Airbnb hosts! We had 38 completed bookings last year, and five already this year -- with another this weekend and 11 more (so far) booked between now and October! We've had between one and five guests at any one time, for as little as one night or as many as 32! It's a lot of work, but I'm still enjoying it... I'll stop when I'm not!

 


3TT: Three Women of BMC

Joining Carole & friends for Three (Pertinent) Things on Thursday...

Kate & I are leaving later today for a quick trip to Asheville, NC. The main reason being to see a show at Black Mountain College Museum entitled Question Everything! The Women of Black Mountain College.

A little background:

There are many other influential, renowned, or even famous people to attend and/or teach at BMC in its relatively short lifespan -- Robert Rauschenberg, Cy Twombly, Merce Cunningham, and Buckminster Fuller to name a few -- and I've seen the work of many in various museums and/or documentaries.

Arguably, the best known of them all to knitters & textile artists might be Josef & Anni Albers, to wit:

Though not the only ones to inspire knitting designs:

Anni Albers and Ruth Asawa are among the artists featured in Question Everything! For purposes today, I've plucked the names of three new-to-me artists, also included in the exhibition, to do some research ahead of the show!

1 - Suzi Gablik

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Suzi Gablik (b. 1934) studied at BMC in the summer of 1951. She is an artist (painter, collage), art critic, author, and teacher. I am especially drawn to images in the "Tropism" series (#9, above).

tropism | 1 a : involuntary orientation by an organism or one of its parts that involves turning or curving by movement or by differential growth and is a positive or negative response of a source of stimulation

I'm excited to see if any of these pieces are included in the exhibition.

2 - M.C. Richards

Mary Caroline (M.C.) Richards (1916-1999) was a poet, essayist, potter, painter, and teacher. She taught writing at BMC in the late 1940s, having moved there with her then-husband Albert William Levi Jr., a social scientist, when he was invited to join the faculty in 1945.


Her book, Centering In Pottery, Poetry, and the Person, was originally published in the 1960s, and became an underground classic (an original paperback can be had for a cool $989 and some change).

The book... pulled together ideas about perception, craft, education, creativity, religion and spirituality, arguing for the richness of daily experience if carefully attended to, and the creativity of the average person. "Poets are not the only poets," Ms. Richards wrote. --New York Times obituary of M.C. Richards

She sounds fascinating! I am not really what you'd call a "poetry person," but I could not resist that book... it's on the way!

3 - Hazel Larsen Archer

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The first things I learned about Hazel Larsen Archer (1921-2001) was that she was born and raised in Milwaukee, that she had polio when she was 10, and that she was a photographer -- so right away there are a few points of connection and interest. She was both a student and a teacher at BMC, and in 1949 joined the faculty as the school's first full-time teacher of photography. She documented life -- performances, events, people -- at BMC. After leaving NC, she and her husband moved to Tucson, AZ, where she operated a freelance studio.

I'm excited about the show/the trip and you can be sure I'll fill you in on it all!

 


Unraveled Wednesday: Bangin' Out a Main Squeeze

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

KNITTING

So, I've made a couple of modifications to the Main Squeeze Cardigan... the main one being that I've converted the pattern to be knit in pieces and seamed!

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(I really cannot stand knitting on circulars.) I'm also following the lead of another maker and knitting the cardigan one size larger on needles that are one size smaller, and incorporating vertical non-button-band front bands -- not only to avoid the circular situation, but because I like the way it looks! Though it looks a little sloppy right now, I think it will even out after finishing/blocking... and if it doesn't, I'll stabilize it with grosgrain.

Anyway, this is one of the fronts -- I never know if it's the left/right front when you're looking at the sweater or while wearing it! You can see where the second ball of yarn was attached just before the raglan decreases begin.

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I love the Sand Stitch texture. Pardon the photos, it was going-on-dark last night when I got home!

We Make Our Own Arrows has taken a back seat, but I did make a little progress:

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Triangles joined, first tail underway.

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It's very contained, so I'll probably bring it along when we head toward NC tomorrow... along with my Main Squeeze and maybe two other projects. Haha! Y'know...

READING

It's the same, so in lieu of that, here's one that Kate scored at the book store the other day:

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It's legit.

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We made Shirin Polo the other night and it was delicious. We didn't use quite enough chicken and, though not as sweet as I feared, we'll reduce the sugar by at least half next time. There will be a next time... there are a lot of bookmarked pages, so who knows when that'll be!

 


I got a new thing.

My new insurance cards came in the mail last week, along with the little booklet of benefits. I don't usually look at those things, but I idly flipped through and it landed on a page with a blurb about getting a FREE FITBIT (one per lifetime).

I've never really felt the need for a Fitbit (at least not to shell out dollars for), but if someone wants to give me one (using some of the many dollars that I've contributed)... well, I'll even shell out a few extra bucks for a better model.

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Today's the first day with my new Inspire HR... and, yes, I am feeling a little bit inspired.