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July 2020

Hello, July

My calendars are already flipped to July, so... HELLO. And, also, you're looking OK in some respects. I just realized that, with regular days off + holidays + vacation, I won't be working a "normal" week until the last week of the month (and, as always but especially in summer, that's subject to change).

I rented a "beach" house on the lake-side of Door County in the middle of the month and am heading up with Kate & Al & the kids. Rusty & I took the kiddos on Sunday and gave them a preview.


I'm not gonna lie... it was Sunday, it was gorgeous out, and it was crowded -- sometimes, uncomfortably so -- but Ali lent us a secret weapon: a large pop-up screened gazebo! It was/we were terribly obnoxious about it, especially since the water level is high and the beach is not as big as it used to be, but hey! We muscled in, and it worked! The added benefit is that we had a place for sun breaks and didn't get sunburned!

When we dropped the kids off on the way home, I took a peek at my grandchickens!


They're getting so big, but still sounding like chicks.

Yesterday, I took a drive across the state with Kate. Her new art magazine, dovetail, debuts tomorrow and I rode shotgun to Chanhassen (a 'burb of Minneapolis) to pick it up. It was a full day of driving and, y'know, things being as they are we had lunch in the car in the parking lot at Culver's instead of a nice cafe lunch before heading back, but it was a nice day and even with gas & food, it was a solid $200+ saved. What else would we be doing?? (Well, I might be finishing my taxes, but p'shaw... I have a couple of weeks yet!)


There was weather! It was hot and my air conditioning was a little sketchy for a while, and there was rain, but mostly it was a lot of fun watching the sky all the way there and back.


I had prepared a nice little R A I N B O W box of yarn to take to the beach... an idea has been percolating for a while and I just had to scratch that itch! I didn't get started on it, nor did I really do anything while in the car yesterday, as planned... it turns out that doing crochet is not like riding a bicycle (at least not for me). I got the tiniest start last night, though, and we'll see. The baby blanket is still my #1 focus (I've finished Row 2, started Row 3), but I'm going to designate one day a week for at least a little crochet action.


Is it really the last Friday of June?

I'm thankful that the weekend is upon us... and I have Monday off next week, so three days to hopefully unplug a bit and realign. I'll have the kids one of those days and would love to grab some toys and head to a secluded beach... we'll see. Whatever we end up doing, they never fail to recharge me!

It was lovely and reassuring to read all the comments about our Airbnb here, on IG, and on FB. I pour a lot more than just sweat into that space, and find myself channeling my mother quite often, too. We met our current guests yesterday (with appropriate physical distance), and they love the place (wondering if we have as many trees in our back yard as there are in all of Chicago...). Then I had a reservation come in last night for a long weekend next month -- our second HONEYMOONERS and I just couldn't be happier about that. I'm already thinking of all the ways to make their stay EXTRA SPECIAL!

Some random photos/thoughts:


We recently added a few more lights to the pergola array and extended it to both the garage & the house. I also added some fabric to the top of the pergola to filter the sun, mostly; the jury is still out on that.


Those lights really help to illuminate The Marriage Window area! Rusty made a cool hinged screen for the half of the window that opens, so we won't have to worry about bugs (hm, I still need to wash the outside of that window...)


We spotted a really cool moth the other day. I did a very technical Google search for "black and white triangular moth," or something like that (heh, most moths are "triangular," aren't they?)... anyway, it’s haploa lecontei, or Leconte’s haploa, first described in 1832! Its range is basically east of the Mississippi, from Nova Scotia to Georgia. The markings can vary quite a bit... all gorgeous! I don't remember ever seeing one before.

Is it time for a blanket update? Haha.


One more section of horizontal stripes and another house to go before Row 2 is finished! I'd better pick up the pace, though. It would be nice to have this done pretty close to when the baby's due. I just "confirmed" the date with Ali; she says she's pretty confident with Sept. 5th... but Mother Nature threw a curve ball so it could also be two weeks either way. 🤣

Have a good weekend, y'all.


Hit the ground running

There was plenty I could have done on Tuesday evening, but instead:


We walked down the hill with intention... our local joint has resumed Taco Tuesday, complete with Mason jar margaritas through the walk-up window, but this time with a guest food truck doing the food. We were a little late, though, and most of the food was gone by the time we got there! So we took our margs home and made the first BLTs of the season, instead. Yummmm. I recently found a convenient local source for Thin-sliced Dave's Killer Bread, and is that ever good! We used CSA lettuce, Nueske's amazing bacon, a little avocado, and the only thing that would make it better is home-grown tomatoes... we're working on that!

There was knitting, of course.


My first little pink house -- the first house block I did that has vertical stripes on both sides, so had to figure out how that would work. I love it so much!! I was tired as a dog last night, so only added one vertical stripe to this photo before I heeded the call of my pillow. Yes, there are a lot of ends, most are dealt with using Stephen West's Weavin' Stephen technique, some will be used in seaming the rows together. It might look like twice as many on my project, too, because I'm holding the yarn double! It's a fiddly project, for sure, and certainly not for everyone, but I'm really enjoying it! There's a whack of knitters figuring out different ways of doing various elements, it's worth a scroll through some of the projects and/or forum; and the designer has also released a v.crochet -- Tunisian crochet? (I don't know how that differs from "regular" crochet...)

Anyway, Wednesday (my usual day off of work each week) is usually a little busy, but yesterday was non-stop. We had an appraiser coming and I had an Airbnb to prepare! I'll tell you, my Fitbit steps are off the chart on those Airbnb prep days! I'm really happy with our work over the past few months and how it's turned out, plus our last guest just wrote the 40th review of our place... and that makes 40 5-star reviews!


I'll be crushed if that rating ever changes! Haha.



How was your weekend? Mine was OK. Good. I got a few things done, got out of the house a couple of times, including to Goodwill (continuing quest for office stuff) where I saw this:


A big ol' rainbow right in the middle of the store... perfect for PRIDE Month!

Now that the carpet's been cleaned, I took a few more things down to The Office.


Kate's is "the pink room." Heh. The window-less room is mostly storage/my stuff now... and even though the whole ceiling is basically a light grid, I don't think I can work in there, especially with so much light in the other two spaces, so I have a little desk in the entry/common area. It's entirely a work in progress, all subject to change.

Meanwhile, another Saturday stop was at Home Depot to get paint for The Garden Room. The first stop was for swatches and for some floor leveling stuff that Rusty needed. The second stop was for paint (which might be applied today!!!), for the 2nd bag of floor leveling stuff because I didn't see that he wrote "2," and for a couple of pairs of sawhorses for The Office that were "in stock" according to the website.

Naturally, there weren't any sawhorses where they were supposed to be, so I stood in that spot while the paint was mixed and ordered them online for curbside pickup. I didn't really need them right that minute, but just as we were about to leave the parking lot, I had notification that my order was ready... so we swung around and picked them up.

Speaking of The Garden Room...


I do believe there will be times when sunglasses will be required. The paint we purchased is for the walls -- it'll still be yellow, but quite a bit paler than the old color.

The kids came over yesterday with their mama. We had a fun afternoon & evening, including a walk/ride to the little park at the end of our street.


It's a very small park -- no playground or anything -- more commemorative of the old cheese factory that used to be there (with a granite crock of cheese), and soon also to remember the first school teacher in our area (with a statue). The whole park was undergoing a complete re-do last fall and right in the middle of it all, a big storm wrecked the few remaining trees in the park and then winter arrived early and never left... so it was a bit of an eyesore all winter and spring, but finally new topsoil & seed mats have been spread and trees & decorative plants planted. We had fun reading all the inscriptions on benches and circle of bricks.


We came back and had a cookout, and then the kids had a bath. My supply of diapers was gone and Ali didn't have any with her, so I made an emergency run to Walgreens. The big kids asked if they could come along and I said yes without even thinking...

First, it took us a while to get going because I had to rearrange stuff in my car. Then, kids' booster seats installed and them buckled in, an ENORMOUS SPIDER was discovered in a little slot in Ginny's seat, followed by a little scream-crying panic (Ginny on the outside, me on the inside) while I disengaged her, and the seat, and dumped the spider out. I'm pretty sure it was a wolf spider and not a brown recluse, but to be honest I didn't examine very closely... shuddddderrrrrrr.


Finally, we arrived at our destination and it dawned on me what I'd done! Oh my god! A total brain fart, bringing them along with me, but thank goodness I had some extra masks in my car... Ginny's could have fit a little better. Thankfully, it was late and I think there was only one other customer in the store. We got the two things we went there for, plus three bubble blowers that weren't on the list, and headed back home. Sheesh.



Haha. For some reason, I feel the need to share all the details of this project.

I ripped out the block of 6-row horizontal stripes and re-worked it as a 5-row block:


And I like it MUCH better! The blanket will have (and keep) a much nicer shape and the overall texture of the fabric will be more even.

I hope to hum along with this project over the weekend... we'll see. There is lots to do, including turnover of the Airbnb -- our lovely guests formerly of NYC and soon NJ are leaving today, and we have a couple from Chicago arriving on Wednesday for almost two weeks. After that it's a couple of the more typical weekenders until August. I'm not really minding the longer stays, especially since the cleaning protocol is amped up (among other things, Airbnb has provided me with a 38-page cleaning guide/checklist) (they don't know that I learned from The Queen of Clean, aka MOM). Heh.


It's not the greatest photo, but our little Catalpa tree is LOADED with flower buds this year!

Happy Friday! Have a great weekend!

Unraveled Wed/Thu: Safe At Home

I'm joining Kat & the Unravelers today to share what I'm knitting (reading is the same)... 


Now, in addition to changing up the colors/yarn a bit, is when I begin to really put my mark on this project.


Instead of a grid made up entirely of houses, I will be sprinkling them throughout the interior of the blanket. Not counting the border, which will be all houses, there will be two houses in each row.

The other blocks will be alternating blocks of horizontal & vertical stripes. Because I love stripes!!


There are five colors specified for each house block, so those are the colors I'm using for the stripes... plus one more stripe, for which I'm using the color of the house two blocks before. Something like that.


When I saw this on the sidewalk this morning, I immediately noticed the pale yellow horizontal stripe butting up to the pale yellow sky below it... and it bothered me for exactly .00001 second. That horizontal block (my first) does bother me, though, and I think I've figured it out:

  1. My bind-off is a little loose. I need to remember that I don't have to loosely work a loose bind off!
  2. I think I only need five horizontal stripes -- six is too many and I think, multiplied, they'll cause fairly significant, undesired distortion. I'm knitting the horizontal stripes onto live vertical stitches, though, so will need to figure out the best way to deal with that extra live stitch in each stripe! (Suggestions welcome.)

Safe At Home Blanket... finding my groove, figuring it out. The process is definitely my jam.  ;)


Mid-June Weekending

Well, it was a pretty great weekend, but man... even a 3-day weekend flies by in no time!


On Thursday night, I assembled the FINNVARD trestle that I'd ordered a while back, and put together my (non-electric) Fiber Artist Supply Winding Station (sans meter)! Happy stimulus to me!! I'd had the ball winder and swift for quite a while, so needed only the trestle table and attachment pieces from Fiber Artist Supply, and is it ever nice to have a "station." It looks nice, too.

On Friday morning, Kate & I picked up keys to The Office, and then drove down to Kenosha to pick up some mailing supplies; we made a quick stop at IKEA on the way back, and then returned to The Office to drop it all off.

We've signed a lease on a small office space just down the hill from home -- located in a cool mid-century building that was originally the Farmers & Merchants Bank (where I had my first savings account!). It's two rooms + a large entry area + a private bath. Kate will definitely be utilizing the space for an office; I'll be using it for additional work space -- for specific projects, for things that I just don't have room to randomly set up/tear down at home (namely, knitting machines), and for some storage/organization. Subject to change.

On Saturday, we went up to De Pere for another 8+ mile bike ride on the trail. Kate is pretty motivated these days, and I'm glad... it rubs off.

We headed back to the office and assembled her new SKARSTA adjustable sit/stand desk and, wow, is that ever slick (and, BTW, at a much better in-store price).

Sunday was a busy day, beginning with washing the windows in the expanded Garden Room/Porch project -- especially outside, while the scaffolding was still there. Originally, I was going to do it all, but then I stepped upon the decidedly-not OS*A-approved scaffold... and it was a little springy, and then I looked down, and then I needed to turn a corner, and...


...there's Rusty doing the outside!


AFTER! I did the inside. We're inching closer!


Rusty finished up a little painting and then took the scaffold down. All that's left do do on the outside are the cedar shingles on the porch-side wall, which I expect he'll finish up today. He can move on to finishing the interior, then, and it should all be in good shape by the time the flooring arrives.

Around lunch time, I ran out to Ali's and grabbed the kids for a picnic at the park!


Junah picked the spot -- a sunny area at the top of a little hill -- and we had chicken tenders, carrots w/dill dip, lots of fruit snacks, and chocolate graham crackers. They had a blast playing on the playground and crossing bridges. Ginny & Malina fell asleep on the way back to our house and had a nice (needed) snooze, and then we headed over to my neighborhood park! And after supper, we went on a little bike ride! I think I broke my Fitbit record for "steps" yesterday!


Junah lost his second tooth! And this time he didn't swallow it. :)


Gin & me... just because. <3

In the evenings, I continue knitting houses, and have begun the second row:


I was pleasantly surprised to find some nice sidewalk art this morning to help show it off.


I hope you had a good weekend, too!


"Congratulations on being Liberal!"

So, our fabulous long-term Airbnb guests, Tara & Chris, are here for another week.

It's a long story (and not mine), but last weekend, quarantine complete, the couple traded places with her parents and headed to the remote (no internet) rural family farm to hang with their kids, while her parents had a weekend respite here.

Tara & Chris are a very friendly couple and we've chatted quite a bit so I knew that her mom had just retired after 35 years of teaching. There was a little overlap on Friday night when both couples were here, giving us the opportunity to meet the parents. The first thing I did was congratulate Tara's mom on her retirement, to which her dad responded by saying, "Congratulations on being Liberal!" and it just cracked me up.

Still cracks me up!

They live in one of the most conservative counties in the state (voting for the Republican presidential candidate in 19 of the last 20 elections), so he was unabashedly delighted to be among friends -- even if was just at the end of our street, because our county is also quite red (voting Republican in 17 of the aforementioned elections).


And I was going to share this Waterlogued photo of my first tomato blossoms for Eye Candy Friday... but it's only Thursday. It's Friday to me, though, so there you go.

Happy (early) weekend!


Little Pink Houses for You & Me

Well, I haven't actually knit a pink one yet (but I will)...

...and they're neither for you nor for me, but they are LITTLE HOUSES and they're so freakin' cute.

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


Safe At Home Blanket... I'll be knitting this for a while, but I'm finding my groove and loving it. I wish it was portable, and I need to find a way to manage/wrangle the 12 colors (many of which have multiples), but otherwise good.

So excited was I to share today that I took an up-to-the-minute photo this morning!


I don't mind knitting these skies at all!



Pretty much the same as last week! On audio: Between The World and Me, which should be finished soon. Pages: Wild Game, which is definitely a bit of a page-turner.


Oh, Monday...

A do-over of this morning would be not unwelcome. Thankfully, I had a pretty good weekend upon which to reflect.


I've started riding my bike again! Kate's doing much more (her schedule is a bit more flexible and conducive), but I've been going along when I can. I went for my first real ride in ages a week ago, riding just over 6 miles on a level paved nearby trail. It was nice, but there were a fair number of streets to cross, so a bit of starting & stopping. On Saturday, we took to the road, parking at Lost Dauphin Park* which is located a little east of home. It was a nice ride along the river in an area with lots of very nice homes (so a little bit of lollygagging). That ride was a little over 7.5 miles on mixed pavement with some tiny little hills. Rusty planned to join us on Sunday to check out the Fox River State Trail, and I almost didn't go because that "mixed pavement" on Saturday did a number on my shoulder... and I was really tempted by a couple of hours "home alone," but I went. And I'm glad I did. It's a wonderful trail and just what I needed after Saturday -- back in the saddle, but nice 'n easy, and my shoulder felt better afterwards! Those are my stats above. We stuck together for about the first half of the ride, then Rusty fell off behind and Kate zoomed off ahead. We'll definitely be doing that again, and checking out other parts of the trail, too.


Rusty works on the Garden Room expansion for at least a few hours everyday. He's re-used some of the already re-used bead board under the windows -- you can see the turquoise-y green paint that had covered the ENTIRE WRAP-AROUND PORCH, back in the day, and everything in it! I'm super excited that he's also re-re-using the last remaining part of the original windowsill. It was shaped from one big board, and we just love the wabi sabi quality gained in over 100 years.


I neglected to share that Kate & I drove up to Door County last Wednesday. We missed peak cherry blossoms by a few days, but it was a gorgeous day! We spent a little time in Peninsula State Park, and found a handy "selfie station" at one of the overlooks -- the ledge was a little crooked, but it turned out cute, even if the sun wasn't doing us any favors. Ha!


The water is super-high! This is an old fish house, more recently art gallery, but it's sand-bagged all around!


It's a very popular place to leave your mark, as you can see. And on EVERYTHING nearby, too. I love how colorful it is!


Speaking of color, here's how my first (bottom) row of Safe At Home is going. These were taken on Saturday, I guess, because I was mid-way through the last roof when I put it down last night. I've been using Stephen West's Weavin' Stephen technique to manage my ends, though I forget once in a while when I'm concentrating on something else.

I hope you had a good weekend, too!

*The Curious Case of Wisconsin's Lost Dauphin Park

3TT: House & Home Edition

Joining Carole & friends for Three Things on Thursday...

1 -- Our re-remodel/reclamation project is one of the things giving me life these days.


Subfloor! I'm going to have to go shopping for floor tiles soon.

2 -- The old porch railings were salvaged and re-purposed/installed as a safety railing in the kids' playhouse.


For some reason, that side had nothing. Junah actually jumped from there one day! (So far, Ali's avoided any trips to ER!!) (Knock on wood.)

3 -- Pastoral scenes from a Sunday afternoon at Ali's.


That's not their horse (there are actually two), but the field butts right up to their rear lot line.

BONUS: They may not have horses, but they've recently acquired...



Two kittens... the one pictured above is called Slippers, and the other was originally Claire, but Ginny changed it to Bounceball, which Ali says suits the kitty better -- and it may be a boy instead of a girl, anyway.

The chicks are all named Max. If they're boys, Maxwell or Maximilian; if girls, Maxine... and their cute little coop.

All subject to change.

And bonus-bonus... a couple other photos in my camera roll from that day.



Unraveled Wednesday

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


On audio:

Between The World and Me is a pretty short listen. This one is in the queue:

So You Want to Talk About Race is by Ijeoma Oluo, her IG account linked in yesterday's post. This book is narrated by Bahni Turpin, so the audio was a no-brainer (I didn't even have to sample it).

On my nightstand:

I've picked up Centering again, having finished Sarah Read's The Bone Weaver's Orchard (you may recall that Sarah is a knitter-neighbor-librarian friend), which I enjoyed quite a lot... it was "horror," but I could sleep at night. Heh.

Wild Game is on the way... it's the Bonny, Carole & Kym's READ WITH US summertime read. It sounds like a page-turner and ought to be interesting. I expect to see some (maybe a lot) of my mother in the story, and likely a little of myself, too.


I finished Romi's Mystery Shawl last week.

More details on my Ravelry project page.

And then I plunged into my "baby blanket" version of the Safe At Home blanket.


A row of roof-less houses right now. I made a mistake with the windows of the first two houses (on the right), making them a stitch too short, but I'm leaving that. So far, the hardest thing is remembering to wind off some extra for under the windows before I begin knitting a new house. I'm excited to finish this row (including roofs & skies) because Row 2 is where I really begin to make it my own, and I can't wait to see whether it works.



I have purchased books and donated money. Tomorrow I will do more. And the next day, and the day after that, and... I will do better.


Forward. Black Lives Matter.