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Scotland: Stones

I've been struggling mightily with how to / what to post about Scotland... it's long overdue and I wanted to get something "on paper" before the end of the year!

Here's our basic itinerary. I used a site/app called Wanderlog to keep track of everything!

Wed, Sep 21 -- Rusty & I arrived in Edinburgh. We took the tram from the airport into City Centre, where we met Kate -- waiting for us with her suitcase near Waverly Station! We grabbed some lunch and then hopped on a train to Inverness, where we stayed overnight at a centrally located inn.

Thu, Sep 22 -- We rented a car and drove from Inverness to John O'Groats and then on to Scrabster Ferry Terminal where we caught the ferry to Orkney! We stayed at a resort-type cottage Sep 22-25.

Fri-Sat, Sep 23-24 -- Orkney

Sun, Sep 25 -- Ferried back to the mainland and drove to Ullapool where we met the ferry to Lewis & Harris. We stayed at an Airbnb in Borve from Sep 25-28.

Mon-Tue, Sep 26-27 - Lewis & Harris

Wed, Sep 28 -- Took the Tarbert-Uig Ferry from Harris to Isle of Skye, drove on to Torness on the east side of Loch Ness. We stayed at an Airbnb Sep 28-30.

Thu, Sep 29 -- Torness area.

Fri, Sep 30 - Returned rental car, returned to Edinburgh by train -- finally visited Kate's cute apartment!

Sat-Sun, Oct 1-2 -- Edinburgh area

Mon, Oct 3 -- Flight home

I had an enormous list of "possibilities" -- sites to see, hikes to hike, castles to visit -- but there's only time for so much, y'know? We had pretty hard & fast deadlines with ferry schedules, reserved tour times for some of the sites, as well, and lots of driving on single-track roads, so there's a lot that we left for future visit(s)! (Nodding to my mum with love for that notion.)

Anyway, I just have to start and today I'm going to share some "stones" of Scotland and some blue, mostly moody, skies! A late September trip was a sketchy move weather-wise, but we were quite happy (and prepared) for the most part. There can't be rainbows without rain... and I could do an entire post about the rainbows! (I just might!)




Standing stones, cairns & similar historic sites were plentiful on our list. Some of them are a bit of a hike from the car park, others were... just... right... there! "Appropriate footwear" was recommended no matter the location. The significance of Hill O' Many Stanes is unknown and may always remain so. It is, literally, a hill with many stones, none of them very big. We had to stick to a path around the stones and that was okay!



This castle ruin & its site was amazing! If you click on the link above and scroll down to photos, there's an incredible image taken from the North Sea. We were able to walk around & into parts of the castle. I found a stone that marked the unveiling of said stone "by HRH The Prince Charles, Duke of Rothesay, Patron of the Clan Sinclair Trust, on 1st August 2005 to Commemorate the First Phase of Preservation Works of the Castle."

On the way to this castle but not pictured, we stopped at the Whaligoe Steps and Cairn O'Get. All of these sites were on the mainland -- on the NC500 along the A9/A99 between Inverness & John O'Groats.



Incredible. The stones are part of the Heart of Neolithic Orkney World Heritage Site, which includes Skara Brae, Maeshowe, and the Ring of Brodgar -- all of which we also visited. It just blows my mind that people drive back and forth to work or the store and THIS is the scenery they see on every drive.



We could see this church and graveyard, up on a little rise, from the Stones of Stenness and just had to find our way there! I could do an entire post on the cemetery "stones." I could also do an entire post on lichen & moss!



Unlike the Stones of Stenness, we could not actually "mingle" with the stones but it was no less stunning. The photo above was actually taken from the car as we approached... it's less than a mile from the Stones of Stenness... just incredible.



We had such a great hike along the coastline to visit this "stone" "castle" in Orkney. Our path was a small part of a much longer coastal trail all the way to Stromness. There are so many great hiking & biking paths!



6a00d83451eba569e202af1c965b25200d-800wiClach An Truishal was not on my list of sites to see in Lewis but we spotted a little brown roadside sign that pointed the way! There are lots of said road signs all over... and they're easy to miss.

This is Scotland's tallest standing stone, easy accessible... it's on a rise, so even more impressive. Land use & accessibility is different in the UK and in many instances, such as this one, you park and walk right past someone's house (or through their fields) -- in the US, I'd feel as if I were trespassing -- but not here. Anyway, I was charmed by the unofficial sign, likely made by the property owner, that pointed the way.



The other side of this broch (a prehistoric circular stone tower) is open, providing a cross-section, which we were able to enter and explore. It's on a hill in Lewis and the view is spectacular!



This site was stunning. We arrived after the visitor centre closed and, at first, I was unsure we'd be able to enter... but the site itself is open all the time, as many are! 



From which, if you look closely, you can see the Calanais Standing Stones almost in the center of the photo -- to the right of the big stone and just about in line with Kate's cowl. This site was on our list but we didn't intentionally seek it out... we just happened to drive by! I hate to say it, and I never thought we'd be "those people," but we did eventually start to skip by some of the standing stone sites! Terrible tourists...

Trust me, there are dozens of photos from nearly each and every stop that I could share, and I'm looking forward to sharing more from our trip -- and taking more trips -- next year!!

Thanks for coming along for the ride! I appreciate all of you and love connecting with you. It's been a weird blogging year and I hope to make some changes... make it less weird. heh.

Wishing you all a Happy New Year!!


Top 9

My 2022 Top 9 of Instagram:


  1. Gnomes!
  2. The start of a Musselburgh.
  3. Jamie Lee Curtis speaks words of wisdom.
  4. Ginny gets a haircut! Malina did, too. Kate had finally made it home for a visit.
  5. New Birdie Parker earrings. (I've lost one of them, ordered a replacement but it was silver, now awaiting a mismatched copper+silver pair to have one pair of each.)
  6. The girls' dance recital!
  7. Favorite pic (so far) of Rusty & Davy!
  8. Sorting colors for the Temperature Project.
  9. Ali sold the coffee shop.


I'll have one more post for 2022 tomorrow!


Unraveling: The Year

Before I share my review of the year's knitting & reading, I have to share THIS:


The 5 Point Bomber had a bath yesterday and was pinned out to block/dry! I'm so excited to proceed -- the next step is the collar, which involves lots of German short rows, so I'm going to have to concentrate. This fun project will most likely be my first FO of 2023!

Meanwhile, I've been working on the Musselburgh hat that I started back in April.


I'll just be cruising on that one-way trip through the solar system for a while.


There was a whole lot of knitting but it didn't add up to a lot of finishes. One shawl and eight dishcloths! Details of all on Ravelry; I am knitorious.


Notable: NO GNOMES! But a lot of dishcloths and a boatload of stripes.


  • One Perky Little Hat for Ali (not shown but it's on my Rav page)
  • One Close To You shawl
  • Eight dishcloths

Started/Current WIPs:

  • Family Temperature Blanket
  • Musselburgh hat
  • 5 Point Bomber
  • (My 2021 crocheted blanket is also considered a current WIP - not shown)

The Family Temperature Blanket has been on hold since mid-November, when I started the kids' 5 Point Bomber, and will be until the bomber is finished (it shouldn't be too long now!!). I've finished Rusty's panel & mine, and Kate's is currently in progress -- nearing the half-way mark.

I love the shawl -- my second Close To You, knit in some of my hand-dyed yarn. I started it while on vacation in Puerto Rico, so it'll always be associated with that.

The summer dishcloth jag was fun! I had a bunch of Rowan Handknit Cotton and just knit my way through it all. Nai-Nai's Favorite is a great pattern!


I finished nine of an arbitrary 12 that I set as a goal.


Three of those nine books were... actual books! Three more were finished with a combo of audio & pages. And three were strictly audio.

There are several WIP books on my nightstand, including The Miracle of the Bells, by Russell Janney. This book was given to me a couple of weeks ago at book club. We've begun a tradition similar to Iceland's Jólabókaflóð and the book was given to me by Lori and had been her mother's. I believe it was published in 1947. I was intrigued, so started it right away... waiting to see what happens in the second half!

Meanwhile, I've participated in a Jólabókaflóð with some FB/knitter peeps for seven years now!


This year, Gillian sent me All The Ever Afters and Why We Cook: Women on Food, Identity, and Connection. Both of those books have been on my TBR list for a while now, and it will be fun to dive in!


My Spotify stats came in a few weeks ago.



I'll spare you all the details... these images sum it up. The stats are pretty true, since Spotify is my main source for music and I don't listen to the radio (if I can help it).

I like being thought of as an Adventurer!


Plain Old Wednesday

It's been busy around here with one thing or another. ZERO progress has been made on the kids' sweater in the past week, but I have been doing some cleaning and even a little bit of holiday prep.

The tree is up (from the basement) and the decorations are down (from the upstairs shotgun closet) -- have been for about a week -- but the only decorations actually on the tree are a tiny wire whisk that was overlooked during de-decorating last year and one of those bulky Star Ornaments that I was knitting last December. I knit a pile of those stars, gave a bunch away, and still have a nice stack -- one of which I just gave to Kate... so now hanging on the tree.

Anyway, while I was in the upstairs closet, I noticed (again... it happens every year) a bunch of truly random stuff on the tippy-top shelf at the back -- old curtain rods, some cottony-fleecy fabric stuff, the top of a Rubbermaid tote (the bottom nowhere near) (the nearest mate is likely in the basement). The cleaning/purging mood continues...


I don't purge everything, though, especially when the stuff isn't mine. Stuffed into a far corner of that deep shelf was this little T-shirt! It had to have been last worn approx. 30 years ago by Maddy! I washed it and will put it in the small box I have marked "Baby Things."

There's also a shelf over the doorway on the inside of the closet, and that's where Maddy's American Girl Bitty Babies, Lena & Zoe, are stored with all their things. I took it all down...


...sorted & washed the clothes and put them in a sealed bag. I noticed that Zoe needs some major mending/stitches, but that's for another day. There's a hospital gown for when that day comes... we had to send one of Ali's dolls into the Pleasant Company once for repair and she came back wearing one!



I enjoy playing the NYT Spelling Bee almost every day, but I really love Letter Boxed! Have you played? "Create words using letters around the square." The letters are scrambled from two random words and the idea is not to figure out those two words (impossible with no clues, IMHO), but to use up all the letters in the making of usually four or five words -- but the consecutive letters can't be from the same side and the last letter of a word becomes the first letter of the next word (and some other rules). I feel pretty great when I can do it in fewer, but today's was also pretty great because of all the YARNY words... beginning with YARN! The most tenuous one there would be NOUGAT, but just click on that to see all of the nougat-related patterns listed on Ravelry! Ha.

I'm working today, having had Monday off this week, and I've been confused all week about what day it is. Have a great Wednesday (and every day)!


Year In Review

Here we go again Year In Review!

I do it in words (the first sentence of the first post of each month) and in pictures (a favorite posted photo from each month) -- the two are not necessarily related.

January 2022:

I finished a hat -- my first FO of 2022!


February 2022:

This is the start of my Temperature Blanket! 


March 2022:

Rusty & I had a great vacation in Puerto Rico and both got what we needed most...


April 2022:

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


May 2022:

I lost my (prescription) sunglasses Sunday/Monday somewhere between here & there!


June 2022:

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


July 2022:

I have experienced the same photo-loading hiccups that Kym recently wrote about in relation to using Typepad as a blogging platform.


August 2022:

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


September 2022:

I've been working a bit on my Temperature Blanket project again!


October 2022:

An almost 2-week vacation in Scotland involving planes, trains, a car, and ferries -- and it all went off without a hitch!


November 2022:

When the kids were over a few weeks ago, Malina was drawing/writing on the big chalkboard.


December 2022:

Holiday Hoopla is approaching -- Kate arrives this Sunday, and Ann & family arrive a week later!


I say it every year: I can't quite believe the year is almost over! Thankfully, after a couple of "dud" years, I don't have incendiary feelings about it. My family was together again, we traveled, the kids started school and are loving it, 

Unraveled Wednesday: Closing in!

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



I'm about to begin armhole shaping for the right front, which is the last major piece of the cardigan! I'm excited for the blocking/taming of all those pieces because, man, are they ever curly!


That's 5 Point Bomber central right there -- all my MDK Atlas yarn & tools (more needles than I need!) in one place! I tuck my iPad in there when I go over to Ann's for laundry/knitting... very portable. This Sunday will be the last of that for a while, except for a guest booking over New Year's, because they arrive on Sunday night and will be "here" (back & forth to Madison in various configurations) until early February!


I just finished reading The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo (pages) for book club. I'd enjoyed Daisy Jones & The Six (audio), also by Taylor Jenkins Reid, so it didn't seem like too big of a gamble! Indeed, it's a pretty easy "beach" read and I sped right through it -- not great literature but a fun diversion and I was surprised at the end!

My listening has been spotty for various reasons... currently: A Swim in a Pond in the Rain: In Which Four Russians Give a Master Class on Writing, Reading, and Life by George Saunders. I am really enjoying it, and love listening to George Saunders.

_ _ _ _ _

I picked up Kate last Sunday and she's here for about a month... though she just left (in my car) for a quick work-related trip to Chicago & Madison. She hasn't even seen the kiddos yet because Ginny & Ali have been sick. I think Ginny finally went back to school today after being out for a week! Everyone else is holding on over there, so hopefully we'll all get together soon.

Hope everything is good in your neck of the woods!


More weekending

Sheesh. Time flies! Holiday Hoopla is approaching -- Kate arrives this Sunday, and Ann & family arrive a week later! Thankfully, for many reasons, our holiday get-together at work is going to be between Christmas & New Year's, and that's a relief; Rusty doesn't have much going on group-/party-wise, either, and I'm not sad.

That leaves more time for stress-relieving fun (and Christmas tree avoidance)!

I set my alarm again on Saturday for another workshop with Mel Kolstad at Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum. This time it was gel printing. I'd been aware of this event since the previous workshop I took with Mel, but I didn't really know what "gel (or gelli) printing" was... and I stupidly didn't ask nor did I even google it. On Thursday evening, out of the blue, I came across a video on FB of one of my friends (my birthday twin, actually) doing a demo of gel printing! "More fun than a barrel of monkeys filled with a hundred barrels full of monkeys," she said! I checked my calendar and signed up for Mel's workshop on the spot.


I posted cropped versions of all three of the photos above on IG, and I just want to point out a few things. They just hosted a 3-day event called Wayzgoose, which draws participants from all over the world, so there were a lot of fresh posters! I love how even the signs on the recycle & trash bins are hand-pulled prints! There are five cabinets/cases full of wood type in that middle photo -- there are two more to the left and one to the right that are not shown -- and that's just the "public" type!


Turns out, it is more fun than a bunch of monkeys in a barrel! Mel is an enthusiastic and generous teacher, and it was a fun group of 10 women. I did nothing but experimental gel printing in the morning -- oh, man, there's so much possibility! You can see some of that work on IG! In the afternoon, I set up a Showcard press and did some printing. You can't see any of that work because I think some of it might become gifts.


I can't wait 'til the next one, either, Mel!

_ _ _ _ _

In other news, I'm grappling with holiday decorating... or, rather, decorations... in that I have too much. And as much as I'd rather not, I think I'm going to put up the big tree, as usual, haul it (the trimmings) all out this year, and do the deed. Trust me, I've considered a bunch of other -- easier -- options, but the thought of all that STUFF up in the closet for another year is actually making me sick.

This whole mood started with the kitchen cupboard/cake stand situation a few weeks ago, continued with cleaning off the Depression Glass cupboard, cleaning out the pantry cupboard, and now the utility cupboard that I did on Sunday morning -- those accomplishments have provided momentum & will to tackle the holiday STUFF.


I didn't really want to clean out that closet, but it's so great to have it done. I was on a mission, so it didn't take that long, either.

When's the last time I used Spic & Span from a box -- might have only been once because it was pretty full. And cat STUFF? Stain & odor STUFF, hairball remedy, flea & tick powder. Our last cat died during the pandemic! There was so much pet-related STUFF in there I didn't need anymore. (I was able to find new homes for most of the STUFF I cleaned out.)

I know now that I don't need to buy drain cleaner, Armor All, ant killer, 40W light bulbs (could use some 60s, tho), hand soap refills (the dish soap supply is fairly good, too), or any type of floor cleaner for a very long time. But now, if I do buy something that goes in this cupboard, there's room for it!

After that, I packed up the kids' sweater again and hauled it over to Ann's for the afternoon to work on while I did laundry and watched the football game. The second sleeve was bound off on Monday night, leaving only the right front & back pieces to complete, and then it'll be time to soak/block so I can assemble/finish!!