Dsc04567"The Royal Crescent and daffodils from Royal Victoria Park, Bath."  I don't have daffodils yet.  You know what?  I won't ever have daffodils unless I plant some!  I know, I know...  We had a pretty crappy weekend, so I didn't get to tour my yard to see if anything is happening.  Judging from last April's blog photos, I might see some sedum and tulips getting a start, as well as my favorite bleeding heart!  The sun is starting to come out, so perhaps I can take a look tonight.  Thank goodness for Katie and her camera!  Three weeks from today, she'll be back in the States -- I can't wait to see all of her pictures.  The continental tour begins this Friday -- first stop: Paris!  I doubt we'll be in touch very much until she gets home.

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I scored at the antique show!  Three plastic and/or Bakelite belt buckles, perfect for the closure of a scarf or shawl -- I love those things and they were only $2.00 each!  A couple of pansy postcards, and the one that Mabel gave to her mother.  ; )  I love the Aero Knitting Pin & Tension Gauge and the proprietess at that booth made sure I knew that it was a U.K. gauge.  The painted pansy is on one end of a very long "Flemish art" box (decorated with wood burning) -- it's almost three feet long and divided into three sections inside; the top, front and sides are all burned and painted, the inside of the lid is done in an overall burn pattern.  I think I can make out "Joe" burned on the bottom of one section -- so maybe it was for his sweetheart.  It's missing the clasps on the front, which I didn't even notice until I had to ask the price and it was pointed out, so it was cheap-cheap-cheap.

I finished the second Trellis sleeve over the weekend and cast on for the back.  I briefly considered knitting the fronts and back as one piece to the arm decreases, but in the end, I'm doing it in pieces, as written.  I'm just past said arm decreases on the back, so moving right along!  I have pretty much memorized the pattern and am doing all but one of the manipulated stitch moves without a cable needle.  Such freedom!

I visited Michael a few times over the weekend, talked a few times, too.  He's doing great!  My SIL wheeled him out, walking us to our car, on Saturday -- it was SO good to see him outside.  He sounds stronger and more with it everyday; Thursday is still the tentative discharge date.  Woo.

Scenic interlude

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Windsor Castle and the garden in the dry moat on Saturday; Katie at Stonehenge on Friday.

Okay, so now I want an old, dried up moat -- what a cool garden!!  I remember when I was in Colonial Williamsburg at Christmas, how I admired the gardens even though they were dormant -- the design and settings were fabulous at any time of year!  Katie's a little out of focus there at Stonehenge -- she sure looks happy!  A week from Friday, she'll be in Paris for the first day of frolic on the continent; home in less than a month.  Amazing.  Wasn't I just whining yesterday about letting her go???

Dsc06774Ali bought a brand new used car and she is way beyond tickled pink.  She has been without a car since December and saving diligently; yesterday, she took ownership of a white, 1998 VW Beetle.  A little bug has been her dream car since the first time she ever saw one.  Yay, Al!

Sandy, my dear, this one's for you.  I was on my way to pour my first cup of coffee this morning when I spotted the rising sun and had to grab my camera and step out on the back porch in my robe -- it was even more red than shows up here.  I hope you're feeling better.  ; )

When the zoom comes in handy

Okay, so my daughter takes breathtaking photographs in England, Wales, Ireland... at home... pretty much wherever she is with her camera.  She left a comment on my last post about the pastoral view with sheepies from the lodge and totally burst my bubble:

You'd THINK they were sheepies! But we did some super camera zoom research and realized they were some sort of feathered llama/dinosaur/giant swan things. Turns out they're just swans, but they're not as distant as they seem. ;)

*sigh*  They're just swans.  Swans are nice and all, but they're not sheepies.

* * * * *

Mom visited with Michael for a little while this morning and called me afterwards to tell me that he was resting so peacefully and quietly, just sleeping the whole time; she massaged lotion into his hands and feet -- they're so dry.  I missed my SIL and her sister today, but their notes said the same thing.  I know that just that small thing was a relief to all of them.  He was more restless this afternoon and evening.

I'm learning that you need to ask the right questions; information is not always usually volunteered.  He has pneumonia and pseudomonas, which are getting neither worse nor better, though the respiratory therapist said that there's been more activity this afternoon.  He is breathing mostly on his own, but is not quite ready to quit the ventilator and still needs that extra bit or he'd have a collapsed lung.  At this point, the ventilator is the only thing keeping him in ICU.  The continuous morphine drip will be stopped tonight in an effort to get him to wake up more (and they'll continue to give it to him as needed, of course).  He opened his eyes just ever so slightly tonight (just slits, really) and we've seen tears at the corners of his eyes the past few days, and grimaces that sometimes accompany the squirms.  That's hard.  There's going to be such pain -- the ribs, vertebra, now a shoulder blade, too.  Does he see us?  Can he focus?  Can he hear us and understand us and remember when we tell him what's happened?  I have to believe, even if we all still seem far away and fuzzy, that he does feel the love -- lots 'n lots of love -- all of our love -- and that's got to help.

I'm excited about this:  It was suggested that it's not too far-fetched to think that he could be celebrating his 44th birthday, St. Patrick's Day and my 1-year quit anniversary next weekend on the floor.  There won't be any green beer or corned beef and cabbage for him, but oh that would be like a pot of gold -- a little beginner baby pot, because we are going to be needing many, many more along the way -- more rainbows, more pots of gold.

Thank you, again, all, for your continued good thoughts and prayers and well wishes.  They mean so much.  You just don't know...  I just wanted (needed) to give an update, especially since it's hopeful.

* * * * *

The other really good news today is that my youngest, having not had school today, cleaned the entire kitchen -- including the floor -- without even being asked, without even a suggestion.  You can knock me over with that swan feather now...

The view

Dsc03858In light of all the front door views and back yard views around the blogs over the past few weeks (which I've both participated in and enjoyed immensely), I laughed when I saw that Katie had posted, surely through some kind of osmosis, a picture with the caption, "The view from our lodge, Ireland."  Not difficult to see why she'd even think to take a picture -- it's so peaceful!  Do you see the specks on the grass across the water?  It's surely more sheepies!

Dsc03927This one makes me smile, too.  "Aran Islands in the distance through the snow from the Cliffs of Moher, Ireland."  I'm not sure whether I'm seeing islands or what, but I love it.  ; )  She called last night with a question about yarn -- she is on the hunt for something special and memorable for both of us!

I've finished the pink stealth knitting and have started another blue blanket square for Christine's "Comforting Jef" project (which may, with any luck, also extend to "Comforting Mike"!).  There's a good week and a few days of knitting left before I'll have to get these in the mail so she has them by the deadline on the 24th.  I knit a whole square listening to podcasts the other day, but I was so tired last night I had to hit the hay early.  I'm using some navy blue Debbie Bliss Merino Aran that I actually used to knit a sweater once, but it was too small so I frogged the entire thing.  It's great yarn.  Each square has a simple cable design because, well, I like that cable action!

Still prayin'.   ; )

Trash talk

Dsc03921One of many breathtaking pictures that Katie took from (or of) the Cliffs of Moher last weekend.  She had a great time in Ireland with four mates and a rented car; they stayed in an adorable little lodge and traipsed around the countryside.

Dsc03917Oh, okay, here's one more (as always, click for big).  Y'all know what I'm thinking when I see ones like these, don't you?  "Oh, Sandy would LOVE this!"

Dsc03972Katie knows what her mum likes, too -- and what she likes to share with her friends!  She calls this one, "Sheepies in Blarney, Ireland."  I love that; my girl calls them "sheepies."

Dsc03988And you know what else they have in Blarney?  Mwah!

* * * * *

I'm relieved that my SIL's sister has arrived and will be here all week.  It's a good week for her to be here.  My brother will have a tracheotomy tomorrow, so that he need not be intibated anymore and also allowing them to reduce the sedation medication.  They're hoping to do surgery tomorrow to fix the C7.  It's still all about patience and prayers.

One of Mom's favorites was when "John and Joe" would play Garbage Man.  They'd even take time off from their hard work and go fishing.  Annie would sit on the basement steps with a "fishing pole," the line dangling over the side -- Michael would, too, if he was able to talk one of us girls into helping out.  We would tie a stuffed animal to the end of the line and give it a good tug, or if we couldn't be talked into it, Mike would do it just for Ann.  "Wow!  You got a big one, Joe!!"

Soggy cereal

I saw my brother today, but he didn't see me.  He's very heavily sedated -- you could say "mild induced coma."  The doctors can wake him easily, if they want; he does respond to some commands.  They are not monitoring the pressure on his brain anymore, though, and while I didn't ask about that specifically, I'm taking it as a very good sign.  He is still on the respirator; he can breathe on his own, but he has three or four fractured ribs on each side and it just frickin' hurts.  He has fractured vertebra in all three areas (cervical, thoracic and lumbar) -- one, two or three in each, some worse than others, some just hairline cracks (as far as they can tell right now) -- C7 is the one most likely to require surgery.  But that's still down the road a bit.  Baby steps.  One thing at a time.  Improving.  He was measured for a full body brace today, which he'll need only wear when upright, and he could be in the hospital for a very long time yet.  He'll be 44 on St. Patrick's Day and it sure would be nice if he was out, but I think we can party in the hospital if we have to.  ; )

Speaking of St. Patrick's Day, I still have a daughter in the U.K.  I was able to inform Katie yesterday about Michael's accident and it's weird, but okay.  She is leaving tomorrow night for a weekend trip to Ireland!  They're flying into Shannon and out of Dublin.  I think I'm going to transfer some money to her account so she can buy me some yarn, if anything speaks to her.  She might possibly go to Scotland yet, too (just over a month and a half before she comes home!), and I'd also like some from there.

A young lady come to the CCU waiting room this afternoon and spoke with the volunteer on duty.  The girl had a small vase of flowers and a card in her hand, and also a newspaper.  I noticed her as she took a seat while the volunteer went off into another area.  A few minutes later, the volunteer returned and asked us whose family we were.  We told her, of course, and we were exactly who the young lady, Mary, was looking for.  Mary doesn't know my brother or my sister-in-law or any of us, but she'd read about Michael's accident in the newspaper (the one she had in her hand) and said that she and her grandmother had been praying for him by name and she just felt moved to come...  Oh, yeah, I know!  We talked for a bit and hugged and thanked her for her thoughtfulness, and then the volunteer got out a fresh box of tissues...

There was laughter along with the tears at lunch this afternoon with my sister-in-law, my mother, and one of my sisters.  When my brother is the subject, there can be a laugh a minute.

Once, when Michael (the only boy among five kids) was probably 4 or 5 years old, he exposed his p*nis during breakfast with his sisters, totally freaking us all out and sending us, screaming, from the table.  When Dad found out why four bowls of cereal were left untouched, he made Michael sit down and eat every soggy morsel as punishment.

Hello? London calling!

Haha!  I've got to tell you, my front door looks 10 times better in that photo yesterday than it does in real life!  I couldn't have asked for better light.  I make no bones about the fact that I love my house, for a lot of reasons, but there's something about it in pictures -- lighting, framing, editing -- that even makes me think, "I want to live there!"  Oh, heh, I do; I have for almost 19 years!  In pictures, you don't see the dust critters, can't hear the floorboards creak, and the mountain of laundry is ignored.  I'm not kidding.  The kids will wash the clothes and dry the clothes, but they apparently draw the line at folding the clothes... there are stacked laundry baskets just outside the laundry room door.  I had to dive for underwear this morning!

AlhdtKaty, this one's for you.  That's Ali looking as if she's ready to take your order.  She's actually talking to Katie in London using my nifty new makes-me-feel-like-a-telemarketer headset and Skype, making for a darn cheap phone call using the internets.  Cheap, but not free, and they talked so long last night that they got disconnected because the money ran out.  ; )  Jan told me about Skype a few weeks ago and it's been working out very well. If Katie had her own laptop/computer and a headset of her own over there, we could actually be talking for free.  Free!  As it is, it's less than 2 cents per minute.  Once or twice, we've had a bad connection and Katie told me I sounded like Darth Vader, but mostly it sounds better than a land-line.  I Skyped Cara a few weeks ago, too!  I'm sure it wasn't anything like talking to Ann -- Cara's right when she says that Ann does the best phone -- I really don't do phone very well.  I never have.  I had a girlfriend in high school who would call me up and then just sit there and wait for me to entertain her, I guess.  I just hated that and it was torture trying to nicely extricate myself from the phone call (I never wanted to hurt anyone's feelings -- "I don't want to talk to you if you don't have anything to say," is what I really wanted to say) and I think it's had a lifelong affect on my "phone."

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Williamsro, up-to-the-minute update.  The color representation is really good here.  I am very proud of my side seam on the reverse stockinette -- that's not my favorite to do.  I ran some yarn in a contrasting color to help me keep on track of the rows and top/bottom loops on each side and it worked like a charm.  I still have the sleeve seams to do, but picked up and knit a few rows of the bottom edging last night while watching figure skating.  I'm very disgruntled at both Netscape and AOL for giving me the news before I wanted it; MSN was forthright in announcing that the results were in, but left it up to me as to whether I wanted to click and find out.  Grump.  So I knew that Sasha Cohen didn't win, but had to watch; she's such a beautiful skater.

Hubby and I have been invited to a farm for dinner tonight.  I am so excited that I'm even giving up yoga.  The farm has sheep and the farmer's wife uses their wool to make things and she has a fiber room; she's also the person who made that marvelous pumpkin lasagna that I went on and on about a while back.  Oh, I can't wait.  I will be bringing Williamsro because there's still plenty to do and, heh, I think she'll understand.  Woo.

As predicted, my sister took the Olympic challenge, too.  She has been quilting quite diligently on her Grandmother's Garden block.  I told her, though, that she must send me pictures and if I don't get pictures, she will be disqualified and out of medal contention.  I'm kind of a committee of one (it's an Olympics for one!) and it's gone to my head -- in a good way.  We're both having a lot of fun with these challenges (oh, I should have challenged her more!).

Northstar Mittens on tour

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"Hi mom, it's been a long day -- but AWESOME..."

Dsc03201Katie went on a trip to Canterbury and Dover yesterday and that's the beginning of the email she sent me upon her return.  She's given me the poop so I can access her Photobucket account while she's away -- she uploaded maybe 15-20 of the 100 pictures she took on the trip (nearing 400 for the entire time she's been away, so far) and I'm sharing a few with you.  First awesome thing, in my opinion, is the weather.  I'm sure that view from the keep is gorgeous even in the rain, but that one takes my breath away.  There she is with the Northstar Mittens at The Pharos -- I feel completely idiotic (and I don't care) that I find it so thrilling to see my mittens there!  And sheep on the cliffs of Dover!!

Dsc03164This is a ceiling in Canterbury Cathedral.  Amazazing.  This one actually makes my neck hurt!

My weekend wasn't nearly so scenic.  We're preparing for a little remodeling project and I did some preparatory cleaning, with a teensy trip down Memory Lane as some of it involved going through some of the girls' saved school stuff.  I threw out lots, saved a little, laughed a lot.  There's much more of that to go through, though, as I saved everything from spelling tests and math quizzes to monthly newsletters and workbooks.  Now, the accumulation phase has pretty much ended and with the knowledge gained over the passage of time (I've never been inclined even once to see what was news in the spring of *anyone's* third grade year), I can be more ruthless than I once was, and I am able to save just artwork (the good stuff) and journals, possibly a particularly interesting report or project, and report cards; even so, there was a bit of wistfulness and I had one of the girls haul the bag to the trash.  The path to the attic is more clear.

Typepad is being weird, so I better get this up.  I've been working on Shirley Shrugs; found the yarn (Better Pal stuff!) that eluded me a couple of weeks ago; and I have a finished pair of Jaywalkers to show you tomorrow.  Woo.


Why a little bloggy break?

I found "Escape"!  You think blogging is a time-suck?  (Let me know how you score...)

I'll be back on Monday.

Rip & wind weekend

Dsc02909Dsc02945When not studying or singing karaoke, the girl is seeing the sights, having her picture taken with phone booths (I'm humored that the person in the booth behind her also appears to be having a picture taken rather than using the phone), doing some shopping, and taking walks in the park.

I'm wishing for feel-o-vision right now -- I've love to get my hands on that cute little bag -- it appears to be made of little felted balls that are all glommed together somehow.  That's her new phone for scale.

Dsc02892Dsc02933The more pictures she sends, the more I want to go.  Workin' on it.  I love the light in the park picture and that sunset.  Wow.  My girl's a sky-watcher, too.

I spent most of Saturday at home and did some training for International Pajama Day (the next celebration is slated for February 5th!).  Maddy needed my driving services later in the day, and while she and a friend shopped the import store, I ran up to the LYS for a pair of needles so I could commence the Olympic training.

Oh, but before that could begin, I had to rip the offending work and wind it all up.  It's a big, big, BIG pain the ass to rip and wind yarn that is 'held double throughout.'  I did not want to re-wind it doubled, I wanted it separate; it went pretty well, though I did have to enlist help once.  I was dreading ripping the Blossom, but it came out okay!

In the fresh start spirit, I re-copied the pattern on Sunday -- in color and on nice paper -- and also made a motivational page with Mary Beth's helpful information regarding this sweater.  In an unusual training maneuver, I made two swatches during football yesterday -- BIG swatches -- one in stockinette and one in the cable pattern.  Next, I've got to sharpen my pencil and warm up the calculator...

While I was doing all that ripping, separating, winding and swatching, the Luna Shawlette was having a Eucalan bath -- I kind of forgot about it, so it was a good, long soak!  There was a little bleeding of dye, but not bad.  It ought to be dry and ready for unpinning when I get home tonight -- I believe I did get about four inches in length when I pinned it, but will have to see how much it might bounce back.

And in between all that, I worked on the Jaywalker -- I've knit the heel flap, turned the heel and started the gusset.  That's simple enough work that I ought to be able to do it while watching 24 tonight...

London calling emailing

I think London tried to call this morning, but all I heard were a few clicks.  So, I had an email, instead!  She's fine, but a little homesick, mostly because of "the total lack of familiarity with this huuuuge city" and "all the little things you don't necessarily think about like the direction of the traffic or the currency or how all the cars are BMWs, Mercedes, and Peugeots... traffic is crazy. But I've found an ATM and I have yet to find somewhere to eat... I've slept one hour and that was last night on the plane, but it wasn't good sleep. So I can't wait until tonight!!"

If that doesn't sound kind of excited, then I don't know what does!  Woo (big sigh of relief).  Actually, I knew she'd arrived safe and sound and a half-hour late because I'd signed up for email notification of the arrival from the airline, so that was my first email today.  ; )

I had a good day yesterday, though didn't get done nearly all that I'd hoped.  I did go to yoga, though, and, ooooh, that was nice.  It still feels nice today.

Oh, yeah, and I "visited" Anna in England this morning, myself, and treated myself to"Pippa!  You should go, too.  This is a classic sweater, beautifully worked.

Bon Voyage

I'm good; no tears.  (Dsc06320aCluuuuuuuck!  Bawk, bawk, bawk.)

We had a very fine bon voyage dinner for Katie last night.  We were seated at the table I wanted (cluck) and I didn't have to get all hot under the collar about it (cluck, cluck).  It was so pretty with the big windows and the water -- right there, right below us, even -- and the moonlight; the girls want to live there.

Katie said she had the perfect day-before-departure day -- lunch with a good friend, afternoon coffee with another, dinner with her family.  She's been packing and unpacking and repacking for the past six days, relegating clothing to be either packed or worn (not both) these past few, so there wasn't much last-minute angst in that department (she didn't learn this packing method from me -- BAWK!).  She can only take as much as she can carry herself and that's hard packing for an extended trip.  She slept well and is now on her way to Chicago/O'Hare with London/Heathrow as her final destination "tomorrow morning."

So, there they are (cluck, peck, cluck, cluck, cluck).  The next time they'll be all together, we'll be in the midst of birthday season -- Ali will have turned 19, Katie 21 (celebrating in Munich, no less), and Maddy will be on the very cusp of 15.  (BAWK!!!)  As I sent Katie off this morning, I just couldn't help remember how different she was the last time she flew/returned and know that she will certainly return "different" this time, too, but how different/different how, and will there ever be so dramatic a change again?  (BAAAAWWWWWWK!!!!)  Um, yeah, okay, I better stop thinking about all the possiblities in that vein right now.

Dsc06071I needed a distraction in the knitting department last night.  (Obviously, "distraction" is going to be the name of the game for a little while here -- let's see if "concentration" might be worked in, too, however slowly!)  I still have not located the yarn I was looking for last weekend (BAWK!), but the Lana Grossa Luna that I received from my employer for Christmas has also been on my mind a lot.  I cast on 25 stitches or so and worked several inches of the Brooks Farm Four Play Scarf pattern (pdf file) before Ali came through and I nabbed her for an opinion.  (The camera is temporarily MIA, so pics have to wait, or I'd definitely be asking you, too.)  She said it was okay, but wouldn't it be better as "one of those shawl thingies you wear all the time?"  I haven't been wearing scarves because I don't really have one, not because I don't like them.  The Luna looks nice in the scarf pattern, but I have to admit that I thought of a shawlette, too, and wondered if perhaps it wouldn't show the yarn to better advantage.  I've only got two balls of this, so it wouldn't be a very big shawlette, but ette means smallish, and I don't have a problem just knitting and seeing how it turns out.  It was purchased locally and I'm pretty sure that there's more to be had if ette isn't big enough.  Anyway, I didn't rip the scarf yet, but I did grab the second ball and have a start on a shawlette.

Thank you, thank you (cluck!) for all your well wishes, comments, emails, the chucks under the chin and pick-me-ups and encouragement for me, as well as the well wishes for my daughter as she embarks on this fantastical adventure... far, far, FAR (cluck, BAWK!!) from home.  The apron strings are attached by only a few fraying threads now and it won't be long before they just give out.  (Cluck.)

Have plug, will travel

Dsc06309The electrical adapters arrived yesterday.  It helps to spend some time with Katie as she packs and prepares.  It's not like I haven't sent her off to a far-away place before -- shoot, I even delivered her and, believe me, THAT was the hardest thing, driving away and leaving her behind.  She is so much better prepared.  I'm a mother hen, though, and my feathers have been ruffled, so I've just got to squawk and flap my wings 'round the barnyard for a little while.  That's just me.  The cows and pigs and Farmer Brown all need to know that my nest is being disturbed.  Cluck, cluck.

I skipped my regularly scheduled second Monday of the month meeting and had Katie drive me to Old Navy, instead.  I had a tip from Holly yesterday (thank you!) about yoga wear and I scored; top and bottom.  Barnes & Noble was two doors down with their Gaiam display (I also needed a mat) and I scored there, too, finding a mat/carrying bag combo that turned out to be 50% off to boot.  Total opposite of shopping meltdown.

I knit a little at lunch time yesterday, but not at all last night.  I am mere stitches from a completed sock.  Did I tell you that I did a three-needle bind-off on the first?  Jury's out 'til they're actually worn, but it looks nice.

I had threatened to begin a new project over the weekend and I would have if I'd been able to the yarn.  I am loathe to admit that it may have happened, it might apply, I could possibly have Too Much Wool.  (Cassie, I didn't think I'd ever share that problem, but I think this is clearly a sign.)  It's gotta be somewhere...


Meltdown at Target

Dsc06301Perhaps I should have stayed in my pajamas all day.  Instead, by 3:30 or so, I was dressed and riding around in the car with two of my girls, running errands, stopping here, stopping there.  Since some of the stopping was at stores, I thought I'd try to find something more comfortable to wear to yoga.  Perhaps I was extra tired from the previous week's lingering sniffles & sneezes, the yoga workshop on Saturday, the dismantling of the Christmas tree* on Sunday morning, the fact that I already tried on 40,000 different yoga tops & pants without much success (why pockets, people, in the least flattering place of all?), so when the clerk at Target told me that I couldn't take eight articles into the dressing room, I kind of lost it.  I just couldn't think about which pieces to leave behind, where to leave them, how to get them when I needed them.  I suggested that it wasn't that busy and would it really be so hard to keep track -- couldn't I have a "six" and a "two"?  She said that she couldn't do it and offered no other suggestion.  I just dropped all eight pieces on the desk and left.  I didn't melt down completely (as in start to cry), as I had to go find Kate & Ali on the other side of the store and we had to check out.

Perhaps I should wear a warning sign this week.

Please bear with me as it's the final countdown to Katie's departure on Friday for The London Adventure.  She will not return 'til nearly the end of April.  She will spend her 21st birthday in Munich, Germany.  I am riding the mother of all motherhood emotional rollercoasters this week -- well, I've been riding it for a while, but now you're along -- elated, excited, happy, sad, depressed, worried, broke, protective, selfish, anxious, and many, many more.  Mostly, I can't wait 'til I hear from her over there, hopefully next weekend, "London calling..."

I ought to have my second Jaywalker finished today but, alas, will not yet have a pair!

*I think I won the pictured ornament in a first grade spelling bee; Mom always insists that I made it in school.  Looks complicated to make, doesn't it?