Journaling in the Time of the Plague

It’s been over a year since I’ve posted on my blog. Over the year, I’ve considered whether I even want to continue. It’s not like I have a ton of readers and my parents, who followed it faithfully, no longer have a computer. They keep up with their brood (or most of them) via Facebook on their iPad. There were so many things that competed for my time. Funny how things can come to a screeching halt! From a retirement life that seemed way too busy, we have now progressed to a life where we only leave the house for essentials and any visitors we have are relegated to the yard or the front porch – at a good arm’s length away. So now seems to be the perfect time to restart. Perhaps the process of journaling and writing things down will help alleviate my anxiety.

For the record – we are in good shape. We are both retired with a steady paycheck coming in and we don’t rely heavily on our investments. We have enough food to tide us over, although we’re being careful and eating up every last scrap of leftovers to stretch things out. I think we may even have enough toilet paper if this doesn’t go on too long. We both tend to be home bodies, enjoy each other’s company and have hobbies to keep us entertained. In fact, I doubt the isolation will last long enough for me to finish all the quilts I’ve started! And – to top it all off, we have a new puppy! For those of you who’ve followed the blog for a while, you know that we had a dear sweet Corgi, Maggie. Sadly we lost her a few weeks ago.

It was pretty sudden, but we are comforted that right up until the day she died she was happy and playful. She had a good run of 12 1/2 years and will always be remembered fondly. We are the kind of people who are bereft without a dog, so we started the search fairly soon, thinking it might take quite some time. But we were thrilled to find out that the breeder we got Maggie from had a large litter – 11 puppies! Poor mom had to have a C-section. She was keeping several of the puppies for show, but offered us the pick of the litter of the rest. Imagine being seated on the kitchen floor with 11 sweet little Corgis (and mom) crawling all over our laps.

One little puppy quickly caught our eye. Although not shy, she seemed very calm and laid back.

We immediately laid claim to her and named her Emma. The breeder said we had to wait another week and a half to bring her home, but that ended up being moved up because of the virus. The breeder wanted to get puppies to their new homes before any travel restrictions. For us it wasn’t a problem since she was on the island, but we didn’t argue.

Emma has proved to be an excellent little puppy. Within a day she was almost completely house trained, letting herself in and out of the doggy door on her own. We still monitor her, though, since we have eagles who hunt over the house. At first she was a little clingy, but is starting to get a little more adventuresome and looks for trouble to get into and things to chew. We had a big bowl of water for her which she tipped over (twice) and had great fun paddling around in the puddle on the floor. This morning she engaged in what we call “Zoomies”, a trait of Corgis. She starts at one end of the house and runs as fast as she can, diving behind the toilet and under tables. It’s quite fun to watch. She slept through the night the first night in her crate without whining.

She’s certainly not perfect – it is like having a toddler around and you can’t let down your guard for a minute lest she get into trouble. And at times she can be a little needy – wanting all of our attention. But she is responding well to training and we have plenty of time for that!! And how can you resist a sweet puppy gaze?

Or this:

I’ll also have time to work on my Master Hand Knitting Certification. I passed Level 2 and am hard at work on Level 3 – the last level. I have all my swatches done, one of my 2 reports, and my 2 magazine reviews. All that’s left now is a sweater and a hat. One has to be Aran knit, the other Fair Isle. I must design, knit, and write the pattern. I’ve finished the back, front and one sleeve of the Aran sweater and just need to finish knitting the second sleeve, sew everything together and knit the collar. I haven’t even started the hat. I’ve been putting it off because I didn’t have time, so . . . .

The granddaughters are continuing to grow into delightful young ladies. Isobel is in high school and Ivy has started middle school. Several months ago they spent a few days with us and we had fun sewing a quilt.

This will go to one of our quilting group’s charitable projects. I’m so glad we had this time before we went into isolation. This is one of the hardest things, not being able to hug and cuddle with them. I’m comforted that the virus doesn’t seem to hit healthy children very hard, but they can transmit it and since we are now considered elderly (when did THAT happen?), if they come they must stay outside at arm’s length. Fortunately they and their parents are taking it well and we have many other ways of keeping in touch. In fact, I will leave you with a photo that Ivy texted us from their camping trip yesterday. That girl certainly has a good eye!!

Do you Bujo?

I’ve been looking at ways to get more organized and lately I’ve seen a lot of hype about Bullet Journals. I won’t go into a lot of detail, but it’s basically a journal with all of your to-do lists and calendars in one spot. The intriguing thing about it is that it’s not a one-size-fits all deal. You really can adapt it to your needs. You can use any dime store notebook to start, but I knew if I had something pretty I’d be more likely to use it. Here’s my Dingbat:

Here’s my monthly page (with private info blurred out):

And here’s one of my project pages. I had all kinds of notes scattered everywhere on this one and I love that I can see my progress at a glance.

You can make them plain, but I like the ones that have at least a little colorful doodling on them. I’ll keep you posted on how well this works out for me.

One of the things that I find is that the urgent things (or at least what I think is urgent) take up space from the things that are important to me. I resolve to improve my machine quilting and then find that a month has gone by and I haven’t even touched my machine. And my blog! I had such great ambitions at the New Year and when checking back today, discover I haven’t updated in over three months. Bad blogger!

But that means that I haven’t posted that I passed Level 1 of my Master Knitter’s Certification. And as you can see, I am well on my way to Level 2. We were snowed in for a week in February and that really gave me some concentrated time to work on it. Most of my swatches are done and then I just have the three projects and a history report to do. The front and back of my vest are finished and blocking:

Just the finishing to do, but they will be looking at that with a fine toothed comb, so I will need to go slowly and carefully.

And, closing as I usually do with granddaughter news. Ivy made All State Choir, so in February Abby and I took her down to Portland (I know – the irony of the Washington State Choir being held in Oregon). While she practiced, Abby and I did touristy things, including Powell’s Books. Oh my! Then we joined Ivy that night for the concert. They were amazing! So proud of this girl.

Welcome 2019

As the New Year approaches, it’s once again time to revisit New Year’s Resolutions. I’m a big believer in them. Not that I always manage to keep them, but the new year does give you a chance to set some goals. I’m trying to keep them attainable.

First off – waste and conspicuous consumption. Over the holidays hubby and I have been appalled at the amount of food that we end up throwing away. For some reason we’ve gotten in the habit of cooking for a crowd, even though there’s only two of us. We kid ourselves that we’ll eat up the leftovers or freeze a few meals, but not everything can be frozen and we get tired of the leftovers after a couple of repeats. So I’m digging out my Cooking for Two cookbooks and have ordered several more from the library. I will keep you posted on the successes and failures and will showcase some of my favorites recipes.

And in the area of conspicuous consumption, instead of beginning new projects, I need to seriously look at the projects I already have started. I’m not too bad in the knitting department (although I do have a stack of shawls that just need blocking), but I have a boatload of quilt tops that need to be quilted and a brand new quilting machine that has been seriously underused. Gonna work on that. One of the first up will be the latest quilt that my Round Robin group worked on. We all used the same patterns, but our own fabrics.

I’m going to continue to work on improving my knitting. I received my Level 1 notebook back from the reviewers, and as expected, I did have some resubmits. Five of the 18 swatches needed to be redone, and one remeasured. There were also a handful of questions to be redone. Most of the mistakes were due to carelessness or not reading the instructions correctly and were easily remedied. Thankfully, my report and the mitten project passed! The resubmits have been sent in and now we wait. In the meantime, I’m continuing to work on my cardigan. Since the photo was taken, I’ve finished one sleeve and am working on the second.

A couple of quick photos of our visit to my parent’s in Missouri.

They are both doing well and are continuing to recover amazingly from the flood that almost destroyed their house about a year and a half ago. Although they lost almost everything, they have rebounded and are living in a very comfortable and cozy two bedroom senior apartment in the next town over. We were able to go visit the old house. They ended up giving the property and the shell of the house to the neighbor who alerted them to the flood and saved their lives. He has been working hard and we were so pleased to see that the house is once again a home!

Contrast this to the last time we visited when the interior was down to bare studs and you could still see the mud line about 7 feet up the wall.

I’ll leave you with some Christmas photos. It was a little low key this year. About three weeks before Christmas I ended up in the emergency room with a gall bladder attack. All that stuff they say about how painful it is? Yup – all true. Anyway, I got great care and they admitted me and did surgery even though it was after hours. Even better, I was ready to be discharged at 1:00 am and they didn’t make me wait until the morning, so I got to sleep in my own bed. I’m recovering just fine, but this is the second time I’ve had surgery right before Christmas and I hope not to make a tradition out of it!

Off She Goes

Well, here it is – the concentrated work of the last two and a half months. This is my Level 1 of the Masters Knitters Certification off to be reviewed.

I do say reviewed rather than judged. My understanding is that the committee are not looking to ding you for every little thing, but to comment in such a way that you become a better knitter. I fully do not expect to pass on the first go-round. Hardly anyone does, but hope that the do-overs will be few. There is a bit of angst, and truth be told, a little bit of nausea in letting this go. It’s like putting your heart and soul out there on the line!

Here is the project for Level 1 – a mitten.

That cuff was a killer! I think I did it about four times before I was satisfied.

Now I need to figure out what to do with myself. This has been pretty much all consuming. I did find time for a little pleasure knitting and am working on a cardigan for myself.

The beauty of knitting top down is that you can try on as you go. Ignore the flaring at the bottom; that’s just the cable that’s holding the stitches.

I also made Abby a pair of birthday socks, but forgot to take a picture of them. I really need to finish up my Christmas knitting. I’m done with the major part and just have fiddly finishing stuff to do. It’s probably not wise to save that until a day or two before Christmas.

In other news – over the years we’ve been the recipients of Ben’s hand-me-downs, usually in the form of iPhones. Whenever he got the newest model, we would get his old one. Sadly, they have transitioned to Android phones and we have not, but he made up for it by upping his game. Here is the latest:

Yes, that is a Tesla Model S. It has been his baby for the last four years and when he ordered a new one, he wanted us to have this. This is something we never ever could have considered under normal circumstances and we are gobsmacked by his and Abby’s generosity! It is a dream to drive and we are having fun researching and learning all the features. Bill says it’s like driving the Starship Enterprise! We even have cute little his and hers key fobs.

The car even recognizes them and will adjust all the settings (seat, mirrors, etc.) accordingly. Fancy! The one thing we are dealing with is “range anxiety.” Because it’s all electric, you can’t just pull into any gas station. But since 99% of our driving is within a full charge we should be fine. And as more charging stations are installed, our range should increase.

Next week I’m off to visit my parents in Missouri. This is the second time we’ve visited since the flood. They’ve settled in very comfortably into their new place and the people who now have their old place have started reconstruction. I’m anxious to see that. It was so sad last time we saw it. Not sure if I’ll have any internet connection while we’re there, but I’ll blog if I can.

Family Photos

Ok, so I’m going to try out blogging from my iPad. If that’s a go, I’m sure I will be posting a lot more.

About once a year we’ve had the tradition of having family photos taken by friends of Ben and Abby. They always do such a great job of capturing personalities and this year was no exception. We got back about 75 photos, but I won’t inundate you with them all. Here are some of my favorites:

One of the fun things about transferring over to WordPress was going back over my posts just to double check that all the important stuff transferred over. It was so fun to read about meeting Abby for the first time and about the births of the granddaughters.

Good times!

Call Me Crazy Redux

Call Me Crazy, Part II

Hmm – it seems to be a recurring theme, doesn’t it? I think a lot of my non-knitting friends (and maybe even a few of the knitting ones) have considered me a little crazy because I really do like to knit with teeny tiny yarn on itty bitty needles. But I’m pretty sure many will think I’ve finally jumped the shark. On a whim (scary, how that happens), I have enrolled in the Master Hand Knitting Program with the Knitting Guild Association. This is in three levels, with Level I allowing one year for completion, Level 2, eighteen months and Level 3, a full two years. So why, you may ask, do I want to do this?

Other than the obvious “personal satisfaction” answer, there are several reasons. One is that I want to prove to myself that I can continue to do something hard. At this time of life, it’s easy to just settle back and coast, but I don’t want to do that. Another reason is to become a better knitter. Now, I know, I am constantly told by people that I’m the best knitter they know and I have a whole box of blue ribbons to prove it. But I’m realizing that after over 50 years of knitting, I can still improve and I can still learn things. One of the candidates for the program related that she received her first Level back with several items that she had to do over and resubmit. She was so angry she shoved it in a closet for a month. She fumed because she was one of those “best knitters”, had won all sorts of ribbons at fairs and who did these people think they where? But then she realized they were right. She was resting on her laurels and expecting to get by on reputation alone – and she had gotten sloppy.

Level I really goes back to the basics and already I’m learning better ways of doing things. There is a ton of book work on this – it’s not all knitting. You basically have to write a short term paper (with citations) on blocking and every technique you show has to have at least two references.

Here are my beginning swatches:


One of the first things I learned in the program was how to properly measure gauge. Ah, gauge – the knitter’s nemesis. I’ve heard all the reasons behind not doing a gauge or skimping by with a small one, including the statement, “Gauge lies.” Well, I’m learning why it lies and it’s because knitters aren’t taking the time to do a large enough swatch, block and then even wait a few days to let the swatch settle in a little. I’m doing a knit-along for a sweater and it really is a little frustrating to have days worth of work before you can even start the sweater. But I also know that insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. I have a stack of sweaters that I don’t wear because I don’t like the fit, so I’m willing to give it a shot. We will basically be designing our own sweater and not following a pattern. Here is my yarn:


And here are my gauge swatches:


I know – wordy post and not a lot of pictures, but my knitting nerd friends will probably enjoy it.  For the rest of you – hubby and I celebrated our 46th wedding anniversary on Sunday. We went out for a nice dinner at Callen’s by the Port Townsend ferry dock. So much fun to sit and watch the sunset and the ferry come in. And the food is outstanding! I highly recommend it to all locals.


Blocking Block

Well, it's only been about 5 months since my last post, so I suppose I'm getting a little better! Yesterday I decided I needed to inventory my shawls. I really, really love making them, but I have so many and can't possibly wear them all, so I wanted to see which ones I could put aside to use as gifts, prayer shawls, etc. Not only did I discover a lot of finished shawls, to my dismay I discovered a whole pile that had never been blocked!


That's not actually the whole pile – I had blocked two of them before the picture was taken. To the uninitiated, blocking is what takes what looks like a crumpled pile of dental floss and turns it into something magical and ethereal. However, it also involves crawling around on the floor with a gazillion T-pins and your knees screaming for mercy! Also, since the only place I have large enough to do this is on the floor by Bill's side of the bed, it needs to be accomplished first thing in the morning so it's dry by bedtime. Don't want him getting up in the middle of the night and impaling himself on T-pins!

Here are my most recent efforts. The first is Rapunzel, a Mystery Knit-a-Long from the Unique Sheep:


The subtle shades of tonal pink don't show up well in this photo, along with the almost 1,000 beads. The beads give it such a beautiful sparkle and weight and the silk yarn is delicious. It was a little slippery to knit with, but well worth the effort!

The second is another Unique Sheep Knit-a-Long, this one from (gasp!) two years ago. This is The Velveteen Rabbit (their mysteries are based on children's books):


This also has beads, although not quite as many. The yarn is also a little heavier weight, but still lacy and lovely!

This is not to say that quilting has taken a back seat. I finished the top of my tulip quilt:


The pattern is Loopy Tulips by Jaimie Davis. I haven't yet decided whether to hand or machine quilt. I would love to hand quilt it, but my hands are not as cooperative as they used to be.

I also finished the center on my Bed of Roses quilt. This pattern is by the super talented appliqué artist Sue Garman, who sadly passed away recently.


I will almost certainly hand quilt this one. The border is all done, except for the corners and I hope to have them done in a week or so.

After my back surgery I was cleared to run by my doctor, but he said to listen to my body and if something hurt, not to do it. I did try running, but I got some twinges of nerve pain down my leg that really scared me. So I decided to stick to walking. I'll certainly get there, just not as fast! To keep myself motivated I joined a virtual race at Yes Fit. You pick a race, pick a prize and then pay a small fee. When you finish the race, you get your prize. The long races were the same price as the short ones, so it seemed cost effective to go with a long one. I joined the appropriately named Tortoise Creep – 155.1 miles (why the .1, I don't know). It took me close to a year, but I finished last week. I still averaged out at about 2 miles per day, which is not too shabby! My prize came this week:


I'll leave you with some photos I took of the granddaughters here at home and on our trip to Mt. St. Helens last week. We stayed at an Air BnB that had a built in menagerie and the girls were in heaven. They are indeed getting grown up. Isobel is now a teenager and Ivy will turn 11 in just a few days. Oh, and one of Maggie for good measure.

A view of Mt. St. Helens from the observatory deck.