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December 2017

A Bit of a Break

Sometimes the best breaks . . . are the ones you didn't even expect to take!


I mean, here it is.  Thursday already.  And I haven't even thought about blogging.

(I guess I needed a bit of a break.)

Hope you're all enjoying these last days of 2017 as much as I am.  

See you in the new year!
(Which is really just around the corner now. . . )

Three Little Guidelines

I'm busy putting the finishing touches on our semi-annual Solstice Party today.  You know. . . a bit of whirlwind cleaning, some last-minute cooking, and getting the bar set up.

Several years ago, Tom and I created a Winter Solstice Playlist just for our party -- and we've been using it (and expanding it) ever since.


We have three simple guidelines for our playlist.  The songs:

  1. Must NOT be Christmas songs.  (This is a Solstice party, after all . . . NOT a Christmas party.)
  2. Must include some loose reference to "the sun," "light," "darkness," "stars," or . . . generally getting through a long slog of any type.
  3. Must cover a variety of genres/time frames.

Our current playlist includes 84 songs.  As you can imagine, we've got the simple and the obvious covered . . . Here Comes the Sun, for example.  Or Soak Up the Sun.  We've even got a lot of the more obscure . . . like Dark Sunglasses and Mr. Brightside; Ziggy Stardust and Sunny Came Home.  (There are a few just plain good party songs in the mix, too.  Because party.)

Overall, it works!  It's a good party-playlist, and it's refreshing at this time of year to go somewhere and NOT hear the more expected holiday tunes.

But I'm hoping you can help me.

You see . . . there are still a few hours until our party begins (and there's always next year. . . ).  I still have time to add songs to the playlist for this evening.   And I'm sure we've missed some good ones.

So. . . 

What songs - following our three guidelines - would YOU include on this playlist???


(And while you're thinking of songs, be sure to drop in over at Carole's to see more Three on Thursday posts.)

About Time: A Birthday Letter

Dear Tom,

So yesterday, I was driving around town . . . running errands . . . and this song came on.  Coldplay's Clocks.  And I got thinking about clocks.  And time.  And your birthday.  And I got to wondering just how many of your birthdays we've celebrated together.

So I counted them up.

Today makes 39.

We started out with your 21st.  It was December 20, 1979, and I picked you up at Stapleton International Airport in Denver.  You were a senior at Boise State; I was a junior at the University of Wyoming.  And we had a whole month together for semester break.

Remember that one?  I gave you a giant afghan I had crocheted!  (And we still have it.) 

Back then, we looked like this . . . 


Turns out . . . there have been 38 more of your birthdays together, counting today.

We've celebrated your birthday with parties.  We've celebrated quietly at home.  We've had birthday breakfasts and birthday lunches and birthday dinners.  One year, we were getting ready to move and packed a few boxes on your birthday.  And you were only days away from defending your PhD thesis on another birthday.  There was the now-famous "Chocolate Vesuvius Incident" on your birthday in 1995.  We've celebrated your birthday on vacation while skiing in Steamboat Springs.  And we celebrated your birthday in Akumal, Mexico once.  


That's a lot of celebrating your birthday together! 


It flies. It marches on.  It waits for no man.


I couldn't really imagine all these birthdays-to-come unrolling before us back in the airport parking lot in 1979.  Yet . . . here we are.  Thirty-eight birthdays later.

Happy birthday, Tom.  

I love every minute I get to spend with you!




Tales of a Christmas Heretic

You want a real holiday conversation stopper?  Looking for a way to really shake things up?  Well.  Try this.  Just casually announce that . . .

We're not putting up a Christmas tree this year.


(Always with the twisted grimace face. . . )


(And the inevitable judgment . . . )

It just isn't CHRISTMAS without a tree!!!!


I am here to tell you, though:  It IS Christmas without a tree!  This is my second year in a row without a traditional, decorated Christmas tree in the house.  Any you know what?

I don't miss it at all!

I still have lights . . . lots of lights . . . and, thanks to my lighted-birch (one of those great Costco finds), I even have the suggestion of a tree there in the corner.  

But no Christmas tree.

And I'm good with that.  (Don't judge.)


This Week: Monday

T'was the week before Christmas, and all through my house . . . 


there's prep work going on!

Tom and I host a big Solstice party - winter and summer - each year.  This year's party is coming right up on Thursday night, so we're busy baking and cleaning and stocking the bar.

I have a big to-do list, but I've got it triaged:  


The closer we get to party-time, the more items fall into the latter two categories.  Shifting priorities . . . based on reality.  And the fact that there are only 24 hours in a day.

It's Monday.  The week before Christmas (and four days before a big party).  I'm hitting the ground running.  How about you?

Good Advice

Feeling scrambled?

Too many things on your to-do list?

Wondering how it will all get done?

Here's my advice:  RELAX.


Fix yourself a cup of tea.  Then sit down for a few minutes to enjoy it.

Everything will get done.  Or it won't.  And you'll find out it didn't matter all that much.  (Y'know?)

I've been reminded a few times this week . . . that life is short.  Sometimes way too short.  And we really don't want to waste it on unnecessary tasks -- or living into unrealistic expectations.  

So take some time this weekend to create - and enjoy -  some quiet moments.  

(You'll be glad you did.)


It's Thursday and I'm Tired

It's Thursday and I've had a busy week.  I'm tired.  I'm running out of ideas - for gifts and dinners and blog posts.  And I'm really weary of Christmas music.  (There.  I said it.)  


Here are three random things that have nothing to do whatsoever with the holidays.


1 - Tom and I have gone to the movies two nights in a row.  (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missoui one night, and Lady Bird the next.)

2 - As of late last night, Erin will have finished all coursework and finals for her Masters in Professional Writing program at Carnegie Mellon University.  (Hip-hip-hurray!)

3 - We had to take Jenny to the vet earlier this week because we found an alarming (to us) "thing" at the base of one of her ears.  Turns out it is just a kind of wart -- and very common in older dogs; no big deal.  (Phew. . .)

That's that.  Now . . . back to my holiday list.


Read more Three on Thursday posts over at Carole's.


Perks of Being a Guinea Pig, or Unraveled ... but Without Knitting

One of my friends is an artist here in town -- and she is developing a series of workshops she plans to offer in her studio beginning early next year.  As part of her "development" she's running prototype workshops -- and she invited me to be one of her guinea pigs!

So a couple of weeks ago, I sat down to a whole new set of tools . . . 


and an overwhelming array of paper choices . . . 


to learn how to make paper-covered boxes.

I love "making things" -- and I love learning new stuff -- so this was right up my alley.  And lots of fun, to boot.  (Also a huge mess.  Which is also fun.)


And look what came out of this prototype workshop . . . 


A fully-functional and super colorful . . . 


paper-covered box!


I'll be doing another prototype workshop with my friend this coming Friday.  More boxes.  Maybe some covered journals as well.  (She wants to smooth out some rough edges we encountered in the first go-round.)  (Kind of like . . . test-knitting.)  

I LIKE being a guinea pig!


Be sure to check out other Unraveled posts over at Kat's!




Sometimes Mondays

. . . look a bit like a travelogue.


Tom's been on an extended fishing trip . . . to Patagonia!  He just returned yesterday, and I've really enjoyed hearing all about his adventures and looking at his trip photos.  

Want a little peek at southern Argentina?


Tom was at "fish camp" -- a remote fishing lodge featuring comfortable accommodations, excellent food and wine, and knowledgable guides.  (They were a rugged 5-6 hours from the nearest town.)

While he could see mountains in the distance, he was located in the high plains.  Rugged.  Windy.  Desolate.  Starkly beautiful.  (Think eastern Wyoming. . . but with water.)


The Patagonia winds are crazy, and can get this still water churning with waves quickly.  The Atlantic and Pacific Oceans are both nearby, stirring up strong wind currents -- that blow down from the nearby Andes Mountains.

The fishing was rough -- but rewarding!


Beautiful, BIG rainbow trout!

And LOTS of them.  Tom fished for 7 days -- catching 30-40 fish just like this each day.

He was in fishing heaven!


Tom had fun watching the non-aquatic wildlife, too.  He got a real kick out of seeing rheas (ostrich-like birds), which were abundant.  He also saw many guanaco -- in the llama/alpaca family.


Mostly, Tom fished in inland lakes and lagoons, but there was also a nearby river cutting through a canyon where he was able to fish one day.  Fishing was even tougher here -- it's super windy and narrow, with treacherous footing.

But . . . worth it!

IMG_1314 2

(It's hard for me to believe that a fish that big came out of water that narrow!)


 I'm happy to have Tom back home -- but I'm even happier that he was able to have this Grand Adventure . . . fishing in Argentina.