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June 2018

Dog Days

In a couple of hours, we'll be packing up and heading home.  I'm beginning to switch gears . . . starting to think about what's waiting for me at home instead of what I'm going to read down on the dock this afternoon.  Bittersweet, but I'll be back in a couple of weeks.

The dogs make the transition between "home" and "lake" without much trouble.  Jenny can always sense that we're "on the move" and she gets a little clingy when we're packing.  JoJo is clueless about all that, but she still has trouble in the car and needs to take carsick meds.  They much prefer being "settled" in one location or the other, but they pretty much roll with it all.

Here are three things they love to do up north that they are not able to do back home:


1 -- Fish

Jenny loves to watch the fish -- either in the water on her own or when she goes fishing with Tom on the lake.  She pays close attention to the water at all times, and is very aware of the sound fish make as they rise in the water.  When she fishes with Tom, she can tell if he's caught one by watching his line.  She is intrigued with all things fish-related.


2 - Swim

JoJo much prefers swimming to fishing.  (In fact, I don't think she's ever noticed that there ARE fish in the lake.)  Jenny used to swim a lot more, but she is getting old now and tires quickly.  JoJo, on the other hand, swims like a little motorboat and loves to retrieve whatever we throw for her in the water.


3 -- Boat

Both dogs LOVE to ride in the pontoon.  They love sniffing the air and feeling the lake breeze as we cruise around the lake.  They get very excited when they see loons on the water or turtles sunning themselves on docks -- and they especially like to greet other lake-dogs that they may see on land or in other boats (singing the song of their people, y'know . . . as dogs do).

We all have a great time up north. . . dog and human alike.


Be sure to hop over to Carole's today to read other Three on Thursday posts.  And be sure to wish her and Dale a very happy anniversary while you're there!


Also -- thanks for all your good wishes on the Ravelry thing.  Let me tell you  . . . that was a big surprise!  


Unraveling Up North

Being up north . . . 


means plenty of time for stitching!

And after my last project -- which required multiple balls of yarn and constant counting - I wanted to work on something simple.  Something that I could knit in the car.  Or on the boat.  Or sitting around the campfire.  No counting.  No juggling balls of yarn.  Something . . . fun.  And portable.


So I grabbed a ball of interesting yarn and decided to try this pattern.  (Added BONUS:  the pattern is free!)  At first, I wasn't sure of this particular yarn-pattern juxtaposition, but I think it's growing on me.  And the pattern certainly works for a simple knit -- just set it up, place a marker, and pay slight attention every 12 rows or so.


And if the rain holds here for the rest of the afternoon, well . . . I just might even finish this thing before I get home tomorrow!


Head over to Kat's for more Unraveled tales today.

18 in 2018: A Mid-Year Update

A couple of weeks ago, on their Happier podcast, Gretchen and Elizabeth checked in on their 18 in 2018 lists for the year.  It was interesting to hear how they're progressing, and what they've learned about their lists so far in 2018. 

You might remember that I created one of these lists for myself back in January.  I actually refer to my list at least once a month, just to see how I'm doing and to remind myself what I was hoping to accomplish this year.  


I thought it might be a good exercise for me to join Gretchen and Elizabeth with a little update of my own!  Here goes:

  1. Remove wallpaper and paint the dining room.  DONE.  (And I am over the moon with the result!)  (And, mostly, I am thrilled that I can finally remove this item from every list of goals I've made since 2003.)
  2. Plant 3 trees in the garden.  HAVEN'T STARTED YET.  (But very much planning to do; most likely in the fall.)  (Which is a very good time to plant trees, by the way.)
  3. Establish a workable daily structure and morning routine.  ACTIVELY WORKING TOWARD.  (Although I have made progress, I'm still working on the "daily" part of things.)  (I'm thinking this might be ongoing for the rest of time, actually.  Because things change all the time, and any "daily structure" needs to be flexible above all else.)
  4. Organize a "system" for photo review and storage.  ACTIVELY WORKING TOWARD.  (I have worked out a pretty good "system" for myself, but it's one of those things that is hard for me to keep up with.  )
  5. Create a wedding album for each kid.  HAVEN'T STARTED YET.  (But very much planning to complete before the end of the year.)
  6. Replace everyday dishes.  DONE.  (I got simple white dishes that look good, and are inexpensive and easy to replace as needed.)
  7. Digital re-organization complete (documents, Evernote, inbox).  ACTIVELY WORKING TOWARD.  (I have completed re-organizing my computer documents and inbox, and now I'm chipping away at my Evernote files.  I fully intend to complete this over the summer.)
  8. Do the Cooking Light 3-Day Detox.  DONE.  (And I'm thinking of doing it again.)
  9. Get Tom's website LIVE.  DONE.  (And damn proud.)  (Want to see for yourself?  Click here.)
  10. Plan trips to visit kids in CA and CO.  HAVEN'T STARTED YET.  (Will plan these trips soon, though.)
  11. Complete "Month of Letters" and maximize Postcrossing.  DONE.  (Easy-peasy -- and fun.)
  12. See all the Oscar-nominated movies.  DONE.  (And can't wait to do it again for 2019!)
  13. Hit monthly Apple Watch challenge at least 9 times.  NOT DOING/REMOVING FROM LIST.  (I was trying to include a fitness challenge for myself, but doing the random Apple Watch challenges is not an effective way for me to meet that kind of goal.  At all.)  (I've actually put a lot of thought into this -- so watch for a future blog post about . . . counting what counts . . . soon.)
  14. Finalize estate plan (wills, etc.).  DONE.  (This one feels so . . . adult.)
  15. Lunch or coffee date with a friend at least 1 time per month.  ACTIVELY WORKING TOWARD.  (This goal is fun and easy, and I'll definitely complete it by the end of the year.)   (I included it because I wanted to be very intentional about keeping in touch with local friends on the regular  -- and having this goal encourages me to take action and set things up, rather than waiting for things to emerge "organically.")
  16. Create and send monthly surprise packages to the kids.  ACTIVELY WORKING TOWARD.  (I've always been a care-package-kind-of-mom, and now that my kids are grown up and married, I see no need to stop.  I enjoy putting together little surprises for them each month, and will have no trouble completing this goal by the end of the year.)
  17. Create new path in back garden and move "puddle pond."  DONE.  (Although we didn't move the "puddle pond.")  (Originally, I thought we'd need to move the tiny pond in order to create the new path, but in the end, we didn't need to.  BONUS.)
  18. Plan/take a weekend trip to Chicago with Tom.  DONE.  (And - another BONUS - my sister came with us!)

So, out of my original 18 in 2018 goals . . . 

  • I have completed 9 items.
  • I am actively working on 5 items.
  • I haven't started (but plan to complete) 3 items.
  • And I have removed one item altogether (because it was poorly crafted from the get-go).

Not bad!  

How about you?  Did you make an 18 in 2018 list?  And, if you did, how are YOU doing?

Sometimes Mondays

. . . look like what the heck!


Despite the fact that I have much to do at home.
And despite the fact that we have a big party coming up in less than 2 weeks.
And despite the fact that it rained all weekend long -- so hard that I couldn't work in the garden.
And despite the fact that the party . . . is going to be IN my garden in less than 2 weeks.

I am still heading north for the week.  

Because summer is sweet.  
But summer is short.

What the heck.




TGIF, Garden-Style

Back home.  Back in my garden.  And it's Friday.


Time for a little TGIF . . . garden-style!

T - Thinking About silver linings.

First, it was super annoying to have my air conditioning break down.  Then, I had to dig up large swaths of my garden to facilitate installation.  But, now that it's done, I'm actually . . . 

G - Grateful.

Not only for new (and functional) air conditioning (because YAY), but also for this "clean slate," which allows me to re-fresh yet another garden bed!


Now I'm totally . . . 

I - Inspired.

Because I have this collection of plants to play with all over again.  (My poor, displaced plants).


It's like re-opening an almost-new box of paints.  And, really, won't that be . . . 

F - FUN!


Have a great weekend!  (You'll know where to find me.)


A Dose of Reality

I share my anticipation and excitement at returning to our cottage "up north" for the summer season with you each year.  And I show you photos of our little lake . . . and cozy bonfires . . . and happy dogs swimming.   And it all looks wonderful.  

And it is all of that.

But there is . . . an underbelly, too.  Y'know?  The parts I don't share.  (Because it's not all fun and games up here.)  (At least, not all the time.)

Here's a dose of Up North Reality for you, Three-on-Thursday syle:


1 -- It's a house.  A second house.  That we own.  And must maintain.  So while we may be dealing with . . . say, a broken air conditioner at House #1, we are also dealing with things . . . say, a roof that needs replacing (or severe woodpecker damage to the cedar siding) at House #2.  

In other words, we don't get a vacation from home maintenance just because we go "up north" for the season.  In fact, it doubles.


2 -- It feels like going on vacation.  But we are not on vacation.  Because there are chores to do and toilets to scrub and dinners to plan and laundry to do and wood to chop.  Just like when we are at home.  Because we are at home.  Just a bit further north.  (Although Tom would be quick to point out that he doesn't do much "lumberjacking" at home.)  

In other words, there is no maid service. 


3 -- Although we've built a pretty solid "inventory" of necessities at our cottage (dishes, glassware, cookware, cleaning supplies, tools, etc.), there are always things we need to drag between houses (reading material, computers, stitching projects, etc.).  It really can't be any other way -  because there are things we're currently working on or dealing with that are time-sensitive that we need to cart back and forth.  Which does make it feel kind of like packing-for-a-vacation each time we travel up.

In other words, it's really a drag when you pull out your latest Alabama Chanin project to stitch -- but realize you forgot to bring your needles.  (Gah!)


So, yeah.  It's pretty great up here -- and I love it!  I am grateful for this space.  I am so very fortunate to be able to get away and come "up north" whenever I want to.  (I'm lucky.  Oh so lucky.  And I know this.)  I appreciate my time up here.

But I don't want you to think that I just hang out on the dock all day, watching the eagles and the loons and the cranes while I sip wine and read books.  

I mean . . . I DO that.  But between those idyllic, peaceful, down-times you'll find me scrubbing last year's spider webs and wood-detritus from my window sills, changing the bedding, facing down last night's dirty dishes, and lamenting the fact that I could be stitching (but forgot my needles).

Like most things in life, the good far outweighs the bad.  But sometimes . . . reality bites.


Be sure to hop over to Carole's today, for more Three on Thursday posts.


Wheel Turnin' Round and Round

Some knitting projects are adventurous because they offer variety in pattern and texture and color.  Some knitting projects are adventurous because . . . they are just big.  Both types of projects require stamina, concentration, and commitment.  

But those big projects?  

They're a little too close to the movie Groundhog Day.  Y'know?  Living that same day over and over. . . Knitting that same thing over and over . . . 

This one?  Totally a Groundhog Day kind of project.  
Over and over.


Finish one square . . . move right on to the next square.

You go back, Jack
Do it again


It was more than a bit tedious after a while.  But I knew if I didn't keep going, I'd never get it finished.

Wheel turnin' round and round
You go back, Jack
Do it again

Totally repetitious.  And totally worth it, in the end.


(So glad I can move on to something else now.  And stop living this Groundhog Day knitting existence.)

You can find the Ravelry details here.


To see a "homespun" version of this Steely Dan song, check out this very old video of high-school-senior Erin performing it at her piano recital in 2007.


And be sure to pop over to Kat's for other Unraveled posts today!

Little Changes Everywhere

Like I said yesterday . . .

Change.  It would do you good.

Now, I wasn't talking about big changes.  Just little changes.  
(And I'm not just talking about a new air conditioner.  Although there is that, too.)

Like . . . we've been digging up whole garden beds at home and renovating them.


And Tom got new glasses.
(Two pair, actually.)  (Costco is a great place to go for new frames.  Just in case you're in the market.  Quick, great prices, good service.  So much less spendy than at our opthalmologist's office.)


The weather certainly has changed!  Last week?  Super hot.  This week?  Super cool.  (So cool that I'm currently wearing two sweatshirts with a shawl.)  (Fashion forward, that's me.)


But probably the best change for me right now . . . is a change in location.


We're up north this week - and it's so nice!  Quiet.  Slow.  Relaxed.


Little changes everywhere . . . add up to big changes in your heart and soul.

How Hot Is It???

As I mentioned earlier this week, we've had this sudden and unwelcome heat wave for the last several days here in my corner of the world.  Super hot and really muggy for this time of year.  For days.

Although neither Tom or I are fans of air conditioning (much preferring open windows and fresh air), we were mighty glad to have it last Friday.  We turned it on, held our breath for a minute or two (because our air conditioning is a bit . . . temperamental), and celebrated when the cool air flowed from the vents in our house.

Until it didn't.

Over the weekend, the air went from cold . . . to cool . . . to cool-ish.  And the temperature outside kept rising.

It was then we noticed all the water in the basement.  (Did you know that a broken air conditioner coil coupled with a refrigerant leak makes for the creation of an ice block in your vent system?)  (We do now.)

So. . . 


We're now in line for a new air conditioning system.  To be installed next week.  (Yeah.  Next week when the temperatures are back in the 60s and low 70s.)  (Because of course.)

Tom has been up north this week, setting up the docks and getting the pontoon back in the water.  (Also fishing.  A lot.)  I stayed home.  Because the air conditioner needed to be dealt with.  (And someone had to do it.)

I made a conscious decision to . . . adjust my attitude and Make the Best of Things.  To not complain.  (Except to Tom.  Because he's up north.  Fishing.)  (And I am trapped in a hot, stuffy house with two panting dogs.)  (Just sayin.)  To get through this with grace and dignity.  To not yell at repair people who can't repair.  Or at my "Comfort Consultant" (that's his job title) (I'm not even kidding) who is giving me so many options for new air conditioning units (when I just want one that works).

And you know what?  I've done okay with it.

  • I've created "cool spots" for myself in the house, and I just hang out there.
  • I'm drinking lots of water.
  • I'm avoiding housework.  (Like I need an excuse for that. . . )
  • I'm grateful for our many ceiling fans.
  • And our old oscillating fan.  (The one with residual blue Silly String remnants from one of Brian's youthful "experiments.")  (Oh, man.  The mess that made. . . )

I consider myself pretty lucky for the most part.  I mean . . . I live in a house with central air conditioning, and I can afford to replace it when it needs to be replaced.  It doesn't get much better than that, you know?

So . . . how hot is it?  Really damn hot, thankyouverymuch.

But it's cooling down outside this weekend.

And I'm just fine.  Almost comfortable, even.

Have a great weekend!  (Stay cool.)