Monday, June 6, 2022

Great Wave Stitch-a-Long, part 22

Hi everyone! Apologies for the late post. We were camping, cozied up in a tent listening to the rain patter on the roof, and I said, "Oh my gosh! It's stitch-a-long check-in weekend!!!" By the time we got home and got everything hung up to dry, well, posting wasn't going to happen. 

These last three weeks have been a bit rough -- I came back from our last weekend away with a happily mild case of COVID and have been pretty drained. My energy is coming back, but I did a lot more sleeping than I often do... and not as much stitching as I would have liked. But here's where I was last time, 3/4 of the stitching complete:  

I had hoped to have the next column and a half stitched by this check-in, but sleep won out over stitching! Here's where I am now:

Quite a bit of that chunk done, but quite a bit left to go. 

By the time of our next check-in, in three weeks, I hope to finish this section and keep moving across the pattern. 

Until then, why not check out the projects my fellow stitchers are working on: Avis, Claire, Gun, Constanze, Christina, KathyMargaret, Cindy, Heidi, JackieMegan, Deborah, Renee, Sharon, DaisyAnne, AJCathie, Linda, and Helen.

Sunday, May 15, 2022

Great Wave Stitch-a-Long, part 21

Hi everyone! Where did that three weeks go? I'm scheduling this post a few days in advance because we'll be on a weekend away, but more about that later.

I've been stitching away pretty steadily on this piece. Here's where I was last time:  

And here's where I am now:

Yep, that's right -- I've finished the third out of four pages in the pattern. It's a mini finish, so I'm doing a mini happy dance!

Just one more section, 7000 stitches. Of course, then there's a lot of backstitching ahead, but we'll think about that after I get the stitching done.

By the time of our next check-in, in three weeks, I hope to have the next column and a half stitched and keep moving across the pattern. 

Until then, why not check out the projects my fellow stitchers are working on: Avis, Claire, Gun, Constanze, Christina, KathyMargaret, Cindy, Heidi, JackieMegan, Deborah, Renee, Sharon, DaisyAnne, AJCathie, Linda, and Helen.

Sunday, April 24, 2022

Great Wave Stitch-a-Long, part 20

Hi everyone! I can't believe that I've been working on this piece for OVER A YEAR NOW, and there's still so much left to go. But I do love it, and I love seeing it grow. Remind me in several months when I'm trying to decide what project to work on next that it might be nice to take on something SMALLER. 

Here's where I was last time:  

And here's where I am now:

I finished two columns, which means you can see Mount Fuji in the background! 

And of course, stitching Mount Fuji gives me the excuse to post this picture of me and Wil just below the summit of Mount Fuji back in 2019 -- one of our last big trips:

By the time of our next check in I hope to have the next column stitched, which would be a page finish and set me at 75% of the way done... minus all the backstitching, of course. 

Until then, why not check out the projects my fellow stitchers are working on: Avis, Claire, Gun, Constanze, Christina, KathyMargaret, Cindy, Heidi, JackieMegan, Deborah, Renee, Sharon, DaisyAnne, AJCathie, Linda, and Helen.

Saturday, April 23, 2022

D. L. F. -- Camp Wannarun Half Marathon Race Report

There’s a saying amongst the RunDisney / Disney Running gang:

D. L. F. > D. N. F. > D. N. S. 

(Dead last finish is better than did not finish is better than did not start.)

We flew to Minneapolis yesterday to run a half marathon in Minnesota: my 38th state. A few weeks ago I did something — I seriously don’t know what — to my right knee. I thought it would go away if I just took it easy, but it didn’t. Three weeks later and it still hurts, is swollen, and I can’t bend it. The slightest twist sends shooting pains up my leg. I finally decided I should see my doc, then discovered that the first in-person appointment is 31 May. Yep, 5+ weeks out. 

And, of course, I had this race trip planned. 
So we flew out, picked up a car, and drove out to adorable White Bear Lake. 
Well, first we made two stops in MSP:

1. Mary Tyler Moore statue. 

Yeah, I brought a hat SO I COULD THROW IT NEXT TO THE STATUE. #loveisallaround

(We're vegetarian, not vegan, but we bought sandwiches for a late lunch, as well as a lot of their stuff to bring home!)

Then White Bear Lake, where we checked in to our hotel, went for a little walk, got ourselves organized for the next morning, went for a swim, and were asleep by 10am. 

Saturday morning we drove the two miles to the Bald Eagle Recreation Area for the start of the Camp Wannarun Half Marathon. 

First and foremost -- Judi Fluger and her team at Midwest Multisport put on a really nice race. A small company, they somehow put on more than 20 races a year -- everything from 5K fun runs to a 70.3 triathlon. Their branding is clean and consistent, their registration and pre-race communications are great, and the swag is great quality. I had emailed Judi to ask a question and mentioned that I was working on a 50-state project and this would be my 38th state. So I was thrilled to open my packet and see bib 38. Maybe it was a coincidence, but I assume Judi was just being super thoughtful. We also got cute shirts and custom metal medals -- really nice!

Judi gave a quick pre-race talk about the course and the markings ("Sunny, you won't get lost!"), we lined up at the back, and the small crowd set off. I knew from looking at previous years' results that we would be at the back of the pack, especially given my knee. But I hadn't realized that after the first major turn, about 2 miles in, we wouldn't see another runner. 

But the course was well marked, mostly on small rural roads, and essentially flat. So we walked. Relatively quickly, mind you, with a good 15:06/mile pace, and chatted and smiled and enjoyed the day. 

Before we looked at weather reports -- the temperature would be in the low 70s, with afternoon thunderstorms starting at 4pm. We were maybe 5 miles in when we heard a long rumble. Wil asked what the noise was, and I said, "Maybe gunfire? People hunt around here...." (I realize that spring probably isn't hunting season...). We heard it again, and I said, "Maybe it's planes taking off? We're not super far from the airport...". And then, when we kept hearing it, realized it was thunder. Lots of thunder. 

Where there's thunder there's lightning, and intermittent downpours. But really it wasn't too bad. We did the old "count the seconds" trick and decided that the lightning was never closer than 12 miles away (please don't tell me that counting the seconds doesn't work, okay?). We're from Seattle, we've walked and run and just generally spent time outdoors in the rain. Besides, it was pretty warm out. 

Every so often we would interact with someone -- a police officer at a road crossing, a volunteer at a water stop, but other than that we were on our own. Well, us, large squirrels, birds, and some excellent lawn art. And it was pretty. 

Oh, and did I mention that one of the lakes we ran past was called Otter Lake? 

Finally we were in the home stretch, both feeling remarkably good if happy to be done. Judi and a couple of other folks welcomed us like conquering heroes -- all the more remarkable when I looked at the final results I noticed that we were some 45 minutes behind the previous finishers. 

We had some water, some pancakes, and took the requisite post-race pic:

On our way back to the hotel we stopped at a big grocery store (Wil wanted to find more Wisconsin Brick Cheese for Detroit pizzas). We snacked, had a dip in the pool, and went out for another walk to the local record store (it was Record Store Day!), quilt store (seriously, why do I do this???), brewpub, and cocktail lounge before heading in for the evening. 

Great things about Camp Wannarun:
- I loved the option to mail in a registration form
- Excellent communication before the race
- Nice shirt
- Pretty course mostly along quiet roads, nice lake views
- Plenty of signage, mile markers every mile
- Handsome custom medal -- not just a "sticker" medal, pretty rare at a small event
- Post-race pancakes!

Thanks Minnesota, and hooray for State 38!

Sunday, April 3, 2022

Great Wave Stitch-a-Long, part 19

Hi everyone! I'm really happy to say that I managed to make the time to get some stitching done. I'm always so happy when I take the time to stitch, and I love seeing this piece grow. I need to remember that more when I feel like I am too stressed, too worried to sit and "meditate with floss". (Or maybe "stab something with a needle, over and over"!)

Here's where I was last time:  

And here's where I am now:

I finally finished that column! This is a section where the backstitching will make a huge difference, but that's still a long way out. But you can see, at the left edge of the stitched column, the start of the triangular shape of Mount Fuji!

By the time of our next check in I hope to have the next column stitched, with a stretch of stitching the next two so that I can finish stitching Mount Fuji. But we'll see. 

Our little stitch-a-long had some sad news recently, one of our members, Carmela, passed away. Though I never met her -- in fact, I don't know that I'll ever meet any of my fellow stitchers in person -- I will always remember her beautiful, careful, colorful stitching, and the beautiful pictures of flowers from her garden that she used to post. 

I'm thinking about my fellow stitchers and sending them my love, and hope they are well: Avis, Claire, Gun, Constanze, Christina, KathyMargaret, Cindy, Heidi, JackieMegan, Deborah, Renee, Sharon, DaisyAnne, AJCathie, Linda, and Helen.

Friday, April 1, 2022

15 years ago...

I keep an Alexa Show on my desk when I work. Ostensibly to use as a speaker when I listen to music, but really because I enjoy the random photos it shows me. Sometimes it's a bittersweet memory, like lovely pictures of Bubble. And other times -- especially the "this day in 20XX" pictures -- it feels amazing how much time has passed. 

Today I was reminded about my first multisport event: the No Foolin' Duathlon, run waaaaay back in 2007, before I launched this blog. Not many photos of the day, but I thought I'd type up my notes and put the random pics in, just for fun. And, no, this isn't an April Fool's Day joke. :)

Rebecca, Barbara, and I all registered for our first multisport event: the No Foolin' Duathlon. It was held at Millersylvania State Park down near Olympia. The weather was strange -- it was actually snowing lightly about 20 minutes before the start -- but it cleared up in time. 

Barbara and I -- and the rest of the runners -- heading out.

There were very few people registered for the event, as it turned out. I was really nervous, and didn't know what to expect. I just stood at the starting line and then, suddenly, we were supposed to be running. I took off too fast -- as usual -- running through the park to the entrance, then turning around. Of course, I was way at the back of the pack, and got to watch most people head out on their bike leg before I was anywhere near done with my run. 

blurred by speed, I'm sure...

Got on my bike -- nearly forgetting to take off my run gloves -- and rode off. The ride was okay, though because it was a small race and because I was toward the back of the pack, I was alone the majority of the time, which meant that I got distracted. 

Pedal pedal pedal pedal oooh... look... a horse... what a pretty horse... I like horses... oh! Pedal pedal pedal...

Saw a man carrying a bike back; he'd gotten a flat and was just calling it a race. Also saw a woman at the turnaround who had a flat and was trying to fix it without a patch or tools. She ended up riding in on a flat tire, very slowly. 

Got back to the transition area after the winners were long finished, and then had to go out for the last mile run. I had a cramp in my right hamstring, but plodded along. After 1:10 I finally made it to the finish line. Hooray!

"C'mon, it's cold, finish up so we can go home."

But in the end I got a medal... my first ever running medal. And, of course it wouldn't be the last!

It's amazing to think that it was 15 years ago... in both the "how has it been that long??" and the "how has it only been that long??" sorts of ways. 

I only ran two other multisport races, both sprint triathlons. There just seemed to be a lot of faff. But if you asked me on that date whether I thought I would run a marathon, I would have said no. 

Saturday, March 26, 2022

New Mexico Trip 2022

For Wil's 50th birthday we had planned to go to Brazil. Carnaval 2022 falling on Wil's 50th birthday meant we could see the Christ the Redeemer statue as part of our "Seven Wonders" project, plus see the parades in the Sambadrome (a huge dream of mine), see spectacular Iguacu Falls, check out the modern architecture in Brasilia, and see the spectacular opera house in Manaus plus have a little more time on the Amazon. 

But then, COVID. 

I had booked all the hotels, but was holding off on flights and the Carnaval tickets because, well, it didn't seem likely. But in the "vaccine honeymoon" period, I was hopeful. But it wasn't to be. 

So we thought about what else to do. I had left it too late -- again -- to find reasonable accommodations in Hawaii. So that was out. And we didn't want to go too far for my first post-brain-clot flights. And we didn't want to be in big crowds, for the most part. But then I thought, "New Mexico." 

New Mexico feels really different, but it's not super far away. So we decided to book flights -- first class to treat ourselves! -- and I made a plan. 

Day "0" - fly Seattle to Albuquerque

Day 1 - drive Albuquerque to Santa Fe

Day 2 - Santa Fe and Georgia O'Keeffe

Day 3 - Santa Fe Meow Wolf to Truth or Consequences

Day 4 - Truth or Consequences for Wil's Birthday

Day 5 - White Sands and Alamogordo

Day 6 - Carlsbad and Roswell

Day 7 - Roswell to Tucumcari

Day 8 - Side trip to Amarillo, then back to Albuquerque

Day 9 - Albuquerque to home

At some point during the trip I looked to see what was happening in Rio for Carnaval, and was somewhat relieved to see that the sambadrome parades were postponed until after Easter. So it was confirmation that we'd made the right choice. 

I wrote up my notes as blog posts and backdated them to when they happened. I loved New Mexico -- the skies (and, despite it being NM and not AZ) the "little puffy clouds". I loved all the green chile. And I loved that feeling of freedom from traveling again. 

Sunday, March 13, 2022

Great Wave Stitch-a-Long, part 18

Hi everyone! Over the last 3 weeks I barely touched a needle, I'm afraid. But we did have a great trip to New Mexico, where we ate green chile EVERYTHING, soaked in hot springs, sledded down gypsum sand dunes, explored a massive cave, stayed in classic Route 66 motels, and, one morning, drove 230 miles round trip for tacos. So very little stitching, but a great week. 

Here's where I was last time:  

And here's where I am now:

I finished the column I hadn't finished last time, but not much else: 

Over the next three weeks I'm hoping to finish at least one column to keep moving this project along. But before that, I'm headed over to check out the glorious projects my fellow stitchers are working on: Avis, Claire, Gun, Constanze, Christina, KathyMargaret, Cindy, Heidi, JackieMegan, Deborah, Renee, CarmelaSharon, DaisyAnne, AJCathie, Linda, and Helen.

See you in three weeks!

Sunday, March 6, 2022

New Mexico day 9: home to Seattle (eventually)

Up very early and out to the airport as we had a very early flight. Of course, it was super quiet, and we were flying first class, so we had no wait at the counter and we also made it through security in a matter of seconds. 

ABQ airport is cute; we sat upstairs in a little lounge and ate a breakfast burrito before making our way to the gate. We boarded first -- of course -- and were happily settling in. I noticed a woman with a dog -- not in a carrier, but on a lead. A passenger across the aisle said, "Oh, what a cute dog!" and the woman said, "It's a SERVICE dog" and huffed past. I remember thinking, "Oh, no, it's one of those people who paid $35 online to get their pet classified as a service dog so they don't have to pay for them to fly." 

But we sat there, I did some writing and some stitching, and relaxed. The flight attendants took our orders so they could start serving right after takeoff. But then we heard the co-pilot come on the PA and say "As a reminder, FAA regulations require all passengers to wear masks during the flight. To be honest, I don't care about your thoughts on the matter. So put on your masks."

We could see the flight attendants anxiously looking down the aisle from up by the cockpit, but we couldn't hear any other hubbub. But then the pilot said that there was a warning light so we would be returning to the gate to have it looked at. (Groan.) So we taxied back to the gate and, when the door was opened, the police were there. 

Eventually one of the officers went down the aisle, while the passengers chatted about "why can't people just put on their masks?" And still we sat there. At some point a guy walked toward the front of the plane, accompanied by an officer. He was shouting "Okay! We put on the masks!" but it was clear his flying was done for the day. And still we sat. 

The captain told us we would need to deplane. We grabbed our stuff and headed into the terminal. We chatted with a few other passengers, especially because it didn't look like the entire plane had exited. 

Then more officers arrived and several minutes later, a woman came off the plane. It was the woman with the dog. She was angrily holding a big plastic cup and shouting. Her boyfriend told her to "STOP IT!" but she was on a roll. Shouting about how she had been given a glass of water (certainly not that size of one!) and "you made the entire plane gang up on me" (no... ma'am, that was you...). Shouting that COVID wasn't real, that we were all sheep, that this country is going to f'ing hell, and that THIS IS A NON-REFUNDABLE FLIGHT TO HAWAII. 

The officers just kept herding her away from the gate and down the terminal. Not touching her, but just shepherding her. She was defiant at that point, but other passengers told us later that she was crying. 

Apparently she had made a threat, so all the rest of the passengers were taken off the plane, and inspectors came on to check everything. 

Finally, we were told we would be boarding soon. The gate crew read their spiel, saying we had to wear masks during the flight, and we all laughed. 

Then back on the plane, and, 3 hours late, we left ABQ. The flight attendants were kind and said "we have your mimosas chilling!" And they did.

During the flight I looked out the window and saw this:

... which reminded me of Georgia O'Keeffe's Above the Clouds, which we'd seen in Santa Fe:

I was happy to be home, but also happy that we'd had a great trip to New Mexico! 

**A quick note about this post -- I'm catching up with my New Mexico memories and backdating blog posts to each day.

Saturday, March 5, 2022

New Mexico day 8: the long way to Albuquerque

Up early on a bluebird -- or Blue Swallow? -- morning.

The only thing we had on our list for the day was to get back to Albuquerque -- not a super long drive. So I looked at a map to get a wider view ... and it hit me. We weren't crazy far from Texas... and TORCHY'S TACOS

I have a deep love of Torchy's from their early location as a truck in Austin. The last time I was in Texas -- after running half marathons in Kansas and Oklahoma, and spending a night in lovely Shamrock, Texas -- I made sure and stopped in Amarillo to eat at Torchy's. 

Luckily, I didn't have to think "is it really a great idea to drive 113 miles -- each way -- just to eat tacos?" (I mean, obviously, it is a REALLY GREAT IDEA....). Because there's another attraction just outside of Amarillo. 


Ten classic Cadillacs of varying vintages, partially buried, nose down, at a precise angle of 51° 50' and 40", the same as the angle of the Great Pyramid of Khufu. The Cadillacs all face west, stretching about 140 feet in a field. On my last solo visit, I was sad not to have paint with me. Nowadays, there's a merchandise trailer that sells paint and other merch. 

It was windy -- crazy, hair-whipping windy -- so we decided to just walk out to the cars to have a look. But when we got there we found bags and bags of spray paint cans. And we couldn't resist adding to the artwork. 

I mainly just walked around looking at the cars.

I was especially fascinated by the layers and layers of accumulated paint. 

I was happy that Wil finally got a chance to visit, too!

All that spray painting -- and driving, of course -- had given us a big appetite. Hello, Torchy's!

We had three tacos each, PLUS chips and queso. Because, well, we won't be near a Torchy's again for a long time. Fried Avocado, Mofaux (with Beyond Beef), and the Migas breakfast taco, too. 

Uncomfortably stuffed we piled back in the car for the drive west. We popped back in to Tucumcari so we could visit Tee Pee Curios, where we bought random items (and really just stretched our legs...).

After that we stopped at the Blue Hole in Santa Rosa where, if it was less windy we might have taken a dip. It's amazing. 

A lot of people learn to scuba dive here. Maybe someday. (And what a random place to learn to dive!)

Then back on to I-40 where we heard about a huge crash, a few miles of closed highway, and 3-hour delays. So we let Google select another route around the backup and closures. 

Except Google isn't always the best judge of roads. 

We started off on a nice little 2-lane highway, one of three cars all clearly following the detour. Then, we were told to turn onto another road... which was a dirt road. 

The first car either missed the turn or was going a different way. The second car turned, seemed to panic, then slowed down and pulled over. So we just passed them and moved along. 

The first car either missed the turn or was going a different way. The second car turned, seemed to panic, then slowed down and pulled over. So we just passed them and moved along. 

Remember, we weren't in our beloved Crosstrek -- we were in some sort of random sedan. But... for a dirt and gravel road, it was pretty well graded and smooth. What we didn't know is how long the road would stay this way. Eventually the directions told us to turn... onto another dirt road. But then, the directions indicated that two miles later, we would turn on to a highway. HIGHWAY = PAVING. 

Not long after that we re-joined I-40 on the other side of the crash, and shortly thereafter we arrived in Albuquerque.

Robert from the Blue Swallow recommended we check out the El Vado, another vintage motor court motel along Route 66. But in this case, they made it very chic and modern -- they turned the old garages into glass-fronted suites. The rooms were indeed nice, but our stay was a little less than perfect. 

We walked to Old Town, had a very good margarita and some snacks at a swanky bar, and then headed back to the El Vado. We didn't really fancy any of the food in the restaurant / food court area, and the brewery only had canned cider on hand, so we decided against it. Inside the "guest area", we dragged some chairs and a table over to in front of our suite and sat outside and watched the sunset. 

Eventually the restaurants closed and the music stopped and it was just the handful of hotel guests left. I think we were the only people who moved chairs so they could sit outside; it might have been too cold out for a lot of folks. Sadly, the heaters are only in the restaurant area, and the firepits weren't lit. 

Still, it was really lovely -- I think maybe autumn would be a good time to visit? Before the pool closes, but after the summer rush. 

And, oh, this sign!

**A quick note about this post -- I'm catching up with my New Mexico memories and backdating posts to each day.