There’s No Such Thing As Bad Weather

In the juggling act that is life, there are times we all have to set things down in order to give our attention to items of higher priority. Since it’s been nearly a month since my last post here, you can safely assume that for most of the month of April I set down not only this blog, but most of my knitting and spinning. I won’t go into details, but suffice to say there were lots of moving parts & challenges both big and small. As one does, I put one foot in front of the other and made it through all the meetings and events with as much grace as I could. And last week, my family & I were rewarded with a week of vacation. Today I thought I’m come back to this space by telling you the story of our vacation.

Many of you might remember from past posts that my family and I love South Dakota. There was a time, many moons ago, when Mr. Knitting Sarah and I even considered moving there. The moment our commitments for April were fulfilled, we hopped into our family truckster — aptly nicknamed The Adventuremobile — and headed West. Moose, always enthusiastic at the prospect of adventure, spent the entire time we were packing wondering what on Earth was taking so long.

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It was around 5pm on Saturday when we headed out and the plan was to drive until we couldn’t and then sleep in the car in order to arrive at the earliest possible moment in The Badlands. This is how Mr. KS likes to roll. I will not comment on how the rest of us feel about the arrangement other than to say we love Mr. KS and it’s the least we can do considering all this guy does for us.

Unsurprisingly, Mr. KS’ coffee consumption and excess of enthusiasm carried us all the way to The Badlands that night. Bear — not a fan of the car to begin with — handled the 12 hours in the car with drool-soaked stoicism that was not always super dignified…

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But he emerged with a certain resigned awe…

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Or maybe it was exhausted acceptance. We’re not sure which. At the very least, he was very happy to get out of the car for more than a bathroom break.

Our first day there, we took it all in knowing it would be our best day weather-wise. Birdwatching, climbing, and grabbing a glorious hike in the Sage Creek Wilderness filled our day.

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Thankfully it was cool enough outside to leave the dogs in the car as they aren’t allowed out hiking on National Park lands and — with them happily napping in the Adventuremobile — we were able to take our time and soak up the landscape. And to quietly walk past this guy…

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I’m thankful for optics which mean we don’t have to actually get this close to let Mr. KS take photos like this (a lot of the photos I’ll use from this vacation are from him as he loves to take pictures and I happily handle wrangling/directing kids and/or dogs when need be so he has the freedom to do so). Even at a safe distance, I do not trust bison and spent this portion of our hike attempting (most likely unsuccessfully) to hide my sincere but unfounded panic from our children. This is out of my comfort zone right up there with wading in murky water where fish might touch me, so I’m just proud that I did it and that every time I do, it gets a little easier. Baby steps, you know?!

As we walked along the prairie and I regained by composure as we put distance between ourselves and the bison, I found a lot of this spinny significance…

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Bison fiber! All over the place! For those wondering, no, I did not harvest it. In National Park lands, I’m a firm believer in the “take only pictures and leave only footprints” ethos. There are birds and other little critters that’ll need this and I have no shortage of spinning fibers so I left it for the fauna out on the prairie.

Post hike, we enjoyed one of our coldest, windiest, and least comfortable picnics to date out in the Conata Basin. We picnic a lot because I truly love it, but the cutting winds put this particular dining experience on par with a time Mr. KS convinced us to grill out post hike at a local park in a foot of fresh snow while it was still windy… and snowing. We laughed a lot about how uncomfortable it was (I think normal people might move at this time, but we are far from normal) while the kids climbed around to their hearts’ delights to stay warm. We also enjoyed the beautiful surroundings and ate some of the most delicious local aged cheddar cheese I’ve had to date (and I’m from Wisconsin, so I’m kind of a cheese connoisseur who doesn’t say these things lightly). After a few more hours of exploring, we headed to our hotel and turned in early.

The following day was in the 40s and raining, so the kids voted that we take a drive down to the Mammoth Site in Hot Springs.

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We visited this spot a few years back and it’s seriously one of the coolest natural history places we’ve been, so we were happy to go back. To distill down what it is for you, basically a sinkhole opened up, filled with water, and — due to the shape and geology of the rocks around it — became a watery trap for many unsuspecting animals thousands of years ago and thus a treasure trove of remnants from the past. Most notably, Columbian & Woolly Mammoth remains are prevalent in astounding numbers along with remnants of at least 2 rarely found Short-Faced Bears.

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It is simply incredible and we all learned a ton and enjoyed the hours we spent here.

With weather conditions deteriorating, what else would we do but jet up to Mount Rushmore.

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True to form, I was very worried about the weather and hrmphed a bit along the way because it was — in my opinion — a silly risk. It turns out that all you need to get Mount Rushmore to yourself is an impending snowstorm. Who knew?! Basically our only company were a couple mountain goats.

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For anyone who has even been to this spot, you’ll understand that it is usually very crowded, so to have it to yourself is a rare thing. And the snow didn’t start in earnest until we were almost back to Wall, so I’ll say it — Mr. KS was right to make this memorable side-trip and I was being ridiculous to worry about it. It’s a special memory that none of us will soon forget.

The following day, our last full day in The Badlands, the views were magnificent.

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Oh wait? You can’t see the formations? We couldn’t either on and off through the snow and freezing rain! Maybe this is better?

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No worries, that didn’t deter us.

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Kids, don’t try this at home…

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We’re professionals (not really, but we spend a lot of time doing stuff like this and know our limits).

In all seriousness, the weather brought out a lot of rarely seen beauty in this landscape.

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The colors in the Yellow Mounds almost glowed.

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And the snow taxing the little Prairie Buckbean plants I found bittersweet in its beauty. I’m so thankful that we were there to see it. I’m also thankful that the previous week when we saw the weather forecasting snow most of the week, we changed plans from camping to staying in hotels. It’s much easier to enjoy — for example — a romp in the National Grasslands for the dogs in driving 30 degree sleet…

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Knowing that at the end of the day you can take a hot shower and climb into a warm bed.

With the first half of our week coming to a close, I think normal people would be discouraged by the “poor weather conditions” of this vacation, but we subscribe to the idea that there is no such thing as bad weather, just poor clothing choices. No, the main thing weighing me down was this:

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We suffered a couple high speed rock strikes kicked up off the dirt roads which cracked the windshield of the Adventuremobile and then the cracks started to spread. We contacted our insurance agent and made the necessary plans to get it replaced before heading home, but there was a wait involved and I was concerned about the next 2 days of travel with it damaged. It’s safe to say the stress of April’s busy-ness had not yet burned out of my system, so I was more tightly wound that I’d like to admit. Mr. KS assured me everything would work out and if it shattered he would “just kick it out, like a Cowboy” and carry on. I did not find this reassuring nor did it help me relax.

Little did I know, things were going to get a whole lot more interesting on the second leg of this journey…

 

Stay tuned! I’ll be back with part 2 of this story later this week!

 

Go North, Part 3

We awoke on Saturday, the final day of our vacation, ready to go home. We’d had loads of fun and made so many memories, but we were pretty tired and ready to be back in our own beds, with access to a kitchen and bottomless coffee. The kids, of course, were really just excited to have access to their screens after a week away. I’m always so proud of how they step away from their beloved video games and TV shows when we go on vacation, so we usually let them binge a little when we return home. But yes, yes. We were all ready to make the trek home.

Before turning the car East, however, we headed due South toward the Twin Cities. We followed the interstate, winding along adjacent to the beautiful St. Croix River on a sunny morning when the deciduous trees had all just popped with that tell-tale chartreuse color of the very first hint of leafy buds. If you haven’t seen that color mixed with the pines & other evergreen trees in springtime in the north woods, you are missing out. It only lasts for a day or so, but it is one of the prettiest days of the entire year in this area. Like the first snow, or that first pop of orange in fall, it’s magic.

After a couple hours in the car and brief stop for extra coffee and a Subway sandwich breakfast, we found ourselves at our destination: Shepherd’s Harvest Sheep & Wool Festival. I’ve gone to the Wisconsin Sheep & Wool Festival for many years and I love it. It’s kind of like an annual reunion — I get to visit with friends and see vendors that I’ve grown to know and enjoy seeing year after year. Shepherd’s Harvest is a festival I’ve wanted to visit for a good long while, but in the old house it was just far enough away that I never made the trip. We now live an hour and a half closer and when I mentioned the possibility of making the trek, Mr. Knitting Sarah went the extra mile and planned the entire vacation to lead up to the festival.

While I could view the vendor list and offerings online, I had no idea really what to expect. We pulled in and paid our $20 to the sweetest parking attendent ever in the history of the world to park and bring the whole family inside. It was only in the 40s, so thankfully it was safe to leave Moose in the car and he was perfectly content to sleep there with the windows cracked. Had it been warmer I’d have gone alone while the family galivanted elsewhere, but it all worked out.

We popped into the first of 3 vendor buildings and I was drawn into Quirky Fiberwerks straight away. What drew me in was this…

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50/50 yak/mulberry silk in the dreamiest of dreamy blues. Gitchi-gami in fiber form. Usually I hem and haw about making festival purchases, but not this time! These 8oz had to come home with me, no questions!

As we were about to exit that first building, Mr. Knitting Sarah pointed out a handmade basket.

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Since getting my upstairs wheel, I’ve been slowly working on making a little spinning corner in our room. I’d just found a small table to sit next to the basic chair we picked up cheap at an antique shop and I’d been looking for something to hold my fiber that wouldn’t look messy or cluttered. I had all but resigned myself to just stuffing it in my Fringe Supply Porter Bin in the closet, but when we saw this basket Mr. KS had his interior design vision for it. If you didn’t know, he’s the interior designer in the family, so when he said he liked it and knew just what to do with it, I just went with it.

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The artisan made sure the straps fit so I could wear it as a backpack — I just love the size! Who knew this is exactly what I needed?!

Shopping pack strapped to my back, the next stop was my beloved Bumblebee Acres. These ladies, I swear, have my heart. I’m very introverted by nature, but every now and then I’m reminded how much I love and miss having knitting and spinning friends nearby. My visit with the Bees was one such reminder and thus I stayed and visited with them for a very, very, very  long while. My family quickly got those glazed, mildly concerned looks on their faces that said, “Is she ever going to leave?” So Mr. KS took the kiddos down to the musical entertainment in the center of the hall…

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These guys were awesome and such a fantastic addition to the festival. Wow — what an atmosphere!

As I happily overstayed my welcome in the Bumblebee booth, I grabbed this…

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Which I’d seen on Instagram a few days earlier and had to have. And then I found these rolags…

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At which point the Bees were like, “Are you trying to match all these together or do you just miss fall?” No, I was not trying to match everything. Yes, I do miss fall. And yes, we all had a good laugh about my inadvertant matching. Eventually, I bought my goodies and said my goodbyes and headed out to find my family. I would have totally spent all day there though if I could have, though!

We made our way to the final building where the main attraction was definitely Steven Be and his fantastically colorful booth. Mr. KS attempted to convince me to ask for a photo with Steven, but alas I was too shy (#truestory). So I just bought this yarn instead…

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It’s Fool’s Gold from Hedgehog Fibres and I’ve almost bought it probably 75 times in the past, so it was kind of a big deal to me that I finally actually did.

With my basket full…

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(The extras in there are actually gifts, so that’s why they aren’t mentioned here!), we headed back to the car and then turned our Adventuremobile East toward home and in just a couple hours, we were back. Home, sweet, home.

That night I finished my Clayoquot Toque

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I thought it was the perfect end to a wonderful vacation.

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I love the colors — many kudos to theKnotty Lambfor the keen color sense of this kit!

But… little did I know, that there was one more surprise in store…

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While I was out grabbing a few groceries the next day (which also happened to be Mother’s Day), Mr. Knitting Sarah and our son finished off my little upstairs spinning corner.

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They put up the hooks for my basket and binoculars and picked an art print of Sandhill Cranes that I bought for Mr. KS for Christmas a couple years back. It’s just perfect. My perfect little spinnging spot upstairs. I simply could not be any luckier or have had any better of a vacation.

And that, my friends, is the final chapter in a very busy vacation week. From the mountains of Minnesota to the Gitchi-gami, from sunshine to rain and cold and back to sunshine, to waterfall after waterfall, to a fabulous fiber festival, and finally back home, I’m so thankful for another wonderful adventure with my family. And while the memories will stay with us always…

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We’re all very happy to be home.

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Unplugged

Well, friends, I’m back from a week long vacation. One week from being generally out of cell service. And I have to be honest, it was exactly what I needed.

We knew we wanted to do a camping trip because Mr Knitting Sarah loves camping, we’ve got all sorts of new places to explore now that we’re farther north, and because it’s significantly less expensive than hotel-ing it for a week. Because of the move, though, we weren’t able to schedule anything out very far in advance and therefore when we finally had the dates set, we weren’t able to schedule the whole week in one spot. Mr Knitting Sarah — brilliant vacation planner that he is — organized us into a three campground itinerary to not only give us lots to see and do, but also a great taste of some of the parks that are now a lot closer for us.

Our first stop was Copper Falls State Park. It also happened to be the day of the Solar Eclipse, so we got an early start and luckily were able to get our tent set up before venturing out to find a view of the eclipse.

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Mr Knitting Sarah knows a lot about optics and so in preparation for the eclipse he made a filter for our spotting scope. It was impressive. He literally made it out of a plastic jelly jar and some filter sheets he bought. It worked great… until it clouded over on us about 35 minutes into the eclipse. No bother though as we went for a hike…

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An eerily dark hike, but pretty nonetheless, as Copper Falls always is. On the way back, we raced incoming rainstorms…

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Even Moose was egging me on! It’s hard not to hussle when you see that face up ahead!

We took a bit of a drive while it rained and then ended up at Loon Lake in the park where we — you guessed it — watched a Loon.

We only had the one night at Copper Falls and we awoke early to hit the road — we were headed North! And the day before my boy had agreed to take boat cruise around the Apostle Islands with me. As we got in line, the captain came around and told the 20 or so of us there that they were expecting the lake to have 3-5ft waves and that they’d have to amend the tour because it was unsafe to go all the way to the outer island. Anyone wanting a refund they’d honor it. After our story salmon fishing earlier this summer, we were undeterred though. After 3 more reminders that we could claim a refund (no judgement!), we got underway.

In a word, it was indeed lumpy. I tried to take photos to capture it, but really, there’s no way you can. Despite being soaked through my raincoat by spray and having slightly numb fingers (because there was no way I was going down below when I could enjoy the Lake Superior air!), there were brief moments of this…

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And this…

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And this guy, who, after being 80% convinced we might die the first 30 minutes, really started to enjoy himself.

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Until he took a hefty spray/splash directly to the kisser in the final leg home. It was an epic spray/splash that was followed by a collective “Oooooooh!” from our fellow tourists after which everyone looked with nervous smiles, that plainly said, “Oh, that looked really bad!” It was. It was wet. And cold as the water temp was in the high 40s or low 50s. He’s a trooper though and I was glad to have the time with him.

From there, we caught the ferry out to Madeline Island. And thus enjoyed two and half days of this…

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It was perfection. On our final beach day, the kids and I took the long walk from one side of the Big Bay to the other. It wasn’t my hip’s favorite thing, but it was important for my heart. And sometimes the heart has to win.

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Yeah, it does.

Did I mention that all along the way there was knitting?

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There was knitting. All along the way. ❤ And most of the knitting was on these handspun socks.

From here, we spent a day in Duluth. It was sort of on the way to our next destination, Pattison State Park, and we needed to pick up a few groceries. There also happens to be a yarn shop in Duluth that I like to stop at, but that just was a happy coincidence (or a well-planned detour… one or the other…).

I dropped the mister and the kids at the very cool Great Lakes Aquarium and Moose and I headed to Yarn Harbor. It’s definitely one of my favorite destination yarn shops, partly because I love Duluth, but also because it has such a great selection. I always spring for one of the shop’s exclusive colorways dyed by Three Irish Girls Yarns. I think I have 3 other colorways from this collection that I’ve picked up on previous trips. I’ve knit zero so far, but I have zero doubt that I’ll get there. They are beautiful. This time I picked the ‘Yarn Harbor’ colorway.

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Oh, and an Arne & Carlos Regia Pairfect that I thought would be cute for my daughter. As a side note, I’ve always read “Pairfect” as “Parfait” until writing this. “Pairfect” is way cuter and makes much more sense.

One of the benefits of a camping trip that involves morning temps in the 50s is that the dog can wait in the car for short bursts. Moose is an excellent guard/nap dog in the car.

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And he did such an excellent job watching over the car while I was in the yarn shop that he and I went for a nice walk on the Duluth Lakewalk.

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What a beautiful morning in a beautiful place! We picked up our other 3 people and had a wonderful lunch at the dog-friendly Little Angie’s Cantina and Grill before heading out to the next campground.

Pattison State Park features the states highest waterfalls…

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Which also happen to include the fourth highest East of the Rockies. We viewed the taller of the two, Big Manitou Falls, on day one and resolved to check out Twin Little Manitou Falls the following morning.

With rain coming on the horizon, we broke camp a couple days early and decided to head home, but not until we took the quick jaunt down to the little falls…

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It was still dark and cloudy and foggy when we visited, but Mr KS used his magic touch to get this photo. Such a perfect capture!

We headed home with loads of laundry, plenty of good memories, and one tired puppy.

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So tired, in fact, that he couldn’t keep his tongue in his mouth while he slept.

The laundry is almost all washed, the dog is almost recovered, and we’re back in the grind of every day. The memories remain, though, and they are awfully grand.. Oh, and for those who are interested in those handspun socks, they’re done. I’ll be back with more on those soon — they are pretty grand, too.

 

 

The Trial Run

Last week, for the first time in 7 years my husband took an entire week-long vacation alone together. Sure, we’ve done a long weekend here & there and date nights now & then, but a full week? Not since our son was in 4year-old kindergarten. Mr Knitting Sarah came up with this crazy idea to go up to my parents’ house for the Thanksgiving holiday and then they graciously offered to watch the kids and the dog Monday through Saturday. He found a hotel with condo-like suites that included a full kitchen (a huge plus in my book!) in Door County, a place he knows I love very much.

The day we arrived we got an early start because we are early start people. The weather was cold and raining so we took our time, did some grocery shopping, and had lunch out while we waited to be able to check in to our hotel. When we did, we discovered that because of the off-season emptiness of the resort, we’d been upgraded from a 1-bedroom, 1-bath suite to a 2-bedroom, 2-bath suite. We joked that it was like a “second honeymoon special” that we got separate bedrooms & bathrooms. In all seriousness though, it was a wonderful. Neat & tidy & cozy with a cute little fireplace — just the perfect size for us.

We spent a lot of time on the trail.

img_5315-1It was chilly most of the week, but beautiful and quiet.

On day 2 we even borrowed bikes that the resort had on hand and rode down to a nearby Land Trust…

img_5326-1Where we found an eagle’s nest just off the trail…

img_5325-1This picture doesn’t give any justice to the sheer size of this incredible construction. I’ve seen many eagle nests over the years, but never quite this close up. I could probably curl up in it, that’s how big it was.

I was also wowed that directly underneath it was a circle of giant sticks and branches that had fallen out of the nest over time.

img_5324-1 And yes, I took a picture of the giant pile of sticks. It doesn’t look like much, but it was set me back on my heels. Nature is so much bigger than me.

It’s good to be reminded of that sometimes, I think.

We did a nice long hike in Peninsula State Park, too.

img_5328-1Again, we were there early and the grey light starkly contrasted the green of the forest floor…

img_5332-1The blues of the sky & the bay…

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There was texture galore, too…

img_5365The trees that struggled to hang on against the wind and the rock…

img_5352The lichen clinging on the straining bark…

img_5344-1And even a few little delicate flowers still in bloom… in late November… reminding us that this autumn has been unseasonably warm despite the chill in the air we were feeling.

And each evening we’d come home to this…

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We discovered a few new places including a place once named “Death’s Door Headlands” — rechristened “Door Bluff Headlands” at some point no doubt to be less ominous. It was, however, still kind of ominous.

It was a relatively dark hike, with lots of roots to trip over…

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There was a single overlook where you could see the roiling bay that you could hear along the entire trail…

img_5390Mind the the edge though, because it is a long way down. Those who don’t like heights might want to stay back.

We hiked on a while farther to the point where public land turned private and as we turned around we ran into a fearless flock of 6-10 chickadees.  My husband demonstrated exactly how inquisitive they really were…

img_5387Nothing in his hand to entice them, they just took turns alighting on his hand out of curiosity. Then Mr Knitting Sarah convinced me to try…

I’ve never done this before as we do tend to let the wild stay wild, but on our own in the forest without the kids we made friends with this little flock. It was beyond words. They escorted us to the edge of their little wood, where the trail tracked back up a ridge to the overlook. As quickly as they appeared around us, they disappeared back into the forest. I have no other word for the experience than ‘magical.’

Oh, and the spinning…

img_5395Thanks to the short days of late November, movies, and that cozy fireplace, I managed to spin 12oz of Three Waters Farm fiber into…

img_5425Two skeins of about 550 yards of worsted weight yarn (in the top right you can see a teeny tiny glimpse of the chain plied leftovers of one bobbin, too). The smaller skein is Reflections on Mirror Lake and the bigger skein is a combination of Reflections on Mirror Lake and Green Surround, a combination that I absolutely cannot take credit for as a fellow spinner in the Three Waters Farm Ravelry Group spun up this combo months ago and inspired me to buy an extra braid to copy her.

img_5427I am forever indebted to her color combining genius because this skein is gorgeous.

img_5430This one is awfully pretty, too, though. Don’t mind the flecks of snow you can see — I couldn’t dodge the flurries this morning on my back porch!

There were many more hikes, good food, a little knitting, and a lot of laughter. Somewhere around day 2 or 3 my husband let me know that he was viewing this trip as a practice run at retirement, preparation for the empty nest we may have in 10years. If you know us, it won’t surprise you to know that he’d plan a practice run or that I would need one. That’s just us, to a T. We discovered that after 13years we do still have a lot of fun together, that we can function on our own without the kids, and that should we ever want to downsize to a little condo we would most likely be happy as clams. These are such good things to know in advance, I think. What a wonderful, refreshing, joy-filled week — maybe next time we have time to ourselves it’ll be the real show, the true empty nest or maybe, just maybe we’ll take another practice week before that. Either way, I feel prepared after our trial run.

On Endings, Family, and Being Thankful

A week ago Sunday at around dinnertime, my family and I set off for our family vacation to southwestern Missouri. For some unknown reason, my phone’s GPS decided that instead of our usual route that takes us to and around Kansas City, that a more direct route through central Missouri was preferable. We questioned the route, but thought that surely some construction had made this a better option than going via Kansas City. Somewhere in southern Iowa, we turned off the interstate and headed south.

As rain poured down and steamed off the road sometime between 10pm & midnight, the road twisted, turned, rose & fell and occasionally caused us to catch air. We spooked numerous owls and other wildlife from the side of the road — including a disturbingly large eye-shine from a tree hanging over the road that I’m pretty sure was a chupacabra. We became increasingly aware that the GPS had led us on a very ‘as the crow flies’ route to our destination. I realized that along with being in the middle of no where and on some… um… ‘exciting’ roads in the middle of the night, I had no cell signal either. It was less than ideal. Alas, around 2 or 3am we pulled into my in-law’s driveway, safe & sound.

It was the first time in about five years that my husband’s whole family was able to get together and it was great to catch up. The best part, of course, was that the cousins got to meet & play & spend quality time together. Lots of memories were made and fun was had. It was as a little family reunion should be and, really, so many kudos and thanks go to my mother & father-in-law for great planning and for hosting all of us. It definitely isn’t a small undertaking to host eight people for a week in your home, including a day where four more stopped in for a few hours. Kids ranging in age from 12 to 3 were in attendance. And let’s not forget that they have 2 cats and we have a 75-lb Moose. It was a busy, busy week to say the least!

I didn’t take a ton of photos beyond the unofficially official family portrait. I was busy doing sidewalk chalk with my niece and playing baseball with my daughter & nephew and watching my son play some sort of ball game with my little niece ever so patiently. Despite some extreme heat & humidity that kept us close to home & the comfort of air-conditioning, we did take the kids swimming and on an early morning hike one morning…

img_4164What you can’t see in the photo is that the trail, of course, was laced with loads of spiders & their webs. They were not exactly crowd pleasers, but as friends on Instagram pointed out, the spinners of the world always find me.

I had brought my spinning wheel, but with all the commotion of kids I left it packed away most of the week choosing instead to work on knitting projects.

img_4136-1I started these shorty socks for my MIL the night before we left…

img_4166And they were done & given to my MIL by Tuesday.

I used Susan B Anderson’s Smooth Operator Socks pattern just because I could and I was interested to see what all the hype was about. This 16 page pattern includes step-by-step tutorials that will be especially helpful for more novice sock knitters, but it also contains a short version that’s heavily edited and less conversational. There was a time where I really appreciated her wordier approach, but these days time is of the essence and I prefer to cut to the chase. I think that this pattern provides both options makes it useful for a very wide audience.

When I finished up the socks, I hopped over to my Pebble Beach Shawl…

img_4132You’ll remember this photo from last week. It was such a fun knit — both the pattern and the beautiful handspun yarn. Having set my phone aside for the week, I have zero progress photos, but suffice to say I couldn’t help but knit away on it.

I did a teensy bit of spindle spinning when my 6-year-old nephew showed interest.

img_4185I am not the greatest at transferring my knowledge of the spindle and I really had not come prepared to share the skills with little kiddos, but he had fun learning to flick the spindle. Next time I’ll be sure to come prepared with appropriate knitting & spindle resources to let the kids try, just in case.

With the rest of the gang needing to get back to work, we spent the last couple days just with my husband’s mom & dad. I spent some time with my spinning wheel, but a lot of the time was just spent porch sitting & chatting as the temps had become more comfortable. They have a really wonderful yard…

img_4179From which to view some lovely sunsets…

img_4180And on the final night, my husband managed to call in a pair of great horned owls. We saw them fly into the trees not 50yards away and one even posed in a most ethereal way, silhouette against the very last light of twilight before flying back to the larger stand of trees in the distance. It was a beautiful way to end the week.

As we loaded our stuff and selves into the car the following morning, our girl shed a few tears sad to say goodbye to her beloved Grandma & Grandpa and their cats. Our son turned to her and said,

“Remember what we learned from The Box Car Children. You need to appreciate every part of your vacations, even the endings.”

I was at once floored by his connection as well as the profound statement. My boy, so true of heart, is so open to what life sends his way and is simply thankful for the experiences he has. It made us all take a deep breath and enjoy a flood of good memories. I hope one day we each learn to be so at peace.

On the way home, I cast-off my Pebble Beach Shawl just as we crossed back into Wisconsin.

img_4183I’ve still got to block it, but it is beautiful and makes me long for the cooler temps of autumn.

We’ll be starting school later this week so my to-do list is long for the next couple days. I’m so thankful that I was able to recharge batteries and have such a wonderful week of vacation. Good visits, a change of scenery, a few days not tethered to my phone and computer. I am refreshed and ready to go!

While I Was Away

Last week was technically a vacation week for my family. We knew it was going to be a little abnormal for us because of work responsibilities, but we were determined to make the best of it. The first half of the week we relaxed a little and did our first bird watching walk of the spring migration. We stayed close to home and tallied 56 species of birds, saw a mink, and met up with this little guy, too.

img_2844My girls loves to handle snakes. Here she was literally cooing ‘Easy there, little fella’ to this guy. I love it.

For those wondering, this is what the Marsh looks like these days.

img_2835 It’ll green up quickly from here on out, but this wide open landscape really never gets old to me.

Around mid-week, we headed up toward my parents’ house for a visit. They live in the country — or if you ask my son, ‘the wilderness’ — so it’s a nice spot to enjoy some peace and quiet where the kiddos can run and set off fireworks and climb on my dad’s tractors.

img_2905I don’t know that I’ve seen this kid much happier!

We took part of one day and got everyone up to Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary for a nice walk before lunch. On the way out from lunch, my hubby almost stepped on a poor little Brown Creeper that had a apparently collided with the door. Being in a pretty urban spot and only a couple miles from Bay Beach, we opted to drive him back to the sanctuary where he could recover properly and have better odds at survival.

This is the little guy in my hubby’s hand during his ride in the car. He only got loose once while I was driving — something I would not recommend, especially if you’re like me and not a big fan of things flapping unpredictably by your head normally, let alone while driving in a city with which you aren’t familiar. Does this kind of thing even happen to other people? I wonder. In any case, the kids ran in with the hubby to drop him at the rescue desk & named him ‘Lucky.’ Lucky we found him, lucky he was perking up so quickly, and — according to my daughter — lucky that he’d probably be the only Brown Creeper that would be able to tell his friends about the time he got to take a car ride.

That night we enjoyed a chilly campfire.

img_2914An event that, of course, involved some knitting. A day or two earlier, I treated myself to casting-on socks with my Light in the Trees handspun.  I knew it would be the perfect travel project, so I just couldn’t resist. Instead of going the Toe-Up route I originally considered, I opted to use a leftover brown I had for the cuff, heel & toe so they’d be a bit sturdier and so I wouldn’t sweat the yardage going Top-Down which I tend to prefer.

The mister and I even took a day to ourselves. The kiddos stayed with Grandma & Grandpa — Grandpa kindly helped each kid build a birdfeeder even! — while we hiked and hiked and hiked in the beautiful weather. I took no photos, but our first stop was Barkhausen Waterfowl Preserve. I have to share, though, because it had some lovely trails and because we must have been close to the Garter Snake emergence because there were a lot of snakes. Like, in the right spots you’d take a step and you’d stir up a half dozen snakes. It was incredible! I also glimpsed my first Kinglet of the year which was a treat – such cute little birds!

We enjoyed a simple & delicious picnic overlooking Green Bay – the body of water, not the city – & returned to hike some of the deeper trails at Bay Beach. There we saw Yellow Bellied Sapsuckers and even got great looks at a Pileated Woodpecker. One of my favorite birds, I rarely manage to see it when it isn’t flying away from me so it was extra special.

 I also almost stepped on this guy.

img_2918He was easily the size of my palm. Ribbit! Oh, it is definitely springing around these parts!

I went on to finish up my first handspun sock…

img_2920And I started the second on the way home…

img_2922I did take my wheel and got to spend some time with my Birds in Holly spin. We were busy, though, so it didn’t get a ton of attention until we got home yesterday.

img_2927Now I’m a little over halfway through the second half of the fiber. It’s a really beautiful colorway & I do love Rambouillet fiber.

All in all, we had a lovely little break and it was nice to be away even if it was just a few days. As always, though, we’re happy to be home.

img_2925Moose is sticking close-by though, just in case we decide to take off again.