mt3…I’ve gone crazy!

I thought after all the ‘making stuff’ that went on in October, I’d be done.  I’d cleaned up the mess, put away all my fabric, sewing machine, etc.  But then…one night while laying awake, I decided it would be cool to send Claire a pillowcase a month rather than just Holiday cases…these middle of the night thoughts are crazy!

But, I had fun shopping for fabric for the rest of the months & the remaining holidays that I still needed to make cases for.  I managed to visit 4 fabric stores in one day in Lawrence, came home, washed, dried & then pressed all the fabric.  The next morning, I was ready to go.  I got all (8 more) done by early afternoon.  I love the results & I hope she loves sleeping on each one!

I’d already mailed her October’s Halloween one, & have the November Thanksgiving one ready to pack for when Danny & I go visit at the end of this month…it gets hand delivered.

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December’s was finished too along with January….cupcakes & cake to celebrate her birthday.  She’s turning 4 this year!

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February’s to celebrate Valentines Day & March…well March was just this awesome random cat fabric I found…it ended up being one of my very favorite cases!

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April is for Easter & May is getting ready for summer…pools open, trips to the beach & swimming begins (even though I know they can go to the beach most any month)…I loved this flamingo fabric!

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June is another favorite…ice cream trucks with ice cream cones on the cuff!  July is my least liked one…all the 4th fabric was way to old for Claire.  So, here’s my take on ‘stars & stripes’.

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Another two that I really love are August & September!  August is fireflies & September is for starting back to school.

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I made tags for each one & will mail them each month.

I now thought I was done…however.  My new awesome hula hoop came today & it includes special hooping magic.  I’d bought a cheap one at Target & couldn’t do anything with it but watch it drop to the floor time after time (it went back three days later).  A friend told me where to order a weighted ‘travel’ hoop (I didn’t even know they made a travel one!) & I was anticipating it’s arrival.  About the same time I finished the pillowcase project, the hoop was delivered.  It’s really big, which I’m sure makes it easier.  And, I was able to hoop right away, making more than a 100 hoops before it fell to the ground.  Here’s a pic (taken from the video I sent my friend). 

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Danny & I soon took off for an afternoon & evening in Kansas City, me leaving all my sewing stuff still out.  So, once again, in the wee hours of the night, I decided I needed a bag or some type of cover for my traveling hoop. It comes with a really good simple strap, but I thought my hoop might get all banged up while traveling in my car with all my hiking & camping gear.  So, this morning I went through my fabric, chose a big piece & made a bag for the hoop.

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Now, it’s 2 weeks until I leave for Florida, so I need to focus on that (although, seriously, I could be ready to go in a matter of a couple of hours!)  

ALL sewing stuff is put away & cleaned up…I’m done!  At least for awhile…I think…maybe….it’s possible…I definitely need to learn to think of something else in the middle of the night.


Yay!  It’s October…one of my favorite months!  I love the weather in Kansas this time of year…cool mornings, warm days, lots of sunshine, changing colors, grass stops growing, sweaters & boots out.  And, it’s the month I’m usually home (I need to change that & find places to go camping & hiking in the fall!) & the month I Make Stuff.  The name of this article is mt2…since my last entry was titled ‘making things’ & since that’s all I’ve been doing for the past two weeks. Since landing back at home from my South Dakota trip, my sewing machine has been going non-stop & it looks like a fabric store threw up in my red room (my living room/dining room).

I’ve made more trips to the fabric stores than I like, spent more money, made a bunch of mistakes, but in the end, it’s all good & all done!  I started with a long list of stuff to make, then added in a couple more projects when insomnia got the better of me in the middle of the night & the brain was in over-create mode.

So, here they are…cool, funny, quirky, & messy!

Sara & her family are taking us on a Disney Cruise in late October!  Wow!  I’m not sure there are any kids half as excited as we are!  It’s super generous of them & we can’t wait to spend time with the girls & having a magical time.  The other awesome thing about this cruise is that it’s a Halloween (my favorite holiday!!!) cruise.  We have Pirate night & a costume contest.  Also, once we’re back in Orlando, we get to spend Halloween night with the family.  In Sara’s neighborhood, a ton of the families all dress up…sometimes having the same theme.  This year, Claire picked out Jesse for her Halloween costume, a character from Toy Story 2…a movie she loves!  So, that’s the theme & we all chose a character from the movie.  Sara will be Buzz LightYear; Kevin will be Woody; Emma will be one of the aliens; & Danny & I will be Mr. & Mrs. Potato Head.  Once back in Orlando, joining us will also be Danny’s Mom as Wheezy the Penguin & Rose, their Nanny, will be Bo Peep.  It should be a blast!

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These pictures of Danny are not only hysterical but so sweet & perfect!  He would never ever ever before dress up in a costume for me (all these years of trying!), but said “YES!!!” in a heartbeat when it came to doing it for Claire & Emma…so great!

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Since I took the initial photo of Mr. Potato head, I’ve altered his teeth & added lips…Danny didn’t like his ‘buck teeth’ & wanted him to look happier.

And, yes, all the parts move around…I thought Claire would get a kick out of that! (This is actually the second Mr. Potato Head costume I’ve made.  I made one years ago when the kids were little & wore it a couple of times after they were done with it.  Luke requested it a few years back to wear to a party, so it was shipped to California…& there it lives or most likely has died but gone out having a great time!)

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Here’s Wheezy the Penguin…looks pretty cute & comfortable (unlike the potato costumes which broke a couple of my ‘costume rules’).  While they’re easy to move around in, it’s tricky with the eye holes being in the hat…a little limited visibility.  When the kids were little & I made their costumes, one rule was that you had to be able to wear a coat under it because you never knew if it was going to be 70 degrees or 40 degrees.  But, I’ve warned Danny how hot it can be in Orlando during Halloween…I fear we will become “baked potatoes” in their heat!

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I’ve also been ‘collecting’ stuff for the girls for Halloween…little treats that aren’t candy.  They have tons of toys, but I couldn’t resist buying this…it will be a gift to Claire from her Grandpa!  And, I couldn’t leave sweet baby Emma out, so I made her a Potato Head Doll…all sewed tight since she’s so into putting everything in her mouth these days.

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The big projects were next!  I’m making three flannel rag quilts for Christmas gifts & wanted to get them done early.  I can’t say who they’re for…because it’s a SURPRISE.  But, it’s safe to show them on here, because the receivers never read this blog.  I already had all the fabric chosen & bought before I left for South Dakota, & knew I had to get the costumes done first.  But, after they were done, I went in to quilt-frenzy mode!

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These are the fastest, most forgiving quilts you can make…& oh so cuddly & warm!  

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But I swear you can give yourself tendinitis clipping these seams.

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It’s funny where your mind wanders when you can’t sleep; mine seems to go all over the board, seeking out every subject, place, color & design, always with some music playing in the background….it’s no wonder sleep evades me.  But sometimes, I get great ideas.  I’ve been trying to think of something I could do with Claire…interactive…in the mail.  While this idea didn’t really fill that desire, a new one popped into my brain.  I’d make & send her Holiday pillow cases…it’s not a book, not a toy, not candy, not a project (with a million pieces), etc.  I decided I’d send her one for Halloween, Christmas, her Birthday, Valentines Day, Springtime & Summer (not included is Thanksgiving, Easter & 4th of July).  I could make two at a time & send them a couple of weeks before the holiday.  Emma will get her own set when she’s old enough to sleep with a pillow.  So, back to my favorite fabric store!  And I loved loved loved this fabric!  I shipped her Halloween case just a couple of days ago…I can’t wait till she gets it!

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I also chose some Christmas fabric & went ahead & made that one to be mailed in early December.

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And, speaking of Christmas….it’s been on my list to make Emma a stocking.  I don’t know when Claire & Emma will ever get to be at our house on Christmas (it’s always crappy weather!), but I’d made Claire & Kevin a stocking a couple of years ago & wanted to be prepared & ready for when/if they come for Christmas someday.

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When I’d arrived back home after my wonderful, almost-perfect, fantastic summer road trip, one of the first things I did was to clean out our attic.  I was in the mood to get rid of stuff.  As, it turned out there wasn’t a ton to get rid of, but a few things made their way gone!  One of the things that stayed, but not up but down & into the house, was an old youth chair that came from Danny’s family.  Our kids used it when they were growing up.  It’s perfect to sit at the kitchen table, when one is too old to use a high chair, but too short to sit in a regular chair.  So, I decided to paint it (with leftover paint from my kitchen walls) & get it ready for when Claire & Emma come to visit!  And, I added a few polka dots, because they’re my favorite!

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As a Mother’s Day gift to self this year, I joined the Sister On The Fly…over 10,000 women to love to camp & be outside. Most have cute vintage trailers.  They’re nationwide with a ton of subgroups…Sisters that Paddle (I’m on the lookout for a kayak); Grandma’s on the Loose (they take their grandkids camping & fishing with them on special outings); Sister’s on the Curb (shout out if you’re traveling through a certain place to see if someone will let you park on their curb or on their property), etc.  They also do some philanthropy work but mostly a huge source of good times & new friends.  Here are their rules:  No Men, No Kids, Be Nice & Have Fun.  I’m not a rule lover, but these I can follow.

My first event with the Sisters & a group called Girl Camper was last April in Waxahacie Texas & it was a blast!  I felt so included even though I don’t own (& don’t plan on it) a trailer or all kinds of stuff to decorate it with.  These were awesome women whom I’d never have met if I had gone to the event.  I can’t wait to go next year!

In April, my only “Glamping” addition, was a chair cover for my cheap camp chair & an extra set of twinkle lights. (project from March, 2018)

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One new addition I wanted for future events, was something that showed my name & member number (the numbers seem to be a big deal…low numbers have been in the group for years).  Sisters have all kinds of cool ways to display their numbers, but mine had to be cheap, light, small to pack & easy to display.  I made a number banner for my friend Jill’s camper, but I wanted something that fit the 4Runner.  I’d had on my list of future projects something I ran across called a “wooly totem”.  I love totem poles…there are so many cool art poles out there, but this one hung inside, made of wool felt.  It’s still on my someday list, but it gave me the idea for my Sister project.  It was fun to create, cost me less than $5, will be easy to pack & I’ll hang from the loop on the inside of my hatch door which stays open when I’m at an event.  I wanted something to reflect me…so it’s a peace symbol, heart, tree, map, mountains, name, number, oceans & a little brass bell that should ring in the wind!

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My last project but was both the most frustrating & the most fun…well, not exactly fun, but I love to design!  The problem is that it never turns out quite like I want it…some parts are always a little disappointing, & some are luckily better than I’d planned.  I never use a pattern…I’m math-stupid & patterns never have made sense to me.  All those arrows!  I’ve always been better at just making my own patterns & writing out my own directions, following those, sometimes re-ordering the steps…whatever…it’s always an interesting process.

My goal for this crazy project was to make a robe (sounds simple, right?) that I could wear to my Sister On the Fly events.  While some of the women costume up for activities, I was interested in the morning coffee in camp, where women just wear their jammies & robes & sit around visiting & laughing. I’d bought a pair of pj bottoms for $8 & added some pom trim around the base…I have black pj tops that will work for chilly or hot weather, but wanted a funky, quirky robe to wear.  I also needed it easy to pack, since I don’t want to be packing a lot of stuff.  I can’t remember ever lining anything before & collars are always so. much. fun…but in spite of doing both of those things, I like how it turned out.

So after a weekend of lots of cussing & growling & a little use of the seam ripper, here’s the finished product..

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Two other —non-creative, non-making, no sew projects that happened during this time were awesome fun!

While I’d been on my summer road trip, I’d met my favorite travel blogger, Sherry Ott, & actually got to go hiking with her & a couple of her friends.  We became fast friends & I enjoyed her company a lot!  She asked me to write a guest blog post for her blog & she published it in September on her website called Otts World .  What fun!  I can’t wait to meet up with her again sometime in the future & will always continue to follow her travels around the world!

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One of the women I met at the Waxahachie event, was Janine Pettit creator of Girl Camper Podcast, which was like meeting a movie star (since I never watch TV & rarely go to the movies, I get ‘starstruck’ when I meet one of my favorite bloggers or podcasters).  We’ve kept in touch since then & the week before Labor Day I received an email from Janine asking me if I’d like to be on one of her podcasts…I said YES!  We talked on a Saturday morning for over an hour just chatting & getting to know more about each other.  Then Monday morning, she called & we recorded the podcast.  It was a blast & she makes it all so comfortable…& traveling is my favorite subject so it’s easy to talk about.  Here is the link to the Girl Camper Podcast & my interview! (Pic below from the April event.  Janine on the far left; new friend JoLynn in the middle & my life long best friend & travel buddy, Jill on the right.)

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I have a couple of weeks before I leave for Orlando…I’m going to end up road tripping down there, since airfare is so expensive.  The new twist for this trip, will be that my Mother in Law will be joining me on the way down.  I think she’s kind of excited at the prospect of a road trip…she hasn’t done too many in her life & doesn’t really enjoy air travel that well. So, we’ll see how it goes, but I always look forward to hitting the road, especially to see Claire & Emma.  And then, because I’m driving & will be solo (or maybe Jill will join me???)  after our Orlando fun, I’ll be planning some  S L O W  route home, hopefully beautiful, maybe walk some beaches, see the Gulf or the Atlantic…cram in all that I can before winter hits & keeps me home bound. 

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I traveled in January & February…but March I was back at home, as I will remain the first couple of weeks of April too.  My mother in law had more medical stuff & a trip to Arizona during the month of March, so I kept busy taking her places & happy to report all things medical were good!  Her travels for the winter are over too, which means she’ll be at the lake, welcoming Spring & many, many guests that love to come play during the summer.  The time IN-beTweeN the two trips & the time I’ve been at home last month, had me "making things" once again.

I made a couple of new winter hats using some old scarves I hadjust cut up some old crap to make something new!

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I needed to finish putting together & quilting a baby quilt for my nephews new baby girl due in late May.  I may or may not be in town for the birth, so I wanted to have it finished & wrapped before my trip in April.  I used the same pattern as Id used for Emmas, but with super bright fabrics.  They know the baby is a girl, so I added lots of pink!

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I also made a couple of very random things.  One day I decided I had to have a footstool for this ugly chair I detest, so I started shopping for one.  It consumed me for about 36 hours.  Of course I wanted a really cool one for about $20.  I’m like a dog on a bone with some of my ideas, but they never last long…unless it’s travel…it’s a never ending want/desire/pull…. you get the picture.

When I couldn’t find what I wanted, I found a free pattern online, came home, dug through my meager pile of fabric, & made one.  It works great…even doubles as a meditation cushion.  PS:  I really thought I’d gotten rid of that stupid ugly chair (the plaid one in the background)…it was even out the door, in my car & on it’s way to goodwill just a few weeks after I made the footstool.  But, sometimes we don’t always get what we want.  The ugly chair made it’s way back into the house (but not back into the living room), making me crazy!  But, that’s a really, long, stupid story…anyway, I do like the footstool, which is now sitting alone in my living room.  And, the cats like it too.

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My next & last project was to make a couple of colorful pillowcases to match my camping quilt.  One side is bright & one side is dark.  In the past I’ve always just taken my one set of pillowcases…pale yellow, with me camping.  I wanted something cheerful!  Who knew pillowcase making was a little complicated?  It turns out, the way to make them is with French seams…meaning no raw seams show….even from the inside.  I found a you-tube video that made it all go smoothly…even if I had to replay it & follow it a second time to make the second case.  But, they’re done & I love them!

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I was done with my projects, but there was something else creative I wanted to SEE.  Nathan Sawaya is a Lego artist I’ve been following for about three years on Instagram.  His exhibition, “The Art of the Brick”, came to Kansas City, so as soon as I got some time, I went to see it.  WOW!  He creates amazing things using Legos; there are 100 exhibits on display.  Replicas of famous paintings & statues. Quirky things like giant pencils & peace signs.  He had a whole section of very soulful type creations with his words on what they each meant to him.  Next to each of the pieces there is a card telling you how many Lego’s built that piece & how much time it took him, along with whatever he named that particular piece.  It was great!

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April is here & it still feels like winter.  We had snow & freezing temps on Easter & this Friday, April 6th, the temp is supposed to drop to 16 at night! Yikes!  I miss the warm sunshine of Florida!  I’ve also been reading, reading, reading!  Lots & Lots of books!

My camping stuff is mostly in my bedroom…I didn’t put it too far away after the last trip.  When the next warm day rolls around, I’ll remove the back seats from Camper, vacuum the inside & start packing it. A new California atlas arrived today…so spring/summer trip planning will begin in detail in the next few days.  I don’t leave until mid-April, but I can’t wait!  So, sooner better than later.  I have my packing lists made out for the next three trips…a little ahead of myself, but I’m sooooo ready to go!

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Once the kids left, I popped into ‘think about Christmas mode’.  When the kids were all living at home, I’d never start the holiday process until after Thanksgiving…had to get through all that menu planning & cooking for Turkey day.  But once they all moved away, I had to build in  ‘shipping time’.  So while others think of the 25th as “the date to be ready”, I had to back that up a couple of weeks. Regarding Thanksgiving 2017, I wonderfully lucked out & we were invited to my nieces for Thanksgiving….only the 2nd time since we’ve been married I had ZERO cooking to do!  Yippee!  

But I LOVE Christmas!  I always have.  It’s sometimes rather a strained time in our household, because while I’m married to wonderful guy, when December rolls around, I could nickname him Scrooge or Grinch.  It’s just another thing we feel opposite about…that list is long, but this one’s been on it since we got married.

I was also still spending some time dealing with my Mother-in-laws health issues.  She’s seems to be fine….no pain or new problems, but she’s flunked a couple of tests that have turned two appointments into several more & a new physician.  But in-between those appointments & phone calls….I began Christmas.

Danny & I don’t exchange gifts, so it’s mostly our minimalistic kids & Claire.  We’ve tried to give more “experience” gifts over the past years to our kids than stuff….they are not ‘stuff’ people.  Sometimes it works & sometimes it doesn’t.  But the super fun gifts this year have been for Claire!  And this year we get to spend Christmas in Florida with Sara’s family!!!  The only thing better is if we were all together, but we’re so pumped to be spending it with them!

Can you keep a secret?  Since I’m posting this before Christmas, I’m letting the cats out of the bag, so to speak.  But we’re buying her a really cool play kitchen.  My friend Jill, who is the expert at being a Grandma, gave me the idea.  Yes, it huge, & yes it takes 3 hours to put together, but I think she’ll love it!  The idea also goes along with her birthday gifts, which is just a week later.  We will be celebrating it with her the Thursday after Christmas though, since we won’t get to be there for her actual party.

I detest plastic.  So, when I went to look for all the other stuff that Claire would need for her kitchen, the food was icky plastic.  I ordered a cool stainless steel pot, pan, cookie sheet & other miscellaneous kitchen tools, but I couldn’t find the food I liked.  So, with some ideas from Pinterest, I made it all.  It’s fun making things for Claire, because she likes it all & little kids have not learned to be critical or picky about homemade things.  I love how everything turned out—except the cupcakes— & I think she’ll like it too & more importantly, playing & using her imagination with it all.  So, the kitchen for Christmas with a fry pan filled with eggs & bacon & Christmas cookies in the oven on the cookie sheet & a tea towel on the counter.  Birthday gifts will include all the other food, pots & pans along with a tiny Pez (ode to Uncle Peter—a former zephead), a book or two & a pair of polka dot leggings.

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The cake is definitely my favorite!  I made three layers, so they can be stacked or separate.  But there are four different cake toppers that magnetically attach so they can be swapped from cake to cake!

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On her birthday, I’m going to layer them all & top it with three candles!  

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After it was all done, I had to figure out how to package everything (I hate giving things that have a million pieces & no way to contain them).   But I think everything turned out cute, appropriately contained & Claire will love it!

Since I was in “creative mode”, I made Jill—my camping—buddy a pillow for her new teardrop trailer she picks up next week!  We’re both so excited for her.  On Thanksgiving weekend, her son, his wife & three kids were in Kansas City & stopped by the house.  I asked Jill’s granddaughter, who is 5,  if she was excited about her Nana’s new trailer-camper…on the spot, Caleigh named it “Tramper”.  Jill loved the name!

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Every year in Lawrence, one of the local bars sponsors their version of SantaCon…a nationwide event of bar hopping Santas, elves, & reindeer.  I’ve gone for several years & always have a great time with my Santa friends (a lot of my friends go to this)  Scrooge always meets me later at a bar so he doesn’t feel obligated to even put on a Santa hat….whatever, he’s missing all the fun!  Having three Santa costumes, an elf & a snowman costume, & since I’m on a tight budget this year (when am I not?) & no job has managed to fit into my weird ass schedule (don’t even ask) I decided to just ‘perk up’ one of my old costumes.  I added better fur & blinky lights (I love blinky lights!) around the top of the chimney….it turned out great & is pretty comfortable (a must for a long winter day).  We all merrily made our way from the 1st bar to the second, some singing, some ‘HO HO HOing” & some of us passing out candy to people we passed.  There were several bars on the list, so walking up & down Mass street happens over & over.  It’s always sooooo muchhhhh fuuuunnnn!

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135 Santa’s ready for lots of fun!


The other close to my heart project I finished, was the quilt for our new grand baby which should arrive around the end of January or beginning of February!  Yay!  I love this pattern & the fabric I chose & I cant wait for it to be snuggled around our new little grandbaby!

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Over all the years Danny & I have lived here, my across the road neighbor was so dear to me.  Our kids grew up together & we spent many, many hours visiting, laughing, sewing, & getting into a few crazy situations.  Sharon & I couldnt have been more different, but our hearts were the same.  She was patient, empathetic, kind, quiet & loving.  Her husband passed away several years ago, & her health began to decline.  She moved into a nursing home two years ago & slowly her body & speech deteriorated, but her mind was usually pretty sharp.  I tried to go see her every week when I was not traveling & take her outside weather permitting. She loved to reminisce about the past & wed always manage to fill some of our visits with laughter, even though, there were always tearsshe did not like living in the nursing home.  When the kids were young, our tradition was to bake Christmas cookies with three other Moms & their kids & it was a huge, sugar filled, laughter-fest, fun day…every time.  Sharon peacefully died last week.  I was able to go see her one last time, hug her & say goodbye.  I will miss her so much.  She had the best ‘giggle’ I’ve ever heard & remembering it will always make me smile.

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I hope all your holidays are what you wish them to be…Happy Christmas!

Sara & Peter come home for a visit!

We were so thrilled to have Sara, Kevin, Claire, Peter & Leia come home for a visit to see family & friends a couple of weeks ago!  I so wish Luke could have made it too…it’s been 8 months since we’d seen either of the boys, 4 months since we’d seen Sara’s family & nearly two years since the three kids have been together…way too long.  

But, one needs to look at one you have, not what you don’t & we were over the moon excited to see Sara’s family & Peter & his girl, Leia.

Claire has changed so much since June, & although we get to Face Time with her, there’s nothing better than being in her presence.  We shared her first campfire, roasted marshmallows, made pumpkin soup from a children’s Halloween book, ran outside a lot, played with the cats, read a ton of books, & made silly faces.  She is one special little girl!

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We went to a local pumpkin patch too!

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We hadn’t forgotten about Peter & Leia...  They visited friends, played some local games of pickle ball & saw a little of KC.  I’d planned a big family & friends party while they were here.  About 50 people showed up, the weather stayed clear for the first couple of hours so we were able to stay outside & we all had a good time.  It was sooooo great seeing Peter’s friends again…most with families & all grown up.  The kid’s friends spent so much time here when they were little & raising little kids was truly one of the best times of my life! One of his friends told me, “this was always my favorite place to come when I was a kid”…that made my heart soar, as did watching Claire play with all the other little kids—we don’t usually get to see her around other children & it was great.  Claire is so fortunate to have lots of cousins in Florida & SHE’S WILD CRAZY ABOUT THEM!  But, she got to meet her one cousin from our side of the family & it was awesome to see the big cousins together too!

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the piano was a big hit!

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& my fav photo of Claire from the night!

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I was surprised & touched by a special toast Danny made at the party…the next day would be our 40th wedding anniversary & he handed me a glass of something dark & boozy as he made his sweet & lovely toast.  It turns out we were drinking a 40 year old glass of cheap champagne left over from our wedding!  It was surprisingly not awful & didn’t kill us!

Today was the day, Sara, Kevin & Claire were leaving, so we made a dash out to eat some BBQ (although the BEST KC BBQ is not open on Sundays, so thats always a bummer!) before they leftalways sad to watch them go & I miss them only hours later!

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After the toys were put away (sad face), the five of us decided to go hear some live music in Lawrence & one of the small outdoor bars.  The evening was cool but beautiful & we enjoyed some good beer (one of my fav’s Boulevard’s Rye on Rye on Rye!) & listened to an ever growing band playing down-home bluegrass.  Upon returning to the table after paying the tab, my credit card went airborne then disappeared…just like magic.  It turns out that it slid between the boards on the enclosed decking…it was spectacularly annoying.  We went out for a beer & to grab a bite & the Burger Stand, then took everyone back home.  Danny & I, along with his power tools & flashlight, headed back to the bar.  After about 45 minutes, he was able to lift one board up & grab the card!  With cheers from the onlookers & credit card in hand, we ended our 40th wedding anniversary & drove back home!

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We spent the next three days with Peter & Leia & they also continued to see their friends & play pickle ball.  Monday night, we all went to Top Golf & met Peter’s friend Eric, my brother Mike & my nephew Brett.  Phyllis & I watched them compete & enjoy themselves!

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On Tuesday afternoon, we all went over to Chicken N Pickle in Kansas City where some of Peters friends showed up to playDanny & I each played a game too.

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Later that evening, we had a yummy dinner of brisket & some favorite old family dishes & one of Peter’s friends joined us for a wonderful evening of conversation & just being together.

Danny had to go to work the next day, & the rest of us just spent the day around the house (they were pretty bored I think!)  Although, Peter did get to to have a nice long visit with our neighbor & I was super glad about that (they spent many, many hours playing together as kids.)

Then it was time to pack up.  We left early enough to go have BBQ at what I consider the BEST in KCJoes.  Full with food & a little extra time, we drove through the Plaza, by the fountains & the art gallery.  Danny called & said he would be off work in a few minutes (something totally unexpected) so we buzzed by his office & he jumped in the car then we took off to the airport.  I really hate good byes, but I managed to do this one without any tears.  Peter is soooo happy & Leia is wonderful, easy going & it was totally great to have them here!

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Okaywhile it seems I can say good bye once in awhile without tears, Im unable to type a blog & not have eye-leakage.

Ill leave it at thisI am so grateful for my childrenall so different, but happy & content in their lives & I am soooo very very thankful I got to spend precious time with them this trip.  (Leaking badly now; time to go!)

chicken shit

I am not political; I don’t trust any politicians.  I normally don’t get involved with anything political or community.  It’s a well known fact I don’t want to live here.  Here is about 30 miles west of Kansas City & 12 miles east of Lawrence.  I live in between two small towns out in the country a rural farming area.  If you’re not a farmer, you commute to somewhere else to make a living.

But about three weeks ago, I became involved.  The city & county commissioners, along with our stupid-ass Governor (who seems to have been able to single handedly take our sad state down in about every aspect…why oh why do people get voting for him?) announced that Tyson would build their largest plant ever in our small community of 5,000 people.  I have learned much:  Tyson is the largest polluter in the country…water; air; everything.  They ruin the environment where ever they go, just paying big fines to appease any weak government entities that care more about big business & money for themselves, than the environment.  They lower property values within about 5 miles of the processing plants from 30%-50%. To bring in 1,600 low paying jobs isn’t a good thing either…we have no infrastructure—police, fire, medical or roads for this size of plant & no affordable housing for people who make $10-$12 an hour.  The schools aren’t near big enough or staffed to handle children of the workers either.  Tyson doesn’t grow their own chickens, they talk farmers within 30-50 miles into raising the chickens for them.  They are planning on processing 1.25 MILLION chickens a WEEK at this plant.  The list goes on & on & yet our politicians think this is the best thing since sliced bread.  It was such a welcome idea, they had to sign a Non Disclosure Agreement & give the whole project a secret code name…seriously?

Thank goodness, this area is made up of smarter people than those that have been elected to make good decisions for our community.  In about 30 seconds, a huge group of protesters had formed.  Well spoken, well informed, well covered by the media, & pretty furious, this group has seemed to move mountains in a short time.  I am definitely not a leader.  But, I am a follower.  I bought my first protest t-shirt & wear it to every meeting.  A body saying no.  I’m also a very good writer.  So, I’m all over social media &  also writing to the aforementioned self serving politicians.

Our big huge beautiful 2,000 acre local ranch pulled the biggest trump card.  They spoke in front of the county commissioners saying if the Tyson plant passed, they would put their prime acreage into Conservation land…no one would ever develop that land. At the same meeting, two of the three county commissioners voted to rescind a $500,000,000 bond they had previously passed & offered to Tyson.  (Question:  Why offer them this?  The plant their planning on building is a $360,000,000…Why should our county pay for big businesses facilities?)  Then, one of the commissioners promptly resigned.  It was an interesting meeting.  Two days later, Tyson sent a press release to the media, saying they were so disappointed no one was going to build their plant for them & now they were putting this plant at this particular location, on hold.  

Everyone in the protest group was elated for about 30 seconds; we’re all too smart to realize this isn’t over yet.  This deal has been in the ‘hidden works’ for probably the past three years.  Tyson & the greedy politicians won’t give up so easily.  We’re all pretty sure they know about loop holes that we don’t.  Plus it seems politicians from Governors to Presidents, can over ride a whole lot of laws, to get what they want.  A new county commissioner—a republican- will be appointed & must have the stamp of approval by our horrid Governor…the king republican who thinks this is a fantastic idea.

I’ve been really impressed by those who are leading our group.  I only hope they can prevail, & Tyson will go away for good.  Several communities have voiced their disgust at our community that we don’t want new businesses & jobs.  We don’t want those jobs or that business—good jobs & environmentally responsible industries, will be welcome here—but that’s not Tyson.  They are poison to wherever they land.

I’ve also thought more about my purchase of this type of cheap chicken; as have so many others in this group.  

While I’ll admit, I’d move in a moment if given the chance….I don’t want our 40 acres, which Danny has worked so hard his whole life to own, to plunge in value.  When I’m home, I spend a lot of my time outside…I sit in my rock garden with beautiful prayer flags blowing in the wind; I have several other outdoor spaces I spend lots of time in; I sit on the porch in the mornings & drink coffee; I hang out some laundry & always my sheets & Danny & I eat outside more often than not in the spring, summer & fall.  To have a processing plant within three miles would ruin all of those places…it would smell like dead chickens, chicken shit & chicken farms.

I certainly hope this is the end of Tyson thinking about building in Tongie.  And, as the community protests have grown louder & stronger, the local politicians are just in defensive mode—trying to ‘calm us all down’ & wanting us to just go away.  And it just gets more interesting, sickening, & disgusting…there’s the Mayor of the city who works for the law firm that also represents Tyson; the county commissioner that has a vested interest in a dog food plant he wants to build next to Tyson (ummm...your doggie gets to eat chicken parts in his food!); one commissioner has turned on another one sicking Kansas City media to a bizarre story of hiring/firing/hiring of a contractor that sounds super ridiculous & good-old-boys favoritism with no common sense.

My view & opinions of politicians have been made clearer…they are all jerks, out for self gain & promotion, just care about money & not people or their community & definitely not the environment & it seems like when they all open their mouths, out comes stupid.  And, this is not just in our idiotic state, it goes straight to the topour President is leading the country in stupid, crass, dishonest, disgusting, lying & only out for self gain.

I am involved. I just want Tyson to go away from here.  Forever.

end of summer...

I’ve been home now for 7 weeks….about 5 weeks too long.  I’m always so sad to see summer end, mostly because it seems an end to my long road trips & travels.  Each year it gets harder to say good bye to Colorado & I never look forward to the job hunt.

This year I thought I was on to something that might work out job wise & it happened in the most unconventional way…this is how my best jobs have always happened.  I was sitting at the Burger Stand, my fav burger bar in Lawrence, the day after I got home.  I was drinking some good beer & looking through the Craigslist ads & visiting with the bartender.  A guy sitting next me asked me what kind of job I was looking for…I told him it needed to be flexible, then listed all my wonderful skills, one of which is cleaning.

At this point, I should remind all of you who say to me “I wished I had your life”…this is one of the parts of my life you DON’T want.  I’ve always thought if you really traveled with me, you wouldn’t say this anyway…I camp in my 4Runner, I pee in the woods, I don’t shower very often, I eat spoonfuls of peanut butter & one meal out a day.  I LOVE my way of travel; I HATE always looking for a job in the fall.  It has been pointed out to me, by more than one person, how picky I am with choosing work.  I agree, but enough said about that…on with the story.

The business-dressed guy handed me his company card & asked what I’d charge him.  We agreed on an hourly rate (I really dislike the hourly wage system) & to meet, later that night, at the building he was renovating.  I took the time in between to Google him & the company just to make sure I hadn’t been drinking beer next to a maniac psychopath. This would be long, gross, story if I was to relate the whole thing.  But to make it brief, it involved an old dilapidated fraternity house, 4 floors, filled with trash, painters, electricians, various other contractors & filth.  He had told me at the bar, it had been post-construction cleaned, it just needed the finishing touches on it.  When I got there later that evening & met with him & his building manager, it was nothing like that!  He’d told me the top two floors were done —they didn’t even have lights up, the painting wasn’t done, 90% of the window frames were broken…blah, blah, blah.  They were on a crazy deadline to be finished in two weeks before 65 fraternity boys would move in.  And then he asked me if I would want the job after they moved in…20 flexible hours a week, cleaning common spaces…which meant the living rooms & bathrooms.  I had not had enough to drink!  just teasing…. but this was NOT going to be the job of my dreams, no matter how flexible it was.  Nothing he’d told me so far was true.  But I was going to give it a shot.

I cleaned two floors of windows that week working around all the contractors & still no lights.  Then the call came to clean all the bathrooms, which he told me had already had professional tile cleaners clean them.  I’ll just say this….THIS WAS THE MOST DISGUSTING JOB I’VE EVER DONE.  I didn’t puke, but came close.  And, no, the tile cleaners cleaned a couple of showers, but not the tile walls or floors.  I finished out the Sunday, with all the working toilets in 100% better shape than the horrible mess they were in as well as the rest of the bathroom areas.  He called the next day, we discussed the job, & I quit.  Another job bites the dust.  (Now I dare you say, “I want your life!”) I could get depressed how lacking in job skills I am, but I’d rather believe I just have not found the right job for me & this period in my life.  

I’ve looked through about 600 job postings to date & I’ve applied for one…sort of.  I was on Facebook the other day, when Boulevard (our local big brewery) popped up with a new posting of their 'road trip teams’ latest trip to Wisconsin & a cute picture of a sweet little camper. I quickly commented that "when they got tired of driving around the country pouring their beer & talking beer, I was applying for the job!”  I listed all my wonderful skills at road tripping & all things beer.  I immediately got a response from them saying if & when that happened, they would consider my comment my formal application!  

This week, I have Phyllis' six month check up appointments then Jill is flying up & we’re taking a quick road trip (see “Our Other Hobby”) & of course I’m stoked to be seeing her & leaving town for a few days.

Also, pulling me out of my post-travel depths, is the wonderful news that Peter & Leia are coming for a visit in October…BIG BIG OVER THE TOP YAY!!!  I am so excited to see them!  I’ve tried to convince Sara & her family & Luke to come home too…it’s been two years since we’ve all been together (oh no!  eye leakage!!) but I don’t think that will happen.  One of the big lessons I’ve learned to be so very grateful for those things you do have & not to dwell on what you don’t.  I am so thrilled that the two of them are coming!

Around the 1st of November, I’ll be back looking for a job.  I am really going to focus on finding one that will work with my life so I won’t keep having to hunt all the time.  Either that or maybe I’ll just try to get a job at the Toy store in Lawrence (best toy store ever!) over the holidays… people that shop for toys & books are usually happy AND the employees all get wear fun hats while they work!  My career life is one sad puppy!  

the world of books...

I’ve mentioned before how I love, love, love to read!  I can’t imagine a life without books or never having time to read books.  I’ve been a big reader since I was a little girl.  I never take for granted that we have the freedom & opportunity to read most any book created & realize that not everyone in this world has this chance.  I love libraries & am fortunate to live so near to such a wonderful one—up to date with latest technology, it’s award-winning beautiful building filled to the brim with all kinds of books & lovely space inside it’s walls to linger & browse…and free!  When I’m home, I mostly always check out books.  I love audio books when I work on a project like painting or once a month cooking & always when traveling.  I use the library to check out e-books for my Kindle when traveling & once in rare moment, purchase a Kindle book that’s unavailable from my library.  E-readers are wonderful for traveling!

Before heading out on a trip, I usually read a couple of books about the places I’m going.  Usually one is a book on the area’s history & one by a local author…it’s just another way I love to connect to a place while exploring.

I’ve also discovered that libraries are a great place to visit as I travel around the country.  An awesome place to take refuge on a rainy day, when you need a power outlet, a bathroom or internet access.  Last year I joined the Crested Butte library as was super-thrilled they gave me a ‘permanent’ card! (I’m actually there long enough to check out books & finish them.)

The long winter days between my last 2016 road trip & the first one of 2017, I read like crazy!  My taste is pretty diverse but mirrors my personality….I like changing things up—learning, laughing, understanding, being entertained & not afraid of new ideas or adventures.  I am always fascinated by authors & think it must be a wonderful but crazy world they live in…they are a talented group of artists for sure!

I love to hear suggestions of new reads…so don’t hesitate if you’ve got some…Tell me!

Here’s my list from mid-September through December 2016:

Narcomics:  Basics on How to Successfully Run a Drug Cartel by JD Rockefeller

Team Rodent: How Disney Devours the World by Carl Hiaasen

Razor Girl by Carl Hiaasen

Walking the California Coast: One Hundred Adventures Along the West Coast by John McKinney

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKewon

Harry Potter & the Cursed Child by John Tiffany

Don’t Bite the Hook: Finding Freedom from Anger, Resentment & Other Destructive Emotions by Pema Chodron

Bad Monkey by Carl Hiaasen

Find the Good: Unexpected Life Lessons from a Small Town Obituary Writer by Heather Lende

Life is Good:  The Book by Bert & John Jacobs

The Pot Thief Who Studied Billy the Kid by J. Michael Orenduff

Home by Harlan Coben

And Soon I Heard A Roaring Wind: A Natural History of Moving Air by Bill Streever

The Dance of the Dissident Daughter by Sue Monk Kidd

Impossible to Please: How to Deal with Perfectionist Coworkers, Controlling Spouses & Other Incredibly Critical People by Neil Lavender

The Only Pirate at the Party by Lindsey Stirling

Seduced by Randy Wayne White

Turbo Twenty Three by Janet Evanovich

The Lorax by Dr. Seuss

Twain & Stanley Enter Paradise by Oscar Hijuelos

On our Own: A Bicycling Adventure in South East Asia by Anne & Mike Poe

Brotherhood in Death by JD Robb

Burning Man: Art on Fire by Jennifer Raiser

The Highway Kind by Patrick, Millikin

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life by Mark Manson

Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman

Still Going Strong by Talie Morrison

The Deep Blue Good-Bye by John D MacDonald

The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires

Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World by Rachel Ignotofsky

Wild by Emily Hughes

The Whole Town’s Talking by Fannie Flagg

No Man’s Land by David Baldacci

The Last Mile by David Baldacci

Rejected Princesses: Tales of the History’s Boldest Heroines, Hellions & Heretics by Jason Porath

The Seed Collectors by Scarlett Thomas

Curiosity Killed the Cat Sitter by Blaize Clement

The Twelve Rooms of the Nile by Enid Shomer

Designing Your Life: Build a Life that Works for You by William Burnett

Clownfish Blues by Tim Dorsey

The Extraordinary Adventures of Alfred Kropp by Rick Yancey

The Seal of Soloman by Rick Yancey

The Thirteenth Skull by Rick Yancey

Rowing the Atlantic: Lessons Learned on the Open Ocean by Roz Savage

Grandma Gatewood’s Walk: The Inspiring Story of the Woman Who Save the Appalachian Trail by Ben Montgomery

The Highly Effective Detective by Rick Yancey

A Terrible Beauty by Tasha Alexander

The Book of Hygge by Louisa Thomsen Brits

Ice Diaries:  An Antarctic Memoir by Jean McNeil

The Highly Effective Detective Goes to the Dogs by Rick Yancey

The Highly Effective Detective Plays the Fool by Rick Yancey

The Highly Effective Detective Crosses the Line by Rick Yancey

You’ll Grow Out of It by Jessi Klein

Rigged Money:  Beating Wall Street at Its Own Game by Lee Munson

Happy Money: The Science of Smarter Spending by Elizabeth Dunn

new trails & website thoughts

I found some new trails to walk!! yay!  We don’t seem to have very many around here….mostly paved & then those aren’t abundant.  But I like dirt!

A couple of months ago a friend of mine had posted that he was walking a trail called Fitch Nature Trail on the University of Kansas field studies property.  It’s about a 10 mile drive from my house…about as close as you get when living in the country.  I’ve tried getting to this trail once before, but the road was closed…they were replacing a bridge & the workers told me it was a long way around.  But, yesterday, with 50 degree temps & under gray skies, I made my way to the trail.

There are actually a few trails at this site…each one fairly short, but all intersect, so I was able to hike around 5+ miles. It was quiet, & as I climbed up one rocky hill, I saw another car pull in the trailhead, but otherwise I had the place to myself.  I took the Roth trail, which climbs up high to a super long view, but a nice one, of the University & it’s iconic buildings that sit high above the town of Lawrence. I hit a short segment of paved trail, which had this ‘Bee hotel’.  I’d heard about this type of bee ‘nest’ last summer from a friend who works at the Rocky Mountain Biological Lab in Crested Butte…they had placed some of these interesting boxes around the woods & mountains in Gothic.

They look like a work of art of to me...

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I’ve been trying to get out everyday for a walk or walk/run in the woods, taking advantage of our warmer temps.  The paved trail soon ended & I was back on dirt, following the trail up hills & over rocks.  I saw an owl & 6 deer.  Nothing too exciting, but Im not taking any sightings of wildlife for granted…I always stop, look, listen & feel grateful.  (The day before I saw 5 redbirds in one tree!)

I found my way down a short road & back to the trailhead.  Today is freezing-ass cold, but hopefully tomorrow will be warmer & I’ll be back on the trails.

There is a new idea that’s been bouncing around my brain…both good & bad.  I considering letting go of this website. The number one reason NOT to, is how much I enjoy looking back on all my trips.  I have the photos printed off, but I love to read back over the text…to see what I was feeling; the names of places & people; etc.  That’s a pretty big reason for me keep it up.  But the cons are out weighing the pros.  It takes a long time to create each page; there are always issues with the site that keep me busier than I want to be fixing problems; it’s not expensive, but there is definitely a cost; & I’m pretty sure there are only about 3 people-other than me-that read it.  It’s not my wish to try to commercialize it, so that’s not a reason to keep it.  I’m thinking of how I can retain all the same information, in a different & simpler format, but one that wouldn’t take as much time but so I’d have my memories documented…for me.

But letting it go seems hard…maybe more than it should be.  It’s 10+ years of my life across many, many miles & places…each trip seems precious to me.

These are some of my random thoughts…we’ll see what happens.

house project done!

The last piece of flooring was actually laid January 1, 2017!  It was the next to last day of Danny’s time off over the holidays & we’d both worked hard to finish up.  The it’s-not-time-to-cheer-yet delay came because the old toilet was giving him trouble when he went to re-install it.  And, happily, iN-beTweeN the 1st & last Sunday, we took a trip to Florida to celebrate Claire’s birthday.  But last Sunday, the 22nd, he wrangled out the old parts, installed new ones & no leaks!  We were done!  It feels like it’s been a long haul & a big dent in our bank account, but we’re both happy with the way it all turned out!  

No more house projects for me!  Danny always seems to have a lot to do between our house & his Mom’s place at the lake, but at least he can do it on his own time, his own way, & without his lovely assistant (that’s my term…he might have something very different he’d like to call my work-ways!! ha ha ha!)

I’ve been applying for jobs…all seasonal or temp jobs.  I haven’t planned my big spring/summer trip yet…I’m thinking I might skip the spring part & shoot for a  long summertime trip.  I keep running into a bunch of snow when I leave in April/May.  But, the planning & dreaming & figuring it all out begins!                                                                                                                                                    © Vicki Hill 2018