Celtic Birds

One thing I really miss about being stationed in England is all the small cross- stitch kits I could find in the various gift shops. If I want to find such kits now, then I either have to go online or drive at least an hour away to find them.

I bought this bookmark last year and started it soon after. My enthusiasm for working on it disappeared after I made an error and had to pull out a bunch of stitches while doing my best to salvage as much thread as possible, because I wasn’t sure if there was enough in the kit. Turned out that there was, thankfully. Anyway, this bookmark was set aside after that. I’m trying to finish some of my already started projects before working on anything new, though, so I eventually came back to this bookmark.

There’s actually another bookmark that needs to be finished, too. That’s next on my list of small projects to finish. I hope to post that soon. 

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Northern Snowman

This is the fourth Mill Hill kit I’ve finished. I have a growing collection of them. I enjoy them because of the sparkle and challenge the added beads bring to the cross stitch, though I’m always nervous about stitching on perforated paper. This is one of four snowmen. I believe may be getting the other three soon as a birthday gift. I mostly bought this one to see if I could cope with the number of beads. There are more than 1,100 tiny beads in this picture. I’m kind of dreading the other three. The cats were mostly behaved during the beading, too, though Tux enjoyed sitting at my feet and batting at any thread that came his way. I’m now back to one of two large projects I’m trying to finish.

My stitching helpurr, Tux.

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Tulips and Squirrels

I normally like squirrels.  I always have, especially after one turned and basically played patty-cake with one of my cats when I was child.  The cat had been stalking it and it decided to show how unimpressed it was.  Anyway, tulip season is the one time of year where squirrels are pests, because they like to eat the tulips.  Some years are better than others.  This year is one of the worse years in recent memory.  It seems we lose another tulip every other day, despite me putting out something to deter the pests.  Gr…

Mom and I went up to the Skagit Valley tulip festival last Monday.  My brother’s girlfriend tagged along, because she wanted to see the tulips in person.  She’s planning future gardens and wanted to see all the varieties.  It was cloudy and increasingly windy, but it didn’t start raining until we were well into the drive back.  We went on Monday for a couple reasons.  One, it was my day off.  Two, the fields are very busy during the weekends.  Especially the weekend before we went, because the weather was very nice.  I looked at the traffic report on Sunday afternoon.  Traffic was backed up for miles and miles because of all the people heading north to see the tulip fields.  Dad even encountered the traffic when he went to pick up my other brother for Easter dinner.  Crazy!

On our way to the gardens and fields at RoozenGaarde, I checked to see which of the old houses and barns were still standing.  I think all of them were, though some had clearly sustained weather damage since we were last up.  I was amazed one particular house was still standing.  Well, sort of.  The front half is partially caved in, but I’m more and more impressed when we find that the rest of the house hasn’t followed suit each year we drive by.

The gardens were lovely, though more crowded than I would care for.  When I take pictures of the gardens, I try not to get too many passerby in the photos.  One, I don’t know any of the people and really don’t know if they want to be photographed.  I hate being photographed, so I give that courtesy to people I don’t know.  Two, it’s hard to get long shots of the gardens with all the people passing through.  I managed.  Mom and I were happy to point out the Kung Fu and Ninja tulips.  Both are shades of pink, which annoys my brother greatly, so we figured his girlfriend would enjoy knowing that tidbit.  His favorite tulips, Black Parrot and Queen of the Night, weren’t in bloom yet.  I wasn’t surprised.  With the cooler spring, many of the later tulips weren’t quite ready.

After wandering through all the gardens, we headed out to the fields.  The closest was a large daffodil field.  I was surprised to see the daffodils still in bloom, though Mom and I speculated the fields would be plowed last weekend.  There wasn’t as much mud as I feared and my brother’s girlfriend was delighted to find the ground was quite springy in a number of spots instead of packed.  We had fun bouncing on it.  My phone’s battery gave me one more reason to add to my growing list of why I want a new phone.  It died as we reached the first of the tulip fields.  I didn’t get as many photos as I would’ve liked, which was disappointing.  I like taking photos of the whole fields, so one could see how they change color.  I also like looking out for misfits, like a yellow tulip standing out in the middle of 20 rows of red tulips.  I got a few of those, but would’ve liked to get more.  Oh well.  Next year.  I’ll have a new phone and will remember to bring an external battery.  Maybe I’ll splurge and upgrade my camera, too.

When we were through with the tulip fields and RoozenGaarde, we wandered into nearby La Conner.  Even though there weren’t as many people as the day before, we still struggled to find a parking spot.  We finally found one in a small private lot.  I have no idea if we were actually allowed to park there, but we paid the fee and knew we wouldn’t be gone long.  La Conner has a small needlework and yarn store that Mom and I frequent whenever we’re in the area.  It moved locations last year, so we had a little trouble finding it.  The owner told us last year that the new location was further downtown and would attract more people.  It certainly looked busier than last year, so I hope that’s true.  I didn’t buy anything this year, but Mom sure did.  It was fun just to see the new place.

After La Conner, we went to the Snow Goose Market and enjoyed their immodest ice cream cones.  They were out of cookies ‘n crème.  How does that happen? I opted for moose tracks instead, which seemed to melt much faster than either of my companions’ flavors.  Next time, I’ll have to remember to get more napkins.

There are two roundabouts on the way to the tulip fields and La Conner.  Mom isn’t as experienced with roundabouts as I am.  I got really used to them during my tour of duty in England.  Anyway, Mom managed to get through them with only a little difficulty.  I much prefer stop signs or traffic lights.

All in all, it was a great trip.  I have a new coaster.  Mom has a new coaster, some new needlework, and a new pot of a variety of tulips that we didn’t see in the catalogue.  Vampire.  A nice shade of red with white tips.  Now, if I could get the squirrels to leave them alone.

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Spring is Here

I think.  It hasn’t really warmed up as much as I would like, and it’s still fairly wet out there, but the daffodils and tulips are slowly blooming in the flowerbeds and I was out yesterday pulling dandelions up.  Also, my cats are spending more time away from the heating vent behind the couch, so I take that as a good sign.

Our front and back lawns are non-existent, really.  They are infested with dandelions and moss.  The front yard especially is more moss than grass.  Mom wants to tear everything out and put in a new lawn.  I’m all for it.  She also wants to make part of the backyard more level.  That would be nice.  It’s so uneven back there that I risk rolling my ankle just walking.  We also need to look at repairing our fence.  It’s old and coming apart in places, especially with how wet it’s been this year.

My youngest brother is in the midst of buying a house.  He figured that was more cost effective than facing another rent hike at the apartment building he’s been living at for the past several years.  I’m proud of him.  He was hoping our other brother might consider moving in with him, but that doesn’t look possible at the moment.  Our brother is resistant to change, despite acknowledging that this would provide a better living situation for him.  Perhaps down the road he’ll be more open.  One step at a time.  I have to remember that with our brother.  He tends to act out if we push too hard.

Next week, Mom and I will make our annual trip up to the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival.  I am confident that we’ll see a lot more than we did last year.  We had a fairly warm spring last year and waited a bit too long to make the trip, so most of the tulips were spent by the time we got there.  We still enjoyed ourselves, don’t get me wrong, but I’m really looking forward to getting many more pictures.  Also, as always when we make this trip, I will be looking out for the older abandoned buildings along the way.  It’s always interesting to see which of those old buildings are still standing each year.  There are also stops at a local needlework shop and the local market for ice cream planned.  We might even have company with us this year, though that hasn’t been confirmed yet.  We’ll see.

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Never Fails

Ever receive an e-mail from someone about how they’ll be on vacation for the next few days and how everything should work fine in their absence, but in the slim chance of anything happening, here’s so-and-so’s number? Heh.  I got one of those last week and rolled my eyes.  Sure enough, something happened this morning and not only could I not get a hold of the person who is filling in, but their voicemail was full so I couldn’t even leave a brief message explaining the problem.  Ugh.  I was hoping to have everything resolved by the time I left work, so my colleagues on day shift didn’t have to worry about it.  No such luck.  I wonder what might happen before I go back in tonight?

I heard on the news the other day that it’s the coldest winter we’ve had in Seattle in decades.  I wasn’t really sure that was true, until I recalled just how many weeks we’ve endured the threat of snow, including this weekend.  In fact, it’s snowing right now.  Meanwhile, I have a friend stationed in Illinois who was bragging about how warm it’s been there.  Gr.  He said that after I asked “WTF?” when the Space Needle was struck by lightning last week.  It caused me to reminisce about the ice storms in Oklahoma.  Until I experienced those I don’t think I realized thunderstorms could occur when it was that cold outside.  Fortunately, I haven’t had to chisel inches of ice off my car since moving back to Seattle.  I hope it warms up soon.  I’d like to see my kitties again.  They’ve been sleeping on the heat vent in the living room for weeks because of this lingering winter.

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Random Bits

Honestly, nothing really exciting happened this week, so I’m not really sure what to write about, but here are a few thoughts I’ve had or things I’ve dealt with over the past few days.

I really hope I’m done with white-knuckle drives for a while.  We’ve had some heavy rain this week, too, though I haven’t gone hydroplaning down I-5 this time around, so things are looking up.

Some of our bulbs are starting to sprout.  I expect to see crocus blooms soon, though I’m thankful they aren’t blooming yet.  I guess the snow was good for something? In years past, if the crocus bulbs bloom early, it’s a sign that I might not have as much time to work with when it comes to planning my annual trip to the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival.  Mom and I usually go together, and we try to work out a day when both of us can go, but that can be difficult.  Last year, due to the mild winter and warm spring, the tulips were well spent by the time we were able to make it up there.  Sure, I got some great photos of the landscape and the old buildings up there are always a joy to see (we like to see if certain long abandoned barns and houses are still standing, too), but I was really disappointed that we didn’t see the fields and fields of tulips.  We have a great time finding the one red tulip among the yellow or vice versa, but last year we didn’t get to see that.  I’m hoping the colder winter makes the tulip season last a little longer.  We’ll see.  If not, well, I have plenty of tulips in the flowerbeds at home to photograph.

I did some necessary clothes shopping a couple days ago.  I do not like this task, and I try to avoid for as long as possible.  Why? Because I can never seem to find anything I would really like to wear.  Sure, shopping for black pants to wear to work is easy, but what about outside of work? I’m more and more frequently having to turn to the internet to find t-shirts I would actually enjoy wearing.  And then there’s the checkout lanes.  I like stores that have the self-checkout registers, but this store did not, so I had to wait.  Patiently.  As the years go by it seems I am less and less patient.  I don’t know where this patience goes.  It doesn’t help that whenever I go shopping, I always wander in when there’s only one register open (it doesn’t matter what time of the day it is) and I almost always get stuck behind at least one shopper who has an issue with their purchase.  For example, and I know this wasn’t the shopper’s fault, one of the items the person in front of me wanted didn’t have a price tag, they found it on the clearance rack, and it was the only one of those left in the store.  Fortunately, it didn’t take long for the cashier to figure out what to do about this issue.  I’ve seen similar situations occur where it took a fair amount of time to resolve.  Those were times I was sorely tempted to put all the items in my basket back and try again on another day.  There have been days when I’ve walked into a store with the idea of purchasing a couple of things, seen one register open with a long line, and turned right back around.  “Nope! Not today.”

One of my co-workers failed to make an appearance this morning.  We haven’t been able to get a hold of him, either.  Again.  We hope he’s okay, of course, but this is getting old.  We don’t particularly like calling the boss in their off time, but my partner needed to get the ball going on getting someone to come in and relieve him.  I hope that worked out okay, though I suspect I might be working a few extra hours tomorrow morning.  Our other colleague on day shift lamented at the number of co-workers he’s worked with over the past couple of years.  He’s enjoyed working with a few of them, but then they’ve gone and done something that can’t be ignored.

The cats have been a little weird lately.  Sometimes they want to snuggle with me all day, and then there are days where I can’t seem to find them.  Or one will want to snuggle, then leave as soon as their person gets home, and it’s weird since they don’t hang out with me all that much.  Usually they’re a bit more consistent with affection or bouts of ignoring.

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Snow, Then Rain

It was predicted that it would snow last Monday and Tuesday.  I was hoping that meant I wouldn’t have to deal with it, since those are my nights off.  Heh.  How wrong I was.  It started snowing before I left home Sunday night.  There was a very light dusting on my car as I walked out of the house.  I wasn’t happy, but knew the roads were still decent enough for me to get to work without too much trouble.

I noticed something odd about other drivers in the snow.  Maybe it’s just me, though? When it rains, many drivers tend to slow down, even if it isn’t raining that hard.  But when it snows? It’s like a flip got switched and everyone is telling themselves, “Oh no! It’s snowing! I’ve got to get off the road as soon as possible!” They’re driving so much faster in snow than in rain.  It’s weird.  I’ll be going along at a speed a bit under what I typically do and drivers all around me are flying past me and spraying slush and whatever else at my windshields.  It makes for an interesting drive.

Anyway, the snow really started coming down early Monday morning.  All was quiet at work.  Mostly.  The people we do see out in this weather tend to be more out there than normal, though, so it can be interesting interacting with them.  As we watched the snow accumulate on the roads, my partner and I waited for the phone to ring.  Sure enough, it did a bit after 0500.  My partner’s relief called out, and then mine did, too.  Fortunately, our manager was able to get a couple of the swing shift people to come in early or on their time off.  We were very grateful.  Then our colleague on graveyard called out, which resulted in me going in on my night off for a few hours.  I wasn’t happy.

The snow had mostly stopped by then, but the roads around my home were very slick, which made for a white-knuckle drive that night.

Wednesday brought the pouring rain.  Due to the rain and melting snow, there was a great deal of water on the road.  Even the interstate wasn’t immune.  I think I hydroplaned no fewer than three times while I drove to work that night.  At one point, the car next to me and I both hit standing water while going down I-5.  The other driver struggled to keep control of their car while spraying my windshield with a horrendous amount of water, which made it almost impossible for me to see what I was doing as I struggled to keep my car from swerving into the lanes on either side.  Fortunately, we prevailed and I made it to work safely.

Still, I am looking forward to a couple of days off with little to no driving involved.

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