A Crafter's Life, Knit and Crochet Away!, Thrift Shop Adventures

The Horizontal Diaries, Continued

Although my blogging buddy @mildlygranola commented on my previous post The Horizontal Diaries, that the title of the post made it sounds like it was a naughty blog (and I nearly spewed my tea across the room laughing), I thought I’d use this blog post title once again! (Even if I could not stop giggling as I typed the title for this post, ha!)

No, sorry, this is not a salacious post about my time in an alternative (but perhaps quite lucrative…or not…not sure if there is a “kink” for middle aged women with broken ankles on knee scooters…but you never know…) career. I am just sharing some updates in my life with my leg elevated since my left ankle break and subsequent surgery (boring, right?)

Mike, with his cone (see post Guest Blog Post: It’s All Fun and Games Until Someone Ends up in a Cone) and I have been just hanging out, knitting, working on some hand sewing (a pesky English Paper Piecing project I’ve had forever), listening to audiobooks, watching television and of course napping.

Good news on Mike – he is practically completely healed from his minor surgical procedure. I took his stitches out yesterday (I might as well occasionally do some nursing since I am a RN) and tomorrow we take off his cone. He has fully accepted his cone and when John takes Mike’s cone off so he can eat, Mike immediate comes over to the cone after he finishes eating to have it put back on!

We call him “Cone Boy” or “Schnauzer in a Cone” and he loves to come over to have us reach into the cone and get face and neck pets and scratches (since he can’t scratch his face or neck with his back leg with the cone on.

I continue to work on knitting a replacement hat for the hat I lost in Ireland (see previous post) and I am slowly making progress (it is always slow for me at the beginning when I have to start with smaller needles for the rolled edge and then switch to larger needles for the body of the hat):

I did get to do something fun the other day after a doctor’s appointment – John took me and my knee scooter to a local thrift shop and I got to wander the aisles for a bit. It was a little awkward navigating the tight aisles of the thrift store so I didn’t last too long shopping, but I did have a fabulous find:

Over three yards of ArtGallery Fabric fabric – two pieces from an older line and one piece from a newer line – for $1.99 each! I do appreciate when people donate wonderful high quality quilting cottons to thrift stores AND the thrift store staff price them to move (smile)! I was happy to help the fabrics “move” to my fabric stash!

Yesterday brought two awesome surprises in the mail (the timing was awesome as the “immobility blues” was hitting me hard) from two very thoughtful friends.

First a collection of delicious Oregon (I used to live in Oregon) based Moonstruck chocolate bars:

And then another package from another friend filled with all sorts of goodies (it seemed like the goodies would never end as I was unboxing them…):

Included in this mega gift package was this:

Hmm…is someone trying to tell me it’s time to try a new hat pattern? Ha! I am looking forward to working on this hat kit after I finish the hat I am working on now.

Well back to finding something to binge watch. Recently I binged the first 3 episodes of the AMC show The Mayfair Witches; and I’ve been watching very silly science fiction and horror movies (they are great to nap to, ha!)

I’ll close this post with this card I came across that made me laugh:

Feature image – Pexel free photos

A Crafter's Life, Knit and Crochet Away!

The Horizontal Diaries

I am recovering from a broken ankle after fall on ice and subsequent surgery to repair the fracture (with lots of fun stuff like screws and plates inserted into my ankle). I’ve been unhappy about my sudden immobility and I’ve been trying to be as independent as I can in daily tasks with not much success. I have to rely on my partner John more than I want.

I noticed today that I still have some post operative swelling in my toes that I think I should have gone down by now, but I’ve been naughty in regards to not completely following my post operative instructions to keep my leg elevated above my heart.

Shortly after realizing my limited compliance with post operative instructions (and I am a nurse and should know better!), I came across a blog comment by one of my New Zealand based blogging buddies (@cedar51) on the other side of the world on my post Sheep to Brighten My Day :

The more your leg is horizontal – the faster it will heal – and yes it will be annoying but then when it’s all better – you will be back doing all those things that you love.

– @cedar51

Yes, she is right and I know it. So spent most of today horizontal instead of trying to busy myself on little tasks around the house in my knee scooter.

And the swelling in my toes has begun to diminish.

I guess I need to keep this horizontal existence up for now.

While binging all sorts of strange things on YouTube (like how to can a year’s worth of food; how to crochet baskets; living in a van; and being a digital nomad) I’ve started working on another knitted hat (yes same pattern of course, ha!):

The hat is being knitted from yarn I recycled by unraveling a scarf I was not using. It is the yarn that my beloved knitted hat my friend who taught me how to knit hats made me. Unfortunately I lost this hat while I was in Ireland in October 2022.

I had that hat forever (at least 10 years) and I wore it all cold weather season long. It was sort of like my security blanket. Here I am in 2015 in the hat when I appeared in an advertisement for SAQA in the FiberArts Now publication:

I was so heartbroken when I lost my hat; but so happy when I returned home and realized I could unravel the matching scarf that I never wore and knit myself and new version of the hat.

In addition to working on the hat and binging YouTube videos, I’ve been listening to audiobooks and snacking on delicious coffee cake. Another thoughtful friend sent me a get well package, that I received yesterday, of some delicious jasmine tea and gourmet coffee cake mix. John made me the coffee cake the same day the package arrived!

Well that was enough sitting up to write this blog post. Headed back down to full horizontal to take some more pain medications and dose off to yet another YouTube video…

Feature image – Pexel free photos

The Library Stack

The Library Stack – Beauty and Slowness

It’s been a while since I’ve written any posts for my blogging topic category – The Library Stack where I share my latest stack of local library books I’ve borrowed.

Before I got injured (slip on ice led to broke ankle, if you are new to this blog), I borrowed a HUGE stack of library books and a couple of contained meaningful quotes and concepts that stuck with me.

Yummy Library Stack!

Beauty by Design: Refreshing Spaces Inspired by What Matters Most by Ginger Curtis

This book focuses on turning your home into a sanctuary that reflects who you are.

The author uses the acronym B-E-A-U-T-Y in a creative and inspirational way:

B – Be still in your space and spend time reflecting on your journey.

E – Express your dreams. Say those lovelies aloud, tell friends about them, write them down.

A – Ask someone in your life to share insight and encouragement about you and your dreams.

U – Understand the values of what you have to offer through your heart and home.

T – Take time to plan a next step or two or four. Use this book to keep going.

Y – Yes. Say it. Yes, you have permission to foster the beauty you long for.

The book is peppered with inspirational quotes and here are my favorites I stumbled upon as I paged through this book:

If it’s a woman’s nature to nurture, then she must nourish herself.

Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Where we love is home – home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

Still: The Slow Home by Natalie Watson

This book also contained inspirational quotes that stuck with me. This book invites readers to structure their home environment based on the “SLOW” Movement – living SUSTAINABLE, shopping LOCALLY, selecting ORGANIC products, and eating WHOLE foods.

When were you last still?

Without movement and motion.

And free from thoughts tumbling and rumbling ahead.

But still in the silent depths of quiet calm.

Holding space for now.

Natalie Watson, Still: The Slow Home

Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.:

Rumi

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new lands but seeing with new eyes.

Marcel Proust

The book discusses 10 steps to slow living:

  1. Create a vision
  2. Develop a value framework
  3. Find our why
  4. Focus on priorities
  5. Take responsibility
  6. Let go
  7. Switch off
  8. Live in the now
  9. Cultivate good feelings
  10. Embrace SLOW living one step at a time

It was a wonderful home decoration book and I felt calm and peaceful after reading it.

The other books in the library stack were awesome but these two stood out for me.

A Crafter's Life, Bags Bags Bags

Sheep to Brighten My Day

Currently I’m sitting around, doing some handwork (will share when I made more progress) while I recover from my left ankle break and the subsequent surgery I had to repair the fracture (see post 2022 in Review: A Year in Travel). The other day I received some mail from one of my dear blogging buddies that really brightened my day: sheep themed linen cotton fabric!

What a thoughtful surprise and I cannot wait to make something with it – like a cool knitting/crochet project bag! Maybe one like this Noodlehead pattern – Firefly Tote that I made in December 2021:

tierneycreates

Oh So That’s What Happened to It!

Sometimes it pays to randomly “google” yourself.

Back in November 2021 I posted that one of my art quilts made from recycled materials, RECYCLED HOPE III: WINDOWS OF CONVERSATION, sold to a private collector via a Seattle based art consultant – Another Recycled Fabric Art Quilt Sold.

I thought perhaps the quilt went to a private home. I did not ask what became of the quilt after I sold as the art consultant did not disclose her client’s details.

Well my random decision to google “tierneycreates” the other day led to this result:

www.masonandmainapartments.com/art

I discovered my quilt is hung in Building A, L7 at this upscale apartments in downtown Seattle Washington and that my photo and Artist Statement is on their website.

I had fun exploring their website, learning more about this lovely looking downtown Seattle residence.

I also watched a YouTube video posted on the residence’s website…

And found my quilt hanging on the wall in their lounge at time 0:19 into the video (see left side of image below, a screen shot from their YouTube video):

Wow! What an unexpected surprise!

In December I sketched out some plans to continue my Recycled Hope series someday. Coming across this info of what happened to that quilt has inspired me to revisit this series of art quilts in the near future and expand my portfolio.

Was it a message from the Universe to get back to working with recycled materials and making art quilts? Maybe…

Feature image courtesy of Google Pexels

Guest Blogger, Miniature Schnauzer Musings

Guest Blog Post: It’s All Fun and Games Until Someone Ends up in a Cone

Hey it’s Mike the Miniature Schnauzer that lives with/manages Tierney and John. Usually I write my own blog posts (yes I’ve learned to type without opposable thumbs) but this time I had to dictate my post to Tierney because I am in A CONE!

Can you tell how irritated I am with the humans?

Just because I had a weird growth on my back, which turned out to be harmless, and had it removed, does not mean I can’t be trusted not to lick my stitches.

I kept trying to reason with my humans to remove the thing. Here I am glaring at a human sitting on the loveseat next to the couch:

I think this is a plot by my female human to have someone else in the household who looks injured. I tried to intimidate her by staring at her knee scooter:

Nothing has worked and allegedly I have to wear this thing for 9 more days. I am going to keep giving them the “furry eyeball” and staring them down until they consider removing this thing.

The humans keep commenting on how cute I look in my cone. Why don’t they try wearing cones for a while?

allposters.com

Knit and Crochet Away!

First Finish of 2023 – Granny Square Crochet Blanket Done

Here’s a follow up to the post from January 9, 2023 Update on Autumn Colors Granny Square Afghan :

It only took me a year but I finally finished the Autumnal Colors Granny Square blanket.

It measures approximately 70 inches by 70 inches and is made with 100 crocheted Granny Square blocks.

I wanted 2023 to be a year of finishing up old projects and now I have one down (and oh so many to go!)

It was a great project to finish up while I spend a lot of time in the recliner in our living room since breaking my ankle last week:

And now the blanket is on the top of my recliner awaiting my snuggle under it:

I had John take photos for me since I can only use one leg these days, and at first he took this photo (as a joke, little did I know) for this blog post:

I thought at first he thought this was a good photo for the post!

Now to decide what outstanding project to work on next…

Yesterday John helped me get my studio (from main bedroom, see post A “New” Studio) better set up to sew and craft in ready with my new reality – the knee scooter:

I am going to try spending part of the day tomorrow sewing in my studio instead of sitting in my recliner with hand projects (moping that I am no longer as mobile as I used to be).

Oh and I have to close this post with a photo my friend Wendy sent me from @themercerie on Instagram:

Is that not the ultimate granny square sampler? That would only take me 5 years to finish 🙂

A Crafter's Life, tierneytravels

2022 in Review: A Year in Travel

As promised, here is a blog post about all my travel in 2022. But before I dive into that, let me share why travel in 2023 will likely not be the same volume as 2022.

A nasty slip on the ice on January 11, 2023 led to an ankle dislocation and a tibial fracture. I was just taking Mike out for his morning walk and SURPRISE! It looked pretty bad when I first did it but the surgeon I met with today said it was a common ankle fracture.

I have surgery on Thursday January 19 to get some delightful plates and screws inserted into my ankle area and rebuild me. It will be a 6 month recovery. He said a couple weeks post-op if I really wanted I could travel but I likely won’t be feeling it for a while!

I had a dental appointment yesterday and my dentist did share that he had the same type of injury a couple of years ago, recovered fine and is now running again and snowboarding. He is near my age and really active. Right now all I am thinking about it how much I will miss my morning walks with Mike the Miniature Schnauzer while listening to audiobooks.  Also a couple fun trips 2023 got cancelled – we were headed next week to Atlanta, GA for a conference John needed to attend; we had a trip to Cabo planned; we had a New Mexico roadtrip with my sister planned; we had a family trip to Barcelona Spain (with a side trip to Lisbon Portugal to meet up with some friends of John’s there); and a little weekend trip to Las Vegas. Maybe the Universe was telling us to slow down as we’ve gone a little crazy traveling post pandemic!

Well enough on my new found reality. let’s talk about all the travel I did in 2022, good memories (queue Barbara Streisand singing…)

2022 A Year of Travel

John and I went a little crazy with travel in 2022 in a post pandemic explosion of saying yes to most travel opportunities presented our way. For domestic (U.S.) travel we had the SW Airlines Companion Pass (that we had earned in 2021 for 2022) and so I could fly for basically free ($11 fee each way) whenever John flew.

We had a busy combination of personal and business travel within the U.S. and a trip to Ireland. Here’s where we went:

Chicago, Illinois (three visits)

If you count our short trip to Chicago at the beginning of January 2023, we visited Chicago three times in less than 3 months. Our trips included two business trips for John and one trip to meet up with my brother and his family in Chicago as my brother was there for a business trip. Here’s a blog post link about one of the 2022 trips to Chicago – Chicago in Black and White

Richmond, Virginia & Washington D.C.

The saga of our trip to Washington, D.C. and Richmond, VA in order to spend Christmas with my family and the subsequent travel drama is contained in these posts: A Christmas and A New Years Miracle? (Part I), and A Christmas and a New Years Miracle? (Part II)

Austin, Texas (two visits)

In 2022 we went to Austin, Texas twice on business trips for John. It is a very cool city and I had an amazing time at the downtown Austin library (a magical place!). Here is one blog posts related to some of our Austin, Texas travel in 2022 –Peaceful Oasis at the Austin Central Library .

Las Vegas, Nevada (three visits)

We visited Las Vegas three times in 2022 for fun – twice on our own and once with friends. On one of the trips I took a bunch of black and white photos on “old downtown Las Vegas” – the Fremont Street Experience area, and shared them in this post –Downtown L as Vegas in Black and White

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Atlanta, Georgia (one visit)

I probably should have written a post about our visit to Atlanta, Georgia in November 2022 as I took a lot of cool photos, but I’ll share some of them here. The airport, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, is really cool and we loved the art to include a simulated rainforest at night experience in one of the main moving walkway areas; and a wonderful tribute to the late U.S. Representative John Lewis:

We spent time wandering about the Krog District a really cool shopping and arts district. They had another tribute to John Lewis as graffiti on a building (they had lots of awesome graffiti art in the district); as well as a display of some amazing recycled metal parts (including automotive parts) sculptures:

Portland, Oregon (one visit)

I blogged about my awesome trip to rainy Portland Oregon in December 2022 in the post A Little Reunion in Portland Oregon. Although it was cold and rainy it was fun to visit Powell’s Book and other cool places in the Pearl District of downtown Portland.

Fayetteville, Arkansas (one visit)

I went to Fayetteville, AR for the first time to meet up with my friend MJ and help a friend organize her crafting/art studio. Here are the blog posts about that adventure: Guest Blog Post: The Fayetteville Friend’s Studio Project, Part I, Guest Blog Post: The Fayetteville Friend’s Studio Project, Part IIGuest Blog Post: The Fayetteville Friend’s Studio Project, Part III and Cute and Curious Kitty Quilt Trunk Show .

New York City, New York (one visit)

We spent a day in NYC before heading overnight to Dublin, Ireland. Perhaps I am cheating but I will go ahead and call this a visit to NYC!

Omaha, Nebraska (one visit)

We had a brief trip to Omaha, Nebraska for John’s business meeting in October. I was bummed to learn after the trip that we were not to far from one of my knitting goddess blogging buddies @mildly granola who lives in Iowa, and we could have met up for an adult beverage!

I could have done a post on the Omaha visit but I was distracted from travel and then too much time passed and I forgot about blogging about the trip. So here are some photos of the fun we had one afternoon in Omaha’s Old Market:

Fun shops we visited in Old Market included the Christmas store Tannenbaum (which had the most unusual and perhaps disturbing Nativity Scene I’ve ever seen); Raygun (which had a hysterical sign on the front window); the Imaginarium ;as well as the Monster Grub Pub (a horror themed pub!):

St. Petersburg, Florida (via Tampa, FL)  (one visit)

In September we went to St. Petersburg, FL for the opening of the Black Pioneers: Legacy in the American West show in which my art quilt Langston Hughes, Pioneer Poet was included. Here are blog posts related to that adventure: Black Pioneers: Legacy in the American West show opening weekend, Part I , Black Pioneers: Legacy in the American West show opening weekend, Part II , and Black Pioneers: Legacy in the American West show opening weekend, Part III .

Ireland (Dublin, Galway, Doolin)

In October 2022 we journeyed to Ireland for the first time along with the tierneycreates and John Beastie in tow. I still have another blog post or two to write about the trip, but here are the blog posts that tierneycreates Beastie and I have shared so far: Guest Blog Post: Beasties Return to Ireland! , Guest Blog Post: The Beasties’ Ireland Travelogue (Part I) , and Guest Blog Post: The Beasties’ Ireland Travelogue (Part II).

Shelton, Washington (via Seattle, WA)

In July 2022 I went on a quilt retreat in Shelton, WA on the water. The tierneycreates Beastie and I did a series of blog post about that adventure: Guest Blogger: Quilt Retreat Report from the tierneycreates Beastie, Part I, Guest Blogger: Quilt Retreat Report from the tierneycreates Beastie, Part II, and Riptide Retreat 2022 in Black and White .

Hamilton, Missouri (via Kansas City, MO)

In March 2022 I attended a Missouri Star Quilt Company quilt retreat. Here are the series of blog posts about this adventure: MSQC Quilt Retreat Part I: What I Worked On, MSQC Quilt Retreat Part II: Quilt Town, USA ,MSQC Retreat Part III: Inside the Shops, MSQC Quilt Retreat Part IV: Greatest Fabric Scrap Sale of All Time and ,MSQC Quilt Retreat Part V: The Retreat Center Experience.

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Wilmington, North Carolina (via Raleigh, NC)

We had to travel to Wilmington, NC for a work conference John needed to attend. We flew into Raleigh, NC, rented a car and drove to Wilmington. Here is a blog post about time in Raleigh –Trip to North Carolina: Fun Evening in Downtown Raleigh.

Here are blog posts about the rest of the trip: Trip to North Carolina: The Ocean and Trip to North Carolina: Quilt Shop Wander

Various Roadtrips in Colorado

During the year we also did various roadtrips in Colorado such as weekend trips to Colorado Springs and Fort Collins, CO. Here are some 2022 blog posts about my adventures in Colorado Springs, CO Seven Falls in B&W , Guest Blog Post: How to Completely Terrify Your Miniature Schnauzer,Breakfast Buffet and Confused Deer, and A Little Luxurious Getaway. Writing this post made me realize I never did a post on the very fun trip I took with my sister to Fort Collins Colorado in July. Okay that will be a future post.

So currently all my 2023 travel plans have been cancelled and I am adjusting to my new limited mobility reality. But my ankle will heal and I’ll be back traveling later in 2023.

Books, Music, Podcasts

2022 in Review: A Year of Books

I so appreciate the blog posts some of you write where you share what you’ve been reading and your reviews. I read a lot (for me but likely not a lot in comparison to some of you who are voracious readers) in 2022, both fiction and non fiction, and I thought I’d share what I read and my book reviews.


Billy Summers by Stephen King

4.5 of 5 stars

My friend Michele recommended this book and I am so glad I picked it up. It’s not a Stephen King horror novel but more of an action/thriller like his book 11.22.63. I listened to the excellently narrated audiobooks and read the actual hardback book (which I purchased as once I got into the book I knew I would read it again). The book is about a hired assassin’s assignment gone wrong…oh so wrong. It is one of my favorite Stephen King books of all time. It’s one of those cannot put down thrillers!

Cultish: The Language of Fanaticism by Amanda Montrell

3.5 of 5 stars

I wanted to really like this book which was very engaging when it began but it did not stay strong.This book defines what cults are, their common features, and discusses her research on various cults from religious cults to political,  social and financial cults (like Multi-Level Marketing). The research was interesting but the whole book got tedious after a while.

Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir

5 of 5 stars!

I’ve read a lot of science fiction books over the years, it is my favorite genre. I thought Andy Weir’s The Martian was one of the best science fiction books I’ve ever read, but it has been usurped by Project Hail Mary – what a masterpiece! The main story is that a junior high school science teacher is sent into space as one of the only people who can save the planet. How it got to that point is hysterical and amazing, and what happens after he’s in space will blow your mind and completely entertain you (and there’s lots of interesting science of course!). Exceptionally awesome ending and the kind of book the whole family can read together. It’s a tribute to junior high school science teachers everywhere!

The Immoralists by Chloe Benjamin

3 of 5 stars

This book started out great with an interesting premise: what if you could know when you were going to die, how would you live your life. It follows the lives of a group of siblings growing up in the late 1960s (I think, or early 70s) forward. But the author did not seem to know where to take the book and what to do with it. It did stay interesting 3/4 of the way through and then took a huge nose dive. Others give the book high reviews but didn’t work for me.

It’s OK That You’re Not OK by Megan Devine

5 of 5 stars

Definitely the best non-fiction book I read in 2022. I dedicated a whole blog post to it – see my post from May 2022 – On Grief .

The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix Harrow

4 of 5 stars

This book reminded me a tiny bit of one of my favorite fantasy books of all time – The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield. It is one of those “story within a story” and an engaging fantasy tale set in the early 1900s about “secret doors” that lead to other worlds and realities. It was very engaging and had the standard tropes of an innocent girl in a difficult situation surrounded by adults who do not have her best interests in mind. It is good entertainment but a little bit forgettable after you finish the book. This is why I gave it 4 stars.

The Sentence by Louise Erdrich

5+ of 5 stars

The main character in this book Tookie now lives rent free in my mind forever. What a book, one of the most memorable I’ve read.

“Small bookstores have the romance of doomed intimate spaces about to be erased by unfettered capitalism” – Louise Erdrich.

It is an ode to independent bookstores (my second favorite place to hang out after public libraries) and reading books; while exposing injustices done to Indigenous peoples and beauty and complexities of Indigenous cultures. It takes you through the early days of the recent pandemic and social injustice and how it impacted a local Minnesotan Indigenous culture. I listen to the glorious audiobooks narrated by the author (who is an excellent narrator). I feel this book was a gift from the author to the world.

Real Artists Don’t Starve by Jeff Goins

3.5 of 5 stars

I borrowed this book from the library after listening to the author speak on a podcast. The book had useful information for people starting out in their artistic careers and I got a couple tips here and there, but it was mostly forgettable hence the 3.5 stars.

Circe by Madeline Miller

5 of 5 stars

You’ve head the term “Girl Power”, well this book was about “Goddess Power”! Another one of my favorite fiction reads of the year. The story is very unique and creative: the author takes a smaller story from Greek Mythology and fleshes out/expands it to an epic novel! The novel is about a banished lesser goddess who grows into her own. Just a freaking awesome novel!

Find Your Artistic Voice by Lisa Congdon

4 of 5 stars

The title of the book is what the book is about! I did find it engaging and inspirational but I was wanting more, hence the 4.0 rating. I listened to the audiobook and I recently came across a paperback copy of the book and did pick it up to re-read again. I think it is worth a read for any artist but it does repeat some concepts you’ve likely already heard.

Nora Goes Off Script by Annabel Monaghan

4.5 of 5 stars

This book could definitely be turned into a movie. I hope it is! Sometimes you just need an enjoyable romantic comedy to read. This was an engaging and well written one. Some of the plot was predictable and surprisingly a lot of the plot was not. It is definitely one of those “beach reads” and lighthearted, very funny and heartwarming!

MaddAddam by Margaret Atwood

4.5 of 5 stars

I wanted this to be a 5 of 5 stars book as it is the third/final book in the amazing science fiction trilogy (The MaddAddam Trilogy) by Margaret Atwood. The trilogy is worth reading – I highly recommend the first two books Oryx & Crake and The Year of the Flood – mind blowing-ly excellent writing and story.  The final book was great but some of it felt like the author didn’t put forth her best effort. The trilogy is set in a world wide pandemic – pre and post – and about genetic engineering gone crazy and the consequences. The stories of the different characters in the books are very layered and complex. I was amazing how Margaret Atwood creatively joined the stories of various characters she introduced throughout the 3 novels.

Breath by James Nestor

4.5 of 5 stars

Awesome nonfiction book about the science of breathing and why breathing correctly is important. I listened to the book and the end of the book also has breathing exercises you can try out. I learned so much!

The Surrender Experiment by Michael A. Singer

2.5 of 5 stars

I was so disappointed in this book. It started out excellent and is by the same author that wrote one of my favorite “self-help” book The Untethered Soul. “The Surrender Experiment” was about the author just letting go of trying to control everything in his life and just letting things happen organically. The book was so engaging (part of the book was a 5 of 5 stars) but then it spent too much time about his career as a software mogul and got very boring. I think the author should have stopped the book 1/2 way through and just summarize the second half of the book and moved on to explore his insights more deeply.

Deep Storm by Lincoln Child

4 of 5 stars

A thriller set in an offshore drilling site. There was quite a bit of predictable plot but I enjoyed the non stop action and the twists in the book so much that I give if 4 of 5 stars. What is discovered below the surface of the offshore drilling site is quite fascinating (and very creative on the part of the author) I recommend it if you like Clive Cussler type of thrillers.

Stolen Focus by Johann Hari

4.5 of 5 stars

As the book tagline states – it’s about “Why you can’t pay attention and how to think deeply again”. Excellently researched and presented, this book is much more than just telling you to turn off your social media accounts. It dives deep into the issues in our culture. I would have given it 5 of 5 stars but the ending of the book made me feel sort of hopeless and hopeless for the world. I still think the book is worth a read but you might get pretty upset about the algorithms that Google, Facebook, Instagram, etc. use to “steal your focus” (you might want to watch the movie Social Dilemma on Netflix before you read this book, Johann Hari participated in it). This book dives quite a bit into ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) and why it is a societal problem vs. an individual problem. It was fascinating how he contrast the childhoods of those growing up in the 1980s or earlier (where your parents let you do much more stuff on your own) compared to the current “helicopter” parent culture and the climate filled with fear that children will be abducted if you let them out of your sight. The author opens the book with an amazing experiment he did where he abstained from the internet and social media for an extended period of time and how he interacted with the world changed.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

5 of 5 stars

Now I want to go and read every book by Taylor Jenkins Reid (I have Malibu Rising sitting on my bookshelf). The book was not a literary masterpiece but it was highly engaging and binge-worthy reading (could not put it down at one point). It starts out in the 1950s and tells the story of a “rags to riches” rise of a fictional Hollywood icon Evelyn Hugo, while addressing real life awful things that women in Hollywood had to deal with during that era. The book takes you from the 1950s to current date with the elderly Hollywood icon telling her story to a 30s something journalist. And what a story it is.

Upgrade by Blake Couch

4.5 of 5 stars

Excellent scientific thriller about genetic engineering gone awry! Set in the future where genetic engineering has advanced to unprecedented levels and then banned as the results of genetic engineering catastrophe, the author provides lots of in-depth  background on genetics and genetic engineering so that the reader can enjoy the complex science behind the story. I gave the book 4.5 instead of 5 stars as it feels like some of the story is missing. I imagine the book’s editor telling the author he had to cut it down by 100 pages. It was still engaging non stop action but it seems like there was a huge opportunity for more background to be put into the book about the main characters’ relationships.

So those are my reads for 2022. I am currently reading A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan in paper book form; and listening to The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley on audiobook while I go on my walks.


Feature Image by Mystic Art Design from Pixabay 

Book images from Amazon.com

Knit and Crochet Away!

Update on Autumn Colors Granny Square Afghan

I was going to write a post about my 2022 travel next (my excuse for the lack of completed projects in 2022 as I discovered when I wrote my previous post 2022 in Review: Crafting Projects Completed) but I decided to write about a project I am working on completing – a granny square afghan in Autumn colors.

Previous posts on this blanket are:

Update on Latest Granny Square Blanket

Update on the Latest Granny Square Blanket

What’s on the “Design Carpet”: Update on Granny Square Blanket

Granny Squaring Again!

Those are a lot of posts for a blanket that is still not completed. Luckily some of the previous posts included cute photos of Mike the Miniature Schnauzer with the blanket in progress to distract you – ha!

Searched through those posts to see when I started working on it – and the answer is January 2022 (whew it is barely a year old, ha!)

Part of my New Years Resolutions are to complete the projects I have uncompleted. I want 2023 to be a “Year of Completions”. So a couple of days ago I pulled out this dusty project and made a lot of progress (seven out of ten rows now done!!!):

I was laughing to myself as my original plan was to have this afghan completed by Autumn since it has Autumnal colors but then I realize the colors are all season as far as my house as they coordinate with my living room decor:

I have 7 rows completed and 3 more rows to go and then the border.

In previous posts about this blanket I discussed putting several rows of borders on using several of the colors in the individual granny squares.

I thought more about that and I think that will be too busy. I am just going to border it with one row of the brown I am using to attach the granny squares together.

Plan = focus on completing this project, work on it every evening while watching TV and get it done!

A Crafter's Life

2022 in Review: Crafting Projects Completed

I’ve seen a bunch of posts where my blogging buddies are sharing galleries of crafting projects they completed in 2022 and I thought it would be interesting to do the same. I am a little nervous writing this post as I think I am going to be disappointed on how little crafts I made compared to how many I had planned to make!

But here goes…

Hmm…it is worse than I thought…I didn’t make very much in 2022 except for small projects. Well I do have an excuse – I think I traveled the most I’ve traveled in one year in 2022. I’ll have to write a post about that next!

Feature Image by Anita Smith from Pixabay

A Crafter's Life, Books, Music, Podcasts

Saturday Soulful Simplicity

I was Chicago part of this week with John for one of his business trips and on Friday we met a friend who lives in the Chicago area for breakfast at the amazing Starbucks Reserve Roastery on Michigan Ave (The Magnificent Mile), and had one of those hours long deep and thought provoking conversations on life, life changes and making major life decisions.

Our friend was looking for some inspirational reading for the new life path he is exploring and I mentioned I had lots of non-fiction/self improvement books reviewed on my blog and would send him some links.

Searching for my posts led me to come across this post from July, 14 2018 Soulful Simplicity and the Mexican Fisherman and I thought I would repost it. Note, I do mention my late husband in the post, little did I know when I wrote this post I was less than 5 months away from losing him and my life changing forever.

I do think my readings and my journey into Minimalism did help me tremendously when I had to deal with the physical possessions he left behind.

I had a Saturday of Soulful Simplicity and did some purging in my closet of more items for donation.

Soulful Simplicity and the Mexican Fisherman

(Re-posting – originally posted July 14, 2018)

What does the phrase “Soulful Simplicity” mean to you?

The last several months I’ve listening to some awesome audiobooks from my public library while I go on daily walks, sew, or do errands. I plan to share highlights from the audiobooks in upcoming posts and I thought I would begin with my current listen: Soulful Simplicity: How Living With Less Can Lead to So Much More by Courtney Carver.

Screen Shot 2018-07-14 at 7.22.34 PM
image credit: Amazon

Here is the summary of the book on on the Deschutes Public Library website:

Courtney Carver shows us the power of simplicity to improve our health, build more meaningful relationships, and relieve stress in our professional and personal lives. We are often on a quest for more, giving in to pressure every day to work more, own more, and do more. For Courtney Carver, this constant striving had to come to a stop when she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Stress was like gasoline on the fire of her symptoms, and it became clear that she needed to root out the physical and psychological clutter that were the source of her debt and discontent.

In this book, Carver shows us how to pursue practical minimalism so we can create more with less-more space, more time, and even more love. She invites us to look at the big picture, discover what’s most important to us, and reclaim lightness and ease by getting rid of all the excess things.

The audiobook is read by the author (which always adds a high degree of authenticity to the listening for me) and focuses on “being more with less“.

I am 2/3rds through the audiobook and wanted share one of my favorite stories (that the author shares in her book) about what really matters in life. As the author states, there are many versions of this story. Here is the version from her website: Be More With Less.


The Mexican Fisherman

An American investment banker was at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one Mexican fisherman docked.  Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna.  The American complimented the fisherman on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them.

The fisherman replied, “only a little while”. The American then asked why didn’t he stay out longer and catch more fish? The Mexican said he had enough to support his family’s immediate needs. The American then asked, “but what do you do with the rest of your time?”

The Mexican fisherman said, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siestas with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine, and play guitar with my amigos.  I have a full and busy life.”

The American scoffed, “I am a Harvard MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat. With the proceeds from the bigger boat, you could buy several boats, eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the processor, eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing, and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then LA and eventually New York City, where you will run your expanding enterprise.”

The Mexican fisherman asked, “But, how long will this all take?”

To which the American replied, “15 – 20 years.”

“But what then?” asked the fisherman.

The American laughed and said, “That’s the best part.  When the time is right you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich, you would make millions!”

“Millions – then what?”

The American said, “Then you would retire.  Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siestas with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos.”


In the version I heard many years ago, the Mexican fisherman states at the end of the story: “Why would I go through all that to get what I already have?

The first time I heard this story it deeply resonated with me. As I have discussed in my series of posts on My Minimalism Journey, I’ve been working on appreciating and enjoying the life I have; taking care of my physical, emotional and spiritual health; and curating my possessions to only those things I truly love (but darn it, I love all my crafting books and magazines!)

In my pay-the-bills health care job, I’ve been offered the opportunity to attend my employer’s leadership track nine-month program to move into a leadership position. I declined the opportunity as although it would be more money, it would be much less time doing the things I love such as blogging, crafting, spending time with my husband and dog, enjoying nature, etc., etc., etc.

I am already happy with my job, salary and work schedule. I do not need to climb the “corporate ladder” to become happier.

Actually I think climbing the corporate ladder at this point in my life would be the path to less happiness as I remember a lot of stress in my life when I was previously in leadership for 8 – 9 years.

Terry the Quilting Husband (TTQH) fully supports this decision as he remembers his very stressed wife during her years in a leadership role.

I am quite content in my life’s version of a “little fishing village”.

Fear less, hope more; Eat less, chew more; Whine less, breathe more; Talk less, say more; Love more, and all good things will be yours! – Swedish Proverb

Knit and Crochet Away!, Quilt Shop Tours

Fibre Space – A Yarn Universe (Yarn Store Tour)

While we were stuck in Alexandria Virginia after Christmas thanks to the Southwest Airlines meltdown (see my post A Christmas and a New Years Miracle? (Part II) ) we had fun wandering around  Old Town Alexandria.

During our wanders, we came across an awesome yarn shop called Fibre Space and I thought those of you who love yarn might enjoy a virtual tour.

I knew it was going to be a cool place when we were approaching the shop. They have outside seating surrounded by sheep sculptures!

Plus the front door looked inviting, so I just had to go in (smile):

My photos do not fully capture the experience but when you fit walk in your get hit with a very visually appealing and delicious looking yarn experience:

Upstairs they have their classroom, more yarn (because I guess there just wasn’t enough on the first floor), and a sitting area for non fiber art aficionados (I put John there and he had a relaxing wait while I browsed):

The shop was wonderful as the friendly and helpful staff were wonderful also. I behaved myself and didn’t bring any new yarn home (there is enough yarn currently living at my house) but I did pick up so cute stitch markers and a cedar needle case.

If you happen to find yourself in Old Town Alexandria and you are into yarn, I recommend a visit to this shop.

Knit and Crochet Away!

Another Knitted Hat and “HatMan”

If you’d followed my blog for a while you know I keep making the same hat over and over again (but in different yarns).

The pattern is called Rolled Brim Hat and it is very comforting to me to knit it (and I think I could knit it in my sleep). No matter how much I try to convince myself to expand my skills and try and more complex pattern (or just any other hat pattern), I keep returning to this pattern and I’ve customized it to fit my head how I like the hat to drape.

And this hat is great to work on during travel (as I can mindlessly make it), I worked on one during our trip to Ireland in October as well as on various other trips.

I’ve made the hat in numerous colors – for me and for gifts for family and friends, however one of my favorite yarn colors of hat was gray. The yarn was an acrylic/wool blend (Lions Brand Yarn).

Here I am a couple years ago wearing one of my favorite Tierney-knitted hats and tormenting Mike the Miniature Schnauzer to selfies:

Last year my friend Blair really needed a winter hat and he has an usual shaped head for hats. He and his wife were having trouble finding him the right hat. We were out to dinner with them one evening and I let him try on my gray hat and it worked perfectly for him. So I gave him my beloved gray hat.

I thought I would be okay as I have a lot of other hats but I kept missing that hat.

Summer 2022 I found a skein in the back of my yarn stash of the same gray acrylic/wool blend yarn I used for my first gray hat and decided I need to just make myself a hat to replace the one I gave up.

The other day I finished my replacement gray hat!

I am very pleased. It might look boring to you but it makes me very happy!

But here is the real reason for this post – I wanted an excuse to share with you all – HATMAN (no relation to Batman, ha!).

While we were stuck in Washington DC (see post A Christmas and a New Years Miracle? (Part II) ) I worked on this hat and at one point I wanted to make sure it was long enough before I began the process of decreasing my stitches to the crown/top of hat to complete it.

My partner John agreed to let me test it out on him (which the knitting needles attached) and he got quite silly with it and became HATMAN.

I am not sure if he plans to fight crimes and serve justice while wearing it (and will those knitting needles give him super powers?!?!). We had quite the laugh, especially when John added in his sunglasses!

Closing this post with a little history on this hat: I first knitted the Rolled Brim Hat in 2011 and I shared photos from 2011 of my first knitted hat in this post from February 2021 – My First Knitted Hat.

Here I am in 2011, braces and all (oooh less wrinkles 11+ years ago!) with the first version of this hat (which I made too small for my head):

Guest Blogger, Miniature Schnauzer Musings

Guest Blog Post – Dog Camp Holiday

Hi this is Mike the Miniature Schnauzer. I figured after you read about my humans holiday travel misadventures (see posts A Christmas and A New Years Miracle? (Part I) and A Christmas and a New Years Miracle? (Part II)) you were probably wondering what I’ve been up, especially during the time they were away for an extended period of time trapped on the East Coast of the U.S.

Well I spent my Christmas at “Dog Camp” the house I stay at where they only let dogs my size stay for overnights or for daycare. I got lots of friends there who regularly come during the day for doggy daycare as well as those whose humans keep going on ridiculous trips like my humans.

It was my first time since I got adopted in 2014 by Tierney that I was away from her at Christmas time. But I did okay as miniature schnauzers do not generally keep track of holidays!

At Dog Camp we play ball all day long (and I love playing ball!). Here I am with my friends playing endless ball:

Endless ball makes you tired after a while so there is also a lot of napping at Dog Camp – there is a cozy cushion for every dog. Here I am relaxing with one of my friends:

Since it was the Christmas holiday, the people who run Dog Camp did make me pose for a silly holiday photo which they sent to my humans:

As much fun as I have at Dog Camp, I still was so happy to be reunited with my humans when they finally picked me up from camp. So much so that I am trying to be near them at all times. Here I am snuggling with my female human while she tries to read a book this past weekend:

My humans felt bad for being away from me so long and this past weekend they took me everywhere with them. They even took me in my backpack to the mall so my male human could get some additional winter clothing. Here I am at a department store “hanging around” while my male human tries on clothing over his existing clothing (no worries it was a top not pants – ha!).

Bet you didn’t know those racks at department stores can also hold miniature schnauzers!

From the Woodshop

Never Bored When Making Boards (From the Woodshop)

Yes, one of my New Year’s Goals is to post on my blog more frequently. We’ll see how this goes…

It’s been a while since I’ve shared what my partner John, whose main hobby is woodworking, has been making.

Lately he’s been making boards.

Here is John in his workshop in our basement where he made cutting boards for our home and as holiday gifts; and a “laundry machine/dryer topper” board (I made the name up but you’ll see what I mean in the photos below) in November and December:

CUTTING BOARDS

John used a combination of scrap wood and newly purchased speciality woods/exotic lumber samples to create cutting boards in two styles: 1) 3D design (like he did in the post From the Woodshop: Tray for our Ottoman); and 2) Scrappy slices (I totally made up this name).

And here is a gallery of the lovely cutting boards he made which were quite the hit as holiday gifts to family and friends:

The 3D boards look more “3D” in person, it was difficult to capture the right camera angle to give you the full 3D effect.

He also made 3 boards for our kitchen and we’ve enjoyed using them over the past month:

LAUNDRY TOPPER BOARD

In addition to the cutting boards, John also made a washing machine and dryer topper board for the laundry room. This allows us to fold and stack laundry without worrying about that mysterious sock slipping behind or in between the machines!

He used scrap wood and created a patchwork effect in honor of my quilting! He also cut holes for the washing machine hose and connections so the board would fit flush to the wall – nice job!

John is busy planning his next project.

tierneytravels

A Christmas and a New Years Miracle? (Part II)

Picking up where I left off on the Part I post of my holiday travel saga – A Christmas and A New Years Miracle? (Part I).

Before we boarded the plane to Richmond, Virginia, we suddenly had so many logistics to handle like cancelling our Amtrak train tickets from Washington, DC to Richmond for the next day and cancelling the hotel for that evening in D.C. We also needed to rearrange our hotel accommodations in Richmond at the Linden Row Inn to start a day earlier. It was a made rush on the phone and online before getting on the plane but we were so happy to be going directly to Richmond, VA to start our Christmas holiday with my family!

While in Richmond we had fun exploring downtown Richmond and Carytown with my sister and then a wonderful Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with my brother, his wife, their son and of course my sister and her husband and son.

Christmas Eve we stopped by my sister’s favorite distillery Trial & Error and did some whiskey and infused vodka tasting which was fun!

My brother’s son, my 10 year old nephew, brought some of his stuffed animals for me to repair (I had my trusty traveling needle and thread) while we were together, so I did a couple “surgical” procedures on his “well loved” stuffed friends while we visited:

On the 26th of December it was time for John and I to say goodbye and take Amtrak train to Washington D.C. to catch our flight back to Denver on Wednesday the 27th. We were staying overnight in D.C. and in the morning going to sightsee a tiny bit before heading to the airport.

We were feeling so grateful that Christmas with my family was a success as we sat on the train headed to D.C. when a couple things suddenly happened

First the train ahead of us hit a parked car on the track (luckily no one was inside the car) and our train was stopped for a hour or so while the crash was resolved.

Then we got a message from Southwest Airlines that our flight to Denver from D.C. on December 27th was CANCELED. Just cancelled with no rescheduling. We had a message to see an airline agent to re-book.

So once we got into D.C. instead of heading to our hotel, we took an Uber to Ronald Reagan Airport to see what was up. Boy were we in for a surprise! We didn’t have all the details at the time but SW Airlines had completed melted down. They cancelled all flights across the country for Wednesday to Friday, halting their operations until they regrouped. It made the national news and the U.S. Department of Transportation said they were going to put the airlines under investigation as they stranded thousands of people after the Christmas holiday.

We got to the SW Airlines ticket counter and we were told there were no flights until Saturday December 31st! So we were stranded in D.C. from Tuesday Dec 27 until Saturday Dec 31!!!!!

Here are links to a couple of the news stories that summarizes what happened with SW Airlines:

Why Southwest is melting down (CNN)

Southwest Airlines flight cancellations continue to snowball

A wonderful summary on Wikipedia:

2022 Southwest Airlines flight delays

And one of the many videos of news stories of the travel nightmare that hit the U.S. courtesy of SW Airlines:

There are numerous sad stories of families missing major holiday vacations and missing luggage. The airport was filled with people who had been basically camping at the airport and long lines of people trying to find their luggage or speak with a gate agent.

John and I were upset as we were missing our dog Mike and looking forward to returning home to him, we had parked our car the airport and had to incur 4 – 5 more days of daily charges; and we now had to incur the cost of a hotel for 4 additional nights as well as food. Plus we had packed light and our clothes really needed a laundering (and we had run out of clean underwear!). Also we had planned to be home way before New Years Eve and enjoy a couple days at home, and New Years Eve, etc. before the New Year began.

So now you might be wondering – why didn’t we just book a flight home on another airline as the other airlines had not melted down and were operating as normal? Well we checked every airline that could get us to Denver and flights up through Friday ranged for a one way flight from $2100 to $4300 per person (only last minute first class flights were available on other airlines). It was much less expensive to stay in the D.C. area until Saturday and fly home at no additional cost via SW Airlines.

But we decided to make the best of it and see it as a forced vacation in Washington D.C.

We decided to only stay one night at the hotel we booked near the White House area in D.C. and move to stay in Alexandria, Virginia, which is sort of suburb of D.C. for the rest of our stay. It is a safer area, has the wonderful Old Town Alexandria to wander about, is right on the Metro line (DC area transit system), and is only two stops from Ronald Reagan Airport which we would eventually fly home from.

Wednesday the 28th we wandered around Old Town Alexandria and had a fun time despite our situation. I’ll do a separate blog post on that as this wandering involved an absolutely awesome yarn shop as well as fabric shop!

Thursday we decided to spend 1 – 2 days in Washington D.C. playing tourist. We both wanted to see the Library of Congress and although I’ve been to D.C. many times since I grew up on the East Coast, I’d never been to the Supreme Court and wanted to see that. We figured we could also fit in some Smithsonian Museums too!

Here we are at the King Street Metro Station in Alexandria about to head back into Washington D.C. for our first day of sightseeing at our nation’s capital on Thursday December 29th:

In addition to that separate post on our adventures in Old Town Alexandria, I’ll have a separate post on our adventures in D.C.

But we only spent one day in D.C….why? Because another miracle happened, one I like to call THE NEW YEARS MIRACLE.

The afternoon of Thursday December 29th, we had just finished visiting the Supreme Court building and went to wait on line at the Library of Congress for a tour. While on line we discovered we could only get into the building with “timed entry tickets” which we had to buy online, and they were sold out for the day. John got online and got us timed entry tickets for Friday so we could try again during are planned day 2 of touring D.C.

As we were exiting the line, a large family group was confused as to where they needed to wait on line to get into the Library of Congress. We stopped to help them and pointed them to the line. They asked us how was the Library of Congress and we explained we couldn’t get in because the timed entry tickets were sold out. Well they said they had TWO EXTRA tickets and we could join their group and get in!

We were so happy as this left more time the next day to see other things in D.C. and we were really looking forward to touring the Library of Congress, one of the few venues in D.C. neither of us had seen.

Little did we know this was part one of a two part miracle, as while we were touring the Library of Congress we got a text that SW Airlines was restoring regular operations.

We looked at their flights online and saw there were flights on FRIDAY from D.C. to Denver AND one flight that evening back to Denver!

We quickly ended our day in D.C. and took the Metro to Ronald Reagan Airport to see a SW Airlines ticket agent! We convinced them to put us on the Thursday evening flight and not to charge us the $700+ dollars the flight cost.

The we rushed back to our hotel, which was 2 Metro stops away, packed as fast as we could and headed back to the airport! Amazingly our hotel, Embassy Suites heard our saga and kindly refunded us our hotel room charges for Thursday and Friday night (another part of the miracle, like perhaps a part three)!

And late Thursday December 29th we returned to Denver! Two days earlier than Saturday (huge smile)!

In addition to being able to return home earlier than planned, we were so grateful to the people we randomly met who shared their tickets to the Library of Congress with us as (little did we know at the time) we would not be in town the next day to see it!

So that’s the shorter version of our holiday travel saga, I’d put you to sleep if I provided all the details, ha!

I’ll close out with a couple of humorous airplane travel memes courtesy of demilked.com:

tierneytravels

A Christmas and A New Years Miracle? (Part I)

Happy New Years to all of you, I hope 2023 is spectacular for you!

I spent Christmas on the “East Coast” of the U.S. with my family this year, and I have a bit of a travel saga to share. John and I met up with my sister and her family; and my brother and his family in Richmond, Virginia to celebrate the holiday. But this trip involved a “bomb cyclone” in Denver, below zero degree Fahrenheit temperatures, numerous flight delays and a major airline meltdown.

It was the first time in many years spending the actual Christmas holiday with my siblings and their families. When I lived in Oregon (West Coast of the U.S.) we avoided cross country travel during the holidays as it is always a “hot mess” at the airports. We always visited before or after the holidays. After I moved to Denver in 2019, the plan was in 2020 spend Christmas on the East Coast with my family as now I lived 1/2 way across the country.

But we all know what happened in 2020 (hint it involves the word “pandemic”).

Then we were going to make it happen in 2021 and there was a national situation involving the word “variant”, and we decided to wait another year.

So this was the year it was going to happen and “come h*ll or high water” John and I were going to make it to the East Coast for Christmas with my family! Our plan, which we thought was fool-proof (but only fools think that, ha!) was to first fly into Washington, D.C. where there are always numerous flights and options, stay the night there, and then take Amtrak train from Washington D.C. to Richmond, Virginia (which has very few flights from Denver).

Before I tell your the story of our travel saga, let me first share some photos with the darling resident kitty Annabelle (who liked to take “selfies”) at the Linden Row Inn in Richmond, Virginia where John and I stayed during our family holiday:

More on our visit to Richmond and eventually Alexandria Virginia and Washington, D.C. in a future post. But when our travel adventure began at the Denver International Airport (DIA) we thought we were not going to make it.

A couple days before Christmas a bomb cyclone was due to hit Denver, Colorado. We found out our original flight on SW Airlines was cancelled and they would not allow us to schedule a new flight over the phone or on line – we were informed we had to do it in person at the airport! John went to the airport and was able to get us another flight, very early in the morning (5:05 am).

The only problem was the night before our early morning flight the bomb cyclone it and Denver got a MAJOR snowstorm and temperatures dropped to 15 degrees BELOW ZERO Fahrenheit (-15 F)…and that is -26 degrees Celsius for my blogging buddies outside the U.S. John’s son was originally going to drive us to the airport but the weather was treacherous and his car was not up to it. We looked at getting an Uber or a Lyft ride share ride but they were limited with the terrible weather.

So we decided to drive it ourselves and leave our car at the airport. It was a long “sphincter-puckering” drive on snow and ice to the airport. Luckily John has lived in Colorado most his life and is an experienced snowstorm driver.

The roads were not the scariest part of the drive, the other drivers that were either whizzing by or driving 10 miles an hour on the highway were the scariest part!

But we got to the airport 2 hours early for our flight! We were overjoyed (and we able to un-pucker our sphincters!)

But then the plane could not board passengers as the airline could not get it de-iced. They could only keep crews out for 10 minutes at a time in the sub-zero temperatures for safety reasons (like frostbite!). Plus they have 17 airline crew members that needed to “deadhead” and since they had to get the flight crew members to their next location (pilots and flight attendants), they had to BUMP 17 passengers from the flight.

The gate attendant of course asked for 17 volunteers to give up their seats (with an offer of $1200 in flight credits) but warned us that if there were not enough volunteers, they were going to have to give some of us bad news.

3 hours later we lined up to board the plane (John and I were lucky enough not to be selected to be bumped from the flight) and discovered that those passengers who were bumped we not able to get their luggage that had been loaded on the plane back! They had to wait to hopefully get another flight during a horrendous storm while their luggage flew on to the destination.

Lots of stressed out holiday travelers and tension and then the SW Airlines airport gate attendant had a meltdown and tearfully announced over the loudspeaker that if customers continued to be hostile towards her she was not going to help them. I felt bad for the passengers but I also felt bad for the overworked and stressed out SW Airlines staff who were trying their best to handle a stress holiday travel weather disaster that was not their fault.

We were so happy when we boarded the plane to the first leg of our journey – Chicago, Illinois (Chicago Midway Airport).

Little did we know that when we landed, our next flight (to Washington, D.C.) would be canceled...

So we were stuck at the Chicago Midway Airport with no way to get to Washington, D.C. that day as the weather was growing worse (Chicago of course was being hit with a blizzard). We even heard that the airport was being closed! This turned out to only be a rumor by one of the airport food service workers who talked to who’d been told the airport eateries were all closing/they were sending staff home.

John and I were able to find a flight late that evening to Washington, D.C. but there was a strong potential it would be canceled, and then the CHRISTMAS MIRACLE HAPPENED.

John and I were in a daze wandering the halls of the airport wondering how to fill the time, when John noticed all flights were cancelled on the large screen listing of arriving and departing flight board he passed by…except for a 5:00 pm flight to RICHMOND, VIRGINIA!

Richmond, VA was where we wanted to eventually end up! We walked as fast as we could to a SW Airline gate counter, pleaded our case and got two of the last available seats on the flights! After my very happy sister (who I’d kept apprised of our evolving travel saga) picked us up from the airport we were able to check into the Linden Row Inn and meet our new friend for several days, Annabelle the resident kitty.

More on the next post about our travel saga, the SW Airlines meltdown and then the New Years Miracle, but here is a photo of the wonderful couple dressed as Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus (or was it really them?!?!) that were wandering the halls of Chicago Midway Airport trying to bring cheer to travelers during a stressful holiday travel time:

I thanked them for the joyous distraction they provided!