So one of my wishes for the 2017 New Year was to teach myself how to crochet. Being left-handed, I continually frustrated my mother and grandmother when they attempted to teach me. I can crochet a simple single crochet stitch, but anything more than that and I am at a loss. So my search for crochet tutorials led me to tons of websites and YouTube. Yes, YouTube is now my friend. One of the first videos that I watched was Bella Coco from the UK. Shout out to Sarah Jayne!!! You rock in teaching someone how to crochet. She has a lot of videos showing left handed crochet. Yea!!! She also has a website, which you can find here.
I dug through my sewing box and pulled out the crochet hooks that I already had and then hit up the local craft store. My hubby is always my biggest supporter, so while I took in the yarn aisles searching for yarn for my first attempt at crocheting, he was picking out some yarn for me to make him a scarf. I thought it would probably be finished in time for next winter, but I bought the yarn and several others, as well as a few more hooks. The first stitch I learned from Bella Coco was the left-handed waffle stitch. I took notes, bookmarked the video and wrote down specific times when she transitioned from one row to another and I was off.
The first scarf took about 4 days. It was done to match my winter coat. Once I realized that it looked normal and not misshapen, I started the one for my husband. I kept checking the length and told him to tell me when it was the length that he wanted. His took about a week. Of course it was finished and the temps were in the 50’s and 60’s. The temps finally dropped and he was able to wear it for the long walk from the parking lot to his office building. His report was “it was warm and toasty and people asked where I got it from.” Mine will have to wait until next winter to be worn. I park in a parking garage and walk about 30 feet into the building.
Next up was several cowl’s to wear with some of my sweaters at work. They were my response to the no v-neck sweater policy at work, so this helps me cover up the “V” while wearing something I made. I did those in a light weight yarn and learned another new stitch. I have also learned the basket weave stitch from her site as well. I picked up two pillow forms and plan to use them on the couch. I completed the bolster pillow, which was done in the waffle stitch pattern, and I used the basket weave stitch to cover the second pillow. For my first attempts at making pillows, they came out better than I thought they would.
I then started working on an afghan to keep warm on the cold winter nights. The only issue was that winter turned into spring and by summer the yarn was too warm to work with so I put it aside to finish in the fall. I did attempt to make a pair of baby booties for one of my coworkers who was expecting and I have to say, they turned out pretty good for my first attempt.
When the weather turned cool, I started working on the afghan again and realized I was only three rows from the end. I could have finished it a lot sooner. My husband requested one for when he and the pug sit in the recliner at night, so I started working on his. I have six more skeins of yarn to go and we are only 3 weeks into the official winter season, so I am hopeful it will be done in time for him to actually use it. The photo shows the afghan and the two pillows that I made. Now I just have to figure out what I want to make next.
With fall officially set to depart on Thursday this week, I have to say that fall this year has truly been one of the more beautiful ones that I can remember. Maybe it was due to the fact that we had a rather mild summer. Oh sure, we had a short period of time when the temperatures were in the 90’s, but for the most part, the summer stayed in the 80’s and when fall came, it actually was cool. That might have had something to do with the amazing show that Mother Nature put on in our region. Driving to work, the bright oranges and reds of the trees with the early morning sky showing pink and orange in the background made for a beautiful drive.
And all those wonderful colors on display made for a lot of weekend road trips for my husband and myself. We did a lot of leaf peeping in the region, making several trips to Pennsylvania, including a fall foliage train ride and a tour of covered bridges. We also visited the Great Falls National Park on both the Maryland and Virginia side and discovered a tasty little barbecue place along the way. Can I just say that Mookie’s BBQ in Great Falls, VA serves the most amazing loaded fries, which comes complete with burnt ends, pulled pork, cheddar cheese and onions? Yum! They are worth a stop if you are in the area.
Here are a few photos of some of the places that we visited…
Rocks State Park, Maryland
Great Falls National Park, Virginia / Maryland
Bucks County, PA view from Bowman’s Tower
One of the Buck’s County, PA covered Bridges
All photos © lenalee
My husband and I have made several trips to Conowingo Dam in Maryland to look for Bald Eagles. The dam is filled with fish which makes for a fertile feeding ground for the eagles and other birds that make the dam their home. Eagles are usually extremely territorial and live 1 ½ miles from another nest, but the eagles at Conowingo Dam do not follow that rule. There are literally hundreds of eagles living closely together and enjoying the bounty that the dam provides. I didn’t realize when I was taking pictures just how many eagles there were along the rocks.
Here are some of the pictures I’ve taken during our visits:
And if you want to see more, the short video below shows what the Conowingo Dam is like in November, when the dam opens the locks and fish flood into the water. If I were to visit in November, I think I would stay in the car. The video was entered on Nat Geo and finished in the top 4. The video is by Mike Lemery and can be seen here:
While I love touring the countryside and capturing pictures of wildlife, I don’t necessarily like to see them up close and personal in my yard. This summer has been rather interesting around my house as several different animals have decided that our neighborhood makes a good place to live.
We have always seen deer around the area, but rarely see it near our house. One morning, we saw four deer making their way across the field behind our house. They came up from the river at the end of the block and were on their way back home after a night out. A few days later, I was on my way to work and I saw something in the road. It looked like a cat at first, but I realized that it was bigger than a house cat. As I got a little closer I realized that it was a red fox. It was headed out of my housing area, so I’m not exactly sure where it was coming from. I just hope it doesn’t live near.
My husband was working from home the next day when he sent me a text that a groundhog had apparently taken up residence under the shed in the back corner of the yard. When I asked him if he was sure, he sent me a picture. Since it was about the size of our pug, I was concerned and wanted it gone. We called a wildlife company that will trap and relocate the animals. The price was close to $200 to put in a trap so we decided to buy one ourselves. At the same time I saw a story on the Baltimore news that a rabid groundhog was found on the grounds of the Baltimore zoo, so I definitely didn’t want that living under our shed.
After about a week we didn’t catch anything. We were going to put the trap away but we ended up lending it to our neighbor when he said that a groundhog was living under his shed and eating from their garden. I figure it was like an all-you-can-eat buffet at their house for the groundhog. After a couple of weeks he returned the trap and said that he didn’t catch anything either. So apparently the groundhog moved on.
Last weekend my husband went outside to mow the lawn. He saw a tiny bird alongside the shed and he thought it was injured. We put some water near it and when he checked a little later, it looked like it was trying to drink. After he finished the grass, he looked for it again and it had hopped up on a low board of the fence. My husband took a picture of the little guy (who looks a little grumpy) and I texted it to a co-worker whose husband volunteers for a wildlife rescue organization. It seems the little bird is a newly fledged mockingbird who may have overestimated his flying ability. He said the mom and dad were probably close by. When we checked an hour later, the bird was gone, so the water must have worked. The next day we noticed mom and dad mockingbird chasing one another around our trees. I think they might have been celebrating their empty nest.
In the past I have written about how my husband has become an east coast driver due to his daily commute on the beltway for work. He tends to drive too fast for me and when I am with him he hears a lot of things about speed limits and how we aren’t in a hurry to get there. A few weekends ago, we decided to take a drive up to eagle watch and if we just happened to stop at Philly Pretzel Factory on the way back home no one would be complaining. It was raining lightly, more of a drizzle and annoying than anything. We saw a few eagles and then drove up to see if I could get pictures of a covered bridge that was being used for engagement photos the last time we were up that way. This time a group of boy scouts were fishing off the bridge, so we decided to pick up the pretzels and head home.
I-95 was wet, but traffic wasn’t as bad as it could be on a Saturday and most people were actually driving a few miles below the speed limit. We were one exit away from ours and in the middle of three lanes of southbound traffic. My husband asked if I could get him one of the pretzel rivets. I reached for them from the back seat and handed him one, keeping the box on my lap in case he wanted another. All of a sudden a red pickup truck in the left lane goes zooming by, not noticing that the traffic in front of him was slower. He braked, fish tailed and then over corrected which caused his truck to start spinning, hitting other cars in front and on the side.
My husband saw what was happening and slowed down. Luckily the people on the side of us and behind us did the same. I envisioned us getting hit on all sides. Car parts were flying off and the tailgate from the truck flew off landing on the left shoulder. It was like a scene out of a movie. The car in front of us decided to move to the right lane instead of staying stopped and the truck slammed into them before coming to a stop on the right shoulder as if he parked the truck there. All told the truck hit 6 vehicles. We would later learn that there were no reports of injuries.
I looked over at my husband and he smiled, probably to counter the look of shock on my face. “I see at least three of these types of accidents each week on my way home from work.” He was carefully navigating us through the car parts littering the highway to get out of the way of the accident scene.
“Are you kidding me?” I asked
He shook his head. “Nope. Why do you think I want to talk to you when I’m driving home?”
“I have no idea,” I answered while thinking that I shouldn’t be critical of his driving anymore.
“It’s because if I get into an accident, you’ll know and be able to call for help. Nice save on the pretzels by the way. I’ll take another one now.”
Looking down, I realized that through the whole accident, I had held on to the pretzels like I was holding a football. “They’re good pretzels.” And they are.
Remember when you were little and people would ask what you wanted to be when you grew up. My answer up until the age of 9 was that I wanted to be a nurse. That changed after I spent 11 days in the hospital with double pneumonia. I was kept in isolation and because there wasn’t a room available on the children’s ward, I was given a room on the geriatric floor. The sounds at night were very scary to a 9-year-old. I was also having to get multiple blood draws and because I am hard to draw blood from, I was stuck over and over again. To a 9-year-old, I couldn’t understand why the nurses let me be hurt by the people drawing blood, so I decided that nursing was not my calling.
My husband finds it funny that I ended up working in the medical field. Yes, I work around nurses and know that all nurses are not mean, but I also know that I made the right decision not to become a nurse. My husband had the first of possibly three surgeries on his arm earlier this week. His arm had been feeling numb and tingling for the better part of a year. Of course, he being who he is, he didn’t tell me. He was worried that it was cardiac related. When I found out about it, I made him get an appointment with a primary care physician. He hadn’t been to a doctor since he left the military. His doctor I am happy to say is wonderful and has put him through a variety of tests. The good news is that he is better than I thought he might be. The bad news is that the numbness and tingling meant he has to have surgery.
I am fine with all of the things needed to be done prior to having surgery. I went with him for his MRI and made sure that he got his pre-op clearance physical and labs done in plenty of time for the records to be sent to the hospital. I also made sure he got copies of everything in case something was missing the day of the surgery. The surgery was scheduled for mid-morning and he had to check in 2 hours prior. They let me stay with him up until they were taking him to the surgical suite. I was given a number to watch the board to keep track of what was happening with the surgery. The one issue that I had with the surgical board was that the information was not real-time. By the time he showed up as “Procedure in progress” it was actually over and he was in recovery.
The first nurse he had in recovery was rude and totally out of line in regards to how she briefed the second nurse who came to cover her for lunch. It was like my husband was a total inconvenience to her. The second nurse asked questions and joked with my husband making him feel more comfortable. I went so far as to ask her if she could keep watch over him until he was released as the first nurse was not very polite. She said that she would and she did.
I was fine getting him home, making sure he was comfortable and took his pain meds. I got him ice for his ice packs and pillows to keep his arm elevated. And when he was hungry, I made sure his food was something he was able to manage one-handed. But when it comes down to having to look at the wound and change the dressing. I am not a good nurse. I know that it is psychological, but I get absolutely queasy dealing with someone’s wound. I don’t want to look at it and I am afraid I will hurt him.
It hasn’t been too bad so far, but I keep reminding him that this is the reason I didn’t become a nurse. He laughs and say’s he didn’t marry me for my nursing skills. I laugh and tell him it’s a good thing I knew I didn’t want to be a nurse when I was 9. If I had become one, I have a feeling I would be more like nurse #1 instead of nurse #2.
The scanning of family photos that my husband made his winter project came to an end shortly before the remodeling of the man cave/media room began. Once all the photos were scanned, my husband brought up a packet of photos that I realized I had never seen before. It was several photos of he and our son taken in California when our son had joined him for a long weekend while he was on a two-week business trip.
The photos were of the two of them at Legoland. We had told our son when he was younger that if we were ever near a Legoland, we would take him there. I had originally thought we would find time to visit the one in Florida when we lived in the south, but things had never worked out. So here were photos taken when my son was 17 and his dad took him to Legoland, fulfilling a promise made a long time ago. While my son was too big for many of the rides, they still had a great time. They also weren’t the only father/older son there. Looking at the photos, I saw two happy people and realized that it was probably the last time the two of them were in a photo together.
We have gotten away from taking pictures together and use our phone most of the time to capture events in our life. Very few of those are of more than one person in the picture. And even fewer have my son as a part of them. While cell phones are great to capture a moment, we should pull out an actual camera to capture family times that we can look back on and remember everyone together. Time is too precious and there are too many memories left to make.
My husband is a list maker. He has a list of things he needs to do. There are those that are on the list for the week, such as mow the lawn and weed the flowers. And those that are on the list for the month and even long term. When he completes something, he crosses it off the list. He also doesn’t add something to his list if he started it and forgot to put it on it. I will sometimes race to his list and add something he is doing just so he can mark it off.
Me, I am not a list person. I know what I need to do. I keep that in my head, but I don’t need a visual reminder of things that I might not get to. That would be too depressing to keep seeing things I need to get to, but would rather do something else instead. So as we put the last piece of furniture back in place in the man cave/media room, I reminded my husband that he could cross the project off of his list. He reminded me that we still needed to get the paint off the door hinges, but that wouldn’t take long, so he crossed the project off his list. He then began to see what other projects were on his list that he would focus on next. I hoped he would just relax for a little while. The DIY project reminded us both that we are both getting older and at times the project kicked our a$%. But as luck would have it, or in our case, bad luck. Another DIY project fell into our laps.
On Monday morning, I heard my husband yell from the bedroom. The dog and I hurried upstairs where I found my husband in his t-shirt and undies. “Why were you yelling?” I asked him.
He pointed to the closet door. “Open the door,” he replied.
I opened the closet and saw that the shelves had pulled away from one wall and there were clothes and blankets and pillows and shoes piled three feet high on the floor. I looked at him and back at the closet. I took a step into the mess on the floor and reached my clothes for work and backed out of the closet. “Hmmm…looks like all of your clothes are on the floor.”
“Really? I didn’t notice,” he said. “Oh right, I did because I saw you step in them to get to yours.”
I reached back in and pulled up a pile of clothes and laid them on the bed. “I’ll be right back,” I told him as I raced back down the stairs. I found his “To Do” list and wrote, “Closet Makeover.” He’ll be able to cross that off as soon as we finish.
Going back upstairs I found suits and dress shirts laying over the banister and the bed was covered with blankets and pillows. “Get dressed. We can finish clearing this out after work,” I told him. My husband was staring at the wall where the shelves had fallen. “He didn’t put them into the studs. Who doesn’t put up shelves in the studs?”
I assumed he was talking about the previous home owner. “Don’t worry. You’ll find all the studs when you fix the closet.”
Buttoning his shirt he looked at me and asked, “Where did you run off to?”
Handing him his belt, “I was putting the closet makeover on your to-do list so you can cross it off when we finish.”
“Thank you,” he said as he kissed me and walked out of the bedroom. “We’ll start designing the new closet tonight. I don’t want to look at my suits hanging over the banister for too long. We should be able to do it this weekend.”
“Wonderful,” I replied trying to sound cheery and feeling my body ache at the thought of another DIY project. Oh well, at least I’ll be getting a new closet.
My husband and I have some interesting conversations during dinner. At work, he is the only man on his team and he often comes home from work with tales of interesting work conversations that he was forced to over hear. He uses the work forced because there really isn’t anyplace for him to escape to. He works in a cube in the middle of other cubes, so he basically hears everything. And apparently most of the women have no real filter and nothing is off limits to talk about. The other day he came home and while we were putting dinner on the table he asked how many products I use on my skin. I looked at him and of course asked him why he was asking. He said that one of the women that he worked with was talking about how long it took her to get ready in the morning.
Me: “So how long did she say it takes her?”
Hubby: “Two hours. She said she has 28 different things she uses on her face every day.”
Me: “What the…who takes two hours to put on makeup?”
Hubby: “She does. She has a list.”
Me: “A list of what?”
Hubby: “A list that tells her what order to put things on. She lines them all up on the counter and checks them off one by one. She said if she goes out of order she has to start over and she might be late for work.”
I was busy trying to figure out what a person could possibly use on their face that would add up to 28.
Hubby: “So how many do you use?”
Me: “Let’s see, I use a facial cleanser in the morning and a moisturizer with sunscreen. Then I use a micellar cleansing water at night and then I use the facial wipes during the day to refresh. So that would be four items.”
Me: “Then that would be a total of zero for me.” I have rosacea, so make-up just irritates my skin, so I don’t use it.
Hubby smiled and kissed my cheek,”I know. You don’t need all that stuff. You’re beautiful just as you are.”
Yep, he’s a keeper!!!