Brain Surgery

I realized recently that I never posted much here about the biggest little thing in our lives this past year:  Brian’s Little Friend, the asshole brain tumor.  The acoustic neuroma that appeared out of nowhere, so big that every surgeon looking at his MRIs had to do double-takes and come back to us saying things like, “Did you see those pictures?!?!” The tumor that is technically classified as “giant”, since a “large” neuroma starts at 2.5cm and Brian’s is more like 4-4.5cm.  The tumor that has already taken away his hearing and balance on one side, leaving him now deaf as well as blind and struggling for balance.  The tumor that has already required one extensive brain surgery, needs another one in less than two months, and might require yet a third surgery or radiation to completely eliminate.

Such a little thing.  Such a huge disruption to our life.  All our plans went on hold as our stress levels went through the roof.  Just dealing with the anxiety and panic attacks, for both me and Brian, has been difficult, to say the least.  Brian is still in pain more than six months after the first surgery, and knowing the second one isn’t going to be any easier is not helping with the anticipation leading up to it.

It keeps surprising me when I run across people in our life who haven’t heard yet.  And then I have to explain all over again, and people never know what to say. Who would? It’s the ultimate conversation killer.

We received some wonderful gifts from friends and coworkers last fall that helped us get up to and through the first surgery.  We were able to take a wonderful trip down to the Caribbean, and tour some breweries in both Michigan and Florida.  We’re hoping to get some support again as we head into Surgery Part Deux, because we’re maxing out the credit cards right now just trying to stay sane.  Going to do it anyway.  But anything helps.

And if you’ve wondered why I’ve been a little flaky this year, why we haven’t been at festivals much, why I keep not going out…this is it.

If you’d like to help you, you can contribute to our Part Deux fundraiser below, and blessed be to all who can help, whether with money, or prayers and energy.

Click to Donate Now!

A’Kos Goes to Disney, Part Two: The Road There

I just left everybody hanging on our road trip, didn’t I? Life gets in the way sometimes, but I will get the whole trip posted eventually.  Here’s part two:

We’ve made road trips by camping as a family before, but that was many years ago. We’ve camped more recently as a family using a popup camper, but not our own camper. This was our first long trip with A’Kos, our first trip with our new popup, and our first long vacation in many years. Essentially, it was a shakedown cruise rolled into the real thing.

Our first day was set to be 8 hours of driving: 6 to get to the nearest Chuy’s, plus a little less than 2 more to our campground. We got up early, packed as a team, and hit the road at 9:30.

We got to Chuy’s at 7:00pm.

This became the theme of our whole trip. We hit our first traffic jam just south of Toledo, only two hours from home. The kids enjoyed the pretty mosque we got to stare at, but it didn’t outweigh the standstill traffic.

We hit traffic in Dayton. We hit traffic in Cincinnati. We hit traffic in Lexington. We hit traffic in Chattanooga. We hit traffic in Atlanta. We drove pretty hard, keeping steps to a minimum, eating lunch in the van, constantly trying to regain ground lost to traffic jams.

This is an exhausting way to travel, but there is no way around it when you have a deadline.

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We got to Chuy’s in time for dinner. If you are from the Austin, Texas, area, you know exactly what I’m talking about. If not, it is hard to explain, but I’ll try. Chuy’s is a TexMex restaurant founded in Austin in the early 80’s. For most of the next twenty years, there were only a handful of locations, mostly in Austin. The food is very much the epitome of TexMex, food that is near and dear to the heart of any Texan: chips and queso, margaritas, burritos, handmade tortillas, soft and fluffy sopapillas, all of it just about the best of its kind to be found anywhere. This combines with a funky, eclectic atmosphere that is pure Austin weirdness: ceilings covered in hubcaps, strange artwork and pictures of dogs on the walls, shrines to Elvis Presley, cheap 50’s-style tables and chairs.

Dinner wait lines at Chuy’s have always been over an hour at peak dinner time in Austin. When I was a kid, we would drive the 30 miles into town on Sundays after church, eat lunch at Chuy’s #2, then hit Sam’s before heading back home. It was a tradition, one that I sorely missed when I moved out of state. I have been watching as Chuy’s has expanded across the country in the past five or ten years, but the closest location to our home is still six hours away. It’s been several years since I last went to Texas and got to eat some Chuy’s. This visit was everything I’ve been waiting for.

Camping and the rest of our trip? Not so much. We rolled in both nights after dark. We forgot that you have to pull up the stove and sink in order to have power inside. We forgot to buy and bring a water hose. We forgot a can opener. We lost all of the milk we tried to bring along to spoilage. We didn’t pack quite enough bedding for everyone. We forgot measuring cups. We got caught in a hurricane-strength downpour not once but twice, rain and wind strong enough to get into our main storage bin and soak all our groceries. We spent our second night in the gnat capital of the world (no kidding, there was even a sign at the front desk talking about the gnats). We would roll out in the morning with storage bins unlatched, steps still out, children still needing bathrooms. We seemed to be sharing I-75 with the entire east coast, and we had to pass one army munitions caravan three times before we finally pulled ahead of them. Our second day of driving turned from six hours into ten.

We got there, though. I had some help from my new apprentice drivers, Brenden and Tamara. Tamara earned her rush hour creds in Atlanta, and Brenden discovered just how annoying it was to be on the receiving end of seat back kicking. We rolled in through the daily Florida afternoon showers, and were greeted in our clean condo by towel swans.

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Our incentive for getting in early enough on Saturday was a visit to Disney Quest, a five-story arcade where all the games are free. This was definitely an attraction high on the must-see list for the kids, and they thoroughly enjoyed it. Kender didn’t do much, since it was overwhelmingly noisy, so he and Brian spent most of the evening hanging out with milkshakes in the food floor.  The rest of the kids had a blast, running from floor to floor.  There were bumper cars with cannons, a build-your-own roller coaster, whitewater rafting, 3-D pirate battles, and more, with tons and tons of arcade games on every floor, all coin-free.

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A great week was still to come.

Gardening 3.0

My friends will remember our loss of a dear friend back in 2013.  Chris was amazing.  I was always in awe of the work she did on her homesteading and her Zumba classes.  She put her whole heart into everything she did, and she took so much hard-won knowledge and experience with her when she died, so many things she would have taught her children as they grew.

She learned a lot about that from her mother, herself a master gardener and some-time blogger. Pat and her husband took the kids in and set about parenting all over again, and began sharing her own wealth of knowledge with all of our friends.

But we lost her too soon, too.

As we do, our community circled the wagons even tighter.  We help with the kids.  We offer shoulders and hugs for everybody when needed.  We teach, we send by meals, we head out to help.

In all the sea of helpful friends, though, I kept hearing variations on the same thing: They’ll never be able to keep the gardens going.  Those gardens that were Pat’s legacy, the source of Chris’ knowledge, the family heritage the kids should have gotten from these wonderful women, they were considered extra, unnecessary, not needed.

Bullshit.

So I’m going to give it a try, and in the spirit of Pat and Chris I will share here from time to time.  I don’t know how good a job I will do.  I’ve never had regular successes in my own gardening experiments.  I don’t live there; I live a good 20 miles or so away, so it’s not like just stepping out my door to work on the garden.  My body is frequently uncooperative, my hands are already full with my own children and house and schooling.

But I’m going to try.

Today was probably the fifth or sixth day I’ve put time in out on the farm.  My plan is to get out there for at least a little while every day from now on.  My first trip involved lots of questions and measuring as I toured the three main garden plots, along with all the side plantings around the house, the driveway, the playset, the chicken coop, the goat barn.  I took all those measurements and dug through Pat’s records as best I could, and came up with planting plans for this year.

3 big garden plans

They need a little revising.  Big Boy and I spent some time today looking them over, talking about what they wanted more of and what didn’t work out well last year.  But you can see from this the scope of what I’m getting into.  The two on the left are the “small” front garden and the herb garden next to it; on the right is the back garden, where the chickens are currently free-ranging.

I have more pictures from today, but I’ll save them for later.  Constant interruptions make for time-consuming blog posts!

She’s Gonna Blow!

Or she’s not.  Or maybe she’s going to bleed to death.  Or fart so badly she’ll clear the planetary room. Who is she? Bárðarbunga, of course. Or maybe Askja.  Or Holuhraun.  Or Herðubreiðartögl. Or Grímsvötn. Or Laki. (I’m going to have to figure out how to just switch to an Icelandic keyboard layout if this keeps up.) Brian calls me a geek.  Sure, fine, whatever.  I’ve been glued to the Icelandic volcano news for the past two weeks.  Volcanoes and earthquakes and geology in general have been one of my interests my whole life.  It’s not often you can learn something new about volcanoes when you’re just an armchair volcanologist.  I learned about plate tectonics and the major types of eruptions and the Richter scale when I was a kid.  Every once in a while, an interesting event happens somewhere in the world, and I might learn something new as the reports roll in.  Otherwise, as with my armchair interest in meteorology and cosmology, at a certain point there very often isn’t much new to learn when you’re not one of the guys working in the trenches.

Isn't she beautiful?

Isn’t she beautiful?

This year, though, Iceland is bringing the game to a whole new level.  Iceland is already one of the most geologically interesting places on the planet.  It combines a spreading plate rift with a hot spot, creating just about every type of eruption and lava flow you ever see on the planet all in one place.  It is constantly active; like Hawai’i, Iceland is so accustomed to its volcanoes that unless residents are in the path of a jökulhlaup (there go those characters again) or gas or lava, it’s just another piece of the scenery, someplace to go take pictures that impress the rest of the world.  We all heard about Eyjafjallajökull in 2010 when the ash clouds grounded air traffic in Europe and caused ripple effects in air schedules around the globe.  But did you know about Grímsvötn (4 eruptions in the last 35 years)? Hekla (4 eruptions in the last 35 years)? Gjálp? How about the Krafla Fires, a near-constant eruption that lasted from 1975-1984?

One töff Icelander.

One töff Icelander.

If Iceland is constantly erupting and spitting lava anyway, what makes the current activity so interesting that it would pull so much of my attention?  The sheer quantity and magnitude of the activity, for starters.  Almost overnight, the area around Bárðarbunga went from producing infrequent baby quakes of less than 2 magnitude to constant quake activity between 1 and 3 magnitude.  Starting around the 22nd-23rd of August, the area started producing quakes of magnitude 5 or greater several times a day.  These quakes are so big that they are off the scale the Icelandic Met Office uses to chart them.  They are the kinds of quakes that used to happen maybe once a year, but now they are happening more than once a day.

bardarbunga quakes 16-17 august 2014

Earthquake activity from August 16-17, 2014.

bardarbunga quakes 23-25 august 2014

Earthquake activity from August 23-25, 2014.

It’s not just the temblors that are big.  The amount of magma flowing around through these systems has been compared to the flow rate of the Hudson River.  This magma is flowing through a dike that started in the Bárðarbunga system, headed briefly for Grímsvötn, then turned sharply and shot straight for Askja, ending up in the Holuhraun plains on the edge of Askja fissure system.  This dike is so close to the surface that it leaks, causing sigkatlar in Dyngjujökull glacier near the Bárðarbunga crater along with the current Holuhraun fires just north of the glacier’s edge.  The quake activity has followed the progress of the dike, with major quakes now happening from Bárðarbunga crater all the way to the Herðubreiðartögl fissure system on the other side of Askja.

Map of quakes in Iceland from August 16-26, 2014.

Map of quakes in Iceland from August 16-26, 2014.

In case you lost track, that is three major volcanoes that are now involved from two separate fissure systems.  One system, including Bárðarbunga, Grímsvötn, and Laki, has a history of eruptions containing extremely large volumes of gas.  The last major eruption in this system was the Skaftár Fires, an eruption that lasted for eight months from 1783-1784.  The effects of this eruption included dead livestock in Iceland, fluoride poisoning and illness all the way to Scotland, sickening fog throughout Europe, and global climate effects including a frozen Mississippi River and ice in the Gulf of Mexico.  The other system, around Askja, has a history of explosive eruptions.  Its last major eruption in 1875 led to the emigration of a huge swath of Iceland’s population.  Askja has been restive for the past four years, showing increased quake activity, melting ice, and a landslide as recently as this July.

Aftermath of the July 23, 2014, landslide in Askja.

Aftermath of the July 23, 2014, landslide in Askja.

Geologists and volcanologists in Iceland and around the world have been baffled by the activity of the past two weeks.  Conflicting reports are issued: It’s erupting! No wait, we were wrong. No wait, there’s evidence of an eruption, but there’s no evidence of an imminent eruption. (Thanks, Páll Einarsson!) Air traffic alerts go up to red, back down to orange, up to red, down to yellow, like a roller coaster.  Better check the web before you take off, and it might change while you’re in the air.  For the past several days, we’ve finally gotten to see honest-to-goodness, actual red-hot lava coming out of the ground in Holuhraun, but the quake activity has still not decreased even though the amount of lava is comparable to the Krafla Fires at their peak and the amount of sulfur dioxide being released already covers an area as large as Iceland itself on satellite imaging.  Even the experts have no idea what’s going on or what to expect.  It could all stop and go away tomorrow, or the magma from Báröarbunga could meet the very different magma from Askja and cause both systems to go up in a massive double eruption with global impacts.

Competing theories on the source of the current activity in Iceland.

Competing theories on the source of the current activity in Iceland.

Nobody knows.  Nothing like this has ever happened in the history of our ability to monitor these volcanic systems.  Nothing like this has ever been recorded.  Nobody knows what it might do.  So we all sit back, watch the Fires and graphs and maps, and speculate on the next act of the play. Stick around.  I’ll make some popcorn and smores later.

Current eruption in Holuhraun.

Current eruption in Holuhraun.

For more information, follow Rei at Daily Kos and the Volcano Café blog.  Both sites are chock full of fascinating information, and Rei in particular posts English-language updates daily or more often.

Sock Madness 8, Round 3

Round 3 was pretty interesting this year.  First off, there were the specs, which had everybody talking way back in February before we even knew in which round they were going to be used.

  • Yarn: Knitting Goddess merino/nylon 2 x 50g, Knitting Goddess mini-skein set in Rainbow 7x10g (C1-C7)
  • Needles: US1/2.25mm circular needles or dpns, US2/2.75mm circular needles
  • Gauge: 9 sts per inch in stockinette with smaller needles, 9.5 sts per inch in linen stitch with larger needles
  • Notions: eight 3/10-in (8mm) flat buttons, 2 matches

Eight colors for one sock?  And what on earth are those matches for???

Well, the colors turned out to be for things like this:

20140418 SM8 Round 3 cuff

And this (see how the colors make little dots on the heel?):20140418 SM8 Round 3 heel

And this (look at all those ends!!):20140418 SM8 Round 3 WIP

As for the matches, they weren’t actually part of the socks. They were just placeholders used to keep the buttons from getting sewn on too tight:

20140418 SM8 Round 3 matchesAfter watching 3 episodes of Vikings, 18 episodes of classic Doctor Who, 7 of episodes Game of Thrones, 3 episodes of True Blood, the Thomas Crown Affair, A Knight’s Tale, and Pacific Rim; and knitting during one doctor’s appointment, a day at our Foster homeschool co-op, waiting at cheer practice and a therapy appointment, a little hanging out with friends, and a lot of listening to Kender screaming, about 29.5 hours of active knitting overall, I give you the completed Round 3 socks, Rainbow Pipes with Linen Stitch:

20140418 SM8 Round 3As of today, we are nearly two weeks out from the pattern release, and we are still waiting for 69 out of 286 knitters to finish this round.  Brian is teasing me that we’ll be doing Round 8 in August, and I’m starting to wonder if he might be right!  I just hope there isn’t any active knitting for me while we’re away next month getting Kender’s dog.

The Little Ways We Lead Ourselves Astray

When I was growing up, I loved reading stories that had anything to do with babies and motherhood.  I remember reading about the coming-of-age ritual of wearing your hair up in the Little House books, and wishing I had something like that to mark a transition for myself.  I remember stories of girls who cared for children, who adopted children, who had children of their own, whatever the ultimate plot point, these are the things that stood out.

When I finally had children of my own, I had somehow concocted this image of the perfect mother and housewife.  My idol was some strange conglomeration of Ma Ingalls, Maureen Johnson Smith Long, and probably some goddess of an Amazon.  I felt guilt over no longer working and bringing in money, so I built up this image of the perfect housewife as the “job” I now had to do in order to earn the living Brian was providing for me and our children.  While the triplets were still in NICU, I stopped painting my nails and cut them short so I wouldn’t accidentally scratch their skin. I started wearing my hair up all the time, ostensibly out of practicality but also with the thought of that prairie rite of passage in the back of my mind. I started making lists for myself of housework, laundry, ironing Brian’s shirts, and I pursued these “job assignments” so industriously that I regret not spending more time in the hospital with the babies. (Although after a few weeks, the NICU became an incredibly boring place with little for me to do except sit in a rocking chair with one baby or another.)

Over the next years, as my babies grew and multiplied, I continued my struggle to become that perfect wife and mother.  I pursued various home organization programs with varying degrees of success but consistent loss of direct time with children.  I went from one modest hairstyle to another, again with the idea of practicality but also with those idols in my mind. Putting my hair up like a Latina Texas housewife was neat and easy, and it made me think about being able to cook everything from scratch, even the most elaborate baby food and tortillas.  Wrapping it in tichels got my hair out of my face while it dried, and it made me feel like a focused, virtuous housewife.  Letting my hair down became more than an expression, it became the reality of resuming my “real” persona when the children were absent or asleep.

In other words, the face I was showing my children (and much of the rest of the world) was a mask.

On a slightly different note, I have realized that I do not learn by instruction, not really.  I can absorb some ancillary instruction, but I primarily learn by diving in and doing.  I can’t learn a programming language in a class, or through a textbook; I have to sit down and start coding, looking up things as I need them, and only after I have done that a few times can I get some benefit from asking for guidance or looking through a book for tips and tricks.  I don’t pick up a language and retain it by studying a book, but I can jump in and start talking and reading and tack on words as I encounter them (which is why DuoLingo seems to be working so well for me, I think). Knitting, cross-stitch, math, even swimming or skiing, I don’t seem to do well with instruction or lessons.  I learn and progress best by jumping in and doing, and asking questions along the way.

I remember how I  learned to ski.  I didn’t ski until I was 15 years old, and it happened to be a first that year for my mother and brother as well.  She signed all three of us up for lessons.  They stayed with their groups all day.  Only a couple hours into my class, though, I became fed up with waiting for everybody and left the class, along with another boy.  We sped down the hill, went back up to the hillside restaurant for lunch, and then skiied on our own for the afternoon, up and down and passing our class.  My mother was furious, feeling like she had wasted her money…but I ended up skiing better by the end of that day than the rest of the people who stayed in that class, and it cost nothing to leave it.  I’ve tried other group skiing classes, but the same thing happens: I get bored or distracted, and either do something stupid or leave.  When I go one-on-one with a teacher, though, we go up and down and the teacher gives me tips.  I spend just an hour or two getting a list of tweaks and tips, and then I can spend a day or two by myself working it out, no class or teacher.  Cheaper, in the long run.

I remember all of my physical skills being the same way, whether learning to swim as a child or learning hardanger embroidery or double-knitting as an adult. I sign up for a class, scan the material, and take off on my own, learning as I go and using the instructor as a springboard for questions.  It’s what I was doing with Kender while we still had access to services from the school system, following his lead and learning with him, while using the teachers for questions and tips and advice.

What brings both of these together? A reading I got recently saying, essentially, to go with the flow.

My patron god is often seen as one of chaos, although I prefer to think of it as not being bound by rules. I do better, I learn and progress and accomplish more, in chaotic environments where I pursue a goal free of the confines of a prescribed plan or somebody else’s pace.  I work better alone, able to move and change directions at a whim (and able to assume full responsibility for any consequences), than I do as part of a team.

Why on earth have I spent so much time trying to fit my home, my motherhood, my life into this neat, clean “homeschooling housewife” box that is defined not by my end-goal but by other women around me and imaginary women in books, by all this external imagery?

Sock Madness 8, Round 2

 20140324_233516I finished Round 2 of Sock Madness 8 last night.  This was only the second time I’ve had to break out my size 1 needles (the smallest I really use) since switching to lever-style knitting.  Not only was this sock knit very tightly, it also had cables. Lots of them.

20140323_140020Doing knotwork at such a tight gauge is very, very hard, putting a lot of pressure on both the needles and my hands.  You can see that my Signatures are not quite 100% straight anymore.

20140325_214549That’s okay, though. They are still the best-performing needles I’ve ever used.  They just fit my hands, now.

The family was awesome and supportive, as always, and Caitlin in particular earned some extra allowance for stepping up and changing Kender, putting the other kids to bed, even cooking dinner one night!  All in all, I think I spent about 26 hours knitting this pair, through 17 episodes of old Doctor Who, 8 episodes of Game of Thrones, 7 episodes of Cosmic Journeys, and 3 episodes of Vikings. I also took the socks to one spaghetti dinner fundraiser and one Pure Romance party.  That’s a lot of knitting for this early in the competition.  I hope that future rounds are not quite so bad.

Carving Horn

I have been practicing my nalbinding skills as part of my devotional work this year.  One day, perhaps I will make socks and mittens.  For now, I am making sampler wristbands so that I can practice lots of different stitches and see the fabrics they make. I’ve heard that nalbinding is all but impossible to learn without having somebody teach you in person.  I’m out to prove that one wrong!

20140319_225652This is the basic Oslo stitch with a 2-loop connection, so UO/UOO F2.

20140319_225706This is the Björsbo stitch, UO/UOU F1.  It somehow makes a more intricate, thinner fabric.  I want to do the Oslo with a F1 instead of a F2 connection next to see how that affects the fabric.  So much to learn!

One of the things that was holding me back from nalbinding before was tension.  I have very large hands for a woman, with big, fat thumbs.  Nalbinding is traditionally worked on the thumb, and the tension works out because the thumb is the right size.  Only, mine is NOT the right size!  I tried using my pinky, I tried using a knitting needle, I tried working flat and freehand, but nothing worked.

I was fortunate to find at Con something that makes a fantastic nalbinding needle…almost.  It was one of a collection of bone pins for sale at the Amber Fox’s stand (the one with the amazingly huge collection of ALL THE JEWELRY), about 4 inches long, a quarter inch wide at the top and a slight taper to the other end, and a hole through the top.

20140319_222438This needle is just the right size to use for needle-tensioning with double-knit or sport weight yarn (thickness in between sock yarn and worsted weight).  I still use my thumb for forming the stitches, but as I take each loop off my thumb, I tighten it around the top of the needle before pulling the needle through.  As you can see in the pictures above, this is working splendidly.

The downside to this “needle” is its extremely blunt tip.  In order to join new pieces of yarn, I was having to get out a tapestry needle that was sharp enough to poke between the plies of yarn.  In the videos I’ve seen, though, the women are using the same needle for the nalbinding and for the joining.  In addition, I found the tip a little too blunt for picking up the loops and forming the stitches, and I anticipated more difficulty as I moved on to more complex stitches. So I decided to further my ancient craftiness and recarve my needle to suit!

I tried a grinding stone and an exacto knife, but what I ended up using primarily was 100-grit sandpaper.  In a few minutes of work, I was able to get a nice point onto my needle.

20140319_224615Amazingly, the horn used for this needle was almost smooth enough that I could have gone ahead and worked with it right then.  I wanted to at least try to get the new surface to match the old, though.  First I went after it with 100-grit sandpaper.  Then I put some plain toothpaste on a cotton napkin and polished it.  The toothpaste worked amazingly well to fill in the little bit of roughness left by the sandpaper and gave the needle a velvety-smooth feel.  I rubbed at it a while longer with a dry bit of cotton napkin, and then I got some plain hand lotion and rubbed that in and polished.  While I didn’t quite get the original mirror finish, I got an incredibly smooth, soft surface that will never catch my yarn.

20140319_225439My needle is definitely a needle now, pointy end and all, and I’m looking forward to working on some more nalbinding with it!

This week was great because…

Similar to the ideas of focusing on the roses, or of enumerating things to be grateful for, another idea for improving positive thinking is to focus on what has been accomplished and what has been good.  Fat Man has used this idea pretty successfully himself, and it’s been floating to the surface of my mind this week.

This week has been good because I went skating twice, and skated so hard that I was sore the next day.

This week has been good because every day (that I’ve been home; Foster doesn’t count!) I have gotten my basic daily chores done.  I’ve done laundry.  I’ve cooked dinner.  I’ve been writing.  I’ve been practicing with my bodhran. I’ve been picking things up.  I haven’t been able to get this much done this consistently in months, maybe years.20131025 Kender's big check

This week has been good because I finally made a trip to the bank to deposit Kender‘s donations, and he showed off his giant check to the tellers.

This week has been good because I learned more new things for my Vikings class, and learned more about a new craft that might help keep my hands and feet warmer in the winter.

20131108 Midnight in cageThis week has been good because I caught Midnight escaping her cage, and I moved her and her things into Pixel’s old cage before Teddy Bear actually caught her and decided she was tasty.

This week has been good because I discovered my pie crust recipe makes an excellent, tasty wrapper for pasties.

This week has been good because I played Othello with Liam and Jarod, and I got to watch Jarod learn how to think ahead and anticipate my moves.

This week was great.