A Lot of Changes

Honestly, when I started this whole “blogging as a thing I’m doing this year,” I had a feeling I’d fall off sooner or later. And, yeah, I did. At first, I fell off because I was heading into the dark place – that space is always a huge challenge for me. I don’t sew in the dark place, it’s pretty much all I can do to shower, eat, and maybe work out (which I did!). And then we went on vacation to Dubai, which was pretty amazing. I should do a full post on our trip, and I’ll get there.

And then…we got a puppy. And let me tell you, I haven’t had more than an hour to sew in the last 9.5 weeks because of it. If you follow on Instagram, you’ve met Winston. And he has his own Instagram account – winstonthestitchybulldog. But holy cow guys, even after a decade of discussing it with M, SEVERAL years of general research, and then a few months of intense research, I was not fully prepared for puppy parenthood.

So, before we get too far, yes – we went through a breeder. And we did our research. After all, M and I had been talking about an english bulldog named Winston for a decade – we were very aware of the health concerns with a brachycephalic pup, the predisposition for hip and knee issues, etc. We asked a LOT of questions, and we didn’t go with the first breeder who had a pup we fell in love with. In fact, as soon as I started asking the harder questions, that first breeder asked me if WE were breeders. Lol, no. We just wanted to make sure we get a puppy who has the absolute best chances. I ended the conversation after that because I was getting super weird vibes, and she told me that was best because I was pissing her off. We read the German Bulldog Club’s rules and regulations for breeders so that we could spot breeders who took it seriously vs those who were just claiming to be members without actually following the rules (first lady was one of those).

And then, we spotted Winston’s ad. And it was love at first sight. We were absolutely smitten, and when the family was able to answer all of our questions without getting irritated, and when we asked when they could go, they said no earlier than 10 weeks (big rule for the Club) and we were sold. I mean, LOOK AT THIS FACE.

Winston (then Rubble) in his listing. How could you say no?!

And so we brought him home at 10.5 weeks because he lived a few hours away and we had to go on a Sunday with the whole no-car thing. And it has been 12.5 weeks of insanity, but we love our little nugget so very much. I missed a few memos though – no clean floors ever again (the drool, oh my god you guys, the drool), apparently I have to clean my doors also because he uses the bottom of his head to open them, and…drool, and I’m definitely not allowed to have nice things or moisturized hands (I also missed the memo on needing to wash my hands every 5 minutes, holy hell). Teething has been brutal, but he’s just lost his first canine and we’re hoping that we’re slowly coming towards the end of it. He is vocal, he is so very snuggly, he’s also a ball of energy. And, he’s actually doing really well with his training!

We’ve enrolled in puppy class, and the class uses a German method based on Anton Fichtlmeier. Apparently I missed that part of the website when I enrolled him, but it’s been okay. My biggest frustration has been that they’re anti-harness, but he can manage with a collar for a couple hours a week. They are big on non-verbal cues, which I don’t hate, and generally it seems to be working. We still go for walks with a harness because I have zero interest in putting that much pressure on his trachea, but he’s really getting it and I am a super proud puppy mom. We’re progressing super well! He struggles with his quiet time practice, but he’s exceptional at “sit,” pretty good at “stay” – and we’re working on this on an object rather than just wherever we are, and he’s gotten pretty good with his recall. We’re still working on corrections, but we’ve seen SO much progress over the last month.

And snacks. You guys, my parents have had 3 dogs. I KNOW about treats. I know they should be everywhere. I know that the best treats are low calorie. I DID NOT know that we were going to get a dog who loves the stinkiest treats of all time. This dog prefers stinky fish treats – shrimp, lobster, cod, Rotbarsch (ocean perch?), basically the fishier the better. We cannot eat sushi without him having the REALLY good stuff in a lick mat or a kong because he will lose his damn mind. We’ve switched over to an adult kibble for training treats, fish based (of course), and it smells terrible. We’re also in the process of changing his food over to a gluten free version because it’s been so stressful having to handle the gluten three times a day.

In other news, I might be able to go back to sewing. I’ve managed to quilt a runner that just needs to be bound at this point. But we MIGHT be finally turning a corner with potty training/general bladder size to where he can handle my ignoring him for a while. Hope springs eternal. I miss sewing.

Weekly Roundup – Week 2

Welcome back! The plan I think is to cover both what was accomplished last week and set up goals for this week (what a delightful way of doing things). I’m continuing to daily track in my planner (Quilter’s Planner – I love this thing, highly recommend, not an affiliate link) and while I missed Tuesday’s daily tracking because I was out of the house for most of the day, sitting down early Wednesday allowed me to write down what I accomplished at the very least. So, here goes!

Last week’s planner spread


I found another job and applied for it on Wednesday! I’m going to keep looking, but I feel mostly okay about it, mainly because they’re looking for someone bilingual which gave me the opportunity to submit my resume in German and the writing in English.
As far as blogging goes, obviously I continue to be on track. M is looking at redesigning my site, which would be a big win for us both – something he can use in his portfolio, and a facelift here. Stay tuned, if it happens, it will be an interesting shift I think.
This week: I need to apply for another job. I’ve started looking at new themes for the blog – my job is content and design, his job is making it happen. This feels like a bit of a long burn, but we’ll see.

Sewing: I needed last week to finish one cow and baste one quilt, and if I did both of those I was allowed to cut out a new one. Well, not only did I finish one cow and baste one quilt, but I quilted that one and bound it off yesterday. It’s hang drying now and I’m REALLY happy with it. It’ll be off to its new home this week!

I finished up the fourth cow in the nine cow series, and she was in honor of Justice Sonia Sotomayor. I’ve continued to worry a bit about how this might be interpreted, but the reality is that they are meant to honor and not mock. So far, we have cows honoring Florence K. Murray, Sandra Day O’Connor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and now Sonia Sotomayor. I have 5 more to go and we’re starting to get to the point where I can start assembling rows. I’m excited to see how this quilt turns out!

The quilt I finished this week was a retirement gift for a former boss and friend. I used the pattern “Homecoming” by Lo & Behold Stitchery and checked out the hashtag on Instagram for some palette inspiration. I chose a teal, yellow, and grey palette because I wanted something reminiscent of the organization where we both worked without being blatantly those colors (they will forever remind me of middle school, and pass). The effect was absolutely perfect. I quilted it myself on my Bernina 570QE (aka Bettie) using straight lines. The long sections are quilted at 0.25″, 1.25″, and 2.25″, the offset sections are quilted at 0.125″, 1″, 1.625″, and 2.375″. The corners are echo quilted triangles at 0.5″ intervals, and the two tiny grey sections have offset 0.5″ lines and 0.5″ echo quilted squares. I think this might be the first time I’ve actually sat down with a ruler to mark quilting lines and while it still wasn’t perfect, it came pretty close! I do anticipate that I’ll be marking lines for quilting more often, and I am definitely hoping to break out my Bernina Stitch Regulator at some point soon to practice, since I think the cows might get more of that one!

Homecoming quilt – ready to baste!

This week: I’ve cut out a Grow quilt (pattern from Suzy Quilts) and am hoping to get at least the blocks pieced. I am working on cow number 6, and I am planning on doing the backing and basting of another quilt – the Knitted Star I finished in December. The little one it is for is due in a couple weeks, so it would be nice to get it out soon!

Ahead of schedule! Depending on how well I stick to this goal, it may have to turn into its own post. I have a page dedicated specifically now to a quick update of rating each book and where you can pick up a copy. Note that I don’t have affiliate links, and I’m going to try to stick to independent bookshops for links.
I finished “The Alienist” by Caleb Carr on Tuesday and I highly recommend. I found it extremely gripping and surprisingly not as graphic as the show (was it a TNT show?). If you love a psychological thriller, this is a book for you, and apparently it’s a series, but I haven’t picked up any of the other ones.
Thursday’s finish was “Step Aside for Royalty” by Eileen Parker. Another recommend – I was correct that it was going to be a quick nonfiction read. This is a memoir from the wife of HRH Prince Phillip’s private secretary (Mike Parker) and goes up to about the conclusion of the Princess Margaret-Peter Townsend affair. It’s notable that most of the scandals from The Crown are absent here, but there is significant detail about other pieces of royal life that surprised me. Overall a good, light read and worth the few hours to get through it if the British royal family is something that interests you.
This week: I’m reading “Mr. Murder” by Dean Koontz. I’m enjoying it – it is unsettling in a good way!

Mostly on track! Monday: 30 min power zone ride, Tuesday: 10 min restorative yoga, Wednesday: 45 min power zone ride, Thursday: 30 min power zone ride, Friday: Stretch, Saturday: nothing, Sunday: 45 min power zone ride.
This week: Week 3 of Discover Your Power Zones program. I also want to maybe try to run one day.

Non-Goal Things:

M came home Thursday afternoon sicker than I’ve seen him since his second dose of Pfizer. And possibly actually sicker than that. He stayed home Friday and was starting to feel significantly better Saturday, so we ran out to the bakery and did a couple errands before coming back home with a paper for me. By Saturday afternoon I was starting to feel sick (mainly dizzy, but also queasy) and there is the reason I missed a workout. Fortunately, it did not turn into whatever he had but it still knocked me out Saturday afternoon and evening.

Because he’d been sick, we skipped fun dinner this past weekend and are hoping to pick it up this coming weekend. We’re planning on a cheese ravioli with a fancy meat sauce, so we’ll swing through the farmer’s market and the Markthalle this week to get the good stuff for it!

We’re also working on finalizing details for our trip to Dubai next month. We have our flights, we’re looking for a hotel, and then we need to finalize our plans for what we want to do and when. We’re not super structured on vacation, but when you travel with celiac, you do have to do some significant planning ahead for meals. We are hopeful that the…more well off clientele in Dubai means that I’ll be able to get good food, but we’ll see. Fingers crossed this isn’t a France situation.

Once we get home from Dubai, we’re hoping to get a pup and then plan a trip to Italy in March with said pup. I’m going to apologize now for the absolutely ridiculous amount that the pup will likely feature in photos once we get one. He’s going to be adorable.

Weekly Roundup

Welcome to the first week of my new attempt, and our first run at format. I’m not going to lie to you, this might be rough. As I mentioned, this whole daily/weekly writing thing does not come naturally for me. I’m hoping beyond hope that by scheduling my posts, by forcing myself to write out a daily to-do list in my planner (I’m using the Quilter’s Planner) and by forcing myself to look at that EVERY DAY, I can improve. Here’s hoping it works, and it lasts.


This week, we’re focusing on job search. I submitted an application last week and heard back that they’ve received it and will be in touch. As much as I hate cover letters in English, cover letters in German are worse. I know they’re important but they are not a good example of my professional writing ability. Hoping to find at least one more job and apply to it.

I’m working on cow #4 for “When There Are Nine.” I’m also planning on basting 1-2 quilts this week – a Homecoming and a Knitted Star. If I can do all of this, I’ll cut out a Grow quilt.

Currently reading “The Alienist” by Caleb Carr. This is definitely better than the television show. Highly recommend. I’m about halfway through, and I think my next one is a quick nonfiction read – “Step Aside for Royalty” by Eileen Parker.

Currently working through the second week of Peloton’s “Discover Your Power Zones” program. Woof. I missed a workout last week (I made it up) because I wasn’t feeling great, which means I had to quickly cram the last 3 workouts in rather than getting a day off between. I had hoped for some low impact/fun non-program rides this week, but I think given the way my legs are burning, I’m going to stick with some barre and dance cardio on my off days. Challenge progress (to bronze): 10 miles running, 28.2 miles on the bike, 7 days, 4 strength workouts. Winter launch challenge on track, Annual challenge is 885 min to my first milestone.

Non-Goal Things:

Last week, M and I decided that we need to go back to cooking together. We used to make a point of at least once a week finding a fun recipe and turning it into us time. It’s not really a date night, but it’s fun. Sunday we made a poached salmon with rice wine butter sauce and rice pilaf from Alex Guarnascelli’s book “Cook with Me.” The book was a gift for M from me for Christmas last year (2020), and I regret that we haven’t used it as much as we hoped. I think in our defense, between the wedding and the move everything fell by the wayside.

We’ve found a great butcher and a great fishmonger here, and we’re finally ready to resurrect the weekly cooking time. Sunday was our first run, and M picked the recipe. It’s my turn this week (I guess I need to start taking pictures of what we turn out with), and as much as I’m craving a whole fish recipe I think we’re going to go with a pasta. Maybe a make-our-own pasta night. Maybe ravioli? Something to look into!

Yesterday I also managed to call for a new prescription, which turned into an impromptu doctor’s appointment. Apparently it is standard procedure here to take blood and run an EKG? Well, the blood freaked me out. I was not prepared for it, I was dehydrated (having gone pretty much straight post workout) and hadn’t eaten, and I was by myself. Basically, it should have been the perfect storm for a fainting episode. Except I didn’t pass out! The lovely nurse was gentle, she was sweet, and even without talking to me and also needing to switch arms, I ended up being okay. So I guess I have a new doctor! Here’s hoping for continued progress on all fronts this week.

New Year, New Goals

The new year always makes me a little hopeful. I mean, how could it not? 365 fresh days to get off my bullshit and be better. That’s never how it ACTUALLY works, but it’s worth a try. So, what are this year’s goals? Maybe putting them out into the ether will help me actually stay on new bullshit. Either way, I set a bunch, and I’m hoping a monthly overview and roundup at the beginning/end of each month will be helpful for staying on them! This year’s goals are broken out into a few different sections: career/life, sewing and blogging, reading, and exercise. Let’s get into it!


Guys, this is the scariest section here. Three months ago, I (kind of) quit my job, M took a new job, and we moved halfway around the world. I applied to grad school, where I did not get in – and we’re holding on to the fact that I was working in English, the exam was in German, and said exam took place at 4:30AM – and the deal was that I reapply this year. The application opens April 15 and then I will have 2.5 months to retool my essays and reapply. Assuming I make it through Phase 1 again, at least the exam will be at 10:30AM instead. OH. And I need to get a job. It doesn’t need to be a big career move (it almost definitely won’t be, considering we aren’t in Frankfurt or Berlin or Bonn), but I have to have something. Working 2-10PM has been killing me slowly, as much as I thought that would be fine. I’ve applied a few places, but we’ll see what happens – I definitely need something soon though, and speaking more German more regularly will also be helpful for the grad school process! On the more fun, less existentially terrifying side of things, M and I are hoping to (finally) get a puppy this year. We’ve been talking about it for a long time and my therapist was encouraging it and trying to get our landlord on board before we moved. We pushed hard when we moved in here for language in the lease specifically allowing a pup, and we’re hoping to find one soon after we get back from our vacation in February (‘rona willing). Next month’s vacation is the only one we’re planning where we can’t travel with a pup – God bless Europe, their love of dogs, and their willingness to let the dogs go everywhere.
Goal Breakdown: Get a job, apply to grad school (and get in!), get a puppy

Sewing & Blogging:

HA. This one eludes me every damn year. Really. I’ve been paying wordpress $99 a year for this site for years, and we can all see how much work I do with this blog. I think the goal here is weekly, at least to start. The plan is to draft on Mondays and post on Tuesdays – apparently that’s what you’re supposed to do, schedule your writing/posting. I don’t know, it feels weird and not at all organic, but I’ve also always been terrible at keeping a journal/diary. Ultimately, this comes down to something M said to me before we moved. He suggested I really make a go at this, see what happens. And we’ve moved, and I can make excuses about being depressed and grieving, but the reality is that it’s HARD to sit down and write about sewing when I’ve been struggling to sew. So, maybe this isn’t a sewing blog sometimes. Maybe you’ll get travel recaps, or recipe recommendations, or I’ll spend a page bitching about whatever. Maybe if I sit down and write once a week, this will get easier. And this feeds into my sewing goal (again, encouraged by M) – I have a massive pile of UFOs (list for our next post), and I would like to finish some projects so I can maybe work on some of the rogue projects floating in my brain. I also am hoping to submit the “When There Are Nine” quilt for the 2023 QuiltCon Show, which means I need to finish it.
Goal Breakdown: Blog once a week, sew down the UFO pile, submit “When There Are Nine” to QuiltCon 2023.


I came SO CLOSE to finishing this one last year but didn’t, so I’m keeping the same book goal of 24 books. I’m expecting our weekly post to include a “what I’m reading” section to keep track. I managed 19 books in 2021 and am using StoryGraph and Goodreads to track my progress as well. I know, I know – Goodreads is owned by Amazon, and they are trash, but I’ve been tracking with them for so long that it feels wrong to not update what I’m currently reading in their app. StoryGraph is doing a January pages challenge where you just need to read one page a day (and track it) and I’m hoping this helps me stay on top of my reading.
Goal Breakdown: Read 24 Books in 2022


Well, we bought a Peloton bike. We made it our last dating anniversary gift to ourselves. M has been trying for the last two years to convince me that we need it and I’d been extremely resistant – I was going to Pure Barre and running with friends, a bike seemed a silly purchase. And then we moved, I lost Pure Barre and have no running friends here yet, and he started using the app. So when Black Friday rolled around, we took the plunge. Our bike was delivered at the beginning of December and I rode something like 177 miles through the month. It’s been really good for me, and I’m hoping to keep that going. I’d also like to add more strength training back in – I desperately miss barre classes, and Peloton barre is not what I’m after. To make sure I don’t hurt myself, this goal has levels. At a bare minimum, I’m wanting to do SOMETHING every day. 5 minutes of yoga or a full body stretch is great. At slightly above rational, I want bronze in every Peloton monthly challenge – 10 miles running, 50 miles biking, 10 days of activity, and 5 strength workouts. The insane level is working out every day and using low impact rides or barre classes as recovery, which is unrealistic and very probably not safe, so we’ll keep focus on the Bronze/daily activity thing (getting a pup and adding 20-30 min walks 2-3 times a day will help also).
Goal Breakdown: Do something every day (5 min yoga or 10 min full body stretch is great!). Bronze in every monthly challenge: 10 days of activities, 10 miles running, 50 miles biking, 5 strength classes.

And I think that’s the end of the annual goal writeup. In a wild twist, I’ll be back tomorrow with January’s bite-size goals and first post of this once a week attempt – that’s right, I’m not counting this one! I’ll be playing with what a weekly post will look like, since most of the time this whole themed stream of consciousness that most bloggers do is not something that keeps me on track. Maybe I’ll get there, but I think I’ll need something structured for a while. Long story short, if you’re going to read, hang in there while I work on figuring this out!

Happy New Year!

Almost Home

One of the “super cool” (read: terrible, guilt inducing) features of WordPress is that when you start a post, and then leave it in drafts, it gives you a little timer with how long you’ve left it there. I’m sorry, WordPress, that I didn’t finish the post I started six days ago. I’m not sorry I just deleted it after you wouldn’t let me edit it the way I wanted to. Don’t be a jerk.

I had planned on writing something about how hard it’s been to sew. About how basting stitches and tiny joining stitches were made for three days to the sound of my grandpa’s breathing, about how I sat and stitched and talked to my uncles and my mom and my grandma about life and how wonderful of a man my grandpa was. And about how, since then, it’s felt like a little bit of a chore to sit down and keep stitching. Like every stitch punctuates the fact that he’s gone, the fact that it’s so very final. And the truth is, I’m absolutely not ready to confront those feelings. I struggled to sew in the weeks after my grandma on my dad’s side passed away a few years ago too. She taught me to sew, and every stitch punctuated the fact that she’d never see anything else I made. My grandpa loved getting handmade gifts from me. It’s hard to know that the quilt top I’m stitching will forever be connected to his death, and he’ll never get to curl up under it with me.

One of my very favorite plays is Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead by Tom Stoppard, and there’s a quote in it that’s always haunted me. I know, I know, everyone is shocked I’m not over here pulling from Order of the Phoenix right now, but I need a reread.

“No, no, no… you’ve got it all wrong… you can’t act death. The fact of it is nothing to do with seeing it happen —it’s not gasps and blood and falling about—that isn’t what makes it death. It’s just a man failing to reappear, that’s all —now you see him, now you don’t, that the only thing that’s real: here one minute and gone the next and never coming back—an exit, unobtrusive and unannounced, a disappearance gathering weight as it goes on, until, finally, it is heavy with death.”

Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead – Tom Stoppard

How do you even cope with the disappearance? With the weight? I don’t know. I know I don’t want to cope with it. I also know that I’ll be picking Rosencrantz & Guildenstern back up as soon as our stuff arrives next week and I unpack it.

Which brings us on to happier things! Our furniture is due to arrive Monday morning! We have one more week in an Airbnb, and then we get to sleep in our bed, with our pillows. I don’t know if I’ve ever been more excited about the amount of work headed our way.

We rented an apartment last week, and we bought a refrigerator and a washer and a tv. We’ve started taking some of our things over to the house so we don’t have to move them next week, since we’ll need to be over there no later than 8am. We have a list of electric things that we still need to buy – kettle, coffee grinder, blender, vacuum, microwave, cables for dual voltage things- and a list for Ikea, which is on the docket for Wednesday after we have our customs-clearing appointment.

We spent some time Saturday walking through the apartment, trying to figure out where our furniture goes, what we need, etc. And we are definitely ready for it. We have (we think) most of the things we need sorted out. Tomorrow on the list is picking up a tape measure from the hardware store so we can measure some walls before we head to Ikea.

And, of course, there is a new sewing room coming! I’m so very excited to set up the room I’ve been pondering for a while. In our last house, based on the size of the room, I had a normal desk, a shelf for fabric (and some little shelves on top of that) and then I built a cutting table out of three Kallax units and some board. My new room is bigger, but in a different way.

I’m planning a long table with an Alex drawer unit in the center (inspiration credit Zaaberry) along one wall. On one side of the table, my sewing machine. On the other, my cutting mat and laptop(s). It’s a lot easier to move a laptop than it is to move a sewing machine, so I’m also looking at some risers/shelf options to help with this too.

Photo from Zaaberry – Click the image to check out her post on the table!

Behind me, a 5×5 Kallax unit. Six (top center 3×3) of the cubes with shelves, the five along the bottom with drawers/doors (tbd: let’s see what’s in stock!). This setup should give me plenty of space for not just my fabric but also my notions. I also am going to need a rug because our entire apartment is hardwood and I definitely want something cushy between the table and shelves.

Eventually, I’ll also pick up a comfy chair. I want somewhere to curl up with handwork or a book that is my own. Something soft (I’m thinking velvet), either a chaise or a plush chair with an ottoman where I could theoretically also nap and it would be a lovely photo spot for quilt swirls. Ikea is failing me on exactly what I want, so it’ll have to wait. For now, I can curl up on the sofa.

We’ll have a lot of decorating to do – with two HUGE rooms, one of which is going to be the living room and the other the dining room, it’ll be interesting to see how we put everything together. I think the biggest thing right now is we’re missing closets/wardrobes, so that’s part of our Ikea trip this week also – putting together wardrobes. It’s a party!

Grief is a Bitch

I need to start this post off with a couple warnings: TW: death, justice system is trash. Also, because we just moved and changed insurance, I am without a therapist. 1000000% I should be talking to someone right now, but we’re not sure what our mental health coverage is and the first priority was finding a place to live. As a result, this post is a lot of what I’d be telling a therapist, though somewhat sanitized.

My grandparents weren’t perfect people. I mean, who is? But they loved fiercely.

The last couple weeks have been flooded with memories, so forgive me while I wax poetic about them before I talk about what happened.

Two weeks before my first birthday, my mom was activated (National Guard) for Desert Storm. My dad worked, her parents both worked, and Grandma N (dad’s mom) stayed home. So I spent most of my days with her – she was essentially free daycare, especially when I was that little, and it was easy for my dad to drop me off there. It was also easy for my mom to drop by on her lunch to feed me. She and I had an incredibly special relationship – she’s the one who taught me to sew, who taught me to embroider. I’m fairly convinced she haunts my sewing room, given that my sewing machine tends to act up a little when I’m particularly excited about a project.

I never really got to know Grandpa N. He worked graveyard for so many years that even in retirement he slept through the day. I remember being at their house, playing “school” with grandma and wanting to play the piano they had and being told no, because we couldn’t wake him up. What I do remember of him was an incredibly sweet man who loved me so very much. When he died, we were on a camping trip. We left early and flew back to CA, and I remember just sitting at the table, not understanding why we weren’t having a funeral. Apparently he didn’t want one – he was cremated, and his ashes scattered somewhere. It breaks my heart that he doesn’t have a memorial somewhere. He died in their bedroom – she told me that she’d been sleeping on the couch and she felt him tickle her toes and she said “it’s okay, you can go now,” and that was when he died.

His death, in a lot of ways, broke my grandma. She had been a stay at home mom, a housewife, because that was what people did. He had been her connection to the outside world. And suddenly, it was gone. Her oldest son, my uncle B, had died about a month after I was born. We had moved to VA. Her son D was married and living nearby, but still his own life. And her youngest, R, was living with them. B’s daughter, T, was living with her as well with her two kids. And R, T, and the kids became her entire life. The summer between my freshman and sophomore years of high school was hard for me. We were moving from VA to SC, and I had been planning on taking AP European History. We’d been assigned one of the best books for summer reading (A World Lit Only By Fire by William Manchester (not affiliate, support independent bookstores!)), and I was SO excited to tell her about it. After all, this was the woman I’d played “school” with for so many years. She just wanted to talk about how T’s oldest was starting to be able to read and the youngest liked being read to. And it just, I was mad. I felt like she didn’t love me all of a sudden, that I’d been replaced by her great-grandkids. And so, at 14, I decided I wasn’t ever going back.

I know now that she was grieving. Because how horrific to lose your oldest son and then 8 years later lose your husband. She wanted to protect herself – and she could do that by putting everything she had into the people who weren’t leaving her. I tried to stay in touch over the years. I’d call on occasion, she’d call on occasion. Once, in college, she called and told me that she’d been trying to call and my (now) ex had been answering the phone and telling her I wasn’t there. I tried to explain that I’d had my phone, he wasn’t even with me, she must have called the wrong number, but she wasn’t having it. In hindsight, even though all of those things were true, it seems like she probably knew something wasn’t right about that relationship (she was extremely intuitive) and I shouldn’t have completely brushed her off as a crazy old lady.

In 2014, D got a call from R that she was sick, and D told him to call 911. This kicked off a saga of epic proportions – a restraining order against R and T, moving her to hospice because she was diagnosed with leukemia (she held on for a VERY long time despite not being treated), a years long investigation by the police and DA’s offices, and ultimately charges against R and T. They were able to plead out and serve essentially community service, which is completely insane but that’s another story that I won’t tell here. I went out that summer because we were told she had 3-6 months to live, and she barely knew me. She asked for her mom, she talked about a baby on the floor at my feet, and she kept petting the quilt I made her telling me how the cats loved it. None of those things were in the room with us. It was insanely hard to be there, only 24 years old, and this woman I was SO angry at for having brushed me off had no idea who I was. I felt guilty for not having pushed this when I felt something wasn’t right. I still feel guilty. I wasn’t there when she died, and the quilt I made her (the one thing I asked to have returned to me) was donated to Goodwill. And this is why none of that side of the family was invited to our wedding – they are effectively dead to me.

As special as my relationship with Grandma N was, the relationships I had with Grandma and Grandpa R were even more. For them, I was the first grandkid. When my brother was born, to help my parents out early on, they took me to Disneyland for a week. We used to go to Marine World (probably where my love of fish was ACTUALLY started), and there was an incredibly affordable local park called Fairy Tale Town that was also a favorite place of ours. Grandpa worked as a grocery store clerk, and apparently my mom tried to keep me away from chocolate by telling me it was dirty (I hated being dirty). The way she tells it, we were in line, either his or next to him, and she told me it was dirty when I asked what all the candy in the checkout line was, and he grabbed some and was like “nope, we’re done with THAT story now, that baby needs candy.”

We went to church on Sundays, we’d walk around their neighborhood down to the elementary school playground, and I learned to swim in their backyard. Fun fact – they actually were able to afford their house because the guy selling it was terrified of the East Area Rapist (Golden State Killer) and willing to sell it at a loss. Several of the attacks happened less than a mile from their house.

When I got older, we’d bike down by the American River. When I was in middle school, he bought a Harley. A gorgeous Harley with blue horses airbrushed on the gas tank. He took me on my first “date.” Brought me flowers, took me to a movie. It was sweet (though I’m not actually a fan of the concept now), and we definitely went on the bike. He had a biker club at church, and we got to know a lot of those guys too. They were rough around the edges, but ultimately sweet guys trying to turn their lives around and he was doing what he knew how to do for them – leading bible study, praying with them, counseling them.

And then, in 2016 they went to Jerusalem with the church. When I went out in 2017, grandma was telling me and my uncle T that she was worried – he’d get up while they were eating and just wander off. She’d spent the whole week plus trying to keep him where he was supposed to be. He was forgetting things. We encouraged her to take him to the doctor, and we encouraged her to go to the doctor as well because she’d lost a significant amount of weight and we were concerned. Shortly thereafter, he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and she was diagnosed with Lymphoma.

Fortunately, she’s since recovered from the cancer. But her mind is going – we know about chemo brain, and when you combine that with long term damage from celiac disease, it’s been rough on her. He continued to decline. My mom spent a few years going back and forth, trying to stay with them to help out. Ultimately, after COVID started and they were so very isolated, my mom and uncle found them an assisted living community with memory care. And he…continued to decline. They got him on the waiting list for memory care, and early this month they had an opening for just him.

We think that’s what broke him. They were married for 60 years, and suddenly he had to be separated from her. On the 7th, I got a call from my mom that he wasn’t responsive and they weren’t expecting him to make it past the 11th. I told her to tell him he had to wait for me, and I flew back on the 9th. And we sat in his hospice room for 3 days. My uncles came back early from vacation, and on Monday, they went home so they could check on the house, etc. My parents had an appointment that afternoon, so I offered to stay with my grandparents. We’d been sitting there for 3 days with no change, it wasn’t that big of a deal. I read to both of them for a couple hours, and then she went upstairs to take a nap. I stayed, of course, and talked to him. And all of a sudden, he stopped breathing. I called my mom (she was in the building at that point) and told her to get in the room. She made it back for him, but barely.

Guys, watching him breathe for 3 days and then being the one he picked to finish off that process with…guys that’s hard. I’d spent two hours telling him I wasn’t going anywhere, that we would take care of grandma, and talking to him just about life stuff – that Michael and I had moved to Germany, that we were looking for an apartment, that we were excited to do all of this traveling – and it was like he realized “it’s okay now.” And that’s an honor in some ways, because I’m glad I could comfort him and convince him that it really would be okay and that we wouldn’t let grandma suffer, but it’s also this traumatic experience. I was very much alone with him when he started those last few breaths. Something in me panicked that I’d be blamed for his death.

Grief is a fucking bitch. I’m mostly numb still, but occasionally it hits that he’s gone and he’s not coming back. And when it does, it’s a punch in the stomach and I can’t catch my breath. Not having a therapist right now is also absolutely brutal. I’m absolutely terrified of letting the feelings out. Because it’s not fair that he’s gone. He can’t be gone. I feel insanely guilty for having stayed away over the last year and a half – I wanted to keep them safe, and flying 6+ hours, being in at least two airports…that didn’t feel safe.

I am, at the very least, so glad that he popped in for my dress shopping. C spoiled me rotten and booked this thing called the Princess Treatment and we had the shop to ourselves, which unintentionally ended up being perfect because of COVID. We were able to skype in L and T, and my grandma. And then he popped into the frame and made everyone cry because he was just so stinking proud and happy and I will never forget that look on his face.

By the time our wedding rolled around, we had to make the awful choice to not fly them out. They just weren’t able to handle it, plus COVID restrictions, and it ended up being one of the hardest decisions I had to make for the wedding. We did livestream it, and we made sure someone was with them to log them into the stream. He’d lost most of his ability to speak by then, but I was told he was so very proud and happy to be able to see it.

Losing him is hard. I spent the next few days trying to keep my grandma’s spirits up, making sure she was going to things at the Home (I dragged her to EVERY event I could the day after) while my mom and uncle handled making the arrangements. She has a great set of friends who have also recently lost their husbands, and I know they’re taking care of her. But I’m still worried about her. She and I are so very alike, and I know how easy it is to just get lost in the feelings.

I guess this is all for now. I have happier updates, but I needed to get all of this out first and this post is long enough. I’ll be back in a few days hopefully with better things to discuss (and hopefully pictures).

Fresh Start

Well gang, it’s been a few years, hasn’t it? Rather than go through the pile of things that have happened since my last post, let’s start with 2019?

I started therapy again in the summer of 2019. M and I were ring shopping, and my mental health started to significantly deteriorate. I was diagnosed with CPTSD due to emotional and psychological abuse from a previous relationship. I found the best therapist (if you’re looking for one in the NOVA area, let me know – she’s great!), and we have done a lot of work since then. M and I got engaged in December 2019 in Vienna, Austria at the St. Stephan’s Cathedral. His plan had been to propose in Munich at the English Gardens, but it was so damn cold and the timing never quite worked. Regardless, it was perfect and it was us.

And then, much like everyone else…our plans were derailed because pandemic. About a week after we signed the contract for our venue, I went home from work and didn’t go back to the office until the beginning of August 2021. Even so, we managed to hold with our plans for March 27, 2021 and get married. Our wedding was SUPER small (only 21 of us!) and almost exclusively outdoors, which was how we got away with it. It was an absolutely perfect day and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Three of my best friends made it – L, G, and C – and G’s daughter N was our flower girl. M had his brother and three of his best friends as his groomsmen, and my uncle T officiated.

Most importantly, NO ONE GOT COVID. Most of the group was at least partially vaccinated – there were five of us that weren’t yet. We did have a minor scare when L got here – she tested positive, but it turned out to be a false positive PCR (from a shallow nasal swab). It made no sense to us that she tested positive, so after that result from a free testing center, we called my doctor and had her rapid tested and PCR tested at their office. After the brain tickle rapid came back negative, we were pretty sure it was a false positive to begin with, and then her brain tickle PCR came back negative, and then mine a couple days later came back negative. And this is why it’s super important to ensure everything you’re using is sterile and you’re not cross contaminating your samples. We ended up only losing a weekend of girl time, but it was the longest weekend I think I’ve ever had.

M and I have obviously not had a honeymoon yet (thanks COVID), but we did something kind of insane, which is why I’m blogging again. After a lot of conversation, he started looking for jobs in March, and he got an offer that we accepted in June. I say we because, even though he’s the one working there…we’ve relocated. I’m writing this at 7AM from Stuttgart, Germany.

If you’ve never had a full service relocation before (particularly a DOD-managed relocation), it is a WILD experience. My parents used their full benefits a few times, but I missed those relocations, so this was my first. On September 22 at about 830 am (they were early!), two lovely ladies rang our doorbell and started packing our house. An hour or so later, three more people showed up. I packed exactly one thing – my Bernina 570QE, and I had to be watched and the box had to be checked before it could be stickered. And then, about 6 hours later, our entire house had been packed and a good chunk of our furniture had been wrapped like presents.

Sewing room..99% packed.

On the 23rd, they came back. They loaded all our stuff into a van in about 4 hours, finished wrapping our furniture like presents, and took it all away. And again, we weren’t allowed to help. As soon as they picked up the couch I practically died of embarrassment. Why is it that as soon as a piece of furniture is moved, your reasonably clean house looks like you’ve never used a broom or vacuum in your LIFE? They picked that thing up and the only thing in my head was “oh god oh god oh no why I swear I cleaned yesterday.” I’m sure delivery will be just as weird as packing/taking was, but at least the floors will be clean?

And with that, we had a few days to have the house and the carpets cleaned and do our walkthrough. M went to Florida for a wedding, and I stayed to avoid both COVID and gluten (lol, the gluten thing didn’t work out very well), so I stayed with G, N, and G for the weekend to relax and get some kind of normalcy back for a short time (and lots of girl time and kid snuggles). I ended up getting glutened at lunch on Monday, but M and her boyfriend were absolutely great about it and we managed to do enough intervention to skip MOST of the symptoms I would have normally had. Couple that with the fact we got the upgrade we had been hoping for on our flight, and frankly, the trip over could have been so much worse. We both got some sleep on the flight (god bless United Polaris), and our crew did a great job of cobbling together something gluten free for me since…due to COVID they’re not accommodating dietary restrictions? All the business class meals were full of gluten, but one of the economy ones happened to be gluten free, so at least I got something for dinner. And I may have gotten a little bit of extra fruit for breakfast (because it was either an egg pastry or french toast) and M let me have his yogurt as well.

And then…we were here. We had a lot to do on Thursday, and Friday M went in for a little bit to finish up paperwork. L came down for Saturday, so we checked out the pumpkin festival (Kürbisausstellung) in Ludwigsburg. It was so great to get to see her again, and my heart is so happy to know that she’s only a few hours away instead of an actual entire ocean away.

L, me, and M with the winning giant pumpkin at something like 1200 kg?!
The theme of the Ausstellung was oceans/ocean plastic, which feels deeply appropriate for me and L given our tendency to shout the scientific names of fish at each other. Here, a shark/Haifisch and the family he ate (we don’t know them).

M has gone in for his first full day today, and I’m in charge of sorting through apartment hunting stuff and figuring out phones and there’s a quick run across the street to the grocery store in my near-ish future. We have a couple apartments to look at on Thursday, so probably most of my day will be spent either reading or working on my La Passacaglia. Now seemed like the right time to start working on a 2000 piece hand sewing project, since who knows when our stuff arrives?


After two falls at the end of last month, I took a week off leading up to March 5’s St Pat’s 10k.  My knees hurt, and I honestly had a lot of anxiety about heading back out again.  The week off was much needed, and I finished up a solid five books.

The race itself was slower than I wanted, but I was grateful to have L with me to talk.  She ran the double, and she killed it.  I had some nagging groin pain on my left side.  But I brushed it off, and kept moving.  The week after the race, I kept feeling the nagging pain during my runs on Tuesday and Thursday, and I was nervous going into the Rock and Roll Half on the 11th.

Let me tell you about this race.  I hate this race.  I don’t know why I run this race.  Just before the halfway point is Calvert Hill, and I have not yet beat that hill.  The back half of the race is pretty rolling, and it is a pile of misery.  Every time I finish this race, I swear that I will never run it again.  And then I register and we repeat the cycle.

If H hadn’t been waiting for me at the top of Calvert, I  would have been in trouble.  By mile 2, my groin pain had turned into moving hip/groin/quad pain.  And by the time I hit Calvert, I knew I wasn’t going to be able to actually run up the hill (that score is now Calvert: 3, Me: 0).  By the time I got to H, I didn’t know if I was going to be able to finish the race, and I definitely walked almost all of the uphills.  I wanted to cry from the pain. Knowing that my teammates were at Cowbell Corner just before mile 12 was probably the only thing that kept me in the race after mile 9.  Seriously, these ladies are the best.  I’ve never had so many cheers for me before.  I came out of the race with a 2:26:08.

The rest of my runs were hard, and they were painful.  To the point that I finally sucked it up and looked for a physical therapist on my insurance’s website.  I ended up at an orthopedist (I still don’t know how that happened), and he did some x-rays and put me on a 10 day course of prednisone in the hopes that it was just inflammation or a muscle strain.  And then he sent me off to PT.  My PT is great – she’s a runner, and she’s pretty involved.  She gave me some exercises to work on strengthening, but she told me to be aware that her initial evaluation suggested that my pain may be caused by a labral tear in my hip.

My follow up with my ortho was yesterday, and based on the fact that there was zero improvement on the prednisone (seriously, all I got out of it was a splitting headache and some seriously screwed up dreams), he’s sending me for an MRI arthrogram to look for that particular tear.  On the plus side, he was very specific about the doctor he wants to perform the test.  On the down side, I can’t get in until April 11.

My PT is allowing me to continue running as long as the pain doesn’t get worse or change – I’m to avoid anything that causes sharp pain, as opposed to the pinching feeling I’ve already got going on, and I’m to take walk breaks if I do start to feel crappy.  So, I’m working hard to keep up my mileage, and then I’ll see what happens when I get my MRI results back.  I’ve been trying not to panic too much about the fact that they’re going to have to stick a needle in my hip, but the needle-phobia has already started setting in.

In the rest of life, I’m off to San Francisco for work on Friday, and then on Tuesday, I get to head up to Sacramento to visit family before I have to come back to real life (and that MRI) on the 11th.  I’m definitely looking forward to seeing my grandparents, who will be just back from Israel, and my uncle, his fiance, and my cousins.  It should be a good almost week with them, and I’m planning on also getting my running in.  I was hoping to see my brother as well, but he’ll be out of the country for work.

I’ve been a book-devouring machine, though I’ve tapered off a little this week with the increased anxiety.  I’ve been trying to start The War that Ended Peace about 6 times, but I can’t seem to get further than chapter 1 before I’m putting myself to sleep.  So, I’ve been blazing through fiction:

Mostly, I’m just really looking forward to a few days off after this meeting.

Catching Up

Some weeks are bad, like the week I managed to sprain my ankle.  Some weeks are really fantastic, like last week.  And some weeks, most weeks really, are somewhere in the middle.  This past week was pretty bad, but not sprained ankle bad.  It started off really well.  We knocked out close to 6 miles on Monday, and I escaped from work early for it.  And that was the last really good run of the week.

On Wednesday, my shorts chafed 0.2 into the run, so we walked 3 miles instead.  On Thursday, I was a block from work when I tripped on the edge of a flower bed and fell, banging up my left knee and actually breaking my water bottle.  No, it didn’t shatter, but the silicone hi-flow valve in the lid actually vanished from it.  I got up and tried to keep going, not realizing anything was wrong, and was halfway across the street before I realized that no, I should not be soaking wet with water from the bottle.

Yesterday’s run was 12.95 miles, and it was a bear.  Super warm, and we actually got lost somewhere in MD.  Whoops.  Two blocks from finishing, I tripped again.  This time, I made the good choice to roll and save my knees.  I scared the bejeezus out of some poor guy walking by – I don’t think he quite understood why I fell forward and then was suddenly on my back, but other than some minor right hip soreness, damaged pride, and sand in my shorts (seriously, DC?), I’m fine.

My mileage is sitting at 74.25 total for Feb as of today, and 119.66 for the year.  21.51 for last week, which put me at 1.51 above my weekly goal.  My deficit is down from 41.85 miles at the end of last week to 40.34 this week.  I will catch up!

I’ve also read another four books since last week!

I read Miss Peregrine several years ago, and since the movie came out not too long ago, I really wanted to reread it before I saw the movie.  The other three, I picked up in Boston at Brookline Booksmith, and I’m actually a little sad that I’m now done with (almost) all of the books I got there.  It might be time for another trip to Carpe Librum this week!  I’ve been trying to decide what to read next.  I haven’t been able to get in to either of the two books I tried to pick up yesterday, so I’m kind of floundering here.

I also have started trying to reorganize my running gear.  You know, because I have quite a bit.  I spent about a week trying to figure out where my black shorts were, only to remember that I actually sold both pairs. Last year.  So, I did two things.  I started with creating an inventory of my Oiselle gear.  All of it – past and present, including stuff that’s been sold. Which I then marked as sold.  The second thing was to go through everything I own, figure out what I wear, what I’m attached to, and what I could donate.  I donated a bit of stuff yesterday, but I have a large pile of race shirts that I don’t wear, but that I’m too sentimental to donate.  I need to come up with something to do with them – something that isn’t a blanket.  For now, I have the clothes I do wear in a drawer, and my pullovers are destined for the closet, either to be folded on a shelf or hung up.

No sewing for me this week.  Perhaps next week!

Another Start

I saw my doctor a few weeks ago.  I managed to get an appointment early Monday morning, and she sent me for x-rays, and gave me some more anti-inflammatories.  It turned out to just be a bad sprain, fortunately nothing is broken.  So, I took it very easy, bought myself a new brace, and finished out January with 45.41 miles, a whole 34.59 miles short of my goal of 80 miles.  But, what’s done is done, and I’m feeling better.

I started running with L on the weekends, one of my Oiselle teammates, and it’s been super beneficial since we started on Jan 28.  The only downside has been that she has a coach and is following a training plan, and I’ve been a lazy putz for the past few weeks, so I’ve managed to cause a shin splint flare by not doing my mileage during the week and then trying to run long with her on the weekends.  I’m getting there though.  Last weekend’s run turned out to be 13.23 miles on Saturday, followed by Love the Run You’re With 5K on Sunday.  Yesterday’s run was only 8 miles, but I felt strong.  And, on Thursday, I did 4.79, and I finished out that last 0.8 with a sub-9:00 pace.


Mad props to Coach Steve for grabbing this picture at last weekend’s Love the Run You’re With!  M and I ran it for the fifth time this year, and this was my first one getting to wear my singlet.  It wasn’t a fantastic race by any stretch of the imagination, but it was a strong one.  My legs were exhausted going in, but I resisted any urges to walk, even up the massive hill that is Army Navy Dr.  This singlet has magic powers.  And Coach Steve saw me as I was coming into the finish line and jumped out to get a picture, so I took the opportunity to get my Head Up, Wings Out picture!

As of today, I’m up to 52.74 miles for February, and a total of 98.15 miles for the year.  I’m still 41.85 miles behind schedule, but I know I can make it up.

I also started keeping a bullet journal last week.  It was something I’ve been toying with for a long time, and I finally jumped on it.  I’ve been using it to track how I feel on workouts, work projects completed (because reviews are hard unless  you have that list), books that I’ve read, and races.  I’m sure I’ll add more to it later, but that’s where it is right now.

So, books read this year.  I’ve finished 7 books so far.


Black Flags was hard to get through, but I finally tackled it.  It’s fairly dense, and mostly history, so it was hard for me to stay focused through most of the political and behind the scenes dramas that happened.

I Wrote This For You is a different kind of book.  It’s a format I’ve never read before, almost like a cross between poetry and a journal, and it did exactly what the author intended.  It tugged at my heart and reminded me that, somewhere out there, someone I knew maybe in this life, maybe before, knows my soul.

The Hopefuls pissed me off a bit.  I get that not everyone loves DC, and I get that political staff are a pain in the ass, but the whole attitude about DC really gnawed at me.

The Soul of an Octopus was brilliantly written.  Sy Montgomery captured so brilliantly the feelings that I get standing in an aquarium, and also being in the ocean.  This world is beautiful.

I Never Promised You a Rose Garden is evocative.  Personally, I struggle with anxiety, and Deborah’s madness is easy to step into.  If you read only one book on mental illness, I recommend this one.  It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that as “sane” people, the mentally ill are nothing like us.  But, I think most of us can relate to the world that Deborah has built for herself.  It’s terrifying to think that the line between the well and the sick can be so thin, that one only need to push back one’s own curtain a little further to fall into illness.  “There is nothing you can do to me that my own craziness doesn’t do to me smarter and faster and better.”

I’m going to skip writing about the last two for now.  Huxley was not what I expected in this novel, especially after having loved Brave New World.  And Thicker than Water was a little too close to home in so many ways.

And, finally, sewing.  I’ve been working on bibs for K the past few weeks.  I’m hoping to pick back up one of the quilts that’s on my table once those are done.