Finished today – altho it took a bit longer and a few more stitches –

The Vintage Black Sampler from Owl Forest Embroidery

started 3 April 2023 – finished 17 May 2023.

We had another set of visitors today – this being the youngest –

But I have a serious preference for the poppies seen on a walk with the Youngest.


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Almost done

Somehow, I thought I had been stitching on this particular pattern longer than I really have. Perhaps it is because my Dragonling has been hanging out for well over a year? Anyway – the Vintage Black Sampler was my “new cruise, new start” on the NCL Sun leaving out of Lisbon last month. Actually – the start was on 3 April since I spent very little time off ship in Cadiz.

This particular pattern clocks in at a total of 23,376 stitches of which I got to here

by the end of the evening. I still have about 1700 stitches – give or take to finish it – so by the end of the week.  Most of the remaining stitches are in the border with the solid parts being the remaining sails and ship hull. This pattern is fun, and I am stitching it on Aida (Cotton Candy by BeStitchMe) in one color (PR043 by Silks4U) both of which mean that it is possible to make fairly rapid progress. Most of their other patterns are a bit more complicated (Treasure Island, Alice, Lemurs, and the Cats came back all come to mind).

Tomorrow is errand day ending with pizza which I am taking as a reward for sorting out my two project bag bins and another pile of misc things from the floor.

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I am almost afraid to look up when I started this particular full coverage piece. It has been a while, a long while. (Actually, looking it up – it has only been since Jan 2022. Could be much worse).  With my basic rule about only one at a time – all the other ones that I have wanted to do have been on hold till this piece has been finished.

What am I talking about? One of the Randall Spangler Book Spine illustrations. The previous one I did was in fall of 2019 and cranked off in about 6 weeks. This one? Well it was going fine till I spilled that cup of coffee which got all over the side of the piece. I then put it on hold and decided that it didn’t count as far as projects so I started and finished the Bengal Cat for the Eldest and the Sloth for the Youngest.

From my picture gallery record it looks like I didn’t pick him back up till 25 April and started to make some steady progress. Today – I decided that he really needed to be finished. And 1472 stitches in a day on a full coverage is a bit much. Way too much.

So let me introduce – Investigating the Effects of Caffeine on the Mind by I. M. Dragging.

a measly 22, 428 stitches…on gridded Aida with DMC. The washing is going to be less than fun…

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There is a lovely park as part of WildCat Canyon near where all three of our daughters live. The park includes picnic areas which you can reserve for parties, open areas for playing, and trails you can hike.

The Eldest reserved an area this afternoon as a good place to have a bunch of toddlers and friends for a birthday celebration for Lev. The kids seemed to have a good time as did the parents.

Plus there was an additional, and not particularly invited guest.

This particular gopher popped up next to the picnic table. Noah attempted to discourage the beast by plugging his hole with that rock. Nope, the rock got pushed aside and mad digging ensued.

The best anyone could do was to keep the kids away and tamp down the area. Obviously, he was here first, but no one wanted a toddler to step in a hole either.

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Have I mentioned that I have numerous pairs of glasses floating around. Most of which are several years old. The prescriptions in all of them are similar, but some are a lot better than others.
Last year about this time, I got a new pair of glasses. I really liked them. They fit even when wearing a mask. They let me see well enough for stitching that I wasn’t spending my entire life with them somewhere else while I peered through a magnifier or squinted at what was in my hands.
And then I couldn’t find them. I looked all through my craft room, our bedroom. Suitcases, closets, bathrooms. I looked.

And then this morning, when I got around to heading into the guest bedroom to change them bedl linens, I happened to glance over at the built in bookcase. There is this pair of glasses sitting there..

I brought them out to my craft room and spent time looking at them.

No question – these are the missing glasses. 

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Treasure Island

I have been suckered in again. This time by Owl Forest ( whose designers, in addition to a lot of Russian looking patterns, are the guilty parties behind my 85% complete Alice from 2021. And the Vintage Black Sampler now at 89% complete. Anyway – each year there is a free Stitch-a-Long which is in about 18 parts one of which is released every two weeks. The first section was released May 12.

The fabric is 16ct Moccasin from Fortnight Fabrics and I am pulling out random Silks4U and substituting for the DMC.

I am not really happy with the white – although it matches the DMC. Looking at their website – that sun and half the moon are definitely yellow. Looks like I might just have to do a bit of backstitching ….

this part was only about 1200 stitches. Easily doable in a day.

Otherwise, I headed over to Avenue Yarns for their open sit&knit and managed to gift away two lengths of spinning roving to other attendees who are also spinners. I have more than several lifetimes of fiber and realistically am never going to spin most of it….


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The best toy

Can sometimes be the simplest. It doesn’t have to have bells and whistles. Be shiny or terribly expensive. What it needs to do is be the exact thing to bring joy to a two year old’s heart.

Lev turned two today. Overall I think he had a pretty good day which ended at our house for supper. He loves noodles, so that was on the menu along with cupcakes. He didn’t completely get the idea of opening presents. Since the first one he opened was a book, that took up a significant length of time sitting on his grandpa’s lap. 

But the best present? One that his Uncle Noah found. Blocks. With magnets inside. When you are two, sometimes that tower you are building to the sky just doesn’t go up as far as you would want before it comes crashing down. (and, as most of us adults know, that tower may continue to crash as we age and the stakes become higher.)

Blocks with magnets? They stack and stack and stack!

I think he would have happily sat with Miriam and stacked blocks for hours. Eventually toddlers get exhausted, all the desert is gone and it is time to head home.

Now guarding the stairs heading to our house 

Since I am starting to run out of space on the upper patio…

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Today started out less than auspicious. Of course, I didn’t know about my contribution to destruction  until I returned home. When Amazon dropped off a package in the middle of the driveway (after dark I might add) is it any wonder that it got flattened as I drove out on my way to the SFVA at 0dark30? Apparently it was small. Barely a bump that was grazed by a tire and went Squish.

Noah asked me on my return if I had noticed a small package on my way down the driveway. Had I gone out early? Yes. But something in the middle of the driveway? Small and flat? No, hadn’t seen it. He called Amazon – reminded them of the delivery instructions (NOT in the driveway, NOT abandoned on the public stairs leading up to Keith – next to the number sign at the big tree was fine) and whatever it was will be replaced.

Otherwise – dental appointment. A bit more garage organization.

meaning that it is actually possible to walk to the back wall in one of the three bays.

and then there was the evening visit from one of the nearby nature preserve residents.

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This was a cleanup day. I had mentioned to George several days ago that we really needed to tackle the garage. He promised right after his first two morning conference calls. And I promptly forgot all about it.

I was just back from running an errand or two and was headed upstairs – stitching was calling me. And then I was reminded that organizing the garage had been my idea. The next couple of hours were spent sorting, consolidating, re-organizing. We made serious progress. Tomorrow I am washing a couple of loads of clothing that need to be donated.

Feeling full of energy, I grabbed the heavy duty clippers as I was headed up the stairs and back to the house. I had been watching some of the plants along the stairs. Those on our side were getting well out of control. Imagine my horror –

when I discovered these babies growing along the stairs and into our upper lawn. I haven’t ever seen thistles here before. They are really nasty suckers and are more than willing to tear up hands and shed little spikes into any and all clothing. The only positive thing I can say is that their roots are very shallow. 

I will try and remember tomorrow to get pictures of the sightly cleared stairway and the garage…

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Fog Bound

Unlike many other areas of the world – people talk of a marine layer, rather than fog. Whatever, it is water vapor hanging in the air dense enough to obscure vision and to create havoc with ground level navigation.

From our living room looking toward the Bay

you can see the edge of the driveway and the trees on our side of the road

looking down and toward the left, besides the skylights of the downstairs apartment, the neighbor’s road is barely visible.

From upstairs –

the camera sees a bit of the houses across the street, not visible to my naked eye (but putting on my glasses does help – duh).

Otherwise, I have been doing the occasional organizing, straightening up and cleaning. Not so much on the cleaning, but at least I am unpacked.

This is where I am on the Halloween Fairy (Nora Corbett) stitched on 32 count whatever was in the kit along with the Classic Colorworks (same).  According to the stitch count, I am about 50% complete. Which is going to be a gross under-estimate, since there isn’t any black in my skinned PK version. Given that there are two skeins of black (and three of the green for the wings) I should be ok…


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WSC – Day 2

I missed the first portion of the conference. At least at the time it was offered. There is something about a meeting starting at 0900 Geneva Time (Central European, DST) which is beyond me. My clock was happy to remind me that the time translated to midnight….
I am too old to be pulling all night sessions, no matter how interesting the subjects or speakers. So I tuned in again about 0500 my time and used the breaks between sessions to catch up on a few that I missed. Included today were specific sessions on infant, maternal, and low income settings. 

Meanwhile, I decided that the Halloween Fairy kit by Nora Corbett from Hoffmann that I have had sitting in my collection for years really needed to be started. The fabric is a 32 count natural Zweigart Linen and the threads are Classic Colorworks..

it is just a start ….  the day was long, and I am pretty tire..

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WSC – Day 1

.For the 4th year in a row – The World Sepsis Conference is being held virtually – sponsored by the Global Sepsis Alliance.  According to the opening sessions, there were about 15,000 registrants from 109 countries.

This leads me to the side discussion and reality of our current world. The pandemic has done irreparable damage to families, countries, economies as well as to individuals. On the flip side, there has been incredible strides in science & technology. I was debating with my friend Beverly the pros & cons of on-line meetings. I am firmly on the side of participating on line as I view the wider reach, greater audience, and decreased environmental impact of dozens->thousands of people traveling more than off-sets the loss of personal contact. For others, the networking which can only be attained in person, is key to life & career.

I view the on-line meetings as an opportunity to tune in to what is going on in other areas of the world. To be able to stay up to date on various professional and scientific advances in the field and to learn things from individuals whom I would never be able to meet in person; from locations where I am not (or can not) afford to travel.

The (*updated since the original agenda was removed at the second meeting day) Conference is listed here with the release schedule for open posting of the sessions..

But it is where I spent my time today – along with attempting to clean up the craft room…

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the time

Does anyone really know what time it is? (Here you have your choice between the classic song by Chicago 

I think we should start with the fact that time and time zones are an artificial construct agreed upon by various international organizations in order to standardize the whole “what time is it?” and enable international commerce (more information on Wiki).  In fact, the specific time may have no particular relevance to you personally if you are not doing much interaction with the world outside your door.

Or if you are on a cruise ship where that pesky time defines food availability or when you need to be back should that particular bit of confusion be on a day where the ship is in some port or another. But obviously I am digressing.

Over the last seven + weeks, I went from Pacific Time (GMT – 8 in March) to Miami (GMT -5) to Barcelone (CET) to Edinburgh (UTC) and then daylight savings time kicked in at various points which made a total mess of all the entries I had made of various ZOOM CME events in my calendar.

Heading toward my ship leaving from Lisbon I went to Zürich (one hour ahead) to Lisbon (dropping back an hour) and then there was the ship which had to turn back those hours, on a sea day and in synch to whatever ports were on the schedule. By the time I arrived in Miami there had been about 5 hours gained back. Add in 24 hours almost awake to travel home and you can start to see that I don’t have a clue about time.

It might be why I woke at 0430 local time this morning. The house was quiet. I was able to stitch for several hours before anyone else was stirring. By the end of the day I had managed 1643 stitches which completed the large motif and most of the next one. I have just under 500 stitches to go on this project for now. Means I am running out of excuses on a few other things…

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Felled Trees

It seems like little has changed here at home.

Other than a pile of packages waiting on my return.

which actually looks a lot worse than it is. Being gone for almost 7 weeks means that a couple of my “whatever of the month” memberships had two deliveries each, a number of journals which I get in hard copy are in the pile, two mystery boxes, and finally a number of presents for various people which I have been waiting on for anywhere from a week to almost a year.

I cleaned up that pile, and Noah took all the recycling out for me. I unpacked my suitcase, backpack and ventured upstairs to find that I had left my craft room at least partly organized.

Now, on to the trees. What isn’t common knowledge outside of my local area is that some “brilliant” person back in the 1920s imported eucalyptus trees and planted them all over the Berkeley Hills. The positive is that they are fast growing and provide a lot of cover. The stupid side is that they are incredibly flammable, and will rapidly imitate a torch should they catch on fire. This is a drought area…. For the last several years, the city has been encouraging people to clear out deadfall, brush, and the eucalyptus trees in an attempt to improve fire safety.

We have neighbors on the street above us, just on the other side of the city stairs who are tackling their trees. These suckers are large and are being chain-sawed out in pieces. Those pieces, for whatever reason, are being stacked on Euclid between our garage and driveway. I have a feeling that the tree-removal people just don’t want to deal with the narrowness of  the uppers streets where the house is actually located.

But this is what greeted me…

Those rounds are not quite a meter across. They are heavy. As it turns out, the wood is hard and resistant to most of our local insects… Noah is contemplating side tables and cutting boards. I am thinking wooden plates from one of the “smaller” branches. We might have just tucked a few bits away in the garage.

And finally – I am back to working on Royal Garden by Fox & Rabbit. I finished the section for March which was just those last couple of floral segments

then moved on to April’s section which I would really like to have done before May drops. I managed to make a dent in the 3k worth of stitches..

and when I finally finish this large motif there are three smaller ones to go….


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Ship to Home

As you can imagine – my day was a bit long and made even a bit more challenging by an early awakening and a three hour time zone change.

I normally sleep with the curtains open. At sea this makes absolutely no difference, it is not like there is anyone out there to look in my cabin. In the case of sailing into harbor what turned out to be a few hours early – it was the lights of Miami and the harbor that woke me. It was actually lovely. Instead of sailing in about 0600 it was more like right before 0400 when we started into the channel.  Since my packing was long since done – the only thing I needed to do was get dressed quickly, check to make sure that my suitcase had been picked up, then head to the lounge and forward viewing area on Deck 12.

With the exception of one crew member, I was the only one up there. It was lovely. Unlike NYC, the weather was balmy and the wind hardly blowing. The view was amazing.

We sailed the whole length of the island where the cruise ships dock, getting rather close to the city

before turning in the basin at the end so that the ship will be facing out when she leaves.

NCL, like RCCL has a new terminal –

where we docked.

That was the fun portion of the morning. Other than the wonderful contributions from the Garden Cafe’s chefs who had coffee out early.

It wasn’t till 0815 that I was able to get off the ship, collect my suitcase and clamber on the bus to MIA. There were a few of us who were “independent” travelers, but the bus was already 3/4 full when I got there as a serious number of people had complete packages from NCL which included air, transfers, and cruise. After listening to a lot of tales about changed flights and other challenges, I think I was right not to go there.

At exactly 4 hours prior to my flight, I dropped off my suitcase and headed to security. In spite of having multiple security locations, I spent almost an hour in line. As it turns out, concourse G is one of the oldest at the airport. It has little to recommend it. Perhaps this is why SouthWest has gates there?  In any case, I hung out till my flight was called. The two people with whom I shared the row were headed home to Austin. The woman said she picked my row because I was wearing a mask. (Note, less than 10 of us on the plane). Her MIL had just died of COVID complications and they had barely made it to Miami in time and stayed for the funeral. The woman had just retired from teaching school.  

On time to Austin. Hanging out for hours. No luck at Starbucks there either  when looking for the new location specific silver thermoses. Ah, well, it is not like I need more stuff…

Amazingly the flight from Austin to Oakland was only 15 minutes late in leaving and was not even 1/3 full. Everyone could have had their own row had they so chosen. After takeoff, I moved to the middle seat in mine and managed to stretch out and nap most of the way to OAK. 

Miriam met me at baggage claim and gave me a ride home. That late at night (almost midnight at this point) I am just not willing to depend on BART. Unpacking will be done in the morning….


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NCL Sun – Day 19 – On the edge of the Sun

Sea day here. The last one and also the last full day of the cruise.

There was something flitting through my mind about what I thought was a song about “third rock from the Sun” which actually turned out to be not a song but a TV Sitcom which I haven’t ever seen. Using my favorite resource (Wiki link here) I read through all of the information and decided that I hadn’t missed anything. This is what brought on my original chain of thought…

See that nice sun? See that row of lovely big portholes that goes right through the middle? I counted from the outside, then confirmed from looking at the paint job which has dark red curving right along the edge of my porthole. Not the third rock specifically, but one of four and the most aft of the batch, from there the paint does the ribbon thing before being overlaid by the loop…. and I can tell exactly were I am because of the obvious insert of decks…

Anyway – I packed last night so my day has been quiet and comfortable.  NCL wants the bags out by 2000 so that isn’t really a problem. I don’t feel like hauling my bag up the 13 steps to the main deck so will let the crew do the handling and hauling. I have an 0820 transfer to MIA so will be off at a reasonable time.

Otherwise – found that the main atrium walls had run out of space

and additional plaques have been added to

this quiet corner.

For those not familiar with the process – each port normally gifts a plaque to a ship on its first arrival in their port. New ships on a simple route have few. And older ship like the Sun has had years and multiple routes to accumulate quite a showing.

I might/might not be able to check in tomorrow. If both my flights are on time, I will have enough of a break in Austin where I change plans to actually post on time. It is likely to be very early on Saturday morning when I actually get home.

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NCL Sun – Day 18 – heading south

[A note on yesterday’s sail in for those who like particular’s. One of my long standing buddies, Mark, noted that – You sailed under the Verzano Bridge(Ft Wadsworth) SI side. Eastern side is Ft Hamilton, Brooklyn side. The NYC Marathon starts on the SI side of the bridge. Not that I am going to be doing any marathons,…)

So we sailed out of NYC in the afternoon and headed south along the US coast. It wasn’t a highly ambitious day. I spent a lovely morning with the remaining members of the Knitters and Stitchers (which is still overwhelmingly crocheters) and the afternoon packing.

Packing you ask? Yes, I decided that if I packed today, then tomorrow would be a totally non-stressed day. Plus, I have to decide if I can stuff everything  back into the suitcase, or if the bits & bobs I have picked up will requirement to pull out the duffle bag.  In reality, it isn’t the bits and bobs – it is more like the couple of kilos of chocolate that are making the difference…

By the end of the day, I have managed. By opening the expansion zipper, everything fits. It is actually that folded up duffle that is taking up space while weighing hardly anything at all.

I won’t present you with pictures of the cabin as it is now – but

This was my initial cabin – with

the beds separated – it becomes more than adequate for one person. And that bit of extra space in the middle lets me enjoy the large porthole and outside view. In spite of the salt spray on the glass…

Otherwise – tomorrow should finish the frame on Greenhouse of Oddities.

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NCL Sun – Day 17 – NYC

Or – New York City – coming and going. 

But that only means that I saw Staten Island, Brooklyn, and Manhattan from where we were sailing. Just saying.  We sere scheduled to dock at 0700. From past trips in through the harbor I remember how slowly the ship travels given the city’s proximity and the density of local water traffic. I missed the annoucement about heading up the river before 0400 but wasn’t surprised at the number of people in the Deck 12 forward lounge anyway. Mostly crew but a lot of passengers as well. I found myself playing tour guide a couple of times,

First, of course, you sail to and under the Staten Island Bridge

The traffic at this time of the morning is mostly trucks heading onto Staten Island and cars heading off.

Then you sail past the Statue of Liberty and a small bit of New Jersey on the port side. Here is where a good camera would have helped.

It is quite bright, actually appears green and is clear to the eye but not to my phone at this distance. 

Then there are all the tall buildings using up more electrical power than many developing nations use in a month. 

We docked at Pier 88, right next to the Intrepid.  The buffet was a mad house and so packed that I quickly gave up on eating anywhere but my cabin. There are a significant number of passengers disembarking today and everyone was in a hurry.

When we had clearance, I headed off the ship and passed through Immigration with the usual amount of standing in line and complete boredom at how many people don’t pull out their documents until they actually arrive at the agent’s station.

It was time for coffee! I found a coffee shop, bought a latte and spent about an hour or so with real internet. After walking around Times’s Square just to say that I went there, I headed to the Garment District.

home to just about anything you would want. Except for hand stitching fabrics. But I found DMC floss in one location. The price was obviously higher than JoAnns/Michaels but no complaints here, After going up and down the streets for a couple of hours and looking at all the wonders of fabric, notions, buttons, zippers, trims…..I headed over to B&H and pursued the goods.

The walk back, although not all that far, pulled complaints from my knees and hips. I don’t  normally hike for that kind of time/distance on hard pavements. 

Miriam says this bit of walkable art is referred to as the Schwarma,,,, And for those of you who read futurist novels – there are car stackers in NYC city parking lots now.

which I have seen full of cars in other lots. 

After heading up to the lounge again, I enjoyed a bit of peace and quiet till it became packed with people till the sail out. 

We had the Lady again – and more skyline.

and for any current/former New Yorkers –

There is the Brooklyn Bridge.

and we are obviously headed south. Two seas days – and Miami – and a flight or so home.

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NCL Sun – Day 16 – Back to sea

Compared to yesterday, there was almost no one up and moving early this morning. I was able to get an omelette, hand the chef a fridge magnet from Horta (he hadn’t been able to get off the ship due to tender port and long hours), and make to the Spinnaker Lounge well before anyone else.

It is a lovely, comfortable place to sit. There is NO, repeat NO, music playing overhead. The peace and quiet is wonderful. On most days there are people reading, playing cards, and chatting in small groups. The other thing that makes this a lovely place to hang out is

the fact that the Sun’s staff puts out this lovely set-up on sea days. I don’t have to scramble down a deck and run to the other end of the ship for a coffee refill. It goes out about 0600 and keeps getting refilled till 1200.

By 0900 most of the rest of the Knitters and Stitchers had dropped in to our usual meeting place.

Did I mention that we put back the clock the final hour last night to come on line with NYC time? Right, so it wasn’t surprising that a few people forgot, and the rest just decided to show up because they were already up.

I switched projects today – and worked more on Greenhouse of Oddities by LolaCrow. She is the designer for last fall’s Haunted Library – so I can’t wait to see how this one turns out. The first section has dropped and consists of the GreenHouse frames. Given there are about 5k worth of stitches, I am glad there are six weeks given before the next section is released. I don’t have all the colors with me, but hello? Black (310) and two very common browns + white will cover more than 80% of the required stitches in this section. I will post progress on the next sea day.

Oh, yes – and the direction map…

On our way to NYC. Somewhere between ½ and 1/3 of the passengers will be disembarking as well as a major crew change over. The cost of the cruise for most of us was the same whether we got off in NYC or stayed on the extra two sea days to Miami.  The reasons to get off are easy – people live in the NYC general area, they are taking the opportunity to spend a few days in NYC or the flights back to Europe are cheaper.

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NCL Sun – Day 15 – King’s Wharf

And we woke up this morning still in Bermuda. Our ship is docked at King’s Wharf, but you can see Hamilton from the upper decks.

As for me – this was the view I spent observing most of the day…

I made a quick look at what was available in town. Sunday – just about nothing other than a few local artisan shops. And. of course, souvenirs. I thought about it for about, oh let us say 20 seconds. The other option would have been to take the free ferry over to St. George’s and back. 

Or I could hang out on an almost completely empty ship and Zoom chat with a couple of UK friends. By this time I think you know what I chose. The internet was actually functional, but I also turned on my phone which seems to be working just fine and used good old AT&T to ensure that I actually would be able to stay on line for a while.

Otherwise – this is 70% complete. If I really wanted to push it, I could probably finish before I reach home. Have decided not to go that way as it takes a lot of fun out of the process.



We set sail sometime after 1630 and tomorrow will be the sea day between Bermuda and NYC.

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