A Good Yarn

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Merry Christmas

Christmas Greetings from cold but beautiful St. Paul, MN. I almost named this posting Bah-Humbug, but I'm going with the holiday spirit.

This week it has been very difficult to get anything done. I just feel like being on vacation. I'm guessing next week will be the same. I did manage to stay at the office until past 5:00 on Thursday (though I did take long lunch break). Then I met some friends at Williams Arena to see the Gopher Women's Basketball team play Drake University. I'd never been to a game before - it was really fun! I'm used to Target Center, of course, so it's so small and cute and every seat is a great seat. The games go superfast too.

Christmas Eve was spent with my brother. We had lunch at Nami, our favorite sushi place. After an absolutley delicious lunch, we went over to Metrodome and once again had our dreams crushed by the boys in purple (see the Bah Humbug comment above). After the defense scored a TD I actually started to believe they might actually win. Silly Renee! I spent a nice quiet evening at home, wrapping presents and watching "How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days". Very predictable romantic comedy. Glad I didn't spend any cash to see it!

In honor of Christmas, I present my Top Ten 10 Christmas songs.

I LOVE Christmas Music. I love listening to it, I love singing it. Every year I buy a new Christmas CD to add to my collection (Chris Isaak this year). So, this is my list of favorite songs to hear, not my favorite songs to sing. They're not really in any particular order, because that was too hard to figure out.

1. The Christmas Song - Nat King Cole

2. White Christmas - Bing Crosby

3. Blue Christmas - Elvis Presley

4. Fairy Tale of New York - The Pogues featuring Kirsty McColl

5.Santa Clause is Coming to Town - Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band

6. Winter Wonderland - Johnny Mathis

7. It Must've Been Ol' Santa Clause - Harry Connick, Jr.

8. Do They Know It's Christmas - Band Aid

9. Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy - Bing Crosby and David Bowie

10. Let it Snow - Dean Martin

Thursday, December 23, 2004

I've been a good girl!

'Tis the season, and I've been very lucky this week! A couple of days ago, I got this in the mail:

It's my scarf from the scarf swap! Jaimi knit it and I love it!! Of course, I love the colors because it was my yarn to start with, but this was a genius design! I had no idea what someone would come up with and it's perfect! As soon as I got it, I took off the scarf I was wearing and put this one on. I've been wearing it non-stop since then. THANK YOU JAIMI!!! Scarves are very important for me right now, because it's -9 right now and with wind chill, it feels like -27. Yikes! Remember a week ago when I was tramping around Georgia without a coat? Yeah, me too.

Speaking of Georgia, I got a Christmas present from Jackie, the Child Welfare Officer for the tribe I am a GAL for. While we were in Georgia, she bought this pin that I was admiring for me and gave it to me for Christmas.

Isn't it awesome! I love lizards and I love the fire opal and silver. That Jackie is very sneaky. She was looking at lizards for her mother-in-law and this was the one I liked the best. I decided if she didn't buy it, I was going to buy it for myself. I wandered off to look at some more jewelry and I guess she picked it out then. Later, when I went to see if it was still there and didn't see it, I figured she must have bought it for her MIL. But then she bought a lizard wall hanging for her, so I looked again and couldn't find it. Oh well, I thought, it just wasn't meant to be. Oh, yes it was!!

Yesterday I had a terrible migraine headache, but the day was made much more bearable when I got a package in the mail from my Secret Pal 3. My SP3 was Kim and she was so awesome! Everything she sent was just perfect and the stuff she sent this time was just wonderful! I knew she was sending a package and had decided to keep it for the weekend and open it as a Christmas present, but that thought literally left my head when I saw the package in my in-box. I let Red open the package for me. First thing I saw was this gorgeous yarn!

Isn't it beautiful? It's super soft too. That's probably the exact colorway I would have chosen myself - I've never seen Alchemy yarn, but of course I've heard about it in the blogosphere, so I was pretty excited. I've been trying to decide what to make with it. It seems like it would be super warm, so I'm thinking maybe a hat. Or maybe wristers.

Kim was just visiting a friend in DC and got the yarn at Knit Happens, so she also picked out this cute little pouch for me!

I feel like one of the cool kids! I love the pink and green colors of that store, as you can probably tell by many of my projects on this blog. I've got a little collection of tape measures going, so I think I'm going to keep them in this pouch. Or maybe I'll put my car knitting in it. I have to think about it some more. Yes, I am a freak.

Kim is from Seattle and sent me some nice little treats from there:

Yummy! I love chocolate!

And finally, she also sent me a couple of awesome bars of soap:

Aren't they cute? One is Christmas themed and one is Hannukah themed. They smell heavenly! I LOVE soap. I can't tell you how many bars of soap I picked up and then set down again when I was in Georgia. I was trying not to buy things for myself since I still need to buy Christmas gifts. Candies and soaps and the fish and nuts she sent to me earlier are exactly the type of thing I would buy for myself on a trip, so I feel like I've been on a nice trip to Seattle. I suddenly have a craving for Starbucks.....

Thank you so much Kimbellina! You've been a most excellent secret pal and I look forward to continuing our friendship!

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

I'm Back!

The trip to Georgia went very well. I was a little worried about it because before I left, both my mom and my dad called me - I don't hear from either one very often and that seemed like a weird coincidence. The school would not accept our client after 6:00 p.m., so we had to get a hotel room for her and we were a little nervous that she might run away or worse, but everything turned out great. Friday we brought our client to the school, then met with the staff and toured the campus. It was really, really nice. Much better than the other school we were using before. I really hope our client takes advantage of this opportunity and is able to get better.

After that was done, we had the rest of the day for ourselves. We did a little shopping in a cute little town called Dahlonega. They have a town square that is charming and was all dressed up for Christmas. I'm sure in the summer it's overrun with tourists, but we enjoyed our shopping. It was in the 50s, so I was really happy about runnning around without a coat! After a bit, we headed back into Atlanta and checked into a hotel. We ate at Spondivits, a seafood place that we were told was very popular. We weren't disappointed - the joint was jumping and had that great, Atlanta energy and the food was really good. The flight home was uneventful once we got on it - we were bumped from our first flight due to overbooking, but we got to travel first class on the next flight.

I spent most of the day at home on Sunday. Of course, I watched the Vikings squeak out a win, while I finished up my holiday cards. These were the last bunch I made:

I had glitter all over the place by the time that project was done. I didn't pick up the needles at all while I was in Atlanta, so I finished up the Joey Ramone doll later in the day:

As you can see, I haven't figured out the sunglasses yet. The instructions don't mention the sunglasses, so I emailed the designer to see what she did. Those really make it a Joey Ramone doll. I doubt I'm going to be able to finish Joan Jett by Christmas day, but we'll see.

I did get quite a bit of reading done while I was on the plane, so I finally finished "Shadow of the Wind". I actually really liked it. I thought it had an engaging story and I cared about the characters. One of my bookclub mates said it was possibly the worst book she's ever read, so I guess it's different strokes for different folks. When I got home, I started this book:

This is chic-lit about a woman who opens a yarn store in Seattle and the stories of the women her classes bring together. The name of the yarn store is "A Good Yarn". How cool is that! The owner chooses that name for her shop for the same reason I chose it for my blog. Should be a nice, light read.

It's cold as heck here - quite a change from Georgia. We had lots of sleet yesterday, so the streets and sidewalks were quite icy. Today there's actually a little snow on the ground. I wouldn't mind a covering for Christmas! If we have to put up with the cold, at least it should look pretty!

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Georgia on my Mind

The case I was referring to earlier continued to spiral out of control, so I'm leaving today to accompany the child to a school in Georgia. I won't be posting for a while since I doubt I'll have internet access or probably time while I'm down there.

Monday, Red and I saw this:

I'm not a big SBSP fan, so I didn't really enjoy the movie all that much. But Red liked it, so that's all that really matters. Plus, it was really short.

I had a hell of a cold on Tuesday. I felt just miserable, but all this stuff was going on with this case, so I managed to medicate myself and work all day. As soon as I got home, I took a nap and felt much better. Instead of knitting, I worked on getting my holiday cards out. Then last night I mostly cleaned up the house so it won't look like such a pit when people come over to take care of the pups. Then I did the rest of the cards I had made and ran out. I need to make some more, but I guess that'll have to wait until I get back. My Christmas knitting is clearly not going to be done :-( Thank goodness I started the baking early!

Take care of yourselves while I'm gone!

Monday, December 13, 2004

Monday, Monday

I have the all too familiar "football hangover" from a terrible game yesterday. My brother and I have been lamenting the fact that we both are so apathetic about this season and so wanting it to just be over. On Saturday I was actually really bummed out that there was a home game on Sunday because I could have used the time at home. When it's June and I'm dying for football, I'll have to remember this feeling.

I decided to rip out the scarf exchange scarf because the gauge was so firm. I thought a little more drapiness would be better, so I started over on a larger needle. I think that works better. I worked on it while watching this movie:

It was a pretty good movie. Peter Sellers was really a jackass. The parts where he was in character in preparing for Pink Panther and Dr. Strangelove were so funny, though, which reminds you of how talented he was.

Saturday night I attended my friend Florence's Hannukah party. It was really fun. I made her family a set of etched glasses with a bottle of sparkling cider, which were well received. They gave me a really cool book about Image Transfer techniques, a super cool keychain with a moose (we often go up to the Lake Superior area and are constantly on the lookout for moose) and this gorgeous ring, which she made for me:

I just love it! I teared up when I opened it. We had seen these rings when we took a bead class together and had talked about getting together and making some. Everytime I went to The Bead Monkey, I saw this ring and tried it on and coveted it. I emailed her a couple of times about making them and she always ignored it, which is very unusual for Florence. Now I know why. As you can see, it looks like I lost one of the pieces already, though. I wonder if it caught on my glove? If I can't find it, I'll make another dangle and repair it. Anyway, it was a really fun night playing dreidel, eating and chatting. When most everyone else had left, we watched the SNL Best of Will Ferrell DVD and had a great laugh.

As I mentioned, I spent most of Sunday at the game. Greg and I went out for breakfast beforehand at Lyon's Pub. Happily there was a free shuttle to the game because it was windy as heck. We actually saw a parked van moving forward due to wind velocity. Not to mention the gigantic speakers on the roof of Metrodome swaying dangerously above us. After the game, I did bake some more cookies:

These are cranberry, white chocolate oats. Every year I try a new recipe and this was it for this year. Not one I'll repeat, probably. They're very cakey cookies and are not very sweet. I like the cranberries and white chocolate, but... My mixer stopped working in the middle of making these, so perhaps they were ruined by my hand mixing - not enough air? I really think they needed more sugar, though.

While watching the Sunday night shows I worked on my Joey Ramone doll. I decided to do the arms and legs in the round so that I didn't have to do those seams on this one. I think it worked out ok:

Saturday, December 11, 2004

More Baking Goodness

First, I want to thank everyone who has left a comment on this blog. Well, not everyone, but almost everyone. Blogspot has the worst comment function ever, so I can't email anyone who leaves a comment back. After the holidays, I am going to install a better comment program. Anyway, I've really appreciated the kind words and good ideas that people have left in comments.

As the title suggests, I did a little more baking this week. Since I didn't go over to my grandfather's house on Tuesday, I spent the day doing my billing, so a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders. Now I just need to get that money in and my life will be so much simpler! After that I went home and baked up some of the old favorites, Peanut Blossoms:

I decided to try the new dark chocolate kisses on the cookies this year and I can heartily recommend it to other bakers. More baking goodness to follow this weekend.

The rest of the week was somewhat stressful at work. One of "my kids" is having a very difficult time and it's so hard to try to figure out what's the best, right thing to do. One of the downsides of being a Guardian ad Litem. I did get quite a bit of work done around the office this week, though, which always makes me feel productive. I finally started my scarf swap scarf on Wednesday night, but I'm not posting pictures so it will be a surprise to my swapper. I don't think she reads my blog, but you never know. I'm pleased with how it's turning out, though.

On Thursday night I was at the Red Cross, doing apheresis. That's always a good time to catch up on my reading, so I made some more progress on "Shadow of the Wind". I really am liking this book, although I grow impatient with the verbal curly-q's sometimes.

Last night I attended a birthday get-together at Cafe Latte. My gift was some of the glass etching I did earlier this week - I etched knitting words into a set of glasses and put them together in a great basket. I think the birthday girl really liked the gift. It was a fun evening. I got to meet some other really great women, including some wonderful knitters. The evening went way too quickly. Oh, I also tried a new dessert at Cafe Latte. It was a peanut butter chocolate torte. Really, really rich, but I quite enjoyed it. Tasted a lot like a Nut Goodie. I didn't have any very good projects for a get together like that, so I just worked on my car project - a pair of socks. When I got home, I started Sexie from Stitch n Bitch Nation. It's a Christmas gift for my niece.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004


My sister, Kerry, just called to say that she wasn't able to come up her as planned because she has a job interview today. She was going to come here yesterday with her boyfriend to see a band and then we were going to go see my grandfather today. She graduated from college this summer and just passed her boards, so she's trying to find a nursing job. I'm sad to not see her, since it's been quite a while, but I'm excited to have a little bit more time today to get stuff done - including blogging!

The Vikings game on Sunday totally sucked. How embarrassing. And aggravating. The pathetic thing is that the NFC is so bad, the Vikes are still tied for first place in the NFC North and would have the first wild card spot if the playoffs were this weekend. They have no chance against the Eagles, though, so I'm not too fired up about the playoffs.

In fantasy football I'm not doing much better. I'm done in one of my leagues because the playoffs start this week and I didn't qualify for a spot. In the league where I'm commish, I'm in 8th place. Despite having a pretty high point total. I just cannot get a break this year. My brother is in 2nd place and has clinched a playoff place, so I guess I'll just pull for him to bring glory to the family. If I can't three-peat as Champion, at least it could stay in the family.

Since the game was so stinky, I did a little Christmas baking. Well, not baking exactly:

My nephew loves these pretzels, so I always make a batch of them for him.

Sunday evening was spent at Book Club. No, I didn't finish "Shadow of the Wind" in time. I'm a bad book club member. We don't really go in depth in analysis of the book anyway - we usually talk about the book for about 45 minutes or so and spend the other 1 hour 15 minutes talking about other stuff the book brings up and life in general and eating. This time we spent a bit of time in choosing a name for the book club. We've never been able to come up with a consensus for a name, but there's been a great push to have a name, so we finally decided to put it to a vote. There was much spirited discussion and clearly two camps between something simple and something more wordy and "clever". Clearly, I was in the simple camp, but if the clever names had really drawn me, I would have gone there. The winner was "Feed and Read." A vocal minority hated the name, so we added a sub-title. So now, the official name is "Feed and Read: Imbibers of something, something and something." See, this is why I wasn't for the more complicated ones - I just can't remember.

I finally blocked my Great American Aran Afghan square:

It's amazing how much better it looks post-blocking. You can still see the stretched out place where I accidentally messed up the charts. I didn't want to frog the whole rows, so I just dropped those stitches and in putting them back on the needle, I stretched out the edge stitches.

As usual, Finbar was right there watching me take photos:

Yesterday was Red's birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese. He had 5 friends from school there and had a fantastic time. The Chuck E. Cheese party is a brilliant idea. No house cleaning either before or after the party. No kids running around your house, screaming. It's about $10 per kid and you get a couple of pizzas and pop, a cake, tokens for all the kids to play games and Chuck E. Cheese comes out and dances with the kids and then they throw up handfuls of tickets. We had more than enough pizza and everyone including the moms had cake. We had more tokens than we needed too and all the kids got whoopee cushions with their tickets and were laughing their heads off.

Last night I didn't do any knitting either. I was doing some glass etching, but the projects are all gifts, so no pictures. I'm not 100% happy with how they turned out anyway, so probably best not to memorialize it.

Finbar's dying to go out, so I'd better scoot. Have a great week.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Sunday, Sunday

So much for my good intentions to go into the office. First, I decided to unpack some more of my winter clothes and do a little laundry first, so I got a late start. Then I decided to go to Archivers to pick up the supplies I needed to make my Christmas/Hanukkah cards. Good thing I did too, because I changed my mind about the design. I found one stamped card that I really liked in the store, so I decided to buy that stamp and make some of those. Then I decided instead of buying more charms and going with a mosaic type of design, I'd go with a window and just the one charm I'd already bought. Cheaper card and less chance of getting damaged in the mail. Archivers has a work room you can use, so I cut up the paper and punched out the windows. By the time I finalized my design plans and picked everything out, the afternoon was nearly over.

I met up with a friend at The Bead Monkey. I did well and didn't buy any beads, but I did find some more ribbon to use on my cards and picked up a charm and some pieces for a very simple necklace. After that we went over to Cafe Latte to eat and knit together. I brought along my Florentine Flattery to get her opinion on whether over-dying the whole thing would fix the dye lot problem. No dice - when you start with a lighter fabric, it's going to stay lighter. She suggested dying the yarn a little darker in the skein to see if I can get a closer match. So, I guess I'm going to have to rip out the part I already knit and try that out. If anyone else has any great ideas, let me know. I should just rip the whole thing out and use the yarn on something else, but I've already invested so much in this sweater that I just can't do it. It's pretty hard to knit because it's so much texture and it's on size 3 needles. Plus, the cotton is pretty hard on my hands, so I can't knit on it for long stretches of time. Here's what it looks like with the new yarn added on:

It's amazing that the new yarn is such a good match, gauge-wise. I guess I'm going to just have to set the whole thing aside until after Christmas and try to figure out dying - I've never dyed before, except with food coloring.

After our yummy pizzas and dessert, I went over to my brother's house to help him talk to my niece about her falling grades and behavioral problems. They thought with me there as a mediator, they might be able to discuss things without them escalating too much. Sort of worked, but I'm not sure how much of a change there will be.

When I finally got home, I was itching to start my cards, so I spent a few hours working on them. These are the styles that I was working on:

Well, the Vikings game is on and the Vikes just gave up 26 yards on a reverse, so I'd better pay attention.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Happy Birthday Red!

Here's proof positive that the holiday baking has begun. First up, everybody's favorite, chocolate chip cookies:

I know, not particularly Christmasy, but everyone loves chocolate chip cookies. More Christmasy are sugar cookies:

My oven is gas, which I don't really like. I prefer electric stoves/ovens. So, the heat isn't all that even and some of them got a little brown around the edges. Of course, it didn't help that I'm not very consistent in how thick I roll out the dough. Luckily, Bill loves food well-done, so if cookies get too brown, he'll eat them. And with the frosting, it won't really matter.

We finally got some snow around here last week. Finbar was born at the end of October, so I think snow reminds him of his puppy days.

He loves the stuff and runs around madly and rolls around in it. In fact, it's hard to get him to come back in the house, so I've been taking him out on a leash most times. It looked like most of the snow was melting this morning. I'd like to see a little more - enough to cover the grass and look wintery, without having to shovel massive amounts or fight traffic.

This week went way too fast. I need something to put time into suspension but still allow me to move and get things done. Monday night I went out with my friend Alissa to Pizza Luce. I can't believe I've lived here this long and never been there. Monday nights are half price wine night, so we got a nice bottle of Syrah and the Luau pizza. This is not one I'd normally be drawn to, but for some reason it was sounding great (Alissa said virtually the exact same thing). It was Canadian bacon, pineapple, fresh green onions and mozarella. It was delish! We had a great time talking and getting caught up again.

Tuesday I had a hearing in the late afternoon, so I didn't get home until late. I don't have any more hearings for two weeks. I can hardly believe it. I took advantage of the down time the rest of the week to catch up on some paperwork and other stuff around the office. However, I still didn't get my billing done, so I'll probably go into the office today and get that done. I'm really hoping they'll process the invoices and pay me before Christmas, but it's looking less likely now because it's so late. We'll see.

I did manage to finish my GAAA square, but I think I'm going to block it before I take a photo and post it. On a lot of these squares, the cabling makes the middle pull in a lot, but blocking evens it out.

It was Red's birthday yesterday. It's hard to believe how time flies. On Thursday we went bowling and played some video games. We also checked out the holiday display at Marshall Fields.

It was the first time I've ever gone to see anything in their auditorium and I'm not too sad about it. I thought it was pretty lame. We had a fun time though. Last night he opened his presents and we had cake, pretty low key. Here's a picture of Bill and Red I took last month. Happy Birthday little man!

Thursday, December 02, 2004


Thanks to that late night duplicate stitching episode, I did manage to finish Henry Rollins:

One rocker down, three to go. Let's see. I changed the pants to black because they didn't have dark brown at the first store I went to and I wanted to get started. I filled in the tattoo on Henry's leg because his real tattoo is filled in. I staggered the line tats because his are staggered. The rest is per pattern. I think I should have gone down a needle size because it appears that my stitches are not as tight as the original. Oh well. Good enough. This is mostly a lark anyway.

Time Flies...

When you're having fun - or even if you're not. I can't believe Thanksgiving was already a week ago. The weekend went way too fast. Of course, I got way off track on my plans to get so much done - what a surprise!

I dropped Jessica off at work and picked up a Ho Ho Mocha at Caribou - a fun holiday treat for this coffee-lover. I felt good about how things went with Jessica here and for taking care of her so my brother, Greg, and Michael could go visit Mom in Sioux Falls. I thought about a matinee, but it was too early so I just went home and worked on the Henry Rollins doll for Greg. The Friday after Thanksgiving is prime time for Marathons on cable, so I also caught up on a couple of missed episodes in the "What Not to Wear" marathon, the "Law & Order" marathon (I can't believe I haven't seen them all) and the "Crossing Jordan" marathon. That's my idea of a fun day - good tube and knitting. Of course, I didn't get any reading done despite the fact that I had to catch up on "Shadow of the Wind".

My friend's wedding was at 6:00 so I had to quick jump in the shower and get ready. The wedding was at the Minnesota Zoo, on the Tropics Trail. What a fantastic idea! Most animals are nocturnal, so when you go to the zoo in the afternoon, a lot of them are sleeping. From 6:00 - 8:00, they're wide awake and very active. Strolling along the Tropics Trail with hardly anyone else around, sipping on a glass of wine - that's a great time! Since it was in the Tropics Trail, we were warned that it would be warm and steamy, so we should dress for a June wedding. Yeah! I bought this purple velvety sleeveless dress a couple of years ago and have never had an occasion to wear it. I threw on a gold stole to cover my arms and paired it with a pair of my favorite pointy-toed pumps. Like most girls, I love playing dress up, even at age 36. The food at the zoo was really excellent. Usually food at such a large event is just so-so, but this was fantastic.

I decided not to stay for the dancing and took my exit when my friend Claire and her husband did. Claire and I made plans for a matinee the next day, which totally screwed up my plans to catch up on that reading, but I can't resist a matinee. I stopped by the grocery store to pick up some stuff for my holiday baking. I started the holiday baking that afternoon with what I had in the house already and made my list for the rest of the goodies. When I got home, I decided to keep working on the Henry Rollins doll. I was duplicate stitching the hair onto the back of the head. It was extremely time consuming and really didn't look great. I'm convinced that the original doll has the hair knitted on and not duplicate stitched. I wanted to get it finished before I put it down so that I wouldn't have to face that task again, so I ended up not getting to bed until 3:00 a.m. It's not the late night that was a problem though - it was the breakfast and an early matinee that I had planned with Claire. So, after getting far too little sleep, we met up for breakfast and then saw this:

Great movie. I love Liam Neeson and he did a great job with a tough character. Kinsey was not the most caring and thoughtful guy in the world, but you still care about him and feel like you understand him. I'm not a huge Laura Linney fan, but she did a good job with Mrs. Kinsey as well. It's amazing to realize how much impact his work has had on our society. Most people credit Hugh Hefner with the sexual revolution, but I wonder if Playboy would even have been possible without Kinsey's work. Very interesting ideas about sex v. love, the "origins" of homosexuality, the morality of trying to legislate sexual matters, the politics of sex, male v. female sexuality, etc. I'd highly recommend it. After the movie, I had to take a nap, so I ended up sleeping the rest of the afternoon. I did a little more baking and more knitting, but it was a quiet night around the house on Saturday night.

Sunday, as usual this time of year, was football day. Greg and I decided to get breakfast before the game, so it was another early (for me) morning. My whole body clock was screwed up so it was past 2:00 again when I got to bed on Saturday night. As a self-employed person, I can pretty much set my own hours, which is nice. However, I do live in a society that runs on a certain timeframe, so I need to sort of conform to societal norms. If I were a writer or something where I didn't need to interact with the rest of the world, I think my natural body clock would put me to sleep around 2:00 a.m. and then back up at about 10:00 a.m. Anyway, despite my fatigue, I enjoyed the game. It was pretty boring until this happened:

which led to this:

and then finally this: