Trying to beat my Stitch Gene into submission

Despite all the external forces, I'm still struggling with my ADHD, so I got the "brilliant" (aka, slightly crazy) idea to color complete the final row, because hey, who doesn't want to solely focus on one color for weeks when you can barely focus on anything, right? And what better way to start than with the color with the most left, 310 black! But, despite the ADHD hanging in there, the OCD must be kicking in because I actually finished the black last night and got to move on to 939! I was quite proud of barely took me over a week. Last time, I had just started the final row:


I did stop a bit early last night because my head was hurting a bit (and my arms and wrists a lot, but more on that in a moment), but here is the finished black and a bit of the dark navy.


I did get through most of that glue I talked about last time, although there is still more spread about. Here's a look at some of that mess (although not a good look):


On to the "pain" new stand. I'm really left dominant. I often say that my right hand really only serves to give a matching set. But I do stitch two-handed, my left on the bottom (because it can navigate) and my right on top as a worker bee. I don't even remember how to stitch one-handed, nor would I want to go back to the old days, I do stitch twice as fast now. So for me, the best placement of my new floor stand should be on my right side (not sure if my logic is sound, but it works for me). The way I hold my arms, I need my left elbow clear and it can't be if there is a bar in my way or, if my arm is constricted because there is a scroll rod sitting on top of it. I'm using my left to get the scissors, take a drink, operate the remote, etc, so if I'm reaching back and forth under the scroll rods, another headache. I tried it as it should be (as below), and it just doesn't work (and forgive the dirty house). Even if I can move it anyway I want up and down and left and right (which I can't do on the left, too many restrictions), the stand was obviously in the way of everything. But the major issue with how far over the project sits and I couldn't stitch all the way across the scroll no matter how I moved it (and it also doesn't help that I sit leaning toward the left edge of the chair, I tried to adjust myself, but I would just subconsciously move to the left before I realized what I was doing). You'd think, with all that movement area, I'd have no issues with being able to reach it, but it just didn't work that way. It's a bit far out in the pic below because I moved it to get out of the chair. I can't do that on the left (you'll see in a mo-mo). There is also problem with horizontal bar being wobbly or it not holding the project straight (but frankly it's that way on both sides of the chair, and that may be operator error, at least I hope it is and not the stand itself).


So I moved it to the left side, where I had serious restrictions on movement, but I could still reach the entire scroll somehow:


Now my arm is constricted under the project and I have to sit weird, hence the arm and wrist pain on my left side. I'm trying to use a pillow under my left elbow, but now that's causing left shoulder pain, if easing the arm and wrist pain. I also have to jack my right side up weird to tilt myself down to the left and my arm is raised unnaturally in the air, hence my arm and wrist pain on the right side. You'll also see the remote on my right side, I still can't operate the remote that way...I keep trying, but I eventually just pass it to my left hand and pass it back. It's why I've been spending more time on Hulu than YouTube.

I will say, when it was on the right side, the boys wouldn't come near it (and it was already bad enough I was sitting in the chair again), but since I've had it on the left, they are coming around, although they take their turns and never together for more than a couple of seconds...Bam, the never-invasive, ever-sleeping old man perches up under the frame:


And Bug, the ever-invasive, always attention-seeking monster, whose glaring eyes are constantly burning holes in the project:


What I hate about it on the left is, just to get out of the chair I have to rotate the entire stand when turning the project or it will tip over, it's just too top heavy. I didn't have this issue on the right. Ironically, I can't turn the stand sitting in the chair and I can't get out of the chair without turning the stand. Right now, it's a circus act and it's sometimes easier just to take the entire scroll frame out of the stand (which I'd rather not do). There is this strange concrete block in my yard that serves no purpose, I'm going to see if it's enough weight to hold it down so I can turn the project without having to turn the entire stand.

Then there are the issues with the joint that balances the scroll. I also had this issue on the right, but not to this degree. It's either too high, at too great an angle, not at great-enough of angle, it droops over when I try to rotate around to tie off a thread (and I'm trying to keep all the joints tight, but not too tight...they just work their way loose). Some of these issues may just be Maleficent, she's already wonky because she's on scroll rods that are too long.

I have since watched a few more YouTube videos and it seems as though the first generation K's Creation stand would have been better (it didn't have the joint in the middle of the horizontal bar, but they aren't for sale anymore anyway except for second hand at a higher cost) or, as much as I hate to admit it, I should have doubled the cost and just bought a Lowery's stand. I still can't afford that right now (I really couldn't afford the K's stand, but here we are). All in all, it's STILL better than what I was dealing with and I've made a lot more progress than I could have on the lap stand. I fully expect to be able to finish Maleficent (at least at my current rate) by Christmas. So any progress made is good progress and maybe I can work out a happy medium. I'm still counting it overall as a win, if some minor hiccups. The little side table attached to it alone has been a game changer.

But speaking of a finish, as I've mentioned. I'm on a start freeze until I finish something and I decided a long time ago what a couple of my new starts would be, although I think those plans might change now. Belle of Bonaventure was always the next in line. She reminds me of Christine Daae from Phantom of the Opera.

belle of bonaventure

But now that they've charted Strangely Lonely, which is my favorite JBG artwork of all time, I'm starting to rethink that decision, although I'm still on the fence about it. I do own the print for Strangely Lonely, so it's not like it's not on my wall already, but it's just not the same. Maybe you guys can help? I don't really want two JBG's going at the same time and with Alice and the B's making one, it has to be one or the other. Belle is still leaning more heavily because it's not dithered since it's an older HAED chart and I still prefer (at least JBG's) to be non-dithered, but I do so love Strangely Lonely as a piece of art and, especially now, the premise is just,

Strangely Lonely_000a

I also have plans to do another DoNa Stitch, either Meridad or Aurora (I've already finished Rapunzel, I just want to finish all of these before I get them framed), but these are super quick and super easy (although Sleeping Beauty will be harder because I plan to change out the colors on the fairies to the "appropriate ones", hence my leaning more towards Merida right now).:

Merida Sleeping Beauty-2

Part of me is also itching to start a Super-Sized Max Color, and most all of those that I have are Aimee Stewart Bookshelves, although I do have other ones of hers...again, still on the fence about all of them, but I am leaning towards Once Upon A Fairy Tale. I'm also going to have to learn parking and convince myself to do tent stitch (and either make my own scroll rods or spend an enormous amount to get some made considering the size of this puppy), but that's a decision for another day, even if I can learn parking and tent now on YouTube:

SS-MC Once Upon A Fairytale_000a

There is also the issue of doing something either Harry Potter, Once Upon a Time (my TV show) or Marvel related. I've been dying to do something in those worlds forever (although, in fairness I have done a couple of OUAT projects already). Part of me wants to start one of each. I'd also like to do a kit, something easy and NOT full coverage, but I have no idea which in my stash would get that joy, maybe one of my mice kits. But here again, we are getting in the territory of having too many WIPS on the go with no chance of finishing anything. Maybe it would be better to finish two current WIPS before a new start. As someone who grew up doing only one project at a time, this whole WIP experience is still a foreign concept, even after 10+ years of living in WIP-land and I'm starting to wonder if it's not the reason for my burnout...too many insurmountable obstacles (and a gigantic mental health struggle, but we aren't going there anymore, right?). I still need to show you the new Harry Potter's I got over Black Friday, but maybe I'll save that as a reveal as a new start? Especially since several of them are a series, although I am leaning more towards a full coverage one, we'll see. Maybe I'll show you them all after I decide.

Stitching progress, but everything is against me!

I've made quite a bit of stitching progress since my last post (well, considering I've been on hiatus for years), but practically everything is going wrong! My ADHD is still fighting me. How did I ever have so much focus before? I did manage two row finishes though, despite fate's attempts at thwart-tation (I just made up a new word). I left off on Snow White last time here:


And I finished row three, so I'm now at 215.4 hours and I also have some new data because I started using Markup R-XP, I'm at 59.8% with 41,451 stitches done, and 27,918 stitches to go. I'd like to say I'm using Markup to stitch with, but I still prefer marking on paper...old habits die hard and, as someone who works with technology for a living, honestly, I just don't trust it. And I'm not about to buy a different tablet just for Pattern Keeper or a tablet stand or other stuff just to make already printed paper obsolete, at least not now. But anyway, here she is in her row finish and all rows together:

SnowWhite057 SnowWhite058

You can also see how dirty she is...who knew projects sitting around for years untouched would get dirty? The next row is the biggest, so at least the dirt will be covered, but the final two are a lot smaller. She's going to be hard to frame if I don't go rectangle (I'd like to go oval). That dark swatch of color on her left cheek is bothering me though and my eye is constantly drawn back to it. It's not dirt, it's the called-for colors, but I don't like it. I may frog it and just restitch with the surrounding lighter color. I just think the color is overall a bit off in her skintone to be honest...she should be way paler (and is on the original artwork), she is Snow White after all. This girl has been spending too much time in Florida! But anyhoo, I decided instead of moving down to the next row, it was time to move on to another project.

I switched out to Night Wish by Annie Rodrigue (another HAED), which I apparently haven't touched since 2020. But this time, the ADHD wasn't the biggest hurtle, it was my stand! It's a lap stand and it obviously wasn't really made for general scroll rods (not many are, or maybe aren't meant to be used for 20+ years), but I just couldn't keep it clamped shut down on this project. It's also why I moved on from the Bride Dollmaker to Snow, trying to find a project that would clamp down better. It has scroll rod end clamps made for it that have a dowel rod that fits into the stand (but they don't fit all scroll dowels), but I only have one set of these, and those are locked on Alice and the B's. I'm not ready to go back to a project that big yet. The clamps that came with it, on the other hand, have a kind of curved groove that look like they were made more for Q-snaps (which I don't like) and, despite changing out the nuts and bolts (a couple of times), the wood is just worn out and won't clamp down good anymore. They used to hold scroll rods of all kinds just perfectly. But I have noticed the decline in the past few years. If I could do woodworking, I would make a new set of clamps and I have ideas how to improve it, but I can't and I don't know anyone who can, so I have to retire it. I bought that stand off of eBay many moons ago before Etsy and that seller is long gone (he was gone not long after I bought it, if I remember right, I think he passed away).

Needless to say, despite my lack of funds thanks to my lovely HVAC purchase, I had to break down and buy a new stand. I refused during Bride Dollmaker last month due to finances, but I really can't put it off anymore, it has become a necessary expense if I'm going to continue stitching. After a rather exhaustive search for a new lap stand, I gave that up and I ordered a new floor stand from K's Creations (which came in over the holiday, but it was delivered to work, so I haven't gotten it home yet). I have never cared for floor stands personally, but we'll see if I can adapt. I figured that, once I start on a super-sized HAED, I would need one anyway, so might as well start getting used to it now. Supposedly, it will work with all scroll rods, but I have the feeling I'll need some sort of adapter or something like a Lowery stand has that I'm unaware of (despite reading every comment and looking at every picture, but not seeing an issue...I even looked through the other listings for an adapter, but I didn't see one, at least not at the time of my purchase). I went with this stand versus a Lowery because, after I modified the Lowery for my surroundings or added the appropriate accoutrements, it was going to be well over $350 and that is just too much for me. And I'm not worthy (or wealthy) enough for a Millennium stand. I went with the cheaper of the three, so let's hope it doesn't bite me in the behind, because it still wasn't cheap and I can't turn around and buy a Lowery stand now. But I'm getting off track here...Night Wish. Like I said, not much progress. Here she was back in February of 2020:


And this is my little bit of progress in one day, she is now at 91.07 hrs, 22.2% done with 44,778 stitches completed and a whopping 160,222 to go, and this is only row 2 after all. She just would NOT stay in the stand without coming loose every five minutes and it was wearing me out! I'm not built for one-handed stitching, so I had to move on to something I could work with.


I decided to go back to Maleficent which is actually on scroll rods for another lap stand I have, an American Dream (although I still put it in my main lap stand). Whereas my other lap stand is just worn out, that American Dream one just sucks and I HATE using it! Time sometimes clouds the bad memories though, and I thought I was overreacting and I could handle it for a few days at least. I did, but ugh, what a pain (and no, I was NOT overreacting)! As expensive as that thing was back in the day, you can tell a non-stitcher designed that thing. At least it held the frame, but that's about all I can say for it. It's too short and very heavy for what it is. I also have to position it at weird angles propped up on top of one knee with the other knee holding it up and my arms reach at very unnatural angles. I actually think it's designed for someone to sit at a kitchen table with the stand on the table and stitch. Does anyone actually still do that? Maybe in the olden days when you had nowhere else to sit, but not in the last 100 years or so, right? How uncomfortable would THAT be? Although, I can remember sitting at the dining room table trying to embroidery with my mother back in the day, but we are talking mid to late 70's, so again, olden days! Needless to say, I was able to make enough progress to get some work done, especially with a heating pad on my back the entire time. Maleficent by Annya Kai...left off on her in 2022 (she's always the one I go back to when I start stitching because she is so close to done):


And despite the physical restrictions, I managed to finish the row:

Maleficent0172 Maleficent0173

That's just lighting at the top and not dirt, although we'll get to her other issues in a mo-mo. I did get a bit further into the last row for a total of 771.37 hrs, 88.3%, I only have 24,844 stitches to go and I've gotten 188,356 completed:


This bottom row is also not a full page row (almost, but not quite), so I've decided (at least for now), that I'm going to focus on her until she's finished. She also has an additional complication...the glue from the velcro that I use to attach the fabric to the scroll rods has melted to the good part of fabric at the bottom three to five rows (I guess having your air conditioner go out 10+ times while a project sits for years tends to do that). It's annoying stitching through thick melted glue, but I don't know how to get it off, so stitch through I must. If anyone has any ideas, I'm all ears. I didn't want to use something like alcohol because of the color-fastness of the thread and I didn't want to use Goo-Gone because that stuff is like lighter fluid. It's all black down there anyway, so it shouldn't affect the thread. I guess that's what I get for having a 2 inch border. Normally, I'd have a much longer border, especially top and bottom, and cut the velcro layer off when I'm finished, so I wouldn't care about the glue layer. But I've also never had it melt before. And, in all fairness, I never expected to still be stitching on the same project almost 9 years later (I started her in 2015). It's been a rough decade. Frankly, I use this stuff on all my projects, which, ironically is an American Dreams product as well (should have guessed, right), so I am a bit worried about what the others look like. Maybe I should go back to using tape like the old days? I sure as heck ain't goin bind stitching to the scroll rods thing...UGH! But I'm not thinking about that now. Lesson learned, 4 inch borders from now on (at least top to bottom, 3 is fine for the sides).

Speaking of new borders, I'm also still on my self-imposed new-start restriction until I finish at least one WIP, so hence the focus on Maleficent since she is the closest to finished. If I get her done soon, I can start something new and maybe that will help invigorate me a bit. I did purchase a couple of Harry Potter patterns over the weekend, but it was the only shopping I did anywhere (and I'm quite proud of myself for that, although today is not overwith yet, it being CyberMonday and all). They were all on drastic sale, so I even saved a pretty penny, but this post is long enough without more pics, right? Maybe in another one.

Oh, and just because I didn't have enough struggles to deal with, I also moved back to my recliner to stitch instead of the couch, which made it a bit easier on my back and rear (especially with the booser cushion I bought, and before the American Dream stand fiasco, but should be better for the floor stand hopefully, the left and right placement will be switched and I'm left-handed, so it works out). It was kind of an ordeal moving everything back over to the chair, with the lights and all...I took out my side table to the chair and replaced it with a bookshelf for my Harry Potter stuff a few months ago, so I don't have a place for storage anymore and the outlet is hard to get to now. Plus, now that I'm reaclimating to the chair, I have to remember to move back to the couch before I fall asleep (they say it's REALLY bad for you to sleep in a recliner, especially if you have circulation issues, so I'm trying to avoid that). Sometimes I make it, sometimes I don't. The joys of medication. One thing is for sure, neither pup cares for me sitting in the chair now. They want me back on the couch!

And that's about it! I'll have the new stand at home tonight, and I'm pretty excited! Hopefully, it will be a game-changer because that was a lot of money wasted if it isn't. Be my luck, I'll have to buy specialty scroll rods for it too and that will be more expense! Ugh! Even if I do though, it won't help me now, so I'll have to look for another stand again. But I'll make sure to give you an update, either way and a review. And I know I haven't explained my stand very well, so I'll post some pictures of that too if you want, might help.

More Stitching...well, I'm trying anyway

I've been trying very hard to not spend any extraneous money. It hasn't been easy, but I've been focusing all my energy on paying off my vacation so I can then focus all my money on this stupid hvac. My water heater is now making strange noises, but I'm trying my hardest to ignore that.

I think my stitchy bug has come back though, finally! I've been watching a LOT of FlossTube and I've got some more stitching done, although I am having some serious issues with my ADHD. All I think about all day at work is stitch, stitch, stitch and, as long as that's the first thing I sit down and do when I walk in the door, I'm good for a while. But the first time I get up to do something else, or if I get distracted for a few minutes and set it down then BAM! I can't make myself pick it back up again. Sometimes that means I've stitched for 10 minutes, sometimes an hour, but usually no more than. Or, even worse, I spend all day daydreaming about stitching, only to get distracted right when I get home long enough that I end up just vegging on the couch and not stitching at all! It's kind of ridiculous sometimes, especially when a lot of the time I'm actually watching FlossTube for the motivation, but I can't bring myself to pick up my stitching! I'm trying hard to get my ADHD under control right now, but it's just been allowed to run wild for so long, it's like trying to tame an unruly teenager.

Needless to say, I did work more on The Bride Dollmaking, although I didn't get much done. If the amount of time I spend thinking about her translated to stitching time, I would have gotten the row done. But for now, I left off here:


And I got just a bit further here:


I was enjoying the project, but by Friday night after skipping another night of stitching (after an entire day of stitchy daydreams, and a lengthy conversation with a new coworker about my "love" of stitching and showing off my WIPs...I mean seriously, how is that NOT motivation?), I decided maybe I needed to switch it up and try another one, so Saturday morning I whipped out Snow White by Jessica Clark (back to a HAED, more comfortable territory for me) and had much better luck. I apparently havent't stitched on her since Jan 2021, and left off here:


And I faired far better this weekend, I averaged about five hours a day on Sat and Sun, so she ended up here by Sun night:


Snow White was always a pattern that I loved, but it was the fabric that sucked on this one, so it's been horrible to stitch since day 1. The co-worker I mentioned earlier was really excited about this one, which in turn got me excited about it, which is why I chose to go back to it. I was expecting problems but, to be honest, other than being able to tell the fabric was different than Bride's, it seemed OK his time around. Either it's because I'm not used to stitching and I just can't tell the fabric is a pain, or I've softened in my old age. But as of now, as long as I'm stitching, I don't care!

I don't have a non-Apple tablet, so I can't use Pattern Keeper, and frankly, I'm not going to buy a non-Apple tablet just for an app. I did try the free version of Markup R-XP on The Bride and spent a bit too much time at work getting caught up to where I was up to now. And yes, while it was nice to see all the percentages of where I was, what I done, and what I had left, the extra work just wasn't worth it in the end. When I do typically use apps, I use HoursTracker to keep up with my time and EZPDF reader to find hidden stitches (on the HAEDs at least), but I'm still very much a paper chart girl. I print them off on a lighter cardstock that is sturdy enough for everyday use for a couple of years, but not too heavy and thick to take up a lot of space. I use color pencils to mark my progress and that works for me. As someone who works in I.T., I know that you can't trust I.T. exclusively. I can just picture marking dozens of pages and then the app crashed or the pad does and whoosh! All gone! My system works for me and I just don't see the need to throw out percentages and stitch counts, while cool, in the end it doesn't really matter unless you have a FlossTube channel I guess.

And, of course, despite the spending moratorium, there were a couple of things that slipped under that radar. First and foremost, my stitch lap stand that I love so much is on its last legs and now that I live on the couch instead of my recliner, it's all just very awkward anyway position-wise. I broke down and ordered a K's Creation floor stand. I hate I had to spend that much money, but I'm wasting a LOT of time trying to keep my frame in the stand (it keeps falling out), adjusting myself because the whole setup is just weird, etc. I may have to go back to the chair anyway, but at least the new stand (whenever it comes in), will hold my project secure no matter where I'm at. I debated a Lowery or something else, but by the time I added all the extra things I would need for it to work on the couch, the K's ended up cheaper (although not by much) and it's coming from the States, so I don't have to worry about waiting months for something that is going to inevitibly get stuck in customs (story of my life).

I also took advantage of the HAED 50% off sale, but I only had one item in my wishlist (well, the same item twice in two different versions), so that wasn't a big deal. There are technically two versions of this pattern, one without the quotes from famous writers and one without and, initially, I had both in my wishlist, but in the end, I decided the one with quotes is more "me", so that's the one I went with and deleted the other one. It's Bountiful Bookshelf by Aimee Stewart. I have quite a few of those bookshelves, and I always get the supersized, max color versions, so I'll probably NEVER stitch them (because there isn't enough lifetime for one, let alone all the ones I own), but here we are...

SS-MC Bountiful Bookshelf_000a

I also purchases about four patterns from Vivsters (a seller on Etsy that I found through a FlossTuber). I initially just looked at some patterns and wishlisted them, but they almost immediately sent me a coupon, so I thought, "why not?". The all look fairly easy and my mind immediately went to some nice hand-dyed fabric and silk thread (I'm already thinking big again). This one is Quaker Tiles-Gemstone Forest

Quaker Tiles-Gemstone Forest_000a

Quaker Tiles-Black on White (and just now I realized it's the same exact pattern as Gemstone, but I'm so horrible at color conversion, I don't even mind because I would screw it up if I tried to change this out to just black by myself...and yes, even I could screw that up!

Quaker Tiles-Black on White_000a

Moroccan Lanterns, because I just LOVE Moroccan lanterns...I have dozens of them all over the house. I actually like a lot of Moroccan decor, but another story for another day.

Moroccan Lanterns_000a

And last, a really quick and small stitch, All Hallows Eve-Pumpkins

All Hallows Eve Pumpkins_000a

As I was sorting these new stash photos, I realized that there were also four other new projects that I bought quite some time ago that I apparently never mentioned! So let me show you those as well since I'm on a roll. I have no clue when I bought these, but it had to be some time in 2022, because I'm fairly sure I haven't bought anything since then. There are only four, and three are Aimee Stewarts (shock...I seem to really only buy Jasmine Becket-Griffith and Aimee Stewart), but there was one by Joanne Rowland called Toffee. Part of me really hates the thought of stitching all that brown (reminds me the giant Jesus head), but I just LOVE the thought of a Highland Coo above my couch!


There was one Max Color Super-Size bookshelf from Aimee, The Grand Library

SS-MC The Grand Library_000a

And the other two where the Life Is An Open Book series, one for London and one for Paris (both are both MC/SS, of course, because I'm a glutton for punishment):

SS-MC Life Is An Open Book-London_000a SS-MC Life Is An Open Book-Paris_000a

And that's it for now! We'll see how I get along stitching on Snow. I'm not ready to enter any stitch-alongs or anything yet, but I'm working on it. I need to see if I can keep up the momentum first.

Pic failures and, well overall failures (but some stitching)

I had another few days off around Halloween with the specific purpose of taking a trip to the beach and downloading Lightroom so I could get my trip pictures taken care of (it is taking FAR too long trying to do it with Apple Photos). But fate, as per usual, had other plans. First off, we had two days of heavy storms, and then, my bosses decided to have an exec meeting and I'm the only person that can start the Zoom meeting for them, which meant that I could risk being on the road and potentially not being in a location to be able to start their meeting, or not going to the beach at all and making sure their meeting was able to be I stayed home for their meeting because I'm a good little girl (a stupid zombie).

As I sat fuming over my missed beach day, logged in 10 minutes early knowing full well that they would be at least 10 minutes late, I gave them another 10 minutes past their usual lateness before I texted someone to find out why I had been sitting there for 30 minutes with no one but me logged in..."oh, they cancelled the meeting!", is what I got back! Seriously? I gave up a beach day to sit there all day on stand-by, just to be told it was for nothing? Apparently they cancelled it that morning and didn't bother to tell anyone but each other. Wow. Good to know how important I am. Am I shocked? No. Should it change my attitude about how I approach work? Absolutely. Will it? Probably not.

"Well", you are probably saying to yourself, "at least you got to work on your pics, right?". Wrong. Also, during all this "fun", my heater once again went out like it has so many times before, only we were in a freeze warning. My glorious new roof? Well, they didn't seal up around the vent to the exhaust, and it leaked down into that circuit board that already had issues (I believe I've mentioned in the past that it has been replaced three times before). Since the last time it has been replaced, it has now been discontinued and they couldn't get it anymore, which means I needed to get my entire heating and cooling system replaced...the furnace on the inside, the air conditioner, the whole shoot-and-shebang (even the thermostat).

Wanna guess what it cost? Ten thousand dollars...yes, that's $10,000.00. I've cried a lot in the past few days. I had to take out a loan because I didn't want to put that on a 21% interest credit card. My stupid trailer isn't even worth 10g's! But that's how much I paid after three days of freezing to death with just our cook-stove and an electric blanket to keep us warm (and it was going to be $12g's, but they took pity on me because I'm a long-time customer and I cried quite a bit).

It means I'm not moving anywhere for the next 3-5 years (at least), because I now have a loan to pay off. For the first time in well over a year, I haven't spent all my free time on Zillow looking at real estate (because why?). Even now, if I say $10,000 too many times, I start to tear up. So there is no Lightroom in my future, no anything extra. I will probably be eating ramen for the next 3-5 years.

Granted, the new heater/air thingee is plastic, very loud, but hopefully it is more energy efficient. You'd think for that kind of money it would at least be built well and quiet. But at least, I only set on 72 when it used to be set on 78 for us to be comfortable, so maybe that's a good thing. I'm really trying hard to see the positives, it' just not so easy right now. We're back to sleeping on the couch because it's so loud and blows so hard throught he vents it sets the whole dynamic of the house off and it freaks me out. Although, in fairness, it doesn't take much to send me back to the couch. Everything considered, what's a couple hundred more dollars to get a new couch? At least I could sleep in a bit of comfort instead of chronic pain, right? Why make that easier too? Just suck up the pain Keebs. Between my vacation expenses and now this loan, I'm in worse shape than before I had all my credit cards charged up to the max! UGH! WHY! Granted, they aren't charged to the max, but add in the new loan and I'm getting there. Focus on the cards, THEN new couch. Change of subject now...

I did stitch some (believe it or not). I think it was more out of trying to keep my hands busy so they didn't freeze off. And, even though it's actually several hours worth of work, it's pitiful. You can tell it's been forever since I stitched! I worked on the Bride Dollmaker, one I apparently haven't touched since 2020! I mean, really? 2020? Has it been that long since I stitched? Geez! I ended the first couple of rows back in Sept of 2020...


And, as you can see...pitiful...I mean, look how dirty the canvas is (and the pic isn't really even clear, geez)!


And my ORT jar was completely empty...I'm not sure if I just haven't stitch this year at all, or I've spilled it at some point and they got lost (although I'm leaning on just not having stitched at all). We'll see if I keep up the momentum. There were several days of my time off when I just stared at the TV. I couldn't deal. And my stand will not hold the frames anymore. I'm not sure if it's the frame though or the stand. But right now, I will NOT be buying a new stand, so I either deal with it, or stop stitching. We'll see.

As for the vacation pics, they are going to take some time. I took a couple of thousand (I really hate that word now) and I've only edited a couple of hundred. It's hard when you have to open them one at a time, decide if they are worth saving, edit it however, save it, rename it, and move to the next one. I've gotten where I really hate computers now, so I do NOT touch mine when I get home. My iPad, yes, laptop, no. So, anything I do is in my freetime at work (which is rare). I'll get there, it's just going to take a LOT longer than I wanted it to. But hey, at least I can do it in a warm house if I do it at all? Positive, right? Geez.

I'm baaaccckkk!

We came, we saw, we kicked it’s…well, you know the line from Ghostbusters, right? That’s what I did on my vacation! But it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows. I was very quickly reminded of my limitations, but I adapted accordingly and was able to have a genuinely good time. I didn’t fret about money (I’ll do that later when the bills start coming in) because, even the money I wasted on stupid stuff, or on stuff I wasn’t able to actually do, was money well spent in my opinion. The weather was up and down. My view of the States was up and down (I still love Pennsylvania and want to move there as soon as possible, and I have a new love in Maine, but if I never see Connecticut again, it will be too soon!). GPS and I still don’t get along, no matter if it’s the vehicle’s GPS, Google or Apple Maps. I do better with an old-fashioned map and paying attention to signs. I guess because I’m old? But I never once felt unsafe or scared, and I ended up on some pretty desolate roads…maybe that was me just being naïve, but I think I’ve traveled enough to not be too naïve, right?

There is a lot to mentally unpack (the physical part is done), and I’ll do my usual day-by-day breakdown when I get the pictures edited (and I promise to work on that ASAP), but I will say that I spent time in some beautiful country through almost every landscape this country has…from plains to mountains to beaches to cities to the country (I didn’t go through desert, but I could have because apparently there is a desert in Maine, I just didn’t have the time…the theme of this trip). It’s why I’m always in a bad mood when I get back to work…I see what all is out there, and I have to come back here! UGH!

I went on a historical tour of battlefields, forts, national parks, founding fathers, and great houses (although I had issues hitting as many capitols as I wanted to). I went on a literary journey from Grover’s Mill to Sleepy Hollow, to Union Cemetery, to Mark Twain and Harriet Beecher Stowe’s houses, and even Stephen King’s house. I went on a cinematic journey to Gettysburg (the movie was mainly filmed on the battlefield after all), Holliston (great underrated TV show), Mystic, Passamaquoddy, and New York City (thanks to said joyous GPS that took me directly through downtown Manhattan although I had mapped it to go around!). I went on a scholastic journey to Princeton, Yale, Brown, and dozens of others (they have a LOT more universities in New England than we do in the South, for sure!). I went on a cemetery journey from Presidents, war heroes, historical figures, celebrities, the ultra-wealthy, and, of course, family.

And, speaking of family, one of the highlights of the entire trip was spending time with family, and that’s not something you will often hear me say! My Dad often referred to his cousin as “weird” and, maybe it’s because I’m “weird” too, but I found him to be quite charming, incredibly knowledgeable and engaging, and he genuinely seemed interested in making sure I saw everything I needed to about our family history, taking me to meet his brother (or my other 1st cousin once-removed, I guess I should say), and the town where my Papa (my grandfather) spend his formative years. I appreciated him for taking time from his day for me and I’m mad at myself for not allowing more time to spend with them!

I spent a lot of time in gift shops buying…wait for it…books! I now have a whole shelf dedicated to American History (not a subject that ever appealed to me before). Yes, I bought the obligatory shirts and magnets too because I have a TON of room for that stuff (NOT). I also went on a food journey and bought Twizzlers in Hershey (because that’s what I do, I HATE Hershey chocolate!), had lobsters and blueberries in Maine (not together, of course), and bought maple syrup and cheddar in Vermont (although those might work together). But at the same time, eating on this trip was the hardest part…I ended up eating a lot of gas station food and, if it wasn’t for room service at the one hotel that I splurged on during my B-day and the ton of snacks I took with me, I wouldn’t have had a good meal the entire trip (besides eating at Mystic Pizza, of course). Apparently, eating out is something I still need to work on.

I am also very sore from head to toe. I have strange bruises all over my body that I can’t explain (and my neurologist wouldn’t touch the subject with a 10-foot pole yesterday…he brushed me back off to go see my GP, who I know won’t touch it with a 10-foot pole either because it’s related to my neuropathy, which the neurologist should deal with). I’m thinking about just calling an internist myself to see if I can get in without a referral. I’m tired of dealing with these two. But that’s another story for another day. I drove, on average, 12 hours per day, so I expected my feet would swell. I walked a TON when I wasn’t driving, and I’m not physically fit enough for that kind of strenuous exercise because it wasn’t just on flat surfaces, it was up steep hills, on big rocks, up and down stairs (I really should NOT have been on), up the side of cliffs, on very rocky beaches, and even on woodland trails (I know, me in the woods, right?). Most of the parks up North aren’t made for out-of-shape fat people (and I didn’t see a lot of us, to be honest), so me walking around limping, out of breath, wheezing, and extremely red-faced, probably just gave the locals a good chuckle.

Guess we’ll see how the new camera worked out. I will say, I’m not sure I took a ton of pictures this trip, well, I know I didn’t take Disney quantity pictures. I had to keep reminding myself to take pictures in the first place. I spent more time enjoying things than doing my usual snappy-snappy distracty-distracty, which again, was another first and hopefully a new trend! I enjoyed enjoying the world (for once!). I didn’t use my laptop but a couple of times for work. I never turned on a TV once in a hotel. I only used my iPad for maps (and my obligatory daily Duolingo lessons, and even then, I missed two days). And about the only social media I did was Insta, and barely that (and it’s not like I’m on a ton of social media anyway except for Twitter and Instagram and I never post on “formerly known as Twitter” anymore because it’s vile). I actually kept a journal for this trip! They were short entries, but I made sure to keep it every day.

And that’s about it for this trip, well, the highlights anyway (as short and sweet as I can get). I really sank a LOT into every single day, probably way too much and I still didn’t have nearly enough time to get done what I wanted to. Probably way more than the average person would do, but that's just me! Before I left, I had to shave down a lot, and I ended up shaving more on the fly. Some things I refused to give up, which caused me to loose more things later down the road, but we’ll get into all that during the breakdowns!

Pre-trip jitters, last minute changes, and the dangers of the Tube

I've been on the YouTube (I know, bad ju-ju) and I've been going down the rabbit hole of traveling with Autism, ADHD, PTSD, OCD, and every other acronym I'm labeled with. I didn't think I had said issues until my boss started quizzing me constantly about traveling so far by myself. At first, I kept brushing her off because I've literally been traveling like this since I was a kid barely able to drive but, in all honesty, I have never gone this far before on my own, and even my Disney trips were never for this long, at least not alone. So, eventually, her qualms started to sink in and have had a really negative effect.

Ironically, despite the bad, I have also learned some new things about myself I didn't realize. I've learned I have a bigger issue with food than I thought I had, in the form of a new phrase "safe foods". Apparently, I do have a broad menu, I just choose a limited menu of foods that I deem "safe" and comfortable, and eat on repeat until I choose to change the menu up to another safe group for a while. It's apparently pretty good to bring your "safe foods" with you on your road trip (apparently, that's something I have been doing since before I was driving myself, so check!). It might also be the reason why I have such issues eating out when I'm on vacation, so I say I'm going to work on that, but we'll see.

My new favorite word, catastrophizing, (although I can't actually physically say it) is also something I have just recently started little spell on my Colorado trip where I freaked out that the house was going to burn down or that someone was going to break in and I almost turned around because of it? Yeah, apparently that's a real thing that people like me do. I've done it before, but never to the extend that I did on that last road trip, and apparently, it's probably only gonna get worse, but at least I know what to look out for now, and how to prepare for it, so check check!

And, last night, my co-worker AGAIN texted me hinting about if she was still invited on the trip! I mean, come on! I told her I was still planning on going alone, and then she started quizzing me on where I was going, so my catastrophizing started kicking in and I started imagining that she was going to rob me! I don't really think she will, but the fear is real people, so I'm glad I learned about it, because for a chunk of time last night, I was willing to eat the non-refundable hotel fees and not go. I'm better today and have even booked a bus/package tour of Gettysburg (now, whether or not I actually go on said tours, is another story, stay tuned to find out).

Back to the co-worker for a sec though, she apparently doesn't even have the vacation time to cover the initial week we planned (I only found that out yesterday). She apparently planned to take off without pay, but I know for a fact they won't let her do that (it's against policy), so I would have been left holding the ball on reservations and everything for her anyway, so I definitely made the right decision there. And people wonder why I have trust issues.

I'd like to say I'm all packed, organized, and ready to go, but that would be a lie. I've got my map books printed (finished them yesterday), but they are already outdated thanks to said tours I booked today that changed my plans for timing. I had to move the Flight 93 Memorial from the beginning of the trip to the end of the trip to make time. But I haven't packed, done any of the personal things I had planned to do and, unless I pack tonight, I probably won't do it until tomorrow since I'm not leaving until sometime between 1-3 pm (I'm driving through the night so I can arrive at Gettysburg by park opening at sunrise on Saturday). And since I'm driving through the night, I need to get some good rest tonight, but I know myself well enough to know that won't happen.

Ironically, most of my other co-workers (well, the ones I've told, it's not like I'm broadcasting my travel plans to everyone and their cousin, although, since I'm blogging about it, I guess I am) are freaking out at my midday departure and driving through the night thing, whereas my boss is more concerned over the distances I'm traveling and the cities I'm going through. You know, a girl shouldn't go through such big cities alone and all...this will be my 53rd Birthday. I had to order a cake and a gift basket at the hotel for myself (because there is no one else to do it and, even if there was, the people in my family wouldn't have done something like that for me anyway, so I like my arrangement better), so I think I have my big girl pants on pretty tight there boss and can take care of myself, but thanks (there was a time I did actually believe those words wholeheartedly, I did before the doubt started sinking in, now, I just keep repeating them like a mantra and hope I can at least build up a shell). I miss my life before the doubt, when I was naive and wilder.

So, here's to a week on my own, re-discovering myself, hopefully finding my future, discovering my history and my family, and enjoying my Birthday in the grandest way possible! I will speak to you guys when I get back...wish me luck, wish for my safety, and most of all, wish for me to have strength of character, because apparently I'm going to need it!

Upcoming trip

And now we move to the future! First item, traveling companion…well, I gave my co-worker two chances to take a day trip to see if we could travel together. As you know, she backed out of the first chance and, not surprisingly, she also backed out of a second chance, so I told her point-blank that she couldn't go with me. I was pretty clear and, at first, she even seemed mad about it, but got over it kind of quick. She has since come up to me and asked again and if she was going. Very confusing! I set her straight (again) and she seemed resigned (again)…maybe it’s my OCD, but wishy washy people scare me. I feel LOADS better now!

Ironically, every reason that my ex-friend in 2015 ruined my Disneyland trip, this person was also doing (minus the ranging testosterone). Money…which I get, traveling is expensive, but she was expecting me to cover her as well. I was willing to cover hotels, but nothing else (even solo it’s two-person occupancy, hence my justification, although it would have been nice to pay half). Luggage…I find it hard to believe nowadays people don’t have at least a couple of backpacks in their house, but OK. Locations…I was looking at out-of-the-way interesting places, she wanted to hit all the tourist traps. I’m not into tourist traps at the best of times. The weirdest rant--cameras…she didn’t care until I bought one. I thought the rest of the world took pictures on their phone and didn't care about cameras? At least she did have a phone, which my ex-friend didn’t, so there’s that I guess? There were about a dozen other stupid issues I could mention, all of which were sending me into PTSD flashbacks, so all’s well that ends well and I can let all that go now.

Since the trip is back to being mine now (and I had already added the day before and the day after to my off days), I made the executive decision to leave half a day early and drive through the night so that I could arrive when the parks open Saturday morning instead of leaving at 1 a.m. on Saturday. But even that has snags. I had been keeping a close eye on the schedules, and I knew that the 23rd was National "get into National Parks Free day" (another crowding issue I was going to have to deal with), but Antietam decided to add a 161st celebration that wasn't on the schedule last time I checked (which could have been a couple of months ago in all fairness), so now I won't be able to go...too many people. That's a bummer. In all these years of going up there, we always went to Gettysburg, but we never got to stop at Antietam, even though I always wanted to. I might go to Monocacy instead, but it's not the same. Oh well, it means another PA trip on the horizon!

I also lost a ton of places I either couldn't go to on my own (negative), or really didn't want to go to (positive), so the trip has morphed into something completely different. Yes, it's still a future-home discovery, a family tree discovery, and a general vacation, but the vacation part has gotten bigger, while the other two aspects have gotten smaller (which is weird). I found myself getting further up into Maine than I ever intended to go (I only intended on skirting ME, NH and VT), but now, instead of spending my Birthday in Holliston, MA with my family , I'm going to be spending it in Bar Harbor in an expensive hotel (Happy B-Day to me), enjoying the beach and (hopefully) lobster, and more than likely, reading Persuasion (which is what I do every b-day, no matter where I am). Granted, I still have the family thing the day before, but at least my b-day isn’t hindered by it (not that it’s a hinderance, it’s just going to be emotionally draining for me).

Speaking of ME, I discovered there really is a place called Passamaquoddy (like from Pete's Dragon...the original, not the crappy remake, which I still haven't seen, but I think it's still safe to call it crappy), and since Pete's Dragon is one of my all-time favorite Disney movies, I HAVE to go! Yes, I understand that this Passamoquoddy looks nothing like the So Cal Disney backlot where the movie was ACTUALLY filmed, but my Disney girl gene is still strong despite the past month of me convincing you otherwise! And Quoddy (just a bit more south), is the Easternmost point of the US, and since I've been to the Southernmost point (in Key West) and the Geographic Center (in Kansas), I would be stupid to be that close and not go tick another box. Problem is, it adds a TON more to my travel time, but hey, this is me, right?

Then, I discovered that Mt Washington would be in my path on the way back home and my gears started turning again. I'm still not sure I can make the drive up it (too chicken…YouTube Mt. Washington drive), but I'm aimed for it just in case and, if not, I will have some good views from down below (if I make it in time, I can always take the trolley instead of drive it). I got a hotel close enough for the night after my b-day, just to be safe. And, when done, that lines me up for the Kangamangus Hwy, and I'll be there at the beginning of leaf peeping season, so yeah me, and I'll now be able to see the ME and VT State Houses (although I have to give up NH), but it will also put me in line for Ft. Ticonderoga, another bucket list place.

Like I said, what basically was a skirting trip has turned into a full three state discovery session (along with PA, CT, MA and NY)! I'm still trying to figure out how to get home in time (which is why I haven't booked a hotel for the last two nights, because I might drive straight might be easier than adding another day onto the vet bill for boarding, which is already going to be outrageously expensive...more on expenses in a mo-mo). Everything I had planned to do on the way home, must be severely edited now just for me to make it on time to pick the monsters up! I'm still going through Albany and Harrisburg, but I managed to move Three Mile Island (another bucket list item) to the beginning of the trip as well as the Flight 93 Memorial. So, most of the home part of PA will be at night, but it will be interstate, so I'm OK with that. I may save the next night for just a "see where I end up and pull over at whatever hotel I can find" type of deal.

I will say though, for a road trip, I have spent a crap ton of money so far! And as I mentioned on the sly, yes, I bought a new camera! I'd like to say I couldn't help it, but I could have…I just wanted it. Then there are all the accoutrements that come with the camera. I also bought new luggage...partly because mine is over 25 years old, and partly because it's buried so deep in my closet, I'll never be able to get it out (and just don't want to try). Luggage is pretty cheap right now, so that wasn't so bad (at least not in the context of a camera). I've also needed new shoes, socks, underclothes, just general stuff that will live on well past the trip (that's my story). I've also been losing a lot of weight, so I've gone down a size and, of course, I don't have clothes for that size anymore. Even as we speak, I have a HUGE Amazon cart of clothes I'm waffling about purchasing. My credit cards are in pain right now!

Granted, this trip might be a LONG car ride and pictures from the car window, but it's still better than nothing (and they should at least be WAY better pictures than last time). I do have at least six hotels booked, so there is that, and I'm going to have to eat sometime (or at least stop at a store and buy more food than is in my Target cart right now). I did make sure to stick with my preferred hotel chain most nights (Hilton/Hampton Inn), so that way there is "familiarity" and I made sure to pick hotels with free breakfasts, so I could have one meal a day (if I can make myself get it...I've been bad about not doing that in the past because it requires human interaction, even with Continentals), or I leave too early for breakfast, but we’ll see (my mantra for this trip).

I haven’t made a “map book” yet, although I’m taking Google Maps snapshots as we speak, simply because plans are literally changing daily. It is so amazing what this trip started out as, and what it has become. I also have a hurricane to deal with (and its aftermath). Not that I’m saying I’m more worried about my vacation than the people that live there, what I’m saying is I don’t want to be in anyone’s way by being a “tourist” if they get damage. I’m sure they don’t want some stupid Arkansan in their way if they do. I have to take that into consideration as well and adjust accordingly.

That’s the main gist of the updates! I’m going alone, I have a new camera, I’ve spent a ton already, and I can’t wait! I really hope I don’t turn out to be a giant chicken and it’s all I’ve built this trip up to be in my head, because I’d really like to continue taking trips like this! I’ve also signed up for both AAA and AARP (one for car protection since there is now no one at home I can call when I’m 3000 miles away, and one because I’m old). I’m not sure how either discount will help me much in general, because I’m HORRIBLE at using discounts…they require interaction, (I don’t coupon either fyi). More expense, of course, but at least a bit more piece of mind (from AAA at least). Unless something major comes up, this is probably the last you’ll hear from me until after the trip, so wish me luck!

If everything goes horribly wrong, it might be a while before you’ll get picture updates, but I’ll try to drop in a little message to let you guys know what happened.