1977: Transitions

Sometimes I look to the past and think about how an event was “so many lives” ago. In this context, a life is just the length of time it takes you to feel as if you have become someone new, someone distinctly different from your prior self. The first time I can draw such a line between lives is in the summer of 1977, when so many things changed for me, never to change back.

The most obvious change in my life was that my family moved — out of the gentle edges of the city into the green and decidedly fragrant countryside. We changed houses, schools, counties, and friends. My parents must have been preparing for this move for a long time, because I remember going along on visits to several houses that were for sale. I loved inspecting the empty rooms while my parents asked serious questions of the real estate agents. My brother and I explored closets, basements, garages, back yards. I don’t remember visiting the house we bought in Orient before we actually closed the deal, but I do remember taking the long trip to it via Grove City, and the whole family being absolutely overwhelmed by the stench of a road-kill skunk as we approached a small town that was no more than a stoplight and a sign. The sign read “Pleasant Corners.”

Century 21 logo

During the time that my parents were house-hunting, one of my father’s brothers was trying out a career as a real estate agent. It was his company’s sign that was erected in the front yard of our Westgate house, so I assume that he was the selling agent. He was, however, less than impressed with the property that we ultimately purchased. Someone’s sanity was definitely called into question. The acreage was more than we could use, and the parts of the yard that weren’t overgrown were covered in cow manure, goat droppings, and/or chicken…manure. Electric fence ran almost all the way to the house from a cinder-block barn that had basic electric service but no running water. The house itself had one bathroom and two bedrooms for a family of four, a basement that took on water after a hard rain, and lights that dimmed when we made toast. My father rented something called a “bush hog” to clear the land — though he did let us take a few whacks at the tall grass with a rusty sickle — and started improving everything that he could.

The house also came with a dog, Toby, who was the son of the dog of the folks who lived next door. At the time, my romantic mind thought him to be a Gordon Setter based purely on his coloration. His mother Pookie, however, was a tiny scrap of brown and black fur that looked like a Yorkie, and his father could only be imagined. Toby was a real country dog who didn’t hesitate to challenge the local groundhogs, snakes, and raccoons to combat. It didn’t matter — I finally had a dog! Maybe this “moving to the country” thing wasn’t going to be so bad after all.

And now…I even looked different. I had loved my long, thick hair and putting it up into ponytails that flew out behind me from under my baseball cap when I ran the bases, but my mother gradually complained more and more about how hard it was to take care of. One evening before we moved, she sent me down the street so a family friend could cut my hair. I wasn’t in on the plan, and cried when my long waves were cut off and the remaining hair sprang up into tight curls. I didn’t recognize myself, but there wasn’t much that I could do about it.

Niagara_Falls_1_1977

That 70’s vacation.

And now I was ten years old. We had taken our summer vacation to visit Niagara and Horseshoe Falls and make a brief trip into Canada. We were on the road on my late-June birthday; a waitress brought out a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting on a ceramic plate that rotated and played “Happy Birthday,” and I was embarrassed at being the center of attention. But on the same trip we visited what must have been a corner drugstore, shopping for road food or other supplies. I wandered over to a newspaper stand and picked up a copy of the local paper, and the store owner snapped at me to put it back, as if I were a thief. My parents didn’t hear him. I felt scared and didn’t know what to do. I put the paper back. I was furious at having been falsely accused, and it was decades before it occurred to me that the storekeeper had probably been the victim of young shoplifters and was just looking out for his store. He probably couldn’t imagine that I just wanted to read the newspaper.

Pickaway Darby Twp 1937

The ‘new’ gym was added in 1937.

And now we had a different school to attend. My mother drove us there in the early August heat and let us play on the playground while she attended to the administrative details. My new elementary school, where I would be in fifth grade and my brother would be in second, was an immense brick structure built in the early 1900s as a K-12 institution (replacing a school built in 1886). There was a large central staircase that, supposedly, had been made wide enough to accommodate girls ascending and descending in hoop skirts. The story was utterly credible. In my single year there I wasn’t brave enough to explore much but I found three staircases. I wouldn’t have been surprised to be told there were more. The whole place was a woodworker’s dream, with hardwood floors and walnut-stained railings. But once school started I had a lot of adjustments to make — the new school used different reading books and no one was sure which level I should be in. My classmates all seemed to be related to each other somehow, and even if they weren’t, they had still known each other since they were born. Their country accents were so thick that sometimes I didn’t understand what they were saying, and some of them made fun of me for doing my homework in class instead of taking it home. I became more shy and withdrawn, hesitant to either make a mistake or do well.

static1.squarespace.com

And there weren’t Camp Fire Girls in the country — just Girl Scouts and 4-H. I had heard of 4-H groups as the ones who trained seeing-eye dogs, so that was what I picked. Luckily, there was a much wider range of activities under the 4-H umbrella, and it was a good organization for me to join. I took projects to the county fair in birds, cats, dogs (attempting to show Toby in the middle of the sheep barn was a memorable experience), photography, and creative writing over the next several years.

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And the next year…I would be off to the middle school, mingled with kids from the other two elementary schools in the county. Our teacher promised that everything would be harder. And I’d have to make friends all over again.


Knitwise, I finished and gently blocked the Olympic cowl. The colors were bleeding while I was working on it, so I did some Internet research and gave it a cold-water vinegar rinse before laying it out to dry on an old towel. We’ll see if that does the trick. It’s a pretty thing, and now it’s soft as well.

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See? I really do knit.

Then I started to collect yarn for a future project: Nakia’s Infinity Scarf, which is designed by Jeff Giles, featured in “Black Panther,” and free on Ravelry. I have NOT started this project yet, as I have not yet finished the project I said that I would finish before I started my next project. Sheesh. All I did was print out a new pattern and buy one LOUSY FREAKING SKEIN OF YARN and put them in the same project bag. (Okay, it was Noro.)

Nakia Shawl

Gotta finish some stuff before I start some stuff. And I’m in the mood to start some stuff.

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Aprés-fest

Pardon me as we dry out from Irish Fest. Friday night was perfect (although tempered somewhat by the fact that there was no wool, yarn, or knitting except for mine — I’m working on it), but Saturday it slowly started to rain and never really let up all evening. Sunday it was raining hard all day and we opted not to take the kids there, especially since most of them had already developed a cough.

I managed to miss both Molly Bee and the freckle contest at the same time, which made Saturday pretty frustrating. But JC recovered from his disappointment — eventually — and I’ll cross paths with Molly again, hopefully soon.

The big deal on Saturday, though, was the curragh regatta hosted by the Milwaukee club. After a slow start under cool and drizzling conditions, they won some races. They won the last official race, the one-woman race, which forced a three-way tie between the leading teams. Then they proceeded to win the row-off by picking another one-woman race. Milwaukee’s team used the same rower twice in a row, while the other teams picked fresh rowers. Kristin prevailed — she is an awesome tough woman — and basically won the regatta for us.

This video is from the Pittsburgh regatta but it’s still excellent.

Mr. Beth is still recovering from the beating he took in the boat during his two races. Skin is missing from all over his hands, and the rest of his body is covered with bruises. I can’t think of anything I can knit that would help with this, but I’m trying. (Mr. Beth gently suggests that I finish the Irish Hiking Scarf.)

We also visited our new [rental] house on Friday and saw one of the local Catholic schools and totally fell in love with it. It may turn out to not be the most convenient for us to use, but since that convenience depends on other factors, we’ll have to wait and see. I have a feeling we may not know which school we’re using until the first day of school.

Knitwise I cast on again for the BSJ but will have to check around to see where to put the stitch markers before I actually start knitting. There’s only so many times you want to cast on 160 stitches.

I did three or four repeats on the Irish Hiking Scarf during the driving and the sitting around in the curragh tent. I also knitted on Tyrone and I’m almost halfway done with the second blue stripe. Since I’m working from the bottom up, I’ll just knit the same amount of rows in each color change when I work on each sleeve. When I get to the joining row it ought to all link up. The Cascade knits up great, too. I hope it comes in Packer green and gold, because I’d like to use it for the bucket hat I’ve been asked to make.

We’re moving this weekend, so it’s time to start packing things up. AND…I will have a surprise for you on Wednesday. Picture included!

P.S. Complain to the right people and you get attention: look here. By the way, are there any other “My Boys” fans out there? I like this show for its good writing and good ensemble. I don’t think it’s a “girl” show any more than it’s a “sports” show even if it’s narrated by a female sportswriter. In fact, we started watching because Jim Gaffigan was in it. To me it feels like “Scrubs” about relationships.

Published in: on August 20, 2007 at 7:13 am  Comments (4)  

One blankie, coming right up

I have to say this about the finishing process for a big knitted piece… it’s scary. I took pictures every step of the way to document that I was brave enough to wash the blankie, rinse it several times, then (gasp!) put it in the washing machine for a spin cycle to whip out the extra water before pinning it down to my blocking surface. I think that having put Colleen’s Quilt through a whole wash and dry cycle at the laundromat a few days before my guild’s quilt show helped me to drop the blanket in.

On the other hand, there’s my Secret Knitting Fear that somehow, I’m so not doing it right, that all it takes is one loose end and my handmade hats and scarves will unravel like the strip at the top of the dog food bag. And nobody’s telling me that this happens because they don’t want me to feel bad. They so want to protect my tender, fragile feelings that they’re even willing to but me more yarn and needles to keep myself happy with.

I know this is ridiculous. I have made two sweaters for Colleen and this has not happened. I have made hats and scarves for myself and this has not happened. I have made a sock and put it on my foot and nothing unraveled, split, exploded, or burst into flames.

Nevertheless. I’m glad the blanket is going to a baby I may never see. That not only spares me the embarrassment of a potentially self-frogging item, but enables the new parents to take a look at my 35,632 stitches and say, “Perfect for the dog to sleep on, don’t you think so, honey?”

No pressure.

But it did stretch out gracefully, allow itself to be pinned, and morph into exactly the shape I wanted it to be all along. And now it is so soft. Only I know where the errors are, and Brer Knitter, he lay low. I ain’t sayin’ nothin’.

Now…to dive into the BSJ pond with Knitting Mother, with Michelle at Boulderneigh in the lifeguard’s seat to make sure we don’t drown. Today: a gauge swatch. Because it’s EZ, and I do what EZ says until it makes sense. The woman says: SWATCH.

P.S. On the house, the woman who wanted to take a second look at the house — changed her mind. Open House next weekend, tell your friends.

P.P.S. We have found a place to rent, an old farmhouse near Jefferson with lots of space and a big yard. The owners live across the road in their new farmhouse. Mr. Beth wants to move in before the end of the month.

Published in: on August 10, 2007 at 11:15 am  Comments (2)  

She’s not doing it.

After lots of thought I have decided not to progress to Second Year in the Hogwarts Sock Swap. Not the least of the things on my mind was the combination of slow-knitterness and other events that led to someone else finishing my socks for me. But the new year of swap, with its full-on Harry Potter identity to maintain, coinciding with a vacation, a move, and goodness knows what else…. I didn’t think I could keep up, and what an odd thing to be doing to finally be the thing that took me down. So yes, I did delete the last post that gave my answers to the questionnaire…. no need for that information to be out there, under the circumstances.

So.

  • I will try to finish what I’m working on,
  • Start Tyrone so I can be doing something in my own knitalong,
  • And start working on new things for family and friends.

Oh yeah — and pack and move and make new friends and all that crap.

AND finish Deathly Hallows, I’m on Chapter Eleven. Sssshhhhhhh!!! I am trying to finish before I meetup with Jules.

UPDATE: I finished the book and can discuss by e-mail. If you leave a comment here, take care not to be a Spoiler!!

Published in: on July 23, 2007 at 9:58 am  Comments (4)  

Last of the thirtysomethings

Tomorrow is my birthday. My kids are 8, 4.5, 3, and just-past-one, and I will be turning forty. Normally I don’t regard my age at all. I came late to the parenting gig after spending a decade in troubled relationships, about which that is already ’nuff said. I try to ignore the chickie-poo tattooed and pierced moms I will necessarily be hanging out with as I take my kids to school and pick them up — it is what it is. Besides, now that I have acquired Instant Knitter Friends, age differences seem to make no difference to them.

But the 4-0, which seems to mean “I have to buy a Miata now” to men (these days, maybe it’s a Mustang), means a different set of things to women. Basically, I now have doctor appointments to dread, and I have one eye constantly monitoring risk factors and mortality. With the two normal eyes plus the one in the back of my head constantly targeted on the children, I don’t know where this other eye is, but I assume it’s there. Maybe it’s the sector of my brain newly dedicated to clicking on links about breast cancer and ovarian cancer and menopause. (What fun!)

Tomorrow I am going to try to shut this eye. I know, it’s the first day of being forty, I should let it do what it needs to do. But it’s my eye, darnit, so here’s the plan.

* The first thing I eat or drink tomorrow morning will have chocolate in it. Instant mocha coffee, chocolate chips out of the bag, chocolate chip mint ice cream — I don’t care. We’re going to start this day right.

*  I am buying myself the cake I want. For about a decade I have wanted an ice cream cake from Dairy Queen. Nobody asked, I didn’t tell, I never had one. Tomorrow is the day. I will even share it with the kids. I just want a little bit.

* I am going to knit. Right, how is that different from any other day? Tomorrow I am not going to feel guilty about it or wait until I conquer the world to have five minutes to myself. I’ll just knit, right in front of real live people. If they complain I’ll just remind them that it’s my birthday and I get to do one thing that I want to do. This is it.

* As usual, I will call my mother just about lunchtime, and ask if she’s feeling better now. I just think it’s the considerate thing to do. 🙂

That’s tomorrow. Here’s yesterday. The weekend showing went okay, but the house only finished in the middle of the pack with the show-ees. (They want something with more character. Boy, will they live to regret that! Kids these days.) The good news is it showed better than most of the other houses in the same price range, so we’re on the right track.

While they were looking at the house, we caravanned (motorcycle followed by van full of kids) to Milwaukee, dropped off the motorcycle, and returned home. I cast on slowly for the HSS but was worried about dropping stitches off the size 1? 0? needles, so put it away. Then I cast on for the racing knitting, but only knit a few rows before I found myself patternless. (More about that tomorrow.) I put that away too.

Mr. Beth: “We have a two and a half hour drive and you have no knitting?” So eventually I picked up the socks again and carefully worked on my 1×1 rib cuff.

I just dread the first five rows or so of sock cuff. It takes about that long for my stitches to hang together, and until then I am a nervous wreck. It may sound strange to tackle that part in a moving car using double-pointed needles, but it’s the only time I’m not going to be constantly interrupted to provide a drink, stop a fight, clean a room, or change a diaper. So I do my best. As of now I’m still in that tentative zone, but my goal is to finish the first cuff tonight.

I also put up brackets for a curtain rod for the bathroom window, which Mr. Beth framed on Sunday morning (replacing the handyman’s framing from Saturday morning). Pictures coming of that, too!

So I’ll see you tomorrow, with my ice cream cake and my knitting. When I will perhaps be a little bit wiser.

P.S. Happy birthday Sheila, my birthday buddy from March 99 Moms! The card is in the mail. No really, it is. 

Spam Quote of the Day

Hello ))) I know that you don’t like this spam, but theese sites are amazing.

Just to give you an idea of exactly how amazing these sites are, each URL contained the phrase “wet-party.” Not exactly a Continental cast-on video tutorial, is it? Now that would be amazing.

Published in: on June 25, 2007 at 6:55 pm  Comments (11)  

Your best knitting friends

Whew. I keep typing that to tell people how the day is going. But all that’s going through my head is, whew!

I was up until about 1 o’clock last night this morning getting the house as ready as I could. Rolled out of bed just before 7 o’clock to finish the job. We bugged out at about 8:45 to take a load of boxes to storage, but through some creative block-circling we noticed the agents didn’t arrive until about 9:30. So we kept going and going, trying to think ahead for the next time we’ll have to vacate so people can see the house.

But though I’m worn out I’m probably headed for more, since it’s absolutely gorgeous and the kind of day you should take your kids to the park to climb on apparatus and wear themselves out. Maybe I will wait until after the peak heat. Then bedtimes will be easier and I can start to do something with the racecar fabric I flashed the other day.

Thanks to Barbara for filling in yesterday. She got some comments, there was a spike in the views compared to what I’ve been getting, and people were clicking on her links. So hooray, looks like a success all around.

Today I have a surprise… the talented Brandy and Lauren are joining with me to run a new blog, which is kind of an informal knitalong to one of our favorite television shows.

No, it’s not Grey’s Anatomy… there’s already a KAL for that.

No, it’s not Buffy the Vampire Slayer… there’s already a KAL for that.

No, it’s not NASCAR… believe it or not, there’s already a KAL for that.

(There should be a KAL for every sweater Stephanie Zimbalist wore on Remington Steele, but maybe that’s more of a personal project.)

No, it’s not Gilmore Girls… there’s a KAL for that, too.

It’s…. the Backyardigans. We’re calling it Backyardiknits. All are welcome, especially those with Backyardigan-aged youngsters around. There are links to BY sites, blogs, and goodies, and two free patterns for a Tyrone-style raglan sweater are already posted (thank you Lauren). It’s in my blogroll the knitalong list under my blogroll, so go check it out. You’ll know it when you see it, because of the adorable header done in BY style (thank you Brandy).

It’s our first joint blog, so let us know what you’d like to see and how you’d like to participate. I envision it as becoming similar to Zimmermania or the IHS KAL, but I’m willing to let it evolve and I think my partners are, too. So come check us out!

Whew!

Published in: on June 12, 2007 at 10:31 am  Comments (2)  

Cleanup on aisle three

We’re making slow but steady progress towards having the house ready for the local realtors to tour on Tuesday morning. We’ll probably need to ramp things up at some point, but we’re closer than we were.

Yesterday we passed a little tornado damage on our way to/from the motorcycle shop. Some trees were blown over, including a couple where you could see the roots. Several trunks were snapped. The real damage lay elsewhere, a few miles away.

I decided to keep going on my swap sock and knit the foot and toe. It is not perfect and I would not be pleased to send it to my swap pal. However, it’s a practice sock. Once I get the toe done and everything is off the needles, I can decide what to ultimately do with the yarn. Frog and rewind? Make a mate for it? Set it aside while I work on the real socks with the real yarn? I have to look at it as the way I decided to make a flap-and-gusset heel instead of a short row.

Back to work — but enjoy this Hall of Fame level spam post, below. I broke all the links first. It’s almost poetry!

Spam Quote of the Day

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you created the original place =)
I saw posts where man was have to use :
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Assume that I looked for a little -(

Published in: on June 9, 2007 at 12:42 pm  Leave a Comment  

Vaguely amphibian

So…..I tried my first short-row heel last night. Then I really mucked it up. It was late, I was adding a color, and I wasn’t using the same number of stitches for my sock that the sample directions were, so when it said, for example, k27, when I was working with only 20 stitches to begin with, I got easily confused.

Fortunately, since I was working with a contrasting color to the rest of the sock, it was relatively easy to frog back to the beginning of the heel section. I even got the main-color stitches back on the needle without twisting them.

I let it sit for a while. Actually, I wanted to let my brain sit for a while. I knew it was all my fault and there was nothing wrong with the directions I was following. I trust Lisa implicitly, but it was the first time and I was really scrambled on the numbers.

I read some blogs, checked my e-mail, took a deep breath, and tried again. This time I knew how many stitches I needed to do which things to. It still didn’t look exactly like I thought it would, but again, it was my first time.

(Have I mentioned that this was my first short-row heel? I did? Sorry.)

And then… something happened. Did I mention it was very late and I was tired? I think that I fell asleep. And kept knitting. Until I finished the heel, and added the main color, and knit a few times around.

short row heel, side 1

Here’s the other side. Sorry it’s not in great focus. (By the way, it’s stuffed with a skein of alpaca!)

short-row heel, side 2

Do I need to frog the heel again?

The only thing I can really be grateful for is that I had already done the Irish Hiking Scarf repeat. Which took me the whole hour of the Top Chef season One/Two matchup. I can’t believe I found myself rooting for Stephen. Oh, and Sam and Harold are still cute. The funniest moment of the show was when one of the Season Three female contestants saw Sam come out to present his dish and said “He’s kind of cute” and guest judge Ted Allen said “Kind of?”

I should have ever so much free time today — school is cancelled because there’s supposedly a monster thunderstorm on the way. (Tomorrow is the last day of school.) So far, we have blue skies, bright sunshine, and chirping birds. But the winds are strong, and picking up. So everyone is home, I’m trying to make the house tour-worthy while we’re living in it, and all is chaos, chaos is all.

A quiz (for everyone except Lisa): What does this look like to you?

Father’s Day yarn

Here’s another hint….

vintage racer fabric

Published in: on June 7, 2007 at 9:11 am  Comments (8)  

It’s the process, stupid

I should clarify on the prospective house… it is actually in Jefferson. The previous contender, which we decided against, is the one in Janesville.

At any rate, we’re still in the process of listing our house. I am hoping to see a sign in our yard tomorrow.

We’re in the process of putting Tommy on a strict schedule of feedings. Feeding baby food to babies. Who knew that would work?

We’re in the process of weaning, to be finished by next weekend. 😛

I’m in the process of chugging along on the Irish Hiking Scarf. I’m not getting a repeat in every night. It’s closer to every other night.

I’m about to be in the process of learning how to do a short-row heel, on the swap sock.

I have finished the process of this week’s freelance editing project. More money (soon) and more knitting time. And maybe I can set aside 10 percent of the money for the future purchase of, dare we say, a spinning wheel. If I decide that I can only purchase a wheel from the accumulated 10 percents of freelance work, that might encourage me to take on some more contracts.

Knitting project pictures and Tommy pictures to come. Soon. I swear.

Published in: on June 6, 2007 at 10:04 am  Comments (4)  

Progress und chocolat

It was a wet weekend but it turned out to be very productive. We looked at houses yesterday and found one that was a dream come true (and it wasn’t on our original list; it was sort of an afterthought by the realtor — “there’s one close to here that’s vacant, want to take a look?” ). After we saw it we went ahead and saw the other contender we’d planned to see. For a while they seemed to be equally good, but it didn’t take long to sort through the mental lists of location, neighborhood, post-move expense, etc., to decide which one we really wanted.

So as soon as I get this typed up, it’s time to tidy up around here before the realtor comes over. I hope he comes with a big honking FOR SALE sign for the front yard.

Props to the showing agent’s daughter, too. She is visually impaired, but a crochet addict attending college in the Chicago area. She sells her crocheted scarves for $7 each and donates the money to benefit the homeless. Way to go!

Also major league props to Mr. Beth, who pointed out every craft store we passed on the trip. By the way, we saw a new quilt store in Janesville. They were unloading a truck’s worth of items into the store as we passed. One sign said “Quilt Central” and another said “Quilt Center,” and I don’t know which one’s right. It’s probably not their first quilt shop, I suspect. And Janesville also has a Ben Franklin, a Jo-Ann’s, a Scrapbook Superstore, the Dragonfly Yarn Shoppe, and goodness knows what else. I will have to check my database. You lucky Janesville crafters!

It was a looooong drive yesterday. But almost all of it was knitting time for me. I had the Harlot one-row scarf along, but my main project was the Hogwarts proxy sock. (After talking with Mr. Beth, I think I should refer to it as “Rock Ridge,” after the fake town built by the townspeople in Blazing Saddles. The poor thing is The Sock only until the other yarn comes in, after which the other sock will be The Sock.) Believe it or not, I cast on (onto size 1 dpns!) in the van, and got the whole cuff knitted. Complete with two stripes of contrasting color, which is what, four color changes? Didn’t drop any stitches or needles, either.

I took a status picture this morning, but won’t have time to upload it until after I’m done with the realtor. Sorry! I didn’t take process shots in the van, either. Frankly, I just didn’t think about it. I was too stressed out that one of the needles would slide out and I would have to kill someone. With a bigger needle.

This sock had better fit. I’m using the Tsock 101 formula, but not using Jennifer’s yarn, so I had to recalculate on the fly based on the gauge on the yarn’s ball band and the stated foot size of the recipient. It seems small to me, so once I got past the cuff I switched to size 3 dpns in the hopes it will loosen up.

Ah…yes….did I mention the chocolate? Since I had to get camera batteries anyway, there I was with a credit card at Walgreens. Hershey’s Special Dark-covered almonds. Russell Stover Triple Chocolate Mousse singles. And right by the checkout there was a bin of bagged Hershey’s candies, two bags for $5. I got peanut butter filled Kisses, and Special Dark candies with dark chocolate truffle filling.

I can stop any time I want to.

I strongly suspect that I don’t want to.

Published in: on June 4, 2007 at 8:15 am  Comments (6)