Celebrations, Events, And Hard Decisions

The day after we get updated information about the plans for holding BG’s recital this year, Hubby gets notified that he will be working from home through the summer. Only critical infrastructure employees will be allowed back in the office.

Hearing that Hubby is going to be allowed to work from home for at least that long was such a massive relief. He works in a large building with a lot of other people. Their set up is currently a semi-shared space that doesn’t work with any kind of distancing. They are working on making changes to the entire building, but options and space are limited, so work from home for those that can is the current state. And I’m so very, very happy about that.

At the same time, BG is supposed to return to dance class the first part of June. The studio has made some changes to do what they can to ensure safety, including shortened class times to give time to sanitize and changes in routines that eliminate all physical contact (mostly only ever in the younger grades). Staff and assistants will wear masks as well.

While the changes are definitely good, it is still a very active thing and some classes, ALL of BG’s classes, are full of dancers. Even the change in how they utilize the space to give more room and limiting all space in the studio to dancers and teachers only, still leaves a pretty crowded studio for many of these classes.

Then there will be recital. There are some massive changes to their normal plan. What was previously broken into two shows will now be 5 and based on grade level. This reduces the number of girls in dressing rooms and the number of people in the audience.

What does not change is the fact that the older girls that participate in certain performances, which BG does for the first time this year, will still participate in every show. Instead of her performing those dances 4 times between dress rehearsal and recital, it will be 10. For each dance, of which she has potentially 3 (still waiting on word for one dance). This is on top of her other 5 dances she will do in her own show.

Also because she is in every show for those dances and to assist her younger girls, she will be at the venue from 9am until probably close to 9pm or after for two days in a row. This presents yet another issue.

They have asked that you only attend the show for your child. Technically, her show is the last one, but she is there all day. I either take her and drop her off, or I stay. In previous years, she was only ever there for the 1 show, but I had planned on just staying for both because the venue is not close to home. Parking sucks beyond belief and getting a decent seat is damn near like trying to get the latest “must have” item at a black friday sale (more on recital day than dress rehearsal, but still crazy).

Now, the last issue is more one of convenience for me over most anything else and , logically, the issues with parking and seating should be reduced drastically because of the smaller show sizes. It should also mean smaller audience sizes. But… how many people have you seen recently that follow the rules or suggestions? I’ve seen some of the family that attend this event. I’m not thinking overly positive about the outcome, even if the studio is doing their damnedest to make this happen in a safe way.

This is currently scheduled for the first half of July and, as has been seen lately, things that seem fine today may be horrible as soon as tomorrow.

I am so damn torn about the whole thing.

I 100% support their efforts in what they are trying to do and I know why they are so determined to still hold this event. This is on par with graduation, if not even more important, for a huge number of the girls that are seniors this year. Seniors are missing out on so much already. I get it. There is a need to find a balance that includes mental health and that is where their efforts come in.

I just have to wonder, when it is all said and done, if it is worth the risk.

They are asking that no one come to the studio that has even traveled outside the state, but will people abide by that request? There is no way to ensure absolutely that they do. They have also stated to not come if you aren’t feeling well or have been around someone that is sick. Again, it is only a request and really cannot be enforced other than to not let someone in that looks obviously ill. I have no clue how they are going to manage the recital at all.

None of that even begins to take into consideration the distribution of costumes (always a very close contact event) and picture day where the lobby is wall to wall students and parents.

Here we are with Hubby’s work running on an abundance of caution (which I am so incredibly grateful for) and then we are pulled in the other direction for BG’s dance.

The thought of not getting a recital this year breaks my heart, but… is it really worth it? I just don’t know.

Toss onto that dumpster fire of “no good solution” is the fact that we also have MC’s graduation scheduled for the end of July. I’m slightly less worried about this event because it is only a few hours tops on a single day in a venue that is more versatile for distancing, but you are still talking about a very large number of people gathering under one roof.

As of right now, I’m cautiously going to allow BG to go to classes when they resume and wait and see what other information will be forthcoming about recital. There is more control in the studio than there is at the venue and she will at least be able to wear a mask.

I’m also going to be watching the news in my area very closely. The studio has been following guidelines and they have made student safety a priority, but there isn’t a lot of clear guidance as to what is actually safe right now and that is my biggest concern.

I don’t want to have to tell either one of my kids that they shouldn’t participate in these incredibly important events, but when you look at the much larger picture, it isn’t just about them. It is about the friends and families of those girls (and a few guys). It is about the people that have to take care of them if they get sick. It is about the people that get left behind if the worst happens.

It makes it even harder to impress this on them, though they are listening, when we essentially live in this sort of bubble where the virus hasn’t really blown up. That sense that “it can’t happen to me” kind of invincibility is too easy to believe. I really believe that is playing a part in the decisions to move forward holding these events.

I’m lucky in that my kids are reasonable. I think that if it came down to it, they would understand. They would be hugely disappointed, but I do think they’d understand. It doesn’t make any of it even a fraction easier, though.

If I were pressed, I have to say that I really don’t think holding these events, even with precautions, is the smart thing to do. Feeling that way makes this so much harder as I just don’t know what the best plan is moving forward. I don’t want to be the bad guy, but I absolutely will if I feel that the situation in my area has gotten bad enough. I hate that I may actually be in the position to have to do that.

 

Dianthus

I still have to get these and my lavender in the ground. That is my goal for the day and hopefully the ground isn’t too wet.

The one issue is that I have to be careful where I plant my lavender because I can’t actually be around it for any length of time or it will trigger a migraine. I love lavender, though, so I could no pass up having some. I just have to make sure it’s where I can see it more than smell it.

My lettuce and spinach seeds have already started sprouting in my indoor pots and the larger pot outside is sprouting one, but the other hasn’t started yet. I think it is the spinach, but it is still too small to tell and I didn’t mark the sides, because of course that would be the smart thing!

My shasta daisy seeds also haven’t sprouted yet, but I didn’t expect them to just yet.

I am probably going to have to do a major thinning on my irises once they are done blooming. They have absolutely filled the areas I currently have them planted in. While it is good in that it creates a perfect barrier for any weeds, it is also not good in that they are beginning to encroach on some other plants I have in the same beds.

The display is absolutely gorgeous though!

Iris Flower Bed
Iris Flower Bed

Technical Difficulties

One of the quickest ways to turn a good day into a crap one is to have problems with your technology.

I have spent way too much of my day either attempting to get yet another problem fixed on my computer (spoiler alert: didn’t get it fixed) or researching how much it would cost to get a new one (ugh! really?) because I’ve about had it.

I absolutely hate that when it comes to technology, there are very few options for keeping old tech functioning well, especially computers. I wast just forced to get a new tablet, so I really don’t want to be forced to get a new computer, but I may not have a choice soon.

As of right now, I’m running, just not well. I’m also apparently at a point where my computer isn’t going to run anymore updates for software that I pay a subscription for. I cannot even manage to uninstall it in an effort to install a clean version (and yes, all the virus scans have been run and are clean).

When I got the new Adobe products, I ran into some compatibility issues, but it was on some of the pieces I probably won’t use and only needed the one for a project BG was doing for school. I figured as long as I’m still able to run and do what I need to do, I should be fine. I’ve always tried to be of the mind that I will run something in the ground before I’m forced to replace it.

Except…

I’m constantly getting kicked off the internet for reasons that have absolutely nothing to do with our service as I’m the only one that ever gets bounced, and only with my computer. If it were a simple disconnect, I’d probably deal with it, but it requires a restart of my computer. Every time. Sometimes multiple times a day.

I could go on for days about all the issues I have with simple tasks taking way too long to complete (restarting being a biggie), and lately, some of them just failing instead. To an extent, this is something that speaks to this now highly ingrained need for instant anything all the time, but I shouldn’t need to go take a potty break or a coffee break while I’m waiting for my computer to load something basic. It reminds me of dial up in the 90’s.

I upgraded my ram a couple of years ago when I first started having problems (did a check and I’m at almost 5 years old on this one) and that made a huge difference and I seemed to have averted the need to upgrade for a while. Sadly, the last 6 months or so have been an exercise in patience and frustration and theorizing the ability for a laptop to fly through a window or a wall. Or how it would hold up under the weight of my car as I run over it. Repeatedly. After chucking it into the street.

Some days are way better than others, even to the point where I may not have a single issue for a few days. Then you hit days like today where every single thing works like crap or doesn’t work at all and I waste so much time trying to get things working again.

That makes it even harder to make the decision to get a new one because this one IS working, just in an exceptionally crappy way. It is really hard to justify replacing something that technically still works. Especially when the issue is most likely one small piece of a bigger whole that is either outdated or going bad (or in my case, potentially a combination of those two). It seems like such a ridiculous waste.

I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed that I can eek out some more time before I’m forced to give in to the inevitable. I will be on constant back up mode, just in case, though.

Reds In Black & White

This is the same one I posted yesterday, just in black and white. Of all the things I’ve played with in the new Photoshop, the ability to tweak color levels to effect the tones when going to black and white is one of my favorites (along with the HDR toning). It allows a little more control over what works and what doesn’t and gives a phenomenal level of control over contrast, but in subtle ways.

It’s fun to go in and see what you can push and the kinds of results you can get playing with that feature. I’ve only done a couple so far, but I love the results.

Rusty Red Iris

For some reason, I only have a couple of these and they are randomly placed, not clustered like all my other irises.

They are also a pain in the butt to photograph because the color almost never comes out correctly. There is something about my camera and accurately rendering reds that I haven’t quite gotten the hang of. This is where Photoshop becomes my friend. Unless of course, your monitor isn’t the same as mine, then who the hell knows what color you are seeing. This fact is a major point of frustration for me.

Yesterday, MC took his last remaining AP final (AP Calculus) and is officially done with all high school work. He has to go to the school next week to turn in equipment and books, pick up any honor sashes/cords for graduation and then make it to the ceremony scheduled for the end of July, but he is absolutely done with high school now.

Yesterday also brought news that we are probably looking at the new normal for our household, at least through the end of summer as Hubby will not be going back into the office until then at the earliest.

I’ve said before that for the most part, things around here feel much like they would around the holidays when Hubby is on vacation and everyone is home. While we are now well past the longest everyone has been at home at the same time and it still mostly feels that way, it is going to be interesting to see if it continues to feel that way.

After he got the word that this will extend (so damn grateful he works where he does), I joked around that I’m going to have to find some projects to work on in my studio so I have an “escape” from time to time. If I think about it, it is going to be a kind of test to see how well we handle retirement. The only real difference will be that the kids are still at home.

I’m seeing news of some universities saying at least the fall semester classes are going to be online only, but we haven’t heard anything along those lines from MC’s school yet. He is a little worried because there are certain requirements for his scholarship that he has to meet that, as of right now, requires in person interaction. It is also the requirement that he live on campus his first year. I’ve told him that I’m sure the school will make sure that whatever steps they take, it isn’t going to impact his scholarship. It is one of the very many things on the “wait and see” list.

He didn’t really stress about ending high school from home. The most stress he has really shown over the last couple of months was studying for his AP exam. With news about other schools starting to pop up, he is beginning to stress about what will or won’t happen in the fall.

It really does not help one bit that we live in an area that really hasn’t been hit yet. I’m 100% sure that a big part of the small number of cases in our area is because we have local leaders that stepped up fast and hard before it could and it did amazing things to slow down the spread. Sadly, with the push for things to start opening back up, we are going to see those numbers start to spike and everything that has current, tentative plans to happen will most likely change when that spike starts, so it is impossible to think anything will be as it looks right now.

We aren’t even close to being anywhere near out of the woods yet.

From The Top

Hubby ended up taking a vacation day yesterday. In part so he could get a lot of errands run that he needed to do, including going with me to get some flowers, and to get some much needed work done in the yard.

The trip out was interesting and frustrating to say the least. I only went to Home Depot with the plan to only stay in the outdoor section. Apparently, that isn’t allowed because you cannot enter that area. You have to go through the main door so that you can be counted. You can leave through the outdoor section, but you can’t come in that way. Instead, you are being forced to potentially come in contact with even more people by going through the main entrance before you can access the outdoor section.

If I were to estimate, maybe only 25% of the people there were wearing masks, including those working (this from a company that touts providing PPE for all employees, but they apparently don’t require they actually wear any). One of the non-mask wearing workers was coughing like crazy the whole time we were there. Another group was a woman and her 4 kids that looked like high school age all the way down to maybe 3rd grade, none wearing masks or understanding the concept of personal space, let alone stay 6 feet apart.

There are reasons I’ve opted to let Hubby do all the running. This trip didn’t convince me to change my mind. On the plus side, my masks are actually really comfortable and fit extremely well so there was no fidgeting needed which made me feel so much better.

I wasn’t able to get everything that I was hoping to find, sadly. I was able to get what I needed to fill my pots. I also picked up a small lavender plant to go in the ground and a pot of pretty dianthus that will also go in one of my beds somewhere.

When I was looking at the lavender, I spotted the strawberry plants. I have only ever tried growing them once years ago when I had the space, but decided to grab a few on a whim for BG as she absolutely LOVES strawberries. That and I thought it would be fun for her. Between those a few packets of seeds (lettuce, spinach and shasta daisies) that rounded out my trip.

BG was excited to get her strawberries and helped me get EVERYTHING planted. At least the potted ones as I didn’t get the in ground ones done yesterday. It was such a huge help and I loved the fact that she had so much fun. She is a little giddy at the idea that she is getting to grow and take care of her own strawberries, so that was an amazing impulse buy on my part.

I was glad to get my pots taken care of, but I was really disappointed that I couldn’t find everything I wanted. I could go to one of the nurseries if they are open (and around here I really don’t know if they are), but I’m really not sure it is worth it at this point. I did look into ordering some of those things, but didn’t find a site that had what I was looking for (in part because of things not quite being in season). I may dig a little deeper and see if I can locate at least a few things online.

In the mean time, I’ll be watching to see if my seeds come up. I’ve never grown lettuce or spinach myself, so that is going to be a lot of fun.

Book Review: The Summer House – Lauren K. Denton

Author: Lauren K. Denton
Book Name: The Summer House
Release Date: June 2, 2020
Series: *
Order: *
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Overall SPA: 3.5 Stars
3.5 Stars

 

 

Blurb: Sometimes it takes losing everything to find yourself again.

Lily Bishop wakes up one morning to find a good-bye note and divorce papers from her husband on the kitchen counter. Having moved to Alabama for his job only weeks before, Lily is devastated, but a flyer at the grocery store for a hair stylist position in a local retirement community provides a refuge while she contemplates her next steps.

Rose Carrigan built the small retirement village of Safe Harbor years ago—just before her husband ran off with his assistant. Now she runs a tight ship, making sure the residents follow her strict rules. Rose keeps everyone at arm’s length, including her own family. But when Lily shows up asking for a job and a place to live, Rose’s cold exterior begins to thaw.

Lily and Rose form an unlikely friendship, and Lily’s salon soon becomes the place where residents share town gossip, as well as a few secrets. Lily soon finds herself drawn to Rose’s nephew, Rawlins—a single dad and shrimper who’s had some practice at starting over—and one of the residents may be carrying a torch for Rose as well.

Neither Lily nor Rose is where she expected to be, but the summer makes them both wonder if there’s more to life and love than what they’ve experienced so far. The Summer House weaves Lauren K. Denton’s inviting Southern charm around a woman’s journey to find herself.

Main SPA Evaluation Areas:

Characters: 4/5 Stars
Believability: 3.5/5 Stars
Personal Opinion: 3.5/5 Stars

The best way to describe this book is that it is a very warm, comfortable, laid back kind of read. Kind of like a walk on the beach on a generically beautiful day. That can be extremely refreshing, but at the same time, everything just sort of unfolds without much to propel it along. Both the emotions and the conflicts that are presented end up very mild, not leaving the reader much to really dig into.

If you are needing a lighter, easier read, then this is a great book. If you are looking for something with a bit more emotion or tension, you won’t find it here. I enjoyed this, but it probably won’t be something that sticks with me.

*I received a copy of this book from NetGalley. Opinions stated are honest and my own.

 

Mask Making

A couple of caveats:

  • This post is only for those that find wearing masks to be useful and isn’t intended to debate the merits or efficacy of masks.
  • These instructions are based on my personal trial and error and the design modifications are intended to work for me and my Hubby. They are based on the original design found here.
  • I take no responsibility for any efficacy or lack thereof of this design.

I had needed to make a couple of masks for Hubby a couple of weeks ago and did some digging around on the internet to find a pattern that I thought would work well. There are so many different ones floating around out there it is hard to weed through them all to find one that works best.

After making a couple of these for him, I decided that I needed to have one or two for myself as well as make a couple more for him so I wasn’t scrambling to get his washed and dried when he needed to run an errand.

One of the things that I liked about this pattern is that the design creates a “pocket” in the front that you can put some type of filter in to give you added protection. I’ve seen a variety of things suggested for this purpose including a folded paper towel or even a coffee filter. If you are interested in using this, I recommend doing your own research as to what it is the best practice to use for that. The same recommendation goes for fabric choices.

I just used scrap fabric that I already had on hand, which this project was ideal for using up some of those scraps. All are basic cottons often used in quilting. If you feel that the fabric you have or want to use is too thin, you can very easily just add another layer of the “Face” piece if needed.

Face Mask Project - Lining Layout
Face Mask Project – Lining Layout

You really only need the 3 pattern pieces if you layout your fabric in two layers, alternating right and wrong sides. You can use the same fabric for the front and inside or different ones. For these, I used different ones, but I’ve done some for Hubby in the same fabric.

Face Mask Project - Outside Layout
Face Mask Project – Outside Layout

Using Hubby’s original finished masks as a base, I had to cut this down a bit because it ended up covering my ears instead of resting on the side of my face in front of my ears. I cut off about a inch and a half from the ends of the original “Face” and “Cheek” pieces and slightly changed the top angle so that it narrowed to about the same width as the original.

I sewed the seams at what I consider “foot width” in that you line up the edge of your fabric with the point of the sewing foot. That works out to be about a 1/4″ seam. At this point, I’m following all the instructions on the original design up to the point where you are attaching the face piece to the mouth and cheek pieces. This is where I made a more drastic modification.

When I made the original ones for Hubby, we discovered has “floppy” ears that just folded over when he tried to get any elastic over them in the back like the original design calls for (and many other options and designs are similar) making it impossible for the mask to stay on. To fix the issue, I made 2 straps of elastic that ran across the back of the head and neck instead of the loops that go over the ears. To get it to fit him, the top piece was 10 1/4 inches and the bottom was 8. Putting together mine, I ended up with about a 1/4 of a inch more for both since the sides of my mask were shorter.

Face Mask Project - Attaching Elastic
Face Mask Project – Attaching Elastic

Unless you are really experienced in sewing, this may be the difficult or confusing place as the right sides of all pieces have to be pinned together in the correct order or your pocket doesn’t work the way it is supposed to. Once it is turned right side out, you want the central mouth piece to be the top layer on the inside (shown below when finished), but you need to pin the elastic in place first. You can either rely on pins, or you can run a seam along the elastic to hold it in place (as seen above).

Face Mask Project - Inside Pocket: Finished
Face Mask Project – Inside Pocket: Finished

I just pinned the outer edges of the face and cheek pieces with the elastic in between first, then gently folded them back so I could put the mouth piece in place, pinning the center seams before going and pinning the overlap (and I JUST realized that the below image is incorrect as this is the one I goofed on. That mouth piece should be pinned underneath the cheek pieces. See, I said it could get confusing!)

Face Mask Project - Pinning Front To Back With Elastic
Face Mask Project – Pinning Front To Back With Elastic

This part was a bit of a pain to get right because those elastic lengths are shorter than the face piece, so it wants to bunch up the fabric when you go to pin the pieces together. I had to be careful to make sure the pieces laid smoothly so I could pin the front seams together and then line up the sides in an overlap to create the pocket. You have to be careful as you sew to ensure that there is no bunching at the point you are sewing. There was a lot of shifting where it was trying to bunch so I could work in a smooth area.

Face Mask Project - Double Seam Elastic
Face Mask Project – Double Seam Elastic

Once I sewed the entire piece together, I went back and added a secondary line on each end to ensure the elastic was double secure since this is where the most stress is going to be put on the mask as it is worn. I then clipped any corners that were too large and would bulk up when turning.

The last thing is turning this right side out, which that lovely pocket makes incredibly easy as you have nothing to close up after you turn it. If you have any corners that didn’t fully turn, you can the eraser end of a pencil (anything narrow and not sharp) to push the corners the rest of the way out. You might need to finesse your seams a bit to get it to lay correctly, or if you prefer, iron it so the seams are crisp.

Face Mask Project - Finished
Face Mask Project – Finished

These aren’t completely perfect as I wasn’t going for any seamstress awards (even had to pull out at least one seam and redo it), but they are functional. As I said earlier, it is a great project to use up some scraps if you are already a sewer. If not, you can reuse old tea towels or articles of old clothing that would end up in the trash because of stains or holes in odd places if the fabric is the right type.

Face Mask Project - Final Result (My Masks))
Face Mask Project – Final Result (My Masks)

*I apologize for the crummy photos. I took them with my phone in less than ideal lighting down in my studio. Hopefully it is enough along with the original design and instructions for you to do your own if you are interested.

Pale Purple Iris

This particular iris is interesting because I have two that are near each other and almost the same color, except this one is a little bit paler. The other one’s color is more even and doesn’t lean towards white on the lower petals. The differences are extremely subtle and you wouldn’t notice them unless you were right up on them. I’m not certain if they are the same but presenting different for some reason, or if they are actually different types that just look very much alike.

In all, if you count these as two different ones, I think I have 4 different purple classic irises. I have a dark purple, a medium purple and these two different pale purple ones. The dark has several buds on it and will be open soon. The medium are still a ways off.

I have a few other colors and a siberian iris that are also still a ways off. The ones that are currently open are my white, the purple and cream, the pale purple, my one rust colored one and the dual color mauve/rusty one that photographs amazingly well (have yet to post a photo of that one this season).

I so desperately want to go and get some more flowers to plant, because these aren’t going to last long, but… I’m just not sure if I’m desperate enough. Hubby suggested I go early morning during the week, so I’m considering it. The area I live in is still relatively untouched by the virus, so the risk is lower than in a lot of areas. That is the only reason I’m even considering it. Whatever I decide, it won’t be over the weekend. Not with Mother’s day tomorrow. That isn’t a crowd I want to even contemplate.

White Iris & MC Day

Today is MC’s official last day of high school, the end of a huge phase of his life up until now. Under normal circumstances, it would feel like a big, sharp end with him having done all the normal things that would lead up to this moment.

The district would normally have the students wear their caps and gowns and walk through their grade and middle schools, high fiving the younger kids and seeing old teachers. There would be the expected build up of excitement among the students, the kind you could hear and feel just walking through the halls. Kids planning parties and celebrations. Some even participating in a senior skip day or a prank (some not always well thought out).

This year, instead of a bright, distinct end with seniors walking out the doors of the high school for the last time, it has felt more like senior year has dissipated and just faded out to nothing while they sat alone at home. Spring break became indefinite, followed by a scramble to finish presenting needed material in an online format so that those seniors were still prepared to take their final exams for any dual credit classes or their AP tests.

Not a single traditional event has been able to be held. I actually saw a T-shirt that kind of said it all…

Senior Skip Day Champions, Class of 2020.

It is an attempt to laugh at something that isn’t all that funny and so incredibly difficult for a lot of young people.

For MC, he has done an amazing job of just going with the flow. I cannot begin to express how proud I am of him for weathering this as well as he has. I know that a lot of seniors are really having a hard time and my heart hurts for them.

My kid is just the typical introvert and is often happier at home playing his games, so, for the most part, this isn’t that much different from what he would have been doing. He is missing his friends, but they have made the time to do some gaming together online.

I’ll be spending the day putting together MC’s favorite finger foods and we have both Deadpool movies waiting to be watched. It may not be what many would think of as a great celebration to close out his high school career, but it is exactly the kind of thing he loves, so that is what we will be doing.

I still have to come up with a plan for his graduation, something that is still on the calendar but can change at any moment. Considering he will be graduating with honors, I refuse to let that moment pass without something to mark it, no matter what is going on in the world.

For now, we are making it MC day and marking the end of this massive stage in his life. If you know a senior, high school or college, take a moment or 10 to celebrate them and how incredibly odd and extra emotional the ending of this time is for them., even if they are as laid back about it as MC is.

New Neighbor

This is one not so brilliant, but phenomenally determined bird. They started building this nest above our garage earlier in the spring. Sadly, the location is horrible and catches the wind all the time. The nest got blown off at least 4 different times, but they were back within a day and building again.

It apparently stayed in place long enough the last time for them to be able to spend a lot of time in it. I’m certain that means we have eggs sitting in that nest now. So far, they’ve been exceptionally lucky that it hasn’t gotten blown of that narrow ledge again.

I’m sure a big part of that is that there is one sitting in there almost all the time, but if anyone comes anywhere near the nest or that corner of the house, it flies off, so I’m still a little surprised. I’m just hoping we don’t go out one day and see a bunch of shattered eggs on the driveway.

Stretching The Creativity

This is MC’s last official week of high school. Most of his classes are already done and he has very little work left. He will have an AP final later in the month, but that was always set for that date. It will just be an online version instead. That’s because he is finishing out his high school senior year at home, which has made it one hell of a different experience than anyone expected.

It also means I’m having to really push my creativity when it comes to finding ways to acknowledge such a huge accomplishment. Not that we were intending much anyway as he isn’t much of a social person. If anything, I thought he and his gamer friends would get together for one of their gaming nights as a way to celebrate, but that can’t happen now.

I can’t do nothing because he deserves to be honored and recognized for all his hard work. With so many other things that have been canceled because of the pandemic, including his chance to get to take his girl, MCG, to prom and see her face to face for the first time or the senior walk through the grade and middle schools to see old teachers, I couldn’t let this slip by unrecognized.

The importance of this is something that has really been driven home while I’ve helped MC edit and polish one of his scholarship applications. It highlighted some of his biggest accomplishments throughout school and showed me how proud he was of his own hard work, something he so very rarely ever shows, so I really needed to make an effort to acknowledge all of that.

If things were normal, we’d still keep it small. Probably just taking him to out to eat at a restaurant of his choice. But that isn’t an option. I’ve been wracking my brain to come up with something fun that we can do here and that would be special for him.

I decided to kind of do a week of awesome for MC. It started last night with me making one of his favorite meals and will finish up on Friday, his last day, with a night of the family favorite finger foods and movies, capping it off with some death by chocolate.

While this is all very food heavy, that is kind of the main way we tend to do celebrations, so it is perfect. I’m going to try and squeeze in a night or two during the week to play some games. I have a feeling Fibbage is going to be coming out since that is one of MC’s favorite games to play as a family. Mostly because we get completely stupid and ridiculous in the process.

It might not seem like a lot when it is all said and done, but it is a way to show him how much he means to us and how proud of him we are. He not only survived high school, he kicked its butt in epic fashion. He will be going off to college with all 4 years of his tuition paid for and a potential for a one time scholarship of $5k (just submitted this one, so we are in wait mode on that, but chances are good), all because he set a goal to do his absolute best and he excelled at every single class.

He seems to be stoked for our little celebration, so that is really all that matters. Now I just have to figure out what I’m going to do for his actual graduation. My creativity muscles are getting one hell of a workout.

 

Book Review: Killing Mind, D.I. Kim Stone- Book #12

Author: Angela Marsons
Book Name: Killing Mind
Release Date: May 13, 2020
Series: D.I. Kim Stone
Order: #12
Genre: Suspense/Mystery/Police/Crime
Overall SPA: 5 Stars
5 Stars

 

 

Blurb: It had seemed so simple. Get in, get the information, get out. But now they were getting inside her mind and she didn’t know how to stop them…

When Detective Kim Stone is called to the home of Samantha Brown, she finds the young woman lying in bed with her throat cut and a knife in her hand. With no sign of forced entry or struggle, Kim rules her death a tragic suicide.

But a visit to Samantha’s parents rings alarm bells for Kim – there’s something they’re not telling her. And, when she spots a clue in a photograph, Kim realises she’s made a huge mistake. Samantha didn’t take her own life, she was murdered.

Then a young man’s body is found in a local lake with his throat cut and Kim makes a link between the victim and Samantha. They both spent time at Unity Farm, a retreat for people seeking an alternative way of life.

Beneath the retreat’s cosy façade, Kim and her team uncover a sinister community preying on the emotionally vulnerable.

Sending one of her own undercover into Unity Farm is high risk but it’s Kim’s only hope if she is to catch a killer – someone Kim is convinced the victims knew and trusted.

With Bryant distracted by the emergence of a harrowing case close to his heart, and an undercover officer in way over her head, Kim’s neck is on the line like never before. Can she protect those closest to her before another life is taken?

Main SPA Evaluation Areas:

Characters: 5/5 Stars
Believability: 5/5 Stars
Series Continuity/Expectations: 5/5 Stars
Personal Opinion: 5/5 Stars

Another phenomenal addition to an already amazing series! I cannot say enough how much I still love the D.I. Kim Stone books.

As with most of the other books in this series (only a few exceptions), you can read this without having read all the other books first. There may be some smaller nuances that you’d miss if you haven’t, but you won’t be lost as all the important parts of the story are entirely new.

It amazes me that you can be 12 books deep into a series and still feel like the material you are reading is fresh and new, but that is exactly what you get with a Kim Stone book, be it book one or book twelve.

Most every book in this series seems to pick a different psychological or criminal element to highlight. For this one, you get to delve into the cult mindset and how they manage to draw people in. It was really interesting to take a deeper look into the how and why behind the types of people that can be attracted to those groups and how they operate.

As a US based reader, I have always really enjoyed being able to see the similarities between UK police practices and procedures and those of the US. For the first time I got a glimpse of what may be a very different approach between the two, at least when it comes to determining a suicide. I will note that I am by no means an expert on US practices and only have what I would consider common assumed knowledge gleaned from reading and other casual sources, so that difference may not be that broad. It was still really interesting to see it handled differently than what I would have expected from an investigation of similar circumstances in the US.

Like with so many of the other books in this series, you get to follow multiple different storylines, each one just as intriguing as the next and are given some surprising finishes.

*I received a copy of this book from NetGalley. Opinions stated are honest and my own.

**This review was also published in Envie! Magazine’s May 2020 edition.