yarn along

Last week we went away to a lake house for a few days and it was so restful and nice. I cast on a dogstar sweater for Philippa while there, since her birthday is about a month away and I like to get a head start on birthday sweaters. I knitted both sleeves while there and got started on the body. It’s a bottom-up sweater, which isn’t my favorite construction, but it is nice to know the sleeves are done already. The yarn is a merino cashmere blend, very soft for my prickle-sensitive girl, and it has been quite nice to have in hand. Knitting the body is just mindless and easy, very soothing. I made simple modifications to the sweater, adding part of the colorwork motif to the bottom of both sleeves and also the bottom of the body, as Philippa requested. I hope she loves it, she is notoriously disdainful of the sweaters I knit for her, but also always requests one. ūüôā Handknit socks, however, are definitely her jam.

I planned to do a lot of reading during our time away but vacations with small children are never quite as restful as one imagines. ūüôā I have been reading Boundaries, and while it’s not really super “fun” reading, it has been interesting and helpful. It has sparked a lot of good conversation between Brandon and I. Be that as it may, I’m needing some kind of fiction read on the go soon.

I’d love to hear what you are making or reading lately, if you care to share!

september orchards

It’s hard to believe I took these photos weeks ago now and have been meaning to share them here. Are our little days really so busy? But they are. Each new school year brings longer school days it seems, and more activities in the afternoons. Although I’m happy with the schedule and rhythm we have set up, it is a challenge making time to get on here and blog. Day’s end finds me exhausted as I crawl into bed, however a good and satisfied kind of tired it is.

Anyway, back to the belated photos. A few weeks ago Brandon’s parents came for the weekend to visit and we decided to take everyone to a local orchard. It was one of the first chilly days and we (happily!) pulled out our sweaters. We live in the heart of apple country with many orchards to choose from (though we wish there were more organic options). Hoping to avoid the crowds, we kept to the rows picking fruit rather than doing the other activities the orchard offers. It was a sweet time together, everyone becoming like children again hunting for apples without blemishes and filling up boxes and wagons with their finds. Walking amongst rows spiced with that particular sweet, musky scent of fallen and decomposing apple, everyone on a treasure hunt for hidden red and green baubles, one can’t help but feel rejuvenated and refreshed. We took home one small box and a few days later I washed and peeled them and made a delicious batch of applesauce, about the easiest thing you can do with fresh apples. Sweet memories were made and fall feelings began to warm our hearts . ‚̧

golden hour

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Rain is gently pattering on the metal roof on the sunroom adjacent to where I type and isn’t supposed to let up all day. ¬†One can hardly complain with the state of the west coast and how needed rain is there. ¬†Children are quietly (and not so quietly) working on the day’s schoolwork. ¬†Now they are off playing a game of hide and seek and screaming throughout the house. ¬†We are into our fifth week of school, hard to believe how quickly these first weeks have flown by. ¬†Overall it has gone very well so far, better than I expected. ¬†I began a more structured school day schedule for us last year and I’ve adapted it and solidified it more this year, and I think that’s really been essential for us. ¬†It’s good to be back in the flow. ¬†Be that as it may, there’s always a level of chaos amidst all the flurry of activity in the school room as I bounce between different children offering help. ¬†It does feel busier though with more on our plates, and even getting on the computer to share a blog post feels harder to do.

In the midst of all this constant rain, I’m looking back on the photos for this post. ¬†Labor day weekend we went for a picnic to Mt. Mitchell, which is relatively close to us and is the highest peak East of the Mississippi. ¬† I do so crave getting up high and seeing a beautiful view. ¬†We hiked the Deep Gap trailhead at Mt. Mitchell over to the first peak, Mount Craig, and enjoyed the stunning views from there. ¬†Wren would have hiked the whole way if we let her, such a little one but so strong and determined to keep up with everyone else. ¬†I think the last time I hiked to that peak was when Brandon and I went backpacking for a few days for our tenth anniversary. ¬†Then it was May: stormy, icy and with freezing wind. ¬†This time it was open, sunny, warm, and green. ¬†We were with my parents and brother’s family. ¬†After the brief hike we had our picnic dinner and watched the sunset. ¬†As you can see, the sunset and views and colors were just spectacular. ¬†Simple beauty, these old blue rolling mountains.

Then back home, back to the regular work of the week and of the season. ¬†The weather has cooled here ever so slightly, but I’m not sure the hot days are entirely behind us. ¬†I’m enjoying every bit of the cool weather that I can, however. ¬†Recently, I finished knitting a hansel hap with a kit of yarn Brandon and the kids gifted me for Mother’s Day last year. ¬†The yarn was Little Meadows yarn from Ginny Sheller + extra special and squishy. ¬†It was a relatively quick knit and so, so enjoyable. ¬†I modified the pattern just a bit, adding an extra repeat or so to make it bigger. ¬†I thought it may cause me to run out of yarn but I had plenty, and I’m so glad I did it as the size is perfect. ¬†I’ve already been reaching often for it on these early cool nearly-fall days.

Most days are just ordinary, mundane and full of the work that must be done. ¬†Then there are days where you escape to the mountain tops, picnic and spend time gathered with family. ¬†There are days when you harvest armfuls of zinnias and marvel that you grew these and then you trim them down to brighten up your September table. ¬†There are days you finish knitting a beautiful shawl with a bit of yarn you hoarded for as long as you could stand it. ¬†One foggy September morning you can finally wrap up in that cheerful woolly shawl. ¬†All so unexpected sometimes, the glory and the hardship, the peaks and the valleys, though they shouldn’t be. ¬†I’m grateful for the way the beautiful moments carry us through and feed our souls in a way, bright spots for bleaker days.

A Shawl for Adoption

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UPDATE:  Congratulations to Ginny Foreman for winning the raffle!

Well over a year ago now, my brother Peter and his wife AllieMarie announced that they would be adopting a child to grow their family. ¬†We have been so excited to support them in the journey however we can! ¬†Immediately the idea came to mind to knit an item to donate. ¬†Knitting for someone is one way I pour love out on that person. ¬†It was really special to knit on this shawl and be mindful + prayerful the whole time of this baby that is being prepared for my brother’s family and for us all to love on. ¬†It was also special to knit on it and wonder who will be wrapped in the warmth of this gift. ¬†I hope many of you are excited for the opportunity to donate toward Peter + AllieMarie’s adoption and also possibly win a beautiful shawl!

Most people know it is a challenging and lengthy process to adopt, and cost is so prohibitive for many. ¬†However, Peter and AllieMarie’s plans have been interrupted by various hardships including the pandemic which has also caused a strain on their employment. ¬†The setbacks are discouraging and frustrating, and I would love to encourage them in this season with a reminder that there is a community of folks standing alongside them and behind them, cheering them on. ¬†You can read more about their heart for adoption on their GoFundMe page.

Now, let’s talk about the prize! ¬†This shawl is knit in one of my favorite yarns to work with. ¬†It is a special blend of merino wool, llama, silk and linen. ¬†The shawl is very soft and lightweight, and all the eyelets of the shawl make it breathable and light also, as well as lend an elegance to the piece. ¬†I have knitted this shawl once before for myself and it is a good layer for the in-between seasons of spring and shawl when a light accessory is needed. ¬†I like to wear mine draped over my shoulders in the mornings and evenings often to warm against the chill of the day, or wear it wrapped around my neck as a scarf when going out. ¬† The color of this yarn is called “lady slipper” and I think the soft mauve brown is one of my favorite colors lately. ¬†It is very wearable in my opinion and pairs well with many things!

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As for cost, I spent about $30 on the yarn alone and many hours knitting the shawl.  It is quite difficult to price a hand knitted item because the cost of good materials plus all the time involved knitting is hard to place a value on.  All of that to say, your donation will be well worth the cost of the item!

So here’s how you can enter for a chance to win the shawl:

  1. ¬†Donate at least $10 to Peter + AllieMarie’s GoFundMe. ¬†Make your donation HERE. ¬†Every $10 donated will be worth one entry toward winning the shawl. ¬†Once you donate you will be emailed with a receipt. ¬†Hang onto that email, ¬†because if you win I will need you to email that receipt to me as verification of your donation.
  2. Come back to the this page to¬†use the Rafflecopter link below,¬†enter the amount you donated to enter the raffle for the shawl. ¬†First you login with either your email address or your Facebook profile.¬† The options within the widget after you login are Donate $10 for one chance, Donate $20 for two chances, Donate $30 for three chances, Donate $40 for four chances, and Donate $50 for five chances.¬† You can select a combination of entry options if you need to.¬† So for instance if you were to donate $60, you would choose the ‚ÄúDonate $10‚ÄĚ option along with the ‚ÄúDonate $50‚ÄĚ option.¬† Each option can only be selected once per day, so if you donate more than the total options available ($150 per day), you will need to come back the following day(s) and select the options necessary to add up to your total donation. ¬†If you have any issues or questions please email me at marthahkimball(at)gmail(dot)com.

**Because of the current pandemic and subsequent strain on the postal service, the raffle is open to US + Canada only.

ACCESS THE RAFFLECOPTER GIVEAWAY PAGE HERE.

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Please feel free to share this post to spread the word so we can raise as much as we can for the adoption. ¬†Also, feel free to visit Peter and AllieMarie’s adoption instagram account as well as their¬†GoFundMe.

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Good luck and thank you so much! ¬†I’m so excited to send this shawl off to one of you lovely folks soon!

xo
Martha

pumpkins in august

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Well, hello there! ¬†It has been at least two weeks that I’ve been trying to publish this post! ¬†Its not for lack of trying, but there just hasn’t been a spare moment. ¬†It has been a few weeks ago now that we harvested our pumpkins. ¬†I haven’t grown them before so I don’t know if we planted them too soon, planting them way back in April when we planted everything else. ¬†However, the pumpkins seemed ready, the vine had completely taken over that corner of our back yard and I was ready to pull it out and clean up the garden a bit. ¬†Philippa had requested planting pumpkins in the kids little garden box and she tended them carefully over the summer. ¬†She was delighted to harvest them. ¬†As it turns out, she grew exactly six healthy pumpkins, one for each of us. ¬†It really still amazes me the volume of life, plant matter, and abundance that came from one little pumpkin seed. ¬†A little bit of investment, a whole lot of yield. ¬†It’s God’s way. ¬†We may not always see it this side of heaven, but I believe it is His way, and why He asks us to faithfully steward what He gives.

So there are pumpkins in August lined up on our porch and I don’t know what to do with them yet being it is only just barely beginning to feel like autumn. ¬†The sun and humidity still blaze hot. ¬†I guess it really is possible for me to decorate with pumpkins too early. ¬†Now I know. ūüôā ¬†But we are trying to enjoy them just the same, and the kids are hoping they last until carving time in October. ¬†Doubtful, I know.

Last week we began our fifth year of homeschooling. ¬†What a marvel. ¬†I never imagined myself doing this, investing my life in this way, yet here I am. ¬†I really do love it so much. That is not to say that it doesn’t exhaust me entirely, keep me up at nights with anxiety, questions, uncertainty, or that I don’t fail terribly at it many days. ¬†It does do all of those things and I do fail at it terribly and often wonder if it just too large for me. ¬†Maybe one day it will be, and it will be time to shift into something else. ¬†Yet the reality is, it is truly too large for me and it requires dependence on the Lord and a whole lot of grace and sanctification. ¬†I resist that. ¬†I imagine that if it is God’s will for us than maybe it should feel easier or more natural than it does. ¬†Yet I’ve learned that God equips whom He calls, and not the other way around. ¬†I’ve learned that that equipping sometimes comes slow and daily, humbling me more than I’d like.

With each passing year I feel more sure of our approach to homeschooling, I seem to find my way and my confidence a little more. ¬†I am learning what everyone has always said, how valuable the relationship and connection is over simply plowing through material at all costs. ¬†I am learning to laugh and relax more, to set aside a lesson when there are tears of frustration, to make more time for play, wonder, discovery. ¬†I’m seeing the fruits of our labors and it is encouraging! ¬†I really hope it is our best year yet. ¬†Philippa has begun her first year, what a special milestone. ¬†She was overjoyed when some of her new books arrived and she counted down the days until the first day of school last Monday. ¬†She could hardly sleep the night before. ¬†She asks me for extra work every day and she can’t learn to read fast enough. ¬†I hope her zeal never diminishes, what a joy to have an eager student!

I also began weaning Wren this week and it has made me so much more emotional than I anticipated. ¬†I cried late in bed last night, remembering how these last ten+ years of almost constant pregnancy or breastfeeding have been the very sweetest years of my life, the work I knew I would love yet never dreamed I could enjoy as much as I have. ¬†To wean the little one that will probably be my last, to see my children growing out of the baby years and into the big kid years — it is beautiful but also I don’t want to see this season go. ¬†I know so many mothers cannot wait to progress and get beyond these little years, and I can understand. ¬†They have certainly had their challenges and they’ve taken a toll on my body. ¬†Yet they have been so very, very sweet. ¬†And I for one don’t want to let them go.

I was working in the garden the other day and thinking about how we don’t grow food as wisely as we could. ¬†We grow mainly for immediate use, we like to basically have our own little backyard grocery. ¬†We share the overabundance with others, I don’t preserve much of anything, really. ¬†Yet the wisdom in seasons is that one should grow in summer all that they will need in winter. ¬†Spring is for possibility, dreaming, beginning, preparing the soil and the elements for a yield. ¬†The summer time is the time for growing as much as possible for the winter months so that there will be food when the growing season is done. ¬†The winter is for enjoying the fruits of your summer work and resting from the weary toll of all the labor. ¬†The ground is iron, the cold makes most growing impossible. ¬†It is a metaphor for life and every year we are given a reminder in our seasons of what the trajectory of our life will be. ¬†Our youngest years, the preparing of the soil, the planting of the seeds. ¬†Our summer years — our middle years — are hopefully our most productive, our time to yield as much as possible and store up for the winter of our life. ¬†Winter will surely come, when our strength and resources wane. ¬†And these children are so precious, and I just want to give them everything I can, you know? ¬†All the summer yield to build them up, spur them out, shoot them out into the world to do mighty things. ¬†It’s all I want with my life, to be their biggest champion and advocate on this planet.

So the seasons shift again, ever so slightly. ¬†We ease slowly back into our structures, the anchors for our days rocking us back in their steady rhythm. ¬†We welcome pumpkins earlier than we’d like, we return to our homeschool co-op and savor gathering with friends to learn again, for however long we can. ¬†I end my days bone tired with a to-do list longer than I can ever conquer, work always brimming up and over, spilling into tomorrow. ¬†Such good, weary, long, hard, beautiful days.

Welcome with me our newest little 4th grader, 2nd grader, Kindergartener, and littlest mischief-maker sidekick.  If you have children in your life who are in the school years, I pray a special blessing over them right now.  May we do our best for our children this year and every year.

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yarn along

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Just popping in here briefly to share the progress on my hansel hap shawl! ¬†I flew through the colorful portion and am now working on the edging. ¬†It is much slower going but I have so, so loved working on this project! ¬†I don’t want to rush it but I also can already imagine wrapping up in it often as the weather cools. ¬†Oh, to think of that–the weather cooling. ¬†We’ve reached that time of year and heat when I can hardly imagine the need for bundling up and waking up to a chilly house and the need to light the fire.

I should mention the yarn was a kit for this shawl which Brandon gifted me for Mother’s Day 2019, purchased from Ginny’s etsy shop. ¬†Ginny’s yarn is something special! ¬†I was worried I would run out but even though I modified the pattern to extend the size, I still have had enough yarn so far.

Still reading Home, enjoying it a bit more as I get deeper into it.

Joining Nicole’s weekly Crafting On.

yarn along

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Slowly, slowly through the book Home. ¬†I can barely read a few pages after crawling into bed at night before my eyes are too heavy. ¬†Maybe I’ve been having a little trouble getting into it but I’m not far enough in yet and I bet that’s why. ¬†I’ve begun the practice of beginning my morning quiet time with the lighting of a candle as I read and pray. ¬†It has become a tangible reminder to me that I’m meeting with God of very God and it has been so sweet.

I finally cast on a Hansel hap (half version) with a shawl kit I purchased from Ginny over a year ago. ¬†I’ve been sort of saving the yarn and also trying to work through projects I needed to finish first. ¬†Now is the time to knit it! ¬†I am enjoying the yarn so very much already, rambouillet is one of my very favorite fibers to work with. ¬†It is so bouncy and soft! ¬†I am following another knitter’s notes for making the shawl a bit bigger and I’ve calculated and I should have *just* enough yarn to do so, but it will be cutting it really close.

Oh friends, these simple joys (knitting, reading) seem so small and insignificant in the face of so much pain, suffering, uncertainty, and need in the world at large and in our own homes today. ¬†Yet I hold firmly to the reality that the places where we can find and make beauty are places where light breaks in the dark, where we remember that all is well, all shall be well. ¬†We create in the image of our Creator God who also loves to make, who continues to make all things new. ¬†We read good stories and the ultimate Story to find our place in the world, to remember both our humanity and the fact that Jesus Christ came in human form, and continues to choose to work in cooperation with and through human kind. ¬†These simple good things can ground us, inspire us, encourage us, and bring a little joy along the way. ¬†I hope you make time for some creativity and for reading good, nourishing books. ¬†Share with me what you’re up to, if you want!

Joining with Ginny’s Yarn Along and Nicole’s weekly Crafting On.
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pickles, flowers, birds, and a schoolroom update

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It never fails to surprise me how quickly the summer weeks go by. ¬†It seems we barely have anything going on, this year especially, and yet somehow it feels full and busy. ¬†Then all of a sudden it’s August and we are nearly ready to begin another school year. ¬†It may have something to do with the fact that I put off a lot of bigger projects until the bigger breaks (Christmas and summer) and then suddenly I feel like I have a small window to get a lot of things done. ¬†I want to clean and tidy and reorganize all the chaos that has spilled out over the last several months, but attempting to do so with four children underfoot is challenging and feels like an exercise in futility. ¬†I realized this summer that since we will be adding another student this fall (yay, Philippa!) I need a bigger work space to gather children around and sit by them to assist. ¬†I have been cramming myself into a kiddie chair at a very small kiddie table for the last year when I’ve worked with Noah and it finally dawned on me that this wasn’t going to work any longer. ¬†Praise the Lord. ¬†Environment does make such a difference.

So with some moving around of furniture that we already had and buying a few new items to spruce up our school room, we’ve slowly been making changes over the summer. ¬†After three years of living in this house and the prior owners leaving the wood windows half painted in the schoolroom, we finally painted them and the laundry room door also. ¬†It is amazing how something so small makes such a nice difference! ¬†It just looks tidier. ¬†We were given a couple of old hutches and I decided to use one in the school room as a homeschool cabinet. ¬†I will probably paint it in the future, but I do like the original wood. ¬†We’ve been filling the glass top part of it with nature finds that we’ve been saving. ¬†The bottom part will hold puzzles, manipulatives, books, and whatever else we need to keep organized in there. ¬†Brandon put better lighting in also (can lights) because this room is the darkest in the house and that doesn’t make for a great school space. ¬†It has been fun to focus on just one room and make it suited to our needs. ¬†It’s amazing how the kids are drawn more to this space now and I think it is going to work better for us this school year. ¬†I used to spread out and do school at the kitchen table or in the living room, and we still do that for some subjects. ¬†But it has made a big difference for us to work in a dedicated space and keep all of our supplies handy. ¬†It makes it easier for me to grab what we need and helps everyone’s attention spans.

Meanwhile, the garden has been growing, growing. ¬†I’ve neglected weeding it for the past couple of weeks with the high heat, humidity, and the more pressing projects in the house sorting curriculum, planning, and reorganizing. ¬†It’s a bit wild out there now as one can only expect it to be come August. ¬†Our cucumbers continue to abound so I made a batch of refrigerator pickles using this recipe. ¬†(I didn’t use as much sugar and used more peppercorn and mustard seed.) ¬†So good and easy. ¬†We are able to share a lot of what we grow with others and that is always a joy. ¬†I’m thankful for all the flowers, enjoying watching them bloom and cutting some to bring indoors. ¬†Noah has been obsessed with drawing birds from this atlas, he has done at least twenty different drawings by now and they’re really good. ¬†He told me tonight that he wants to set up a stand tomorrow by the road and sell them.

The kids seem relatively happy but I wonder how all of these changes in our world are affecting them. ¬†Noah said at dinner tonight that he wondered when the virus would be over and all the stores could open up again. ¬†I realize we forget to tell them some of the updates happening, that many places are open again but there are still restrictions in place. ¬†Still, it doesn’t feel “normal” to them yet and it’s uncertain for all of us what normal will be from here on out. ¬†Our homeschool co-op will begin in a few weeks, it is a very small group and we are able to continue meeting. ¬†Hopefully that will restore a bit of normalcy for them, but who knows what this fall and winter season will hold?

Some “before” shots of our school room:

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In progress:

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Current iteration:

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I will share a few more photos maybe as I finish up in there. ¬†I am still organizing the shelves and my desk area. ¬†Little bits of work in little chunks of time. ¬†I hope in the next few weeks we are well prepared for a new and maybe altogether different school year. ¬†I’m beginning to feel excited about it.

 

 

 

yarn along

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Another week gone by. ¬†The crepe myrtle are in full bloom, the heat and humidity also. ¬†How about where you are in the world? ¬†I bound off the antarktis shawl that I’ve had on the needles for over a year! ¬†It feels really good to finish it. ¬†I’m also very nearly done with this tegna, a top I’m knitting as a commissioned project for my friend Jessica. ¬†On Sunday I finished shaping the shoulders, seamed them together, picked up and knit the neckline, then cast on the first sleeve. ¬†That was a lot for one day! ¬†I am eager to work on my fleuriste cardigan but I’ve realized I’ve been knitting the wrong chart for the last 11 rows or so and I’ve got to figure out how to rip back and fix it. ¬†I think I know what I’m going to do but it will require a good chunk of uninterrupted time to concentrate on it, and I just don’t have very much of that these days. ¬†I’m eager to cast on another summery top i think for myself soon, and that may override my desire to fix my mistake on the fleuriste! ¬†We shall see.

I’m still reading Home, though ever so slowly. ¬†The children and I have been reading Tuck Everlasting after Ginny recommended it a little bit ago. ¬†We are all really enjoying it. ¬†The chapters are mercifully short which is good for the evenings when I don’t have much energy left for a read-aloud. ¬†They always beg me to keep reading.

joining Nicole’s weekly Crafting On.
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yarn along

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One constant in these strange days has been knitting. ¬†Of course there have been some days that I haven’t felt up to it, or that it’s required more brain energy than I have. ¬†More often it is a comfort and a happy distraction at day’s end. ¬†I always have a few projects in the works that I’m actively working on. ¬†After a very long hiatus (nearly a year?) I’ve picked back up this Antarktis shawl to knit on and finish up. ¬†It is nearly done, only needing the last lace section or so before binding off. ¬†I made it larger than the pattern called for so I’m just improvising pattern repeats at this point and I like how it’s turning out. ¬†This yarn is one of my very favorites to work with and this color is truly enchanting and lovely. ¬†I can’t wait to see it when it’s done, it will be beautiful. ¬†My plans and hopes for this shawl were to knit it to sell/raffle off to help raise money for my brother and sister-in-law’s adoption, and I still hope to do so! ¬†I’ll share more about that soon.

I’ve been reading Home after finishing¬†Gilead recently. ¬†I’m just a few pages in, enjoying it as before bed reading.

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