Saturday, October 07, 2017

Well, THIS is Awesome...

...not... 

Lucky me, I seem to have started on the next phase of "the change." Night sweats. Yeah. Fun. Last night, I don't think I actually slept till about 1 a.m. or so. And I woke up soaking wet. 

Now I know what mom was talking about. I need to work on some techniques to quell the hot flashes, since they've been getting pretty horrid. So, I'm a year out from the beginning of menopause. I've had hot flashes off and on, but now they're coming daily - I sat and counted one morning, and in the space of 2 hours, I had something like 8 "flashes." They don't last long, you know. But it feels like they last forever! 

The definition of "menopause" means 12 consecutive months without a period. I've done that time, and it's been another year. So...24 months down. What the heck?

Perhaps meditation and some breathing techniques? Definitely not going the HRT route. No interest in that. But I thought I was sailing along kind of nicely. 

Then this. Urgh. 

Oh, the Danskos... Nobody showed up for my a.m. garden yoga class. I wasn't sure, honestly, if anyone would. 

See, it rained like crazy yesterday afternoon and through the night. The area where we practice is kind of low, and sometimes, it can be a little "swampy." I didn't cancel the class because the rain today was going to happen (and did) in the afternoon. So I did dither. I was thinking about how wet it might be. I was wondering if anyone would think to come out. Would they think, "Oh, it's October, so we're done" even though I hadn't put anything out on the website or social media? Would we have new folks since we did the demonstration last week at the Fall Fest? Maybe new folks would come out to see for themselves... Or maybe they wouldn't and it would be too cold, or too wet, or the area we're in would be mushy and muddy... 

But I figured I needed to be there. I'm 5 minutes away anyhow. It was a gorgeous morning, albeit a bit cloudy. You could tell that rain was moving in, but it was a bit breezy and it wasn't humid at all. 

As I was waiting, I wandered in the space and took some pics. The fall colors obviously haven't peaked yet, and I'm not sure how or if they will. Fall is tricksy, you know...(Hobbit reference) Sometimes, when you least expect it, there's an extravaganza of color. 

And other times? Not. 

Anyway, as I was wandering, I thought, "Heck, I'm wearing fall colors! 

The Fields is going to be open through Thanksgiving, but they're beginning their "closing up shop" maintenance in terms of dismantling the larger fountains and cleaning them up, shutting off the smaller ones, trimming up the more "tropical" plants, like some of the large potted ferns...that kind of thing. Mums are all over the place, and the breeze was whipping the water in the fountains that were still running (click on this picture, and you should see it). The large grasses are turning gold and the sedum is getting red. 

You can see that Autumn is progressing and while many people think of this season as one of "dying," I actually think of it as a beginning. 

Think about it. In the spring and summer, the trees are green. But in the fall, they're brilliantly colored. This seems to me to be the true nature of the tree: to be colorful. To give us something to look at while the time changes, and the days get shorter. To give us beauty before the long winter season. 

So that's my take on Fall. With the brightly colored Danskos as comic relief. 


Knitting...

So the other sock of the self-patterning Plain Vanilla ones is in the works. I closed the gusset and I'm about 5.5" on the foot. I have to get to 7" to start the toe decreases, so I think in a week or so, I'll have a pair. I've got to grab the next bag out of the "Twelve Months of Socks" that I started what? THREE years ago? I think this will be the 3rd or 4th pair of that 12-pair journey. 

I'm not sure what I'll pick out next. Hubby did the bags. So I'll see what happens, and go from there in regard to pattern. 

I'm still working on the shawl; haven't touched the February Lady Sweater recently. I really should get back to that soon, since I wanted to wear it. 

I was wondering about starting some wash cloths for my yoga teachers - not sure if there's enough time for them to be done for Christmas. I'm a little stumped as to what to do for them for Christmas. I would normally just bake, but too many of them are gluten or sugar-free (which isn't a bad thing; just puts a crimp in a baker's style for the holiday!). 

I do have a problem though. It's the SSK. I'm really having a time with it. For the past few pairs of socks, the SSK decrease has left me with "loops" along the one side. The K2tog side is nice and crisp. But the other side has these little things that look loose to me. (You may have to click on the picture. I can see it, but to me it's glaringly obvious!)

I tried to slip the first stitch knit-wise, second stitch purlwise. Then I tried slipping both of them knitwise. I can't seem to figure out how to do it, and honestly, when I've checked YouTube, I get seven zillion opinions. 

Sock knitting is like that. Want to start a war? Walk into a room of sock knitters and say something like, "Magic Loop is stupid." Or "why do you even bother with toe up construction?" You'll be skewered. 

As a matter of fact, on a FB page, someone complained that they were "not treated nicely" by someone who commented on a post. Well, knitters have opinions, and sharp sticks! Seriously, if you're going to ask an opinion on social media, you really do have to have a little bit of a thick skin. You can't hear "tone" - any more than you can hear my tone, though if you've read this blog long enough, you can kind of hear my voice. 

So, if someone gives you an opinion, you may take it as "snotty" or "condescending" because you can't see or hear the person. But I'd still be careful with those of us who play with sticks and string! 

Anyway - anyone that has an opinion on my SSK problem, I'd be glad to try it on the next pair of socks. 

And I'll let you know about the decision on the dishcloths. 


Young Living...

So today I had another essential oils class. I had a lot of fun with the group that showed up. And you know - if you can't get to me, I can come to you! I put on this big thing at the studio because I have room. But I can help with your discovery of the best essential oils on the planet - in the comfort of your own living room! 

I've been working on building the business here, and I think it's a good company to align with. The Seed-to-Seal policy the company abides by is what differentiates it from the other oil companies. And I like having access to science - that's important to me. 

When I was looking to get into oils, I did do the "grocery store" oils. But after doing the research, I've begun to see the difference. Oil that's 100% oil - that's so much more healthy than oil that's part carrier oil. 

I've "ditched and switched" for the most part. I don't use candles in the house (unless the power is out - we keep a box of tapers around just in case, and we have several flashlights). I don't use those scent thingies you put in your outlets. I went through my personal care products and whittled everything out that had stuff in it that was potentially irritating my skin. 

I mean, I'm no purist. I kept the perfume that Hubby gave me. And there's a facial wash I'm partial to that doesn't irritate my skin. That being said, I was having some issues as I went through menopause where my system was apparently changing. I find that I'm more sensitive. 

Either that, or as we get older, we do become a bit "overrun" with toxins. So making this change has been something positive. I want people to understand that this isn't "the latest fad." These oils have been around since ancient times. The pendulum seems to be swinging back. Not that I'm giving up on medicine. 

I'm not crazy. 

I'm trying to attune myself to what my body needs and trying to cut the toxic load on my body. And I can help you do the same. We don't even have to be in the same city or state. Let me know. 

Random Picture...

I was nominated for the "7 day black & white challenge" on Facebook - which I'm sure you've seen. It's a nice change from some of the garbage, right? 

What I did was pull 7 different pictures. It's your life in black & white, so I thought I'd dig around and see what I thought would work. 

I really want to talk about the latest tweets from the twit, but I also want to get some sleep tonight, so this picture came to my mind as something that's beautiful and worth talking about. At least before World War 3 gets started...

This is the pediment from the Customs House building in Charleston, South Carolina. Kid #2 was big into Nathaniel Hawthorne the year my mom and I took that trip, and if you recall your "Scarlet Letter," you remember that in the beginning of the book, there's this whole thing about the Customs House. 

Well, the one in Charleston was quite grand. And I had to grab this shot. I used the "real" camera, and this is the B&W version. That being said, it was a grey-ish day that day, and the pediment was white, as was the pillar, as was the fascia on the overhang... So the "color" version of this one is quite similar. 

Actually, the B&W one brings out more detail. And as usual, click on the picture to get more of a peek at it. I can't for the life of me figure out what those wires are that encircle the acanthus leaves. Any ideas? 


Thursday, October 05, 2017

Just Pictures...

I had a zillion things in my mind. Then Vegas. Then the Mango Moron tossing paper towels like he was slinging t-shirts at a ballgame. Then overwhelm from having to be at all 3 jobs in one day (which is my usual Thursday, but today it hit me for some reason).

So. Pictures. 

Black-and-white week...a 7-day challenge on Facebook. This is one of my favorites and it was a favorite in color, too. Taken a few years back, when the glass birdbaths were new and the solar bubbler worked. We put the birdbath under the tree (which, three years ago, didn't take up half the front yard). The tree kept the water cooler for the birds, and we were able to string the solar panel out into the front flower garden. Now, that flower garden is full of native plants, and the tree has taken over most of that side of the front lawn. No solar panel is going to work while that maple is alive. But I wouldn't trade the tree. Well -- MAYBE... I'd love a fountain in the front yard. 

The studio is ready for fall. I removed the African Violets, all of which need re-potting. I did actually repot the orchid I purchased, and I have to get that back to the studio this week, before the weather turns to crap. (Oh joy... as I try to space this, the website is acting flaky, much like my Pandora tonight in class...) So I needed something on the little 3-part table. Mini-pumpkins, a goose-neck gourd and a ghost pumpkin fill the bill. It all kind of goes with the salt lamp. Oh, and there's a little bumpy gourd in there, too. I have to get The Great Pumpkin out on the porch this weekend. Hubby and I have both been in a slump for a few years now, and if we manage a few "garden flags" that are Halloween-ish and getting the big plastic pumpkin out there? We call it a day. I have ghosts, skeletons, etc. And I haven't got the energy to fiddle with them. If it's half-way decent this weekend, I may get some lawn stakes in the ground. Not sure about the ghosts though. And those are the ones I can easily reach in the basement!

(Ok, now I see... when I load the pictures first, the spacing goes wonky!! I knew that. Really, I did. So this time, you have to put up with chunky paragraphs. My apologies.)

The shawl... continues to grow. I shouldn't knit on it when I'm tired. I've been tired this week, and I can't figure out why. It's nothing medical, I'm sure. The hematologist said my numbers were a little low, but then again -- on the "orthodontic diet" I haven't been eating a lot of protein. So maybe things are catching up and I'm finding that juggling isn't my forte. It is what it is. I'll bounce back like a weeble. I usually do. After a few days of snappishness I'll be ok. Anyway, what ended up happening is that I bound off the 8 stitches on the wrong side. So unpicking a whack of bound off stitches was not cool. I did it. I didn't give myself a heart attack, but it was close. I had to lift stitches off the needle, hold them so that it wouldn't ravel, and then get the stitches back on in the right order. I'm sure I've got a few twisted, but I can fix a twisted stitch easily. This weekend, I want to pursue a sock so I can feel like I'm not wallowing in one project. 

That being said (yay, normal spacing!), I'm actually already at the half-way point of the 14-times repeat of rows 3 - 12. So I'm sort of half-way done? Ish? I'm still having a tiny concept problem as to how this comes back to a narrow end. I can't quite get it in my head. I love schematics. I miss schematics. 

The other thing I love is old books. So at church today -- well, in the church office, I'm working on a project. I saw these books and I took a picture which I posted on Instagram (find me there at perrierpat). The smallest of the books here, called "Key to Heaven" is from 1907. I took a shot of the inscriptions on the two oldest ones. To the left here, the oldest one is the tiny one in the bottom left corner of the picture. I also found the other inscription on the book in the upper right, which is a prayer book. That one actually looks to have two inscriptions and I have to study it a little more to see if it's really two different owners, or maybe 3. The name on the cover is one thing, and the top inscription is from 1946. The second, in similar but "not quite" handwriting, is 10 years older. Two different inks, which is not a big deal. But the handwriting isn't quite right, if it's the same woman's prayer book. 

Either way, I'm rather fascinated at how they came to be in the library of a church in Lockport, Illinois,which doesn't seem to follow if you look at the first inscription. Both inscriptions appear to be made by the book's owner(s) since they say "presented to me." I'll have to ask one of our long-term members if she remembers a family by the name on the front of the book. Perhaps she can explain the double inscriptions. Either way, all the books are lovely and I have them in the church office. We're setting up for a rummage sale, and the library area will be cleared out. I don't want these beauties to be mistaken for "books for sale." If I have to stash them in a cabinet, I'm cool with that. I do know that we get a lot of folks coming around for that rummage sale, so I may have to poke around myself. Seems Kid #2 wants a particular book for Christmas. I'm about 99.99999% sure I won't find it at the church rummage sale. 

I'll have to go to my "secret source," Abe Books out of New York. I found one for him last year and I swear he wanted to cry, but wanted to be "manly." 

Across the parking lot, there's a Methodist church. The steeple was very pretty today. The sun hit it just right. The air was clear. The sky was blue. The clouds were light. The copper on the roof reflected the sunlight in a gorgeous burst of color. That copper contrasted strongly with the white clapboards on the steeple, the steel of the cross and the red brick of the rest of the building. Our chapel has a more modest cross, and it's a little more low-slung. That being said, our building is almost 180 years old... And it had already burned to the ground once. So I'll take it. Speaking of which, as I was in the church today, God and the ghosts were a little cranky. The church is haunted. I truly believe that. I've never seen anything, but I was in there today to drop off bulletins, and someone walked up the aisle. And I was the only one in the church at the time. I was looking for the water for the plants, and heard the boards creak. I stepped out of the sacristy and basically said, "If you're coming out here, please help me find the jug of water!" After that, I was able to find it. I wonder who it was that was visiting...

I saw these two beauties (I jest. I jest.) on my drive to job #2... On the same truck. There was another one on the back window, but the guy had a very strange cab on his truck bed and I couldn't see it clearly. Of course, I had to follow him nearly all the way to the office. Funny, him having those bumper stickers and shopping at the Aldi -- which is, of course, a German grocery store. I guess that's proof that you really CAN'T tell who's who. I remember thinking, "So your president is a cold dead body?" And funny enough, the "liberal" media? Ha. Don't even. The largest media company is owned by a conservative. I'm afraid it's not very kind of me, but I will judge you on your bumper stickers. 

...and tonight there's a Harvest Moon. Of course, this is all off my phone. I really have to start hauling my camera! It looked like the Man in the Moon had a moustache the way the clouds were blowing over. It's supposed to rain Friday through Sunday. Heaven only knows if we'll have garden yoga. 

Reminds me of the Canticle of St. Francis, which is appropriate since his feast day is ... now-ish, I think! St. Francis called them Brother Sun and Sister Moon. Sister Moon tonight? She's a beauty. Doesn't have to be a big huge moon - and often, those are so low on the horizon, we can't see them anyway. I like this one. This is over the cemetery. If it holds out, maybe I can get the camera out and get some decent shots of it. 










Friday, September 29, 2017

It's Not That Hard...

...or at least that's what I thought. 

I'm within a week or so of my (hopefully) last hematologist visit. A couple years ago, I finally admitted - or was forced to admit - that I was anemic. My GP had been telling me for years that I "didn't store iron." But it took my cardiologist to whomp me alongside the head - and almost refuse to do my PVI procedure, to tell me that, guess what? "Not storing iron" = anemia. He was madder than a wet hen that my GP essentially let my iron levels get to somewhere around a 5... They transfuse you at 4. 

So I had iron infusions over 6 weeks. Looked like they were pumping in prune juice, to be honest. And my levels gradually increased to about 12-ish. And they've stayed. 

That's not the problem. The problem is, the last 3 times I've visited "Dr. Blood," I've had to have blood drawn. And I go downstairs to the hospital. And they never have the order. In spite of my telling Dr. Blood's staff that I was going to go to the hospital's lab to have it done... 

This time, I was busy, and was impatient. Finally, after the really nice registration clerk couldn't get the order faxed over (from 1 floor up...), I trotted over to Dr. Blood's office and kindly but firmly asked them to "go old school" and hand me the piece of paper... which they did. Trotted back. Got stuck into a room. And sat for another 10 minutes... 


Good thing they weren't taking my blood pressure... Anyway, this nice lady walks in. I have stunning veins. Every nurse I know says so, and you can see them eyeballing my hands and inner elbows, thinking, "I want to sink a needle in there!" 

This lady did the usual prep, and then said, "Little pinch" like they always do. But there was no pinch... She'd pressed down on my upper arm, right above the vein, and I didn't even feel it. 

And better yet? No bruising. None. Nothing. You can barely see the needle poke. I'm on blood thinners, and I bruise when someone looks askance at me. It's insane. I come up with bruises where I don't even remember knocking the limb against anything. I pretty much take it in stride, and laugh it off. So when I get blood taken, I do bruise up nicely. It's pretty spectacular, if I do say so. But this? Hasn't happened in decades... 

She was amazing. I think I've found my personal phlebotomist... 

It's A Book...

As many of you may remember, I did the internship for elephant journal (yes, it's not capitalized). I met -- well, "met" -- a lot of great people. One of them - I can't even explain, but we click. 

We've chatted; we've kvetched. We've compared stories, trials and tribulations. It's just one of those things that happens online. You just click - there's no other word for it. 

She's written a book! I have a copy and I can't wait to dive into it. 

Our diets are closely linked to our health, both mentally and physically. Our bodies hold toxins - actually, they're held in the fat cells. And it's tough to get rid of those little buggers. Some estimates say that a larger and larger percentage of people will be diagnosed with dementia and Alzheimer's disease. Well - if you could "clean up" your diet and make sure that you are as healthy as you can be, wouldn't you do so?

I'm going to see about working some of these recipes into the rotation. Exercise and eating right - won't keep us alive forever, but if we can have a good quality of life, then we can live it to the fullest. 

Knitting...

Busy, busy, busy... started working on Christmas music, and then after the guitar lesson, I picked up Close to You again. As you can see, we're plugging along. I'm supposed to have 32" needles, but these are 29". I'm hoping I can fudge them and just keep on knitting. 

Chandi's has a great "hurricane sale" selection and I may have to get a couple more hanks to create a few more of these. Or some variation of a beautiful shawl with sock yarn.

Tomorrow, I'm attending a Fall Fest; doing 2 yoga demonstrations (for which I hope students actually show up!), and I'll be bringing knitting along. I'm not sure if I'm even going to have a table or chair to sit in between sessions, but if not, I'm bringing a small folding table and a lawn chair. And I'll bring one of the socks to work on. 

So either (a) I'll have somewhere to sit and chat with people about the yoga studio, or (b) I can go home. But if it's (a), then KIP (Knitting in Public) is a great conversation starter. And socks are usually right up there at the top of the list! I can bring this project, too - we'll see. 

Cubs...

Clinched again! And I'm having a bit of a concept problem with someone I know. This person is a die-hard White Sox fan. I mean, if you cut into this person, likely the blood would be black-and-white. And the devotion to the team is high. Extremely high. 

On Facebook, this person is pretty derogatory about the Cubs. I mean, I don't like the Sox, but in the scheme of things? It's baseball. It's guys running around, getting paid a boatload of money to play a game. With everything else going on, lighten up a bit, right?

Anyway, the Facebook post was kind of... Well, no. Not "kind of." It was DEFINITELY nasty. I'm not sure how to handle it and am tempted to give it the attention it deserves: by ignoring it. 

My issue is that of course it's just baseball, as I stated above. But also - I know the depth of the fandom. And in the larger picture? I can ignore it and live my life. But I find my respect for this person ever-so-slightly diminished. 

Is that petty? 

Mouse In the House...


As I sat waiting for my teacher to show up for my guitar lesson, I noticed the ceiling tile... Tell me what you see... 

I thought it was kind of funny, and so did my teacher. Apparently, this tile had showed up in a classroom. It got moved. Then it was in a hallway. It got moved. Now it's outside his studio. I wonder how long it'll stay there!

In another bit of absolutely random news, my favorite mug sprung a leak. Hubby put the kettle on for me, and had put out a "breakfast" sized mug. Well heck... with THAT much tea, I'd be up all night in the bathroom! So I switched it out for my "Keep Calm and Just Breathe" mug. It was a gift from one of my teachers, and of course, my studio is Just Breathe Yoga Studio... I went in to get the tea, and there's tea...all over the counter! 

Oddly enough, it was cracked in the middle. I have no idea how it happened. I guess I could've repurposed it for a pen cup, but I have far too much "stuff." So I tossed it. And immediately went on Zazzle to order a new one. First World problem, right?

Random Picture...

Dug into the archives for this one. This was the last trip I took with my mom. She's doing well - she hit 80 and we're taking her to the theater in a few weeks. But she's not a traveler much anymore. 

This is outside Pigeon Forge, TN. It's a "modern Mount Rushmore" by the Dollywood theme park. Left to right, just in case you're not sure what you're really looking at: John Wayne, Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe and Charlie Chaplin. 

I guess the only thing you can say is that a woman finally made it onto Mount Rushmore... 









Tuesday, September 26, 2017

A Minute and a Half...

...till the brown rice is done. Lest you think I'm eating dinner at nearly 10 p.m. CST, ha -- I'm actually (dare I say it) GETTING AHEAD and making some brown rice for tomorrow's lunch. 

I've tried these bag thingies, and so far, everything has been ok. I mean, I can pronounce all the stuff in the bag and on the ingredient list, so there's that. And they take pretty much a minute. And I can fit them in my little dark blue Thermos for lunch. I usually try to follow the package directions to serve them with a starch, like a pasta, rice or quinoa. 

I'm not a huge fan of white rice. For one, arsenic -- and yeah, I do eat a LOT of rice. For another, I just prefer the "fullness" of the brown rice, and I do buy organic as much as I can. 

This packet is different from what I usually get. I really like the spinach dal, but I thought I'd try this. I've been trying to get more organized and get things prepared in the p.m. the night before. 

Since I'm part of the "part-time brigade" lately, I'm keeping lots of balls in the air. Which is cool. In a strange way, this has brought me more balance. I know I have to be somewhere at a certain time, and I can walk away. 

Anyway, I've got my bag ready, and will have my lunch mostly ready. All I have to do is heat the pouch up in the morning and put it on top of the microwaved rice and there you have it. 

Lunch.

Breakfast is a yogurt smoothie, or a protein shake. Meds and supplements are already in my purse. Newest copy of "The Sun" magazine is in the bag, knitting is next to my purse. Ahhhhhhhhhhhh. 

Knitting...

Speaking of which... Not much to show you. One more point on the shawl, but nothing else happening. I'm still drooling over the various lace shawls, and still working on the Sole-to-Sole and the blue self-patterning one. I'm bringing the Sole-to-Sole to work, and trying to get a few rows on it here and there. I do have to buckle down and get that self-patterning one done. I mean, really - I'm close to finishing the gusset decrease - two rows or so. And then I can start on the foot. 

And I want to start some Christmas knitting. I know - not sure how all that's going to shake out, but I'm going to try for a couple of hats and perhaps another Close to You shawl, if I can move along on this one. I was buzzing like crazy, but then other stuff came up. 

I really should have been practicing tonight - I have O Sanctissima to learn to finger-pick, but again - tonight. Things took over. 

Anyway, I'm going to get back to the shawl in a few moments - at least to get half way through to the next point. 

I got the latest issue of Creative Knitting, and I'm intrigued by two pullovers and a pair of wristlets. But the remainder of the issue is consumed with "Cables on the Catwalk" and I've decided that you have to be the size of a toothpick to wear cables the size they've created in a few of those sweaters. 

Someone my size (and I'm not huge, but I'm not tiny)? I'd look like a lumpy package in a sweater that's entirely cabled. 

So. Will look again at one of the pullovers and see if I'm brave enough to do the asymmetrical front. It's a little scoop up at the front hem, and I'm not sure about it. I kind of like straight lines. Especially since I don't want to emphasize my stomach in the first place... 

Coloring...

I had to grab a couple of jump drives for some files I'm toting around. The one jump drive I was given was starting to read "corrupted" or "files need to be fixed" --both of which are a sure sign that the drive is about ready to crap out. So I transferred the files to my laptop (note to self: have Hubby back this thing up tomorrow!!), and got these cute little jump drives. 

Yes, they're meant to be colored on. So I did! One of them holds files related to some work I'm doing for my church, and the other holds stuff regarding my Young Living business. I thought they were cute. 

And I can certainly find them in the bottom of my bag! Speaking of which, I also bought two new backpacks. 

I got a bright pink one for Tippi's therapy stuff. I had a "diaper bag" kind of bag, but since she's rather taken with the idea that I should actually lift her robust self into my truck, the "diaper bag" slung over my shoulder is a bit awkward. Her color is pink, so this works. 

The other one replaces a large open tote I use for my music; and it's a dark periwinkle. Both are Jansport bags, both at 50% off (yes!!) and both should last for a good long while. 

Random Picture...

Well, thought a throw-back would be good. I've been too busy to get many pics taken lately, and it's been beastly hot. Fall has taken its time, and summer has decided on a last gasp. 

This is from Florida a few years ago, when my friend Alice and I attended a conference. I loved the bright pink and I couldn't resist. we see hibiscus here, but unless you've got a 3-season room or a closed-in porch, they don't last. 

I wonder how the resort is doing. Florida is struggling. 

But nothing like Puerto Rico. Hopefully the Dotard will get his act together, realize that PR is NOT in the ocean (Caribbean Sea, actually) and our government will stop trying to kill us all off or start World War 3 - and get those folks, you know - the American territory we have - some help. The help they desperately need. 

Stop tweeting and start presidenting.



Friday, September 22, 2017

It Got Me Thinking...

...a phone call I had today with a researcher. Not one of those, "We'd like to ask you a few questions about dish detergent" researcher. But someone from a writer's group who asked for some volunteers for a project she's working on. 

She's a "confidence coach," and was working with women, mostly entrepreneurs, to enable them to grow personally as well as professionally. 

She said to me, "You sound quite confident and balanced."

Well. Let's just say I fake it well. Because it got me to thinking. AM I as confident as I project? Some days, I don't feel it. Some days, I've got the world by the tail. MOST days? I don't feel it. I feel like I'm faking my way through it. 

I'm confident in most decisions I make, in regard to the studio, at least. And I'm confident - for the most part - in the personal decisions I make. But I think -- particularly since I'm staring 60 in the face -- that I am re-evaluating a lot of things. I'm re-evaluating what I'm choosing. What I've chosen. And where I want to go and who I want to be. 

None of this is strange. I think there are landmark birthdays where you really get set back on your heels and you have to come to full stop and think a moment or two. For me, 30 was a piffle. However, 35 hit me hard. Forty was another piffle. I saw 50 as "finally grown up." But 60? I'm not sure how I feel about that number. 

I'm not buying the "60 is the new 40" crap. Because that's a tale we tell ourselves. It's a lot like the "prosperity gospel" stuff that the televangelists preach. The only "prosperity" is theirs because you're foolish enough to send them your hard-earned money. 

Yes, I believe that you should seek out positivity. But reality is a nice place to live. Not "reality" as in "reality TV" or... the current state of the White House and the Occupant... But "reality" as in, "Let's be realistic and look at both the profits and the pitfalls of what we're thinking about here. How do we best accomplish the task or the plan that we're looking at?" 

I have a sock yarn called "Unicorn Farts." It's a fun name. It's not the nature of the world. We're not here to believe strictly in daisies, buttercups, unicorn farts, and fairies. 

Yes, it's a big, beautiful, wonderful and wonder-filled world. It's also a world where animals are abused; kids are abused; women are abused; the planet is having a major meteorological hissy fit; two crazy man-boys are pushing us to the brink of World War III. "Thoughts and prayers" only go so far. 

Reality means we get down to brass tacks and become activists and advocates for the change we want to see. However that shapes up for us, getting on the phone, writing letters, standing for something and DOING something? Much better than daisies, buttercups, unicorn farts, and fairies. 

Autumn...

Well. That was a bust. It was 95 degrees today. In Illinois. It's the first day of Fall. Mother Nature isn't done with us yet. 

I met with my friend K who came back on one of the last flights from Puerto Rico. She's kind of a basket case, not knowing what will be left after this latest hurricane. I've asked her to teach some classes at the studio -- to bring some "normal" into an entirely abnormal scenario. She commented that this weather was "certainly weird." You could say that. It's almost October. 

We've had warm-ish Octobers before. But this is August. This is "chew on the air" weather -- Illinois folks are used to an August where you can sort of slice the air and gnaw on it because it's so sticky, hot, and heavy. Not at the end of September, though. Especially since, this past August, we didn't even break 90 degrees. At all. 

According to reports, we're having a "wet and mild" winter. We need "nasty cold freezing" to (a) kill all the germs we're not used to dealing with year-round; and (b) snow enough to raise water tables. 

We shall see. Mother Nature, on behalf of the sorry, stupid human race, I apologize and beg your forgiveness. Will you stop now? Thank you. 

Sunrise...

Today on the way to work, I was, thankfully, running early for once. I had to pick up a gift card for a raffle at the office, so I was able to scoot out of the house quickly. As I drove north on Rt. 53, I noticed a heavy ground fog. So I figured I'd nip into my new "favorite place"... the old swing bridge trail. 

And I wasn't disappointed. 

Well, I was a tad disappointed. This shot is at the base of the hill, and I had to skootch up a bit to get the sun in the shot. It's only on my phone. I need to grab the big camera and try again. Don't you love the light? It was beautiful. 

Knitting...

I'm still beavering away on the shawl; it does go quickly, and my animal Reiki-practitioner friend says she has the same yarn...which is really weird since this is a rather unique yarn company and what are the odds that a yarn that was a gift to me would be in someone else's hands? Either way, if she does have it, she's got another idea of what she can knit with it... 

I'm on the 6th point, if you count the first one. There are 18 points in this pattern. Still a little freaked out about the double yarn-overs, but so far, it's been a positive experience. The way the colors are laying out is quite interesting to me. When I had the hank just laid out, I wasn't quite sure how the grey would work into all of it. It almost looked like it was going to pool like crazy, but it really isn't. It's obvious there's a "plan" to the colors, but it's not - at least to my eyes - either a traditional self-patterning or variegated. That's what's going to make this unique. 

I've already eyeballed some amethyst sock yarn that may be the next iteration of this pattern. 

For me, knitting is "process" as well as "product." I mean, there are knitters who purely love the PROCESS of knitting. The act of knitting. If they never finish something, they're just happy knitting. Other knitters are "product" knitters. They want to just get the project done so they have a "thing" knitted. 

I'm a blend of the two. I like the process. It's meditative, even when I want to throw it against a wall. I like finishing, but I don't mind having 3 or 4 (or 5 or 6) projects on the needles. I'll get it done. Except for The Dreaded Teal Sock (yeah, I know...it'll get done), I really just go from project to project. I'm not wedded to any one project. I did put the Dr. Who project bag in the car and as I was waiting for a yoga class to get out (so I could get in to teach), I put a few rows on the Sole to Sole sock. It'll get done. 

I think that's my new mantra. "It'll get done." 

I need to knit or read to recharge my batteries. I'm rather introverted, though I fake the extrovert part. And when I come home, I want to just. Sit. I need quiet, and I need to recharge somehow. These solitary pursuits help me gather myself for the next "exposure to people." Does that sound horrible? I can't help it if it does. It's true. 

Random Picture...

So when I recently cleaned off the Arlo table (used to be where our canary Arlo resided), I put up the beautiful pottery bowl from my mom's friends and I put up my Buddha. This little guy used to rest on my desk in a prior office.  For what it's worth, it didn't keep anyone calmer there... But that's another chapter in the novel. 

Close to him are the Lake Michigan rocks, notice the heart-shaped marking on the one on the left. From the left, the next rock down is raw citrine, then a rounded, faceted garnet (middle). Up toward the right is raw jade, and then the other Lake Michigan rock. Over to the left, you can see a peek of my chalcedony bracelet. 

I was looking for a "tray" of some sort, and after rummaging in the closet, I came out with this Mikasa "cookie tray" that I got at a close-out sale with the thought that I'd give it as a gift. It's small -- too small for my cookie trays. But it's perfect, because even when I eventually gather more crystals/stones, they'll sit nicely on this little tray. I'm learning about crystals, but for me, it's not necessarily what their "powers" are. It's just that I like them. I find beauty in them, whether raw or polished or faceted. They're a "gazing point" for me. You take your "piece of quiet" where you can find it. 





Wednesday, September 20, 2017

This Being Human...

The Guest House

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.
Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

— Jellaludin Rumi

...I'm sort of talking about the poem by Rumi. There it is above. So I'm thinking about it because I'm wondering about how good we're all doing with "this being human." And I'm not necessarily convinced that we're doing our best. I mean, individually, I see people doing extraordinary things - from those involved in the hurricane relief efforts, to the firefighters out west trying to keep the blazes contained. And in towns big and small, there are folks who do their thing daily, without fanfare, without expectation. Just doing what they're supposed to be doing: being nice humans. 

I'm worried about our country. I'm worried about the world we're leaving to our kids. I'm worried about the petty tyrant occupying the highest office in our land, threatening to create World War III, gutting health care, and promoting hate and divisiveness. I'm worried about this being human thing, because lately, it doesn't seem like we're doing it too awfully well. More like we're doing it "awfully" and NOT well. 

Maybe my time in the news-hole has caused this rumination. Maybe it's given me space to think more about it. Maybe things going on in other areas of my life have caused me to try to discern the mechanics of relationships and how people get along (No worries, if you're concerned - it's got to do with some organizations in which I'm involved. All at home is well.) and how people deal with conflict, change and growth. How people deal when they're being nudged out of their comfort zone. How people deal when what they've known for a long time is now gone. How people deal with loss the likes of which this country has never seen. 

I don't know. I do know that "this being human" is a daily... no, an HOURLY practice. And we only have one lifetime in which to get it right. 

Knitting...

So the shawl is coming along. If it turns out well, I will whip out another one for a Christmas gift. No, I'm not telling for whom! I will tell you that I messed up a bit, but fudged it to fix it. Ripping back double yarn-overs? Not if I can help it!

I've been carrying around the Sole to Sole sock, trying to get a few rows in at lunch or whenever I have downtime. Working on that. And the blue striped sock is coming along - I'm still 2 rows from the instep section because, well... the shawl beckoned. 

I think that if I get to the Christmas gift, I'll have to first do a "stash raid" to see if I have variegated sock yarn. One of the folks in the shawl group said that she did hers with a laceweight yarn and kept going till she had 30 "points" - which you can see I'm just sort of starting to fabricate as I go on. This picture is slightly old because I actually have 5 points on this right now. I stopped for a conference call at which I needed to take notes, and to write this because I've been thinking about the "being human" thing and didn't want to forget. 

Pie...

So I do love some pie... And at our church picnic, we had a pie baking contest. Three judges chose the top four pies. Hubby was disappointed that he didn't win. Rhubarb-raisin would've gone over quite nicely with my dad. It's Hubby's mom's recipe and I think it was a tad exotic for the church folks!

What was a little annoying was that a Kahlua-chocolate cheesecake won. It's a PIE contest. 

Much though I love cheesecake - probably even more than pie - it's not pie. Never will be. Unless of course you do one of those boxed Jell-O thingies. Which, personally, I don't believe are "real" cheesecake anyway. 

One of our Star Bakers didn't enter his creations. He is a modest sort, and he made, bar none, the most AMAZING Key Lime pie I have ever put into my mouth. And I've had "real" Key Lime pie before. I swoon just thinking about it. 

Hubby was going to make a chocolate custard pie, which he's also done before. But he had a little brain fart and messed up the cornstarch part, so it never set up. Bummer. I love THAT pie, too. 

A quick note on the orthodontic front: My rubber bands are OFF!! I can now move my jaws, thank you. I feel like I can speak again. And my chiropractor thinks that this will relieve the recent spate of migraines I've had. 

Therapy Dog...

Tippi continues to do her therapy work at Lewis University. Yesterday, Brother Chris decided she "was hungry" and brought her a tiny piece of chicken. Well. She was hooked. And now, of course, she'll expect it!

Anyway, when we have downtime, she gets a special toy. It's always in my therapy gig bag, and she only gets it when we do therapy and we have some time or she needs a break... 

It's a stuffed snowman I got from Fun Time Dog Shoppe, an online store where I get most of their toys, since I trust them. Click on the link and take a browse. All of the proceeds go to rescue, and you can pick which rescue from a list they have. 

It's awesome...or should I saw PAWSOME?? Anyway, we have a great time, and she gets really excited about visiting the students. We have the visits twice a month during spring and fall semesters, and the students really look forward to it. So does Tippi. 

Reading...

I suppose I shouldn't say this, but the librarians at the university let me take books out that are generally not in circulation. And I've read two by the same author. I'm going to have to buy my own copies, because I feel compelled to want to underline or highlight... Don't look so shocked. 

I won't do that to a library book, at least. But there are some wonderful words in Kathleen Norris' books. In actuality, I was attracted to her title, "The Cloister Walk," because for some reason, stories about nuns fascinate me. 

Well, this wasn't about nuns. Turns out she's a poet, and spends an awful lot of time in Benedictine monasteries in retreats. She writes beautiful prose. I have no clue about her poetry, though my friend Wendy did give me her book "Dakota" - it's on my list, but right now, I'm making my way through "Amazing Grace," which is an outstanding collection of essays. The book is old - it was copyrighted in 1998, but the words are still relevant. 

I can see my book order as we speak. My newest yoga teacher has also recommended a couple. Hey, I really have stayed away from the yarn store. And I only have two vices. (Three, if you count chocolate...)

Random Picture...

So on my way to work, there's a street down which the old "swing bridge" used to be. The bridge is actually still there. On Tuesday as I was making my way to work, the sunlight was...just amazing. So I turned down the steep hill and decided to take a few shots. 

The Forest Preserve folks are restoring the prairie area there, and it's fairly deserted (I know - probably not my brightest idea, but I figure that fearless is a good thing sometimes - you can't live your life afraid). Anyway, the bridge is still there, fenced off, and all kinds of "don't cross this gate" warnings. I have to look at an overhead map because I can't figure out if it's the river I was hearing or the canal -- the canal doesn't usually move that fast. Once it gets developed into a park-like thing, it'll be very nice. Right now, it's in the "wild rehab" stage. You can't go any farther than the bridge. But there are areas where the egrets hang out, a few benches, and it looks like they'll be working on a trail with the unused railway tracks. 

I got a little weirded out by the "this place floods quickly so don't stick around" signs... Seriously, unless the flood is of Noah-like proportions, I can't see it. Well, if it's the CANAL, then we have a problem, because there's a concrete wall separating the DesPlaines River from the I & M Canal. If that concrete wall breaks? Well, yeah. Problems. Big problems. 

Anyway, it was a beautiful, peaceful place. Nice way to start the morning.