Saturday, September 28, 2013

Catching Up....

It was a blog-fest for the travel topic, and now it's time to just get back to real life. 
Blimp rides on race weekend

We're back down to earth now; though everyone's still stunned that I walked off an Alp... 

The picture at right is a crummy one... The new Nokia is coming, people. Be patient. Anyway, this is the blimp floating around. We're near enough to the Chicagoland Speedway (located in Joliet, but hey - money buys names, right?) and we had the Big Race -- I don't know which one. I don't follow racing.

So I was driving home from work that Saturday and I saw this. They were giving rides on the blimp. Would be cool, I think! But not cool enough that I'd go anywhere NEAR that racetrack on a race weekend. Not a fan. 

I know the farmers are getting paid handsomely for renting out spots for campers, but I have no desire. 

The Garden

Well. Tomatoes are ok; not scarce but not overly plentiful. At least this year they have some taste to them.

Pickling cucumbers ARE COMING OUT MY EARS. We have 6 more, and then I think they're finally done. So I get to make MORE pickles this year. I might do a garlic-onion-pickle thingie just to shake it up. 

Carrots are coming in; lovely!! Roasted for Thanksgiving and juiced. Nothing like the plastic orange things you buy in the cellophane bag at Jewel. Oh, and one radish we forgot about... Wowza, I haven't even cut into it but I bet it's gonna be hot!

Of course, I could make Carrot Preserves. That could be interesting. It would go along with my Basil Jelly and Rosemary Jelly. 

I need to do something with preserves, but we haven't had time to turn around, much less grab berries or apples to do anything with. Fingers crossed (again, where am I finding 26 hours in a 24-hour day???) that I can maybe get something done in that line for Christmas. 

The Politics

Will everyone Get. Over. It. The Affordable Care Act is NOT mandatory health care. It's not "socialized medicine." It's a fairly limp effort at INSURANCE REFORM. And you know what? It's going to SAVE you money. 

I have news for people: when someone without insurance shows up at your local ER with a stomach bug, yeah, they get care. And guess what happens to YOUR insurance premiums and YOUR hospital costs??? They go UP. Sooooooooo - let's give EVERYONE a shot at getting decent insurance for a do-able cost. Betcha they don't clog up the ER... 

Holding the government hostage so that Republicans can "score points" against President Obama (because, after all, it was THEIR healthcare plan before HE adopted it - what's with the schizo behavior??) -- well, that's what the FOUNDERS didn't want. The Founders - those guys who are always shoved in our faces by the uber-conservative folks -- they didn't even want political PARTIES because they thought that it would lead to division. Hmpfh. Go figure... 

It's ridiculous. We have wars to worry about. We have kids and elders going hungry. Our "First World" country treats its most vulnerable citizens as bad as, if not worse than, a Third World country, and yet we can bleat in total ignorance that we are "The Greatest Country." 

Nope. Not till everyone has at least the means to get a decent standard of living. And that encompasses a job that pays a living wage; health care; availability of food... The $8.25 minimum wage isn't cutting it anymore. We have no jobs bill because the toadies have spent their time trying to repeal the ACA. There are too many neighborhoods where there's not even a decent grocery store. 

We have lots to do before we can, in good conscience, call ourselves "The Greatest Country" again. 

The Knitting

Fluffy scarf #1
So what possessed me to think that I could do seven (SEVEN) fluffy scarves for our choir gals??? I have no idea. But I'm plugging away. I've brought them to work, and will do them at work on my lunch break. They're mindless, but a tad frustrating because the yarn is roapy. No, this time, I didn't iron it. But I'm afraid I'll have to do it for subsequent scarves just to save my head when I pound it on the wall...

Oh, and our Zonta Club president asked us knitters to knit another one of these things as a possible door prize or auction item for our club. So of course I said yes... (sigh)

The baby sweaters are done. They still fit!!!! Yay!!! And I learned a cool seaming technique that results in no bumps. I may do these again, (a) because it's such a simple pattern; and (b) because I have some of the Encore left over and I can go wild with stripes. No baby looks ugly in a tiny little sweater, right?? Even if the colors are "out there" somewhere... And it's a good stash-buster. Any wool super-wash will do. 

I like the wool super-wash because it's warm; it's crisp when you knit it, and it holds the buttons nicely. And the pattern couldn't be easier - you can add length, you can leave the sleeves so that perhaps 1" or so is not seamed, to make a cuff. I have enough of the yellow and orange to make the front and sleeves (like, maybe down just past the buttonholes) one color and then switch so that the bottom half is another. I can stripe. I can do whatever I want! 

Avery Sweater
And the wool superwash is good because moms can just toss it in the laundry and it won't get felted or shrink. You don't even need to block this pattern. I think it's much easier than the Elizabeth Zimmerman Baby Surprise Jacket. 

I'm sorry that the completed picture is upside-down. Just squint a bit. The babies look adorable in the sweaters. I'm happy that they're able to wear them. Girl Baby will wear both soon because Boy Baby is a TANK. Looks just like his dad.

The Nephew Afghan... So I forgot that my nephew is getting married. Give me a break, please, there's been a lot going on... I got out the "8-hour Afghan" book and am doing a simple-ish tweedy thing. The colors don't look great, but remember, it's the Nokia phone and it's not the new whiz-bang camera... He will like it. The taupe is the approximate color of his living room, and the navy-ish color is at least the office, I can't remember. But anyway, he's got 2 black labs. I wasn't about to do a white afghan!! Encore again. Great stuff, washable and it holds a stitch pattern nicely. Big needles, so it goes fast. I have till about February, I figure...if it's going to be in time for a shower. 

Nephew Afghan
The Charity Afghan...This was supposed to be my "sweater year" and I have yet to cast on a sweater for myself. The charity afghan is moving along. I have it mostly laid out, and I'm completing the last 4 squares. This was a round robin project; some crochet, some Tunisian Crochet, and some knitted. I'm going to assemble it, using crochet. We don't want to interfere with Howl-O-Ween anyway, so this is decent timing. 

Socks, scarves, etc... The Teal Socks are set aside for now. The Chandelier Lace scarf is my Sunday Knitting project. I'm just breaking it down to "what do I knit each day of the week" at this point. The lace scarf may or may not make it for Christmas, depending on what else goes on.

Stash-busting: I'm going to go through the totes in the basement and be ruthless with the acrylic. Lord knows I'll not be knitting with it anytime soon. Will be a donation toward our Prayer Shawl project at the church. I'm sure it'll come in handy, and I've been sitting on it for a couple years now. Time to make room -- either just room in the basement, or (go figure) more room for yarn.

The Estate

YAY, good news! We got an offer on the house. It looks solid, but I've seen closings fall apart the week of, so I'm not jinxing this one! It's below our appraisal, but not too bad. I think it's just better to get on with it. I don't want it to sit over the winter, and I don't want to have to pay out of my own pocket for vacant property insurance and the utilities. It becomes an "attractive nuisance" and we're too far away. I don't want a 2 a.m. phone call telling me the cops are there because someone tried to ransack the place. 

Charity afghan
Fingers crossed. The lawyer also said he is going to negotiate with the IRS. It will still wash out, and mostly still probably be "upside-down" but he feels like he should make the effort. Hope to get them to 50-cents on the dollar. We won't have an "estate" to distribute to the heirs, but I can't help that. Can't get blood out of a turnip. 

The Reading

I'm still plowing through the Jane Austen collection. I'm on "Emma" now. Emma gives me a pain. 

I read J.K. Rowling's "Casual Vacancy" which I think I mentioned. She needs to work on her adult fiction. 

I have "The Portable Faulkner" and I've started it. I've also started (twice!) "Sanctuary." Yikes, I'd rather re-read "Absalom, Absalom" -- I have a cheat-sheet for Sanctuary because I can't figure out who's who. 

I'm going to order some more Pearl S. Buck for my Kindle. I love her way with words. 

The Yoga

I'm almost done with training. Yay! One more weekend for the formal classes. A few more workshops, a thesis and I'm done. 200 hours is a LOT of work. 

I'm no longer teaching Yin; my own teacher wants the class back, and that's fine with me. I will be a happy student again. I will still be teaching on Mondays and subbing where I can, but that's fine. I already have a full-time job; I'd be happy with a light yoga schedule.

The Weight

Well, I put on 10 lbs. since my brother died. I have recommitted myself to getting my act together. It's stress eating, and coupled with (yay, FINALLY) what looks like menopause, my body's not reacting like it used to do. Used to be, stress eating and I didn't gain weight.

Not anymore!! Yikes... I can really feel that 10 lbs. and I don't like it. So, off we go again. 

The Holidays

Again, we are doing Thanksgiving the Sunday before. That's nice, because it just seems so much less hectic. We're going organic this year, and getting our bird from Three Maples Farm in Oswego. Check here to see what they do. I'm excited. Yeah, expensive, but I sent an e-mail to all working family: time to chip in, folks. For years, Hubby and I have been buying the bird, which is fine; we're not broke. But an ORGANIC turkey is lots more expensive and we've been doing the cooking for years now, too. It's time for the kids to pitch in - most of them are working and $10 won't kill any of them. 

Also, we can take the older great-nephew (not the one getting married --- the 3-year-old) to visit the farm and pet the goats. He'll love it. 

Most of the family does pitch in with the side dishes, but if I may be allowed a little vent, I have some relatives who find that the holidays are the occasion at my mom's house to sit on their butts and watch Hubby and I run like chickens. I have one relative in particular who thinks her only contribution is to come in, plop rolls on the counter and go sit down. Lately, that's not sitting well with me.

My MOM doesn't have to do anything. She provides the place, and frankly, she's slowing down even though she won't admit it. She's earned the right, as long as we are capable, to just have the opportunity to visit and not work like a slave. 

We cook because we like to, of course, and to blow our own horns: we're good at it. That gene, I inherited from my Dad. Our kids do the potatoes (3 ways, thank you) and my one nephew (the dad of the 3 kids) does a great job cooking, too. He's really good. My sister is improving, but she's not much of a cook. And one of the kids bakes, so that's cool. But otherwise, coming up with a salad and dressing isn't much of a challenge, if I may say so. 

Last year, it was kind of funny. Kid #1 and Kid #2 got in a huff...They see that we're doing all this prior to the event, and we're also Clean-Up Crew... So THEY get the nephews. They're all: "Hey, you - grab these dishes and bring them up. You, grab the garbage can. You, start stacking the chairs."

And amazingly (not really - who am I kidding?), they all just hopped to it. Well, you get a teacher and a welder taking charge, and everyone just falls in line. If they griped about it, they didn't do it within hearing range of our kids, because they'd have been told to "suck it up and deal with it. You ate, you help." 

OK, I think we're caught up. I know it was an overload of knitting pictures, but next time, I hope to have something more scenic to show you. 

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