Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Where's The Ribbon for THIS Cancer?

Sorry I'm a day behind, but for a day where I had "nothing planned" it was awfully busy. More on that later.

So yesterday's Chicago Tribune had a front page article entitled, "Stigma adds to burden of lung cancer patients" and it described a woman who is 31 years old and has lung cancer.

And before you sniff, no, she was NOT a smoker. And that's the biggest reason you won't see anyone sporting ribbons (there's even controversy about the color of the "lung cancer" ribbon) during November.

Which is, by the way, Lung Cancer Awareness Month. Who'da thought? While October is awash in pink, there's not a peep about lung cancer in November. Of course, we're all having "The War on Christmas" (snort) - and the true "war on Thanksgiving." But not a peep about lung cancer.  

Statistics are pretty grim. According to the American Lung Association, lung cancer is the SECOND most diagnosed cancer. Yet it's the MOST COMMON cause of cancer death. 

And the stigma around the disease is much like the nicotine-covered stench of cigarette smoke. Just today, I read an obit in the Trib about Carol Cooling-Kopp, who was the special events chief at WMAQ, a local channel. She died, at age 56, of lung cancer, and here's a paragraph from her obit:

"Mrs. Cooling-Kopp, 56, died of lung cancer Wednesday, October 30, at her Arlington Heights home, said her brother Jim Cooling, who noted she was a nonsmoker."

And the gal in the article yesterday, Meghan O'Brien, the 31-year-old who was diagnosed with Stage Four lung cancer (there IS no "stage 5" by the way), notes that while her cancer is the result of a rare genetic mutation, she is often asked, "Are you sure you didn't smoke?" -- as if you'd forget something like that. 

There's no funding equal to that of breast cancer, and there's that stigma that lung cancer people "brought this on themselves."

Why am I so het up about this? Well, for a couple of reasons. The first was a friend, by the name of Reverend Barb Donica, who died in her 40s of lung cancer. She never smoked. 

The second is my mother. She never smoked either, and she's very much alive. With emphysema. Thanks to my dad, who DID smoke. And who died of pancreatic and liver cancer. 

People often ask my mother if she smoked. And they don't always believe her when she says no. Much like my friend Barb..."Are you SURE you've never smoked?" 

Unfortunately for Ms. O'Brien, her cancer has already invaded other organs. I am sad for a young woman who hasn't even begun to live her life. I'm sad for my friend who died, leaving small children. And I'm sad for my mother because, even though I don't know of any correlation between emphysema and lung cancer, the fact that she lived with my father for over 35 years, God alone knows whether she may eventually contract lung cancer thanks to second-hand smoke.

The symptoms of lung cancer can be vague -- just like our good buddy "Ovarian Cancer." You can have the typical constant cough, be breathless and have lots of bronchitis.

Or you can have headaches, lose your appetite or have blood clots. Ms. O'Brien, a physical education teacher, by the way, had a backache. 

Cancer sucks, to use the vernacular. Why on earth would we penalize cancer patients even more by looking at them cross-eyed as if to say, 'You deserve this, buddy'? Support the American Lung Association and do your research. And if you can figure out what the ribbon is supposed to look like, please wear it. Do it for someone you love, because according to the latest statistics, lung cancer is projected to kill nearly 160,000 people this year in the US - more than colon, breast, pancreatic, and prostate cancers COMBINED. Combined. In 2012, the National Cancer Institute spent almost twice as much on breast cancer research as on lung cancer. 

Yet, lung cancer is the one you will likely die from. 


So yesterday, I awoke (at 4 a.m., thanks. Urgh) to a day in which I had no meetings, no appointments, no errands... a very rare free day. And I was busier than a one-armed paperhanger (one of my dad's favorite sayings). 

I decided to do some things, and actually did them. Knitting was not among those things. 

But I did finish the charity afghan!! Hubby will be taking the picture today. It looks lovely, actually.

Didn't pick up the needles otherwise. So today, being the day before Thanksgiving, I have my knitting at work. Let's face it - they're letting everyone out early, no traditional classes are being held, and the only reason I'm here, frankly, is that I had to let the HVAC guys in. And I may not stay anyway... I have more comp time than I can use, so I may as well take advantage of it.


Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
 The Baking has begun. Yesterday, it was double batches of carrot cookies and Aunt Mary's Oatmeal Cookies. My real, really truly Great-Aunt Mary's recipe. See the card??? 

The Carrot Cookies are a random addition, and that's because we had a lot of carrots leftover from the garden. I can't really taste the carrots in them; but they are a nice quick cookie. They also freeze well. 

I made a plate for the elder guy next door and we'll bring it over. I will also make some carrot pineapple bread for later. 

There's also a good chance that I'll make some Kolachy too. They're a cream-cheese-based dough with a thumbprint where you put fruit filling. Yummy. 

I think Kid #2 might be doing his baking today, but if he's not, then I'm going to press on. I think I'm going to knock one cookie off my list. I've been teaching the kids the "Family Traditionals" because you really have to be shown. Those recipes are often ingrained in a granny's memory, and you have to watch what's done because nobody wrote them down. I want to write them down, and show the kids. They can even video it if they want!

Since we're doing potica this year, I will knock off the Roski. Heck, ONE recipe of that makes 100 of them!!! So we don't need to do those this year. We can do them next year. 

For Aunt Mary's recipe, all I changed was that I added golden raisins and I added some cardamom to the recipe. They're kind of Plain Jane oatmeal cookies, and my usual style is "garbage cookies" which everyone loves. But I thought I'd try these again. I like adding the golden raisins. Otherwise, it's her recipe. 

The secret (which isn't so secret, actually) is that you simmer the raisins till they plump up and use the raisin-water in the batter. I stuck a cinnamon stick in the water. 
Aunt Mary's Recipe

The Pope...

Ok, I could like this guy. Seriously. Not enough to re-join the Roman Catholic Church, but enough to be thankful that he seems to be just as much - if not more - fresh air as John XXIII.... Remember, John was also an outlier and he ushered in Vatican II. Which, of course, many traditionalists would like to abolish. 

Here's his latest, and I love it. Everyone knows what actually "trickles down" with trickle-down theories of economics. And he puts it ever-so-elegantly. And makes a point, thank you very much, Your Holiness. This paper has been reported on in just about every major news outlet, as it should be. 

And of course, the uber-right-wing has heads exploding all over the place. Because (sputter, sputter, sputter) he's NOT RIGHT. Trickle down HAS TO work, because St. Ronnie said it would. But it doesn't and it's been debunked by actual professors and people with lots of education. 

2013 Ornaments in progress
This Pope is more "Jesus-oriented" in terms of who Jesus really was and what He did. Pope Francis is also very "Francis-like" because to my mind, St. Francis was an embodiment of Jesus in his writings and his actions. 

Good for him. The Catholic Church needs him. 


The ornaments progress. They're all painted. But they're not finished, so I will take another shot after they're all nice and pretty. 

There are fewer, yet I am having trouble finding them! Michael's doesn't carry the selection they have advertised and I suppose I'll have to go to the Internets... I like to try to have a theme for each kid, but this year, Maya gets a plain one (the blue one with stars). If I can find some jewels, I'll glue those onto the middle of the stars for her. She had been "angels" but I couldn't find any. 

Yes, I probably should have counted up and bought them when I had the chance. I've been doing this for nearly 30 years, though, so please...when I needed to buy them up, I didn't have the money. Now that I have the money, they're hard to find. 

Random Picture...

Knit Knitche
This is a really crummy picture of my "knitting knitche" (and yeah, I know it's spelled wrong). This is where I spend my knitting time, and I really need to clean it off today. Perhaps when I get home, that will be done, since it's on my Big Honkin' To Do List. 

Along with finding time to wrap Hubby's birthday gift and fish out a card for him... I can distract him by having him wrap presents. That's it. That's a plan! 

I will also get at least one Fluffy Scarf going. I only have two of them left. 

And because I've managed to pack on some turkey pounds I will Step Away From The Fridge today. Knitting will help. 

Baking will not, unfortunately...

Monday, November 25, 2013

Where Were You When...

...JFK was shot? 

I remember bits of that day. I was in kindergarten and it was a half-day (even back in the dark ages) so I was home at noon. I remember the black & white TV being on. I remember my dad sitting on the couch crying. 

My dad was an alcoholic who worked sporadically. We didn't exactly have a "Dick & Jane" childhood, and my mom was, of necessity, a working mother when the other moms got to stay home. 

But what strikes me as my most vivid memory, aside from the images on the TV that I can barely remember? It was my dad crying. I had seen many emotions on my dad's face by the age of 5, and many of them weren't pleasant. But crying? That was a new one. I remember him saying something about the assassination, but I honestly don't recall exactly what he said. 

But those tears. I remember those tears. Many, many years later, I don't even recall him teary-eyed at his own mother's funeral. But I remember the tears on the day JFK was assassinated.

16 Days Campaign...

So are you wearing orange? Or if you're in Canada, a white ribbon? Today starts the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence Campaign. Click here to see what this is about, though I'm going to explain some of it for you. 

It begins today, November 25. Today is the International Day Against Violence Against Women. It runs through December 10 - International Human Rights Day. This campaign is used by many service organizations as a rallying cry to bring notice to violence against women - and to urge governments (local, national and international) to do something concrete to initiate policies regarding gender-based violence. 

For women in particular, although we know that there are some women who abuse men. For women, it's still statistically significant that we will encounter or be victims of most violence. Whether we know someone, or we're a victim ourselves. And it's a hidden crime, no matter how public we try to make it. It's still shameful on the victim - which is where it's most wrong. Shaming the perpetrator may not be the way to go, since that man usually has a tendency to have issues with anger management anyway, but how about we make it so that it's easier to convict a perpetrator? Or easier to get him into therapy? Or easier for the woman to get to safety?

Though we know that a large percentage of women will, sadly, go back to their abuser, the best we can do is have the resources ready to not only get them out of the situation, but help break the cycle by educating their children about this important issue. Violence against women is wrong. No matter what slant you want to put on it -- it's still wrong. 

Our local Zonta Club is wearing orange, because we are participating in the "Say No to Violence" campaign. Watch the kick-off video here. Write letters to your local paper, your legislators, and others involved. Get involved in volunteering or helping with donations to local shelters or programs that will help the women and educate their kids. 

We can all do something. And together, all those "somethings" add up to "lots of things." That's the way to get something done. 

I would respectfully ask all the folks who read this blog to pass on the information for the 16 Days campaign. Please participate to the extent that you're comfortable. You can also download the JPEG above and use it as your profile picture on social media. Let's get this out there, folks! I know we can do it!!


So it snowed. Enough to dust, but not enough to cover the roads. And it's COLD out there! 

So -- (a) DON'T LEAVE YOUR PETS OUT. I know - I have northern-breed dogs. I had a husky who would rather be outside than anywhere else. If you have one of those, make sure the animal has shelter and water. Here in town, it's 30* and feels like 20* -- we have light snow forecasted for the next 3 days or so.

I know a friend who got a call and visit from Animal Control because her husky was sleeping outside in one of our colder winters. During the visit, she took Sasha into the garage (there was already a doggy door in the wall). Sasha looked at her, gave a goofy Husky grin, and loped out the doggy door to burrow into the snow. She explained to the AC officer that there was water in the garage (a heated bowl); a dog bed; a blanket; safety from the cold weather because the garage was well-insulated and Sasha's area was protected by a couple sheets of plywood that her husband had used. And still, Sasha wanted to be outside. Finally, the AC guy concurred and saw that Sasha was perfectly happy and had the resources available to her.

So if you have a nutty dog who likes the outside, just make sure the animal has shelter available, a way to get water, and a way to get inside even if they don't appear to want it. And check their paws and ears for frostbite. 

Which brings me to (b) IF WE DO HAVE SOME ACCUMULATION PLEASE SCRAPE YOUR WINDOWS OFF! Not a porthole, for Pete's sake. Scrape the whole thing. It'll warm  you up while you're cursing your fate at living in the middle of the freezing zone instead of Florida or some other warmer climate. 

And now, (c) DON'T DRIVE LIKE AN IDIOT. If you have lived here your whole life, please resign yourself to the fact that yes indeedy - it's November and it often snows. If you are not from here, but have a clue about driving in cold weather, please engage those brain cells. Oh, and top off your gas tank, scrape your windows (I'll keep reminding you) and make sure you have enough windshield washer solution. 

The icy-melt stuff is now at both sides of my office (front and back doors) and I just went out there to sprinkle a bit. It's freezing and getting polished by the wind since we're at the top of a hill.

Personally, I'm hoping for a very snowy winter. I have snow shoes and I want to use them. Hey, it's not my fault. My mom gave birth to THREE winter-babies. It's her fault.

Speaking of Mom, 

Medicare Changes...

We live in Illinois. I just spent an hour on the computer with my mother, who was thoroughly confused. And she's not stupid. Illinois is changing their Medicare stuff around, and basically, she can't have what she's always had. The state is broke, if you haven't heard. But if she gets one sort of policy, she loses her basic Medicare. 

We had to search out a Medicare Supplemental program. It was convoluted, to say the least. We finally figured out what she might be able to get, and it looks as if there's a program she can get into. But for cryin' out loud...does it have to be that complicated? And what about those seniors who have no computer? 

She did say something interesting: "I distrust the federal government, but I trust Illinois even less." That's about right. 

Dr. Who...

Dansko "Stellar"
Unfortunately, I had to work on Saturday. Which was, unless you were under a stump somewhere, "The Day of the Doctor." I watched the totally insipid "pre-show" that BBC had on. I watched, via YouTube, a bunch of trailers, interviews, etc. And I had to wait till I got home to watch the rebroadcast. I couldn't get the campus TV working - well, it worked, but I couldn't figure out DirectTV. 

So all weekend, I've worn my "Tardis shoes." Don't get excited...they're not really a TARDIS. But they are "stellar." They're my Dansko "starlight" clogs. I'll just imagine that I'm the next companion and this is my view out the window of the TARDIS. Humor me. 

And besides, the shoes were on clearance. I got them for $99. And I can wear them with my super-woolly socks. So it's a bargain all around. Oh, and they kind of match my choir robe. And no, they don't glow in the dark.

I won't go into a lot, just in case someone hasn't seen it yet, but the episode was very well done. Very tasteful; sad; melancholy; and exciting because you don't expect what happens. 

Heel flap - Pink Sock
Looking forward, actually, to the new Doctor. SPOILERS: There's a very brief (I'm talking "blink and you'll miss it") shot of Peter Capaldi. This SPOILER will show all. Click on it at your own peril. You've been warned...


I'm working on the heel flap of the Pink Sock. I have the pink and the teal socks with me today, just in case I feel like casting on Teal #2. I confess, the Yarn Harlot has let me down. I'm using her Basic Sock recipe, and for the life of me, I can't figure out where I've gone sideways with the heel flap.

She says: Row 1 is K1, Sl1 across; Row 2 is Sl1, P across. Well, if you do that with 32 stitches on the needle, up the one side, you have a string of detached slipped stitches. I mean attached to NOTHING. I must have misread it. 

So I went to this book and I'm using their Heel Stitch with Garter Edge. No slipped stitch at the beginning or end of any heel-flap row, and it's smoother on the inside. It should also be easier to pick up the gusset stitches. 

Great reference book!!
I bought the book on a whim (what else is new?) and I was a bit nervous about it because it wasn't a "whole sock" book. It was - it IS - a whole book about socks. Socks Deconstructed, if you will. And it's great! It gives you options for every conceivable number of stitches you'd have on a double-pointed needle. 

It has emboldened me to perhaps mix-and-match and make a really cool pair of socks. Lord knows I have enough sock yarn...(ahem). 

And ok already...I did download the Rowan "Time Traveler" scarf. I'm going to end up knitting that. Let's just bend to the inevitable. I sent the link to my friend Nat - I'm teaching her to knit... -- and I suggested that this would certainly be a great way to learn garter stitch. Since it's TWELVE FEET of garter stitch. Oh, and she'd learn how to efficiently change colors, since it's also striped. Just check the website. And drool...

On my next pair of socks, we'll try Stephanie's pattern again. I must have just missed something. The woman is a famous knitter. It must be me.

Over Thanksgiving, I'll weave in all ends of the afghan, and plan to finish the last two Fluffy Scarves. The choir gals are anxious to see them, which is cool.


We did our Thanksgiving yesterday (Sunday). I like it that way, but I was worried this year because of my brother's passing and how it would affect my mother. We hold the event at her house, but we do most of the cooking.

The organic turkey went over well. The twins were adorable. One nephew didn't show up, which is going to be interesting... My mom likes all her little chickens in the family nest when holidays come around. My sister-in-law is still acting weird, but I still can't help that. 

Everyone who wanted them got leftovers and we actually managed to come close to not having so much left over. I think I can cut back on the sweet potatoes, and I'm sure the roasted veggies can be cut in half. We did - or Kid #2 did - one batch of "Cheesy Mashed Potatoes" and Hubby did Scalloped - and all of that went, for the most part. And my one nephew, notoriously picky, did eat the roasted veg! Yay! 

My mom made too much stuffing. So of course, today for lunch, I had my "leftovers" and was compelled to finish the dressing I had stashed. Urgh. I need a nap!


I finished Book Report #2. I have to say they are incredibly easy. I only have one extremely long book, and I'm a reader like some people are smokers. I've always got one or more books in progress and I read very fast. Also, let's face it. I'm a writer. 

The book reports have to be between 500 - 1000 words. This is really nothing big. I can do that standing on my head. Well, I can't stand on my head, but you know what I mean. 

I have 2 more to go. I have one book nearly read and the last book is the longest one of the four I have to read. 

Annoying Clamshells...
Annoying clamshell package

Ok, gripe of the day. What is with clamshells? I mean, this one was horrible. There was no tab to loosen the thing, and I had to break out the heavy-duty scissors. I'm on a blood-thinner, people! I don't want to slash my hands or fingers open trying to get at an eraser. Isn't there a better (and more eco-friendly) way to do this??

They do make special openers for these things. Thanks, I'll stick to my scissors. But I wish there was some sort of zip-strip or something. Or hey - let's just go back to compostable cardboard!

It's an eraser - not exactly the crown jewels. I think it's safe to say that you could use an easier-to-open package without fear of someone shoving this in his or her pocket. 

Oh well. I know we can't change the trend. But I will continue to gripe about it, since it's likely there's a statistic about "injuries from opening clamshell packaging." Lookee here: an article on how to open the blasted things!! There was a blog or article (I couldn't tell) that had a rant against the inventor, but all I could find was the page of comments, and some of them were just not nice. Well, ok. Obscene. 

Random Picture...

Hot air balloon
A hot air balloon. Just because it's pretty, and it's been a long day. I work at a location that's on top of a hill. Occasionally, we see these and they always fascinate me. Yes, I've walked off an alp. But I have not yet worked up the courage to get into a hot air balloon. Unless they let you wear parachutes, I don't think I will do so. 

Of course, we don't have that fantastic Hot Air Balloon Festival like they do in New Mexico, but we occasionally have them land at our regional airport, or the main campus of the local university, which has an airport. 

And we do have a festival in Centralia, IL. Click on the town name for the 2014 dates. It looks like fun. I guess I have a while to get myself convinced that it's safe. 

Maybe. Maybe it's all hot air. 

Saturday, November 23, 2013

The Last Bastion of Peace...

...may be falling.  Apparently, the FCC is considering lifting the cell phone ban on airplanes - this is for US flights, particularly. The article on CNET is here. I'm so totally against this... 

Another interesting fact, here, is that the new FCC chairman is (gasp!) a former lobbyist for the cell phone industry. Imagine that. According to several articles, there ARE already some planes in Europe that do allow cell phones. But that doesn't mean we need to do that.

We were just on the plane when we went to France, and it was peaceful. Nobody was talking on the phone. Or arguing. Or just airing dirty laundry. 

The articles on this issue show that polls indicate something interesting. Overwhelmingly, over 60% of people surveyed do NOT want cell phones allowed. I'm fine with your tablet, your Kindle, your iDevice... But really. On the plane, there's no "quiet zone." Oh sure, the airlines can CHARGE for a so-called "quiet zone" but let's just look at the facts: The airplane is a large tin tube. They've got you squeezed in there like sardines anyway.  You don't even have enough space for a good stretch of the legs. What - each seat is about 17 or 18", and they're cram-jammed against each other. 

Do I really want to hear you talk on the phone? Do the flight attendants want even LESS attention? I mean, I'm probably the only one who listens to their schpiel anyway, but in an emergency, there'd be even more chaos.

People would be chattering away and the attendants would try to get everyone to pay attention and leave safely - but some dumbo would be trying to capture the moment the plane flames out on his or her device... For what? You'd likely be dead anyway, and causing more people to die because you want to be the next Ridley Scott or something. 

The other issue is basic common sense. On the METRA and on many local bus routes, you aren't allowed to have extended (or loud) conversations on the phone. And at least on a train, you could perhaps change cars. In the bus, the driver has the right (and actually has, in some instances) to tell you to pipe down. 

On a plane, all that's going to cause is "air rage." Do we really need that? I say no. And so should you. Go to the FCC's page here and make a comment. Stand up for peace on airplane flights. Heaven knows that the process of flying is stressful enough. None of us needs to hear anyone else's life story. Unless you're stuck sitting next to a chatterbox. 

In that case, put a pair of ear buds in, and tuck the ends into your shirt or bag...nobody will know whether you're really "hooked in" or not!

Cuisinart pot
The Splurge...

A little early Christmas gift for me and the Hubby. I've been wanting an electric kettle for some time now. There was a good coupon from Bed, Bath & Beyond, so I went ahead and got this kettle. It's nice because it has lots of different temperatures; I drink a variety of teas, and this gives me the option to not stew a more delicate tea. Honestly, the "boiling" is too hot for me, even though it says it's ok for black tea. 

So it's not as cheap as some, but I did look at the glass ones. Yikes! On top of that, we have horribly hard water (yeah, I've been meaning to get a water softener for about 18 years now) and a clear one would be a stinker to clean. At least this one has a nominal filter, and I can descale it with vinegar when I need to. 

I like Cuisinart; I'm not going to lie -- I did kill a blender. And there was this one two-part blender/processor thing that didn't quite live up to expectations. But we have the no-stick (not Teflon) pans and they're workhorses in our kitchen. And Hubby likes his coffee grinder. I think it's a reliable brand and worth the money you pay for the items. 

Hopefully, this thing won't make a liar out of me!


New Nativity
So our main campus decorated. But they do it early anyway. Next week, they're having the "official" lighting ceremony. Understandably, the campus has to get the Facilities guys out doing the job well before any homeowner would do it - though I'd have to debate that this year...

Here's the new Nativity they put up right by the library. Before you get your shorts in a knot, it's a Catholic university. We get to do that. 

However, in a fit of protest, I will complain about the neighbor who put his decorations up on November 1 and has them lighted. A wayyyyyyyyy long time early, mate! The guy down the street from us (in the same block as we are) has already done his as well. 

Gotta love Nordstrom's even though I can't afford to shop there. They have, once again, decided "One Holiday at a Time" is a good thing. Look here for their 2013 campaign. I love this. 

I can't get the idea of shopping on Thanksgiving. Much like phones on planes: Thanksgiving was the one oasis. You had football, turkey, and family. Not commerce. I heard the argument about, "Well, some of the people who shop then need to do that because they need the cheaper prices." 

Marketing, people. The prices are artificially inflated at the moment. They have to have something to "slash" so they jack them up before the holiday. I get that you want deals. I do. I love a good deal. But on the other hand, I love the peace of not fighting crowds. I love to not have chaos. Or at least not the chaos of the commercial enterprise. Family can be enough of its own chaos, thanks. 


The afghan is done. D-O-N-E.... I will, however, need to run it in the dryer and possibly block it a bit. I really do not like Tunisian crochet. It curls like stockinette. Even with a 3-row crochet border. Ugh. Here's a shot of my working along the edge. Miles and miles of stitches, watching the Dr. Who marathon. 

Afghan border
I wonder what the NSA will make of the caption of this picture. 

I'm plugging along on the sock. I did show Hubby the pattern that I want to do with the Lilac silk/wool. I will have to get the name and post it. It's from Ravelry. I'll also have to get a shot of the yarn. I can't wait to get started on it. It's based on Elizabeth Zimmerman's easy baby sweater. It's got a lovely lace pattern on the body and sleeves. 

Also will be working on #2 Teal Sock. I'm done being mad at it now... 


I'm sure you've all heard about the tornado damage in Illinois. Check this story from Slate. The video alone will give you something to think about. The power of Mother Nature - it's changing. There are things going on, and I'm a firm believer that unfortunately, WE are the cause of these things. 

The most recent issue of Business Week talks about the country of Kiribati, which will be drowned as the arctic ice melts. This is scary stuff. 

I know there are debunkers here. But I will have to grab Hubby's glacier pics. He took pictures as a highschooler at Many Glacier. And he took them when we were there almost 20 years ago. "Many" is now "Much-less" -- Heck, I was happy seeing "my" version of Many Glacier. Till he showed me what it used to look like. 

I don't have a solution, except that we should all try to lessen our carbon footprint as much as we can. Garden organically. Limit pesticides. Drive smarter. Recycle. If you can't make an impact even at your local government level, at least do it yourself. 


I haven't even read the paper yet... 

So let's move on to a happier subject.


Currently reading The Valley of Amazement by Amy Tan. I love her lyrical writing. I love the insight into Chinese culture. And I'm intrigued by the fact that this book, according to an interview she gave to the Chicago Tribune, "...may be part of my grandmother's history." Apparently, there's family legend that Grandma "may" have been a courtesan, though nobody's talking.

Here is the NPR book review, and I will give you a "Spoilers" alert... I just read the review, and I almost wish I hadn't. But truthfully, this is one of Tan's best works. Her loyal readers will remain loyal. 
"I've looked at clouds from both sides now..."

Random Picture...

Just clouds. I took this in May a couple of years ago. It was an interesting formation and I thought I would use it as a backdrop for something, or on a card.

Or maybe for this blog! With a side of Judy Collins for those of you who recognize the song. 

I love looking at clouds. Right now, outside my window, not only is it colder than heck (It's actually 24*, but feels like 11*) - and I know - it'll get colder! But it's also a bit overcast. It was sunny a bit ago, but now it almost looks as if it could snow. The wind is pretty brisk and the trees in the immediate vicinity are bare. Glad I'm inside with a cup of chai.

Nothing on the radar worth mentioning, but the greyness kind of reminds me that it is November, and that we're almost in winter. My favorite season, at any rate. 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Shoo-bootie & Politics

Sorry - couldn't resist. I have a new pair of shoes, and the receipt says "shootie" but I think in the current climate, I want to stay away from "shoot" in any form.

So I'm calling them "Shoobooties." Kind of a play on the song from The Music Man entitled "Shapoopie." Just go with me here...

They're ABEO shoes; so far, so comfy. I was hesitant at first because they're enclosed. I have arthritis in the feet and high insteps. Wasn't sure how that was going to work, but lookee...Even with wool socks, they've been comfortable so far. I got them from The Walking Company, which is my favorite shoe store. I will tell you that you need to go there. Especially if you're ordering shoes that come in European sizes. 

Did you know that your feet continue to grow? Or I should say, expand... I used to wear a size 8 shoe. Now, 2 kids, constantly barefoot, overweight then losing weight... I'm about a size 9 for the most part. These Shoobooties are 8.5, but most of my Dansko shoes are size 9. 

I have to go on a "shoe purge" and clear out the last of the pumps. I'm not able to wear them because (a) I don't wear high heels anymore; and (b) most of them are size 8 and don't fit anymore. I can deliver them to the local women's shelter and they'll have a use for them. I need to add that to The Big To-Do List, I guess. 

Today, it's rainy and the campus is a bit cool. We have the HVAC people coming out tomorrow, so hopefully, that'll get resolved. Also, the electricians are coming out to (finally) fix the lights.

I have a candle burning to "home-y" up the place. Our cleaners use non-toxic cleaners, but they're vinegar-based. It gets a little much sometimes! The candle is "Red McIntosh Orchard" or some such name. A mild apple-scent, not too overwhelming. 

I have to figure out whether I want to change the water bottle (it's a big one) or see if I can snag a male student to do it. I probably should do it myself. I just get a little wimpy thinking about losing my grip. 

I guess the best way to NOT lose your grip is to just strengthen your grip, right? 

The To-Do List...

I've made a honkin' big "Things I Have to Do" list - kind of all-encompassing because I keep thinking about stuff, and it rarely makes it to my day-to-day list. It runs the gamut from "take the suit to Golden Needle to get hemmed" to "clear out the corner of your bedroom." Plus Christmas cards, learning music, wiring the guitar for Christmas Eve... It just makes me feel better about seeing it all in one place. 

Will be working on the "learning music" thing shortly - I'm at work for the night shift, and before students get here, I can sing without anyone wanting to cart me away!


It's about time, Harry!! Finally. Filibuster reform. Click here to read the full story. There is no logical reason why a MINORITY should hold up nominations. Look at what we have here, aside from the aptly-named "Obama Derangement Syndrome." There have been 82 nominees blocked during this man's tenure. There have only been slightly over 85 nominees blocked for ANY OTHER PRESIDENT - all of them included in that math. So for every OTHER president, nobody's blocked what they wanted to do. But not so for the black guy. 

But we're "post-racial" right? I don't think so.

And in other news, CONGRATULATIONS, Illinois! Last night, Governor Quinn signed into law the gay marriage bill. Click here to read about it. Catholic Bishop Thomas Paprocki held an "exorcism" at the local church. I am dead serious. It's in the article. 

This is, obviously, the only thing the Catholic Church has to worry about, right? I hate to tell them, but my straight marriage is in no way threatened by anyone else's marriage, straight or gay. If you feel that your marriage is threatened by ANY other marriage, then you probably have more problems that go deeper. You'd need counseling at least. Pronto.


The afghan. Almost done. Well, almost assembled. I worked on it today and I just have one more square to attach. Then I weave in about 6 million ends, and then I can do the border of the silvery-grey. I'll probably start on that border on Friday night. 


So I messaged the kids with Lola's picture. BOTH of them said, "So when is she going to be in OUR freezer?" Ha. Poor Lola. 

The turkey is still hard as a rock. It's been in the fridge since Tuesday. I'm thinking that the cold water bath will be the way to go...

I don't think we'll need the ham. The kids will make the spuds on Friday. I wish they'd wait till Saturday, but I have to work with their schedules, too. My mom is - thankfully - making the lighter version of stuffing. 

We do have a family recipe of giblet stuffing that's phenomenal. For grout. I mean, it's tasty. But nobody eats like that anymore. You can eat that stuffing and not feel hungry for a day. To say it's "heavy" is putting it mildly. 

Personally, I'd try a wild rice stuffing. But I'm getting there. We just gradually introduce new stuff, and nobody really gripes too much. They get volunteered to cook if they kick up a fuss. 

Random Picture...

The random picture today is an old one. It's of my lovely River, who went over the Bridge a couple of years ago. She was a sweetheart, and I still miss her every day. Yes, I love my elkhounds, but I'm a "Husky girl" for the most part. I love their independence, their tails, their blue eyes, their big fuzzy heads and the way that no matter what, they're the fastest kissers in the land! 

Beware of the Husky kiss. It's slobbery, quick and all over your face before you can duck. Sneaky little buggers, they are. 

I belong to the "Husky Tales" Facebook group, and it's feeding my addiction... I know that at some point, we'll have another dog and it'll be a Husky. I want to be able to have this one be a therapy dog, too. It gives them something to do, and I enjoy working with Tippi like that, so it's a good thing all the way around. 

Off I go - gotta sing before we have company!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013


I had a nearly-hour-long conversation with my friend "N" yesterday. 

I hadn't spoken to her in almost a year (I mean in person or on the phone). She had this job. It was a soul-sucking, time-consuming, all-encompassing job. Such that just about every month, she traveled 50% of the time. And when she was in town, she worked 14-hour days.

Which isn't remarkable as such, since so many people do that today - just to keep employed. 

But what she did was remarkable. She quit. She resigned after dealing with an entirely toxic department, a supervisor who shoveled crap on top of her and then chastised her repeatedly for "not performing to expectations" under conditions which can be considered "hostile" to say the least. After giving directions to an assistant who wouldn't do her job, and then being told that she was being given a "job improvement notice" because she couldn't manage. After writing up the assistant and the assistant complaining to HR about her. I just shake my head at that kind of garbage. 

And she did it the right way. She submitted a resignation note, cleaned out her office without fanfare and left. 

It takes guts to do that. She told me about it while I was in the midst of a therapy visit with Tippi, so I had to wait to call her back. And then during our conversation, she said something which made me stop. "You were the first one I thought about. And I knew that, unlike so many people, you wouldn't have tried to talk me out of walking out."

She's right. I have left soul-sucking jobs. I have done the "travel every month" thing, while trying to raise 2 kids. I would have helped her draft her resignation note. 

We discussed what she wanted to do, what her immediate goals were, and yes, we made plans to get together soon. 

I had missed her. We e-mailed; I tried to network to find her a new place; but she was always on a plane. She was unable to sustain friendships, was having trouble with stress, and was missing out on so much of her family life. 

Was quitting the best response? She's lucky enough to be able to do it. And yes, for her, it was the absolute right thing to do. Yes, the economy is still recovering. And yes, she's at the top of her field and will likely not find another job like that. Which may be a good thing. She's being tagged by the corporate world as "too expensive" -- they can hire 25-year-olds for about 1/3 of her salary. 

And she's ok with that. I have been in her shoes and I have been lucky enough to be able to shed a job that wasn't doing me any good. I look forward to seeing N accomplish her goals: to be a present parent; to concentrate on HERSELF; to learn to knit. Those are things that will matter. Not the job. 

The Turkey...

So I wrote a check for the turkey yesterday. And about had a heart attack -- this bird had better be good!! Three Maples Farm is a lovely spot; we got to pet the horses and cows. This is Lola. She likes peppermint candies and is shy. 

Hubby about had a fit, too, with the price of Mr. Turkey. But we agreed (sort of) to try something more organic. So we shall see. Right now, Mr. Turkey is in the fridge at work. It'll take him 5 days to thaw, so while I'm at work Saturday (we're having our Thanksgiving early, remember), Hubby will come by and get him. If needed, he'll be getting a cool-water thaw. 

Lola will eventually be hamburger. The woman who runs the farm was telling us that she's been involving her kids in the farm. They understand about "raising what you eat" and the concept of attachment. All her animals have names, and all of them, for the most part, end up on a table somewhere. So the next time we go there, it may very well be that Lola's in the freezer. But if you want to make sure your food is not injected with garbage or fed GMO grain, you go to a local farmer. And you ask. 

The dogs, of course, had a sniff-fest when I came home. They recognized "horse" since I have come home smelling like that. But "cow" was entirely different. They loved it. It's a shame I didn't get to pet the goats or the pig... Three Maples also sells hand-made goat's milk soap. That's on my agenda for gifts. Support the local farmer. 

Various papers
The Storms...

The Shorewood Police Department is acting as a collection spot for storm debris blown up north-east by the horrible storms. Here are some pics of what Hubby collected. He and the dogs were written up in the Chicago Tribune. The Facebook pages coordinating the storm damage "let's return their stuff" efforts are very busy, and I'm so glad social media is working for something good instead of "this is what I ate for dinner" trivialities. 

Some storm debris
Imagine, if you will, losing everything. And then potentially having your identity stolen. Seriously - Hubby found checks, bank statements, a car title, school transcripts, an adoption order. This is tremendously sensitive stuff. If you're in the area of the tornado damage and you have found stuff, please pick it up and bring it to the local police department -- you could be saving someone a lot of heartache. Along with the good folks who pitch in to help - there are also scummy people who'd steal an identity in a heartbeat. 

Sorry about the sideways shots. You get the idea...


The sock comes along. I did nothing on the afghan yesterday. It seems like between the turkey and the Tuesdays with Tippi, I was running all day. 

Migraine News...

Well, I'm having a few more migraines. I'm sure it's because "things are changing." My mom said it gets worse just before you stop having them.

On a good note, though, I just read about a "home remedy" for migraines: the self-induced brain-freeze. In the Chicago Trib's "Health" section, there's a column about various medicines/medical issues. This doctor wrote in, saying that he (or she) suffered from migraines and was caught short without the prescription meds.

So his (or her) friend had him sip ice water and then "gobble down" a bowl of chocolate ice cream. The resulting "brain-freeze" stopped the migraine in its tracks. 

Wow... and I bet there was no Rx hangover!! Hubby said, "Well, I guess I go get some chocolate ice cream!" I can get behind that. My health insurance recently switched me to the generic of my migraine Rx. And it works, but the "hangover" is more significant than with the brand-name. But I won't be able to appeal it on that basis. The basic fact is -- the generic works in this instance, so I'm stuck with it. And the day-long "fuzz" I have afterwards. But at least it stops the migraine. 

However, that "chocolate ice cream"'s tempting!

Dr. Who...

Yay!!! I found a YouTube channel that will simulcast the premier of the Dr. Who 50th Anniversary episode. I have to work. I want to see it. In case you're interested, it's going to be simulcast at -- I can't wait. 

I'm a come-lately Whovian. A novice, if you will. My first Doctor was Christopher Eccleston. I've been on a Dr. Who gorge ever since BBC has had their "takeover week" this week. 

I seriously want to knit a Dr. Who scarf. In all the specials, that Doctor said that the director at that time gave "a batch of wool" to a lady and said he wanted a scarf. The woman (I can't remember her name) was given no further direction, so she knit all the wool. That's how that 12-foot scarf came to be. I know - I'm what? 5' 4" if that... a 12-foot scarf knit entirely in garter is crazy-talk. But I want one. What can I say??


I'm done shopping. Sorry - I do a lot online and I am usually early. Well, I have one more thing to get: a chain for Kid #1's girlfriend. I'm giving her an amber charm, and I want to have a chain for it. 

We still have no idea of when we'll actually do the Christmas Eve dinner. It's too early to figure that out yet. I know I'll be doing Midnight Mass and we still have to figure out how to wire my guitar. 

Just about all the online stuff has come in. Hubby teased that he'd "already wrapped" my presents. I will be doing that this weekend; just because once I finish the afghan, I can reclaim my dining room table and we can put up our small tree.

We will probably use the big tree again once our canary goes to Canary Heaven. Right now, his table is in front of the picture window, and our room is small. I have no place to put a big tree - that the dogs won't knock over! I haven't gotten presents for the dogs. I did get Larry the grand-cat a couple of gifts. I figure since I'm baking, it's easy to just bake them some treats, and I wouldn't put those under the tree anyway. 


What's wrong with this picture? First, the Bishop in Springfield, IL holds an "exorcism" for Governor Pat Quinn because Quinn's signing a gay marriage bill. Now, this: a Methodist pastor has 30 days to renounce his own gay children. Renounce. His. Own. Children. Classy, right? Just click on the word "renounce" here and see what he says. I admire his stance. 

Gay marriage is not a threat to society. Just like interracial marriage didn't collapse the whole universe. If you don't like gay marriage, don't marry someone of your own sex. Is that a "simple" answer? Well yeah. Because nobody's forcing you to do that. So don't. 

We need to solve unemployment. We need to solve the poverty gap in our country. We are simultaneously the richest and poorest country in the industrialized world. Shame on us. Education needs help (not reform necessarily and certainly not reform by CORPORATIONS because kids aren't widgets). We need to dismantle the "too big to fail" banks back to their original sizes.

And all you want to carp about is gay marriage? Get a grip.

Also, happy birthday to Vice President Joe Biden!! 

Random Picture...

Shades of Blue by Sonda
Digging back in the picture archives. This is a hank of my friend Sonda's hand-dyed yarn. I made a hat out of this. I still have some left. I will probably do something with it, but I'm not sure what. I did also use some to make a bag for my mala beads, but I have at least 100 yards left. 

Sonda started dying her own yarns and then she got sick. I'm not saying that the two are connected. It was just horrible circumstance that she had a malignant melanoma. And they didn't find it till it reached her brain and her lungs; she died at age 55 and I still have trouble believing she's gone. She was a talented knitter and designer, having patterns in several "One Skein" books published. My knitting friend D and I had purchased this yarn, and we gave full hanks back to Sonda's mom. She's using it to knit shawls for Sonda's nieces for Christmas. I had that yellow - it was a tangled mess, and I took it home and spent a weekend unwinding it. I gave it back to her - and it's where it should be. 

I don't have enough of the blue to make an impact so I'm keeping that. 

Time to dive back into the real world. I need a stretch break.