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. 

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