Saturday, December 27, 2014

This, That, and The Other Thing...

Barber & Oberwartmann Greenhouse
My, my, my.... So sorry, kids. It got crazy. And a little "down the rabbit hole." And then Christmas happened. 

Ahem. 

Soooooooo...

I'm officially out of a job. BossLady and I tried. We really did. And I even spoke to the president of the school. That's where the "rabbit hole" happened (more in a bit). Anyway, we got everything wrapped up and BossLady said that we could just stop working the day classes ended - and she was right.

In spite of my better thoughts, when I went in the Sunday before the movers came, it really wasn't cool. Facilities had already been in and popped out all the door locks, IT had been in to remove all the computers, phones and projectors, and it looked pretty desolate. 

I now have the majority of my office in my office. And basement. Yikes. Eight years piles up. My mom will be getting some of the wreaths that I had for the doors, and the church will be getting some of the decorative things for the Rummage Sale. Heaven knows I don't need them!

Down the Rabbit Hole...

So. The Assistant and I get a note from BossLady on December 1 saying we are effectively gone and there will be no transfer to the new site. 

I e-mail the president's office and ask if I can have a meeting with him before we leave, and to my surprise, they say, "sure." So I did. 

I explained that I wasn't there to plead for our jobs, but to tell him that we think there could have been a better way to handle things. I tell him that BossLady and I submitted a proposal back in August for us to move to the new site. I tell him that we were notified that he, 2 VPs and the provost had said "no."

He says, "I didn't know anything about it." 

I tell him that one of the VPs, who wouldn't use the president's name unless he was 100% sure, said differently. We batted that ball back and forth a few times and ultimately, I said, "Either way, you knew or someone's using your name without your knowledge, which would bother me."

He says, "Well, about 10 days ago, I had this conversation..." and he proceeds to relate - almost verbatim -- the proposal that BossLady and I had submitted. As I sat there wondering when I'd been swallowed by the Jabberwocki, I tried to control my spinning brain. Finally, after he was done, I said, "You know that that's almost 100% what we proposed back in August." He says he can't speak to that, but that THIS was the conversation he had with the provost and HR about 10 days ago. 

Do the math... the date we were told we were out of jobs. So, he says, "Here's what I want you to do. Write a letter, and tell the head of HR that we just had this conversation and I related the parameters of the job to you and you would be my preferred candidate for it, given your familiarity with the operations, the 8 years you've put in, etc."

And I told him I would. And as I'm leaving, he's shaking my hand and saying, "Now, go WRITE the letter."

When I related this to BossLady, she had nothing to say for a full 10 seconds. Then she laughed. The Assistant says it's a power grab and that nothing will come of it. 

I say, "I've got nothing to lose either way, right?" I had planned to take January off, and then start the job hunt in earnest, while working on the freelance stuff. 

Oy. Rabbit hole. Big one. 

Christmas Baking...

Here's the baking - or some of it. It was Potica Central at our house, along with the usual cookies. And Kid #2 did his share of baking as well. 

I had honestly documented each one, but since I have been a Lazy Blogger, I'll spare you the infinite stages of Baking 2014. 

Cranberry Cake
The Cranberry Cake was adapted by Leah Eskin for the Chicago Tribune. I brought that to a party. We all loved it. 

It's a from-scratch "upside down" cake with the cake being a very dense sour cream base. The cranberries are tossed with brown sugar, ginger and orange juice. It's a great coffee cake, and really good with whipped cream. 

It's a keeper, and I will likely make it for the holiday season. 

This is a portion of the poticas we made. In all, we did 6 of the small ones (in the aluminum pans) for my mom and 7 of the long ones. Plus one in a Bundt pan, plus one in a Pyrex loaf pan that was our "tester." 

They came out very nicely, and my sister said that "this year, you beat Dad's" for taste and quality. 

Wow. That's even better than the standard, "It's almost as good as my Grandma's" which is the normal compliment you give if you get a decent slice that's not your own. 

The Potica Wars are serious business, you know. Pronounced po-TEETZ-ah, it's basically Slovenian (which is NOT Slovak), but my Croatian Great-Grandma gave her recipe to my Slovak-Russian father. Who was a fantastic pastry chef, though he couldn't make a pie crust to save his life. 

Hey, we all have issues...

Anyway, it's truly "a family recipe" which is not given out lightly. Everyone has tweaks. Mr. K next door got some of ours, and said he was looking forward to the golden raisins. 

Potica slices
Ummmmmmmm. Not in MY potica recipe, thank you. But some Germans use dark raisins; some Italians put chocolate in theirs. Some are pale; some are darker. 

This is ours. And no, you can't have the recipe. Unless you marry-in. 

Yes, it's THAT serious. 

Anyway, on to cookies. I finally put a spreadsheet together of what works and what we'll not be repeating next year. We eliminated some old favorites (bye-bye White Chocolate Cranberry Cookies - at least for this year) and added some new ones (hello date balls). And in that process found some duds (bye-bye saltine English Toffee recipe)...

So, in no particular order, this is what we have been giving out.  A mixed plate of potica and almond cake went to my friend J's party. We had to bring a snack. Her brother loved it. 

The plate with the green ribbon went to Jeff, my guitar teacher. It's a tradition. He brings me back the empty plate and gets a refill for the next year. He's the one who adored the white chocolate cranberry cookies, but he relented when he saw some of the other goodies on the plate. I had to laugh, because I asked him, "so how many of your OTHER students bring you home-made goodies??? Don't kvetch." 

The plate below (the big one) was what went to the family Christmas Eve gathering. Along with a tray from Kid #2, so it was certain that we had enough (too many) cookies. On that tray, in no particular order, we have Kolachy (the square ones), date balls (rolled in nuts and coconut), chocolate coconut cherry balls, pineapple crescents (which disappeared as I was lowering the plate to the table -- VULTURES!!), M & M cookies, Santa's whiskers (the ones under the Kolachy that are pale with red and green), spice cookies, chocolate crinkles and oatmeal cookies (which recipe I won't use next year, but I'll keep oatmeal on the spreadsheet). I also sprinkled on some peppermint bark I got as a gift. I can't eat it (GERD) and I didn't want to pitch it. So it's been distributed among the gift bags and plates. 

I do have a couple of egg-less recipes and those didn't make it onto the plate. Lord knows it weighed enough already. 

Snow. No...

This is all we got for snow. And that was in November. 

As we came out of church, it was a sprinkle. Today, it's grey and dismal. 

We have the December of No Sun happening. Yesterday was sunny and in the 50s. Which is wrong, people.

I'm southwest of Chicago. We're supposed to be having WINTER. Either it'll be totally mild, or January and February will be misery. 

Either way, it would have been nice to have a few flakes on Christmas. 

I'm including pics of some new ornaments. This is the 2014 batch of ornaments I make each year. The kids all get them till they're 18 ... unless you're MY kids, in which case, I keep making them. I usually do the Santa for Kid #2 in the school colors where he's teaching. Kid #1 gets whatever I reach into the box to grab, and he's cool with that. 

I used to be able to do a theme. Nephew #1 got ALL Santa Claus. #2 got all kittens and cats. But the plaster ornaments are harder to find, so I have to take what I can get. 

The porcelain ones are from Amy Bolin and I really like them. One day, when I have enough money, I may have her do an interpretation of one of the red huskies. 

So those are on the tree. And the tree is on the table. Because of Raisa the Rambunctious. 

In the picture below, she doesn't LOOK rambunctious but it's there, believe me. 

I can't even see how that's comfortable, but between Raisa and Quinn - I've lost the ability to recline in my reclining knitting chair. 

What we do for our dogs... 

Knitting...

So. Drumroll... The Baby Blanket is DONE. 

D-O-N-E. Finito. Finally. And I cheated. 

Ummmmmmmmm - I "adapted." I made it car-seat sized, and I crocheted a 3-row edging. I love mixing knitting and crochet. It looks cool, and for this, it enabled me to have somewhat of a ruffle AND it took the crinkles out of the basketweave edges. 

You can see in this picture the slight ruffle. It's not as deep as the original, but then again, the blanket is also about 22" instead of the 28" called for. 

I just couldn't face it. I needed it off my needles. You understand. Don't you? I was so sick of looking at it, knitting on it, seeming to never have it move an inch... So I fixed it. 

We mailed it off the day after Christmas and I'm totally cool with it. 

One thing that I'm NOT totally cool with is the St. Charles Sock. This is what happened at my last iron infusion, while I was waiting. And for the life of me, the more I tried to pick up the dropped stitch (and how the HECK did it drop anyway???), the worse it got. 

So I frogged it. 

Yes. I know. I was all the way on the foot, about 3" in... 

But sometimes, it's just not gonna behave and no matter what you do, it's not gonna be fixed. 

So it's frogged, back in the Dr. Who bag, and in time-out for now. 

I will knit the yarn into socks. I loved it. I just didn't love that obstinate dropped stitch. 

As far as the Sock-a-Month KAL, I'm anxiously awaiting January 1 so that I can get started. Here's my 12-month stash. And if I can do a pair a month, I'm cool. If not, I'm also cool. It's a personal challenge for me. I set aside the yarn. Hubby bagged and tagged. So I have this ready and I don't know what yarn is in what bag. 

I don't. Seriously, I haven't even picked up the January bag to feel it. 

What I can tell you is that there's Opal in there somewhere, some Cascade 220, some Fluromania and some Lorna's Laces. 

Oh, oh, oh... speaking of Fluromania, I got a replacement of sorts for the stuff that bled. The company sent me TWO skeins (of the same color, which is fine) and it was a total surprise. A good one. I didn't expect anything. 

To add to the spirit of "goody-ness" - on my Facebook group, Purple Goddess Design held a drawing, and I actually WON... She has these mugs in either tea or coffee. 

It's a nice-sized mug. Though I do have to send her something to tell her that the printing isn't sturdy. Not that I'm using a steel wool pad on it, but it did flake a bit. 

Anyway, go check her out. The yarns are yummy. They're on my "eventually" list. 

Right now, I'm doing a quickie hat for the "almost" DIL. Kid #1 asked me to do one and all I could say is, "Please, NOT for Christmas!" 

It's in a Lion chunky tweed, and it's acrylic. Which is fine for her. First off, she's not a "fancy yarn" person (we're working on that). Second, it's a quick ribbed hat. If she loses it (and Lord knows the Kids have lost their share of hats), it won't be a $45 hat. It's all of about $8 or so. 

I was actually going to give her my teal Kiwi hat, but I thought that it was probably better to just knit her one for herself. I did buy a couple extra skeins, so I can whip out a scarf or mitts to match. At some point, it's going to be a good trade-off project because it's on size 10 needles. Good to switch it up for the sock project. 

In Sickness and In Health...

I was feeling crappy. I still am. It's bronchitis (hit me the first part of December...) and now it's more in the sinuses. 

Didn't care if I had 2 solos this year. Didn't care that I felt like every time I blew my nose, I was losing brain cells. So this was often my supper. 

Not exactly "clean" eating, but hang it all -- sometimes you just want a grilled cheese with tomato soup. 

And on the "sickness and health" topic -- a few things. 

Hubby and I have been sharing a Crud. He started it. And we're both still at it. My great-granny's theory that freezing cold cures colds? I'm a believer. I haven't had bronchitis this early since the LAST mild winter. Give me cold. Kill the bugs...

Kid #2 had to have an ablation similar to my own. He came home for a few days and it was weird having him here, but nice. He's better, thanks, and back in his own home. 

And Kid #1 was talking "rings." Hubby and I talked a bit, and I'm going to offer him one of mine. This was one of the first rings Hubby gave me, so I wanted to make sure it was ok. He said, "It's yours..." but then he also said, "You're going to give them the rings anyway, so they may as well get them early to use them." 

I like family jewelry. And I'm a believer that you don't need to wait till I'm dead. The fact is, I'm going to be leaving a lot of rings - and why shouldn't they have them to enjoy them? 

I'm not being foolish. I mean, it's gotta be SERIOUS. And the kids have been dating for a little over 5 years. And she's not a "bling" kind of girl. Hopefully she'll like it. 

I don't want him to think he has to rush into anything, but I would be really honored if they'd use one of mine. I showed him some of them, kind of to give him ideas about structure, what fits well with a band, etc. And gemstones are coming back as engagement rings. She doesn't particularly like diamonds. But he liked this one. 

Random Picture...

I'm feeling a hankering to raid the cookies in the freezer... So here's your random picture. 


Kid #2 came in for the surgery and Raisa went nuts... So he scooped her up and said, "Take that, rowdy hound!" 

She wasn't quite sure what to do; you can't see it, but her tail was flying pretty good. 

After that, she was pretty good about jumping on him. 

Yes, I know. She has her CGC. But apparently, this is HER boy and she was going to jump on him regardless!





































Saturday, November 22, 2014

Looks Like Prune Juice...

I mean my iron infusions. Seriously, they look like I'm ingesting prune juice via IV. And I actually LIKE prune juice. Especially warmed, with maybe a slice of lemon if I have it around. 

OK, so this isn't a great picture, but remember, one arm is tethered down with the IV set-up, and I'm balancing a camera which isn't set up to just touch the center of the picture to snap it. 

The OLD Windows phone allowed you to do that. Microsoft caved in and made you have to hit the "camera" icon and you have to hit it with a fingertip, not a fingerNAIL. Trust me on this one. 

Here's the IV set up. They're alternating arms, so next week I get to have my left arm skewered. This last time, I was actually in a room, not in the (very cold) common area. Still, I brought along the red knitted capelet I bought from WinterSilks. It was on clearance, otherwise I'd give y'all the link. 

It covered my neck and down to my elbows, which was just enough. As you can see, it's not likely that I'll be knitting during these infusions (drat), but I do get a fair bit of reading done. And if I chose to, I could probably drag my laptop along, but I don't want to do that. Too much crap to handle, and I don't want to risk it falling off the tiny table they give you. 

My entire professional life is on this laptop, and I don't want to be in danger of losing it. 

Copy Writing...

So. No word on the job yet. Stressed much? It hit me hard today, and I told BossLady in an e-mail. She's a peach. No, I mean it. She has just about given herself an ulcer trying to get me and The Assistant placed elsewhere in the university - preferably running the new site, though they can't seem to see that they need us there. 

Anyway, she e-mailed me back and said, "You know, you can just stop working on 12/12 - I will fill in."

And while it's tempting, my Better Self says to just suck it up and complete my job. Which is what I told her. I appreciated her offer, but she's insanely busy and I don't want to give her any more work. I can do this. I'm a big girl. 

But there are days when I really feel like I'm the statue and there are about 4 flocks of Canadian Geese flying overhead, fully loaded. It's just the way it is, lately.

Anyway, I have aligned myself with the American Writers Association, Inc., and will be taking a brush-up course on copy writing. I fancy myself a fairly good writer, and I believe I can be persuasive when I need to be. 

So I'm aiming to do web content and social media in a few specific areas that are appealing to me: alternative health, yoga, pets, public relations, and cooking. I have expertise in these areas, and I believe firmly that you write most passionately about that which you are passionate. 

For example, copywriters in the finance area make huge money. But I'm not good at that. Was my MBA a waste? Nope. My concentration(s) included HR and Marketing. I had to take the finance stuff, and I have a passing familiarity. But I'm not comfortable in that role. 

So. I will take about 3 months to finish the brush-up courses, build a portfolio and then launch myself back into the freelance world. I'm starting with folks I know, and I'll go from there. 

I write really good press releases, so I can at least offer my services there at the beginning. 

Knitting...

Speaking of knitting, I'm at about 13.5" on the blanket -- so, almost 50%!!! That's of the body - I still have to do the ruffle. 

Using math (don't be shocked), I think that if I can do 7 rows a day (not REPEATS, but rows) -- remember, it's cotton, so it's a bit of a stinker on the hands - I can get the body done in 10 days. Perhaps, with the holiday weekend, I can stick 7 rows at the beginning of the day and 7 at the end, speeding up the process, if my hands can take it. 

Then, likely 5 days to finish the ruffle, wash and block (I really want to block this thing) and mail it. 

There. Baby knitting DONE. I will still, of course, work on knitting from stash for the easy baby sweaters, booties and hats. But until I have grandKIDS and not grandCATS -- no more afghans. At least not in cotton!

The sock - I have it at work, but I was listening to a webinar and taking notes, and I was searching up invoices for various services at the campus. BossLady wanted to know about servicing the sprinklers, etc. 

So no sock knitting. I'll do my 7 rows today when I get home, and while the turkey is cooking. Maybe some sock knitting in the evening, watching Sherlock on BBC America unless there's a better movie on. 

Immigration...

One more time: It is NOT an amnesty program. It's deferred deportation. BIG difference. And really? Why is this an issue when Ike did it. Nixon did it. Ford did it. Both Bushs did it. Reagan did it. 

Hmmmmmmmmmm. One of these things is not like the others. One of these things just doesn't belong. 

Would it be the BLACK guy in the WHITE House?

Republicans need to back off and start governing for the PEOPLE - and I'm talking about the ones with lungs, brains and reproductive organs. Not the "people" of the corporate world. 

But hey... keep it up. Way to zap yourself back into oblivion. 

Soup...

Turkey is in the oven for Sunday's dinner. The relish is thawing. The potatoes will be done tomorrow a.m.

I had a lovely lunch. Ham sandwich on a pretzel bun, with homemade cream of broccoli soup. We had the broccoli and I had intended it as a side dish, but things got insanely crazy...So before we had to pitch it, this idea came to my head. Well, I searched for the recipe and found one that was so easy that Tippi could do it, if she had thumbs. 

It was really good the next day, after the flavors had a chance to sit for a while. I'm going to go get some tea shortly and knit on that blessed baby blanket. 

After I check the turkey. 

Random Picture...

My gorgeous Tippi. Last night, she heard something and I was able to catch this shot of her. Usually, you see her in some goofy outfit for her therapy work. 

When she came to us, she was a wraith. Scraggly coat; just had given birth a few months prior; ill-fed. And scared. But resigned. 

Scared + resigned is horrible to see in a lovely animal such as she is. 

But after she settled down, she found her place: as queen of the household! 

She's 7 years old and has a cataract. She's intelligent, goofy, loving and one of the best dogs I've had. 

My little heart-dog. 





Thursday, November 20, 2014

Too Hectic for My Comfort...

...more like "freakin' INSANE" and I don't like it. 

Well. Can't even remember where I left off. So we'll start with pictures and go from there... 

Weather... 


St. John's Church
So it snowed. Finally, I guess. Don't be lobbing snowballs at me. I like it. Honest. Though who knows - if I lived in Buffalo, NY, where they got a YEAR'S worth of snow in a day or so? Probably not so much. But this is what it looked like when we came out of church this past Sunday.

Kid #2 lives farther north and west of us, so he got his early. And Kid #1 doesn't care.

So far, we're just getting much of the cold weather. It's deceptive and shocking, because it's lovely sunny weather, and you walk outside - and freeze your lungs!

But this is definitely a switch because it truly has not been this cold, this bitter, this early.

Which makes me wonder what winter will be like when it finally gets here. 


Sunrise on Saturday
And I suppose the atmosphere had something to do with this shot. This was the sunrise last Saturday, when I had to come to work at "dawn:thirty." It is cropped, because as I explained to Hubby, you would otherwise see the gas station and parking lot lights. And the sunrise + clouds is just much more beautiful than all that miscellaneous stuff. 

Besides, I kind of wanted to compete with his pictures from the parks where he walks the dogs. This can't compare, of course, but it sure comes close. 


If you're wondering about the weather, take a tip from Tippi: Baby it's gonna be COLD outside. This is what we got off her last night. We figure she's gearing up for an even MORE luxurious coat for the coming weather. 

Yes, I know - enough to start another bag of spinning stash, but after what the last batch cost me, I can't do that. And I haven't even BEGUN to knit that stuff up. This will go outside for the birds, whoever's staying around for the winter. 

Knitting...

Well, I've got about a foot on the blanket now. Another foot to go yet, before I get to the edging. It'll happen. I'm willing it so. 


St. Charles Sock
Though I'm still plugging away on the St. Charles Sock. Here it is, and I think it'll be lovely. Not much done on it this past week, because I've been zipping along on the blanket. 

I have all my bags ready for the "Knit From Stash" KAL that our Addicted to Sock Knitting group is doing. Can't wait to see what Hubby put in the January bag. 

Can I knit a pair of socks in a month? I've done it before. 

Three Planted Seeds...

...is the Etsy store of my friend Kristy. Here's a lovely amethyst bracelet she made for me. She got Audrey and in return, I got this bracelet. I love amethyst and it fits nicely. 

So check it out and see what you think:  Three Planted Seeds -- I think you'll like her work. The bracelets are lovely and she's got a nice little thing going there. 

She's a yoga teacher who teaches with me at Just Breathe Yoga in Crest Hill. She does a lovely weekend class and does a lot with kids' yoga and the like. 

I teach a basic class, and will also pick up two more of them during the week. It's nice to have some sort of job security, even if it's part-time. 

Health Stuff...

Ok, so SuPrep is an amazing "cleanse" for a colonoscopy. If only it wasn't so vile-tasting. I now have an aversion to white grape juice. You've gotta drink it with liquid. You have to dilute it to 16 oz., so it's 6 oz. of the stuff and 10 oz. of some "clear" liquid. I chose white grape juice, figuring that it wouldn't be so bad. 

Oh, it was. 

Then, I had to drink another TWO of the 16-oz. containers of water, within an hour of drinking that vile brew. In the meantime, Hubby made me some yellow Jell-O. I don't like Jell-O except as a vehicle for fruit and/or ice cream... As you can see, Raisa had an opinion on it. Urgh. 

Let's just say that this prep worked, and I didn't have to leap over dogs to get to the bathroom on time. But I was up at least 3 times in the night. 

For what it's worth, they found 2 polyps and are sending them off to be biopsied. But the doc says that it's "normal" to do that. Just typing this, I realized that I hadn't scheduled the follow-up. Well, that's done now!

And I had a little "toe problem" which was taken care of. Normally, I wouldn't mention this except that I was looking for coban tape - you know, that stuff that sticks to itself and not your skin? Well... Apparently, all we had was "doggie coban" - which, you will be happy to know, is chew-proof... Notice the lovely paw prints on the lime green bandage.

Yikes...

Anyway, I think I'm reacting to something; both legs itch. I suspect it's the cream I used on my feet last night. If it's not one thing, it's another! 

Christmas...


So this year, I won't have Kid #2 to help with baking. Hubby and I will split it. Here's our list, so far. Now to just stick with it. Kid #1 wanted to know why potica was questionable. It's not a question. I have to make it. It's just a question of WHEN to do so. 

I was thinking of decorating for Christmas over the Thanksgiving weekend, since I'm not working and we are actually having our family Thanksgiving this coming Sunday. We shall see how it works. Depends a lot on the weather, too. I want to put some things into the ground, but if the cold pattern continues, we may have to settle on garland and lights around the porch and call it good. 

I do have a hankering to make macaroons and they're not on the list. We'll stick to one batch of each thing, though I'm pretty sure Hubby will do several batches of the Filled Cookies. Addicting little buggers, though. 

And here's what was in our local paper today. Truly a statement on "Christmas Creep" which almost rivals my Zombie Santas on Halloween picture...

Of course, they didn't have pumpkins with legs helping to haul the sleigh, but they might as well have had. 

I just heard Sirius Radio expounding on their "Holiday" channels. I admit, part of me wanted to skip over to that space, but the other part is more like, "No. Not till at LEAST Thanksgiving." 

It's going to be an easy year anyway. I'm not loading the kids down with stuff. Just a few kitchen items I know they both want or need, and that's likely to be it. Maybe a couple of t-shirts, if I can find them. We have a "thing" about t-shirts, mostly with snarky sayings on them.  

So here's my Christmas gift to me. Two porcelain ornaments by artist Amy Bolin. She does fantastic dog stuff, and even though it's not a red Husky, it does remind me of my Topaz, so I got that one. And the heart with an Elkhound was too sweet to resist. 

Click on Amy's name and check out her site. She even does custom work, so if you have a special canine you want memorialized, Amy's your artist. 

These are 2-sided, and I had her print the picture on both sides. You could have the one side left blank or have an inscription on it. 

Random Picture...


Yep. Tippi. With her special friend from Lewis University. This is what I enjoy about Tuesdays with Tippi. The kids just love her. 

And she loves them. 

She has her favorites, but all in all, she's overjoyed every time we go there. 

Doesn't matter when. Just that she's happy to be there, and they are happy that she's with them.

Tonight we have a guest appearance at the local chapter of The Compassionate Friends at my campus. So in a bit, I'll log off and go get her to come back for a little while. She'll be a good comfort to those folks. 

Hopefully, they will appreciate the joy of a big fluffy Elkhound. I know so many people do. 











Thursday, November 06, 2014

It's Time for Soup...

OK, so the elections didn't go off the way I wanted, but hey - the turnout was good and we were busy as election judges. No machines crapped out. No voters were denied the right to vote. Except for the crazy lady (and I'm deadly serious here; I'll be calling the States Attorney's Office today), it all went off nicely. 

But today is today. Yesterday, I was in a total fog; feeling cruddy physically and mentally. Overwhelmed and sad. But I figure this: Nothing is going to be totally ruined in 2 years. 

They'll just do the same thing that they've been doing. Nothing. 

That being said, it's November. The radio stations are promising Christmas music already (oh, please...) and people are talking about Christmas shopping and all that. I'm going to be missing my usual "Girls' Shopping Expedition" because I have a Free Clinic workshop that week. Hubby will be happy about that...

So. In the spirit of November, fall, cool weather and the time change, I give you:

                                                     Butternut Squash Soup

1 large or 2 medium butternut squash; slice in half, peel, and scoop out the seeds. Chop roughly.

2 large-ish carrots, chunked

2 large Granny Smith apples, quartered and cored. 

1/2 c. leeks, chopped

2 T. olive oil + 2 T. butter

Salt, pepper to taste

1 t. Tarragon

1/2 t. dried lemon peel

8 c. water or veggie stock (add 2 Knorr Veggie cubes if you're using plain water)

1 c. half-and-half

Put the oil + butter in the bottom of a stock pot, heat to melt the butter. Add leeks. Stir around till they're slightly translucent. Add the carrots, squash and apples, and stir around. Let that all saute for about 10 minutes, with the lid on. Add the salt, pepper, tarragon and lemon peel.

Add the water or stock. Bring to a boil, stir it up and then bring down to a simmer. Simmer, covered, about 20-30 minutes - till you can poke the squash and it's tender (the apples will be mushy, but don't worry about that). 

Shut off the heat; use a stick blender (the easiest) and whiz it all up to your favorite consistency - I like it as smooth as I can get it. Then, add the half-and-half, and whiz again just to blend. 

NOTE: IF YOU WANT TO USE BAY LEAF (which tastes yummy), PLEASE REMOVE IT BEFORE YOU WHIZ IT UP. YOU CAN'T EAT BAY LEAF!! 

Serve warm in a mug you can hug. It also freezes nicely, but leave about 1" head-space for expansion. 

Enjoy!

Knitting...

Well, tonight, I'm home, so I'm going to just blitz through the St. Charles sock and see how it goes. I'll start on the blanket tomorrow. I have my first iron infusion, so I'll have to bring knitting and the Kindle so I can have something to occupy myself while they're watching me. 

I've turned the heel and done the gusset. It was a little weird because I ended up having more stitches on one side, so there's some "fudge" built into the sock.   And speaking of socks, here's the "Knit from Sock Stash" project. 

Hubby did his bit. I pulled 12 yarns and he stuck them in bags and labeled them for each month. I'm going to attempt to knit a pair of socks a month, starting in January. One of our designer friends in our "Addicted to Sock Knitting" group is generously going to provide patterns for us, but we can also default to our old favorites if necessary.

For example, I have a car-load of Opal, and most of it is self-patterning/striping. I wouldn't do a fancy lace pattern or something complex with cables (though I don't know how to do cables in the first place...) with a self-striping yarn. It's just too busy. 

But in my "Bags-O-Stash" I know there are some yarns somewhere that'll make nice lace or complex patterns. 

It'll be a nice way for me to not only make the sock drawer more attractive, but also get some of that stuff knit up. 

It also makes room for More Yarn. Which is still cheaper than therapy...I think. 

Politics...

OK, I wasn't going to go there, but I am going to anyway. The mid-terms were destined to really stink if you were a Democrat. The Republicans (and why ANY woman would be Republican? It just makes my head spin) have their people all together. They are in lockstep and I imagine this when I think of them...

And no, I really don't care if it's seemingly "offensive." 

The GOP platform is inherently "offensive" if you have a working brain cell, ovaries, and/or are human.   They talk "compromise," but that's not the first thing I thought of this morning, when I read the Chicago Tribune. Mitchy says he's not going to shut down the government or hold the deficit hostage, but as my friend Jan said, "Did he clear that with Ted Cruz and Joni Ernst?" 

Because he will be just as much an obscure footnote as Boehner is: leader of the least-effective Congress in history. But to hear them talk, Obama is the weak link.

And speaking of weak links, I'm sooooooooooo sick and tired of the Dems who jumped ship. Hey, folks - howzabout you tout the things that WORKED? Stop appealing to the "base" - which are truly the lowest-educated and lowest-informed voters. Perhaps if you talked to those of us who DO think, we'd be less discouraged and more inclined to work harder.

Oh, and let's get the big money out of Election$.... Or, if you prefer: $election$ - because so many of our politicians are truly bought-and-paid for. 

Yes, on both sides of the aisle. 

We have 2 years to watch them do nothing. They'll be busy yammering about "impeaching" the "illegitimate" (so illegitimate that we elected him TWICE) president, and hopefully, we can all finally wake up and smell the coffee.

And say it out loud: They're offended that a BLACK man won the WHITE House. And they want it back to where it properly belongs: in the hands of a rich, conservative white guy. Obama is perceived to be an "uppity" elitist black guy who manages to be, in no particular order: Marxist, Socialist, Fascist, Muslim, Kenyan, illegitimate, etc. Insert your favorite pejorative here... The sooner they can be shed of him and have an upright Christian American MALE in there? The better.

Baghhhhhhhhhh. We get the government we deserve. 

Random Picture...

I'll have to pull one out of the archives, because my Sky Drive is acting wonky. I can't even show you a picture of the socks; the Hi-Res pictures show up, but the other ones don't. And obviously, I don't want a bunch of hi-res pictures on my camera, because I don't want to use up all the space.

Yes. It's The Teal Sock. 

And yes, it's still a singleton. The other one is resting comfortably in the yarn bowl, under a pile of catalogs. It's that time of year, so the mail is full of holiday catalogs. Which I pile up till I get sick of them, and then they go into the recycle bin.

But for now, they're hiding the fact that I haven't done a single stitch on The Other Teal Sock. In months. 

Hey, I've got a baby blanket to finish before Christmas.

That's my story, and I'm sticking' to it!





Monday, November 03, 2014

Lacrimosa -- Full of Tears...

This beautiful chunk of Mozart's Requiem is one of the most famous pieces of music. 

And it is just how our church family feels. Our beloved organist and friend, Tom Secor, died on Saturday about 9:30 p.m. after a long fight. He took a fall about 5 months back, and thing spiraled from there. He wasn't that old, either. He just had a compromised system, being on the list for a kidney transplant. An infection got in, settled in and took its toll. 

Mass on Sunday was a "mess." We have had a substitute organist for a while; after struggling with those of us who could barely find our way around a keyboard (for a group of musicians, we are remarkably untalented with keyboard instruments!), we got her to play regularly. She's a pianist, and every pianist worth their salt will tell you "I don't normally play the organ." They are two distinctly different instruments, and most pianists find the feel and the set-up a little overwhelming. Several organists I know are also pianists, but it doesn't translate backward. 

She was shaken up; our choir was shaken up. You could hear a pin drop when Fr. Matt announced Tom's death. It shook our church to its roots because so many people knew him for so long. That being said, we've only been members of the church for not quite 3 years. And I can't stop crying. 

This is what I see when I let my mind wander. When my friend (and another organist) Janet's son died, she commissioned a painting like this of her son being hugged by Jesus. Is it sappy? Likely. But if it gives you comfort, you go with it. 

The funeral will be next Sunday and we're expecting an over-packed house. We have some music and luckily, some "choir ringers" -- many people who are talented musicians want to "Sing Tom Home" and we're very happy with that. That being said, I'm conceding my status as an Alto. There are soprano parts I'd been able to sing easily, but lately, those high notes are beyond my grasp. I guess I need to just accept that and be happy that there will be more than 2 Alto singers for this funeral. 

I'm meeting with Fr. Matt about Christmas and I'm not sure what he has in mind. There are a few people in the choir who don't want "slappy-happy" music, and frankly, I'm not exactly sure what that means. I'm thinking it means anything dated 1970 and forward. And while I adore the old pieces, I have to say - there's gotta be room for something else as well. Tom was accepting of my guitar, but not to the extent I used to play in my other church. And that lack of playing has started to show. As well, the sound system at St. John's isn't conducive to a guitar...hauling an amp is a pain in the sit-bones, but it may be what we do for a while. We shall see what he's got up his sleeve. 

St. Julian of Norwich...

This keeps going through my mind as we as a congregation reel from this loss. And as I deal with a lot of personal junk going on. Losing my job in December (it looks like nobody's listening to our claims that they're going to need us at the new location) is hitting me hard. I'm not sure what I want to do. I've signed up for some job search places online and I'm working with a freelance writing group. Maybe it's a sign that I have indeed been spoiled. I mentioned to Hubby last night that this job I've had for the past 8 years? It's spoiled me. Yes, I have a lot of skills, but after all this time, to an employer, my skills are "old." To ME, they're old. I did marketing and PR in the world before SEO and social media marketing. 

Yeah, I know blogs, FaceBook, Twitter, etc. But that doesn't mean I know enough to attract an employer, when there are a car-load of new graduates well-versed in these things. I don't know what the future holds, and it is bothering me. 

But I look to Julian and I hope that the appropriate solution will present itself to me. I'm not saying I'm waiting for someone to hand me something. I'm saying that I'm trying not to clutch my pearls and panic... I'm 56 years old, and jobs don't grow on trees for folks like me. I'm essentially over-qualified for a lot of things, yet under-qualified almost in the same breath. But I need to do what I've done before: consider things that are a little off the beaten path. You'd think I could get through this relatively easily, but you'd be wrong. 

Things hit us differently each time they happen. This is certainly not my first time at a lay-off. It's actually Number Five. It doesn't make it any easier. Familiarity in this case does not breed acceptance. 

Tuesday...

If I hear one more "gloom and doom" poll telling us that the Democrats have lost the election BEFORE it's even Election Day... I may scream. 

I'm secretly wondering if this really IS Venezuela, where they announced, several elections running, that Chavez had won by "unanimous" consent -- two days before everyone voted. 

Really. Let's get some perspective. It's not going to be an ice cream social. Nobody ever said that. But I'm really beginning to believe that people are waking up and smelling the coffee. 

Frankly, I can't see why any WOMAN would vote Republican. Let's face history. It hurts, but it's necessary. Republicans shut down the government last year. They have vowed to (yet again) REPEAL the Affordable Care Act. What? We don't have anything else pressing in this country? 

They deny the climate change staring them in the face. They are at the whim and behest of corporations - even all the way to SCOTUS (and why do Supreme Court Justices have contributions given to them by rich people???). They want women back in the kitchen, thank you very much. 

They penalize the poor, at the same time as they decimate what's left of the middle class. Mostly because the politicians themselves have already been taken care of by their own corporate overlords. 

Can we individually fight Citizens United - arguably the absolute worst decision to come out of the so-called unbiased Supreme Court in ages? No, we can't. But we can't afford to sit on our rear ends tomorrow because we're discouraged. 

Look at the graphic, you women especially. Our foremothers fought. They were beaten, arrested and humiliated. But they persevered. And we got the vote. 

Two countries don't allow women to vote: Saudi Arabia (and that's changing in 2015, finally) and Vatican City (yes, Vatican City is a country). 

Technically, women have had the right to vote well before the Amendment. In 1869, Wyoming actually allowed women to vote. The 19th Amendment wasn't ratified till 1920.

We could watch our civil liberties being sucked into the vortex that is Christian fundamentalism at its worst -- because that's what they want. They want us to be depressed and discouraged. They want us to throw our hands up and say, "Well, my vote doesn't count." 

It does. It truly still does. In spite of gerrymandering. In spite of commercials to the contrary. In spite of anything any local news reporter or newspaper says. 

Your vote is important. And it's important that you exercise that right. Tomorrow. If you've already voted early, then see if someone needs a ride to the polls. Don't be a bystander to your own destiny. Get into that voting booth and vote. 

And don't be a chicken about reporting irregularities. I've seen some reports where some voting machines are tallying (D) votes as (R) votes... Yep, hacked in and tampered with. Look at your ballot and watch, if you have electronic machines, what it says. Your future depends upon what you do in that voting booth. 

Einstein said something that should put all of this in perspective: The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing. 

Don't let someone else vote for you...because THEY show up and YOU decided not to. 

Knitting...

Well, I couldn't stand it. Let me backtrack. I sent the clothing out to the new baby, who should be here tomorrow, if he's on time... But I put an IOU in the card for the blanket. And I took this out because I needed a large break from baby knitting. 

Yep, the St. Charles Sock and also my music. Which, by the way, I totally screwed up on Sunday. Mind you, I could sing this in my sleep. But as I said, Mass Was A Mess, and I totally blew the song right off the page. In a bad way... 

Anyhow, the sock has now got its heel turned, and I'm in the process of doing the gusset decrease. I've got probably 10 rows before I get to the foot. I'll intersperse this with the blanket and get both of them done soon, I hope. 

I want the blanket out of my house by Christmas, though I may have to have Fr. Matt do a blessing on it, because I haven't had exactly sweet thoughts as I've been working on it!! 

Christmas Creep...

So as I go to buy a baby card on HALLOWEEN, I round the corner of my local CVS and this is what I see. 

Yes, I jumped. My friend Deb called it "The Attack of the Zombie Santas." Really. Halloween candy was still at the front of the store, but this was in the card aisle. 

And I'm already sick of holiday commercials. 

I wish to register a new phrase. It's not Christmas Creep. It's Christmas Chaos or Christmas Conquering. 

Because it's conquered all the way up to the week BEFORE Halloween, especially in Target, where the ghosty background was still up whilst they put up Santa, snowmen and reindeer. 

I really would like to see a pilgrim and a turkey. Just one. Sometime after Halloween and before Thanksgiving. 

Just one. There's gotta be one somewhere. Besides the flag that I have in my garden, I mean. 

I'll have to break down and buy one of those illuminated turkeys, just in protest. 

Sad News...

Well, Arlo went to Canary Heaven this week. He was fine in the morning, but when it was time to put him to bed, we saw he was dead in the bottom of his cage. 

Canaries usually live 10 years. He lived to 13 years, so in the last 2 or 3 years, he didn't do much singing. Arlo was a Roller Canary. That meant that when he sang, it could last 5 - 10 minutes. Seriously loud, too. Often, phone conversations ceased when Arlo started singing. Here's a YouTube of a Roller. I think we may have a file somewhere, but I can't lay my hands on it. 

He was a beautiful bird, called "blue" but actually white with grey-blue accents. Again - I do have a picture but not handy. 

Random Picture...

And to end this very sad blog on a high note, it's the always-crazy Raisa. Yes. Under my knitting chair. 

Why? Because she can. 

She's a rare breed: The Siberian Husk-Cat. Able to leap nearly 6' from a standing position. Able to cram herself into the smallest of places. Eater of anything not nailed down. Howler extraordinaire. 

And at this point, just the comic relief I need.