Friday, February 28, 2014

I Found It!!!!

Well, not it specifically. But it close enough. The plain sock pattern. 

The one on Ravelry was the one in German on the Opal sock band. It's so basic that it's just about incomprehensible - to me, at least!!

This one, however, looks like it's from the "Teach Yourself Visually to Knit Socks" book that I have at home. But I downloaded it anyway and will place it on the "Nice Ribbed Sock" clipboard so that I have it in perpetuity.

Or till I lose it again. It's even got the correct heel. Whoop-dee-do!!

Otherwise, not much progress to report on the sock. Since I'm here at work on my day off, I've brought it and I've gotten about 1/2" more on it. And since it's on small DPNs, it doesn't look like much. But it's coming along. 

I'm actually itching to start another pair, but I'm resisting till I get this one done, and finish the Pink Sock. Perhaps after that, I'll either start on the next pair of hiking socks (worsted yarn on size 3 DPNs) or yank another ball of Opal out of the stash and start those.

That'll be my "gratification" project. And I'll also try to drag along the Before and After Scarf. I need to finish the peacock colorway and then start the lime-y yellow green part. I know - sounds bilious, but it's pretty alongside the peacock. 

And I will reevaluate the projects I need to put on the Project Graph. 


I'm sooooooooooo exhausted. I got up at before-dawn:30 a.m. and had to get to work early. Mind you, normally Friday is my day off. But someone in our Facilities Department basically hates me, because they scheduled the HVAC folks in this morning. 

They tell me they'll be done by 2:30 or so - and I hope so. Not only am I tired, but I have a guitar lesson at 5 p.m. so I need to get my skates on and shoot across town. 

And of course, I haven't practiced. I've been too busy using the Sibelius program to learn the 18 songs we need to learn for Easter.  

Well. Ok. Four. Four songs. But 2 are in Latin. So that counts extra. In my opinion!

I know I'm really tired. Doc K (the instructor from yesterday's all-day class) handed me THREE squares of Ghirardelli "Intense Dark" Twilight Delight 72% cacao squares. 

He's a devil... In a very sweet, European way. He asked if I wanted one, and I said yes...then he gave me THREE, saying, "We share." 

Anyway, I'm doing pretty well on the new eating plan, but this chocolate is really singing to me now. I get that way when I'm really tired. 


Remember a while back when I said that I do believe I'm depressed? I mean, I'm not just having a "bummer" day. I'm seriously not happy about stuff I should be happy about. I'm not at "crawl in a hole and drag it back over me" but I'm at "why don't I feel enthused or happy more?" 

And I'm not talking giggly-happy Pollyanna. I just want more joy in my life. 

I fake it really well. 

And I'm scared of meds because the side effects are really nasty.


I'm reading -- or rather, INHALING -- Yoga for Depression by Amy Weintraub. She's not only a Kripalu yoga teacher, but also a person who suffers from depression. My teacher took a class or two with her and was eager in her recommendation of the book. 

I may as well highlight the entire thing right now. Heaven knows, I've tabbed it. Almost as much as my Chicago Manual of Style.

She writes compassionately, clearly and with a lot of expertise. She's not writing as a know-it-all expert, but as one who has consulted those experts to inform herself as she writes. 

I can't wait to implement some of her techniques. 

If you're a yoga teacher or if you suffer from depression - or you know someone with anything from mild depression to bipolar disease to PTSD, it's a great book for them. 

So I'll work with what she suggests and see if I can find the light that I once had. Without resorting to either more medicine or medicating myself with food or solitude. 

I'm naturally a solitary person, though. I'd rather be home. I have a small circle, and I don't need - or want - a larger one. But lately, I just want to be by myself, and that's not healthy. 

Wish me luck, and yeah - I'll take prayers, candles, whatever. 

No stress, but I guess that means I need to make a SERIOUS attempt to get enough mat-space on my office floor at home because I've been a gigantic procrastinator; I really should, as a Yoga teacher, have my own consistent daily practice. And I don't. I have a weekly practice, and I usually go through parts of the sequence I'm teaching my students, but I fall short of my own exhortations to my students about "just doing a few poses every day."


Speaking of which, I'm going through a series on Feldenkrais - a way of moving your body. Similar-ish to yoga in that you note your awareness as to what your body is doing, but not like yoga in that the movements are very tiny for the most part. 

Very interesting, but not anything I'd like to teach or explore beyond the 5-week series. 

And I have an e-mail from my "Yoga for Seniors" teacher asking if I'd like to discuss where my teaching will take me.

I'd like to discuss it, but I need to answer the question for myself first - or at least have an idea. 

The Friend Situation...

As I've talked about here, I've had a tussle within myself (like I need it) about Old Friend. I'm talking "known since early grade school" -- we have FINALLY, tentatively, made a date to get together tomorrow after she's finished work. 

It'll be the first time in almost 2 years we've seen each other. Not for lack of my reaching out to her. 

Is it time to have The Discussion? Is it just something I figure we'll just deal with by limping along? Do I want to have a "bestie" (her term, not mine) who really is only interested in talking about herself? This is a very 90/10 friendship, as it happens. 

One thing I may bring up, if it seems appropriate, is that perhaps we should just exchange cards for birthdays and holidays. Gifts - I don't need anything else. Really. "Stuff" I have. 

I'll have to let you know if the visit comes to pass. 

Random Picture...

This is clearly a photo I shot this past summer, shortly after we walked off the minor Alp. This is at the very beginning of my paragliding adventure. 

My Jump
No, I can't really believe I did it, picture evidence to the contrary. But I'm awfully glad I did it. 

And yes, under the right circumstances, I could certainly see myself doing it again. 

I guess that since yesterday's post was so picture-heavy, I'm really light on them today. But there's nothing new to report that I haven't told you about already above. Not even a cute dog picture. 

It's still cold. The snow's still (sort of) melting, and there's progress on the Teal Sock, but it's very incremental. So we shall enjoy the view of the far side of Mt. Blanc and go from there. 

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Best of Random Pics...

I'm not lazy. I'm just tired of the stale news cycles... So today we're doing a "best of" -- I've dug through the phone and I've found some random pics that I don't think I've posted before. But if I have, please excuse and just enjoy!!

Comments always welcome - and share my blog with your friends. (Doesn't that sound awfully needy??? Well, we writers are like that...)

Altar in my office
This is the altar in my office. I use it as a focal point for meditation, and it's a little "sacred space" for some of my treasures, including my great-granny's medals, Tippi's TDI badges, candles, a rock from a trip -- all kinds of stuff that just means something to me. 

I saw an article in Yoga Journal about the altars people kept and some were quite spare. Some were beautiful. But all of them reflected the individual who created them. Some were just a bulletin board. 

All you need is a little space where you can put something meaningful up in front of you. It doesn't have to be "religious" in nature. It can be a picture, a seashell, a candle... anything that causes you to pause and think. 

That's the purpose. Not adulation. Not worship. But a space in your life (at home or at the office -- or both) where you are reminded to "stop and smell the roses." Or look at the picture. Or light the candle. 

Basically, a spot that reminds you to breathe. We all need that. 

Hi temps...
I don't know when I took this, but it was last summer. Just because it's 7* here (feels like "spring may never come" -- a/k/a -11*F), we often forget that yes, spring will come. And then summer. And we'll be griping or boasting about how hot it is. 

When you're freezing in this, the (hopefully) last of the Polar Vortex times, remember this picture and realize that, come August, you'll be whining. 

Well, I'll be whining. Either way.

We took these clematis down this past year. They had actually rather withered and even though I know they can last for years and years, ours succumbed to either the crummy soil, the hot weather or the dogs who kept peeing on them. 

Or a combination thereof. 

So last year, we took down the trellises and put in 2 lilac bushes. We will most likely trim the lilacs and keep them from getting "wild" but I will miss these clematis. I love lilacs, but I will miss the beauty of these flowers.  

If you get a chance, please plant these. They're gorgeous, hardy and beautiful in a mixed planting. Meaning, you can plant ANY combination of these flowers. If you want to be matchy-matchy, go for it. If you want to mix red, white, purple, variegated.

Well, do that, too. You can have big ones, small ones, a mix of the two.

You can plant one side in blues, one side in purples. Or any of the above combinations. 

Clematis have different blooming times, too. Ours always bloomed early and then by August, we were done. Mr. K., next door? His is GIGANTIC, but it's got smaller flowers. And it blooms a month or so after ours and lasts through fall. 

I bet he's got hummingbirds nesting in his; it's a very thick bush, growing up the side of his house. 

Raisa snout
So this is the first picture I captured of Raisa. First off, my Nokia is a second-generation. I'm truly looking forward to the upgrade this year!! Second, she's really quick! Luckily, my phone didn't come in for a slurpy Husky kiss. 

She's blending into the family well. And today, I got a text from Hubby, claiming "MY DOG" crapped all over the kitchen. 

"She's grounded for LIFE" he says. And then he takes them all out for a lovely long walk. He's putty in their hands -- errrrr, PAWS. 

This is her 3rd accident in the house, but she's barely 6 months old, and I think the excitement of having 2 other dogs in the house often distracts her.

Huskies always, ALWAYS have the canine equivalent of ADD - and puppies have it the worst. 

She'll calm down. Around age 6 or so... Maybe. 

This little lovely is a "chatelaine" -- Now, normally, the definition of a chatelaine is "the mistress of a household or large establishment."
Sheep chatelaine

The secondary definition is "a clasp or hook for a watch, purse or bunch of keys." In knitting terms, a chatelaine can be called a "scissors-keeper." This little weighted sheep has a "tail" and that has a velcro loop where you can secure your scissors. 

My scissors are usually kept in a project bag. And the ones in that bag (a/k/a an inexpensive zippered make-up bag) are the really sharp ones; I put a wine bottle cork on the tips to keep from jabbing myself when I'm rooting around in there. These are "airline approved" and blunt-tipped. This is a good place to stash them, so that the next time I fly somewhere, if I take something other than the "Before and After Scarf" (hey, 96" of knitting takes up most flights I'll be on!), I can grab these and be assured that the officials won't confiscate my good pointed embroidery snips. 

She's cute. Quirky. And a sheep. What more could a knitter ask for? 

If you're ever looking for a "little something" for the knitter in your life (or as a small treat for yourself), check these out. This is from Lantern Moon, and I got mine for under $20. You can get them at your LYS (buy locally when you can!!!) or -- of course -- on Amazon or at your favorite online yarn store such as Jimmy Beans or the like. 

Yes, since you asked: all the dogs DID think she was a new toy. She's on my knitting table where they can't get to her. 

Ahhhhhhhhh - spring-to-summer on the prairie trail!! This was last summer, at the beginning before it turned beastly. We were on the new prairie trail and I stopped a couple of times to snap some pictures.

Wild thistle
As you can imagine, a "prairie" trail is very short on (a) shade and (b) trees. But it's not short on wildflowers and grasses. This thistle was just beautiful and in a clump of them. 

Our local park district has been diligent about ripping out the invasive stuff and putting BACK the native stuff. This prairie area has been planted with milkweed (hello Monarch Butterflies!!) and thistle and all the prairie grasses native to our area.

The wild garlic and other invasive stuff has been removed and they're keeping an eye on it to make sure it doesn't come back.

I mean, we're talking wild roses -- they're just not native to our area; they've been tossed into fields and of course, they germinate and take over. 

Honeysuckle is another noxious weed. Ok, my mom had some planted alongside the driveway as a "living fence" next to our neighbor. But she quickly changed her mind when Hubby actually sawed the stuff down to a one-foot-high stump.

And the next year, it grew 5 feet and blossomed. It's lovely. It smells nice. And it takes over!!

Well, this brings me to the end of this post. Let me know how you liked my selection. Maybe I should do this every quarter or so? 

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Another "Breakthrough..."

...of the cardiac kind. (sigh) I did fine at work Monday, and even taught my Monday night Basic Yoga class - not that the sequence was all that basic; my poor students got a good workout! I teach at Just Breathe Yoga near my home. It's a great studio, and I enjoy teaching. 

I truly felt grateful for the "breakthrough" to have happened AFTER class, though - when I was safe at home. 

This one was a little more mild than the last one. Still racing pulse, relatively high BP and breathlessness, but apparently not to the criteria of taking the Cardizem pill. So another "mostly on the couch" night. I came back to the bedroom about 1 a.m., promptly tripped over Tippi, who grunted and then snorted her disgust, and managed to get in about 5 hours of sleep. (Jeeze, Tippi --- grey dogs ought to sleep near a night-light!!)

Nothing else so far; apparently, I slept like a rock last night (exhaustion will do that to you) and I'm feeling ok. Still a little freaked out about this and apprehensive, should it become more frequent. But you get nowhere by worrying. 

Meditation Timer...

I have been setting my timer at work. About every 30 minutes, I get up and either stretch, or go do something. The first segment, I spent putting tissue boxes in the classrooms. Some campuses put coffee out for the students (we have adults who come to class after a full day's work). Me? I put out tissues because it seems that everyone has allergies or a cold or something snotty. 

The timer is about to go off in a little over a minute; I spent the last 1/2 hour looking at the blogs *I* follow (where've you been, Franklin???) and figured I'd better get this one cracking on. 

We shall see how this all works out. I do appreciate the nudge to move my rear end off the chair, that's for sure!


Another cold spell. Joy. (See - the timer went off, so I took 10 minutes to do my lunch least I'm sticking to it so far.)

Anyway, it's all the way up to 12* outside, but "feels like" -5* -- this is F not C. And we have a couple of weather warnings: the river flood warning, that really doesn't apply to me because we're not that close to that particular river, and the Wind Chill Advisory that's supposed to be through noon-ish tomorrow. It's supposed to START at midnight, tonight, but going out to the car this a.m.? You could've fooled me!! The temps are set to feel like somewhere between -20 and -30*F. My assistant was right: the warm up was a malicious tease. 

Sock Heel
I am, however, still in my Danskos. They feel good after enclosing my feet in ankle-high hiking boots. The search for a "casual but warm" boot continues and since now all I'm seeing is sandals, I think it'll resume in the fall.

All I know is that my skin is lizard-like. I can't find a moisturizer that's not too greasy. I just used some of the Neutrogena Norwegian Formula on my hands and I felt like they actually sucked the lotion in. "Only a dab" -- well, I think I need a few dabs more. At least now the skin on my hands doesn't feel like it's going to crack off.


Working on the Teal Sock, but I did pick up the Pink Sock to see where I was. To my dismay, I have lost the directions!! It's a simple sock, so it's not a total loss. And I have Sock #1 to measure against, but I'm bummed. I should stick to ONE knitting notebook, but that - by my definition, at least - means just having ONE project in the works. 

And that ain't happening. 

Anyway, the fatigue from lack of sleep due to the a-fib stuff made it such that I just wanted to do the simpler sock. Even the k3, p1 ribbing in Teal was something I deemed much too much for my foggy brain. Of course, I found that Sock #2 had just about 1/4" of ribbing done: k1,p1 -- so I did fiddle with that a little bit. But otherwise, the leg (as you can see by Sock #1) is just round and round knit. Mindless, which is good some days. 

Project bag
Here's one of my favorite project bags, from Kelly at Le Mouton Rouge Knittery -- she makes them herself, and sells them for a phenomenally reasonable price. I want the one that says, "I Learned to Knit in Prison." 

And some refreshers of the Pink Sock. I just have to remember which heel that is. Any input - helpful!! Or I could just find the %^$# directions!!! 

This is the pair on the 1.75 wooden needles. I will admit to one gripe on the wooden needles: the marking wears off. It's almost invisible now. At least on my steel needles, it's etched in. I will have to figure out how to mark these; unless, of course, I can find the packet they came in.

That's probably with the directions...

Pink Sock #2
Anyway, I'm due a trip out to see Kelly, because of course, while I don't need any yarn, I would like to snag a project bag or two. And ok -- y'all know that I'll walk out with at least a ball of sock yarn.

Sock yarn has no calories. It doesn't even count as "stash" since I usually buy Opel or the like - where one ball = 1 pair. See?  Economy.

If I'm buying sock yarn for a shawl, then I'll buy more and THAT is stash. 

It is NOT a nit-picky difference, thanks. 

Oh, and I did accomplish (sort of) one thing. I went through all of my knitting bags. The reason I did that is because I've lost some keys. I went through all my purses, and so did Hubby. So he wasn't about to touch my yarn bags... I did that. Still no keys. I'm not a happy camper. 

Anyway, the yarn bags have all been gone through. The jackets as well. Kid #2 doesn't have it (he had to use it when I was carted off to the hospital once). Maybe it's either with a person who temps for me or in a sweater or blazer pocket. Rats.

But now I have a decent handle on what's in which bag. And I have a whole lot of organizing to do (still). It's a never-ending issue. 

Politics (or The Gay)...

I don't ever want to go back to Arizona. I was there, briefly, in the way-back times. Didn't even see the Grand Canyon, which I wish I would have. But it's all in the past, and I'm not pining. 

But with this latest debacle? Good Lord - I'd be shot. Apparently, some brainless cretin(s) in that state chose to bring a bill wherein any business can refuse service to someone all in the name of the business' "religious beliefs." So. They can deny service (specifically) to the gays. 

Did y'all know that The Gays are a Threat to My Marriage? Well. According to many "Christian Conservatives" -- apparently, I'm threatened by The Gays. They are out to destroy my marriage. And my family. 

So, I as a business owner in AZ (which will happen when the 10th Circle of Dante's Inferno melts) can say, "I refuse to serve you, The Gay. Because you're an affront to my religious beliefs."

Which wouldn't happen for 3 reasons: (1) I'm Episcopalian. My church is Ok with The Gays. and (2) even when I was Catholic, I wasn't stupid. The Gay isn't catchy; and finally (3) I'm not an idiot either - if I'm in business, I want to MAKE MONEY. If you want to spend your money in my business, I would be a total moron to deny you that privilege -- and deny ME the profit. 

This bill is the very definition of "slippery slope." 

The story - which you can find just about anywhere, is encapsulated here in a post by Dean Obeidallah, a columnist for The Daily Beast. 

So where does this leave us? Well, it leaves us wondering when they'll discriminate because my kid is "brown" in the summer, whereas I'm a pale Polish ghost. Taking it to the extreme, perhaps someone might think my kid is hassling me - which they both do, but Kid #1 looks the least like me, so he'd more likely be the target here - and want to lash out at the Kid because he's giving some white-haired white lady a rough time. Notwithstanding that he's MY kid and I know EXACTLY which buttons he'd push! In gun-crazed AZ, my kid could get shot by someone who thinks he's a threat. And Kid #1 is the most mild-mannered kid you'd ever see. He's just a little physically intimidating if he feels *I* am being threatened. In a very quiet, "You don't want to go there" kind of way. 

Anyway, that aside, I'm just wondering, because these are the same kinds of people who scream that "Sharia Law is not OUR law." No, it's not.

But neither is the Bible our law. We are not now, and have NEVER been, a nation founded upon Christian principles. No matter how much you say we ARE, you only have to look at The Founding Fathers - Thomas Jefferson said it. 

Way back in 1802, while he was President, Jefferson first articulated the "separation of church and state" and said that religion was "...a matter which lies solely between Man and his God..." -- that's about as clear as you can be. 

What's to stop those business folks in AZ from refusing to serve Muslims, because being Muslim offends "their religious belief"? What's to stop them from refusing to serve mixed-race couples because THAT offends their "religious belief"? 

And how do you reconcile Jesus' teachings of brotherhood with the particular viewpoint of Christianity as a "whites-only" religion? Which is just about what they're saying. Oh, sorry: STRAIGHT WHITES ONLY. 

Back in the days of the Gold Rush in California, our country, much to our own humiliation, passed Chinese Exclusion Laws - see the link here for specifics, but I'll summarize: "No Chinese Allowed." 

Seriously: they couldn't marry Americans; couldn't own property; were strictly curtailed as to who came over - we preferred teachers and merchants. 

This AZ law is the equivalent to that Exclusion Law. Only it's more broadly painted and it's entirely stupid. Why, in this economy, would you refuse to serve someone? Take the money, honey. If you feel that it's burning your hand, donate it to your church. They probably won't ask where it came from. 

The only good that can come of this is if Gov. Brewer does something sensible: vetoes it. And she could - because there are already some laws on the books about being able to restrict service. And they're kind of knot-headed too. 

Random Picture...

Silver teapot
Of a teapot. This was on the England table at our recent fundraiser and I thought it was beautiful. The decorations on the table consisted mainly of tea pots, tea cups and tea bags. A little "derivative" if you will, but it was lovely anyway. 

I'm sure someone in England is agog at the tea bags -- do they use loose tea? I've purchased PG Tips tea in bags (and let me tell you - it makes Lipton taste like sock-water). Hmmmmmm. Maybe I've watched a little too much Sherlock or Downton Abbey, though I do love my own loose tea. 

I'm a big tea drinker anyway. While I have the Keurig in my office and I do buy flavored coffee, I can't drink it. I haven't been able to since I've had GERD - the acid apparently kicks up in my stomach. 

But anyway, I prefer tea. I drink 2 cups of "caff" in the morning, and then I'm switching over to decaf or herbal. It's hydration and I can drink it "black" with nothing in it. 

And it's especially good in a cold snap when you're in an office where your one wall is a window and there's a good stiff East wind... Brrrrrrr!

As always, comments appreciated. 

Monday, February 24, 2014

Let's See If This Works...

For what it's worth, the Nephew Afghan is done. Finished. Period. And I've got about 20% on the Teal Sock. 

It's DONE!!!
And I can't remember how to update that picture on the right!!! Anyway, it's sitting on the clipboard and I'll try to figure it out. It can't be all that hard. I did it once, right??

Here's the picture of the afghan, and an up-close of the edging. It's almost 5' long. I think it's fine. And I actually like the navy "single ply" edging as a "window" effect and then the doubled final edging. The stitch pattern is from the "8-hour afghan" book I have - called "textured" and you can see the raised rows. It's a modified basketweave, to my eyes. The edge is half-double-crochet. I like to mix the two techniques together, particularly in an edge. 

I have to do a care label and then I'm good to go. Even though it's machine washable, I still do a care label for everything I make. I should see if I have any of those "made by" labels. I should get more if I don't have them. 

And the sock: I'd say that's about 20% done. And you know what? I can tell the tension is VASTLY different from Sock #1. Sock #1 was "before death" and this one is "after death." So the first one was finished before my brother died, and this one I picked up just recently. To my eye, the tension is different and it feels different to knit on. 

Crochet Edge
Maybe it's because I'm knitting such radically different projects. Let's face it: the afghan was done on size 10.5 needles, double yarn. The sock is on size 2 DPNs, sock-weight yarn. Of course it'll feel different, but to me, it's also kind of an indicator of my own emotional state. The picture shows the sock slightly stretched. Again, to my eyes, it looks a little off, but I'm not going to frog it. It is what it is and it is a sock. 

Yes, we didn't get along; I'm up-front about that. But the emotional toll is there anyway. 


So Saturday, I had a "breakthrough" and it wasn't of the "Eureka!" type. It was the first breakthrough of such severity in about 2 years. I'd had minor "flutters" which is normal, but this one was scary. 

We had our Zonta Fundraiser (pics in a minute) this past Sunday and I honestly thought I wasn't going to make it there. Just for good measure, Saturday night, I charged the Kindle, fully expecting that Sunday would see me in the hospital.

Teal Ribbed Sock #2
I went downstairs to toss some stuff in the wash; mostly, I had a sweater I wanted to wear. I came up the stairs, walking (I don't run unless something's on fire or there's a dog fight) and at the top, I just got WHAM! - hit by extreme breathlessness. I had felt "off" all day, and I came into the front room, sat on my chair and just gasped. I took my pulse and said to him, "I'm in trouble pulse is going nuts."

Hubby was, of course, concerned. After a quick search (we can't find his stethescope...), he grabbed the BP meter and checked. Wowza. My BP was 128/90-ish and my pulse rate was clocked at 127. Normally, it's around 60-ish. Obviously, something wrong. He called Sis, because by that time, I was just trying to breathe and not get all frazzled -- or MORE frazzled. Sis had us call the cardio guy. I have a "magic pill" but she wasn't certain that my BP met the criteria for the magic pill.

And the instructions on the label said, "Take as directed." Yep - like I'm gonna remember the directions when my system is going haywire...

Cardio says "take the pill. If it's not better in the a.m. take another one, and if that doesn't fix it, come to the office." 

Well, long story short, I slept on the couch for a good chunk of the night; the fact that I was able to elevate my head made me feel better for some reason. I knew I was in trouble (among other ways) because I actually wanted to rip my Dr. Who t-shirt off. I normally like mock-turtle or turtlenecks, and I have no trouble with t-shirts. But since I've had this a-fib, I've really felt uncomfortable with anything touching my neck. And I felt strangled. 

And all regulated itself by about midnite. I ended up going to the event, even though I was rather tired. 

I didn't have to take pics (which was my original assignment). It was actually kind of nice to NOT have a job to do. For the first time in years, I could visit with the guests at my table and mingle when I felt like it. 

Came home after and took a 2-hour nap... Back to work today and I'm fine. Will see how much more of this occurs. It may mean a change in meds. It may mean that I've had too many sleepless nights. 

A First-World Tragedy...

So this Saturday, we had a Great Loss in the family. Our 27-year-old Mitsubishi (tube) television gave up its soul and went to the Happy TV Grounds. Yep. It died. 

Old Faithful
Hubby did some research, and we spent a relatively quiet morning while he poked around to see what was available. 

Whew. We are now the proud (and poorer) owners of a 50" Visio (it's a Samsung private label) LED television. It sits on the stand for the old Mitsubishi and we'll be getting it its proper stand soon. 

Talk about shock.

Of course, the guy at Best Buy just goggled when we told him our TV died. And then revealed its age. 

He said, "Which TV is this replacing?" We said, "Well, our ONLY television." Crickets. I'm sure he didn't know whether to laugh outright or just keep his mouth shut. "Mouth shut" won, which was a very good choice. 

Hubby had to call Comcast and get the scoop on what we needed to upgrade to. For $10 more per month, we now get HD - and honestly, though I despise paying Comcast for seemingly the air I breathe, we do have to utilize the HD feature. Especially on something that huge.

Now, let me say: I never thought I'd have to deal with a TV that big. But having said that, since it's been YEARS since these kinds of TVs came out, they've improved over the beasts they used to be. 

Of course, we're not going to get 27 years out of this one. Five, if we're very lucky. And it does lots of crap that we don't need: 3-D (gives me a headache); games (don't have any); WiFi (that's why I have a laptop)... I just want to watch Downton Abbey, thanks. 

He tried to sell us a soundbar, but we didn't want one. I suppose we'll have to have it eventually, because the sound is a bit wonky. The background music comes in loud and clear, but the voices are muted and sound garbled. 

I guess I'd have bought the soundbar if I had won the Zonta split-the-pot, but that's going to have to wait. 

The guy at Best Buy is right. It's a totally different experience. Scary, if you ask me. 

The colors are cool. I can see what we've missed in Old Faithful. And I should've known he was going: I kept having to up his volume. This one, I keep lowering. Kid #2 made a crack about my other favorite show: NCIS. "Oh goodie: GIBBS close-up. And the gore." And he's got a point. Those dead bodies looked better on Old Faithful. Kinda gruesome in BIG TV...

I guess that means we're in the current century now. Except that it's still our "only" TV. And we're ok with that. 


So as I mentioned, it was our annual fundraiser. Our organization is international, so we chose "Celebrating Zonta Around the World" for our theme. We were able to pick a country that hosted at least one Zonta Club and decorate our table. My friend PM (as opposed to the two PSs I know...) helped provide some decoration. We chose Poland. The carved plates and the pierogie ornament are my contributions.

I took my mom and we talked about what else we could've brought, but you also have to think about how much you want to haul. She's got old Polish textbooks; I have a cookbook. We both have rosaries... But family heirlooms? Our guests are friends of ours, so of course, nothing would be lifted, but I just felt we did fine. 

PM contributed the cut-glass vase, the dolls and another carved piece, as well as a Virgin Mary (at the back) and a flag (which wasn't in this picture). 

I have to tell you, lots of people stopped by and commented on my pierogie!! I got one of the servers to bring me a plate and he just laughed. 

In retrospect, I could've done Greece, too. I have a lot of stuff from my ancient trip. There was a nice selection of countries. If you want to see the table decor, click "Zonta" here. 

The club members did some fantastic decorating jobs. 

And the food at the Patrick Haley Mansion was fantastic. If my nephew had any sense, he'd have his wedding HERE and not in the venue he's having it at.

But it's not my gig, so it's not my problem. 

Lifestyle Changes...

Favorite Wraps
So the dietary changes I've been making are good. I'm losing about a pound a week, which is healthy. I'm in my skinnier jeans...not "skinny" jeans, but jeans which didn't fit a few weeks ago. Still a size larger than I want to be, but progress nonetheless. And I don't feel "strangled" - which is a plus.

Here's a shot of my very favorite low-carb wrap. This makes a lovely turkey-and-avocado wrap sandwich and also is a nice holder for tuna salad. I get them at Meijer, which is sad because there's not one really close to us. But this is worth the trip. 

Of course, yesterday at the event, I kind of jumped off the wagon there, but I climbed back on - so all is well. 

Yoga tonight, and perhaps hula hoop after lunch. 

I also got some "restaurant blend" mushrooms. Once I make (again) the cauliflower soup, I'll add the sauteed 'shrooms. Kid #2 is lobbying for Canadian bacon... I think he should just make his own batch of potato soup! 

What this is is rather a "sugar detox" and eating about every 5 hours. It's a little problematic when I'm out and about, but it's manageable. I was always advised against a late-night snack, but the theory here is that it helps your body's sugar level stay the same overnight, so you aren't ravenous when you wake up. 

I'm usually NEVER ravenous when I wake up, but I get the chemistry idea. (May I just say that I love the "save" feature, since I just now hit a button and the whole post disappeared!!)

So for my night snack, I'm using Fage 2% Greek yogurt. This part of the dietary change is boring because it's all really low-carb, low-sugar stuff. Do you know how much sugar you eat???

The statistics say that the average American eats about 130 lbs. of sugar per year. ONE HUNDRED THIRTY POUNDS. That's a person... Here's a site from the Department of Health & Human Services in New Hampshire that states it's closer to 150 lbs. The figure I quoted was one from Prevention magazine. Either way. 

Holy high fructose!

As Americans, most of us don't really have a food problem. Our problem is in what we choose to eat. And how the food industry cons us into buying stuff laced with ingredients that aren't too good for us, and are basically chemicals. 

By changing up my diet, yes, I'm "depriving" myself of lots of the carbs I love, but overall - the fact that I'm getting "un-addicted" to sugar will help me in the long run. All I'm doing, really, is a "clean-up." I'm anxious to get to the part where I can start reintroducing fruit - back to my favorite green smoothies. This type of eating is truly easier in the summer, when you feel like eating stuff that's mostly raw, mostly chilly. A salad looks and tastes very inviting in August. 

In January and February? Not only does half the produce taste like nothing, but it's cold when you're craving Shepherd's Pie...

So I'm going to continue to munch on my flax crackers, celery and salads. And I'm good with that for now. Well, I also need to move more. In that regard, I just pulled out my timer (yeah, I brought one from home) and tried to set it. I figure if I can set it for every 20 minutes or 1/2 hour, I remind myself to move. I often get tied up in something and then I find that I've been sitting for a couple of hours easily. 

Well, the timer appears to have gone to Electronics Heaven with the old TV set. I could use my phone, I suppose. Even with a fresh battery in it, it doesn't want to go. I'll eat lunch (turkey wrap with cottage cheese) and then set the phone. 

Random Picture...

"Closer." This is the one shot I managed to get while I was laughing. Raisa did a head-first slow-roll next to Tippi, and Tippi didn't know what to make of it. She and Raisa are doing fine; the only issue we've had was when, in a fit of the Zoomies, Raisa jumped Tippi. That didn't go over well. 

When Tippi's had enough, she gets up, goes through the gate and takes a nap. 

With Quinn, we're getting there. In the kennel outside and on the leash, they're doing well. In the house, Quinn's still a bit territorial. And a tad freaky with Tippi still... 

But we knew it would be a process. So far, she's coming along well. I'd forgotten how much energy a puppy took. Glad we're doing this in our 50s and not our 60s. 

Looking outside today is deceptive. It's sunny and everything's melting. We're past the flood warnings, at least in our area, though the nearby river is still a question. But it's 22* outside. 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014


Monday - snow and ice
Like the song says, "What a Difference a Day Makes"... The picture on the left was from Monday afternoon's drive home. The picture on the right was my drive with Tippi YESTERDAY to her therapy gig. Yep. Twenty-four hours (just about) -- and look at the roads.

Today, Wednesday, we're melting. Melllllllllltinnnnnnnnng.... Just like the Wicked Witch of the West -- the roads are nearly cleared off and the piles of snow look beautiful in the sunshine. And Mother Nature is going to pull a stinky on us.

Tuesday - clear roads
Because THURSDAY, we have not only flood warnings, but potential for rain. Or snow. Depending. Maybe one, maybe the other. Maybe both. 

And high winds. 

As the Dowager Countess said on the recent Downton Abbey segment, "Oh goodie."

Today, you have to have sunglasses to look out my east window. It's a lovely 37* outside and Hubby brags on Facebook that after walking the dogs, on the way home, he was in a t-shirt with the windows and sunroof open. OK, granted - he grew up in Montana. They have snow in June, and so far, Illinois isn't there yet. 

Neighbor's snow pile
That being said, just for the sake of juxtaposition, this photo is what the left-hand side of my alley looks like. That was also taken Tuesday, before I hit the road. My neighbor is being a bit of a jerk, actually. 

The road is just beyond the right border of that picture. Like a foot farther right. So I have to pull my truck into the street to see if someone's coming from the left.

I know - it's melting. But jeeze - can't neighbors be nice? As it is, Hubby shovels the alley so that I can get out -- well, so that WE can get out. But the guy on the other side, with the snowblower? He does his driveway, blows the snow across the alley and figures his work is done.

This guy just piles it up here, never mind that it also blocks HIS view as he backs out... 

What makes me mad is that when this all melts, the alley will be a huge pile of slop and he will have contributed to it in another way: he put a drain pipe down the alley way. And he doesn't even use the alley; that drainpipe makes a major hole in the alley and he's just "I don't care" about the whole thing. I mean, yeah, it happens every year. But the higher the piles, the deeper the puddles. Oh well - the farmers should really be happy because the last few years have been in a drought. This should help fix the water table situation. 

I do believe we are getting a snow blower at the end of the season. It's time. 

On the other hand, I'm bummed. While we're supposed to get more snow later this week, I think I may have missed my snow shoe opportunity this winter. Which virtually guarantees that the next 3 years will be mild. 


I think we have an overwhelming case of "snow brain." Seriously. See, it's this way. I usually try to attend the local chamber luncheons and there was one I really, REALLY wanted to attend. So I marked it on my calendar. 

Then I got a bill. 

Ok. What?

Well. Apparently, I marked it on the correct DATE. Wrong MONTH. So of course I was not only billed, but I missed the one luncheon I wanted to attend! 


Happy Period...

So, most females may remember the Always brand of feminine protection and their ad campaign of a few years ago, called "Have a happy period." 

Really. Obviously written by a man. 

In January, when I thought I was done with all this stuff, Mother Nature had other plans. So I had to make a run to the pharmacy to get some more supplies. And I see the copy on the side of the "overnight" size. Now, mind you, if you had these during the BP spill in the Gulf, the oil would've been sucked up in minutes. Hair? Pahhhhhh - this "miracle product" is much, much more absorbent. And honestly, it's very comfortable to wear, considering that I'm of the age to remember Kotex and belts. Google it, kids.

So on the side of the package, I see: "This amazingly soft & absorbent pad is the perfect accessory for a luxe pair of PJs or a flirty nightie."

Yes, that's what that said. "Luxe" PJs. "Flirty nightie." During your period when you apparently need super-absolutely-crazy absorbency. 

I hate to tell you, Always -- But when I need THAT level of absorbency, I'm not in the least interested in a "luxe" pair of PJs or a "flirty" nightie. I want sloppy jammies that mirror the way I feel, since lately, the period, cramps, and icky stuff are also accompanied by hot flashes. 

Yes, hot flashes. And they've been more and more frequent. I'm so stinkin' tired it's not funny. And my Shatavari supplement is failing me. Every 10 minutes or so, I'm doing the "blanket Hokey-Pokey" and it goes something like this:

                                                 ---feet outside the covers. 
                                                 ---roll over, feet INSIDE the covers.
                                                 ---roll over, feet OUTSIDE the covers.
                                                 ---repeat till it's time to get up. 

And it doesn't matter if I get to bed early. I'm awakened about 2 a.m. or so with this evil dance. Sometimes, it's the entire leg out of the covers. I finally fall asleep around 6 a.m. And I get up at 7 a.m. I try to get up at the same time every day, unless I have to get up earlier. Routine is important. 

Before you ask, HRT isn't an option to me. I've got hormone-triggered migraines, and thanks - they're finally easing. Adding MORE hormones to the mix will only aggravate them. And I do believe they are worse than the hot flashes. At least the meds make them so. I always feel what I imagine a hangover is. 

I'm not being funny. I don't drink, for a bunch of medical and philosophical reasons. I have never been drunk. Never been hung over. 

I have also never smoked (anything) and haven't cussed since my granny swiped a bar of Ivory soap over my teeth and tongue. I remember THAT, and I have no memory of the word that I actually said. 

I'm sure that one day, when I'm a little old lady, my "switch" will go off in my brain and remain permanently open. At which time, my inner Marine will come out. Yikes!! 

That's reason enough to keep my mind active with knitting and other things. 


Did you see the chart alongside the blog? It's a picture, not an actual graph, but I feel really jazzed about it. I finally made a 2014 master list of crafts (including sewing and counted cross stitch) and I have "what I want to do" and "what's in progress." The stuff on that chart is the "WIP" stuff. It's in excel in my computer, so when I update it, I have to just recapture the picture and put it back up there. I just have to figure out what constitutes a "% change" in the project. Maybe inches? Then I'd have to assign a value to the "inch" thing because one inch on a sock means you're closer to turning the heel. One inch on an afghan or cardigan is sometimes barely noticeable. 

Maybe pattern repeats, which is still not always going to hack it with socks. Maybe "inch" with socks, and "pattern repeats" with the other stuff? Will have to cogitate on that. 

I wish I had a way to put an interactive chart in there, but I haven't figured out how to do it. 

The sock is coming along. I'm on the leg. I have about 4 1/2" to go till I get to the heel. Yes, on size 2 DPNs, so that's about a million stitches. My friend P thinks I'm a genius because I can knit socks. It's not that hard, once you know what you're doing. 

It is, however, impressive. No matter if you use magic loop style or DPNs. I just think the DPNs are more wicked-looking. Many of the professors I work with think I'm a reincarnation of Einstein because I can work with this style of knitting.

Shhhhhhhhhhhh - don't tell 'em the secret: You're only knitting with 2 needles at a time!! We'll just keep that to ourselves, and I'll let the profs be overwhelmed with my intelligence! 

I got to the LYS at lunch to pick up the yarn. I also picked up a little sheep-weight thingie to attach my scissors to. I'll take a pic and post it soon. It's cute. It's wearing an apron.

So this weekend, providing that the Viking prediction of the end of the world (on Saturday) doesn't actually happen, I'll be finishing up the afghan. Done. Done. And Done. 

I want to get to some of these projects on that chart. As well as my "wish" list to get at least 3 more pairs of socks done. Entirely new pairs, since I have lots of Opal yarn in the stash. I have a couple of nice lace patterns I'd like to try, too.

When No is No...

This meme is making its way around the internet and I'm reminded of it as we teach Raisa the term "No." While our trainer prefers we not use that word, I find that tone makes a difference. 

If I'm saying "No, I don't want salmon for dinner," it's certainly different from hollering "NO" and taking something away from a dog in imminent danger of harming itself. 

Be that as it may... I like this graphic because it perfectly encapsulates the whole "she deserved it" excuse - and it kills it deader than a doorknob. 

Tippi, my robo-dog, will hold a stay. She will hold a stay till I tell her she can move. As, obviously, this dog can with a jar of peanut butter in front of her. 

So that being said, and her being a DOG (not that I don't think she's terribly smart, and smarter than some people I know) -- why do we let men get away with this silly argument? This is just one of many demeaning arguments made by politicians and other humans (though, some days, "human" should not be attached to the word "politician," but I digress) -- to in essence blame the victim for the crime. 

Let's be blunt. Women cannot be the perpetrators of forcible rape which is foist upon them. We lack the equipment. And it doesn't matter what the woman was wearing. What about nuns who are raped? You certainly can't use the "what she's wearing" argument when you're talking about a woman in a full religious habit. And yeah, they do still exist. The habits, I mean. And of course the nuns exist as well. 

Let me also be clear: women CAN rape men. There's the statutory rape of a minor male by a female; there's the "penetration" of the man by a woman using fingers or other objects* and there's the coercion of sex where the woman manipulates the penis to encourage the act of penetration.

The reason for the * is that often, laws are specific and they say penetration by a penis... so it could be construed that because we don't have the equipment, we can't do the deed. However, it seems like it's certainly probable that a female can violate a male.

So if he dresses inappropriately, does he deserve it? 

Random Picture...

Yesterday, we had our therapy visit. On the way out, we always have a potty break. Tippi just decided that she needed to plow her head into a snow drift. She was digging in the drift there, and poking her nose in the snow. 

I was a little worried, because the Christmas lights are still on those bushes and I didn't want her to get hurt. Anyway, she managed to leap over this, pee and then come back to see what was interesting in this drift. 

I also took her onto a flat spot on the campus and let her run around at the end of her 20' lead. It was fun; I was dizzy. She was happy. 

As we were leaving, the women's track team was jogging alongside where I parked my car, and they all stopped and got in a few pets. Tippi was thrilled, but they had to get running again; they don't have fur coats!

Yesterday, she also had a fabulous case of the "zoomies." One of these days, I'll get that on film.