Thursday, March 27, 2014

Getting Better...

This'll make me sound like a cranky-old-fart, but yesterday's malaise was apparently a bout with blood pressure. About 4:30 or so, we took it, and it was about 110/96 - which is not my normal... I'm normally in the 110-range, but the 96-range is high-ish for me and that's why I felt "off" all day.

So today I'm back at work. And tonight is my last night subbing another teacher's yoga class. It's been a horribly busy week for me, and I still have some issues hanging out, which is bothersome to me. I want things cleared up; and in one case, I can't take the bull by the horns, because I need to wait on someone else. Not my strong  suit, particularly when the other person is beyond-busy and appears to not be in the same hurry that I'm in. 

Yoga...

Had a bit of a dilemma; I'm managing my friend's yoga studio while she's away, and subbing like crazy. 

And the person who was subbing the 4 p.m. class called me at 1:50 and asked if I could take THAT class as well.

Dang. While I'll try to move heaven and earth for people, I also have a day job. And so I said that I couldn't, and would you please try to procure a sub other than me? No go. 

So, sadly, I had to cancel the class. The teacher is out of town. The sub is sick. And the other sub (me) has a day job. 

Some days, you just have to know when you can't do something. It had to happen sooner or later. I do feel bad; I hate turning away students, but I can't be in 2 places at once. I know my friend will understand, but the frustration is still there. 

Is that a complex? I'm only one person, after all. Or is that last statement a lame justification??

Knitting...

So I brought Kid's Afghan today. And have done NOT ONE STITCH. It won't happen till I'm home from the 6 p.m. yoga class - I wish I could've made it happen, but since I was out sick yesterday, I had a list-long amount of "stuff" to do to get caught up. 

I wish I could say that I'm making progress. But maybe just knowing I'll put in a row or two later on is enough for right now.

I admit one thing: socks are NOT "instant gratification" projects! Yes, they work up quickly, but think about it. Size 2 needles. Thin yarn. There's about 425 yards-worth of yarn in an average pair of socks. That's what? Probably 100,000 stitches? Per sock... so even if I knitted faster, "instant" is hardly the term I'd give these.

Are they quicker than a sweater? Yep. At least a grown person's sweater. Baby sweaters are actually the quickest. But at any rate, the Teal Sock grew by about 12 rows last night. Man - 5" of leg is taking forever. I wonder if they'd take forever if I chucked The Schedule and just knitted on them? No - sticking to The Schedule. I hate to be rigid, but in this case, it's the only way to get on top of my endless pile of WIPs.

The Birth Control Question...

Well, statement. FACT: The most popular forms of birth control DO NOT cause an abortion. These forms (IUD, Birth Control Pills, etc.) change the consistency of the uterine wall or otherwise make the uterus inhospitable for a sperm cell. Or they stop the egg from dropping. Or, in the case of a condom, they prevent the sperm from even getting there. 

Egg + sperm = baby. If you're missing part of that equation, you got nutthin' -- no baby, no fetus, no conception. 

Definition: Contraception -- The deliberate use of artificial methods or other techniques to PREVENT pregnancy as a consequence of sexual intercourse. 

Did you see the "prevent" part??? It's not an abortion. I don't care how you want to argue that. Plain, factual SCIENCE says it's not. If A + B don't mix, there's no baby. Plain. Simple. Science.

Yet the Hobby Lobby folks are trying to argue (and it looks as if they have Justice Kennedy convinced) that birth control is equal to abortion. 

Lucky for the rest of us sane people, Kagan, Sotomayor, and Ginsberg are asking pointed and fact-based questions. 

I hope it's enough. 

Birth control, for women, can be used for many things. And this is a tired, tired argument. Tired only because we've shouted it from the rooftops for ages, and still the Christian conservatives can't hear it. 

I used birth control during my more fertile years because I had bad periods. Seriously, I would have a 3-week long period. I was anemic. I was fainting at work. I was bleeding so badly (sorry - now will be TMI) that I had to not only double-up on protection, but when I'd sit in a meeting, when I had to get up, I had to do so carefully - I had more than one occasion where I had to leave work because, in spite of protection strong enough to withstand a Noah-like flood, it still happened that I had to leave and change clothes. 

One day, Hubby and I were visiting my granny, before she sold her house. I was standing, because I had back cramps really bad and I needed to stretch. All of a sudden, I felt it. And my granny looked down at her floor. Which was now in need of a scrubbing because everything let loose. She was pretty cool about it. Handed me a wad of paper towels, handed Hubby a large garbage bag and said, "I guess you'll have to go home." I was about 44 at the time, and honestly, it looked as if I had a miscarriage. 

Sorry for the graphic visuals. My point is this: that decision FOR birth control, was one that I made with my doctor. I also had an endometrial ablation. My doctor and I discussed a hysterectomy, but he felt that that procedure was drastic. 

My point about THAT is these were discussions between my doctor, Hubby and me. My employer didn't have any say in it. 

As it should be.

Hobby Lobby would like to not pay for birth control. Fine. Don't. Hobby Lobby would like to deconstruct and disassemble the Affordable Care Act. No, you can't do that. It's helping so many people, and it's no where near "socialized medicine" - that being something that wingnuts seem to froth about. Even though they don't understand that ACA is basic medical insurance reform. And even then - it's not all that great for some folks. 

Either way. You don't get to talk to my doctor unless we're married. The employer/employee relationship has its limits, and for me, that's when my health is under discussion. 

OK, the only reason that might be different? If I had an ailment or disability whereby my employer would be asked to make reasonable accommodations for me. 

Birth control is none of my employer's business. Hobby Lobby needs to keep it that way for their (mostly female) workforce. Funny - here's a great solution: Just stop offering benefits. 

As I remember from an article I read - you didn't offer them at one point. Problem solved.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Short and Sweet...

...mainly because I feel like crap today and I want to curl in a ball with a blanket..

Knitting...

February Lady Sweater
Working away at Teal Sock, since it's Wednesday. The February Lady Sweater made an appearance yesterday and after a mild panic attack at "where did I put the project notes?" I found them. I found the pattern, but my "scratch sheet" where I kept track of stuff was stuck in a pile.

Whew. It's found. Got a lot done. 

Don't know how I was photographing knitting before we closed the lid of the dogs' toybox! This is a nice surface to snap pics on when Raisa's butt isn't on it. 

The directions for the FLS are true: The sweater will "grow" especially with this silk/merino yarn. It weighs a ton now, and it's only the yoke! I have about 6 more repeats of this section before I get to the required 255 stitches. I hope it all works out because the gauge finally did. I hope the NUMBERS work  -- I don't want to rip it all out again.
Teal Sock #2

The sock is moving along. Still madly in love with the Kollage square DPNs and would like to get more of their circulars. Though the Addis are working a treat for the FLS.

Eyeballing other projects as I start to finish the WIPs. Was in the closet yesterday and found two - TWO - sweaters that are just waiting. One of 'em even has buttons ready!

Tippi Gigs...

So we went to St. Colletta's yesterday. I think neither of us was prepared and while it wasn't a total waste, it was an eye-opener. 

I have a huge level of discomfort around special needs folks, and this place houses and schools 12 - 21 year olds with all manner of disabilities. 

TDI asked for a visit, and I went, figuring that if Tippi liked it, I could make it work on my end. 

She didn't like it. She was anxious (which is not her normal MO, I can tell you!) and was pacing a bit. She loved a couple of the kids, but she didn't like the ones who screamed and the ones who somehow just triggered something in her to make her tense up. 

I'll talk to Bobbie, our trainer, just to get some insight, but it's pretty clear that we're not going to be able to be regular visitors. 

It's sad, but it is what it is, and I won't bring her somewhere where she's basically shut down at the end of the visit. 

Random Picture...

See, very short. I need a nap. I also probably need to do this. It's a card made by my friend Mandy, and I need to get a frame for it. 

I'm not feeling well -- nothing alarming, just extremely tired and worn out. I need to breathe, hug Tippi and take a nap. In something close to that order. 

I could hug Raisa too, but since she's now the Destroyer of the dog beds, I'm kind of annoyed with her.

But that's a story for the next blog entry.

Till later, folks!



Monday, March 24, 2014

Corporations are NOT People!

So SCOTUS is going to hear the Hobby Lobby case. For those living under a stump somewhere, Hobby Lobby (with about 50 other corporations - all FOR-PROFIT) is suing the Administration because they claim that the ACA provision on requiring payment for birth control is "against their religion."

And of course, since corporations have political feelings, at least according to Citizens United, they apparently also have religious feelings too. And Hobby Lobby's religious feelings are offended - nay, shattered - at the thought of having to pay for contraception for its female employees.

What's scary about this is that they've already won a significant victory, courtesy of the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, which wrote:

"We see no reason the Supreme Court would recognize constitutional protection for a corporation's political expressions but not its religious expression." 

This is in Denver, just to give you a more complete picture. 

See, this is my problem. Well, first and foremost CITIZENS UNITED is my problem. A corporation, by definition, is not a person, no matter how many guys in black robes in a courtroom may say it is. According to Investopedia, a corporation is a legal entity that is separate and distinct from its owners.

But the lovely people of SCOTUS gave us, instead, this definition: a company or group of people authorized to act as a single entity (legally a person) and recognized as such in law.

Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Don't get me wrong; I'm no lawyer. But let's just use some good, old-fashioned logic for this one.

People formed corporations for many reasons. One of which was so that they would be protected INDIVIDUALLY should someone sue the corporation for any reason. Such as: unpaid bills, injuries to workers, injuries due to product liability... See - if you and I owned a business, The Stitch & Tea Shop, let's say, and we were going merrily on our way, we would be serving tea, providing an area to allow people to come into our place of business and sit with needles and floss or sticks and string, and exercise their right to congregate and enjoy our tea and atmosphere.

But say we, as trusting individuals, never incorporated. And say the knitters and the needleworkers got into a fiber war. Needles were thrown. People were hurt. Guess who they'd come after? 

You and me as owners. Individually. I could lose my house. You could lose your house. We would lose all of our savings. 

Another example: One of our workers gets scalded by a pot of hot tea. She sues us for medical expenses because she's badly injured. And she also includes pain and suffering - burns are horrible things. 

We lose. Everything. Because we aren't protected by the fact that the CORPORATION exists outside of US as people. 

If we HAD incorporated: Stitch & Tea, Inc. -- then the only thing that our worker (or those darned territorial stitchers & knitters) could sue would be the CORPORATION itself. Not you and me. And the CORPORATION may lose everything, but we'd still be able to keep our homes. 

That's why it's done that way, kids... This whole "corporations are people" thing is insane. And politically driven so that unending amounts of $$$ can be poured into elections. Even those little local elections are being affected by outside money. Courtesy of the Supreme Court, bought and paid for. 

So now Hobby Lobby says it can't provide contraception costs to its female employees because doing that would offend the religious sensibilities of its owners, who it is said "exercise their religion in the way they control their company."

The Administration has already exempted religious organizations (all non-profit) from the burden of providing contraception. But what gets my goat (and the reason why I will never stop into one of those stores again) is that Hobby Lobby is HUGE. To the tune of $186 MILLION last year. And that's profit, kids. They do give to charity - mostly to places like Liberty University - which is a whole other blog entry... 

But the point is - this isn't some faith-based community organization. It's a major company. And major companies should play by the rules. 

I can see how my own employer wants out of this (I work for a Catholic school) -- it's a religious non-profit school. 

But I can't do the "for-profit" thingie... I also can't do "corporations are people." Historically, people SHIELDED themselves and their families from any liability with a corporation. Now? What? When some employee at Hobby Lobby has an ectopic pregnancy, can she sue? I bet not. 

And I bet that the owners wouldn't care anyway. Likely, they'll say it was "God's will" and even more likely? They'd fire the woman who sues. 

Regardless of any statistics which clearly show that supplying birth control leads to fewer unplanned pregnancies, fewer abortions and healthier women -- they don't care. Somewhere in their Bible, God spoke against birth control and that's good enough for them.

It's not good enough for me. And I hope that it's not good enough for SCOTUS. As Kid #2 said to me the other day, "I thought we had all this settled way back a long time ago."

So did I.

Yoga...

Had to sub the senior class because the original teacher is on vacation. Very weird, particularly since my mom's in that class. Apparently, I did ok. Nobody got hurt and they all said they'd be back Wednesday! 

It's an odd dynamic. I felt odd giving direction, but they're fairly well trained and they didn't need much. So I ended up finishing the class, and thankfully, nobody wanted to linger. I had my work clothes in the truck. Whizzed up to work, slammed my door and closed my blinds and did a quick-change. Brrrrrrrrr - it was 28* outside, and putting on cold blue jeans was not what I wanted to do!! 

Doing a lot of subbing... Tonight I teach my regular class. Wednesday, I sub a 9 a.m. class and the 7 p.m. class I usually TAKE. Thursday night I sub as well. 

That's a lot of yoga for me, particularly since I do also have a day job. As a matter of a small rant, some of our other teachers always ask for "more classes." But never step up for sub duty. C'mon, folks. Can't have it both ways. No sense putting a zillion classes on the schedule if you can't fill the studio. No matter how much you enjoy teaching, if you can't bring the mats to the studio, it's economically unfeasible. Pack the classes - have 10 or 15 consistently. That makes it more fulfilling for you as a teacher. Truly, without getting all fuzzy about it, you can definitely see the energy level in a class of 2 - 4 students as opposed to a class of 10+ - the energy in the larger class is much more palpable. 

Knitting...

So yesterday, per schedule, I did counted cross-stitch. Well, first I dusted off the fabric that was stretched on the frame. It's been there a good year. (go ahead, giggle)

Flower Thread
Then, Hubby pulled down the boxes of floss so that I could pull the colors. We found all of them, and I had to wind them onto bobbins (keeps them from tangling and me from flinging said tangled mess across the room). Hubby tried, but managed to mangle a good hunk of Flower Thread. It's a bugger to card this stuff anyway, since it's single-ply and very persnickety. But that's ok. I managed to get it onto the bobbin, and I will probably have to lop off about 1" of floss. I mean, seriously - look at those two skeins. Almost hair-thin. 

Hubby decided to go checking E-Bay because I need more black and more white. It's almost impossible to get now, at least in stores - even the specialty needlework stores. It's no longer available in the big stores - even when it was manufactured, you had to go to a specialty store or show to get a goodly supply. We got the first large batch on E-Bay years ago. Now, especially since the project is a monthly snowman, as you can imagine, I need more black and white. 

March Snowman
I have all 12 of them. And I think about 2 or 3 others from his series. His designs were very popular way back when counted cross-stitch was at its heyday. I've made January, February, and December. I'm working on March now. Each is done on linen, and I've done them in both regular DMC 6-strand floss and in Flower Thread. DMC 6-strand is more vibrant. Flower Thread is more old-timey and muted. I framed December, but January and February were both my sad attempts at quilting. I quilted them into a banner and each month, at the appropriate time, I hung them. December was actually done on a glittery fabric, Lugano, and I added beads. I added beads and buttons to each of the others as well.

I'll likely add buttons where the snowman's chest is. I like giving them some dimension, and while I do have beads and metallic thread, with the main chart being executed in Flower Thread, other embellishments aren't appropriate. And I'm not sure if I'll quilt March. Hubby can get some 3/4 round trim and I can paint or stain it to make our own custom frame. I'm not sure yet -- have to see what this looks like when I'm done. 

The key to substitution for Flower Thread, if you're interested, is simple: Flower Thread is a 4-digit number. Lop off that first digit and the last 3 correspond to regular DMC 6-strand. So you really can go either way, but due to the texture of the thread you need to pick one or the other. 

March Snowman started...
So I get the chair settled. I get the lamp set up and the magnifier. I look, in shock, at the fabric (32-count linen - which means 32 threads of fabric per inch)... and I realize that I really, REALLY need the magnifier!! I used to be able to do this stuff without it. Old sucks.

I cranked the frame onto the holder, and then asked Hubby to give it another crank at the back so that the frame would be stable - it was slipping. He did. The crank broke. I guess I should've oiled the wood more.... So no stand. I've got to balance this on my lap. Luckily, it's a small piece, but I really do need him to fix that by the time I get to my mom's angel!!

Why didn't I start on the angel again, you ask? Good question. Answer: I haven't picked up a cross-stitch project in about 4 years. My eyeballs are used to knitting. Check out the picture to the right. That's tan thread (for the snowman's shillelagh). It's on tan linen. Bad idea on my part, but I thought as I went along, that it might work. I should've pulled a darker tan. I'm not ripping it out. If I have to (and I don't want to, because the hallmark of these designs is "folk art"), I will outline the thing. Maybe only in parts, as in a shadow so you get the idea of where the outline is. That tool on my finger is a laying tool. As you pull the thread in and out, it can sometimes twist. When your work is judged, as mine has been in years past, the judge would ding you for "twisted" stitches. The laying tool catches the thread as it lays over the fabric and helps smooth it over. It looks better anyway, so you should do it if you can, just to make your work look nicer. 

Not mine - an example only!
I just searched for "completed" projects by this designer. Wow - didn't know he did a whole whack of redwork! No - not interested. It's fascinating, but boring to use the same color and I don't like backstitching everything. I'll keep with what I'm doing. 

The picture to the left shows an example of what it looks like. It does look better on white, but I'm not starting over! This person pinned a shamrock pin on the vest (nice idea!) and used some shamrock buttons to make her pillow-door-hanger thingie. 

My quilted ones are slightly bigger, about 8x10" and they are hung on a dowel with tabs across the top. I will probably steal - ummmmm, borrow - the idea of the shamrock pin, since I have one that I never wear. Except I'll likely put it on the hat, since I will use small black buttons where they go down the middle of the tummy for the pieces of coal. Or I can use black beads. That would still work. 

As I'm working on it (and rats - we missed Cosmos last night, but we were watching Ingrid Bergman), Kid #2 says, "Wow -- I haven't seen you do THAT in a long time!" Hey, as long as I'm plowing through WIPs. It's all about the goal now. 

Today is Pink Sock day. I haven't knitted yet. But I have time. For what it's worth, I really did want to work on the Kid Afghan yesterday, but I kept to the schedule. I have almost gotten to the part on the snowman where his stick intersects his hand. That's progress indeed. 

Technology...

We are apparently having technical difficulties. Both the hard-wired and wireless networks are a bit wonky. Which makes me wonder why in the world we want to be MORE wired? Google, Apple and Microsoft are all bringing out Dick-Tracy-Type watches. 

I'm sorry. I'm wearing a watch. I wear a watch every day. Except if I'm having surgery - they make me take it off. If I'm not wearing a watch, I feel distinctly undressed. 

Seiko Kinetic Watch
My granny used to complain about my watch. It's big. She loved the little tiny ones that "ladies wear." But she couldn't see the dial. Before you laugh, please note that my sister just got a watch with a face about twice this size. She really needs to get new glasses, but who am I to tell her?? I did ask of she could lift her arm...she whacked me. It probably left a bruise. 

Here's my lovely Seiko self-winding watch. It does things. Like tell time and tell me the date.  Which is really all I require of a watch. Oh, it's also glow-in-the-dark and it's waterproof, just in case. I wear it constantly - seriously, even in the shower, when I'm in a pool - it's just a part of me. I'm not the only one who still wears a watch. I've seen us... there are a bunch of us who still feel the need for the thingie strapped to our wrist.

The good folks in technology, however, feel that we need MORE. 

They feel that it's not enough that our cell phones are mini-computers. They feel that we don't rely on their technology enough. We're not "wired" enough. We're not "connected" enough. 

New technology
We need........ A watch. 

One that tells you "before you know you need to know" (I'm not making that up) -- just what's going on with your e-mail, your Facebook, your appointments.

In other words, strap this little guy on and you will ALWAYS know EVERYTHING. Like the breaking news of who's on the latest cover of Vogue. Or what your friend had to eat at lunch. Or when the boss is looking for you.

Sorry. 

We all need a gigantic time-out. We need to unplug. At least once a day, everyone needs to take a device-break. And at least once a week, unless of course you're a doctor, nurse or other person involved in basically saving lives - you need to turn it all off. 

All of it. 

The other day, there was nothing on television. Yeah, I know - 500 channels and nothing on. But there was nothing on that I was interested in. It was a Saturday morning. Hubby had already left to take the dogs for their daily constitutional. I got up, Kid #2 was still asleep. 

And I left the big whiz-bang TV off. 

He got up and said, "Can't you remember how to turn it on?" I said, "Yes. Nothing's on." Of course, he checked. And agreed with me. And then we sat. Enjoying the quiet. It was remarkable. We read the paper, had our morning tea and just ... sat. In silence. 

What a refreshing thought. Instead of constant background noise, instead of constantly knowing who's doing what, instead of the buzz, beep and tweet of electronics... there was silence. 

Hubby likes the background noise. I have to say I miss the days when I got up, got my tea and started my day in silence. Maybe that's why I like to read and knit and do needlework. I can, for the most part, tune out the din. And I find that I'm more refreshed when I do that on a regular basis. 

Random Picture...

MY chair!

Silence is golden. Silence, with a Ninja-Husky-Dog? Can be dangerous. The first swath of silence came while she managed to snag a tissue out of the trash and shred it... Aaack!!! We got that away from her and I went back to skimming the paper prior to my early yoga class.

I went to take a shower. Hubby was switching the laundry. I come out. This is what I see... Madame Ninja-Husky-Dog appropriated my chair. Again. Apparently, when I'm not in it, she thinks it's hers. 

I called "Off." She looked at me. I tried again. Got the same "Who, me???" look and tugged at her collar. She reluctantly ceded the chair to its rightful owner.

It's bad enough that Quinn still hides under it in the back. It's a non-reclining-recliner since there's usually an Elkhound head under it. 

Now - there's a Husky butt IN it. 

I can't win. I should just accept that. 





Saturday, March 22, 2014

The System "Mostly" Works...

With back-to-back-to-back meetings on Friday, I didn't meet with my usual knitting peeps. Instead, I played a rousing game of "let's herd cats" with a diverse group of people who try to share the same mission but appear to now have vastly different views on how to accomplish that mission.

That being said, I was only subbing for the president of this group. Next year, I'm in charge. Thank goodness that this didn't happen while I was president of the other "herd of cats" - the women's group I've belonged to for about 10 - 12 years!! I don't think I could handle it. 

I may have to take up drinking or cussing. 

Essentially, we have a local organization that's faced with a lot of new challenges. Part of it comes from a change at the top of the organization, another part from a bad case of "Founder's Disease," and a final part comes from situations outside of the organization over which we have no control. 

I finally got mad enough to say, "It's this way. Change or die. We can either move forward and grow or we can take the key and toss it in the canal on our way out as we lock the door of this place." Needless to say, I got a sour-faced stink-eye from some of the Founder's Disease folks. 

Tough. In this particular time, moving forward and changing is imperative. Absolutely IMPERATIVE. We just can't sit and "do it the way we've always done it" -- that's the most prominent indicator of a bad case of Founder's Disease. This ailment is always fatal to an organization. Always. Both in the non-profit and for-profit sector. I've seen it happen.

Anyway, after that, I came home, made and drank about 4 cups of tea (not all at once) and just couldn't face anyone because I felt like a wrung-out washcloth. I needed tea, sympathy, my dogs and knitting. Not necessarily in that order. 

So I sat. And worked on this...

Knitting...

Kid #2's afghan is underway!! It was underway a while ago, but I screwed up the lace. (Note to self: STITCH MARKERS!!!) So I had to frog and re-set 249 stitches. Hey, it's an afghan.

Start of the ripple
The pattern is a lovely Ann Norling called Ripple to Knit & Crochet. You can find it at your LYS, or here at Jimmy Bean's - one of my favorite online shops! I'm using Caron's Simply Soft, which I wouldn't normally. But I figure that Kid #2, while he absolutely knows how to care for the nicer yarns, would be ok with the acrylic. The colors are an homage to his university. He picked them and I asked if he wanted great swaths of each or if he wanted tighter stripes. So every 2 pattern repeats, I will switch colors, ending with the grey. Fingers crossed, it'll all work out that way. It's "knit till it's long enough" so it should be fine. And I have scads of this yarn. 

What I like about this is that the pattern gives you size variations from crib size to afghan size. There are 2 styles of each, knit and crochet. The one is soooo similar to what my granny crocheted. One day I'll attempt that, in a baby blanket. 

The other thing is, there's a chart for each one so you can knit with yarn from 4 different gauges (from DK/Sport up to Chunky) and it gives you everything: how much to cast on, how much yardage... And the pattern I'm doing (Style 1 in the knitted version) is really easy to memorize.

Having said that, use stitch markers on the lace bits. Seriously. You don't need a life-line, but when, just say, your crazy-mad, puppy-brained Siberian Husky thinks she's invisible and tries to pull a Ninja move of ever-so-gently removing a grey skein from your bag while you are knitting with that skein, you might get a tad distracted... Stitch markers at least allow you to frog back to the last pattern repeat. 

If I'm not sick of it, I could potentially make a matching pillow. We shall see what's left. 

Yarn & Notebook
If you all recall (and you probably don't - that's ok), on my Ravelry page, I have a jewel-toned afghan that I did in Simply Soft. It's here - see "Baby Afghan" at the bottom. Or just go look for me at Riverknits520 (there's apparently another Riverknits there...) - anyhow, that one was crocheted, and I used the leftovers for some amazing baby hats (also on that project page). 

The yarn is nicely soft, drapes very gently and I just like the way it feels on the needles. I'll go ahead and block this, even though you know acrylic "is what it is" - just so perhaps the points and the y/o sections pop a bit. 

As always, I'm using a project notebook. And an index card, this time. I don't want to have to flip back and forth to check my pattern and row count. And for the life of me - I have 5 katcha-katchas and I can't use them! I keep forgetting where I put them and then when I do use them, I find it cumbersome. A great idea, but obviously not in my knitting wheelhouse. 

Oh - oh!! Handy Knitting Tip!!! I brought this to work today (It's a Saturday. I'm bored.) and I thought I'd forgotten said stitch markers.  Thinking fast, I realized that in our big supply cabinet, we had a small drawer full of rubber bands. Some of them were about the width of a dime, which would work!! Problem solved! And anyway - who can use a dime-width rubber band??? 

So if you have a project you're working on at lunch and you need stitch markers, rubber bands work nicely in a pinch. 

The System...

My system of "a project a day" is working sort of. Since I didn't meet up with the Peeps, I figured I'd just keep plowing away on Kid 2 Afghan. Thursday was technically Afghan day. Friday is Blue Baby Jacket. But I was on a roll. And today is "free choice" so I figured I'd just get a whack of it done, so that at least he sees progress. 

It was supposed to be done for high school graduation. Then he never left home through college. So now, it's "when you buy your house." Which hopefully will be this year or next. He's saving like a mad squirrel and we hope he finds what he wants. 

So while I deviated slightly, it seems to be working in that I can at least get a few hours on each project. And rotating keeps me from getting "Start-itis" and adding to my already-bursting WIP list. 

Random Picture...

Well, this will be a shorter entry, obviously. I was hoping to perhaps get a nice shot of some robins. My assistant came in on Thursday griping about how "at least 8 or 9 robins" decorated his car... So I figured our field next door ought to attract its usual number of the birds. But so far, nothing. And the weather report says that we will get more snow this week. Mother Nature is seriously annoyed with us for screwing with the climate!

Anyway, here's a shot that I particularly like. Mostly because I have a healthy sense of irony.

This was taken on the bus trip my mom and I went on. This one was on my camera, but I actually took one with the Big Camera and I entered it in a contest. Title? 

"Ironic." 



Wednesday, March 19, 2014

It's a Rant of Good Proportion...

We were there at 5 a.m.

Where were you? I’m specifically talking to people in Lockport Precinct 23. Yesterday, unless you missed it or were under a stump somewhere, was a Primary Election day.

Our precinct had an absolutely mortifying turnout. We returned to the Clerk’s Office – with FOUR boxes of unopened ballots. Our total vote count? A whole 151.

One. Hundred. Fifty. One.

If you crab about the Chaney-Monge referendum in the next few days, I want to see your voting receipt.

If your candidate for Park Board didn’t get in, I want to see your voting receipt.

If your candidate for Will County Sheriff didn’t get elected, I want to see your voting receipt.

If your candidate for Treasurer, Comptroller, or Governor didn’t get in, I want to see your voting receipt.

Otherwise? I don’t want to hear it. In Will County, we have a fantastic opportunity to vote early. You had weeks to go downtown to the Clerk’s Office to vote if you knew you weren’t going to be able to make it yesterday. We also have long poll hours. Polls opened at 6 a.m. and closed at 7 p.m.

How bad was it? I’m almost done knitting a sock. And I’m not joking. It’s a lovely sock. But we election judges should have been far, far busier. We weren’t and you know what? It’s YOUR fault.

I’ve been an election judge for a long time now, and I’ve seen the dismal returns for primaries. I’ve watched as people complain about the primary elections because they “don’t want to declare a party.” I have one suggestion for you: work to get that changed. Here’s the perfect opportunity for you to learn how to be an activist and get involved in an issue.

Don’t blame the election judges. We have to abide by the law and in Illinois, in a primary election you have to declare if you want to vote for candidates. You know what? It’s not like we’re bellowing out your choice either. We’re actually quite discrete and do everything to protect your right to vote in private – from silently handing the information to the judge handing out ballots to handing you a privacy sleeve to ensure that not one of us sees how you vote – we’re there all day waiting to help you exercise your rights. You can’t exercise ‘em if you don’t show up, though!  As an election judge, I can honestly tell you this: I don’t care HOW you vote. I care THAT you vote.

And Precinct 23 women?? What the heck… We got the right to vote in 1920. Where were you??


If you think that politics in Springfield are corrupt, sure – you don’t have to vote for a candidate. Our system allows you to do that and still cast a ballot. You can still make an effort to vote for your local candidates and issues. If you don’t, you have only yourself to blame. “The system is rigged.” Well – un-rig it. You – the voter – are the only one who can make a difference. 

Shocking...

The Chaney-Monge referendum passed. Oh my, I'm having the vapors! My kids went to that school, and back in its day, it was a great place. But years and years (over 30 of them to be exact) of NOT passing basic referendum issues have taken their toll. Their now-retired superintendent had to resort to putting temporary buildings alongside the main school building. That riled up the folks who had to look at them, but his point was well-taken. You want 'em removed? We NEED to add on. Kids were using the library for classrooms. Two classrooms. The library now relegated to the size of a small bathroom. We needed more handicapped access to bathrooms for the influx of kids with disabilities. And the roof was holding together with spit and prayer. I'm positive that this winter didn't do it any favors. 

It's a $3 million referendum. Much less than the neighboring school district - the one across town that managed a TEN MILLION DOLLAR referendum about 8 or 9 years ago. 

Knitting...

Blue Sweater with sleeves
As I said, there's a good whack done on the Pink Sock. Today is Teal Sock. I also did some yesterday on Blue Baby Jacket. This picture just shows the sleeves barely started. The Alternate Loop Cast On was interesting and I'll use it again. 

The sleeves, with the variegated yarn, look like they'll go to the lightest part right on top the shoulders. Hey, it looks like I'm brilliant, but really, the yarn's doing all the work. 

We shall see how the "schedule" test works out with what I'm working on. Next week's knitting will be shot to smithereens because I'm doing a lot of subbing for the yoga teachers at my home studio and another student just contacted me yesterday about a private lesson. Yes, I love it, but sometimes I'm a bit overwhelmed. 

Easter...

So we sort of have the menu set. The date will actually be Holy Saturday. Hey, we have a lot of in-laws to compete with, along with Hubby's and my obligations with the choir. And you know what? As much as I enjoy my family, since Hubby and I bear the brunt of the cooking (we delegated the clean-up now to the Nephews...), we actually like to just chill on the real holiday's date. 

Technicolor Devils
I have a ham in the freezer, so we'll do that. I'm sorry if the rest of the folks will have ham on Easter Sunday. Deal with it. 

I'm doing deviled eggs, but found this and I thought it was fantastic and fun. So we will have deviled eggs, in technicolor.  My filling won't be as smooth - we like pickle relish in ours. I may dig out my home-made pickle relish for that and leave a few plain. While I had a blast making the relish, it's really got too much onion for me! 

My mom's making Nodif, a Croatian ham-polenta thingie you have to taste. It's incredibly labor-intensive. My dad used to make it in a sausage casing. We now make it in a pan. One day, I may become adventurous and do it again in the casing, hoping that I don't explode it in my kitchen. It involves a pork butt, a car-load of spring onions and corn meal. 

I'm bringing the potica. And I'm making a lamb cake. Just like the ones we had when we were kids. It's time to go old-school, especially since K and the twins are now probably old enough to know what they're looking at -- K in particular, the smart little bugger!! Which reminds me, I should order a lamb cake pan. I can't find mine. 

The Wedding...

Well, M is now married. That's the second of The Nephews to be married. It was great to have the family together and Nephew S - father of the kids - took a formal portrait of us, which was something I was really wanting. Then my mom wanted a pic of "her remaining children" - which disconcerted brother D, but hey - just do it, you know?

Kid #1 and girlfriend K (we really, REALLY have to vet names better in this family!!) had a good time, because K and K (K is kid-K's mom) had a blast - they are good friends. Between the wedding and reception, K and S, being "childless" (as in "free from the kids for a day") got together with Kid #2, Kid #1 and G/F and J (S's brother) - apparently, they all headed out for Thai food. 

I'm so happy to see them all bonding. Though I did tell Kid #2 that when he acquires a G/F she CANNOT have a name beginning with "K" - it's just too weird. 

The wedding was just a ceremony. The reception was nice, but the DJ was not good. And we were fighting the volume of two other parties. Brother D had to go tell the manager of the banquet hall that if she didn't take care of it, "I'd be happy to go in and help them with their sound system." That might've been interesting. 

Kid #1 and K already told me that "if" they get married, expect to know AFTER the fact, when they call to schedule the party. I figured as much. I'm not overly troubled by that. It is what it is, and it's THEIR life. As long as they're happy. 

Raisa...

Graduation!
Actually managed to graduate from Basic Obedience! Yay - no heat so far, though we still think it's close. I have to attend a make-up session with her because I missed one. But that's ok. 

We're going to skip Intermediate right now. She's almost 6 months old; we're really bargaining with time and I don't feel like paying for the Intermediate right now only to pull her out when Heat Happens. After heat comes Spay... so you figure 1 month to get heat over with (21 days of actual heat, but you have to wait for at least 30 days so that things go back to normal) and then spay, which is about 4 to 6 weeks of recuperation. It's a good plan, and while I think she'll bounce back faster than Tippi did, I still want to be careful. 

Raisa + Quinn
She and Quinn are getting along well, too, which is nice. We still don't leave all 3 of them out when we're away. Raisa gets the crate. She's still a little too new in the house. And till after she's spayed, I can't be absolutely sure that Tippi & Quinn will behave either. It seems strange, but they get a weird kind of PMS-thing going on with her emerging hormones. 

Raisa managed a very good sit/stay/wait and she's really good with her long stay - though I've only gone about 6 feet from her. She's still got puppy-brain, though, so we are just thrilled she does what she does. 

I have to work on her walk. She thinks leash = run since Hubby takes them. She needs to learn that with ME, leash = walk. What I usually do is an about-face. That 180* turn kind of pulls her mind and she realizes that she has to wait on me. 

It's all a work in progress. She has the makings of an excellent therapy dog, as far as I can tell. It's early days yet, but she's got a lot of River's personality, and River -- well, River was Practically Perfect, if I may borrow from Mary Poppins. 

The Food Thing...

So it's been a rough couple of weeks. The week of the 10th, I ate out way more than I usually do. Salt. Processed restaurant stuff really kills me. I'm still recovering. 

Then yesterday, at the polls, I took a dangerous tumble off the wagon with a donut(s) -- ok, one whole big donut and a few donut holes. And some pizza around 5 p.m. 

Yes, I did bring my own food. And I knew it. But The Tired came over me and that's probably my worst time, other than The Worry. Breakfast and lunch were ok. Greek yogurt, some nuts, a cheese stick for a snack. Salad of baby kale, chard & spinach with olives and blue cheese. Snack of celery with peanut butter.

And then came 3 p.m......... Polls closed at 7 p.m. Yikes, that's an interminable span of time!! I knitted. I read my Kindle. I knitted some more. I checked my FB. Sent off some e-mails. 

But the siren song of junk food kind of whirled into my brain. I did do some damage control, though, so it wasn't as bad as it could have been.

And that morning? Mother Nature played a stinky on me - bloat and cramps and some Other Things potentially heralding another visit. Really. Seriously not funny. So that's why I probably feel Dolly-Parton-ish and out of sorts. 

So today: Greek yogurt for breakfast. Kale/spinach/chard salad with radishes and a half of a chicken breast. Celery with peanut butter. Dinner will likely be something light, as I have yoga tonight. I'll try to keep things under control and perhaps with lots of water and some mild activity, I can mitigate some of the future problems. 

The Rant...

Our local newspaper has been bought and sold again. Apparently, now -- it looks to be a real paper again, instead of the ad-rag it'd become under the prior ownership. Most of the reporter staff has of course been long-gone and we don't expect them to come back.

I submitted The Rant above as possibly a guest column or a letter to the editor. We shall see. I wouldn't mind writing a column again. It was great fun and I had a good time doing it. 

Of course, it won't be like this. No pictures and projects graphs! But still some fun, I think.

Random Picture...

Do I smell corned beef??
Yes. Miss Tippi as Miss St. Patrick's Day. And yeah, there was payback. Raisa tried to eat the pompoms and Tippi did get a lovely treat afterwards. 

We missed the visit on Tuesday, since I was at the polls. Next Tuesday, we go to St. Colletta's, our new potential gig. It's a trial visit to see how she (and I) will handle students with mental and physical disabilities.

I confess to a bit of discomfort in dealing with folks in that kind of situation. Tippi will likely be a star. Me? Not so sure. But the social worker there is a gracious young woman and I know she'll try to make sure I'm ok with my own discomforts. 

Though we will likely play it straight... no costumes. Less confusing that way. Oh, and I got her new cards, so now we're officially "TDIA." She's not impressed. 

Our next challenge is TDIAOV - one hundred more visits. 

At least 100 more voters was what I was hoping for last night. By this measure, Tippi will be Queen of Therapy Dogs by the time I see a decent attendance at a primary election. No answer for the problem. Just a Rant of Good Proportion...









Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Nine Days till Spring...

...at least according to the calendar... 

Batting cages
This is what we woke up to: at least in our area, 4" of snow. Over the top of about 1-2" of ice. 

Hello, Mother Nature -- exactly WHAT did we do to annoy you??

OK, the concept of "spring" is relative in the Midwest USA area. We can have perfectly lovely weather - and that can include snow. And we can have crap. Which can also include snow.

I personally love snow. What I don't love is the thaw part, because then it gets ugly, sloppy and depressing. Before everything starts greening up again, it's perfectly dreadful. But there it is. You have to pay for the pretty winter and pretty spring with an ugly middle part there.

I had a dentist appointment - to pick up a bite splint. I'm not a grinder. I'm a clencher. I tend to clench my jaw, which is particularly bad when you do it in your sleep. I've gotten nasty headaches, and as a fun side effect, I've fractured two molars. 
Frosty trees

Yep, just as much fun as it sounds... 

So anyway, most of these shots were taken on my drive back from the dentist. Pretty forlorn looking batting cages, aren't they?

Most of the main roads were somewhat plowed, but there was one main road that was, honestly, a sheet of ice. And by the way: a POX on people who haven't got the brains of a goose. People -- as long as you're scraping or brushing off your windshields, please, PLEASE brush off your front and back lights. I can't read your mind and I don't know your signal is on when your lights are covered. And the road is icy. I can't always stop. You're just lucky I'm cautious. 

So the drive there and back took longer than it took to pick up the device. I also set up the appointment for Crown #2 - because of the clenching. Lucky me.

Anyway, I took several of these just because I know the "ick" is coming and I thought I'd like to remember the fact that it's actually gorgeous.

Frosted birch
See, here's the thing. The trees are iced over. The snow is on the trees. There's a light breeze, and all of a sudden, when you stop and listen, you hear it.

A nature-inspired wind chime. A tinkling sound that, if you're in the right frame of mind, worms into your brain and makes you realize just how beautiful and awesome Nature really is. This shot is my neighbor's birch tree. In the spring, summer and fall, this tree hosts just about every songbird in the neighborhood. Ask Kid #2, who parks under it...

The first robins of spring pop up in that tree. Cardinals, their bright red bodies popping through the pale green leaves and against the white bark - you hear their cheerful songs in the summer. 

And of course the chattering squirrels race up and down and around that tree. Annoying the snot out of our dogs, but having a blast. 

So much beauty, and it's ours for free. If we only look at it and see it for what it is. Inconvenient? Sure. There are lots of stupid drivers who haven't quite gotten the clue that this has been a relatively brutal winter. They think the sun's out so we can just zip along. Or that their 4WD vehicle is capable of stopping fast. No, it's not. To be truthful, 4WD is to PULL you out of situations. Not STOP you from having them. 

Local street
Some of the neighborhoods haven't exactly been plowed out. This isn't my neighborhood, but it's close. And as you can see, they haven't really broken any speed records for getting the streets clean. 

I saw lots of people shoveling and trying to use snow-blowers. The only bad thing was that this is truly "heart attack" snow. It's wet and heavy. Hubby said that of all the snow he's shoveled this winter (and I don't even know how I'd calculate that), this is by far the heaviest, "and it feels like I moved 3 tons of it!" 

Crocus
That's saying something, since he rarely comments on the snow. Even so, this isn't the kind that moves easily with a machine. It's down-and-dirty get-the-shovel snow. The local PD is having an enforcement field day, though. We have a "no parking after 2" of snow" ordinance. We've had it for years. And still, people are kind of dumbfounded when the cops come knocking. They see if you're home as a courtesy and you have about 4 minutes to move your car. If you don't, you get a ticket. Our streets are similar to those in the above shot: they're narrow. Plows can't come through easily. And the rationale is, hey - if the plow comes down the middle and your vehicle gets covered, or your mirrors get whacked off? That would be YOUR problem for not moving your car out of the way. 

Oh, the crocus? That's not my picture. I used to have crocus and snowdrops. But the bunnies liked the salad and I got frustrated. This is just a freebie - I thought you'd like to see some hint of spring. 

Knitting...

So you'll notice that (thanks, Hubby!) I have a new ticker system along the right side of the blog. It's a little more "ticker" and easier to read than the snapshot of the Excel graph. But I should probably trim down the list, huh?

Baby jacket WIP
I have created a schedule. (cue laughter) -- No, I mean it. I've drawn up a list of the days of the week and a project for each day. I'm hoping that (a) it'll keep me faithful to some WIPs; and (b) get stuff off the needles with more regularity. 

And here it is:  MON-Pink sock; TUE-February Lady Sweater; WED-Teal sock; THURS-Kid 2 afghan; FRI-Baby sweater; SAT-Crafter's Choice!; and SUN-Counted XS project (for the curious non-crafter, XS refers to "cross stitch").

This way, I can perhaps gain some control. (cue more laughter) I really, REALLY want to get some of this stuff done, and in particular, my mom's Angel and the socks. Yes, I still have tons of WIPs. And no, not everything on the ticker made it to the list. There are, after all, only SEVEN days in a week. I figure the Crafter's Choice day is for either plowing forward on some of what's listed, or picking up something here and there. I can always take knitting to work when I work Saturdays. The counted XS is a little harder now because I prefer magnification, but I could do some of the smaller projects (the XS) without too much trouble if I had to. It's certainly easier to pick up and put down than a knitting or crochet project where you may be counting a repeat or trying to do lace in public... I even put that schedule on my smart phone to remind myself. (cue final bout of laughter)

I figure I have till this Monday to start with that schedule. So for now, I'm whacking away at the Blue Stash Baby Jacket. Dang, I wish I knew what this yarn was called!! 

And Then There's This...

I just watched something gut-wrenching. As a person who's had 2 miscarriages myself, I can feel for this woman to a certain extent. But I have NOT been where she's at. Thank God. Or Whomever. 

MEN should not legislate stuff that should be between a WOMAN and her DOCTOR. This woman has gone through almost unfathomable psychological stress, not to mention whatever her body has been through. Danielle and her family have been devastated. And I don't mean that in the hyperbolic over-use of the term.

I mean truly DEVASTATED. Watch this video of her story. Have tissues handy. (Tech note: I tried to upload it but I couldn't figure out how to do it)

See, here's what fries my cheese. Some fundie lawmaker(s) decided on an arbitrary "due date" for abortions. Which are, by the way, STILL LEGAL in the USA. So far. (ahem)

The State of Nebraska decreed that 20 weeks was the cutoff. This woman's water broke at 22 weeks. The consequences to the fetus were catastrophic. As in: The Baby Will Not Live. 

Her doctor told her that he couldn't terminate the pregnancy (even by inducing early labor) because of that 20-week thing, and that she had to "go home and wait" for the baby to be born. The only reason he could terminate would be if she got deathly ill. 

Let me tell you, if you're not going to watch the video, what happens when your water breaks prematurely and your body doesn't replace it (which can happen, but in this case it didn't). The uterus is one gigantic muscle. It's built to squeeze. The water acts like a cushion for the fetus. At 22 weeks, a fetus isn't a baby - because it's not viable. Lung development hasn't fully completed. The baby uses the liquid in the uterus as a fluid in which to move the arms and legs. And the fluid keeps the baby safe. 

Danielle's baby would not be able to breathe outside her body. The baby would have "contracture" of arms and legs, because it would have been unable to move them in the uterus. The baby would have skull deformities because the muscle of the uterus would squeeze the head. The brain would also be injured.

Are you getting the picture?? Danielle did have the baby, because some cruel male legislators made up this arbitrary date and she was not free to consult with her doctor about the best course for her. The government did that for her, because of course she's a woman who couldn't POSSIBLY make this kind of decision on her own. 

So she and her husband had to endure a heartbreaking labor. She and her husband had to sit and hold their newborn daughter, who died in her mother's arms 15 minutes after birth, because she never would've been able to live without being on a ventilator permanently (that's what happens when you have no lungs)... and "live" in this case is a cruelty. There's no life there. With her muscles in constant states of contraction, she might well have been in excruciating pain. But - she wouldn't likely be able to even cry in pain. Because she'd have been hooked to a machine because the State legislature says she has a "right to life."

Doesn't "right to life" mean that (a) you care for it AFTER IT'S BORN (as in, how about we feed the hungry kids we have here, now, instead of cutting benefits) (as in how about we quit slut-shaming women who choose your version of "right to life" and stop calling them "moochers" and "breeders" - they just did what YOU wanted them to do: had the baby); and (b) you should maybe be able to HAVE a life? Not permanently and irrevocably physically deformed to the point where you can't move and not permanently and forever (however long "forever" is in this case) hooked up to a machine because your lungs are so under-developed that you can't breathe.

What kind of life is that? 

Here's what I'd like to see. I'd like to see the genius that wrote that law, and the geniuses who voted for it - in a room with Danielle and her husband, and their young son. And explain to them why that law is so vitally important. 

When will these lawmakers realize a few things?

First, statistically, (and I found this at the Guttmacher Institute website as well as a pro-choice website), ONE HALF of all women getting abortions reported that some form of birth control was used in the month in which they conceived. If abortion were used as a primary method of birth control, it's likely that a fertile woman with a reasonably active sex life would be pregnant at least 3 times in one year. THREE times in ONE year. I mean, think about the biology: women are fertile for roughly 30 years. It doesn't make sense to undergo what is essentially an outpatient surgery when there are reasonably reliable methods of birth control available. 

Second, the relationship between a woman and her doctor is sacrosanct. Having a law inject itself into a situation like Danielles? That's just foolish. That woman had to go through the physical and mental stress of carrying a non-viable fetus because a man-made law said so. 

Third, laws based on someone's religious belief are wrong. The Founders didn't want this to be a theocracy. They were perhaps men of God or some sort of spirituality, but time and again, historical documents have proven that this nation was never intended to be a "Christian" nation. We are founded as a nation where, at least at one time, you could believe as you pleased - or NOT believe as you please. It was freedom OF religion. You pick yours, I pick mine and as rational adults, we respect each other's choices.

If MY religion doesn't approve of something but yours is opposite, that doesn't make YOURS wrong. It doesn't make MINE right, either. Laws should be based on public safety. Pure and simple. 

Not "public safety" viewed through the lens of someone else's faith. 

Random Picture...

Sure, it was rough to wake up to the mess. But look at how pretty it is with the sun shining on it. 

Frosted Maple
The snow isn't melting very fast, though chunks are plopping down off the trees. But while it lasts and while the sun's on it, it all looks like fairyland. 

The bird feeders are all tipsy with the weight of the snow. And the hooks are a bit cattywampus with the heaving and freezing and thawing of the ground. 

But that'll be changing soon. 

In a few short weeks - maybe - this tree will start to bud out. It's a maple tree, and it provides shade for 90% of our front yard. And in the fall, it turns the most brilliant flaming orange you'll ever see. You can spot this tree from almost 2 blocks away. It's the pride of our yard, and right now, it's dressed in some late-winter finery that I'll hold in my mind for quite some time. 

While I'm scraping mud out of my truck, off my dogs, and off my jeans...