Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Nine Days till Spring... 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!" 

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. 


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...

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