Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Strategic Planning...

OK, so it's time to 'fess up and talk about some stuff because if I type it, I have more of a commitment to it - at least in my mind.

But first, let's backtrack... It's been yet another "where'd the weekend go?" kind of weekend. And Monday was a doozy...


My mom and dad have (well, dad HAD since he's deceased) friends who've been in their lives - gosh, at least since they were married, if not since high school. And now these friends are moving. To California. With their daughter. Who has given up her dream house (the one she designed) to do this. 

The husband of this pair is an artist. I mean, a really, really, REALLY great ARTIST. They're both in frail health: hers is more physical, where his is somewhat mental (due to injuries). The move to CA will of course bring better climate, but they've only lived in this county - ever - their entire lives; you can imagine the uprooting taking place.

Doug is an artist, as I've said. And as most of you probably know, when you move house, you move "by the pound." And his artwork weighs a ton. I mean, thankfully, he's not a sculptor! But his paintings and drawings are pretty big - at least in my opinion. Though my assistant, also a significant artist, says they're "average size." Guess it's an artist thing. 

The Wild Bunch
This is the piece I bought, after Doug argued about just giving it to me. Which I wouldn't allow him to do, so he knocked a couple hundred bucks off the price. 

Should have done better with the flash, but you get the idea. That's in my office, awaiting its spot in the house. 

I have "temporary custody" of 4 other pieces, but that's not the point of this section, really. 

First off, yes, this is an acrylic painting. Second, yes, most of his stuff is as good as - if not better than - this. 

Third: It would have wiped out their savings to move this stuff to CA and store it till they got a gallery to give them space.

So, after I brought this artwork home to Hubby and got "a look" for buying the horses (no, I didn't discuss it, and yes, I apologized), he said something surprising. 

I told him that Joan and Doug were in some turmoil about what to do with, essentially, a gallery-worth of art. He said, "Well, why can't we pack it up, store it at your mom's and then when they get settled, we'll drive it out there."

Some days, I remember why I married him... They were thrilled. Their daughter was amazed we'd do this, but I told her I would feel really bad if we didn't try to help out. 

So on Monday, we took both trucks and loaded 'em up. Then we huffed it all back to my mom's house, trucked it to the basement and just set it there. 

Then on Tuesday, I got the camera out and we took pictures. Of everything. Hubby is going to make an inventory sheet and send it to them. Once they get settled, they can figure out when they want it. Though my mom seems to think it'll be sooner rather than later. It looks like, with my schedule, I'll be staying home from the imminent road trip. She and Hubby will be going out. Kid #2 and I will stay home. Depending on what's going on, I may take a week's vacation to be home with the dogs. We'll have to see about that. 

We think there are about 80-90 pieces. Most of them are framed. They weigh a ton. I'm still sore...


So aside from sore, I've been reading more about the Atkins eating plan and I think I'm going for it, starting on Monday. Only because I have to shop and I won't have time till then. 

Frankly, in the meantime, I was quite indulgent. And I'm feeling it. It won't be a problem for me, because I truly don't eat a lot of junk (well, except for this past week). 

I printed out their sample "induction" meal plan and it's honestly not the "steak with butter" stuff it used to be. In truth, it's a LOT more veggies than I thought it would be. It's a ton more strict in terms of "no bread, no pasta, no wheat" for the first 2 weeks, but I can't say that'll bother me much. 

What I actually did was put that Induction week on a piece of paper, but moved things around a  bit. I don't mind food boredom. I really don't. I'll eat the same thing for breakfast - always. Anyway, I figure I can keep to this plan for the first week, continue looking at the book, and the second week (you have to do Induction for a minimum of 2 weeks), I will be in the groove and able to work with the recipes, etc. 

But here's the kicker. I never have ever gotten rid of the "fat clothes" so I always had clothes I could wear, no matter what my size. 

I think a big step in my kick to get myself "finally fit" is to empty the closet. Of all that stuff that is not the size I want to be. There are 2 suits I have that are worth the money to re-size, and I'll take care of that. 

But I have a lot of stuff that I could be wearing. But I can't right now. And it's not all about the clothes. It's about feeling better, cleaning my system and keeping myself healthy. The Atkins plan in this revised format is a lot cleaner than it used to be. 

So the start date is Monday, May 5. That'll give me time to get the kitchen stocked. And I think this will be where I need to be right now. 

Pottery Yarn Bowl

This is the bowl that Joan gave me. It's hand-thrown pottery from a friend of hers, and she says that she used to put fruit salad in there in the summer. All I could think of was "yarn bowl!!" So the Pink Socks are in there. And lovely, I might add. 

And I'm still working on the second one; give me a break - it's been busy! 

The next thing will probably be cracking along on the February Lady Sweater for the home project and the Teal Sock for the take-along project. But we'll see. Definitely (go ahead - laugh) I don't want to start anything else now. 

Except that socks don't count. They're "stash-busters" and "calorie-free" as far as I'm concerned. And I can always use more socks. 


Ummmmm. No. I wasn't going to go here because I don't think they need more publicity, but let's just say, without naming names, that certain NBA owners and certain mooching anti-American ranchers - well, those folks need to just shut up.

And go away. 

We are not post-racial. And we won't be till some folks either "up and die" (quoting Sidney Poitier in "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner") or until there's a monumental sea-change in our attitudes. Which is not likely to happen when you have such a sharp rise in the number of hate groups in this country. Since about 2000, hate groups rose by 54% - check it out here

You know this, really, don't you? Without me telling you, you've seen the rise of ultra-conservatives and their "dog-whistle" stories. You've seen it in the hysteria of "Obamacare" -- which was fine by the way, when it was ROMNEYCARE. It's all in the pigment, folks. 

Then there's Georgia's "guns all over" law. Check out the gunslinger at a local Little League game. Compensating much, buddy?? If that link doesn't work, go here. Daily Kos has a great question. Have we become so afraid of the NRA that we won't even attempt to question someone's common sense? You frightened little kids, dude. 

Not cool. Stupid, actually. 

Until we can all sit down together and not have a freak-out - well, till then, we're a long way from being "post-racial" and anyone who says we now are? They're rather more than delusional. 

They - the haters - can get away with a lot more now. And that should scare you.

If it doesn't, please have someone check your pulse. 

Random Picture...

Brings to mind the Judy Collins song about clouds. Or love. Or both. Anyway, I like looking at a beautiful sky with fluffy clouds.

Today isn't that day. Today, it's rainy and if we're lucky, Noah won't come floating down the main street. 

Today, we're looking at the rest of the week being rainy, the farmers being delayed in getting the crops in the ground, and having the yoga studio full of "creaky" students who don't do well when wet!

But on this day, outside my office, this is what the sky looked like. 

And it was beautiful. 

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Random Saturday Morning...

  Yesterday was "let's get this crap organized" day and I did ok. Ish. I can't see much floor in the office, but I can see desk space. I organized the yoga stuff, at least in the same pile. I filed the Estate stuff. I stuck the music sort of where it was supposed to be. And I plopped a bunch of knitting patterns into a separate pile. 

I also downloaded all the pictures off the Sky Drive onto the NAS at home. I still have to clear out the Sky Drive so that the new phone/camera has a place to store stuff. All that was left were the yoga videos from various trainings I've taken. I find it easier sometimes to watch the instructor and tape what's going on so that I can take notes later. 

Hey, organizing is what you make of it. I didn't get it completely where I want it, but it's coming along. 

Pink Sock Progress

But I didn't knit a blessed stitch. Anyway, this is what the Pink Sock looks like so far. It's about 2.5 - 3" along on the foot, so I have another 2" or so to go before I can even contemplate the toe decrease. I'm just taking it easy. 

I think that after I'm done with this, I'll plow along on the Blue Jacket for my "carry along" project. I will alternate it with the February Lady Sweater, which really, truly needs to be at home. You don't want to deal with lace when you're at work. 

I also think there's a frogging in my future. The blue lace scarf -- it's just not possible for me to figure out what I did wrong with it. So I'll frog it. Set the yarn aside to relax. Then re-start it WITH LIFELINES to help keep me straight.

And as always, there are socks, washcloths and the like to just get stash busted. 


Actually, I had a really hard time concentrating yesterday. The seeds came in!!! And then it was all about do we get starter pots? Do we plant straight in the ground? What's the weather say? 

Veggie seeds
And that's even before we concentrated on the fact that we still have some herb PLANTS to get, as well as a couple of tomato plants. Not to mention the rest of the flowers to complete the floral part of the yard.

There's a farm locally that I found, but I need to know if they have non-GMO plants or are certified organic. If I want to buy "mystery" plants, I can go to the local big-box. But I'd rather get some stuff from the locals. I e-mailed them, and I'm awaiting their answer. I suppose I could call, but I'd rather e-mail. 

It seems more healthy to try to buy organic, and it's certainly better for their bottom line if I buy from a local farmer. I haven't even begun to contemplate the hanging baskets yet. We're concentrating on hummingbirds, bees, and butterflies. The birds will come because we have a whole "feeder complex" that we'll be stocking. Also have to think about what we'll be doing to keep the bird bath's bubbler going. We have a solar one, but the water is so gunky... Have to find a solution to the algae which is healthy for the critters. The garbage that floats in there (floaters from the trees)? We'll just have to skim more. 

By the way, all the seeds were from The Seed Exchange, and most are certified organic. I love the website; it's easy to navigate and you can actually participate in helping to keep heirloom varieties alive as well as helping people plant seeds that are good for the planet instead of the Monsanto-fied crap that you can get if you're not paying attention.

Flower packets
I see the seed packets for the flower garden look a little "purple-heavy" but like I said -- there are still the hanging baskets and some other stuff we want to put in. And we have to see what survived the polar vortex. We know for a fact that our Icelandic Poppy survived - it's already greening up nicely. And the Monster Bleeding Heart is back for its next year. That thing just loves that north/west corner. 

I haven't seen any lily of the valley yet, but I've seen a few randomly planted snow drops - thanks to the squirrels. We'd dug up all our bulbs years ago. But I think there are a few rogues on the south side of the house. 

Hubby bought us a planter called a "Herb Trough" which will be nice. I can get rid of the various pots I lined the sidewalk with, and this also has a nice net to keep out the pesky squirrels, too. It came in, so if he's on the ball, it might actually be full of dirt by the time I get home today. If not, we have plenty of time; the weather is set to get near-freezing (welcome to Spring in Illinois before Mother's Day), so I'm partly champing at the bit to get planting, but the common-sense side of my head tells me to just relax. We have plenty of time. 

I'm not even sure where we want to put the trough. It doesn't have wheels, which makes it something we really have to think about. 

My agenda for today is to work till about 1 p.m. (seriously - our Pathophysiology professor is amazing -- even I get what he's talking about and I'm not exactly conversant in this stuff!) And then if all is well, perhaps Hubby and I can drive out to the garden center a bit north of us? Not sure yet. Frankly, I need to be patient! I always get nuts about the planting, but we still have lots of bed prep to be done. So maybe I get my Vitamin D while digging up the dandelions.

I know - I should probably save them, since dandelion greens are now "gourmet" and about $3.99/lb! My great-granny would be rolling in the aisle at that. 

Miscellaneous Happenings...
Chocolate chip cookies

Kid #2 decided to bake. A new chocolate chip recipe. I had two. They were really good. He needs to stop... No, really, I'd rather he baked than wasted his money buying stuff he's perfectly capable of making himself. 

I'm starting on the Atkins program in May. I need time to finish the book, so I know what's going on, and stock the kitchen with me-friendly items. At least this gives me a similar plan to work on that I've had success with before. I think this will help get rid of the weight I gained back after my brother's death. I need to get rid of it. 

I have some of the protein shakes (the vegetarian powder ones) that I need to use, and I'll probably use this next week to clean out my system a bit. I not only fell off the wagon, I rather jumped off whole-hog. 

And I'm feeling it. Not happy, sluggish, the "fat pants" are back out. I really think I need to ditch those once the weight comes off. Let's face it: if I know they're in the closet, I always have something to wear, right? If they're not there, I have to pay attention to myself, which I haven't been doing. 

Since it appears that I'm going to Florida to our club's Convention, I really would like to go there healthier. Slimmer wouldn't kill me either, but just healthier would be nice. 

African Violet
I'm trying my hand at propagation again. No, not PROCREATION - propagation like I used to do with African Violets. I trimmed up the one in the office and I had 2 good leaves. Didn't want them to go to waste, so I clipped them, rigged up my little "propagator" device and we'll see what happens. I have several of the Texas Pots - they're a self-watering pot that works very well with the Violets. They've got fuzzy leaves, so it's important to water from the bottom. 

The Texas Pots have 2 parts and seem to handle the vagaries of this plant particularly well. I have enough sunny windows at the campus to have these in quite a few places, so why not?

The one that's blooming right now is a dark purple, very pretty. If this works out, we'll have 2 little clones. 

Way back in the dark ages, I used to grow and exhibit them. So propagation was a way of life; I always had a shelf of leaves sprouting. It's taking me back, but in a good way. It'll be nice to raise seedlings again. 

Random Picture...

Not that this post hasn't been full of random pictures. Raisa's in heat. Finally. It's gross and messy, but I think the importance of the hormones will be seen later on in her life. 

Yesterday, she actually was contemplating getting all 4 legs up onto the bird's table. You could see the gears turning in her head. 

Unfortunately, Kid #2 gave Hubby a harmonica. And of course, Raisa sings to harmonicas. Loudly. And piercingly.

I told them both yesterday that I was taking away all the noisy toys. Then I asked Kid #2, "What were you THINKING???" 

At least he admits that the idea seemed "like a good one at the time." But not so much in real life, right?

Anyway, it's after Easter, so we're into "relax" mode for church, and I can just chill out this weekend. Maybe it'll finally be time where I can mark The Pink Sock at 100% and get them all done! That would be cool.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Rants, Rants, and a Sock...

First of all, I hope everyone had a happy Easter, a blessed Passover, and a successful Whatever-Else-You-Celebrate! Oh, and Happy Earth Day to our favorite Mother... 

The knitted Earth is, I believe, on Ravelry. Go take a look. It's adorable. You could probably make it out of stashed yarn.

For Earth Day, we didn't do anything huge; but I've begun a "compost" of sorts, using both Hubby's used coffee grounds and the tea leaves that I've steeped. I still can't convince him to use a compost ball - I'm still trying. Also still trying to convince him to use rain barrels... 

It's a process, I guess. Anyway, I'm still hoping that he'll come around. 

What we HAVE done is to order some seeds from Seeds of Change for our garden. All of them are certified organic and non-GMO. And I'll be "strongly suggesting" (he says "nagging") that he NOT use Round-Up this year. I'm kind of done with it. It's time we just tried to heal our little patch of Earth. 

2014 Monster Bleeding Heart
Speaking of which: Here's the 2014 edition of "The Monster Bleeding Heart." Lookee - it's just going to be huge this year. This is its 28th or 29th year, I believe. The two larger patches are the traditional pink. The little one at the top-ish there is a white one. It generally gets overshadowed by Big Pink, but then, the White is a bit smaller anyway. 

Sad news: I bought my friend Deb one; I missed the "sharing" date for cutting a bit off the Monster, so I just got her one. And her landscape company killed it, thinking it's a weed. Really??? Anyway, I told her where to get another one and suggested a plaque or sign or something. She said she'll definitely mark it.

Hubby and I are putting in a "bee, hummingbird, butterfly" kind of garden in the bed just to the left of the Monster. It's going to consist of lavender, Prairie Blazing Star, Coneflower, Black-eyed Susan and some herbs. He nixed a "prairie garden" kind of set-up. He's one of those "mostly manicured" guys. I'm still trying to convince him to just turn over that whole half of the front yard to me. That being said, he's probably right - the city probably wouldn't appreciate a big chunk of our front yard looking "weedy." Not exactly raging environmentalists, that lot!


Antique 2-part lamb pan
So, the cast iron lamb turned out ok. But I had to do 2 of them, because the from-scratch pound cake was a little weird. It was served with berries and Cool Whip... It's my sister. She doesn't do "real" whipped cream. I've tried. I just know which battles to pick, you know? 

And then I did a "regular" lamb. Pardon, but I didn't get pics of him with eyes. My mom had the jelly beans, so I waited to get him put together. He's double-chocolate, so my BIL is now totally my biggest fan... 
"Black Sheep" Chocolate Lamb Cake

And the techno-colored deviled eggs? Yes, in this shot they look a little (ok - a LOT) weird. I was quite dubious about them myself, and convinced that everyone would hate them.

However (and no, didn't get that pic either), the colors settled overnight, and the "black" is really a lovely purple. And they were a HUGE hit. Nephew Kurt wanted "a bluuuuuuuuuuue egg!" and he was thrilled. It was super-simple to do, but I have to refine my "hard boiled egg" technique. Even though I used a recipe which GUARANTEED a clean shelling, it didn't happen. And it doesn't help that my left thumb is fused. Oh well. Hubby made more eggs using his mom's "patented" technique. So we'll see. 
Techno eggs

Next year, perhaps I'll not use the pickle relish and we can pipe them full. I think it's prettier and if someone objects, then next time, it's THEIR job. 

Finally, we got the food right, and we will continue to harass my sister. She made the potatoes. 

We're Polish for the most part. We like our spuds probably more than the Irish. She made scalloped potatoes, but they were gone before you blinked! You have to make a LOT of potatoes for our family. My kids teased her mercilessly and then said THEY would do spud duty, since "we know how to do it right." Luckily, they adore their aunt and she thinks they're magnificent kids. Which they are, of course...

The ham worked out just fine. The beet/horseradish relish? Not so much. I inherited that for next year. If you don't eat it (Mom) then you shouldn't make it!! It cleared out my sinuses, just fine, thanks... But it was entirely too strong. 

Oh, and I am now the family "Potica Queen." That's fine. It's time, likely. 

And the Exsultet went off fine. I have to grab the recording off my phone. I'm also now my church's "Chant Queen." Which is also fine. But we have "Easter Hangover." The Vigil lasted till midnight, I got home but didn't settle down till the wee-wee-wee hours, and we had to be up and out to Easter Mass at 10:30 a.m. I was hoarse, but it also went off quite well. Two pieces in Latin, one Mozart, and the usual Mass parts. It was lovely. 

Rant Number One...

REALLY, Cardinal Dolan??? Salon says you think women just "walk into the local 7-11 for birth control." Well, technically, birth control IS located in your local 7-11. 

It's called CONDOMS. Why a celibate old white guy thinks he can comment on birth control, even though he is a "Prince of the Church" is still beyond me. Look, Tim... (May I call you that, since I'm actually no longer a member of the Roman Catholic Church? I feel as if we need to get cozy for this conversation...) -- The Catholic Church, for ages upon ages, has shamed women. It has denied rightful leadership roles to perfectly competent women. It's told us that Mary Magdalene was a slut. It's told us that women need to "be quiet" in church. Hey, I didn't say it. It's in Paul's first letter to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 14:34). It's told us that our place is to sit down, shut up, and produce babies. It ignored the early-alert systems that the nuns had when they were concerned about "Father" and some altar boys, banishing those nuns to peel potatoes in some outpost in the basement. 

But guess what? It's 2014... And women are doing a lot more than staying at home making babies. And guess what else? It takes TWO people to make a baby. I thought that you, being an educated man, might remember Biology 101. I don't know when YOU took that class, but I took it - taught by a NUN - in high school. And Sr. Faith pulled no punches in the "reproduction" unit. Our final exam included filling in the line drawings of both the male and female reproductive organs. 

So, why, Tim, do WOMEN have to walk into "the local 7-11" to buy birth control, specifically when said birth control works on MEN?? As I recall, birth control is against the tenets of the faith. So if we extrapolate a bit, we see that the "sin" is in the person committing it. So the WOMAN walking into that 7-11 is the one committing the SIN of purchasing birth control. Does she therefore commit the sin of having sex without intending to procreate? Again - let's shame the woman who has sex. Where's the man? 

Just asking...

Rant Number Two...

In the "Guaranteed to make you feel safer -- NOT" category is this little gem: the KKK is forming a neighborhood watch in Fairview Township, PA. No, I'm serious.

Truly. Here's the Time Magazine link. 

Yes, I spat my tea when I saw this. "Oh, but it's NOT racial" they insist. 

Guys. White sheets. Sworn secret allegiance. Burning crosses. Whites only.

Yeahhhhhhhhh. Tell me how that's not racist. 

And yes, the cops know about it. And no, they can't do too much, because it's a "First Amendment" issue. You may hate the Klan, but you can't impose on their freedom of speech. 

Though they seem perfectly happy to impose upon yours. 

Sleep well, Fairview Twp, PA. 


The Pink Sock #2 is just about done. Well, about 85% done. I just put everything else aside and knitted. And knitted. And knitted. The heel was turned on Monday. The gusset was finished Tuesday. The foot is in progress. 

I really think the "grind it out" thing works well for socks. Not the other projects. I'll continue to rotate those through, but socks - they'll become the "instant gratification" items. 

It feels good to move the ticker. 

I know - I'm easy to please. 

Random Picture...

A pensive Quinny -- I'm really liking the Nokia 1020 camera. Still figuring out the whiz-bang parts of it, but we got all my stuff off the old camera, onto SkyDrive, and I'm going to continue to organize them into files. 

Quinn thinking...
I think I'm consolidating the Tippi TDI pics. Once they're on her FB page, I don't need to keep all of them. 

Quinn is doing quite well. She's playing with Raisa, she and Tippi are in a period of truce, and she's actually becoming calmer. 

She's a cutie-pie and while she frustrates me sometimes, she's a faithful guard dog who is very attached to us. Not sure how she'll handle it when Kid #2 moves out, but she'll still have us. 

Raisa is finally nearer-to-heat and we're not sure if we'll be taking her to obedience class this weekend. Dog in heat + PetSmart + stupid owners? Recipe for disaster.

And Tippi the Robo-Dog is continuing to please everyone as a therapy dog. She's not the fastest walker, and yesterday she had to sniff Every. Blade. Of. Grass. 

But she helped a parent and child at Will County Children's Advocacy Center, and that's what she's the best at. 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Perils of Technology...

So my new Nokia phone came in. It's a doozy. Technology way beyond what I was thinking, and that's only the camera part. I'm not a total idiot. I went to take a picture of the lovely African Violet that's blooming.

And I can't figure out how to focus the stupid camera. Ok, the CAMERA is not stupid. Obviously, it's me. This is the Nokia that has the whiz-bang gazillion-megapixel camera that's supposed to be just about as good as my Canon EOS. If I can figure it out. 

Can't wait to see the pics. 

If I can figure out how to take them in the first place. 

And I just went ten rounds with Hubby, trying to figure out where the pics from the old phone landed. We found them, sort of. They're not completely off my old camera. Which of course is frustrating. 

Can't someone make an app where, I get a new phone, I press both phones together and the new one sucks the information over??? It would be worth a million bucks (probably more) if there was such a thing. 


Nothing in a few days. I've just been spinning my wheels. Don't even have enough done on the Pink Sock to make a dent in the progress chart.

BUT... I'm going to re-think my "project days" thing. I think it needs to be a "project week" thing, particularly for the knitting. I can still cross-stitch on Sundays, since I can no longer take those projects out in public. 

Not that they're awful. Just that I can't see them as well unless I have a magnifier and my Ott Light. 

But I think I need a WEEK with each project. See, I don't knit all day. I don't knit fast, either. So to have Monday be "Pink Sock Day" -- unless I have a solid couple of hours, I make no progress on the project. And that's frustrating. So I'll keep the same LIST. But instead of each day, I'll pick the week and that will be my project for the week. I should be able to make some strides toward completion at that point.

Does that make me a "process" or "progress" knitter? Well, I do like the PROCESS of knitting. But even better, I do love to finish stuff and see progress. I want to wear (or give away, as the case may be) what I'm working on. I don't like to have endless stuff that never gets finished. (Go ahead. Laugh. You know you're just like this...) I mean, honestly...

When someone asks, "What are you working on?" I don't want to say, "The same sock I've been working on for 2 months now." Either they'll get the impression that I'm terrifically busy (and sometimes I am) or they'll figure I'm pretty dim (and sometimes I am). 

I seriously want to get the stash managed. Come on, you know I mean it since I've already dropped a trunk-load of "stuff I will never knit" at the church for the prayer shawls. And in truth, the only way to really enjoy the NEW stuff is to FINISH the stuff that's been there a while. 

So that's where I stand right now. I have the Pink Sock with me and if I get a chance today, I'll knit some on it. Otherwise, it'll be tonight after dinner.

Healthy Habits...

Rather than go "Diet & Exercise" -- Anyway, I am horrible today. There must be Something Coming On because I could eat a bear. While it's still alive. I'm afraid to get on the scale tomorrow. But I will do it anyway. I have to. Probably won't like what I'll see, but there you go.

As far as exercise, I'm on Day Two of the Weighted Hula Hoop. My tummy feels a bit battered because it's got nubs on the inside of it. This is exactly the one I have. See those "handles" there? Yep, rib punishers. I can only go about 3 minutes at the max. I know I should be doing up to 10 minutes, but I don't think my ribs can take it right now.

That being said, I'll keep working at it. I'm in the office 4 days out of the 5 we're open, so even if I can get most of the days at lunch, that's good. 

I'm also wanting to clean up the stash/craft area so that I can keep my mat rolled out - incentive to actually get on it! I'm going to be going to Florida this summer (I know - who really WANTS to go there, but it's for the Zonta convention) and I have a skinny mat I can toss in my suitcase. 

I was inspired by my friend Donna - I trained with her. And she's got a travel mat. I figured that, since I rarely share a room, I can just take this one to Florida and use it after the meetings. I probably won't do anything in the a.m., or if I do? Who knows? 

Just so I get into a routine. I would love to walk more, but I'm headed BACK to the allergist. After 5 years (yes, FIVE YEARS) on allergy shots, they no longer work. I was one year off the shots and everything was good. Now, however, because of the polar vortex, allergies are going to hit the roof. They're calling it the Pollen Vortex and if you click that, you'll see a pretty good article about it. So I'm headed to a new allergist for a sub-lingual (under the tongue) system. Hubby's doing it and not only is it cheaper than the shots (insurance doesn't cover this way of doing it, though), he's seeing quicker results because it's a DAILY drop or two under the tongue instead of a whopper of a shot once a week.

The shots - for me at least - have to be mixed with epinephrine and I can't do that anymore, I don't think - because it speeds up the heart rate and I'm now on 2 meds to SLOW it down. I'm ok with the dentist doing it because it's a quick-acting thing to put in a crown or fix a cavity. But the allergy shots? The shot gave me a "second bicep" on the outside of my arm, and that was WITH the stuff to ensure that the reaction wasn't bad. And the lump lasted for days. No, thanks. 

So I've got the appointment set up and we'll see what happens. 


Turns out that I have some breathing room! I'm boiling the eggs tonight. Will do the cakes on Friday, and the deviled eggs on Saturday morning. Hubby can handle the ham. I think that's all we have to do except for yanking the potica out of the freezer. I have mislaid the list (!) and so I'm not sure that I've got everything covered. 

Speaking of Easter, you all know the song by Leonard Cohen, "Halleljuah." I'll link a YouTube here. But that being said, here's the "Easter Version" of that song. As you know, if you listen to Cohen's words, this song isn't about the religious aspect of "Hallelujah" -- it's the physical aspect of that exclamation. 

However, a very talented woman took the time (and did get permission, you'll hear in the video) to Easter-ize the lyrics. I think you'll like what she's done. I'd love to sing that. I also appreciate the artistry of the Jeff Buckley version. 


Seagull 25th Anniversary Guitar
Speaking of which, I've taken guitar lessons for 12 years now. Arguably, my mom's 15 years as a piano student were much better spent because she played beautifully and I'm still not there yet (Oh, I play in public, but I could be a lot better if I concentrated on practicing more -- MUCH MORE). So we're working on "Canticle of the Sun" and there's a part in there where Jeff, my teacher, finally says, "Look - you've gotta learn a couple of power chords." Power chords are simple chord formations that slide up the neck (which in guitar means going toward the sound hole) -- so you keep your fingers in basically the same position, but slide up a certain number of frets. It's all based on the lowest note in the chord. 

Power chords are usually reserved for garage bands because they're supposed to be easy. We shall see... A church song with power chords... 

So I also recorded (on the new phone) the a capella version of the Exsultet - I figured I should capture it because I don't have a whole lot recorded. Perhaps in my dottage, my grandcat or (ha) grandKIDS may want to hear how grandma sounded when she could sing. 

Jeff and I have been loosely working on recording us, with me singing and him doing harmonies where appropriate. But it's a process where I'm learning to use the recording equipment on my laptop, not necessarily for my posterity list. 

Random Picture...

Just to remind you that spring, even though I know so many folks still have snow, is finally here. 

A few years ago, we had a large feeder on a pole in our front flower bed. It was a cylinder inside a "gazebo" kind of device. Well, Mamma Robin decided that it was nicely waterproofed and this is what she did one spring. 

Hubby took a series of pictures from nest-building through laying to hatching and it was awesome. Really watching how all this happens is amazing. The only thing was, some idiot took a baseball bat to a number of things in the neighborhood: a few pole lamps, our bird feeder, several rear-view mirrors -- what a jerk! And we never replaced the feeder. Instead, we got one of those "module" types, which is actually better because it's squirrel proof. The little buggers can't figure out how to get beyond the baffle up the pipe and so far, we've been able to move it as front yard maple has grown. Though we're running out of room! 

Happy Spring! Happy Easter! Blessed Passover!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Let's Play Catch-up...

Gah - seems like forever!! But a lot has been going on. 


AliveCor device
Well. Second "major episode" or "breakthrough" - whatever you want to call it - of a-fib within a month and I now sport a new piece of equipment. This is it. It's a cell phone, yes, but that dohickey on the back? It's a portable ECG. I have an app (free) and this device (not free) and the cell phone will let me take an ECG in real time and e-mail it to the doc. I just have to get that part set up. It's apparently "just like" the ECG I take in the office, per my doc. So the phone was $50 and the device was a little over $200 - but still - at that point, it's easier to do that than run to the ER. The phone had to be either an Apple or Android, so I chose Android -- there's (a) my extreme dislike of all things Apple; and (b) the price. I mean really - the Samsung Galaxy has a lovely camera, and it runs this stuff, and it's $50.... I don't need a pricey status-phone to take a reading and send an e-mail.

The doc says I'm "most likely" to have the atrial ablation procedure done "sooner rather than later" and he's given me an additional Rx. The most pleasant of the side effects of this med is a week-long headache... But that seems to have resolved itself. Now, if the swelling of feet/hands and the tummy upsets would resolve? I'd be a happy bunny. 

So if this is a repeat, I'm sorry. Chalk it up to "yoga brain" and the nagging headache. Actually, the yoga helped...


Tias explains shoulder girdle
This was my last "intensive" for my 200 hour certification; a weekend with Tias Little, and the subject was The Fluid Body. Lest you think that's all yoga-y - it recognizes the fact that we are actually mostly water... We learned about dream states, meditation, learned chant, and of course practiced. And practiced. And practiced.

Since I was still adjusting to the new Rx, I had to do "chair yoga." But let me tell you, it's not your granny's chair yoga. All that meant was that (a) I did not do full inversions [going upside down] and (b) in folds, I only went half-way. I am prohibited by virtue of the heart thing and migraines from actually DOING headstand, shoulder stand and a few of the other inversions. I can do some modified ones, but since dizziness is also a side effect of this Rx, they and I chose safety over ego. 

Quite honestly, I was prepared to be a little reserved. I wasn't jazzed at the cost of the training. I wasn't jazzed that I had heard he was "a rock star." And I wasn't jazzed that the thing was 4 days long. 

But I am now apologizing. Yes, he was treated like "a rock star" complete with an assistant who gazed at him like his every word hung the moon. And some of my classmates were just agog. But... Honestly, he knows his stuff. He is more down-to-earth than I thought he was. And he clued me in to the greatest hand massage I have ever had! He was concerned (I felt, actually concerned, not just for looks) that I was safe in the class, and thanked me for the times I was able to assist students. 

The training was at the Morton Arboretum, and except for the last day, the weather was lovely. They did warn us, however, that we needed to stay on the paved paths -- ticks are nasty. 

Shoulder stand
This batch of shoulder stands was done in the main room we had. We did have to go to another room, because somehow a wedding got booked in the midst of our training. But as the studio owner said, "We're Yogis - we go with the flow." I got some good tips on shoulder stand for my own students, and maybe at some point, when everything settles down with me in regard to my health, I'll give that a shot. 

As far as headstand? No. Not gonna happen. I know. Mr. Iyengar does headstand and he's 97 years old or something like that. Fine. 

I just agree with my neurologist who thinks that nobody over age 35 needs to do headstand -- unless (my part) they've been practicing it. 

New perspectives...
Headstand isn't really all on your head - it requires tremendous control of your core and significant shoulder strength. And I don't have either. It's considered "The King of Poses" and can be very relaxing, I'm told. My own teacher here in town loves this inversion. I already know I would need an awful long time to even attempt it. Shoulder stand, possibly. Headstand? Not likely. 

Anyway, the training was good, all in all. I'm beat. My brain is tired. I have a bunch of new stuff for my students (and myself) and as I was doing my sequence for teaching tonight, I had to tell myself several times, "You can't teach it all to them in one night!" 

As it is, we're learning 2 new poses: Gate pose and Moon Salute. That will be enough. It's BASIC for a reason. I don't think they're physically ready for some of it anyway. Lots of shoulder opening stuff this past weekend, and I can tell you that the students I have - probably most of them aren't there yet. Heck, I'm still working on easing my own shoulders. 

Adjustment of Dog
As you can see here, there's a different adjustment for Adho Mukha Svanasana (downward facing dog). We learned one in training that could be very dicey to do in a class. I like this with the shoulders better. This is my friend D (another D - not knitting D) being adjusted by my new friend V. Look at D's line - isn't it lovely? She's worked very hard to get her shoulders open, and really, she's an inspiration to me to get my own butt moving. Or shoulders. 

Now, all I have to do is finish the script and line up my "models" for the DVD I'm doing on "Yoga for Hands." Then I can submit everything for the final check and I'm in line to get my certification this year. 


So of course, I brought knitting. The Pink Sock, because I knew I had about 1 or 2 inches more on the leg, and it can take a long time. I knitted during lunch breaks. I usually like to eat lightly when I'm in training. I broke that rule once during the training and I'd paid for it by that afternoon's practice!

This is Pink Sock in one of staircases (it was chilly one day)... in the little project bag. I got quite a bit done, and I really think I'm about 1/2" or less to turning the heel. 
On the steps

Nobody much blinked at my knitting. So from Thursday - Sunday, I had Pink Sock with me. I know - I didn't adhere to the proscribed list, but you know what? 

I'm a Yogi - I go with the flow. Ha... There's no way I'd take the afghan to this training. As it is, I finally wised up and brought a huge roll-y suitcase because we had to haul the following: Mat, 2 blankets, strap, 2 blocks - and I'm telling you that takes up a load of room. 

Others, more experienced than I, had roll-y cases or in one or two instances, those things you see in old movies where they're hauling their groceries back to their flat - the collapsible metal framed baskets on wheels. 

A couple had bags they hauled - like me. And I still don't know how that one woman did it - the bag was almost as big as she was, and I didn't see wheels on it. 

Anyway, in terms of knitting, Pink Sock is here with me now, but it's late in the day; I'll probably put in a few rows when I get home or after class tonight. It's coming along - I can see progress, even though it's like 100 million billion stitches (with all respect to Carl Sagan). 


Smoothie time!!
Finally, it's spring and it's now Smoothie season again. It's just too cold in the winter to drink those! But also - I have a hint that I gleaned from training. Many Yogis are vegan or at least vegetarian. I'm more a "flexitarian." I like meat. I try to be a conscious shopper and I like to at least know where my food lived. But be that as it may, one of the gals was talking about the smoothies and an ayurvedic philosophy of food. 

Basically, it's something I have also figured out. I need to chew. Humans are hard-wired to chew food. Unless there's something drastically wrong, our brain knows "chew = food" and that enables it to start sending the "I'm hungry" or "I'm full" signals. Drinking your lunch really doesn't do it. 

That being said, what I've tried to do when I'm eating smoothies is to also have a cheese stick and nuts around. Though today I'm still having a "training hangover" and I just ate a candy bar... Anyway, if I chew those things (the nuts and cheese, not the chocolate), I feel as if I've eaten and the smoothie seems to keep me more full. 

Call it a mind trick - this is a LOT of smoothie, but it doesn't necessarily keep hunger away some days. 

My fave
And speaking of candy... I have found the MOST YUMMY of peanut butter cups. I'm not usually a fan. Sorry, but they're too cloying most of the time. Except for these, which are available in milk chocolate and dark chocolate. And they are divine. I have to try to not buy them when I go to the health food store, because the other thing I find is that I really REALLY need to watch sugar. It really is addictive, and on top of that, it just doesn't sit well with my system anymore. 

That being said, if the Easter Bunny stuck this in my basket, I'd be happy. Which SHE won't because she's ME and I've gotten all that done already. I did buy Cadbury eggs (not the big icky ones; those small hard-shell ones) to put around the lamb cake I'm making. But otherwise, the kids and Hubby have candy - I'm abstaining. 


We're all set, I think. We got through Palm Sunday. The Lacrimosa went ok. I think the other alto was too slow in one part -- she thinks I was too fast. And we did miss a bit on one section, but we were good. I left after that to zip up to the last day of Tias training. 

We're having our Easter dinner on Holy Saturday. I have to work, first off, which isn't making me happy. So the Lamb Cake and deviled eggs will be done Friday night. Hubby will do the ham. Kid #2 is bringing Hawaiian rolls, and I have to pull a potica out of the freezer. My sister, I think, is making salad - or my mom is. Anyway, we're having dinner at 5:30 when I get done with work. My mom has parceled out that most people are bringing something. 

And thennnnnnnnnnn --- somehow it didn't hit me right off. Easter Vigil. The choir doesn't do a lot for Holy Week, which seems odd to me. I mean, I'm used to Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Vigil and Easter morning - right on through. But 2 of the sopranos are doing Pie Jesu for Good Friday and I'm doing the Exultet for the Vigil. Which is 10:30 p.m. on Holy Saturday. Then we all as a choir come together to do Easter morning at 10:30 a.m. the next day. 

In my old church, the Vigil was at 7:30 p.m. because the priest was old. In this one - young priest, traditional times. Yikes. I could just sleep in the sacristy, I suppose!! I have to get cracking on that. I've got it about 85% memorized. It's a capella so we shall see how this goes. It's close enough to the Catholic version that I can mostly feel comfortable doing it. 


Everyone's getting along - Huzzah!!! Raisa wants to play and for the most part, they do - not all 3 at once, but in pairs. No heat yet, but it's getting close because Tippi and Quinn are very "sniffy" around her. 

Siberian Husk-cat
She's the star in obedience training and we can't barely get into the door where someone's not stopping us and asking to pet her. Telling her she's gorgeous. Of course, now she's living up to "Raisa" - which is Russian for "Princess." 

Check out the picture. She's getting big and she finally nearly got on the canary's table. She's so quiet that you don't realize she's in trouble till she's already there! 

I think she'll be a good therapy dog. She's already more calm than the normal husky puppy, and if all goes well, I'll have "one in reserve" for the day that Tippi decides it's time to retire her bandana. I don't figure that'll be for a long time yet, but we'll at least have an alternative if I go to places where Tippi doesn't like to go (like hospitals or the like). 

Quinn has settled down in the "big sister" role and Tippi is "mom" again. Raisa likes to greet each of them with sloppy Husky kisses and then she likes to play. They tolerate it well, though we're still leery of the two of them, given the last Big Battle they had. I think it'll be better once Raisa's fixed and as long as we're watching. 

Random Picture...

So you can't be at the Arboretum and not take pictures. It's still early days, but the crocus and the daffodils were up. 

This is a beautiful place. Sadly, no dogs allowed. I mean, I can see that. But for us, it's a hike to get there, and while a bike ride would be awesome, we have parks and trails much closer. 

That being said, just enjoy these two snapshots. The crocus was along the Joy Path, named for the founder of the Arboretum.

The daffodils were naturalized along the way to the education center where we had our training. Their bright faces certainly added to that last day, what with the rain that was falling most of the time we were in the training. I had to pull over on the way in to get a shot of them. I've seen them when they're in their full glory and it's almost beyond words. 

So I'll let the pictures do the talking for now.