Tuesday, August 26, 2014

All Kinds of Interesting...

...weather, that is. Yesterday. 

The only good thing was that it was an awesome picture-taking experience. I'm terrified of thunderstorms. Oh, it's better than it used to be. But I'm still scared. 

TV antenna alongside house
When I was about 9 or so, lightning hit either our house or our TV antenna. For the uninitiated (or the young), TVs usually were restricted to a handful of channels: 2, 5, 7, 9, and 13. That was it, kiddies... 

Rabbit ears
And we had an antenna alongside the house, usually bracketed to the house and extending way up above the trees. I'm not talking rabbit ears on a TV, but an outside one. The picture here is NOT my house - it's a stock pic I pulled off Google, but this is as close as I could get. Ours was very similar to this. 

Rabbit ears, on the other hand? I had those when I lived in VA and my first "grown-up" TV was a 13" black and white. Yeah, go ahead. Fan yourself... But it worked, and I was too broke to be able to afford cable at the time. 

Anyway, it was summer, and we had had a round of pretty nasty storms. Way before the days of weather radios, you usually got an alert from the TV set, provided you still had power. And anyway, most of the time, the TV was off by 10 p.m. in our house. 

We all are in bed, and the next thing I know, my dad is hauling me out of the house onto the lawn. The living room - a corner of it - is on fire... He tried to flag the firemen down, but even though the fire barn was across the street from our house, they somehow managed to go down the street in the other direction...

Flooded parking lot
Anyway - that's why I'm really not fond of thunderstorms. Of course, I was at work yesterday afternoon when all heck broke loose. It started suddenly - we were supposed to get some storms, but not as quickly as these blew up. I mean, I was on the road to work, looked north and thought, "Whaaaaaat???" - it was getting that dark, that fast... And then: KA-BOOM!! It all hit at once. 

I was half expecting to see locusts, floods, cats and dogs. At one point, I could barely see the bank across the lot from us. And it all included pretty nasty lightning and thunder. 

The campus has high ceilings, plus about 3.5' between the drop ceiling and the actual roof deck. It was thunderous in the place. You couldn't hear yourself think. And we're also surrounded by windows, which totally freaks me out. 

The nice thing, if you can get past the scary parts, is that I work on top of a hill. I have some phenomenal views of incoming storms. Here are a few pictures, with the various cloud formations during the day and evening. 

I keep thinking of the Judy Collins song, "Clouds," though it's an entirely different subject. As storms continued to blow in, I kept an eye on the radar and figured it was going to be interesting with classes starting last night.

It was. One of our instructors was on the road for over 2 hours to get here. He came in, like a drowned rat, about 1 minute to 6 p.m., when they were supposed to start. 

As the afternoon and evening progressed, I was able to pop out and get pictures. I love the cloud formations. And I know people who love clouds as much as I do (dang - now that song's in my head!!). And I have looked at clouds from both sides now...

Look at this cool "V" formation as the next batch started to come in. The layers in the one picture were also pretty amazing. 

The light was interesting. At times, of course, when the storms were in full fury, it was dark as night. But when the sun broke through, it was really amazing. 

I got an interesting shot of the area beyond the bank building - it looks almost like a funnel, but it wasn't. It was just a weird twist to the clouds once they had passed over and dumped all the rain on us. 

The weather alarm actually went off after Storm #2... But that's ok. I have eyes. 

Huzzah - no roof leaks! Though the hail wasn't nice. No car damage; it was only pea-sized. Today, except for the fact that the ground is totally saturated, you wouldn't know it had even rained. 

And it rained again this morning before I left for work. Tippi was terrified. I battened down the house and brought most of the feeders onto the porch. In the middle of the storm, the silly female hummingbird was buzzing the front window asking what the heck I had done with her feeder! 

I like this shot; later in the afternoon, with the clouds pierced by a shot of sunlight. I was able to get some good shots southwest-ish, and the light was interesting. 

Here's another one almost worth a painting - doesn't it look like brush-strokes across the blue? It was very majestic looking, for certain. And then there's the one below, which looks like the clouds were truly pillows dipping down beneath the grey to show us that they were still friendly little things wanting to put on a show for the humans.  Yeah, after the sound and fury scared the heck out of me! 

Then came the weird light. I was sitting at my desk trying to get some work done and I saw it - it was piercing and very odd. At first, I thought, "Oh no... green!" 

See, in August, every person who's lived in Illinois for a decent part of their life knows that a green sky is not a good thing. It generally means there's a tornado either on the way or already touched down. Funny enough, in spite of the storms lowering the temperature by almost 20 degrees, we had no tornado warnings. I guess we got off lucky. See what I mean by weird light? Look how bright the green in the trees appears, and it's backed up by those blue-grey heavy clouds? 

Oh, and did I mention that I had a hot breaker? Well, you know we've had HVAC problems at the campus. We have the one breaker which apparently tried to trip, but got stuck. And it heated up. To the point where you couldn't touch it. 

I know next to nothing about electricity. But I do know that hot breaker = trouble... So we shut it off. 

Back-tracking though, the electricians came out and came through our back door - I had disabled the alarm because I needed to change the battery. They didn't knock. They're lucky I only yelled at them! They scared me!!

Anyway, so we had only 2 of the 3 units working last night, and I had fans running. Today, it's back to normal (i.e. a blast chiller). I mean, really, I could wear mitts. I'm in a jacket already. 

I feel as if the building is falling down around us. Since they announced that we're closing the campus at the end of Fall (basically, December), I've been trying to get things fixed and as fast as I get one thing done, the next happens. However, the building is 8 years old, and they don't make 'em like they used to. 

Happily, no roof leaks with all this rain. 

And another happy thing: we were rewarded for the crappy weather. Feast your eyes. It's a double rainbow. 

I almost tripped myself. I had come from the back of the campus and caught a glimpse as I headed to my office. I sprang to my desk, caught up my keys and camera phone and headed out the door.  The taller pic is a close-up. The landscape-oriented one just shows how brilliant the main rainbow was. 

Alas, in about 5 minutes, as is common with the elusive rainbow, it was soon gone. 

But while it lasted, it was fantastic. 

And before the night was over, Mother Nature had another surprise in store for us. 

You know that saying, "Red skies at morning, sailors take warning; red sky at night, sailor's delight" -- well, this morning wasn't EXACTLY a "sailor's delight" but the sky last night was.  Try to ignore the obnoxious parking lot light. Focus on the pinks and blues. Isn't it gorgeous? 


Not a stitch yesterday. Not even brought out of the bag, actually. It was that kind of day. That being said, I'm working the noon - 10 p.m. shift (well, should be 2 - 10, but I usually get here way too early and end up with way more comp time than I'll use...), and I already have a knitting project on my desk. 

Not the afghan. Though I did get the yarn in for the hat, cardigan and booties. No pic - tomorrow, probably. 

I'm only on the first-to-second pattern repeat. Cotton is a stinker. I have found that I can knit a couple of rows with this and then I have to go do something else. 

And I admit to a little peevishness with the Kollage circulars. This is the soft cable. And I'm almost thinking it's too soft. It kinks up there (see the top needle?) and it sometimes takes me some fidgeting to get the yarn up and over. 

Of course, it may be because this is 100% cotton yarn. And it's entirely unforgiving. I can't imagine doing anything adult-sized with this stuff. I'd have to scream. Or drink. Or cuss. Or some combination thereof. 

I do think the ladders are less noticeable. And it's helpful that I'm tugging like crazy when I switch from K to P. 

So the Rory socks are coming along. That's Roman Rib pattern, in case you didn't get the Dr. Who reference.  I finally remembered to stash some stitch markers in the bag, so on the next round of ribbing I can ditch the rubber band.

Hey, whatever works in a pinch... So it's the time of the "interminable" ribbing. Why does 1x1 ribbing take forever? It's only 1.5" or so. If I make it that far. 

I think Elizabeth Zimmerman got it right: "do the ribbing till you're sick of it." And for me, that's about 1.5" or so...

Crafty Stuff...

This would be amazing for Kid #2. Or either kid. Or me. We are all bookworms. 

I'd have to raid the bookshelves for classics. And of course, right now, since these are bricks, all the "books" are the same size. 

But it's cool. I can see them stacked by the front stoop. Or in Kid #1's case, on his deck, maybe. And for Kid #2, on the porch. 

Such a nifty idea. 

I'm not much on crafts like this, though I did make a wind chime using those small terra cotta pots. I should finish the one I have in the basement; it's got all the pots and the string. I just need to get it painted and assembled. 

I don't know who I'd give it to. But it would be nice to finish a project. 

Ahem. I do so finish projects. I have just about finished canning pickles. 

Random Picture...

This morning, fire, flood, locusts and squirrels. A storm broke out pretty quickly and pretty fiercely. Quinn was in her cave. Tippi was shaking on the couch next to me. And before she climbed up to join me on the other side, this was Raisa's reaction. 

She's not scared. Truly, she's oblivious, thankfully. Don't know if we could take THREE deranged dogs.  She was just all, "I'm sooooooooo over this weather!"

She climbed up on my other side and we sat out the worst of it while listening to an old movie plus the weather alarm giving us updates. 

So far, aside from the fact that the grass seems to have sprouted another 6" overnight, I think we're done. It'll get cloudy, and Weather Channel says "widely scattered showers or thunderstorm this evening" but it's only 30% thankfully. 

Monday, August 25, 2014

Who's New.... (WARNING: SPOILERS!!)


Don't say you haven't been warned. Twice. 

Well. Welcome Peter Capaldi. By the way, it's Ca-PAL (as in "he's a pal of mine")-di, not what I first assumed, which was "pall" - live and learn, right?

Twelfth Doctor
So what did you all think? I have to admit that the Scottish accent was a bit thick for me - and I think it was just a part of the acting; I mean, we all know the Doctor is usually discombobulated after a regeneration, so I'm thinking that confusion + Scottish = wow, I can't understand half of what he's saying!

Love, LOVE the costume, by the way. Puts me in mind of The Master's look, if you recall. And as one of the BBC costume folks mentioned, "it'll be easy for kids to imitate this costume" and thus increase the number of Whovians! Actually, if I were to be invited to a costume party this Halloween, I might attempt this myself! It's a great look, though I do need a sonic screwdriver...

The TARDIS? Well, I think it's interesting. Do love the bookshelf. I like that it seems to be "cleaner" than the past 2 of them -- didn't like the "grunge" look of past TARDIS incarnations. 

There's been a lot of angst on the message boards and on FaceBook about how everyone feels. And really? Let's put it in perspective - at least a perspective that I understand: When NCIS (one of my other favorites) replaced Ziva, the explosions!! Wow - you'd have thought that the world was ending! 

We need to get over it. In order for any TV series to continue to prosper, occasionally changes will be made to major characters. 

Ninth Doctor
And really? The REGENERATION is what has kept Dr. Who on TV for so long! 

As far as the last scene (let's call it The Phone Call) --- well, I'm of 2 minds. It seemed as if Peter C. was pleading for all of us to "see me in this body." I mean, let's go back to the scene with Clara and Jenny when Clara bemoans the "new" Doctor. Jenny, looking wise beyond her years, says in so many words, "My wife is a lizard." 

It's a real "get over it" moment. And I'm almost inclined to think The Phone Call was a bit too much. It showed the immaturity of Clara's character. I remember Rose's relative equanimity when Eccleston changed to Tennant. She was a bit nonplussed at first, but she rolled with it. There wasn't any of this "I don't know who the Doctor is" stuff. 

And if you caught it, during the part of the episode in the basement of the restaurant, Peter C's doctor muttered, "This is when I miss Amy!" Did you catch that one? Priceless. 

In terms of companions, it'll also be interesting to see who the new companion is. Clara leaves in the upcoming Christmas special. There is a rumor here that she "may or may not" be leaving, but definitely a second companion has been selected. 

And for those folks on the message boards who are snarking about "Where has Matt Smith been now that he's not The Doctor?" Well, if you look - he's been on stage. And really, aside from a few little flashbacks, I think that each Doctor who's been there before needs a short cameo and then needs to step aside to let the new Doctor begin to be who he is. 

I rather think I'm going to like this newer, "ruder" Doctor. He's a nice link back to the original Doctor, plus a dash of Doctor Number Nine - his first episode with Rose wasn't exactly as dashing as it could have been. If I remember correctly, he told her to "shut up." 

Anyway, keep watching. It'll be worth it, no matter who is Who!

Random Picture...

Passing your Canine Good Citizen test is hard work! Downright exhausting, as a matter of fact! Raisa passed. Can you believe it?? At 11 months old, she managed to hold it together enough to pass her CGC. I have to get her PALS registration going and then we're going to work with her a bit more before we take her to the TDI exam. 

I'm now a Canine Good Citizen!
She's still a puppy. This morning, when I was doing my yoga, and coming in and out of Chair Pose (Uttkatasana, if you want the Sanskrit), when I would come down into the squat, she'd put both paws into my hands. Cute, but we have to work on her "grabbiness" and a bit of her mouthing still happening. 

All in all, though, she's going to be a good one. Once she starts maturing a bit. 

But then again, don't we all seem to gain wisdom as we mature? Or at least hope we do?

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Likely to Be a Quickie...

...for lots of reasons. Maybe even time to go into a few of them...


I'm on The Endless Foot. I swear, I've been knitting on this sock for 3 days, and my tape measure still says 6.5"... And yes, I'm knitting at least 2 or 3 rounds before I measure. 

It's never gonna end. The Teal Sock will haunt me all of my days. Remember, this is the pair with the mis-matched heels. And it's Trekking, on size 2, I think. So it's loose besides. 

I'm sure "A Nice Ribbed Sock" is a lovely pattern. I just have a hate on for it at the moment. 

What I'm NOT hating are the new bags from Chicken Soup Designs. Lookeee!!!! Just in time for the new Doctor! These were a special order, limited edition, and I got all 3. Really. What? You expected I wouldn't?

I've got a Dr. Who remix on my phone as my ringtone. Yes, I'm a "modern" doctor person, but that doesn't mean I can't appreciate the fact that a SciFi series from the UK has been around longer than our Star Trek conglomeration. Just that Dr. Who hasn't made many movies. 

Love that the lining is about "wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey" -- Not so sure about the purple Tardis, but since purple is my favorite color, I'm going with it. 


I could just spit. However, I'll take care of it in October. Apparently, there's an issue of my possibly being anemic for YEARS. And my GP didn't pick up on it. And he's an internist. But my cardiologist, who WAS an internist before he became an EP guy? He's not a happy camper.

And the non-constipating iron supplement appears to be wreaking havoc on my tummy. Not sure if it's helping, but I'm sort of committed to at least finishing the bottle. 

So the follow-up for the cardiologist, to see when I can come off the heart Rx is in October. Funny - the day AFTER my appointment for my annual physical with my GP. We shall have lots to discuss.

Random Picture...

See? I said this would be a quickie. I absolutely CANNOT wait to wear this. You have to have a passing familiarity with hip-hop to get this. Kid #2 says it's "awesome" and wants me to wear it the next time I come to visit him. 

Gotta love me some Ruth Bader Ginsburg. You know she's made the big time when there are hip hop references to her. You go, Ruthie - many more years, I hope!

How many other Supremes have had their faces on t-shirts? 

Monday, August 18, 2014

I Tried...

...to come up with something eloquent and original to say about Robin Williams. And I've failed. Indeed, perhaps the most eloquent tribute to this man came from his daughter, Zelda. Find it here. And read it. She's a stunningly clear-eyed young woman. 

I can, however, say that I was shocked to find that he was in the early stages of Parkinson's Disease. My FIL died from that disease. It's a bugger. My FIL was a musician, mechanic, raconteur.... And Parkinson's stole that from him. I don't know what makes a person have this disease or not. The doc speculates that FIL was exposed to a lot of heavy metals. He was in the Army Air Corps way, WAYYYYYYYYY before OSHA and any reasonable safety standards. He worked around heavy machinery and aircraft all his life. Was on the Pipeline for years. Toxins abound in those arenas. 

But no real answer to the "is it genetic?" question. Believe me, I asked. 

For a person who's prone to depression and whose mental state is precarious - or not even precarious, but perhaps not necessarily (why am I having such a hard time formulating this sentence???).... Let's try again.

For a person who's in a fragile mental state, a disease like Parkinson's is truly something that shakes your already shaky core. It's a horrible, HORRIBLE disease. And while there are great strides being made, most people who have this will die a nasty death. 

My FIL was one of the lucky ones. He took a nap and never woke up. Seriously, no ill-timed jokes here. He was in the nursing home. The doc had just been to visit. He was going to have dinner, and it was about a half hour or so prior to the trays being brought. He was napping. And thankfully, he just slipped away. It was a peaceful death. 

I don't know much about living with a terminal condition - other than watching others do it. But I can honestly say that I think I can imagine the angst and the fear. 

And maybe that was just "one more thing" too much for Robin Williams. Thanks to The Internets, his memory will remain eternal.


Speaking of "conditions" - my labs came back. Urgh. I am definitely anemic. "Normal" iron levels are around 35 - 119... Mine is 19. The nurse says, "You must be weak and tired." Well, tired, yes. Weak? Not so much. 

Sooooooo - doc says 325 mg of ferrous iron supplements THREE TIMES A DAY. Not gonna happen. Let's just say, to be polite, that that much iron will turn me into an INCREDIBLY crabby woman. Particularly due to the effects that'll have on my digestive system. 

So I found a supplement at the natural foods store, that they say is "not constipating" (there - I said it). And I'm taking Vitamin B supplements. 

And I guess I'd better learn to make liver... I have it in the freezer. But it was set aside for the dogs. Luckily, I now have permission to eat dried fruits like prunes (which I really do like, by the way). 

We shall see how this all turns out. It does make me wonder what's underneath all of this. Iron deficiency can be the cause of irregular heartbeat. So was all this heart stuff "fixable" by adding more iron? Or did they find the anemia because of fixing my heart?

It's a puzzlement. 


Yes, it's Teal Sock #2. And yes, my system of "knit on this awhile till you can truthfully say you've made progress" is working. I have about 2" to go till I can start the toe decreases. 

The Fluro sock is still in the realm of "gusset decreases" and the baby blanket is coming along. The "ladders" aren't as bad, but it is, after all, 100% cotton, so there's no fudging this one! I'm hoping the added ruffle cancels out some sins. 

I got word from Jimmy Bean's that the rest of the yarn is in transit. Then, I can start on booties, then hat, then cardigan -- going from smallest-to-largest project. 

Oh, and my LYS just FB'd that there's MORE of the Opal "Little Prince" colorway. You're killing me, Kelly!!!


Well. I'll be dipped... She did it! Hubby and Raisa made it through Advanced Obedience. Next week is the CGC. Sometime in there, I have to go to the AKC and register her as a PALS dog. That's a pure-bred dog without papers. We did it for the Elkhounds, so we're doing it for her. 

At some point, I'll go forward with the TDI test. But I think at 11 months old, it has strong "disaster potential" and I'm toying with whether I should wait or not. 

I can tell you one thing. She's not going to stand for "dress-up" like Tippi does. She's not liking the hat, and the last headband I tried to get her to wear? It almost got eaten. 

But I can see that, as she gets older, and a bit calmer, she will do well in therapy work. She just has to mature a bit. And we're not in a rush. Tippi's only 7 - we have a long time till we have to worry about a trade-off of dogs. Actually, with Raisa, the longer we wait, the better it'll be anyway. I can take the time to socialize her a bit more and get her used to my handling her. We've had complications what with my recuperation, etc. so I haven't been handling her as much. I need to get her to take walks at MY pace and get used to MY style. It's all a work in progress. 

I'm sure it'll happen, and I'm sure she'll be fine. I'm also sure that the first several walks will be ... interesting. 

She views walks as a time to catch deer and play around. Not on my watch, thanks! But she'll get used to it. She's a very smart cookie. Right now, it's covered in puppy-stupid, but it's there. If you watch. 

And there are days you NEED to watch, because that mind does NOT stop whirling!


So here's the story to match the picture: River Weaving -- I've been wanting to get a picture of this, so finally Hubby and I stopped before church to grab a shot. 

It's not Native American fishing devices. It's not an anti-pollution device (though it does catch a lot of stuff that's floating by). It's nothing functional, folks. It's art. And it's cool. It's just sitting there, for the most part, and it's just "being." And in our daily 24/7 lives, with so much "connectivity" and always being "plugged in" -- well, this is unplugged at its finest. 

Come down, find a bench, sit and watch the ducks. Shut your phone off. Enjoy. Yes, you'll hear traffic, but buy yourself an ice cream cone and sit and contemplate the canal, the ducks, the weather. Just "be." 

Like art. 

Random Picture...

And then there's "Not Art"...

From the sublime to the ridiculous, right? Had to laugh because two FB friends are having an "ick" war. One keeps posting these antique ads, showing "fine dining" and munchies from the 60s and 70s (auuuuuuuuuughhhhh - antique???). These things include the finer points of spam on toast, ham with fruit cocktail (yeah, that picture), etc. 

Yessirreeeee... Those folks in the swinging 60s sure ate a lot of crap. Jello with stuff floating in it like shrimp and apple slices. All kinds of cakes, Bisquick casseroles, a jelly ring with cucumber slices for dipping?? Ick. I don't know. But it's gross. 

So anyhow, MA has been grossing out D and I - so I just had to have Hubby take a picture of a gag gift he got this past Christmas. 

See, he's in computers. Spam. Get it?? Well, apparently, our friend thought it was funny. Hubby, a practical sort of guy, is kind of "Huh???" but I think this is cute... And now MA has to have it. And she can't - ha ha! The only thing missing is the thermos. 

Monday, August 11, 2014

Nick & Steve...

Yesterday, at church, something totally cool happened. As you may remember, Hubby and I changed over to the Episcopal Church - for a variety of reasons, which I'll someday enumerate, but suffice to say that we had had it with the Roman Catholic Church, just about the time they started telling the nuns how to do their jobs...

Anyway, our organist, Tom, has been sick, so last week we had a "said service" with no songs. This week, there were 7 of us - which was most of the choir - and we thought we could muddle through most of it a capella

I looked in our service bulletin and saw what I thought was a baptism. Nope. Well, yes, but MORE. We had a "Blessing of the Adoption" AND a baptism. 

We have a lot of lovely families in our church, and as usual, everyone's baby-crazy. From Fr. Matt's youngest, to the most adorable Emma who sits and gurgles at the choir, to Oliver. 

And yesterday was Oliver's day. His dads, Nick & Steve, had their whole family in the pews to celebrate, with us - their faith community - the adoption of Oliver and his baptism into the church. 

In the RC church, to my knowledge, we never had a "Blessing of the Adoption." Well, RCs usually are good at keeping things in the closet, so I didn't ever expect such a thing. At St. John's, we blessed the adoption. That was the segment before the actual baptism. 

At the baptism, Fr. Matt invited everyone in the pews to gather round the font. He did warn those close that they were likely to get wet! And when it came time for the actual baptism, Oliver, good baby that he is, gurgled and kicked his feet. Not a peep as Fr. Matt poured water over his head 3 times, baptizing him. 

We sang a beautiful hymn for the baptism, and we did a lovely 4-part hymn in Latin for Communion. And at Communion -- Every. Single. Person.... Each one came up to a beaming Nick, Steve, and Oliver, and chucked Oliver under the chin and congratulated Nick and Steve for adopting Oliver and bringing him into our faith community. All three of them just glowed with happiness.

Maybe an over-used word. But here it is: Awesome. Awesome how we embrace everyone. Every. One. No matter who you are. All are truly welcome at St. John's. That's what makes us such a mighty community. Not large, but definitely mighty. 

And This Makes Sense How??...

So this happened:  Looting after a shooting. 

I'm having a concept problem here. I'm hoping that the comment by a resident of Ferguson, MO is correct: That (sadly) these were outside agitators who took advantage of the community's sorrow. During a candlelight vigil for a shooting victim (investigation ongoing), there were incidents of looting, stealing from a cash store, a cell phone store, and a tire rim place. There were also people taunting the cops -- standing atop the squad cars. 

I mean REALLY? Seriously? 

The community came together to mourn a victim. Who did what to whom and when is currently under investigation, so we won't even get into that now. Because all the facts aren't being reported to us and they're still investigating. Best not to theorize prior to the facts. 

But the basic sociological trend of looting in response to violence by cops? What kind of sense does that make? Because I'll tell you now that this just reinforces stereotypes. "Look at those animals." 

Right or wrong, that's what's running through a LOT of peoples' heads today. I know all the arguments: the cops are armed to the teeth. The cops are too violent and haven't been adequately screened and/or trained. The community has no respect for authority. The poor are desperate.

Ok. Fine. That's not without merit on a number of levels. 

But really...How would MLK have handled this? How would Gandhi have handled this? How is this a good way to resolve these kinds of community issues? 

Yes. We have an enormously unequal society. Both racially and economically. And the divide hasn't been this big in a long, long time. Sad to say that in 2014, we're no better than during the times of slavery, when a small percentage of the rich held all the money and the rest of the population either worked for them or belonged to them. 

But it's how we face up to this and how we make the system change that will be our legacy. Do we do it by this kind of criminal behavior? Does that make us "better" than those who responsible for the shift in power and wealth? 

I don't think so. The community of Ferguson came together for a vigil. Now, whether it was outsiders or not, LOOTING IS NOT THE ANSWER. No matter what the question. 

The Silence...

Yesterday, in the Chicago Tribune, John Kass wrote about his twins going off to college and leaving him and his wife as empty-nesters. I've corresponded with him off and on, and spoken to him over the phone. And his column resonated with me. So this is what I sent him yesterday via e-mail. 

Dear John:

It’s the silence that gets you. The silence and the sudden space.

I read your column this morning and you encapsulated what I’ve been writing about for the past few weeks. You see, we too are empty-nesters (albeit a bit more suddenly), and like you – I’m not buying the “freedom” song.

Our turn came on with a confluence of other events: I had an atrial ablation procedure that rendered me in “recuperation” mode; The Kid had to move because he obtained a teaching gig about 50 miles from the house and Fall Semester is upon us; Older Kid has been gone for a little over 5 years now.

See, the plan was that Kid #2 would move out eventually. He was teaching at a local school, and he planned on buying a house somewhere in the neighborhood. Instead, this opportunity presented itself, and before I was out of the hospital, he was ready to go.

It’s the silence.

Nobody playing random riffs on the bass guitar. Nobody laughing on the cell phone. Nobody playing with the dogs. Neither kid would qualify as a “big talker” – being boys, they’re inherently more quiet than girls are. But once you wound them up, then just sit back and enjoy the conversation. Older Kid is a welder. Kid #2 is an English teacher. Both of them are brilliant (ahem, I think so, and so they are!) and can converse on a variety of topics from “the state of the music industry” to literature, to politics, to sports. And both have pretty strong opinions.

Nobody comes home late at night; the dogs feel a bit bereft of their duty to guard the house. Nobody really “needs” dinner. Nobody asks your opinion. Nobody needs to borrow your guitar or your reference book, or ask you how to do something.

And as for that whole “reconnect as a couple” thing? Well…I’m not sure about that. Hubby works from home. I work at a local university. We notice that it’s a lot quieter because neither of us are big talkers either…And after dealing with people all day, the quiet is our “recharge” time. Like you, we’re not going to be taking art lessons or ballroom dancing lessons. We’re not even big “go out to dinner” folks.

But it’s that “other” silence. That’s the one that gives you pause.

Kids take up a tremendous amount of real estate. Not only the physical kind. Not only because of their stuff. But because of what they bring – and take – emotionally. Verbally. Dimensionally on many planes. And now, that’s gone. It’s us and the dogs.

I realize 50 miles is a piffle. Other families have sons and daughters continents away, whether for education, work or, God help us – war. My own mother-in-law has a daughter doing mission work in the mountains of Peru.

And maybe it’s because it’s the youngest one who’s gone. Maybe it’s because it was, in my opinion, pretty quick. Maybe it’s because I don’t want to face the empty nest, in spite of years of proclaiming, “You raise ‘em to let ‘em go.” And I truly believe that. But still.

It’s the silence. And the space. 


Worked at my new system for a bit yesterday. I knitted about 8 rows on The Teal Sock. Then I worked on the Fluro sock for a while. Still haven't tackled the afghan, and I have to get on that ASAP.

I was kind of hoping, though I knew differently from the order I placed with Jimmy Beans, that I could start small and work up. I wanted to do the booties, then the hat, then the cardigan and THEN the blankie. Oh well... 

Anyway, in with the knitting, we did this.


We are officially pickled out. Well, the vines are still producing, but we're now overrun with pickles. Yesterday we did 21 pints of Bread & Butter pickles, and 15 pints of Hamburger Dill Chips. 
Cucumber overload!

This is what it looked like: 

We got 16 lbs. of cucumbers off the last picking. Yes. SIXTEEN pounds. So Hubby ordered them roughly by size, and grouped them on the table. 

Then he went out to buy onions. I must say, the Ball Blue Book, usually my bible in all things canning, has a strange proportion in regard to Bread & Butter pickles. There seemed to be a LOT of onions in ratio to the pickles we were using. Hubby went by weight, though, and so off I went while he took Raisa to training. 

Oh, I learned how to operate our food processor. Scoff. Go ahead. My idea of a "food processor" is a good set of knives and a cutting board, but I succumbed to technology when it came to cutting up pound after pound of cucumbers and onions. 

So I got the totes ready. It's layering the cukes, onions and salt and then using ice cubes over the top for about 90 minutes each batch. 

This would have been a good time to have an ice maker... But I digress. I set the batches to marinating and went back to the Carole Lombard movie marathon and my knitting. 

While off topic, it's worth mentioning that it's tragic that Ms. Lombard was killed so young. Her talent was amazing and it was a lovely way to while away an afternoon since the weather wasn't cooperating and I couldn't get outside -- unless I wanted to be rained on. 

After the time expires, you drain them, rinse them and drain again. And then you assemble the liquid in a large pot. Bring it to a boil and then dump in your veggies. 

That has to come back up to a boil and then you're ready to stuff the jars and plop them in the boiling water bath.

I wasn't sure yesterday whether it would have been an advantage to open the house up. While it was around 70* outside, it was beastly humid what with the rain. We had fans running and the A/C was on. But it was still a steam bath in the kitchen. 

The first batch cooked up fine, but we were short on liquid. Again, following the recipe, it almost seemed like "Pickled Onions with a Few Cucumbers Tossed In" and we were DEFINITELY short on liquid. But it was all weighed out, so it had to be reasonably accurate.
Bread & Butter cooking

Lucky for us, I had set aside and canned some of the liquid from a previous batch. It was similar enough so that it wouldn't totally confuse the pickles. So we tossed a couple of half-pint jars of that into the first batch. 

Hubby came home during the finish of that and helped with the second batch. We adjusted the vinegar and sugar for that batch so that we did have a little more liquid, but even with weighing out stuff, we had much more than the 7 pints the recipe called for. 

Cooling off
While we had the kitchen heated up and in chaos, we figured we'd finish off the second round of the pickles. We had intended to do a "garlic" variety of Bread & Butter, but I found a Hamburger Dill Chip recipe in Ball which would take far less time. And no onions.

So I guess I can make more Vidalia Onion Conserve this week. 

For the Dill Chips, we couldn't use the processor because our slice-thingie was too thin. They needed to be 1/4" so Hubby did the cutting. On the bias, even! So fancy! Only wish I had a "ruffled" slicer. 

For the Dill Chips, you pack the slices into the jar, add the spices, and then you ladle in the liquid. We did essentially a double batch, though we went over by 1 jar. And we sadly had a TON of the pickling liquid left. We did discard that, though. And the waste annoyed me. I should, if I do this again, go one-and-a-half times instead of a double batch. 

I was able to use dried dill. Our dill in the garden went pfffffffffthhhhhhh and the butterflies and bees enjoyed it. I have to time the growing better - needs to coincide with the proliferation of pickles in our patch. 

Dill chips prep
So I fiddled with the recipe (no surprise there), adding more peppercorns than called for. If you're interested, it's about 1/4 teaspoon of dried dill to equal one head of dill. 

Since I'm such a Pickle Pro, let me proffer a product for your perusal. It's Heinz Pickle Perfect apple cider vinegar. It's a nice apple cider vinegar perfect for just about any kind of pickling and any oil & vinegar recipe you'd like to try. Nice tang. Crisp taste. 

Anyway, the brine for these dill chips was 50/50 water and vinegar. The only bad thing about the bias cut is that you have to be careful how you stack them in the jar. But Hubby is a big puzzle guy, so this was the perfect task for him. 

We were on a "10 minute boil" roll for the Bread & Butter, but Dills done in this fashion (where the pickle part is raw and the brine is hot) need a little more, so that was a 15-minute boil. In 2 batches, we were done. 

As they cooled, you could feel the heat radiating. 

Here are our finished products... A sight to behold, and we've already been asked, "Do you ship??" My siblings are lining up with their hands open for any of the varieties we have ready to go.

These have to sit for a month for everything to fully develop. Hubby is designing labels today and we'll be ready to go. 
Dill chips done

Bread & Butter done
We really do love to do this. In spite of the grumbling, it's fun to see your creativity come alive. And it's been a great garden year, too, so we may as well take advantage of it. 

Hubby has been muttering about ripping out the vines, but we figure we see at least a dozen more pickles developing, along with at least 2 dozen more blossoms. 

I would just start handing out cucumbers, but these are mixed up. We didn't differentiate between the salad cukes and the pickling cukes enough... Now, when we do this 5 years from now (!) we will know that one variety has to go in one bed and the other variety has to be completely opposite. We thought we'd remember which was which, but honestly, after they grew like kudzu, we couldn't tell where one variety began and the other ended. 

I almost wish the tomatoes were that prolific. But it looks like there may be enough for green tomato relish. Or my friend Doris will take the green ones... she likes fried green tomatoes. 

Random Picture...

Because everyone sits on the couch this way. Of course. 

Isn't this how you sit on the couch?
I'm in doo-doo with our trainer! I've had to skip a couple of classes because of the heart thing and Raisa is almost ready to attempt her CGC. Which, I'm sorry -- I think she'll likely fail. 

Not that she's dim. Though she is. Sort of. But she's still a puppy. And a SIBERIAN HUSKY puppy. They don't get smart (a/k/a "stop acting like a lunatic") till they're a lot older. 

Anyway, this was a shot I captured when she and Kid #2 were playing with her bone. 

By the way, if she's in the mood to play, she will toss the bone at you. And she usually hits what she's aiming at. 

Nothing says "Love you" like being clocked by a slimy rubber Kong bone.