Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Progress, In Increments...

Someone once said "Progress comes in increments." 

Or if someone DIDN'T say that, someone should have. For most of us, progress usually doesn't come in giant leaps and bounds. It comes along on little cat feet, sometimes sneaking up on us when we least expect it. 

At least it's seemed so for me, lately. 


There's a tiny bit of progress on the Kid #2 Afghan. I'm on the red band now. I'm not sure but I think I might consider a skein of black Caron Simply Soft. Just to break it up. I'm feeling like the grey heather and the garnet are too much of a contrast, and that somehow the black, in a couple of stripes, might work nicely. 

What I'm doing is breaking up the stripes by changing color at the two garter ridges there - you can see them right under the red. But then I thought, "what about a black stripe half-way through the normal ripple pattern? It would have to be the black in the middle of the red, though, because I'm not ripping this back! 

I'll mull on it. I have only half of this first red repeat done, and there are 2 in the rotation - at least that's what I'm planning. This could be one very long afghan if I miscalculated. Which wouldn't be bad, since Kid #2 is kind of a tall one. 

My Year in Socks...

Here's my "sock drawer." Ok, so it's a tote. And a small one. But it's a start. Nope, I haven't added much to it, except for the Neon Beach. I still have The Dreaded Teal to finish and the Roman Rib. 

The February yarn will be Pinstripe. It's got about 1" of rib on it already. 

And yeah, I know - that's 3 pairs of socks in progress. But when my friend Roberta had a Sock Failure of Massive Proportions, I felt like I had to have something to work on while I got her straightened out. As it is, she STILL dropped a needle-full of stitches, but she said she got them back. I can see another knit-date in our near future. 

Otherwise, I'm hoping that somewhere in the bags of yarn that are left to be knit, there might be some Sweet Georgia. I want to knit with something yummy. I love my Opals and I'm wearing the pair at the top of the shot there. 

But I'd like something squishy. 

Health Stuff...

Well, the "kick sugar to the curb" thing isn't going very well. But I do have a slight bit of progress made in another area. I'm working with my doc to wean me off the migraine meds. Since I'm at the grand old age of 57 and STILL not in menopause (go ahead - laugh), we're keeping me on a half-dose for 6 weeks. Then we'll go to a quarter-dose. So instead of 1000 mg 2x/day, I'm now at 500 mg 2x/day for a bit. Then eventually, if there are no problems, I'll go to 500 mg 1x/day till I'm finally in menopause. 

The medicine's price jumped. When I had to refill, the poor pharmacist called and almost fearfully asked if I wanted it filled. Last year, it was about $1,700 for a 3-month supply. 

This year? It's $2,180.10. Yeah, stick the last dime on the end of it, right? There is a generic, and we tried it. I'm one of the weird folks who really do need to be on the real formulation. 

So far, I'm not sure...I feel a little off, but that could be anything. I'll watch and see what happens. 

It's nice to be this age and coming OFF medications, instead of adding them on. 

Oh, and I pitched the doc to use my voice for her patient information videos. She is taking it up with the practice manager. Hey - marketing where you can, when you can. 

And it looks like my run-in with Quinn didn't do me any favors. It was my fault. Quinn yanked me as she tried to grab the neighbor's cat. (Seriously, it's BELOW freezing, stupid neighbors - take your cat INSIDE!) I yanked back on the leash, she came barreling back at me and I didn't move fast enough. She caught me on the right knee, bending it in a direction that knees aren't supposed to go. Ouch. 

So - back from the doctor, reluctantly, because I really dislike going if I don't have to. POSSIBLY a small tear on the interior ligament, but no brace. So Aleve for a week and let him know. Urgh. 

Random Picture...

This was the dessert at the 2015 fundraiser for the Joliet Area Zonta Club. Yummy. I would rather have had 2 of the chocolate ones; the white was a little too cloying. 

We raised lots of money for scholarships and had a nice luncheon. And all I had to do was show up, which is a benefit. 

Next up is the Will-Grundy Medical Clinic's Annual Dinner. I have to speak at that one. Since it's right around the corner, I'd best get my skates on and whip up a speech. 

Monday, February 23, 2015

How To Write...

Odd title, right? Well, no. Not exactly. It came about because of a conversation I had yesterday at a fundraiser.

I'm promoting myself as an editor, copywriter and voice-over artist -- all of which I do, and I do them all quite well. As I was leaving (and managing to get the zipper stuck in my down coat, and it was freezing out, and someone had left me exactly 3" between my truck and their car - on MY driver's side...), she and I were chatting about writing. 

She said, "I wish I could write." I said, "It's as much a skill as it is an art." And it is. There are people who can string words together in absolute poetry even when they're writing prose. There are poets that can, even if you don't "get" poetry, make you weep. There are people who can write a grant to give your organization funding beyond your dreams. And there are people who can write up directions clearly enough so that you, too can build an airplane in your back yard. 

I know this. Because I can do some of it, but I know what I can't do. I can write decent prose. I can write compelling copy. I can write you the directions to build that airplane. 

I can't write a grant. I've tried. I have not been successful. But that's ok. Each of us has a gift with the written word - I'm sure of it. We just need to find it, hone it, and keep at it. 

For example, my brother is a very smart person. Seriously - he builds planes. For fun. But when we were in college together, he couldn't write a paper to save his soul - or his GPA! So I was able to help him on a couple of levels. First, he's my brother so I can say with brutal honesty that his writing was awful. To his face. And he was wise enough to know that if Big Sister is telling you that "you sound totally stupid," you should listen to her. 

He would panic when it was time for a paper to be written. So I helped him develop a method that I'm sure has a technical name, but I call it "BARF" -- there's no fancy acronym here. What I told him was "barf all of it out on paper and we'll clean it up after you're done." Which is basically what happens when you barf, right? 

He got more and more comfortable just dumping piles of information onto paper, and watching what I did to edit them. He learned the rhythm of words and phrasing, learned and grasped the finer points of structure, and got comfortable with his own writing voice. 

I remember how proud he was when he said, "Hey, I wrote a memo at work and I got really good feedback!" 

No, I'm not being patronizing. I'm being realistic. We went over and over this - for 2 years. Like I'm not familiar with the inner workings of a small airplane's engine, he was not familiar with writing something without a net, if you will. He had to learn. And I was happy to teach him. 

That trick also worked for my own kids and for Kid #2 when he teaches - he tells his students, "just get it on the page." 

I write, sometimes, when I have nothing to say. Just to keep getting the words on the page. It's practice. Just like I'm practicing 'Ode to Joy' on the guitar. I have to keep working at it to "get it into my hands" as my guitar teacher says. Getting the words on the page keeps the juices flowing. 

One of the best places to look for writing prompts is, surprisingly, Pinterest. Here's one. What would you say about this? Sit with it a moment. 

Think about it. Where does this lead? What does it stir in your soul? What sings to you -- or even better, what does NOT sing to you in this picture?

All of these questions lead to your putting pen to paper (or fingers to keys) and starting. Just start. Get it on the page. 

Then, my suggestion is to let it marinate a bit. Don't immediately grab your red pen or slam on the "delete" button. let it sit with you. Close the journal. Save the page. Go do something else. 

Then come back to it later. Maybe the next day. Set a time to sit with your writing. Look at your writing kindly. Give yourself credit for getting the words onto the page. Then, turn on a slightly critical eye. Did your words transmit your thoughts? Do you see where you might tweak it a little? Clarify a little? How's your structure? Look at the mechanics later... For right now, just get the words down and then review them with a sense of wonder for the ability to get it out there. 

And then try again. And keep trying. 

Healthy Sense of Irony...

Yes. This is what was on my dashboard the other day. You will please note the title of the song on Sirius and in the lower left hand corner the outside temperature. 

Yeah, I know it's all computer driven and this song just happened to come up on the rotation. But the sense of irony is quite delicious when you consider that I came to a sliding stop at the end of the alley on my way to a meeting. I wasn't exactly speeding either - I was making my way down an alley that had, a day before, been mushy. Then it iced over, care of the next round of deep freeze. 

I just had to laugh. 

It May as Well be Pretty...

If you have to eat celery, it may as well be on the nice china. Yeah, I'm not exactly a paragon of health these days. Thanks to Quinn, I had a minor altercation with 50 lbs. of Elkhound whamming into my knee. My knee lost the battle. I'm going to the doctor on Wednesday. 

In the meantime, I'm cleaning up my eating habits yet again. Sugar is a real stinker, and I have to cut way down on it. Now, mind you, I do like celery. And I love cream cheese. But I was in a mood the other day, and I thought, "If I have to live like this, at least I want to make it look nice." So I dragged out the china, which we got for a wedding present and have used a total of what? Five times? Maybe? 

It didn't make the celery taste any differently. And it wasn't any more satisfying. Hubby laughed. But at least I can say that I'm using my china. And I did enjoy the celery anyway. 

My Year in Socks...

No change here. Working away at the afghan and I haven't picked up the sock in a while. 


I'm onto the garnet red section of the afghan. Just plowing through a bit. It's a very easy pattern to memorize, and I can do it watching TV or in the evenings when I feel the worst temptation to chow down on a jelly sandwich (see the "gotta cut out sugar" thing above). 

Random Picture...

Just a little taste of spring for those of us suffering in the latest wave of "oh, man is it cold!" 

These are the bleeding heart from the monster that lives on the northwest corner of my yard. I love these. They're nearly 35 years old. They come up every spring like clockwork, and I wait for them every year. This year is no exception. While I love winter (stop - I really do), and I would like at least another 5" or so of snow (without the bone-chilling cold) so that I can get out on my snowshoes (if I haven't totally wrecked my knee, thanks Quinn), I look forward to spring. 

The bleeding heart is the harbinger for me. When it comes up, I know that life is all good.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Catching Up...

Well, my last "I ate lunch" blog entry didn't meet the standards of elephant journal. And you know what? That's cool. I'm doing the internship to learn things. I don't expect everything to be ok'd blindly. 

I got critiqued and it was good. So I'm letting this marinate a bit and maybe I'll try again, reworking it. Or maybe it's just what it is. And I'll try something else. 

I do have a column on kale sitting at the back of my brain. 

Speaking of elephant journal -- click on the link and enjoy! Also, check out Facebook and look at the myriad pages under the "elephant" label. I'm curating Elephant Recipes and Elephant Bicycles, so come on by, like the pages and see what's up. 

You do hit a pay wall at the journal - but I think you'll like what you're reading so much that it'll be an easy thing to get a subscription. 

I will also say that I am learning a ton about social media. A TON of stuff that I never knew. OK, you can giggle. But honestly - I had no idea about the analytics of Facebook and Twitter. And this blog will probably (please, please, please) be better off for what I'm learning now. 

I'm thinking that this is all great experience, and will help me no matter where I end up. 


OK, so the Roman Rib sock is going well (more on that below). And I had to pick up Kid #2's afghan. 

And I had to frog it. Not a happy camper, but it had to be done. So I'm back at it, and about done with the first repeat of the ripple. 

Hubby is out at training (and I feel safe saying that - I have the Hounds to keep me safe...) and I have the evening to myself tonight and tomorrow night. So I'm cracking along with it. It'll alternate this soft grey with a dark garnet red (not quite burgundy). His pick, and he picked the ripple pattern. 

The yarn is Caron Simply Soft. It's ok. It's good for him because it's easy to care for. The drape is lovely and it's really popping those ripple stitches. You can't see much here, but it's evolving in a lovely pattern. I thought about skipping the two ridge stitches defining the ripple. It would be easy to just knit the ripple pattern all the way to the end, but the two ridges kind of make a natural barrier or end-point for the color changes. 

It makes a nice change from size 1 needles and sock yarn!

My Year in Socks...

Fluromania Neon Beach, Vanilla Latte
First, a little housekeeping: When I post the socks, I'll list the yarn name first, and then the pattern name. Hopefully I will now remember that!

Here are the Neon Beach. I can't remember if I posted these yet. It's the Vanilla Latte pattern on Ravelry, and you have to be a Rav member, so I can't link it here for you. There's a bit of a problem. The socks are slightly tight. So I'm not sure whether it's because I wore them right off the needles or whether it's because it's a lot of rib stitching. I should perhaps consider casting on 72 stitches the next time. It's an easy-enough pattern, and what I'll do the next time is either stop the pattern at the ankle, or stop it earlier on the toe. The star toe kind of blends right in - which is fine, but I'd like a bit more definition on the toes, between the pattern and the toe part. 

Opal Borneo Ricky, Roman Rib
Now, we'll see if this batch of Fluro actually runs like the other one. No matter - they're socks for me. I did buy some sock blockers so I might try those on the Roman Rib pair, because they're a bit larger. But for these? If they run, I won't cry. I got two of these skeins from the distributor because of the running of the last skein. I'm pretty sure they heard loud and clear that knitters were NOT happy with runny dye. The ones I knitted with the other color are comfy. They're looser and they have had some more bleeding, but it's only me. I don't care. They're "fun" socks. I'd never wear them to some dressy thing, like I would the Roman Ribs (see above). I'm kind of curious as to how that instep will feel in pattern when I wear real shoes with them. I might use the pattern on the cuff of another plain pair - we'll see. But definitely a different heel next time.

And speaking of the Roman Rib, that Strong heel is really freaky. But according to my sock-knitting friends, it's probably because the directions are... ummm... wonky, to be kind. Kelly at Le Mouton Rouge Knittery helped me figure it out. So I'll do the second one, and won't bother much with Mrs. Strong's heel after that, unless I feel really compelled to give it another go. 

St. John's and Morningstar...

No, not the investment company. Our local homeless shelter. See, at church, we have the opportunity to do service work, and I signed up to work at Morningstar to serve lunch on the second Saturday of the next few months. 

That's me, front right. Yeah. A hairnet and apron are great fashion accessories! Anyway, we had a great time, but it's also sobering.

I really haven't made many political statements here lately, and I'm not going to do one now. But what I will say is that we - all of us - are only a couple of paychecks away from using many of the social safety nets available to us, if we're lucky enough to have them. 

If our country continues the way it's going - where all social services are considered an "entitlement" (and no, no, a THOUSAND times no - Social Security is NOT an entitlement. The government has MY money that I've paid in!) and where any of us who needs such aid are now considered "moochers" -- well, then we are not The Greatest Country. And we truly can't even claim, with a straight face, that we're a "Christian" nation if we don't take care of the "least." (Matthew 25:40 if you're interested) 

Because if we don't heed these folks - the ones who are truly down-and-out; the ones who have nothing; the ones who can only go up from here because they're down as far as they can go? Well, if we don't heed and help these folks, how do we expect anyone to help us if and when we need it? 

We can't. But we ought each to do our own little bit. I'm not changing the entire world by working at these service projects. But I feel confident that somewhere along the line, I may be creating a small ripple. And small ripples get bigger. 

Please - do this for your own sake - find a project that you're passionate enough about. And then do something. You don't have to be rich. You just have to be present. 

(OK, I was mistaken. This is a vaguely political statement. But if you're a regular reader, you know where I'm sitting anyway.)

It's COLD out there...

Here's a handy-dandy chart telling you when to bring your animals inside. When? Well, NOW. Now would be good. 

I don't want to hear that your animal is "an outside dog/cat" -- bring him or her in. I'm telling you right now - it's 1*F out there and feels like -15*f. The wind chill advisory for our area is predicting -20 to -30*F for wind chills through Friday morning. Even The Weather Channel is telling us to bring pets indoors. 

Here's the thing: Even if you have huts for your dogs (we have igloos) - at this temperature, even my elkhounds and husky would have a difficult time. And dogs who are "built" for outside are still susceptible to frostbite. 

We're in the midst of a cold snap now that's closed schools. Thankfully, we're not in Boston or anywhere else on the East Coast where they're getting piled on with snow. Heck, in the time I've been typing this, the temperature here in IL has dropped another digit. It's now ZERO degrees - still "feels like" -15, but let's face it. When it gets cold, after a certain point it really doesn't matter. 

Tomorrow and Saturday, temps will slowly crawl back up. We'll be darned near 18* or so!! But look -- Niagara Falls is nearly frozen over. 

THAT, my friends -- THAT is cold. 

Random Picture...

Yes, Miss Tippi was in her glory on Fat Tuesday. Hold the jokes, please. She's sensitive. So we brought both hats to her therapy visit and she figured out a way to not wear the hats. 

First, she starts this incredibly pathetic thing: head droops, eyes seem to get bigger, ears droop... then, she rolls over for a belly rub, thus knocking off the hat. 

So smart! 

I'm sitting here watching Judgement at Nuremberg and remembering why I've always liked this movie. Strong performances. Next is Dr. Strangelove, and I think I'll be finding something else to watch. Just not one of my favorites. I'll be back knitting on the afghan, but I just have a thing about Peter Sellers. Monumental talent, but his frenetic energy isn't what I want to see tonight. 

Soon, I'll be heating up the kettle for some Tulsi Sweet Rose tea. I did a bad thing. And I will pay for it. I ate some Kraft Mac & Cheese. A LOT of Kraft Mac & Cheese. It happens. I've been tired with Hubby's weird training schedule, not sleeping well, and I tend to over-eat when I'm in that situation. I'm so cold (and we haven't lost power - my fingers are just freezing) that my wedding ring is falling off. 

Raisa is sacked out next to me. Tippi is back in the back room. She and Raisa have been having some issues, so the baby gate is up. Quinn is next to the dining room table. 

My hands are freezing, and I'm dreading taking them out in the next hour or so. I'll have to do it before Hubby gets home, but I'm hoping against hope that they can hold out. Ha. I doubt it. 

Monday, February 16, 2015

I Ate Lunch Alone Yesterday...

...which wasn't the point.

I had arranged lunch with two friends from Grad School. It's often difficult to get everyone together, and for a long span - years, really - we just barely exchanged Facebook or e-mail communications. 

Life being brief, we thought that it was important to rekindle the face-to-face get-togethers. 

So I scheduled one. 

But I ate lunch alone. 

I arrived early, as is my wont, and was seated at a lovely table, with my back to the sun. It was cold yesterday, and I felt it more than usual for some reason. 

Now, normally, when I go somewhere alone, I always have something with me. I either carry a book, my Kindle, knitting - something. I have no games on my phone - I dislike computer games anyway. 

But since I was meeting friends, I brought nothing but the delayed Christmas gift for one of them. (Which gift has now been set aside for next year - because it's silly to give a Christmas gift in June...) So I sat in the sun and waited for them. About 10 minutes after our appointed time, I texted both of them asking if they'd forgotten. 

I got a "holy crap" message from one, saying she totally spaced on it since she's been in the midst of a massive kitchen/dining room renovation. I didn't hear from the other one for a while, though she did text later to tell me she also had forgotten and was out of town.

I signaled the waitress, who looked vaguely pitying, and said, "Well, looks like I've been stood up. But I'm hungry, so I'll order lunch now." 

I haven't been to lunch with myself in a long, long time. The restaurant is a quaint one which is very popular with the locals. There was a foursome in the corner discussing their recent viewing of "Fifty Shades of Grey," a couple having a quiet lunch, and a large party along the back of the facility, complete with kids. After a while, a foursome of ladies was seated next to me. The eldest of the group had a Manhattan - in a blue stemmed glass (don't ask me why; I thought Manhattans were served in a stubby glass) and one of the younger ones mentioned that it looked like "witches' potion" in there - which it did!

I did text Hubby telling him that since I'd held the table for so long, I was eating there, and that, yes, I wasn't happy.

And I wasn't. I felt embarrassed. Flashbacks to high school momentarily entered my 57-year-old brain. I felt like the uncool kid. 

Then I thought: "You're an idiot."  I'm a yogi. I've been studying meditation for years now. I'm supposed to embody the idea of "I can amuse myself." And here I was, feeling sorry for me. 

Well. I sat up straight, glanced about the place and proceeded to discretely people-watch. And I ate lunch. Which wasn't too bad, though the corn salsa on the crab cakes was way, way too hot for me. So much for the "mild remoulade and salsa" description on the menu. And it was a Sunday afternoon, so the prices were mildy heart-attack inducing. I should stick to the weekday lunch menu there for the sake of my pocketbook.

I did eat the stick of pretzel bread. But I skipped dessert, feeling more than a little virtuous. And stuffed - I'd been eating extremely light lately, and frankly, by the salad, I was close to full. I brought home most of it, which I ate for dinner. 

Anyway, what have we learned, kids? 

Well, I could say "always carry something along with you." 

But I don't think that's the point. The actual point is that it's ok to be alone with yourself. It's ok to lift your head from your screen or your book and not be tied to outside amusements. It's ok at some point to really sit with yourself and not give a lamb's hind leg about whether people even NOTICE that you're sitting by yourself. Or even to care whether they do notice and feel sorry for you. Burying your nose in a book isn't awful. Though you can't eat and knit... But sitting and noticing what's around you is not all that bad.

Really. We talk about being mindful a lot in my world. We talk about noticing what our bodies are doing. We talk about watching our very breath. 

And then I have a small melt-down about being stood up for lunch. Jeeze. Shame on me. 

Or rather, let's skip the shame, much like I skipped dessert. Shame isn't good for you. Rather, let's have a talk with our inner self saying that it's ok - more than ok, actually - to just be by yourself for lunch. 

Occasionally, it's absolutely fine to have lunch with your best friend: yourself. 

Friday, February 06, 2015

Time is Flying...

Honestly, I mean to get here a lot more often. Life is whizzing at a frenetic pace lately. As I sit here with my phone playing a new mix for my yoga classes, I'm staring at a distressingly long To-Do list... 

My Year In Socks...

Well, I opened February's bag, even though I'm nowhere near ready for it. I just couldn't stand it. February's is a little dull - I probably will do something plain-ish (again) with it. Though I could fiddle around with a nice ribbed sock. Maybe a different cuff or something. Not sure yet. 

I did get some AWESOME help from Kelly at Le Mouton Rouge Knittery about the Strong Heel. After I finish the Vanilla Latte Neon Beach, I'll get back to the Roman Rib and finish those. 

So I may be caught up by March. "Caught up" as in working on February's yarn! And I'm ok with this. 

Fluro Neon Beach
Did I really WANT to get 12 pairs of socks done in a year? You bet. Is it remotely feasible? Perhaps. Am I going to curl into a ball of yarn scraps if I don't? Nope. I don't have time! And the whole KAL (Knit-a-Long) is fluid. You do what you can do. I'll consider myself a success if I do a pair every other month. Or maybe I just get 4 pair done. I have other knitting I'd like to work on, and while I absolutely adore my hand-knitted socks, I want to get some of those WIPs off the needle.

Not to mention the Wedding Afghan for Kid #1 and fiancee. And Kid #2's afghan, which is at least on the needles, if not progressing very much. And hey - winter is afghan-making weather! Speaking of which...


I should probably consider this for the Random Picture section, but I'm putting it here. The other day, when Tippi and I were done with her therapy visit, I went to the other side of the campus and we started off on the nature trail. There are deer there, and she knew it! Sadly, I had neither gaiters nor snow shoes, and the trail isn't even remotely "groomed." We were breaking it as we went along. 

Well, actually, SHE was breaking it. The trail bisects the university's disc golf course, and we didn't go all that far. 

In the next few days, if I can get a breath in and the snow lasts (there's over a foot - it should last), I'm going to take her out on that trail again, WITH snow shoes. Or maybe, if I'm extremely brave, I'll give it a shot with Raisa. 

If you don't hear from me, then you know I've taken Raisa and we're now somewhere near Peoria!

Anyway, it's a lovely time of year, and I know everyone's complaining. I'm one of those oddballs who loves the winter. From inside and out. 

The Anti-Vax Crowd...

OK, I can't stand it. We've become a nation of idiots. Or at least that's the way it appears. I know - seriously, I truly know - there are some kids who should not be vaccinated. For the record, both of mine were vaccinated. Though Kid #1 did get chicken pox. They're 5 years apart -- Kid #2 was able to get the chicken pox vaccination. And remember, they're grown now - there was no discussion. Period. 

What I can't deal with is the whole argument - and in many states, a valid exemption - of "personal belief." Do you personally not believe in cancer? Do you personally not believe in flu? Do you personally not believe in polio? Because while there's no cancer vaccine yet, there IS a flu vaccine. And polio - how many millions of American kids were affected? This answers that question. Maybe it's not a good correlation, but the point is that there are a lot of things that'll kill you. And some of them, through incredibly vigorous research, have been conquered. Vaccines have been proven to be safe overall. 

The era of polio was horrible. And it was really within my lifetime that kids still could get it. Global eradication is so close. But some people let their own ignorance and fear trump reliable, safe science. 

If I'm blessed with grandchildren instead of grand-cats, I truly do not want to see them in an iron lung. Or dead. Though knowing my future daughter-in-law (I love saying that!), I don't think that she's in that camp. 

Even some of those in the autism community are now telling us that the vaccinations are not the cause. The research that was quoted by such scientific luminaries as Playboy centerfold Jenny McCarthy was discredited over a decade ago.The research on the safety of the vaccines has been proven over and over. 

What would happen if we stopped all vaccinations? Well, click the link and see what the CDC says... It ought to make you think. 

Look at this link: Autism Speaks - this is the guy. Here's his text, because I think it's so important:

Vaccines and Autism

  •  15.5K
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  • Google +96
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Over the last two decades, extensive research has asked whether there is any link between childhood vaccinations and autism.  The results of this research are clear: Vaccines do not cause autism.  We urge that all children be fully vaccinated.
Rob Ring
Chief Science Officer, Autism Speaks

So are you paying attention now? Please - if you follow my blog, please share this link with your friends. I'm all for parenting the way you want. But when your "belief" goes so directly against established science and will negatively impact other kids - those with compromised immune systems - and older folks... I have a problem with this. 

The Job Front...

Well, good news, progress, and some disappointment... I have been the grateful recipient of some good leads in the publishing world by my friend Nat. And I'm waiting on a call today or Monday to get the ball rolling with one who has "about 6 or 10 books that need proofing and editing." Now, I'm not saying that I'm going to get all of those, but if I prove my worth, they'll send me more work. And they trust Nat's recommendation. 

There's progress on the "so-far secret" business venture, too. At least Hubby's not quaking in his boots about it. I'm realistically probably going to have to get a part-time job. And I'm looking at a senior community where I had a phone interview - they have some flexible jobs such as a receptionist/concierge. I'm not going to stick my nose up at that - I really would rather have something relatively mindless while I grow both the writing and the other business. Self-employment, of course, has some pretty stiff tax implications and we're still saving for retirement. 

Honestly, I'm still a little angry that I was laid off. That job was supposed to be my "into retirement" job. It paid a decent buck, and it afforded us the luxury of trips and things like that. And I hold some resentment that my sensible solution was ignored. And I'm disappointed that it appears that the University president did do a very graceful blow-off. Or, still trying to think well of him, he was not informed. 

But I think that overall, I'm in a place where I can make the self-employed thing work. I feel it in my bones. So fingers crossed, candles lit, prayers flowing... I'm looking forward to a productive and profitable year. And many to follow.

elephant journal...

No, it's not supposed to have caps. I'm up and running! For now, the apprentices are mostly posting content and learning to write provocative, interesting headlines. Headlines are definitely a weakness of mine! Here are the links; I'm writing/posting for elephant Recipe and elephant Bicycle. Please follow and share! 

And let's have a conversation on those pages. That's the point. I've been told that I can certainly post some of my own original content - specifically on the recipe page, since I really have the heart for that page over the other one. But I am learning that there's a ton of stuff going on in the bicycle world. 

Look for some interesting content as we move forward with our apprenticeships. 

Random Picture...

Brown creeper
OK, one more and then I have to go! This is what I found one day when Hubby and I were going out the back door. This little fella was moving up in a spiral along the neighbor's tree. Sadly, all we had were our camera phones. Neither of us knew what it was, but after a post on Facebook, two of my birder friends told me that he's a brown creeper

I fiddled with this on my phone. Even with the zoom lens, I had to do a bit of Photoshop magic to really zoom in on him. He's not even 3" long - his beak is almost as long as his body! 
I've taken a bunch of pictures of the birds outside on the feeders, but this one caught us both by surprise. Maybe later, if the sun peeks out, I'll get some icicles. Hopefully, the neighbor won't think I'm stalking him - but his house puts off some stellar icicles and ours doesn't. 

Till next time, friends!

Sunday, February 01, 2015

Snowpocalypse, Snomagedden, or What's Known As WINTER...

Just pictures today...

What I'm doing between shovel trips.
It's WINTER. We're expecting a blizzard in about an hour. The snow was "heart attack" stuff early this a.m.

Hubby and I did about 750 feet of alley, just in case we needed to get out. 

No, the neighbors didn't help. And yes, we did it by hand because we don't have a snowblower. 

And no, we're not crazy. I think. 

The front yard... about a foot
He and I agreed that from now till later tonight, he'd take the back steps and sidewalk, and I'll do the front. 

This is the first winter post-PVI and I'm very happy to be able to help do this for once. I feel guilty when he does it all... 

We had the city go by, down the center of the street, once. We live in an old neighborhood, with narrow streets. The ordinance says "cars off the street after 3" of snow."

We've got about 18" so far. 

The crazy (and MUCH younger) neighbor next door has parked his truck BACK in the front of the house, on the easement. The plow guys will have a field day snowing him in.

He's mad because he's got Dish, and no signal for Super Bowl. 

So sad. Get off your rump and shovel, dude!!

Earlier, the end in sight!
The dogs took Hubby for a walk. Bad idea. Under all of this is ice. 

We even stayed home from church. Our church is in an older neighborhood than ours, and we know how it works - we'd have had a devil of a time (pun) getting in and out of the STREET, notwithstanding the parking lot!

Shades of glacier blue in here...
So take a look at the picture here, looks like a pile of snow. Which it is... But can you see the tones of blue in there? Snow isn't colorless. When we were in MT and were able to see some glaciers (the few that are left), we noticed this particular shade of "glacier blue." I would like to paint a room this shade. But I'd have to describe it to someone. 

Ermine wrapped?
Cinnamon bush
The neighbor's tree wears a majestic ermine-like garland of snow. Our arborvitae trees have had the snow gently shoved off them a couple of times. Our maple tree in the front - one bough is about 2' from the ground -- and that bough is SIX FEET off the ground... I'm not entirely sure that the cinnamon bush will survive the winter. It's looking a little peaked, but I'm taking this picture to fiddle with - it would look interesting in black and white, I think. 

The garden is tucked away. "With visions of sugar-snap peas" in its head, I'm sure. It's a reminder that a period of rest is required after a period of activity. The garden sleeps, knowing that come spring, it'll be in its full glory again. 

These are the raised beds, of course, and we're already scanning the seed catalog. That's what you do when you're tucked in the house waiting out Mother Nature. 

We're lucky. We have power. My brother, who lives across town, is running on a generator. Of course we have a generator. It's in the shed. We have yet to even take it out of the box. 

As Hubby says, "It'll only run the fridge anyway, so you'd still have no heat." We should really at least get it to the point where if we needed it, we could use it... Just like the snow blower we don't have...

Guardian of the garbage
Love the snowman. I suggested we make one. Hubby suggested we NOT make one... But it was nice to watch the family across the street enjoy the weather. Dad made a snow fort. Kid knocked it down. Mom took pictures. And kid was on the saucer, "sledding" into the street. 

Lucky we live on a quiet street... 

My original plan was to get out the snowshoes. But with what's forecast to come? I'd be insane. I'm not pushing my luck. Would rather stay home, pushing the shovel in between bouts of snow. 

I'm making a roasted chicken tonight. With roasted Parmesan Cauliflower as well. It'll be yummy. The house will smell good. And I can use the bird carcass for soup or stock. 

I'd bake, but my current "stop eating so much sugar" thing is in the way of that. 

The Birds...

So I leave you with some bird pics. These are either from my front porch or through the window. 

I love my birds. You'll also notice a decided lean to the big feeder. Almost 2 feet of snow will do that. 
Female Cardinal 

Even if we had filled the feeder - the birds can't get to the seed.

The only seed they can reach.

Up in the maple tree

Smile for the camera

Enough for today