Saturday, February 27, 2016

I've Lost...

...a pair of socks. 

In the normal scheme of things, you'd think, "So???"

But this was a pair of my hand-knit socks. I don't have a ton of knit socks, though I'm working on it. 

And (the knitting gods will bite me for this one), it wasn't my particularly favorite pair. 

But. 

They're hand-knit. And they're lost. Crap.

I had them before my Florida trip. I even checked my suitcases. Crap. 

They're the plain vanilla socks knit with Opal's version of the "watermelon" colorway. I'm not overly fond of the large amount of yellow in this melon, but all in all, they're hand-knit and they're Opal - a great sock yarn that I use a lot. 

They'll turn up. They'll turn up. They'll turn up. I just keep repeating that till I hope it comes true. 

Knitting Otherwise...

I'm plugging along on the chai spice Vanilla Latte variation. Sock #2 is coming along. It's the last weekend of TMC's Oscar Month, and "Goodbye Mr. Chips" (the Robert Donat/Greer Garson version - the best one) is on now. I'm on the foot of the sock. My goal this weekend is to get to the toe. 

I'll be bringing The Baby Jacket to the primary election. Unless I start another pair of socks, but they'd have to be straight up vanilla. No patterns in a primary election...as a judge, you do get downtime, but I don't want anything complex to have to fiddle with. 

I have to download the Drachenfels shawl pattern... I have the yarn for two colorways. I also have a hat pattern to download, but the way this winter is going, it looks like I won't need it. 

Yeah. That just jinxed March...I'm sorry. 

Politics...

I'm a Bernie fan. I'm also a realist. The entire GOP field is a non-starter, even if I was inclined to vote against my femaleness. 

And yes, it IS against being a woman. I've said a couple of times that the GOP wants small government and they're mostly interested in fitting the government into a woman's vagina. 

Bernie may not get a lot done, but he knows how to work with the Senate. 

For those who wonder why I'm not a fan of Hillary, it's really simple. Just because I'm female doesn't mean I'm automatically going to vote for her. I'm not a fan. I think she's far too corporate-owned, just like most of the rest of Washington. 

Do we need a woman president? Yes. It's time. Do we need gender parity in our House and Senate? Yes. It's PAST time. Do we need gender parity on the Supreme Court? Oh yeah...

But just because we need more women in places of power, we still need quality candidates. Just a set of ovaries doesn't do it. 

So that all being said, I'll vote for the Democratic nominee. Because I still feel that the Democrats, if they can work as a "herd," can get things done. We just don't "herd" as well as the GOP. But the GOP is herding itself off a cliff if they're starting to think that they can work with Trump. Let them shoot themselves in the foot... 

Cooking...

So my mom's laid up after shoulder surgery. Remember, I'm NOT the kid who's a nurse. I'm the cook. 

Today's plans (including the above-mentioned knitting) will be to cook her a few meals she can eat. She's been eating Lean Cuisines...and I'm sorry, they're processed muck. You can't survive on those; they're really not any good for you. 

She eats like a bird, so I have to ratchet it down a bit. So far, I've got "Two-fer Tuna" - a couple of small tuna casseroles. Next up is meatloaf with some potato wedges. 

I'm on a "chicken salad" kick...It's really simple: just cooked chicken, celery, horseradish, mayo and mustard. And a bit of some sort of savory - this time, dill. It's chilling in the fridge now. Of course, like anything I cook, you can "up" or "down" this dish: I start simple and then fiddle. 

The tuna casserole isn't anywhere near what I've grown up with. My mother's used wide egg noodles and cream-of-something soup. And canned green beans.

I used whole-wheat pasta shells (tiny ones), made a roux and used leeks and green peppers (she loves green peppers). I used some "sharp American" cheese instead of cheddar, added some peas, and then did a panko, parmesan and paprika topping. It's in a couple of small dishes; she can easily remove the cover with one hand,and they're sized just right for one. 

Of course, Raisa had her nose practically in the dish. "Leave it" is a great command. Even for a pig-headed Husky. 

Any other ideas for one-handed dishes would be great...I'm thinking of a pasta with a shape that she can eat with a spoon. She's had surgery on her right arm, and she's absolutely NOT good with her left hand. 

Come to think of it, taking away the green peppers, the Two-fer Tuna will be good for me and Hubby. Even in my smallest casserole dish, it's too much for the two of us. I like to make soups that we can freeze and I can take to lunch. I try to not take fish-type dishes to work - they get smelly. 

But this would be good for Lent. For us, I can add spinach and mushrooms. 

Random Picture...

Speaking of said pig-headed Husky... This was the scene by my chair. She's cat-like in that I'm certain she's determined to kill me. She winds her way beneath my chair, curls around the legs, and one day, I'm convinced, she'll stand straight up, propelling me through the front door. 

Of course, there's Tippi, who's prone to whomping into my chair after they get back from a walk - this morning, she moved it 2" toward the front window. Quinn has also decided to do the same...

My dogs are out to get me!






Monday, February 15, 2016

How Do You Die?

As we hear more over the next few days about how Justice Antonin Scalia died, it brings to my mind deaths in my own family. Most memorably, it brings back to me how my grandmother died.

Wedding Day
She always said that my grandpa “had it easy.” He walked into the house one February day, after supervising the snow shoveling, and put his hat and gloves on the table. He turned around, and fell straight to the ground – a fatal heart attack, dead before he hit the ground. Rather neat, if you think about it. No long hospitalization, no decaying of dignity, no endless prolongation of a life well-lived.

Apparently, that may indeed have been the issue with Justice Scalia. Go to bed one night and simply not wake up. How sweet is that, really? I mean, given the all-out efforts some people endure to live a life that is not filled with quality, but only an extension of pain and suffering – thanks, I’d take the fatal heart attack.

Grandma lived to age 95. It’s a habit of the women in our family: we don’t like to leave. After Grandpa died, she was very angry. God had messed this one up badly, she thought. They were married just over 60 years, not quite 61. She was supposed to go first, in her mind - though it's a good thing she didn't. And the longer she lived, the more wrong God had it. She was mad. She was furious. How DARE God NOT take her? And don’t give her that old sop about, “God’s not ready for you yet.” By Heaven, SHE was ready. So just open the blasted gates already and let her in! As she hit 90, all the filters were off - she even said, "I'm 90 and I want to die so I can say what I want." 

It took a lot of chutzpah for us to remind her that, 90 or not, she had to be nice to us. Many of us just stopped visiting - and I was one of them. Who really wants to hear, "God you've gotten fat" every single time you visit? Every. Single. Time. I tried to be patient - Lord knows I tried. But I couldn't, and that bothers me to this day. 

50th Anniversary (Married 60 years)
Right after this picture was taken, my grandfather had his first heart attack. Due to circumstances well beyond ANYONE'S control, he ended up having a touch of dementia after that. We suspect that there was a slight delay in the ability to revive him - he was always the sharpest knife in the box: a builder, a mechanic, an inventor, a maker. But after that heart attack, his light dimmed somewhat and he became a little slower; a little less talkative; a little less himself. 

Even though Grandma had plans for how their life was supposed  to work, it ended up being a blessing that she didn't die first. He died when she was in the hospital for a bout of digestive trouble. As it was, we had to remind him to eat, to take a bath, to get dressed. He never in his life had to cook or prepare a meal for himself. He didn't choose what he wore. He never had to do laundry. Grandma was the typical housewife - she manage the house and everyone in it. He would not have functioned had she not been there to oversee the remainder of his life. At 75, he died, and I think in a way, she never forgave him - or God - for that. 

She died in a nursing home, not in a suite in a palatial ranch (though the fees charged by nursing homes are palatial to many). She died with family surrounding her, and nuns praying the rosary in the hallway.

But it wasn’t a peaceful death. Her body, in the end, betrayed her. As her mind left, as her organs failed, her heart beat strongly on. There’s nothing you can do to quell a heart that refuses to stop. We can only guess at the unfinished business that might have been part of the plan of the Universe. She was always afraid that she would not die peacefully in her sleep. How much of that fear played into what really happened, we’ll never know.

The day before she died, I was there with my mom, my aunt, two cousins and my sister... We all were saying our goodbyes and my mom popped a CD in the player. I’m the family cantor – I started singing. My grandma visibly relaxed when she heard the hymn, “Here I am, Lord,” one of her favorites. After a while, she seemed uncomfortable, so my aunt and sister, both nurses, asked us all to leave. They turned her onto her side – facing the window. They opened the drapes, cracked the window up, and told her it was ok to go. We left her then, with her two daughters, as they wished. She died about 4 hours after that.

I remember this clearly. And as we read more about the Justice, I contrast the public scenario of his death (including all the attendant hysterical conspiracy theories and press intrusions) with the private deaths that take place every day. The deaths that aren’t in a luxury ranch. The deaths which are not simple. The deaths that happen among each and every family, each and every day.

Fame brings a peculiar sort of aura to a death. Fame brings a microscope. My granny wouldn’t have appreciated that microscope, especially since she was a prim and proper church lady who always had her lipstick on and her hair done. 

Her death was ugly, it took too long (which would have been her opinion, and I don't even want to imagine the conversation in Heaven!) and only prettied up for the obituary.

But in the final analysis, death comes to us all. Grandma railed and ranted about wanting death more quickly. I don’t know – is this a common thread? Does the 106 year old want what he or she may see as the ultimate comfort of death? Does the 80 year old think it’s time? Does anyone? Do we all fear the “last sleep” that is (it’s cliché to say) the great equalizer?

In the final-final analysis, though: does it matter at all? We all die. Every single one of us will face this, and we’ll face it in the sure and certain knowledge that we have no control over it. What we can control is what we do before we die. How we live. What we embrace. What we refute. What we say to those we love; what we say to those we encounter every day - the non-family folks who we either work with or deal with in our daily lives.


What we can control is all the attendant paperwork: having “the talk” with the family about what we wish for, how we want our death to be medically managed, having our living wills and durable powers of attorney in place. Making our doctors aware of DNR requests (do not resuscitate). Being brave enough to speak early and often to our loved ones about the safest bet: that we’ll all die in time. 

We won’t likely make the national and international news, but we’ll all die. All we can do is our best to make it a good death.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Maybe...Maybe Not...

Sooooooooo. We have a Court holiday today. Eight years of working in adult education (university), and I never had as many holidays. 

And contrary to everyone's belief, nor did I have every summer off.

But today through Monday, we have a long weekend. Which is lovely. Though I'm spending Valentine's Day at the Clerk's Office doing training for the upcoming elections. Electronic poll books and same-day registration ought to make the primaries really fun. Not. 

I have a list. And maybe I'll get most of it done. Or maybe not. We'll see how the weekend goes. 

Detoxing Again...

The sugar detox is going. I've had a few slips, and I know that I'm not seeing results as quickly as I did the first time. But then, I shouldn't have leaped off the wagon! 

Just finished some lovely kale that I needed to process. I chop it up, saute in a pan with some olive oil and then when it's bright green, add some water and slap a lid on it so that it "steams" with the seasonings I use. And the seasonings can vary. So kale is on the menu for supper. 

I'm hoping to lose some weight, yes. And I'm hoping to kick some belly fat to the curb. It'll be healthier in the long run. 

Knitting...

I have "Sort of Second Sock Syndrome." I'm working on the second sock of the SweetGeorgia chai spice pair, and with wholly laughable enthusiasm, I thought I'd get the second one done in 2 weeks. That was about 3 weeks ago, before work exploded and I had too many evenings occupied by other things. 

I'm eyeballing my Craftsy box - there's a hat in there and 2 of their shawls. Well, let's say there's the YARN in there for those projects. One of the things on my list is to download the patterns and get them sorted into project bags with the appropriate needles. 

One goal I do have that I really want to accomplish is to get the leg finished on that sock. I am anxious to wear this pair soon, and this is "one of 4" of my 4-pair goal for 2016. 

And I should put a row or two on the baby sweater. That's sitting there staring at me too. Yes, I know - baby is due in June. But you know how fast time flies. And I don't want to have to speed-knit that project. I had all good intentions to knit at lunch at work, but that hasn't happened yet. Maybe, maybe not. 

Healthy Aging...

So what does "healthy aging" mean to you? A couple of us participated in a workshop last weekend on "Yoga and Healthy Aging." It was really fantastic, though we did think we sat a lot more than we needed to. 

The sequences we looked at are all on the Yoga for Healthy Aging blog, which is great if you haven't looked at it. And no - it's not "senior" yoga. It's a way to 
use your body and mind healthfully to keep yourself moving and thinking as you age. Let's face it, we're all aging - some of us faster than others. But we can help ourselves to stay healthy and sharp. 

Nothing's going to cure the disease of life. We're all going to die. But we have options now to make sure that we encourage ourselves to stay healthy and strong for longer than before. Remember when women, particularly, "knew" that as they aged, they developed a dowager's hump, they slowed down, they essentially withdrew as they aged? 


I remember that. I saw my aunts do this. But I now see women "owning" their menopausal and post-menopausal years. 

I see the same in men. And I don't mean in a "Viagra-like commercial" way. But men staying fit and trying new things as well, so that their later years are fulfilling. 

That's yoga for healthy aging. I encourage you to take a look at the blog. I think you'll learn a lot. 

So today, also on the list, is a little walk on the "elliptiKILL" - Hubby replaced the strap on the heart monitor (I lost it). So I can give it a shot. Even if it's 15 or 20 minutes, it'll be a step (or several) in the right direction. 

I confess that the Jawbone has been helping me achieve some movement. But then again, honestly, our office manager is on vacation, so I've been doing double-duty. I like that it tracks sleep, even though it confirms when I already know I had a rotten night. But at any rate, I'm moving more. So it's all good. 

Quinn's Gotcha Day...

Three Musketeers
Today is Quinn's "gotcha day." I remember Hubby bringing her home. I was at home with Tippi, since she'd just come the month before. And I was recovering from hand surgery. 

She was so scared! Kid #1 tried to cuddle her, and she hid under the dining room table. It took him 2 hours of trying to feed her, kibble by kibble, till she came out. 

Tippi didn't help; she looked at me as if to say, "Ummmmm. What is THAT doing here???" So River kicked in and took over. 

Quinn is definitely our guard dog. She's our crazy girl, and we don't know what we'd do without her. 

This is a picture we took right after she got home. River is in the back. Quinn at left, Tippi at right. 

Sardines tonight...

Random Picture...

As a flashback, this is a picture of my grandparents on their wedding day. Granny was a "ripe old" age 22 or 23 when this was taken. My grandpa looks like a young Frank Sinatra. 

Her dress is satin. She always wanted me to wear it. Sadly, I was 6" too tall and there was no way it would be altered. 

Her flowers (and my mother has the bill to back this up) were a grand total of $5.00. But remember, this was right after the depression. Five bucks was a lot of money. That was for ALL the flowers in this picture. 

They were married for almost 61 years. This is on my phone for the month of February. 

I can only hope to attain that number of years of marriage.