Saturday, April 08, 2017

How Do You Know When The Universe is Speaking...

To put it mildly, I've been frustrated recently. I try to tamp it down, and you can imagine how well that works. 

It doesn't. Not always. So I get snappish. Or I make mistakes. And at work, that can be fatal for your ability to do your job. 

I complained to Hubby. Well, to put it rightly, I've BEEN complaining to Hubby. He knows that I've been plotting to get out. I've talked to my friend. And I've cudgeled my brain trying to think of a way to rid myself of a toxic atmosphere, where, seriously, I shake when I walk into the office. 

That's gotta mean something, right? 

Well...The Universe answered. I can't say a whole lot just yet, but this time, I'm listening to the Cosmic Thump On the Head. I can't afford not to.

Essential Oils...

I think I may have a problem. It's a good problem to have, but it's a problem! Anyway, so far, this is my collection of oils. I use 90% of them, and I'm learning about the other 10%. I enjoy learning about how they support your system, and support you even emotionally. 

I have looked into several different companies, and I'm working with Young Living Essential Oils because I'm convinced they're the best on the market. 

100% pure, therapeutic grade. So much research, so much quality control. They have a "Seed to Seal" concept that's amazing. 

I'm even using them on the elkhounds: both to quell their fears during thunderstorms and fireworks, and on Quinn's skin issues. So, once the Franken-elkie heals, we're back on our regimen. Right now, she's recuperating from the most recent surgery, though I'll still use a bit of lavender when the weather is dicey or people are shooting off boom-booms! She loves her Lavender ear/back rubs. 


I did put the socks in a bag, but I haven't had time to knit anywhere with it! I'm taking it tomorrow, to my Mom's house. Especially since the mom-to-be will be there, and I don't want her to see what I'm knitting. The shower is coming up fast, so I've got to get moving! 

I'm on the left side now, thank goodness! And it appears to be going well. I think it'll work out. Now, I need to find the pattern for the booties. I don't remember what I did with it. I'll have to go digging if I can't find it, and I don't want to waste time trolling through Ravelry. Not that it's ever a waste of time entirely, but let's say it's time I don't have right now!

If nothing else, I finish what I've got and do booties for Christmas. Either way, an afghan, hat and sweater? Not shabby. 

They're having a "diaper raffle" - which is kind of cool: bring in a pack of any kind of diapers, and you can be entered to win a prize. I may find some cloth ones...Always good for burp cloths, and other uses!


So tomorrow is our "Easter." Yeah, I know - it's really Palm Sunday. But if you're a regular reader, you may remember that, except for Christmas Eve, we usually celebrate the holidays a week early. Let's just say: in-laws. And we'll leave it right there...

It's the "gathering of the clan" tomorrow, and we did the ham and deviled eggs. And we've got the potica. My mom's doing most of the other stuff, and my sister's bringing a salad. 

She called in a blind panic because she's apparently lost the only copy of my dad's vinaigrette recipe. I mean she's got the only written copy - or not... We're still not sure if she's found it yet. But apparently, we're all getting copies for Christmas IF she finds it!

I hit Pinterest for something I did a couple of years ago: dyed deviled eggs. This time, it was a different technique, but here they are, in all their neon glory. The colors should deepen a bit overnight, so they may be more vivid. I had Hubby boil 14 eggs - and we ruined at least 2 of them in the un-shelling. He did most of it, for which I was grateful. 

An $11,000 screw in my left thumb, and my egg-peeling career is essentially over! 

The ham has a nice pineapple glaze on it. It'll be room temperature, with "funeral potatoes" (don't make me think you don't know what I mean!), a salad, nadif (a Croatian dish that's incredibly labor-intensive), and rolls in case someone wants to make a sandwich. Oh, and the technicolor eggs! And desserts. 

Mother Nature's Glory...

Speaking of technicolor. This is an unretouched photograph of the sunset from this past Thursday. I got home from teaching my yoga class at my studio, Just Breathe Yoga, and this was what I saw. 

I walked into the house, dumped my gear and walked right out the front door (western exposure) with my camera. 

We're not often lucky enough to see this. And I stood out there for a good 10 minutes, watching. 

Breathing. Looking. Seeing. Feeling. 

Ties, Ties Everywhere...

My friend Wendy handed me a bag last week at church. I had no idea what she was thinking, but then she said, "Your son might like these." 

Apparently, she cleaned out her husband's tie drawer. Roy died at least 4 years ago. There are some amazing ties in there. 

The Kid loves oddball ties. He'll go bananas. 

Oh, and that purple one with the sailboats on it? Ralph Lauren. $115. For a tie. 

So there are a number of Christmas ones, some that look "vintage," and quite honestly? Some rather ugly ones. 

But they're all, for the most part, good quality ties, and he'll be happy to wear them and they won't go to waste.

And no. I haven't finished knitting the green one that I started. I need to pull that out of the closet, but I also have to find the directions. I suppose it can't be that hard: it's all linen-stitch but I know somewhere, there were decreases. Just not sure where. 

Ravelry, here I come!

Random Picture...

Tippi has been extra-cuddly lately. Some days, she snugs right up against my chair. 

Today we had an adventure. We took them all to PetSmart to meet with our trainer. She had a 5-month old male Elkhound who needed a little exposure to other dogs. 

So, our "robo-dog" was called in. Quinn and Raisa had their chance, but Tippi was the main dog to do the most interaction with the pup.

Then, on the way out, she decided she had to poop out her excitement. A large, large, smelly poop. 

She's a low-squatter, and it was muddy. Suffice to say, there was clean-up involved. 

Anyway, she came home happy and somewhat pooped out (literally and figuratively) and promptly took a nap. Alongside my chair.  

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Progress, Always Progress...

Well, the shower is in May. Too soon for me! But I knit along and keep on going. 

Played a great game last night. Most knitters have played this game every so often: "Yarn Chicken." Soooooo - I was just about at the end of the first ball of yarn, and thought I could get pretty close. Boy. 

I did. 

As you can see here, this is what I had to work with. I'd just finished the first buttonhole row, and I noticed the working yarn was getting a tad skimpy. But I thought I could squeak out a few more rows. So I went on. And on. And I kept looking at the tail end. And then at the number of stitches I had left. And I wondered if I would make it to the end. Wondered if I'd have to tink back (tink = knit backward = "frog" = "rip it" [note: ribbit, ribbit = frog]). 

It turns out that I didn't have to, but whew! That teeny little tail there, above the needle? That's all that was left of Ball #1. I added Ball #2, and on we go. 

I know it's been a while, so I took a break to write this out. In spite of the Kollage square needles, which usually don't hurt, my hands are hurting. 

I think it's combined with the fact that I type a lot during my day job. Lots. Tons. Even on an ergonomic "natural" keyboard, I'm still typing probably 4 - 6 hours a day total. Not constantly, but a lot, and it takes its toll. 

Anyway, I have 5 more rows till the next buttonhole. I've got a new trick for these buttonholes: I bind off one more stitch, and I cast on one more stitch. It seems to make it more firm, and it seems to not get that little "gap" thing that I had in the last sweater. 

The sweater is coming along, and I think this week, I can make some significant progress. Hat and booties are next, and I have to look at how much of the green yarn will be left. I have some brown superwash, and I might use that as part of the booties, sort of like an accent if I need to. Or maybe I start the hat (or end the hat) with the brown. It'll work; I'd just rather have it all look the same. 

I really have to up my game. Knitting must be in the car so that I can get these projects done. I was waiting on a teacher to discuss a new workshop, and I brought some knitting to the studio. This is the striped socks, using Sole to Sole, and of course, I can't find the printed pattern. It's here. Somewhere. 

I'm thinking about making the Roman Rib socks again, using Opal (again), and doing the Strong Heel. I know - I said it here: "I'll never do THAT again!" 

But -- the "Orthodontic Diet" has been working well, and I've lost about 20 lbs. So I think I can go down to 64 stitches instead of the 72 stitches I was doing. The socks I have are now sort of baggy! 

The Sole to Sole (in the picture) are 64 stitches; we'll see how those work up. The side ribbing goes down the whole leg, apparently to "hold them up." And I'm hoping that the side ribbing doesn't stretch too far. Remember, I've got "biker calves." 

I'm trying to figure out if knitting at work is a good idea. You'd think it would be. But the culture there isn't such that I'd feel comfortable pulling it out of my bag. And lately, we've had a crunch of work pressures, so "lunch" is a distant thought. It's enough that sometimes, I pull out a novel. And at that, I feel guilty. 

Which is insane. 

Everyone needs a break. 

So I have a new knitting project bag. And it's amazing! I got it in exchange for a mug... Hey - barter works! 

It's a lovely "yoga" pattern, which fits, since I'm a yoga teacher and studio owner. 

I can't decide what to put into it yet. The baby stuff will stay in the red bag I always keep baby stuff in. It works for me to keep things consistent. The pattern always stays there, the needles always stay there. It's just convenient because I know that's the "baby bag." 

Easter Goodies...

So I saw these in the Target the other day. Now, since the "Orthodontic Diet," I haven't eaten a lot and I really won't do anything too sticky. It's sad, because truly -- Peeps are one of my favorites. Particularly if you leave them out in the air for 2 or 3 days, so they've got a slight "crunch" to them. It's a thing. I think I might be the only person in my family who eats them - or eats them that way! 

Our Easter celebration will be Palm Sunday, as usual. We're singing for Good Friday, Holy Saturday/Vigil, and Easter Sunday. 

Which brings me to a quandry. Due to circumstances, most of which have to remain confidential, we have a different organist for our Easter services. Of course, the most important services in the Church year. Yes, even moreso than Christmas. 

I'm a little worried. We really don't have a good handle on the music we're singing. I mean - all I know is that I'm doing a chant, and that's cool. I'm ready for that. 

It's the rest of the several services that worry me. It's in God's hands, I guess. And I hope She's got us covered!

Big Pharma, Big Gripe...

I'm very lucky. I have insurance. Hubby's policy has changed over the years, and we're now with a company which pays its CEO an insanely obscene salary. I'm not sure for what. But nonetheless - we're covered. Decently, but not like it was a few years ago. 

This is my seizure med. This is what I pay for the first refill. And I'm lucky this year, because the price dropped by a couple hundred bucks. It's been over $3,000 some years. 

Big Gripe #1: There's no reason this medication needs to cost this much. It's not new. Drug companies have bought and sold our politicians and they're kowtowing to their new corporate overlords, so we kind of get the stinky end of the stick. 

If I could take the generic? My cost would be about $17.00. Yes, SEVENTEEN bucks. 

So there's no end in sight; we don't know what the price will be at any given time. At this point, this drug is the "lobster" in the pharmacy... You know how, in those fancy restaurants, they say "Lobster" and then "market price." So you never really know how much you're paying. 

Big Gripe #2: Because my insurance company's CEO gets that obscene salary (no really, it's obscene... $66.13 million in 2014... and no, I don't know that this is actually correlated, but I can imagine!), I have the "delight" to have to pay a premium every time I refill. Because I'm unable to use the generic. 

And yes, I tried it. And I had break-through seizures. Not a cool thing. Generics, by law, have to be "similar" to the brand name. And "similar" in pharma talk means that often, they're a molecule or two different - maybe a different filler or a different component that works the same but doesn't violate the original patent for the brand name. And my doctor is trying to get me off the drug - we'll see if that works. But for right now? I'm stuck. 

So what this means is that, even though I've made our deductible for this year, I will STILL pay anywhere from $700-800 PER REFILL for the remainder of the year every time I need to refill this medication. Here's the math: I pay the $2439.55 at the beginning of the year. Then for the next 3 refills, I pay (let's round it out) $750/refill. Calculate, kids... 

That's $4,689.55. So let's round up and say $5,000. Five. Thousand. Dollars. And that's WITH insurance. 

Let's do more math... If I did not have insurance, that would be... $9,758.20. Let's round up and say $10,000. Ten. Thousand. Dollars. 

If I had no insurance. 

How can this happen in America? See the paragraph above about our politicians being bought and sold by Big Pharma and other lobbyist groups. 

We are not a Third World country. Yet. But there are great swaths of this country that may as well be. There are people who are still not covered by insurance. Who still have no access to basic health care. Who still die because of ailments that would, in a different community, in a different economy, be treatable and perhaps eliminated. 

The Orange Menace (a/k/a Twitler) tried to kill off the ACA. Thankfully, enough people came to their senses, courtesy of grass roots activism, and over 40 million people were able to keep their coverage. So now, of course, it's the fault of the Dems. Who "wouldn't play nice" and were "not civil." 

(Side note: Why must Dems be civil when they're being stomped on by totally uncivil Republicans?) 

So the ACA stays. For now. We need to get our heads out of our collective rear ends. Universal health care needs to happen. Or expanding Medicare. One of the two is feasible, if we want it bad enough. 

If we're the Christian nation some people claim we are (though we are not now, nor have we EVER been a Christian nation), then why is health care such a verboten topic? Why is health care not a right? Or only a right for the rich. Or the covered?

Random Picture...

We have a Franken-elkie... Quinn had a number of cysts removed, and as you can see, she's pleased. Not. 

Four of them. One of them burst as they were prepping her, and was deep into the muscle - the one along her back. It was, at one point, 4" long, under the skin. The one on her flank, near her tail, was removed, but since she was under anaesthesia, she pooped, and it got infected. There's also another one under her collar, which we've had to wrap, because she's in the Tube of Shame. 

I believe there was another one near her neck, but I can't tell - I'm trying to pet her where she's not shaved. She's a "patch-hound" now. 

Hopefully, this will be the last surgery for a while. Except our poor darling has to go to the doggie dentist, with a problem in her tooth. It doesn't keep her from eating, but we want to take care of it before it gets bad. 

Which is why I'll be working for a long, long time... 

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

A Baby, a Migraine, and Sleeves...

Well. It was happening eventually, but it happened last night... The baby "Pumpkin" was born last night. Our associate went into labor early, and after what I think was an insanely long labor, he was delivered via emergency C-section. Apparently, he was "sunny-side up" and never turned around. 

Little stinker. No pics. Well, I have a pic. But I have a "thing." I don't like to post baby pics on the internet. And, of course, it's not mine to post. If Mamma and Dad want to post, then go for it. But I'm not. 

Suffice to say, he's a nice size, and has a full head of hair. His first picture has him looking slightly befuddled, as if to say, "How the heck did I get HERE??" And being a C-section baby, he's a beautiful boy. 

Because, of course, he wasn't a pot roast trying to push through a Cheerio... 

Anyway, we're happy he's here, Mamma's sore and sleepy, and Boss Lady is slightly loony. But we'll figure it all out. 


It was inevitable. It had been months, and then I ran out of my magnesium supplement. I woke up at 3 a.m. this morning with a migraine. I worked through the day, with a dose of Excedrin Migraine, which kept most of it at bay. But I decided to skip the charity dinner Hubby and I were to attend. See, tomorrow is our office manager's last day before her vacation and we have a LOT to get done, particularly with rearranging schedules because we're one attorney short (in a 2-attorney firm). 

I figured that if I went and it was loud (which it usually is), or someone was unfamiliar with the fact that you don't YELL into a microphone (which they do), I'd likely not be able to cut the headache off at the pass, and I may end up missing work - which I can't afford. 

So at work, I also used my Deep Relief roll-on. It's a great Young Living product that contains a nice blend of essential oils. I put it on the back of my neck several times, and it helped me function. 

And of course I left it at work... Tonight, though, I'm going the Rx route - I need to deal with these while I can and get them taken care of before they get out of control. So I'm home now, waiting on Hubby to get back, whipping through this before the Rx takes hold and I get all sleepy. 


So we have sleeves. I put those on last night; and again - I fiddled with the original pattern. I added 10 more stitches to each sleeve to account for the smaller gauge of the Universal super wash wool. I think it works out. 

I would show you a picture, but for some reason, my computer doesn't see my phone tonight. Maybe it's me. Or the migraine. 

And it's ok - it doesn't look like much yet. I have my mug of Honey Chamomile tea here, I'll knit a bit more, take the next dose of the Rx and be ready for bed soon. Pictures will come later, when it looks like sleeves and not a formless blob. 

Women's Day...

So today was International Women's Day and also "A Day Without Women." I didn't participate in the "without women" part - especially since, well... baby, one attorney down, etc. And we're an all-women firm. We can make our point by doing our jobs. 

But I did wear red. The fundraiser was a "diamonds and denim" theme, so I did have on my jeans, a red sweater, a very obnoxiously gaudy pin and ... then I didn't go anyway.

I am pleased to see the increased activism. I think it's a good sign. More women than ever are running for office. More women are energized. Of course, there are problems because a good chunk of us are told we're supposed to "check our privilege." And I get it. 

Even though we're still paid less than men, I'm a white female who is college-educated. I'm a LOT better off than women of color, than gay or trans women, than immigrant women and indigenous women. 

But then again: still paid less. Still "graded" on how we look. Still in that "filter" that says even though I'm 59, I "should be" something or someone else. 

But I do get it. 

Women need to do a better job of lifting each other up. We don't do enough of that. We're still working on it. But we need to worker harder. Each of us has a unique gift to give. We need the space within which to give it. And we need to see it in each other. We don't - at least not very often. 

Random Picture...

Usually, I can dress Tippi up and she doesn't protest too much. She's gotten to be an expert at needing to "shake" and tossing whatever hat she has on. 

One year, I thought ears would be good. I'm pretty sure you can read her thoughts. 

She. Hated. These. 


She gave me a stink eye, and it was translated in my brain as, "Human, you'd better be able to sleep with your eyes open." 

Needless to say, we didn't ever do these at a therapy visit. She wasn't having it at all. This picture still cracks me up, but I've also never put the ears back on her. 

I wouldn't dare. 

Monday, March 06, 2017

As Time Goes By...

...yeah, I know. It's a song lyric. (You did know that, right?)

So it's been busy, which is why I got distracted. But I'm back tonight, and I thought I'd update everyone. 


The baby knitting continues, and I have a bit of a problem. The Universal super wash is slightly smaller than the Cascade super wash. I've done this pattern so many times, that it just felt "off" as I got to the middle of the back, where I was about ready to cast on for the sleeves. 

I'm about 1.5" or so short of the actual length I need. So I dragged out the schematic and decided --- surprise, surprise --- to actually READ the drawing and adjust my knitting. It's amazing... mainly that I thought enough to do that. 

So I've added 6 more rows to the back and I'll use my tape measure a lot on this one. And I've learned something valuable about changing up the yarn - you have to pay attention. 

It's coming along nicely, even with the blip. I picked out buttons, and polled my knitting group. I'm not going to tell yet... Comment - and let me know which ones you think would be better. I'm open to suggestion. 

I've put all my buttons in the same bag and hopefully won't lose them again. 

The gauge I'm getting is technically correct. It's correct for what the ball band says. It's a tad small for what the pattern says. But that being the case, that's where I found the schematic helpful. As I re-wrote the pattern into my notebook, I almost didn't put the drawing in there, but now I'm glad I did. 

Occasionally, I have these flashes. So I grab 'em while I can and make sure that I've got my knitting ducks in a row. I'm thinking another 2 weeks and the sweater will be done. Then, booties and hat. I may make the hat the same size, since it's just a rolled-brim straight knitted hat. I think the "toddler" size might be too big, but the "newborn" size will stretch, even if the baby's a bit of a chunky monkey. 

The booties? They'll be a bit larger. First off, the kid will be born in July - no wool booties then!! So I want to make those a bit bigger, provided I have the yarn of course, and he or she can wear them into the cooler weather. 

I've pulled all my stash and stuck it into another bag, which helps keep my current project bag halfway organized. Maybe I might (depending on the buttons chosen) have to add some of the black-and-white yarn from Little Manu's set I did last year. For cuffs, I think. But then again, with three balls of the Universal, maybe I'll be ok. 

What's Going On In the World...

OK, I'm so upside-down that I can't see straight. Boss Lady, a dyed in the (red) wool (R), said to me today, "I think Trump might screw us over."

Ya think?? 

The constant smoke-and-mirrors has really got so many of us in a tangle. It's a deliberate attack by puppeteers pulling his strings, because I don't think he's smart enough. Fool enough, yes. Greedy enough, OH YEAH. Stupid enough - undoubtedly. But not smart enough. He's letting others lead him by the nose. 

But what he IS good at is the proactive attack. The recent smear of President Obama, and the distraction that's caused has torn our attention away from the obvious problem of Russia. 

And that's just where the puppet-masters want our eyes. Not on the stuff they're pulling with rollbacks on clean air and clean water bills. Not on the stuff they're pulling with gutting essential agencies. 

But on the antics of a 2-year old trapped in an elderly man's body. Because he is elderly, folks. 

I'm picking and choosing what to react to. And I'm stepping away from the news when I need to. We have to do that. 

Because together, we can all contribute a little something and make changes where we need to make them. But individually, we'll be worn to nubs if we let ourselves. 

So be selective. Check your sources. Do your research. It'll help. You won't feel so adrift. 

The Weather is Nuts...

It's howling a gale out there. There are tornado warnings for south and west of us. A strong line of storms will likely play havoc. And it's going to be extremely lucky for us if our neighbor's dead tree doesn't take out our power lines. 

Welcome to March 2017. This followed February 2017, where the Chicago area had no measurable snow. 

Yes. You read that right. No. Measurable. Snow. 

Before you break into your springtime happy dance, let me break it down for you. 

No measurable snow points to the most obvious change in our weather patterns. So do the (now familiar and frightening) night-time tornadoes. 

No measurable snow means that, if the spring isn't wet, the farmers will be in real trouble. But yet - a wetter spring also means they can't plant early enough. 

And if it's not a wetter spring, then we're headed, California-style, into a drought. Which will be a death knell to many farmers, too. 

Have no doubt about it: this wacky weather isn't funny anymore. 

I just opened the back door because I thought something crashed into the deck. Caused the Elkhound Alarm System to activate and probably woke up Hubby. Yikes... 

Random Picture...

So Quinn's favorite spot as a puppy was in my lap. And it's been a while. And she's been wanting to get back there. So the other night, we took off the cone and she jumped up. And nestled in where she's used to snuggling. 

This is what 45 pounds of Norwegian Elkhound looks like when it thinks it's a lap dog. 

She stayed up on my lap for a good hour, nudging me to pet her and to hug her. I think sometimes she gets fearful and nervous and this calms her down. She's kind of a nervy dog anyway - always has been. But when she figures out that you're ok - you're fine. She attaches herself to you and wants to play or snuggle or just lay next to you so that you know she's "your dog." 

Or you're "her human." Haven't figured out yet which way she's leaning. 

Friday, February 24, 2017

Just a Short Note...

It's been a week... So here's a random list of "stuff."

1.  The baby sweater is coming along. I'd post pictures but my computer went haywire and I have the feeling it doesn't "see" my phone... That's ok. I've only got about 1" or so on it.

2.  Pumpkin Baby Set is going home this weekend, along with two lovely Young Living Essential Oils: Gentle Baby and Lavender. 

3.  I'm so sick and stunned at the crap going on in this country that I can barely verbalize it. That being said, I'm working on it. 

4.  The braces just got tightened this Monday. It's not as bad this time around. But I'm still not chewing. About 15 lbs. down. 

5.  Here are some pictures...  Is it heresy to put a Kindle in William Faulkner's lap? This is from Oxford 2016. 

I'm in the middle of reading his take on a murder mystery, "Intruders in the Dust." Once you get past the fact that the sentences are literally paragraphs long, and once you get past his use of the "n" word (remember the time and place - I'm not saying it's appropriate today. I'm saying it's appropriate given the time and place he was writing in), and once you figure out who's who, because jeeze - they're ALL related... It's a decent story. I think people believe I'm being a "snob" because I read Faulkner and Vonnegut and so many other odd writers. 

I'm not. I just like good literature. And I'm not above reading a "fluff" novel. It's good to clear your brain every once in a while. It's just that for me, I prefer fiction to history, though I really like historical fiction. And I prefer to dive into a book with some meat on its bones. 

6.  This is a horse that we met at the Kentucky Horse Park. These pics may be repeats, but like I said -- the phone went kerpluff as far as the computer is concerned. Anyway, this was a horse that managed to take a hankering to Kid #2 - who wasn't a horse fan. He only went there (a) because I was driving; and (b) because it was likely our last "literary trip" (though now he's heard that Emily Dickinson's house in Amherst is going to be opening up...). 

It's a Marwari Horse. Extremely rare in the US. And the Kentucky Horse Park has 2 of them. Maybe 3 - I can't remember. 

Anyway, this one liked The Kid. The other one we were able to see -- well, it let me pet it, that's all I can say. I'm losing my horse mojo to a kid who's not at all fond of them. What's THAT about??

7.  This is the dignified Norwegian Elkhound. Also known as the Norwegian ElkCLOWN. Quinn decided one day that "upside down and half off the couch" was a comfy position for a nap. And yes, I took her picture. Dogs are goofballs, and mine are particularly good at it. 

This is typical of an elkie. They get comfy and they don't care who knows it. She's been known to get up on the couch, in the middle, and s-t-r-e-t-c-h her skinny self all the way to both ends. The dog's made of rubber bands, I think. 

8.  Random picture: Be different. 

Be you. Be what you need to be. Don't follow the herd. 

It's up to each of us to find something in ourselves that's unique and capitalize on it. It seems that more and more, we're surrounding ourselves by like people: people who share our views. People who share our hobbies. People who share our jobs. 

And there's nothing wrong with that - though it could be argued that we should get out of our own "bubble" and listen to diverse views. 

I'll listen when they're not shrieking at me... I love a good discussion. Talking points, not so much. 

Anyway - find the "different" in you. And learn more about it. Have fun with it. Heaven knows, there's precious little "fun" left - we're all worried; some of us are scared. Some have given up to the fear. 

Take an inventory of yourself and above all, during that process BE KIND to yourself. I bet you'll find something about yourself that's uniquely YOU. And that's what makes you a wonderful person. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

I Found Them...

...the buttons, I mean. Jeeze. In my other knitting bag. Well, now I have enough to knit a LOT of baby sweaters!


The afghan is FINISHED. It looks really good; even though this happened at the end. I hate knots. I hate that sometimes there's no way to hide them...But I think I did ok with this one. It's buried in the middle of a row. I know you can't prevent them all the time, but why is it that they happen in gifts? 

Anyway, this is a very bulky, but yet light afghan. I like the way the colors blended together and I didn't have too much trouble with anything puddling. There are areas where the green stands out and there are areas where the cream stands out. It's nicely balanced. I think they'll like it; and it won't matter the gender because it'll go with anything. 

I have no idea of the decor of the nursery. They told my mom that they may not paint the room at all; right now it's a deep blue, and used to be my nephew's office. hint whether it's a boy or girl, and I don't care. This sage will go with anything. 

So here's the thing with "plain knitting." As you can see, it's a big block. Bordered by straight knit. And you really do have to have decent tension, but the gauge doesn't really matter a whole lot. 

I will tell you that my grandma was a stickler for tension. She would make me rip out and rip out. Till my tension was just the way she liked it. I got used to being able to read my tension and see where I'd maybe been a little "stressed" or maybe a little too loose. It's not gauge. It's tension and it's important with a whole whack of plain stockinette stitch. 

This blanket actually came together relatively quickly. So, in my world, even though it was an 8-hour afghan pattern, it took me most of 3 weeks, knitting on it just about every other day. Not too bad. I think this would be pretty in brighter colors, and maybe the next one will be something really splashy. I'm thinking a bright blue with red, or black with yellow? It could work. 

It would depend on the sweater set though. And that's what I started last night. It's in Universal Yarns superwash wool, an equivalent to Cascade 220. The color is called "Greenery." Original, right? 

Anyway, not sure what buttons, but it's my usual - the "New Arrival Cardigan," and of course, as I started it, I kind of panicked, thinking, "It's going to be too small..." But as we go on, I know it'll bulk out. 

Unfortunately, I can't find my one pattern with the notes on it. I have to look for it; for right now, I'm working off the original book. I know I had some specific notes, but I don't know what I did with them. I thought that they were in the red and black bag where the yarn for the sweaters is kept, but somehow the notes aren't there. It figures. Wonder if they're in another bag with more buttons?

I'm using Kollage Square needles with the soft cable. They're nice to work with and they really do make the stitches pop. Of course the yarn helps! But it seems like my tension (that word again!) is better with these needles. And the soft cable really works well - no boiling to make it un-kink. Right out of the package, it's good to go. 

After the sweater, it's the hat and booties. And then, maybe. If nobody else announces a baby, I can get back to knitting socks!

A girl can hope... 

It Was a Dark & Foggy Morning...

This was my view outside my window in the office. I couldn't see the top of the steeple at the old St. Mary Carmelite Church. That's the steeple, and the building in front is the public library.

Much of our downtown is made of local limestone - at least a good bit of it, if they'd stop tearing down the old stuff and putting up concrete cubes. Right out of the 70s, for sure!

Anyway, St. Mary Carmelite is an 1882 Gothic-revival church that's in hideous disrepair because the Diocese can't get its act together. The last "project" was in 2015 - where someone was supposed to renovate the structure for senior housing. But the lawyer next door objected, apparently. 

And now? It's falling apart. It used to be a vibrant church, and when the downtown area was thriving, the rectory next to it was full, and the community was alive. The photo to the right is what it used to look like before it really did deteriorate. I remember going there when I first worked downtown; Ash Wednesday services at noon were very popular. And it had a hopping "Shepherd's Table" in the church basement. 

But as downtown went the way of many downtown areas...the church has languished. 

This photo is of the nave. Note the stained glass over the area where the altar would have been. Note the arches. Note the pillars. 

As a singer, I can tell you that the sound hung there like Michael Jordan on a jump shot. This church was beautiful. 

And now it's near death. It's going to cost more to tear it down. All because nobody knows what to do with it. 

Joliet went through a phase of "tear it down, tear it down," and we lost a lot of landmark buildings. We have a courthouse that's in disarray because (of course) they tore down the lovely limestone edifice and put up a concrete paneled monstrosity that looks like it was upside down. 

My uncle, the one-time County Engineer, took one look at those plans and said, "If you go forward with this, I'm noting my objection now. The design is awful and you'll be out of room in a few years." He was right on both counts. 

St. Mary's ... it's a sad story. I've been hoping that Joliet officials will see some sort of sense. But it's not looking good. With the state's reputation as it is (no budget for 2 years, several governor in jail...) - it's not surprising that nobody wants to build or invest.

We supposedly have a new transportation center coming, and they've renovated the train depot in stages. But it's taking forever, because ... well, budgetary restrictions.  

What's sort of saving us are the intermodal facilities just outside of downtown. But then you have the trucks coming through downtown on streets not wide enough to handle a couple SUVs and a bus... Maybe once we see the new junior college building start to hold classes. Maybe when the Rialto Theatre gets its act together. Maybe the University of St. Francis campus will start to bring the kids back. There are good things. 

But to allow a building with that kind of history to decay? It's shameful. 

Random Picture...

This is Alex. Alex is a graduate student at the university where Tippi and I do our therapy work. Alex told me straight up that he was a German Shepherd kind of guy. He told me that he was going to have one when he was able to get back to Israel and start teaching at Bethlehem University, or as he calls it, "THE Bethlehem." 

Well. Then he met Tippi. Who gave him her best Elk-Clown grin, and proceeded to sit in his lap. He laughed. 

I'm told he hadn't had much to laugh about lately, from people who've worked with him. And I'm sure that with him being from Israel, he's got a lot on his mind. He's graduating in May. He's from a place where war is an everyday thing. I'm sure he's thinking about what it's like at home, and what the current administration in the US might -- or might not -- do with the relations between our two countries. 

Last night, we had another therapy visit. And Alex was there. And Tippi did her thing. They took many selfies. He showed me a picture of his friend's German Shepherd dog. And then he asked a lot of questions about Elkhounds. 

He's decided that Tippi is "the perfect size." He learned about their care and habits, and he learned that they can adapt to just about any climate. He's thinking...and I think he's thinking that an Elkhound in Israel is a distinct possibility. 

As usual, Tippi does her magic. 

Saturday, February 18, 2017

About 4 Inches...

...that's how much I think I have left on the afghan. I thought today was going to be the start of a 3-day "knit-a-palooza" because we have Monday off from work due to a court holiday. 

But I got sidetracked and then upset... 

Anyway, I measured just now. You knit the body to 30" and then do the 10 rows of straight knit to end the afghan, and I'm at 26" or so. Whew...the "8-hour" afghans do move along quickly, thank goodness!

That Guy at JoAnn Fabrics...

So I gave up. Pffffffffffthhhhhhh....I can't find the buttons. This morning, I hiked myself over to JoAnn Fabrics. Wheeeeeeeeeeeee - President's Day sale! And I bought buttons. At 50% off, thank you very much. 

Realistically, it would have to be a population explosion of epic proportions to run out of baby-sweater buttons now. But I got on a roll. I have several of the same style, but different colors, and I only duplicated one set, because I thought they were adorable. Each baby sweater takes 2 buttons, so I have enough for TWENTY THREE sweaters. I'm pretty sure I won't make 23 baby sweaters. At least, if I do, I hope they come bit by bit so at least I can knit something else in between. 

Of course, I saw elephants, AFTER I've finished the Pumpkin Set. And no, I'm not removing the buttons I put on that set. The elephant buttons are smaller, and I'm not going to re-work the buttonholes. 

I'm really loving the black polka-dot buttons. And the black swirly ones. Those are my top contenders for the apple green baby set. 

So The Guy... As I was standing in the button aisle, I heard a guy speaking to someone else; at first I couldn't hear the other person, but the guy was complaining rather loudly about some Velcro. He wasn't happy. He started to swear, and while I'm not a quivering lily, I thought, "Jeeze, you're in a fabric store. What's the problem?" 

A woman came up to pick out some buttons for a lovely dress she was making, and we looked at each other and said, "Wow...cranky much?" Mind you, he wasn't abusing the person he was with. He was just cranky. 

As I think about it, perhaps I should have gone around the corner just to see what was going on. We need to stand up to bullies, and I think I missed a chance. 

Then I bought this bag. Because it was cheap, it's a nice size for a small-to-medium project (like baby knitting), and I love the definition:

procrastiKNITing: To defer all other activities besides knitting. 

Yep. That's what I was doing today. I did go to the grocery store, but my plan was to get in, and stay in, a knitting groove. However, the best laid plans often go awry. And they did. 

Essential Oils Workshop...

At the studio, two of my friends did an essential oils workshop about the Premium Starter Kit, which is what I call the "gateway" to essential oils. This is a neat kit: eleven oils plus a diffuser, plus some extra goodies, for $160. The oils themselves would cost over $300, so it's a great deal. 

They went through the various oils and how to use the diffuser. And another person in our oils group was there. Well, let me say this: She was AN HOUR late, which is annoying. She brought a kid in, which is normally not a problem, but the kid was hacking through the entire presentation. One of my friends said that she and her family had all been sick recently. I don't have time to be sick. 

And she was rather obnoxious. 

Look, we're very careful about being in compliance. In that, I mean, I will never tell anyone, "Hey, if you have a hangnail, then tea tree oil will cure that, so buy some from me." 

First off, the oils are 100% therapeutic grade, and they're pure. But they're not a cure-all. It's against the rules to say they "cure" anything. They do some nice things, but we study compliance issues and make very sure that we are correct in what we say and we don't make false claims. And secondly, we don't "sell" the oils. If you're interested, I can show you how to get them, but I'm a really awful salesperson (seriously, I can't even sell Tupperware...) and so Young Living Essential Oils fits me to a T -- they don't sell. 

The Late Chick was making some statements that I thought crossed a line, claiming that "Oil X cured my kid's anxiety" and a few other things. Then, she interrupted one of my friends to drag her attention away from someone she was talking to. And then she poached one of my students. 

That crossed a  line. And THEN -- she stayed. And stayed. And stayed. The workshop was to be 90 minutes. I came to the studio at 12:30 and I didn't leave till nearly 4 p.m. 

No, I wasn't happy. Luckily, I didn't have a class right after that. 

In talking with my friends, we agreed that we'll do these workshops again. There are some neat products I'm using that have reduced the toxins in my house. But this Late Chick? She's no longer welcome to the studio. 

Kid #1...

I finally broke down and did The Google to find out how long it would take if I was going to invite myself to visit Kid #1. 

A little over 10 hours. So I texted him and told him that at some point, I was going to invite myself over. He was enthusiastic (he really loves where he lives) and did warn me that I'd have to find a hotel, because there's no room at the house. Which is fine. I prefer it that way, to be honest. 

Hubby said, "You should take 2 days to drive out there." Pfth. Ten hours? That's a lot of Radio Classics and a nice drive. Now to see when the boss will take her umpteenth vacation and see when I can get a week in. 

The Orange Menace...

Well, I've avoided it for a while now, but I can't avoid it any longer. When Fox News people are saying this idiot is unhinged? Well, the great THUMP you heard was the world falling off its axis. 

My mother is scared of what's going to happen. I'm scared for the future of the country, and I'm scared of what will happen locally. Not scared to the point of paralysis. But aware and attuned to what's going on. 

I'm more involved in actual activism. The FB "click and share" stuff is nice, but I'm writing letters and making phone calls to my representatives, writing letters to the editor, etc. and I feel like I'm at least rippling the surface a bit. 

I can't fix it. But I can help. Even a little bit. 

Each of us can pick a cause we're passionate about. Learn more about it. Become the "resident expert" and then work for that cause. It's important. Our democracy -- our democratic republic -- works better when we're paying attention and doing our share. 

Random Picture...

Her highness wanted a belly rub. Right now, she's behind my chair, waiting for me to finish this so we can toddle off to bed. She was insistent about the belly rub. And she cares not one whit that knitting (at least for me) can't be done one-handed. 

Nope. Doesn't bother her that she's interfering with a schedule. All the better for her, in her opinion. 

Of course I gave in. Wouldn't you? Yes, you would. You know it and so do I.

And more importantly, so does she!