Tuesday, January 24, 2017

249,000 of My New Best Friends...

THE hat...
I marched. Chicago. 250,000 strong. 

It was amazing. Pictures. I took some pictures but like an idiot, I didn't bring the "big camera." My phone died early. But here's what I have... 

On a packed train, a woman was giving out fleece "kat hats" - and no, I will not use that word. So my new friend Dawn and I got one. Our friend Sue had the foresight to crochet her own. I wasn't really sure I was going to wear one, but I thought, "What the heck..."

The train was packed. Men, women of all ages, and even kids and babies. 

So many signs. All kinds. Stuff I would be embarrassed for my mom to see (and frankly, she'd have WRITTEN some of those...), but others witty. Pithy, pointed. happy, sad, pointed. 

The crowds kept coming. And coming, and coming. The initial estimate of 75,000 blossomed and flowered. We took over Grant Park. We stood on every inch. Every. Inch. of the walk route. 

Four news choppers and a drone overhead. Sun. We started with a real pea-soup fog, and I thought, "Wow, this is going to stink - we won't be able to see 3 feet in front of us." 

We found a spot along the fence. We weren't sure what to expect, but the crowd was ... peaceful. Joyful. Purposeful. 

Everyone felt a sense of "we're here for a reason," even though those reasons were as varied as the people who were there. 

My friend Dawn walks with a cane. The people around us didn't crowd her, they even said, "Watch for the bump here," or "There's a curb, do you need a hand?" Everyone was kind. 

I can say that "I sang with the cast of Hamilton" because two of the cast members came out to speak, and we sang, "Let it Be." My friends looked at me and said, "Wow - you CAN sing!" 

As you click on the pictures, you'll be able to see some of the signs. People gradually started opening up their "puffy coats" - hey, it's Chicago. We NEVER expect decent weather in January. Speaking of which, pick out the climate change sign! One of my favorites. I almost didn't grab my sunglasses, but boy, was I glad I did!

The crowd was easily 30 - 40% men. Again - of all ages. Many carrying signs and proudly proclaiming their own feminist creds. 

And yes, men can be feminists. Like the t-shirt says: "Feminism is the radical notion that women are people." My boys would agree with that - and state it loudly whenever they can. 

Lots of signs for women's rights. Lots for Planned Parenthood. Lots for LGBTQ rights. As I said - this march was for each of us. Each of us was there for a different reason. And we supported each of us for ourselves and our reasons. 

What I mean is that if you were there marching for women's rights, and I'm there marching for Planned Parenthood, we chatted. We thought about ways to get both of our causes advanced. We brainstormed. We actually socialized!

Speaking of which - we apparently overloaded the grid! We all lost the cell signal for a couple of hours. That's ok. 

There were plenty of people to talk to!

A gay couple was there with their daughters. Dad #1 had a sign that said, "Women's Rights are Human Rights," and I thought, "Jeeze dude - that's awesome, considering that you just got the right to marry your husband!" A woman was handing out hot-pink hats, and one of the little girls asked for one. She was adorable. 

Some of us protested before. Some of us were old hands at this. Some were first-timers. And we all came together for the day. 

My selfie skills stink!
When the organizers announced the shift from "march" to "rally," it was cool. Nobody moaned. Nobody complained. The crowd started to disperse, but as well, people were still coming in - you can see the photos where people ringed the park. 

Oh, and we stayed off the grass. We were told to stay off the grass. So we did. 

As we drifted off, we actually "inadvertently" marched. We had to get back to our train, right? So we figured we'd take over the city as well. 

Which we did. The crowd swelled and moved, and even among all that humanity, my friend found her daughter-in-law and sister. They joined us on our way back. We all laughed and pointed out signs to each other. Pictures were taken. Those who had batteries were able to text by then, so we were able to get updates. 

We were so jazzed to see the numbers! For a while there, the Chicago march was the largest one next to Washington DC. Drat LA -- they beat us, but ours was still the best!

Even the police - super helpful and cheerful. I know there's been a lot of bad press for the Chicago PD, but they were quite pleasant. 

There were no arrests. There were no scuffles. Nationwide, according to various sources, there were only four arrests. Nationwide. There. Were. Only. Four. Arrests. 

Think about that. Four. 

A couple million people marched. There were only four arrests. 

As we marched back toward the train station, a group of kids were on the top of the subway shelter with a bullhorn. "This is what democracy looks like!" was the chant. 

This is "our" fence
A few of us oldsters started singing the Helen Reddy power anthem, "I am Woman, Hear Me Roar." I forgot some of the words, but hey - the chorus was a good one!

We headed toward the Federal Plaza. At one point, marchers branched out toward the river, to continue the rally down toward the NBC plaza. We chose to go on toward the train station. We stopped at the Chicago Board of Trade plaza for a few moments. 

By the way, you can't sit on the statues. Or lean on them. Or sit on the fountain. And there are no benches. Dawn has two torn meniscii in her one knee and she needed a rest.

Did you know that the stop-and-start walking is more tiring? It is. So she tried to sit or lean on the statues or the fountain. A very nice woman with a walkie-talkie suggested she move toward the fire hydrant. 

One should not sit on a fire hydrant. It's not comfy. But it helped her rest for a moment. We cut through the CBOT plaza and rearranged our return plans to take a different train home. To get to our original train would've meant another mile or so, and Dawn had had enough. 

But before that, as we were just passing the Federal Plaza, a man put his hands around his mouth and chanted, "Their bodies, their choice!"

The women around him responded, "Our bodies, our choice!" 

Then 3 other men joined him. We responded. 
My favorite...

Three more men joined him. We responded. 

It grew and grew till about 20 men were chanting and the women were responding. 

I get goose bumps. 

It was a great day, in spite of the fact that I was hungry and there was nothing I could eat with my braces (man, do my teeth hurt!). I know - First World problem, right? But either way, it was a great day. 

To those who say, "it was anti-trump," I say No. It wasn't. Entirely. The table was large and there were chairs enough for all. Yes, there were some anti-trump signs. There were signs about love and peace. There were signs about women's rights. There were cat signs aplenty. 

It wasn't a one-issue march. And if you reduce it to that, then I'm sorry for you because you've missed the point. 

This was a few million people coming together to join forces. Not to divide. We've had enough division. We've just proved that diverse interests can come together and share space without anyone's brain exploding. 

I came home pleasantly tired and buzzed. I mean, I couldn't sleep the night after the march. 

We made history. We were part of it. We did it. 

Now... keep the momentum going. Do something. 

I have plans. Do you?


So - I have to start baby knitting again... (sigh). I'm not saying I don't want to... But I was enjoying my break from baby stuff, and working on a really nice pair of socks. More pics will follow in the next entry, because I'm still working through all the March pictures. 

So I do have to finish the Shape-It, and I'm going to pick out some yarn for a new hat-sweater-booties set. The baby is due in July. 

I'm now the only sibling with no grandkids and none on the horizon. No worries. I'm fine with that. 

I have NO time to knit this!! Yikes. Better get moving!

Till next time then!

Scroll down for the rest of the pictures. 

Look at the people on the other side of the fence





They just kept coming... 






Saturday, January 14, 2017


...on so many levels.

New Glasses...

I got new glasses. A new prescription and different frames. I love the frames. They're a radical departure from what I've had, and they're a bit larger. So there's more real estate for the Varilux lenses. Swarovski frames, believe it or not... Here's what they look like. I was trying to move away from the purple, only to see that these are called "violet." Guess I can't get too far away from my favorite color, even on purpose!

And I can't find the sweet spot. I can't see in the middle distance unless I tip my head far back. Which we know is unsustainable, right? 

So I can't see my computer screen. I can only see the laptop screen (upon which I'm typing as we speak) unless I tilt IT back farther than normal - to keep my chin level. 

I noticed something odd the Saturday I got them; I went to a workshop and wondered why things didn't feel right. Then I knitted a lot - see below - and I looked up every 40 minutes or so, and thought, "What??" Maybe I'd been knitting a long time. Maybe I just need to adjust my gaze. After a week, I came to the conclusion that I need to go back to the eye doctor. 

Anyway, I'm set to go back to the eye doctor on Monday. I tried to work around it because I thought, "maybe the Rx changed enough that I have to get used to it." I could see in the doctor's office, but even though they made me read a little card, I should have thought about looking at a computer screen. 

Hopefully, she can fix what's wrong. Note to self: Don't forget to bring your old glasses!


...and I was at the BIND-OFF on the Shape-It scarf. Then this happened. I swear, I don't know. I don't think I dropped a stitch. Two knitter friends said "just pull it back together with a crochet hook and anchor it with extra yarn." I'm not ripping it all the way back. But I'm unsure how that's going to look when it's blocked. 

Crap. Crap. Crap. 

I think I might have pulled something. I don't think it's dropped, because when you see the rest of it, there's no "runner." It's not like a dropped stitch fixes itself. 

My biggest worry is the blocking and the potential for popping an already weakened area. I've read enough knitting blogs to know the "disaster in waiting" which could happen if it's not blocked properly. Or if it's not fixed properly. 

And as with all good knitting - right now, it's in Time-Out till I can wrestle with a solution. I haven't even bound it off, though I suppose I should do that part, at least. Then I'd at least have a "partial" F/O to work with. 

Oh well. It gives me time to figure out how in the heck I'm going to block it out, too. The rubber tiles are going to take up some room. 

This is its replacement. Another sock! It's a Vanilla pattern, but with a nice variation: 2 sets of 3-column ribbing along each ankle, which keeps the socks from slouching. 

This is kind of an experiment for a couple of reasons. I'm using my 1.5 Cubics DPNs, and Sirdar's "Sole to Sole" which seems a little rough to me. 

The colorway is SH0052 and Lot No. 163089. This yarn is a little rough - much like Opal when you're knitting on it. But I believe it's going to soften up once it's washed and blocked. 

It's a nice self-striping colorway and I think it's going to fit this pattern quite well. The pattern is "Vanilla Socks!" from My Knitted Heart. You can find it here. As you can see, she uses a self-striping yarn as well. 

I'm doing my "patented" (ha) 4-knit roll on the top. And part of the experiment (aside from a new yarn I've never used before) is that I'm doing these at 64 stitches. 

The Sweet Georgia sock was done on 72 stitches, and it's a little too slouchy. So here's the experiment: Is this sock going to be too small? Is it going to fit well? 

I can tell you that my tension is a little...tense. I don't know why; I'm deliberately trying to loosen up. And I think that as I get farther down the leg, it may loosen up. I'm hoping for a 7" leg - maybe 7 1/2" - not sure yet. Depends on if I get bored. I need at least a 7" leg for my own comfort. 

I always panic. I get itchy thinking that I'll "run out" of yarn when I know full well that a 7" leg isn't going to do too much damage with 400+ yards of yarn! But it still freaks me out a bit... This time, I'll try to have more patience. 

Maybe you can see why the 64-stitch size kind of freaks me out: the first few rows looked awfully small! But I think it'll be ok. I've done a couple on 64 stitches, and they've fitted ok. Nothing to do now but press on. 

Essential Oils and Sole...

I'm trying to be a bit more consistent with my use of Essential Oils, and I'm also trying to incorporate a sole (pronounced so-LAY) - a salt detox.

It sounds funny, but sole uses Himalayan salt - with lots of trace minerals. Those trace minerals are often missing in our diets. But replacing them can be daunting. The sole uses water that's infused with this natural salt, and you take about 1/2 tsp. in a glass of water first thing in the morning. Helps for hydration, regulating blood sugar and balancing out the pH in the body. I tend toward the acid side. I can take the finish off a sewing needle, and I have to be careful of the metals that I'm in contact with. 

We'll see how this works. I just have to remember to do that BEFORE grabbing my morning tea. And I admit: I'm a creature of habit. I stumble toward my steaming mug of tea each morning, so I have to make a slight side trip. 

As far as the Essential Oils, I've been diffusing Eucalyptus Globulus in my room every night. It not only adds more humidity (and my nose says "thank you!"), but the properties of the Eucalyptus include improved breathing. 

And every morning, I like to add a little Tangerine to my water. When using essential oils in water, you need to use a glass container. Really good - therapeutic grade - essential oils will mess with plastic. So use glass. Reusable, can be recycled, and doesn't hold a "taste." Sometimes, with my plastic bottles, they hold the flavor of whatever I have in there; whether it's tea or water with a cucumber or lime slice, it never seems to come as clean as it could. Glass cleans up much more nicely, too. 

If you're going to use essential oils internally, please seek out a qualified aromatherapist or practitioner. Not everyone should use every oil. Some oils affect people differently, and there are oils which should not be used if you have certain medical conditions. Be careful and do your research, with the help of someone who knows what they're doing. 

Just Breathe Yoga Studio...

So we've been doing a little updating at the studio. We took off the old plastic film on the windows, put up new, light-blocking curtains, and got a lovely salt lamp for the space. 

We also have a booster for the cell signal, but we have to ask the landlord for permission to put it on the roof. The reception, when it's inside the studio, isn't much better than "no booster" and we need a stronger signal. 

Oh, and we have a new screen for the front door. That screen is the "signal" that a class, a private session or a workshop is going on. We have (as you can see) no "vestibule" and no "waiting area" - you walk in, you see the entire space. 

It's been fun to see the expressions of some of the students. Much like when we repainted, they come in and look around and pause... "Did you do something different here?" Yep. We did. It's nice to have curtains you can open again, and as you can see from the transom area (above the door), the film has a bit of a haze on it. It's like a greenhouse film, so the condensation will be minimal - if any. And that means the teachers can open the curtains on a nice day and let in a bit of natural light. 

The Burning...

I thought about a Burning Ritual for the New year. I took apart the numerous "weight loss" notebooks. Grabbed a tin tray, a little bit of dirt, a candle and a book of matches. 

The dirt is a safety measure. The candle is in the center of the dirt pile. The tin contains the fire - since I don't have a fire pit or other kind of container. 

Found a spot outside, away from the wind. 

Then I sat down and thought about it. What do I want from 2017? What do I need to release? Am I nuts? 

It took me about 10 minutes to think about it. 

Then I wrote a bit. I arranged my various bits of paper in a stack and tried to get the matches lit. It's not that it was all that windy. Maybe it was that the matches were old. Maybe I've lost the skill of lighting an actual match, now that we use "flame sticks" more often!

Anyway, I'm sure my neighbors thought I was slightly nuts. It was hard to get things going, but the candle did help. Once the candle was lit, it did help the papers catch. I layered them, with twigs, to keep things going. After the lists were burned, as I watched each weight, each step, each measurement - as they folded up in the flames and turned to ash, I thought about the "release" part of it. 

I thought about those bits of paper turning into pieces of carbon, which I dumped into the garden for next year's tomatoes. I thought about what those pieces of paper represented. My ambitions at the time. My efforts. Sometimes the futility. Often, the disappointment. The valuation of my Self as a number. Reduced to the fact of my weight and the number of steps I took. Summarized by the digits on a tape measure, faithfully written down and preserved for posterity. 

Are those things me? They were. Are they me now? I'm not sure. I consciously burned the papers. But did I internally absorb the actual action of burning - of shedding - of releasing the compulsion to document my life in the framework of my weight, my exercise. My concentration on my own physicality. My own obsession with my outward self. 

Not my inner self. My inner self which can be incredibly self-critical, demeaning, judgmental -- all toward my outer self. 

Why do we do that to ourselves? Seriously, I blather on about not dyeing my hair, about not wearing make-up, about not being vain. I'm not a style maven. I'm not even inclined to regard the latest fashions as anything I'd put on my body. 

But not often because of the styles. Often, it's because I think, "Oh, I'm too fat for that." Or "I'm too old for that," though there's some validity in not being mutton dressed as lamb... 

I've thought about what that burning represented for me. I've already re-purposed one of the "Exercise Logs" as a knitting notebook. But I still cogitate - I still roll around in my head what I'm learning about myself, what I feel as I stare down the fast-approaching 60th year of my life. 

I'd recommend doing a burning ritual once at least. Try it with something you need to release. It certainly has stuck in my head and has given me a lot to think about. 

Random Picture & Political Commentary...

Raisa. When she hears the Cheetoh Troll. Just kidding... She does this quite often. 

Though I'm really not kidding about the Cheetoh Troll. That scares me. I'm not sure where our nation is headed and I'm not liking what I'm seeing so far. From the number of people who don't know that the Affordable Care Act actually IS "Obamacare" to the dismissive and dictatorial way the Cheetoh Troll handled the first-ever press conference. To the refusal to release tax returns. Twitter. The outright, blatant and accepted lies. The obvious, salivating, nearly-wetting-their-pants eagerness of Congressional Republicans to repeal the ACA and cause untold damage not only to our economy, but to the lives of the millions of people who are covered. 

The oldest, whitest, most male Cabinet in history. Or as my mother calls it, "The Cabinet of the Walking Dead." 

The specter of the disappearance of everything we as a society have fought for. That some have died for. That the young women coming after us will not have the rights and opportunities we've had. 

I'm not going to "get over it." And I'm not going to "give the benefit of doubt" to a pathological liar with obvious urges to be Dictator-in-Chief. I haven't figured out what I'm going to do yet, but I can no longer sit on the sidelines.

Or hide my head in the couch. Can you?