Sunday, March 18, 2018

Some News . . .

I'm excited to share that, after a hiatus of a little more than two years, my video podcast, All About African Violets is returning to production!

I started the podcast back in 2012.  This time - for Season 3 - the site has had a facelift, and the social media presence of the podcast has been increased.

Even as I have been down for the count with a relatively serious lung and sinus infection this past week, I've been happy to be working on the show again.  I have some great help with all things digital this time, as well as a professional video editing program.  Both of those things are making everything a LOT easier.

I also have some new equipment to work with and I'm shooting now in HD - which, so far as I can tell, just makes me look older and fatter  :-D  But the picture is great and I think it's going to be wonderful overall.

I posted a short trailer on the All About African Violets website (it's too large to post here).  I hope you'll take a look!

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

It's February . . .

I'm here. 

I've been having a flare of inflammatory pain across the top in my left foot since January 16th. 

It's The No-Fun Plan and it's directly caused by having too much sugar.  Again.  At the moment, even dried fruit is too much.  So it's back to the full dose of my anti-inflammatory and no added sugar.  It's clearing, but it will take awhile for it to clear fully.

My Snow-Day earlier this month was exceptionally productive - I got a lot of batch cooking done and I did get that kitchen bar cleared and all the Christmas stuff put away  :-)

February always seems like the longest month even though it's the shortest.  I don't like to wish my time away, but it's been a tough month all around.  Another school shooting, and closer to home on February 13th, the murder of Chicago Police Commander Paul Bauer.  Shot by a career felon wearing body armor and carrying a modified automatic weapon.  At a stairwell at the Thompson Center. Less than two blocks from my office.  In the Loop (downtown Chicago).  The entire city was heartbroken. 

I was affected by Cmdr. Bauer's death more than I can say, even though I did not know him.  I'm not so naive to think that all cops are good cops, but I was raised to respect the police who work so hard to keep us safe in this city that I call home; and by all accounts (including from a personal friend who knew him), this man was one of the best.  He was 53 years old, a 31-year veteran of the Chicago Police Department.  He left behind a wife and 13-year-old daughter.  So yes, in case you were wondering, it's quite possible to support our police and armed forces and not be conservative in one's politics.  I spoke with a police sergeant in front of the Thompson Center a few days after the event to thank him for his service and express my condolences on Commander Bauer’s death. I was having a hard time putting in to words why I’ve been so affected by his death when I didn’t even know him personally.  The sergeant thanked me, and said, “We’re all in this city every day. One City. One Family.” It just seemed so right somehow for him to say that. I’ve lived a lot of places and I always come home. Chicago and those of us who live and work here are different than any other place I have ever lived. We truly are one city and one family. 

I was walking back across the Loop (Chicago's downtown business district) to my office (and car) after seeing the Dentist two Fridays ago. The Loop was relatively empty for a Friday night.  Heading Northwest . . .

The famous Picasso in Daley Plaza at the Daley Center - the flags were at half-mast in memory of Cmdr. Bauer.

Kitty corner from the back of the Daley Center, is the Thompson Center.

 The stairwell at the right front of the Thompson Center where people have left flowers and lit candles for Cmdr. Bauer.

And so - February - not the greatest month this year.  But for me, the days continue to pass and I am grateful for every one I am given.  My office is preparing to move to a new building at the end of April, I watched quite a bit of the Olympics, I'm crocheting a scarf, and I'm knitting a sweater.  I'm practicing Tai Chi and learning Tai Chi Sword.  My Lenten challenges have been not so successful (I only made it four days without potatoes). But I am grateful for the routine of my simple life.  Every day we wake up, is a gift. 

Friday, February 9, 2018


My firm has never, in the nearly 14 years I've worked there, had a snow day.

Hot Dog!!!

It snowed all night and it's going to snow all day today.

My work is cut out for me, and now I have an extra day in which to do it!!!

Yes, that's the Christmas tree peeking through over on the left, and yes the bar is a wreck.  Some of that, however, is from my grocery run last night, which was an adventure in itself (more later on that).

For now, however, the cooking/freezing weekend begins early, and I have the GIFT of this day to get so much accomplished.

I'm off to put EWF on the stereo and start my engines!



Thursday, January 25, 2018

Catching it Up . . .

So . . . um . . . tune in tomorrow turned in to weeks, but I was given the unexpected gift of time this morning when my trainer called off.

The chicken in the Instant Pot turned out quite well, and the mini size is perfect for one or two people.  I even made space for it on my counter - which says a lot - I don't leave much out on the kitchen counter.  I haven't used it since, but I'm sure I will be  :-)

I did end up having to take a second day off from that cold/flu combo, and I'm still pretty tired from it - been getting as much extra sleep as possible these past weeks.

No progress on the Weight Watchers front, but Freestyle is still My style for sure.  I had a 4 pound gain the first week of January (probably backlash from the tail end of holiday eating as well as weird eating from being so ill), and I have been losing it again ever since.  So progress has slowed a bit there, but it's still progress.  :-) 

The weather has been pretty awful here in Chicagoland.  We were in the deep freeze again for weeks.  It snowed at Christmas and then it was so cold that, for the first time in probably a decade, I just couldn't get out there and clear my driveway.  I drove on it, snow and all, for days, and finally when the temps got up to 18 degrees, I was able to get out there.  But I had to do it by shovel because I hadn't gotten the snow blower prepped for winter. 

I've been thinking about trying to find someone to do my driveway.  My lawn guys come out from the city, so having them do it isn't practical - I really was at  loss to find someone local.  Lo and behold, a guy in a red pickup stopped right as I was nearing the end of the driveway.  Long story short, I now have a local guy to do my driveway for what I think is a very reasonable price.  Answered prayer for sure.  He even does the sidewalk in front of my house!  Yay!!!  I'm so grateful - even with the snow blower I have it takes at least 45 minutes to do the driveway.  I'm just thrilled to give up this outdoor chore!  And, interestingly enough, this guy used to do the driveway and the lawns for the former resident - you'd think she could have left me that info a million years ago, wouldn't you?? 

Most importantly in the weeks since my last post - I participated in the second Women's March Chicago - March to the Polls.

More on that soon  :-)

Should be a little warmer again today - yesterday I was extremely grateful for the cleats I have for my hiking boots because it was a skating rink with black ice everywhere. 

I'll leave you with a new one from Katy Perry . . .

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Ghost in the Machine . . .

So, um, I picked up my Fitbit this morning to toss it in the bag with all the dead batteries.  And it turned on and was fully charged.

I'm like Really?!

So, I guess I'll be ready with the Zip when my One finally does croak, but you know I put it right back on, all conspiracy theories gone  ;-D

It was 12 below this morning.

I stayed home another day, but tomorrow I'm going in (unless this brutal cough is still ridiculous) - it won't matter how cold it is.  I made a quick run to the PO in my pj's with sweats over and all my regular outside gear this morning.  The windchill is awful.  I really hope it warms up before January 20th - which is the Women's March in Chicago

Here's my project for dinner.

Tune in tomorrow . . .

Monday, January 1, 2018

Happy New Year!

2018 is here.  I'm glad of it  :-)

I'm also glad to have had these days off - it's very likely that will take a day and stay home tomorrow for one more day - that will be the last dose of the Z-Pac, and while I have the side-effects from the Tamiflu  under control now, there's no controlling my intestinal tract until I've finished taking the Z-Pac.  I'm still coughing like a fiend, so there's that, too.

This happened today:

That's the carcass of my Fitbit One.  It gave up the ghost this morning.  Ever since Fitbit's most recent software update my One had been requiring charging every few days rather than its former every couple of weeks.  I thought maybe mine was just old, but I started hearing the same thing from other One users.  Coincidentally (I think NOT) when I went out to the website to buy another, I found that Fitbit had discontinued the One.


As long as I charged mine up, it kept going - but as ill as I've been the past week, I neglected to get it in to the charger until this morning.  It wouldn't charge.  The conspiracy theorist part of my mind is wondering if Fitbit caused it to not recharge.  You know, like it would keep going unless you let it run down completely (or unless you cancelled your premium account which I did a few weeks ago).  Maybe letting run down all the way would trigger it not to recharge at all.  All just guesses and conjecture on my part, but since we all know what Apple just did to some of its older iPhones it really doesn't seem that far-fetched, does it??

In any case, it's dead as a door nail and I'm going to miss it terribly.  I went out an ordered a Zip from the Fitbit website - which OF COURSE is back-ordered for weeks because all the people who can no longer get a One ordered a Zip.  How does Fitbit not get that not everyone wants a tracker on their wrist????  I have a Bellabeat that I'm wearing in the meantime, but it doesn't sync with my WW app so I'll be glad to get the Zip when it eventually shows up.

Why is change so hard?

I think I'm whinier than usual because I still feel pretty punk.  (That's my story and I'm sticking to it  ;-) )

Tonight's dinner was going to be an experiment with my new Instant Pot.  I ended up giving the big one to my cousins and buying the smaller size for myself.  However, I decided that today was not actually a good day to experiment with a new appliance.  So, I put a potato in the oven and had some comfort food for dinner.  :-)  High points.  Super worth it.

This Neil Gaiman quote rolled across my FB feed yesterday:

And this song has been in my head for days (I love these guys), so I'll leave you with them  :-)

Sunday, December 31, 2017

And Now it's New Year's Eve . . .

December is a busy time of year for everyone, I think.  I've been laid low with what Urgent Care thought was probably the flu, even though I didn't have a fever.  The chills and aches led them to treat me with Tamiflu and also a Z-Pac.  The side effects of these drugs are really the No-Fun Plan, but at least I'm vertical today, and I have tomorrow off, so I'm hopeful that I will have the energy to go back to work on Tuesday.

The Tamiflu causes nausea unless I take it with food, and the Z-Pac, being a pretty strong antibiotic gives me diarrhea.  TMI?  So it goes around this joint  ;-D

I'm going to attempt to recap everything that I think needs a recap as we close the books on this very difficult year.

Here's a tune to listen to while you read:

My Health

As they say (whoever they are), when humans make plans, God laughs.  Back on January 8, 2017 I blithely pronounced that after about two years of wonky health issues, that 2017 was going to be my year to take charge of my health and the size of my ass.

Ahem . . .

February's Kidney Stone Incident and my torn retina in March dominated 2017 for me.  I'm fine now (other than the flu), though, so that's great.  Again, if you want to know how to prevent kidney stones, catch up with Jill Harris.  She's made such a difference for me.  I still have a follow-up 24-hour Urine Collection that I need to do (that I should have done in October . . .).  It's going to have to wait a little longer until I'm off all these flu drugs.

So - 2017 was all about me, but not quite in the way I had hoped. 

The Size of My Ass

I still haven't figured out an easy way to make a table in blogger, so I don't have a chart to show, but I can tell you that Weight Watchers' Freestyle is working really, really well for me.  It took me all year to get through two emergency surgeries early on, but since I returned to WW on December 7th, I'm down 16.2 pounds.  Yay Me!  I'm not strictly ovo-pescetarian again after all for a variety of reasons - one of which is that I found out that eggs cause me severe intestinal distress (see above for the description of what happens to me when I have to take a Z-Pac . . . need I repeat?  I think not.).  I've clearly developed a sensitivity to eggs.

Tai Chi

I'm still studying it, and I'm also now studying Tai Chi Sword.  One thing I would like to do in 2018 is more of both of these forms.  It's time for me to build practice time in to my days rather than just relying on the time I get to spend in class learning from Sensei Joe.

Clearing my Space

I've done better with this this year.  It's not perfect, and, as usual, I still have a bag going for the Second Chance Shop, but I was able to continue to divest stuff throughout this year.

The House in General

Had to have a few repairs last month, but nothing major - just general maintenance.  There are a few things that I probably should look at getting accomplished in 2018 . . . I'm not keen on it, though, and unless something major occurs, things will likely wait for another year. The weather has been so brutal here since Christmas that I have not shoveled the driveway.  I've just continued to drive on it - which is never a very good plan, but it's just been too cold to get things going.  It's still too cold.  Once it gets back up into the teens on a semi-regular basis, I'll think about getting the snowblower fired up and clearing it.  For now, however, I'm staying in  :-D


If you check my post from February 4, 2017, you'll see that I am not in any danger of eating my hat.   I've been pretty much right on every single point I made back then.  Watching things go from bad to worse this year definitely played a role in my health - it has been exceptionally stressful for me, but I've been working a lot on getting my stress under control and have made good strides in this area - it's such a relief to be sleeping all night again (nearly every night).  Please remember how important the 2018 mid-term elections are.

Run/Walk the Year

I made it!!  Well, I made my half of it  :-)  My trainer and I split the miles, and I reached my 1,009 miles about a week and a half ago!  Yay ME!!  It's not something I will repeat in 2018, but the group I moderate on Ravelry will be virtually walking the Triple Crown of hiking in 2018.  We have a team of about 21 people, and all our miles will be pooled as we virtually walk first, the Appalachian Trail, then the Pacific Crest Trail, and finally the Continental Divide Trail. 


I managed a jaunt to Wisconsin Sheep & Wool this year, but I haven't done any real travel in too many years - looking to change that in 2018.  Not sure to where or when, but I need a change of scenery for a bit.

So that's the Field Report and the end of the year recap of what's been going on here - I am grateful for another year - and I'm grateful that this one is over.  Once again I say to you that 2018 is my year.  I've gotten a jump on it by going back to WW early this month.  The first week on any sort of weight loss program usually has a higher loss, but never would I have expected to lose more than 16 pounds in one month.  And I don't expect that that will continue, however, if it does, I'll gladly take it!

The timer just went off, which hopefully means that my dinner is ready, so I'll close now.

I wish you all a very Happy New Year - I'm so grateful that you are reading what I am writing.  Thank you very much.