Thursday, July 26, 2018

My Morning . . .

This is a long post, you guys, because I apparently need to process my morning in writing.

Alrighty then . . .

This morning, there was an accident involving the train I was on.  We hit a pedestrian. 

Before I go further, here is the statement of occurrence from our local ABC News affiliate:  "Officials said a female was sitting on the platform with her legs dangling and sustained injuries to one foot. She is expected to be OK."

I'm grateful that she wasn't killed, but - quite frankly - I'm surprised her legs weren't sheared off by the train.

She didn't step in front of the train, thank God.

She's not dead, thank God again.

She's just a fricking IDIOT. 

You guys, what kind of a moron SITS on a train platform and DANGLES HER LEGS OFF THE SIDE???  JesusMaryandJoseph - seriously - WHO DOES THAT??? 

I grew up here in Chicagoland, and I can tell you that you learn train safety at an early age here - at least you used to.  There are a LOT of trains here (Chicago is the railroad center of the country), and particularly in the southern suburbs there are a lot of grade crossings at street level.  You learn about train safety here. I can still hear my mom admonishing me about trains.  Could train safety have gone the way of cursive writing???  Do people not know any longer how to practice good train safety?? 

Anyway, I wondered why the engineer was laying on the horn for such a long time - he must have seen the danger and must have known he couldn't stop in time.  I realized it was far too long for the usual beeps they do when there is track construction or work.  And then, although I did not feel an impact (I was in the second car), I heard and felt the air brakes engage and the train juddered to a halt.  I knew that something bad must have happened. 

Imagine a fully loaded, six-car, express commuter train - going at a fair clip (that station was not a scheduled stop for my train) - and then imagine how long it takes for a train that long and that heavy to come to a stop.  I'm telling you that engineer blared the horn continually for a very long time before the train hit her.

We sat for quite some time because the engineer and conductors had to get out of the train and meet with the first responders.  Tracks had to be examined, evidence collected, etc.  Eventually the local first responders allowed the train to back up partially in to the Hazelcrest station, where we were able to leave the train to reboard another inbound train. The Metra conductors and Metra police were excellent and kept everyone informed far more often than the "every 15 minutes" that are required.

I can only imagine the trauma to the engineer who was driving the train, but I can tell you first-hand that a number of passengers were emotionally upset by this incident, including the young woman I sat beside on the second inbound train who was having flashbacks to a prior accident train accident. I sat with her and listened to her, and talked her through some simple breathing exercises, and I taught her the simple use of the mudras in her index fingers and thumbs to ratchet down her anxiety, which works, BTW (if you need to know about it, leave a comment and let me know because I'm happy to share it).  Thankfully these things were very helpful for her - and for me, too, truth be told. 

I also checked on one other young woman who had been behind me as we switched trains and who was also visibly shaken - she was sitting near me, too, and had been watching me with the first young woman.  Both these women were calmer by the time we got downtown and both thanked me for helping for them.

As we were exiting the train, the second young woman turned to me and said, "There should be more people like you in the world."  I was humbled by them both.  I don't think I did anything out of the ordinary, and I was glad I was able to help them ease some of their anxiety.

I was reminded of this quote from Mr. Rogers. 

I was too old to have watched his show as a child, but he always had important things to say and brought comfort to a lot of kids over his years on television.  It doesn't surprise me that he was an ordained Presbyterian minister

I guess I was a helper today.  

Friday, July 6, 2018

Um . . .

How on earth was my previous post made in March?!

This is a drive-by, but I wanted you to know that I haven't fallen off the face of the earth.  Here are some highlights of the past few months:
  • Rebooting the podcast took more time and focus than anticipated, but it's going very well and I hope you'll check out the website - it's so much more than it was in its previous incarnation.
  • I had a good time at the national African violet convention in Buffalo, New York at the end of May.
  • Unfortunately, I also got to visit the ER of Buffalo General Hospital while I was at convention.
    • I'm OK now.
  • I have plenty of plant photos to share with you from National!
  • I even have some design photos to share with you from National!
  • My ass is not any smaller than it was in March.  Dammit.   :-S
 I'll be back soon.  Seriously  :-)

Anyone else as anxious to see this as I am?

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 . . .