Saturday, December 31, 2011

365:365 And in the End . . .

. . . the love you take, is equal to the love . . . you make.

:-)

Countdown . . .

Could I blog every day? Maybe. We'll see. :-)

In the mean time, here's the final catchup of my 365 project. Click to biggify and see the entire shot.

364:365 City in the Mist

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I lied - this one is the last view of the city. I got off the train two stops early this morning because I wanted to take photos of one last piece of public art, called Agora, that is installed at the very south end of Grant Park - and I did.

But this was the photo of the day. So much about this photo is what I love about Chicago - the architecture, the trees in the park, the train, Michigan Avenue (from the South Loop looking North), and yes, even the weather. There's something about a rainy day . . . a rainy day in Chicago . . .

363:365 Almost a Mackerel Sky

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A sky like this is rare - particularly in Chicagoland in the dead of winter. But it's been warmer than usual, and mostly rainy. As I walked out the front door this morning, this gift awaited. Those trees were the ones so on fire only a few months ago. Their beauty now, is in their starkness.

So lucky to have a winter sky like this . . .

362:365 Bright Lights, Big City

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One last view of this city I love so much.

It's hard for me to believe that my project is nearly finished. I won't continue for another year in the same way, and not every day - but I'll still be around :-)

361:365 Oh, Say, Can You See?

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It wasn't dawn, it was on my way home from the train. The wind was fierce.

360:365 My Tree

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Lights, Belleek bells, an angel, and the Polar Bear Family, along with BunBun and Winky, I like it :-)

359:365 Happy Christmas

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This is my cousin, Kathryn (Mary Ellen's sister :-)), laughing - something she does alot. Her daughter must have said something very funny :-D

358:365 Christmas Eve

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My cousin, Mary Ellen, outside the Garfield Park Conservatory, where we spent our afternoon.

357:365 In for a Landing

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This goose landed in the retention pond that I can see every day from the train. Another gloomy kind of day in Chicagoland as I headed down to work.

356:365 The Reliance Building

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Another Burnham & Root building - on the U.S. Nattional Register of Historic Places since 1970, designated a National Historic Landmark in 1976, and a Chicago Landmark in 1995 (we have an unfortunately deserved reputation of being late to the party here in Chicagoland . . . ). Steel and white terra cotta - built in the Chicago style, using the "Chicago construction method" of a steel frame superstructure atop concrete caissons. The first two floors of the Reliance Building were designed by John Root in 1890, and the rest in 1895 by Charles Atwood - the restaurant on the ground floor is the Atwood Cafe.

It fell into disrepair in the 1940's and was saved from the wrecking ball in the late 90's when it was restored. It now houses a luxury hotel (The Burnham).

I like how the more modern buildings frame this one. This is ground zero of Chicago's numbering system: 0 hundred. The corner of State and Washington. People here often give addresses by hundreds - for example, Division Street is 1200 North. That's how far north it is from this corner of Randolph and State.

355:365 Lightspace

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They have music that plays out of speakers and the colors on the wands change, seemingly at random. Better at night :-) Lightscape is on State Street - it's something the city is doing to have more green Christmas lighting, and I think it will be year round.

354:365 Oh Boy . . .

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Someone, somewhere is in a mighty panic right about now. At least some kind soul picked them up off the pavement.

353:365 Berries in the Snow

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This is the tree in my office building again - it's actually hollow. I like how only the purple balls seem to be in focus.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Yoga . . .

I said I would talk about Yoga today.

Yoga.

I like it.

I have had an interest in it since forever in the wayback. You know, when the Beatles did their TM thing with the Maharishi in India. That wayback.

Yoga, and meditation.

However . . .

I never actually learned to do either one very well - and now, when I really would like to be doing some yoga - the majority of the postures require major trunk twisting, and it's not best for me. Well, not yet.

I have two discs in my lower spine that the orthopedic surgeon in SoCal told me are ruptured. One gooshes out one way, and one gooshes out the other. What this means (other than months of PT and drugs I'm allergic to when it goes out, which it hasn't for about 12 years :::::knocking wood::::::) is that all those poses with all the twisting - yeah, no. Not so much.

I do, though, have a couple of Yoga DVDs that I really like. The best one is Peggy Cappy's Yoga for the Rest of Us. It's awesome! She's awesome. I saw her on PBS! I should do it more often! The other one, I couldn't find, which just goes to show that it's been an awfully long time since I did it :-D It is called Healing Yoga for Aches & Pains.

Perhaps that will be one of my goals: more Yoga. Everyone who does it, seems to adore it.

I continue to ponder goals for myself. I believe that I would like some achievable, realistic goals.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

And So, I Begin . . . Again . . .

I think it's about never giving up, always moving forward in some fashion. I could wait until the New Year . . . but there's no time like the present, and my food week starts on Thursdays. I weighed yesterday and was up 7.4 pounds from the week before (when I had lost 6.6). I do know from past experience that my body makes huge leaps up and down. It's a little bothersome that what would cause someone else to maybe go up a pound or two, causes me to leap up 6 or 7. Oh well - that's how my body operates. I'd say I'm used to it, but it always does seem to come as a surprise somehow :-)

I learned a lot this past week - like not to double your walking time . . . You'd think I'd know that one for sure, but instead of 45 - 50 minutes on the treadmill on Christmas day, I did 90. It should have come as no surprise to me that it took me four days to recover. My body - although strong and reasonably healthy - is not 20 any longer. That means I need to treat it with a little more respect and TLC.

I had a good workout last night at the club with my trainer, and I did 40 minutes on the treadmill this morning with good stretching after.

I'm thinking about reasonable, achievable goals today. I should have some shortly.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Looking Forward

Here we are - it's the end of the calendar year, and I find myself looking forward to 2012.

I've spent most of 2011 here on the blog chronicling my life in photographs as part of the 365Project. I've loved it - and I gave serious thought to continuing it for another year. But, it's time to move on.

Those who know me in person know it's no secret that I have struggled with the size of my ass for most of my life. I even started an anonymous blog earlier this year to see about working through some of my issues there. Let it suffice to say that the struggle continues, but that I'm figuring out how to move forward.

Some back story - two, geez, maybe three years ago, I managed to lose close to 60 pounds. About half of what I wanted and thought would be best for me to lose. Things were going along quite well, and then, I got injured. I developed plantar fasciitis in both heels. So, I switched to my recumbent bike for cardio - and rode it so much that I hurt my tailbone (I still have to sit on pillow with a hole in it at work and on the bike). That left me with pretty much no cardio . . .

I can hear you now - why didn't you try something else? What about swimming? Well, I did try other stuff, but I never really enjoyed any of it as much as I enjoyed walking. I did start weight training (which is awesome, BTW), but I made poor food choices along the way . . . Let me clarify: I used food to try to numb the constant pain. I dealt with constant pain every single day until sometime in March of this year. Yes - that's daily pain with every step for more than two years. Truthfully, I think I did really well not to jump off a cliff or kill someone during those years.

When every step you take feels like someone is shoving knives up through your heels (graphic, I know - but absolutely true), it's a test of strength and will to just get out of bed (the pain was always worst first thing in the morning). So, yeah, I picked back up about 30 pounds. and I've been going up and down the same 10 for this entire year.

And I can't blame it on injuries anymore - now, it is my own choices that are tripping me up.

I have weeks where I get both the food and the exercise in sync, but it doesn't last very long, and I have to say that Christmas this year was tough - I ate stuff I never eat, much to my detriment.

Throughout all of this, I kept going to Weight Watchers at least once a month. I'm a lifetime member (not at goal), so I don't get charged for missed meetings, etc., but I do pay for a monthly pass (the way to go, folks!) so I can go anytime, pretty much anywhere.

I believe that 2012 is a make or break year for me. I either get healthy, or go home and just be fat for the rest of my natural (and likely shortened) life. I'm going to be talking alot about the size of my ass in 2012, so if hearing a 50-something woman bitch and moan, and struggle and win and lose, and most of all learn about herself in a fight for her health is not your cup of tea, I'll understand.

If you read this blog at all, you already know I rarely pull a punch, so some of it could be painful. But also as a 50-something woman, I'm virtually invisible to more than half the world's population - so there should be no serious repercussions ;-) And for the other half - well, girl, pull up a chair. Issues that affect us as women in the world are always on my mind, and I will welcome your comments, thoughts, cheers, and the occasional screams of pain.

Of course I'll be talking about other stuff too - there's always going to be knitting content, and spinning content, and in 2012 there's going to be weaving content because I'm insistent that I'm actually going to learn to USE the loom I acquired nearly a year ago. There will also be dulcimer content and whatever else appeals to me, and you'll hear plenty about my year with my yarn.

I hear often, lately, that blogs are passé. Well, not to me. I like reading - and I like writing, and I'm about to use this blog to chronicle another year of my life - in words this time.

Let the party begin . . . ;-)

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Time for another Catch up

Here we go! i'm going with the medium size again - so be sure to click to biggify and see the whole photos.

352:365 Comfort and Joy

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Kind of mundane I suppose, but it makes me happy to see it here. This is my living room. I spend most of my time in my sunroom, but this room is filled with comfort and joy somehow, and I like to read here and curl up on the sofa with a fire in the fireplace.

351:365 It's Sticking!

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Well, kinda :-) This is the first snow that has stayed on the ground for more than an hour. In my front yard - a yew, a piece of up-ended flagstone, a naked viburnum and a sprinkling of leaves..

350:365 That's My Bag

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Somehow the only shot taken this day! A quick look down into the messenger bag I carry every day, full of the necessities of my life, I guess - an apple, my glasses' case, the edge of a bag of mini carrots, and my raggedy red wallet. The black case is the camera case, and the Black Watch one is my makeup bag. The blue zippered bag is my "electronics bag" where my hot spot and iTouch live so I can find them in this bottomless pit :-D Ah, the life of a train commuter!

349:365 In the Deep Midwinter . . .

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. . .there are things blooming on my plant stands :-) These are the buds I shared almost two weeks ago. This is the most I've seen on this columnea. They are not quite open yet, but will be in the next few days or so. The name of this cultivar is "Light Prince."

348:365 At Work

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This is from the tree in the lobby of the building where I work. I had to be quick - they don't allow photography in the lobby ;-) I love seeing all the decorations everywhere.

347:365 The Tree!

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This is the tree I showed you on November 8th and 21st - This time with its lights blazing :-) It's the city's tree, in Daley Plaza at the edge of the Christkindle Market. I like the halos on the litghts :-)

346:365 People I Love

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I've discovered that this often happens to me right after trips: I never got a photo taken for today. This photo was taken yesterday before I returned home from an awesome mini-break. I don't often take photos of people because I don't think I'm very good at it - but I like this photo of an old friend of mine and one of his beautiful daughters.

345:365 Not Ready to Go . . .

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This was taken at Accotink Bay, a wildlife refuge on-post at Fort Belvoir - a beautiful and serene place, it holds bittersweet memories for me.

344:365 End of the Day . . .

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. . .as the shadows lengthen and the light begins to fade. At the Wharf along the Potomac on the grounds of the Mt. Vernon estate.

343:365 Old Alexandria

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Taken on a wonderful walk through Old Alexandria.

342:365 Holidays at O'Hare

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On my way to a holiday weekend in Virginia. These are in the pedway at O'Hare airport.

341:365 All Together

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Here in Chicagoland, there's not much separation of church and state - at least not at this time of year :-) This is in the lobby of the Thompson Center (a state building). I have not been able to find information on the blue sculpture.

340:365 Oh Dear . . .

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How can it be that this was one of two photos taken today and this is the better?

339:365 Visions of Sugar Plums

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On the doors of the front all closet :-)

338:365 Shades of Christmas Past

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Awesome jewelry artist, Carrie Notari, is doing these beautiful ornaments for Christmas. She was at the One of a Kind show this weekend. I love her stuff!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A Year With My Yarn

This end of the calendar year, aka The Holiday Season, is exhausting this year. I'm trying to get an awful lot done in a very short period of time. For example, I'm writing instead of walking this morning.

Over on Ravelry, I'm one of the "Friendly Mods" of the Year of Stash Socks Group. As the group moves into 2012, two of my friends - they are the other Friendly Mods - and I are taking a serious look at our respective stashes.

The amount of yarn that I have is sobering.

We've created a year-long challenge - the first part of which is happening now: we are cataloging and getting all our yarn into our Ravelry stashes so we'll have a starting number of yards by December 31st. We've opened up the challenge to the entire group, of course, and we've had a surprising number of takers! If you're interested, it's the Slash & Smash Your Stash 2012 thread.

All the yarn. That means the weaving yarn (it's horrifying the thousands of yards that are on those cones . . . ) and the felting yarn (Lamb's Pride . . . ) and the dish rag cotton (there's always some of that on hand) and the yarn I've been stockpiling to make Kaffe Fassett's Long Leaf Coat.

I've attempted to stop buying yarn before, to various success. Knitterary and The Writing Weaver and I had a pact a couple of years ago, and we did reasonably well. Except for the standard travel dispensation, and the summer Wollmeise dispensation . . .

Right . . .

I don't do so well with deprivation, and so I'm looking at it all in new light - one that's more in keeping with how I like to live my life: in the positive. And I like to have goals. I do better when I have goals that are achievable. And lately, I've had a couple of friends who are fighting cancer. One got the news back in August that treatment was not fully successful, and another just received a diagnosis on Monday.

Yarn and cancer. What does one have to do with the other? I'm not really sure, but somehow my commitment to what started out as stash busting is tied up in my head somehow with serious goals - something simple that I should be able to do when others I care for are being forced into dealing with life altering circumstances. Do I think that my curbing some excess in my life will change theirs? No, not consciously - but this stark reminder that life is short is causing me to look at my own life and how I want to live it. And so, although I have no control over someone else's life, perhaps my own life will be changed - because I will change it. I am the only one who can. It's obviously about more than yarn.

And so, ever in the path of hope and positivity, 2012 is going to be, for me, "A Year With My Yarn." You heard it here, first.

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(That's just the sunroom . . .)

Sunday, December 4, 2011

More Photos!

It's almost the end of the year - I can't believe I've been doing this 365 Project for a year. It sure has been fun :-) Here's the latest catchup:

337:365 Ready to Pop

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I was walking by one of the plant stands today, and was surprised to see this columnea absolutely covered with buds. You can't force or disbud these like you dan African violets, so I let them bloom at will. A happy Christmas surprise :-)

336:365 My Exciting Friday Night

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That's my yarn armoire, (the yarnoire ;-) ). In preparation for a year long challenge of using up more of my yarn, I had to do a complete inventory of all the yarn in the house.This is all the yarn in the sunroom - there is so much more all over the house :-D The top two shelves are fiber (not yarn), but those three big drawers? All yarn. This giant cleanup is giving me a great opportunity to get yarn organized and shifted around to where I can find it all :-D

335:365 It's the Holiday Season

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The decorations on the sconces outside the United Airlines Building. The light portion gives a similar effect to The Bean. I walked up to be nearly underneath it to avoid appearing in the reflection.

334:365 Catalog-O-Rama

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I must be on every mailing list in the country - and a couple in the UK, too :-D This is just one day's haul.

333:365 New Ornament

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At Christmas time, I like to hang ornaments on the two hanging sconces on either side of the French doors in my sunroom. I've had out of town company over the holiday, so searching for house photos :-)

332:365 First Flurries

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They are not the very first, but the first I've seen. They didn't stick. this is the empty gazebo in my back yard.

331:365 The Dining Room

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I was in that play many year ago :-DBut this is my dining room - something festive, some art on the walls (Fairchild - one of my favorites), some wine, my mom's old sideboard. I like it in this room :-)

330:365 :-)

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I love Christmas! The tree is up but not decorated. Yet :-)This was the only photo I took today! Been having a Harry Potter movie marathon :-D

329:365 Defiant II

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You've seen him before in my photos, August 4th and 5th - but here he is decked out in his Christmas finery. The scaffold is away, but the ladder is still visible. It takes three guys, a scaffold and a ladder to wreath him.

328:365 Happy Thanksgiving

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Here in the US., it's Thanksgiving Day. The traditional dinner is turkey with all the trimmings, but since I like to keep breathing, no turkey for me! This is my very first Beef Wellington, and it was really, really good, if I do say so myself :-DNext time - fewer mushrooms - it didn't need a whole pound, even pureed and cooked down it was too much. Also, next time will request a cut that is more the same size - this one was smaller at one end so didn't cook as evenly - and will brown the tenderloin a little bit more. It was medium rare everywhere except the very center.Not a particularly artistic photo, but I was really quite pleased with myself :-D

327:365 Ooooo, Shiny!

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The first of - I'm sure - many photos of the Christkindle Market. It opened today. This market is one if not the largest Christkindle Market outside of Germany. I had lunch there today - I'm sure I will go again . . . and again . . . and again :-)

326:365 The Old and the New

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The beautiful clock, and the garish decorations of the store formerly known as Marshall Field's. I (along with many Chicagoans) was so aggravated by the ruination of this magnificent retail institution, that I won't shop there, and I stubbornly refuse to utter the name of the new store.I should probably get over it . . . but I probably won't

325:365 Dressed in Holiday Style

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The lights on the City's Christmas Tree. In the background is the County Building side of the City and County Building :-)

324:365 Beets!

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It was a lot of work (and doesn't it look like I murdered something?) for one jar of refrigerator pickled beets. Next time, i'm slicing them by hand and skipping the mandoline.This was my first time making them - I adore pickled beets, and a friend of mine made them and shared not only the beets, but her recipe :-) I think I will pay her to make them for me in the future :-D

323:365 The Remains of the Day

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One of only two photos I today . . . it was another day of constant errands - when you work, you have to get everything in on Saturdays. This was at the library in Park Forest - the last of the Black-Eyed Susans, I think, amidst the leaves.

322:365 Mini Murmuration

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This photo was taken on November 9th. I'm sharing it here today because in the midst of my attempting to get everything accomplished six ways from Sunday, I fell asleep in the chair this night without having taken a photo all day . . .This group of pigeons was circling and circling and circling together. Swooping and dipping and circling across Randolph Street and Daley Plaza. I was on my way to work. The white building is the old Brunswick Building, and the gray one is the Chicago Temple Building. The birds were just amazing - I've never seen pigeons do that before.

321:365 As We Dream . . .

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My house is nearly ready for Christmas, and I finally got these photos from my trip to Egypt hung. I lived with them leaning against the couch for a few months as I pondered where they should go.Over the fireplace. Why didn't I realize it sooner?

320:365 The Last Rose of Summer

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Managed to set the camera on "small" instead of "large" yesterday - a hazard of tossing it in my bag, I guess - so I think this shot is a little different. Downtown - on my way to get some lunch.

319:365 Viburnum

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This is my favorite Viburnum that lives in my front yard. It grows in the perfect snowball shape, never gets mildew and is stunningly beautiful at this time of year. Taken in the early morning light, on my way to the train.I have no idea which variety of viburnum it is - there seem to hundreds.

318:365 Bun-Bun and her Sister, Winky

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I have no earthly idea why I gave these these names :-D They are just waking up from their off-season hibernation, along with the Polar Bear family that will soon be living underneath my Christmas tree.Years ago, I made these rabbits with the intent to sell them at craft fairs . . . ;-) I made a couple more that have since been gifted. Bun-Bun, is the red one - she was the prototype. Winky is the oatmeal one. They are not as large as they look in this photo. Bun-Bun's got her own little chair that she sits in every year, and Winky sits next to her on the floor.It wouldn't be Christmas without them :-)

317:365 Summer's Over

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Every time I tried to relax in this hammock this summer, it rained. Seriously - I think I only got maybe two hours the whole summer long!