Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Eve

It's Christmas Eve. 

Somehow this year has flown by me.  I feel like I nodded off in the chair watching telly - you know, when you catch the first 10 minutes of a show, and then wake up for the last five, having missed all the important stuff in the middle.

I feel like I have not accomplished much at all this year.  I was successful in reading the number of books I wanted to read, and I did get the sofa in my office cleared off.  For about a month . . .  you don't want to see it again now . . .   I did lose about 10 pounds this year - although after this past week I'm likely up a bit - apparently you're supposed to eat starchy foods after you've had a stomach/intestinal virus - at least that's what the 24/7 nurse hotline told me.  I haven't been as sick as I was a week ago for more than 20 years.  Yikes!  So, bread, which I've been avoiding, coupled with holiday parties has not been ideal  :-)  10 pounds is not very much, but you know, I just keep moving forward.

On the yarn front - it could have been worse.  A lot worse.  I'll have the final figures after the 31st, but I think I fell short of my goal of decreasing the stash by 100 miles.

I did not finish my St. Brigid sweater.

I've nominally learned to weave, but it's only yesterday that I finished the second scarf that was on the loom back in January . . .

I did not knit 12 pairs of socks.

In the finish what I start area, well, I'm a little better at that I think, but not much  :-D

I have done pretty well, however, in the putting myself first area  :-)  Yay Me!

This next week is always a time for introspection for me.  We're in Sammhain (pronounced Sow-en:  sow like a pig) in the Celtic year.  This is traditionally a time of regrouping and readying for Imbolc to arrive in February.  I'll be thinking alot about 2013.  I'll let you know what I figure out  :-)




 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Closure . . .

Four months ago, an amazing, special needs dog named Jupiter touched my life.  I fell for him.  I fell hard.  It was my hope to foster and then adopt him - to be his forever home.  I was very public about this, and was heartbroken when I realized very quickly that what was best for Jupiter would be for him to be somewhere where he did not have to be alone all day - somewhere where there would be people and hopefully another dog to play with.

Jupiter was adopted by a family with a child and another giant breed dog.  The perfect situation for him!  Not a day has gone by that I don't think about him.  For months I wanted to email the foster coordinator and ask how Jupiter was doing, but I just wasn't able to do so until last week.  I finally sent a short email and asked how he was doing with his new family and said that I hoped he had settled in and was doing well.  The coordinator wrote back and said that yes, all was well in Jupiter's world.  :-) 

That Jupiter is loved and is doing well is exactly right and how it should be.  Truthfully, I don't think anyone could love him as much as I did, but you know, I have a biased opinion  :-)

Anyway, I took these photos during the days he was with me.  I haven't been able to share them until now - it was just too painful for me.  But something amazing happened today that seemed to be what I needed to be truly at peace with the decision I made back in August.  I'll tell you in a minute - first, I want to share these photos of my beautiful boy.

For the short time I was his foster mom, I adored him. 

Jupiter 01

I wish this was not out of focus  :-)  The pink on his nose was from a biopsy he had done (it wasn't anything).

Jupiter 03

Crashed out on my sunroom floor - each of those tiles is 12" x 12" - that gives you an idea of his size  :-)

Jupiter 02

Hanging out on his special orthopedic bed I got him, in my kitchen.  Sitting was tough for him because he has hip dysplasia and arthritis - so he was usually standing or lounging  :-)

Jupiter 04

On his last day with me, getting a belly rub from my cousin, ME, in the sunroom.

Jupiter 05

Looking quite ferocious with his lion.

Jupiter 06

Distracted by something out on the deck.

Jupiter 07

And crashed out again  :-)

Jupiter 08

His crate.  It was big.  Really big.

I share this crate photo even though it's out of focus, because this crate is what gave me closure today.  Crazy, huh?  When I returned Jupiter to the foster coordinator, I donated everything I had purchased for him. Since I got that boy everything he could ever want or need it was alot of stuff :-)  I was well on my way to spoiling him rotten, let me tell you  :-)  I donated it all to the shelter.  Everything - bowls, toys, collars, grooming brushes, obedience classes, breed books, his special bed, special food, treats, and his crate. 

Fast forward to today . . .

You may or may not have heard of a dog-fighting ring in the Chicagoland area that was broken up last week.  Seven dogs went to the South Suburban Humane Society where they are being cared for now as they recover.  One of them, Lorenzo, lost an eye and had to have a special surgery.

Today I received this email:

Subject:  Your Love for Jupiter is now helping Lorenzo

"I just wanted to let you know that the crate you got for Jupiter is being put to good use, Lorenzo the dog from the Dolton case with the bad eye is using it to give him a quiet place to recover and enough room to move around in and be comfortable.
Just thought you might want to know that your donations keep helping those in need.
Have a Merry Christmas."
 
It was all I could do not to cry at the office.  Hell, it's all I can do not to cry now. 
 
Jupiter_Day 1_LR.081112 
 
Oh Jupiter, my beautiful, sweet boy - had I never met you, my life would not be as rich. I was so heartbroken and sad to let you go, and now, knowing that I made the right decision for you, there is so much joy when I think of you. You are happy and loved and have a family and a canine brother to play with.

It is a true Christmas gift for my spirit to know that because Jupiter was in my life for a short time that Lorenzo now has a safe, comfortable, quiet place to rest and heal from his surgery. I hope he heals quickly and well. I hope the same for all the Dolton dogs.

Everything happens for a reason.  Everything.

********************************************
 
(Should you wish to help Lorenzo and the other dogs from the Dolton dog fighting case, the link above goes directly to the shelter's main page -  It doesn't matter if you're not local, you can donate online, every dollar helps.)

Sunday, December 9, 2012

OMG This is Crazy

Kitchen


Yes, it really looks like this.   I have to fix this before I blog.

Never a dull moment around this joint  :-D

Sunday, November 18, 2012

It's Beginning to Look Alot Like Christmas . . .

:-)

I confess, I'm an early decorator  :-D

One of my former husbands used to get so irritated with me - I had to beg and plead to decorate early.  He was pretty inflexible . . .  I'm not married to him anymore.  ;-)

This year, in keeping with my theme of divestiture (three bags of stuff went yesterday to the Second Chance Shop), I realized that it was finally time for me to go through some of the Christmas stuff again.  I did this about 8 years ago and divested alot of my mom's Christmas stuff.  I always have a bag going for the Second Chance Shop, and I also just donated three boxes of fiber and knitting and weaving yarns (off to the West Coast yesterday), and I have a HUGE bag of yarn from my stash that I'm donating through church to a women's collective.   I'm really on a roll here.

But I digress!!   Back to Christmas!!

I love Christmas, and I love decorating for it, but this year, I'm going a little more low-key.  No big tree (just the little one that was my mom's - it's so perfect in the sunroom), and only a few strategically placed Christmas items.

And my old Dickens Village is going to make someone VERY happy at the Second Chance Shop.  I started this probably close to 30 years ago - I didn't get very far (although there is more than I remember . . .  :-D).   My cousins fostered it for years when they had their B&B - it was a great entryway decoration for them.  I think I put it up once or twice when I lived in California, but it has remained boxed up for at least a decade.  I have neither the room nor the inclination to fool with it anymore, and so . . .

XMas Donation

I have a pretty hefty donation to make  :-)  That rug is a 5x8, so that give you an idea of how much there is  :-D  I didn't go through all the ornaments.  Yet.   But there is time.  I won't be able to get back to the Second Chance Shop until December 1st.

Is there a charity resale shop near you?  Do you have some things that you don't want any longer but are still in good shape?  It takes a little time, but you could make someone very happy, and just think of all the energy you would be releasing by letting go of things that no longer serve you  :-)

Wheeeeee!   I LOVE Christmas!!!!!

 

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Weight Watchers - ActiveLink

I decided to blog about this today to share my experience with Weight Watchers' new "activity monitor," ActiveLink.  This device is a joint venture between WW and Philips. 

This is a long post.  Here's the short version:

BUYER BEWARE - you must be sure that you understand what this device is and what it does and does not do.  You must be sure this device is what you want, because once you buy it - once you break the seal on the box - you cannot return it and you cannot sell it/transfer it to anyone else.  Once you pony up the bucks to buy the thing, you must then pay a monthly $5 fee to access the service.  You cannot get your money back.

Here's the rest of the story . . .

I know that some have had a great experience with ActiveLink, but mine was very poor, and my experience with WW's customer "service" was a joke. 

But - let me start with the positive - I did like the size of the device and that it could be worn under my clothing unobtrusively, unlike my otherwise awesome Omron pedometer which always made me look like a geek and made an unsightly bulge at what's left of my menopausal waist.  I also liked that it was waterproof and I could wear it in the pool.  I liked that it was a joint venture withi Philips because years ago I worked for a division of Philips and they were great people  :-)  What I really liked, though, was the idea of it tracking my activity all day long!

That's key - AL was sold to me as a TRACKER.  A device that would track my activity points and automatically enter them in my online eTools tracker.  To be fair, it does automatically add any Activity Points one earns directly into the eTools tracker.

But it's not a tracker - it's an activity monitor - a tool to get you to move more. 

You have to wear it for 8 days when you get it to set a "baseline," and here is where it gets confusing:  WW says that your baseline is set based SOLELY on your age, weight, height and gender.  Philips says that the amount of activity you do during the assessment period has a direct correlation to the baseline that it set for you.

I used mine for about 11 weeks.  I bought it the day it was released in my former meeting room and activated it as soon as I got home that night.  I was instructed to wear it daily, and to not change up my exercise or normal daily routine.  Once it was activated, I lost access to the Activity Tracker that is part of my eTools online tracker - both the big tab and the smaller calculator tab over on the left sidebar of the tracker.  The sidebar calculator just disappeared, and the large tracker became linked with ActiveLink.  Those things mean that you can no longer calculate your own activity.

I figured it didn't matter because ActiveLink was going to be calculating all that for me anyway . . .

The eight days of the assessment were weird because I'm one of those people who actually eats her Activity Points - I use them before I use my 49 Weekly Points - and now I had no real way to track them.  But it was only eight days, so I didn't get too worried about it.

Finally, my baseline was set and I was really excited to not have to think about calculating my activity points anymore, or even entering my "active steps" from my pedometer every day.  I am a pretty active person.  Those of you who know me in person know that.  I mean really - my friends and family know not to call me after 9 p.m. because I have to go to bed to get up to work out at 5 in the morning.  I already work out as much as I can given the constraints of having to have a job to pay the bills and living my busy life.  All ActiveLink did was constantly tell me to move more.  And I found that on days when I should have earned at least 3 or 4 Activity Points, I wasn't earning any. 

As mentioned, I am usually up around 5 a.m. to either lift weights with my trainer at the club (2x week), or walk for about 40 minutes on the treadmill in the basement (3-4x week).  I walk from my house to the train (7 minutes) and I walk across the Loop from the train to my office (15 minutes) five days a week.  I often walk somewhere at lunchtime.  Chicago is a walker's paradise  :-)

As the weeks went by, I became increasingly frustrated with ActiveLink.  The only day I got 4 Activity Points was the day I was with my friend Tammy, The Proverbial Knitter, et al., at Silver Dollar City in Missouri, where we walked pretty much non-stop (including some fierce Ozark hills) from 10 a.m. when the park opened 'til about 3:30 or 4 p.m. when we collapsed into the car to go home.  I'm not kidding.  That was a 6-7 Activity Point day for sure . . . but no, I got 4.

So, since it's not possible for me to walk every day for 6 hours (hell, if it was, I'd be on The Biggest Loser instead of working at a job I love), I rarely got any Activity Points.  Initially, I'd connect it to my computer every day, excited to see how many Activity Points I would get, and for the first week I thought, "well, maybe I don't move as much as I thought."  But after weeks of being electronically told daily that I had failed to reach my baseline or reaching it but not getting past it enough to earn even 1 Activity Point - even on days where I KNEW I had earned at least 3 or 4 - I rang Philips, and they said to do the assessment again but "don't move around at all."

Great.

They were also VERY clear that the amount of activity done during the assessment phase was directly involved in setting the baseline (I was more confused than ever by that assertion, since it was directly opposite of what Weight Watchers says).  So, another eight days of assessment with me taking off the ActiveLink anytime I worked out.  I ended up with a very low baseline (which seems to me to be clear evidence that the activity done during the assessment phase does, indeed, have bearing on how the baseline is set - but, you know, I'm not a scientist so I could be wrong).  Once the assessment phase was over again, I gave it another week - a week where I was regularly well over 100% of my new baseline, and still I wasn't receiving any Activity Points. 

I called WW customer "service" and had them shut it off.  That was on October 18th.  They told me that my ActiveLine was cancelled, but that they has "taken a payment" on October 13th and that my online tracker was linked with ActiveLink until November 27th.  Really??????  SIX WEEKS out they take a payment and hold my tracker hostage???  I didn't even ask for my 5 bucks back, I just wanted access to my online eTools Activity Tracker that I already PAY for every month as part of my monthly pass. !!!!!

I was told a supervisor would call me back.  Yeah, right.  No one ever did.

So, I wrote a letter to WW CEO, David Kirchoff, who has a pretty good blog, BTW - hey, the guy has Brene Brown's TEDx speech from 2010 in his most recent post - that's pretty awesome stuff! I wrote thinking that written communication might be more effective.  Um . . . not so much.  I never heard back from anyone.

I was resigned to wait out the six weeks, but I wasn't happy.  And then, yesterday, I read on one of the message boards that another member who had a poor ActiveLink experience had succeeded in getting his Activity Tracker restored! 

I got right on the horn.  First I called WW again, and - once again - they were no help whatsoever, telling me that no, I had to wait until November 27th, that it was not possible to unlink my online tracker from ActiveLink when I already knew that it WAS possible.  Then, while sitting on hold forever with them, I got the bright idea to call Philips.  Talk about Customer Service.  :-)  They transferred me to their billing department and I had my online tracker restored in MINUTES.  Only wish I had thought to call them four weeks ago . . .

Everything does happen for a reason, however - and in the meantime, I figured out the Heart Rate Monitor that I bought at least two years ago  :-D  I got new batteries for it, changed them up in both the chest strap and the watch, wore it to my workout on Thursday and burned 300 calories.  Doesn't sound like a lot, but to me, that equates to 3 Activity Points.  Conventional wisdom says about 80 calories is an ActivityPoint, but I am conservative when calculating activity.  On the calculator I always choose "low" for my perceived exertion in order to not overestimate how many Activity Points I'm earning.

What I still can't figure out:  (1) If my baseline was calculated based solely on my age, weight, height and gender, then why on earth did I have to have an 8-day assessment period?  I mean, if those are the only criteria for setting a baseline, shouldn't you just be able to enter that info and go right out of the gate?  and (2) Why is WW customer service so poor?

What I think is likely:  From what I'm reading on the WW message boards, ActiveLink seems to work well for people who are runners - they rack up the ActivityPoints pretty quickly.  For those of us who move when we can, as much as we can, but perhaps are limited by having lives and/or injuries (elliptical and swimming - even when "named" as recommended on the ActiveLink site don't track very well at all), ActiveLink is pretty much an exercise in daily failure, which for me anyway, is exceptionally de-motivating.

What I do know for sure (thanks Oprah :-D):  (1) Thanks to Philips, I have my tracker back  :-)   I'm a happy gal!  (2) I really needed to write this all down and get it off my chest - and hopefully help someone else who might be in the same situation; and (3) In my heart of hearts I think Weight Watchers is awesome.  I KNOW it works when you work the program.  I just wish they could get their technology together a little better (I can enter my OWN weight into my online tracker, thank you very much, and I can calculate my OWN activity :-) ).

p.s.  I do love me some gadget . . . I just bought a FitBit One.  Early Christmas!! Can hardly wait for it to arrive!
 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Anti-Inflammatory . . .

It's been an interesting week, Chez A :-)

I have to tell you that I thought it was going to be a lot harder to avoid sugar and highly processed foods/bread.  Of course it's only been a week, but still - after a thorough cleaning out of the cupboards, and a trip to Whole Foods and the Jewel, things are going pretty well.

The scale is moving (again - it's the first week) and I am engaging in better living through chemistry, but the combination of the anti-inflammatory drug and the absence of sugar, in particular, I think, is really making a difference in how I feel. 

I feel really good, which is a pretty far cry from a week and a half ago. 

That this could make such a difference so quickly, is amazing.  What's even more interesting to me, is that I think that my skin looks better and the bags and circles under my eyes do not seem to me to be as pronounced as they have been.  (Yay!)

It's been challenging to figure out what to eat every morning - oatmeal doesn't really stick with me I've discovered.  I don't want to eat eggs every day, so this morning, I have some pork chops in the oven.  :-D 

I've been relying on Amy's Soups for most lunches - but today, I'm having shrimp sushi  :-)  and tomorrow I'm meeting a friend at a restaurant (which will likely entail a plain burger and whatever the vegetable of the day is).  You have to change it up once in awhile  :-)

Tomorrow I head into week two of this new way of caring for myself.  Yay Me!!!!!
In other news of the day . . . Entrelac 01
I took a class taught by Judy Chan.  It was sponsored by the Windy City Knitting Guild on Sunday.  Entrelac in the Round.  The colors are not true on this photos - those orange bits in the middle are actually a soft coral/pink.  I'm stuck at this point - somehow the next row wouldn't start properly and I kept ending up with the wrong number of stitches, so I stopped and will pick it up again at some point this weekend. 

Thanksgiving is upon us . . . It's that time of year . . . (the quality isn't great, sorry.)

 

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Captcha

OK Guys, I tried taking off the word verification, and have gotten constant spam.  So I'm putting it back on.  Sorry.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Wow . . .

I always seem to miss the November challenge where you blog every day for the entire month.  Maybe next year - or maybe February, when it's often dreary and we all need a pick-me-up.

I updated my Stats page today.  It's crappy.  But there it is - the clear evidence of my losing (or should I say gaining) struggle all summer and fall long.  But you know what?  That's in the past.  I'm here, now.  And I know more about what's going on in my body now.  And I have hope and know that I can take  - let me relanguage that - am taking the steps I believe to be necessary to move forward.  So, I decided I had better update that page  :-)

Yesterday, as witnessed by my last post, I went through all the cupboards looking for things with sugar in them.  Holy Christ.  It's EVERYWHERE.  Who puts sugar AND HFC in garlic and herb breadcrumbs?!  Progresso does (and that makes me really sad because they don't do that with their soups so much).

Three full bags out to the trash and a fourth started of items full of sugar and/or opened and/or expired.  And three full bags of items not opened and not expired that can go to a local food pantry.

Wow.

And I'm learning and moving forward.  First changes are removing sugar and breads/highly processed foods, and cutting back as I am able on dairy and red meat.  I'll do the best I can, taking things one day at a time.

I read the runes for myself yesterday and it was such an awesome and positive reading.  For those of you who don't know, the Runes are an ancient oracle of the self.  They are not a fortune-telling device, rather a way to look within - and it's been my experience that "the stones always know" whatever it is that I need to be looking at and working with on any particular issue. 

The Situation as it Is was Kano, the rune of Opening, Fire, a Torch - which puts me at the beginning - opening - bringing the light into an area that once was dark. 

Wow.

The Challenge to be Worked Through was Raido the rune of a Journey, Communication and Union and Reunion (Reversed) - which urges me to look at my relationship to myself - the challenges of keeping good humor (and I'm not talking about ice cream ;-D), disruptions, obstacles, and the like - with union and reunion at the core and coming out the other side.

Wow.

The Situation as it can Evolve was Fehu, the rune of Possessions, Nourishment and Cattle.  Fehu is about fulfillment, ambitions satisfied, love fulfilled and rewards received - and a reminder to be mindful, especially in times of good fortune and success.

Wow.

As I look within, I see the path to myself - it's there - never wavering - just waiting for me to pick myself up, and take the first steps toward my future.  I see my spirit, glimmering in the dust, waiting for me to pick it back up, dust it gently off and place it back on my shoulder.  We never fall all the way away - the pieces are always there to be picked up and reassembled.  Sometimes as they were before, and sometimes in an entirely new configuration.

Kuan Yin - the Eastern Goddess of Compassion - watches over me on this journey, reminding me to be gentle with myself as I move back onto the path.  And to be gentle with my spirit as I seek to cleanse my body of that which hurts it.

And the Celtic Cat - the animal of Guardianship, Detachment and Sensuality is there, reminding me that I have the right to know and judge important issues for myself in my own time.  Clearly that time is now.

And could I travel without an angel or two as a companions?  No, I think not.  The Archangel Micheal comes along with me, surrounding me with Eternal Love.  And my daily companion on the journey is the Angel of Inspiration.  How fitting is that?

Wow . . .

Here I go  - breakfast was some Swiss Chard sauted in a small amount of garlic-infused olive oil, in a flat omelette with some feta cheese.  I'm going to stink, but I got greens and protein in, and there was no sugar and the only processed thing was the cheese (and I'll be looking for a different brand next time  :-) ).

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

===:-O

Holy Shit.  EVERYTHING has sugar in it . . .

I'm on the third trash bag of things emptied from the cabinets (and I've got one bag of things that can go to the food pantry).

Guess I'm going to be shopping the perimeter of the Jewel and a lot more at Sunrise. 

Moving Forward . . .

I know that some of you are as disappointed as I am happy this morning with the results of our Presidential election.  Because it's no secret that I'm very happy with the outcome of the election.  However, I wrote this to multiple friends of mine this morning, and thought I would share it here: 

"It is my great hope that both parties will work together for the next four years instead of fighting and blocking as they both have for the past four. That we can be good and close friends when we are so very different from each other is very clear evidence that it's possible."

I'm moving forward in another area today, too.  My last post was sad.  Thank you for your support  :-)

There is an update.

I do have an appointment on Thursday with my podiatrist, but due to so many bizarre things happening to me in such short order over the weekend, my own doctor saw me on Monday.  He thinks the ocular migraine was another one-off.  And, although I had an x-ray to be sure, the general consensus is that my foot is not fractured, rather, the joints of my foot are inflamed.

Plantar fasciitis is inflammation.  Asthma is inflammation.  My sore tailbone was diagnosed as inflammation.  My very sore left knee likely has bursitis (which is, you guessed it, inflammation).  He checked all my joints - and shoulder and elbows also have it to some degree as well.

I've been educating myself further ever since my appointment on Monday, and inflammation of the type I seem to have is very often caused by what we eat.  I few years ago I experienced sore joints after eating too much sugar . . . and I even wrote about it earlier this year. I can't run away from it any longer.

I didn't pay very good attention, I guess, but all the reading I've done in just the past two days is pretty clear.  And I did a little experimenting with foods yesterday afternoon and last night to see how I might feel today - and it's so obviously clear by this morning that I'm going to have to make some major changes in my lifestyle in terms of what I eat, as I am in more pain again today in all problem areas, even with taking my anti-inflammatory as directed by the doc.

Books are ordered, some foods are headed out of my kitchen in the trash, and I'm looking at processing the change that is before me.  One of the things I learned from Joan Anderson, is that we all must process the grief that is partner to change.

What I am facing is huge for me.

Big Changes.

I believe I must change what I eat - if I don't, I will likely be in some kind of pain for the rest of my life.  If the tradeoff for eating my Friday cherry danish is that I'm in pain, I'm not willing to do that anymore.  I'm going to have to give up a way of eating that - although it tastes good - is no longer serving me.  And yes, it seems ridiculous to think that one would grieve for a sweet roll, but it's not just sweet rolls - it's majorly processed foods.  It's the sugar in my tea.  It's bread (at least for awhile).  It's candy.  It's cupcakes.  It's bacon (I almost forgot that makes me hurt).  It's likely most dairy.  It's likely most red meat.

Plenty of people have far worse things happen to them, though.  It's not like I'm diabetic or have heart disease or high blood pressure.

It could be a lot worse.  Seriously.  I walked away from cigarettes.  Once I realized that chocolate was making me sick, I walked away from it.  I walked away from drinking diet pop.  All of these things I did cold turkey.  And oh yeah, I can't eat turkey (poultry) anymore either.  I know how to take care of myself and I know that I will be able to walk away from the things that are likely causing this flood of inflammation throughout my body.   And once I learn to manage my stress levels better, I think I'll be in like Flynn.

Keep a good thought for me, OK? because drinking my tea without sugar is going to be bizarre :-)

Even so, there is good news in all this.  Yes, really  :-)  You didn't think I could stay down in the dumps forever, did you?  Miss Positive Energy?

First, the good news is that I don't have arthritis.  The doc was very clear about that.  Inflammation and arthritis are often mentioned in the same breath, but having inflammation does not necessary mean that one has arthritis.  This is actually REALLY good news.  My mom had three different kinds of arthritis and my grandmother also had it.  A number of my cousins have it and they are younger than I am.  I would like to avoid it, thank you very much.

Second, the good news is that by following an anti-inflammatory way of eating, I think I'm going to be bone thin pretty quickly . . . :-D 

So here we go, the country and me, moving forward together . . .

Monday, November 5, 2012

I'm Falling Apart . . .

I wrangled a Saturday event where I was on my feet most of the day on a hard floor.  It went very well, but it's clear to me now that I'm not a kid any longer.

How do I know this? 

Because I appear to be falling apart.

I had to ice my lower back twice on Saturday after the event, and my feet really hurt.

To paraphrase the late, great Bettie Davis: "This getting older is not for sissies." (And if you don't know who Bettie Davis was, you need to watch some classic films.  Start with All About Eve.)

My left foot is OK, but my right foot?  Well, I sat around all day yesterday in my jams and had to cancel my standing gym appointment with my friend, C; and now, I have the surgical shoe on again because although it's not bruised looking, it seems a little swollen and it's throbbing on the outside and on top, and my middle (had roast beef), ring (had none) and little (cried Whee Whee Wheee, all the way home) toes feel odd.  I am staying home today to see if I can get in to the podiatrist out here because mine's only in on Thursdays in the city.  I think that my foot is not OK this time.

It has occurred to me that I might be too fat for my feet.  I feel sad when I think that because I've struggled so mightily this year and gotten pretty much nowhere in this regard . . .

Then, on Sunday morning, I had an ocular migraine again.  I had one in 2008.  And now I've had another.  They are very bizarre and unnerving.  Only one eye, sort of like an after image when you've looked at something too long.  It looks like a jaggedy ripped hole with flashing marquee lights around it, and when you try to look at, it moves over to the right (it's my right eye).  Lasts about 15 minutes or so and everything where it is is distorted.  I did just take my blood pressure (with the machine), and it's 127/82, which is actually kind of high for me.

So, I have calls and appointments to make today, I guess . . . and I've got an email in to my main regular doctor alerting him of everything.  Guess I'll be using up my FSA account after all this year.

In other news of the day - I'm in full-on divest mode.  If you're looking for some yarn, please visit my destash page on Ravelry.  There are sweater quantities.  There is Wollmeise.  There might be more on there soon.

And, I've sold my Lendrum Saxony spinning wheel.

First, I sold the Louet Victoria earlier this year to Christa - well, actually, she fostered it for awhile until she decided if she wanted it or not.  She did  :-)  So, she paid me for that in September.  And I realized last week that I haven't been using my Saxony wheel lately - and then I really thought about it and realized I haven't spun on it in at least a year, maybe longer. 

I thought about it longer.  I had moved it into my office this summer when Jupiter was with me so he didn't accidentally knock it over, and after I realized I hadn't actually spun on it in a year, I also realized that every time I see it in my office my thought is not "gee, I should move that and spin on it again," it's "geez, that thing's huge and I should move it out of here - it's really taking up a lot of space."

Yeah - pretty big clue there, huh?

So, it's sold, and I'm taking it to its new home on Saturday, which means I'll have a nice trip to The Fold in the bargain, and my cousin ME might make the drive with me  :-)  Of course if my foot is really damaged and I end up with something other than the surgical shoe, I might have to beg her to drive me there.

I'm back down to one wheel, and really, it's my wheel of choice.  My folding Lendrum.  It's all I need  :-)  That's the place I seem to be in lately.  I'm very blessed to have pretty much everything I could ever want, and I think I fell into the "Oooo, Shiny!"  trap.  I'm not a magpie - I don't truly need every little thing I see.  I am reminded of my stepson when he was little - he was with me and my now ex-husband for a holiday (I was a Holiday Stepmom back then), and we were at the grocery store.  He was very clear with me that he NEEDED a toy sword.   :-D  (We went home without the sword.)

I have more yarn than I could ever knit up in probably two lifetimes.  I passed SABLE (Stash Accumulated Beyond Life Expectancy) a few years ago.  It's uncomfortable now - kinda like my body.  There's just too much of both . . .

I've already sold a lot of yarn and it's packaged up to mail today, so hopefully I can drive myself over to the PO (which is mercifully close) on my way to the podiatrist (assuming I can get in).

I have bags for the Second Chance Shop, and I'm going through the closets again - because, really, now the clothes I was keeping because they were going to fit soon are not going to fit soon, and by the time they do fit soon, they will be woefully dated and out of style.  So, I'm piling the stuff up in the living room (assuming I can walk around much in the coming days) and I'm going to keep moving forward.
 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Politics . . .

I don't often engage in political discussion here on my blog.  I don't, because I have found that many people are not able to have an adult conversation about politics when they hold opposing views. 

But today, I'm talking about Politics. 

I know that some of my friends and readers do not share my convictions, but if you are a woman, you need to think long and hard about what you might be taking for granted before you vote on November 6th.

And you need to read this She The People column from The Washington Post.

And then you need to enjoy one of Leslie Gore's songs.  And watch all of it. 

It's three minutes of your life. 

It might change your life.



Ms. Gore is right - women are still fighting for the same things now that they were fighting for in 1964 . . . that's not OK. 

This is a photograph of my mom:

1980s_03

My mom fought for women's rights.  She believed that women's voices should be heard.  She taught me that - she taught every member (both female and male) of my extended family that.

She wasn't some woman in a binder. 

She fought every day as single mom with a small child. 

She fought every day in a "man's" world, competing and winning - and getting paid less than her male counterparts.

She fought for the Equal Rights Amendment.  She was a member of the National Organization for Women.  She was always politically active.  And whatever her friends' political beliefs, she inspired them.  Just as she inspired the members of her family.

I don't care if you don't agree with me - this is America, where - so far - you still have the right to disagree.  But if you are a woman, please know that much of what you might be taking for granted in your everyday life could be ripped away from you.  Contraception and health insurance and economic parity are things that I believe every woman should have access to.  There are other major issues in this election - but for any woman, I think the first piece has to be her right to control her own body. 

Again, no matter what your political beliefs, this is your opportunity to make your voice heard.

GET OUT THE VOTE.

p.s.  Please, do your best to be excellent to each other in the comments should you leave any.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Roll With It Baby . . .

I think maybe I just heard that on a commercial for something . . . but it's very apropos for pretty much everything.  At least I think so.  And it's sticking with me.  :-)

The days are passing quickly in October - The leaves from the on-fire tree on my block are long gone.  The mums are deadheaded and I'm thinking about attempting to plant them in the ground this weekend.  The deck furniture must head to the garage this weekend, and although I never changed the screens on the security door to the storms last winter, I'm thinking this winter is going to be a different story, so I might as well do that this weekend, too  :-)

I bought a Christmas decoration last weekend at the 3 French Hens Market in Morris, Illinois, and yes, yes I did just put my Christmas playlist on my Touch.  (I happen to think Christmas music is appropriate pretty much any time at all.)  And I'm considering decorating early for the holidays . . .

No, I'm not rushing the season.  It's rushing itself. 

I just got a huge box of leaves and plant starts from a friend on the East Coast - just in time before the weather gets really cold.  It was a surprise box of joy, filled with all manner of African violet, and I went through everything last night to see what I would keep (not everything makes the cut around here, and my friend knows that  :-) ), and then got about a third of it potted up/put down.  My work is cut out for me tonight - I must finish tonight and get the kitchen back in some sort of order because the cleaning crew comes on Friday.  They will not be pleased if the counter is full of plants   :-D

I recommitted to Weight Watchers, and lost more than 8 pounds this week (I must have been holding on to a LOT of water . . . ) although I'm very frustrated by their newest toy - the ActiveLink.  I thought it would track my activity and translate it into Activity Points.  There are conflicting explanations about how one's baseline is set (it's a joint venture between Philips and WW, and one says one things and the other says the opposite . . . ), and it turns out that it's a challenge device and appears pretty much useless for a true accounting of my activity.  I'm already as active as I can be without quitting my job and living in the gym, I just wanted to track it. 

Yesterday I made 142% of the challenge goal they set for me after a second "assessment period," and I didn't get any activity points for it at all . . .

This morning I just did 45 minutes on the treadmill (that's 2 1/4 miles - I'm a slow walker), and I didn't get anything for that, either.

Alrighty then. 

I'm giving it one more day, but if it keeps on going how it's going, I'm shutting it off and taking the $40 buck loss and chalking it up to experience.

I've pretty much settled on what I'm going to do for my pay it forward folks (yay!), and I'm looking forward to a visit from Linda the Chicken Lady this weekend (yay! again!).

But first - there are leaves and suckers (those are plantlets without roots usually, that form on the center stems of African violets) to pot up and add to my "list."  It's a big list.  It won't stay that big for too long.  I'll make decisions on things as they grow - if they bloom true, if they shape up.

In the meantime, here's a piece of summer to hold on to  :-)  If you haven't actually seen this - be sure to watch to the end . . .



Tuesday, October 9, 2012

You Gotta Be . . .

I'm just back from the Missouri Valley African Violet Council's convention and show in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  I had a great but exhausting time  :-)

And for the first time in my life, I think, I didn't take any photos!  I was very focused on getting footage for my podcast (All About African Violets) and ended up not taking any still shots this time.  Crazy!  But I was very excited to get some interviews with some wonderful folks that I will be able to share over time on the podcast. 

I did, however, take some photos of the trees on my block last week  :-)

Fall 2012

It's that time of year, and I didn't really think we would have much color because of the terrible drought conditions here for much of the summer, but these trees that are right outside my door pretty much never disappoint  :-)

And the trees down the block . . .

Leaves 2012

And the mums on my porch, on their last hurrah . . .

Mums_Low Res

This annual last riot of color and beauty before we descend into Samhain (pronounced "sow" (like a pig) "en" (like the letter N)).  I like Samhain.  It's that time to wrap up lingering projects, take stock, and plant the seeds of new projects for the coming new year.  I so need this right now

I can hear the clock radio in the next room.  I just heard You Gotta Be

I always find it inspiring . . .


I guess because it's about being, not doing.  It's always a good reminder to me to BE, and since I have a true and strong tendency to DO, I'm grateful to be reminded. 

My weekends are clearing now for awhile, which should give me some time again to be, to clean up some lingering projects, and begin to contemplate moving forward.  I've been stuck for far too long.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Home Again, Home Again

Jiggety Jig.

I'm just home from a great weekend at Fiber Daze, in Neosho, Missouri.  I taught my sock knitting class there (Socks Top-Down on Two Circulars), and also an overview of Ravelry.  It was a lot of fun and I had great students! 

I did do a little shopping, but no yarn came home with me  :-)
 
Fiber Daze 2012

Over on the far left are little "bird's nests" that I made in Diana Armes Wallace's "Blending with a Hackle" class.  It was a lot of fun and I learned that in this process particularly, less is definitely more.  My favorite nest is the one in the middle, which is just two colors of wool and a teeny bit of glitz.  There is a vest pattern - one of Janet Wray's (JWrayco) beautiful designs, and a weekly calendar book that I bought just for the photos of fiber art in it!  The off-white fiber is one ounce of BFL/Silk top, and the charcoal one is one ounce of Wensleydale roving. 

The packages are two ounces each of some of the JWrayco's Sterling Roving (63% superwash merino, 20% silk, 15% nylon and 2% silver poly).  I got a painted and a coordinating solid in two different shades/colors.  You see where I'm going, don't you?  :-)  I keep trying to get enough yardage for socks out of four ounces of fiber  :-D

That last blue braid is Wensleydale top.  I love Wensleydale.  Tammy doesn't.  She gave that to me!

It was a wonderful trip, but it's the last time I'm going to be teaching for awhile.  I made the decision to not teach at Fiber Retreat in March because there are some weaving classes that I really want to take there next year  :-)  I am determined to learn how to really weave.  This decision is also based on my desire to move more balance into my life.  Sometimes it's good to go and just take class rather than go and attempt to teach and take class.  :-)

As usual, my suitcase is exploded all over my guest room.  Prolly a good thing no one is visiting me any time soon :-D
 
Fiber Daze 2012_02

Let me tell you about that hideous lime suitcase . . .  It's a Samsonite Oyster - one they don't make anymore - the one that actually fits a Lendrum spinning wheel.  Yeah.  It fits.  And once you get it in there, and get your clothes in, it weighs a really lot.  It has wheels, but it's an older style of suitcase so the wheels are on the skinny end and you have to take the entire weight of the suitcase in your hand to pick it up and roll it along.

When I left, it weighed 48.8 pounds.    I dragged (wheeled) it to the train.  I picked it up (blessing my trainer) and hauled it up the steps at the train station.  I dragged (wheeled) it across the Loop to work (where I took the elevator up to the lobby rather than the stairs like I usually do).  Upon arrival at my desk, I IMMEDIATELY called the car service and made a reservation to be picked up on the way home  :-D   And then I dragged (wheeled) it to the el and all the way through the passage to Midway to the desk, where I checked it.  It weighed 49 pounds by the time I got there.  No clue why.   I was never so happy to check a bag (and pay for the privilege) in my life.  My hands still hurt.  It only weighed about 44 pounds on the way home  (yay me!), but still . . . this is a lesson learned. 

It's one thing to pop my Lendrum in it's carry bag in the back of my auto.  It's another to attempt to fly with it.  I won't do it again. 

Had a wonderful visit and stayed with my friends Tammy and Robert.  They took me to a place called Silver Dollar City.  It was a LOT of fun!  I got stuff there, too, but nothing big - a few things for my shadow box, a few CDs and some other trinkets.  It all had to fit in the backpack, so I was careful. 

It was a great long weekend  :-)   I came home on Monday, and am still attempting to get things put away and the laundry done  :-D

In other news of the day - I'm up on the scale.  Again.  Traveling does that, but still.  I have not done too well for most of this year.  I'm not sure what that's about, but I'm not giving up.  In addition, It's about that time of year where I start going through everything again.  I seem to do this in the fall . . . two years ago I called it The Great Cleanup of 2010.  I'm thinking that a good part of October is going to be spent divesting stuff here.  I don't know how I can divest continually and still have ALL THIS STUFF . . .  but I'm seriously feeling the need to work on it all again.  So - my closet will be first and we'll see how it all goes   :-)  But, that's not going to start for a few weeks.  I've got a weekend to myself to get things put away from this latest trip, and then I'm going to be taking some violets to show.

This is my favorite time of year.  This morning it's foggy and the trees are already turning.  It was so hot this summer that they will not last long, but for the time being, on my block, it's truly autumn.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Fall is in the Air

It's chilly in the house this morning.  I don't really want to turn the heat on, but I have show plants that are only a few weeks out from show and they could stand to be a little warmer to encourage some more late blossoms . . .  we'll see.

Alrighty then - it was 62 . . . violets suffer below 65, so I'm caving early - at least for the next few weeks - and not letting the main part of the house get colder than 65.  I'm a sucker for a show plant  :-)

Been working on my third Senior Judges' Exam - I need to send it in in the next week.  I got most of it completed last night - it's a 12-page, open book test, and you have to include the page numbers where you got the answers.  It takes a long time, and it seemed to take even longer because I have the new copy of the handbook, and it's not highlighted at all  :-D  To keep judging after October, I have to pass the test (which should not be a problem), but I also need to have three blue ribbons at show.  I've been shooting for Missouri Valley in a few weeks to get the ribbons I need to continue judging.  If I don't get them, I'm sidelined until I do.  This is part of the price I paid for starting over.  I didn't have anything to take to National, nor to the Illinois State show.  But, if you have been watching my podcast, you already know that I have four show hopefuls.  They all just need a little more bloom. 

Cross your fingers.  :-)

Still struggling a bit with getting food and exercise back on an even keel (really struggling with both sugar and fat), and I will be traveling off and on in the coming weeks again - for some reason I nearly always find that to be challenging.  After being down 4.4 last week, this week I'm back up about 3. 

I'm also struggling with doing too much again, and I'm sure that doesn't help in the self-care area.  I'm certainly doing better than I was last year, though (when I had every weekend taken for nine or more weeks in a row (it was bad)). This weekend will be the last time I teach a knitting class for awhile.  It's not like I teach more than a couple of times a year, and I do enjoy it, but it's a lot of work.  When I go to Fiber Retreat next year, I won't be teaching at all, just taking class  :-)

I don't know, but it seems the older I get, the less able I am to be running full-out all the time - and I just don't have the desire to multi-task like I used to.  I'm not sure if that's a need/want to slow down and really experience my life (instead of viewing it at a constant blur), or if I'm just not capable of keeping up the way I used to.  I'm finding this to be true with my knitting and spinning, too.  If you are a member of the Year of Stash Socks group on Ravelry, when the October patterns are announced tomorrow, you'll also get a little taste of what the other mods and I are planning for 2013.  It should help.

At any rate, we're headed into my favorite time of year.  I wore a sweater last week, and again yesterday.  And on Monday, I wore my raincoat - first time . . .  I changed the wreath on the front door to my fall one - not that have one for every season.  I don't.  I'd like to, though!  :-D  It was cool enough last Friday that I could practice my pipes at lunchtime.  I went down on the Riverwalk.  The homeless guys didn't seem to mind, and the people on the tour boats applauded - which I think is hilarious because although I can play reasonably well, I really was just practicing.  But there is something very elemental about the pipes and people either love them or hate them.  The drones have a great deal to do with that I think.  They vibrate in the body in a way that is very compelling, and when they are in tune they are magnificent. Yes, contrary to popular belief, you DO tune bagpipes - and most people who think they don't like pipe music likely heard someone or a band that was not quite in tune.  There is no faster way to get a headache than pipes that are not in tune . . .

It's cool again today - I'm not going to WW, maybe I'll take the pipes with me for some practice at lunch again.  We'll see.

Fall is definitely in the air. 

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Consciousness

It is a gorgeous day here in Chicagoland, and I am about to head out to my hammock to enjoy one of the last days of summer.

I'm working on Debbie Ford's 21-Day Consciousness Cleanse.  It's serious personal work.

Errands are done.

Lasagna is planned for dinner.

Some knitting was accomplished.

I'm thinking about what to cover on the next episode of my podcast, All About African Violets.

I'm reading my friend, Kemberlee Shortland's novel, Rhythm of My Heart.  It's good.  :-)

I'm headed out to the hammock, book in tow, and if I should happen to fall asleep for a bit, wouldn't that be lovely?  :-) 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Unexpected Kindness

I have undone all the good I had done weightwise.  Even though I know that this is how my body operates - large jumps up and down - it's still disturbing.  I'm 241.4 this morning (that's with the extra 2 pounds added on for what it would be with clothes on the WW scale.  Clearly I'm not going to make my October goal.  I will be happy just to get back to where I was by the end of the calendar year.

And I specify calendar year because this always seems to be the new year for me - I always feel like the day after Labor Day is New Year's Day somehow - never got out of that old school year calendar I guess.

I am disheartened, and irritated with myself, but there is no blame to be laid.  I make the choice of what goes in to my mouth.  Only me.  I also make the choices about how much exercise I get, and my time and how I spend it.

And so, at the risk of sounding ridiculous, here we go - again.  I suppose that the trick to succeeding is to keep moving forward.  And so, even though I hit a mud slick and slid backwards down the hill rather quickly, what is there for it except to wipe the mud off, change my shoes, and start back up the hill?

:-)

For those of you in Chicagoland - I found a Mac Kelly's!!!!  For those of you not, Mac Kelly's is place with "greens and things."  They used to be in a variety of locations throughout the Loop, but I think they are now down to just one store.  They have a salad bar, and hot steam trays, as well as a sandwich bar and various packaged lunch foods.  There used to be one a half a block away from my office, but it closed back in March.  But there is at least one left, at 123 W. Madison.  On the days I need a salad I can build myself, I'll be able to get a few extra steps in my days  :-)

Yesterday, two different people did me unexpected kindnesses, both related to the knitting world.  There was a pattern that I wanted to make, called the Autumnal Neck Cozy, but it was part of a sock club and so wasn't available yet.  I posted in the group that is part of the club and asked if anyone who had the pattern wanted to destash it.  I received a message on Ravelry from someone saying that the pattern wasn't one she wanted to knit and I could have it!  I messaged back and thanked her, gave her my snail mail address and asked her how much she wanted for it - and she said, "nothing, just pay it forward at some point."   :-)

And then, I won a prize on the Fish Knits group on Ravelry (and if you haven't tried Jo Dee's Fish Knits yarn yet, what are you waiting for?!  I'm partial to her Strong Heart base  :-)).  It was a bag up to $20 from Absolute Wonder.  I was so excited!!!  I received a message from the shop owner telling me that if I saw something that cost more than the $20 I won, that I could get it and she would only bill the person who donated the prize the $20 and I could pay the rest!  So, I found a really lovely bag, and it was a few dollars more, so I ordered it and let her know that I would pay the difference, and also wanted to be sure that the shipping was not more than a smaller bag would have been.   I got a message back saying "you don't owe me a penny - consider it my contribution to the KAL."    :-)

I'll be paying these kindnesses forward - not sure how yet, but I will  :-)

It's raining again  :-)   Apparently it rained hard last night, too.  I slept right through it.

:-D

Monday, August 20, 2012

Fall is in the Air

It was a tough week last week in many ways.  I did, however have a pretty awesome weekend.

My Saturday was a powerhouse of accomplishment  :-)  Yay Me!!!  I got my house put back together and I vacuumed (including the cobwebs :-) ) and took a couple of tubs of prepared fleece downstairs and out of the way.  My cousin ME and her husband R came over on Saturday morning and R helped me with a few things in the house (well, R actually did all the work  :-D).  I needed to hang both the really large fabric pieces I had framed.  This is the quilt that my great grandmother made.  It's small for a quilt, but really large for a piece of art  :-)  It definitely took two people to get it up on the wall.

Quilt Hung

And this is the applique piece I bought in Luxor when I was in Egypt last year.  It looks a little cock-eyed, but it's not - it's the angle of the camera.  My walls are not this yellow, BTW, they are a warm gold (and there is nothing that odd bluish/green color in my kitchen (through that doorway on the left), it's just the light somehow.

Luxor Piece

I'm really glad to have both of these things done!  Then, R also brought over the big ladder and I cleaned the blades on the ceiling fan in the sunroom and also hung a new pair of Glansa lights from IKEA - sure wish they still carried them!  Then, we pulled up the rug in the guest room and took it downstairs.  And during all that, the appraiser came to appraise my house so I can refinance.

Then, we went out for burgers to a local joint, and I headed to the hardware store to buy light bulbs and some things for my podcast.  I ran home and unloaded the car and grabbed two things to return to Walgreens, and then went over to the big box store to get more light bulbs and more stuff I needed for this week's podcast.  And while I was there, I got this!

Mums

Isn't it beautiful?  The red mum on the ground was a gift from ME and R earlier in the week to cheer me up, but I got the stand and the three hanging mums on Saturday.  I LOVE this!!!  Mums always make me think that fall is on its way. 

Then I drove over to the vet to pick up some dog food that I agreed to pay for, and then ran home to unload the car again, and then drove a few towns over to drop off/donate the dog food.  I headed back home and made a stop at Tuesday Morning (love that place!) in case they might have had any rugs I could use for the guest room (they didn't this time), and then went grocery shopping.

What a day!!!

Sunday was truly a day of rest in many respects.  I did film my podcast and got that accomplished, and potted up some spider plants, and then I watched a couple of Netflix and worked on some knitting.  It was a good day  :-)

There hasn't been much knitting going on lately - I have been working (off and on) on my St. Brigid sweater, and am into the sixth pattern repeat on the back.  It will take time, but things are moving forward  :-)

Fall is my favorite time of year.  I know it's not October yet, but this is one of my favorite songs at this time of year . . .  I mean, who doesn't love a good love song?  Ignore the 80s fashion and just get lost in the music . . .


Thursday, August 16, 2012

Thank You

Thanks, everyone, for the comments, the emails, everything.  It means a great deal to me.  Yesterday was a hard day, but I know that I have made the best decision for Jupiter even though it was very painful for me.

Thank you all.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Fail

It turns out that I was only meant to foster Jupiter for a short time.  I'm heartbroken, but he needs more than I can give him,  please understand that I can't talk more about it.  Thank you all for your support and caring.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Coming Up for Air

Wow!

It has been a crazy couple of weeks.  I've really missed blogging.  And writing morning pages.  Work has been very busy for me lately, and I've really had a lot on my mind in general. 

Summer is fleeting.  It's August.  I weigh 230.0 pounds.  It could be worse.  It was worse.  But it's better now  :-)  I still have a chance to make my next goal at Halloween  :-)

I didn't spin for Tour de Fleece, but I did finish some Targhee that I wanted to knit socks with.  No go.  Spun fine enough for socks made the top I had very fragile.  Like I could break it apart fragile.  So, no socks for the Targhee.

I was trying to knit some mitts for the Ravellenic Games, but they are loose - I mean, I have very delicate wrists for being such a tall woman, and other mitts have fit me better, so after one pattern repeat, I'm frogging these and moving on to my St. Brigid sweater.

Yes, pick your lips up off the floor.  You heard me right.  I'm pulling out my St. Brigid right after I put my Lendrum away.  It's time for it to rest in its bag, out of the sunroom for awhile.  I have been slowing moving things out of the sunroom - both the looms are now in the basement, and now that I finished spinning that Targhee, the folding Lendrum is being put away.  My cleaning lady isn't going to know what to do when she's actually able to CLEAN in the sunroom again  ;-D

It was getting to be just too cluttered in there.  I still have more work to do putting things away and divesting myself of stuff, but it's already feeling much more serene again.

Here's the Targhee - 317 yards, pretty much fingering weight.

Targhee

I did succeed in one Ravellenic Games event - the Frogging Trampoline . . .

This was my almost completed Augusta Cardigan:

Oban Cardi 05

This is the one where I ran out of the yarn and had to send to Scotland to get more.  It still needed a button band.  I had made the arms 1 inch longer because I have really long arms, and the sleeves ended up having to be cuffed twice.  That would have been relatively easy to fix, except for that I am smaller now than when I started it. 

There really wasn't anything I could do that didn't require substantial frogging and redesign of the entire shoulder area . . . and since this is a very crunchy wool - better suited to a lined jacket than a sweater, I decided to do this:

Augusta After

Yup, really.

That's about all the news around this joint - my podcast, All About African Violets, is heading into its 6th week.  I'm starting to find a better rhythm (most of the time :-D) and I'm building an audience.  Yay!  I have lots of fans in Serbia.  Who knew?!  I am happy to have them!!

What's on your needles?

Saturday, July 14, 2012

It's Summer

Good news!  I have both my feet back.  My second x-ray was clear, so the doc said I didn't need The Shoe anymore.  I can start walking again, which is great because two weeks of enforced inactivity was not best for me.  I didn't go to WW because I wasn't supposed to walk any extra than getting to and from work.  And let's be real - I was feeling sorry for myself . . . poor food choices were made.  But they are in the past and I am moving forward.

I have to take it slow - I had to cut back to half of what I was doing before.  Since I was anywhere from 40 to 60 minutes, the doc said to cut back to 20 and start there and I can build back up as long as it doesn't hurt  :-)  Yay!

More good news - the brutal heat wave broke last Sunday. It's been back up into the 90s this week, but it's amazing the difference even 10 degrees makes.

In weird news:  My house is out of control.

For someone who takes stuff to the Second Chance Shop as much as I do, it never ceases to amaze me how much crap I still have . . .

My kitchen and sunroom have been close to horrifying in the past month  . . .  Here's the kitchen earlier this week:

Kitchen

That's the new loom down on the floor - its stand is over in the other half of the kitchen (next to the paper bag).

Kitchen 02

It certainly is looking better today, but there is still far to go - I'll have more photos later in the week.

Last night my cousin, ME, came over to help me in the basement.  I had a 29-year supply of boxes and crap down there in the one section that has possibilities for being functional. 

I put two photos together so the angle is very off, but you can get an idea:

Basement

If I can get this space into some sort of order I'm thinking of finishing it somehow - maybe like a log cabin  :-D   Seriously.  The fireplace has that weird weeping morter and the previous owner painted it white . . . I think I could fix that.  I found a place in Michigan called Rustic Rails that does interior log siding, and beam wraps - the question is do I create an actual wall and door, or do I just leave it open like it is.  I'm leaning toward leaving it open.  The ceiling is rather low (it's a basement after all), but I think there are possibilities to have the looms down here.  Soon.  ME thought it might be a little damp - there were water issues in the past - but it's usually pretty dry now. 

Just something to think about for the future  :-)

But I do need to get stuff out of the sunroom and kitchen.  My sunroom in particular is no longer a serene sanctuary for me.  There's too much stuff in there, so I'm going to figure something out in the next couple of weeks.

All About African Violets is going pretty well - heading into Episode 3 this week.  :-)

Anyone else watch and love Heartland as much as I do? :-)  I think I might want to move to Alberta Canada  :-D

And I can't stop listening to Maroon 5's Payphone song (that links to the clean version).I'd put the video here, but somehow it's not working.

:-)

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Hot Hot Hot . . .

Holy Smokes it's HOT.

I spent 4th of July inside.  Except for when I went out to the store. 

OMG.

There was a breeze - but the air was so hot that the breeze was like walking by a blast furnace at the steel mills.

Geez.

I am very, very grateful to have a cool, air conditioned home, even though the bill for June is going to be pretty spendy, I'm sure.

It was really great to have a day off in the middle of the week  :-D  I worked on a sock, and watched episodes of Heartland, a Canadian show that I fell in love with a few years ago.  Sometimes it airs on WGN, so you might want to check it out. 

All the music on the show is pretty great, but there is a song from an episode in the second season, that just blew me away when I heard it the first time.  It's called Eyes Wide Open, by a group of First Nation (Saulteaux, Anishnabe, Tahltan, Dene, and Salish) women called M'Girl.  This is a music video that they made.


I have been unsuccessful in finding their CD, but I put a search on eBay, so maybe one will come along.  They are from Vancouver. 

I would like to go to Vancouver some day - I know a lot of televisions shows are shot there, and it always looks very beautiful.

I've had another rough week with food.  Been feeling a bit sorry for myself with The Shoe.  Even though my foot is not hurting, my physical activities have been seriously curtailed, and that's been difficult for me.  I did go swimming over the weekend.  Laps.  Nonstop for half an hour.  And I was reminded that since I was a kid, whenever I go swimming, as soon as I get out of the pool I am, literally, starving and want to eat immediately.  I'm hoping this will be remedied in the future by putting a piece of string cheese in my bag to take the edge off, rather than going to the deli for a corned beef sandwich . . .  :-S

It's Thursday, though, and my food week starts again today, so it's back to the future for me  :-)

Just a quick update on my new podcast - you guys, the response to All About African Violets has been overwhelming, and all of it extremely positive.  With more than 500 hits in just a couple of days, I'm really thrilled!  :-)   And, of course, the realization that it wasn't a one-shot deal is beginning to hit me now  :-D  I already have most of this week's show outlined, and will start filming one of the segments tonight.  I could have done it yesterday, but I decided to truly relax on the holiday.

In other news of last week.  I have another loom.  Yes.  Really  :-D

To make a long story short, an old friend of mine in Colorado was going through things in the basement and found his late aunt's loom.  He rang me and said, "A, do you know anyone who weaves?  I've got Aunt Martha's loom and I have to get it out of here."  And I said, "Um . . . me."  :-)

He said it was in two boxes - the first one arrived last week and the second one is on its way now, I think. 

It's Louet table loom, 4-shaft, with Texsolv heddles.  The book said it's a W-40, but I can't find any reference to that, and putting it on Ravelry yielded info that it's likely a Kombo, which was Louet's predecessor to their Jane table loom.  It does look quite similar. It came with eleventy million sticks and bits and shuttles and reeds and I think either a sectional beam or a raddle.  I'm not sure.  It's currently resting on the kitchen floor.  It weaves 16" wide, so I think it's going to be good for scarves and table runners, and towels.  I really need to get cracking again with weaving!.

Louet W-40_01

And the kitchen bar is COVERED again . . .

Louet W-40_02

Yesterday I bought a Reed Rack - it should be on its way to me today.  I can't have all this stuff all over everywhere all the time - it needs its own place.  I'm thinking about finishing one section of my basement and making it a weaving area.  Not sure yet how that might shake out, but it's definitely on my radar.  The sunroom is getting really full of stuff - awesome stuff, to be sure, but even though it's a huge room, it's feeling very crowded lately.

I will be interested to see what the other box holds.  I believe it might be a stand for the loom, which would be awesome!

If it's hot where you are, be sure to drink a lot of water and keep as cool as you can - they are predicting temps in the three figures here today . . .

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Exciting News!!!

I have exciting news!!!

As you know, I write from time to time on this blog about my African violets.  I am really excited to announce that I am now a podcaster! 

I am producing a weekly video podcast called All About African Violets.  The first episode was released on Sunday, July 1st.  :-)

It is available on Blip TV

It is also available on iTunes where you can subscribe and have it downloaded every week! (that's the preview link - you have to actually get in to iTunes to subscribe to it there).  If you do watch through iTunes and you like the podcast, please take a moment to leave a star rating - that helps me as a podcaster, and it helps make the podcast more visible to others who might be looking for it  :-)

This is a new adventure, and I've had a lot of help along the way - from musician, Ted Yoder, who musically sponsors the show, to KniftyRed who is responsible for the graphic design.  And a huge thanks to my friend, The Proverbial Knitter, who helped me along the path and was exceptionally patient with me while I was freaking out and being all nervous  :-)

I hope you will go and take a look over at All About African Violets - maybe you know someone who is an indoor gardener who might like the show - please feel free to pass along the links!!  :-)

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Crap. Crap, Crap, Crappity Crap.

My Foot

See that?  That fashion-forward surgical shoe?  The one on the right?  The one that's on MY right foot?  Yeah, that.  That shoe.

I have a stress fracture.  I have no idea how I did it, other than I was on my feet a lot on hard concrete during the month of June - but there's nothing to pinpoint, and it's not bruised and it's not swollen, so who the hell knows how I did it.

:-S

Two weeks in The Shoe.  Rest . . . no walking for cardio.  No elliptical.  No sit/stands, no lunges, no squats, nothing that puts any additional pressure on it.

It's like I'm in a timewarp - an effing nightmare - here we go again . . . but the Dr. assures me that it will not be anything like - nor anywhere near as long a recovery as - plantar fasciitis was.  One can only hope . . .  I mean, it cannot take two years for a stress fracture to heal.  I know it can't.

But really?   REALLY?  WTH?!  I'm on this great roll - down another 2.4 pounds this week, and it's another fricken' injury.  It's not like I was overdoing it - 4 or 5 days week, 45-60 minutes, and I don't even walk fast.  Sonofabitch.

I've spent the afternoon and evening feeling sorry for myself, but the good news is that the doctor said I can wear my Dansko's around the house - as long as they don't hurt - because they don't bend. And at least it's The Shoe and not The Boot. But that's about it for good news.  To walk to and from the train and the office, and at the club working out, I have to wear The Shoe.

The doctor says it was good that I came in early instead of walking on it forever.  Two weeks in The Shoe, ice (which hurts like hell) a couple times a day, the anti-inflammatory that I'm already (still) taking, and then another x-ray.  No lower body work that puts any pressure on it.  Swimming's OK if it doesn't hurt to kick. Recumbent bike is OK (as long as my tailbone cooperates. yeah, right:  Get The Butt Pillow . . .) as long as it doesn't hurt.  If something hurts, I have to stop immediately.

The doc says to consider this two weeks of cross-training.  I'm trying.  I'm really trying . . .

And yes, my orthotic is taped into The Shoe.

And no, I probably won't be spinning anything for Tour de Fleece now.

And geez, it's like a 100 degrees here, it's so frickin' hot.

Man, am I cranky.  :-S

Sunday, June 24, 2012

A Gift and Some Fun

It's been a very busy June here, Chez A :-)    I've been going every weekend with fun stuff - last weekend was the Highland Games, and this weekend, it was the Midwest Fiber & Folk Art Fair.

A Gift

But first,  I want to show you the little box of awesomeness that my friend, Michelle from Boulderneigh sent me a few weeks ago.  I've been remiss in not posting about it sooner.

Box from Michelle

I tossed my name in the hat for a drawing on her blog, and this box of treats arrived in early May!  There is some green tea hard candy, some of Michelle's note cards (she's a fabulous photographer!), two mini raglan sweaters that she knit that are going to look pretty cute on my Christmas tree, a bump of wool fiber for me to spin, and TWO jars of her jam and butter.  I finished the jam (strawberry/rhubarb/pineapple - YUM!!) in pretty short order, and the apple butter will be adorning my toast in the mornings going forward  :-)

Michelle, thank you so much!!!!  :-)

Some Fun

On Friday, I made my way up to the Lake County Fairgrounds for the Midwest Fiber & Folk Art Fair.  I'm very proud to tell you that I was the very first Founding Charter Member of the Fair.  :-)  This year, I finally got to meet fair organizer, Carol Cassidy-Fayer in person!

Linda the Chicken Lady, and my friend M and I met up at the Fair on Friday for a day of shopping and fun.  The Fair seemed smaller to me this year, but no less fabulous.  I love that there are vendors of all kinds there - it's not just yarn and fiber (although I could have done with a little more fiber  :-D), other fiber arts such as weaving and rug hooking are represented, as well as other "work of our hands," which is what the Fair focuses on.

I want you to know that I didn't buy any yarn . . . this is not to say that I didn't come home with yarn, but I didn't buy any  :-D

Midwest 2012

The only things missing from this photo are some blue ceramic buttons I bought.  They are worth knitting a sweater around  :-D

Yes, there's yarn in that photo - I was gifted a hat kit on my way out the door (thank you Carol  :-) ) and I think it's going to make a pretty cute winter hat.  There are four bumps of fiber - two from Kimber at Fiber Optics.  I was very disappointed to only be able to get one in her pencil roving in the 80/20 superwash merino/nylon blend (the yellows).  The red/black is 80/20 merino/silk.  I also picked up  Miram Felton's Twist & Knit from her shop.  Up top, is a sort of a batt from Hands and Notions - my colors but not my usual fiber choices or preferred prep (merino/bamboo/kid mohair/BFL/baby alpaca/soysilk/sparkle.  I'm challenging myself  :-) )  Below that, is a braid of 100% mixed BFL from Tucker Woods Yarns

There is an amazing bar of Lavender Buds soap from Lost City Knits.  OMG it is REALLY fragrant and I can't wait to jump in the shower and try it out  :-D  I don't know that the soap is on their website, but Denise (who I believe is a member of the Year of Stash Socks Group (YOSS) on Ravelry) has some stunning designs and beautiful yarns (Linda got a gorgeous skein of silk lace from her).

The rest is bits of fabric and silk ribbon - you'll remember I learned to do Silk Ribbon Embroidery at Fiber Retreat this year - I've been looking for supplies and although they were a bit spendy, I loved the colors I could get; and, since it's been hard to find, I decided I was "in for a penny, in for a pound."

I did come home with other yarn, though.  Linda brought me a shopping bag full of cotton for weaving.  I have no idea what I'm going to do with it - do I keep it and weave with it?  Do I donate it?  Whatever I decide, it all has to be accounted for and go into my stash, because this month is an accounting month for the Slash & Smash Your Stash Challenge in the YOSS group.  Poor me - my totals are going to go WAY up . . .

Friday I spent the night at M's and had a fab Greek dinner and got to watch one of my favorite Bollywood films, Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi, on her big movie screen in the basement!  What fun!!

Then, Saturday, I headed back to the Fair for a class in Beaded Embroidery - taught by Marianne Biagi.  If you have any interest in this art, look for any class that Marianne teaches.  She is amazing and I learned SO much.  I have done some bead embroidery in the past, but nothing like this - and it's been something I really wanted to take up again.  Here's my messy space :-D

Beading Class_2012

There were four students (I love a small class like that!)  And it's so amazing to see how each of us interpreted Marianne's instructions:

Beading Class_2012_03

Here is a close up of my day's work:

Beading Class_2012_02

Obviously not done yet - but I like how it's progressing so far.  I love doing this work - it's certainly time-consuming, but the results are really expressive.  I see a LOT more of this in my future.

And now, today - I'm looking at the mess of my bags exploding all over my kitchen . . . and thinking I had better get cracking here  :-)  There is laundry to do, and a variety of things to accomplish to get ready for the week to come.

p.s.   I lost 5.0 pounds this past week.  Yay Me!  I know it's unrealistic to think that I could do that every week, but I shoot for the stars and take what I can get  :-)  Things are going well this week, too, so - barring any unforeseen weirdness - I hope to show another good loss on the scale on Thursday.