Thursday, December 31, 2015

It's Just Another New Year's Eve . . .

Yes, I'm home.  In my jams.  Alone.  On New Year's Eve.  It's OK.  I've never been a big one for New Year's.  It's amateur night out on the roads, and I'm just as happy to be home safe and sound.

Had a lovely afternoon at my cousin K's.  On Christmas she asked me for some new Irish Hiking Armwarmers.  I love knitting for her - she wears every single thing I make her.  As mentioned previously, she runs the garden center in a large big box store, and she's outside a lot.  I made this longer than the last pair so that her arms will really stay warm  :-)

The yarn is Fiesta Baby Boom in the Clematis colorway  :-)  I've enough to make her another pair - I think I'll just do that and put them away for the next time she needs some.

And here is today's look at the Amaryllis  :-) 

The YOSS Challenge closes in an hour.  The local freshmarket is carrying Jeni's Ice Cream again (and yes, I got some :-D ).  The dishwasher is running.

7:48 and all is well . . .  :-)

Been a long time since I posted this one . . .

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 30, 2015


What a crazy few days it's been. 

I'm a moderator of a great group on Ravelry.  It's called Year of Stash Socks (YOSS).  Three of us moderate the group - Tammy, whom you may recall from the Proverbial Knitter podcast (which has just ended, like mine!), Christa, and me.  Together we are The Friendly Mods (short for Moderators) - or as Tammy likes to say, The Friendly Mod (her), The Friendlier Mod (Christa) and the Friendliest Mod (me).  ;-D

Tammy came up with a great year-long challenge for the group - we call it Rock Around the Sock - and it has completely revitalized our group - and a ton of new people have joined us just so they can participate!  This is great!  However, group members have come up with eleventy billion questions that none of the three of us Mods ever even considered. 

Our concept (Tammy's concept!) was choosing 24 skeins from our respective stashes, and knitting socks from only those 24 for the challenge.  You cannot imagine how many questions we've answered and clarifications we've made in the last few days as the deadline for getting set up draws near.  It's a testament to all three of us that we easily and happily pick up each other's slack in the group as necessary, and man, have we been busy this week  :-D

But tomorrow night is the deadline for participation, and then we start knitting on January 1st.  I will be very glad when the deadline hits and we can lock the thread.  Besides which, I'm excited to knit as part of the challenge.  I have no illusions of getting 24 pairs of socks knit next year - hell, I still have three sweaters on the needles  :-D  But I will knit as many as I can, and I will be challenged to try some patterns as well as blasting out plain vanillas.  I'm looking forward to it!

Here's today's look at the Amaryllis.  It's pretty amazing how fast they grow, isn't it?  I think that soon I'm going to have to change my angle on the shots!

And here's an early New Year's Eve  for you.  It was filmed live in 2012 at Stirling Castle (which I have visited!), it's a great tune, and it has bagpipes and Rod Stewart (my inspiration for my hair  :-D), as well as Kylie Minogue, Michael Buble and some other people I don't know  :-D  But really - Pipes - Rod Stewart - Seriously - what's not to like?  :-)

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Ten on Tuesday . . .

Today's Ten on Tuesday theme is:  10 Things I Did in 2015 that Made Me Feel Proud

  1. I went back to Weight Watchers.
  2. Restarted weekly production of my podcast, All About African Violets. I am very proud of how many people all over the world not only enjoyed it, but learned from it.
  3. I'm very humbled that I became the standard bearer for the late Pauline Bartholomew's advice of "Limit Your Collection."  Her book is the bible of growing African violets for show, and to bring one of her greatest teachings into the mainstream again is pretty amazing.
  4. My heart was extra happy when "Limit Your Collection" was the number one African violet resolution for 2016 in the lasted AVSA Newsletter (from a survey of more than 100 growers on Facebook).  
  5. Although it was hard, I'm happy that I knew when to let go of the podcast - it was time to move forward.
  6. I learned to pay better attention in about a million areas in 2015.
  7. I learned to take better care of myself.
  8.  I knew when to say "Enough!" And then I actually said it - more than once  :-)
  9. I did some major pre-retirement planning - and then I started practicing to live on a fixed income before I actually have to.
  10. I'm proud that I'm realizing that the new WW SmartPoints program may not be sustainable for me over the long-haul.  That means that I'm listening to my body, that I'm paying attention, and that I know when to say "Enough!"  Yay Me!!  It's the trifecta of feeling proud  :-D
Here's today's Amaryllis!

and here is yesterday's look:

Sunday, December 27, 2015

It's a Pond . . .

Here is yesterday's Amaryllis photo:

And here is today's:

That one on the bottom right doesn't seem to be doing much, but the other two are making progress.

Here's what it looks like in my backyard this morning:

I cannot even begin to tell you how happy I am that I had that interior drain tile done in the basement earlier this year.  In years past, this view would have meant a very wet basement.  And since it's been raining instead of snowing pretty much all winter so far, I would have been a VERY unhappy and cranky camper by this point.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Safe in Daddy's Arms . . .

There are very few photographs of me with my father.  My mother told me that he was nearly always the one behind the camera.  In fact, I've only ever seen one photo of us together - and it was when I brand new.  I found it in my mother's things after she died.

Yesterday, at my cousin's, she pulled out a photo album that she had been putting together from her late mom's photographs.  And there was this photograph of me and my Dad.  It was Christmas 1957 and we are at my grandmother's in Riverdale.  I don't know who was behind the camera - probably my mom.

That's all I posted on Facebook, but there is more to the story . . .

I looked at this photo for a very long time last night - trying very hard not to cry.  I was struck by how very happy I look here. In this photo I am about a year and a half old.  He is 32.  I have no conscious memory of him - by Christmas of the following year I would be 2 1/2, and he would be dead at the age of 33 from kidney disease.  It was a year before dialysis . . .

I think the camera caught him just at the beginning of his smile, as though someone had said "smile" and then clicked the shutter just as the corners of his mouth were curving up into the smile that likely happened a split second after the shutter was clicked.  According to my mom and other of their friends who knew him, my father absolutely adored me.  Look at me - clearly the feeling was mutual.  His giant hand holding my little one - me happy and safe and not wiggling or wanting to get down (according to my mom, "I want to get down" was a familiar theme from my childhood).

How I wish I had had this photo growing up.

How happy I am to have it now . . .

Friday, December 25, 2015

It's Christmas . . .

The watching and waiting is over.  Christmas is here!  I'm up and getting going this morning - had a special once-a-year breakfast . . . biscuits and bacon may or may not have been consumed  ;-)

I think the Amaryllis is liking the Eastern exposure  :-)

There are presents under my tree, and family waiting for an afternoon of fun and laughter - as well as, I'm sure, an array of once-a-year treats and yummy food.

I've had plenty of years where Christmas felt like "just another day," so if you are feeling that way today, know that you are thought of with kindness and gratitude.  I wish you love and peace - and I hope you might be surprised by joy today.

I stumbled across this yesterday.  Seemed appropriate.

Thank you for reading my blog.

Merry Christmas  :-)

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Christmas Eve . . .

The Amaryllis says it's a Grand Trumpet Amaranthe.  According to the Jackson & Perkins website, that means that it's red!  It also says: "Big, Double, Vibrantly Red Blooms!"

It was in a Northeastern exposure yesterday.  I moved it this morning to an Eastern exposure, but I think I'm going to move it over to a southern exposure so it gets more light.  Here's this morning's progress  :-)

Other things are blooming here . . .  :-)

This is an African violet called Crystallaire.  It's an old vintage Eyerdom variety from 1981.  It's supposed to be a double blossom.  This is its first bloom, and it's definitely not fully double.  I'm going to give it more time.  This one will get potted on out of its Solo cup pot.

Next is LE-Prekasnia Kreolka.  A Russian/Ukrainian variety registered in 2010.  It's blooming true to its description  :-)

 These plants are similar.  They are both green standards and would be shown in the same edged class in a show.  Crystallaire could also be shown in the Vintage class.  Both are registered, so it's also conceivable that they could be part of an AVSA Standard Collection in a show.

I have to work today, but only for a half-day.  Yay!  I might toddle on over to the Art Institute and see the Thorne Rooms.  Some are decorated for the holidays and I love to see them  :-)   Tonight is the candlelight service at my church where I will be singing in the choir.  And then . . .

. . . Santa Claus comes tonight  ;-)

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

The Christmas Amaryllis . . .

My brother and sister-in-law sent me a triple pot Amaryllis from Jackson & Perkins!  My sister-in-law told me to take out of the box yesterday because it needed water.  So I did. 

I took a photo of it this morning - The Christmas Amaryllis (Amarylli??), Day 1:

That little bit of growth on the left one sprouted from last night to this morning when I took the photo!

We'll be watching these  :-)

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Ten on Tuesday and General This and That. . .

Yesterday was the Winter Solstice - you know what that means, don't you?  Summer's coming!  :-D

I meant to post yesterday, but perhaps it's time for me to ease up a little.  We'll see  :-)

This week's Ten on Tuesday topic is:  Things You Look Forward to Doing After the Holiday Rush

This year, these are the things I'm looking forward to in the coming days:

  1. Sleeping in and at least one day at home in my jams
  2. Getting my office back in shape (it's close!)
  3. Getting a large donation ready to take to the Second Chance Shop
  4. Getting some house plants repotted
  5. Shredded a massive amount of paper (really - I need this stuff gone!)
  6. Reading in peace
  7. Knitting on some lingering projects
  8. Catching up on the DVR
  9. Getting started on the boxes still left in the basement (it's time!)
  10. Moving forward in to the New Year
Whether or not I accomplish them all or not remains to be seen  :-)

Parts of this are hard to watch, and yet I hope you will - and that you will share its message of and wish for peace . . .

Sunday, December 20, 2015

One More Memory . . .

This is the third cartoonette from my childhood memories.  I always wondered why Santa looked Asian.  Turns out he was modeled on the sculptor, who happened to be Chinese American!

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Crazypants . . .

Every time I think I'm going to drop back my posting from daily to something more reasonable, like weekly, something happens that I need to work through in words on the page.

I was already feeling unsettled (see yesterday's post . . . ), and then I opened Thursday's mail.  Lo and behold:  A letter from my health insurance carrier stating that I had been switched to an HMO and needed to pick a participating practice organization.


Um . . . NO.

That entailed a panicked call to Human Resources as soon at I got to work yesterday.  It was a mistake, thankfully.  A bunch of people got the letters in error and HR told me they are working on it and not to worry.  That was a relief.

Next up on the docket yesterday I had one of my cousins calling about getting his late mother's old steamer trunk out of my garage on Christmas day.  Let's talk about boundaries here for a minute . . .

He said he would have it out of my garage by Christmas, and I was fine with that because I've told both he and his brother repeatedly that my garage is not climate controlled and the stuff in the trunk is old and fragile, but then he said I could just put it in my car and bring it over to him at another cousin's house.

I don't think so.

I said no, that if he wants it, he should be at my house by 11:15 on Christmas to pick it up because I'm leaving to go to the other cousin's not later than 11:45.  Well, that was apparently more than he could stand - to be pinned down to a specific time for something. So, I suggested that he call his brother.  So he called his brother, who also refused and said it wouldn't fit in his car (my old car).  So the first one calls me back and starts in with the  "That's your old car - won't it fit?  Do you know why he won't help me? Don't you have any idea about why he won't help me?"  And I'm thinking to myself, "Really Universe?  Don't I have enough crazypants stuff going on already??"  So I then suggested he call his nephew who has a pickup truck.  He said that's what his brother said, too.

Well, what do you know!  Surprise, surprise . . .

You have no idea how hard it is for me to hold my boundaries with this particular cousin, besides which, I really want that trunk out of my garage.  It's one of my personal quirks that I want everyone's crap out of my living space, including his brother's tools that have been hanging out in my garage for at least two years (he already got his stuff out of my basement under duress back in January in preparation for the basement construction).  We left it that he would figure something out and would be at my house by 11:15 (which all of a sudden didn't seem like such a hardship, apparently) on Christmas.

And, as usual, if I just wait a bit and not give in, everything falls into place.  I got a call tonight from his brother (he apparently had a change of heart) asking would I please measure the trunk to see if it would fit in the back of my old car . . .  so I'll be doing that tomorrow morning when it's not so cold.

Crazypants, I'm telling you.  Just plain crazypants around here  :-D

Friday, December 18, 2015

Stuff Happens . . .

Why does stuff happen the way it does?  I ask myself this question quite often.  I never give myself a good answer.

Stuff just happens. 

Even so, I'm one of those people.  ??  You know, the ones who think that everything happens for a reason.  The ones you'd like to occasionally slap because they are so relentlessly cheerful.  I possess  " . . . that Irish trait of being able to happily keep contradictory beliefs going . . . " (W. Scott Simmons).

Yup, that's me. 

I truly do believe, deep down in my heart that things are not altogether random on this planet - that everything happens for a reason - that we are all in each other's paths for a reason.  That's why, when unexpected stuff happens, I work hard to make some sense of it - to see if I can figure out what I'm supposed to learn from every situation, both good, and not so good.  It's a hard concept sometimes, because sometimes the lesson was not for you - you were the lesson for someone else.  And sometimes you never find out what you were supposed to learn.

Our new choir director resigned last night - or rather, told us about it last night.  Something about fundamental differences.  I can respect that.  You have to follow your heart and what you believe.  I've done it myself.  In Junior High School, after going through confirmation class at a local church where we were living at the time, I told my mom that I didn't want to be confirmed in that church - the kids were really really mean (I cannot even begin to tell you . . . ) and it just wasn't right.  She honored my wish.  So I get the thing about fundamental differences. But since I belong to what I think is a very open and respectful denomination, I'm struggling to make sense of this.  What differences?  Why?  Why now?  Christmas Eve will be the last time we all sing together.   For a church in transition with only an interim minister, this is a blow.  At least it seems that way to me - but I'm not in charge so I don't really know.  I'm sad.  And confused.  And I wonder what's going to happen next - or if anything at all is going to happen next. 

It has occurred to me that maybe we won't find a new minister.  It seems to be taking a very long time.  I thought that with the choir being able to sing with a new director this year that that would be a very positive thing.  Maybe I was wrong.  I keep hoping for the best - happily juggling those contradictory belief balls with aplomb.  Maybe I'm wrong.  I've considered looking for a new church home, but my church life (wherever it's been lived) has been spent in a church in my community.  You attend in your neighborhood or local community.  Going somewhere far is a foreign concept to me.  And yet it seems to be what I might be considering.  I really wish I could make some sense of this.  But at the moment, I can't.  Obviously there are things that I don't know - and may never know.  What I do know, is that "the way it's always been" is in the wind, which means that change is in the air. 

What change that may be is still a mystery, and I have no fricking idea what I'm supposed to learn from this situation.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

More than 20 Questions . . .

 You guys can blame Michelle at Boulderneigh for this one  :-D
  1. Do you like bleu cheese? Ick, no.
  2. Have you ever smoked? Yes, but not in the last 20-odd years
  3. Do you own a gun? No and please don't get me started on this.
  4. What flavor of Kool-Aid is your favorite? I don't drink Kool-Aid.  When I was a kid it was probably cherry.
  5. Do you get nervous before dental appointments? I don't really enjoy going to the Dentist - but I go regularly, and my dentist is a friend so it's always good to catch up with him  :-)
  6. What do you think of hot dogs? I think of them with Mustard, Onions, and Relish.  It's the Chicago way. :-)
  7. What's your favorite Christmas movie? White Christmas, and Love, Actually.
  8. What do you prefer to drink in the morning? Water and green tea.
  9. Can you do push-ups? Yes, but "girl" style, or on a bar.
  10. What's your favorite piece of jewelry? Some pieces that were my mother's, and my Iona stones (necklace).
  11. What's your favorite hobby? Music and Fiber arts.
  12. Do you have ADD? No.
  13. Do you wear glasses or contacts? Not anymore ;-) (you have to say that with an Inspector Clouseau accent :-D)
  14. What's your middle name? Adrienne  ;-)
  15. What are your thoughts at this minute? Is the new WW plan going to be sustainable over the long haul?
  16. Name three drinks that you regularly consume. Water, green tea, and, um, water.
  17. What is a current worry of yours? I try not to worry - which is challenging since I have always been a kinda natural worrier.  I don't worry about this, but I am actively planning for it which means that I think about it a lot:  Retirement.
  18. What do you currently hate?  Weight Watchers' inability to get any of their technology going.  I cannot believe how badly they suck at it.  It's still FUBAR.
  19. Where is your favorite place to be? Home, I think :-)  Or on the Isle of Iona.  Or in Morocco.  Or . . .
  20. What do you plan on doing on New Year's Eve this year?  Well, it's amatuer night - I generally stay in.
  21. Where would you like to travel? Japan, India, Russia - I'd love to go back to Morocco, and any time I can get to the UK I'm happy.
  22. Name three people you think will do this questionnaire on their blog. I don't know - there aren't a lot of people blogging any longer.
  23. Do you own slippers? Yes, but like Michelle, I now must always have arch support so my favorite one are no longer ideal for me. I mean, would you want to shove an orthotic into your fleecy slipper?  inda defeats the whole point. So, mostly I just wear my Danskos in the house.
  24. What color shirt are you wearing? Green.  No surprise there  :-D
  25. Do you like sleeping on satin sheets?  Too easy to slide out of the bed  ;-)
  26. Can you whistle? I could - like a champ - before I got my teeth straightened  :-D
  27. What is your favorite color? Usually green.
  28. What songs do you sing in the shower?  I'm not usually in the shower long enough to get a tune going.  But I sing pretty much anywhere, anytime.
  29. Would you be a pirate? I think I might - me and Grace O'Malley  ;-)
  30. What's in your pocket right now? Nothing.
  31. What's the last thing that made you laugh? This ridiculous goat Christmas CD.
  32. What vehicle do you drive? A 2015 Subaru Forester.
  33. What's the worst injury you've ever had? It's a toss up - last year's all over banging in a car accident, or falling in a hole in the woods and ripping all the tendons that held my foot to my leg (cast for 8 weeks - just call me Grace - you know, like Grace O'Malley  :-D)
  34. Do you love where you live? I do like my home very much.
  35. Would you change your first name if you could? Nope!
Do you feel like playing?

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

A Christmas Memory . . .

There are three Christmas cartoons that anyone of a certain age who grew up in Chicagoland remembers very fondly.  I already shared Suzy Snowflake.  Here is Frosty the Snowman.


Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Forty-Five in a Row . . .

Forty-five days of a daily post.  I didn't think it could be done.

And yet, here I am, posting.  I think I'm running out of things to talk about - a fact which, I am sure, is making anyone who knows me in real life laugh out loud.  I'm kinda feeling like I have to keep going now - like the sky will fall if I stop  :-D

I'm hanging in with Weight Watchers' new Beyond the Scale even though their technology is still FUBAR.  I'm struggling to find the best way to manage the new program, however.  I've been leaning back toward more of an ovo-pescetarian way of eating, but I've been using cheese far more liberally than in the past.  Cheese is one of the things that has gone up in points, and I've been moaning about raisins sky rocketing in points for two days now  :-D  I'll get over both of these things.

More concerning to me is that I've been hungry every day, and for the past two days have been experiencing some light headedness (is that even a word?).  I've had low blood pressure most of my life - but my BP is not low at the moment.  It's been working its way back down from the asthma-related spike I had this summer (although the machine at the Jewel said it was back up again about a week ago).  In any case, I don't think it's back in its normal 110/70 range at the moment, so for me to be nearly blacking out shortly after standing and walking out of my office is a little unnerving, but I think I just need to pay attention and wait a moment upon standing before I zip out of my office.

Been pounding away on one of the sweaters from the WIP list.  The Big Easy Gansey.  The front is done and I picked the stitches back up for the back this morning.  I knit inside out when knitting in the round, so sort of look in the middle to see the front  :-)

 I was reminded just now that I can take the tripod shoe off of the bottom of my camera because the podcast is over and the tripod has been put away.  That shoe's been on the bottom of my camera for years I think.

And, I put a little pork loin roast in my very clean oven about a half an hour ago.  Dinner should be ready soon  :-)

Monday, December 14, 2015

Field Report - This and That :-)

I've decided that for the first week or so of Weight Watchers' new Beyond the Scale program that I'm also going to track in Fitbit (which is where I tracked the entire time of the Strict Program for Three Months).  I'm doing this to see how many calories I'm getting because so far I've been feeling kind of hungry every day.  I'm getting enough, though, so I think I'm just trying to get adjusted to the changes.

It's been two and half days and I have to say that, so far, I'm not too keen on the new program.  But I am going to give it the old college try for a few weeks and see how it goes.  At the moment it's feeling a bit draconian, but that could just be that I don't know the program well yet.  I do still have all my program materials from PointsPlus - so there's nothing stopping me from continuing with that on my own and tracking manually should I decide it's a better fit for me.

Yesterday was a large load off my mind - our choir sang the Christmas cantata we've been rehearsing.  We had a couple of rough bumpy bits, but, by and large, all went well and we didn't fall apart.  I'm glad it's done, though.  Because we didn't get our new director until toward the end of September, we've been playing catch up all fall.

In other news of the day, my last skein of yarn from the 2015 Rockin' Sock Club came today.  It's much better in person than it was in the photos online.  This was the last sock club for me.  I only re-upped for 2015 because they made a big deal about how none of the yarns from this 10th anniversary year would ever be made available to the general public and I didn't want to get left out . . .

Let me preface the following by saying that I LOVE Socks That Rock sock yarns (I have a stash full of them!), but this was probably the worst of the three years I have participated their sock club.  In the past I've usually liked at least half of the skeins (you get six), but this year, not so much.  But, that's part of being in a sock club.  You pays your money and you takes your chances.  :-)   I know now that paying up front for something I can't see, is just not my thing.  I have a pretty big stash of their yarn - I'll be knitting up a lot of those skeins in 2016!  At least that's the plan.

I think I've posted this in years past, but you know how stuff from your childhood is, you never really tire of seeing it again  :-)  Suzy Snowflake was shown on a children's program in Chicagoland called Garfield Goose and Friends every year at Christmastime when I was a kid.  We used to run home from school to be sure to see it - there were no VCRs or DVRs back in the day  :-)

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Joy . . .

It's the third Sunday in Advent - Joy.

And, well, that didn't take long - my original timsha are going to Linda the Chicken Lady.  :-)  The timing is good.  I had hoped to mail them out yesterday, but, true my apparent pattern of turning into my mom, I fell asleep in the chair and completely missed the post office.

Had a wonderful dinner with my friend, C, on Friday - Petterino's!  Yum!  And then we went to see Beautiful - the Carole King Musical.  As C said, "It's OK.  It's no Jersey Boys, though."  I have to agree.  Still, her album Tapestry was the soundtrack for the high school years of many women of a certain age.  I certainly had a copy (and probably have the CD now).  I could probably still sing every single cut on that album - and I was famous for 15 minutes in high school for singing It's Too Late one year in the V-Show.  She and her then husband were like the white Ashford and Simpson, writing so many songs that you never knew they wrote because someone else sang them. 

In my joy at having five hours back in my life every week, yesterday I went and walked the labyrinth at the local Lutheran Church.  It was time well spent for my soul.  I was dismayed, however, to see a For Sale sign in front of the church.  It makes my heart sad.  My own church is currently is in the process of calling a new minister - we though we had one, but he backed out.  I believe that everything happens for a reason, and clearly he was not the right minister for us for things to have shaken out as they did.  Still, I hope we will find someone soon.

And I hope that whoever or whatever buys the Lutheran Church will keep and care for the labyrinth because it's been a fixture since 2006 and I have walked it many times when my heart and spirit needed quiet and comfort.

My third Advent gift from my friend, T, is an Alex and Ani bracelet.  I have an armful of them, all with significance to me  :-)  T's gift is the blue crystal teardrop in the center, near the top of my wrist.  It's called Living Water and 20% of the proceeds of sale of this bracelet went to Living Water International.  In fact, Alex and Ani pledged a minimum donation of $25,000 to Living Water International for the year 2015.  That's pretty wonderful.

Imagine if you turned on the tap and didn't have safe, potable water?   I'm not joking around.  Seriously - what your life be like if you didn't have water?  It's my guess that every reader of this blog takes for granted and expects that when they turn on a faucet, safe drinkable water is going to come out.  How lucky we are.

Perhaps Living Water International might be something you would consider a charitable donation to before the year is over.  I am.

Here's a silly 80s gem for your holiday laughter -  . . .  ;-)

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Choose Your Destiny . . .

The front of my new Weight Watchers journal has a quote by the founder of Weight Watchers, the late Jean Nidetch:
It's choice - not chance - that determines your destiny.
I'm not sure yet how I feel about the new program.  I went to my meeting, and it was pretty much a cluster.  I was really hopeful that WW would have all the kinks worked out of the new online tools by today since we are all now using the same program information.  Um . . .  no.

The entire system crashed this morning.  I started to take the new fitness assessment, and the site crashed in the middle of it.  I haven't been able to find any way to retake the assessment, so I don't have a "personalized" FitPoint target.  Big wup.  I'm not going to link my Fitbit again,  I'm going to track my exercise manually like I always have.  I'm not interested in racking up a bunch of useless FitPoints - because it's no longer recommended that we eat them all.  I feel confident that by manually tracking, i.e., calculating FitPoints for actual exercise rather than just the general walking around that I do every day, I could safely eat them if I felt I needed to.  Plus, I can manually enter my total steps in a day and see how many it would be - but if I never get a FitPoint target I suppose it doesn't matter.

Not only the website was down -  all the computers in the meeting room were down, too, so the receptionists had to calculate everything manually for every member.  They did it all with a smile, but I will say that my leader seemed like she was really on her last nerve.  I think this must have been the week from hell for them.

I've looked at most of my foods and many of them have gone up in points.  But, lean meats have either stayed the same or gone down, so I'm happy about that  :-)  I like fish, and my time as an ovo-pescetarian is going to serve me well, I think, because, yes, this is feeling very much like The Strict Program for Three Months.  So, as I said, whether or not this is sustainable for me over the long haul is a tale yet to be told.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Watching and Waiting . . .

I've spent the better part of the last week being supremely irritated with Weight Watchers and their apparent inability to wrangle their technology.  The newWeight Watchers program - Beyond the Scale - rolled out on Sunday and I've been hoping all week long that they would iron out all the technology kinks by the time it's my turn to get the scoop.

That hasn't happened yet, and with only one more day until my meeting, it's probably not going to.  I've managed to talk myself down off the ledge, though.  Seriously - I have no control over Weight Watchers and their inability to get their act together.  I, do, however, have control over my own ass - I mean, act.  Yay Me!

There was a LOT of speculation on various boards and groups that I frequent about what the program changes would be.  Now that it's been rolled out to the majority of WW members, there's a lot of talk about how unhappy people are with the new SmartPoints plan.  A lot of people are saying that they are quitting and going to a free service like My Fitness Pal.

What's causing all the brouhaha?  Items with a lot of saturated fat and/or sugar have gone WAY up in points.

The PointsPlus program allowed you to make your own choices on foods that are not very good for you.  SmartPoints appears to be seriously shepherding you into a healthier way of eating over the long haul.  I'll know more when the program is actually rolled out to me at my meeting tomorrow morning.

It's smacking of The Strict Program for Three Months.  Whether or not SmartPoints is sustainable over the long haul remains to be seen. 

On the happy side, many healthier choices have gone down in points.  Although I can’t see my personal points past today on my computer due to WW's goofy technology, on my Android phone it looks like I’m going to go up 1 daily, but down 7 weeklies. That had me a little concerned until I did the math (clearly not my strong suit ;-D) and realized it was a wash. From what I can tell at the moment, some of my foods have gone up, and some down. Still - it does look like it’s going to be a little challenging to have the occasional cupcake and some peppermint ice cream (my sweets of choice when I'm willing to incur some joint pain).

I became a lifetime member of Weight Watchers back in the 80s when we still did exchanges and Inner Circle was their small group program (they should have kept that one). Even though I’m not at goal at present, one thing I’ve always known about the program in any of its iterations is that it works. If I work the program and don’t monkey around with it trying to suit myself, I know it works. I can’t imagine that SmartPoints will be any different in that respect.  

I’m anxious now for Saturday so I can get started. I’m planning on this being the last time I have to do this.  In preparation, I made a list of my most regularly consumed foods and what their current point values are so I can do some comparisons.  I also took a little jaunt over to the center near me (not my regular center) on Wednesday night and broke out the credit card to get the new starter kit, a second copy of the new 12-week journal (one came in the starter kit and I liked it so well that I wanted another right away), and the dining out book and full food listing (they call it a shopping guide now).  Truth be told, I was afraid they would run out of stuff at my center by the time I get there tomorrow  :-D

Funnily enough, at the moment the things I'm most excited about are that new journal and the cookbook that came in the starter kit.  They FINALLY have a 12-week journal that is NOT spiral bound.  Left-handed people like me all over the world are rejoicing!  And the cookbook is all recipes for 1 and 2 servings.  Perfect for me!  I'm guessing that they use a lot of "fake" ingredients, like fat-free cheese (which I won't eat), but I'm sure there is a lot that I can modify and work with.

Based on the scuttlebutt I was hearing about the new program, I did do a few things this week, like going to the Christkindle Market on Monday for a fix of German food - a bratwurst, some potato latkes, and a small piece of marzipan; all things that likely will be markedly higher in points come tomorrow morning.  I'm also going out to dinner tonight to a nice restaurant where I will be having some peppermint ice cream - which I'm SURE will be substantially higher tomorrow due to a combo bomb of both saturated fat and sugar.  So it goes.  I figured I'd better do it "before the prices change," so to speak, and while I still have 49 weekly points!

So, I've been watching the Internet all week, and waiting anxiously to learn SmartPoints.  I'm really hopping from foot to foot now waiting for tomorrow.  Come on already, will ya??   :-D

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Waiting and Watching . . .

We are smack dab in the middle of Advent.  Advent is a time in the Presbyterian church where we celebrate Christ's coming into the world.  It is a time of waiting and watching.  There are Advent candles to be lit, one each of the four Advent Sundays for Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love (in that order) and there is wonderful music to be sung. joy to be shared, and spirits to be lifted.

It's Advent and it's Samhain, and I find myself in a space where I am thinking about how - once again (or is it continually?) -  I have been led to make space in my life (both literally and figuratively).  As usual, I don't know what's coming next.  But in this season of waiting and watching, I have an eye out to maybe get a clue.  :-)

I've been waiting and watching on a number of things . . .

Every morning I watch out the window of the train as we roll over the Little Calumet river to see if the swans are there.  There are four or five of them.  I used to see them all the time, but it had been quite awhile - maybe even more than a year, since I'd seen them.  And then I saw them about a week ago!  I was so happy  :-)  And then this morning, I saw them in flight, just coming in for a landing on the water.

I've never seen them in flight before, and initially, from the angle I was at I thought they were gulls, but as the train was rolling along my vantage point changed and their long necks and massive wingspan made it clear that they were my swans.  I have no proprietary rights to them, I just think of them as mine.  :-)  I don't know what it is about swans . . . they do have great meaning in Celtic mythology, so that's probably why I like them.  Always have - one of my most treasured stuffed animals as a child was a very large (seriously large) swan.  I think it might have been a pajama bag.  Remember those?  :-)  I might have left this one for you before, but it's called Lightly Swims the Swan.  It's the very beautiful slow air at the beginning of this set.  This is a very good pipe band, the Greater Glasgow Police Pipe Band.

And, certainly I've been waiting on some violets to bloom to see if (1) they are blooming true to description, and (2) whether or not I like them enough to keep them.  Through my former podcast (All About African Violets), I sort of became the standard bearer for the late Pauline Bartholomew's advice to "Limit Your Collection."  It's very easy to get carried away with African violets and find yourself with far too many to care for well  :-)

I'm often asked how I make decisions on which violets to keep and which to let go. For established plants these are the questions I use to help me limit my collection:
  • How much time do you have?
  • How much space do you have?
  • Do you have duplicate plants? 
  • Do you have a lot of the same kind/type of plant?  (a/k/a:  How many blue semi-miniature trailers do you really need, Annie???)
  • If you have multiple plants of the same type and/or color – take a good look at them - Which one(s) do you like the best and which one(s) grow the best in your conditions?
  • Really look at the plants you have - Do any look wonky?  Are they thriving in your growing conditions or merely surviving?
Those will go a very long way to helping you pare down what you have.

The process is a little different for new-to-me plants.  When I have new-to-me plants I wait for them to do a first bloom before making any decisions - and, as mentioned, I've been watching and waiting for awhile now for some plants I picked up at National (in June!) to finally bloom.  Once they do, I have more decisions to make.
  • Is it blooming true to its registered or hybridizer's description?
  • Do I think it has show potential?  (I'm a show grower)
  • Do I like it?
Let's take a look . . .

This is Dancin' Trail (5565) 09/30/1983 (S. Sorano) Double red star. Dark green, pointed, glossy/red back. Semiminiature trailer.

As it's name would lead you to believe, it's a trailer - that's a violet with multiple crowns.  I've wanted to grow this plant forever, and I've attempted to grow it numerous times over the years without success, until this go.  And now that it's blooming, (true to its description) I don't like it very much at all.  It's one of the few red semi-miniature trailers, and I like a nice full double blossom as much as the next person, but without a strong peduncle and pedicels (that's the main stem and the little mini stems from the peduncle to the blossoms :-) ) to hold them up, they just flop over.  In addition, trailers are known to be very floriferous.  This is not.  That could be my growing conditions, but I'm generally not going to spend time on a plant that I have to baby and cajole along.

Take a look at Cajun's McKenna Trail (10423) 05/16/2011 (B. Thibodeaux) Double dark purple star. Medium green, heart-shaped, glossy. Semiminiature trailer

Although it needs grooming, it's virtually a snowball of strong, full double blossoms.  It also trails in more of a compact, snowball shape. This is a much better shape for my growing space.  You can already tell which of these plants will make the cut, can't you?  It's Cajun's McKenna Trail by a mile  :-)

Here's another - this is Red Mount Fuji (7812) 10/03/1992 (Horikoshi/Kawakami) Single chimera bright rose pansy/dark fuchsia-red stripe. Dark green, plain, pointed, quilted/red back. Standard.

I'd like to compare this one to another chimera I have (that's what you call a blossom with a stripe down the middle  :-) ) called Roulette (L. Egenites) Chimera pink pansy/purple stripe. Dark green. Standard.  However, I don't any photos of Roulette in bloom.

Still, we'll take Red Mount Fuji on its own merits and make a decision.  I'm not 100% sure that this is blooming as true as I would like.  The pansy is bright rose, but the stripe does not have much red in it - it's definitely more on the purple side to my eyes.  I like the size of the foliage at the moment and it will/should get larger once this is potted up out of the Solo cup it's currently growing in.  This one is registered, where Roulette is not, but I have sentimental attachment to RouletteRoulette, however, has been growing smaller and smaller in the past year, but it has pretty much perfectly symmetrical foliage - and when you go to show, the foliage is just as important as the blossoms.

The decision here, is to keep Red Mount Fuji and pot it on, repot Roulette, and then take a look at them both again down the road.

And so I wait and watch for many things both little and large, because, after all, it's Samhain . . .

A favorite carol from my childhood - played by my friend, Ted Yoder.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Bells . . .

Timsha (a/k/a Tingsha) are meditation bells. They are often used on Buddhist home altars or in the garden during activities like meditation, yoga, and space clearing, or for whenever you need to focus your attention..  You can use Tibetan singing bowls for these things, too.  The tones that they produce are very soothing to the spirit, and can help raise the vibration in and around you.  The musical tones that they create often resonate deep within chest - for me it's kind of like the drones on my bagpipes.  That's what makes the pipes so compelling for many people - the underlying drone tones.

Timsha are often rung to bring our attention and focus to the present (helpful for meditation).  Their sound anchors the present in the mind and body.  Sort of a call to attention as it were  :-)

Because I have what's called relative pitch, it's important to me that my bells' and singing bowls' pitch and harmonics are pleasing to my ear.  It's been my experience that I have to actually ring all the timsha in a store to see how they are musically balanced.  The pair I have had for many years came from a great crystal shop in Sedona, Arizona.  They were the best ones for me in the shop.  They have ritual objects on them.

This video is pretty good in sharing the sound.

When I was in Connecticut visiting my friend, T, back in September, on our way to drop me at the airport we went to a great little shop that has crystals and card decks and all sorts of stuff like that, as well as a few singing bowls and an assortment of timsha.  Of course I was compelled to try all of the bowls and ring all of the timsha  :-D  There was one pair that was spectacular!  They were about the same size as my current pair (the small size), but unlike my current pair, these were plain.  The pitch was deep and very resonant for a small bell - the harmonics were pleasing to my ear - and the tone hung in the air seemingly forever.  They were awesome, but I put them back because I was working strongly with the beginning stages of my budget, and since I already have a pair, I felt I didn't need another.  In short, they were an unnecessary expense.

Fast forward to this past Sunday - the second Sunday in Advent.  For a number of years T and I did a sort of Advent swap of 24 small gifts to be opened one a day in December, and then a Christmas gift for Christmas day.  Last year we switched to just four - one for each Sunday in Advent - and a Christmas gift.

The box labeled "2" was heavy and it was a deep, perfectly square shape.  I had no idea what was inside - and in fact, once I opened it and picked up the tissue-wrapped item, I still didn't know.  I thought it was a sculpture of some sort, or a paperweight in two pieces - like a box with a lid.

As I removed the tissue, I saw them!  And when I rang them, I knew without a doubt that they were the timsha from the little shop.  They are just as amazing and beautiful as I remember them.  Because they are plain, they have a thicker surface.  In addition, they are slightly larger in circumference than my original pair, the center bell portion is larger, and they are about an ounce heavier.  Those things seem to have made all the difference.  I am absolutely thrilled to have them - what a wonderful and thoughtful gift!!  They are both pictured here with a beautiful piece of fluorite (a favorite stone/crystal) and a lovely beaded bag that I got at the same little store my new timsha came from  :-)

T actually went back to the store on her way home from dropping me off and trusted that no one else had moved the timsha since I had set them down.  The woman in the shop was like - "you were just here . . ."  :-D

And now - I'm in thought about what I should do with my original set - they have served me well for quite a few years.  I know that the right situation will appear for them - I just need to keep my eyes open  :-)

I really love this version way better than Maria Carey's . . .

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Ten on Tuesday

Today's Ten on Tuesday topic is:  10 Things I Truly Enjoy About the Holiday Season
  1. Christmas music
  2. All the different holidays that happen at this time of year.  Hanukkah, and Thanksgiving, and Christmas, and Kwanzaa - and I know there are more.  I love learning about other religions and other cultures and customs.
  3. Christmas decorations.  I've downsized mine in recent years, but I do like to decorate - it's festive and it always makes me smile.  :-)
  4. Christmas music.
  5. Fruitcake.  And don't say you don't like it.  Generally speaking, most people who say they don't like it never had a good one.  Try the Collin Street Bakery.  I confess that I didn't get one this year because I could eat the entire thing.
  6. Mannheim Steamroller's Christmas CD. None of their others were as good, and they are not good in concert at all (I left at the intermission), but this CD is probably my all-time favorite.
  7. Watching Christmas movies, like Love, Actually (Ooo!  there's a 10th Anniversary edition!) and White Christmas.
  8. Did I mention Christmas music?
  9. The Christmas Eve service at my church.
  10. That I am alive to celebrate another Holiday season :-)
I guess the one thing conspicuously absent on my list is time with family.  My extended family doesn't really do much for Christmas or Thanksgiving any more.  Gone are the years of Christmas Eve at my late Aunt's and Christmas Day at my cousin's mom's.  I will likely spend some time at one or the other of my cousins' homes, but lives are busy and putting something together for a large extended family is a lot of work and a lot of money.  I suppose that, as the matriarch of the clan, so to speak, I should probably have something at my house, but I don't because many of my extended family smoke - they don't really enjoy coming here because they have to go outside.  It's the same reason I don't stay long at any of their gatherings - they know that my breathing will be affected by cigarette smoke so they are kind enough to not smoke around me, but then the gatherings always split, with smokers outside and a few of us left inside.  I always feel like I'm imposing somehow.  In any case.  I do love Christmas time and I am very grateful to be here to celebrate another  :-)

Enjoy . . .

Monday, December 7, 2015

The Oven, Part II . . .

Alrighty then.  I didn't manage to get to church yesterday due to one thing or another, so I got started on the oven earlier than anticipated.

You'll remember the Quick Reminders on how to clean my self-cleaning oven:

1.  Prepare the oven for cleaning.  Check!  I bid adeiu to the carbonized sweet potato goo and wiped down the interior of the oven.  It doesn't really look so bad now, does it?

Next, I got all the glop out from under the door (ick!) and I used my SOS pad on the frame, according to the directions in the manual.  Wow - it worked really well!!

That's the part that was all brown in yesterday's photo.

I wiped the spots where I used the SOS down with water and vinegar - again, according to the directions, and then I put the two racks in the sink.  Here they are - the front one is clean, the one in back is not.

The manual says, "The oven shelves [racks] may be cleaned in the self-cleaning oven.  However, they will darken, lose their luster and become hard to slide. It became clear pretty quickly that the original owner had left them in the oven at some point when she cleaned it, because their shiny finish was gone.  Here they are both clean and waiting to return to their rightful spots.

(I was going try what the manual says: "Wipe the shelf supports with cooling oil after self-cleaning to make the selves slide more easily."  because they never did slide in and out very well, but now that I scrubbed them they are better.)

2.  Close the oven door.  Check!  That was painless.

3.  Press the CLEAN pad.  Ahem . . . Check!  :-D

4.  Press the INCREASE or DECREASE pad to set the Clean Time.

I chose the four-hour option.  I think that an oven that hasn't been cleaned for 12 years constitutes "very dirty."  It did occur to me that the self-cleaning feature might not work - these are ovens from 1985, after all . . . but after I pressed the CLEAN pad and set the cleaning time, I heard what sounded like a little gear turning - which I'm sure was that latch hook latching itself to keep the oven door tightly closed during the cleaning process.

And now, we wait . . .

2 Hours Later . . .

OK this was kind of scary

 4 Hours Later . . .

It's all clean, but still needs to be wiped out.  The white spots on the side were there when we started, I think I might have to use a little bit of SOS on them to get the white spots off and rinse with vinegar and water.  But not now.

I did break out the SOS again to clean the inside of the window on the door.  That worked really well, and then I did a quick wipedown - which did take care of some of the white spots.  So - here's where we started:

And here's how we finished:


Sunday, December 6, 2015

The Oven, Part I . . .

I like to cook and I'm pretty good at it.  What I don't like, is to clean the oven.  I'm good at it, though - I've cleaned many a dirty oven in my time (and not all of them were mine!) because, you know, we moved a lot when I was a kid - and I've moved a lot as an adult - and you could never leave a dirty oven if you wanted to get your security deposit back.  Champion oven cleaner, here. 

I have two ovens.  Mostly I just use the top one, though.

I have lived in this house for nearly 12 years.

I have never cleaned the oven. 


There's still a burned up, carbonized, quite well-preserved blob of sweet potato goo that bubbled out of a sweet potato I was baking like 10 years ago.  Regular potatoes don't bubble out goo when you bake them.

Really - if that blob heats and cools and heats again much longer, I might have a really awesome oven-made sweet potato diamond and OMG I have Not. Cleaned. The Oven. In. 12. YEARS.

I am not proud of this.

I always think I'm going to clean it.  And then I don't - mainly because it's an electric oven and in my experience those are a lot harder to clean than a gas oven.  The heating filaments always get in the way.  Anyway, I was really thinking about this the other day and was talking about it with my friend, T.  I said that my oven was filthy, and she said how much she had loved having a self-cleaning oven back in the day - and then, "remember how great and easy they were to clean?"  (She has a gas oven now.)

Well, I said yes to be agreeable, but - truth be told, I've never had a self cleaning oven that I knew of.  I just heard they were easy to clean because they did all the work themselves  :-D   Mostly I've only ever had a gas oven except for one electric one a million years ago and it wasn't self-cleaning.  Easy Off and I have been fine friends in the past.

I don't know why I never got around to cleaning the oven in nearly 12 years.  It works fine and there have always been other things I would rather be doing, I guess.

Anyway, last night I made a lasagna.  And after I cleaned up the kitchen and put the left overs in the fridge (I'll freeze servings tomorrow). I walked over to close the oven door and I noticed this latch hook:

I'd seen it before but I never gave it any thought.  Until last night, when I found myself thinking, "Wait a minute.  Ovens don't have hooks on them."  Well, no, gas ovens don't (well, maybe they do now, but I never had one with a hook on the door) and you can't have a gas oven built in to the wall - it's not safe and it's not code.  So, I have two electric ovens.  Why would you need to latch hook an oven door? 

I'm surprisingly slow at times . . .

And then I thought, "OMG, do I have a self-cleaning oven???????"  And promptly toddled off to my office, where one of the eleventy million items still not put away is the big fat folder from the orignal owner of my home that has ALL the appliance manuals for everything that came with the house.

So . . . um . . . it turns out that I have a self-cleaning oven. Two of them, actually.

After I got done calling T and leaving her a message that I laughed all the way through, I sat down to actually read the instructions on how to actually clean my filthy oven.  Top of the page.  The Quick Reminder list.

1.  Prepare the oven for cleaning.
2.  Close the oven door.
3.  Press the CLEAN pad.
4.  Press the INCREASE or DE . . . Wait - What?  Press the CLEAN pad????

WTH??   Press the CLEAN pad???????

JesusMaryAndJoseph, how is it, that in 11 years and 10 months of living in this house and cooking in this oven, the fact that it is self-cleaning never even once registered in my conscious mind???

Seriously - could YOU miss it????  It's right there, under the CLEAR/OFF pad.  I finished reading all the instructions, and it's a good thing I did, because you're not supposed to use any sort of oven cleaner on this oven.  I can use it on the racks, which I might do as, apparently, it's not best to leave them in the oven during the self-cleaning cycle.  I learned that I am supposed to use soap and hot water and an SOS pad with soap in it to clean the front frame (where that brown is, one photo up).

I was going to set it to clean overnight last night - you can set it for anywhere between 2-4 hours, but I was afraid I might burn the house down in my sleep with the oven cleaning itself for 4 hours (3 hours is apparently average).  It's going to have to wait until I get home from church.

Cross your fingers and check back tomorrow to see how this saga turns out  :-D

Saturday, December 5, 2015

December Field Report . . .

I have to say that it feels very odd to not be scrambling to get a podcast ready for release tomorrow.  I keep feeling like I should be working on show notes, or shooting the look at what's on the stands - and I keep thinking I need to go run and fix my hair and put on a face of makeup to get ready to sit down in front of the camera.  I know these things will fade for me in time.

I do miss the podcast - it was very much a part of me for the better part of two and half years.  I continue to hear from many would would have preferred that I kept going.  But, I'm done and I know that I am already grateful for the time that I have back in my life already.  Today, after my WW meeting, I managed to get to the store and mega-shop.  There was pretty much no food in the house, which was part of why I was so crabby yesterday, I think.  I had managed to not take my lunch with me at least three days this past week.  Not good.

And, today's shop was about $170.  Well over my first half of the month's $100.  I did have to get two CFL light bulbs, though, so that was about $17 of that total.  So, I spent more than I normally would have, but I have planned to make a lasagna for dinner tonight and then freeze servings, and I got the giant economy size of ground round again, so I can freeze three single pound blobs of that.  I also got some individually frozen boneless, skinless chicken boobs and there were 14 of them in the box, so that should last for quite some time - at least I will pretty much always have some chicken on hand, which is a good thing.  I still have not managed to make some Salmon Cakes - so that's on my list to do, as well.  And I feel like I actually might have the energy to do, if not all, then most of these things.

I also managed to get some Christmas present stuff done today, and I hoofed it over to the Post Office to mail them, and then hoofed it around the retention pond before I came back home.  Oh - and I've made a small dent in my office this week.  Clearly I needed this time.  So, although I will feel like I still have to produce the podcast for a little while longer, I'm sure, I know that I have given myself the gift of time in this Advent season.  It's probably the best thing I could have done for myself  :-)

Weight Watchers continues to go well even though they seem to have a complete inability to embrace sharp technology.  I can complain all I want, but it's likely not going to make any difference to them.  And I'm not letting it stop me.  If I have to use a paper tracker to keep things going for myself, then I will.  As I think I've mentioned before, it appears that one of the biggest changes will be in how they are handling Activity Points.  I always ate mine - and I would work out so I could eat a little more.  I can't figure out the changes so I'm still doing my own thing with that and am hopeful that all will be revealed next Saturday.  I'll be among the last to have the program rolled out because of my Saturday meeting.  I'll be doing a lot of reading this week about the new program, however.

One of the things  I've done this time on program is to create a reward system for myself that doesn't involve food.  Every time I "break" a 10 (go from the 40s into the 30s, for example), I get to get an iTunes download.  For every 10 pounds that I lose, I get to get a Kindle book.  :-)   I have other rewards set up for further down the line, too.  One of my friends said those things would not be very motivating to her.  I reminded her that these are things that are not really in my budget any longer, so for me to get them is a pretty big deal.  Been sitting here listening to my Santa Tell Me download over and over as I've been writing :-)  I'm all happy  :-)  It's such a great tune and if I hadn't already shared it with you, I'd share it now.  Instead, here is the latest from Home Free.  They are amazing and this is a tremendous arrangement - no autotune here, just awesomely talented musician.  Enjoy  :-)

Friday, December 4, 2015

Crabby Appleton . . .

This doesn't happen to me very often, but yesterday and today combined in the perfect storm of one infuriating thing after another, and about the only good thing I can say at the moment is that I didn't use a ton of food to calm myself down.

When I was little, there was a cartoon with a character Crabby Appleton.  This is a name that everyone in my family has used for ever whenever anyone is crabby.   Skip to 3:02 and you'll meet him!

I wrote to a friend today that I absolutely felt like Taurus the Bull with a red flag waving in my face at every turn.  Holy Mother of GOD I was crabby all fricking day LONG.

I even did a relaxation meditation during my lunch hour in an attempt to calm myself down.  It helped.  A little.

I have some shrimp defrosting and I'm about to saute them and have them for dinner.  I'm not answering the phone tonight.  Talk amongst yourselves and take a trip back to the 70s on me and on this rockin' base line.  I'll be back tomorrow when I'm not so crabby.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Weight Watchers Technology FAIL . . .

Well, that didn't take long.  Apparently Weight Watchers shut down the old tracking app - before the new program is even launched.  This is shitty, and here's why:

::::: Rant Mode:  ON:::::

First - as mentioned already, the new program hasn't even been launched yet.  It launches on Sunday this week.  I'm still on the old program.  I will BE on the old program until NEXT Saturday because that's when my week starks.

Second - I was forced to update the app on my Android phone, and the new Android app DOESN'T WORK.  It just keeps telling me that it's no longer supported and I should go out to the Google Play Store and update . . . . can you see the steam coming out of my ears?

Third - I've been attempting UNSUCCESSFULLY to download the update on to my iPod Touch for well over an hour.  It, apparently, doesn't work either.  They just posted that you have to have iOS 8 for it to work.  Well, I have iOS 9.1 and it still won't even download.

In my experience, Weight Watchers has NEVER been good with technology.  They've been soliciting feedback on the new site for weeks - and I have sent my fair share of it.  I'm now at the end of my rope and, as Eleanor Roosevelt said, I'm tying a knot in it and holding on.

Here is the feedback I sent Weight Watchers today:

It was really crappy of you to shut down the old app completely when the new program isn't even rolled out yet, particularly since the new app DOESN'T WORK.  My Android phone downloaded the update and all it will say is that the NEW app is - apparently also no longer supported and I should go back to the Google Play Store.   
I'd tell you about my iPod Touch, but it's now going on an HOUR for the update to download.
REALLY????  I've been really, really patient with you guys - you've NEVER been at the forefront of technology, but this is a joke now and I'm seriously irritated.  It took me THREE PEOPLE and 15 MINUTES  using your 24/7 chat feature to get a simple yes/no answer to a very simple question.   What are you guys doing there???  A letter from the Chairman of the largest weight loss organization in the WORLD asking us to be patient is a joke.  You should have either started sooner, or put off your new project launch.  I cannot even tell you how many people on various online forums are saying that they're going to leave over this.  It's not rocket science, you guys.  PLEASE FIX THIS.  NOW.
I am so fricking irritated.  Can you tell?  I suppose they've just been asking for feedback for the fun of it.  I don't think anyone reads any of it, because I certainly don't see any changes from anything I've sent.  So, probably no one will read this . . . but I'm now so frustrated that I'm considering putting this on FB and Twitter and seeing if it will go viral and shame them into fixing this mess - except, of course, that it won't, because I would have to have a lot of followers to be able to do that, and since I've only tweeted one time so far.  Which would be funny if I wasn't so mad right now. . .

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Why Not . . .

Post, that is  :-)

On Monday, as I was getting some steps on the train platform waiting on the train, a woman commented to me that she sees me walking there and that I had really lost weight.  That was really nice  :-) 

I can't see much difference in myself even though I'm down a nice amount.  My clothes seem to fit pretty much the same.  Of course, my clothes are all stretchy, so there's no way for me to tell how they are actually fitting  :-D  except for my bra, which I did have to move back to the middle set of hooks on Monday.  So, I must be shrinking.  This is a good thing.

This Sunday, Weight Watchers will be changing up their program.  According to what I'm hearing in the meeting room and "on the street," it will be the biggest change in 50 years.  No real idea of how it will go - lots of rumors, and, unfortunately, as usual, their technology is seriously in the crapper.  They've partially rolled out their new online tracker.  It sucks majorly.  Of course, it's not completely rolled out yet.  But the changeover has been so horrendous that the CEO wrote a form letter yesterday that they sent out to members apologizing for how awful everything is and asking for patience.  Really??  One of the most challenging food times of the entire year, and they're at sixes and sevens.

I've said this before, but it's been my personal experience that WW is terrible with technology.  I really hope they can get it together here.  There's no reason for them not to have the best IT people in the world.  This rollover should have been seamless.  Maybe Oprah can get on them about that  ;-)

Thankfully there is always the option of tracking with a paper tracker, if necessary.  I installed the new app on one of my iPads, but I have resisted updating the app on my Android phone.  I'll change it up when I'm forced to - and certainly not before I'm actually introduced to the new program.  Unfortunately for me, many of the things that I have used regularly - like being able to track my Active Steps rather than total steps - have disappeared in this new tracker, and, from what I'm hearing, earning and eating my Activity Points will be changed in the new world that starts on Sunday.  I've resisted linking my Fitbit to my tracker because it gives me ridiculous amounts of Activity Points for just regular walking around stuff.  Apparently now we're not supposed to eat all of our Activity Points- a direct change from how it's been in the past.  Whatever . . . All will be revealed when the new program is introduced. 

My meeting is on Saturday mornings, and the WW business week begins on Sundays.  Thus, I will be one of the last people to be taught about the program.  It has occurred to me to go to a meeting on Sunday, but I would have to weigh again (you must weigh in on the first meeting you attend in any given week), but I probably won't do that.  I will, however, be watching carefully and reading all I can about the changes in this next week before my meeting.  Change can be hard - but it doesn't have to be.  I'm going to do the best I can - I'll learn the program and keep moving forward  :-)

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Ten on Tuesday

Today's Ten on Tuesday theme is:  The 10 Best Things I did in November

Hmmm . . .

  1. Honored my health and body by continuing with Weight Watchers
  2. Finished TWO items on my WIP list (that means that there are only five left on the original list of 16)
  3. Spent time with my extended family on Thanksgiving
  4. Participated in NaBloPoMo every day (and twice last Tuesday because I forgot what day it was  :-D)
  5. Wrote one thing on Facebook that I was thankful for every day in November
  6. Honored my spirit by paying attention (Yay Me!!)
  7. Held firm in my choice to end my podcast (this was a hard decision, but one I knew was best for me)
  8. Freed myself from past entanglements by being strong enough to day "enough"  :-)
  9. Signed up for a yoga retreat in May!
Pretty good month, all things considered!

Not a Christmas song, but from my favorite Christmas movie - White Christmas (Oooo!  There's a 60th Anniversary edition!!  I may need to shop . . . ) - and it's one of my favorite singers (Rosemary Clooney for those of you keeping score at home  :-) )

Oh, there are so many great numbers from this movie . . . have another!  Always wanted a dancing partner as amazing as Danny Kaye - not that could have ever danced like Vera Ellen, but a girl can dream you know  ;-)