Sunday, December 25, 2016

Stargiving . . .

The author of this poem, Ann Weems, passed away this year.  She was known as the Presbyterian Poet Laureate.  I would never have known about her save for a dear friend in Colorado, D - the wife of my former pastor there.  We were Church Ladies - but it was the 80's so I usually think of us more like Renegade Church Ladies, doing things in new ways with new eyes and open hearts.  There was a group of us, and the core of those of us who are left are still in touch with each other all these years later.  Can't even tell you how happy that makes me.

We've been with each other through some wild times in all of our lives - life-altering life and death kinds of times.  Some happy.  Some devastating.  And always, there we have been - and are - with and for each other with comfort and strength and random acts of kindness and prayer.  I am the only one who is no longer in Colorado, and sometimes that's hard.  Many is the time I have wished for the chance to spend some time in their presence.  They still regularly have lunch with each other, and even though the church we attended together so long ago no longer exists, the bonds we forged with each other back then have never faltered.  I've been present for one or two lunches when I've been able to get to Colorado, and they've promised this year that they will FaceTime with me so I can be there at the next lunch, too.  I can hardly wait.

The older I get, the more I realize that the most important present (Christmas or otherwise) isn't a present you can hold in your hand - it is the presence I share in my friends' and family's lives and theirs in mine.  There is nothing more important than being loved and accepted and encouraged.  That spark of laughter, and the comfort and joy that only those who know us well can provide - these things are to be cherished and never taken lightly. 

And so this poem, from the book Kneeling in Bethlehem, has stayed with me all this time.  And every time I read it or share it, I am taken to a very special time and place in my own history, thanks to D all those years ago.  Thanks, D :-)

Happy Christmas, Everyone.

Stargiving, by Ann Weems

What I'd really like to give you for Christmas
   is a star . . .
Brilliance in a package.
   something you could keep in the pocket of your jeans
   or in the pocket of your being.
Something to take out in times of darkness,
   something that would never snuff out or tarnish,
   something you could hold in your hand,
   something for wonderment,
   something for pondering,
   something that would always remind you of
   God's Advent Light into the darkness of this world.
But stars are only God's for giving,
   and I must be content to give you words and wishes and
      packages without stars.
But I can wish you life
   as radiant as the Star
   that announced the Christ Child's coming,
   and as filled with awe as the shepherds who stood beneath its light.
And I can pass on to you the love
   that has been given to me,
   ignited countless times by others
   who have knelt in Bethlehem's light.
Perhaps, if you ask, God will give you a star.


Saturday, December 24, 2016

Greetings . . .

Such a kerfuffle . . . This seems to come up every year and it seems more sharp this year . . .

If I know what you celebrate - I'll wish you that.  But if I don't know, I alternate between Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays:


Alrighty then - Onward  :-)

It seems I've missed most of December.  It's Christmas Eve.

For the last week I've been laid low with a cold - but for the first time in a very long time, it's just a cold.  If you don't have asthma, that's not going to mean too much to you.  But if you do have asthma, you are probably doing this to me:


The rest of you are scratching your heads.  :-D

I spent most of 2015 catching every stupid bug that hit the street - and it was never "just a cold."  It might have started that way, but it inevitably ended up as an infection in either my sinuses or my lungs.  I think I had three or maybe four z-pacs that year.  My asthma med was readjusted in August of that year (the last z-pac of 2015.  I had one in March of this year, but that's it.

Yes, I'm still sniffly, and yes I'm coughing - but the cough is productive.  My body is actually fighting this off on its own.  This is a big deal - a really big deal.  :-)

Wahoo!!!!!

It's also telling me that things are back on a much more even keel for me.  I'm grateful for this, and it gives me a good base to move into the new year, health-wise.  This is a huge relief - seriously.

I talked about this awhile ago, but I'd like to do it again.  Let's look at the last two years or so . . .

  • August 2014 - my asthma controller med dosage is cut in half because I'd been doing so well.
  • November 2014 - Car accident
  • December 2014 - horrid respiratory infection (which I attributed to stress from the accident) requiring a z-pac.
  • February - May 2015 - construction
  • June 2015 - cataract surgery, both eyes.
  • June 2015 - another infection and another z-pak
  • August 2015 - really bad place with my breathing.  This is when we discovered that my dosage was off.  BP was 145/80 (not normal for me).  Z-pac AND prednisone, and a correction of my controller med.
  • December 2015 - just as I was starting to feel normal again, my right shoulder starting hurting out of nowhere.
  • February 2016 - annual physical, shoulder still terrible.
  • April 2016 - start very painful PT for my shoulder
  • June 2016 - shoulder surgery
  • June-September 2016 - constant PT for my shoulder.
And now it's December, and I seem to have turned the corner.  My shoulder is probably 95% of normal mobility.  I'll take that.  They say things come in threes - I would agree.  Car accident, eye surgery, shoulder surgery.  That's a lot to have happen in a two-year period of time.  Every time I would start to feel better, something else would land.  But since September, I've been OK, until this cold - but it's just a cold :-)

Hot Dog!

I just baked four dozen chewy Mole Asses (that's molasses, to you!  :-D) cookies to take to my cousin's tomorrow, and I will make a lasagna in the morning to take with, too.  I made a mistake in the cookie dough, but it didn't seem to cause any real problem (I added sugar to the flour mixture by mistake).  Here is the first dozen going in to the oven. 



I was crossing my fingers  :-D


They turned out fine.  I ate three of them to be sure.

:-D

I wish you and yours the happiest of every holiday that you celebrate  :-)


Friday, December 23, 2016

Really???

How can one little nose - the littlest part of my entire body - make So. Much. Snot.

Seriously.  How?????

That is all.


Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Brrrrr . . .

It's FREEZING.  I need to laugh today.  Maybe you do, too.


:-D

That is all. 

Sunday, December 4, 2016

The Sunday Wrap-Up . . .

A potpourri of stuff as I wrap up the week  . . .  :-)

I forgot to title my post yesterday  :-D  And I'm sure you've noticed that I'm not posting quite so often.  Now that NaBloPoMo is over, I'm kicking back a bit  :-)

Here's what's going on here today:






Yes, it's the first snow of the season.  It's slightly above freezing, and the ground is not cold yet.  But it's absolutely coming down  :-)  This is what it looked like about 30 minutes later:


Whether it sticks or not is anyone's guess.  I kind of doubt it, because it's going to be back up near 40 on Monday and Tuesday - but it looks like I'm going to have to break out a hat and gloves by Thursday . . .  Winter might finally be here.

Here is something I have learned:  If you use a water bottle - like a SIGG or Klean Kanteen, you should invest in the bottle brush.  This is the SIGG bottle that I keep at work.  It's liter size. I rinse it out with soapy water from time to time there, but God only knows what's been growing in there over time . . .  I figured it was time to bring it home on Friday, and I put it in the dishwasher yesterday.  It didn't get it clean.  So, I broke out the brush, and that made all the difference.


Here's a little semi-mini that I have been trying to grow for forever.  It's not that it's hard to grow, but this plant,  Sassy Sister -


is a sport of a plant called Irish Flirt, which is basically this plant with a white/green blossom.  I have grown both in my time as a grower, but Irish Flirt is probably one of my least favorite violets.  In fact, when I was a brand new student judge - I think I was taking my second or third exam (back in the day in SoCal, judging school was offered every year and once I started, I took every school I could).  The teacher was the wonderful Barbara Elkin. 

In the final part of the test, you had to actually judge two plants, and this was one of the two.  I learned a very important lesson that day - just because you don't particularly care for a plant personally, you cannot judge it more harshly than you would a plant you do "like." In fact, as judges we are taught to remove "like" from our vocabulary when we are judging.

Anyway - I judged it and turned in my test to Barbara.  I was sitting quietly, feeling pretty proud of myself, when all of a sudden I heard, "Annie!"  I looked up and Barbara beckoned me forward, handed me my test back, and said, "I think you'd better take another look at that plant." 

Because of my own bias, I had judged it as a red-ribbon plant when it was a blue.  Good lesson taught by a master.  :-)

When I say I've tried to grow this plant forever, it's only because I would get a leaf and would put it down, nurture it, and wait for it to bloom.  And every time, it would bloom white/green and I would have Irish Flirt on my hands.  :-D   If I'm not mistaken, I actually bought a plantlet of Sassy Sister back in April when I drove down to judge in St. Louis.  I brought it home and took some leaves from it and crossed my fingers. 

Success!!!

I've managed to read a few books and watch some Netflix in the past few weeks.  Yay Me!  I've also realized that I don't think I kept up very well with this particular chronicle.

I just finished The Fiery Cross, which is the fifth book in Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series.  I listened to it on Audible.  This week I started listening to the next book - which is finally now one I didn't read initially, A Breath of Snow and Ashes.

In November I read The Fifth Rule of Ten.  This series is written by Gay Hendricks and Tinker LindsayIt's about a private investigator who used to be a Buddhist monk!  It's really good!

In November I also finished a book called Black Rain.  This was one of my Amazon Prime Kindle First books (you get one free one every month).  It took me awhile to get into the story, but I eventually found myself completely sucked in.  It's set in a dystopian near future.  A very interesting story.

I've started a book, While You Were Mine.  It's set in the 1940's, one of my favorite time periods.  So far the story seems a little formulaic - I guess we'll see how it goes  :-)  Another Kindle First book.

The book links are to my Goodreads pages - I don't know if they will work, so if they don't, please feel free to let me know and I'll go back to linking in Amazon.

From Netflix - I'm currently watching a Canadian series called Murdoch Mysteries.  I wanted to watch because the star, Canadian actor Yannick Bisson,  was in Joan Anderson's film, Year by the Sea and I liked him very much.  The show is a police procedural - set in 1895 (when the series begins)

I watched both Olympus Has Fallen and London Has Fallen - thrillers with Gerard Butler.  The latter was very much a shoot-em-up - well, they both are, but the second seemed like that's about all it was, but the premises of both films were interesting, and I liked them both.

Central Intelligence - with Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and Kevin Hart.  Not my normal film choice, but it was funny and I really liked it.  Just the visual of the two of them is pretty hilarious.

Eddie the Eagle - great story of a young man who became the British Olympic ski jumping champion in the 1988 Winter Olympics!

I Have Never Forgotten You: The Life and Legacy of Simon Wiesenthal - a documentary.  Very powerful and very important.

Miracles from Heaven - with Jennifer Garner.  It's the story of a young girl who is cured after a bad accident.  It was uplifting.

It's still snowing . . .  Have a little 70's flashback . . .









Saturday, December 3, 2016

I can't believe it's already 1:15.  I chose to not go with my cousins to the Garfield Park Conservatory today, and I'm actually still in my jams . . .  but the kitchen is starting to look a little more normal.  I had stuff sitting in the sink since Thanksgiving - stuff that couldn't go in the dishwasher.  That's embarrassing to admit, but I was so happy to have my stay-cation, that I took a vacation from EVERYTHING.

So, this morning, I finished loading the dishwasher and ran it.  And then I unloaded it and put everything away (Yes!!).  While it was running, I washed, dried, and put away the stuff that had been lingering in the sink.  I also mixed up four gallons of plant water.  I do that in two's  :-)  I used up two gallons filling all the reservoirs.  I really waited too long this time and a number of the plants were very unhappy.  But everything is watered, and groomed, including the two streps that really needed to have some leaves removed and spent blossom stalks cut, and I have two gallons of plant water in reserve so that I can hopefully keep up with things a little better.

Next I'm tackling the sunroom, which isn't too bad, but I've been a little lax in the "put stuff away" category.  Same in the dining room - I was wrapping presents in there and I need to get stuff back into the wrapping box and put it down in the basement.  It used to live under my bed until I got the new bed, which has a support in the middle now.

Does anyone know a great tutorial for duplicate stitch?  I'm really having a tough time with it on a project I'm doing. 

I FINALLY got rid of my StupidPhone!!  I was never happy with the android phone I got as my first SmartPhone.  I am now in possession of an iPhone, and I couldn't be happier!!  Yay!!

That's about all the news from here  :-)

I don't know if I've shared this before.  It was the best cut on the album, and the only one I ripped and put into my iTunes.  It's not Christmas, but I like it :-)




Wednesday, November 30, 2016

If My Sister's Broken . . .

Super Tai Chi class last night.  I'm so grateful for it, and I'm getting close to knowing nearly the whole form.  Yay!!

I head back to work today after a lovely break.  It was exactly what I needed. 

Oh - been meaning to tell you that that nasty mildew smell coming from my dryer was gone pretty much immediately after Mike the Appliance Guy cleaned out the vent earlier this month.  And everything gets dry a LOT faster, too.

This has been a difficult month in many ways, and I'm glad that December starts tomorrow.  NaBloPoMo 2016 ends today, and although I didn't post every single day, I did what I could  :-)

This is a shorter post today.  In closing, I want to share this video with you.  The song is called If My Sister's Broken.  It was written by my friend, Kristin Cotts.  She was just with the water protectors at Standing Rock.  This is important . . .



Monday, November 28, 2016

Staycation . . .

I'm having one.

It rocks.

:-D

I'm finally getting rid of my StupidPhone!!  Yay!!  I ordered a new iPhone 7 Plus today.  It will be here in a week or so.  The one I wanted wasn't available at any of the stores.  No real Black Friday/Cyber Monday deals, but I've had enough of dealing with the Android phone I have.  It's been a PITA from the very beginning and I think I will be glad to see the last of it.

So, new phone ordered, and new case for it ordered on Amazon.  I think I'll be good to go when it arrives  :-)

I've enjoyed the Thanksgiving holiday - and I took both today and tomorrow off, which gives me a great break as we head full tilt into Christmas.

Spent a good morning with one of my cousins, helping him in his job search, and then we went and had lunch.  It was great!  And now I have to decide if I'm going to go out in the awful weather - rainy/blustery later tonight for the last of my aqua de-stress classes.  I'm thinking I might not . . .
 


Friday, November 25, 2016

Christmastime is Here . . .

I missed posting yesterday.  I was busy  :-D 

On Tuesday night, I made this Jello mold:






and this banana bread:


Both were really good!  Yay!

I also roasted some Brussels Sprouts, but they, unfortunately did not travel as well and were a little soggy by the time dinner was served, even though I took them in a Pyrex heat-keeping thingy.  Lesson learned.

And now we are on the road to Christmas.  I checked out some Black Friday deals online this morning - I really do want to get an iPhone - but there wasn't anything that really called to me and the phones are not really on sale . . .  So it goes.  I'll figure it out sooner or later  :-)


I am thankful for a wonderful evening yesterday.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Come On . . .

Another shorty today, folks!

Been awhile since I shared this, but it feels like we should all get up and dance today  :-)



I am thankful for my job.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Surround Yourself . . .

Yesterday I got to catch up with one of my dearest friends.  We're not physically far from each other, but life seems to get in the way too often and here it is the end of the year and we hadn't caught up with each other.  It was so very good to talk, and catch up, and reaffirm that we're both still here.

I have a number of friends like this - I'm very lucky that way.  Yesterday I pulled a Soul Support card (different from the Power Thought cards I was using earlier this month).  I got these when I was at Kripalu in May, and I pull one most mornings - whatever comes next in the deck.  Here's what yesterday's said:

Surround yourself with people you love being yourself with.

A strong message for us all.  Life is short and I believe we are meant to live it with joy and purpose.  Surrounding ourselves with people who love and accept us just as we are is one of life's great joys.  I feel like it gives us the safety of being ourselves while still exploring and learning.

Thanksgiving is in two days - I'm roasting some Brussels sprouts, and I'm making a Jello mold, as well as bringing the cranberry sauce - which isn't actually sauce.  Those of my family who like cranberry sauce like the kind that comes from the can.  One of my few concessions to high fructose corn syrup, although I will certainly be looking for some without it.

I'm thinking red Jello with fruit cocktail . . . I've never actually made it before  :-D  Cross your fingers  :-)

This is actually called the Thanksgiving Theme  :-)


I am thankful for friends who even though you haven't talked in months,
 you pick up like you saw each other yesterday.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Here It Comes . . .

Today is the day that I break out my winter coat. It was 19 degrees at my house this morning.  The high today will be 40, but 19 is too chilly to walk to the train in my raincoat.  I was quite warm by the time I got to work, but it's better than catching a chill.

So - November 21th.  This is the longest I can ever remember having gone without my winter coat.

Really great meditation this morning from Diana Lang.  It's from the CD that came with her book Opening to MeditationThis is the version that I have.  It came with a CD.  She has since updated her book, but I don't know if the CD comes with the updated version of the book.

I hadn't heard this tune from Mary Chapin Carpenter before.  I think I'll be looking for it on iTunes.


I am thankful for my warm coat.


Sunday, November 20, 2016

The Sunday Wrap-Up . . .

Well, the world has not ended yet, but it's more and more clear to me that our president-elect has absolutely no idea what he's doing - and worse, is stacking the deck with advisors and cabinet members who would appear to happily take us all back to the 1950's.

I cannot even tell you how sad this makes me.  His hate-filled rhetoric during the campaign has unleashed and legitimized some really dark stuff.  Hate crimes are increasing dramatically throughout the U.S., and last Saturday on my drive home from errands, two cars ahead of me on 159th Street was an SUV proudly flying a full-size Confederate flag.  I thought I would be sick.

If you're reading from another country, the Confederate flag is deeply hated symbol rooted in the slavery and racism that fueled the US Civil War.  It is often used by white supremacists (often called neo-nazis and the alt-right) as a symbol of their organizations.  That the president-elect has invited one of the major voices of the alt-right movement to become a trusted advisor - that he's opened the door and ushered in to the White House such a voice of hate is horrifying to me - I find it wrong on so many levels.

I am encouraged, however, by so many standing up.  Probably most visibly, the Broadway cast of Hamilton as they politely and with care, asked to be heard and took their opportunity to speak openly to the VP-elect after the show.


I continue to remind myself that the president-elect did not win the popular vote.  Even more importantly, half the country did NOT vote for him.  Nearly half of those persons eligible to vote didn't bother (that's a whole other issue).  That means that it's not half of the country - it's more like only a quarter of the country.  But still . . .

And I continue to wear a safety pin daily on my coat and on whatever top I happen to wear on any given day.  A small gesture I guess, but if it gives one person someone safe to sit next to on the train, that's really all that matters.

I am thankful for my warm home.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Roulette . . .

It's Saturday and it's the first sort of cold day here.  Last night a serious wind rolled in  . . .


I was kind of surprised that there were any leaves left on the trees at all, but there are a few.  Not many, though.  It's going to warm back up into the 40s tomorrow and for the rest of the coming week.


This is the huge head of blossom on one of my African violets.  It's a standard chimera called Roulette.  It's not a registered variety. It's not my original plant, but this variety has sentimental value for me.  My ex and I took my former step-son to the showroom of the national AVSA convention when he was about five years old.  He was fascinated by all the different plants, and had great fun picking out the largest and the smallest, etc.  His dad told him he could pick out two violets from the sales room - one for his mom, and one for me.  Roulette was the one he picked for me.  I remember that my ex was shocked that it cost so much more than the other did.  Chimeras always cost more because they have to be propagated by sucker, not by leaf.  Anyway, I lost it after moving back from Southern California to the Chicagoland area, and got it back in my collection about five or six years ago.  It's one of the most floriferous chimeras I've ever grown.


I think you can see what a huge difference there is between this plant and Knight Rider, the plant I shared with you last month.

Here is a close up of the blossoms  :-)


Most Saturdays my cousin posts a Beatles video on his wall on Facebook.  This morning, he posted Things We Said Today, and it ran right into this one, which was always one of my favorites:


I am thankful for Netflix.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Random Acts of Kindness . . .

As irritating as it can be, Facebook is actually good for some stuff.  A friend of mine posted this link to a Random Acts of Kindness Christmas Calendar.  It's meant for school-age children, but I think it's just as valuable for adults.  There are a number of interesting links on that blog, but I really like the calendar idea.

Here's a link directly to the calendar download.

There's even a blank template that you can set up on your own for things that might be most meaningful for you.  And if you celebrate holidays other than or in addition to Christmas - there are a ton of black calendar templates that you could customize for Hanukkah or Kwanzaa or any other holiday really  :-)

I'll be sharing plenty of Christmas music here shortly - in the meantime this is one of my favorite Thanksgiving hymns.  I love that it says, in effect, that we are all just as God made us.


I am thankful for Fridays.





Thursday, November 17, 2016

Wake-Up Calls . . .

It's Thursday, my favorite day of the week  :-)  I think that Thursdays are the best days to start any kind of project.  I think this stems from back in the day when my old Weight Watchers meeting was on Wednesday night and my food week would start on Thursday.  It just always seemed ideal to me  :-)

And so, today (because it's Thursday) I decided to deliberately look through the Power Thought cards rather than choosing randomly, and I've decided to work with just one for at least the next week and probably longer.  I'm feeling the need to not multi-task so much - the need to focus my thoughts and energy.  So . . .
I listen with love to my body's messages.

My body is always working toward optimum health.
My body wants to be whole and healthy.
I cooperate and become healthy, whole, and complete.

I've been working for a few days with Peggy Cappy's Easy Meditation CD.  So far just with the Easy Meditation (there are three on the CD).  I've been trying, with varying degrees of success, throughout my life to learn to meditate.  Seriously, I've probably mentioned this before, but I was trying to learn to meditate back in the late 60's when I was a kid!  I mean, the Beatles were doing it . . . need I say more?  ;-)

And here I am again, all these years later, focusing and breathing, and moving forward.  Yay Me!

I also pulled a small deck of cards (5) from Cheryl Richardson's My Daily Affirmation Cards to keep with me every day.

It's an Adnan Sami kind of day.


I am thankful for wake-up calls.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Tempus fugit . . .

A lot of the leaves are on the ground now, but it's still going to be in the 60s today.  This is the longest I can ever remember going without a winter coat.  In years past sometimes we'd have a cold week early on and then it would warm up again, but I have been in my raincoat - sometime with a  sweater and sometimes not - all this time.

I'm not complaining  :-) 

The snow will be here soon enough.

Thanksgiving is next week.

Christmas is about six weeks away.

I release all fears and doubts

I now choose to free myself from all destructive fears and doubts.
I accept myself and create peace in my mind and heart.
I am loved and I am safe.

I have not listened to all of this - it's one you put on in the background and let play - for a couple of hours  :-)  Maybe we can enjoy it together . . .


I am thankful for Tai Chi.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Mirrors . . .

Today's Power Thought:

My life is a mirror.

The people in my life are really mirrors of me.
This affords me the opportunity to grow and change.

That's an important one for me at the moment.  I have really been led with these cards - I'm not consciously choosing specific cards - it's just whatever sticks to my fingers.  This one also reminds me that I can create a mental shield for myself - one with a mirrored face to bounce negativity back where it came from . . .  I'm exhausted from the continuing barrage

This beautiful chant has been in my head this morning


I am thankful for my iPod.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Catching my Breath . . .

I'm up at the butt crack of dawn most days.  Today was no different.  There's already a load of clothes in the washer.  I threw on a sweatshirt and toddled on down to the end of my driveway to capture this:


It's the Super Moon.  You might want click to biggify.  This is from about 15 minutes from its apogee, i.e., about 10 minutes ago.  Clouds are moving in from the west, and those are my neighbor-across-the-street's trees.

Today's Power Thought is a good one:

I am Willing to Forgive

Forgiveness of myself and others releases me from the past.
Forgiveness is the answer to almost every problem.
Forgiveness is a gift to myself.
I forgive, and I set myself free.

I feel like I've been trying to catch my breath for awhile now . . .


I am thankful for courage.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Looking Back . . .

Someone posted this Spirograph video on Facebook the other day.


I had one of these and I really loved it.  Seeing it again (it's still available should you feel the need to get one) made me think of all the other toys I and my cousins had growing up - a lot of the stuff was certainly dangerous, but we all  managed to survive.

There was the Thing Maker.  It made Creepy Crawlers and Fun Flowers.  Can't even tell you how many times I got burned.  That sucker was HOT.



There were Gaucho Balls, aka Clackers.  I begged for these and of course I got hurt - I mean, look at that video . . .



I dearly wanted a Slip 'n Slide, but we nealy always lived in apartments.  One day I recall being somewhere where there was one - and of course I got hurt.  There was always a rock somewhere or a bump of dirt underneath it that you hit.


There was the Jingle Jump.  Another disaster waiting to happen . . . good exercise, though.


I also had a wood burning kit . . . (I got burned a lot back in the day  :-D)


On the safer side, I had a potholder loom.  OK, I still have a potholder loom  :-D


And I always had jacks - a Superball was best because it would bounce higher :-)



And Silly Putty was always a favorite - although my mom probably wouldn't agree because I left it out or got it on the rug multiple times, but it was great fun to use it with the comics on Sunday in the newspaper - something that apparently you can't do anymore because they use non-transferable ink nowadays.


We also played a lot of board games - Sorry being a favorite when we were little, with Scrabble edging it out as we got older.  

In other news today, the great Leon Russell is the latest great to leave us in 2016.  What a crappy year . . . I mean it.

 

I am thankful to be able to pass along pieces of the past.


Saturday, November 12, 2016

Penny Lane . . .

Alrighty then.

King Arthur Flour was having a sale and offering free shipping, and since I wanted some of their Irish Flour so I can finally attempt to make some wheaten bread, which is a brow soda bread common in Northern Ireland, I decided to engage in some retail therapy.  And . . . um . . .  I needed something to make up the difference so I could get free shipping . . .

I've been wanting a better spiralizer.  The first one I got was handheld and very inexpensive:

You have to hold on to it pretty tightly, and while the metal sides aren't sharp, they aren't comfortable to hold.  You also have to brace it somehow to get it to work.  I struggled with it a lot, and found that I was wasting a lot of whatever I was spiralizing.

So . . . this arrived today with my flour:


===:-O

Seriously, it looks like a hacksaw with attachments  :-D  This is the spiralizer attachment for my KitchenAid mixer and it is a serious piece of equipment. I can hardly wait to try it!  I really didn't think it was going to be so big, but I like how it's sturdy - and I also like that it can go in the dishwasher.  Yay!  I'll let you know how it works - oh, and the handheld is going to the Second Chance Shop where I'm hopeful that someone else will be thrilled to get it.

This is what popped out of the Power Thought deck this morning:

My Future is Glorious

I now live in limitless love, light, and joy.
All is well in my world.

And one of my cousins posted this this morning and it's one of my all-time favorites.  Enjoy  :-)



I am thankful for my cousin, S.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Onward, Fearlessly . . .

 Further to my post yesterday - here is a link to a Huffington Post article: "If You're Overwhelmed By The Election, Here's What You Can Do Now." There are many more ways to help - I'm sure you'll find something that sparks you.

There is a Power Thought for today:

Every thought I think is creating my future.

The Universe totally supports every thought I choose to think and believe.
I have unlimited choices about what I think.
I CHOOSE
balance, harmony, and peace, and I express it in my Life.

I needed to hear that one today.

One of my friends said this yesterday on Facebook:
"People of conscience, be galvanized. This shows us where our work lies.

Onward, fearlessly."
I thought we might need a fight song for the journey . . .


I never tire of it.

I am thankful for my washing machine and dryer.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Now What . . .

I am still feeling quite disoriented.  It's 2000 all over again.  Hillary Clinton is the fifth candidate in our history to win the popular vote but fall short in the electoral college

It is what it is, however.  And in my heart I still believe that everything happens for a reason - I haven't got a clue what the reason is for this one, but there must be one.  God, if you're listening, any time now would be good . . .

And I've been thinking, "Now what?"  a lot.  I've been insulted, and saddened, and I've read so many vituperative comments and responses on Facebook (from people I know) that my spirit needs a rest (and I might need to further curate my feed there).  Still, I looked for the positive (it's how I'm wired, apparently :-) ), and I found some.

This post from John Buchanan, one of the great Presbyterian ministers of our times and pastor emeritus at my former church. It definitely gave me some comfort yesterday.
And/or maybe you would like to read Anne Lamott's Facebook post.

And/or maybe think on the words of Julian of Norwich:

All shall be well,
And all shall be well, 
And all manner of thing shall be well

And it will.  Someday.  Somehow.  We don't run away. We take a few days and we lick our wounds.  And then we get back up and STAND UP and fight for what we know in our hearts is right.  We are Americans.  It's what we do.

But what can one person do?

Plenty.



This beautiful painting was done for me by the daughter of a very dear friend.  I took it down from where it usually hangs to attempt to get a good photo of it for you.  She asked me what my favorite quote was - this was the result  :-)  Here is what it says:

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world,
indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.   
— Margaret Mead

Now what? 

Now we find a way to make a difference in our own communities, to pay it forward, because just as surely as trickledown economics don't work, love does


Write your elected representatives and tell them your concerns about affordable care, and gun violence, and women's rights to choose, and LGBT rights, and Medicare, and Social Security - whatever it is that you want them to work on.  YOU elected them, they represent YOU.

Your Senators

Your Representatives

Where can you make a difference locally?  Here are some that I found a little closer to home with a quick web search.  You can find plenty of ways to make a difference.

You can volunteer somewhere. 
Your kids can make a difference.
Is there a food pantry near you where you can donate?
Is there a second chance/resale shop where you can donate items? The Salvation Army Family Stores and Habitat for Humanity ReStore.
You can Make changes in your world to reduce your carbon footprint.

Now what?  That's up to us . . .

I am thankful for this new day.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

It Feels like Brexit — on Steroids . . .

I'm not sure how to move forward at this moment. It seems impossible to me, but Donald Trump will be the next President of the United States of America.

I am afraid for my LGBT friends.  And I am afraid for my friends and family who rely on the Affordable Care Act.  And I am afraid for every woman who stands to lose the right to choose.  And I am afraid for Muslim Americans.  And I am afraid that the separation of church and state — so vital to our very existence as a nation — is about to be blurred and smudged, possibly leaving us with a theocratic government . . . like Afghanistan, and Iran, and Sudan, and Yemen, and Saudi Arabia.  And I am afraid for those of us who had a hope of retiring in the next 5-10 years, because who knows what the market is going to do when it opens this morning. 

So, yeah, I'm afraid, but mostly I find that I have a deep, deep sadness in my heart to find that, after all, my country would rather have someone I perceive to be an unqualified, misogynist, racist, hate-spewing schoolyard bully, than a woman.  Plain and simple, and unutterably sad. 

The Canadian immigration website crashed last night because so many people are looking to run away, but I don't think running away is the answer. I'm sad, and I'm fearful, and the next four years of all our lives are suddenly looking very different than they did yesterday, but I don't think that running away is the answer.  

Even though I feel fear and sadness, I do not choose to live that way over the long haul.  That's not what my mother taught me.  Now is the time to stand up for everything I still believe in.  We survived eight years of Bush and Cheney, and somehow I believe we will survive Trump and Pence. 

Still, I struggle to find something to be thankful for this morning, all the time knowing that I am so very lucky to be who I am and where I am.  It's this:

I am thankful that this election is over.

I was reading Coach Aruni's blog yesterday where she talked about listening to Abbey Road to get through the final days of this election.  She talks about three cuts:  Come Together, Here Comes the Sun, and The End.  We do have to find a way to come together as a nation after all the hatred our President-Elect spewed for the past 18 months, and I have to trust that — somehow — it will be alright.  In my own heart I know that to move forward it has to be about love, not hate and fear.

I will be listening to Abbey Road all day today, I think.  It's always been one of my favorites, particularly the ending medley, so I will leave you with their ending words which are and always have been a mantra for my life:

And in the end,
The love you take,
Is equal to the love you make. 


Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Vote . . .

It's a shorty today folks.  Here is today's power thought:

I now create a wonderful new job.

I am totally open and receptive to a wonderful new position,
using my creative talents and abilities,
working for and with people I love,
in a wonderful location and earning good money.

And here am I, straight from the gym - sweaty, no makeup, in my workout clothes.  And very happy to be making history by voting for Hilary Clinton.  How I wish my mom was alive to see this day . . .


I am thankful I have the privilege of voting

Monday, November 7, 2016

Standard Time . . .

Time Change!  I think I'm the only person who actually likes returning to standard time.  I think I love it because it is, indeed, Samhain and the extended hours of dark seem to help me focus.

All my Relationships are Harmonious

When we create harmony in our minds and hearts,
we will find it in our lives.
The inner creates the outer.
Always.

Yesterday was another gorgeous late fall day here in Chicagoland.  It's so very weird that it's heading on to mid-November and I took a walk around the retention pond yesterday is capris and and a T-shirt. It was a good walk - and I was quite pleased with myself that I actually got up and got out to take it.  Here was the sun on the water . . .


 And the Canada Geese having a lazy float . . .


 And this tree that looked like it was getting ready for the coming holidays . . .


Someone on Ravelry knit a cowl called Gladrags - and I've had this in my head ever since . . .


A post with this and that.  The new week starts and I keep on moving forward.  I managed to actually meditate this morning.  I have been trying to develop a regular practice with varying degrees of success . . . ( ;-) ).  Seriously - I have been trying to do this.  I'm more successful with it at night.  The only issue I ever have then, is that I pretty much fall asleep almost immediately.  But I figure that my brain can still here the guided meditation even if I'm not fully conscious, so I keep doing the best I can  :-)  And I do feel more focused this morning.  That can only help  :-)

I am thankful for meditation.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

The Sunday Wrap Up . . .

Since I'm posting every day this month, there's really not much to wrap up  :-)  But the Universe wants me to pay attention - it's clearly reminding me:

I am Willing to Change

I am willing to release old, negative beliefs.
They are only thoughts that stand in my way.
My new thoughts are positive and fulfilling.

Last night I drove north to hear the Park Ridge Chorale.  I lived in Park Ridge when I was in high school and I have one close friend from those days - she sings with this group.  She also does a lot of producing for them, and also some arranging.  She was part of a jazz quartet for years and did most of their arrangements, too.  She's an exceptional musician.  We sang together a LOT when we were kids.  It was the Chorale's Cabaret show, so not really much choral music at all, but a lot of fun and I enjoyed it.  The last number was an a cappella version (arranged by my friend for five voices) of the Nylons' Up the Ladder to the Roof

I also enjoyed getting out and actually doing something.  I've been hibernating in the house long enough  :-)

I am thankful for old friends and good music.


Saturday, November 5, 2016

How Clueless am I?

 So . . . here's a good one for you on this wonderful Saturday morning.

For awhile now, there has been a nasty mildew smell coming from my clothes dryer.  It and the washer live upstairs in my kitchen rather than in the basement. 



When the original owners built out the kitchen and added the sunroom back in 1985, they moved the laundry upstairs.



It's very handy to not have to go down to the basement whenever I want to do laundry. 

Anyway, earlier this year, I noticed that some condensation was dripping on to my potting bench down in the basement. It was coming from the dryer vent.  Said vent actually goes a very long way to vent to the outside - from nearly the middle of the house, out to the north wall.  And then, about three or four weeks ago, a nasty mildew smell started coming from the dryer.  Or in the vicinity of the dryer.  I tried to move it, thinking that I must have a dead mouse somewhere behind it, the smell of which was coming through the dryer. 

Nope.  And I realized I couldn't move it myself anyway.  Then, I noticed that there was a rotten potato in the hanging vegetable baskets.  It was nasty.  I tossed it out, and the smell went away. 

For about a week.  When I opened the dryer to dry a load of laundry . . . seriously whiffy.  However, the clothes never smelled like mildew - because, of course, the dryer was sucking the air - and smell - out toward the vent.

I rang Mike the Appliance Guy.  If you live anywhere in his area, he's the guy you want to call if something goes sideways with one of your appliances.  He arrived on Thursday evening to figure out what was up.

Let me just tell you here that I've always been religious in cleaning the lint trap in my dryer (any dryer I use actually) - my mom always told me to be sure to do that, but I've never lived anywhere as long as I've lived here, and for nearly all of my life I did laundry at a laundromat, so I never knew that you had to clean out the vent to the outside from time to time.  In addition, I've never lived anywhere as long as I've lived here, so a long-term, recurring maintenance requirement like this has never presented in my life before.  I thought that if you cleaned the lint trap before/after every load, that that did the trick. 

 Um . . . . apparently not.

According to Mike the Appliance Guy, the lint trap only catches about 75% of the lint generated by drying clothes.  He also said the vent should be cleaned out every three years.

Oh boy. 

I know it has never been cleaned out since I moved in 12+ years ago, and I'm wondering if it's possible that it had NEVER been cleaned out since 1985 when the previous owner built out the kitchen and moved the laundry upstairs.

It took about two hours for him to clear the vent.  We're talking a couple of garbage bags of lint.  I am counting myself lucky that all I got was a nasty mildew smell rather than setting the house on fire.

The first load of wet laundry is in the dryer even as I type.  Mike said the mildew smell  would dissipate with use. and now that the vent was clear that I shouldn't have any more condensation along its path to the exterior. 

He also said I should notice that my clothes are getting dry a whole lot faster  ;-)

I trust my inner wisdom

As I go about my daily affairs, I listen to my guidance.
My intuition is always on my side.
I trust it to be there at all times.
I am safe.

Today looks to be another beautiful, unseasonably warm day here in Chicagoland.  I'm going to enjoy it  :-)

I am thankful for lazy weekend mornings.

I know I post a lot of old songs here - I guess that's because I like to hear people who can really rally make music and really sing, not lipsync or rely on autotune.  Enjoy . . .



Friday, November 4, 2016

My Own Power . . .

All is well with my eye.  It was what I thought it probably was - the vitreous detached from the retina.  Any sudden floaters and flashes should always be checked out, however, because the detachment could cause a retinal tear - and the symptoms are the same as for a retinal tear.  A tear in the retina is VERY serious and requires treatment and repair.  So - like I said yesterday, better safe than sorry. The floaters will hang around for awhile - some possibly for quite awhile, but eventually they lessen.  The big caterpillar one is gone already  :-)

In addition, I'm always interested in the pressure in my eyes because two family members already have glaucoma, and one of my friends has a very rare form of glaucoma.  They always check the pressure when I go to the retina doc, and today was no different.  I'm always happy to get good news - and not only is my left retina intact, I'm happy to report that my eye pressure was 14 on the right and 16 on the left.  Very respectable and very much in the normal range. Yay!

In other news of the day, the City is wild with energy, and pretty much all you can see in any direction is Cubbie Blue.  It was interesting getting to work today. I took an early train to be sure to get downtown and people were already The Cubs parade and rally starts at 11 from Wrigley Field, heading south toward downtown and into Grant Park.  They are expecting it to be the biggest rally in the history of sports rallies here.  Metrarail - the train I take - is advising that they plan to add trains to accommodate everyone coming down for the rally, but they think they will have their highest ridership day - ever.

That means that I'm going to have to pay more attention than usual and travel defensively tonight - i.e., I'm going to consciously choose to sit near an exit so I don't feel trapped on the train.  Here's a shot from this morning at the corner of Michigan Avenue and South Water Street, where the crowd was already beginning to gather at 8 a.m.


My office is a ghost town, and those who are left are having a morning Cub rally in the largest conference room - watching WGN on the big screens  :-D

It's definitely an exciting time here in Chicagoland - even the cast of Hamilton sang Go Cubs Go on Wednesday night after the show!



I claim my own power and I lovingly create my own reality.

I ask for more understanding
so that I may knowingly and lovingly
shape my world and my experiences.

That's quite fitting for me today  :-)  I am quite ready for the weekend this week, that's for sure!

I am thankful for retina specialists

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Worth Loving . . .

Kinda crazy thing last night - as I was leaving work, I got a massive floater in my left eye.  Not like any floater I had in my right eye from the accident two years ago.  It was like a jagged fuzzy caterpillar with a long tentacle on the end that kept sweeping across my vision.  By the time I got home - an hour later - I was having flashes.  Floaters and flashes.  I'm reasonably sure that I know what these mean (that the vitreous in that eye is pulling away - a normal function of aging), but it was enough different that I rang the retina guy's service and spoke to the retina woman on call. 

Symptoms are less today, but still there, and still flashing, so I'll be seen today downtown.  Better safe than sorry . . .

Here is today's Power Thought and Affirmation:

I am Worth Loving

I do not have to earn love.
I am lovable because I exist.
Others reflect the love I have for myself.

In other news of the day - the Chicago Cubs won the World Series last night (!!)  I wasn't able to stay up for the game, but it was quite the nail-biter!  To all the Indian fans out there - what a season you guys had - Congratulations.  I thought these teams were very evenly matched - what a Series!

I am thankful that there IS joy in Mudville today. 




Wednesday, November 2, 2016

It's Only a Thought . . .

I shuffled the deck this morning and this Power Thought popped out wanting my attention:

It's only a thought, and a thought can be changed

I am not limited by any past thinking.
I choose my thoughts with care I constantly have new insights and new ways of looking at my world.
I am willing to change and grow.

I quickly bought and read another book over the weekend - completely ignoring all the other books in the house  :-D

Michael Goorjian's first book, What Lies Beyond the Stars, was very interesting, and it raises a lot of questions.  And it's quite suspenseful, and I enjoyed it very much.  I wanted to read it because he is the man who directed Wayne Dyer's film, The Shift, and Louise Hay's film, You Can Heal Your Life.  I got the Kindle edition and blasted through it.  A good read for sure!

The World Series is down to one game.  Tonight.  I can't even watch the games - too wild!  I just check the score from time to time  :-D  No matter who wins tonight, both teams have had an amazing season, and I'm really impressed by Kyle Schwarber.  He seems to really be a designated hitter and it's great that the Cubs have been able to play him in that position in the Cleveland games.  And he seems to be a good man, too, and the world needs all the good men it can find.

I am thankful for Sensei Joe.


Tuesday, November 1, 2016

It's Samhain . . .

So it's National Blog Posting Month and I'm participating again this year - or at least making a great attempt.  A blog post every day.  I'm sure that some of them are going to be very short  ;-)  But I will be giving it the Old College Try.  In fact - two tries. 

As I often do, I'm going to share my journey here this month as I seek for focus.  In the Celtic year, we are now in Samhain.  It's a time of drawing in, of taking stock.  The days are shorter and shorter.  I usually need a project during Samhain, and so this year my project is myself.

First, I recently re-watched Louise Hay's film, You Can Heal Your Life.  In it, her Power Thought Cards play a central role and I am working with them this month.  So I will share that here, too.  Today's thought and affirmation are:  

I Am Willing to Change

I am willing to release old, negative beliefs.
They are only thoughts that stand in my way.
My new thoughts are positive and fulfilling.

Second - it's also November, and on Facebook I usually post daily, without comment, something that I'm thankful for.  It's something I started a couple of years ago for myself.  

I am thankful for this day.