Sunday, January 31, 2016

It's the Same Body . . .

The second load of laundry is about to jump into the dryer, and while I wait, here are some Sunday ramblings  :-)

Today is the last day of Samhain.  Tomorrow Imbolc arrives - in the Celtic calendar February 1st is when Spring arrives.  I thought you'd like to see my Potato Parcel at the end of the season  :-)

Really, I think it held up quite well, don't you?  I did give some thought to planting it, but have decided that I have enough plants to take care of already.  So, it's going to hang out here in the kitchen as a reminder for me to pay attention.

As I look forward to Imbolc, I move forward even as I look back at the past few months :-) 

I'm giving Weight Watchers' new SmartPoints program another try.  It's going OK, but, as before, I'm hungry.  I think I really, really need to eat vegetables.  I'd say eat more vegetables, except I haven't hardly been eating any at all lately . . . old habit die hard.  I'll be going to the store tomorrow.

Interesting discussion on the Weight Watchers board on Ravelry the other day about our bodies and about this being the year of one's best body.  One member commented that her best body was long behind her, and some others of us went in a slightly different direction.  Here's where I went:
The year of whatever my best body is for me wherever I am in the journey.
I honor my body where it is. Right now - because wherever I’m going I’m going there in this body. Larger or smaller, it’s the same body. It took me a really long time to figure that out. We only get one body, and this body - this body that I have right now - no matter what size it happens to be - is amazing and wonderful and it got me as far as I am today. My long, sturdy legs keep moving me forward one step at a time.
Am I ever going to weigh 134 pounds on my 5’ 8” small-boned frame again? I suppose it’s not likely, but I loved that version of my body and I’m headed toward it - and the version of my body that I have NOW is the one that’s going to take me there. It gets all my love and support!
Whether I actually get to that specific number again doesn’t seem to matter quite so much any more - I will get close. And, however far along the path I get, this body - the one I have now - will be the one transforming itself along the way, because … it’s the same body :-)
It's the same body.


In other not-quite-so-profound news of the day  ;-) - I finished the Mojo socks.  Yay!!

They are pretty.  Noro really has these color changes down, but I won't use this yarn again and here's why:
  • The fiber content might as well have had extruded wood fiber in it for how bad it tore up my hands.  Owie.  :-S  
  • The skeins are a very short put up of 328 yards - that means you definitely need two skeins for a pair of socks.  
  • There were joins in both skeins.
  • The join in the second skein was actually just a blog of the yarn stuffed into the middle of the skein.  It was bizarre.
  • This is supposed to be sport weight yarn, but because it is so "rustic" with a tremendous amount of thick/thin going on, I had to go with regular 2.5mm needles (US 1 1/2) to keep the fabric firm.  
  • Really - I don't think is sock yarn at all . . .  live and learn.

I'm wondering if I overwatered the Amaryllis.  It's falling over everywhere now.  I'm going to let it dry out for a bit - that container it's in has no drainage (as far as I know).

Been having a late 80s kinda flashback this morning.  Enjoy  :-)

Saturday, January 30, 2016

The Amaryllis . . .

An Amaryllis update!


Friday:  I really like this shot with the sunlight on the plants  :-)

And today:

They're all falling over now  :-D

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Dreary and Grey . . .

It's been a rough few days here, Chez A.  There's been some comfort eating going on.  Never a good thing.

Tomorrow is Thursday - my favorite day of the week!  I'm rebooting Weight Watchers' new SmartPoints program.  I'm still not keen on it, but I'm going to give it the old college try this time and see if I can get past failing daily.  That would be good.

I think I'd like to go to Rhinebeck this year . . .

It's been dreary and grey here in Chicagoland today.  Some days are like that.

The amaryllis keeps on keeping on  :-)

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Ten on Tuesday . . .

Today's Ten on Tuesday topic is:  10 Interesting Things about my Community.  And then they encourage you to define community in the broadest sense of the term.  So . . .

1.  The village I live in was created as a golf community for the wealthy back in the day.  I live in the oldest part of the village, and the golf courses here are still world famous.

2.  My community is wonderfully diverse not only racially and religiously, but also by age and status.  There is a broad cross section here of our world and I really love that about it.

3.  I can walk to the train from my house.  That means that I rarely drive my car.  My new car is now a little over a year old.  It has fewer than 7,000 miles on it.  Yay!

4.  I am less than an hour outside of Chicago by train or by car.

5.  I have been acquainted with the last two Village Presidents (i.e., the Mayor), and once I rode home in a squad car with the former mayor after severe weather forced us off the train one village away!

6. I consider the City of Chicago part of my community as well - and for all its faults, there is no place like it anywhere else in the world.  In fact, I have traveled and lived pretty much all over the world, and I always come home . . .  :-)  I think that's interesting!

7.  I think it would be easier to tell you what is NOT interesting about Chicago.  It's one of the most interesting places in the world.  Whatever you want, you can get it here, and generally at any hour of the day or night  ;-)

8.  Of course my extended family is a large part of my community - I and my closest extended family members all live within 3 miles of each other!

9.  And I have a community of friends and believe me, they are all very interesting people.  I certainly count myself lucky in the friend department.

10.  I suppose the most important community is that of the spirit - and I think we each create that for ourselves in whatever way(s) we feel are best.  I create all facets of my community - it's all around me.  And whether or not it's interesting to anyone else doesn't really matter in the grand scheme of things.  It's interesting to me and I love that  :-)

And here is the look at the Amaryllis - yesterday:

And today.  I think you can really see how quickly the plant is altering its lean - it's already much straighter. And I keep giving that one leaf on the right a helping hand to stand back up  :-)

Monday, January 25, 2016

The Love you Take . . .

I found the animation below on Facebook yesterday . . .  It's been on one or the other of a series of my bulletin boards since the 1970s.  You've seen various views of it here before.  This is all of it.  See that yellowed bit of paper up on the top right?   I was learning calligraphy - no easy feat for a lefty - that was my best effort  :-)

This guy's work is beautiful!

The Beatles en animation ! Sublime et créatif <3 Une Création original de Tommy Andersson.
Posted by Je ne peux pas vivre sans musique on Friday, January 22, 2016

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Get Up and Do Something . . .

I downloaded a new app today - one that appears to allow me to track points in the former WW program.  I'm going to give it a try and we'll see how it goes.

I did a little figuring out of things yesterday, and realized that I would prefer to stick with the former program.  I considered returning to a modified form of The Strict Program for Three Months, but since that wasn't sustainable for me anyway, I think this is a better way to go.  And, I still have my program materials and points calculator.  I can figure things on paper and see how they work in the app I got.

Here is this morning's look at the Amaryllis:

Although I gave it a turn yesterday, I didn't turn it very far.  This morning it's a full quarter turn from where it was originally.  You can see it was really leaning toward the window.  I don't want to move it any closer to the window - it's about a foot away - at this time of year.  That one strap-like leaf keeps falling over - no idea why - but it's got plenty of water, so I'm leaving it alone.

I have been attempting to continue to participate in the church choir even without a director.  I usually only sing in the choir in the fall.  Now I remember why.  This is one of the busiest times of year for me at work and when I get home, I am wiped out. In addition, I truly need my weekends to recoup and prepare for the week to come. I cancelled on Thursday night's rehearsal, and I have absolutely no desire to go this morning.  I will not be going.  I've just sent the email and it's like a huge weight just lifted up from my shoulders.  

The older I get, the more time for myself that I seem to need.  In addition, I'm reasonably sure I figured out my stumble into old habits this week.  Some of my friends and I received difficult news last week about an old friend, and I was strong for everyone else because that's my natural response - it's who I am.  I'm the person you want with you in a crisis.  I'm the one my friends and family depend on.  I'm the one who stays calm and knows what to do in a true emergency or when all hell breaks loose.  Unfortunately, I usually fall apart later.  Quietly.  On my own.  And that's exactly what happened to me this week.  

All things considered and once again, the Universe is shouting at me to PAY ATTENTION.  I got this message loud and clear throughout the last part of 2015, over and over again.  Maybe that was in preparation - slowly forcing me to turn and face the strange (thank you David Bowie).  In retrospect, 2015 was The Year of Paying Attention.  

I'm kinda thinking that 2016 is the Year of Get Up and Do Something.


Saturday, January 23, 2016

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner . . .

Today's look at the Amaryllis!  I've given it a turn counter-clockwise.  Now you can see the third sprout again that was being hidden there for awhile.

AND - lo and behond, some knitting content  :-D

The yarn is sport weight Zwerger Garn Opal Rainforest in the Marien kafer (Ladybug) colorway.  The pattern is Zugspitze, by Manuela Burkhardt.  My first completed YOSS socks of the year!

And, unfortunately, a chemo hat for a friend  :-(

This is the Eyelet Rolled Brim Hat, by the Kramer Yarn Shop.  It's in DK weight.  The yarn is Bernat Softee Baby - the softest yarn I have found for these and completely machine wash/dry.  You don't want to use wool for chemo hats.  Not even a blend.  I have found this to be the best chemo hat pattern.  It's my understanding that many people who lose their hair from chemo like to sleep in a hat - this one has no ornamentation to cause interference.  I don't even knot yarn when I make these - who would want to sleep on a knot bump?  It would be bothersome.

Also on the needles:  Mojo, by Donyale Grant, in Noro Silk Garden Sock.  I'm knitting them top down instead of toe up.  The foot look freakishly short, but that's because of the roundy sections.  They bunch up until you have them on.

I am NOT enjoying knitting with this yarn even though the end result is gorgeous.  50% of the yarn is fiber with no give (silk and nylon), and there is a small percentage of mohair in it as well.  It's a singles (one of those weird words that looks plural but in this instance isn't - a singles is a yarn that has only one ply), so the mohair and wool help hold the silk and nylon together.  But it might as well be wood fiber, like bamboo, for how much it is tearing up my hands  :-S  I will be really glad when these are done.

It does feel good to be knitting and getting somewhere with it again, even though I still have some things to finish on the Big List.

Such great comments on my Cycles . . . post a few days ago.  Thank you!  Mention and discussion of outgrowing something.  Apropos where plants are concerned  :-)  I don't think I have lost my interest in my African violets or outgrown them - I just need a break.  A good long one.  There are other things I want to be doing at this point in my life, so the plants are taking a back seat.

I got up from my computer after writing that post and my number of varieties went from 31 to 24 in very short order.  

Then, Ely left this comment:
"If you're struggling to maintain a passion that seems to be waning, heck ya downsize your plants. Maybe a number way less than 10 is more your speed, where the time needed for upkeep is lessened and you're not running multiple stands. And, there will always be more plants if you ever want a full house again... (italics mine)"
I've absolutely been thinking that fewer than 10 might be best for me.  One stand.  As of this morning I'm down to two - I moved the two streps and one trailer from the basement stand up to the sunroom stand..  One stand does sound enticing, however . . . I'll see how that goes, because, as she said, "there will always be more plants."

Ding ding ding ding ding ding ding!!!!!   Winner Winner Chicken Dinner!!!!  

How many times have I said nearly the same thing to beginning spinning students?!  Brand new spinners who are worried that they are going to "ick up" some beautiful fiber because they're "not good enough" yet.  Time after time I encourage them to spin it anyway.  I say to them, "don't worry, there is always more fiber."

Jesus.  I'm doing it myself!  I have never spun up what I call the "Iona fiber" because I'm afraid I'm going to mess it up and there's no way for me to get more wool from Iona to add to it.  It's been sitting in the bag - processed and ready to spin.  I've been waiting to spin it because I was afraid I would mess it up and there's not much margin for error because I wanted to make a sweater out of of the yarn and based on tests that PatsyZ and I did, I will be cutting it very close to get enough yarn out of it.

There will always be more plants.  There will always be more fiber to spin.

Get on it with it, A . . .

Friday, January 22, 2016

Eat Food, Not Too Much, Mostly Plants . . .

I was watching the most recent episode of the Crazy Knitter Studio Podcast, and Kristyn, whose personal blog I also follow, gave me an idea to write about today.  She said she'd watched a show called Worst Cooks in America.

When I was married to my first ex-husband (dead guy now), I was generally known among my friends as "cooking impaired."  I wasn't - but he needed something to be better at than I was, and that was the easiest thing to go with . . .  (it was the 80s, I was a newlywed, he was a mistake . . . ).

I am, in fact, a really good cook.  I am a simple/plain cook because that's how my mom cooked, but I'm a good cook.  I don't like gravy or most sauces, and I did not grow up eating casseroles.  A nice dinner at our house was a roast of some sort, potatoes, vegetables and sometimes a salad, and usually some sort of dessert.

I talked about vegetables here about a year ago.  And this past October I made this really good Spiral Vegetable Tart - probably one of the more complicated/time consuming things I've done.  My crust wasn't perfect, but, considering I'd never made a pie/tart crust ever, it was pretty great  :-D

Just this weekend in Colorado, I made what has become my signature dish - Shrimp, Pasta and Broccoli (with really good wine and this time some awesome pesto provided by my friend, Jenn).  All my friends request it.  I have an exceptional lasagna recipe that I've had since Germany days, and I make world class pesto myself, and I've even made a quite yummy Beef Wellington one year for Thanksgiving when my friend, T, came for a visit.  But I had a lot of time for that - it was a holiday  :-)

Because I am generally pretty busy, I am always on the look out for good recipe ideas that are simple.  A recipe with eleventy million ingredients does not interest me, and I avoid as much highly processed food as I can.  I'm not strictly ovo-pescetarian again, but simple and good remain the most important things for me - and if it can be frozen in individual servings for later, so much the better!

Online and on Facebook, I really like Food52 and Oldways.

My new favorite magazine is Eating Well, which also has a Facebook presence.

And no conversation about food is complete for me any longer unless I mention journalist and author, Michael Pollan.  His book, In Defense of Food, makes the most sense of any book I've ever read about food and how we eat.  I would love to meet him someday.  He's just so interesting!  He's about to have a new docu-series on Netflix, called Cooked.  I'm going to have to figure out how to get to watch it - I don't currently have any streaming capabilities because my Internet is pokey beyond belief.

In Defense of Food was just made into a movie and it premiered on PBS at the end of December.  I think you can watch it here if you missed it on the telly.

But, no one's perfect . . . last night was pizza and some junk picked up at Walgreens . . . An exhausting week finally caught up with me.  This weekend I will be cooking.  And planning.  And making sure that I have everything I need to make sandwiches (or something) to take for lunches.  It's clear that I cannot move forward without taking the time for myself to make these things happen.

So, thanks Kristyn, for the blog post idea  :-)

Yesterday's Amaryllis - flopped over again!:

And this morning's look - halfway up - I don't know what's going on there - it doesn't need any water:

But I found something interesting!  On the front bulb and the one in the back that's often hidden in the photos, there appear to be second shoots starting!  You can see the front one in the photo above, and here is a shot of the back one.  This is exciting!!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Cycles . . .

I am thinking seriously about another massive downsizing of my African violets.  I'm currently at 31 varieties.  I'm still not sure about attending National this year - as much as I'd like to go.  And I didn't get any repotting done in preparation for the Illinois state show in April.  I should have done that this last weekend after I got home from Colorado.  You need 12 weeks.  I didn't do it.  That means that it's not likely that I will enter this year.  As much as I love my violets, this hobby feels like it needs to take a back seat for awhile.

My podcast is over and the Facebook page is down.  That was a little difficult - when it came time to truly delete it, all it took was one click.  Once you set a page for deletion they give you two weeks, and then you have to go in and click.  And it immediately disappears.  Kinda wild . . .

Taking the podcast offline and letting the Facebook page go were major steps.  I'm not sure that people understood that I was really done this time.  It was time to move forward for me, and although it was a bit challenging to truly do that, I knew it was best for me.  So with the demise of the Facebook page, it's done.  And now I have this persistent feeling that I need to downsize the plants yet again . . .

Even with the greatly reduced number of plants I have at the moment, I'm still feeling like I'm not keeping up very well.  It's a struggle lately just to keep everything watered well and that's never a good sign. I'm looking at the guestroom stand right now, and everything needs a drink . . .  Which means that I need to get a gallon of water set up and mixed (fertilizer and pH Down) and get it done, and somehow I needed to do that yesterday and it still hasn't happened.  On the whole this is not surprising to me.  I know that my creativity goes in cycles, so this is nothing new.  What I don't know is what will cycle to the forefront in place of the plants. 

How do I find out?  Well, it's a process of opening my hands and letting go.  Being empty and waiting to see what comes to fill that space.  I could be anything - that's part of the excitement  :-)  I'll let you know how it all shakes out.

So yesterday the Amaryllis looked like this:

Oops!  I think it was thirsty, too.  I gave it a good drink, and this morning it's back to normal!

Monday, January 18, 2016

Catching it Up . . .

Last week was sad, with first, the passing of David Bowie, and then also actor, Alan Rickman.  Geez.  Both from cancer and both only 69 years old.   Cancer sucks.

In my family we have a sort of a joke.  All my life my mom told me not to worry, that "we don't get cancer in our family."  So I never did.  Worry about it, that is.  And then, at the age of 81, she was diagnosed with a slow growing tumor in her right lung.  The conversation when something like this:

"Mom, I'm really angry with you."

"Really?  Why?"

"All my life - my entire life - you told me that we don't get cancer in our family.  And now you have cancer."

She looked at me the way only she could, and after a pause, said, "You know, nobody else lived as long as me.  Maybe we do get cancer in our family."

We laughed so hard, so loud, and so long that the nurses came down to her room to see what the hell was going on.

And so, now we say, "we don't get cancer in our family - until we are at least 81."

It's a blue fleecy penguin pants day today - I'm home from a quick trip to Colorado and it's brutally cold here in Chicagoland.  I cut the thermostat up to 70.  68 just seemed way to chilly, even with penguin pants and a fleecey on.  Today is my recovery day.  I've learned that I have to build those in now after every trip I take.  It's smart  :-)

Wait until you see the amaryllis!  We last looked at it on the 8th.  Here is on the 9th:

and the 10th:

The 11th:

The 12th:

The 13th:

But wait - that that red arrow?  In the angle of this photo it's difficult to tell, but that piece of moss was way bumped up.  I was like WTH?!

So I went around the side for a closer look, and sure enough, it's another sprout! 

The 14th.   I gently shifted the moss the day before, and you can clearly see that new little sprout, shooting up unimpeded by moss :-D

Then, I was out of town for a couple of days and took a shot last night on the 17th when I got home.  Amazing the growth in just two days, isn't it?

And here it is today, on the 18th.  Seems like it grew even more overnight!  :-)

I'll try to keep up a little better with it now that I'm home again  :-)

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Ten on Tuesday . . .

Today's Ten on Tuesday theme is:  10 Favorite David Bowie Songs.

I was saddened to wake yesterday and hear of David Bowie's passing. So hard to believe that I won't hear anything new from him any more . . . Blackstar just dropped on Friday, so there's that - made all the more poignant by producer Tony Visconte's assertion that Blackstar was David Bowie's parting gift to his fans.  I'm so clueless I didn't catch on just watching the videos that were released.  And of course, now that I know, I can't stop watching them and listening to the other tracks - listening and watching a man who apparently knew that he was dying.  Hearing what he had to say - watching him make compelling art out of yet another stage - the last one - of his life.

I have a vivid memory from the early 1980s of putting my money in the jukebox at the Officer's Club in Heidelberg, Germany (my boyfriend was the bartender), and punching in the number for Under Pressure and dancing to it.  Over and over.  By myself.  In the bar.   And I remember how completely pissed I was at Vanilla Ice for sampling that iconic baseline.  I've been a Bowie fangirl from the beginning, and I lived in Germany in the late 1970s/early 1980s when he was writing in Berlin and was so popular. 

It's just so hard to think that one of my favorite musical artists is gone at what seems to me to be the relatively young age of 69.  But, as author, J.T. Ellison (I had the pleasure of meeting her on the Isle of Skye a few years ago) said yesterday on her blog, "It is inevitable, these deaths, I am at an age now where this is becoming more and more clear."

So am I - at an age . . . it's unnerving.

I'm very grateful that I saw him live in Denver in June 1990.  It was the Sound + Vision tour.  It was amazing.  And then, in November 2014, the only American stop for the Victoria & Albert Museum's exhibition, David Bowie is was at Chicago's Museum of Contemporary Art - both the concert and the exhibition were seen with a bestie - my dear friend, C - who, although she liked his music found him vaguely creepy to watch for any great length of time - which is kinda funny to me since I've always found him to be that cross between compelling and attractive.

I had plans to go back to the MCA to see "David Bowie is" again before it left town, and had I not been in a car accident I would have.  I'd have taken a day, got the earliest ticket I could, and gone and stayed in the exhibit all day, watching and reading every bit of it.  The catalog, thankfully, rests on one of my bookshelves - just as a number of his CDs rest on my music shelves and in my iPod, in reasonably heavy rotation.

So, in no particular order, here are 10 of my favorites.  You've seen many of them in my posts here over time, but I never tire of watching and hearing them again.

1.  Space Oddity - It's not the original, but I like this version which was done in 1972

2.  Life on Mars.  Most people watch what is called the "bleached" version, but I like the unbleached one. I think this was in the early 70s, too.

3.  Young Americans. Live from the old Dick Cavett show.  Yes, that's Luther Vandross in the blue leisure suit singing back up.  1974

4.  The heartbreaking Where are we Now?  2013

5.  Heroes - Still my very favorite, I think. Here are a couple of versions

The original - late 70s

And a 2002 version - live in Berlin.

6.  Thursday's Child - 1999

7.  Changes - turn and face the strange, baby . . .  Best to just listen to this one  :-)  1972

8.  Under Pressure - a massive favorite.  Seriously - David Bowie and Queen.  What's not to like?  This is the Queen mix.

Here's the "official music video"  1981

9.  Survive 1999

10. Rebel Rebel 1974

Shit.  How can you pick only 10???

Fame, Let's Dance, The Jean Genie, Ashes to Ashes, I could go on, and on, and on . . . 

Monday, January 11, 2016

Sadness . . .

 So . . .

If you read this blog with any regularity, you know that I am a David Bowie fan - and today I am a very sad David Bowie fan . . .

The suckiest news ever to wake up to this morning  :-(

Friday, January 8, 2016

An Amaryllis Update . . .

Whew!!  Here's the Amaryllis Update!!

The 5th:

The 6th:

The 7th:

And today's  :-)

Serious progress being made!!

Monday, January 4, 2016

The Morning's Work . . .

It's 11:45.  The kitchen is done. 

The Christmas stuff is done.

And my recumbent bike is cleaned and ready for use.  Not sure if you can tell what a mess it was in the first photo, but it was pretty bad.  It might still need some oil, but considering I don't know how to take that part of it apart . . . well, I'm crossing my fingers that since it appears sealed, that construction dust stayed on the outside. 



I also got the shredding done and discovered a new use for my potting bench  :-D



Still to go:  Yoga, Thank You Notes, and Tax papers.  We'll see how that goes. 

Let's Get Cracking!

I took a day off today.  I have seriously enjoyed two 3-day weekend in a row, but I decided 4 was better than 3 and went ahead and used my first day of leave in 2016 for today.  And baby, I have my work cut out for me.  Somehow weekend equates to not doing all that much for me most of the time.  But today is a work day where I just don't happen to be at work.

I managed to get all the Christmas stuff into one location.  The living room.

That's on the list.

And the kitchen bar looks like this again . . .

I have other stuff on the list, too.  There is shredding to do.  And my recumbent bike to clean up and get resettled near the telly in the basement again - guess I was never able to sell it for a reason :-)  Oh - and thank you notes.  I've been trying to write them since the day after Christmas . . .  they are definitely on the list today, as is yoga and getting my tax papers in order.

I'll let you know how it all goes.

In the mean time, here is yesterday's Amaryllis:

And here is today's:

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Moving Forward . . .

What a day yesterday . . .   I spent the better part of it in angst and guilt because of a decision I made.  A decision that I knew in my heart was the best decision for me and for my spirit.  Thankfully my friend, T, reminded me of how much work I did to be able to come to the decision to end the podcast I used to produce, All About African Violets, and I calmed myself down.  The long and the short of it is that I needed to stop.  It was best for me.  My life is moving in new directions and I need and want to be available to follow the paths that are on the horizon, whether I know what they are yet or not  :-)  New adventures!

This is what I posted on the Facebook Group yesterday for my former podcast.  (See what I did there?  I'm working on calling it "former.")
"It's January 1, 2016. I knew this day would be hard, because, you know, change is hard - but I want you all to know how thrilling it has been for me (and still is) that something I have been so passionate about has been so meaningful to so many. I encourage you to take something wonderful in your own life - something you are passionate about - and find a way to share that passion and knowledge. It will be life-changing for you - it was for me.
It's time to keep moving forward. This Facebook page will be going away within the next two weeks. Thank you seems so inadequate - but thank you. Thank you so much for watching.
I am off on new adventures now - I hope you will have wonderful adventures of your own in this New Year 2016.
All my thanks and best wishes,
What an awesome run I had!  I am thrilled that it ran for so long and that so many loved it.  Letting go is proving to be rough -  not so much for me as for my viewers.  I have been repeatedly asked why I can't continue, why won't I still keep the episodes online, why don't I donate them to the AVSA, won't I just do special episodes again, and the list goes on.  Folks are having a hard time realizing that all good things must come to an end and that it is my choice to move forward.  I like to think of it like Downton Abbey.  Here in the States, Season Six starts tomorrow night.  Season Six is the final season.  There won't be any more after that.  Downton Abbey is not coming back.  And, on a far lesser scale, neither is All About African Violets.

But still the cry goes out, "Why?  Why can't you still do this for us?"

It is ingrained in us to put others first.  It is particularly ingrained in women to do this - that somehow it is selfish to care for ourselves before others.  We are taught and conditioned from a young age to consider others' feelings before our own.  I was fighting a lifetime of conditioning yesterday because it's not selfish to take care of ourselves.  In fact, we must.  Even the airlines know this - else why would they tell us in case of emergency to secure our own oxygen masks first?  We cannot care for anyone else without caring first for ourselves.  I believe this with all my heart.  That's why I know that I've made the right decision - because I made it for myself.  I've done what is best for me - what I needed to do to keep moving forward in my own life. 
There are many answers to the question of why I have chosen to end my podcast, but my answer is simply: "It's time to keep moving forward."

Here's today's look at the Amaryllis!  Yes, that's a new strap-like leaf popping up on the left!

For anyone who needs encouragement to follow their heart . . .

Friday, January 1, 2016

Happy New Year 2016 . . .

It's 2016.  How can that be?  I guess the old chestnut that the years go faster the older you get is very true.  It seems that it was just January 2015, and here we are with a year gone by.

Yesterday was a wild YOSS day, but the Rock Around the Sock thread was locked and the year-long challenge starts today.  We have an amazing team of 101 knitters from all over the world, busting the stash with us!  I hope to have lots of knitting to share with you in 2016.

I've returned to a modified form of The Strict Program for Three Months.  I'm tracking on Fitbit.  Once I made the decision to do this, it was like a weight flew off my shoulders.  I'm not strictly ovo-pescetarian again, but the SPTM is the basis and after spending the past few weeks failing daily with Weight Watchers' SmartPoints,  it feels pretty fricking awesome to be succeeding and to be feeling like I can move forward again - that I can eat out again - that I can travel again without constant focus on what I was needing to avoid.

Very early this morning all the episodes of my podcast All About African Violets were removed from the website.  As my friend Tammy reminded me, they have to all be completely deleted from the backend to avoid incurring another hefty annual fee for server space, but I timed it well so that I have enough time to archive all the text and questions in case I ever need them.  I'm still pondering how to truly move forward from the podcast - there are a number of options I've been noodling with.  But for now the episodes were taken offline at the end of 2015.  They say that the hardest part of any journey is taking that first step.  Believe me, taking the podcast offline was a major first step.  I confess to feeling a little bereft.  I often wonder why the things we know to be best of us are sometimes the most difficult.

As I look back on 2015 I can see a lot of stuff that didn't quite transpire as I might have hoped . . .
  • I didn't start my piping up again as planned
  • The Mason Jar Money Method did not pan out (mainly because I kept forgetting to put the money in the jar  :-D )
  • Still did not get back to my Weight Watchers goal weight.
  • Still not the greatest vegetable eater. 
  • Still not the perfect budgeter. 
  • The new Weight Watchers' SmartPoints turned out to not be sustainable for me
  • I pissed off a few people when I said "enough."
 On the other hand . . .
  • I pissed off a few people when I said "enough." (Yay Me!)
  • I'm taking better care of myself again (way better  :-) )
  • My asthma is extremely well-managed again (I'm seriously rocking it)
  • I moderate an awesome group on Ravelry with two great friends
  • I successfully produced an internationally well-loved podcast
  • And I knew when to say goodby to said podcast (tough one, that . . .)
  • I survived major construction in my home
  • I survived a bad car accident
  • I healed from that accident 
  • I learned to manage the lingering PTSD from that accident
  • I cleared a LOT of WIPs from the Big List
  • I don't need to be the perfect budgeter - I'm pretty damn good at it
  • And you know what?  I'm still standing (true survivor, here)
If you never fail, it means you never tried.  My successes are the result of my failures and I have been given another day to move forward - every day that I wake up is a gift, and I am reminded to open my hands and let go of what no longer serves me. :-)

And I certainly have my work cut out for me today - the sunroom, which had remained an oasis of calm since construction ended in May still has a wicked Christmas hangover.  It looks like this:

But the Amaryllis looks like this:

And Zugspitze and some Opal yarn await as my first YOSS project of the year!

But first - some Yoga for the Rest of Us (my practice starts now :-) ) and some breakfast.

2016 Start Your Engines!

That's right, Baby - I'm still standing  . . .

Happy New Year, Everyone!!!