Thursday, April 28, 2016

A Field Report: And So It Goes . . .

When last we left our intrepid heroine, she had just been fat-shamed at an MRI test . . . Oh, wait.  No, we last left her at the beginning of PT, with a diagnosis of tendinitis of the rotator cuff with a degree of frozen shoulder.

I've been in PT for four weeks now.  It's really the No-Fun Plan.  I'm happy to share that I have regained a great deal of mobility in a variety of directions.  All directions, in fact, except for the one I really need.  I have made no measurable progress in being able to twist my arm to reach behind my back.  So - you're probably thinking to yourself, what do you need to do that for anyway?  Let me enlighten you - feel free to play along and demonstrate to yourself  ;-)

  • If you are a woman and you wear a bra, how do you hook and unhook it?  You twist your arm(s) and reach behind and up.
  • How do you pull your pants up?  You reach down with your arms slightly in front of you and pull them up.  And then you slide your arms around to the side to adjust the waistband, and then you twist your arm to reach behind to adjust the waistband there.
  • How do you tuck in a shirt or blouse?  Not that I do this often, but you twist your arm and reach behind you.
  • How do you take a t-shirt off?  You reach up to the neck and pull it off over your head, usually twisting your arm toward the back in some fashion.
  • How do you put a coat or a sweater on?  You pick up one arm - generally with your elbow moving slightly behind you and you twist your arm to reach in to the sleeve while simultaneously reaching behind with the other arm to get into the other sleeve.  
Alrighty then . . .

I suppose the good news is that I'm forcing my brain to forge some new pathways learning how to get my clothes off and on in ways that don't hurt.  I pretty much always hooked my bra in front and then slid it around to the back to get it on, but I always just reached back with my right hand at the end of the day and unhooked it to take it off.  Now I'm sliding it back around to the front.  I don't know why this particular one irritates me so much, but it seems very difficult to do  :-D  On the pants, I'm reaching way across my back with my left hand to make sure things get pulled up correctly.  Not tucking anything at the moment.  I have a whole new way of getting tops and sports bras off and on, which involves pulling my left arm out of its sleeve and then getting them off any way I can while not bending my right arm in any way.  And now I keep my right arm straight to get my coat on, which makes for some very funny motions as I attempt to then get my left arm in the other sleeve and the coat actually on my body.

I find the fact that I have made NO measurable progress in this area to be very disheartening.  People keep telling me to look on the bright side - and I would really just like to slap them.  I absolutely am positive, and happy that I've regained so much mobility, but, clearly, they are not having any difficulties getting their clothing on and off every day, and they must be getting a great night's sleep every night.  I'm lucky to get 5 or 6 hours before awaking from the pain, and then I toss and turn the rest of the night, never able to find a comfortable position for my shoulder that will allow me to drift back off to sleep for another 2 or 3 hours.

The physical therapist is now making noises about "a shoulder specialist" and/or a "shot," and I'm waiting on a call back from my doctor to discuss next steps.  I did have a massage yesterday, and it definitely made a difference in my ability to sleep without as much pain last night.  Still - my sleep is consistently disrupted by the shoulder, and not enough sleep makes everything worse.  Even my tried and true guided imagery didn't work to help me back to sleep.  I found it very interesting that I could physically tell the difference as she worked on me last night - while the left side of my body seemed pretty normal, the muscles on the entire right side of my body were so tight that it felt like they were made of stone,

Blarg  :-P   So it goes . . .

I have an update on the asthma front, as well.  Obviously my thought that my new asthma med might have been causing my shoulder/arm pain didn't pan out.  I went back to the asthma doc this morning and my spirometry results were not nearly as good as they were on the Arnuity Ellipta (AE).  I, myself, had felt that Flovent wasn't working well for me for some time, which is why we went to the AE in the first place.  So, since it didn't affect my shoulder one way or the other, tonight I stop the Flovent and return to the AE.  I'm looking forward to even better breathing again in relatively short order.  Of course, the trade-off for me in this is reduced vocal control.  Thankfully choir is pretty much over for the summer already.  I just won't sing for the next few weeks.

In additional good news of the day, my blood pressure seems to have finally normalized again after last summer's spike when my asthma was uncontrolled.  It was 108/74 this morning at the asthma doc's office.  This is encouraging!!  Yay Me!!

The size of my ass, however, is not encouraging . . . apparently I am not able to multi-task here.  All my energy at the moment is focused on not hurting, and I guess that's really all I can do for now, so I'm working hard not to beat myself up about being less than successful in shrinking the size of my ass.

That's the news from The Third Coast today  :-)

In other news - many thanks for the good wishes for my cousin.  She had surgery on Tuesday afternoon and is now the new owner of a stainless steel plate and six screws that are holding the broken pieces of her leg bone in place while her body knits itself back together.  She's pretty much immobilized, and I'm going over as often as I can to visit and distract her, even if it's just a short visit.  I have a fun plan for us for Saturday afternoon which doesn't involve her having to move around at all.  I'll share it with you this weekend  :-)

Hoping it warms back up again soon - I had to pull out my winter coat again.  Here's a happy summer song from back in the way back . . .  :-)

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Ten on Tuesday . . .

Today's Ten on Tuesday topic is:  10 Movies You Have To Stop & Watch When You Come Across Them While Channel Surfing

Hmmm - I don't often find movies while channel surfing, but if I found any of these, I would totally stop and watch  :-)

  1. History is Made at Night, 1937, with Charles Boyer and Jean Arthur (probably my all-time favorite movie)*
  2. Auntie Mame, 1958, with Rosalind Russell
  3. Bagdad Cafe, 1987, with CCH Pounder and Marianne Sagebrecht
  4. I've Heard the Mermaids Singing, 1987, with Sheila McCarthy
  5. The Man Who Fell to Earth, 1976, with David Bowie
  6. Lost in Translation, 2003, with Bill Murray and Scarlet Johansson (Bill Murray was robbed of the Oscar that year)
  7. Babe, 1995, with James Cromwell (don't watch the sequel - it's terrifying)
  8. Love Actually, 2003, with everyone in the UK world :-)
  9. Salaam-e-Ishq,  2007, with Priyanka Chopra (yes, that Priyank Chopra) and Salman Khan, and a cast of everyone in the Bollywood world.  Essentially an Indian Love Actually.  It's long, but it's wonderful  :-)
  10. Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi, 2008, with Shah Rukh Kahn - probably the best love story ever.
Now I want to watch some movies  :-)

*Just a side note on History is Made at Night.  This was my mom's favorite film, and if it was on the late night movie she would stay up to watch it.  I heard - my entire life - what an amazing film it was, but I never caught it on telly.  When the VCR came into existence, someone got one for my mom and she said to me, "What am I ever going to use this for??"  I suggested she see if she could find her favorite movie on VHS . . . She did and was thrilled beyond belief.

I was home for a visit in the late 1980s, and she had gone out one afternoon.  I found the video and popped it in to the VCR thinking it could not possibly be as wonderful as she always said it was.  This was back in the day when I was still a smoker and still drank Diet Pepsi.  It was mesmerizing and absolutely as wonderful as she had always said.  I think I chain smoked through the entire film and drank an untold number of cans of Diet Pepsi.

It's on YouTube now in parts, because I imagine it's in the public domain.  I have it still on VHS and on what is likely a bootleg on DVD (as far as I know it has never been released on DVD, unfortunately).  It's the best movie ever and I highly, highly recommend it.  The suave and debonair Charles Boyer.  The beautiful and funny Jean Arthur.  The hilarious Leo Carillo.  The dastardly Colin Clive.  You really need to see it.  Trust me  :-)

Sunday, April 24, 2016

The Sunday Wrap-up . . .

Finished up this sweet baby set for my cousin's daughter - she's due any day, and my cousin is on board to a trip to Budapest this summer to visit them.  She'll be taking this with her  :-)

The sweater is the Bigger Bitty Cardigan, and the hat - which is quite likely the cutest thing I have EVER knit - is the Ethan the Aviator hat.  The little red socks are simple baby socks.  Again - links are Rav links. I made the 6 months size.

I spent the day with my cousin yesterday - it was a quiet birthday.  She's doing well and is in good spirits.  she'll be seeing an orthopedic surgeon tomorrow or hopefully Tuesday at the latest.

There is good news and not so good news on my shoulder - the good news is that I have regained great range of motion in pretty much all directions except the one where you reach behind your back to get your clothes off and on and unhook your bra.  I haven't make ANY progress at all there and I feel sad about that.  Guess we'll see how it goes.

I found something I was looking for the other day . . . I don't know how long these will last on YouTube, so watch 'em quick.

First some fun . . .

And then some love (this is probably my favorite Prince tune)  . . .

Saturday, April 23, 2016

A Milestone . . .

Today is my birthday  :-)  It's a milestone one.  Which milestone it is will be left to your imagination  ;-)

This is Fernando, the Family Flamingo. 

Whoever's birthday it is becomes keeper of Fernando until the next family birthday.  He spends his summers with me, and will be safely ensconced here in the sunroom until August  :-)

I would have been spending the day today with my cousin, ME, doing fun things like pedicures, etc.  I will still be spending the day with her - but unfortunately we will be staying close to home because she's on ice for the duration.

Not a great photo because I took it with my phone.  She was crouched down talking to a child in the classroom, and when she went to get up, she wobbled/stumbled.  She tried to regain her balance but was unable to do so.  Her leg is broken in three places.  You don't want to see the X-rays. 

So, we'll still celebrate my birthday, just not as originally planned.  I'm doing some things here in the house and then will get cleaned up and go over and spend the day with her. 

Pretty wild . . .

Friday, April 22, 2016

Raspberry Beret . . .

I was going to write about Prince today.  Another musical genius gone too soon.  Seriously - 2016 sucks for the arts.  As is my usual, I was going to share some of his music with you - but Prince was notorious for his dislike of the Internet and services such as YouTube and Spotify.  It's pretty much impossible to find any of his music videos anywhere online.  That was his way and he paid a lot of lawyers a lot of money to protect his copyright and brand. So, play 'em if you got 'em, and remember another musical soul gone too soon.

Kinda thinking there's going to be a lot of these patterns downloaded on Ravelry today, and quite likely a run on raspberry yarn . . .

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Ten on Tuesday . . .

Today's Ten on Tuesday top is:  10 Albums You Love, as in, you love the entire album, not just a few select songs.

Lord.  How can you limit it to 10?????

In no particular order:
  1. Elton John - Madman Across the Water
  2. Bruce Springsteen - Born to Run
  3. Barry Manilow - Even Now
  4. Bruce Hornsby and the Range - The Way it Is
  5. Original Broadway Cast - Wicked
  6. Maire Breatnach - The Voyage of Bran
  7. James Taylor - Sweet Baby James
  8. David Bowie - Nothing Has Changed
  9. Jimmy Webb - Ten Easy Pieces
  10. Jimmy Webb - Suspending Disbelief
There are so many more I could list . . . 

Wow - someone uploaded all of The Voyage of Bran

Enjoy  :-)

Saturday, April 16, 2016

A Look at What's On the Stands . . .

It's been all about the plants this weekend again  :-)

Last weekend the Illinois African Violet Society held its annual judged show and sale, and yesterday I took a day off of work and drove down to St. Louis to help judge the Metropolitan St. Louis Council show at the Missouri Botantial Garden!  Wow!  Some absolutely gorgeous plants and designs!!  I was honored to have been invited to judge.

Shout out to Sue M. who took Best in Show with a nearly perfect miniature called Precious Red, which was hybridized by Hortense Pittman.  Sue - it was so great to meet you!  Congratulations on your Best in Show win!!  I got to meet other former watchers of my podcast, and I got to judge with two excellent judges.  In addition, we had some excellent clerks, and I think they learned a lot listening to us judge the collections and designs.  I learn every time I judge.  It's always an adventure.  :-)  I've judged twice this year - which is a welcome change because it had been at least four years since I'd been invited to judge a show.  There just aren't that many in the Chicagoland area any longer.  I did spend a lot of time in the car yesterday - 4 1/2 hours down and 4 1/2 back. 

Being at shows nearly always brings me some motivation where my plants are concerned - and it's embarrassing to admit that it's been nearly a YEAR since I have done any major repotting.  This means that my plants have just be surviving - not thriving - all this time.  The only good thing about this is that I know which ones are the hardy ones now!

I did come home from St. Louis with three varieties to add to my collection - two old favorites that I'd like to try again:  Ness' Crinkle Blue, and Sassy Sister.  Both are semininiatures.  We'll see how they do  :-)  I also got a start of a Rusian trailer, Lituanika, from my friend, Joyce Stork.  Joyce said it wasn't a good plant for her - we'll see how it does for me.  It's a semiminiature trailer.  These additions bring me back up to 23 varieties.

Let's take a look at some of what's on the stands  :-)

First - species rupicola.  This plant was in a 5" pot that was literally crumbling.  It was an old pot and plastic can get brittle over time.  Now it's in what's called a pan pot, which is not as deep - violets are happier in squatty pots like this.  It's a 7" pan pot.  I groomed a LOT of leaves off of this plant.  Again - last week the judges were kind because a LOT of leaves had mars or were damaged in some way, but there were so many blossoms that I think a lot of the flaws were hidden.  This is why it's so important to give your plants consistent care - you can avoid a lot of those kinds of problems by regular repotting and consistent care. It doesn't really look like I took a lot of leaves off at all.  I am also considering switching out the 3-shelf stand for the 4-shelf that's in my guest room at the moment.  Rupicola and the hybrid behind it, Jersey Snow Flakes, are both so large now that they are a little too close to the lights for me - both could very much do with being a little father away, and the 3-shelf stand would afford that opportunity.

Next, two trailers!  This first one is Champagne Pink.  I have plant of this growing in my office, too.  This was in a 3" pot and now it's in a 5" pan pot.  I groomed it, but as soon as it's settled here and growing well, :I will groom it again.  I didn't want to take too many leaves all at once.  I've had trouble with this plant not holding its crown variegation.  We'll see how it does this summer.

And this lovely specimen is Cajun's McKenna Trail.  It had also been in a 3" pot, and is now in a 5" pan pot.  If you look at the photos from last weekend, you'll see that I seriously groomed this one, too - but it will also be groomed further once it's settled and growing.

And here's the domed tray with the leaves from last week, this week, and also a couple from existing collection plants.  I'll just leave these alone for a few weeks and cross my fingers  :-)

And here are two plants that I got as leaves last year at National.  By rights - and had they had better care this last year - both would be much larger by now.  They are both still in Solo cups because I was waiting for them to bloom.  Neither was very cooperative until I moved them out to the sunroom.  This is K's Tipsy Spritzer - one of the most gorgeous plants at National last year.  I was so thrilled to get a leaf from the hybridizer!  I'm dying for that blossom to open!  This is a good sized plant now - it was separated from the momma leaf and potted up in October, so it's growing well, and as soon as that blossom opens and I see, it, this will get groomed and potted up.

This cutie is Paula's Fidgety Frankie.  She did tell me it was slow-growing - it was separated from the momma leaf in October and potted up.  It's small, but it's about to bloom, I need to get a description from the hybridizer to make sure it's blooming true.  Crossing my fingers!

I'm happy to have gotten so much accomplished today - there are still eight plants left to repot, but they've waited this long, they can wait a little longer  ;-)

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

What Was I Thinking . . .

Limit Your Collection.

When my podcast was still in production, it was something I said over and over and over again. 

I didn't originate it - the late Pauline Bartholomew, author of Growing to Show, did.  I became the standard bearer for it on my former podcast because it's such a critical part of becoming a good grower.  I can tell you from personal experience that there is an extremely fine line between an OK number of plants, and an OhMyGodThereAreTooManyPlantsAndIHateThis number of plants.  I spoke about it many, many times on my podcast.

"Limit your collection" are words to live by if you are a serious grower.  They came up for me again yesterday in one of the large African violet groups on Facebook. I know better than to wade into it on FB.  I really do . . .  but I must be getting my spirit back, because I didn't wade, I cannon balled, in one of the hottest button topics in the African violet world: throwing plants away to limit one's collection. 

A group member posted a photo of all the plants she had decided to downsize - which, given the group in which she posted probably wasn't the best idea - but I'm guessing she's a relatively new grower whose collection had gotten overwhelming.  She needed more shelf space, but instead of getting more shelves, she was limiting her collection.  "Annie would be proud," she said.  And yes - yes, I was!!  I am!!  She GOT it!!!

From the photo she posted it was at least 75-90 plants in various stages of growth that she was singing the Frozen song over.  And I'm thinking, Well Done!!!  Way to GO!!!  She had herself all set to downsize and had made her decision that, although she used to use duplicate plants like these to trade for others she didn't have, it was time to downsize and make her collection more manageable.

And there was that photo.  Of all those plants.  Perfectly good plants that she was getting rid of.  And - as I knew it would - the rumbling of the herd started . . .
Send them to me!!
I'll pay postage!!
You can get free boxes from the Post Office!!
I certainly hope you are giving those to someone!!
Take them to a nursing home!!
Send them to school with your kids for their teachers!!
I hope you're not throwing those away!!
And she tried to justify her choice to toss them . . . yes, they're lovely, but I don't want so many.  YES!!!!!  She GETS it!!!  She's making her collection - and her life - manageable!!  Hot Dog!!!  Because here's the thing:  If you have a busy life and all of a sudden your plants are overwhelming you, not only do you not have time for the plants, you don't have time for any of those other ideas up there.  The entire point of limiting one's collection is to keep it fun, and maintain some semblance of a life in the process - because boy howdy let me tell you that African violets can very easily - and very quickly - take over every bit of your time (and your life) if you let them.

So, I step up (oh boy . . . ) and validate her choice to let those plants go to their Great Reward.  But the herd rides on (seriously, it was a fricking stampede) . . .
Sell them at a Farmers' Market this spring!!
Take them to your club's opportunity table!!
See if there's a plant trade!!
I hope you're sharing with people nearby!!
Mother's Day is coming soon - give them to kids who don't have much money so they have something to give their mom!!
And I step up again and comment that she's getting a lot of pushback on her (really great) plan - and I say that I know that I will get pushback on my continued support of what's best for her, along with a reminder that it's OK to toss the plants.  Yup - toss 'em.  When it hits you that you have way too many, it's time to let them go.  That's what limiting your collection is all about.   

And then I'm chastised, because, you know, aren't we supposed to be generous and share with others who want what we no longer need?  Whoa - wait a minute.

Back it up, sister.  

I'm going to address some of those comments/ideas.  First, however, let me say that they are all valid - except they weren't the original poster's choice.  Her choice was letting those plants go to their Great Reward.  My guess is that she made that choice because she probably has a very busy life (like I do). In any case, that was her choice - completely valid and one that I support wholeheartedly, but one that many people feel is unacceptable.  

So let's look some of those comments in the context of a crazy busy life:
  • Of course everyone wants something for free, even though they offer to "pay postage."  You still have to spend the time.
  • Free boxes entails making the time to take a trip to the post office - more time.
  • The commenters likely have no earthly idea how much time it takes to properly prep, wrap, and package 75+ plants for shipping and then make ANOTHER trip to the post office to ship them - buttloads of time.
  • Nursing homes and schools very often don't want another thing that they have to take care of.  They have enough on their plates taking care of the elderly and teaching the young .  They have limited staff and not enough time in their days as it is.
  • Wait until spring to sell them at a farmers' market?  Um . . . yeah no - probably doesn't have time to wait that long, she needs the space NOW.
  • Take them to your club.  What if the original poster doesn't have a local affiliate??  I don't. And, um . . . she still needs the space NOW.
  • A plant trade?  That's pretty much code for shipping = time (need I say more?)
  • Sharing with people nearby?  Really?  Who do you know in your neighborhood who wants 75+ African violets? Anyone?  Bueller?
  • Mother's Day . . . Does your mom grow African violets?  Do you know any moms with small children who want to take on a plant that, although easy to grow requires specific growing conditions when they already have young kids to corral?
You're sensing the theme here, aren't you?  I know you are  :-)  It's all about time.

We spend money.  We spend time.

We make money.  We make time.

Time is money.

We have a specific amount of time in our days, and it's up to us to figure out how best to spend it.  We budget it just like we budget our funds.

I posted the following in response to the sanctimonious "shouldn't we share beauty" commenter. . .
 " . . . I don't normally wade in to this hot button issue because my stance on it is public and very well known from years of my former podcast, but I did this time because it's unfair to assume that, because someone chooses to limit their collection by tossing plants they aren't interested in generosity and sharing beauty. Do you know how long it takes to properly pack and ship what appear to be well over 75 plants? If it's best for you to send 75+ plants from your collection to everyone who offers to pay postage, then rock on! That's great. For you. But maybe not for [x]. The whole point of limiting one's collection is to make the collection - and one's life - manageable again. No one should be made to feel that their personal choice is unacceptable. The immediate removal of all the plants in that photo is going to not only create shelf space, but it will return a HUGE amount of time back into [x's] days. I'm going to quote [an expert grower's] earlier comment again: "It's nice if you can share, but knowing your limit and maintaining that is a huge step toward becoming an excellent grower."
The same commenter came back with a little snark about how I should reread her post. I apparently got my wits back about me because I commented briefly that I didn't need to go any further, and walked away from the second round.  She, on the other hand, came back with a lengthy post backpedaling on how she wasn't being condemning, etc., etc.  Uh Huh . . . 

And sure enough - the original poster came back to the thread and proceeded to list out a daily schedule that would curl your hair.  She doesn't have enough time (or space) to care for that many plants.  She asked that the conversation cease, which I honored - but others didn't.  They're still asking for plants and offering to pay postage.

So, I duked it out on FB.  I think that makes me kind of a dork, but truth be told, I'm kinda happy that I seem to be recovering a little bit of my edge.  It's been sorely missing in recent weeks. My mom taught me to have the courage of my convictions and I'm not afraid to speak up for them - but there are reasons I don't hang out in the large FB groups, the main one being that I am a show grower.  The vast majority of people in the large social media groups are not show growers, and many engage in stuff that drives me wild.  Like:

  1. Constant attempts to identify violets bought at a store.  This is virtually impossible to do accurately, and is frowned upon by the AVSA.
  2. Regular requests for a plant's description because they say they can't afford to buy the latest AVML or  First Class 2.  They are asking for something for free that the rest of us have paid for.  This irks me.
  3. Bragging about growing hundreds of plants that are jammed up together in limited space and posting photos of same.  Every time I see one of these photos it gives me the heebie jeebies.  Jamming plants cheek by jowl into trays and leaving them there is truly poor practice.  It fosters pests and disease, not to mention that the plants will never be able to grow to their full potential.  I don't get this - I mean, why bother having plants if you're not going to actually grow them?
  4. Exchanges such as the one I just described to you in this blog post.
You Kids!!!  Get Off My Lawn!!!!    :-D   :-D

Clearly, I don't have the patience of my friend, Joyce - Champion Grower, Master Judge, Teacher, Past President of the AVSA, current Chair of the AVSA's national Membership & Promotions Committee, co-author of You CAN Grow African Violets, master designer, petrocosmea hybridizer, and one of my besties  :-)  She regularly is able to comment in the large groups.  Me, not so much.

In the grand scheme of things, "limit your collection" is not earth shattering stuff and it probably wasn't worth this lengthy blog post.  It's not going to cure cancer or create world peace - but if you're serious about growing plants, it will give you the opportunity to bring your A game.  Who knows, you might be a show grower after all  :-)

Time to sing the Frozen song and Let it Go . . .  :-)

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Ten on Tuesday . . .

The Ten On Tuesday prompt for today is a special one in honor of Beverly Cleary's birthday and Drop Everything and Ready Day.  It is:  10 Books That Made YOU Want to Drop Everything and Read.

Wow . . . I was always the kid with the book growing up.  My first "real" job in Junior High was working at the public library shelving books for 75 cents an hour  :-D

Some of these are children's books - some are not. I would sit down and read any of them again at the drop of a hat . . .

  1. Nancy Drew.  Any time there was a new one, I was ready.  I learned about pen names - seriously, who knew that "Carolyn Keene" wasn't a real person?!  :-D
  2. The Hardy Boys - ditto
  3. The Famous Five - I only had a few of these because they were British (gifted to me by a friend of my mother's).  I would have read them all, I'm sure.
  4. The Boxcar Children - my cousin found The Boxcar Children cookbook in a used book store a few years ago and snapped it up for me  :-D
  5. The Man Who Was Magic - actually, I loved pretty much anything by Paul Gallico.
  6. Kay Thompson's Eloise - who didn't love Eloise.  I still love Eloise  :-)\
  7. The Stand - I couldn't put it down.  Just don't read it if you have a cold . . .
  8. 'Tis Pity She's a Whore - a tragedy by John Ford - published in the 1630s. There was a film made of it in 1971 that I saw in college, which is when I read this play (theater/music major here :-) ). I recall that the film was extremely powerful, and Charlotte Rampling was in it - she's pretty much always brilliant.
  9. Awake and Sing - another play, this time by 1930s playwright, Clifford Odets.  Who doesn't love Clifford Odets???
  10. The Sun Also Rises -  Mic drop.
All my children's books are now with my cousin's daughter so she can share with them her children. :-)

And those last three titles have made the cut every time I have downsized my books.  If you read Henry James and then read Hemingway, you will see very clearly how he completely changed the trajectory of American literature.

A good list  :-)

Sunday, April 10, 2016

The Sunday Wrap-up . . .

Warning!!  Long post - lots of photos.  :-)

Another busy week here, but I'm going to start with last weekend because - hello - knitting/fiber content  :-D

The Wrap-up - Part I

Tammy, Dana, Claudia, and Ellie descended on my house last weekend so that we could all go to YarnCon 2016.  It was a very fun weekend - but I was wiped out when everyone went home  :-D  This is the first time I've purchased yarn at a festival event in quite some time.  Here's the haul:

Draped over the top of the sunroom sofa, a very cool hand stitched cotton scarf in all my colors, a sock blank from Leading Men Fiber Arts.  On the sofa itself - some yarn and some fiber.  And over on the right - two project bags made by the lovely Claudia - she will soon be selling these on Etsy, if I'm not mistaken, and I will advise when her shop is up and running because the quality is excellent  :-)

Here are a few close ups of the yarns:

 I'm not generally keen on sock blanks - but this one was just too pretty to pass up.

 My friend, Dana, has started her own line of her handspun yarns.  They are available at her local yarn store in Milwaukee, Wisconsin (I need to get the name for you).  This is 430 yards of BFL and nylon sparkle that she gifted me - she called it "All About African Violets."  :-)  I love it  :-)

This is a gradient from KnitCircus - the colorway is Warm Woolen Mittens

This is a skein of DK weight from The Cyborg's Craftroom.  Normally not my style at all, this has ALL my colors in it and it's gorgeous!

 Some superwash Merino Top from Carpool.

And a beautiful braid of Merino roving in a very generous 6 oz.

 Made especially for the Chicago show - this skein from Dragonfly Fibers is called Wrigleyville.  It's Djinni sock yarn.  I got it to make something - a hat or scarf for my cousin, S, the ultimate Cub Fan  :-)

And this is a skein of Grinning Gargoyle in the Black Spruce colorway.  Dana and I like to get one skein that both of us like and then we knit something with it.  We had a harder time deciding this show - but this was the winner.  I only wish the yardage was a little more generous as we were hoping to knit cabled socks with it - but it's only 375 yards.  We should have read the label  :-D

So, definitely some stash enhancement Chez A last weekend!

And . . . another WIP bites the dust!!

These are the Fly Away Home socks - #11 on The Big List.  They are going to my cousin ME  :-)

The Wrap-up - Part II

In other news of the week, I started PT for my shoulder on Wednesday.  I guess the official diagnosis is tendinitis of the rotator cuff with a degree of frozen shoulder (because I wasn't moving it enough because, of course, it HURT . . . ).  PT isn't very much fun, but I am very hopeful that I will be feeling better very soon.  It's a little challenging getting it all together - the PT place is across the street from my office, so I am using my lunch hour to go.  That means that I'm catching earlier trains on PT days.  I'll be in the groove soon, but I'm scrambling most mornings so far  :-D

Then, the Illinois African Violet Society had its annual show yesterday.  This was not a show that I had planned on being involved in this year because I missed the timeline for getting my plants on the pre-show schedule.  However, all manner of unforeseen events occurred and I ended up far more involved than planned.  Our show chair died unexpectedly earlier this year, leaving us scrambling in every area.  The show was small, and I did not have much competition and many of my Best in Class awards were because my plan was the only plant in the class, but I'm very happy with how my plants did.  Bloom count on everything is low, but the judges were kind.  I was on the judging panel - it's always a very good lesson for me when I'm forced to judge my own plants.  I've learned to be impartial and to really listen to the other two judges on the panel.

All the violets you are about to see are standards - I don't often grow minis and semis with the exception of semiminiature trailers. And again, the blossom count is low on everything because nothing was on the preshow schedule.

These are not the best photos because they were taken with my phone  :-D

Ace of Diamonds - Blue, Best in Class, 2nd Best Standard.  Hybridized by my friend, Kent Stork, this is going to be a dynamite plant in another year.

Cajun's McKenna Trail - Blue, Best in Class, Best Trailer.  Hybridized by my friend, Belinda Thibodeaux. I LOVE this plant.  It's a semiminiature trailer and it's in serious need of grooming and repotting, but it's a stunner and I'm very happy to be growing it.

Edge of Darkness - Blue, Best in Class, Helen Rhoades Memorial Award.  This was our project plant for this year's show.  That's the only reason I kept it as long as I did . . . beautiful blossom, but the symmetry on this plant would never shape up for me.  It did not come home from the show - I gave it away.

Jersey Snow Flakes - Blue, Best in Class, Best Standard, Runner up to Best in Show.  This was a star on my podcast and it was a star again yesterday.  Bloom count is very low.  I was very happy it did as well as it did.

 Optimara Michigan - Blue, Best in Class.  A perennial favorite and (IMHO ;-D) one of Optimara's best hybrids.

Petrocosmea kerrii - Blue, Best in Class.  I love this and it's been neglected.  Needs repotting in the worst way  :-D

Sansoucy' Coco - Blue, Best in Class. Another longtime favorite.  Very low bloom count.  In another year and with better and more consistent care on my part, this is going to be a stunner.

Streptocarpus Heartland's White Gold - Blue.  Hybridized by my friend, Dale Martens.  I am only growing two streps - they are both Dale's.  For anyone who watched my podcast, this is from the plant she gifted me a few years ago at the Illinois state show when she was a guest on the podcast.  This will be getting much larger in the next year.

Streptocarpus Texas Hot Chili - Blue, Best in Class, 2nd Best Other Gesneriad.  Again, hybridized by Dale Martens.  I never even wanted to grow streps until I saw this one back in Ventura days.  I can't tell you how many of this variety I killed before getting the hang of it.  There are three plants in this pot (acceptable for other gesneriads in an African violet show).

s. rupicola - Blue, Best in Class, Best Species, Best in Show.  This is my species rupicola.  I've won other awards with it before, but this is the first time I've taken Best in Show with it.  I wish this photo was better.  Again, if you watched the podcast, you saw me hiding behind this huge plant in one episode last year.  I love growing the species violets, but rupicola is the only one I've ever been really successful with.

You don't see the tricolor for Best in Show here nor the Helen Roades Memorial Award because their was a mixup in the ribbons - they will be coming soon  :-)

I'm back up to 20 varieties - I was lucky enough to come home with some leaves of Linda Darnel, a semiminiature trailer that I lost in my experiment with the Japanese method of trailer growing.  I'm very happy to have it back.  I also came home with leaves of Allegro Once in Awhile.  It's a semi, so I'll see how it goes.  Hopefully I'll have success with the leaves - I got them put down right away last night.

That's the wrap-up!

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Ten on Tuesday . . .

This Tuesday's topic is:  10 Things you Do to Calm Yourself Down

1.  Breathe in Peace, Breathe out Fear

2.  Assorted Guided Imagery tracks

3.  A modified version of the Gyan Mudra

4.  Walk a Labyrinth

5.  Eat (unfortunately . . . )

6.  Affirmations (usually safety related)

7.  Combat breathing

8.  Music - listening to it

9.  Music - making it

10.  Watching telly

It's a good list  :-)

Friday, April 1, 2016

Fun with Tubes . . .

I guess it's time for an update on my shoulder.  My idea about my asthma med was not the answer to my shoulder pain.  I thought the pain might be getting better, and then I got the flu and moved my arm the wrong way and was reminded just how not okay it is . . .

I had an MRI on Wednesday. The results?  Inflammation.

I would like to throw something.

I'm not joking.

Once again, it's just inflammation.  I have a great doctor and we're trying to figure it all out, but I'm getting very, very tired of this ride, that's for sure.  The good news is that, thankfully, I do not have arthritis anywhere.  There is no joint damage in my knee or my shoulder.  I just have inflammation.   I start Physical Therapy (PT) for my shoulder next week.  I sure hope it helps.

I think it would really help if I could get smaller again but I'm struggling mightily in that area at the moment . . .  oh well.  The doctor thinks I'm depressed and I'm starting to think he might be right.  I'm in pain every day and I'm just not handling it very well, I guess.  I'm using old, non-functional coping skills again, i.e., attempting to use food to ease the pain.  It doesn't work and I don't know why I can't seem to stop it.  And I'm not moving enough because it hurts to move.  The proverbial vicious circle.  I'm hoping that PT will help me because I'm going to have to move and it won't matter if it hurts, I'm going to have to move.

There are so many things I like to do and, apparently, I just don't have the energy to do them all any longer (or at least not at this particular juncture).  I don't know if that's going to be permanent.  I don't think so (and I hope it's not), but I feel sad about it all the same.  And I have daily pain and seem to be losing mobility one limb at a time.  I feel sad about this, too.  And I don't know what it is about 2016, but people keep dying - not even making it to 70.  The latest is Patty Duke.  Anyone of a certain age will remember her show.  If you want to skip to 2:18, the theme song starts - this is the version (from 1964) that I remember most vividly:

And I'm alone - I feel sad about that, too.  I know I don't sound like my normal very positive and happy self at the moment, which is why I've not been posting here very consistently.  I'll be better.  Soon, I hope.  So maybe I am depressed - but it's just a rough patch, and I'll pound through it - but at the moment I'm feeling bleak.  And blue.  I do know that I have to move through this on my own, however, because I'm not interested in any of the drugs they give you for depression.  They are not for me.


Get this: I realize how horrible this sounds, but I was actually hoping that the MRI would find something physically wrong in my shoulder just so I would have something concrete that I could focus on.  Seriously - I should be jumping for joy that I don't require a surgery.  That I don't have a tumor in my arm.  That it's only inflammation.  But I'm not.  Jumping for joy.  I'm frustrated and confused and I feel like I'd like to smash something.  It didn't help that the technician took one look at me and said, "This is going to be a really tight fit."  After I picked my jaw up off the floor, I said, "Really (?!).  Do you think I'm too fat to fit in the machine?"  She attempted to backpedal, "Oh, no, the tube is just really small."


Thanks for that.

Even if I was bone thin I would still be wide, but that's really not the point.  Why would you say something like that to someone?  To anyone??  Isn't it enough that I have PTSD from being pinned and trapped in my car in the accident, and now you comment on the size of my body as I'm beginning to freak out about being trapped - on my back like a turtle, with no way to get out - in a fucking tube??  It already feels like a COFFIN and you think it's OK to comment on how fat I am???  I could go on.  But I won't.  I reported it on my evaluation form to the hospital and made a couple of suggestions to them.  They probably won't do anything, but at least I tried.

The really good news is that I made it through the test.  It took me two tries, but I made it.  I was completely unnerved and lightheaded for hours afterward - the poor cabbie I had on the way back to work got an earful, that's for sure.  But I made it through the test.  That's huge for me - and way more huge than the size of my ass and whether or not it was going to fit in that fucking tube.

Ahem . . .

In fun news of the week, I have a house full of company coming today for the weekend, and Linda the Chicken Lady is visiting next weekend. I'm looking forward to both.

And somewhere in the mix I'll be having a Come to Jesus Meeting with myself to figure out what all I need to do to take care of myself.  Because at the end of the day, it's only me.  I don't come home to a support system.  I am responsible for everything in my life.  If something is to get done, I'm the person who is going to have to do it.  On my own.  By myself.  I'm tired of reading self-help books.  I must already know in my heart what to do - the challenge is to find it, and then actually do it.  I can affirm and set intentions until the cows come home, but until I force myself to do the work, nothing is going to happen

I just typed "nothing is going to happy."  How Freudian is that?  ;-)

Still - all in all - I am the strongest woman I know.  No - I'm the strongest human I know.

Some Bollywood cheer is required today, I think.  From Salaam-E-Ishq