Sunday, August 13, 2017

The Sunday Field Report . . .

Before I start with my Field Report, I want to tell you that I will be attending a local candlelight vigil tonight to stand up against white supremacists and Nazis.  I've been urged by one of my family members to be careful - but I cannot not go. I am appalled about what happened in Charlottesville, Virginia.  It's not OK with me.  And, in the words of Jay Willis:
"What happened in Charlottesville is despicable and horrifying. But it's hard to call it a surprise, really. Long before Election Day, the people who now helm this administration were gleefully signaling that theirs would be a friendly one to people defined by hatred.

Right now, this country is stretched closer than ever to a breaking point, and it is exactly the America that Donald Trump promised."
 Here's the deal, courtesy of Facebook:

I WILL stand up against white supremacists and Nazis.

I say to you: If you ever wondered what you would have done in 1933 - you're doing it.

Vive La RĂ©sistance

Onward . . .

I'm going to talk about bodily functions in the second half of this post.  If those are TMI for you, consider yourself warned.

I'll start with a look at what's happening on the stands.  That should give you plenty of time.

My experiment of moving my Champagne Pink down to the basement has been successful!  The cooler temps down there have pretty much immediately returned the crown variegation to this plant.  Yay!!  And I'm quite enamored of how it's growing in such a lovely oval shape  :-)

There's some grooming needed, but, on the whole, if it blooms well for show it will definitely be making the trip to Starved Rock in November.  The Illinois African Violet Society is having a show this year after all!

The show and sale are open to the public at no charge on that Sunday.  We are also having speakers and a luncheon on Saturday - there is a charge for that.  If you would like to come, let me know and I will share the details.

Babies are sprouting!  Here's Tray 1 (and yes, those purply pink spots over on the left are my orchids  :-D )

There is a little bit happening here in Tray 2 - I ended up slicing that rotting leaf and giving it another shot.  You can see it bottom left.  I think the other leaves need a slice just to kick them into gear.

But down in the basement, not so much happening there.  I really think it's just a little too cold down there to effectively start leaves.  There is plenty of room in Tray #2, so I'm going to move some things up to that one and we'll see how that goes.

Alrighty then - that's plenty of space if you're not interested in what follows.  

I am progressing with the diet changes necessary since The Kidney Stone Incident.  The first three months after diagnosis really felt like a constant scramble for knowledge.  And then, once I knew what I needed to do, it was a fight to get the balance right.

The balance is still not there.  It's better - the pendulum is not swinging quite so far out on either side, but I still know that I need more vegetables, and I still know that I need more calcium.  And that's where today's lesson begins . . .

Getting enough calcium is still a daily struggle for me.

I'm having a daily yogurt now, though, so that's a great improvement! This was suggested to me by Dr. Frederic Coe, one of - if not the - foremost experts in kidney stone prevention.  He said that yogurt reacts differently in the body than milk does.  Not surprisingly, he's right.  :-)  I've done well with a yogurt daily, and usually I'm fine with some calcium-fortified orange juice each morning.  

I struggled with milk early on - even Lactaid - but I decided to try some calcium-fortified Lactaid milk again recently because I'm still not always getting in the 1,200 mg of calcium that post-menopausal women need daily.  Much to my surprise, I discovered that I could occasionally handle a full glass of Lactaid if I drank it with something like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  


Um . . . turns out, I can't.  (Seriously, turn back now.)

Here's how I found out:

A few days ago, I had a PB&J sandwich with a glass of Lactaid.  No ill effects!  Wow, I thought, looks like I really have built my tolerance back up!!  

Yesterday I had PB&J on toast with a glass of Lactaid for breakfast.  No ill effects.  Yay!!

So, I decided to see how it would go if I had my usual yogurt later in the day.  No ill effects.  Well, Hot Dog!!  

So I'm thinking this is great because if I could get both of those in every day, I'd be really, really close at 900 mg of calcium and the other stuff I'm eating that has calcium (orange juice and cheese) would easily make up the difference!  I mean yesterday I had more than 1,600 mg of calcium!  Yeah baby!!

So, this morning, I got up and went to the bathroom and although my stool was soft, it wasn't diarrhea.  And I thought that was excellent progress!  Yes, I'm talking about poo here, so again, if you've come this far, you were warned . . .

It's a gorgeous day here in Chicagoland today, so about an hour later, I decided to get some steps in my day by hoofing it around the retention pond.  It's one of my favorite places to walk - it's quiet and I usually see some great water fowl - today it was mostly the muskrats, and some young ducks  :-)

So, I'm toddling around the pond when intestinal distress (the likes of which I haven't experienced in quite some time) hits.  

I was about half way around - right at the "six of one/half a dozen of the other" place on my walk.  There was no faster way home.  I decided to keep going, so I sped up to get home faster.  When I got to the street and past the side pond, I cut across a field to get to my block even faster, but it was no use.  There was no stopping it . . .

I made it home for the very worst of it, unlocking both doors and punching in the alarm code while slamming the door and waddling to the closest bathroom.  The cleanup wasn't very much fun and it involved both showers, Tilex, a substantial number of paper towels, what seemed like an entire roll of toilet paper, and plenty of Clorox wipes with bleach.  

It was gross.  It was a mess.  It was embarrassing (thankfully I don't think anyone saw me and if they did, I had dark athletic shorts on). So, if it was a gross, embarrassing mess, why am I sharing it? I mean, really - who wants to read about shit like this (pun intended)?

I'm sharing it because this calcium issue is the one that I have struggled with the most on this kidney stone prevention journey. And because it's part of my journey, I know that there are likely plenty of  others struggling with it as well - there are a LOT of people of a certain age who can no longer tolerate milk.  It's something that often happens as we get older - we begin to lose that lactase enzyme that digests stuff like milk.  But we need calcium - all of us do, not just women.  When your body is sucking the calcium out of your bones because you're not getting enough in on a daily basis, you are at substantial risk for both osteopenia and osteoporosis.  

If I'm struggling with this, then so are many others.  And so I'm sharing this story because it might help someone else.

The problem appears to be with calcium I drink - specifically milk.  I seem to be able to get away with the calcium-fortified orange juice (6 ounces or less at a time), but that's it.  Yogurt doesn't affect me the same way milk does.  Neither does cheese.

I've done almost everything I can do to get more calcium in on a daily basis.  I really thought that my body had built up a tolerance for it again - for awhile I convinced myself of this.  But . . um . . . no.  I'm having a Noosa yogurt daily (well, not today because I want to go to that candle light vigil tonight and there won't be any access to a restroom - seriously, my body needs a little time to calm itself back down).  I'm usually having that calcium-fortified orange juice daily (4 to 6 ounces), and 6 ounces is 260 mg of calcium.  I been limiting myself to about 1 ounce of cheese a day again (this is helping the size of my ass and, as mentioned, cheese doesn't affect me like the milk does, but it's high in sodium so I really need to limit it).  It's about 290 mg of calcium (for parmesan).  That puts me at about 950 mg of calcium - without severe intestinal distress.  

If I don't want to have to take a pill, I've got to start making up the difference in foods that contain a lot of calcium (and don't contain other stuff I'm supposed to avoid).  These include vegetables like broccoli (1 C has 40 mg), and fish like salmon (wild caught which I think has about 50 gm for a serving).  I'm going to add raw almonds back to my mix; they are very high in oxalate, but if I eat them with my yogurt, the calcium binds to the oxalate and travels out of the body, rather than sticking around in the kidneys to cause problems there.  Raw almonds should really help because 12 of them (which is about half an ounce) has 70 mg of calcium. Having them daily with my yogurt will push me over the 1,000 mg mark (the recommended amount for everyone except post-menopausal women).

So, I'll be making the Salmon Cakes recipe with more regularity, and I'll run to the healthfood store tomorrow for some raw almonds from the bulk food bin.  I'm giving my body a chance to recoup today - I'm kinda afraid to eat much of anything else . . .

And, needless to say I suppose, I won't be attempting to drink Lactaid milk again any time soon ever again.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Post and Run . . .

I went to Stitches Midwest on Sunday . . .

I like to participate in Buffalo Wool's Mystery Bag, where you donate some skeins and get to buy a mystery bag for $20.  I did two this year and got a skein of Sexy, their laceweight.  Colorway is Afternoon Delight.

And a skein of Skies DK, which goes very nicely with two other skeins I got in a previous year!  Colorway is True North.

Then I shopped.  I ordered a sweater's worth from Leading Men Fiber Arts on their Callback base in the Dames at Sea colorway, which is a beautiful, deep blue. 

Then I picked up some MadelineTosh fingering weight at WEBS, in the Thunderstorm colorway - enough for a sweater:

Some of the most beautiful - and most interesting stuff I saw all day was at the shared booth of Magpie Fibers and YOTH Yarns.  Seriously - I think I'm about to start saying YouKidsGetOffMyLawn!!!  :-D  I just don't care for the current trend of neon bright colors and speckles everywhere.  Truth be told, I'm not all that keen anymore on most variegated yarns either!  Except for, you know, Socks that Rock, and even then I'm pretty choosy.

Anyway, this is Magpie Fibers Solstice base in the Desert Rose and Mesa colorways, which has both silk and cotton in it along with the wool.  I can hardly wait to get it on my needles!  I'm thinking another Copenhagen Calling.

Same here with the YOTH Big Sister in the Rosemary and Thyme colorways.  :-)  I'll have Copenhagen Callings in multiple colors!

My last stop of the day was at a new vendor - she had antique buttons :(and no website).  I could not pass them up. This was the point where my credit card lit itself on fire - I'd forgotten to notify the credit union that I was going to be at an event with vendors from all over the country.  Of course the computers can't tell you're at Stitches - they just see multiple purchases in a short period of time from all over the country.  I OK'd the texted fraud alert I received (handy, that!) and received confirmation that I could use my card, but apparently there is a time lag between the text and when they actually release the card.  I paid the button lady cash because I just couldn't let these go.

Pretty awesome, aren't they?  :-)

Sunday, July 30, 2017

The Sunday WrapUp . . .

Been awhile since I've done a Field Report, and I kinda miss them  :-)

So - here's the catch up from the week . . .

My Run (Walk!) the Year Mileage.  What was I thinking that I could catch up 100+ miles by the end of the month?!  Seriously.  I'm about 73 miles behind the pack now, which sounds like I really caught up a lot.  But my math was WRONG (no surprise  ;-D) at my last update.  I was really only about 75 miles behind.  So, I've caught up 2 miles, which is better than a sharp stick in the eye, but not good enough.  I'm shooting for catching up between 30 - 50 miles in August.  These are catch-up miles in addition to my regular miles, and I'm also looking to make sure that I get my 3 miles/day in every weekday in August - more, really, to account for the weekends when I don't seem to get as many in.

I've got some tools that will help me with this - I've chosen to consciously get more active on the weekends.  I made it to the club on Saturday for a really good workout - it's been months since I've chosen to make the time for that, and boy am I paying for it today  ;-D  Just a good reminder that, as my trainer always says, "if you 're not building muscle, you're losing muscle."  Very, very true.

Salt.  I continue to do well with limiting my sodium intake.  I think I mentioned this once before, but the problem has gotten worse:  foot and leg cramps that have been waking me up multiple times a night.  This is not good, you guys, and I know that when I have more salt, I don't have them.  However, I really have to watch the salt.  I think there could be magnesium and potassium issues at play here, too - so, once again, it's a balancing act.  In the meantime, I decided to try my late mom's tried and true remedy for foot/leg cramps:  a bar of soap under the bottom sheet.  She swore by it.

O. M. G.

It works.

I don't know why.  Maybe it's massive placebo affect.  I just know it worked for my mom and it seems to be working for me.  She preferred small, flat bars of travel soap and asked me to pick them up for her whenever I traveled.  I had one from a recent trip and decided to try it.  Really happy it works for me because when my sleep is disrupted everything goes sideways.

A Look at What's On the Stands!

These are all the newbie plants you saw at the last look, plus some restart in the green tray.  All is going quite well here and I'm very pleased.  I feel, however, that I do need to get the minis closer to the lights - and, frankly, they might be happier a little warmer.  But, all in all, I'm happy about what's happening here!

Tray 1, upstairs in the sunroom - can you see the first baby popping up?   Yay!!!

Tray 2, upstairs in the Sunroom.  Not every leaf makes it - and I have found that if I'm going to have an issue, it's nearly always with variegated leaves of all types.  That's a leaf of Champagne Pink there are the bottom left, quietly rotting.  It's going to it's Great Reward shortly.  No babies in this tray yet.

Tray 3, in the basement.  Again, you can see some "spots" on heavily variegated leaves.  You an also see a LOT of condensation in this tray.  I've opened the vents at the top of this one and hopefully it should stop some of the rot.  Over on the left you can see the sucker I removed from my Jersey Snow Flakes.  It's straightened right up  :-)  No babies in this tray yet, either.

One last one to share - my thoughts that my large plant of Champagne Pink might have the variegation return (it's a crown variegated variety, which means the variegation is strong at the crown and fades as the leaves age) if I grew it a little cooler.

Oh yeah, baby!  I'm all happy!!   :-)  :-)

That's about it for the wrap up.  It's been one of those magnificent summer weekends here . . .

Again, no autotune, no flashy arrangements, no backing track, just a couple of guys making memorable acoustic music and singing.  It sounds like it's about to be a different tune, but it's not.  Enjoy . . .  :-)

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Running Behind . . .

OK - not really running.  Just behind.  :-D

I thought it was time for an update on the 2017 in 2017 challenge that I'm working on with my trainer.

I figured out all my mileage this morning, and I'm about 127 miles behind where I should be at this point. That means I need to be my steps in more consistently throughout the week, and I need to spend some time on my recumbent bike to catch back up.  I think I can do this by the end of the month.

I'll let you know  :-D

And, as I head down to the basement where my bike awaits, here's what just rolled up on iTunes:

Saturday, July 15, 2017

1, 2, 3 . . .

My friend, Michelle, at Boulderneigh has been charged with taking care of a colleague's African violet while the friend is out on leave.

That's what goes through the heart of someone who thinks that African violets are the most difficult plants to care for.

Here's a little secret . . . they're not.  They are easy to grow and easy to care for once you know a few simple truths.  So, Michelle, here's what you need to know:
  1. AVs like bright, indirect light.  
  2. They like the same temps/climate conditions we do.
  3. They don't like to have their feet wet for any great length of time.
Easy as 1, 2, 3  ;-)

Here are the details:
  1. If it's growing well where it is, leave it there.  If your co-worker plopped it down on your desk, then, if you have a fluorescent light - like an under-ledge light where you can place it, that's great.  If you don't have that, an AV will be very happy in a northeastern exposure.  I used to grow what I called "The Big Box Violet" in an eastern window on the north side of my sunroom with no trouble at all.  
  2. Violets suffer above 85 degrees and below 65.  They also don't like to be in a draft.
  3. Overwatering is the most common cause of violet death, so don't let it sit in standing water.  Water it well, and then after about 20 minutes, toss any water left standing in the saucer.
Michelle, I think you're going to be great at this!

Friday, July 14, 2017

The Kidney Stone Incident, Part 2 . . .

I saw the urologist on Monday for my follow up, and no - I don't have another stone  :-D  Well, I have what they think could be a precursor to another stone, but the changes I'm making should guard against anything every happening with it.  I also have what they call a peripelvic cyst - but, again, it's not bothering anything and they say it's fine.

The doc was quite impressed by my success with my sodium and fluid intake/output.  :-)  In fact, he said that he didn't expect me to do as well as I did, and that it's very rare that any of his patients do nearly as well over time as I did right out of the box.

They decided to do a quick ultrasound there in the exam room to make sure my bladder was emptying as it should.  The nurse came in, and I told her I'd like to empty my bladder before the scan.  She said. "Yes, absolutely.  You can go down the hall or use the toilet in here." 

Um . . .

I was thinking, "does she want me to use a bedpan???" when she walked past me, opened the cupboard doors under the sink, and swung out a toilet.

I'm not kidding - she swung out a full-size toilet, complete with toilet paper

I'd wondered before what that large black button was on the panel the last time I was there.  It's the flush.


My bladder is just fine.

Seriously.  A swing-away toilet.  Do you think they use these in tiny houses??


Anyway, I do have more work to do.  As mentioned before, my calcium, citrate, and pH are out of whack, and I know myself that I'm not getting enough vegetables in (the eternal struggle).  I coached again with Jill Harris yesterday.  Her help has been extremely valuable on this journey.  I would not have come this far without her help.

So what's Part 2?  Well, Part one was "drink more water/eat less salt."  Part 2 is "get more calcium/eat less sugar/eat more vegetables."

Onward  :-)

Oh, this is just in case you need an 80's flashback . . .

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

A Kidney Stone Update . . .

My follow up appointment with the urologist is next week, but yesterday, my 24-hour urine collection test results dropped in to my LapCorp portal.  Wahoo!!!

This report is pretty technical if you don't know what you're looking at.  So - you'll recall that my two main goals in the past three months were to (1) drink more water; and (2) eat less sodium.

See the upper circle for my success on getting more water in.  Yay!

See the lower circle for my success on lowering my sodium intake.  Yes, that really does say 77.  In fact, there is a little asterisk to the right of the number - this means that the lab checked my sample twice to be sure there was no mistake.  I find this pretty funny, but the number is pretty startling :-D  My sodium number at 77, is really, really good - I think.

The three arrows across the top are areas that still require some work.  Remember, I've mentioned before that this is a balancing act of large proportion.  So, I've fixed some things and aggravated others.  I think these things can be brought into line with more dietary changes, and I'm hopeful that when I meet with the doc that he will agree to let me try another 6 to 12 weeks on my own before he prescribes anything for me.  I'm hoping I've done well enough on the first two things he asked that he'll give me that chance.

The first arrow on the left is my calcium.  For women this number should be below 200.  I've substantially lessened the leaching of calcium from my bones.  My average of my first two tests was 464, and I've knocked it down to 263 (nearly by half) but I have more work to do here because if my kidneys continue to leach calcium from my bones, I will be at great risk of osteopenia and osteoporosis.  I'm not interested in either of those.  Seriously.

The middle arrow is my citrate number - it, unfortunately, has gotten worse.  This is not really a surprise, since I believe it is connected to potassium, and this is an area where I have been struggling.  Many of the leafy greens (and potatoes) that I used to eat are very high in oxalate.  Since oxalate is not an issue for me (in fact it went even further down, to 20!), I'll be talking to the doctor and my health coach about the possibility of adding more potatoes and maybe something like Swiss Chard back in to my diet.  Another alternative might be to start drinking Crystal Lite Lemonade.  I won't know for sure until I see the doctor.

The left arrow is my pH.  Unfortunately it's a bit wonky at the moment.  Not sure what's up here, but it's possible that this could be caused by intestinal distress (ahem . . . ).  Upping my calcium has not been easy, if you get my drift, and if you have diarrhea a lot, it can mess up your pH.  I'm thinking that's probably at least some of what's going on here, but this will be discussed with my doctor and health coach next week.

So, the journey is well begun  :-)


Happy Fourth of July!


Monday, July 3, 2017

Murphy's Law Redux . . .

Alrighty then . . .

Yesterday, after I finished blogging, I toddled on out to the kitchen to get some more water.  I glanced at the bar, knowing it needed attention before it got completely out of hand (which it does with alarming regularity), and saw this:

Unless you've ordered from The Violet Barn before, you probably don't know what that is.  Well, it's how they wrap their minis for transport.  Yes.  I completely missed one of the plants yesterday.  this is probably not a surprise.  Here's what the bar looked like (photo take after the fact so the plantlet isn't there):

It's the catch-all of my house.  I come in and dump the mail.  And I dumped my backpack on Saturday.  And my lunchbag is there - and my book club book, and  - well, clearly there's a lot more there, as well.

I suppose I should be embarrassed, but really, this is my life.  If you were to show up at my house at any given time, you'd likely find it some state of disarray.  If you'd shown up yesterday, not only would have seen the bar like that, you'd have seen the sunroom like this:

It's Tour de Fleece - I'm spinning.  There's stuff everywhere  :-D

It's been some time since I've pulled out my wheel, and, much like my neglected instruments, it feels pretty great to have some fiber running through my fingers again.  This was Day 1's accomplishment.  It's going to be 2-ply worsted weight.  I think worsted weight.  Possibly Aran weight.  This is one ply.  I'll finish this bobbin today or tomorrow, and then start the second.

But for now, I'm happy to tell you (well, show, you, really, that the bar is back in some semblance of clear.  The sunroom, however, is going to remain a little wild for the duration of Tour.

And, in other news of the day, I put a call in to my appliance guy yesterday morning, because when I went back downstairs to pot up that remaining plant, I discovered that there's a leak coming from the kitchen and dripping down into the basement.  :-S  I'm pretty sure it's from the ice-maker in the freezer.  I think my appliance guy isn't working today because he hasn't called me back.  So, I'll have to call him on Wednesday after the holiday.  Thankfully it's not a bad leak.

Here is Day 2 of my Tour de Fleece progress:

On this holiday weekend, I thought you might enjoy this.  It starts with history - so if you want to jump right to the music, that begins at :44.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Murphy's Law . . .

The last of the new plantlets arrived on Friday and I got them all potted up yesterday.  Here's a look at all the babies (leaves/restarted crowns) and newbies.

First, the babies.  I have three very full trays of leaves and restarted crowns.  I have this many because I'm hoping to have some to share at the Illinois show in November.  Here's the first tray - this is upstairs in the sunroom.  Three crowns and the rest leaves.

This is Tray 2 - also upstairs. Half leaves and half starts of Streptocarpus Texas Hot Chili.  I deconstructed what I had and discovered that it was mostly new shoots anyway.  So they are here building roots.  Other leaves are in the back.

This is Tray 3.  It's downstairs on the basement stand.  Lots of leaves of Jersey Snowflakes and also some petrocosmea kerrii, as well as some leaves of the newbie plants put down for insurance:

No real work involved with these trays until the babies sprout  :-D

Next are the newbies.

First is Newbies 1, that you saw last month.  They've been under the dome for a week or so.  They were established plants, so it's time for them to get out into the air.  That's what the Sharpie is doing.  The humidity dome is still on, but the pen props it open.  It's the first stage of getting them out and going.   Minis and semis.

Here is Newbie 2.  On the basement stand. A trailer, two species and I think a semi.

And here is Newbie 3.  Also on the basement stand. Three species, a trailer, a mini and a standard.

I have two established plants on the basement stand - my Champagne Pink trailer, and a streptocarpus, Heartland's White Gold.  That stand is going to have to be the isolation stand.  All these plantlets came from reputable commercial members of the AVSA so I don't expect any issues and I did use some Marathon (a systemic that should kill anything that might have hitch-hiked along).  But still, these newbies that are established and have their own roots already need to be isolated from the rest of the collection until November.  One can only hope that they will grow well in the cooler basement conditions.  Cross your fingers.

I'm now at 36 varieties, which is more than I prefer, but it's possible that I will lose some of the minis.  I'm definitely not confident in my ability to grow them successfully.

Murphy's Law . . .  You know, if it's not one thing, it's another. 

When I went downstairs to take photos this morning, it's clear that something in the kitchen is leaking into the basement. . .  I think it's probably the ice-maker in the freezer.  I don't think it's a leaky pipe.  I'll put a call in later this morning to the appliance guy I use and leave a message.  I'm home on Monday so maybe he can fit me in then and tell me what's going on.  That side-by-side came with the house and I'm sure it's from about 1985 when the previous owner redid the kitchen.  I've replaced everything in the kitchen except it (and the washer and dryer).  The leak isn't bad, and it wasn't there yesterday when I was working on the plants, so hopefully I'm catching it in time.

Just in case it's time for a new unit, I took a look online.  JesusMaryandJoseph.  Who knew you would have to spend close to a grand to get a nice new one?!  Crossing my fingers that whatever is leaking it easily repaired.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

10 Years . . .

Today is the 10-year anniversary of this blog.  Linda the Chicken Lady was the one who suggested I start one.  Blogs were the hot thing in the knitting world a decade ago, and I've always been a writer, so I decided to give it try . . .

A decade.  A lot of the blogs that were around then, aren't anymore.  A lot of people have moved completely to Facebook, Twitter, and more recently, Instagram.  I've curated my Facebook feed to show me positive and helpful things; hardly anyone follows me there anymore because I will not stop Resisting the current political administration here in the U.S.  I've tried Pinterest, but I haven't truly found the allure of it.  I have a few boards, but they are rarely added to.  Rather, I am inspired by this board . . .

 I do post photos on Instagram from time to time.  This is my current favorite:

And I do have a Twitter account . . . but somehow I don't seem well able to limit my thoughts to 140 characters . . .  and so, Knit and Run - the Everyday Life of a Wild and Wacky Woman goes on and gives me a place to get things down on the page and to share what's going on in my world, and what books I've read (usually from my book club), and what music I'm listening to (usually old  :-D ). 

My blog is not world-famous.  That doesn't matter.  Over the years it's been a life-line for me more times than I can count.  I've always written it for myself - to help move me through passages in my life and chronicle stuff that's going on.  That anyone else has come along on the journey or been helped by anything I've shared is amazing to me, and very humbling.

Some readers comment, some don't.  Some left when the political waters got hot last year.  Here's what I have to say about that:

But, after all this time, you are still here.

And so am I.


I've chronicled a decade of my life and experiences here.  Knitting.  Spinning.  African Violets.  Ravelry.  Bagpiping.  Women's Issues.  Construction.  Chicago.  My own health and wellness.  The Path to Myself.  365 Project.  Politics.  Life in General.  Endings and Beginnings.  I seem to have a LOT of tags over on the sidebar  :-D

I thought a few times that I would let it go - but I find that I cannot.  So, to those of you still out there - still reading - thank you for bearing witness and holding space for me.

Who knows what the next 10 years will hold?  I certainly don't, but I'm reasonably sure I'll be chronicling it here, and - whatever comes - my hands are open . . .

Onward  :-)

Monday, June 26, 2017

Food for the Soul . . .

Something else I've been doing the past month, is beginning to making music again.  I really cannot go too very long without it.  In fact, if you know me in real life, you likely know that I've been a musician since before anything else.  I've stepped away from it for a few years again because I just haven't had the wherewithal to do it.  But I was inspired to open my eyes . . . I tuned my guitar and have been playing a bit.  And I re-seasoned my pipe bag and at least blew some air through them a few times.  Not pretty, but something.

I am absolutely stunned by the muscle memory retained in my hands.  I am very, very lucky, and that's all that I can say about that.

Quick update on my 24-hour urine collection.  I am happy to say that I have been successful on my "output."  They wanted me at the very least to be peeing out 2.5 liters daily.  To do that, you have to drink a LOT of water.  I was instructed to drink 3 - 4 liters of water every day.  This is actually getting easier, believe it or not.  When you don't drink things like pop, coffee, or tea, it's way easier.   So, I was shooting for at least 2.5, and I was at 3.6.  So, I've been successful with my first directive of drink more water.  I'll have to wait for my test results in mid-July to see if I've been fully successful with my second, which was eat less salt.

With the health issues I've had for the past few years, I am continually looking for ways to inspire myself and keep myself going.

A few weeks ago, with with my friend, D., to a Body, Soul, Spirit festival.  We had a great time!  I spent some money to talk with a Shaman named Matthew.  He was pretty amazing and knew a lot of stuff that he really shouldn't have . . . I do believe some people have gifts that they've been able to tap into better than the rest of us.  It was money and time well spent - he  was very clear that he didn't understand why I wasn't making music since it runs through the very core of who I am and how I define myself.  He could never know this.  Other stuff, too, but this was compelling and helped me see what I might be missing.

While at the fair I found these two Raku-fired medallions, the Hand of Fatima, and the Celtic Trinity Knot. 

I love what the little card that came with these says:

"Not everyone survives their trial by fire.  The ones that do cultivate strength & beauty."

Yup . . .

I don't think the Trinity Knot requires much explanation - you can interpret it as any trinity you need it to be . . .  But The Hand of Fatima might not be as familiar to you.  It is an ancient symbol of feminine protection.  Mostly found in Middle Eastern and North African cultures, I first encountered it in Morocco and learned about it from our Berber guide.  It's called Hamsa in Jewish culture.  When I say ancient - it pre-dates all modern religions.  I think it's very, very beautiful.  On the back of the medallion it says, "I am Protected."  On the back of the Trinity Knot medallion, it says: "I am Connected."


And on my wrist, more reminders and inspirations:

The silver bracelets are all from Alex and Ani.  An Om, Liberty Copper, the Hand of Fatima, the Number 3 (Creativity, Wholeness, Intuition),  and somewhere, my initial, A.  I have more - I wear them a lot.

The red leather wrist wrap is from Brian Andreas, of Story People fame.  I first encountered his work years ago in a little shop on North Clybourn in Chicagoland.  Linda the Chicken Lady and I both got multiple matted prints of his work.  I know I had mine framed and they've hung on various walls of my life over the years. 

Anyway. he was having a moving sale and this wrap was on sale.  The site said that the clasps of the wraps were tarnished (no big deal) and they were selling them quite inexpensively.  I think that the only reason I was able to get this one is that it was a size Small.  That's right.  My wrists are less than 6" around.  Smallest part of my body.  :-D  I worried a bit that it might not fit, but it fits beautifully.  I know you can't see the whole story on it. Here's what it says:

"Trust Love.  That's pretty much it.  Except, maybe, drink more water."

So, yeah - you know I had to get that.  Funny, isn't is, that I keep the wrist wrap so I can read it, and wear the bracelets the opposite?  That's just the way that they seem to go best  :-)

I was finally to get out this past weekend and walk.  It finally cooled off enough to get an early walk in both days.  In the spirit of gorgeous photos my friend, Michelle from Boulderneigh, posts, here are a few reminders of my steps . . .

Busy muskrat in the Retention Pond . . .

Robin in the Pine (click to biggify) . . .

Wild Roses in the Wetland . . .

Until the next time  . . .

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Catching Up . . .

Again - large chunks of time between posts. Time continues to slip through my fingers.

Feeling pretty good and am very hopeful about the follow up tests regarding The Kidney Stone Incident.  I haven't been perfect - which I know I've said already - but most days I have a good handle on my salt intake and my water.  I'm doing another 24-hour urine collection test today, and then I have to have another CT scan on Thursday.  Then, I'll see my urologist again on the 10th of July.

The 24-hour urine collection test will tell the tale.  It is my hope that my "output" number will be way up, and my sodium number way down.  I'm reasonably sure that if I'm successful with these two items, that all my other wonky numbers will fall into place.  Crossing my fingers  :-)

The CT Scan is to make sure that there are no other stone hanging around in my kidneys.  I don't think there are, and - based on the ultrasound I had in March - my urologist did not see any shadows.  However, apparently someone took another look at my March ultrasound and decided that I might or might not have some cysts hanging around inside of me.  For this, the CT scan will tell the tale.  I don't think it's anything serious.

I'm also down 15 pounds since the end of February, so that's a big plus, as well.

Then, a couple of weeks ago I saw my OB/GYN for my annual.  He's been my doctor for more than two decades (hard to believe!) and I can't even tell you the number of people I've referred to him.  I mention him and this visit because of what the urologist who performed my surgery said to me - in passing:  Oh, BTW, your bladder has fallen, I can fix it if you want."

Seriously, that's what he said.

I spoke to my current urologist about this back in March and he said that yes, he could fix it, but to check with my OB/GYN when next I saw him because my OB/GYN has never said that I needed any kind of surgery.  And sure enough, when I spoke to him, he said that unless it was really really bothering me that he didn't want to perform surgery on me, saying, "A, you've already had enough surgery this year."  He also said that there were many other options to be explored before surgical repair, including pelvic floor physical therapy, and, possibly a pessary.  I feel better about the whole thing.  I've had the same OB/GYN for a really long time.  Whatever he tells me, is what I'm going to go with.  :-)

I have a follow up with my Retina Guy in early July, as well.  All seems to be well except for the flashing that doesn't go away.  I also had another ocular migraine - yesterday.  It's so odd when it happens, and always in my left eye over to the outside.  It's gone now - only lasted about 30 minutes or so.  It's very hard to describe, but this photo is from Medical Treasure and it's a very good approximation of what I usually see:

It's jagged, and usually multicolored.  Mine is usually all the way to outside of my field of vision, and it's only ever been in my left eye, but unlike this photo, they do not affect the clarity of the rest of my vision.  They never last long, and usually my eye feels warm/hot after it's over.  So, I guess I'll be telling the Retina Guy about it when I see him.

Enough about weird health stuff  :-D

In the time that has passed since last I blogged, I have started to work with my plants again.  I actually bought a few more.  Some have arrived, some are still on their way.  When all is said and done, I will have gone from 16 to 33 varieties again.  Most of the new plants are semis and minis.  Only time will tell how I do with them  :-)  My state organization is having a show in mid-November, and I wanted to be ready to hopefully have a few things to show.  I also am already planning for national in 2018, which will be in Buffalo, New York.

Nearly all the plants were very neglected for the past year, but everything has been potted up now and I have a LOT of leaves down, this latter also in prep for the fall show.  Hopefully some will be sold, and some will likely be used for table favors at the fall event.

Here's my Jersey Snowflakes before:

Here is it after grooming and repotting:

And here are all the leaves I took from it . . .  I actually took more - but they weren't good to propagate.  And yes, that's my hand.  Really big leaves  :-)

Here is a look at the stands.  Stand 1:

Stand 2:
and Stand 3:

Here's a closer look at the current new babies:

I have to say, it was really nice to have my hands in the dirt again  :-)

These days I can't stop listening to Dougie MacLean . . .

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Sock Hygge . . .

My local library has a book club that I joined early this year.  I really like it and I look forward to it every month now.  It's usually all women (there was one guy one time, but he never came back).  We read books that are uplifting and that have application in our lives.  For May, the book was  this:

It's pronounced hoo-ga (in case you wondered).  I so enjoyed this one, and discovered that I'm pretty much in the hygge groove already.  In fact, the entire group really enjoyed it - we were all in the spirit of it!  One lady brought her crocheting to work on, and she brought cookies, and made a Danish folded lace heart for the table!

Candles, lighting, friends, scarves, sweaters, woolen socks, coffee, wine can all be hygge, but it's more a feeling than a thing.

An important thing for your Hygge Emergency Kit (it's in the book  :-) ), is a pair of woolen socks.

I have a 29-year supply of woolen socks.  They never seem to wear out - probably because I don't wear them enough.  So, earlier this week, I had a bright idea . . .

Yes.  I took 20 pairs of socks with me to book club.  Some never worn, some gently worn (all clean, of course :-D).  I brought home eight.  It was SO FUN to give everyone a pair of woolen socks  :-D  I have so many that never get worn - and I'm a big believer in stuff being used rather than sitting around.  Everyone was really happy  :-)

Other things have been accomplished around here.  I had to file an extension for my taxes this year.  I had been scheduled for the Saturday after my retina tore, and I couldn't get anyone to drive me up to Sheffield & Diversey for my appointment, so my accountant filed an extension for me.  I met with him last night and that's now out of the way!  Yay!

I finally sprang for some blocking mats and T-Pins.  O. M. G.  WHY did I wait so long???  I've been blocking on beach towels and using regular sewing pins with little roundy bead tops forever.  The mats and T-Pins are amazing!!

Here is my Hale-Bopp MKAL shawl from back in February - finally blocked.  I'm not quite sure how to wear it, but it's done.

And my Copenhagen Calling cowl is done, too, and I'm all ready for next winter!


Sorry for the pretty much no makeup face.  I managed to get my eyebrows on this morning and that was about it  :-D