Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Shields Up!

I had number of friends contact me privately about "how difficult it must have been" for me to post my photos last week. 

It wasn't.  It is what it is.  I have walked this road so many times - never learning to truly maintain one size.  I think it's difficult to explain to anyone who has not struggled with the size of their body.  It's one of those things that, unless you've experienced it yourself, you really have no concept of what it's like. And the journey has already been interesting.  :-D  I'm laughing because once again, it just is what it is.

A lot of stuff transpired yesterday - all of which was a week or two in the making. 

Interestingly enough, I felt nervous about the day yesterday morning.  My friend, T, reminded me to put my shields up.  If you are a Star Trek fan, you'll get that reference immediately.  In practice, for me, it's setting an intention and focusing my energy on creating a shield around myself so that I don't take on other people's negative energy - other people's "stuff."  It's also a way for me to know that I can remain calm in any situation - my shields are up  :-)  It was a good plan. 

Nothing major went sideways, but there is a ton of negative energy surrounding Weight Watchers' shift from Beyond the Scale (it's former program) to Freestyle, the new program.  I get that.  I'm thrilled with Freestyle, but Beyond the Scale was the reason I left the WW program two years ago - I found it to be extremely restrictive and punitive.  Very much a "diet."  Change is nearly always hard, even when it's good change, but this particular change to Freestyle seems like exactly what I need.

Anyway - I digress.   :-D

If you've been following along at home, you know that I did sign up for WW about a week ago.  There aren't a lot of meetings that I can go to at my local center - the timing is poor - so I decided I'd go for an Online membership this time.  I found it confusing to not have booklets - all the stuff you get in the meeting room, so I asked a few questions online and was told I could definitely go to a meeting to get the orientation to the new program.  So I did, last Wednesday.  I was late to the meeting (poor timing), but there was a receptionist who was extremely kind and helped me with everything.  I sat down to hear the remainder of the orientation - which was the full meeting topic - and was reminded why I didn't always care for my local center.  It was a nightmare.  The people next to me carried on a side-conversation the entire time (I was like Really???).  I didn't say anything to them because it wasn't my meeting, although I did say something to the Kind Receptionist about it.  And the general tenor of the meeting itself was one of negativity and unhappiness at the change in the program.

On my way out, the Kind Receptionist gave me a schedule of meetings and suggested the Sunday morning meeting might work for me timewise if I changed my mind about online.

And after a few days of being online only, I did.  Change my mind.  I knew that I wanted to be back in a meeting room - I just needed to find the right fit.  And so, I went online to attempt to upgrade my online membership to a Monthly Pass.  I was denied!  But I figured that the meeting room could do this change for me.  So, on Sunday morning I toddled on over to that meeting.  Well, actually, I drove.  ;-D  I was hoping the meeting wouldn't be too crowded, and as I pulled in to the parking lot, there were not all that many cars!  Score!  And as I walked from my car, I thought to myself that wouldn't it be nice if that Kind Receptionist worked at this meeting?  Score!

She does!  There she was!  It's her regular meeting - she was only helping out on Wednesday evening.  I thanked her again for having been so kind to me last week and told her that as I was driving over I had hoped she would be a receptionist at this meeting - and she said that something had come up for her on her computer that made her think of me and that she'd hoped I would come to the Sunday meeting.  So that's the Universe validating me and my choices in a very big way.  Yay! 

The leader was excellent and the group was not huge.  Score!  Score!  These are both huge pluses for me.  In fact the leader spent a little more time with me after the orientation, which I really appreciated. 

I ended up having to buy a monthly pass there in the meeting room, and knew I would need to call to have WW cancel the Online membership on Monday morning.  So that's what I did.  It was a call that lasted an hour and 15 minutes. 

OMG

Had both the people I dealt with on the phone not been so kind, and had I not put my shields up on the way in to the city, my hair would have been standing on end.  Long story short: In order to keep my existing screen name/login both memberships had to be cancelled and a new Monthly Pass had to be purchased yesterday.  What an ordeal!  But all was well in the end, I remained calm, and I have what I need. 

Bonus:  At the end of November I decided to let my Fitbit premium membership expire.  I wasn't using it.  I decided to go to MyFitnessPal, so I ponied up the $50 bucks there - and the next week I heard about Freestyle and I knew that I needed and wanted to return to WW, rendering MyFitnessPal useless.  I figured it couldn't hurt to ask - so I emailed them yesterday and they refunded my $50 bucks.  Immediately!  Yay!! 

So, I'm on my way with the tools and support I wanted. 

I will continue to weigh myself on Thursday mornings, but the weight that WW tracks will be the one that happens in the meeting room on Sunday mornings. 

I'm trying to figure out how best to make a table in Blogger so I can track my progress here.  I'll let you know what I discover  :-)

I'll leave you with an oldie for this chilly Tuesday morning . . .


Friday, December 8, 2017

Yesterday Was Pearl Harbor Day . . .

This post is not about Pearl Harbor.

It's about December 7th, a date which will live in infamy . . . personal infamy.

I did get on the scale yesterday.  It wasn't pretty.  In fact, I'm back to my all-time high - and this time it was naked and empty on the scale, not clothed in a doctor's office.

It is what it is.  I'm not pounding on myself, I'm just moving forward the best way I know how.  And, for me, for the majority of my life, that's been Weight Watchers.

My first exposure to WW was when I was in Junior High School and my mom was on the program.  I couldn't help but lose weight along with her.  I remember the days of liver once a week, and boiling doing tomato juice to make ketchup - and man, an on-program dinner back then was a block of frozen turbot with paprika sprinkled on top.  I had instructions to get it in the oven by a certain time so it would be ready for dinner when my mom got home from work.

I joined once on my own, in high school - I went in another town and I wore a wig.  I was a high school student . . .  I joined again when I was was in my early 30s and that's when I was really successful, losing 51 pounds and getting to goal.  I was a leader - a popular one.  And then things fell apart in my life and, you know, sometimes when really difficult stuff happens, it's all you can do to put one foot in front of the other.

I don't want to sound like I'm a victim - I'm not.  My choices were/are my own and I take responsibility for them. I mean, nobody else was putting food in my mouth.

I left the program two years ago when "Beyond the Scale" was announced with its SmartPoints. Having been "married" to PointsPlus for many, many years, I did not handle the change well.  I found SmartPoints to be extremely difficult and very punitive in how it treated sugar and saturated far, even as I knew these changes reflected current nutritional science.  But the changes were - to me - so extreme that I left the program altogether.  I couldn't take failing every single day.  And I really thought I could do it better by myself.

Well, we all know how that turned out - I mean I've been whining about the size of my ass for years and not making any truly consistent, sustainable progress.  Alrighty then . . .


No need to comment - this is where I find myself.  Again.  I'm not freaked out, it is what it is.  Taken yesterday morning by my trainer, at the club, at 5:30.  In the morning.  This is how my post-menopausal body rolls out of bed.  It's the gym, people  :-D  I specifically mention post-menopausal because like many women of a certain age, I never had an apple shape.  Until now.  I was always curvy, and I always had a wide ass, but I never had a belly before.  It's bothersome, but again, it is what it is. 

Hey - did you see what I did back there a couple paragraphs?  ConsistentSustainable.  I could be talking about my African violets.  But I'm not.  Two years ago when I left the WW program, I thought I could do this on my own.  I clearly could not.  Weight Watchers has always given me the structure that seems to keep me safe somehow.  It's like the points structure is a safety cage around me, allowing me to work within that safe framework.  I have to tell you that it feels really good to be back.  I'm only two days in and already I feel more relaxed - like I know what to do.  The Points framework gives me that feeling of capability

Nearly two years ago, in January 2016, I wrote the following.  It bears repeating:
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 :-)
I am one with the wind and sky . . .




Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Once More, With Feeling . . .

I rejoined Weight Watchers a couple of days ago.  The new program starts this week.  My food week starts tomorrow. 

I know that I've always done better with some structure - and doing it on my own doesn't seem to be working for me.  I'm miserable. So, after an absence of two years, I'll start again.  The new program is called Freestyle.  It's still based on the SmartPoints system that I found so restrictive, but now there is a substantial list of zero-point foods that includes all fish and eggs.  I might be back to being an ovo-pescetarian after all  ;-)  It seems far more flexible, so I'm in online at first, and maybe back in a meeting room as I go along.  I'll see how it goes.

More info as the story unfolds . . .

Something to put on in the background of your day.


Monday, December 4, 2017

30 Years . . .

 . . . of Belleek annual Christmas bells.






There are two spares. 

The bell at the top left was my original first year (1988) bell.  The dog knocked over the tree that year and the only thing that broke was that bell.  My first ex-husband found all the pieces and glued it back together - one of the few nice things he did for me.  My mom got me another one so I'd be sure to have it.  The castle on the upper right was an ornament I got one year thinking it was the annual ornament.  It wasn't.  But it's pretty anyway  :-D


Monday, November 27, 2017

Following the Star . . .

Following the Star is a daily devotional for Advent.  It starts today. 


This is something I have attempted to do for a few years now.  I've written about it here before

d365 is a daily devotional site created by Passport, Inc.  It was launched in the wake of 9/11.  It was created for youth, but I find great meaning in it even though I'm not a kid any more  :-)  I also like that it is jointly sponsored by the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, Presbyterian (USA) Mission Agency, and The Episcopal Church. 

It's daily, but I subscribe to it only for Advent (Following the Star) and Lent (Journey to the Cross).


Sunday, November 26, 2017

The Sunday Wrap-Up . . .

My friend, Michele at Boulderneigh asked if I'm getting enough exercise, and the answer to that, is no.  I'm well aware that I'm not moving enough.  Most days it's all I can do to get to work and back, and then collapse in my chair in the sunroom.  Even yesterday - I didn't get the potting done and my tree didn't put itself up . . . ;-)  I did, however, manage a trip to the Post Office and a good hike around the retention pond.

Walking is definitely my exercise of choice.  My average weekday of steps is about 8,000, and another friend, Janice, wanted to know how I get even that many steps in on a relatively daily basis.

I walk from my house to and from the train Monday through Friday.  This is just under 1,000 steps each way.  I also walk from the train to and from my office.  This is a 17 minute walk and it adds about 3,000 steps each way.  If I get out at lunch and walk for 20 minutes, I easily hit 10,000 steps.  On the day I meet with my trainer, I will usually have close to 3,000 steps before I even leave for the train in the morning - an easy day to hit 10,000.  The challenge lately has been to take a lunch hour away from my desk.  Many mornings in the past few months I have been late, which means I have to make it up at lunch.  It has seemed easier to to just eat at my desk while still working - it has, literally, been months since I've taken a lunch and gotten out to walk.  This will be changing starting tomorrow.

Weekends are more challenging.  Yesterday, as mentioned, I got a walk in around the retention pond.  I really don't mind walking in the colder weather.  I just layer up and go.  When the snow flies it will be a different story.  The village does not plow the path around the retention pond - I'm thinking of taking my shovel with me at some point after the snow, and shoveling it myself!

I also have a treadmill in the basement - I don't use it as much because I sometimes get a flare up of plantar fasciitis with the completely measured gait on it.  But I am starting with it again - slowly.  I also have a great healthclub of which I am a member, and it has an indoor track.  I don't like to walk in the dark by myself, so I can see that I will likely be spending a little more weekend time in the club this winter as I work to get my steps up to 10,000 daily.

Janice also asked about how my plants did last week at the Illinois state show.


This species plant, s. rupicola, was my best plant.  It was part of the Best AVSA Species Collection.  And let me say that a number of my plants won because there was no other real competition for them this show - but we had some new novice growers, both of whom grow standards - so I'm hoping to encourage and mentor them both!  Yay!  Anyway, this plant was 2nd Best in Show, Best Species, and part of that Best AVSA Species Collection.

I also won Best Trailer, with this very young, Rob's Wagga Wagga.  I was surprised by this because the other two trailers I had (also in an AVSA Semiminiature Collection (they didn't win)) were better plants.


 Here is the collection.  Cajun's McKenna Trail pretty much grows itself for me, but the blossoms tuck under somehow - I want to find the correct conditions for it to bloom more strongly above the leaves.


You never know how the Judges will go - I think they didn't realize how difficult it is to grow Champagne Pink.  Here's a closeup.  I thought it was the better trailer.


I did bring home one red ribbon - my Precious Red was just not blooming well, but my friend, Joyce, insisted that I take it anyway.  The show was small - so I did.  :-D  Mine's the one on the right . . .  I comfort myself in the knowledge that I'm not really a mini grower  ;-D


I also won Best Standard with my Jersey Snow Flakes - even though it was very low on blossom count.  We all learned that mid-November is NOT a good time for a show in the Chicagoland area.  The plants know - mine were very slow to come in to bloom, and the last couple of weeks I had the furnace that governs the sunroom set at 74 degrees.


This plant grows much better than this, and with a ton more blossom.  You can see it here back in June.  When you look at the June photos, you can see how well it usually blooms, and the culture break is not so evident as it is in the photo above.  That bottom row of leaves needs to come off and the plant needs to be potted down to allow it to grow well again.  I should have restarted the crown back in June, but that would have entailed taking off too many leaves to have it ready for show in November.  I may do it now . . . I'd like to take this one to National again in 2018  :-)

I won a few other club rosettes - Best Lavender Standard, with my Fisherman's Paradise; Best Blue and White Mini/Semi, with Ness' Crinkle Blue; and Runner Up to Sweepstakes in Horticulture (that means that I had the second highest number of blue ribbon plants in the show).

I'm really headed down to the basement now to separate and pot plantlets, and I'm going to ride the bike while I'm down there - I'm still behind on my miles for Run the Year!

And you know, sometimes the original is still the best . . .  ;-)


Friday, November 24, 2017

Black Friday . . .

So . . . um . . . everything at Land's End is 50% today.  I got a new winter coat for about $100 bucks.  I'm looking forward to getting it - since I broke the zipper on my old winter coat, I've been wearing my old dress coat, which is really old and not warm any longer. 

Monday evening on my way to take a friend to the airport, I walked out of the house to this.


Reminds me of a Maxfield Parrish painting, and since I am often unsuccessful in capturing the moon, I wanted to share it  :-)

Other things to share include a visit to my doctor on Tuesday. 

I haven't felt well for the last month or so.  Nothing specific, just not myself, and I was concerned that I might have developed high blood pressure.  For the majority of my life, my BP has been 110/70.  During The Kidney Stone Incident it spiked very high - about 185/90+.  In fact, I learned last night from my cousin who was with me, that had it not begun to go down when it did, that the ER staff were going to start me on a magnesium drip to forcibly take it down to avoid my having a stroke.  It's never gone all the way back down. 

Again, because I haven't been feeling well, I took it in the machine at the Jewel (grocery store) last Friday morning before I left for the African violet show.  It was 165/85.  I decided not to worry about it, knowing that I had an appointment with my doctor on Tuesday.

His nurse took it at the office and it was 165/90+ . . . However - I am very happy to report that I do NOT have high blood pressure - I just needed a bigger BP cuff.  I guess my arms are too fat for the machine to give an accurate reading.  It's weird.  My arms aren't fat . . . Anyway, the doc took it with the larger cuff.  He took it in both arms:  128/74.

So, it's up a little from my normal 110/70, but not by much, and still under the new guidelines.  So that was a relief.  As to what might have been causing me to not feel well . . .general consensus is lack of sleep due to stress.  Work is extremely stressful and has been so for most of this year, with many, many changes in personnel - people coming and going (many not by choice).  I don't think my employment is at risk ::: knocking wood ::: but I need to get a better handle on the stress I now deal with on a daily basis.

I need to start taking a lunch break and getting my steps up to 10,000 a day consistently.  The doc also ran labs - all of which were fine.  So, he has started me on something to help me sleep.  I'm not keen on this, but I cannot continue the disrupted sleep pattern that I've fallen into and I cannot seem to remedy it on my own.  So.  I have set the intention that I will be on this just long enough to allow my body to get back on a normal sleep cycle.  :-)

And now - time to do some work at my potting bench, and to get the rest of the Christmas decorations up  :-)


Friday, November 17, 2017

Hold On . . .

And this is how the days have gone this week.  NaBloPoMo is in the wind, I'm afraid.  This weekend is the African violet show I have been preparing for - I have a dear friend staying with me and she's helping with all the last-minute crazy. 



It would be really good if I could find my phone . . .

The run up to a show is always fraught with "stuff."  That my plants are not up to their usual standard is not helping. 


But I'm holding on . . .  :-D


Monday, November 13, 2017

Wake! Up!

I take a commuter train in to the city every day.  During rush hour it's about a 40-minute ride.  Not surprisingly, people often fall asleep on the ride.  I've fallen asleep on the ride.

There's one conductor who gives the usual arrival spiel as we're leaving Van Buren Street heading for the main terminal, which is the end of the line.  He's talking and then he says quite loudly, "It's time to WAKE! UP!"

:-D

This is how I felt this morning - I'm still waking at around 3:00 - 3:30 most days and then struggling to get back to sleep.  I finally do get back to sleep, and then I often don't even hear the radio that clicks on just before 5 until about 5:30.  That's what it was like this morning - and then it just takes me some time to come fully awake.  I wasn't able to get out of bed until 6 this morning.  An entire hour later than usual. 

So it goes.  I managed to get up and get my Morning Pages written. 

Yesterday was a relatively productive day.  Half the shredding is done.  OMG how is there so much of it?!

I made two lasagnas yesterday.  For the first time I used tomato sauce that had no salt added!  Yay!  You can't tell the difference.  I'm going to have lasagna for breakfast (I like dinner food for breakfast).  I also whipped up a batch of Penzey Spices' Green Goddess dressing.  I make it with the fresh plain Greek yogurt that I get at my local fresh market.  I add some Miracle Whip and a little bit of white vinegar.  The only salt or sugar is in the Miracle Whip and I don't use all that much of it - mostly it's just to thin it out a bit. 

At my work there is a deli in the lobby.  They have a vegetarian sandwich that's quite good, but the sodium in the bread they use is very high.  I get the sandwich without tomatoes and without mayo, but I've been asking for a small thing of Ranch dressing to put on it.  It's pretty much a Salad Sandwich, and a great way to get what my family calls Stealth Vegetables  :-D  However, the Ranch dressing - all dressings, really - is extremely high in sodium.  So, I've had the Penzey's blend hanging around for awhile.  I figured if I took my own bread, and brought my own dressing, it would be a better choice for me.  It went pretty well - but the Green Goddess is still a little thick - I need to think of a way to thin it a bit more.  If I wasn't lactose intolerant I'd use milk.  I wonder if I could put some flax milk in it?  Probably not.

Some days NaBloPoMo seems really, really arbitrary . . .

Tonight I had a chance to catch up with an old friend.  Such a gift. 




Sunday, November 12, 2017

The Sunday Wrapup . . .

This has been another weekend to myself.  I still had things left from last weekend's to-do list, as well as this week's now  :-D  Not the papers have still not been shredded . . . but that's happening today.  Without fail.  I'm also about to head out to the store.  I pretty well cleaned out the refrigerator on Thursday, and it's looking pretty empty.  I also have company headed my way this week, so I'm working on some meals for that time. 

I've been working with my Ink & Volt planner again.  I got it early this year and felt like it wasn't working well for me.  Since I've tried it again, I realize I just wasn't using it well.  I have also come to the slow conclusion that I'm attempting to do too many things.

For many years people have been telling me that they don't know how I do all I do.  I've never really felt like I was doing all that much.  I know I've blogged about this before in years past - it feels much more immediate now somehow - with work ramping up massively, I'm finding myself struggling to keep up.  Knowing that I need to make new habits for myself has been added to the mix.  I've learned from Joan Anderson that when change is thrust upon us is when we really begin to look at things. 

This is where I find myself now.  It's not a bad place, just a thoughtful one  :-)

In other news of the week - I'm an early adopter where Christmas is concerned, and I've been working on decorating the house this weekend  :-)  Two of my foxes, the Polish Christmas House (you put a candle in it - so beautiful), and a primitive lambie.  It's fun!! 


And the plants are attempting to come into bloom for the state show next weekend.  They are slow at this time of year . . . I've had to turn up the furnace that heats the sunroom.  To 74 degrees!  The rest of the house is at 68, so it's quite interesting going from one side of the house to the other  :-D  I also increased my lights by another hour, but it's the heat that is really going to make the difference.  I hope.  They are blooming, but not blooming fully.  Mid-November is NOT a good time to have an African violet show in Chicagoland.  We'll be moving back to our usual springtime show next year.

You can see Christmas garland on the floor behind, and if you click to biggify, you might even catch a glimpse of BunBun the Christmas bunny, in her special chair!  :-D


My health coach, Jill Harris, gave the group the word on this water.  I used a coupon and ordered a bunch of it.  So far I've tried the cherry and it was good.  Plain water is my main drink, but I must say that it's pretty great to drink something once in awhile that actually tastes like something!


Here is something I love about winter:  I'm going to put my sweats on over my jams and skip the bra,because no one can tell when I'm wearing my coat.  And then I'm going to go to the store  :-D

And here's a Sunday song for this cloudy morning


Saturday, November 11, 2017

Serenade . . .

Something mellow for this late Saturday night.  One of my all-time favorites.  Memories of Germany days and a rainy Sunday morning after . . .


Friday, November 10, 2017

First Snow!

First snow of the season - it made me late for work because there was enough of it that I had to change in to my hiking boots before I could go out it.  No slip/fall for me!  It won't last - in fact, it's already gone, but it's the harbinger of snows to come  :-)


Thursday, November 9, 2017

My Favorite Day of the Week . . .

Thursday is my favorite day of the week  :-)

I think it's the best day to start anything.  But since the day is gone and I am writing just before hopping in to bed, I'll have to save further explanation for another time.

It's been a Dougie MacLean day for two days in a row, now . . .


Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Tai Chi . . .

I am grateful for Tai Chi.

When I started a little more than a year ago, I sort of knew what to expect.  I had taken a Tai Chi class forever ago (back in the 1990s) but had not kept it up.  I've always had an interest in meditation, yoga, and Tai Chi.  I do meditate now from time to time.  The only yoga I can do reasonably well is Peggy Cappy's Yoga for the Rest of Us (she's brilliant!).  Tai Chi seems to be the thing that I do now and do consistently.

Over the years I would periodically do a search for a Tai Chi class near me, but never found anything closer than at least half an hour away and a ride on the expressway away.  But last year, my search turned up a little karate studio two towns over.  It's very close and it offered a Tai Chi class on Tuesday nights from 8 to 9.  This is late for me.  I usually am in bed by 9 to get up at 5, but I decided to call.  That was August of 2016.  I've been going faithfully ever since.  Very little deters me - Tuesday is Tai Chi night.  And seriously, you have to know that I really want to do something if I'm doing it that late on a "school night."  :-D

I've learned Yang Short form (as taught by Cheng Man Ching), and now I'm learning Tai Chi Sword.  Eventually I'll be learning Tai Chi Fan.  But for now, my focus is on sword and on keeping up regular form.  Last night, Sensei tasked me with making my own journal of notes and movements in each of the forms I'm learning (both Short Yang, and Sword).  This is going to be a challenge.  I was behind the door when they passed out artistic talent . . . drawing figures in the shapes of each form to cement movements for myself - I do not see that happening.  But!  I have a solution!  I'm going to find pictures that demonstrate the movements and use them in my notes!  Clever girl!  :-)

Another chilly morning here in Chicagoland - frost in my yard.  Here's a view from my deck - sometimes I practice Tai Chi on the deck  :-)


A Red Twig (shrub) in focus in the foreground - and in the back on the left, FINALLY my maple tree is turning red!  It's only a few years old - one of the trees I got when I lost my stand of Blue Spruce to cytospora canker - and I specifically got one that would turn red.  I thought it was called Red Emperor, but I think that's the name of the Japanese maple I have out front  :-D  (it's the one that now serves as the background to this blog  :-) ). The skinny lighter green in the middle is a Catalpa tree that grew from a bare root twig.  The darker blobs across the back are arbor vitaes. There are five of them - I keep hoping they are going to take off and provide me some sound break again (the trains run in the ravine behind), but they are slow growing and have been fodder for the rabbits the past few winters.  My cousin came over and put chicken wire around the bases to stop what we could, and I wrapped the maple trunk because the deer were chewing on it!  The rest is scrub brush/shrubs.  Oh - on the right - the yellow leaves - that's part of the canopy of my Red Bud, another of the replacement trees.  I'm so happy that my maple has finally put on an autumn show!  I love all the colors in my yard  :-)


A blast from the past for you today (seems I do that a lot, lately . . . ).  One of the most innovative American bands to come out of the 60s.  One of my older Canadian cousins knew the guitar player growing up!


Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Camaraderie . . .

I am thankful for the group I moderate on Ravelry. 

I formed this group after a group I had been a co-moderator of folded last January.  I wasn't sure my new group would work without a specific focus, but it has worked, and the group of knitters there is supportive and inclusive and positive.  We all just pretty much knit what we want at all times and share our progress with each other.  I'm so thankful it worked.  I started it as a six-month experiment because I wasn't sure no-focus would remain vital.  It has  :-)  Yay!

I don't know why this is in my head.  I grew up watching reruns of Kukla, Fran and Ollie, and Burr Tillstrom did an artist-in-residence program at the college where I did most of my undergrad studies, so thought I'd share the innocence and magic of Burr Tillstrom's puppets with you today  :-)


Monday, November 6, 2017

Time . . .

I am grateful for time.

I really am. 

We switched back to Standard time here in the Midwest yesterday.  "Fall back."  Like  falling back into a pile of leaves.  :-)  It's been many years since leaf burning was allowed anywhere I've ever lived, but I remember the smell.  My dad died when I was very small - I have no conscious memory of him, but I apparently told a teacher at school that he was raking leaves and burning them, and he caught fire and died.  I have no earthly idea where my young mind came up with a story like that and I have no memory of having told it.  I wonder now, though, if someone attempted to explain cremation to me (my dad was cremated) and that was the only way my little mind could wrap itself around it.  For the record, my dad died of kidney disease about a year before dialysis was widely available.  There were no leaves involved.

I went to church yesterday for the first time in a very long time.  We have a new Director of Music Ministries, and so I've rejoined the choir and am going to give things another shot.  I've been struggling with vocal issues that I'm reasonably sure are due to non-use.  I'm hopeful that singing regularly again will help in correcting the problems. 

And it occurred to me that it might not make any sense to anyone but me why getting "all the plants watered" was a big deal on my weekend list.

These are the plants around my house.  Mostly in my sunroom. There's another plant stand in the basement that I was just too lazy to go down and photograph this morning  :-D  The succulents were purchased really only for the wrought iron hanging container that they came in.  That they are growing is not due to any real care on my part  ;-D  The African violets have most of my focus at the moment as they are headed to show in a couple of weeks.  Cross your fingers that they come fully in to bloom.  November is NOT a good time to have a show in Chicagoland.  Next year's show will be back in the springtime where it usually is.  That will be helpful.

I'm grateful for time.  I have it (for now), and I'm making more time in my life for things that are important for and to me.  I am grateful for the time I have, and today I'm reminded that it's not an unlimited gift.  We all have a specific amount of time here, and lately I feel like I've been wasting mine.  So - regrouping.  Again, and moving forward.  This hasn't been the easiest of years, but it's far from the worst, and I am so lucky to have the time I've already had.  One can only hope I don't get run over by a bus on my way to work today . . .


As my mom used to say, tomorrow is promised to no man.  My mom and Buddha.  This is making me laugh because I could absolutely see my late mom having a conversation with Buddha.  Totally.  :-)

It's up to us to live our lives.  Truly live our lives.  Now.  Not tomorrow, now.  What is the next right step?  Whatever it is, it's time to take it.

Now . . .



Sunday, November 5, 2017

So, How Was It?

How was the day of my own?

Well, is was pretty great!  The weather was not all that cooperative, so initial outdoor plans changed to indoor, but I got a great deal accomplished and enjoyed myself in the process.

Before I report on my progress - wanted to share the great stuff I picked up last Saturday on my trip to meet my friend, P, out at The Fold for a wonderful day of yarn, catching up with Toni (owner of The Fold), and the best cheeseburger I've had in I don't even know how long  :-D


Color choices are no surprise to anyone who knows me  :-D  The Opal is for some boot socks, probably the Zugspitze pattern.  The book has a pattern that the other yarns are for:  Quaking Aspen Cowl.  The pattern calls for worsted weight - I'm planning on holding the yarn double throughout.

Here's an update on yesterday's progress!

Here is what my list looked like:
  • Screen Door Windows
  • Second Chance Shop
  • Tai Chi
  • Run dish washer
  • Clear the bar in the kitchen
  • Guest Room . . .
  • Check on Magill Cup (this is for the Illinois African violet show and it's in a box in my front hall)
  • Ace Hardware - Tubes and washers, no ice melter
  • Clean out the Garage - called on account of rain and damp cold
  • Car Wash? - called on account of rain
  • Shred Papers
  • Office . . .
  • Read 2 issues of Guideposts
  • Yard Cleanup? - called on account of rain and damp cold
  • Present wrapping
  • Water all Plants
  • Fix Toilet Seat
  • Replace bulbs in Basement

Tai Chi was not in the park - as I was getting ready to leave, the heavens opened up and I got a text from my Sensei to meet at the studio instead.  This was a great because since we were inside, I brought my sword and we got extra sword practice in!  Yay!  Plus we ran form at the end and it was pretty much a perfect way to start the morning.

Three things were called on account of rain, but this was a pretty big list so I didn't mind scratching those items.

I had put the bags for the Second Chance Shop in the car before I left the house.  The studio is literally right behind the Second Chance Shop, so it was an easy around the corner to drop off the bags, and the Ace Hardware is right next door to the Second Chance Shop!  I was able to pick up some fluorescent tubes, and some rubber washers to attempt to keep the toilet seat from sliding around.  Seriously, I've never had a toilet seat do this before  :-D   No ice melter yet - I'll have to make another trip in another week or so.

Discovered, unfortunately, that something is actually wrong with the light fixture I bought the tubes for,  It;s probably just the ballast, but I can't see any way to check it so I'll have to get the electrician in.  :-S  But, all the plants are watered, and the Guest Room is back in some semblance of order.  The kitchen bar is close enough to clear that I'm calling it!

I also started watching Shetland from the beginning, and it makes me want to move to the Hebrides. I didn't get in two issues of Guideposts, but I got through catalogs and a few other old magazines.  I don't always read everything cover to cover like I do Guideposts, but I go through each one and if there are articles I want to read, I read them. 

Today has dawned rainy again.  I'm going to see about accomplishing a few more things on the list, and I'm going to sing in the choir this morning.  I'm not all that excited about that . . . We'll see how it goes.  In other news, shredding papers is really quite high on the list for today.  :-D

I am grateful for structure in my life. I roll much better when I have it/build it in my days.


In case you didn't know - Ed Sheeran wrote this, and the original lyric wasn't "love."  ;-)

Saturday, November 4, 2017

A Day of One's Own . . .

It's Samhain - time for a new look around this joint!

Somehow I knew instinctively that it was NaBloPoMo and I have been posting daily already.  I just signed up at Blissful Lemon - I hope I'm not too late!  If I am, it won't stop me from posting daily this month, because it's National Blog Posting Month!  I've participated in this in some way for a couple of years now.

My posts are not always long - clearly, sometimes they are just about what I'm grateful for on any given day, but getting stuff down on the page is always helpful for me somehow, no matter if it's Morning Pages, or a blog post.

This is the first Saturday that's been my own for well over a month.  October was just ridiculous - and seriously, it's not even like I'm that popular  :-D  So, today, this is very much what I am grateful for: a day of my own.

There will be list-making!  Yay!  There will will be list-crossing-off-of-stuff!  Yay!  There will be Netflix!  Woo Hoo!  And there will be Tai Chi!  In the park!  This morning!  Yay!  There will also be water-drinking (my kidneys are already thanking me), and knitting!  Yay!  I'm going to clean out the garage!  Yay?!  :-D 

Most importantly however, there will be time for me to do whatever I might want to do.  This is a very good thing indeed, because, with a nod to Virginia Woolf, everyone needs a day of one's own, and this autumn day is mine . . .



Friday, November 3, 2017

TGIF . . .

I am grateful that it's Friday . . .

It's been quite a week, filled with all sorts of adventures, but I am really wiped out and will be looking for some quality quiet time this weekend.  And of course, there is a list of things to get accomplished, as well. We'll see how it goes . . .

:-)

An oldie, but it's the weekend!




Thursday, November 2, 2017

Safe and Warm . . .

I am thankful for my safe automobile, and for the bum warmers in the seats.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

A Month of Thanks . . .

I meant to do this this morning - so, bonus!

I am thankful that I woke up this morning  :-)


Of Two Minds . . .

November is here.  I'm working on saying "no" more often.  I'm also working to build new habits.  This is proving to be quite challenging at the moment.  Still . . . onward  :-)

I don't get home until after 6 most nights, so I always miss trick or treaters.  I always buy a bag of candy, but, as in previous years, I always end up taking it to work or the dojo.  This year, I took it to the dojo.  I'm still learning Tai Chi sword.  It's challenging in its own ways - probably the most challenging of which is having the sword move me instead of me moving the sword.  This is complicated by having to use my non-dominant hand.  I am pretty ambidextrous - you had to be when I was growing up.  There were no accommodations for "lefties."

I learned to use everything made for right handed people, which I think might have been helpful in getting both sides of my brain to work together, but made for some interesting dilemmas throughout my younger years - my mom dropped some money on some very good left-handed scissors for me back when I was sewing and making all my own clothes.  I couldn't cut with them.  I'd learned to alter my grip of right-handed scissors in such a way as to make them usable - you "pull" with your hand and thumb.  When you do that with left-handed scissors, the blades pull away from each other and don't cut.  My mom was not amused.

I was never a sportsy girl, but I did like softball.  Here in Chicagoland, we often play 16" softball, and that's not as difficult as slow-pitch softball (which uses a 12" ball), but back in school we played slow-pitch.  You need a mitt for slow-pitch and there's the rub - because I'd spent all of my life adapting to a right-handed world, I discovered that batting right-handed was my best plan.

Unfortunately, I had to throw left-handed.  Why was that a problem, you ask.  Well, all the mitts were for right-handed people, which meant that they were catching with their left hand and throwing with their right.  I honestly don't recall if there were any left-handed mitts when I was in high-school - I'm sure there must have been one or two, but I have no recollection of a left-handed mitt.  So, I had to use a right-handed mitt, which meant catching in my left hand.  Sounds good, right?  Yeah - it was, until I had to throw the ball . . .  So, although I could bat right handed, and catch in my left hand like a right-handed person would - I could not throw with my right arm.

This necessitated catching the ball in the mitt on my left hand, a quick grab of the ball with my right hand.  So far, so good - but then, once the ball was in my right hand I had to move my left arm under my right arm to hold the mitt while I yanked my left hand out of the mitt, transfer the ball from my right hand to my left and then throw.  You can imagine how slow that was.  16" softball was better because you don't need a mitt to play, so batting right-handed but catching and throwing left-handed was never as much of an issue.  Still, no team was ever amused by my performance (in either style - let's face it, I was always the kid with a book).

Tennis I always played left-handed, but the one and only time I ever golfed, was with my mom at a par 3 course out by O'Hare.  I don't even know if it was still there.  She insisted that I golf left-handed.  Holding a golf club was sort of like holding a baseball bat and I instinctively wanted to play right-handed.  She insisted on renting me left-handed clubs.  It was a disaster - so much so that I never played again.  My mom, once again, was not amused.

I learned to play the guitar right-handed.  And the bagpipes.  And I've learned Yang Short Form Tai Chi right-handed, and now I'm learning Tai Chi Sword right-handed.  As in 16" softball, handedness doesn't seem to be as important in Yang Short Form Tai Chi, but once you add the sword - that seems to be a difference game, so to speak.  Once I learn the sword form I've decided I'm going to switch to my left hand and learn it all again with my dominant hand - in the meantime, I'm making new pathways in my brain.  :-)

Still - I often feel of two minds, and I wonder if that has any bearing on my current inability to stick with planned processes and goals.  Or am I just kidding myself?

What do you think?


Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Once in a Lifetime . . .

Last night I had one of those "once in a lifetime" moments.  My young cousin and I met in the city, had dinner upstairs at The Italian Village, and then went to hear Hillary Clinton live.

I don't even know how to tell you how amazing it was to hear her speak.  Seriously - I don't even know where to start, so I'm going to share my cousin's words about it with you:
Every now and then we get to experience something that we know will be filed away in those memories that you will remember clear as day, for the rest of your life. Last night, I lived one of those. To see a person gracefully and intelligently explain something what I cannot describe as anything else but a shit show, was simply amazing. For that person to be a woman, still standing tall and proud, makes it even more relatable for me. A woman who addressed an auditorium full of people, telling them to unite, find empathy within us, fearlessly face the challenges of this country and to "get in the arena." A woman who spoke openly about faults, shortcomings, who had been knocked down, yet got right back up and kept moving forward - in the public, mudslinging eye. A woman who told us that it is her hope that we will live in a kind and accepting world. I could go on and on. It was an evening full of strength, inspiration, and unity. And I will certainly never forget it. We wont shut up. We won't stop. There will be no silencing our voices, or opinions, our fight for what is right, and against what is wrong. It's only just begun. And if this world will ever be one we can be proud, that our children will be safe, happy, and thriving in......then we have got some work to do. A lot of work. Thank you, Adrienne. I'll never forget that evening! #PayAttention #StillWithHer #NastyWoman #HRC #GetInTheArena #WonderWoman
These are the words of a young mom.  She is aware in her world and she pays attention.  She and her friends are always choosing life and love - I witness them choosing kindness and hope day after day and it makes my heart spark with joy and hope for the future of our country.  They are the ones who will continue to make a difference long after the rest of us are gone.  

If you have the opportunity, go.  Go and hear Hillary.  You won't be sorry.

As we head in to Samhain on this All Hallows Eve, we are at the Celtic New Year. Lughnasadh  (harvest) is over, and we are about mid-way between the summer solstice and the winter solstice.  It's a liminal place - a time when the veil between the worlds is thinner.  Samhain brings that drawing in of the spirit - for me, it's always time to percolate.  To think about things and to take time to restore my spirit - and oh boy do I need that now . . . 


The potato is long gone, but if you click on the Samhain link, above, you'll see the story of the potato and of my potato rock, which is still very much here, cool and smooth in my hand  :-)

Two favorites for this time of year - both from Loreena McKennitt.




Sunday, October 29, 2017

Busy and Stressed

I absolutely did not mean to be away from here this long.  As I've said many times before, time just seems to get way from me.  That, coupled with an extremely busy time at work are what have kept me from sitting down at the page here.

But today, the second load of laundry is in, and I've already fallen asleep in the chair for an hour (seriously - I'm turning in to my mom . . . :-D ), so I am making the time to post.  And now that I'm sitting here, I don't even know where to start.  I mean, what's the short story of my wild and wacky life since mid-September?  Do I tell you about something recent like the $9,000 day or do I go back to my trip to NYC where I managed to book what must surely be the only hotel without room service in all of Midtown? Do I attempt a recap of the past weeks or do I simply tell you that I've been listening to Christmas music since September as a way to cope with stress?

I know my last post was awfully long, so I won't subject you to another novel - so maybe that's a good place to start - KISS - Keep it Simple, Stupid. Except that you know I'm going to relanguage that, don't you? Of course you do :-D

So, can you Keep it Short, Sweetheart?

I have no idea - but the Love Songs playlist on iTunes rolled up so I guess we'll see.  Whatever rolls off the keys will at least have good musical accompaniment.

We are definitely in to autumn here in Chicagoland.  I've had to start wearing my winter coat, and the trees that were not early adopters are now pretty much a riot of color everywhere I go.  It's the most beautiful time of the year here.  This first was in the morning sun on my way to the train one day.


And this is my neighbor's tree.

See what I mean? 

I still walk outside when I can - mostly around the retention pond where I chase this guy.


And by chase, I mean that I usually come upon him at the middle side pond on the south end of the loop, whereupon he takes off and flies over the retention pond, where I see him again, and where he flies off again - usually back to the side-pond, I think.  In any case, I never can get very close to him before he flies off.  It doesn't stop me from trying.  This is about as good as it gets with the camera in my iPhone.

And so, many of my days have been a bit mundane - I mean, how often does anyone want to write about how busy and stressful work has been and how uselessly tired they are by the time they get home?  And really, who wants to read that?  We'll just stipulate to both those things, OK?  Busy and stressed. 

Onward . . .

I promise I won't stay away so long, and since the Love Songs playlist is playing I'll leave you with a good one, because whether or not you're in love at the moment, who doesn't love a good love song?

:-)






Sunday, September 17, 2017

A Field Report . . .

Time for an update on a number of projects!  Lots of finger-crossing ahead  :-D

Run the Year

It's been awhile since I posted anything about my Run the Year project (or, in my case, my Walk/Bike the Year).  You might recall that the ticker I had created earlier this year didn't work well, so I took the page down.  I've been behind on mileage since pretty much out of the gate - seriously, no one expects the Spanish Inquisition (kidney stone and then a month later, torn retina).  I haven't focused on it much this summer, but I have kept walking daily - mainly because my average day is about 8,000 steps.  I thought I would catch up in August, but no.

I sat down earlier this week and updated my spreadsheet and got all my miles entered.  When I last checked in at the end of July, I was about 73 miles behind. Also earlier this week I restarted my former weekday habit of getting up and heading downstairs to exercise.  Not to the treadmill at the moment (too much risk of a plantar fasciitis flare), but to my recumbent bike. Yay Me!

So, as of yesterday, goal mileage was 777 miles and I'm at 713.34.  Only about 64 miles behind.  With my miles on the bike helping, I know I'm going to make my goal, which is 1,009 miles (I split the year with my trainer - he's 180 miles behind :-D but he's running a marathon on Saturday, so he's in no risk of not catching back up).

A Look at What's On the Stands

Both the orchids continue to bloom their fool heads off.  This one has been going great guns all summer long.  This is its second spray, and there's a third coming just below it!


And here are trays one and two of African violet babies (and a few other gesneriads.  Tray three has been incorporated into these two.  We last looked at them in mid-August.



Quite a bit of growth now!  Yay! As you can see in tray two, there is still a lot of rot on the heavily variegated leaves of Jersey Snow Flakes, but nearly all have sprouted now, so I can cut the momma leaves off if necessary - as I did with the one on the right - you'll see there's no momma leaf any longer,  I rotted away.  Both trays remain covered, but now they are vented.  Time to get these babies on their way to growing, and growing on their own.  I want to be able to take a lot of them to the fall IAVS show at Starved Rock.

We had a cold snap here last week and I cut the furnace on in the sunroom.  Because our show is so late this year - and because getting plants into show shape requires a certain level of heat and light - I felt the need to maintain the evening temps at a warmer degree than I normally would at this time of year.

I'm excited to be growing a Primulina (formerly known as Chirita) for the first time.  I got a leaf in mid-July, and it has sprouted relatively quickly.  It's called Primulina 'Aiko.'


In addition, I've moved my Champagne Pink up from the basement for these final nine weeks on the pre-show schedule.  I am concerned about it losing its crown variegation again in the warmer temps upstairs, but I was more concerned about it not blooming in time for show.  This has the potential to be a show-stopper plant, so I want to give it as much TLC as I can in these pre-show weeks.


We last looked at it in mid-August, too.  You can definitely see how well it's been growing in the cooler temps downstairs.  Crossing my fingers  :-)

The Struggle with Calcium

Calcium has been quite challenging this summer.  I found a yogurt that I could tolerate.  Noosa.  It's awesome.  But the added calories of increasing my daily intake to the point necessary to avoid osteopenia and/or osteoporosis were really not helping the size of my ass (nor the middle-aged gut I never, ever had until midlife).

I can see the results of my bone scans on the patient portal and I can see my bone density has definitely decreased over the years.  I have a friend who was just diagnosed with multiple compression fractures in her spine due to bone loss - it's terribly painful and she's going to have to have surgery.  So, believe me when I tell you that I would like to avoid any more pain.  

I also know that my initial massive reduction in sodium was not enough to get my calcium to a level that would keep my bones safe.  I'll know more after my next 24-hour urine collection in October, but it is very likely that I will have to take a medication to stop the calcium loss from my bones.  They think I have a genetic condition called hypercalciuria.  That link will open a PDF created by Litholink Labs.  It explains it much better than I can, but mainly it means that my body excretes more calcium in my urine than it should. 

I have an email in to my primary care doctor to discuss this with him, as well.

In the meantime, I've discovered Flax Milk.  I think this is going to be a godsend for me.  So far, no intestinal distress.  Cross your fingers  :-)

The Kidney Stone Incident

Alrighty then . . .

I must say that this has been a hell of a journey since late February when it all began.  More recently, I have struggled with what I know I need to do in terms of life-style changes to avoid making another stone.

I have recently started seeing a body/energy worker who is exceptionally skilled in Ortho-Bionomy, as well as multiple modalities of energy work.  Just a few sessions with him have already made a huge difference in how I feel. I think the work I'm doing with him is helping me with the work I'm doing with my health coach.  I am far less blocked now than I was a few weeks ago, which is such a relief. 

I had an epiphany on Thursday morning at the club.  That makes it sound so dramatic when really it was just a simple awakening to the truth of process.  I was talking with my trainer, and a number of things were illuminated for me - very much in segments of three (which is my lucky number  :-) ).

First was the realization that the first three months after The Kidney Stone Incident were spent pretty much in panic mode based on fear.  I was attempting to learn everything I could.  I read everything I could find. I coached with Jill Harris and I took her class.  As is my wont, I tried to do everything perfectly, all the while having almost constant intestinal distress from attempting to up my calcium.

Second - the next three months since my first follow-up with the urologist have been the pendulum swinging the other way - initially still doing everything perfectly, then starting to make mistakes.   Being angry.  Rebelling.  Continuing to fight with calcium and the calories it has added (which has not helped the size of my ass one bit).  Realizing perfect wasn't going to cut it over the long-haul, and beginning to truly understanding that my original rigidity is just not sustainable for me.  This was important because it's been my pattern in the past - being perfect until I couldn't be perfect any longer . . .  and then the wheels come off the bus.

And finally, I realized that I've been at this for nearly seven months and I'm not much smaller than I was to begin with.  Allowing that sense of failure to relax and let go, knowing I've done the best I could while trying to learn something completely new - and knowing that as I move through to these next three months, it seemed pretty clear to me that I will likely be able to drop back in to the groove and actually find what works best for me.

I originally felt that I would just make the changes and move on.  In theory - totally.  In practice - not so much.  Had I known at the beginning that it would be so challenging for me, and would take so long I probably would have given up.  But while my experience might have only been one stone, the pain and trauma of that entire episode was enough to propel me down the path - running in fear. And now, I'm already this far down the road - there's no point in fucking it all up completely. This is there the epiphany comes in:

This is the process.  It is what it is and it takes as long as it takes.

I didn't know it would take me this long. My entire life I've been a very lucky person to whom most things come rather easily.  That I would need to work this hard to figure out something that is, essentially, so simple never occurred to me (i.e., this is not rocket science, guys).  And viewing it now from the benefit of hindsight, I repeat:  Had I known at the beginning that it would be so challenging for me and would take so long, I probably have quit.  Except, you know, the fear of that pain . . . that is very much what kept me going, particularly in these past two months when things have been so frustrating in pretty much every area.

What I do know is something very important about myself.  I've known it for a long time but I often forget it until I'm in a situation like I'm in now.  Here it is:  It often takes me two or three tries to either let something go, or take something on. The exceptions to this with regard to life-style changes were quitting smoking and quitting chocolate.  It did take me two times to truly quit smoking, but once I did, I went cold turkey and I never looked back. 

From my vantage point of 6+ months in to my new normal, I can honestly say that it's not surprising to me that I've gone down this path in fits and starts.  Based on past experience, I would imagine the journey will begin to smooth out now.  Crossing my fingers  :-)


That's the update from this rebel on The Third Coast today  :-)


Monday, September 11, 2017

That's Huge . . .

Two days in a row!  Yay Me!

So . . . um . . . I think I'm going to get a couple more sets of blocking mats.


It's not quite in place correctly yet.  I was going to use the wires again, but I just cannot face them for something this massive.  Yes, that's the entire length of my guest room.  Since this would need to be reblocked if it ever got wet, and since I'm seriously considering a red one (here is the beginning) -
 

I think another set or two of mats will not go amiss.  They are on their way from Amazon, along with an Instant Pot.  

My mom used a pressure cooker regularly.  In fact, I still have her old one.  I thought I had posted about it here a few months ago, but I don't find it.  Hers was a Presto.  I believe she got it as a wedding present in 1953.  Since things were made to last back then (I still have her original Electrolux vacuum - it's been the basement vacuum at this house forever, and at her house it was the main vac until she got an Oreck), it probably still works . . .



Anyone of a certain age pretty much lived in fear of the regulator - that's the weight that sits on the top.  It regulates the steam inside the pot.  It has a little "handle" (which is hard to see in the photos) and you pulled it off with a fork at some point near the end of whatever you were cooking and hot steam came flying out.  "Don't Touch It," was a familiar refrain when I was growing up. My mom used to make something called Porcupine Meatballs, which consisted mainly of ground beef, rice, and tomato soup.  Even though I don't care for tomatoes, I remember really liking Porcupine Meatballs  :-D  I'm afraid to use her old one - it hasn't been used for at least 13 years and probably closer to 15.  I attempted to donate it to a 1950s museum nearby, but I never heard back from them.  My book club is planning a tour there, so I might bring it with me and donate it then  :-D

Anyway - For someone like me, who loves to cook but doesn't have enough hours in the week to do so consistently, I think the Instant Pot will be a helpful choice.  It's really just a modern day pressure cooker.  We'll see.  I got a 6-quart size.  I'd really like to make some soups that are low in sodium.  I really like to take soup for lunch in the winter when it cold, and now all the canned varieties are pretty much off my radar because of their extremely high sodium content.

This is a welcome day off from work and I have a lot planned.  The furnace guy is here checking both the furnaces and both the AC units.  They check them annually but they are never available to come when I'm usually home.  Today worked out great!  I need to finish up the order for the rosettes for the Illinois state African violet show and get it in the mail, and I need to pick up the mail that was held while I was in Wisconsin.  I also need to go to the store and get some vegetables.  I'd like to actually cook a few things today while I'm home!

I'll let you know how it goes!   In the meantime, I need to finish getting that Find Your Fade into a little better shape to block successfully.  It is blocking, however, so I can mark it done - I'm movin' on!