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!

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Sheep & Wool . . .

Before I start - my heart, thoughts, and prayers are with everyone in Florida facing Hurricane Irma.  I have many friends there, and not all of them have evacuated . . . I hope it's not as horrible as it appears it will be.  Thinking of you all.

I went to the Wisconsin Sheep & Wool Festival this weekend.  It was great!

My plan was to take a couple days off work - greatly needed - and drive up on Friday and come home Sunday with a recovery day on Monday.  The plan was to shop on Friday, go to a nice restaurant Friday night in Whitewater (where I was staying), take two classes on Saturday, go to the Lamb Dinner Saturday night, participate in something called Unwind Saturday evening off-site, go back Sunday morning for a last look around, and then a leisurely drive home with  recovery day on Monday.

Things went pretty much according to plan.  There were a few changes and some welcome additions!
Unwind was cancelled before it started - the organizer didn't book the hall . . .  Oh well, I'd never attended so didn't know what I might be missing  :-D

First, my friend, T, met me up there on Friday and we had a terrific time!!  We don't get to see each other very often even though we are not all that far away - real life conspires against us in this regard quite often - but we had a great day and got some very good shopping in.  We are excellent shopping partners.  She has very good color sense, and she is always well prepared with her list!  We also had plenty of time to catch up with each other, which was very welcome.

The day started with a quick rain shower.  I remain thankful for the tiny travel umbrella my cousin, ME gave me to me for one of my overseas trips a number of years ago.  It remains tucked in a side pocket of my backpack and it came in very handy for the very short cloudburst as I watched the sheepdog trials and waited for T to get there.  I think the dogs we saw were young - there was more hollering than whistling, and "LIE DOWN" was the command that most of the dogs struggled with.  Of the ones I saw, only two managed to pen the sheep - and one of those, unfortunately, ran out of time.  It was clear that another youngster wasn't quite ready when its owner re-leashed it and retired from the field.  Another very funny episode happened when one competitor finally got down to the sheep at the far end of the field to return them, and instead chased them in to the parking lot  :-D  But it was very fun to see them - I always enjoy sheep dog trials.

Happily ran in to K, another friend, during lunch on Friday and we discovered that we were staying at the same hotel!  She came with me Friday evening to a very good farm-to-table restaurant in Whitewater, called The Black Sheep, where I had made a reservation for dinner. We both had goat meatloaf (which was a mixture of beef and goat)!  I had a very good glass of Petite Syrah.  K had poutine for a starter, which she let me taste.  I confess I never have to have it again.  Maybe it's because I'm not a gravy person (never have been - my mom never made it - just not big on sauces), because, French fries:  Yum!  Cheese:  Yum!

I also saw my friend, D, but she was working in a booth so we didn't have much time to catch up with each other.  Also ran in to a local friend I'm not particularly close to any longer.  It was lovely to see her and I miss her, but it wasn't my choice to distance myself.  So it goes; still, it was very nice to see her again.  Ran in to another friend, K2, in the parking lot (where I always try to park in the "Duck" lane - I park on the back side of it so I always think "Duck Butt" and never lose the car  :-D)  Anyway, I was so happy that she flagged me down and I had a few minutes with her and her travel companions to catch up as I headed to my afternoon class. On the way to said class, I ran in to a FB friend I had never met in person!  How fun!!  I say "ran in to" for all these, because they all found me.  Apparently I'm pretty clueless when I'm shopping  :-D

I stayed at the Baymont Inn in Whitewater.  It was OK, but I will not stay there again.  The bed was horrible - like a rock - and after a long day of walking on concrete on Friday, my feet, legs, and spine were so tired and painful that I really needed a good night's sleep.  It was not to be.  I woke multiple times in the night in pain from the mattress . . . and the towels were about four grades below what my health club has . . . Alrighty then.

I headed back to the Festival early Saturday morning to start my classes.  My morning class was Blending on a Hackle, taught my friend, Diana Armes Wallace.  I've taken this class before - this repeat was to cement my knowledge.  I have my own hackle (from the first time I took her class), but I got a great leather cover for it this from her this time.  I gained new knowledge and definitely cemented what I had learned from her previously!   Yay!

Saturday afternoon was a class with Jane Grogan - she's wonderful!  I had taken continuous strand weaving from her years ago at the now defunct Midwest Fiber and Folk Art Fair.  This time, I took a pin loom weaving class.  It was great!  I got a new pin loom - a 4" one, and we made little sachets.  I was frustrated with the yarn that kept breaking on me, but I learned a lot and really enjoyed seeing Jane again and taking class from her.

I had wanted to take this class because I have a 2" pin loom that was my grandmother's - not my Irish grandmother - my other one.  I had a few things from her that I never knew what they were - one was the pin loom, and the other was a linen tester (which is a tool you use in spinning).  I never saw her do any handwork of any sort, which makes it interesting that these things came from her.

The only drawback about both of my classes was the chairs.  Oh brother . . . I am admittedly well-padded, except, apparently on the very bottom of my ass.  JesusMaryandJoseph the chairs were awful!  This, combined with the terrible night's sleep I'd had at the hotel the night before made for the one major change in my weekend plans.

I got a little more shopping in on Saturday after my afternoon class, and then I went to the Lamb Dinner.  Food at the fair last year was very poor.  This year they had some food trucks, which were a welcome addition.  I ate lunch from Noosh, a Sephardic Jewish food truck from Madison, both Friday and Saturday.  OMG it was great!! Yum!  I had a lamb sausage gyro both days because it seemed the easiest, and because I got some yogurt/tzatziki sauce with it (calcium  :-D).  The official fairgrounds food vendor this year appeared to be very understaffed all weekend and the lines were unreal both days.  Because of the lines, I never tried it.  Both days at Noosh, the lines were shorter and very, very fast!  And - the food was excellent!  If you live in Madison, look for the Noosh truck!

Back to the Lamb Dinner.  The menu was posted:

  American Lamb and condiments
  Spicy Lamb Meatballs
  Cabbage Salad 
  Saffron Rice
  Rolls & Butter
  Raspberry Layer Cake
  Frosted Layer Cake
  Iced Tea, Milk & Lemonade  (never saw any milk, and I couldn't get any water!)

I don't know what I was expecting (certainly not table decorations in the orange and blue Chicago Bears' colors in the middle of Packerland :-D).  Actually, I do know what I was expecting.  I thought they were going to roast lamb at the fairgrounds.  Nope.  It was slices of lamb in a steam tray.  :-(  The meatballs were not spicy, but then I didn't have the sauce.  The Cabbage Salad was Cole Slaw - I had a lot of this because I never saw any rice.  There was a steam tray of veg, but it was empty when I went through the line.  They had cheesy potatoes (maybe instead of the rice? Or maybe that was a Saffron Rice???  I don't think so, but you know, I'm not sure  :-D ), which were salt bombs, but I did have some because I was hungry.  I also had some Cake (frosted but not layered) because it wasn't chocolate.  I had some Lemonade  because I couldn't get water - I only drank half of it because it was pretty much just liquid sugar (which does not always agree with me).

So - a very disappointing dinner that I had really been looking forward to.  And not well-attended, either.  Kinda thinking others knew something I did not . . .

And now we come to the major change in my weekend plan.  On my way back to "Duck Butt" in the parking lot, I realized that I just could not face another night in that hotel bed.  So, I drove back to Whitewater, got my suitcase, handed in my room key, and took the hit for the cost of a night I had paid for but not cancelled in enough time.   I got on the road home at 7 o'clock and was home by 9:45.

I will never use the GPS in my car again.  Granted, I haven't paid to update it since I got the car three years ago.  I haven't done so because I have a TomTom with free lifetime maps.  Oh. My. God.  On the way there, once I left the expressway, the car GPS thought I was in a field for about an hour of the trip.  And then, on the way home, it took me all the way over to Lake Geneva, and pretty far in to Illinois on Route 12.  I finally picked up I-290 in Schaumburg.  For those of you cognizant of the Chicagoland area, I know you're laughing that I was on Route 12.  I should have just pulled out the TomTom - I will use it exclusively in the future.

My last hiccup of the night was not knowing that the exit ramp off the Tollway at Dixie Highway is currently shut down.  This has to be extremely recent because I used it in the last couple of weeks.  I had to drive a few miles out of my way to the Halsted Street exit  All in all, however, not a horrible thing.  I made it home, unpacked the car, partially exploded my suitcase, drank half a liter of water and and fell asleep in the chair in the sunroom  :-D  I woke up and got into bed about 11:45 and slept like a stone.  I got up around 7, I think, and then fell asleep in the chair again this morning for an hour  :-D  I have been pounding water all day, attempting to get rehydrated.  My normal 3 liters/day did not happen on either Friday or Saturday.

And, after all that I know you really just wanted to know what I got, right?  :-D   Here's the haul:

And here's the part of the haul that's actually for me:

L-R, Back:  the leather cover for my hackle, two interesting cook books, a black Christmas dish towel that will be perfect in my white/black kitchen, more beautiful cards from Barb Lassa, some Eucalan (I can now block my Find Your Fade!), and some Frabjous Fibers silk hankies.
L-F, Front: Blackberry Ridge Colorflow worsted weight in the Bright Santa Fe colorway, Ogle Designs Nature Trail sock yarn in the River Rock colorway, Blackberry Ridge Kaleidoscope fingering weight in the Boundary Waters colorway - and Kaleidoscope Sport Weight in the Autumn Oak colorway, Ewetopia BFL BFF in the Tree Swallow colorway (sweater quantity), some Apple Jack & Peel scented soap, some lavender hand scrub, a Chibi and a new Susan Bates ruler, and a cute little pull-open bag to put stuff in in my backpack!

That's the story! Even though I came home a day early, I highly recommend this festival.  The vendors are great, and varied, and a lot of them you don't see at big shows like Stitches.  I saw a lot of the "clown barf" yarn that has bee popular for the past few years (neon brights, lots of speckles, etc.), but I also saw a lot of truly gorgeous stuff (some of which came home with me  :-) ).  Even with the disappointment of the long awaited Lamb Dinner, the food was WAY better this year than last, and there were a LOT more choices.  In addition, this festival offers some of the best classes around.  They offer some really interesting classes and have a LOT of variety in them.

I'm still taking tomorrow off  ;-)

This cover of an old Stevie Wonder tune is one of my favorites.  Something mellow for a September Sunday, and hey, let's face it, sometimes you just need a little Luther,  . . .

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Few and Far Between . . .

My posts here lately have been few and far between.  Work has been extremely stressful this summer, and it doesn't look like it will be easing up any time soon.  I am extremely grateful for my job, and I don't usually mention it here.  I do today because it's been all I can do lately.  Once I get home, I'm wiped out.

I'm a big believer in the chakras (the energy centers) of the body, and mine have been blocked for months now.  In fact, I've not felt this disconnected and stagnant since shortly after my mom passed away, 13 years ago.  I'm working on this and have found an energy practitioner - someone I think I'm going to like working with.  I already feel better after one session with him.

It's starting to truly dawn on me that the the changes I've had to make since The Kidney Stone Incident must be for a lifetime, and, at the moment, it's not sustainable.  I find myself rebelling and fighting what I know to be best for me.  I continue to work with my health coach, and I continue to look for ways for me to get more vegetables in.  This really is key - it's key to health, and it's key to my not being so hungry.  I need to look within to find some ways of embracing this task.  And for the past couple of weeks, my food choices have not been ideal.  Seriously - it feels like if I look at another container of yogurt, I'm going to hurl it against the closest wall.  Knowing that the cleanup of an action this unwise would take forever - I mean, seriously,  I'd be finding yogurt bits for years - I've managed to not throw anything through the air.

Still . . .

In other news of the day:   Some Knitting Content  :-D  :-D

We're have a "finish-it-up" challenge in the group I moderate on Ravelry.  These things are always so helpful to me.  I've managed to FINALLY get the finish work done on my Starting Point.  It's blocking now.

I am SO glad this is done.  I actually finished it in mid-July, I think, but I had to put it away for awhile before starting the finish work.  I love the finished product, but I will think carefully before doing another large shawl that ends up having eleventy million ends to weave in.  Oh. My. God. It took me forever.  In any case, it's done now and resting on the guestroom floor.  And it used up all the blocking mat tiles - I could have used another four or six!

I also finished Simple yet Effective, a pattern from tincanknits that I did as part of a summer knit-along in the group.  The yarn for this was from The Cyborg's Craftroom.  This was a local indie dyer here in Chicagoland.  I picked it up last year at YarnCon.  Unfortunately, the dyer passed away unexpectedly so there was never a chance to get any more of it.  It's hard to tell because it's still wet, but it's really gorgeous.

And - another "Finally" - my Find Your Fade is done.  It's not blocked because I have to wait for the Starting Point and the Simple but Effective to dry.  In the meantime, here is it, unblocked, resting on the sunroom floor.

This photo is a bit dark, but the center section is various shades of green, finally fading into a charcoal/black.

This is two very large shawls in a row.  I was going to try the "What The Fade" mystery KAL, but it starts with Brioche stitch, and I'm just not sure I want to mess with that at the moment.  I'd really rather get a sweater on the needles.

So, it's been a productive weekend thus far, and I still have another day!!

I was just listening to Steely Dan yesterday - Deacon Blues came on the radio - and today Walter Becker is gone . . . 

Peg was always my favorite.  You can hear Michael McDonald's very distinctive voice on the harmonies if you listen.  Man, I knew every cut on this album and I played it over and over and over again.  And I don't even like jazz . . .

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  :-)