Thursday, April 28, 2011

Get a Load of Faux's Face

As you may know, I occasionally post to a photo contest called "Farktography". I used to try to post every week, but I realized that I would get pretty upset with myself if it was Monday and I had nothing for the Wednesday contest. I decided that this is not a hobby with which I need to obsess. Carole and David are superb photographers with brilliant imaginations. I merely take photos to illustrate the blog. If something comes out that's suitable for a Fark contest, great, but I had to stop obsessing about it. Making peace with this eased my stress level.

Plus, I can't compete with Carole and David in the kinds of images they produce. I don't see myself as an "art" photographer. I see myself as a "documentary" photographer. This is what the image is. I don't retouch. I don't play with the camera settings. I know I've got the capability to produce different styles of images. That's not me. What I see is what I shoot. That's it. If I get red-eye, well, I get red-eye. The most I do is crop the photo.

This week's contest is to shoot your family. One of my entries is this one on the right from my visit with Carole and David in November. This is a nice photo of them with Faux, of course.

But I did think about entering this one. What stopped me was that Carole's glasses reflected the camera flash and both her and David look kind of bored. I wanted to enter this because of the look on Faux's face. Speaking of bored. It's a look that says, "Jeeze, take the picture already. I want down but I know I can't get down until you take it. Just do it. I'm so tired of photos." He's such a photogenic cat, however.

The photo isn't drawing tons of votes as my stuff almost never does, but I like it. It's one of my favorite photos of Carole and David and it's my vote that counts.

Beverage:  English Breakfast tea


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

YES! Time for a Dr Pepper to Celebrate

When you were growing up, did your dad ever make a big deal of the mileage numbers? My dad did. We'd be driving some place and he'd say, "Oh watch now! We're coming up on 12,345.6 miles." It was neat to see where we were, if we were close to some place where we could get a soda to celebrate whatever mileage number dad was watching.

I hit a milestone of my own last week.
That's a lot of miles. But, my Jeep and I have been to Williamsburg, Virginia; Niantic, Connecticut; and dozens of times to Iowa in the 10 years I've had this car. Yeah, it's an anniversary year for us, 10 whole years of driving a soft top stick-shift 1997 Jeep Wrangler with half-doors. I think about getting rid of it and it kind of bothers me. I like stick-shift. It makes me feel like I'm actively involved in the mechanics of driving. I love the soft top, as readers of this space should know. In September and October of 2004, I went 35 days without putting up the top. It did rain a couple times in those days but all I had to do was pull the top up and over, but not latch it. Once it dried, I folded it back down. 

We've seen a lot, this Jeep and I, but I have a possibility on another, newer car. As I age, the getting into and out of this Jeep and the mechanics of driving become less and less attractive. Plus, I need to have the steering dampener fixed and the front seat is split and it's rusting in small places. It might be time for a teenager or college student to take over. Jeeps are one of the few cars that are still being driven for years. There really is something about a Jeep. 

I happened to be near a Burger King when this mileage number came up so I stopped for a Dr Pepper. The only thing that would have made the event better would have been being able to take down the top. It was raining and 53. Not going topless in that kind of weather. 

Beverage:  Edinburgh's Finest tea


The One Thing I Hate About Spring

It's warming up. After the winter we had, 50 degrees and rainy feels lovely. I like this time of year, when you go to work on sunny 60 degree days and the grass changes green between 7:45 a.m. and 5:15 p.m. I pull into the drive and am greeted by the nodding heads of blooming daffodils. The tulip tree in my neighbor's yard is a riot of white, pink, mauve and fuchsia. Birds have returned in copious numbers.

I have learned, over the years, which bird calls belong to which species. A cardinal is different than a robin which is different than a house sparrow which is different than a chickadee. I'm not sure about the juncos or the downy woodpeckers I have seen. I think I recognize the grackles and a blue jay is quite distinctive but I don't see them very often in my yard. Lately, there has been a call I don't recognize and I can't find the owner so I could, perhaps, identify it.

Which leads to the one thing I hate about spring, summer and early fall. I don't know who it is but they start singing at 4:30 a.m.; 4 friggin' 30! Most of the time, I don't hear it. But I heard it Monday morning. I even rolled over and looked at the clock. I could maybe see this in June when there is a lightening sky at 4:30 but in April? It's still dark.

Chirp. Chirp. Chirp. Mija even heard it, got up, went to the window and looked out. I love leaving the windows open, even on semi-muggy summer nights. But I don't love being awakened in the wee hours by some bird that can sleep from noon to 6 p.m. when I have to be wide awake. And it's not like I can yell at it as I would the cats. "Knock it off!" That doesn't quite work.

Oh well, that's the price I pay for having a yard that is bird conducive. Grumble. Where did I put my ear plugs?

Beverage:  Edinburgh's Finest tea


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

I Didn't Realize It Was Earth Day

Last Friday, our office Internet was sporadic. You all know that adventure. It will randomly cut out at weird intervals, usually when you haven't saved about 30 minutes worth of work. Jon showed me how to reset everything once it goes out. After the 3rd resent in 2 hours, it took longer to come back up than usual. I decided this was a good time to clean out some boxes.

Now, we use a lot of paper in the office, currently. We have a major project with 18 machines and the client wants all the data printed and shipped. Fortunately, they only want one report but a week's worth of data times 18 machines is a lot of sheets of paper.

It means we go through toner on the average, right now, of one cartridge a month. The copier needs to be changed about once every 3 months. Every box of toner comes with a recycling label. You just slap the label on the outside of the box and put it out for UPS. The guys don't do that. Mike even said they were "lazy". They stuck the used toner cartridge in a box and put the box in a pile across from the printer and left them there. And so the boxes piled up.

On Friday, I decided, when the Internet was taking its sweet time to restart, I should deal with these. You can see how many there were. There are three more that have to go back to Office Depot the next time we need supplies because I didn't have a label for them. What I should do, if we don't have a run for supplies planned soon and a toner gets used up, stick the three without labels in a larger box and ship the whole thing back.

When I started working here, we didn't recycle. My boss wasn't interested in that, poo-poo'd it, in fact. I bought a trash can and set it between our offices. I made sure to use it. We don't have a building-wide recycling opportunity so I take it home with me and add it to my can. I used to put this container out for the recycling but then we got the big blue rolling containers. It's time to empty this one so I'll take it home tonight and dump it in my can. I would say we've gone from recycling 5% of our paper waste to 90%. The guys across the hall use an old paper box which makes it easy to transport.

We also recycle batteries, plastics and cans. That's less productive, about 75% gets recycled. I have a smaller bin in my office for plastics and cans. Batteries have their own spot and we need to do a battery run.

I'm rather proud of my efforts to get recycling in the office. It took a bit to get the cleaning service trained. They kept emptying the recycling bins and putting garbage bags in them. For a month, I had to leave increasingly more strongly worded notes about not emptying the bins. It's probably tough because they are trained to clean and clear and I'm telling them not to.

Recycling is so much a part of our mind set now. We had stacks of cardboard from boxes we cut down and one of the guys finally loaded it into his car and took it to a large recycling facility where you can just dump off cardboard of any size. To fit in my can, we had to cut things down to 3 by 3 feet square and that's just not going to get done when we're busy.

I don't know if other offices in my company recycle. I know one doesn't. We sent someone to help them when they were busy. He asked, "Where is your recycling bin?" after finishing a soda. They looked at him and laughed. I like to think that at least here, we're doing our part to make every day Earth Day.

Beverage:  Edinburgh's Finest tea


Monday, April 25, 2011


Thread procured. It was hard to select a color. I had to buy a large spool of it. I could use a spool half this size. A shade darker made me nervous so I went with this color.

Zipper procured. It's a perfect color match but it's 22 inches. The pattern calls for 20 inches. Oh well. I didn't take sewing in high school not to learn how to shorten a zipper. And actually, 2 extra inches isn't that much.

I didn't have the right color of cross-stitch fabric for the next project. This is a very light gray. It's called "silver" and will be perfect for what I'm going to start.

Shoes were returned to Penneys and that's when everything came to a screeching halt. The shoes are no longer available. I thought about keeping the ones a half-size too big but they will be floppy and sloppy and that's not the image I want, so I returned them. Someone will be happy, if Penneys does put them back in circulation. I went to the shoe department and found a pair that are probably closer in color match to the bone-colored background of the jacket. They were $3 more but they have a heel. It's not much of one, but it is there. I'll certainly sink into the ground. I just couldn't get them today.

One thing Pam pointed out about the original shoes. They have a satiny finish. If there is any kind of damp at the farm and the ground is any kind of wet, those shoes will soak up that dirt, not to mention stain very easily with grass. Leather or pleather won't.

So, I'm back to square one on the shoes. I guess I must go shopping this weekend. I'll start with a bigger Penneys. The closest one to me is a smaller store so the selection was a bit limited. At least I get paid this weekend.

Beverage:  Huckleberry tea


Yup. These Will Work Perfectly.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I should have gone to Penneys first. These are perfect. The heel is not too high and not pointy so I won't sink into the ground at the farm during the reception. Plus, the color matches better than the other pair.

The only problem is that they aren't the right size. Shoes can be kind of problematic. What you'd think would be my size can be too small or too large. I ordered what I thought would be correct and they are a half-size too big.

So, there is a trip to a Penneys in store. I'll exchange them for the right size. They will be here by wedding time. I should wear them around the house to break them in.

This is a worry off my mind. I had visions of having to spend a day tromping through malls and shopping centers searching for the right pair of shoes. It's my daughter's wedding so price isn't necessarily an object, but I don't know that $180 shoes are any better than $36 shoes. I'm glad I don't have to consider finding out.

Beverage:  Dr Pepper


All Cut Out

That's a lot of green. It is a chartreuse-y green color, a bit darker than how it looks in the photo.

Pam's dining room table was commandeered for this. I could do it at home but it's way more fun to be laughing and giggling together over pattern pieces.
The dress can be ankle-length but that's not what I wanted. This will be just a bit below the knee. We added an inch to the hem to make sure, once I hem it, there's enough to be at the length I want.

In pinning the pieces to the fabric, we noticed there's a front pleat, that left turn you see on the right piece. We hadn't noticed that on the drawing or the photo of the finished piece on the pattern bag. It doesn't change whether I will or won't make this, it was just something interesting to find.

After work today, I will go to the fabric store. I don't have thread this color nor do I have a 20 inch zipper. Once I get those, I am in business. This should be done by week's end. Then Pam and I can hem it. The wedding is less than a month away. Things are falling into place.

Beverage:  Dr Pepper


Tasted Just Like I Imagined it Would

Saturday, Pam and I got together to cut out the dress. Prior to this, we decided that coupon I have for a free banana pudding shake at Chick-Fil-A needed to be used.

Chick-Fil-A has a dedicated following. I am neutral about them. There was one in a mall in Cedar Rapids so I do know who they are. And I have seen their very funny, "Eat More Chicken", commercials.

I had not gone to the Chick-Fil-A in Wheaton. I don't know how long it's been open but it's not near my normal or even abnormal route, so I had never been there. Actually, until the card came in the mail, I didn't even know where it was.This was the perfect opportunity to investigate this place.

I had chicken strips and the banana pudding shake of which I had the coupon.
There it is and it was very good. It tasted just as I imagined it would. There were small chunks of banana and of 'Nilla wafers in it. The whipped cream was sturdy and held up over half of the shake. Sometimes, the whipped cream topping deflates before you've consumed a quarter of your shake.

This tasted just like banana pudding. Chick-Fil-A has employees wandering around, bussing tables, retrieving refills, asking how things are. Cindy stopped by our table and when I said I had the banana shake, replied, "I like to put hot fudge in it. Then it tastes like a banana split." She then hurried off to return with hot fudge for my shake.

Of course it was good. I'll put hot fudge on most anything and adding it to the shake made the shake twice as good. The only drawback is that it's so rich, a large would bee too much. Seriously. This is a medium.

The strips were juicy, not dried as some strips can be. They were also fresh from the fryer and were too hot to eat for about 5 minutes. They had a nice flavor and the waffle fries were good, if a touch soggy. Plus, we ate for around $8.50. It would have been closer to $10 had I not had the free shake coupon.

Bottom line. I'd go there again if I found myself down that way and needing lunch or dinner.

Beverage:  Huckleberry tea



I went to the closet on Saturday to get a shirt and this was on the floor.
It's the missing sock from my favorite pair. Obviously, it was stuck in something that, only recently, was pulled out to wear. I thought back over what I'd worn in the previous week and couldn't think of anything I hadn't worn recently. Oh well, reunited with the other one I had saved and I have my favorite pair back again.
Somewhere, a sock stealing gnome is crying.

Beverage:  Huckleberry tea


Thursday, April 21, 2011

Day 23

Today was serendipitous. Gene and I had to do an inspection and there was a meeting of the society to which my company belongs. We try not to accrue more overtime than necessary so after the inspection, we were free to come home since we get paid to show up at this meeting. I got home with a good 3 hours to myself. The best use of the time? Finishing the outlining.

It's done. What's left is to hand wash it, block it, and gently press it. I should get all the cat hair out by soaking, too. Then, I need to trim the excess fabric and it can be framed.

I'm so pleased with how this turned out. Next week, it will be taken in for framing and I can start the next cross-stitching project.

This weekend is devoted to cutting out and sewing the dress. I have to admit I was worried I wouldn't get the dress done in time because I really wanted to get this project done. I have way too many unfinished projects to set this aside while I was on a roll with it. It's done long before I need it and I can pat myself on the back for not having yet another stitching project half finished in the drawer.

I need to start another project if for no other reason than I love having Pilchard in my lap while I do this.

Beverage:  Pepsi


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Day 22

There's a bit of water in the basement from the heavy overnight storms so I had to change what I was going to do tonight. A load of wash was out of the question. It's not much water, but I still have to walk through it to get to the machine. It will be gone by morning.

So, I'll take the opportunity to stitch. Another hour's worth of work and I'll have this done by Friday at the latest. Then I can wash it and prepare it for framing. That has to wait until next week, after I get paid. It feels good to be almost done and I have a sense of accomplishment.

Beverage:  English Breakfast tea


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Day 21

"Now the very blustery night turned into a very rainy night."

It was a blust'ry day, all right. I had to go to Fort Madison, Iowa to install two machines for a client. We'd put it off twice now and he finally said, "Rain or no rain, let's get this done."

I drove through intermittent rain until Galesburg. Then, it ceased and didn't start again until after I'd had lunch and had to go install crack gauges on one building. The machines were set up without rain, just a steady, raw, 20 mph wind. I thought I was dressed warm enough. I should have worn my winter coat. Damp wind like that will blow through pretty much any layers.

It was drizzle all the way home, steady drizzle. It reminded me of that rain you get in late November, when the weather can't decide if it's going to rain, sleet or snow. The wind had been from the southeast when I left but was out of the northeast on the drive home. Getting gas was an adventure. I huddled next to the car, trying to find a spot where the wind was broken. Nope. Of course I didn't bring gloves. I was ever so grateful I'd stopped at Starbucks (Thanks again Patt!) for hot tea. Holding the cup once I got back onto the Interstate along with the heater blowing full steam, warmed me up.

I got home right before a line of major storms came through. There was hail; like ice shards or grit; lightning and thunder. I decided the thing to do on this very rainy night was to sit and stitch so Pilchard could take full advantage of the lap. The girls were so happy to see me. I was so happy to see them. So while the house shook with thunder and rattled with rain, I scratched the occasional ear and chin and got another third of the outlining done.

Initially, I had considered leaving the leaves un-outlined. They look almost like a watercolor done in cross-stitch. But, now that I've progressed over half-way, the outlining really makes them stand out. It will probably take 2 more sessions to finish, but it will be done by this weekend.

My bed is calling to me. Twelve hours and 500+ miles later, I am ready for a good night's sleep.

Beverage:  "Awake" tea from Starbucks


Monday, April 18, 2011

Day 20

Oh yeah. Outlining makes everything "pop".

This is an hour and a half worth of work. 

Beverage:  English Breakfast tea


Mother Nature Has a Sense of Humor

Chicagoland awoke to this.

It's supposed to snow off an on all morning but be rain by afternoon. Remember, I put my snow shovels into the basement two weeks ago. While some places are getting inches, this won't last beyond noon. 
Seems kind of fitting this should happen on a Monday. 

Beverage:  English Breakfast tea


Sunday, April 17, 2011

Another Anniversary

I've been musing about this anniversary for some time now, trying to decide exactly what to say. On April 4, 2001, my divorce became final. It's been ten years, ten years of singleness although the marriage counselor suggested the "single" had been going on a lot longer.

I've been musing on what these last ten years have taught me, brought me and changed me.

I'm stronger than I ever imagined myself to be. As I march toward the second year of blogging, regular readers know it has not been a good two years. I have endured things I never imagined myself enduring. I have had to teach myself things I never wanted to learn. I have made painful decisions but still find myself procrastinating on others. Every day is what it is. I quit wishing things were different. If I want things to be different, it's my job to make them different. In those choices, I have found a well of strength to carry on.

I have been brought all manner of trial and tribulation. I flat out reject the idea that "God doesn't give you more than you can handle". My view of God is that he wouldn't, if he were this entity that loves me, willingly toss all this on my plate. Even if every trial is supposed to be a "teaching moment", why would someone who loves me destroy my world multiple times in varying degrees to the point that my complete loss of self-esteem occurred? Humans, with their distorted views on what is good and right and necessary, cause these problems. Sometimes, God is with me. Most of the time, I feel he's a nebulous entity looking in on me to make sure I haven't made off with the silver.

What I have found are the people brought into my life at times when I need them most. The person who sent the anonymous Target cards; the friends who bought breakfast, lunch and dinner; the friends who called to say, "Talk to me"; have made the past 10 years rich. I've gained friends and I've lost friends. Each person whose path has crossed mine has enriched me more than I feel I have enriched them.

Heraclitus, the ancient Greek philosopher, said, "Nothing endures but change". This has been variously translated into the aphorism we all know, "The only constant is change". That would be the summation of the past ten years. I felt empowered in walking away from a failed marriage. I was taking control of my life. I had tried and what I attempted had failed. I grieved and I moved on. It was anger that drove me forward.

There is anger still. It's a different kind of anger and it's easy to recognize and deal with. I spent some time in sadness. I don't get sad about the divorce anymore. I do get depressed at my life and there are weeks when that's the proverbial "800-pound gorilla in the room". But I fall back on my tried and true aphorism, "It is what it is" and I move on.

I have seen my daughter go from an insecure high school student to a smart, self-assured, confident married woman. I have said goodbye to 5 cats, welcomed 2 more. My health has changed and I find I endure things that only come with age. "Why does that hurt?", is something I've been known to say more often now.

In 10 years, a child goes from totally dependent to somewhat independent. In a way, I feel like that child. There were a lot of things I was doing on my own before the divorce. That single gavel fall in a courtroom shoved the neophyte out the door and into a world she wasn't quite prepared to tackle on her own. I've made some really stupid mistakes and some really brilliant decisions. Some days, being single feels like a carrying a ton. I'd give almost anything to have someone else make dinner, do the wash, talk to me. And then the notion passes and, as I eat popcorn for supper, I'm very glad I don't have to answer to anyone. I would, if given the chance and the right person, travel this road as a couple. The burdens are easier to carry, the loads lighter and the laughter richer when shared, but that person has eluded me and may never, ever come. That last statement is something I'm learning to embrace.

So, here's to me. It's been quite a journey over these last 10 years, a journey I thought I wouldn't ever make. Had we found a way to stay together, it would have been 33 years this June. That would have been an achievement. As it is, I am living my life my way, with all its bumps and potholes and moments of joy.

Beverage:  Earl Gray tea


A Reason to Eat at KFC

Kentucky Fried Chicken doesn't have a reputation for healthy food. When the second word of your name is "fried", it's hard to make a claim that you have healthy goodness in mind. Doesn't matter if you're using all-natural corn, safflower, peanut or walnut oil, you're still frying the food.

Last week, I had to attend a meeting and I wasn't able to get lunch before it. There used to be an Arby's near the meeting site, but that closed 9 months ago. There is a Subway, but I didn't want a deli sandwich. I went to KFC. They have popcorn chicken, which I like, and I can get baked beans as my side. Their baked beans have a flavor I enjoy.

If you've not been to a KFC lately, they have started something new. All their sides come in these little, single serving-size containers.
The idea is that the containers are recyclable which should, in theory, reduce waste. In practice, I don't see this as reducing the waste stream all that much because there isn't a place to recycle them if you don't want them. They just get chucked into the garbage along with everything else and they are made of plastic which is made from oil. But, for someone like me, this is a nifty idea. 

As you can see, I brought mine home and washed it out. The size is great. I can fill it with just enough salad or jello or pudding to go with a meal. It would also be great for raisins, sunflower seeds, grapes, shredded cheese, diced chicken, veggie dip, I could go on, but you get the idea. 

Eating KFC isn't something I should do regularly. The job for which I had the meeting is starting up in earnest this coming week. I'll be in the neighborhood of this restaurant a lot over the next 3 weeks. I should amass a nice collection of these containers by the time the job is over. 

Beverage:  Earl Gray tea


Day 18 and 19

My goal for this weekend has been to try to get the leaves stitched. Once those are done, what's left is outlining.

To the left is the result of stitching Saturday afternoon. At the end of the afternoon, I had one large leaf, one medium leaf and 3 small leaves left.

To the right is the result of today's stitching. All the leaves are done. Now I need to spend some time outlining. Then it can be washed and framed. My goal is to finish the outlining this week so it can be professionally framed.

It came out nice.

Beverage:  Earl Gray tea


Thursday, April 14, 2011

This is Not How You Treat Our Servicemen

My son-in-law is a Nuclear Technician in the Navy, in case you weren't aware. He's been in the Navy for awhile now and wondering if he should re-up. The Navy made that decision for him today.

He had a medical condition last year that the Navy deemed not compatible with his being on a sub. So, he was reassigned to desk duty. That resulted in a cut in pay, but he adapted. He no longer has the problem so could be, in theory, sent pretty much anywhere at any time.

Today, he received a letter where the Navy said because his medical condition prohibits him from doing the job he was trained to do (their decision, remember), he needed to reimburse the Navy, retroactively up to reassignment, for the extra pay he got while he was doing the job he trained for. They would deduct $6500 from his paycheck every month until the debt they calculated was paid off. He pointed out that he makes $4400 with housing allowance every month. Oh, no problem. He could simply pay them the additional $2100 along with the $4400. Um...

Let's set aside, for a moment, the fact that I have a vested interest in this. This is flat out wrong. It was not his determination that he was not qualified for duty, it was the Navy's. He did his job up until he went to a doctor because his health wasn't right. He was to just tough it out which, quite possibly, could have resulted in a chronic health problem for the rest of his life? He did the right thing and got treated early. This is how he is repaid for being pro-active about being well?

I'm floored, just floored. These men and women put their lives on the line all over the world to defend the bean counter who made this decision. I've been informed the decision has been appealed and was told, "If they would read their own paperwork, this wouldn't even happen." I believe it. Somewhere, there is someone looking at Rule 85, Paragraph 15, Subsection A, and seeing something that caused him to send out this letter instead of looking at the reasons behind what was done. The disconnect between Person A and Person B might as well be a time-warp for all the communication it appears was done here.

They will be okay for now. The appeals process, as one can imagine, takes a good amount of time. All the documentation will probably get this ridiculous judgment tossed out. But, if the Navy wanted him back, they won't get him.

Is this how we treat people who are our defense? I'm appalled.

Beverage:  Dr Pepper


That's a Lot of Beverage

While I know this isn't what it says on the outside, I saw this truck on the way to work this morning.

It made me laugh. Well no wonder they can sell Polar Pop for 69 cents when they get it delivered like this.

It reminded me of a truck I followed on the way home from Carole and David's back in November. 

That's a lot of coffee. 

Beverage:  Dr Pepper


Day 17

Three-fourths of a leaf closer to being done. I have to go look at shoes this weekend, but otherwise, I'm giving over my weekend to finishing leaves. I believe I can get them done. Then I have to do the outlining and it's finished. The sense of being done drives me forward.

Beverage:  Dr Pepper


30 Years Is a Bit Too Long

Three weeks ago, I received a letter from a cousin who lives outside of Seattle. She, her husband and 2 of her children, would be passing through O'Hare on their way home from a spring break spent in Williamsburg, Virginia. They were to have 4.5 hours in "Chicago". Would I have time to get together?

Of course! Absolutely! Don't have to ask me twice.

You do, however, need to remind me because my brain can, on some days, resemble a sieve. Thankfully, she sent me a postcard from Williamsburg, which jogged my memory. I had planned to do one thing on Saturday but that was very easily postpone-able. It was a phenomenally nice day, which made it perfect for a quick jaunt up to the airport.

Unfortunately, between Richmond, Virginia and Chicago, Illinois, there were quite a few heavy thunderstorms. Their plane was delayed. They were delayed. It wound up being a good 2 hours, which meant we had no time to leave the airport environs to grab a quick bite at any local restaurant and get them back in time to endure security. Our visit consisted of commandeering a table and chairs next to a lower level convenience store.

But what a visit it was. I have not seen her since she moved to the west coast from Illinois where she was going to college some 29 years ago. She's gotten married, had a family and sent children off into the world. We have kept in touch through occasional letters and always at Christmas, but it is different sitting across the table from them.

In a way, it was as if that time never existed. We got caught up on everyone; where my child is and what her children are doing. We talked relatives. Her son is very interested in the family genealogy and I'm a link to the family in Iowa. I have only one of my father's siblings left and 2 cousins have passed away, one of whom I could not remember his name for the life of me; still can't. I know his kids. I know his brother and wife, but his name is like fog at 10 a.m.

We talked memories, of winters spent on the farm. She grew up in California so coming for Christmas one year was fantastic. I remember how we wrapped a Cool Whip container of snow in so many layers of newspaper, it was the size of a boulder. It was partially melted when they got home but still resembled a snowball. We talked about how life changes, how life doesn't and all too soon, it was time for them to join the lines snaking through security.

I didn't visit her when Carole lived in the Seattle area. I really wanted to get my daughter settled and I wanted to spend the time with her. I probably should have reconnected. They would have welcomed me as family, as they did as we sat around a table in O'Hare. I felt awkward to suddenly call out of the blue and "Oh I'm in the area." That was my fault. I should have 'gotten over myself'.

Still, this was a wonderful 90 minutes spent in an unlikely place on a marvelously beautiful spring afternoon.

Beverage:  Edinburgh's Finest tea


Monday, April 11, 2011

80+ Degrees

Yesterday was the first 80+ degree day this year. What to do? What to do? Well, it's a good time to wash lap throws. The three on the settee where Pilchard usually sleeps, were washed and draped over the deck rails. They were dry in 2 hours and smelled so fresh. Now I have to wipe down the inside of the washer to get all the cat hair out of it. I should wash the living room rugs, too, while I'm at it. That's the one thing about a long haired black cat. She's a shedder and even daily combings don't ease the amount she leaves behind.

I decided I needed to be outside. I have been cooped up all winter and yesterday was the perfect day to just be. I didn't do yard work. I still need a rake to rake out all the flower beds and rake up the yard. I decided the best use of my time was to sit on the deck and cross-stitch. The girls were allowed out of the house, but they really didn't linger. They were happiest to lie on the kitchen floor at a spot where they could see me. It might have actually been too hot for Pilchard and too windy for both of them. It was quite gusty. But they both got some fresh air.

I had worked for an hour on this on Thursday and forgot to take a photo. Here is the result of 3 hours of work yesterday. I finished 2 leaves and started a third before I felt I should do some dishes. I have 6.5 leaves left. One good week of stitching really, and it's done. This stitching is day 15 and 16.

I still have the house sealed. I thought about taking down the plastic from some of the windows but we could still get snow. The shovels and my boots went into the basement so that means we're probably going to get another snowfall of an inch or more before winter finally leaves for good.

The grass exploded in green during the day. My daffodils are blooming as are the hyacinths. The crocus are done for the year. Tulips are up. I am ready to leave this winter behind. Hard to believe in early February, I was dealing with this.

Happy Spring. I am so ready.

Beverage:  Hot Cider Tea


Thursday, April 7, 2011

Field Trip

This came in the mail today.

The Chick-fil-A is in the southern part of Wheaton. I'm thinking I need to taste this milkshake to make sure it's suitable for the rest of you.

Maybe Saturday, when I'm out and about.

Yes, you'll get a review.

Beverage:  Fraoch


And We Survived

Mija and Pilchard went to the vet today. This is the first time they have left my house since I brought them here in September of 2009. Val would just stuff both of them in her carrier and off they'd go. But in giving me her carrier, that meant I had two and I think that's better owing to their size.

Mija started in this one. When I got home from work, I brought the garbage and recycling cans back from the street and brought in the mail. I did not give them the treats I usually do. That's not wholly unusual. They sometimes don't get their evening treats until I make my supper. I went to the closet and pulled out the carriers. Mija heard the door rattle on this carrier and she took off. I found her by the back door. She was shaking. She was scared. It pains me to have to pick up a quaking cat but they have to ride in the carriers. They cannot be loose in the car. Then I went to get Pilchard.

I don't know any cat that likes to ride in the car. None of the cats I had prior to these two did and these two don't. Pilchard was beside herself. Val said she has always been more than a little upset to be in a car. The yeowling that came from her carrier was unnatural and very eerie. She broke the top latch on the carrier in trying to get out. That would not have been good at all. Granted this carrier is nearly 30 years old as we got it when we had Shakespeare, but she dug at the door and when that didn't work, through herself against it. On the way home, cats were reversed in carriers. While Mija complains, she just sits down.

Animal Medical has moved out of the building where I started going many years ago. They are renovating the upstairs of it, a former bank building, so all patients are in the basement. Familiar faces were still there so although the digs are new the care is not. It's still the same wonderful people.

Of course, Val was there to see how the ladies are doing. They both got their nails done and had blood work and weight. Then they endured the exam. Mija is 11.62 pounds. That is .62 pounds more than when they were seen 2 years ago. Pilchard is 13.54 pounds, not the 17 I thought she was. That is, I think, .02 pounds more than 2 years ago. We don't need shots until the fall. Both should be around 10 pounds so they have a bit of weight to lose. Pilchard needs a dental exam as she has some tartar build up that has to be removed. I also need to comb her more often and add fish oil to her food to help with the dandruff in her coat. She's a bit greasy on her back near her tail. She might have problems reaching that area so I need to give her a good combing. She always looks so much nicer too, if I can get her to hold still while I comb her.

What also made me feel good is that everyone told me how happy they were Val was giving her cats to me. Everyone said, "You're the best person we know to take cats and it's clear you're doing very well with them." I did wonder if they would adapt to my lifestyle. We have done very well. They trained me and I've trained them. Those comments make me feel very good about the care I give them.

I gave them quite a bit more in treats tonight when we got home. Pilchard took off and went into the basement to yeowl for a few minutes until I gave her treats. Mija went into the closet for a few minutes until I shook the container. We're friends again. Next time I have to take them to the vet, Pilchard is crated first and I need to carry bandaids in my purse. Let's just say this scratch wasn't as bad as it could have been.

Beverage:  Fraoch


Happy National Beer Day

My friend, Perry, noted earlier in the week that April 7th is National Beer Day. I made a mental note but as my mental notepad is often without paper, I forgot. Then, he posted a reminder to Facebook today. So after the events of the early evening, I came home to properly celebrate the holiday.

Perhaps that means one should imbibe with a national brew. But I find such national brews to be little more than drinking lukewarm chicken broth and a whole lot less tasty. I have several random bottles of Scottish ale. This is the one I chose.

Happy National Beer Day, everyone. I'm thinking I might extend the holiday by making a loaf of beer bread this weekend.

Beverage:  Um...


The Return of Green

This lovely bauble to the left goes on my car antenna. Rodney went to New York several years ago. One of the places he visited was the huge M&M/Mars store near Times Square. He saw this and knew it was a perfect souvenir for me. Green has been on my antenna ever since.

In the fall, I noticed she was gone. I was very sad about it. Although I almost never lose my car in a parking lot other than, "I could have sworn I parked in 4B, didn't I?", it was a bit easier to find the Jeep in a sea of cars by looking for the antenna. I felt somewhat incomplete without the bauble. I had no idea where I could have lost it and felt that maybe someone decided they liked it enough to take it.

Last Wednesday, as I was rolling the recycling can out to the street, I stopped to pick up an errant piece of paper and there she was, in the drive. She must have been loose and got knocked off by the trees along the house, falling into the drive where I promptly ran over her all winter. But other than being dirty, she was no worse for wear. I gave her a bath and she looks pretty good.

Yesterday, I put her back on the antenna. It's just a silly thing, I know, but sometimes the silly things are the most meaningful.

Beverage:  Huckleberry tea


Mija Tested

I have the jacket hanging up on the floor lamp in the living room. I took it down last night so I had the light to stitch by. It was claimed. I think this means she approves. Fortunately, I can iron out the creases. 

Beverage:  Huckleberry tea



I found some dress shoes I thought would look good with my outfit for the wedding. They were $36 and change, with tax and shipping. The box arrived on Tuesday.

I don't think I like them. The above photo was taken under incandescent lighting. The one below was taken with natural light.
The natural light photo shows that they aren't quite the same color as the jacket. In the photo, they looked more bone or ivory colored, which is what I want. These are what's considered "champagne". That's a shade darker than the jacket.

The shoes will be a whole dress removed from the jacket so why care? I think it looks more put together to have them closer in shade. Plus, I think, now that I see the ruffle, it looks a bit like an afterthought. They didn't think the shoes would sell without adornment so they sent them back and someone suggested a ruffle. So, I'm going to send them back, exchange them for a pair of jeans, which I know I'll wear, or some colorful tops or something.

It's back to square one now. I did think maybe finding a pair of green or pink shoes would be fun and different, but I'm kind of set on bone or ivory. There is a sale upcoming at Penneys for friends and family. That will be a good time to go see what they have that might work. The other side of this is that I rarely wear heels anymore. I have no need to. I put these on and walked about the house and felt a bit unsteady. I want to feel comfortable in my shoes at the wedding and I wasn't. But, whatever shoes I do end up getting I will wear so I'm comfortable.

A little over a month away. Time has just flown.

Beverage:  Huckleberry tea


Day 14

Two more leaves were completed last night.

Beverage:  Huckleberry tea


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

This is Interesting #2.

I was looking through the accumulated photos on Flickr to see if one photo I know I have is stored there and I came across something that is interesting.

Pilchard, at rest on the ottoman.
Now, here is Faux being ever so helpful in preventing eye strain from reading.

Other than they are both long haired cats, one other item struck me. What's with the extended front leg? When I'm sitting in the settee and Pilchard sits down, it's always the left front leg she extends. I don't know if it's the same leg for Faux, but Mija doesn't do this, at all. Does anyone know why cats do this; if it's only in large cats like Faux and Pilchard; or only in long-haired cats; or if there's not a known reason why, it's just cat behavior in which case I won't ponder it anymore? Promise.

Beverage:  Dr Pepper


"You have good range of motion"

Today was the appointment with the orthopedic specialist to see about the root cause of my shoulder problems. He took a very detailed medical history and then a very detailed shoulder pain history. After that came the "do this" routine.

"Do this."


"Do this."


"Make chicken wings and move the elbows back. Does that hurt?"

No, but I can feel kind of a pull in that one spot that bothers me.

"Does it hurt when I do this?"

It hurts because you're applying pressure, not because the muscle hurts.

After 5 minutes of motions, he sat down and explained what he believes is wrong.
See that bone called the "Acromion"? Mine has a point on the end of it. Normally, it's rounded, as the illustration. My point can cause the bone to get "hooked" on the bursa or the rotator cuff tendons in the shoulder, irritating them. I have Bursitis, an inflammation of the bursa. I've had that for decades. I may also have a deep muscle tear from who knows when that has never fully healed or has been re-injured. Plus, as you get older, you lose range of motion. All of these things combine to cause problems for my shoulder.

Step 1 - Continue with the muscle relaxant. It's helping my shoulder heal. I also need to not shovel 2.5 feet of snow until June.
Step 2 - Get into Physical Therapy. He's written a prescription for 10-12 sessions. One of the places they recommend is a half mile from the house. I need to call them and see if they have evening hours.

If this doesn't work, there are injections he can give me to ease the inflammation and more physical therapy will be necessary. If that doesn't work, then there is surgery to file down the bone so it's not going to irritate the muscles under it. He emphasized that's at least 8-12 months down the road and he might do arthroscopic surgery before something like that.

I had PT years ago for my shoulder. For awhile, I continued the exercises but life got busy and, well, we all know about "good intentions". And, the last time I was in pain like that experienced on March 24th was back in 2006 so that's 4 years ago. Still, I have good range of motion. I'd like to keep it.

Beverage:  Dr Pepper


Happy Birthday Mom!

My mother turns 76 years young today. It's easy to remember her birthday. Congress made it a holiday.

Happy National Tartan Day to everyone. Unlike St. Patricks Day, rivers won't be dyed green nor will green beer spill out of kegs and flow through streets. I have no intentions of eating haggis, but birthday cake seems fine.

Beverage:  Huckleberry tea


P.S. (Added after lunch) I went to the grocery to get a salad and I got a piece of cake for your birthday. It's pretty good.


We have sleeves!

I was going to put the sleeves in on Monday night, but got busy doing something else. So, the task last night was sleeves. Task complete. Pam has suggested waiting to finish the sleeves and the hem until I get the dress done. Then I can put the whole outfit on and we can see if what is marked as the hem really will be the hem when it's complete.

I'm rather proud of myself. This looks really nice. If I got a plain pink skirt and a cream colored short sleeved blouse, I'd have more uses for the jacket. I'm still thinking I will probably need to get a pin for the neck but again, let's wait and see when the dress is finished.

Pilchard wasn't much help last night. She jumped up on the table, sat down and then attacked the sleeves as I was zigzagging the edges. I have no idea what prompted the attack. She only wants her ears scratched on her terms anyway so it wasn't because I was neglecting her. It was irritating because I was concerned she'd snag the fabric, not to mention I'm trying to finish the edges of the pieces and she's attacking the one I'm working with.

And, I found this as I was pinning the sleeves together. I suppose this is for pinning around corners? I tossed that pin.

So, next step is to cut out the dress this weekend. It should go together as swiftly as the jacket. When we were at the fabric store, they had a bolt of this kind of fabric that had gold dragons on it. It was gorgeous but not suitable for a wedding. As this jacket has gone together, I remember that material and wish I had the cash to go get it, assuming it's still there, some 2 months later. No, I really don't have a use for a jacket that has gold dragons on it other than it would be awesome. But many of my clothes were purchased simply for the awesome factor. Comfortable. Awesome. Seems to me a perfect combination.

Beverage:  Huckleberry tea