Thursday, September 29, 2011

Getting Out of the House - Day 1

I took a couple days off. Originally, Carole was coming back for her class reunion but that didn't work. I thought about just not taking time off, but decided I was worth a couple of days. Today is day 1 and, this morning, I went to the zoo.

I drove into the city and went to the Lincoln Park Zoo. I can't remember the last time I was there. I'm pretty sure this entry archway didn't exist.

The zoo is free. Parking is not. I managed to scrape together the money for parking. I looked into going to the Brookfield Zoo which is closer to me, but it would have cost me $5 more.

It's a gray, overcast day and, as I write this, raining. The LPZ is compact, which is another reason I chose to go here. Brookfield is a lot more walking and that tipped the scales in favor of the LPZ.

They have done a lot of upgrading to buildings since I was last here. For the most part, the animals are still the same. The first animals you have the potential to see when you walk in from the east entrance are the big cats.

The tiger was a bit cooperative. He was getting a drink from his small water pool when I arrived. Then he went around the perimeter of the enclosure a couple of times before jumping down into the "moat" that's between the main area and the wall where visitors are. That's grass covered on the bottom. There, he plopped down and fell asleep. He was still there 90 minutes later when I passed by on my way out.

The lions were asleep. The jaguar was pacing in a back corner where photos wouldn't be good and the puma's cage is not very photogenic. There were a couple of long legged savanna cats pacing in their cage inside. Animals are as adaptable as people, but it's hard to see an animal pacing back and forth and not wonder if there is something that could be done to engage them more. I wondered if the big cats are ever allowed the opportunity to use those hunting skills they have. Is there ever a time when they are given live prey? Probably not because you don't ever want them associating a keeper with food. So, I wonder how they might be allowed to be cats.

From there, I passed by the Mexican wolves and went into the bird building. The limitations of my camera became clear at this point. It's fine for me. It's small and I can have it with me all the time for those incidents where you think, "If I only had a camera." But it's not "fast" and, when you're in low light situations where a flash is not a good idea, trying to get a clear shot is impossible.

The bird to the right, a golden breasted starling, was singing right next to the path through the aviary. I tried everything, including setting the camera on the fence posts, to get a clear shot. This one is the best. I really don't want to tote around a big camera with a multitude of lenses. I have an SLR that is in need of some cleaning and minor repair if I ever wanted to go that route again. This was one time I kind of wished I had a better camera. The bird didn't seem to mind my repeated attempts to hold the camera still. It might not have minded the flash, but I wasn't going to try it.

The polar bear was asleep. LPZ has Andean and Sun bears and they were asleep. The rhinos were at the back of their enclosure. LPZ gave away their elephants several years ago. Their giraffes were out. The penguins were getting fed. It was too dark in the reptile and small mammal house to get good photographs, so I walked across a bridge, turned right and there were the flamingos.

This flock is kind of an institution at the zoo. Although the zoo was started with a couple of swans and then a bear cub, back in 1868, flamingos have been at the zoo since the 1900's. These are Chilean flamingos and they are noisy. There is a nice flock of about two dozen and they seemed to be having some rather loud arguments. 

From here, I wandered over to the great ape house. I remember when it was a circular facility with the apes and the staff in the center and a two tier walk way around the outside. The facility was divided into quarters. 

This building is so much better. There is a large outdoor yard area as well as enlarged interior room with all sorts of climbing equipment, nooks and crannies where apes can go to see and be seen. They had been fed about 10 minutes before I showed up so they were cleaning up the leftovers. This guy couldn't be seen from the outside, although he was outside, so I had to shoot him through the window of the building looking out. It's a grand facility and much better than the old building it replaced. 
At this point, my knees were telling me it was time to go home. I wandered through the small monkey house on my way back to the car. I have to say, I am extremely grateful for handicap ramps. There were no steps, just gently undulating pathways. As I was leaving, it started to rain. It was nice and mild at the zoo, but I drove through some heavier rains coming home. It was nice for me to get out and get moving a little. I probably could stand a nap now. 

On the way out was this little guy. He had the whole enclosure to himself. 

Beverage: Apple cider tea


Tuesday, September 27, 2011


It doesn't look like much and, at this point, it really isn't. This is a knit sleep shirt I've had for ages. The front has finally given out. I found pieces of it in the washing machine over the weekend.

I'm kind of sad. I love big ol' knit sleep shirts, particularly ones that are over-sized tee shirts. They are comfortable, even when I toss and turn and, if I decide, on a weekend day that I won't get dressed, they are comfortable to be in all day.

This one is, at least, 10 years old. The neckband has frayed, too, but if the front had not developed holes and then disintegrated in the wash, I'd still be wearing it.

So, I'm cutting it up for rags. This will make great dusting cloths or window washing rags.

Beverage:  Scottish Blend tea


Not Just For Breakfast

I don't always go get the Sunday paper on Sunday. Depending upon my mood, it will sit out there until Monday when I leave for the office. Such was the case yesterday. When I picked it up, I discovered there were samples enclosed.

This is rather exciting. 

Often, while playing World of Warcraft, I will be wanting something to snack on. I like cereal. Compact and easy to eat, I'll get a half bowl of something and sit noshing while killing fake monsters in a fake world. These three, advertised as being only 80 calories per box, should fit the bill nicely. They aren't the kind of cereals I would buy a whole box of, either.

Now, I have to not eat them all in one sitting.

Beverage:  Edinburgh's Finest tea

Monday, September 26, 2011


She gets mad if Mija is in this box. The goal is to put this box in the office, now that it's been claimed, and get my box which contains trims back. 

Beverage:  Edinburgh's Finest tea

Try This

I'm involved in an online consumer group that, periodically, sends me surveys to fill out. I get rewarded with fake cash which I can use to get things. I've accumulated roughly $400 in rewards and I really should see if there is something good I can get with this.

A week ago, I was asked if I wanted to participate in a survey about a new toothpaste. I read the ads they intend to put in print media. Meh. It didn't stand out for me via advertising. They asked for people who might me interested in trying the toothpaste. I said, "Sure." The tube came on Thursday.

I need to use this for 2 weeks and there will be a follow up survey about my impressions. As the survey is on-going, I won't reveal the name of the toothpaste. In 2 weeks, I can.

My initial impressions are favorable. It's got a pleasant taste that is not overpowering. It doesn't make a lot of foam when you're brushing. I take that to mean the toothpaste is scrubbing and not going to foam. The aftertaste, when you're finished, is pleasant and dissipates quickly. I'm not left with 'toothpaste' mouth for a couple of hours. In the morning, my mouth doesn't feel quite so gunky. It's quite thick and I have a hard time getting it out of the tube, particularly in the morning. I need a new toothbrush.

It's nice, but this is one area where it comes down to price. There has really got to be something stellar about a toothpaste to make me pay full price. I used to buy Tom's of Maine, paid full price for that. Their ecological stance is very attractive to me. But their toothpaste never has coupons and it's roughly $5.00 per tube. When I can get Aim for $0.99 for the same size tube and I'm pinching pennies, it's tough to justify the extra cost. When this finally gets to the stores, I will have to see what it costs and whether it will be on sale with coupons.

I hope I don't have to give back the unused portion when the two weeks are up. I am liking this better than the Aim I bought. It's sparkly.

Beverage:  Edinburgh's Finest tea


Football and Sewing

Sitting. Right now, that's what I do best. Iowa beat University of Louisiana Monroe on Saturday so I sat by my computer reading the play-by-play. Needing something to occupy the time, I worked on the Christmas ornaments. Friday, I got the next batch sewn together. Saturday, I turned all of them and started stuffing and sewing a few. It was a productive Saturday afternoon.

So yesterday I decided, after getting caught up with all the newspapers, that I would continue working on these while dishes soaked. I know Carole is going to faint dead away, but I actually turned on the TV to professional football and had it playing while I stuffed and sewed. 

Gee, who are these Detroit Lions? The "Texans" had me confused as to who they were. I'm obviously not up on my teams anymore. I would have rather stayed with the Lions/Vikings game which was going into overtime than see the start of the Bears/Packers game, but that's just me. Greg Gumble is one of the best NFL TV announcers, period.

I got almost all the dishes done before it was too tiring to stand. I also did one load of wash which gets me caught up until probably next weekend. My goal is to have one load to do a week. Then, going up and down the stairs is limited to maybe twice a week.

I finished more ornaments. There are just a few left from this batch. Then I have to count up what I've made and compare it to the total number I think I need.
It's coming along quite well and has been fun to do.

Beverage:  Edinburgh's Finest tea


Thursday, September 22, 2011

Another Surprise

I'm feeling low, lower than low, actually. I'm throwing a pity party for myself. I've had Leslie Gores' "It's My Party (And I'll Cry if I Want to)" stuck in my head since leaving the doctor yesterday. Funny how that works.

Pam and I had a lot of catching up to do so she took me to supper last night. That helped make me feel better because she has similar problems. Here are two middle-aged ladies comparing knee problems over burgers at Red Robin. That's comical in its own right. It lifts my sagging spirits somewhat and then I have to get out of her car and climb the steps into my home. Yes. This is why I'm depressed, when it takes me twice as long to get into my house as it did in February when there was all that snow.

There had been, in the mail on Tuesday, an envelope addressed to me, no return address and a Chicago postmark. I've seen this before as in an anonymous benefactor sending a Target gift card. But, I have been doing okay for myself, although my math skills this month left something to be desired. The computer calculator is correct but if you punch in the wrong numbers, you're not going to get the most accurate result. Another thing to depress me.

I didn't open the envelope right away. I had to make supper, a new manicotti recipe that, while fast to assemble is below average in taste. It did make a lot so I will have suppers and lunch for the next couple of days. I think the addition of garlic will make it better, but I am not saving this recipe. It's a dud.

Once the manicotti was cooking, I sat down and opened the envelope. I was expecting an invitation to something as the envelope is that size. I couldn't think what I'd be invited to, but maybe it would be something I'd consider attending. Inside was the usual yellow legal paper carefully enclosing a $50 Visa gift card.

I am humbled by this generosity. It's been a rough month but I have survived. I was worried about getting the next batch of medication and here arrives the means to get it. My friend, Patt, recommended a knee pillow she says you can get at the pharmacy which will keep your knees apart. If it's not too expensive, it's worth a shot, to see if it will help me fall asleep and stay asleep. Mija would probably appreciate not being kicked or crushed when I toss and turn.

It's uncanny to me how whomever this is seems to know right when I could use this. I sat in the recliner on Tuesday evening, turning it over in my hands just grateful for this person. I used to want to know who they were but I've decided I don't need to. I could not give them any kind of reciprocation in kind and I think the giving is, for them, the best part. My hope is that if my ship ever comes in, I can do for someone else what they have done for me.

I decided that I needed to do for me today, something to lift my spirits. I hobbled over to the grocery at lunch and got myself a salad. I have 1 apple and 2 potatoes at home. The potatoes are destined for a corn, bacon and potato chowder recipe I found. It's to rain all weekend. This is the perfect time for soup. The apple will be added to oatmeal apple cinnamon muffins once I get all the dishes finished from the weekend. I just can't do everything in one fell swoop. I have to do some and do another bit the next day. I can't stand and this, of course, depresses me. I felt a salad off the Dominicks salad bar would be healthy and would lift my spirits. I also got a couple bagels and a box of cereal since there is one serving of Cheerios left.

Yes, there were impulse purchases. I got apple cider. Perhaps that is better for me than a 2 liter of Dr Pepper. It's going to make the house smell better, that's for sure. Drat. I don't have an orange to make mulled cider. No matter. Warmed cider in the microwave will be just as lovely. And, to feed the depression, I got a bag of chocolate Oreos. No finger wagging at me. I'm female. I'm depressed. Eating is what makes it sort of better.

Best use of a gift card? Well, maybe not the Oreos but the salad has cheered me up a bit and the idea that I have cereal for next week is another cheer. I'm looking forward to warm apple cider this weekend.

Thank you whomever is doing this or to the maybe more than one person who bestows this blessing on me. Your kindness cheers me as I try to shake off this weight that is depression. I am ever so grateful to you.

Beverage:  Scottish Blend tea


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Avoid Stairs

After taking the Meloxicam all summer, I have seen a small improvement in my hands. But my knees...

It's incredibly painful to stand up and sit down. I'm not sleeping well because I fall asleep on my side and trying to find a comfortable position when my knees hurt sometimes means I toss and tossing is painful. I am close to being out of the Meloxicam, so I called my doctor who decided I should see an orthopedic doctor just to rule out anything. That appointment was this morning.

I don't have pain when I sit. I don't have much pain when I'm up and moving around but I do have to watch how I move. My knees hurt, a lot, last night, from standing in the kitchen making dinner. Those little sideways movements we all do when we turn from the counter to the stove, cause shooting pain through the knee. I cannot move anything near "fast" and even "slow" might be pushing it.

And, I'm having problems with my hands. I feel my fingers look swollen. I get shooting pain below each thumb and the middle finger on each hand aches. I'll get cramping in my right hand from working with the computer mouse. I don't have a problem with my counted cross-stitch or my sewing, but I don't feel I have strength in my hands anymore to pick up, hold and grab heavier items.

I took all of this to the doctor today, along with the medications I take and my x-rays. He had me do a number of tests for range of motion and for strength. I was certain a couple of the ways he would bend my knees was going to hurt. It didn't.

At the end of this, it's not arthritis. The arthritis the radiologist thought he saw is an "artifact" on the x-ray and not evidence of it. So, I don't have arthritis, at least, not yet. I am susceptible to it and will probably get it eventually, but I don't have it right now.

What I have is severe trauma to the cartilage in my hands and knees from when I fell. That cartilage was injured. It wasn't torn. It was bruised and the underlying bones were also bruised. This cartilage is also not as fat and thick as it was 20 years ago so it will take a long time for it to heal.

He was empathetic to my mobility loss but there isn't really anything that can be done. Stretching exercises will make sure the muscles stay limber. Time is all I have to work with here. This is good, kind of. It won't take surgery or anything invasive. This is bad because it's just going to take time. I guess I have spent 3 months in pain what's a few more.

He said the natural things I've found to treat arthritis won't hurt me. They may help and there is nothing wrong with eating jell-o every day. I must avoid stairs if possible, he said. Those few stairs, such as the ones going into my house, I need to take slowly. The washer is in the basement. Once I get to the bottom of the stairs, I can load up the machine and hang up the wash when it's done. I looked at what I have waiting to be washed and it's one load of darks. Once or twice a week up and down the stairs I can do, otherwise, I am to avoid all stairs.

I'm depressed. This weighs me down. It feels as if I have lost 50% mobility. I don't go anywhere without considering whether I can sit. If I need to stand, can I do it for only an hour, maybe 90 minutes, before finding a place to sit down? I feel as if I've lost 75% hand strength. I can sort of cope with the hand thing. I use two hands to move things where I used to use one. There is no gardening unless I can stand but I've had problems grasping things and pulling. I don't have the hand strength.

Was the appointment worth it? Yes, it was. There is no expensive procedure in my future. I don't have any underlying disease. He looked over the blood work done back in June and I don't have diabetes or signs of rheumatoid arthritis. I don't have carpal tunnel. I just have a body that was involved in a tough fall. My age is what works against me in the healing process.

But it doesn't make me feel better knowing this is the way it is. I already feel isolated just because of my life and my lack of finances. The inability to move about more freely isolates me more. I don't want to drive anywhere. It hurts. I can't do for myself what I've always been able to do.

Life goes on and I'll deal with it as best I can.

Beverage:  Blackberry tea


Monday, September 19, 2011

Another Batch of Pancakes

I've been on a pancake kick lately.

What's the down side of this? One recipe can make a couple dozen pancakes. I have 3 for morning breakfast and then I have at least a half-dozen meals ready for me. Pancakes can go in the toaster to be warmed but I like to put a small slice of butter on the tops, drizzle them with maple syrup and nuke them for a couple minutes. The syrup and butter soak in and add their flavors to the flavors of the pancakes. It's very much a winning combination.

A couple weeks ago, I made whole wheat buttermilk pancakes. They had a divine flavor and I am down to the last 3 frozen cakes just waiting for the right meal. Yesterday, I trotted out a new recipe, Cornmeal Buttermilk Pancakes. I've mentioned before how cornmeal is a staple in my family. I have wonderful memories of staying with my dad's father overnight and his cornbread served for dinner. Grandpa called it "Johnny Cake". I have a recipe for cornbread that is called "Johnny Cake". I've never researched where that name came from but I'm willing to bet it's from at least the Civil War. Cornmeal would have been a staple of the diet back then and I used to know how to make it over a campfire.

I hauled out my skillet and made pancakes. This recipe made a lot. I have quite a few frozen for later meals.

I think I like the whole wheat ones just a bit better than these. It might have been that the whole wheat ones were cooked in butter. This recipe specified the griddle be greased with oil. Vegetable oil has the least flavor of all the oils in my cabinet so I used that. I still think it added a mild taste that distracted from the pancake. The next time I make these, I think I'll just go with buttering the griddle.

These would be really good with a syrup other than maple, but that's all I had on hand. A good butter pecan syrup would be great.

Finances aren't good as I head toward the end of the month. Having things like pancakes frozen, ready for me, means I won't be staring at the cupboards and then throwing my hands up in the air and not eating. I've done that.

Tonight, I'm trying a manicotti recipe that serves 4. If it works, I'll have meals for the next couple of days. Planning. I need to do more of that.

Beverage:  Edinburgh's Finest tea


So Good. So Gone.

It's hard to impress me with a chocolate chip cookie recipe. I mean, really. Butter, sugar, eggs, flour, soda, chocolate chips. I have a recipe I call "Deb's Dump Cookie" because I add oatmeal, walnuts and raisins; dumping in anything I can find. But the basic dough is the same. I found a recipe that just might be my new favorite.

It's got oatmeal and I didn't have any regular size chocolate chips, so I added mini ones, which I actually think I like better. What's so special about this? These are Banana Oatmeal Chocolate Chip cookies. One ripe banana is added to the dough.

I don't know if adding the banana was what did it, but my chocolate chip cookies have a tendency to spread. Instead of chewy, I get crispy. Sometimes that's fine. The crispy ones tend to hold up better when dunked. But I like chewy.

These were marvelous. The recipe made about 3 dozen which are all gone. I'm not ashamed to say I ate them, all, every last one. They were so good. I now have another use for an overripe banana besides banana bread.

I attempted to keep some of these for "later". I made them after the Iowa game on Saturday. I had a good supper and then cookies for dessert. During the evening's World of Warcraft raid, I had cookies. During Sunday's dishes and cleaning, I would have a cookie to keep going. I had exactly 4 left to munch on during last night's raid.

These are so easy to make but I'm thinking I probably ought not to buy bananas very often. Cookies, even with milk, are not a well-balanced meal, not even if I hold one in each hand.

Beverage:  Edinburgh's Finest Tea


Sunday, September 18, 2011

Some Days, Being a Pack Rat is a Good Thing

I was looking for chocolate chips for the cookies. I found these.

Cheer! I do have Jell-o. I still don't know how much you are supposed to consume for it to make a difference in your joints. The serving size is a half cup. Give me a break. I'll eat half the blue size in one sitting. Okay, so I have to cut back. A third of the blue size per meal then?

I made the cherry today. No, I did not add gin-soaked golden raisins to it. It's just straight cherry jell-o in a bowl. I don't have any gin or golden raisins. I did think about adding some dried cranberries since I have those, but I'm content to have plain red jello for meals. My friend Daniel, is determined to figure out gin gelatin. He's going to make gin-soaked golden raisins in gin-flavored gelatin. As tricky as that might be, getting the end result from Seattle to Wheaton is going to be the hardest part. I'm not fond of gin but if he can get the concoction here, I'll eat it.

Too bad I don't have any instant mashed potatoes to go with my red jell-o.

Beverage:  Orange Juice


A Good Way to Pass the Time

Iowa played Pitt yesterday. I sat myself down at 11, hauled up the game cast and prepared for a couple hours of reading the game. I spend the time uploading videos of things my World of Warcraft guild has done to YouTube. But, when the feed stalls or they take their time telling me what's going on and a video still has 8 minutes left to go, it gets boring just sitting here. Plus, I feel there are things I could do while waiting.


I took care of the socks in the mending pile a week ago. I had a couple tee shirts and some sweaters that needed minor seams repaired. That's the perfect thing to do while I'm sitting here. I sewed a couple buttons back on, too. 

I got the pile all done during the game. For the first time in let's just say "awhile", I have no mending. So, I need to sew more ornaments together so I can stuff and hand sew ornaments this coming Saturday. 

Oh yeah, Iowa won. It was sloppy and any fan who left at the end of the third quarter can be forgiven if they felt Iowa had lost and lost badly. But, as a very long-time fan, this is typical Iowa football. Pretend you haven't a clue for 3 quarters and then take the other team to school in the 4th. That's why true fans don't leave at the end of 3. We know there is a good chance they'll pull it out with 1:54 seconds to go. 

Beverage:  Orange Juice


Point Taken

I came home on Wednesday and set about doing my usual things. After chores and supper, it was time to sit down at the computer. The ribbons and trims were all over the floor, the box tipped on its side. I righted the box, picked up everything that had spilled and put it back into the box.

That night, during my evening World of Warcraft session, Pilchard came into the office, hopped up on the table onto the top of the box and, as I sat here watching, starting digging. This is the end result.

She tosses the trims out of the box because they take up too much room and she can't snuggle down into the box. When I'm in the office, this is where she likes to sleep. Point taken. I think there's a box at the office that's the right size for the trims. I just need to remember to bring it home. 

Beverage:  Orange Juice



It has taken a whole summer, but, finally, yesterday, while I was sitting here reading the game cast off ESPN, I got proof of the use of my birdbath.

He knows I'm on the other side of the glass. He knows I've been trying, all summer, to get a photo of someone, usually a robin, using the bird bath. He's got particularly good timing for flying away, except yesterday. Maybe he finally realized all I want is proof the thing's being used. 

Then, last night in the gloaming, I heard noises outside. Three chickadees were frolicking in the bath. It was too dark to get any kind of photo. 

I've had a male and female cardinal in the bath, too, but they are more skittish than the robin. It's going to take quite a bit of patience on my part to get them to understand neither the cats nor I mean harm. 

A source of drinking water in winter is good for birds. I'm going to try to keep this open through the winter, on weekends, when I can use tepid water, which will be warm, compared to the outside air. With any luck, I'll have more birds get to know my house. 

Beverage:  Orange Juice


Friday, September 16, 2011

Behold Awesome!

The news feed from NPR can, more often than not, be a bit obtuse in what is being covered. Yes, important things such as the deficit, the war, the state of the planet and not the comings and goings of celebrities are covered. But I can often feel as if there is nothing happening to give me "warm fuzzies". And then Friday comes.

Friday seems to be the day when music, art, literature, culture and humor are released from their cages where they are kept all week. The things they find to talk about on Friday are brilliant. I think today, I have found the best item, which may or may not be replaced by something more exciting next Friday.

From the Oxford Dictionaries "OxfordWords" blog (How did I not know about this blog before now?) comes the "How Shakespearean are you?" word analyzer. I'm giddy! Of course, I simply MUST try this out. I have just finished retyping Chapter 10 of a guild story I started writing over a year ago. Let's grab a paragraph from that and see what the analyzer says.

This is the paragraph. It's a paragraph about a battle.
The ooze moved toward Rineva. She called down another barrage of fire. Suddenly, the campfire roared up to almost eye level. Rineva looked down and the flames were being fed by any wood Amaera could find. If the ooze felt or sensed the flames, it did not waiver as it bore down on Rineva. She could feel her life slowly ebbing away from the contact with the ooze as she had shoved her way through it. There was another wave of warm healing but it was quickly replaced by the uncomfortable feeling of life ebbing. She raised her arms and cast a Life Tap. Health flooded into her, but, again, she knew it was only prolonging the inevitable. 
Shakespeare would not relate to self-propelled oozes. He might relate to the use of magic to heal and harm, as this kind of thing was more real to those in the 16th and 17th Centuries than it is to us today. I pasted the above paragraph into the analyzer and I got...

89% Shakespearean.

I'm doing the bard proud. 

Beverage:  Mountain Dew


Monday, September 12, 2011

Baking Again!

I've spent a summer struggling to come to terms with limited mobility. It means that my cleaning of the kitchen is generally a 2-3 day affair as I can't stand for long periods of time nor do I want to be standing up and sitting down repeatedly. It does get a bit easier towards the end of the day but the pain in my knees and right hand is still uncomfortable. I'm having slow drain issues with the kitchen sink and I certainly don't have the money to have a plumber come out and spend a half day replacing those pipes. Add in the onslaught of ants and I really didn't want to be anywhere near the kitchen. It may be the heart of some people's homes but, in August, the less I had to be in there, the happier I was.

But you all know I love to cook and I feel I'm short changing myself when I don't cook. So this weekend, with the ants under control, I spent Saturday doing all the dishes to clear the counter and stove so I could cook on Sunday. I have a stack of recipes I want to try, everything from breakfast to main dish to dessert. I picked something easy off the pile, Snickerdoodle Cupcakes.
They are ridiculously easy to make and the recipe made 18 for me although it clearly states it should only make a dozen. The cupcakes are topped with a butter, brown sugar and cinnamon mix to which you can add nuts but snickerdoodle cookies don't have nuts in them so I left that out. 

I have a problem with the oven. These are to bake for 25-30 minutes. I left them in only 25 minutes (My house smelled wonderful.) and I have about 4 or 5 where the bottoms are burnt. Daniel is going to faint dead away but I don't have an oven thermometer. I haven't had one in over a decade. Might be something to put on "ye olde Christmas list". But I think the heat in the oven is a not uniform. This is an odd temperature to bake at too, 375. Most baking is 350. 

I want to try this again only leaving them in for 20 minutes. They still taste wonderful, just like a cake version of the cookie. I tossed them in the freezer. They will be great for lunches and quick snacks.

I'm still not adding nuts to the topping, though. Real snickerdoodle cookies do not have nuts. 

Beverage:  English Breakfast tea


More Healthy Raiding

Raiding takes a big part of my time when I play World of Warcraft. For those who are unfamiliar with the term, you get a bunch of people together and you go kill fake monsters in one fake location. There are monsters termed "trash", meaning they are just there to add color and variety to the encounter. There is a "boss", a monster that is harder than the trash leading up to it. The boss has a variety of attacks and you all have to work together, do your job, push the right keyboard button at the right time, in order to kill the boss and get the fancy loot he carries. That's a "raid".

That's all in the virtual world. What you want in your real world is a comfortable chair and adequate computer on which to watch yourself stand in stuff you're not supposed to or have the boss run up and smoosh you. You are also to have your beverages and snacks with you before we start. When my guild and I get together, we often have a "drink check". This is a silly check to see what everyone is drinking when we raid. If someone talks on voice chat with their mouth full, we ask if they brought enough to share.

As you know, if you snack in front of the TV, this can be a mine field for good eating. I like my popcorn dripping with butter but that's not good for the keyboard. The diced fruit was a good idea, but again, with the juice, that's not good for the keyboard. Hence, I buy crackers or chips which are not good for the diet.

I remember this stuff my mother made. She called it "gorp". It was granola and chocolate chips and other things all thrown together in a big container. We took it with us on family camping trips. I've never been able to replicate what I remember and I'm always on the lookout for other trail mix type things that would be suitable for eating by the computer and suitable for adding to the diet. Plus, making a big container of some kind of trail mix is far better financially than buying the premade stuff.

I tried a new recipe this weekend.
This uses spoon-size shredded wheat which is baked in a brown sugar, butter and ginger mix. The recipe uses margarine but I don't think of margarine as better for me than good old butter. Into the shredded wheat goes dried cranberries and peanuts. When I was doing the grocery shopping over Labor Day, I saw peanuts on my list. But I was on a tight budget and couldn't think why I wanted peanuts, completely forgetting I was making this. So I rooted in the cupboard and found sunflower seeds and M&Ms.

This is pretty good. I could keep some of this on hand for noshing. I want to try it without the M&Ms and the sunflower seeds. You add the peanuts while the shredded wheat is baking. I like the brown sugar ginger taste, too.

I'm still on the hunt for the perfect gorp recipe. There were some suggestions in the latest issue of Cooking Light that I will try next month when I grocery shop. I can see having a few containers of different mixes on the shelf. I probably am perfectly capable of tossing whatever I feel like eating into a mix and calling it gorp, but I like to have some guidelines for what others have found good.

This will be gone by week's end. The nice part is that I found a bag of M&M's I didn't know I had.

Beverage:  English Breakfast tea


A New Service

The company that delivers my milk, Oberweis Dairy, has introduced a new service. They will deliver fresh fruits and vegetables with your weekly milk delivery. On the 1st, which was my delivery day, they left me a small box with a free sample of the kinds of things they will be delivering.

As things go in my house, I didn't get around to opening the box until this weekend. In the meantime, I've composted some lettuce and a red pepper. I need to clean out the vegetable drawers and add the overripe contents to my compost pile. I figured whatever was in this box would be soggy and soft even though it's been in the fridge since I got it.

I opened up the box and here's a nice coupon. Maybe next month I'll take advantage of this. There are many different kinds of boxes you can get. Since my delivery is on Thursday, in theory, the fruits or vegetables will only sit in the fridge until the weekend. They have an all berry box which is appealing. I could get berries and make muffins or just sprinkle them over vanilla ice cream. Mmmm...blackberries over vanilla ice cream. I could eat that for supper.

I opened the top, expecting soggy peppers, an onion, a zucchini and an eggplant, something I have no idea what I'd do with it. Imagine my surprise when it turned out to be fruit. That's a "gala"-like apple, a peach, a white plum on top, followed by a red plum, a pear and a red delicious apple on the bottom. The fruit was still firm with a good aroma.

Now, I'm not a peachy person. Peaches are not something I gravitate towards. I can make a dynamite peach blueberry cobbler, but only if I have company coming. It's not something I'll make for myself. But I didn't want to summarily chuck this into the compost pile. I should give it a chance to impress me. So, I cut up the plums and the peach into finger-sized chunks.
I was doing uploads at the computer in between other tasks and wanted something to nosh on. These were delightful. The peach was sweeter than I expected it to be. I'm going to have to look into white-flesh plums. I've never had one before and it was better than the red plum which I like. I could see making a tart with both of those kinds of plums. That would be luscious.

Bottom line is that I think I will give this a try, but not until next month. I'll have to weigh the cost of a box versus the cost of buying this at the grocery. With a grocery store a 3 minute drive from the office, the box is going to have to be really fresh to win me to this method of buying my fruits and vegetables.

Beverage:  English Breakfast tea


I Was Going to Put This Away

The box contains my ribbons and trims. I've used everything I can from this for the ornaments. I was going to put it away this weekend. 

"What's comfortable to a cat is incomprehensible to a human." -- Collette 

Beverage:  English Breakfast Tea


Sunday, September 11, 2011

Almost Obligatory Musings on 9/11

I've been tossing this post around in my head for the last 3 or 4 days. I suppose I didn't have to post anything, after all, there's nothing new I have to say to add to the volumes spoken or printed today. But it seems as if I need to say something.

The day today is exactly, exactly like it was 10 years ago. It's a delightfully sunny and warm, crystal clear September 11th. There isn't a cloud in the sky. There wasn't a cloud in the sky ten years ago, either.

I had to drive to Sycamore, west of here, to service equipment. Luke had to go to Rockford, also west of here, to do inspections. Dane was in the office to deal with reports. A drive to Sycamore pretty much shoots your morning. At the time, we only had 2 machines out there. You took batteries, downloaded any data stored, replaced the batteries, ran service checks on the machines and they were then ready for another 3 weeks of monitoring. Hour out, hour back and an hour to do your work. You got back to the office around 11 a.m. It's also a pleasant drive west, leaving the real suburban area behind and heading into farm country.

I got going early on that day 10 years ago. I stopped by the Dunkin Donuts, now gone, on north main street for tea and a couple of donuts. In my memory, I can see the line in front of me, the three people helping to move people through the line, and the guy who turned to the rest of us, having received his coffee and donuts and said, "Did you hear that? A plane just hit the World Trade Center." He shook his head and left. It was only then, that I realized there was a radio playing in the background.

I sometimes drive by the empty building where the Dunkin was and, every time I do, I remember how my first reaction was, "Oh well, it must have been a small plane," but I wondered how a Cessna (as an example of what I was thinking of) could come close enough to hit the buildings. I didn't know of the weather in New York so perhaps it was heavily overcast and the pilot miscalculated where the buildings were. I also thought perhaps the gentleman had misheard something since the radio was scratchy and just barely audible.

There were 4 or 5 people in front of me and we progressed through the line as quickly as possible. I remember two people were getting donuts for their offices so that took time to select and box up a quantity. I was served and I left. As I walked out to my car, it struck me that no one in front of me had left the parking lot. They were sitting in their cars obviously listening to the radio. I got into mine, a Geo Prizm, started up the car and WDCB said there were reports of a jet liner hitting one of the World Trade Center buildings, but the music would go on. I quickly flipped to WGN where Tom Peterson told me what I didn't want to hear, what none of us wanted to hear. WGN went to the live feed from ABC News and Peter Jennings was with me on the rest of my drive. I called Dane and told him to turn on the radio I had in my office, that there was a huge disaster in New York.

I drove west, listening as another plane hit the other tower. Then came the reports of the attack on the Pentagon. What was happening to my country? West of Lily Lake, with another 15 minutes ahead of me, I called Carole. Tuesday, September 11, 2001, was her first day of college. We had moved her in the previous week. She had gone through all the "welcome to college" events and Tuesday was to be the first day of classes, the first day of the next phase of her life. She said, later, she went to her first class where the instructor had the in-room TV on and all they did was watch. There were no classes that day.

I told my daughter I loved her. I told her that I felt she was safe but she should be diligent. She should take all necessary precautions and to follow instructions if something greater was upon us. I told her what I was doing but that I'd be back in the office around 11. We'd go from there. "I love you, sweetie. We'll get through this," I remember saying.

I was out of my car working on a machine when the first tower fell. I had the radio blaring so I could keep tabs on things. I will never forget hearing Peter Jennings ask a reporter, whose name I do not remember, "X, what are we watching here? What is happening to the tower?" The reporter stammered, "Peter, I...I think the tower just crumbled. It fell down. How could it just fall?"I finished servicing this instrument, I had finished the first of these two earlier, sat down in my car and burst into tears. I'm not sure why I cried. I didn't know anyone in New York or Washington. I didn't know any friends who were traveling. I just knew that I felt entirely helpless and vulnerable. Tears seemed to be the right choice at that time.

On the drive back to the office, I heard that Mayor Daley had ordered all downtown high rise buildings evacuated and closed. I heard about the mammoth undertaking to bring all commuter trains into the city to get everyone home. I heard that the FAA had ordered all airplanes to land immediately. I remember pulling over on the side of the road near Elburn and looking skyward. Out that far from O'Hare, it's hard to see airplanes when they are flying, much less if something is there that shouldn't be. Then came the reports of the crash in Pennsylvania and the world seemed to be spiraling out of control. I got back to the office and Dane said we were closing up for the day. I stayed until noon to process the information I'd retrieved from the machines in Sycamore. Then I picked up a book I'd ordered at The Bookstore and I came home to watch, transfixed, at the news coverage.

Carole came home for supper. We hugged for a long time, thankful that we could be together. We watched the news and talked about the events of the day. At 9, she said she was going back to school. She had just needed the reassurance of mom and home.

I don't remember the assassination of JFK. I have vague memories of his funeral on TV and my mother weeping quietly as we watched it. I don't remember the assassination of Martin Luther King. I remember hearing news reports of Bobby Kennedy's assassination and of having my brother awaken me in the morning the next day with news that he'd died. I remember the warm August afternoon when Richard Nixon resigned from office. It was hot that day in Iowa. I remember my dad's stoic face as he watched the TV accounts. I remember watching Challenger explode and being completely unsure what it was I was watching. I remember being in my car, driving to help at church when news reports came of Oklahoma City. I don't remember those events with as much precision as I do 9/11.

Where are we now, 10 years later? I heard an interview with Jim Thompson, former governor of Illinois and a member of the committee to make recommendations after 9/11. He said the biggest failure is not creating a national emergency radio frequency so all first responders could talk to one another. If there was another national emergency, nobody could talk to anyone else immediately. This is disturbing.

I don't necessarily believe we are any safer than we were on September 10th, 2001. We are more divided as a nation than at any time I can remember, even during Vietnam. The massive "We are all in this together" that we showed, our collective strength and unity, forged in those great attacks, has splintered into finger pointing and inertia. Our leaders pout and 'hold their breath' until they get their way. The ability to work together, to compromise, to see everyone's point of view and to come to a consensus has vanished. We question someone's patriotism if they don't display an American flag in front of their house and call them narrow minded if they do.

As I sit here listening to the sound of a last weekend of summer, children's voices, birds, barking dogs mingled with the occasional whine of an airplane as it flies over my house on the way to land at O'Hare, I feel the legacy of 9/11 is not that we pulled together and worked together to make a better country. I feel the legacy is finger-pointing, "it's not my fault", passing the buck, questioning whether the person who wears a turban because of his religion is really an American. It's my way or you're a total a**hole and not worth acknowledging as human. That's the legacy I see ten years on and it makes me profoundly sad.

Five thousand people died because we live in a country where being free to express ourselves makes us hated. We don't know how good we have it here. We have forgotten that this good life, this free life was built together. I hope that as we step back to remember, we realize we came together when under attack. There is no reason we can't come together when we're not under attack.

Beverage:  Huckleberry tea



I've come through a week of busyness. A major project that we had all, more or less, ignored, came due. Add into that just the regular day-to-day work and one "gentleman" (I use this term very, very loosely.), who felt calling the office and whining would get his way, and the stress meter went over 75%. I realized, late last night, that I had forgotten one small portion of my part of the project, but it will take about 15 minutes to do on Monday morning and then the whole thing can be shipped out tomorrow afternoon and...

I can go on to the other three projects on my desk. There's scheduling and bidding to be done. There are instruments to service. There are downloads to do and emails to be sent. I know the economy is not good now but we had the best summer in the history of our office; history of our office. We got everything covered, everything done, didn't drop the myriad of balls we have juggling.

Sometimes, the stress gets to us. Last Wednesday was that day for me. I couldn't find pictures I know were taken. Bits of information I needed from others wasn't coming. A client wouldn't sign the paperwork we need so we can walk onto a job site but is demanding we show up now, of course, and do an installation and be on-site for monitoring. The phone won't quit ringing and you want to make every client feel that they are the only person you're going to help even if their number is 83 and you're working on number 12. Add into the mix the clients who call repeatedly and just don't get "it", whatever "it" is that you've explained to them 122 times before.

By lunchtime, I looked at the leftovers I brought with me and decided, since I had to pick up those photos from PJ's for yet another project, I was going to Dairy Queen. It's right there, by PJs. That's a large pecan turtle blizzard. Five dollars of stress reduction.

I'm worth it.

Beverage:  Huckleberry tea


Well, That Explains That

I try to keep the bird bath clean. When I was actively feeding the birds, I read up on bird baths. Having a source of fresh water in your yard means birds will hang around. They bathe in it as well as drink it. I've seen robins and cardinals bathing although they disappear when I try to photograph them. I regularly dump and replenish the water particularly if it gets dirty. I've wondered how it could get so dirty and green sometimes when it's been a mere two days since I refilled the bath.

Yesterday, as I was reading the live feed for the football game, a robin came by to take a bath. He had himself a grand old time, splashing around. The camera was, of course, in the living room, so I just watched.

As he prepared to leave, he stood on the side of bath and pooped into it. All right then. That explains why the water looked like crap. On the agenda today, replace the water and scrub out the bath.

Beverage:  Huckleberry tea


It Going to be a Long Fall Football Season

College football is back. I've read some of the analyses of my Hawkeyes and they mentioned that defense could be a problem this year. The offense has a bunch of new faces and could also be spotty. Well, that's the whole team right there. Hope, however, springs eternal for the Hawkeye fan.

Yesterday was the annual Iowa-Iowa State contest. I ran my errands to make it back in time for the 11 a.m. kick-off. This is usually a game shown on TV.

Um...flipping channels yielded children's programming, nature shows, the US Open, a discussion of rugby (!) and football game from the SEC, but no Iowa-Iowa State. I remember, with sadness, when you could pretty much count on your team being on free TV at least once or twice during the season. Teams and conferences weren't in the chase for the almighty buck that, let's face it, with the scandals in the NCAA, don't go to the schools or trickle down to the Chemistry or English departments but stay with the coaching staff in the athletic department. You used to want your team on free TV. If you played well, it was a huge recruiting boost. Now, you need to pay to watch them.

But I did find a live stream off ESPN. It was the basics but it told me close to real time, what was happening. I guess that will be my "TV" this year when the powers that be don't deign to put Iowa on national TV. After yesterday's 44-41 loss in overtime to Iowa State, it's going to be a long, painful season to watch anyway. I've got a food bet with my son-in-law on our Big 10 season opener October 8th against Penn State. I best start baking now.

Beverage:  Huckleberry tea


Thursday, September 8, 2011

I Really Didn't Need a Reason But I'll Take One

I noticed over the Labor Day weekend, I am feeling a bit better. The middle fingers on both hands don't hurt as much as they did. I'm having some cramping in my right hand, particularly after a long day of using the computer mouse both at work and at home. My right wrist doesn't hurt in the morning as it used to.

My knees are still bad, however, there is minor improvement there. I actually sat on the side of the bed one morning in August, just sobbing because the thought of the pain of standing up was overwhelming. It still hurts to stand up or sit down. But it doesn't take me as long to get moving, without much pain, as it did. I had to drive to Milwaukee last week and had some problems with pain in the right knee, but otherwise, it's not bad. I can stand on my feet for longer without pain in the knees.

I'm not willing, yet, to chalk this up to the addition of the bracelet. It's possible the bracelet has helped. It's also possible that my rigorous attention to making sure I take the Meloxicam and the glucosamine/chondroitin is also a factor. I also may have simply accepted some pain as part of my life now. But when arthritis treatments, particularly homeopathic or low cost,  come through on the health web sites I read, I stop to take a look. One came through today.

Bee stings. thanks. There's some evidence this might work but still, no.
Snake venom. thanks. Supposedly, there is a product in development to utilize the anti-inflammatory components of snake venom. I'll wait for that, thank you very much.
WD-40. Leave that for creaky wheels and stuck windows not your knees or elbows.
Copper bracelets. This falls under the same thing as my baltic amber. Evidence is strictly annecdotal.
Gin-soaked raisins. Raisins and juniper berries have anti-inflammatory properties about them. You soak golden raisins in gin for a week and then eat 10 every day. I've never liked the taste of gin but I love golden raisins.
Honey and cider vinegar. Take an equal part of each and mix into a glass of warm water. Drink. Although this has not been studied, it's one of the few arthritis remedies that doesn't have a side effect to it.
Skip veggies from the "nightshade" family. This means cutting peppers, tomatoes, eggplant and potatoes from one's diet. That would mean no fries, no "red" sauce in Italian dishes. I don't know.
Ginger and tumeric. These spices have scientific studies behind them to prove they do reduce joint pain and inflammation. I'm going to need to do some research to see how much and the frequency of use.

The best one however was Gelatin. Yup, good old jell-o. Gelatin is, in reality, ground up cartilage and there are limited studies that indicate it may help with joint pain and inflammation. Sugar-free is not an option for me. It will have to be the regular sugared variety. I can't find how much to eat and whether it should be daily.

I'm thinking some tests are in order here.

Beverage:  Edinburgh's Finest tea


Why Does it Always Have to Rain?

Maybe you've seen a news article about this. This weekend, we are going to be able to see a star in the throes of a supernova. It's exciting because this was discovered as the star started to go nova. Astronomers say we usually only see the remnants of the event and not the event itself. Even if we do find a supernova in progress, it's with the big telescopes and we backyard astronomers can't get a look at it. We amateurs will still have to haul out the binoculars or a small telescope to really see it. It's not supposed to be visible to the naked eye.

If you're interested, it's in the constellation UrsaMajor, also known as the Big Dipper. More information can be found in this article which says, "It will appear, blueish-white, just above and to the left of the last two stars in the Big Dipper handle." Mercury runs tandem with Regulus, the brightest star in the constellation, Leo the Lion. They are visible in the early morning. This is a great time to be a star gazer. The super nova is expected to peak between Friday and Monday nights.

It's supposed to rain starting tonight and going through Sunday. (sigh)

Beverage:  Edinburgh's Finest tea


You Say Puh-Tay-Toe...

The Craftzine Blog I follow to the right had an interesting post a couple days ago. They posted a photo of a tee shirt from a company called The Mitten State.

They sell tees about Michigan, in case the "mitten" portion didn't register. (Go look at a map. I'll wait.) They donate proceeds to various charities, too.

The shirt's comment is what struck me. I don't know what I call it. I may use the words interchangeably. I think down South, which would be any place south of the Ohio River and east of the Mississippi River, although your demographics may be different, they call it "Coke" regardless of the color or who makes it. I'm given to understand that even if they serve generic dark colored soda pop, it's called a "Coke".

Every so often, a linguist prints an article about language differences. Usually this is between the US and Great Britain, but someone will take on the differences in what things are called within the US. "Bubbler" is, I think, a Milwaukee term and it's used to describe the water fountain. It's easy to see how the term arose. When you turn it on, water bubbles out of the spigot.

My dad had clear definitions for bucket and pail. Buckets were wooden. Pails were anything else. Dry items were carried in buckets. Liquids in pails. You did not bring a pail of oats for the cattle. You could talk about getting a bucket of water for the pigs but you didn't actually use the bucket to get water. It was the pail. I don't know of any company that makes wooden buckets anymore. Dad would be hard pressed to make his distinctions now days.

All of these language quirks have roots in real life even if we've forgotten what they were. I can see why those of us in the upper Midwest would say it's "pop" and not "soda". If you're of a certain age, you remember soda fountains and the wonderful concoctions you could get there. Fruit sodas involved soda water and flavorings. Some places put a scoop of ice cream in them. If you sat down and ordered a "soda", the guy behind the counter would ask what flavor you wanted. "Pop" was a necessity to define it as the bubbly sugar drink and not the drink that had to be made.

I think the Internet has homogenized language somewhat. A term used in LA will spread to Maine in a matter of weeks. Does this speed and the ability to instantly communicate everywhere destroy what we would call local flavor? I think it has the potential to, if we let it. But I also think, as the tee shirt above shows, people are invested in maintaining what they call things because it gives them a link to their heritage.

And now that we've discussed this, please bring me a Dr Pepper.

Beverage:  Edinburgh's Finest tea


Monday, September 5, 2011

An Impediment to Getting Things Done

It's been the kind of weekend where little tasks set aside for a long time have been done. Sorting, pitching, shredding, sweeping have all been accomplished. I uploaded a bunch of videos of my WOW guild to YouTube with the ultimate aim to get every one of them currently on the computer onto a disc and free up that computer space. While a video uploads, I trot off and do something else.

I wanted to work on the Christmas ornaments. I ran into a problem.

Everything is pinned. You can see it stacked on top of the sewing machine. It's just that someone is asleep and I really can't move her. It's just an unwritten law. Once they are asleep, unless it's cutting off the circulation in my arm, they are in danger of falling if they roll over or I really need that piece of clothing they are sleeping on, they get left alone and I move on to something else. 

Yesterday, that something else was to darn and fix all the socks I had in a pile. I collected the stash, which was up to 2 dozen, dropped them on the recliner and went to check on the latest download. 


Move on to another task, sorting laundry and washing a load. She was gone when I came back upstairs so I finished the socks. The ornaments are still on top of the sewing machine. I'll get to them...sometime...when she's sleeping on her box or in the recliner. 

Beverage:  Edinburgh's Finest tea


Happy Anniversary!

It's been 2 years that we've been a family.
We've gone from hiding in my closets to lying pretty much anywhere. She was yawning but the caption to this photo could be, "MOM! Enough with the photos! I was trying to sleep!" 

Here is Pilchard making sure I know whose recliner this belongs to.
I've decided to put a throw on the seat. You can see the small clumps of black fur on the throw. Once a month, I put a clean one on and wash the current one. Just the price of being owned by a long-haired black cat. 

In honor of the occasion, I got them some Fancy Feast. I am ever so grateful they don't prefer this for food. I had some difficulty getting the pull top open. That was quite a shock. I used to be able to pop the tops right off those, but this arthritis is causing trouble. 
This morning, I divided the 3 ounces of beef and liver into quarters and put the spoonful on a plate for each. They sniffed them for a bit before digging in. Mija ate about half of hers. Pilchard cleaned up her plate, after knocking some off the plate and onto the floor, and then cleaned up what Mija didn't want. There is half a can left so that will be put out at supper. I think I'll save the chicken feast for Thanksgiving. I really don't want them getting used to this. It's way more expensive than the dry and probably higher in calories. They need to lose weight and I'm pretty sure Fancy Feast won't help that. 

It's hard to believe it's been a whole 2 years. Sometimes, it does feel like they just got here and I find myself missing one of the 5 who has gone over the rainbow bridge. But, when I wake up in the morning to a purring cat tucked right up next to me or when I try to read my newspaper and a black face pokes under the paper and meows for my lap, I am ever so grateful they are here. 

We belong together. 

Beverage:  Edinburgh's Finest tea


Probably Not Worth Fixing

Part of this weekend has been spent fixing holes in socks. (More in another post. I know you can't wait.) I really like this pair. I think Carole gave these to me. They are lighter in weight than others and, in the summer, that's perfect. Being lighter in weight, however, means they have worn quite a bit faster than others. I washed these over the weekend and was sorting socks into pairs. Taking a good, long look at them, I honestly don't think I can darn them enough to make them solid. 

I'm sad. It's not like this is my only pair, far from it. I have dozens of socks. I love loud colored or patterned socks and that's a great thing to get me for birthday or Christmas. They all feel like friends so it's hard to add this to the give away bag, for it's like I'm giving away a friend. And yet, friendships come and go. This one has come to the end of its useful life. It gave me an incentive to fix the holes in the socks in the mending pile.

Beverage:  Edinburgh's Finest tea


A Better Use of Resources

I went to Walgreens yesterday to get Valerian. It's a pungent herb that I use as a sleeping aid. It relaxes me and allows me to fall asleep somewhat naturally. The Sominexes of the world give me a weird feeling in my legs that I really don't like. Dominicks didn't have Valerian. They had Melantonin, which, I'm told works in the same fashion, but I like Valerian, so I stopped at Walgreens on the way home.

One item. That's all I got. One item. Look at the length of this receipt. You should end it after the bar code. That's all you really need. The rest of this is garbage. I suppose they do get people calling to take their survey. I suppose it's worth it to them to print all of this, but what a waste of paper! My grocery receipt is not quite as bad but it has a couple inches of crap on the bottom of it that isn't necessary.

(sigh) We talk about saving our resources and we put a great deal of necessary emphasis on conservation of fuel. But add up all the little things, like 4 inches of unnecessary paper on the bottom of a receipt and that's just as important. I'm willing to bet this is NOT recycled paper, either. I recycle it but it's probably a special kind which "they" say can't be of the recycled variety.

Just give me what I bought, the tax, the total and the method I used to pay. Maybe I'm being a curmudgeon here, but every little bit helps the planet.

Beverage:  Edinburgh's Finest tea


Time to Collect My Payment

This morning, I awoke to the second of 2 articles accepted by WOWInsider. What a delightful weekend!

Breakfast Topic: Is a guild leader's age just a number?

Older player with knitting
This Breakfast Topic has been brought to you by Seed, the AOL guest writer program that brings your words to WoW Insider's pages.

The issue of age in WoW has been debated in this column before. Some guilds have age requirements. Some do not. We have discussed whether it matters that the progression raid you find yourself in is led by a 15-year-old or a 25-year-old. For some, it does. Maturity and language are the usual reasons given for age restrictions. For others, if the person does his job, who cares if he is 13 or 33? A 33-year-old can be more immature than a 13-year-old. As this topic has been debated before, that's not what I'm going to explore. What I'm curious about is, does the age of your guild leader matter?

Leading a guild is, I believe, first and foremost, a labor of love. Essentially, you get very few thanks and an awful lot of "waaaaah." It's not unlike being the leader of a small country. No one thanks you for spending four hours putting together a schedule for the month, but they are quick to complain when the right complement of people doesn't log on, so a raid has to be postponed. You find yourself dealing with inappropriate behavior from all levels. You have to call people on the carpet for something they are or are not doing. They pitch a fit and leave in the most drama-provoking manner they can. You look at what you, personally, would like to do and schedule one event to, say, get that last Burning Crusade raid done for the meta -- only no one shows up. There are all sorts of people online, but they are off doing their own thing. Three days later, someone says, "Hey, how come we never run X?" ... which just happens to be the raid you wanted to run. Bang your head on the desk much?

Scott's Officers' Quarters column has been an invaluable resource for me as I lead my guild. I've learned, over the 3+ years I've done this, that some things I feel passionately about don't matter at all. Some things I couldn't care less about have eight people wanting. I'm the guild mom, the confidante, the ego-builder and the cheerleader. I don't remember seeing all those things listed on that charter I bought.

I am the oldest player in my guild. I have kids in my guild who could be considered grandchildren to me. Most hover around the age of what would be my children. It can be hard, sometimes, to see them as peers, particularly when they are doing stuff that is the product of that youth. But I wonder, does it matter when leading a guild, if someone is older? If someone has a vision and is determined to find like-minded people to fulfill the vision of his or her guild, does the fact that they are 22 and a senior in college matter if you are 42 with teenagers still at home? Do you ever wonder if the guild leader has to negotiate with Mom for more time to finish the raid or if the guild leader is the mom, telling the kids to get lost until the raid is over?

I don't think being older grants you a certain wisdom of the ages. I've done some dumb stuff as guild leader. I'm curious what those who join guilds think. Does the age of your guild leader matter to you? Why or why not?

Saturday, September 3, 2011

A Good Start to the Weekend

I was totally amazed this morning when I logged into WOWInsider.

Breakfast Topic: Home movies

This Breakfast Topic has been brought to you by Seed, the AOL guest writer program that brings your words to WoW Insider's pages.

I am a screenshot addict. Right now, there are over 2,000 screenshots to upload to our guild web site, which has close to 1,000 screen shots already uploaded. I've screenshot pretty much anything that moves and some things that haven't. And then there are the movies. I didn't discover my Mac's ability to make acceptable movies until my guild had been around for over a year. The early movies were grainy, but they documented some of the events we did.

After some study and tweaking, I've gotten better quality movies where you can actually see who the people are in the raid. I'm still figuring out the sound issue, so some movies don't have sound. I've made a movie about everything from helping guild members with Tethyr, to our Onyxia raids, to our wiping on KT in Naxx, to some of our more, shall we say, colorful events.

I decided my task over the next few weeks would be to upload the 84 videos I have stored on my computer and get them onto the guild web site. The 66 I have already uploaded have sparked a lot of comments of "Oh yeah! I remember that!" and identifications of who some people are in videos. These also serve as a visual history of how the game has changed from the end of The Burning Crusade through Wrath and into Cataclysm. I spent the day before the Cataclysm, Nov. 22, 2010, filming every Alliance flight path in the old world. When I looked at those to identify them -- wow, the world has changed so much. I look back at the gear my character was wearing in the movies. "Oh yeah. I hated those shoulders!" And I really miss the Arena axe from Season 3. I never should have deleted it. The movies are a history of where we've been.

Does your guild make movies of the things you do? Do you have someone who puts together polished movies with titles and comments and snappy music? Or do you have someone like me who pushes a couple of key codes and films what's on the screen? How far back do your movies go?

I just sent this in on, I think, Wednesday. There are two more articles I submitted to them. I was not expecting to be chosen quite so quickly because the deadline is the 27th. It's only $10, but I'm thrilled. It's also huge publicity for my guild and the things we do. Can't beat that. 

Now to upload more videos.

Beverage:  Scottish Blend tea


Friday, September 2, 2011

A New "Simon's Cat".

The last one was in June. I can related to this. I sometimes see Pilchard in Simon's cat, a large cat with a bushy tail.

Beverage:  Coke


Thursday, September 1, 2011

Maybe It's Akin to Voodoo

Mornings are the worst and I mean really bad. I take the Meloxicam at night in the hopes that the drug will be in my system and working to ease the pain of getting out of bed. Some days are worse than others, but I still sit on the edge of the bed dreading the need to stand up and get going. By evening, it's not so bad and I'm not exactly sure why.

I don't feel that a great deal of progress beyond last month's assessment has been made. I was trying to resign myself to always having some pain when I remembered a post in the blog, "Smile and Wave", which is to the right. It was back in July and the blog author talked about how she and her husband were using an amber teething necklace on their daughter. They were positively sold that the necklace was helping her get through this difficult time. I had never head of this before. July was a painful month, although it could be said that all the months are painful, just in varying degrees.

So, I did some reading. As we all know, the Internet can be the source of great information or it can pull you so far down the rabbit hole, you'll never get out. I read everything I could find about amber, but not just any amber, it has to be "Baltic" Amber.

This kind of amber has succinic acid in high quantity. This is an anti-oxidant that helps the body's immune system repair. The use of amber for medicine can be traced back to Hippocrates. Much of the information on baltic amber's ability to help people in pain is, what would be termed, 'anecdotal' with no true studies anywhere, that I could find. Nevertheless, the evidence that I did find from a variety of sources lead me to believe it was something I wanted to try.

Last weekend, I spent a great deal of time looking over the offerings in the myriad of web sites with baltic amber available. The site referenced in the "Smile and Wave" post was offline or I probably would have made my purchase there. My search led me to Baltic Creations.

Their web site is in sad need of a major overhaul. 'Garish' doesn't quite cover it. It's a bit tricky to navigate but once I figured it out, I could compare prices on pieces. You can find amber jewelry in the $1,000 price range, but it's guaranteed NOT to be of the medicinal version. Plus, in order to be of any good to you, the amber has to touch your skin. That's not going to happen with a chunk set in platinum. The information I read recommended, for arthritis, a bracelet was sufficient. So, I chose one because it looked cool online. It arrived today.

I like the multi-colored stones. A couple sites said the more milky and light colored stones are higher in succinic acid than the dark ones but as long as it's all baltic amber, it's good. 

I cannot get this wet. If I care to, I can polish the stones with a bit of olive oil on a flannel rag. I need to make a flannel or velvet bag to keep this in when I'm not wearing it but I need to wear it all the time, except in the shower. That means at night, which will take some getting used to. 

It's the first of September. It seems appropriate to start a new treatment on the first of the month. This was $16 with no shipping costs. The beads are strung on a heavy duty elastic cord so it fits snug but not too snug. 

I'm not looking for pain free living. I believe I am always going to be living with some aches. If this helps me get up in the morning, then it will be $16 well spent. If it doesn't work, it's still pretty. I'm told to give it at least 2 months. Heck, I can do that. I've been tolerating this since April. What's another 2 months. 

Have any of my readers had experience with amber and healing? I'm interested to know your story. 

Beverage:  Root Beer