Saturday, November 30, 2013


I have a scarf and a half left to go and I'm officially done for this year. I have thoroughly enjoyed this year-long crochet project and am casting my eye about for what I will do next year. I've already decided to finish the stack of magazines on the ottoman and then we'll look at whether it will be crochet or cross-stitch that we jump into head first with January 2014.

Football is great for crafting. I can have it on but I don't have to give it my attention, unlike a movie. I get quite a bit crocheted while I am "watching" a football game.

Yesterday was the last regular season football game for Iowa. Now we wait a couple weeks to find out which bowl game wants to give us a bazillion dollars to have the Hawkeye faithful come, en masse, and pump billions into the local economy. It's well-known that when you invite Iowa to a bowl game, the fans come too, lots of fans, lots and lots of fans. We're kind of nutty that way.

Anyway, we played Nebraska. In the past two years, it's not been much of a game. I've been able to watch it on TV, but have been slightly embarrassed by Iowa's lack of competitiveness. Plus, I think this is a manufactured rivalry. If it was Iowa State and Nebraska, yeah. They were in the Big 12 conference together for decades. But then Nebraska came to the Big 10 and the powers that be needed something to hype. They came up with a trophy they had the fans name. It's called the "Hero Trophy". Maybe, in 50 years, it will mean something, but right now, it's a silver football on a pedestal. Sorry Big 10. It has no flavor of "Floyd of Rosedale". All it represents is the last game of the year for both teams.

For me, it was a chance to watch the Hawkeyes on TV, something that's rare around here unless I get cable. I put my feet up in the recliner, pulled my current scarf project into my lap and worked on that. But it's kind of hard to be devoted solely to the game or to the project at hand when you get a seat mate.

All I have to do is put my hand on the recliner and she flops down on top of it to get chin and ear scratches. You can't hear the loud purring. She is one contented cat.

Pilchard sat in my lap for a time, but Iowa played a stellar game. After the third or fourth cheer from me, which frightened both of them, Pilchard got off the lap and went to the footrest.

She stayed there through the rest of the game. Mija would startle and run away, coming back when I called to her. But, by the end of the first half, she decided I was way too noisy for her liking. She spent the rest of the game on my bed. Iowa wound up beating Nebraska soundly and I got most of the next to last scarf done.

Now, tomorrow, I will select a game, pick up my crochet hook and work on finishing this current scarf so I can start on the last one to be completed. I probably won't know the score of tomorrow's game because I have it on strictly for the background noise. As much as I don't care about pro football, it does have the one use as noise for crocheting.

Beverage:  Berry flavored seltzer


Small Business Saturday

I think we should look with huge skepticism whenever a company, particularly a credit card company, encourages us to spend money. Even under the guise of "X% of the proceeds will go to fighting toenail fungus", I tend to think the overall goal is to part me from money I don't have and make me want things I don't need. But then American Express came out with this "Small Business Saturday" idea. You know, it's a great idea.

If you haven't a clue what it's all about, and admittedly, I should have blogged about this a week ago, but I've been preoccupied with other blog posts, American Express came up with this idea to promote the small businesses that form the backbone of the local economy. It's not the Walmarts or the JC Penneys or the Jewel grocery stores that pump money back into the community. It's the yarn shop, the tea house, the bookstore with square footage equal to my house who keep their profits in the community. So, I decided that the few places I still needed to frequent would be as local as I could make them and would be on Saturday.

One of the great things about living in the Chicagoland area is the wealth of small downtowns with a wide variety of offerings. I went into downtown Glen Ellyn after getting my hair cut today.

Antique stores, children's clothing and toys, stationary, framing, women's specialty clothing, bakery, shoe repair and my favorite bookstore on the planet, Just the Bookstore. I could be a bit biased since I used to work there but the personalized service you get from Jane, Sue, Linda, Jenny and Renee cannot be beat. It's time to replace the calendars in the house so they ordered 4 of the 5 I usually get. The other one they can't get so I'll have to order it on Cyber Monday. There was a book I'd read about which they just happened to get in the day I called about the calendars. "Oh Deb, we have this book that, when it was announced, we all said, 'That's a book for Deb'." Yeah, yes it is. I'd actually seen it but hadn't ordered it, yet.

Buying locally makes me feel good. Could I get those books and the calendars for less somewhere else? Oh yeah, but when I walk in the store and they ask about my daughter, hand me something they think I might like, show off grandchildren photos and discuss where the kids are that our kids grew up with, it's family. I wound up having to go to Target because I couldn't find something that I wanted and the staff seemed more friendly than I remembered. It wasn't nearly as hectic as I expected today to be. Maybe that's why Target employees were happy.

Small businesses are easily swallowed up by the Targets, the Walmarts, the Costcos. Every time you walk into one of those anywhere in the US, you know the shampoo will be over to the right, the printer paper will be off to the center and pet food tucked in the left corner. But you won't have someone asking how the girls are doing, I can guarantee that.

So, I did my part today. I actually don't need a reason to shop locally and far prefer it, although, with some things, there are just limited options. If you're going to be a consumer, try to shop local. You win. Your shopkeeper wins. Your community wins.

This is the point where I should plug the written word. Give a book. Go to your local bookstore and see what they have for Christmas. Give a classic. Give something new. If you're not going to crochet scarves for everyone on your list, give a book. In fact, if you email Just the Bookstore, they will ship anywhere in the US. I'm thinking I should go back and get that cookie making kit that's in the center of the display. I know a family who would love that.

Beverage:  Berry-flavored seltzer


Ho Ho No

With the holiday season, come more reasons to stay away from the candy aisle.

If you know anything about the Hershey, M&M/Mars rivalry you know that what one does, the other is not far behind in providing their twist on it. There was an excellent book put out some 20 years ago, I think, which detailed how the founders of Hershey and Mars went about purloining each others ideas. I don't remember the name of it but it was a very interesting read.

So M&Ms has the pumpkin and the white chocolate candy corn M&Ms. No on both ideas. I probably shouldn't have been surprised to find the pumpkin spice Kisses. Sigh. While they are slightly less objectionable than the pumpkin M&Ms, you really have to like pumpkin to like these. Again, no, and stop already. I just want to smack both their board rooms upside the head. Do what you do best and stop experimenting. Rotten ideas will make the well-known brands lose market share.

I know the wildlife will eat anything so I'm going to spend time unwrapping these and will toss them into the back yard. At least they don't make my kitchen stink like the candy corn M&Ms did.

I found these today.

This might not be that objectionable. I'm not a fan of peppermint and even less so when it's stuck in my chocolate, but I have a friend who is. This is one of her Christmas presents. She'll have to let me know how these taste. I wonder if they compare to York Peppermint Patties. If nothing else, they would look really cute in a Christmas candy dish.

Beverage:  Berry flavored seltzer


Thursday, November 28, 2013

Everybody Sing!

Happy Birthday to my fantastic daughter!

Beverage:  Hot Cocoa


Happy Thanksgiving

I posted this over on House Panthers, the black cat blog to which I contribute once a week. In case you don't pop over there, I'm reproducing it, with some addendums.

For these things, I am grateful.


I don't like people food. Mom can have that, except, oh man, when she brings home deli sliced turkey...

I'm thankful for food they aren't interested in.

My sister...

even if we do sit at opposite ends of the recliner.

My family, even if we're all over the Midwest and rarely get to see each other.


I'm grateful for the stuff that comes in boxes. 

Windows, where I can look out but not be out.

Ditto, especially when being out would not be pleasant. 

Places to scratch.

A place to sit with my feet up...

and a cat in my lap or next to me.

Warm places to sleep...

and peaceful places to relax. 

Best of all. I am thankful I have a home with a mom who loves me and my sister.

I wish all kittehs could sit in someone's lap and get chin scratches this Thanksgiving. Some day. Some day.

I'm grateful and thankful for friends and family who have been with me through thick and thin.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Pilchard, Mija and Deb

Beverage:  hot cocoa

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

What's This?

We met snow, I think for the first time last night. I kept the back door open when I came home and then called to them. Mija came first.

Ears pitched forward, it took her a couple of minutes to set foot outside the back door. She got that one paw in the snow and then you could just see the wheels in her head turning. "Oh gosh! This is wet and cold!" She couldn't get back into the house fast enough.

I had to call Pilchard several times to come out. But when she committed to coming outside to be with me, she committed.

She came over to the stairs where I was standing, but I couldn't get a clear shot of a black cat against a white background. When I took a step up to get a better angle, she bolted back inside. Some day, I'll get that shot.

I'm fairly certain this was their first experience with snow. Val had an apartment without a deck so they would have just seen it but not been out in it. The cats that have gone over the Rainbow Bridge didn't mind the snow at all and would willingly go out onto the deck. In fact, we had to watch if it was a foot deep or more as they were fearless to see what was beyond that ridge over their heads. More than one time, we'd watch a cat jump into the snow, only to have to rescue them because it was over their heads. I won't have that problem with these two.

We have experienced snow. We were only too happy to come back inside and curl up with mom in the recliner. Wonder what scents they were picking up. Does snow have a smell?

Beverage:  Darjeeling tea



It brings me great happiness to walk out of the house on the way to work and see I've had visitors. After the first snow, I think I had a raccoon come by.

I make that assumption based on the footprints by the birdbath. The longer ones are, I think, the rear feet.

I started putting out peanuts on Sunday. With the cold now settling in, I felt it was time to start supplementing the diet of the backyard denizens. Plus, when I put the peanuts on the deck railing, it's cheap entertainment for the cats.

We got another inch of snow yesterday. This morning, when I left for work, there were a lot of footprints, all squirrel.

I watched, on Sunday, as a squirrel came up to the frozen water in the birdbath and gnawed at it. You can buy birdbath heaters but I don't have an outlet on this side of the house. The dark green of the birdbath will help thaw it in the winter when the sun reaches it. I'm thinking of moving it away from that south rail so it gets more sun. I also need to get more peanuts this weekend. The squirrels were thrilled they were back.

Beverage:  Darjeeling tea


Bring It

Okay winter, you gave us a taste on the 11th.

It was a wet, sloppy taste, but a taste nonetheless. (Nevermind that, one week later, we were cleaning up tornado damage.) I am ready for you now. I have new boots.

It took awhile to find these. If you go to department or specialty stores or even Payless web sites and type in "winter boots", you get these things with heels or suede or leather. I want snow boots. I don't want ski boots. Just find me a pair of boots I can pull on when we get 6 inches of snow, something that will keep my feet warm and not cost me both arms and part of a leg. ($185! Really?)

They tend to be the butt of jokes now and analysts have been predicting their demise for a couple years now, but I found these at JC Penney. (This link goes directly to the boots.) Over Veteran's Day weekend, there was a giant sale. Penneys sent me a percentage off coupon in honor of my birthday so I decided that a new purse and new boots were in order. The purse I got, on sale for dirt cheap when the other one failed, just wasn't working and with winter heading our way, I needed something decent. The store had boots, but not in my size. However, I was able to actually see these boots, examine the craftsmanship and decide that, yes, I wanted these.

Head to the web site. I also had a coupon for a percentage off my next online purchase. You can see from the link, these are not on sale. With my coupon, they were. They are wonderful. I got them in a wide width so I can wear a second pair of socks if I find myself shoveling this again.

I think these would be a great value even if I hadn't had a coupon. They sit by the back door, waiting.

And here is the new purse.

This is what I was looking for. On the left is the cell phone pocket. On the right is the pocket for the camera. I have pockets on the inside, too. Everything is stowed and the wallet fits neatly inside. The straps are the right length to keep the purse tucked under my arm. It all zips closed so no moisture can get inside. Best of all, when I set it down, it stays reasonably upright. It technically wasn't on sale and, given it's original price, I might not have purchased it, but with the coupon, it was a deal. As I was transferring items from one purse to the next, I discovered the lining in the $20 purse had started to tear. I would have needed to replace it anyway come spring. It went in the give away bag.

So, old man winter, I am ready for you. New coat, which is incredibly warm, new boots, new purse. Bring it. I'm ready.

Beverage:  Darjeeling tea



I have to share now.

As usual, when I have something, she wants to know what it is. Usually, she turns up her nose at it, unless it's deli turkey. Oh my. They both love deli turkey. For a treat, I got a quart of Oberweis Dulce de Leche ice cream. This is vanilla ice cream swirled with caramel. Mija kept standing on my right arm wanting to see into the bowl. I figured she wouldn't be thrilled with the caramel. I was wrong.

Maybe it's the vanilla. I can't see that cats would like caramel, but who knows.

Beverage:  Darjeeling tea


Friday, November 22, 2013

50 Years

I don't remember. As the month has creeped towards this date, I have tried to remember anything other than the few scraps that run through my mind. I have nothing.

I was in first grade. In 4 days, it would be my 7th birthday. In 6 days, it would be Thanksgiving. There was much to be excited about.

He would be shot at 12:30 and pronounced dead 30 minutes later. The school day began, I think, around 8:30, with lunch being taken in staggered shifts starting at 11:00. We got out at 3:00 p.m. and, because I lived on a farm, had to find my school bus to take me home. I don't remember any announcement and, if there was one, would I have understood what was being said?

I do remember getting out of school early that day. It was chilly and overcast. At that time, girls had to wear dresses or skirts to school. Boys, even farm boys, were not allowed to wear jeans. I have a memory of a red and blue plaid dress, a brand new dress, sent to me by my grandmother for me to wear before my birthday. I think I was wearing it that day. That's the impression I have.

I remember stone-faced adults helping us onto our busses for an early ride home. I remember, vaguely, a stone-faced bus driver, a normally jovial fellow, not saying, "Hello" as he usually did when we got on the bus. I'm sure the behavior change was unnoticed by me.

I have no recollection of my parents' reaction when I arrived home. I remember being angry the next day, because the usual Saturday morning cartoons, which my brother and I were allowed to watch in our pajamas while eating a bowl of cereal in the living room, were pre-empted for some stuff. There were all these talking heads, all these men, in hushed, deliberate tones, talking about something bad happening. What it was, I didn't know. I am very certain the television would have been on when Jack Ruby assassinated Lee Harvey Oswald. I have no memory of seeing it. Perhaps we weren't allowed to watch TV that day. Most likely, we didn't care about the talking heads and went elsewhere to eat breakfast and to play. My sister was almost 10 months old, too, and probably crawling all over. If my parents wept over this, they didn't do it in front of us.

I have a vague memory of a funeral cortege, the black horses and the men without hats following solemnly behind it, walking for a long ways. There is a memory of an image of a flag-draped coffin. I see the video of John saluting his father's coffin and I do remember seeing that. I don't know if we had school the next week. Perhaps it was cancelled on Monday, as that was the day of the funeral and this new medium, television, was going to bring that event into people's homes. I don't remember school the day before Thanksgiving so that would have left just Tuesday for classes. My feeling is that we didn't go to school until the following week.

I also don't have any memory of my birthday or Thanksgiving of that year. Did we celebrate either event or did the trauma of the assassination of a president, something we were suddenly privy to, diminish all degree of happiness? I don't remember.

I think Oswald acted alone. I do not think there was a second shooter. Leaders of countries tend to be targets for people who want to make a name of themselves or who assign blame for the ills of their life or who think they will bring about whatever change they have latched onto. There tends to be a mental instability about the person doing the plotting. Although John Wilkes Booth had a small group of like-minded people supporting him, he was not a part of a grand, over-arching plot to destabilize and change the government. I think the same is true of Oswald.

I also think we like to wrap our heads around the idea of a conspiracy because one man, acting on his own thoughts, couldn't plan this, couldn't execute it. We had a young man with a beautiful wife, two delightful children, and a glamor that equaled any royalty anywhere else. Never mind the rumors of infidelity. Never mind the wheeling and dealing. Never mind bringing the world to the brink of nuclear war. We liked the outward sheen. To have that so violently taken from us by one man, we can't get our heads around it.

Was Oswald influenced by things? Of course he was, just as any person is. His beliefs governed his actions. He probably blamed President Kennedy for some ill we don't know of, real or imaginary. I don't think he was coerced or directed by someone else to fire those shots, nor do I think there was anyone other than him with a gun aimed at the president. In his mind, removing Kennedy was the only rational step to take. I find the conspiracy theories interesting and we should always question what we know, but we should also accept that we will never, ever know, for sure, why. The answer to that question died on November 23rd when Jack Ruby shot Oswald.

We changed that day, all of us. There's a before November 22, 1963 and an after. Nine presidents prior to Kennedy had attempts made on their life. Three of those attempts were successful. The events surrounding these attempts were covered extensively, but we didn't see them unfold before us. We read about it the next day or, in the middle of the last century, heard about it on the radio. Here, we saw things as they were happening. The immediacy of this television medium allowed us to be angry together, to grieve together. For a few days, 50 years ago, we were united in a way we'd never been before. Kennedy's death was, I believe, the start of our desire to know and for media to bring everything to us. That is the biggest change.

Beverage:  Irish Breakfast tea


Thursday, November 21, 2013

Noshing News

When I'm playing World of Warcraft, that's when I want to nosh. I don't do it when I sit in front of the TV. My hands are usually otherwise occupied. I'm cross-stitching, crocheting or petting a cat. Something about sitting down at the front of my computer with a beverage brings out the nosh monster. For one's health, however, this is not the best thing. That's why I tend not to have a lot of noshing foods in the house. I will eat them, all of them, in a couple sittings. Not good.

I sent a friend some candy goodies for her birthday. She should be receiving the parcel today. I filled a rather silly container with her favorite and some other silly things, but I overestimated just how big the container was. The Runts I bought wouldn't fit.

They have turned up next to the computer. Added to them were the rest of the Reese's Pieces that didn't fit in the container. The nice thing about Runts is that I can't eat a lot of them in a sitting. The Reese's Pieces look a lot like the Runts so I'm not eating them by the handfuls. This is a satisfying mix to nosh on while playing the game.

I saw these on the web site, some time ago.

I can get lost in those pages for hours. This probably doesn't look like anything spectacular but here these are out of the foil liners.

If you know gaming, you will recognize these shapes as being the dice commonly used in Dungeons and Dragons or other tabletop pen and paper fantasy games. I got Carole a set and, well, had to have one for myself, naturally. They are made out of dark chocolate, 60% dark Ghirardelli Chocolate, no less. This is the ultimate in noshing.

The problem is that, as much of a chocoholic as I am, 60% dark chocolate, while good for me, is rich and I don't sit down and consume that wantonly. I've eaten the 4 sided die and it took me a couple sittings to do it. It's good, oh it's good, but these really aren't the "pop in your mouth" kind of dark chocolate one consumes when one is playing a game.

I discovered something else I would nosh a whole bag of, which also isn't a good thing.

Oh my gosh are these good. They are expensive; notice the package contains only 8 rolls. But fresh from the oven with a teaspoon of butter, they are heavenly. I can't keep these in the house. I'd make the whole package and that's all I'd eat some weekend. If you have more restraint than I, they get a huge thumbs up. I need to try them hot from the oven with jam, although that's not something I can eat in front of the computer. I did eat the last 3 rolls in the package while playing the game. I'm also willing to bet that they will be in scarce supply on Wednesday night next week.

Yesterday, noshers of the world rejoiced, just a little. There was a report, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, which stated that people eating a handful of nuts daily had a 20% reduction in heart disease, cancer and type 2 diabetes. That's a significant reduction. It didn't matter the kind of nuts, either. One handful, once a day, was enough to lower risk. Nuts are almost the perfect noshing food, but they are high in calories so must be consumed in a small amount. A "handful" translates into an ounce or 1/4 cup. If you actually measure 1/4 cup of peanuts, it looks like a lot and if you eat them one at a time, you can make them last a long time.

My friends know me quite well. Several of them sent me a link to the news reports of the study along with the comment, "The nuts you eat should be plain, not contained in the middle of M&M's."

Dang. There's always a catch, isn't there?

Beverage:  Huckleberry tea


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

"Rubber duckie, you're the one"

If you're a certain age or have kids who watched "Sesame Street", you probably know this song by heart. No, I'm not sorry for giving you an earworm. This is much better than some I could reference.

Why this? Well, I'm not sure where my brain was meandering when rubber ducks popped into my head as Christmas presents. You all know that feeling. You're trying to think of something and your brain would rather meander down some mental road you've not been in years. I needed a cheap, silly present for a friend and my brain said, "Rubber duck". He's got some young children so it's the perfect idea.

Searching for "rubber duck" on the Internet yields thousands of hits. Some places had a minimum quantity. I don't need a dozen rubber ducks. I need one for my friend, maybe two, if a very small quantity is allowed. Almost defeated, I scanned the page of places that sell rubber ducks and there was one company, off to the side, whose name seemed to say it all; I wound up spending 90 minutes poking about in all the offerings. Man, if they don't have the duck you want, it hasn't been created yet.

My order came really fast. That's a construction duck in the middle. I hated to buy just one duck, although I could have. They had a package of 4 Christmas ducks and I have four great nieces and nephews. Sold. I don't know who will get which duck. These don't squeak but they do float. Extremely inexpensive, too. I'm impressed with the construction of the duck and the deep colors. It's not paint. It's colored plastic. I'm fairly confident these will hold up for awhile.

So now I'm thinking more people on my Christmas list need rubber ducks. Even if you never take a bath, preferring to shower, Ernie is right. "You make bath time lots of fun."

Beverage:  Berry flavored seltzer


"We are such stuff as dreams are made on and our little life is rounded with a sleep."

"To sleep, perchance to dream."

A good night's sleep to someone with RA can, sometimes, be an illusion. I have struggled, in the last 3 years, to find a good night's sleep. It didn't help that the mattress and box springs were old. Consumer Reports recommends you replace the mattress every 10 years. Well, um, yes. That's nice. There are so many kinds and brands out there that you can be overwhelmed trying to decide what to buy and the prices match that confusion.

I felt that a new mattress and box springs would help me handle my RA. Dr. Francis agreed, but warned that the usual 2-5 days of getting used to a new mattress will be longer for me. I just needed to remember that. So, I set up a mattress fund with the target of getting a new one Veteran's Day weekend. Why then? Because that's the weekend for mattress sales. There's probably some reason lost to the mists of time, but the best deals on mattresses is Veteran's Day.

The week before, I spent hours perusing every sale flyer I could find. I had no idea what brand I wanted. I had a budget and I wanted the box springs so the price had to include the set, sales tax and delivery. I eliminated anyone who would not set the thing up for me or haul the old set at least as far as the curb for free. It does me no good to have someone drop them off at the front door if I have to do the rest. I can't.

After a week of reading and rereading and searching through ads, I settled on Bedding Experts. First of all, everything that seemed to meet my needs was at or below my target price. Secondly, there is a store in Wheaton. Lastly, they haul away the old mattress and box springs. Although it would have cost me just one garbage sticker per piece, they recycle old mattresses and box springs so nothing goes to a landfill. That's worth it to me. Sunday, November 10th, I bought a new set and scheduled delivery for the 15th. I took the day off to make sure all the furniture was moved, the floors swept and the bedroom made ready.

The girls knew something was up.

When I change the sheets, I use lavender linen spray on the mattress and the sheets. Lavender promotes relaxation and a restful sleep. I rolled up the mattress pad I have had on this bed for at least 2 years and set it aside. I received it from a friend who was replacing it. Given it's age, I'm going to just toss it. The delivery people wouldn't take the pad.

That was the first sign that something was up. My moving out some of the things I have in the bedroom was another clue. No sheets on the old mattress was yet another clue. I swept the bedroom and living room floors. The final clue something was up was when I moved the love seat recliners away from the wall directly adjacent to the front door.

It's so funny when I move furniture. Cats gravitate immediately to the now open spot. "OOOH. Look at the floor!" But, it looks like any other part of the living room floor. When I do the monthly thorough sweeping, the one where I move their boxes and the rugs and the chairs and the other furniture to sweep around and under and behind, they have to check out the newly opened space.

At 1:15 p.m., the delivery men were here. I marveled at how one guy lifted the mattress onto a shoulder and carried it to my front door. The girls fled with the footfalls on the front steps and the unknown people in the house moving things around. It took about a half hour to bring in, move out and set everything up.

My new set. This is a Sealy Posturepedic.

The big question is how am I sleeping?

Dr. Francis was right. (She should be, but sometimes you think you know more than they do, but I digress.) I am slowly adjusting. This set is taller than the old set. That is wonderful. Instead of getting down into bed, I bend my knees and slide across.

Mornings are always, always, rough for RA sufferers. Doctors don't know why. We seem to have the most pain in the mornings. Because this is new, I'm feeling that pain. I needed to use a cane to stand up Saturday through Monday. Tuesday was just sore. This was in my lower back. Today, there was no pain in my lower back until I sat down for breakfast.

Friday night was rough. I don't think I got more than 2 hours straight at any given time. I tossed and turned. The tossing and turning has eased. Last night, once I fell asleep, I stayed asleep until morning. I still toss and turn to fall asleep as I have not adjusted to the bed yet, but it's better. I'm thinking by Thanksgiving, I will be used to this and will find a quality of sleep I have not enjoyed in years.

I spent a decent sum on this. However, this is for my health. Once I have adjusted, I will be very happy and I think it will improve my RA.

The girls have adjusted happily to the new bed. They didn't seem to have any problems falling asleep on it right away. Oh to be a cat and able to sleep pretty much anywhere.

Beverage:  Huckleberry tea


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

150 Years

Today is the 150th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's "Gettysburg Address". Two hundred and seventy-two words were all that was needed to consecrate the ground under which so many Union soldiers were buried.

Filmmaker Ken Burns, whose seminal series "The Civil War" not only defined the documentary genre, but also helped reexamine the causes of that war and how far we have or have not come from it, has added another project to his vast stable of projects. It's called "Learn the Address". On the web site,, you find the stated purpose of this project.

To celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address, documentarian Ken Burns, along with numerous partners, has launched a national effort to encourage everyone in America to video record themselves reading or reciting the speech.The collection of recordings housed on this site will continue to grow as more and more people are inspired by the power of history and take the challenge to LEARN THE ADDRESS.

There are also a number of people shown reading or reciting the address. You can click on their portrait to listen and watch. I hope, eventually, the faces rotate from the current batch of public figures to include members of the general public, the "John Smiths" and "Mary Wilsons" of the country; every age and every ethnicity; reciting or reading this address.

I have a lot of things stuffed into my head. This morning I tried to remember to bring a couple boxes to the Jeep which need to be mailed. I started the Jeep and commenced scraping the windshield and then remembered that I'd told myself to remember the boxes. Some days, I fear what I had before is not what I have now. I also remember, back in college, two of my professors required memorization of texts studied in class. They said memorizing something then would stick with me for the rest of my life. I do remember the lines I memorized from "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, but I don't remember all of the eulogy of Julius Caesar spoken by Marc Antony in "Julius Caesar" by Shakespeare. In case you don't know to what I'm referring, it's the "Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears. I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him," speech.

When I mentioned to my doctor that I feared something was awry with my memory, he said nothing is wrong. I'm just trying to remember way too much. He said that although those of us who went to college think of it as being the height of needing to remember things, that is not the case. As we age, there are more things we are tasked with remembering. While that keeps our brains from atrophying, if we don't have tricks to remember things, such an mnemonics, the reason we went to the grocery store is lost.

I think about the visit Carole and I made to Gettysburg. We went to the cemetery on our second day. It was a beautiful June morning.

The Soldier's National Monument is at the center of the cemetery. This ground is quiet. It's like everyone who was there, and there were a number of people walking about, knew it was hallowed ground. The noise from the surrounding roads just seems dampened. This monument, it should be noted, is not at the location of the dais on which Lincoln spoke. That exact location has been the subject of discussion.

I've decided to try to memorize the address. We all learned "Four score and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation; conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal." Beyond that, we often quote the ending lines, "...that government of the people, by the people, and for the people shall not perish from this earth." In between are 224 words that need to be memorized.

I didn't realize, until reading up on Ken Burns' project, that there are five versions of the speech. They differ a bit in language but the differences are minor. I have decided to memorize what's called the "Bliss Copy". It is the version reprinted the most; the only copy signed and dated by Lincoln himself; and is version on the walls of the Lincoln Memorial.

I urge you to consider committing this to memory. Will it change the world? Possibly not. I have come to believe that government is not, "of the people, by the people and for the people".  Lincoln himself was a product of Republican behind closed doors deal making in order to get nominated for President. I think he was looking idealistically at what could happen once the war was over, in spite of his not being the President "of the people" in the South.

Yet, who knows. Maybe if we commit this to memory, 272 words will remind us that all people are created equal and that government is for us. It can't hurt. Plus, stretching one's mind to memorize something is a good way to keep it healthy.

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. 

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. 

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. 

The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth. 

Abraham Lincoln
November 19, 1863
Beverage:  Darjeeling Tea


Monday, November 18, 2013

We're Okay

To say there was "a little weather" in Chicagoland yesterday is a profound understatement. When I went to bed on Saturday night, I was aware we were to have rain, potentially heavy, on Sunday. Around midnight, the weather service changed our "moderate" risk to "high risk" of damaging winds and hail, heavy rains and the potential for tornadoes. I didn't hear any of that.

Sunday, I decided to bring in the deck chairs, finally. I opened the back door and, whoa. The temperatures were hovering around 70 degrees, in mid-November, in Chicagoland. It was so nice, I decided to bring in a chair and then grab my next scarf project and sit on the deck. The sky was heavily overcast so I knew any enjoyment of the mild air would be fleeting.

By the time I collected the next skein of yarn and made it to the back door, it was raining. It was a spotty shower but contained lightning and thunder. I logged onto the computer to check the weather. It was 11:45. The first tornado of the day had hit Washington, Illinois, a suburb of Peoria, a good 2 hour drive south of me.

Concerned, because there was a tornado watch issued for me, I turned on the television. NBC, Channel 5, came up since I'd watched them the last time I'd watched TV. They had graphics and drawings and 3D models. They had been on the air; on the air; since 10:30 a.m. watching this storm. They had red and orange and purple and yellow images. I haven't seen that much of those colors since the psychedelic 1960's. They had charts and arrows and models showing tornadic rotation, all of it heading toward Chicago. I watched, sitting snugly in my recliner. At 12:10, NBC announced another tornado, spawned from the same cell that had passed over Washington, Illinois, was on the ground south of Chicago. It was moving north northeast. The storm track took it well south of Wheaton.

At 12:15, a large cell of this storm line passed over me and started pouring rain. You couldn't see across the street. The lightning was nearly constant for about 5 minutes and the wind made all the trees in the yard groan. But, as quickly as it hit, it passed.

That's what was quite amazing to me, how fast this whole system blasted through Chicagoland. It was moving at 55 to 60 miles per hour.

I turned to Channel 2, CBS, to check on the Bears' football game. There was nothing going on at Soldier Field other than the Baltimore Ravens were leading, 20 minutes into the game, 10 to nothing. Ah yes. It's just another sorry football game in the life of a Bears fan. Normally, I wouldn't care about the Bears but I was curious about the weather in Chicago. They cut away for a commercial and the Channel 2 meteorologist came on screen with updates.

This projected track, the red box, took the storm dangerously close to downtown Chicago and Soldier Field, where there was a football game in progress. My location is in the center of the box, which is the outline of the county where I live, where the "12:00 PM" ends. I wasn't going to be affected by this cell. I would have to deal with heavy rain.

When they cut back to the game, the evacuation order had been given to get people out of the stands as lightning had hit a skyscraper in visible proximity to Soldier Field.

I don't remember the last time I saw a pro football game in Chicago suspended for weather. Baseball gets this all the time, and high school foot ball games can find themselves, in those early season late August and early September Friday night games, running afoul of thunderstorms, but not the Bears. Then they panned the camera skyward.

That's not what went over me. I realized that the cell that went over me had moved, as the whole line of storms moved, north northeast. These clouds were the advance wave of what was in that above red box. I've sat through my share of downpours, sleet, and snow at Iowa football games but there is no way anyone should be in the stands at any event when the threat of severe weather with lightning, hail and high winds are incoming.

For the next 2 hours, the news told of tornadoes destroying sections of towns, perhaps even whole small towns in eastern Illinois. I watched as the rain and wind pounded Soldier Field. At one point, you couldn't see across the field, it was raining so hard. News reports were coming in of tornadoes reported in the south suburbs but it was moving east, more than north. By 2:30 p.m., I had sunshine. The first band of storms well to the east and moving out across Lake Michigan and into Michigan.

Another, smaller, band of showers came through around 4. It was accompanied by extremely high straight-line winds and the cold front arrived around 8. It had been 68 at 11. It was 43 by 8 p.m.

The girls started the adventure with me, Pilchard in my lap and Mija next to me on the recliner. But the thunder scared them so that they found more comfort just sleeping on shirts I left on my bed. I would get up, every 15 minutes or so, and check on them, but they stayed there through the whole afternoon. When the winds picked up, around 4, the power started to flicker, dim and finally went out completely. It would be out for a minute or two and come back on. I'd fix the time on the microwave only to have the power go out. I was also trying to cook supper so I really needed some time without the flickering. I quit fixing the time (in fact, I think it's still wrong) and got supper cooked when the power went out for a good 45 minutes. I wound up eating spaghetti and meatballs in the dark.

Rooting in the closet, I found my flashlight, propped it up on the back of the recliner and spent the time after supper crocheting the next scarf.

Between watching the news and crocheting by flashlight, I got a lot done on this particular scarf. The power came back on for good about 20 after 6.

The devastation is terrible. The stories of survival are incredible. While the latest tornado on record in Chicago is December 4, 1957, and there is a potential for this kind of weather any month of the year, you can't tell me there's not something to climate change. It shouldn't be 70 degrees in November in the Midwest, maybe in Louisiana or Arkansas, but not Chicago. We should be thinking that 50 is balmy at this time of year.

I have some small branches to clean up is all. We're okay. My heart aches for those who lost everything with Thanksgiving only 10 days away.

Beverage:  Irish Breakfast tea