Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Part of the System

This is going to be a bit of a rant. You're welcome to skip over today's post.

I had a CT scan of my colon to better help the gastroenterologist, now added to my health team, determine if I have problems related to the recent bout of diverticulitis. The fact that I have to add another doctor to my list of health care professionals is annoying enough. A double annoyance was the need for the scan. The insurance stepped in and sent me half-way across the suburbs to an imaging center not affiliated with my doctor. Their hours for scans were not conducive to my schedule and I had to be more than a little firm that I can't just drop my life for a CT scan for a non-life threatening medical condition. They were not happy but we worked out a time I could come. The technicians were very nice. The front office staff, not so much.

Now comes word there are cysts which need to be looked at. These require ultrasounds, two, to be exact. Fortunately, ultrasounds do not require insurance approval so I can go to the center I know and where they have hours conducive to working people. But I'm told the cysts are benign so I'm puzzling over the need to have the scans at all. "Because you have RA," I'm told, "we need to watch these things." Seriously?

And, speaking of RA, I'm supposed to be taking Orencia. While the Humira gave me pain-free days, it wasn't doing enough to stop joint damage, according to Dr. Francis. I felt fantastic, as you know, if you've read the blog for any length of time. To me, being pain-free is my number 1 quality of life issue. If the joints are being damaged, wouldn't I have pain, or is the Humira masking that? I don't know the answer to that question, but I'll trust Dr. Francis' judgement and try the Orencia. Might as well asked for the moon.

The pharmacy I had been using is not where the insurance sent me for the Orencia. The first contact with the new pharmacy was pleasant, but the gentleman giving me the hours they are open neglected to tell me the time zone. I had been dealing with a pharmacy in Atlanta. I knew their hours. Just saying you're open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. doesn't help me. That could be Central Time or Hawaiian Time, for all I knew. Add to this, the amount of travel I've had to do and I'm not home much before 5:30, my time. Those days I haven't been traveling, I don't remember that I need to call this pharmacy because I have this thing called a "life" and clean underwear is more important than dealing with people on the phone.

When I do get in touch with them, I find out I have a rather large co-pay to get Orencia. There is no patient assistance for which I qualify. I'm directed to yet another number to see if they have anything.

Tests. More tests. A new doctor. New drugs. More phone calls. I feel less like a patient and more like a commodity. This is not how health care should feel.

I realize that, as one ages, more things start to simply wear out. It doesn't matter in what shape you find yourself. We're not designed for the same longevity whales achieve. There are more working parts to break. I also realize I have a chronic illness, an illness where my body turns against me. Add to that another illness which can have repercussions with my RA should I have another attack and we want to not have that. One of my friends, who has a number of issues said, "Welcome to the system. It doesn't hurt as much if you hand them your wallet and bend over." Graphic, to be sure, but perhaps not an all-together unfitting image.

I don't want more tests. I don't want to have to call 5 different places for drugs which may, or may not, let's be clear that we're not sure the Orencia is going to do what Dr. Francis wants. I don't want yet another specialist. I'm struggling with all of this because, until 2012, I rarely got sick. Honestly, I don't know how people with worse diseases than me handle a stable of doctors. I remember reading that people in the fire zones in California were told to pack up quickly and one woman grabbed her medications, all 17 of them. 17! I can't even imagine.

So tonight I have list of phone numbers, dates and times of calls and whom I talked to. I have another trip in the morning to finish up a couple of jobs and then, knock on wood, it appears there's a lull before crazy sets in again. I can stay in the office, work some overtime to complete reports and take an aspirin if my joints ache. We measure things on a "quality of life" scale. When I step back, my actual "quality" of life is good. I'd even go so far as to say "great". Yes, I have the occasional twinge, but who doesn't? I have no quarrel with the treatment I get from my doctors. They seem to be looking out for my interests, but I've always been a person who wants to go low on the medical scale. What's the lowest, cheapest thing we can do now, first, to see if it works? Then, if that doesn't work, we step up. Tests, tests and more tests. Changing drugs. Phone call after phone call is not the lowest, cheapest thing we can do. I feel sucked into a whirlpool I don't know I can get out of. That's my biggest frustration.

Beverage:  Water


Tuesday, September 29, 2015

What Makes It Great

Eating while on the road can be a daunting proposition. As much as I think I want to just walk into any place that advertises food, I find my reality is that I gravitate towards chain fast food restaurants. I know the menus and know the food will taste mostly the same whether I'm in Dayton, Ohio; Front Royal, Virginia; Watertown, Wisconsin; or Wheaton, Illinois. But the thing about chain restaurants, even of the fast food variety, is what works in one region might not work in another. I can think of many chains that came into Chicagoland, seeing a potential for growth, and just died or don't have nearly the number of locations they anticipated they would have.

So, I'm traveling in Wisconsin and it's lunch time. I like Hardee's hot ham and cheese sandwich. Hardee's just isn't in the Chicago area. They tried but got no further than the western suburbs, yet, they are all over in the upper Midwest. Culver's was solely a Wisconsin restaurant. Now they have managed to bring that slice of atmosphere, slowly, towards the east and south. There's a Culver's north of me and you get good food at good prices. But, as I got off the Interstate at the exit near work stop number 3, a sign loomed ahead. I knew, immediately, this was where I was going for lunch.

As I was waiting, by the beverage dispensers, for my food, the store manager came up to check the quality of the root beer. He thanked me for stopping by. "We make our root beer fresh every day. Sometimes, we have to make more after lunch, but we check the quality up to 3 times a day and throw out a batch that doesn't meet standards." I said I was traveling and, when I saw the sign, knew this was where I had to come for lunch. "I think," he said, "It's because of the frosty mugs." I looked at the root beer in my mug. There was a sheen of ice on the top and a small floating block of frozen root beer just below the sheen. "I would definitely agree with you," I said. "It doesn't get much better than iced root beer."

It doesn't. A&W represents the auto and summer vacations spent traveling from here to there. It was a huge treat to drive to A&W and have the car hops bring cold, cold mugs of root beer to the car. It was great when A&W became available in cans and bottles, but it's not the same. There aren't many of the drive-ins around anymore. They've been converted to stand-alone restaurants with drive-thrus. Yet, if  you're in the mood for a mug of root beer, A&W is the place to go. I get to go back, tomorrow, to the same location. You can bet THIS is lunch.

Beverage:  English Breakfast Tea


Things I See

I saw this back in June and meant to post the photo. I think this defines Chicago and the dichotomy of architecture in the city.

The project I was on is to my right, out of sight. This is in the Old Town neighborhood, so named because it was a location for original immigrants to the city. It suffered the effects of the Chicago fire and many of the streets and alleys do not conform to the city's grid pattern. They were paths to get from the Chicago River, on the south, toward the northern suburbs. After the fire, the area was cleared and many of Chicago's more well-to-do people built grand Victorian homes in this neighborhood.

I don't remember if the home has a plaque on it designating the year it was constructed. Many of the Victorian homes around here do have such designation. That is, however, the proverbial double-edged sword. While you have an architectural gem, you have to be careful what you do with it if you want to keep that designation. The external character of the home has to be preserved while you try to upgrade wiring that may not have seen a formal electrician since the mid-1970's. Sadly, it's often better to raise the building than remodel it.

And there is "progress" of course; the need for new buildings meeting the desires of tenants and owners of the properties. We can lament all we like about the loss of such a building with its connection to history and its character, but, again, the reality of sinking money into the restoration of an over 100 years-old house versus selling the land and raising the structure can lead to the latter, rather than the former.

The lack of windows on the south side of the building leads me to believe this is the last of a series of row homes. This is the reality of building in a city. You must utilize all available space, which means building lot line to lot line. There would have been a yard in front of the home and a back yard. The front yard has long been claimed by the street and there was just a small strip of mulch where flower pots sat.

I don't remember if this was a multi-family or single family building and I'm also unsure if this design would have been single family back at the time of its construction. Apartment buildings are not a new concept. Given the design of the building, I'm leaning toward a row of these from the corner, out of sight to the left, and working north; all of them single family units. I can almost hear the bustle of dresses as the home's occupants left for work or the day's activities.

It's wonderful that property owners decided this would not fall to the wrecking ball. While we can't save everything because some properties just can't be repaired to be useable, this example of what the neighborhood was at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century reminds me that Chicago has always been a dynamic city. Past and present can coexist, comfortably.

Beverage:  British Breakfast tea


Fall on the Road

I've been on the road an awful lot in the past couple of months. It's not a "run into the city and back" kind of thing, either. We've had large jobs requiring a couple of hours in the car to get there. Fortunately, the late summer weather has been perfect so, although I'm tired of driving, the scenery has been great.

"Amber waves of grain".

Soybeans. Tofu in its natural state, if you will.

Corn awaiting harvest.

There's a smell that's only in the fall, the smell of ripeness, of crispness, a little burnt, but of the anticipation of harvest. It only comes in the fall. I swear the scent changes immediately on the autumnal equinox.

Leaves are changing.

One day, the bush is green. The next day, red has taken over. It's time for sweaters and pumpkins and apples and my favorite time of year.

Beverage:  English Breakfast Tea


An Overload of Squee

WARNING! Cuteness alert.

We could, perhaps, file this under "Don't go to the pet store when there's an adoption event going on." That's, maybe, good advice because you never know what you'll bring home, in addition to the Frontline Flea and Tick repellent which was the real reason you went to the pet store in the first place.

Aren't they adorable? Meet Jaina and Jacen. No no. They aren't living with me. Carole and Larry adopted them.

They are not from the same litter but had been fostered together so it was asked if they could be kept together. Carole said there were a number of black kittens and cats. People were cooing over them, but no one seemed to be adopting.

Larry has never been around kittens. All the cats he's ever known have been adults. Other than Tobey, all the cats Carole has known, we had from when they were a year or less old.

There were some anxious moments. How would Faux and Tobey react? There was some hissing, but things have gone remarkably well.

I read where adding kittens to a household of adult cats is better than trying to integrate adult cats into established adult cat homes. That should not deter anyone from adopting if they already have an adult cat. I've often wondered if my girls would like a kitten. An adult cat would be problematic. Pilchard pees outside the box enough as it is. Any stress, anything she doesn't like and she registers it by peeing outside the box. I think the addition of a kitten, while maybe a good idea eventually, would cause her to pee other places outside of the box and I don't want to deal with that.

Carole and Larry got a cat tree.

That's not so much a tree as an apartment building. There are so many levels and places for everyone to lie down and not be in each other's space. Notice Faux on the floor to the lower left. "Meh. I'll not have anything to do with this."

Yeah, about that.

They have the room to provide a good home to more cats. Would that I was closer. There is something energizing about kittens. And, in case you're wondering, the names are Han Solo and Princess Leia's children's names.

Beverage:  English Breakfast tea


Monday, September 28, 2015

A Reminder About the Little Things

Look what I bought over the weekend.

I realize you are singularly unimpressed. "Um...Deb? It's a sink basket. Hardly something to blog about." But you would be wrong.

Yes, it is a sink basket. It cost me a princely sum of $5.10, with tax, from Ace Hardware. See, the last time I bought a sink basket, I think Bill Clinton was president. It was a plastic thing. It was white when I got it, but I'd had it so long, it had turned the color of dried corn shocks. Last weekend, the seal, the business end, the part that goes into the drain and stops the water from escaping, cracked. It didn't completely break, but, for all intents and purposes, it was now worthless. There was no stopping water from seeping down the drain. It took me 3 attempts at washing dishes before coming to that realization. Sometimes, I'm a wee bit slow on the uptake.

I had to go to Target for Pop Tarts (THAT'S an upcoming blog post.) and I scanned their housewares aisle. No sign of a sink basket. I did find brand new drip pans. Those are vitally necessary so I got a set. My other drip pans were so gross. Anyway, striking out at Target, I just didn't have time to go anywhere else to search for a sink basket. I've been traveling a lot and I come home too tired to venture out into the wilds of hardware stores. So the dishes piled up and up and up. I was out of spoons by Thursday and out of pots to cook macaroni and cheese (Hey, it's quick.) by Wednesday.

Yesterday, I had to go to Ace Hardware to get garbage stickers and I asked where I'd find sink baskets. "Aisle 21, on the right side." Heavenly days. There were 10 different styles, including the exact same plastic model that had gone in my trash. I opted to get a stainless steel version this time.

I have no idea what I paid for the plastic one all those years ago. If this one lasts even half as long as the plastic one did, I will certainly have gotten my money's worth. Best of all, I could do dishes again. I have clean silverware and pots. It's the simple things that make life so enjoyable. Seriously. $5.10 and I'm the happiest person I know.

Beverage:  Huckleberry Tea


And So It Begins

Ah fall. My absolute favorite season. The crisp air. The wonderful scents. The bugs. Wait...what?

The Farmer's Almanac has said we're going to have a warmer and dryer winter. The Weather Channel said October is supposed to be warmer with average rainfall. But when I'm finding these nasty things all over the house, I have to wonder if they are moving inside because they know the weather is about to change and not for good. I found 4 of them over the weekend. For some reason, they love the iron so I have to check it every time I pick up the iron for use. That's where this one and 2 others were.

I can't remember if these are merely soldier bugs or the dreaded stink bug. Neither is welcome in my house, actually, so they were scooped up and flushed away. I discovered if you didn't flush after tossing them into the toilet, the buggers figured out how to escape the toilet paper, swam to the side of the bowl and started to climb out. Yeah...that's not happening.

Beverage:  Huckleberry tea


Sunday, September 27, 2015

It's About Time

These are the treats I feed the girls. Temptations, from Canada, come in a huge variety of flavors. Just as I like to vary my food intake, I change up the flavor of treats they get. I buy the 3 ounce pouch which can last us for a couple months, given they don't always get treats on weekends unless I go somewhere.

I was in Target last week and I always check the price on treats when I'm there. I know what they cost at the grocery so, if there was a flavor on sale, I would have purchased a couple pouches. They had this. It came in three flavors; tuna, seafood and chicken.

I'm thrilled. I've purchased bigger pouches but they don't always stay shut. This container has a snap close top. That will keep the treats fresh. This is going to last us a very long time. Plus, it is a great value. I'll augment this flavor with a different flavor. I have 5 pouches; 2 unopened; on the shelf. They already know the sound a pouch of treats makes. I'm sure they will catch on, very quickly, to the sound of a container of treats.

Beverage:  Dr Pepper


Patio Dining

As I was leaving for work last week, I passed the garbage can and saw this.

Several weeks ago, I found a green walnut on the deck floor. I set it on the rail and it was gone the next day. I didn't think too much about it. I imagine a squirrel dragging that walnut to the top of the can and making a nice lunch of it.

"Waiter? I'll have the walnut and can I eat on the patio?"

I should get some peanuts in the shell. It's always a lot of fun to spread them on the deck rails and watch as they crack the shell and eat the nuts. Makes for great "squirrel TV".

Beverage:  Dr Pepper


I've Had Worse

Add another doctor to the list. I guess this is to be expected as one ages. Things simply start wearing out. There are doctors for this and doctors for that. Add a chronic illness and I've got doctors for X subset A.

The diverticulitis combined with the RA means a gastroenterologist needs to see me. For someone who, for years, didn't get sick, even with a cold, all of this is jarring. I don't know how I would do if I had cancer. Health care is the fastest growing segment of the economy and it never saw a recession during the Great Recession. Expansion of hospitals and the construction of buildings dedicated to specific illnesses on hospital campuses kept our office going. And, in adding this doctor to my list, I'm contributing to that expansion.

Prior to this upcoming visit, I needed a CT scan of my abdomen. The doctor needs to look at the diverticula and assess whether I have completely healed or if there is something still to worry about. You know what a full scan means? My choice of beverage is not my own.

Well, it's not the worst thing I've ever consumed.

I guess, in years past, it was akin to drinking ground chalk. I was to put it into the fridge and that was to make it more palatable. It was berry flavored which made the chalkiness less apparent.

I had to drink this full container the night before. That was tough. There's a lot in this. I felt full after I'd consumed half of it. In the morning, I could have a "light" breakfast, but when the technician couldn't give me an example of a "light" breakfast and kept vetoing what I proposed, I gave up the idea of actually eating before the test. My test was at 4:00 p.m. so that day was hunger-filled. As I was bemoaning my fate, I realized that some people don't get a meal every day. I needed to shut up and endure. We can be such babies sometimes, blind to the realities of other people's lives. An hour before the test, I drank 2/3rds of a second bottle and finished off the rest while sitting on the table at the image center. When I got home, I ordered a large sausage, bacon and double cheese pizza and ate 2/3rds of it.

I now have a CD for the doctor with images of my colon. They were going to write up a full report and send that to my primary physician. I don't know if I will hear about the results or if that will come from the specialist. There hasn't been another attack of diverticulitis, thank goodness. The worst thing going on, right now, is the sheer volume of travel I've had to do to get work done. That's making me tired and with excessive tired comes achy joints. It's nothing I haven't experienced before.

Another step down the road of health care. As good as I feel most days, this reminds me that all is not 100% and I need to be proactive to keep going.

Beverage:  Dr Pepper


One of Three

Shirt number 1 is finished.

This one is mine. This way, I can remember how to do buttonholes; the bane of my sewing existence; and could try out what I thought, in my mind's eye, I wanted to do. I put the label not square in the back and, as it's hanging up outside the closet, I can see exactly where it should have gone. That wasn't apparent at 2:45 yesterday afternoon.

See? It looked square here. Oh well. I'll be better in the next two shirts.

I like the piping and the buttons. As this is a novelty shirt, I don't expect Ashley or Liz to wear it more than once, but I'm fulfilling my bargain that if we went to BlizzCon, I'd get us shirts. I'll wear the heck out of mine as I love this kind of shirt.

Liz's is cut.

Beverage:  Dr Pepper


Monday, September 21, 2015

National Day of Gratitude

I follow Christian author Anne Lamott on Facebook. She seems to have this uncanny ability to know when I need a pick me up, in spite of the fact that I'm kind of agnostic about this whole God-thing. My feeling is that he's up there, but there are so many people; some I know personally; who need him way more than me, that he's busy. He just sort of looks in on me occasionally and then goes back to tending the flock of those who are really in need of a faith boost.

Today, when I logged into Facebook, Anne had a picture in her feed. It's National Gratitude Day. Of course her bent was for us to be grateful to have a loving God looking over us. My take is a bit different.

I could spend hours typing the things for which I'm grateful and that list would run into the hundreds or even thousands of items. Today, for instance, when I think about it, I'm grateful for spoons. I'm grateful for the yogurt which needed a spoon to eat. I'm grateful for water and for the bottled water I'm consuming more after having gone through a summer of relying upon soda. I'm grateful for Priority Mail from the post office. I'm grateful for electricity. I'm grateful for Google Maps. (Oooh. Those houses are an hour apart. I can do an inspection and a complaint in a day.) I'm grateful for hand lotion and wonderfully smelling liquid hand soap. I'm grateful for people giving specific directions to their place of business. I'm grateful for gasoline to get me to those places of business. I could go on, but I think you get the idea.

I was, ironically, thinking of this over the weekend. I did laundry and I am grateful to Patt and Pam for giving me, this summer, probably the best gift they have given me, other than their friendship. They did laundry for me. Getting ahead, having nothing that needed to be done in that month while I saved for a new washer has meant the world in terms of quality of life. In August, when I felt like I'd been hit by a truck, the knowledge that I didn't have mountains of laundry to do meant the naps I took when I came home from work were done without guilt. Both of them are so smart. They can see what I need way before I see it. This is but one example.

It's easy to fall into the "oh woe is me" trap. I know this well. When one thing happens, another thing happens and then a third thing happens and it can snowball. It's so very human of us to look at our lives and think we're never going to catch a break rather than what is good about even a bad day. I'm so guilty of that myself. When I pass through those pot holes and come out on the other side, I feel like banging my head on my desk. "You dolt! You didn't practice what you preach. It was never as bad as you made it out to be." Our human nature gets the best of us.

It's good to have a refresher. Every day should be Gratitude Day. I need to remember that every day has something for which to be grateful. I tell those going through a bad piece that it's okay to wallow, to throw yourself a pity party, but only for an hour. Then hoist up your big girl panties, as the aphorism says, and deal with the issue at hand. Plus, remember that you awoke in the morning even if it was to bad news or a slog through a figurative molasses river, uphill, in the winter and barefoot.

So, I am grateful for my family and my friends. I'm grateful for a lot of things, small as well as large. I should be grateful every day and this date reminds me to do that.

Beverage:  Water



Sometimes the stars align perfectly.

Back in August, I had a meltdown when, as I was headed to Rock Island, the Jeep malfunctioned. I know I need a newer car. I have a new car fund, but I also use it for those inevitable repairs to refresh the duct tape and baling twine which holds the Jeep together. Given what the beast was doing, or not doing (staying running) as the case may be, I had real feelings that Jeep repairs would take all of that meager account. I completely fell apart thinking about this, forgetting my cardinal rule to find gratitude in every day and slivers of happiness in every situation.

After the situation was diagnosed to not be as horrific as I had convinced myself it would be, I remembered that, in years past, even the $225 it took to fix the Jeep would have left me destitute. I had that. AND I would still have a bit left in the new car fund. There are things which need to be done but I am nowhere nearly as bad as I was 3 years ago.

So, it was back to saving for things for my vacation in November. I've been on the road again and those trips and the long days associated with them, have helped pad my BlizzCon and car fund. I've been able to cross off things that need to be purchased. BlizzCon ticket. Check. Air fare. Check. Ground transportation to hotel. Check. Material for shirts. Check. I still need to pay for Disneyland tickets and my part of the hotel room. I know how much I need to reserve for those items. That will leave money for food and souvenirs. It's 6 weeks away. I'm starting to get a bit nervous. I've never done anything like this before so there are nerves. I even ordered compression socks for the plane ride which will make me feel more comfortable and I won't show up in LA or back in Chicago with swollen ankles and feet.

The other thing I wanted to get, but it was not a need, was an ipad. In my head, if I had an ipad, I could upload photos from my camera to the ipad and then they could go into all the things I maintain; my Facebook page, my guild's web site and this blog. After a lot of discussion, a friend suggested an eyefi card for my camera. This is an SD card with wifi built in. You use wifi technology to upload your photos to cloud-based storage and then have access to them with other devices. It all sounds so high-tech and, if there's one thing I'm not, it's high-tech. The other option was an adapter for the ipad. With any wifi network, I can upload photos from anywhere to my storage. In buying an eyefi card, the price came with a year of free storage. That's the route I've taken.

But what about the ipad? It's not a priority. I could do without it. Yet, road trips for work provided money not expected. I could afford an ipad. Savings for me. Savings for the car and save for BlizzCon. Viola. A box came to work today.

I did a lot of research. I wound up buying a refurbished older model from a company called iTParts. Their prices were very reasonable and there was no shipping. Other places I looked wanted to charge me shipping and their return policies on refurbished equipment were the same as this company. For what I want to do, low price was the determining factor.

I had it shipped to the office because the last thing I want is a Priority Mail box containing an ipad stuck between my front and screen doors. It's a pretty nondescript box but look at the goodness contained therein. The sale came with a charger and ear buds.

The charger I expected. I don't know that I'll use the ipad to listen to music. I have so much music on CDs that hasn't been uploaded to my Mac and then I'd have to port it to the ipad. Not an impossibility for sure, but a huge time sink. Right now, I don't think I have that kind of time without sacrificing other things which are important to me. I could, if I desire, get Pandora or Spotify music streaming services on the ipad, since this is akin to an oversized cell phone. I just don't listen to music like that. They tend not to have what I like.

It needs a charge before it can be used, so I plugged it in.

Up pops the familiar Apple logo. And then came the greetings.

Bonjour to you.

What's happened here is that I have really entered the information age, in a huge way, no less. The SD card isn't here yet for me to try that out and get it synced with my computer and my ipad and get them synced with this cloud service. I'm always afraid I will explode something when I start messing around with electronic devices. My way more tech savvy friends have said I'll do fine and the world won't explode because I hit the red button instead of the blue button. (Extra points if you know THAT reference.)

So, here we are. I need to get a case. I'll get this one because there isn't a good World of Warcraft case available right now. In my mind's eye, I see a large selection of cases in various fabrics in a pile in my house. There are ipad case patterns and lord knows I have the fabric.

I'm really excited to be able to sit in the recliner in the living room, feet up, and updating my blog while I have a lap cat. That is the best part of this.

Beverage:  Water


Sunday, September 20, 2015

Sunday Supper

After thinking about it for several weeks, I finally decided to make popcorn for supper. Popcorn, as a meal, has a long been one of my family's staples. I remember dad making 2 large roasting pans full of popcorn on Sunday nights. We'd watch Ed Sullivan and Hollywood Palace. Mom would buy a 6 pack of Pepsi and that would be Sunday supper.

Down through the years, popcorn has always been a meal preference. With the arrival of air poppers, we could make it without oil, which saved the need to shake the pan to keep the kernels from burning. I haven't done the shake the pan route in a very, very long time, but I'm pretty sure I could still manage, if I wanted popcorn and there wasn't an air popper nearby. I used to buy microwave popcorn, but always found the "butter" contained therein to be a horrible fake, overly greasy and not tasting at all like butter, substance. I finally quit buying it about 10 years ago, long before the concerns over just what was in the stuff surfaced. It does mean I don't eat popcorn at work, but that's okay, really.

I pop myself a nice big bowl of corn and add more butter; real butter, not fake butter or, horrors, margarine; than I probably should. Add more salt than I should probably be consuming and it's heaven.

But August came and with it that bout of diverticulitis. I heard from friends that popcorn was going to be on the "no eat" list. "The kernels get stuck 'down there'," I was told. This made me sad. I don't eat popcorn every week, as we used to do, but I will eat it one or two times a month. I used to have a cat who would eat a few bits with me, but these two aren't interested. Mija thinks it smells great but when offered a nice gooey, butter-covered piece, she gives me a look like, "You actually eat this?" I fretted that my meals with popcorn were over.

My doctor told me not to worry. "As long as you stay away from the little bits and those ones that aren't completely popped; you know, the ones that sink to the bottom of the bowl; popcorn is fine," he said. Still, I worried. Finally, the lure of popcorn overcame my worry. I know what the symptoms are for diverticulitis. If I start to have the slightest feeling of distress, I'm to contact my doctor right away. I decided to try a big bowl full of popped goodness.

So far so good. I did not eat the little bits at the bottom. I would have cleaned the bowl clear but felt I should leave those. Since I don't eat popcorn but once or twice a month, I don't think I have anything to fear unless I would be in the throes of an attack. I never want to go through an attack again and when I was hurting, food was the last thing on my mind. I think, therefore, I can return to having popcorn on Sunday nights. Now, if someone would have a variety show and a bottle of Pepsi, it would be just like it was when I was growing up.

Beverage:  Huckleberry tea


Sunday Stitching

Nothing like a beautiful Sunday to put me in the mood for stitching. The sunshine was glorious and a light breeze made the temperature lovely. I popped on the TV. Hey, it's football. Perfect background noise. The last day of sewing left me with the collar trim stitched onto the collar, the two pieces of the collar sewn together and the whole thing pinned onto the shirt. Today, I sewed the collar and the collar facing onto the shirt.

Once the collar and facing were hand sewn to the shoulder seams and the collar and facing have been pressed. The shirt instructions call for top stitching, but I'm not going to do that. I had considered topstitching in cream, but I prefer the cream piping.

After getting the collar attached, it was time to attach the sleeves. I got them done and then it was time to move on to household chores.

The next step is to sew the side seams, hem the sleeves and the bottom and do the buttonholes. This shirt is nearly done.

Beverage:  Blueberry pomegranate juice


Friday, September 18, 2015

What I Did on My Summer Vacation

Everyone repeats the trope that, in grade school, middle school and, perhaps, high school English, they had to write something about what they did during their summer vacation. I don't actually remember doing that in school. Maybe it was something I have blocked from memory. "Selective Memory Retrieval" can be a very good thing, until it backfires and you can't remember where you put your car keys.

Anyway, I happened to think about this when I got home from my July visit to Carole and Larry and looked through my photos. (Warning. Extreme cuteness.)




Tobey, who is not fond of belly rubs, but loves to lie on his back, particularly in the sunshine.

Faux and Larry. This gives you some idea of how big Faux is. He's a Maine Coon. He loves having Larry scoop him up, flip him over and walk around the house like this.

Tobey. This seems to be a favored sleeping spot. 

Faux. They both like to go outside, kind of. 

Tobey will sit by the back door and meow. Then, when you open the door, do the classic, "I'm not sure I want to actually go out there" action. They aren't allowed out unsupervised and noises will, as with my girls, scare them back inside. 

But then, so will Kola. Kola lives next door. She's an outdoor cat. The neighbors tried to get her to come inside, but she's not interested in living indoors. She lives in their garage. She comes to the back or front door and looks in. There is much hissing. 

Usually, Kola is on the front porch and there, Faux and Tobey have encountered her. 

Kola chased both of them back inside. But, she made the mistake of coming in the open front door and they would have none of that and chased her back outside. 

Their house is wonderful but it's extra special that all the windows have wide sills. 

The boys love being able to sit in the windows and that the windows are long enough that they don't have to jump up on something in order to see out. 

Sooooo, what did you do on your summer vacation?

I took photos of my daughter's cats.

Beverage:  Water


The Color of Clouds

The lease has been signed. By December 7th, we'll be permanently in new offices. Now comes the trial of finding just the right color of gray for my walls. That can be a huge undertaking. I'm painting this room.

Granted, there is a door in the west wall and the east wall is all windows and there will be a pass-through window in the south wall, but that's still a daunting decision. Once I paint it, we aren't repainting our office walls again until I change offices or leave the company. I have to pick a gray that will not overpower me, a gray that will compliment the black Iowa Hawkeyes tiger hawk that will go on the north wall. I can't tell you how excited I am to do that once we've moved in.

Paint chips are such a bad way to get an idea of a color. The wall is 14 feet long and I'm basing my color choice on a piece of paper that is 1 by 2 inches. You can get bigger ones but that's only 2 by 3 inches. Still not a lot of color when you have to make a permanent choice. The black is the easy part. Color inspiration, however, came from an unlikely source.

As you know, I've been on the road a lot since, gosh, since forever, it seems like. On Monday, I headed to Wisconsin. It was heavy overcast in Chicagoland in the morning when I left.

Boo. It was supposed to be nice, not overcast with a threat of rain. But then I started looking at the clouds. Gray. Look at the variations in the color of the grays.

Coming home, the overcast had cleared and the brooding clouds had turned to puffy clouds.

There's more white in these but there is still a great amount of gray. I was perplexed by the vast amount of color choices and here it is around me.

In both photos, something else jumped out at me. I could paint the short wall with the door a darker gray. I'm going to use that wall for the display of my art and some certificates I've received over the years. I'm going to paint a poster frame red, unless I can find one that's red, and my Disney Fantasia poster is going in that. I have a horizontal poster of downtown Chicago. I'm going to put that in a blue frame. Color will come from the frames and any shelves I mount on the wall for my personal photos.

I've not been real happy to be driving in excess of 2 hours to do work. It wears on me and wears me down. Even the knowledge that these trips have paid for my November vacation doesn't always make me happy when it's yet another lengthy drive somewhere. Monday reminded me to look for beauty everywhere. This time, not only was it beauty but it's helping me paint my new office.

Beverage:  Water


Thursday, September 17, 2015

Want a Little Star Wars?

I missed the point, I think, of Force Friday on September 4th. It seems a lot of Star Wars merchandise was released to the public. Other than obtaining for gifts, the whole hype of the day was lost on me. I did have to go back to JoAnn to pick up some supplies for the shirts and what I saw interests me. Look at the fabric.

The above and below is cotton material.

If you'd like something else, they had fleece in all sorts of prints.

Camelot Fabrics, whose link to their blog you can find to the right, is the designer of all of this.

In my mind's eye, as I perused the bolts, I could see pjs and robes and curtains and quilts and shirts, lots and lots of shirts.

No, I did not come home with a bunch of fabric. I have way more than I can use at any given time, but the sheer amount of Star Wars-themed fabric set my heart aflutter with possibilities. I'm sensing there will be a lot of Star Wars clothing coming at Christmas.

Beverage:  Water