Friday, September 28, 2012

September 28 - A good thing

It's always a good thing when dinner simmers in the slow cooker all day,
and all you have to do is serve it. Oh, and it was delicious!
(Potato corn chowder)

NSFW … but pertinent to previous post

Friday Quote Day (an occasional resurrection)

"Is it ignorance or apathy?
Hey, I don't know and I don't care."
~ Jimmy Buffett

So here I am, the morning after the final day of an overscheduled week in which I got everything done and all my expectations were met.

I tried very hard not to think about how many people would attend last night's screening of Iron Jawed Angels. I knew of a couple people who were bringing a couple more people, but I'd really hoped to meet new people, people who weren't already a part of the Devoted Democrats.

And I did, actually. I met three new people, one of whom was just 17. She took a voter registration form with her. She'll turn 18 next month and will vote for her first president November 6. 

All in all, though, we could have held this event in a large living room. The upstairs of my garage (usable floor space is about 25-by-20 feet), for instance, where we had several exciting and enthusiastic parties four years ago. Instead of in a cavernous public hall with more empty chairs than filled ones.

Yes, I'm disappointed. I tried not to show it, but you guys know the real me, and there's no point in covering it up with my brand-new smile. Each of the summer meetings of our Democratic women's club have been sparsely attended. Fewer than half of our members came to the event last night, which the Executive Committee (a separate group) called the "kickoff" to the election season. Only two of their members attended.

No sense dwelling on disappointment, right? Those who came were treated to a helluva good film. None of us older women were aware of the torture our sisters endured so that we could cast our ballots 92 years later.

There's a glimmer of hope for younger women, though. That high-school senior will be watching the movie a second time.


In her civics class.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

September 27 - Love/Hate

You know what's coming, don't you?

Of course you do! I love it when the number is lower than I expect it to be,
and of course I hate it, um, most of the time. I have to consciously remind myself:
It's only information. It's only information. It's only information.

Winding down

One more biggie to go this week – the free screening of Iron Jawed Angels is tonight. I'm so nervous, I hope people come. You just never know about things like this. Actually, our group has never done anything like this, so we really don't know.

Yesterday's ribbon-cutting event turned into two. The dignitaries who attended and spoke at the long-term care facility open house also snipped a ribbon at the local Democratic headquarters.

It was quite a heady feeling for me, standing between the governor and my Congressman, with my Delegate behind me, posing for a picture (which I don't have, but you can bet I'll post it when I get a copy!). Governor Tomblin and Congressman Rahall know me by name; I address Delegate Mahan by her nickname.

Being married to a native of this area helps, but my husband hasn't wanted to be quite as involved as I've been. He's very supportive, but when the executive committee asked him to join, he declined. When the women's group asked me if I were willing to serve as president, I jumped at the chance.

I've met so many people who are doing so many good things. Democrats care about people more than  profit, about fairness and equality and opportunity and job safety and equal rights. I feel good identifying myself as a Democrat.

But being a Democrat in West Virginia can be challenging. More than half the registered voters are Dems, but they're crossing over because of the perceived "war on coal." The coal lobby is doing a good job of blaming President Obama for the closing of mines, when in fact coal production is up and mining jobs have increased.

You can't persuade them with the truth. Or I can't, anyway. It might be possible if the President weren't a Socialist Muslim from Kenya. I wish my neighbors didn't think like this, but there you go. They do, and that's that. No amount of facts will persuade them otherwise.

Funny story: As I left the hospital yesterday to head to Democratic headquarters, I noticed a couple men deep in conversation near my car, which is, um, held together with Democratic sticker swag. I could tell (believe me, you really can just tell) who they would be voting for, and it wasn't my guy in the White House.

As I approached, I said with a smile, "Heyyyy, I bet you guys are getting ready to steal my bumper stickers!" They laughed and we ended up having a pretty decent conversation. One of them said the President "didn't like his kind – I like my guns and my God." I was able to point out that he has more gun rights now than he did under President Bush. So then he said the cost of his ammo has gone way up. Well, supply and demand drives the market, President Obama doesn't regulate the price of bullets.

I got out of there pretty quickly, feeling like I'd made my point without being overbearing and without being reluctant or afraid to speak the truth.

A big change from the previous Presidential campaign season, when a small-minded man declared, "He [candidate Obama] ain't nothing but a damned n****r."

I was speechless then. I doubt if I would be today.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

September 26 - Near

This was the second photo I took today using the prompt "near."
(The first one is on Facebook and Webstagram, if you want to see it.)
As often happens, I post the first and then, I guess because the prompt
is rattling around in my cranium, I find another shot. And another. And …

Au contraire

An anonymous commenter said, regarding yesterday's post about Governor Romney and airplane windows, "I guess telling you he was joking would not sway you."

Well, Anonymous, I stand corrected. (But President Obama still has my vote. And who are you, and where are you from?) The first hit on a Google search showed the reporter who wrote the story that went viral knew it was a joke from the start. Unfortunately, she didn't report it as such.

And, frankly, it seemed plausible that Governor Romney wouldn't understand the principles of aerodynamics, given that he studied law and business, not science.

The larger point, however, is that once again he was speaking off the cuff, unscripted, and came across as not quite in touch.

He needs to be more careful. Or not, my guy's ahead right now and if Governor Romney continues to speak artlessly, well, that's fine with me.

I'm not going to sway his supporters, either. My job is to get Democrats to the polls in an election year that is quite a bit less exciting than the one in 2008. Sarah was, if nothing else, entertaining.

"Keep your Mitts off Medicare" doesn't quite have the same oomph as "Sarah Palin doesn't speak for this woman" when you read it on a button.

What I think will happen in my state is that those Democrats who are disappointed in President Obama will either vote for him reluctantly or vote for the Green or Mountain Party candidates. Those Republicans who think Governor Romney would dismantle the social programs which work and help so many here in West Virginia AND those Democrats who just can't bring themselves to vote for a black man won't vote for President at all.

It takes much longer to go through a ballot candidate-by-candidate than it does to simply scratch the rooster, which is what we're encouraging Democrats to do. But when a convicted felon gets 40 percent of the Democratic vote in the primary, the Anyone But Obama party appears to be strong here in the Mountain State.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

September 25 - Frame

A bit of misty blue sky framed by the trees.
A foggy start to my workout today. Finished in the sun!

I suppose it's possible

Governor Romney must just love the taste of Italian leather. He's stuck his foot in his mouth so many times it's almost like he's doing it on purpose. Just can't get enough of that tasty stuff. Nom, nom. 

He has both an MBA and a law degree from Harvard. He's a world-traveler. He was governor of Massachusetts, director of the Olympics and is running for President of the United States.

And he thinks you should be able to open a window in a jet. While it's flying. 

It's possible that some folks, maybe even most folks, wouldn't know the science behind the closed-windows-on-jet-aircraft policy. Governor Romney clearly didn't know. Otherwise why, when his campaign is imploding on so many fronts, would he pose the question?
Romney's wife Ann's plane had to make an emergency landing Friday (Sept. 21) because of an electrical malfunction. Discussing the incident at a fundraiser the next day, he said: "When you have a fire in an aircraft, there's no place to go, exactly, there's no — and you can't find any oxygen from outside the aircraft to get in the aircraft, because the windows don't open. I don't know why they don't do that. It's a real problem. So it's very dangerous."
As some of you know, I have a private pilot's license. I've flown little puddle-jumpers with the windows open. The plane I learned to fly topped out at about 100 mph (it's very, um, windy at that speed) and I'm sure I never flew it any higher than five or six thousand feet (also very cold). Slow and low, that was my policy and preference.

The reason we never hit 10,000 feet in the Citabria is precisely why you shouldn't open jetliner windows: We couldn't pressurize the cabin. Lack of oxygen is not a good thing when you need your wits about you to, oh, I don't know, fly a plane. Also, what little oxygen is present would obviously feed a fire, should one be present in the cabin of the aircraft.

But I guess they don't teach that at Harvard.

Monday, September 24, 2012

September 24 - Three things

Three White Russian Supertunia blooms. I really wanted to take a picture
of the three black Amish bonnets bobbing along ahead of me at the fabric
shop this morning, but I was too shy to ask if the would mind.
(I don't think they would have.)

Thus begins …

possibly the most overscheduled week of the year here at Chez Debbi Does Too Much.

8:00 a.m. - Take some of my Amish neighbors shopping in a nearby town
Sometime this afternoon - Week Three, Day One of Up and Running
6:30 p.m. - Democratic Executive Committee meeting

Laundry, cleaning
7:00 p.m. - Volunteer gig at prison

Morning: Week Three, Day Two of Up and Running
2:30 p.m. - Serve refreshments at a ribbon-cutting for a new nursing home

Spend the day being nervous about …
7 p.m. - Free public screening of Iron Jawed Angels

Morning: Week Three, Day Three of Up and Running

5 a.m. - Pick up my Amish neighbor and head for Pennsylvania

Thank goodness Sunday is a day of rest. Although if I don't get to run today – definitely a possibility –  I'll be making up for it then.

I finished Week Two of U&R Saturday, and feel very good about my progress so far. This week's plan is slightly more challenging, but I think I'm up to it.

I saved half a dozen cookies for my
husband's evening snack. He saved
one of them for my breakfast! We
take good care of each other …
The Wednesday and Thursday events on my schedule require cookies, so I baked yesterday and stuck everything in the freezer. Because, clearly, I'm not going to have time to bake this week. (The curse of a somewhat clean house: I spent as much time sweeping up stray flour and powdered sugar specks from my shiny floors as I did sliding cookie sheets into the oven yesterday.)

Life will slow down after this week.


Sunday, September 23, 2012

September 23 - Before bedtime (2)

I watch very little television, but weekend evenings are made for football,
er, watching my President on 60 Minutes. Can't wait for the debates. 

September 23 - Before bedtime

Football and more football - that's what before bedtime looks like every fall weekend!

Sunny days + shiny floors =

One rather large speck of something.
And I just ran the dust mop. Grrrr.
lots o'dog hair and lint and dust showing up and driving me crazy.

Of course, I don't have far to go, as some of you know quite well. Heh.

But if 15 daily minutes of scooting the dust mop around the floors and the carpet sweeper on the small rugs helps reduce the number of times I have to do a major, major, MAJOR move-the-furniture mop job, well, I'll do it.

All the plants have now been moved indoors, and not a moment too soon. It could get down to 41 degrees tonight here in the Middle of Nowhere. I'm not sure how the potted plants would fare.

Lots o'dust on the coffee table, too. Note to self:
Next coffee table must not be shiny. Or black.
The inventory increases every year. Last year it was a spider plant, a pot of rosemary and another of chives. This year I ditched the chives, but am trying to overwinter a lantana, a eucalyptus, a laurel bay and a saucer of succulents. I also have a tiny lemon tree in a little pot that is doing quite well, but won't fruit for a couple more years. We'll see what works and what doesn't. I have plants hanging from tree limbs and I'm not sure what to do with them. I haven't figured out where to put them in the house yet. I think they'll spend their nights in the garage until I put up hooks for them indoors.

What's kinda funny about the new plants is that it's a mix of herbs (food) and flowers (decoration). Until last year I didn't care at all about flowers. If it wasn't productive, I didn't want to mess with it. After three summers working at the garden center, however, I've changed my tune. There's not a single food-bearing plant in the landscape bed in front of our house.

But the herb bed, which also contains rhubarb, horseradish and onions, is nearby.

Okay, that's two consecutive gardening posts and I still haven't written about the other stuff rattling around in my brain. Ah, well, it'll wait.

Unless it sifts out while I'm pushing the dust mop.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

September 22 - Up

Leaves are beginning to turn ... happy autumn!

This is my favorite "up" photo. I may have posted it previously, I can't
remember. The top of this very tall pine was sheared off in a wind storm.

They're called leaves …

because you're supposed to leave 'em on the ground.

Actually I will rake them to add to the compost bin. The sadly neglected compost bin. We've been dutifully adding banana peels and coffee grounds and vegetable peelings, oh my, all summer, but there hasn't been much grass to rake or other organic matter to add to the mix. Last time I looked it resembled a witch's cauldron of black, gooey, bubbling slime.


But a little leaf matter should help, and a lot of leaf matter will help more. I'm going to load the leaves in the wheelbarrow and run the string trimmer through them to help them break down more quickly. Not sure where I read that tip, but it's a good one.

I usually rake and bag most, if not all, of the fallen leaves, to use throughout the year, but I ran out this summer. Thus the primordial ooze.

My workout yesterday consisted of vacuuming and mopping the acre (actually it's only about .02 of an acres, but it felt like an acre. Or two.) of flooring in the house. And I didn't even clean two of the rooms. It's been getting cooler at night and the lemon and lime trees were still outdoors. I've been wanting to move them in, but like anything else on anyone's agenda, you have to start at the beginning.

I was absolutely not going to move two trees into my living room and then mop around them. Which doesn't mean I won't be mopping around them from now until next spring. But it's important to start out right.

The lemon has grown quite a bit since I brought it home a year ago, so I clipped some branches and lost a ripening lemon in the process. I tried to avoid the fruited limbs, but had to sacrifice one in order to be able to sit in the nearby chair. Once the fruits are all ripe I'm going to whack it back into shape. It's growing every which way right now, and the only pretty part about it is the lemons. Well, the container is nice.

A real decorating statement.
As opposed to the lime tree container, which is just a huge black plastic pot. I can't find anything I a) like and b) can afford to put the pot in, so black plastic it is! It matches the piano, I totally planned it that way.

We're going to have to get a hand truck to get them back outside next year.

I had lots of other stuff to write about today, but this is turning into a chapter. Week Two, Day Three of the Up and Running plan happens today. No rain in sight, and so far it's a perfect first day of autumn here in the Middle of Nowhere. I hope it's perfect where you are, as well.

Friday, September 21, 2012

September 21 - Sometimes

Sometimes 4:30 comes twice a day. (Photo was taken 12 hours ago.)

Toil in the soil

I spent two – just two – very hard hours in the garden yesterday, pulling weeds, dismantling the [ineffective] fence and pulling up tomato stakes. I was hot, tired, sweaty, dirty and itchy when I finished.

And I didn't even get the tiller out of the shed. You've heard the expression "too wet to plow," right? Well, it was! And I was more than a little grateful, because two hours in the fall garden is quite enough, thankyouverymuch.

Self-seeded cilantro makes me happy.
(While I'd love to have a year-'round garden and while I envy those who pull kale and chard from their back yards in December, I'm apparently not there yet. Although the cilantro has self-seeded, and if I can make fresh pico de gallo sometime this fall I'll be a happy farmer. And chip eater.)

I was hungry when I finished, but a shower trumped food. There are many more bugs in late summer than spring, and I felt like I was crawling with critters. The shower helped. A lot. Much more than lunch would have.

As I pulled weeds around a couple of onions, I noticed more onions. And more. And ended up finding an entire row of walking onions that I didn't even know was there. I'll still plant more, but it's nice to know that Mother Nature has given me a head start. Also? I'm a little embarrassed at finding them under all those weeds.

More proof that I'm not not not a fall gardener.

For Diandra, here's a primer on Amish culture. It can't be conclusive, however, because each community makes its own rules. Many of our neighbors moved here from Kentucky, and when they lived there they were allowed to smoke tobacco. With the move to West Virginia, apparently the elder decided to have a new no-smoking policy. (I say apparently because I don't know if it's a community vote or if the elder decides for everyone.)

At any rate, I'm glad they're here. They are peace-loving, hard-working, generous and stable.

And they make good donuts.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

September 20 - Manmade

Woman-made, actually. Here's the gratuitous artsy-fartsy shot.
(I freakin' LOVE Instagram. I might have mentioned that before. Heh.)


I'm finally ready for the campaign. I clipped the
last three stray yarn ends on the blue sweater when
I pulled it out of the dryer. (Cotton Fleece by Brown
Sheep – sooooo soft!) Look at me, I'm a Democrat!

Is it over?

I was eager to get out and do Week Two, Day Two of the Up and Running program yesterday. Eager, I tell you! The temperature was pretty darned perfect – low 60s – and the humidity was not even close to being a factor. The rain (we ended up getting about 3.25 inches altogether) was long gone. Blue skies, great weather, a previous day of rest, and a good dinner the night before. I expected to rock the workout.


I wanted to go a little farther (or is it further?) just because it was a pretty day. How often do you want to extend your workout because it feels good to be moving, or it feels good to be outside? For me … not very often. Yesterday, however, it was like some fit young thang took over my body. I went twice as far as I had on Monday, extending the initial five-minute warm-up walk to nearly half an hour. Total time was just shy of an hour. I should have walked up and down the driveway to hit the 60-minute mark, but I'm trying to rein in my OCD tendencies.

Although the vernal equinox doesn't happen for two more days, I am official declaring:


Don't get me wrong. I like summer. Crops grow in summer, I spend many productive hours 'putting food by,' the sheets always get line-dried. But this summer, um, sucked. The derecho that roared through June 29 kind of sucked the life and energy and motivation out of some of us (I'm not naming names, but one of them starts with a D).

My non-productive garden is a mess, but since today is a non-workout day I have plans to finish pulling the tall weeds and to till an area to plant onions and garlic. (It's still a little early to plant, but it's a great day to plow.) And who knows, I might even go for a walk.

P.S. Welcome to all the new readers who have stopped by. I hope you'll become regulars. And welcome, too, to a new advertiser. Need coupons? They're just a click away!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

September 19 - Underneath

Wow is this ever a crappy photo. It looked a whole lot better on the tiny
phone screen than it does here! Underneath that eggshell was a massive yolk!

Mmmmmmm, dinner

So I guess last night was this week's "cheat" day. I didn't go overboard, but I did eat, um, well at the Amish dinner last night, which they hosted as a fundraiser for their school.

Thanks, Vickie, for the information about your community. I'm slowly learning more about our neighbors, and all of it is good.

I'm aware, however, that some of my neighbors don't care for them living here. One in particular has made life so difficult for them that they're selling their roadfront property and moving to acreage they own that is further away from that neighbor. He doesn't like the horse poop, he doesn't like their singing on Sunday, he doesn't like … well, honestly I don't think he'd like anyone who lived across the road from him.

But they were there first, which makes me wonder why he ever moved there in the first place.

Such is the drama of life in the Middle of Nowhere.

Today is the second day of the second week of the Up and Running program. We had more than three inches of rain yesterday, but that's passed on through and it will be a perfect day to run outdoors. I dreamed about today's workout. In the dream, I walked for a mile before I started the warm-up – a warm-up for the warm-up, if you will – in order to add more distance and, thus, burn more calories.

I have trouble keeping track of all the intervals using Skimble. Can anyone recommend an Android app that lets you mark intervals the way a Garmin does? I'm going to ask this question on the U&R forum, as well, but you get first crack at it. Aren't you lucky?

And aren't I, to have such great bloggy friends who go out of their way to read, think, search and answer my questions? (You know who you are!)

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

September 18 - Price

I found this in my grandmother's medicine cabinet when she died and, for
some reason, kept it. (She died almost 12 years ago.) Anyone remember
Macleans toothpaste? Or paying 29¢ for a travel-sized tube of it?

How to lose three pounds in one day

Get sick.

Don't ask, believe me you don't want to know.

These 24-hour (or less) things seem to come and, um, go, thank goodness. I'm feeling better now, but still a little afraid to eat.


Yes, the Amish do need to go places and are more than happy to pay us English to take them. In fact, they're even allowed to "drive" our riding lawn mowers and tractors. They're just not permitted to own them.

Which is kind of odd to me, because they're allowed to own chainsaws and sawmills, both of which operate on gasoline. They have propane heaters and they use some kind of machine to increase the pressure in their wells so they can have running water.

I haven't inquired about their "facilities," but I will soon learn, as I've been hired to drive the bakery owner to Pennsylvania later this month. I'll be staying with her family, eating my meals with them and charging my phone in the car. Heh. Blog posts may be short and sweet those days. Although I might find some free wi-fi for part of the time I'll be there. Stranger things have happened.

On our way home yesterday, Mrs. Yoder had a question for someone in our community and I offered my cell phone. She said I had to dial the number, she wasn't permitted to do that. So I made it really easy and put it on speaker. She didn't even have to touch that piece of modern wizardry!

I do find it odd that her community can have a phone (they have a little phone booth, shared by all the families), but not use mine.

Anyway. The rest of the world can talk about Candidate Mittens' latest gaffe (he really should have his jaw wired shut, as suggested by Andy Borowitz). The Amish are fixing dinner!

I just hope I can eat it.

Monday, September 17, 2012

September 17 - In my fridge

The last Honeycrisp, all by itself in the crisper drawer.

Up and at 'em

I'm usually an early riser. It's rare that I don't see 5:30 shining from the clock on the microwave twice a day. Frequently, however, I awake with no real plan or purpose.

Not today, though. As a designated Amish driver, I'm going to pick up the bakery owner at 7:45 for a short shopping trip. We'd be starting out before that if the grocery opened earlier.

The Amish are preparing a community dinner tomorrow to raise funds for their school and they need some last-minute supplies. I'm going to pick up some nail polish remover while we're there, after my attempt at a creamsicle manicure went awry.

What else. Oh, for Vickie, you can click on the Mmmm Mmmm Good tab at the top of the page and scroll down to the How To section for a detailed description for preserving horseradish. Or you can click here. My dad encouraged me to grow it and warned me that you have to process it outdoors. I didn't find the root to be that strongly pungent last year, but perhaps the second year will be hotter.

And I had to toss my frozen product when the electricity went out this summer, so I'm looking forward to making more. It's supposed to be better after the first frost, but one of our Amish neighbors said his grandmother just dug up a root whenever she needed it.

Who really needs horseradish anyway? Apparently my dad did, and he thought I did, as well. Heh.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

September 16 - Strange

I thought I was going to have trouble with this one. All it took to complete the assignment was a trip around the gardens.

Freshlsy dug weet potatoes come in all shapes and sizes. 

These are horseradish plants with new leaves. The old leaves have all
shriveled up and died, and I thought this patch was toast. I would be wrong!

With God on our side

It's Sunday, and that means a whole lotta folks will be heading to church this morning, my husband among them. Since cleanliness is next to godliness, I'm going to do some major tidying up around here while he's gone.

[Aside: I should probably clean the house when he is home, so he can see just how much effort it takes. He was raised in a home in which a cleaning lady and cook took care of domestic chores, and he went to a college that offered maid service to its young men. Yes, he's old. And domestically challenged.]

[And another aside: I was raised a Methodist, his family is Episcopalian. I've attended services with them, but cannot abide their hymns. All those sharps and flats ... no offense intended if you love them.]


I've been thinking lately about how frequently and forcefully God is being inserted into our political discourse these days. In spite of the fact that the United States was founded on religious freedom, that separation of church and state is fundamental to our political process and that the colonists were fleeing religious persecution when they came here, there's quite a debate about which party is more godly.

My question is: Whose God?

Which God do you want looking over this process? Most religions have a god-concept. There are differences among them, obviously, or we'd all be praying to The One True God.

But there isn't one, despite what your religion tells you. What if you're wrong? How do you know?

Thanks to Alcoholics Anonymous, my god or God or goddess – however you want to look at him or her – is kind, benevolent, caring and has my best interests at heart. I thank my god/God/goddess every day, all day, for all kinds of things. I never ask for anything. I used to, but have come to believe that my god knows what's best for me, and all the asking in the world won't make it happen. I accept events as lessons, thank him/her and move on. I like to think kindness is my religion. I like to think kindness is all religion.

My Tea Party cousins think their God of Wrath is The One. My Buddhist friends don't pray to a god at all. Mormons and Catholics and Baptists and Jews and Methodists and Episcopalians and bankers and drunks and politicians all praise their own version of god, and they all think they're right.

And they're not. None of us are. I know atheists who refer to God as an imaginary friend. That's a little harsh, in my opinion – and please know that everything I'm writing here is my opinion, I'm not trying to teach theology here. Just raising the question:

Whose God?

Saturday, September 15, 2012


One of the many fun parts of blogging is that sometimes one of your readers will see something and say to him/herself, "Gee, I bet Debbi would love that." And then a couple days later Debbi gets an unexpected gift in the mail! Thanks, Denise!

I haven't tried the tea yet, but I don't think the floral notes will bother me. I don't much care for plain green tea, but certainly recognize the benefits of drinking it.

And the book ... well, how perfect is that title? There's more than a few of us who could have started there and written an entire book! Instead, we blog, and meet cool kids like you who send us prezzies!

Thanks. You made my day.

September 15 - First thing you saw

This wasn't literally the first thing I saw, but I forgot about today's prompt until
I opened the laptop. (I use the list of photo prompts as my computer wallpaper.)

Friday, September 14, 2012

September 14 - Favorite

Wow, do I ever love this photo. Um, I also love McDonald's iced coffee
with sugar-free vanilla syrup, which is my favorite guilty pleasure.
But seriously, I had no idea how cool this picture was gonna be from the
image I uploaded to Instagram from my phone. (I sure am full of myself!)

It was suggested to me …

that I might enjoy what Margaret and Helen are up to during this campaign season.

Having never read M&H, I clicked, subscribed and have been enjoying their most recent posts. Especially this little snippet from Margaret's review of the GOP convention:

Governor Romney suggested that my proudest moment was when I voted for Obama. Yes. It is pretty high up there on my list. But I was also proud on the day he signed equal pay for women into law. Or the day he ended a war and pledged to end another. I was proud the day he decided American soldiers should be honored regardless of who they love. And again I was proud the day he delivered on his campaign promise to bring about healthcare reform. And you know what, Mr. Romney? I will be proud when I vote for my President again and bring this Republican war on women to an end.
The convention is over and I for one got the message loud and clear – a bunch of white people hate President Barack Obama. But we knew that already.
I think I'll spend a lot of winter months perusing their archives. This passage doesn't even begin to convey the humor and wit and snark.

Thank goodness ...

I have seven days in which to complete three running workouts. Because Week One, Day Three isn't happening today.

And nothing at all happened yesterday, either. I am NOT feelin' the workout love on the off days, not at all, not at all. In fact I'm so energy-deprived that I'm not even feelin' the straighten-up-the-house love or work-in-the-garden love. (Well, I did pick three pounds of basil yesterday, I guess that counts for something.)

What I AM feeling is lots of nap-love. And I don't take naps, as a rule. Unless I'm sick.

So I don't know what's going on. Low energy, no motivation. If it weren't for this training program I'm not sure I'd be doing anything at all.


At least I'm not overeating. You can always find something for which to be grateful, if you look hard enough.

I finished the Jujuba neckline yesterday. Twice. (Knitters will be chuckling and nodding their heads.) The first time, with the short-rows at the corners, didn't work at all, it turned out way too loose. I picked up fewer stitches the second time and now it's maybe a teensy bit too snug. I'll probably rip it out and do it again.

This is a mostly cotton sweater, and it's tunic-length, and when I tried it on the collar looked very stretched out from the weight of the garment. I'm wondering if just a plain reverse crochet edging might stabilize the neckline and still look all right. A wide neckline looks great on a summery top, but not so much on something to wear in cooler weather. Maybe I'll do the crochet treatment first and then pick up stitches for a simple garter-stitch edging.

Decisions, decisions.

At least the decision not to work out has been made. I have to go to the eye doctor this morning, and will be running a few other errands while I'm in town. Maybe I'll walk later.

Then again, maybe not.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

September 13 - Table

View from above of a little wrought iron patio table. Atop it is a clay saucer
filled with a variety of succulents. It's been one of my favorite outdoor plants
all summer. I'm hoping it will live indoors this winter. Wish me luck.



I am so-so-so close to finishing the blue sweater. I took it with me last weekend and completed seaming it while watching football Saturday afternoon. I also made a ribbed wool cap – start to finish – over the weekend, and it's ready to mail to Congressman McKinley (R-WV, 1st District), as part of an effort to promote civil discourse in politics. I have two more hats to make.

All that's left on Jujuba is a neckline treatment. The original design was for an airy summer topper, but I've changed it to be a fall/winter pullover and I don't want a wide boat neckline. So I'm picking up stitches all the way around and doing a few rows of garter stitch, with some short rows at the shoulder "corners" to fill in those gaps. If you're not a knitter, this probably sounds like Martian-speak. If you are, you'll likely know exactly what I'm doing.


Week one of the Up and Running program has gone well. I look forward to the workouts, I don't feel like I absolutely have to exercise on the off days and I'm making progress. My pace has stayed approximately the same both days, but I was able to run a continuous half-mile yesterday, something I didn't do Monday.

I maybe probably shouldn't have run that continuous half-mile, however, because I was so-so-so sore by the end of the day. A body as large as mine is can't take that kind of pounding without growling and biting back.

I did the workout in the morning, then walked around town yesterday putting up posters for the Iron Jawed Angels event. I stopped for groceries before I came home, fixed dinner and collapsed.

But you know what? I'm already looking forward to Week One, Day Three. So there, body!


Sweet potatoes! When the deer ate all the leaves from the sweet potato vines, I thought there would be no harvest. The leaves came right back, though, and yesterday I decided to see what I could find. I used a trowel, which nicked the flesh of one of the tubers. No big deal, but next time I'm going to use a shovel and dig deep. Harvesting potatoes is a bit of a crap shoot ... you really don't know where they are, since they're all underground. My soil isn't quite loamy/sandy enough just to pull the vine up and out with potatoes dangling from it.


Sweet potatoes! You're supposed to cure the tubers to improve flavor and storage properties, and I probably will cure the rest of the very small harvest. (I only planted four slips.) I'm going to wait until the leaves begin to yellow, as suggested in the linked article. I ate mine with butter and cinnamon and, honestly, I felt like a real gardener again. This has been a not-very-successful year for crops here in the Middle of Nowhere, but it's nice to go dig something out of the ground that I put there months ago, and that the deer tried to destroy. Debbi - 1, Mother Nature - 0!

So there you have it: A comprehensive update on the Knitting, Running, Reaping and Eating lately. Sometimes it's good to get back to basics.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

September 12 - Together

Two little sweet potatoes, nestled together beneath the dirt.
The first potatoes of any kind I've ever grown. Mmm, dinner.
(Together with some kind of easy-to-eat protein, to be named later.)

Thanks. And a workout fail. And an award!

Your comments lately have been so insightful and interesting. We're all in this together, whether it's the shared experience of a national tragedy or dealing with health challenges or loving the new Bob Dylan music.

Well, that might just be me. Heh.

I had every intention of doing some light weight training yesterday but the dumbbells never made it to the house from the garage. Fortunately, body work counts, but I'm not sure 10 lunges and 10 squats equals a workout. However, as we like to say here at Chez Middle of Nowhere, something is better than nothing. Today will be the second run/walk session from the Up and Running program, and I'm looking forward to getting out there and getting it done. It's a beautiful morning! (You're welcome for that earworm.)

I've been nominated for a blog award, which I get to turn around and give it away. Here are the rules:

  1. Accept the award.
  2. Post the award on your blog together with the name/link to the blog of the person who gave it to you.
  3. Offer information about yourself.
  4. Pass the award to 7 other blogs and provide links to their blogs.
  5. Contact those 7 bloggers to let them know they've been chosen.
So. I accept! And thank you, Vickie at Technopoesis, for passing it on to me. Vickie takes lovely photographs and, in fact, I have one of her images hanging in my home. She has a great eye, and I hope you'll check out her work.
What in the HELL could I possibly add about myself that you guys don't already know? After more than six years of blogging, I'm not sure any secrets remain. The darkest one is here (although that darkness has truly turned into a light and life I never would have imagined), and I link to it just in case the revelations there might help someone else.

My winners are in that sidebar over there on the left, the one I call "Not to be Missed." ALL OF THEM ARE WINNERS. In keeping with the spirit of the award, I would especially like to give a shout-out to these seven:

  • Gingerzingi, who has been reading my drivel almost since the beginning of the Shrinking Knitter. 
  • Big Ass Belle, who doesn't update much any more, but when she does it's SOOOO worth the read.
  • Crazy Aunt Purl, who I actually met in person when she was on a book tour. I couldn't have been more excited if I'd been meeting Bob Dylan in person. She's that cool.
  • The Amazing Adventures of Dietgirl, who has been part of a mutual admiration society for-freakin'-evah! Shauna also is one of the partners in Up and Running, and I wouldn't be heading out for that second workout of the U&R plan if it weren't for her.
  • Jennette, who has provided countless hours of entertainment and inspiration since long before I started blogging. 
  • Mir at Woulda Coulda Shoulda handles tough times with humor and grace and some damned funny words. I wish her and her family more than well.
  • Jonathan, who struggles right along with the rest of us but has a great way of ending each of his posts on a high note.

I'm supposed to contact them, but Vickie didn't tell me about it, so I'm going to follow her lead and let each of these bloggers find out serendipitously. I love surprises, and I hope they do, as well! And thanks to all of you who read and comment and have become a part of my life. I really mean that.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

September 11 - Hero

I don't wrap myself in the flag, but when I see it or fly it
I think of my heroes: my dad, grandfather and brother,
who served in the military; my mother and her mother,
who sacrificed so much during WWII; my children,
who are better parents than I ever was, and countless others,
known and unknown, who rise above and ask for nothing in return. 


Where were you when life as we know it changed utterly?

Do you remember when you could walk all the way to the airport gate to wave good-bye to your husband as he boarded a plane? Or when you could pass through the turnstile at a football game or concert without having your bag searched?

Have you forgotten a time when we as a country didn't know what Al Qaeda was or where Tajikastan was or how to pronounce Azerbaijan?

Or who Osama Bin Laden was?

On a much more practical and mundane level, do you remember when you could fill your gas tank for less than twenty bucks?

Twenty terrorists took a joy ride that cost them their lives and killed 3000 people on American soil. But the damage is so much more than that. Our collective initial burst of patriotism and shared sorrow following the attacks on September 11, 2001, has devolved into suspicion and lost innocence and exceptionalism. It's sad, to me, what's happened.

We live in fear. Well, many of us do, anyway. I try not to, and I have my recovery to thank for that.

There ain't no big deals.
Live and let live.
One day at a time.

I've learned those lessons and more in the rooms of AA, and I'm grateful I don't spend my days worrying about what's going to happen next. And when it's going to happen.

We've seen our civil liberties erode, we've spent trillions of dollars, we've lost hundreds of thousands of military and civilian lives, we've committed untold resources to rebuild what we've destroyed overseas.

I somehow think the 3000 who died 11 years ago today wouldn't have wanted to see this happen in their defense. They might, as I am, be a bit cynical of those who wrap themselves in the flag and wave the Constitution, while politicians call for an ever-expanding military budget.

They might think it more important to live in peace, instead of in war.

Monday, September 10, 2012

September 10 - Black + White

Cheated on this one because the hibiscus is SOOOO beautiful!
I like selective colorization anyway, especially when it's kinda messy.

Two years

It's been two years now since my Dear Ol' Dad died. He used to sign his notes "DOD." I still have the box that his last gift (a set of spectacularly tacky garden trolls) to me came in, with a little poem about guarding the garden in his shaky handwriting. Love, DOD.

I ended up talking about him quite a bit this weekend. Somehow a couple people learned that I have a private pilot's license and there were long conversations about our mutual love of flying. My dad took his first airplane ride in an open-cockpit biplane when he was five years old, and he was instantly and permanently infected with the bug to learn to fly. He got his license when I was 18, and I got mine when I was 30. He ended up owning half a dozen different airplanes throughout his lifetime; by the time I started taking lessons he had a Citabria, which is "aerobatic" sort of spelled backwards.

The weekend was great. This retreat is pretty unstructured, with just four scheduled meetings. The remainder of the time is spent fellowshipping, eating, walking/hiking, napping, eating, watching football, eating … you get the idea.

Every year when I leave Kentucky I think to myself, "Next year will be different. I'm going to really work on losing weight and getting back in shape and no one will recognize me when we go back." Well, this year I said it out loud to my husband, and here I am saying it to you, and maybe making a more public commitment will help me stay on track.

Today is the first training day for Up & Running, the second anniversary of my dad's passing and the day after the annual retreat. My dad was a good example of how I don't want to end up when I'm 80: infirm, in pain and in doctors' offices all the time. The confluence of these events is perfect for yet another new beginning.

As far as food goes, I'll be trying something I've seen and considered but haven't put into practice – breakfast and lunch will be pretty much the same thing every day. No-brainer meals, if you will. Cereal or oatmeal for breakfast, yogurt or cottage cheese or a smoothie for lunch. I'm still having trouble  eating, especially salads (getting used to the dentures), so dinners will be soups, stir-fries or pasta with cooked-to-death vegetables.

Edited to add: Also, one day off each week. Because if you eat treats every day, they're not really treats, are they?

Anyone want to join me? I'd love the support, whether your meals look like mine or not.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

September 9 - Something you do most weekends

Interesting that today's photo prompt fell on the one weekend I'm NOT doing
something I usually do. Ah, well, laundry can (almost) always wait a day or two.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

September 8 - At night

The light outside the lodge where we're staying. I'm having such a good time.
There's no single group of people who know how to have fun as much as
recovering drunks do. End of story.

Friday, September 7, 2012

September 7 - Natural

Natural, plain yogurt, made from natural fresh-from-the-cow milk. Mmmmm.

Never gonna …

Okay, before I go you HAVE to see this. Wonder how long it took to produce it ...

Fired up! Ready to go!

Yes, there's a lot of enthusiasm around the Middle of Nowhere this morning. Last night's convention speeches inspired me anew (not that I needed much inspiration, right?) and strengthened my resolve to re-elect President Obama. We'll be counting the votes in 60 days. That's not much time to turn West Virginia blue, but I'll be doing my best.

Which, admittedly, will be very difficult since 40 percent of the Democratic primary votes went to a convicted felon and serial candidate who managed to make his way onto the ballot. From prison!

Probably the starkest contrast between the two conventions was the lack of diversity in Tampa and the abundance of it in Charlotte. You didn't have to watch the GOP convention (I didn't) to notice from clips that there were more people of color on stage than in the audience. And that may be why West Virginians register as Democrats but vote Republican.

Just sayin'.

My husband and I are headed out this weekend to an AA retreat we've been attending for more than a dozen years. It's our version of a family reunion. We didn't make it two years ago – on our way there we got a call that my dad had collapsed. We did a U-turn and sped to the hospital, too late.

Last year on the way home from the event my daughter called to announce she and her husband were divorcing. It's not that I hadn't seen it coming, but still … a bit of a shock.

I'm hoping for a tragedy-free time this year.

I finished knitting Jujuba last night, then joined the front and back center seams with a decorative i-cord bind-off (which looks great, by the way) and started seaming the sides/sleeves. I tried it on this morning over my sleep shirt and even with, ahem, no foundation it looked pretty good. It's a great length, the sleeves are perfect, the drape of the fabric is not clingy at all – I'm so pleased! It needs some kind of finishing touch at the lower edge and neckline and it'll be done, done, done. Film at eleven.

And now, I need to take a walk, pack my bags and head to Kentucky. Will probably just be photo-blogging this weekend. I figure we all need a break from politics before the real work begins. You can thank me in the comments. Heh.

P.S. And thank you for your comments, and for indulging my excitement as I lean to the left.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

September 6 - Every day

Even when the power was out for nine straight days, we managed to make coffee.

Staying up late …

is most definitely not normal for me. I'll sometimes, maybe, stay up for a really good football game, but even then I just figure I can always catch the score in the morning. For me, nothing trumps tired.

I was not tired last night. I starting watching the Democratic National Convention from about 6 p.m. (it begins at 5 p.m.) and went to bed well after midnight. The speakers were amazing and inspiring. Again! Two nights in a row! How can they possibly top themselves tonight?


He was there last night, too. I had a feeling he'd take the stage with former President Clinton, and I was pretty thrilled when he did. We've been watching the convention on C-SPAN – all speeches, no pundits. The cable news networks probably had cameras trained on the President's every move, thus spoiling the surprise for their viewers. Watching C-SPAN makes me feel like I'm part of the event, but with a more comfortable seat and tight close-ups of the speakers. C-SPAN doesn't broadcast in HD, but OH WELL. Lack of analysis trumps lack of HD.

The casting of ballots followed President Clinton's fired-up-and-ready-to-go speech. West Virginia is next to last alphabetically, but I was determined to watch so I could see some of my friends on television. The  delegation chose 18-year-old Hannah McCarley to do the talking – a high-school senior, and possibly the youngest of all the delegates attending the convention.

Of course I wasn't watching without following the action on Facebook and Twitter. And knitting.

The funniest thing that rolled by on Facebook were these texts from Bill to Hillary.

The best tweets were from Invisible Obama.

And I'm down to fewer than 1000 stitches on Jujuba. Time to start planning the next project.

All in all, it was a very good – if late – night.

P.S. I'm an all-in Democrat, not likely to criticize or analyze (with the exception of our former Governor Joe Manchin). There are plenty of blogs and websites for that. Please don't judge me for being Little Miss Sunshine when it comes to the festivities in Charlotte this week. Heh.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

September 5 - Bright

Holy bokeh, Batman! I love when that happens! A shot of the sun peeking
through the clouds, taken when I was outside walking today. 

Whittling away on those stitches

I got a lot done last night on Jujuba, even though I only worked on it a couple hours. My Tuesday volunteer gig at the prison doesn't get me home until nearly 9, but I got to watch the convention and get all revved up. Jujuba is perfect revved-up knitting. Heh. I'm down to about 4400 stitches to go.

Our First Lady is the best. So genuine, so beautiful, so earnest and compassionate. I loved her speech. The pundits are saying Michelle could give Hillary a run for her money in the 2016 primary.

It occurred to me that there were a LOT of potential Presidents making speeches last night. I missed Cory Booker, but I think he'd be terrific, as would Mayor Julian Castro (electing a man named Castro might be more difficult than electing one named Obama!).

Vickie, I think it's great that your high school registers 18-year-olds in their government classes. Our county high school does, as well, and our county clerk always has voter registration forms with her. I need to remember to pick some up for our screening of Iron Jawed Angels later this month.

So more knitting tonight, and more speeches, and more inspiration. I only heard one lie: The Affordable Care Act still leaves some people uninsured, and more than one speaker claimed all Americans would be covered. (HR676 would solve that problem, but try getting Republicans to agree to that!) Did you watch any of the convention last night? What did you think?

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

September 4 - In my mailbox (updated)

Not crazy about this prompt, as we've done it before. Oh, well. This mail is,
obviously, OUT of my mailbox. Bills to be paid, a magazine to be read.

The outside of the mailbox.

Public Service Announcement

If you scroll down to the bottom of the page, there's a form you can use to register to vote. Please, if you are a U.S. citizen and you're not registered, it couldn't be easier. This election is very important for the future of WOMEN.

Want to add the form to your website? Get the code HERE.

That is all.

Feeling my age

I can set my own schedule at the garden center, since we're only technically open for business on the weekends. I'm there during the week to water plants, and if someone sees the gate open and stops in, I'll be happy to sell them what they need, but I don't have to be there at a certain time.

That said, I like to get there earlier rather than later, to avoid having to water when the sun is high overhead. Most of the plants are in full sun by 10 a.m.

I didn't make it until 11:30 yesterday morning. Wow. Was. It. Hot. And sunny! A few clouds rolled by, but the sun was mostly relentless and the threat of rain remained just a threat.

In addition to dragging the hose around in the hot sun, I waited on a lot of customers. I was surprised to see so many people there on a holiday; it's not like we were having a sale. And nearly everyone who came in bought something, so I feel like I earned my wages on Labor Day.

(By the way, did you see or hear House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's Labor Day message? He said: "Today we celebrate those who have taken a risk, worked hard, built a business and earned their own success." Excuse me? Labor Day honors WORKERS and UNIONS, not business owners. If you're from Virginia, please tell me you're not voting for him. PLEASE.)

Okay, I'm back.

So four hours after I went to work I was back home and exHAUSTed. The sun really takes it out of this old lady. Our Labor Day dinner was a repeat of Sunday's rice/beans/salsa because I was too hot and tired to light the grill. I hope y'all enjoyed your barbecues. I was happy with leftovers and a nap.

The Democratic convention begins tonight. I'll be taking another nap this afternoon so I can try-try-try to stay up for it. IF I manage to stay awake for all three nights, I'm pretty sure I'll be done knitting the blue sweater, and it will be ready to put assemble. There are four seams to sew: center front and back (the sweater is constructed from cuff to center) and the sleeves. I can then add a lower border and some collar trim and it'll be ready to wear.

Hoping the weather cools off about the same time.

Monday, September 3, 2012

September 3 - Far Away

My car is waaaaaaay off in the distance, a tiny white blob in the parking
lot of the garden center. I was watering fruit trees when I took the picture.

Happy Labor Day!

And thank a union sometime during your celebration today.

I'll be laboring … plants still need watering, national (U.S.) holiday or not. It looks like rain, but not until much later and even then a predicted rain can skirt around the mountain and miss us entirely. So I'll be watering at the garden center, and maybe mowing here at home. I did a little weeding yesterday, but it was VERY hot and VERY humid and I quit when I'd done only about a third of the area I started on.

This is warm-up week for Up&Running. I thought we would actually be running this week, but it's more about defining motivation, which is very helpful when it comes to sticking with a program.

Yesterday's photo brought up all kinds of emotional stuff for me. The lovely Chantelle's photo prompts reflect that she lives in Australia, where Father's Day happened yesterday. I didn't know that until I Googled. The best thing that came from yesterday is the enduring gratitude I have for being able to spend the last week of my Dad's life with him.

We would have so much to talk about this week, were he still alive. I'm excited about the Democratic National Convention. I know a lot of people who are there and will be glued to both the television, the phone and the laptop for the next few days. I expect my blogging will be limited (I could be wrong), but I'll at least get the picture posts up to keep the daily-post streak going.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

September 2 - Father

My little shrine to my father, atop a curio cabinet in my living room.
Two years ago this week he was on his way to visit me. He died the
day he left WV. We were so fortunate we had that last week together.
He liked to fly airplanes, can you tell? =)

Saturday, September 1, 2012

September 1 - You, Now

Here we go again …

I keep signing up for NaBloPoMo (even though I don't follow the prompts) and for FatMumSlim's Photo a Day (where I absolutely DO follow the prompts) and you know what? If I could find a place that inspired me to exercise, I bet I'd be doing that regularly, as well.

Well, whaddyaknow. I HAVE!

Training begins Monday, and I'm ready, ready, ready to (pause) rock and roll. Oh, and run.

Although I must confess that I hope the first day doesn't really include much running because it's been way too long since I've picked up the pace. Also my husband and I will not be doing this together, because he's dead set against my running. So I'll have to do it in secret.

If Rosie O'Donnell hadn't had that heart attack I think he'd be cautiously supportive of my return to running. (Oh, okay, I'll be jogging, not running.) Since she did, he's memorized the signs of women's heart attacks and gently pointed out that waist circumference (who, me?!?) is a major indicator and he went out and bought a bottle of regular-strength uncoated Bayer aspiring and MADE SURE I KNEW WHERE HE PUT IT.

I will be eating my words along with that aspirin if I end up having a heart attack.

I'm not ungrateful for his concern. Really, I'm not. I thought I did a pretty good job of preventing a heart attack last week by not watching the Republican convention, but did he applaud me for that? No, he did not.

I've been drinking green smoothies (mmmmm, don't knock it 'til you've tried it) three or four mornings a week. Although drinking my breakfast has more to do with having way too much homemade yogurt on hand than it does with wearing dentures.


(Oh, okay, it's easier to drink than it is to eat. I realize dentures will never feel like the real deal, but I just can't imagine ever being able to eat popcorn or steak again. Although the dentist promised I would.)

I worked four mornings this week and shopped all day yesterday. (Shopping for me means lugging heavy things around Sam's Club for a couple of hours. Not exactly exercise, but not sitting on my ass, either.) I hope to get a walk in this morning before the heavy rains move in. Then I will be sitting on my ass, knitting and watching FOOTBALL. Yay!

Expect the blog to swing back to knitting and running and away from reaping (there wasn't much of that this summer) and eating (not much of that either, thanks to the denture adventure) for the next few weeks. I'm still slogging away on the blue sweater I started about 10 years ago. (HEH.) Would love to have it finished to wear during election season. It's the perfect shade of Obama blue.