Friday, November 30, 2012

November 30 - On the wall

I not only flew airplanes, I also drew them. Detail of a pen-and-ink
illustration I did more than 30 years ago, using a technique called pointillism.
This radial engine and chrome propeller caught my eye at the annual EAA
Fly-In and Convention in Oshkosh, WI. I snapped a photo and then spent the
 next couple of years completing the drawing. Most of the aircraft illustrations
I did back then were commissions. This and one other were for me, and are
hanging on the wall in my TV room. (India ink on illustration board.)

One day feels like another …

at least when referring to BlogHer's NaBloPoMo. Today marks the end of the 2012 experience of publishing a blog post daily for the month of November. Many of those who participated will go back to posting regularly, but not daily. (Last month there were 510 entries added to BlogHer's list, this month there are more than 3200. And the day's just beginning.) I've managed to keep the daily drivel going since the beginning of November, 2011, missing only a couple of days but racking up 646 posts since 11/1/11.

Some posts were just photos, which is fine and it counts. But I gotta tell you that when I sit down every morning in front of this screen, I don't feel like I have to write something. I feel like I want to. Sometimes I want to write something two or even three times in one day.

I suppose it's because I live such an isolated life. Were it not for Barack Obama's decision to run for President in 2008, I wouldn't have much face-to-face contact with anyone. I've lived in West Virginia since 1997 and four years ago I still didn't have friends who weren't also my husband's (he was born here).

Thanks to my volunteering to elect the President to his first term, my husband now has friends who also are mine. And thanks to the President, I have a lot more to write about than just knitting and running and gardening and cooking. And crafting, but I haven't figured out a way to work that into the title of the blog. Heh.

So thank you, both of you, who have read and continue to read the words that flow through my fingertips from my heart to yours. Unless something crazy-exciting happens later today (as it did yesterday), by the time I tuck myself in tonight I will have posted 59 times this month. It would have been 60 – a word post and a photo post each day – but on one day the photo prompt fit what I was going to write about, and so I combined them. (My photo prompts come from Chantelle.)

(The tiny little OCD corner of my personality wants to publish three posts today to make that come out to a perfect two-posts-a-day finish. I WILL RESIST!)

Yesterday was a crafty day, indeed. I started putting the journals together and discovered that I needed to have an extra leaf on the first and last signatures* to glue to the inside front and back covers. So I spent much of the afternoon reprinting, resewing and reglueing. I took the opportunity to add an extra signature to each of the journals. They're all dried and ready for covers, and I should (crossing fingers) have photos of the finished gift tomorrow.

And after yammering on about making ceramic tile coasters, I ended up making Scrabble tile coasters. Not that I won't also make ceramic tile versions, but I had a bag of tiles from an old game just waiting to be made into something. My son and I play Scrabble with each other online, almost daily, so he's getting a set of four for Christmas.

Many (most?) of the Pinterest versions all have beverage words spelled out. I decided to personalize this set. One represents his native state, one his current home, one has the word RACK, plus three words of high-point Scrabble letters (WAVE, JIVE, QUIZ) and the fourth is a nod to his journalism career.

I still need to trim them out of the slab o' cork. But they are, essentially, done. I hope he likes them. They don't really look or function like a salt mill, which is what he asked for. I will also give him a Southern Season gift card. 'Cause Santa always brings what you ask for, right? Heh.

There are lots of "O"s and "I"s left in the tile bag. If I knew someone who spoke binary, I could probably make another set. But I have many more gifts to finish, and miles to go before I sleep.

 

*b. A large sheet printed with four or a multiple of four pages that when folded becomes a section of the book.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

What passes for excitement in the Middle of Nowhere

Anna, you're going to love this. I'm giddy with excitement because …





we had to have a tree cut down and the workmen dumped their entire load of chipped mulch at the edge of my yard. Woo hoo!


November 29 - Big

The setting moon this morning, about 7:30. It rose last night around 6 and
was absolutely STUNNING. It reminded me of my first night flight when I
was taking flying lessons, more than 30 years ago. My instructor and I were
heading east as the moon was rising, flying above downtown Columbus, Ohio,
with all the Christmas lights twinkling below. It was magical. And unforgettable.

Shopping wipes me OUT

Armed with lists for three different stores, I set out yesterday morning around 10 to shop. And shop. And shop.

Six hours later I was unloading the car. And four hours after that I was sound asleep. Plum tuckered out, my dear ol' daddy used to say.

I ended up going to five different stores because I remembered when I was near Lowe's Hardware that I've pinned several ideas for coasters made of square ceramic tiles. (The link takes you to waaaay more ideas than what I've pinned so far.) I swear ceramic tiles must be the cheapest thing Lowe's sells: 16¢ each! I bought a dozen, and enough cork and glue for another couple dozen, should I decide to go into the ceramic tile coaster business. Heh.

And I went to two different Wal-Marts.

(Yes I know W-M is the evil empire but I'd have to drive twice as far and cross a state line to get to the nearest Target. What's a liberal to do? Waste all that fossil fuel by driving further or shop at Made in China? Besides, the people who work there need those jobs. W-M is the largest employer in the state of West Virginia. It's a dilemma, for sure.)

Anyway. Before I left the house I made the bookmarks, so I could find matching fabric for the journal covers. (If this is your first time visiting KRRE, I'm making four seasonal journals for my kindergartner granddaughter for Christmas. Previous posts offer more details.) I am so grateful for generous and talented folks like Jessica Stansberry, who shared a free download of a chevron Photoshop brush, which made the bookmark project go a lot faster.

Armed with the bookmarks, I headed to the first W-M for a couple things Sams doesn't carry. While there, I checked out their scrapbooking stickers and found a boatload of appropriate themes for just a buck each. The second W-M had even more, and I came away with 15 sheets. The only occasion I couldn't find stickers for was Thanksgiving.

The text on the bookmarks encourages the use of photos and drawings. The journals should have a nice variety of illustrations and stories of what happened between Christmases beginning when she was 5-1/2. I hope they will be treasured keepsakes.

Clearly, finding stickers was the highlight of the day. Choosing fabric was easy and I stuck to the list at Sams. NO DILLYDALLYING, because I was already, um, plum tuckered out when I got there.

Anyway. While I didn't actually work on any crafty stuff yesterday I gathered a lot of materials/ingredients and am ready, ready, ready to rock and roll.

Coasters – check.
Journals – check.
Edible gifts – check.
Knitting – always!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

November 28 - Vehicle

Toast is the perfect vehicle for so many toppings. It was poached eggs
(again) this morning, but it could have been apple jelly or orange
marmalade or butter with cinnamon/sugar sprinkled on top. Mmm, toast.

More crafty thoughts

So. My younger granddaughter's Christmas gift will be four handmade journals, with blank spaces for her to add drawings/photos/stickers and a written description. Frequently when I start a project like this, I end up thinking about it before I drift off to sleep, and sometimes even dreaming about it.

Since there are four books, instead of just adding random fabric covers, I'm going to make one blue (winter), one pink (spring), one yellow (summer) and one orange (autumn). One quilting fat quarter is enough to cover each journal. Since I'm heading to Sam's Club today anyway (SOB! No Costco here in the Middle of Nowhere, nor in the entire state of West Virginia), I can make a stop at JoAnn's for fabric.

Each of the four journals has four four-page signatures. This image shows
them after they've been sewn together and the glue (I use Mod Podge) has dried.

She might not pick up on the significance of the colors representing the seasons. I had originally intended to type up an instruction sheet to go with the books, but I think I'll make an instructional bookmark for each season. While I'm at JoAnn's I'll cruise through the scrapbooking stickers and pick up a few sheets – beach vacation, birthday, Christmas, Easter, school – to add to the package.

My son and his wife have read to their daughter every day of her life since she was born, and a car trip always includes an off-the-cuff story or two. This young lady is very verbal, and now that she knows how to read and write, I think her parents will appreciate the gift of seasonal journals. Each one has 31 pages – I don't expect a five-year-old to pull off a NaBloPoMo for a year! But something write-worthy happens every two or three days in a kindergartener's life.

I hope.

Last year it was doll clothes. This year it's journals. She doesn't watch television, and is thus not tempted by commercials for the latest new toy. I hope I can get away with giving her handmade gifts for many more Christmases.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

November 27 - Tree

I sure am getting a lot of mileage from the Derecho we had this past
summer. I've already shared some of the tree pictures I took when it was
still warm. This stump used to be one of four that were about 20 feet tall.
We hired one of our Amish neighbors to cut them down to size.

Search-for-a-pattern result

Last night I'd already decided to continue working on a mindless-knitting garter-stitch scarf, when I was messaged by someone suggesting that a mutual someone might like one of those big-bow headbands to accessorize her new short haircut.

Off I went searching for bow headband knitting patterns, which are, um, abundant out there on the internets. (Ravelry is an amazing resource.) I picked this one. It's knit flat and seamed, and is shaped with short rows. I decided to knit the pattern as written the first time. Subsequent items will be knit in the round, but I thought I needed to see how the short-rowing worked first.

In less than two hours I was two rows away from casting off the headband part. However, I think it's not going to be big enough around to go over the second someone's new haircut. So here's my plan to fix it.

When I cast off the last stitch, I'm going to knit across the short horizontal edge and then knit an inch or so of ribbing. I will then sew the two edges together. The bow is knit separately and sewn on over the narrowest part of the headband, so my adaptation won't even show.

I hope it works. Heh. Film at eleven.

The other project I started yesterday isn't knitting, running, reaping OR eating. I'm making books.

Last time I visited my younger granddaughter she was working on a storybook. Each page had a blank box at the top where she could add stickers. Below the box were a few lines on which she could write a story about the sticker picture she'd created.

I've made journals before, and with the single adaptation of making these larger, I think a handful of them will make a fine Christmas present for a little one just learning to write. I made the inside pages yesterday, printing some of them on lavender paper and some on white:


And if you're so inclined, you can snag the .pdf for the pages here. I then printed a title/author page for each book on the opposite side of one of the story pages (the title is on the right side and a story page is on the left). Today I'll get started on the real work.

So it's a crafty Christmas here in the Middle of Nowhere, and that's just the way I like it. Are you making any gifts this year? Or cards? Feel free to share links in the comments. I'd love to see what you're working on playing with!

Monday, November 26, 2012

November 26 - In the cupboard

Love my pantry. Here are shots of apple jelly, salsa and tomatoes, and
dried beans and grains, all ready and waiting to be turned into meals.

It never stops

I bet when you read the subject of today's post you just assumed I'd cast on for a bag or mittens or clogs or a sweater or even – gasp! – another hat!

We interrupt this blog post to show off the Cabled Helmet Hat,
which is just about the cutest thing evah! It fits me perfectly, but
it's very, very warm. I doubt if I would wear it more than a couple
times a year. What to do, what to do ... I think it will be auctioned
off next year, along with the Cabled Beret, to raise money for the
Blue Team – that would be West Virginia Democrats.

Well, I haven't. Cast on a new project, that is. I'm still thinking about what I'd like to work on next.

No, what never stops, apparently, is West Virginia politics. Shelley Moore Capito, our 2nd District Congresswoman and a Republican who was just elected to her seventh term in the House of Representatives, is announcing this morning her run for the Senate in 2014. She'll be going up against our senior senator, five-term Democrat Jay Rockefeller.

He's a prince of a Senator, and West Virginia can't afford to lose him.

And so, the campaign begins. Again. HOWEVER … it's not just a campaign for the Senate seat, because she will be vacating her seat in Congress. We have a great opportunity to take the 2nd District from the GOP and turn it blue again.

We need a good candidate, of course, and my beef with the State Democratic Party is they haven't been grooming candidates. It's been rumored for a couple of years that this Congressional seat would open up because Ms. Capito had her eyes on a bigger prize, but I think this announcement has taken a few Democrats here by surprise.

And there's not much time to get ready. Not only do we not know who the Republicans have in mind, we have a somewhat moderate Democrat machine here in West Virginia, leaving those of us who sit to the left of the salad fork either holding our noses to vote blue, or staying home for the mid-terms.

We just can't do that this time. Democrats need to define what it is to be a Democrat and we need to sell that to all those Democrat voters who voted for Romney and we need to do it NOW.

I think it's going to take more than party favors to win this one.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

November 25 - Sky

Good morning!

A day off for the news folks

What the heck are the news people going to talk about today? Grey Thursday and Black Friday are over (unless you count the large number of retailers who are extending their "Black Friday deals" to the end of the year). Small Business Saturday is in the books, as well. Cyber Monday is tomorrow; I suppose the talking heads could breathlessly predict massive failures of the internets because of the sheer volume of online shoppers.

It. Makes. Me. Tired.

Not as tired as actually going out and braving the crowds, of course. Since I got home on Thanksgiving afternoon, I've stayed tucked in my nice warm house with my knitting and, um, football snacks. So I'm not tired at all.

My knitting is progressing nicely. Instead of a pair of clogs, I decided to start this.


Naturally I'm using some wool I already had in the yarn closet, an unlabeled blue-and-white tweed  which, doubled, is working out nicely.

Five years ago I might have gone out searching for the neutral tweed illustrated in the video. My favorite colors then were black, grey and taupe. And, honestly, I can't say that blue is my favorite color. But if you're going to be an active Democrat, you really need some blue stuff in your wardrobe.

Before the 2008 campaign my go-to winter cover-up was a green fleece half-zip pullover. Now it's a blue fleece zippered cardigan. Of the last four knitting projects I've started, three have been blue. The pink-and-grey slippers won't be for public display, thus they could be, um, not-blue. I've recently added to my wardrobe:

  • a blue-and-black top
  • a blue-and-white skirt and
  • a blue twinset

I'm ready, ready, ready to … rock the blue.

I started the current hat when WVU kicked off Friday afternoon at 3:30. After two days of nearly non-stop football, I have just 23 rounds to go, 10 of which are decreasing to shape the top, and then I'll be searching for the next project.

The felted bag I made for the WVFDW auction last summer was a big hit, and I'm thinking of going in that direction. I might also whip up a pair of mittens to match the Cabled Helmet. None of these projects has a deadline or is targeted for anyone in particular. I'm just knitting because I like to knit.

And I eat far fewer football snacks when my hands are busy.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

November 24 - A sound you heard

All football, all day. I heard The Ohio State University marching band
as they performed the script Ohio. Does anyone remember when halftime
of a televised football game meant you got to hear the band instead
of analysis of the game you just watched?

Brilliant self-promotion

I like cruising my Facebook page with my first cup of coffee, 'cause I'm nosy like that. Imagine my surprise when I got a notice that my friend Marla had tagged me. She's a fabulously talented painter and was promoting herself AND dozens of her creative friends in a Facebook post.

Naturally I returned the favor.

The images I saw and stories I read from Black Friday (and Grey Thursday) were horrifying. The video of Wal-Mart shoppers shoving, pushing and screaming to get a smartphone was so awful I'm not even going to link to it. In San Antonio, someone pulled a gun on a man who was trying to cut into the front of the line. (Oh, and he wasn't charged because he had a concealed-carry permit.)

WTF?!?!?

How much nicer it is to give a shout out to online and local friends and businesses who offer quality products and services. And Facebook makes it really easy to do so.

Most of the time when you being typing a name, that name will pop up and you can just click on it to create a link. To link to a business page that you've liked (I just found this out), type an "@" symbol and the first few letters of the business and the pop-up box will appear.

If you're not yet my Facebook friend, you can click on the link over there on the right and send a request. I'd love to add you. And when I do, you can then give yourself and your friends a shout out for Small Business Saturday. C'mon ... spread the love ... you know you'd rather do that than go to Wal-Mart.

Since I first posted a couple hours ago, I've put my money where my mouth is and ordered this from Ray at knitivity.com:


BRS2012 #407 – Phydlbitz Sock - $22.50  $20.00  SOLD – (d.m.)
and Marla's calendar. Be sure to share your local scores in the comments. Or on Facebook. Have a great Saturday!

Friday, November 23, 2012

November 23 - Black

I dont' really need to caption this. Do I?

Rude awakening

Hershey, looking worried. As usual.
Hershey's the best dog ever. Or at least the best dog currently. (Because Lindy, my chocolate Lab who died in 1997, was an absolutely amazing dog.) Whenever I hear someone say how SMART, or how OBEDIENT, or how CLEVER theirs or someone else's dog is, I have to shut my MOUTH.

Because really? Hershey's the best. And if I said so I'd just look like I was arguing. Or showing off.

She does, however, have those times which try men's (and women's) souls. Like this morning, for instance!

I'm an early, early riser, as a rule. But yesterday was a big day (and a bit traumatic, damn you dentures!) and since all the MSNBC and CNN talking heads had the night off, my husband and I watched the rest of The Great Gatsby and all of Somewhere in Time. Meaning I got to bed a little later and a lot more wiped out than usual.

Hershey decided 7 o'clock this morning was LATE ENOUGH ALREADY and started barking her head off. There is no direct line of sight to the outdoors from inside the bedroom, unless you open the blinds (which she, so far, is unable to master), so I'm not sure what spooked her. I've often said she can sense a deer in the yard whether she sees one or not, and that might very well have been the cause of all her excitement.

Or maybe it was a gunshot. Because nothing signals the beginning of the holiday season like shotgun reports blasting through a crisp autumn morning.

Pretty, yes?
At any rate, thank you, Hershey, for that wake-up call. The coffee is hot and I refuse to go shopping on Black Friday. Today would be a good day to clean and decorate and maybe even get some crafty things crossed off the list. Also, WVU plays today – not that it matters, but it's FOOTBALL and football means KNITTING. The slippers and the blue hat are both finished now, so I need to find something new.

Well, new in addition to the very long skinny garter-stitch scarf for no one in particular, just because I had to have something to knit while watching movies last night. My husband does not understand why I can't just sit and watch and not knit. I told him I just can't. Deal.

At any rate, part of the day will be spent putting pattern, yarn and needles together prior to the game. I'm thinking Felted Clogs right now. Subject to change when I put the new knitting magazines away.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

November 22 - Grateful

Grateful I won't have to say President Romney for the next four years.

Happy Thanksgiving!


My favorite Thanksgiving tradition is listening to Alice's Restaurant 
on the drive from our house to pick up my mother-in-law. 
Which tells you a whole lot about me. Think about it.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Two, two, two posts in one!

How very serendipitous that today's photo prompt – "what you wore" – coincides with my new slippers being knit, sewn, felted, dried and worn!

Duffers. Done.

See? (Finally! An Instagram photo of my footwear, which seems to be a very popular subject.)

These were knit using the Duffers Revisited pattern, which is probably four times more pattern than I needed. Google found the British designer's blog, where I learned that the plain old Duffers pattern (for one pound) as opposed to the Revisited pattern (for 3.75 pounds) would have sufficed.

But it's the holiday season, and it feels good to support boutique designers. Plus the money in my PayPal account is burning a hole in my virtual pocket.

(I'm going to be adding more yarn for sale on eBay very soon. Because PayPal is hungry. And I have more yarn than I'll ever knit in my ever-diminishing lifetime.)

For the Duffers I used two strands of Lite Lopi for the grey sole and one strand of a bulky wool (the label is upstairs in the garage and it's dark outside and I'm not going over there to check the brand, but maybe I'll update this later) for the upper pink part.

The only other adult slippers I've ever worn (and worn and worn and worn) are Fiber Trends Felted Clogs. I can't count how many pairs of those I've made over the years. Everyone who sees them wants a pair. (Which means family members, because who else sees you in your slippers?) I'll probably make another pair for myself soon, because, frankly, the soles on the Duffers aren't going to hold up very long.

The clog pattern has a double sole which doesn't start showing any wear for a couple of years. That accounts for the extra hour of knitting time per slipper vs. the Duffers.

Yes, that's right: Two hours per Duffer, three hours per Felted Clog. In the knitting world, that's known as instant gratification.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

November 20 - work/play

I made a tab for the WVFDW Facebook page, which was both work (because
I didn't know what the hell I was doing) and play (because I love technology
and social networking and feeling productive without a deadline. Win/win!

Remember a week or so ago ...

when I mentioned my blood pressure was a little higher than normal, and maybe I should start taking Lasix again? Well, I did, and my goodness what a difference it's made.

My blood pressure is once again in the 120/80 range, which I expected. What I didn't expect was to have so much more energy and to feel so fit.

Down the driveway and make a left.
When I walk on my road, the first third of a mile is flat. After that it's either uphill or downhill until you get back to that last flat stretch of road again. I'd gotten to the point where I actually had to stop and rest on the uphill parts. It was a big reason why walking was moved to the back burner during the last month or so of election season.

Because, really, who wants to exert oneself when it's so hard to exert oneself? Exerting should be easy, right?

When I was doing Up&Running, I only ran the downhill parts. I kept thinking I'd drive down by one of the rivers here and work out on a long flat road, but life got in the way and that never happened.

And, of course, once exercise goes, then you I give gave myself permission to stop writing down what I was eating and y'all know where that leads. Pretty soon I was eating whatever I wanted. No one's looking, after all.

Except me.

Funny thing is, I don't seem to either gain or lose weight, whether I'm exercising and eating right or being slothful and eating crapful. I'm sure it would catch up with me eventually, and I don't want that. What I do want is to be able to walk up that hill without having to stop and rest. I like being outdoors, I like moving my body, I like feeling functional. I like feeling good instead of feeling old.

The Lasix helps. I might as well keep taking it, and I might as well keep walking.

Monday, November 19, 2012

November 19 - Something awesome

I think it's way awesome that one's keys, placed into one's ignition, nearly
always result in locomotion! When't the last time your car wouldn't start?

If I don't write now ...

I'll more than likely end up skipping a day. That wouldn't bother me any other time, but it's NaBloPpMo. Write. Something. I. Must.

I watched a movie and knit a pair of slippers last night, and woke up at least an hour later than I usually do. And I'd previously committed to driving a couple of my Amish neighbors to town, so I was behind schedule from the get-go.

When I got home from that trip, another Amish neighbor called, desperate for a ride to the doctor. Well, I couldn't say no to her, and I've been going from clinic to hospital to office ever since.

So. This post is another placeholder, sort of.

I DID mention knitting. (Too cumbersome to link to the pattern, but you can do a Google search for Duffers Revisited to see how cute they are.) Will be felting them tomorrow. Pix to come later.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

November 18 - Happened this weekend

Crossed this off my to-do list: Creating a Facebook page for WVFDW.

And in the middle of this month of writing …

we get this gift.

I hope you'll click and read it. And I hope if you like reading and writing as much as I do that you'll appreciate my lack of words today and, instead, feast on those of Anne Lamott.

You're welcome.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Recycling in the Middle of Nowhere. And other stuff.

No, Vickie, we don't have curbside recycling. The nearest drop-off spot is 13 miles away. I recycle cans and bottles, because I can collect them easily in a trash bin. Other than that, space is limited.

I don't subscribe to any newspapers. If I did, I'd most likely be using it for wrapping paper or gift bags. I do subscribe to magazines, and try to pass them on when I'm finished (library, hospital, friends), but sometimes they end up getting tossed, along with the catalogs.

This bench sits inside my front door. I keep egg cartons in the
basket on the left, toss burnables in the one on the right and
that box of magazines on top is ready to go to the library.
We discard plain paper in a basket – I separate and toss envelopes with glassine windows from the rest of the mail, and we burn the plain stuff and then spread the ashes on the garden, which improves the tilth of the soil. Or so my father said. It does seem to be working. The worst third of the garden plot has improved significantly since I started working on it a couple years ago.

It appears my cold wasn't a cold after all, but must have been some kind of contact rhinitis. I sneezed and blew my nose for an hour after I got up yesterday, but the rest of the day was, um, uneventful as far as symptoms go. I took a walk (I started walking regularly again on November 8 and have missed just one day since). And I did sit down to knit and watch some previously recorded episodes of Bill Maher and Jon Stewart.

I worked on the hat again after dinner while watching part of Forrest Gump. Wasn't/isn't that a wonderful movie? I never get tired of it.

My granddaughter and I bought the yarn prior to choosing the pattern, so her hat won't have the subtle gradations of color in the designer's version. She chose bright pink and purple (she's five). After working a few rounds of the chart, the two colors are about the same intensity. But if I switched out the purple for something else, she would surely notice and remember and I don't want to disappoint her. Apologies to the designer, but granddaughters come first!

The cabled beret is still damp. I was able to get it a little wider, but not much. Might have to improvise on the top if it doesn't look beret-ish enough. The beauty of knitting is that you can get creative if something doesn't work out properly. If I were sewing, I'd have to go buy more fabric. When you make your fabric as you go along, you can either take off in a different direction (which is what I'm thinking about doing with the beret) or rip it out and start over.

Knitted fabric rarely ends up in the burn barrel.

November 17 - Last thing you bought

The last thing I bought was a gallon of fresh milk last Tuesday, from
which I made this pound of cottage cheese on Wednesday. It will be
devoured today, more than likely.

Friday, November 16, 2012

November 16 - The view from your window


Same window, two minutes apart. The sun really doesn't take long to rise.

My new best friend

"They" say a cold last either seven days or a week, whichever comes first.

Today is Day One. Grrr.

And here is my new BFF. So glad I bought the 12-pack at Sam's a couple months ago.


In an effort to find a smidgen of gratitude in the hell of having a cold, I'll just say this:
I'd rather have a cold when it's cold outside and I don't feel like doing anything outdoors anyway, than have one in the summer, when I not only want to be outdoors, but frequently need to mow or weed or reap or whatever.
You can quote me if you like. Heh.

Today would be an excellent day to knit and watch movies. I've been working on the Cabled Beret from Vogue Knitting's Caps & Hats. (The book is one of their On the Go volumes. You might have to be a Ravelry member to view the link.). The cabled strip is done. I want to block it before I pick up the stitches for the ribbed band, because I think it's a little narrow. So glad I decided to use wool, which should stretch nicely.

While the cabled strip is drying, I can start on an earflap cap for my granddaughter. She picked out the yarn and the pattern, and I really can't think of a better project to work on right now. I need a pair of slippers – I tossed my felted clogs when the holes got too big and too numerous for comfort – but my Crocs are a pretty good substitute.

So. If you need me, I'll be on the couch in the den, knitting needles in hand, working on a pink-and-purple hat. It will be a nice change from all the true-blue Democrat blue I've been using lately!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

November 15 - In your bag

Doesn't every grandma carry an emergency Tootsie Pop in her bag?

And now for something completely different

In case you hadn't heard, CHRISTMAS IS COMING!

Kinda weird how it does that every year, whether you're expecting it or not, eh?

The catalogs have already started filling up the mailbox. And the trash can. A sampling: several from Land's End, a couple from Dover (mostly offering children's books) and the Wireless catalog – which only shows up at Christmas.

Serengeti thinks I want to order more clothes, even though I told them I wouldn't be doing that after I ordered three coordinated pieces and they only sent two. Tell me, would you order a complete outfit if you knew one of the pieces was out of stock, never to be replaced? Neither would I. Which is why I ordered those slacks that were clearly marked in stock. Except they weren't. So now I have a jacket and a top and a refund on my shipping. That's going to look lovely at holiday parties.

Anyway, the one catalog I haven't received – yet – is good old Williams-Sonoma. But wait! I don't have to actually get it. Thanks to deadspin.com, I can peruse it on the internets, along with snappy comebacks for some of the more expensive interesting items.

I had to clean the monitor of spewed coffee when I read this one:


Living in the Middle of Nowhere means I frequently shop from catalogs or the internet. I've already missed the "shop local" boat for this Christmas. I've ordered origami books from Dover for one grandchild, picked up DVDs and dollhouse furniture at Toys 'R Us for another and renewed the Highlights for Children for the triplets.

Every day-after-Christmas I vow that next year will be different. Next year will be a handmade Christmas or an experience Christmas or a charitable Christmas.

(Actually last year was both handmade and experiential. But it also was still mail-order and commercial.)

A purist I am not. And seriously? If I could afford it I'd give everyone on my list a polished alderwood acorn made in Italy filled with 76 yards of linen twine. I wonder if it's waxed.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

November 14 - Manmade

Love the contrast of these two manmade items – my digital picture frame
sits next to a very old handmade basket on an end table in the living room.

You wanna secede? Seriously?

I wonder if the Obama administration is rethinking that whole We the People thing this morning, now that the number of petitions requesting a state's peaceful secession has doubled from 20 to 40.

He's probably wondering, in his heart of hearts, about that whole President thing. I know I surely would be by now!

While perusing the petitions, I saw this one from the city of Austin, Texas.


Way to stay, Austin!

Y'all can make up your own minds about whether states should have the right to secede or not. Some state constitutions specifically prohibit secession (North Carolina is one, and, yes, some asshat Tarheel posted a petition to secede anyway). West Virginia has already done it once, having seceded from Virginia, which sided with the Confederacy, during the Civil War.

(In my not-so-humble opinion, many in the Mountain State have forgotten their Union/union roots, as evidenced by the number of Confederate flags I see displayed.)

But of course there's a petition requesting peaceful secession for West Virginia, as well.

CRAZY TALK, people. President Obama was re-elected by a majority of the popular vote and a majority of the electoral vote. He won DECISIVELY. The right-wing pundits were predicting a landslide win of 325 electoral votes for their candidate. President Obama got 332. Hmmm.

The way things work here in the UNITED States of America is that every four years obscene amounts of money are spent in the process of electing someone to govern the UNITED States of America. One hopes, when one casts one's ballot, that the elected governing body will do its best for the common good. That is precisely why President Obama was re-elected: The Republican (and the Green, Mountain and Libertarian) candidate wasn't very appealing to most of us, so we voted for the incumbent.

If your We the People petition receives 25,000 signatures in 30 days, the White House will respond. So far, Texas will be getting a message. I would tell them to go sit in a corner until 2016, but then that's me. I've a feeling the President's staff response will be more measured and deliberate. And Texas won't be peacefully seceding any time soon.

The Republican party will be going the way of the Whigs if they don't start playing nice soon. There are smart, thoughtful, intelligent Republicans shaking their heads over what's been done to their message. I hope they rise up, speak out and kick ass. I really do. Good ideas come from meaningful dialogue.

If you take your toys and run away, you don't have a voice at all.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

November 13 - Where you slept

And where Hershey sleeps, too.

It's here, it's here!

Some of you may remember my writing about Anna Hess, who homesteads with her husband, Mark, in southwest Virginia. Anna was offered a book deal last year and today her book, The Weekend Homesteader, has finally arrived.

This is my favorite page:


If you read the text and photo credit closely, you'll see MY NAME!

I thought the photo was going to be tiny and in a sidebar, and I didn't expect Anna to provide details on how Debbi composted her way through the winter of 2011-12. But whoomp, there it is, on page 27. The whole page!

I'm sure the rest of the book is just as wonderful as my page is. The book is subtitled "A Twelve-Month Guide to Self-Sufficiency," and offers plans and projects throughout the year to help you depend less on stuff you buy and more on stuff you grow or make.

Whether you're a full-time homesteader or trying to eat better by growing some of your own food, Anna has advice and projects to help. Order your copy here.

Monday, November 12, 2012

November 12 - Drink

Make mine milk.

8,036. Or 22.

Take your pick.

Today marks 22 years – 8,036 days – since I've found it necessary to take a drink or a drug, and for that I am truly grateful.

If you're curious about how I went to hell and back, you can read a bit of my story here. If you're curious about how I've managed to stay sane and sober for 22 years, well, that boils down to three things, really.


I credit my late sponsor for that third key. She was the most grateful person I've ever met, and she has passed that quality along to all of her girls. I'm not perfect. I get angry and frustrated, mostly with myself, but still, too often, with others. Eventually, though, I find a space and place of gratitude.

  1. Grateful it wasn't worse.
  2. Grateful it's taken care of.
  3. Grateful for what I've learned.

If you had told me then that 22 years later I'd find myself living happily ever after in the Middle of Nowhere without alcohol I'd have told you to go screw yourself. Except I wasn't much of a lady then and I would have dropped the f-bomb. I needed alcohol like I needed air.

One day at a time, month after month, week after week, year after year, sobriety has continually offered me a better way to live. I pray it continues to do so.

Thanks for reading.

If you think you have a problem with alcohol, I urge you to call Alcoholics Anonymous sooner rather than later. You'll find people from all walks of life who know you better than you know yourself. They will be patient and tolerant in a way no one else has been or will be for you. They will challenge you and cheer for you and help you help yourself. You will learn responsibility and service. And humility.

And if you live with someone who has a problem with alcohol, please find an Al-Anon meeting. The entire world would be a better place to live if we all went to Al-Anon.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Mornings are better than ...

the rest of the day.

But yesterday was worse than today (so far), so, um, progress!

Beginning the day with a couple of poached eggs on wheat toast is a Good Thing. I've long known that the protein in eggs really fills me up. I don't think about food for hours after I've eaten eggs.

Unless there's a pile of party food sitting around. Then I think about it. And eat it. As someone who grew up in the '50s, when we all had to clean our plates so the Chinese children wouldn't starve (that just doesn't make any sense at all, does it/), I'm loathe to toss perfectly good food in the trash.

But I'm just substituting my body for the waste bin, so who's the biggest loser in this scenario?

As I said, today has been better than yesterday. And one of these days – soon – the junk food will be out of the house and life will be back to normal. I'll have a couple days of sugar withdrawal to deal with, but it's not like I haven't done that before.

To Jen, I promise I'm going to stick with the diuretic. I feel better in so many ways after just three days of taking it. Haven't checked my blood pressure today, but my breathing is better and my walk today (2.5 miles) was much more comfortable than yesterday's of the same distance.

Onward. Upward. Forward.

Skyward!



November 11 - Night

Taken around 6 this morning, as night was turning into day.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Clean. Simple. Good.

After many weeks of being too busy to comb my hair, let alone exercise or cook healthful meals, I'm actually looking forward to a bit of normal prior to the holidays. And, truly, the holidays don't provide many challenges for me. We don't have big family gatherings, we're eating Thanksgiving dinner at a restaurant, Christmas will be low-key, as it usually is here in the Middle of Nowhere.

Cooking is something I actually enjoy, and I've gotten into a rut of throwing something together at the last minute or eating previously frozen leftovers. Nothing wrong with that, but I'm ready for a spell of clean eating. I promise I'm not going to go crazy with it. I was inspired by a magazine of the same name  I saw yesterday at the grocery, which I browsed through but didn't buy.

What I did buy were apples. And potatoes. My husband has been on a baked potato kick, while I've been eating leftover party food. But his simple baked potato looked very appealing to me last night. I also have some sweet potatoes "in stock," and while all of this sounds very high-carby, it also sounds very simple. And clean. And healthful.

Photo credit: insiderguides.com.au
I started my day today with coffee and a poached egg on wheat toast. Clean. Simple. Delicious.

Thursday I walked 1.6 miles, yesterday I walked two miles. I'm going to try that again today and hope my hip doesn't start hurting as it did yesterday. If it does, I'm going to switch to the elliptical.

There will be football (let's gooooooo, Mountaineers!) and knitting today, simple meals, and a nice walk in beautiful weather.

And speaking of weather, those on the East Coast continue to suffer from last month's and last week's storms. My husband mentioned that some parts of New Jersey will be without electricity until Thanksgiving, maybe even Christmas! If you text, it's as easy as pie (mmm, pie) to help out. Text the word SANDY to 90999 to donate to the Red Cross. Doing so will add $10 to your mobile phone bill. And who knows how much it will add to the lives of those who are dealing with the aftereffects of climate change these weather events.

November 10 - Can't (won't) live without

I think this is the third coffee-related photo I've taken this month. But
seriously? During this summer's derecho, coffee was the one thing we
decided we couldn't AND wouldn't live without. No question about it.

Friday, November 9, 2012

November 9 - Small

This tiny pill is generic Lasix – cheap, effective blood pressure medicine.
Have been neglecting taking it lately, and a BP check this morning indicates
I should probably get back on it again. (I wish the pill wasn't smack-dab
in the middle of the photo. Poor composition on my part.)

Knitting fail ...

but walk WIN!

In fact, I walked yesterday when I hadn't planned to, and I just got back from today's walk. I promised you a picture and SNAP! there it is.

My husband has been nagging me on my back encouraging me to take better care of myself. That's his shadow on the left. I humored him for a mile, then turned around and headed back home, while he's still out there taking care of himself.

Have any of you ever been nagged encouraged to the point where you're willing to shoot yourself in the foot just to be rebellious about it? That's nearly the point I'm at with him. Before I get there, I'm going to tell him how I feel. He's a shrink, so he'll be completely understanding, right? Heh.

I didn't knit yesterday, nor did I watch a movie. I spent a lot of time online and I took a nap. Oh, and I took a walk. But I might have already mentioned that.

I began my day picking up a gallon of milk from one of the Amish neighbors and then going to get blood drawn. Our local hospital offers low-cost blood screening twice a year, and I take advantage of it, since my health insurance doesn't cover labwork. Or office visits. Or x-rays. I'm sorry, did I call it health insurance? I meant wealth insurance. If I have an accident or get cancer, no one can take the house away.

I mentioned that I hoped this time they'd find I had thyroid disease. The woman in the next chair said, "Oh, I prayed for that last night before I went to sleep!" We all laughed and laughed and still, secretly, hoped it would come to pass.

Because why else could I eat, um, less-than-ideally for the past couple months and not gain a pound, and eat healthfully for months on end and not shed any? I'm n-e-a-r-l-y beyond caring. I've worked on my weight, dealt with my weight and fought my weight for years. The only thing I haven't done is lost my weight.

And I'm not banking on losing any if I begin taking better care of myself. But taking better care isn't just about pounds. My blood pressure was 151/78 at the hospital this morning. That's the highest I ever remember it. I'm supposed to be taking a daily diuretic (the cheapest blood pressure medicine available), but I've been neglecting it.

So I popped one when I returned from my walk. And I'll call in a refill tomorrow, since there are only three pills remaining in the bottle. And I'll walk again tomorrow.

For me, not for him.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

November 8 - Something you do every day

Water. Kibble. Repeat.

A little difficult ...

getting back to normal here in the old Middle of Nowhere. I shall, however, do my best.

One thing I feel really badly about is dropping the ball on the Up & Running plan. I so appreciate Shauna's encouragement. I just simply couldn't keep up with everything and regular exercise was the first to go.

I bet none of you have done that before, have you?

Why is it that when we add something – in my case, re-electing a President, heh – to our already busy lives, we find it easier to quit working out than to quit, oh, doing laundry? Or showering? The answer is obvious: Without showers or clean laundry, we wouldn't be welcome just about anywhere.

The truth is, I stopped doing a lot more than exercising as Election Day loomed. I stopped playing my daily Scrabble game with my husband. That takes an hour (we play SuperScrabble). I stopped reading for pleasure, including blogs, magazines, books and most e-mails. And I stopped knitting. Oh, I have a hat on the needles, and I've picked it up occasionally, but it's been pushed waaaaaaaay the hell to the back burner.

The busy-ness is over, for now. The weather is pretty decent. We're still in the middle of football season and I haven't dropped my Netflix subscription. I'm not waiting until Monday to push the reset button on my life. Today I will dig out that hat, watch a movie and knit.

Tomorrow I will walk. And you will get to read all about it. Thanks for putting up with me, if you did, and if you left for a while, well, thanks for coming back.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

November 7 - Reflection

Took this with the mirror app on my phone. Have spent the rest of the day
reflecting on the good sense of the voters of the United States of America!