Sunday, November 30, 2014

OK so far, but I can do better

I was pleasantly surprised that I didn't have any trouble keeping up with my son's family (including my 6 year old granddaughter) over my Thanksgiving visit last week. This is a distinct difference from previous visits, when my excess weight, general inactivity and resulting lack of fitness kept me breathless, sweaty and sore, and lagging behind in general. I did try over the past year to up my physical activity, and while I never managed to develop a regular (or even very frequent) workout habit, I did get out and move around more.  This included the first two weeks of October when I tried to do without my car, relying on shank's mare, buses and taxies to get places. And when I do drive, I park much farther from the store's doors than I ever used to, just to get the extra walking in.

Anyway, as I said earlier, my daughter-in-law's cooking is absolutely fabulous in every way, and she's got her family on a mostly-vegan (except for her daughter) diet now, with occasional juice fasts. I have no objection to joining right in and the deliciousness certainly makes that easy. I'm inspired to eat a LOT more fresh vegetables and fruits, cut back on the carbs (SOME--I will NEVER be anti-carb), and just eat less in general. And quit eating at 8 p.m. - that's a biggie for me. I do fine with sensible breakfast and lunch, and even dinner. I just need to stay out of the kitchen after 8 p.m.

Another thing I've drifted way far away from in the past year is planning a week's worth of meals ahead of time. I sat down this afternoon and did that for this coming week. First I did a full inventory of all the food and condiments, herbs and spices, that I already have. I just looked for recipes that sounded fairly easy and good, and didn't worry about whether I had the ingredients on hand. As it turned out, the only thing I lack from the menu I made was parsley! I need lots of salad goodies, and to replace my dairy stuff, so I still need to hit the store.

Tonight I made Moroccan Pumpkin Soup, from The New Book of Middle Eastern Food, by Claudia Roden. This is a big, gorgeous book full of mouth-watering recipes and I've barely scratched the surface. For this recipe, I substituted some roasted acorn squash I had in the freezer for the pumpkin. I had some tortillas left over so I heated up a za'atar mix (lots of thyme and sesame seeds, with a dash of sumac) in a small amount of olive oil in my cast-iron skillet, then browned a couple of tortillas in it. The combination of soup and flatbread was really good, and I'm glad there's enough left over to repeat the dinner tomorrow night. (I didn't take a picture; neither my food presentation skills nor my photography is good enough to make food look very appetizing.)

I have a fasting blood draw tomorrow. I'm feeling a bit pessimistic about it, but we'll see. Perhaps I *did* reduce the carbs and cholesterol, and increase my physical activity enough over the past 6 months to improve my numbers. In any case, I'm going to be working hard to do a more concentrated and methodic job of that going forward.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Home again, home again

Just got home tonight from visiting my son & his family over the past 8 days. Too wiped out to post anything else now. But have been inspired, as always, by my d-i-l's delicious and healthful cooking plus some reading about what the scientists are learning about the effects of inactivity (aka "sloth") on the human body have evoked a feeling that I really, seriously, must change the way I live my life. I've been working on it for several years, and I've enjoyed improvements, but I've never gone into it whole-heartedly. What they're finding on the health front is damned scary, and I think I'm ready to ratchet up my game.

More later.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Socks socks socks socks

I finally finished Sock No. 8 last week,

(it looks a little cooler after it was washed and blocked) so had nothing on needles. I pulled out the Zwerger Garn Opal Sport:

to make a pattern called Edwardian Boating Socks (which I can't share a picture because I don't have the copyrights to any of them - but when they're finished I'll post the heck out of my own photos). I bought this yarn because it was the closest I could find to the colors in the Tenth Doctor's TARDIS. That pattern looks really really cool with variegated yarn and I have high hopes for this pair.

And it started out really well. Then I hit the actual pattern. This is the first time I've tried a pattern using a chart and I buggered it up twice, and right now I've tinked it back to the last row of ribbing (which went perfectly this time). But it's not going to be a TV-watching project for me. I'll have to have all music and videos off and really concentrate to get the chart right.

Which is a disappointment because I wanted to take it along on my trip to California to keep my hands busy en route and during quiet times with the family. So I decided to start a plain vanilla pattern (like the one I made up for the Trekking 474 socks:

and decided to use the WüllenStudio Desperado (colorway) I bought because I love the turquoises and khaki and cocoa with just little dashes of forest green now & then:

so this is what I'll take on the planes with me. If I can fit it in the one carry-on bag I'm taking.

I have so much sock yarn and I do need socks - I need to keep pushing to work my way through the stash.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

This is me, saying Yes.

Last Wednesday, I got the November Omaha By Design e-newsletter. One of the articles was a call for volunteers to go downtown yesterday morning and participate in a photo shoot for a promotion of Complete Streets. That's where a city works to make their streets safer and more attractive and friendlier to pedestrians, bicyclists, and mass transit riders. They were having the police block 16th Street off between Capitol and Chicago Streets. They’d have us park our cars in a close grid right across the street to show how much room cars take up, then have the bicyclists with their bikes, the city bus and its riders, and some pedestrians.

This sounded like exactly the kind of thing one gets retired for, to have some fun like this. So I signed up, and yesterday morning, I made my way downtown, and found the right corner, and parked my car where they directed me, and then we all stood around in the 20 sunny, windy degrees and waited while the organizers and photographers figured things out. They thought for a few minutes they were going to have to draft one of the policemen’s cars to fill out the 30 vehicles, but then someone else showed up and all was well.

They had a big BIG jack platform on a flatbed truck, and the photographers and director of Omaha By Design, Connie Spellman, rode it up until it was oh, I don’t know, 15 feet high? So their eye level would be 20 feet or so? I don’t know. They were way high up.

They had 30 of us gather in front of the block of cars, and that was when I found out that 30 people, average age maybe 35, are incapable of counting off. Mind-boggling. We had to do it three times. During the fourth, I turned to look behind us, and witnessed a zombie, stiff-legged, arms stretched out front, eyes vacant, jaw lolling, shambling through the grid of cars to where we stood for the photo. It wasn’t actually a zombie, of course, it was just a guy IN JEAN SHORTS AND A TEE SHIRT IN TWENTY-DEGREE WEATHER come to see what all the fuss was about. What little discipline we had was, of course, shattered. But we re-grouped, and the zombie stood behind us - behind *me*, actually, and the volunteers and Number 31 (which he yelled out with great enthusiasm after Number 30 had called his number) proceeded to enjoy some 20 minutes of joshing around.

Someone asked him why he wasn’t properly dressed for the weather. He said he saw the commotion out his hotel window (16th Street ends at the back of the DoubleTree Hotel) and when he saw that block of cars he KNEW that what we needed was zombies, so he raced right down to help us out. He said he’d flown in to Omaha for the Motley Crūe concert Thursday night. Somebody asked where he was from & he said “Elgin.” (I assume Illinois?) He said he’s found Midwestern people are way, way more friendly than - someone pressed him: “Than where - New York?” but he finished his sentence saying “Well - than me.” I told him we weren’t going to do this for him every time he comes to town so he shouldn’t get used to it. That got a laugh.

Then the organizers had us disband and re-group as cyclists, bus riders and pedestrians, and Number 31 high-tailed it for the hotel double-time without even a wave. I think the cold must have finally got his attention LOL.

Next, I was a pedestrian. We were to pretend to be crossing the street, in front of the single-file cyclists and the 10 bus-riders oddly clumped together *in front* of the bus. The guy in front of me was movie-star handsome and I noticed he always faced toward the camera’s direction with a gorgeous smile. I teased him: “Making sure they get your good side?” and he immediately started vogueing, very funny. He must’ve been there with office-mates because several others started hoo-hah-ing him for it.

Then they were done! It took less than half an hour in all (from we volunteers’ POV) and it was a blast. I went off to have a rare breakfast at the pancake house and didn’t find out until later that they were giving us tee shirts. Connie mentioned it in an email later; she said she’ll get me one, too. I just wish we’d got Number 31’s name & address so he could get one too. He really MADE that little event, for me.  We're supposed to get a picture and if I do, I'll post it here. Connie already said I could.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Thank you, ESA!

Background: When Curiosity was going to land on Mars, I stayed up for it, watching NASA/JPL's live feed. It was stunningly emotional. (I fell in love with Mohawk Guy along with probably 90% of the world's female population. I wouldn't presume to guess about the male portion.) But mostly I sat here, alone in my house in the middle of that August night, weeping with joy and pride and astonishment. I had "kind of" seen the first human set foot on the moon. Now I'd seen Curiosity land on Mars. 

But with the time difference between here and Europe I didn't feel like trying to figure out when, exactly, Philae would touch down on 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. The closest a quick try got me was about 2 a.m. here. Nope. I'll read about it in the headlines tomorrow, I thought.

I slept, got up and did the usual morning routine, and sat down with my coffee to do the daily news and blog-run. Right now, I can't remember how I even got there, but the first thing I saw was a Twitter post: 

Spaceflight Now ‏@SpaceflightNow  36 sec ago

    Philae is on the comet! #CometLanding

36 seconds? I missed it by 36 seconds? Well, hey, guess what, I DIDN'T MISS IT THEN!!!! Unbelieveable. I was apparently MEANT to share this joyous occasion, just like last time, joyously weeping over my coffee. 

Then I went hunting for what I'd written about Curiosity's triumph. 

Nothing. Not in my blog, not in my journal, nothing. 

And now that I think about it, this is all I'll write about this morning's occasion. I just don't have words adequate to the event. 

But by some wacked-out stroke of good luck, I didn't miss it. That means I'm 3 for 3: the Moon, Mars, and 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.  I am SO delighted to live in the future!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Here's a brilliant idea

I wish someone would take this idea and run with it: A web site where you could sign up to set up whatever regular contributions you want, to the charities you want, and get off the lists of everyone else - you should also be able to specify that you get NO additional solicitations from charities you already contribute to. I can't think how the web site would sustain itself, though. Maybe the charities could pay them half of what it would cost them to MAIL solicitations to non-interested people. That way the web site would pay for itself and the charities would save money.

Waiting until the very last minute

as usual, I finally got those plants potted up that I want to keep as house plants or overwinter to re-plant outdoors in the spring. I've had the pots ready for two weeks, just couldn't muster the interest until it became obvious yesterday that we are about to get our first real winter blast.

And as usual, I thought I could get this AND plasticking-over the windows done today. Nope, heh. The plants took freaking *forever*.  The windows will have to wait until tomorrow. But then that will be two important projects (= they've been driving me nuts for weeks) DONE for the winter! And I can go on to the next one, which is sewing a skirt in time to take it to CA with me later this year.

Anyway, I took pics of the plant-potting ceremony. Trashed the dining room for a couple of hours, but it's all cleaned up now. I haven't had houseplants for decades. I just didn't want anything else alive that I'm responsible for, but now I want pretty plants here & there and I want their oxygenating effects during the winter.

Getting set up:

Halfway done:

And done:

I used cuttings of the geraniums and Swedish ivy, hoping they'll take hold so I can replant them for the front stoop in the spring. I also took cuttings of the little green & white vine and the tall, lovely red-purple plant whose name I don't know, thinking maybe the vine will do OK but the red thing is iffy. We'll see. I also have some Wandering Jew I got via craigslist. I still would like to get some Philodendron and String of pearls for houseplants. So yay, this project is over except for the watering.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

I can tell when I'm tired.

It's when, as I try to put together some project and I'm clumsy, stupid and incompetent doing something that should be simple, if not easy. *sigh*

I fear another trip to Lowe's is in my future.


I had volunteered at the county Democratic HQ to drive people to the polls yesterday, or deliver ballots to the election commission. I put a lot of miles on the car, had two really interesting conversations (one with a grade-school classmate I hadn't seen *since* grade school), delivered two ballots and performed two "agented ballots." The latter involved going to the election commission office, signing my name as an "agent" (we're limited to doing two of these per election so they record it), receiving and then taking the ballot to the voter, helping them if need be to fill out their ballot, then after they've signed (if possible; if not I don't know exactly what I would have done - called in for instructions, for sure) and sealed the envelope, taking the ballot back to the election commissioner's office.

I won't go into details about the voters I did the agent service for except to say it was an honor and a privilege, and if the droves of idiots who stayed away from the polls could have witnessed these folks's determination to vote, they would *maybe* have felt the shame they should have. One of them had sent in the application for the absentee ballot (and if this person didn't qualify no one would), but never received the ballot. The voter called up the EC's office and asked what happened, and was told by "a young woman" that "Oh, we were really understaffed that day and some of them just didn't get sent out." This young woman was lucky it wasn't me doing the asking. Her ear may never have recovered. Her supervisor was lucky, too, because shortly after that call I would been there, in person, screaming into said supervisor's face about how many hundreds of thousands of people have died for our right to vote and they have ONE JOB DAMMIT, which is to make sure everyone who wants to vote gets to vote and it is a sacred trust that they should be ready to die to ensure. OH my were they lucky it wasn't me on that phone call. It's elevated my blood pressure right now just thinking about it. I reported it to the party volunteer coordinator and she said she'd heard similar things about the EC office and would bring it up at the next Dem. party meeting. Not nearly as satisfying as screaming in a miscreant's face, but I suppose it will have to suffice.

They said I could go home (4:30 pm) because they didn't expect many more calls for rides/ballot delivery before the polls closed at 8 pm, but once I'd got home and had just sat down to eat dinner, they called saying they needed volunteers for a "special project" County Dem. HQ wanted - to go to the polls just before closing time and stand by the line (if any) and be sure no one left without voting, without being encouraged to stay and vote. This sounds like a) probably a good idea and 2) nothing I was remotely interested in doing at that point. So I turned them down. By then I knew I was really REALLY tired.

But, I feel it was a good day's work. Oh, and I had mailed in my ballot a couple of weeks ago so I could be free to do the driving thing.

Monday, November 03, 2014

No, your eyes were not deceiving you

I deleted Oct. 31st's post because it was nothing but whining about what is, after all, a minor infection. If I don't want to become one of those old ladies who only talk about their health issues, I have to nip this shit in the bud right now.

Here's a pretty picture of one of my cats: