Thursday, August 7, 2014


I don't know where else to express this sentiment. I still have an active profile on an online dating site. I've paid for it for another couple of weeks, so I'm going to hang in there and see what happens yet.

I know that everyone is free to look at profiles, that that is the point of the site. But I am creeped out by 20 year olds looking at my profile, some repeatedly. I'm not just old enough to be their mother, I'm probably older than their mothers!

There aren't many, and I can't specifically block them because they haven't made contact with me, but there are a handful and well, ew!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Why is my house in such disarray?

Oh, right. It's because I've been out having fun. I'm not to the point where I'm grossed out by the floor or anything, but the clutter around here is getting to "must do something soon" levels.

Saturday Mr W and I joined some friends for swimming at our local reservoir. Due to it being a wet year (for around here) the reservoir is really full. Gloriously full. I guess the rain has made it so farmers (the primary users of the water) aren't drawing down as much water for their needs. It was nice to float and chat. 

I went to a party, we saw a movie, and I had dinner with new friend M. We are both content with seeing how it goes. He's got a different life than I do, much less structured. But it's been fun to get to know someone new and it looks like we'll do something this weekend. It is NICE not to be fretting about it. Nice indeed. 

Something has shifted in my outlook/confidence, and I think it's due to my starting this jogging thing. I started, ostensibly, for Mr W's sake, so I could help him establish the habit of running and then get something out of his participation in cross country this fall. We were two weeks into the C25K (couch to 5K) program (an app on my phone) and I was so sore, I didn't think I could do it. I could feel his interest waning if I was going to quit, so I kept at it and figured out that I need to stretch, daily, to feel good. 

And here we are, about three months into it. He wants to just concentrate on getting faster and faster at running 20 minutes (which is something like the 2K they do for CC races), and I want to do my shuffle (12 minute mile - woot!) for 25-30 minutes. So, I've been going out just with the dog, and riding my bike when he does his run. It works.

Friday, August 1, 2014

White flowers

I've never been a fan of white flowers. I'm not enough of a designer when it comes to choosing plants to appreciate them for their accent value, and it seems to me that if one is going through the trouble of planting flowers, color is an obvious reward for doing so.

So I don't knowingly buy white flowers.

Earlier in the spring, I started some Zinnias from seed and was looking forward to the pinks and purples of this particular variety (whose name escapes me at the moment). They have large, almost Dahlia-like flowers and I really liked them last year. The package clearly shows them coming in three colors: white, pink and purple.

When they were big enough, I tucked four in the alley garden and four in the raised bed out front. As an aside, I have been very pleased with converting that from veggies to flowers (thank you farmers and grocery stores from whom I can buy food).

Here's what I got:

Funny, they've grown a lot since I took these. But you get the point. Two white ones above, two white ones below...

And here you can see two more white, plus the two pink ones that were in the mix.

A friend gave me a few Calendula seeds a couple of years ago and they've gone bananas in this bed. I've pulled a bunch of them, but not enough. I wanted to have a few amongst the other things I put in there. I bought three Dahlias and planted a couple of specialty sunflowers that aren't blooming yet in this photo. 

They are all nice, and the bees love them. It feels good to plant stuff for the bees. 

We've gotten a lot of rain this summer. And not a lot of the scorching heat that can happen in July in August. Good for us, as it hasn't been enough to cause flooding and it keeps the threat of wildfires down. 

In other news, I've been in contact with new friend M, he of the blind date a few days ago, and we're going to get together this weekend for dinner or something. I've finally matured to the point where I realize that it's too soon to tell anything. Too soon to project about what might happen, so I might as well just enjoy the ride.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

I suffer single sock syndrome

My picture loader isn't working at the moment, but hopefully I'll be able to load my picture when I'm done writing.

I like to knit socks. They're a portable craft that gets done relatively quickly. Up until now, I have always knit one at a time. For some reason, they always come out a little differently, each sock in the pair.

Worse than that is the three or four single socks I have made that either had issues that made me hesitate to start the second one, or I just kind of lost interest. Maybe I could wear them as mismatched pairs...

I've been wanting to learn how to knit two socks at a time for a while now, and finally scheduled time with my good friend and known super knitter S so she could show me how. She pointed to this pattern on Ravelry (not free, but cheap)

that has an extensive sock making part to it, not just about the heel that involves tracing the sock recipient's foot on a piece of cardboard so you can do measurements and insure an exact fit. So armed with that, and Judy's Magic Cast On:

We started the toes of my new pair of socks. I'm doing them on one 40" circular needle. You work around the outside, right to left on these. front of one sock, front of the other sock, back of one sock, back of the other sock. The heels are done separately, I am told, and I will cross that bridge when I come to it.

There, the uploader worked. I don't have a pattern picked out yet, but I've got a lot of options with this sized needle and the fingering weight yarn. I'll update when I've got a good one picked out. 

In other news, I am meeting someone new for a drink tonight. We've been connected by a mutual friend and I've FB stalked him enough to see that he seems interesting and kind. I'm so rusty/out of practice it's like starting completely over, which I suppose isn't entirely bad. 

Update, 7-30-14: It was a very enjoyable meeting. I feel I might be a little too organized for him, but we'll see if he calls and wants to continue. I figured since I reached out initially, he can make the next move. 

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Mistaken identity

Sally and I were on our warm up walk before a run the other day. I run with headphones on to keep a good pace, and to keep motivated. I've been googling "160 bpm running songs" and there are many to choose from. I try to keep it loud enough, but not so much that I miss conversations.

Anyway, we were walking and passed a family with a couple of small kids. As we got closer, one of the kids said, "Is that Jasper?" And the mom said, "No, it looks like Jasper, but Jasper is at home." The kid proceeded to get a little upset because she thought I had their dog.

I called out as we passed, "Her name is Sally!" Hopefully that helped. I thought about how easy it would be to figure someone's got your beloved Jasper when doodles do kind of all look similar. Poor kid.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Herding cats

OK, not really. It looks like I am the one who is coordinating the selection of our destination for the trip to celebrate my dad's 80th birthday this year. It's been fine, actually. People have been more or less "whatever you pick will probably be fine". We've bounced back and forth a little on what exactly our destination will be, but I think we are close to putting a deposit down on a vacation rental house.

Originally, Dad had the idea that we should all take a cruise. If you are like me, your throat tightens up a little when you consider that idea. Not from any bad experience, but from news stories, and the thought of not being able to escape (even if it's a large vessel). But dad likes cruises. But we are restricted to a couple of weeks and a particular port, and that limits our options.

But after getting a link to a site called Cruises Direct, I put in our criteria and it returned 5 options. They were all about the same in terms of what you got and the price. My dad suggested that Mr W and I share a room with him so we could get a bigger better room (fine by me). Click, click, click.

Did you know when you search on those sites, the cost is per person, not per room? Of course you didn't, you don't even want to take a cruise. Bless you. Anyway, the cost of the cruise for the three of us was about $1,500 each. Of course, that does not include airfare, which will be another $800 for me and the kid.

Sigh. I know this is a once in a lifetime party we're doing here, but still. It doesn't seem WORTH that kind of money. As a result of realizing how expensive cruises are when one is as restricted in options as we are, I found a couple of rental houses that go for about $4,000 for the week for all 12 or so of us. I particularly like the idea of sharing a house near the beach, especially one that is big enough for people to be in their own space if they want, and gather together if they want as well.

Now I'm at the point where I am waiting for feedback. I think they will again all chime in and say, "whatever you pick will probably be fine", but I haven't heard that yet for this round of houses.

My sister's youngest kid is graduating about a week before we do this trip with a double major in Computer Science and Engineering and we are trying to have him join us. We'd like to see his brother and dad and his dad's fiancee too and have invited all. We haven't seen them as much since Kris passed. My nephew really has done well and it feels right to celebrate his accomplishment. He started in a program from the get-go where knew his major(s), which involved three co-ops/internships with nearby companies and I suspect he will easily get a job with one of them when he is done.

It'll be nice to be on a beach in December.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Another tornado dream

I don't have what I would call reoccurring dreams, but there are themes sometimes. When I'm anxious about something, I often find myself back at my old high school, trying to get to class, or am there, unprepared for a presentation. Sometimes I'm at my old job in Toledo, where it's the same thing. There's a group of kids arriving shortly and I'm scrambling to put an education program together at the last minute.

I have whale dreams, too, although they haven't been as frequent in recent years (they may have been supplanted by the tornado dream). Whale dreams are when I'm somewhere near the water and see an orca (it's always an orca) under the surface of the water. Once I was at work in my dream and saw an orca in the pond next to the building. In the dream there's always this moment of "Is it? Is it a whale?OMG!" I've figured out that orca dreams represent me feeling like I'm missing out on something, or really wanting something to happen.

Then I sometimes have tornado dreams. In these dreams, I'm looking off in the distance and it looks like a tornado might form. Then one inevitably does, but I'm never harmed and it's more thrill than fear. I never experience the howling wind. Last night it was the same, but my location changed at least once, and I was standing next to my house, in the alley, and it was coming. Funny thing about this one was that it was so close (up in the sky) that I felt I was getting a good look at it. And when I looked hard, the cloud above the tornado consisted of countless gray cloudy mouths, with gray cloudy teeth, and the mouths were moving. Singing? Speaking? Just moving? I don't know.

The dream then cut to a front yard with downed trees and we (me and I don't know who else) were assessing the damage. I think this was shortly before I woke up.

I slept pretty good last night. It seems it's one thing or another that often keeps me from getting a good night's rest, but last night I slept soundly. I've always wanted to see a tornado from a safe distance, same as I've always wanted to see an orca. So I think the two are the same sort of dream. The cloudy mouths were a new part of the theme, though. I wasn't scared at all, just a bit wide eyed that they were there.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Summer travels

On Tuesday, I dropped Mr W off at overnight camp. It sounded like a lot of fun to me, and he was excited, although he's been working on his under-enthusiasm because he IS a teenager. It's a camp where they have go on a quest and have to solve riddles and work together.

I'm a lot less melancholy than I was when he went to his first overnight camp last year. That was a big hit because it seemed it was only a matter of time before he was going to grow up and leave me for good (sniff). Even though that's what we're aiming for anyway. I'm still prone to bouts of worry, but it helps me a lot to remember that my thoughts don't have any bearing on his experience, so I might as well envision him having a wonderful time.

He'll be home for a few days, and then is off to the midwest with his dad et al. for a 10 day trip to someplace remote (read: no internet). I think he'll have fun. He's better at finding something to do in the absence of internet than he thinks he is.

Then I thought we'd take a few days in August and go...somewhere. My back is better than it used to be, but I still don't want to sleep on the ground for a vacation. However, if I could haul around one of these, I might consider camping:

Anyway, I thought we should go to Seattle, and waited and waited and hesitated and couldn't make a decision, and hadn't really saved any money for it, and... we're not going. It would have been easier if I had planned better and I'm realizing I have a problem with wanting things to be perfect if I'm going to be spending a lot of money on the trip. Yet, traveling means there is so much that one has to roll with. I'm working on it and am going to start to save specifically for a big trip.

Meanwhile, we are fortunate that Colorado has several excellent mountain towns that are not too far away and we'll go somewhere up there for a few days.

Then, my dad turns 80 this year, so we are gathering in FL for something. Maybe a cruise (!), maybe a hotel on the beach. We need to get that planned, but we'll be traveling around Christmas for that big event. My brothers and I reminisced about the quirky little house we rented when we were down there last, and wish we could do that, but Dad wants something more upscale. I don't blame him.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

We did it!

We did it! The dog (who was a willing but unwitting participant), Mr W and I completed our first 5K yesterday. This is shortly after the finish. He finished a couple of minutes ahead of me, but my one and only goal was to jog the whole thing without slowing down to walk. It's all kind of relative because my pace is slow and I can walk almost as fast as I can jog. No matter - I jogged the whole 3.1 miles, in about 38 minutes :-).

Come to think of it, the dog was pretty much briskly walking the whole time as well. But she's still a tired pup, so I'm sure it was a big deal for her too. She's been along for the whole training thing for the last nine weeks, and I imagine has also gotten in better shape. 

This started ostensibly as something we were doing for the kid, as I mentioned previously, but has become a thing I really want to do. I was going to quit after a couple of weeks because my back and hips would get so stiff at night, while I was in bed, that I thought I was injuring myself. 

Rewind to 1992, when I worked as a camp counselor and during the first day of camp, was chasing another counselor during a game of Capture the Flag and fell just so, dislocating my hip with such force they had to do surgery to remove a ligament that had torn. I was never a regular exerciser until I was in my mid-40's (I know, I know) so I only had youth and not any kind of strength from an exercise regimen on my side.

Anyway, I remember them telling me that I shouldn't do downhill skiing (check, no problem) or sit with my legs crossed, which I have taught myself to do. The problem with babying the injury site for all these years is that my hips are TIGHT. So when we started running nine weeks ago, I didn't know if the hip would stand for it or not. Having the pain after a couple of weeks made me think I was going to have to pass.

As a mom, I could see that the kid just might really take to this running thing if I could help him a bit over the very beginning part. This has happened - woot! - he wants to see how good he can get at it. So one day around two weeks into it, I had the bright idea to go to a Saturday yoga class. Maybe I could begin to loosen up and it would help. I dutifully put on my stretchy black pants and went off to the 4:30 class.

That class has always been at 4 pm, and I have shown up at 4:30 about three times. Oh well. This motivated me to go to the library to get a couple of books on yoga. I also searched online for "hip openers" and long story slightly shorter now have a set of five stretches I do daily that has helped tremendously.

I still get sore, and I still have to take some Advil occasionally, but the stretching really has been a game changer for me. The cool thing about this is that my body has given me what I've asked of it. I don't have aspirations to go for much longer than 30 minutes when I jog, and Mr W's cross country races are two miles (about 18-22 minutes when he gets better at it), so we'll concentrate on getting better at those distances/times rather than pushing for more more more.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Eleven minutes

That's how long I am waiting for Mr W's ipod (my ipod, really) to charge before we can go for our run today.

In a comedy of errors, I texted Mr W's dad this morning, asking if he could drop off (or I would pick up) my ipod from his house, which Mr W forgot when he came over yesterday. His dad said he would drop it off at my house today at 4. Great.

I get home at 4:45 and no ipod has been dropped off. I text his dad and after several confusing texts determine that we must go to Mr W's dad's house (15 minute drive) to get the ipod.

We get in the car, get the ipod. Is it charged? No, no it's not. Thus we are waiting a few minutes (six now) so it has a minimum charge so he has something to listen to while we do our run.

Oh, LindaCO, you say, I didn't know you ran for exercise. Yep, me and the kid started a "couch to 5K" program eight weeks ago. We are in the final week this week. I have really liked it, and will probably talk more about it, but it has been a really good way to start to run. I had the idea that we should do this so Mr W would be ready for Cross Country (Is that capitalized? I never know) in the fall. However, I have been the one (I guess this is not a surprise) who has driven this thing.

He has said how he wants to get better at running. Wants to make it his "thing". Alright.

As an aside, it has been a surprise how much more comfortable the right gear is. Decent shorts, a wicking top, jog bra, thin socks - no cotton at all - does make a difference.

OK, time to hit it.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Tap, Tap. Is this thing on?

I received two inquiries in the space of 24 hours as to whether I was ever going to post again, so here I am :-)

Things are good, posts will likely be sporadic, but stuff happens and I think to myself pretty regularly that I should "get those thoughts down somewhere".

Yesterday was my birthday. I was a little trepidatious that I was going to spend it by myself, which can lead to brooding and not seeing the big picture. But I went to church, and while there got roped into helping out with something (which I actually love because it makes me feel useful).

I then went to a friend's house to pick up a dozen eggs and was delightfully surprised that she had baked me a cake and she and the family sat down and we all had cake and ice cream. What a thing to have no expectations at all (except the eggs) and have someone make that gesture. It really was a wonderful thing.

And people posted on my FB wall, and that's always nice. And my brother called and we got caught up on things.

And I walked the dog and bought her some actual bone bones because all the rawhide my Target sells now comes from China and that gives me the excuse to reduce her rawhide consumption. The bones aren't cheap, but I gave Sally the littlest one (it was frozen) and it kept her busy for about 30 minutes. They told me to take them away from her after she gets everything off so she doesn't splinter the bone, so I did that.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

A dream

I had a dream last night where I got a new apartment. Nice place, lots of glass - windows and doors. It was on the ground floor in a city, near a place with a lot of pedestrian traffic, like on a town square. In my dream I went to sleep, and when I woke up (can't remember if I was woken up or if I got up on my own), I started checking the numerous doors.

I went around looking at each one and was astounded to find each of them ajar. The doors had been open while I slept. I assumed I had left them open, as opposed to them being opened by someone.

My thought was something like, "Huh. I feel vulnerable". And yet, I remember realizing in the dream that I was OK. All this time, there were people passing by, and I don't think anyone came in, I don't remember talking to anyone, but I was OK. Vulnerable, a little open, yet safe. Yes, I think the house is me...

Wednesday, February 12, 2014


Here are my thoughts on the weird icicles that formed on the south side of my house. We've had a good bit of snow and it had been cold, so there was plenty of snow on the roof ready to melt. It had warmed up the day before for the first time in a while, and was above freezing when this happened. The weird icicles formed near, but not exactly across from, the window. There are both normal and angled icicles.

I think that the straight ones formed normally, when the temperatures were warming up. I think the angled ones also formed normally, but the radiant heat from the house pushed the dripping water/forming icicle away from the house as it formed. It wasn't particularly windy, so I think it's a heat thing, not a wind thing.

In other news, I've grown weary of Valentine's Day things, right on schedule. I dislike being reminded that I'm. still. alone. Even though things are going just fine right now. I feel inadequate in that regard, courtesy of the media. Thanks for nothing.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

What's going on here?

I took this picture on Saturday, at about 10:30 in the morning. This side of my house faces south, and the temperature was around freezing and getting a little warmer. You can see two kinds of icicles, the regular straight up-and-down kind, and also some that jut out from center. 

Any idea what's going on? I have a couple of ideas, but thought this was an interesting thing to share.

Friday, February 7, 2014

The one thing

We used to have a TV, a 18" thick picture-tube-analog behemoth that I picked up at a garage sale for $10. It was used mostly to watch videos from the library, and I am fortunate that there is a TV antenna in the attic that I hooked up to the TV to get local channels.

Back in 2009 (I think) the signal for broadcast TV became digital, and to continue to use my TV, I'd have to get a converter box. I guess I didn't want one badly enough to get the box, and the TV went downstairs and was never hooked up again.

We certainly don't lack for media opportunities here. I subscribe to Netflix, our laptops have CD players for movies, and Mr W watches lots of stuff on YouTube.

However, there is one time, every once in a while, when I really want a TV.

For the last three Olympics, I have yearned to be able to watch events, but not in the advertising-riddled way one can do it online. So I had planned to finally get a converter box, haul the big ol' TV up from the basement, and get it connected to the antenna, which connects via a coaxial cable that is in my living room.

The converter boxes are about $50 (do you see the rationalization and where this is going?). If I had a new TV, then I wouldn't need the converter and it could be hooked up directly to the antenna and I could watch the Olympics. I've been intimidated at the level of technical expertise required to make a new TV receive a cable signal and the other inputs, and sound, blah blah blah, but if I could just plug in the TV, and plug in the antenna and it worked, that would be good, right?

I think so. I went to Target and got a 32" TV for $199. It's like a big computer monitor, and weighs about 10-15 lbs. We can plug Mr W's PC into it (so they say) and stream Netflix or play games on it. I have to see if I can do the same with my Mac. After the Olympics, I'll need to see about threading the antenna cable through the floor so the TV can go down the basement.

It's out of the box and on my floor, I'll get it hooked up when I get home from work tonight. Fingers crossed I catch the opening ceremony!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Sweater progress

I have to say I am really happy with my Leaflet sweater so far. Very happy with the thick yarn (Cascade Pastaza) making progress easy to see. I've saved a lot of sweater patterns to Ravelry, and I like the look of a sweater made from DK yarn, but I need more in the way of instant gratification.

This pattern is really well written. I like the process of knitting this sweater. With the lace panel down the back, every row has something going on. In the beginning, increases are happening to make the sleeves, as well as doing the pattern on both the right and wrong side. It's a pattern that needs the knitter to pay attention, but I like that aspect of it. Doing stockinette stitch on and on feels really tedious, and with this pattern, I feel like every row has something a little different.

Yes, I have to knit with a piece of paper handy, and at the moment am doing sets of 6 rows in pattern with a decrease row. I don't mind ticking off each row as I go. I'm on my third ball of yarn, and I've got at least nine balls, maybe 10, so I think I'll be able to make this long sleeved. It's going to be very warm, but has been nice to work on during these last couple of days when we've had a cold snap. I think I'll be able to finish the body this weekend.

In other news, today is Mr W's birthday. He turns 13, and we'll have his party on Saturday. He invited a small number of kids to go play laser tag, and it looks like we'll have about half a dozen boys attend. He's getting a Kindle Fire from his dad and I. One more device, but I'm hoping he'll actually use it for reading as well as games. We'll see. My kid - the teenager.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Simple kindness

So much of the time in my day to day activities, I put my head down and do the work. Or put my head down and go to the next thing. Yesterday I was making my way to spin class and was entering the building at the same time as another person.

She picked up her pace just a little, got the door, looked me in the eye and smiled. It made me realize I don't look people in the eye enough. I probably get the door for plenty of people, but the eye contact thing must sort of intimidate me.

That sort of action has ripple effects, to be sure. I felt like someone had just done something nice for me and I wanted to pass that on. There's a saying out there that I will not get right but goes something like, we can be judged by the way we treat people who can do nothing for us.

I'm going to make an effort to practice (and it IS practice) doing the door-eye contact-smile thing.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Kid bedroom redo

My dear little boy turns into a teenager next week. Whoa. I know people say this all the time, but how the heck did that happen? I can remember thinking shortly after my divorce that having to be the only parent to him during the times I had him was going to be so very hard. Now we've done it this way for twice as long as he was in a two parent home, and I think things are going pretty well.

When I moved into this little house in a great location, it was listed as a two bedroom house, but the second "bedroom" was the old back porch, which had been added at some point after the house was built. I had someone come in, bump out the back porch area by a few feet and made that area into a conforming bedroom.

It has served Mr W well. He spends most of this time in the living room anyway, since that's where his computer is. But he's been wanting to change things around in his room, so I've taken to Pinterest to look for ideas. His room is very small - 7.5' by about 10', which means we can fit a bed along the short side, but not much else. The ceiling is kind of low as well.

This is what he's got now (please excuse the mess):

He's got a loft bed with space for a chair underneath that he rarely uses. To my left out of the frame is a book case.

While looking at Pinterest, I came across this really neat design, with a bed on a simple low frame with wheels. The bed slides under a platform when not in use, and there's desk space on top. How clever is that? I've looked around, and it seems this is a custom thing. I can buy the frame with the wheels, but am having trouble finding a twin bed sized platform that we could make into that desk space.

But while I'm looking, I come across the website for the company that I bought his loft bed from in the first place. They have this:

This looks kind of like what we have now. This looks like kind of what we have now, with the legs cut shorter. Hey! 

So my clever idea now is to repurpose his existing bed so we can put a desk on top of it. Cut some length off the bottom of the legs, take the ladder off, make it longer by replacing the 2 x 6's with longer ones so the bed slides underneath, and put another full piece of plywood on the top to support a chair and desk. I can probably take the existing railings off and replace them with something a little more open like is shown in the top picture. It's all narrow enough that we'll have to put the desk area at either the head or the foot of the bed, as opposed to along the length of it, but that's totally doable, too. Maybe I'll even paint it...

If this works, it will be much cheaper than having to get new stuff. I wasn't looking forward to having to find a new home for his old bed anyway.

Friday, January 31, 2014

2 hour delay

We received about 6" of snow last night, so there is a two hour delay for the schools this morning. I am relieved, because it's really hard to shovel out and get the kid where he needs to be by 7:30. This way
I get to make a blog post, do a bit of knitting, and will still have enough time to shovel.

It's funny, the school district is of course on Facebook, and under the announcement that there is a delay instead of a full closure, there are comments like, "Really?? Have you looked outside?" and the classic, "You guys are idiots. If you think two hours are enough to clear the roads, you are totally oblivious..." blah blah blah. Safety! Think of the children! We do usually have nice weather here, but it IS Colorado, and the climate means that we occasionally get large dumps of snow.

I need to get a second snow shovel because Mr W is finally a reliable second shoveler. His quality standards are not quite up to mine yet, but he's trainable. I'll have him clean off the car first and then help shovel out the entrance to the alley. I park my car behind my house, and I have to enter the alley to get to the driveway. The alley always gets "plowed in" when the snow plows go by, so I need to shovel it out as well.

But I'll get a bit of time to work on my Leaflet, and I snapped the picture above this morning to show my progress. All hail the thick yarn!! I'm hoping the yarn store is open today because I'll need to purchase a longer circular needle. I had a 24" on hand, but need a 32". The fuzzy Pastaza yarn I have doesn't have super stitch definition, but it was in my stash (and thus free) and I like working with it so far.

My work life is about to change a bit. We're getting a foreign student in the lab to do her Master's project and I'll be in charge of her. This was more or less foisted upon me and I'm going to turn lemons to lemonade. Not that I have anything against having some help but I've set up my work at work to be a solo venture. I've been thinking about what we can have her do, and I talked with my boss yesterday about it and I think we can come up with the stand-alone project she needs that is related to the stuff I'm doing, but my stuff doesn't depend on her outcomes.

Since she's from outside the US, the security stuff is extensive and she'll need to be escorted around the building for the first month or so that she's here. My boss offered to do some of the escorting, but her cube will be near mine, so it will fall to me to do most of it. It'll all work out, but I'm uncertain of the details. She's here for a year.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

This one

One goofy thing about getting your hands on a knitting pattern you see on Ravely is that sometimes the pattern is only available as part of a book. I wish pattern makers made all their individual patterns available for purchase, well, individually, but that doesn't always happen. 

Such was the case with the pullover sweater I mentioned in my last post. I would have paid $6-7 for the pattern, but couldn't, so I've ordered the book it's in though interlibrary loan. I just can't see myself paying $25 for a book of patterns when I only want the one. Meanwhile, I wanted to start SOMETHING. 

Enter Leaflet, above. I was looking for something I could knit with aran or bulky weight yarn, and saw this. The pattern is available through Knitty, whose patterns are free (yea!). Knowing I wanted this, I went around to my LYS (local yarn store) and strangely enough they were really sparse in their offerings of yarn in this weight. I love alpaca because it's so soft, but can't spend $250 on yarn for a sweater. I was ready to spend something, though, and was disappointed I didn't find anything. 

I had purchased some Pastaza (made by Cascade, and which has been discontinued) and it was in my stash, so I'm using that. This is the colorway, a yellowy green. I'm pretty sure I have enough to make elbow-length if not long sleeves, and am planning to do that.

It's springy and fresh and if I don't like the color when it's done, I'll dye the finished garment. Some people find it scratchy, but so far it's really fuzzy, but not scratchy as I work with it. 

I'm excited to be knitting again. There was some time when it just didn't appeal to me, and now I think about it when I'm at work. Funny. It's too dark to take a decent picture of it, but I'm about 5" in on the yoke of the sweater. I do like to work with bulky yarn. Love the look of sweaters done in DK weight, but I don't have the patience for it. 

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Things to do, places to go

I seem to oscillate between letting inertia keep me home in the evenings and having things to do. Sometimes just staying in is enough, maybe even preferred, but I do notice that I get a little squirrelly (is my term for it) if I'm alone too much. I work alone for a good part of the day, so unlike people who have to constantly deal with co-workers, my work time is usually a solo thing unless I go out and talk to people (which I actually should do more. See above about inertia...).

Anyway, there is a program at our science museum that I'm attending, and I'm looking forward to that. It's funny, I fully intend to become a member but for two small things. First, they don't have a way to do it through their website (they are kind of a new/young organization), so you have to print out a form to fill out and mail it in with a check (maybe credit card info). Second, and this is such a nit-picky thing that I'd like to believe it's only the first thing that has kept me thus far from joining: they don't have memberships for a parent and a kid. There's individual, there's family, there's grandparent, but unlike the science museum in Denver, nothing for an individual plus one. Small things, really. I'm making a note to myself to print the form today and bring it and a check with me tonight.

I'm hoping to get together Friday with a friend who I don't socialize with enough. Hopefully that will happen. Then Saturday I've been invited to my banjo instructor's place for some picking and socializing. This means a lot to me because I have not been playing, and stopped my lessons back in September. I just picked up my banjo again last week after a couple of months, and was relieved to see I haven't lost everything (except my calluses, but they'll reform). I still want to get to a point where I can hold my own while playing with a group, even if I don't know the song. I need to get comfortable playing (finding the chords!) in A and D tunings. But I digress. I'm grateful that my instructor thought of me to invite me and I'm looking forward to seeing those folks again.

In other news, I'm getting close to starting a sweater. It's called Derry Raglan (that's the Ravelry link). It's knit with aran weight, and is easy and fast and has a little bling down the sleeves. I waver on the yarn, though. I'm always looking for that sweet spot in yarn, where it's good stuff - not scratchy, not droopy, won't pill right after I get finished - but doesn't cost me $150 to get enough for a sweater. Good yarn is not cheap. I think you kind of get what you pay for.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Garden resolutions 2014: more flowers

I didn't do much with my vegetable garden last year besides planting and watering it, mostly on account of getting the kitchen remodeled and not having a stove for parts of August and September. I kind of let things go. For example, I threw several very large zucchini directly into the compost pile, which was wasteful.

I know some people consider gardening to be only vegetable gardening, but I get a lot of pleasure from growing flowers. I also like to support the local food movement, and dislike having to eat something from the garden because it's going to go to waste if I don't.

I'm fortunate to not have to rely on my garden for food, and thankful that I have these beds so if I did need to grow more of my own food, I potentially could.

So this year, I'll have the usual one zucchini, a couple of roma tomatoes, a grape tomato, snap peas, lettuce and spinach, carrots. Some of that stuff will even be in little rows. And that's it. I'll need to tame my raspberries, and deal with the fact that only half (maybe fewer) of the canes are bearing fruit. Somehow, some of the ones that originally went in there are sterile. I've cut them in the fall, I've let them go overwinter, no difference. They'll leaf out fine, but no fruit. Anyone have suggestions for getting those out? I'd be OK with getting everything out and starting over, too. It's only a 4 x 4 bed in the corner of the yard.

Then, I'm going to use the newest bed that I put in a couple of years ago to plant Dahlias, and maybe a rose bush. I've always liked them and why the heck not? Writing this reminds me that I need to have a plumber come out and fix or install a new faucet outside, as the one that is there now leaks unless I really wrench it down.

I don't think it's too early to think about gardening. It feels good to begin.

Thursday, January 16, 2014


Mr W comes home from school occasionally and laments how other kids sometimes sort of pick on him. They will trade insults, and kids sometimes will get in his face a bit and ask what he's doing. For the latter, I talked to him about how it's probably a fun thing for the other kid if Mr W shows how annoyed he is. For the former, I advised keeping his jabs clever, but not personal. Somehow, he didn't see that making a dig about a kid's C+ on his report card wasn't hurtful.

It's hard to think on one's feet, and difficult to negotiate all the social stuff of middle school. It's funny that one of the kids that annoys him at the moment is a squirt about 6" shorter than Mr W. I wonder if these kids instinctually jab at him because they know he's pretty peaceful (although he did say he wanted to slam this kid into the lockers...).

We talked about ways to deflect annoying people, and I'm pleased to say that it worked, at least it did yesterday. I suggested that when the kid came up to him and started asking how he's doing, that he say something like, "I'm sorry, I don't have time to talk to you right now. I'm (insert something boring and mundane here)". The kid was thrown off his game a bit, and Mr W can now come up with any number of snide remarks: "I'm traveling in the 11th dimension" "I'm working on a plan for world peace" "I'm watching my fingernails grow". He seemed pleased that he was able to have some control over how the interaction took place, and I'll be interested to see if the other kid leaves him alone so he can find someone else who is more fun to bother.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

It's the little things

This is a trivial post, so proceed with that knowledge.

It seems inevitable. I use a dishcloth and a scrubby sponge in the kitchen, and I dutifully wring them out and set them to dry after every use. I get icked out by the thought of either sitting there, soaking wet and breeding bacteria. And the sponge in the breakroom sink at work? Forget it. I take my dirty dishes home.

Anyway, the cloths and the sponge eventually get that weird smell to them. I toss the sponge and replace it with a new one, but washing the rags eventually doesn't help. It must have been Pinterest that gave me the idea, but I took big pot, filled it most of the way with hot tap water, added a cup and a half of white vinegar and all the cloths, and let it sit for an hour. I then washed all the cloths in the washing machine. And you know what? It seems to have helped. pH changes or something...
Yep, it's the little things.

In other news, my back pain continues to be gone and I couldn't be happier about that. I realized how much the worry over it was eating at me and feel like a weight has been lifted.

In other other news, I am headed back to Las Vegas in a couple of months, this time for my brother's 50th birthday. We all had so much fun at my SIL's (his wife's) Vegas celebration last year, we're back for more. Found a cheap (relatively) place to stay downtown, and am looking forward to it.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

A close call

Well cared-for dogs don't worry about much, I suspect. Sally has her routine, and although she's home alone during the day, this is usually how I find her when I come home from work. I took this the day after we got back from our trip, and she was peacefully exhausted from having stayed with dog park friends for six days. 

Depending on what I've got going on after work, and how muddy the dog park will be (based on how much snow we've had recently), I either take Sal for a 20-30 minute walk, or go to the dog park. She doesn't like the head collar/ gentle leader I use, but it makes for a much better walk. She hangs her head while I put it on, but then perks up once we're outside. Treats help.

We were going on a different route around the neighborhood a couple of days ago, and were waiting to cross a street big enough to have a walk sign that you have to push the button for. The light turns, the "white walking man" sign lights up and we step into the street. A second later, a car starts to turn right and almost hits Sally. To my recollection, it stopped about a foot or two from her. 

He wasn't going very fast because he was starting from a full stop, but the sight of the SUV almost hitting my dog really scared me. I stopped for a couple of seconds in the crosswalk, the driver looked kind of sorry, and we both continued on our way. Sal, for her part, was unscathed by it all, and just kept going. 

I, of course, then pondered how fast stuff can happen. I also thought about how much I love this darn dog, who has been so good at keeping me company and is an easy keeper. There's nothing to change about how I get around, really. I'm pretty good at checking for traffic wherever we go for walks, but it's good to get the occasional reminder.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Psyching myself out

Sleep, why is this so hard for us? I feel the difference when you behave yourself. I feel great when you visit and stay a while. I've read the books about how vital you are to my well-being. And yet, you make me wait. Sigh...

It seems like it's always something, and forgive me please if you are weary about hearing of my sleep troubles. On a very important up side, I've got my pillows rearranged so my lower back pain during the day seems to be almost gone. That's a pretty small change for a big return and I wouldn't have figured it out if I hadn't slept on another bed recently. Thankful for that. 

But I find that, like a lot of people, the things I worry about can keep me up, even if I'm not actively thinking about them. Hunting down these anxieties and telling them to take a hike takes work!! Dammit. In the haze of almost-sleep I'm often just in the middle area between being able to think and being able to not, so it's hard to make conscious decisions about things. 

Last night I was tossing and turning and reached for my phone to browse around because I was awake enough to do it. In my Facebook feed I saw the words "Learned Optimism". It set off a useful little train of thought that ended up with me saying to myself, "I choose to believe that everything is going to work out for the best."

Is anything really wrong? No, just the usual uncertainty of being in a contract position. On most days lately, I feel OK with that because a two-year federal budget has been passed that (I think) keeps funding pretty level with where it is now.

I'm also trying new stuff at work. It has me doing a lot of reading about what other people have done, and I get to collaborate with some co-workers. Those are two really good things about it. But it's stuff I haven't done before, although I'm really interested in it, and that uncertainty bugs me a bit sometimes. 

It bothers me a bit that even though the above work related things have a measure of uncertainty to them, it's really small potatoes. It should be pretty easy to chalk it up to how life works. I feel this is a consequence of living alone - the ideas need to roll around in my head for a lot longer than they would if they bounced off another person. I'm not complaining, but it's good to realize that I sometimes start to loop about this stuff, and I'm the one that has to step in and say "enough!". 

Took the picture above at the dog park yesterday. I just liked the stack of clouds and the lighting on them was nice. 

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Another list

So long, 2013! It was a good year. 

We just got back yesterday from visiting family in Charleston, SC. It was good, as always, to see them, and the visits go so fast. We had relatively uneventful plane rides, although our plane was held for 30 minutes in Atlanta while some snowy weather in Denver (our destination) blew through. What a difference a day makes, as I've read today about travel delays all over the country due to the severe cold weather across much of the country.

While in SC, we visited a town/island called Folly Beach, and drove past the house we rented in 2007, my sister's last summer. It was bittersweet. She loved the beach, which is strange given that her siblings really shy away from being in the sun. She loved the fancy house we stayed in and we talked about how we were so glad that we splurged to rent it. 

Other activities included a Japanese steakhouse, where they flipped the utensils around and cooked the meal on a big grill in front of the group. The kids especially enjoyed it. We also went to a new bowling alley/restaurant downtown, and the picture below shows my younger brother and Mr W doing their respective things. Older brother and I played pinball too, and I was reminded that younger brother and I spent a lot of quarters on pinball when we were growing up. I earned two free games, btw :-)

Although I'm not one to make resolutions because I don't keep them, I've been thinking of some changes I'd like to make regarding my free time and some other aspects of my life. 

I'm backing off of the jewelry thing (again). I've been making things for the wrong reason, namely making things to stock my Etsy shop, and they don't sell well enough for me to justify the time (at this time) to promote and try to drive traffic to my shop. The poor sales at the craft show I did last month really drove it home that this is not how I want to spend my free time right now. I'm going to clean up the area of my living room where I do my crafty stuff, and put things away for a while. 

I'd like to cook more. It takes more organization and planning than I've been giving it. Mr W is getting older and his palette is expanding such that I feel like I can stop making two things each time we eat. I know, I know, I should have never gotten into the habit, but it is what it is. While we were in SC, he shucked oysters and thought they were quite good, and ate shrimp as well.

I'm going to accept the way I look right now. This is a biggie, and I'm not going to bore you with details about the path I had to take to get here, but it was residual divorce stuff. I feel progress has been made, and my perspective is more that I'm grateful to be healthy.

I want to save to take a big trip. Related to this is to get better at staying on a budget with my finances. I've always pictured myself as someone who would benefit by a little overseas travel. I decided that if I didn't have anyone to travel with by the time I turned 50, I'd book a trip to the UK with Road Scholar. I I have a year and a half until then, and it's time to start saving. There is the possibility that my brother and SIL might go to Spain this summer with a couple of friends, and I would try to tag along on that if it worked out. 

And those are good starts. The last thing isn't a goal so much as something that needed to happen so I could continue the goal of getting regular exercise. My lower back has been hurting for the last couple of months. I thought originally that I hurt it doing yoga. All well and good, and I've successively backed off of doing things that I thought would aggravate it. The act of standing for more than 20 minutes or so (like I need to do for working in the lab) hurt quite a bit, and I was taking Ibuprofen for the pain most days. I bought a new pair of Danskos, which helped, but I was getting concerned that I had done something serious to my lower back.

Fast forward to the Charleston trip. I was nervous about sleeping on anything other than my Tempur-pedic fancy shmancy mattress. Mr W and I each had half of a trundle bed. I borrowed several of my SIL's quilts and along with a couple of pillows, was able to sleep with my shoulders elevated a bit. Lo and behold a couple of days go by and I'm waiting for the pain to start and it never does. Huh. The working theory now is that it's my damn bed/pillow configuration. I propped myself up a bit last night and it seems to help. I wondered whether the fact that a certain dog sleeps in my spot most of the day has anything to do with this. As in perhaps the mattress is getting compressed there? I don't know, but I'm going to try to rotate it and see if that helps too. I am relieved to have made progress on figuring out the cause (hopefully) of this back pain, and am looking forward to getting back to spin class and yoga.