Friday, December 26, 2008

White Christmases Are Overrated

I seem to recall that around last New Year's, I was writing a post I was almost done writing that suddenly vanished, and I had to sit and redo the whole thing. It just happened again. I was literally on the last few words of this post, which I decided to write from a Blogger "gadget" I put on my "My Google" page to save time, when for no reason, Google suddenly refreshed itself and my post was gone. I was just writing how I should go to bed, with it being a workday, but that as usual around midnight, I wasn't really sleepy. But now, with the prospect of writing this all over again, suddenly I am. But I may as well do this now, or I'll be laying in bed thinking about it and have to get up and do it anyway! (And this may go without saying, but I deleted the "handy" shortcut gadget.)

I started out by saying (at that time) Christmas Day was almost over, and though I hate to say it, it felt a lot like any other day off work, other than the fact that there were some nice Christmas music programs on tv last night. A big part of the reason for this was not being able to get to church for our Christmas Eve service, as well as the past two Sundays, as well as the caroling last Sunday (which was canceled) and the trimming of the church interior (which was not). This was because of a few storms which left over a foot of snow on the ground, the most since the "day after Christmas" storm of '96. Rex had to get me to the dock and back the past two weeks in his Jeep so I could get to work on the days that I did make it there since we both agree I couldn't take a chance on driving "Bianca" on the treacherous streets, even though it was really about all he could do to get himself to work. I took a snow day Monday the 22nd and again on Christmas Eve. I went in Tuesday and will need to go in today. Thankfully, the coming week will also be short, with 1-1/2 days off for New Year's. It will be hard after that to get back to 5-day work weeks. I only have 2-3/4 more vaca days till May 15 when they renew, but will get 5 more sick days after next week, in case I have a migraine or really need a "mental health" day or "not up to battling the elements" day. January is definitely my least favorite month, and I'm sure I'm not alone in that regard. But I keep reminding myself that though it won't be noticeable for some time, the days are getting the teeniest bit longer each day now, and NASCAR starts back up in only about seven more weeks!

I thought I would be alone at home for the second Christmas in a row, with Rex scheduled to work last Christmas and there being just enough snow that I didn't want to chance driving to his employer's Christmas dinner. But he wasn't scheduled to work today. So we spent the day hanging out at home, and in my case, finishing the cream-colored Barbie "Angel of Peace" outfit and selecting a dark-haired gal to permanently wear it. I stiffened the wings and halo with a mixture of clear craft glue and water, and as soon as they are stiff and dry, I'll glue them on and display her. I really enjoyed making the angel outfit and will be making more; there are five in the booklet. I started the second one with the matching slip that needs to go under each outfit, then I'll decide which style dress to go over it. This outfit will be made with Clea #10 variegated pastel thread. Who says angel dresses have to be white? We had cheeseburgers off the grill for supper; not Christmasy but tasty, and the doggies always enjoy them. I gave Rex the Cuisinart ice cream/yogurt/sorbet maker I got him, and he gave me a "Paris for Dummies" book. I also got myself some crochet patterns and purses off eBay with part of my Christmas bonus. I don't NEED more of either of those, but I love both, so..........

I think this is about all I said in the post that disappeared except that I hope and pray I can get to church this Sunday; I've really missed it. Rex and I did get there for the third and last beautiful Advent service of the season a week ago Wed., but other than that, it's been since Dec. 7. He's still going to the church we attended together since '01 and is not yet convinced to join me, though he's visited a few times, so I hope he will eventually come abroad. Well, six hours to time to arise for work, so I'll hit "publish" and hope for the best!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Heidi, Holidays, and Hookey

The fact that I realize I haven't posted to my blog for two months, despite the scare a month ago with our Heidi, is a clear indication of the extent of my brain overload caused by my job, which in turn caused me to take today off work despite this being a short week due to Thanksgiving. It's really not playing hookey; the H just fit in well for the title of the post! It's a mental health day to recover from a non-restful weekend. Usually I can recover mentally over a weekend from a crazy week at the job, but not this weekend. I drifted off in my recliner a few times both Sat. and Sun., despite desperately wanting to stay alert during the beautiful 1944 movie "Since You Went Away" and the terrific 10-hour History Channel special, "The States", featuring history and interesting facts on all 50 states, and I'd only caught two episodes several months before (and not enough room on the DVR to record them). I just didn't feel I could face another Monday. So I got up and dressed, but then went to Fred Meyer to pick up a few groceries and refill my Imitrex transaction, then I came home and am so glad to be here. I really needed this mental health day.

As for our Heidi, she is fine. But Rex and I were very alarmed to find a HUGE cyst on her right side back on October 18, under all that fur. We really only found it then since we noticed she was pulling hair out of her side. We expected to find some sort of abrasion. Of course, you go through all the thoughts of, PLEASE, God, let it be benign, and let us be able to borrow enough off our credit cards to afford to get her treated. So she went to the vet the following Mon. the 20th to get it biopsied, then, thank the Lord, we found out Wed. that it was benign. She had it removed on Thurs. the 23rd. The surgery went great, but the poor baby had a third of her fur shaved on that side and a long scar with stitches that had to stay in two weeks. Then she had to go back a few days later to have a bandage wrapped around her middle so she wouldn't pick at the stitches (which prompted Rex to call her "sausage dog"), then once more to have the bandage replaced, then actually two visits to remove the stitches since a few of them needed to stay in a few extra days. So it was several hundred dollars, but we didn't think twice. We love her SO much. I am SO thankful every day that Rex didn't listen to me in those first few months when Heidi had all this pent-up energy from living in a large cage from ages 2 till when we adopted her at age 4 in '02 and I told him she wasn't working out. I ended up growing closer to her than any other dog I've had or will probably ever have, maybe partly because I did go through so much with her, and I'm so very thankful to have more time with my girl -- who will turn 11 in a little over 2 weeks.

It's hard to believe Thanksgiving is almost here and the year is almost over. Rex will again have to work that day, as there will be more doggies in the kennel than on non-holidays and they need to be cared for. So our dinner will again be postponed to sometime over the weekend. I also am supposed to be getting together with Dianne over the weekend - was supposed to be Friday, but I remembered it's payday and the pesky problem of having to stop at the office to pick up my check, with no direct deposit (unless I have my boss deposit it, which I did when I went to Vegas). There are also some great-sounding Bette Davis and Joan Crawford movies on TCM Friday, most of which I've never seen. So I'll play it by ear....

I still haven't started ny next Barbie dress, yet another indication of how very tired I've felt. I was going to start it over the weekend, but instead decided to start my third "symbols only" doily using a pretty pastel variegated #10 Clea thread that looks like sherbet flavors; called "Floral Showpiece", which I'm now going to sit back and relax and work on for awhile. Hopefully the dress will be next.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Dusty, Vegas, Hotpads and Handbells

We lost another of our sweet guinea pigs on Fri., August 29. As with Ozzie, it was unexpected. Not quite as unexpected as Ozzie, as there was NO warning with Oz, while Dusty started becoming much less active and not eating much a week before. But it was a surprise that he got sick. He was one of the more active and curious piggies we'd had. He would stand and stretch along the side of his cage, looking all around at the slightest sound or movement. We don't know what happened. We started putting vitamins made for piggies in his water, but he died that evening about an hour after I came home from work. He was pretty; looked like an albino with pink eyes except he had a dark patch on his face. Considering we acquired him and his late cagemate Rusty after they were abandoned in a home with four other piggies that already had died, at least we were able to give these two a good home for their final months. RIP, Dusty....

Thankfully, this was the only dark moment of the first of two long weekends, the following Mon. being Labor Day. The following morning, my new pastor, Liz, came over to visit and met Rex and the critters. (He still hasn't been to my new church; he continues to be scheduled to work Sundays.) I spent most of the weekend the way I usually like to spend them -- at home with the doggies and piggies, watching TV and crocheting, and also making plans for the following weekend, my mini-vacation in Vegas! Hard to believe that now, it's already been two weeks ago, and the first day of fall is almost here.

I got up at 4:00 a.m. (yawn) on Friday the 5th, had Rex drop me at the dock to take the 5:00 ferry to West Seattle, and from there took the express bus to the airport, getting there in plenty of time for my 8:00 flight. There was no problem getting my steel crochet hook on board the plane either coming or going, so I was able to work on a lavender and green pineapple doily on each flight. We landed a little early, at 10:15-ish. I had already started spending the $100 my boss gave me for my bd at Sea-Tac Airport, buying a summery aqua necklace, and now at McCarran Airport, here was a store with rows of very cute watches for $10! Having just broken the bangle watch I loved days before, what great timing! After some deliberation, I picked a pretty lavender one with a "croco" strap and silvertone trim.

This was the first trip where I ever rented a car; I usually choose to walk and take buses on trips, but with the 105 degree heat, I saw little choice, and I got a fabulous deal from Alamo. They were out of compacts so I got to upgrade to a nice silver Pontiac G6, which I enjoyed driving (they offered a minivan at first, but I've never driven one and didn't feel ready to start now). Heading north toward my hotel and driving through the Strip, even without the neon lights, I was in awe and had to keep telling myself to watch where I was going and calm down. At Sahara, the cross street where I would turn left for the Palace Station Hotel, was a large, tacky, but fun gift shop called Bonanza, so I had to stop in there. Kitty corner from that shop was the NASCAR Cafe and Gift Shop, where I already knew I would stop. Looking at the ladies' tops for awhile, I decided on two -- a black NASCAR Cafe tank that would be great to wear for the next evening's activity (more on that soon) and a nice long-sleeve black and gray (with orange Home Depot trim, natch) Tony Stewart shirt that was half-price due to his not driving that car after this season (since he will be a team owner then).

It was still a bit early to check into the hotel, so I decided to have lunch and then drive around a bit. I looked for a restaurant called Hash House I found online where I'd decided to eat lunch, but couldn't find it. So I ended up eating at KFC, which still hit the spot. I somehow kept making wrong turns though I usually have a good sense of direction. I stumbled upon a mall with a Michael's and went there for a red Sugar N'Cream yarn for hotpads. They had my Bernat Berella yarn for the incredible price of $1.49 and I decided to buy some and have my friend Mary (who I'd be meeting the next day) ship it to me (which would still be cheaper than paying $15 to check a bag). I bought 6 soft forest, 5 forest, 10 rich pink, and the one remaining skein of soft heather (cream).

I headed for the Palace Station, deciding I would freshen up and then take their shuttle to the Strip. I knew it was an economy room, but being Vegas, I assumed it would still be nice and have at least the basic amenities I'd come to expect when traveling. What a disappointment! The room was tiny (the two double beds taking up most of it), very plain vanilla "decor", no bathtub (only a shower stall), no refrigerator, and the most stunning to me -- no coffeepot and fixings to make morning coffee! I've never stayed anywhere that didn't have that. Also, it was advertised as being 2 blocks from the Strip -- at least a mile would be more like it. I would never stay at this place again if I went back, and would advise anyone else not to....

I took the shuttle to the Strip. There was only one stop (or as I learned, sometimes two, according to their whim). I sat next to a delightful young woman visiting from Germany, who was pretty enough to be in a beauty pageant. I wish I'd taken her picture. I got off the shuttle and started walking. It was still waaaay too hot for me though the sun had gone down; I had to stop and get a bottle of water. Then I saw there was a $2 bus that went all the way down the Strip and I decided to take that, but it took forever to get there. I finally got most of the way down the Strip and decided to walk much of the way back. I walked through a few of the fancy malls in the prominent hotels -- the Miracle Mile Shops in Planet Hollywood was especially elegant and impressive. I took some pics of the neon lights of the Strip at night, and when I was almost done doing that, my danged camera battery ran out -- and I hadn't thought to bring the charger. I was surprised at how, at many intersections, the crosswalk is totally blocked off and to move forward, you HAVE to go up an escalator that leads into one of the famous hotels -- or you can turn and take the next escalator down, and it can be confusing. But I eventually made it back to the shuttle stop and returned to my plain little room to prepare for the next day -- my birthday!

I'd arranged to meet my E-mail friend Mary at Omelet House, another restaurant I found online (which offers a free bd meal if you bring a friend), at 8:00 a.m. I had probably the best omelet I ever had there, but it was beyond enormous. They must have used six eggs! I hated to waste half of it, but I had no choice since the danged hotel room had no fridge. Then Mary and I went to a yarn store she'd never been to. It turned out to be the typical small yarn store that caters almost exclusively to knitters, so neither of us were terribly impressed. Then we went to her home for a short while where I met her hubby, two of her sons, and her two cute dogs, Lady, a husky, and Coco, a chow puppy. We had a nice visit and it was fun meeting her after communicating online for quite some time. Her son took a pic (my battery having died) and I wish I could share it, but I look awful; my eyes are half-closed...

When I left her home, I drove around a bit, then I went to the hotel to shower and plan for the evening. After unwinding for awhile, I took the Strip shuttle and walked to Harrah's, where the shuttle bus was leaving at 5 p.m. for the Las Vegas Motor Speedway!! I'd decided a couple weeks before that rather than go to a show, I'd spend my last evening in Vegas touring the speedway and riding 3 laps at up to 165 mph in an exact replica of a real NASCAR! Each of us had to put on a fire-retardant suit like the drivers wear and a helmet, then wait our turn dressed like that in the 100 degree-plus heat. Needless to say, that part I could have done without. And it was over pretty fast. It was scary but fun! I guess I'm glad I did it. But for what they charge (plus an extra $35 for the pic of me in the car on a stone plaque), next time I go to a speedway, it will be to actually attend a race -- and in cooler temps! It did give me even more of an appreciation for what the drivers do. The hardest part was crawling in and out of that tiny window! Afterwards, we toured the garage and when I saw the exact replica of Tony Stewart's #20 Home Depot car, I lamented that my camera battery had died. So one of the ladies took my pic by the car and E-mailed it to me. It turned out OK, so I'll post it at the bottom of this paragraph. The bus dropped us back at Harrah's, and since I was required to wear closed shoes for the NASCAR ride, which weren't nearly as comfy as my sandals, rather than walking through the Strip some more, I found the shuttle and returned to my room. The shuttle nearly left without me; it stopped at a different spot than before and I had to yell and wave him down. Then the driver acted like I was supposed to know where he was stopping. This only added to my distaste for the Palace Station Hotel.

I purposely decided on a comparatively uneventful Sunday to conclude my trip. With my unlimited Alamo mileage, I decided to visit a Lutheran church on the far northwest side, which had its traditional service at 11:00. Before church, I went back to Omelet House for breakfast, but had French Toast this time. I took the "scenic route" to the church but still got there too early, so drove around some more. The service was a lot like those at my new church and I enjoyed it. Afterwards, I went back to the Michael's and retrieved the one skein of rich pink Berella yarn that had fallen out of my basket the other day (having given the other 21 to Mary to ship to me). I decided to gradually head to the outlet mall near the airport as my final stop even though my plane wasn't leaving till 7:27 p.m. I thought the mall would be on my right, then I saw the sign that it was ahead to the left. I thought, great, oh well, with this traffic, I don't feel like merging; I'll just head to the airport and hang out there. Then I saw another mall on my side of the road, Town Square, so decided to check that out. It was elegant, on manmade city "streets". I wanted to park and walk around despite the heat. But the parking spots were metered and I was almost out of change. I only had enough change for 12 minutes. I parked anyway but had to hurry back, being unable to think of something to buy quickly to get change. Then I couldn't find my way out of there; it was like a giant maze!! I finally found Las Vegas Blvd. heading south to the airport on the 4th or 5th try. I turned and thought, OK, I am dropping off this car, I've had enough of driving in this town! THEN came the sign, rental car return here, wrong side of road again!! O.....KAY..... I'll get to the next intersection, turn left and turn back around. I went to turn there -- and there was the outlet mall!! So I got to see it anyway. Then I went to the car return, then hung out at the airport for a few hours. I took the express bus to the ferry and got home at 12:15-ish. It was nice to not have to rush right off to bed and know I had the next day off to rest at home. Ironically, "Viva Las Vegas" was on tv, so I watched that. It was made in '64 and it was interesting to see how the Strip has changed since then.

Since returning home, I've mostly been working on CD hotpads. As I write this. I've made 16 so far. I'd thought about trying patterns for them for a long time, and had been saving free software and other free advertising CDs for that purpose. I have a couple dozen more of those CDs somewhere that I haven't found so far, but have about 2 dozen on hand to use, and the others may surface occasionally. The pattern I'm using is online, called Cluster CD Hotpad. I really enjoy making them and they will be nice to have on hand for exchanges, small gifts, or church fundraising. Once I use up the CDs I have on hand, I expect to start another Barbie dress, called Miss Holly, in dark rose, cream and hunter green.

The last part of the title of this post relates to this past Wednesday. I went to choir practice for the first time at my new church. The others were glad to see me, and the two sons we practiced were beautiful. It went very well and I really felt I fit in and was glad I went. After practice, Myrna asked me if I wanted to try handbells. Well, yes, actually, I've never gotten to play them and did want to try. Well.....I learned it's not for me. It's definitely harder than I thought and I just don't think I have the knack for it. The bells are heavy and there is a certain technique to how you have to move your arm to get the correct tone, and then there's the timing issue of knowing exactly WHEN to ring your bell, otherwise the chord could sound all wrong. I know everything takes practice. But I honestly didn't enjoy it. I hope that tomorrow, I can just tell her NO and not be made to feel guilty. Like Clint Eastwood would say, "A man (woman)'s got to know his (her) limitations!"

Finally....I didn't expect anything else from work for my birthday after Chris gave me the $100. But I was also given (from all the staff) a $40 gift cert for (Rex teased that was like giving my dad a gift cert for a tavern; I used it to buy several colors of Berrocco "Touche" yarn, which I haven't used but it seems like it will be very similar to Knit Picks Shine which I love for face or dish cloths) and we had a pizza party and chocolate bd cake on Wednesday. Between the pizza and the pretzels I'd eaten the previous two days, I got a bad migraine the next day and had to leave work at 1:30. So now my sick pay for the year is almost gone -- which would be OK if I could only control my eating! I know what certain foods will do to me when I overeat them but I do it anyway. Well, this is all that's fit to print for now!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Tired of Being Tired

It's just a little over two weeks before my birthday mini-trip to Vegas -- an air/hotel package I booked in April and would not have booked if I'd used my brain and thought about what the weather would be in late summer. It seems like they've had highs in the 100s literally since May. I'm not sure how the people who live there can stand it, regardless of whether it's "dry heat". I've continued to wonder how I, who can barely endure 85 degrees, will be able to stand it and avoid heatstroke. I generally like to take buses to neighborhoods and then walk through those neighborhoods when I visit cities. Realizing a few weeks ago that the unending heat would not permit me to do that, I began searching online each day for the best rental car deal possible. I finally found one no one could touch - a compact car from Alamo which, counting the online coupon, will cost me $40.18 for the entire 3 days (not for each day). The only additional cost will be replenishing the gas I use, but I'll just stay in the city so I won't use a lot. I have my city maps and points of interest, and it will be fun to zip around in a little air-conditioned car and will give me a lot more freedom as to what I will be able to see and do. I think I am still getting together with my E-mail friend Mary on Day Two (my bday), though I'm waiting to hear back from her as to where and what time we should meet.

So, I expect to have fun and am looking forward to this little getaway. At the same time. I am very discouraged about my weight, which absolutely WAS going to be OFF for months till now and instead is there, all extra 40 pounds in all its *glory", ruining my appearance, self-image and probably my health, and all because I can't control my cravings for pretzels, pasta, cereal and CARBS in general. God knows I need His intervention; I can't do this alone, and I continue to feel His help has just not been forthcoming. I also have continued to feel even more fatigued than usual, and more trouble getting any sleep each night, than has been the case. I still do the morning mile and a half walk from the park n'ride to the ferry dock five days a week, and I sometimes try to do the same walk in the evening after work (with the temp being warmer. the terrain uphill, and my brain mentally exhausted from 8 hours of shifting gears every few minutes at my crazy job). But more often than not lately, I just don't feel I have the strength (and am dragging like an old woman on days I do try it) and have to pay the van fare to my car, which is up to $1.50, which adds up. I bought some liquid vitamins I hoped would help my stamina, but so far they haven't. I also tried bee pollen granules and was taking them about a week and a half, a tablespoonful each night, when last Thursday I got a monster migraine that even my Imitrex couldn't help, complete with nausea, and I haven't had one of those for quite some time. It was so bad that I was forced to take a sick day Friday. While I don't know for 100% that the bee pollen caused this, it's the only thing I've ingested that's different from usual, and I also recalled that I proved sensitive to honey when I was drinking it in hot water in '03. It's discouraging to spend my limited income on something that I trust will help me and instead it backfires on me. I pray God will have mercy on me and give me the strength to do whatever the heck it is I need to in order to lose this disgusting weight, get some sleep and have some energy. I was supposed to go to Vegas looking like a fox (for my age) and instead I still look and feel like a middle-aged, fat, tired FRUMP. I can't believe that a year after I resolved to get to my goal weight, here I remain, a mere 17 pounds from my all-time high weight. God, PLEASE help me...............

I was just rereading my last post. I ended up not having that knitting lesson with Beverly; she had to cancel, and I still haven't and don't know when or if I will. I still think it would be nice to know the basics, but I also still honestly don't know that I would even enjoy doing it all that much, and when I adore crocheting as much as I do, does it even make sense to spend time trying to get into a craft that forces one to coordinate at least two needles (instead of one hook), is much more of a hassle to rip out if you need to, and would therefore not be very relaxing? Hypothetical question! I'm almost finished with the Dotted Delight beaded Barbie outfit which I chose to make in cream thread with multi pastel beads and a pink collar and trim, instead of white with red beads and trim as pictured. This Sat. when I get together with Dianne, I'll pick up the three tiny snaps, three tiny pink ribbon roses, and 1/8" wooden dowel (for her parasol) that I need to finish it. Tonight I started a light blue scarf for my crochet exchange partner Stephanie, who sent me a nice dark green knit scarf and was also kind enough to send me the size I lighted crochet hook I wanted. I'm also working on a charity or gift baby ghan in confetti (white with speckles) Cottontots in the "Sand Dollar" pattern (join as you go hexagon post stitch motifs; fun to make and elegant). We had a rare rainstorm today and I wondered if our power would go off and cause me to try it out sooner rather than later. But thankfully that didn't happen, and it is supposed to clear up by Sat. I've also continued to attend and enjoy the Lutheran church for the past 7 Sundays. Rex hasn't been there yet as he's had to work every Sun. Amazingly, no one from the church we attended the past 7 years has bothered to contact us to find out where we are. So that speaks volumes and makes it easier to make the change. Well, being after midnight, I'll wrap up for now and once again TRY to get enough sleep to function the next two workdays at the level that I need and want to, but which lately has eluded me.....

Monday, July 21, 2008

Second Half....

I didn't intend to take this long to post in my blog. Here it is, already the second half of the year, and here I am, at the same fat weight and totally disgusted with myself. I thought about going back to the TOPS chapter I'd attended for about 6 months. But the meetings are on Monday evenings, and Mondays continue to be stressful for me as it is without having to cut back on my food and not get home till 8:00 p.m. It's the busiest day at a job that I guess is working out in that I've been there over two years now, but which I continue to not be passionate about and wonder, at my age, if I will ever have a job I can truly enjoy instead of just existing during the week and living for the weekend - and then feeling lonely and without purpose over the weekend. At least that's how I felt this past Saturday. Then I went to my new church the next day and felt rejuvenated, at least for awhile. More on that soon.

Now it's after midnight, having just turned to Tuesday, and I again feel drained. But one of my favorite programs, the 90's crime series Homicide (on the cable network "Sleuth") again didn't record on its earlier telecast today; this has been happening a lot and I don't know why. So I'll stay up and listen to it while I type this. I won't sleep anyway if I do go to bed....But getting back to TOPS, there is a chapter closer to our home that I belonged to several years ago, and I discovered they meet on Thursdays (I don't think that used to be the case). So I'm thinking about going this Thurs. I have to do something; it's ridiculous that I still weigh the same, with the total determination I had (and still have) to lose the weight the first half of this year, and considering that I walk 3 to 4 miles most weekdays.

Before I get off the topic of TV programs, another of my very favorites is "Monk". As always, I was excited about the new season starting last Fri., even though the "season" is ridiculously short -- only 6 or 7 episodes, then wait another 4-5 months. I saw the coming attractions about Monk getting a new psychiatrist and was surprised that Stanley Kamel, the man who played Dr. Kroger, was either written off or resigned. Just before the new episode debuted, curiosity got the better of me and I searched Google to see why Dr. Kroger was replaced. I was stunned to learn that Stanley/Dr. Kroger had died of a heart attack over 3 months ago! I, who is on the Internet every day as well as keeping up with televised news, had not heard anything about this. What a shame; he was only 65. I can't understand why this was not publicized more than it was. It's scary as well as sobering to hear things like this happening to people who seemed fine who are not that much older than my husband - or not that much older than me, as with newsman Tim Russert. It really is a reminder to not let life get you down as it often has for me, since you truly just never know. At least Stanley got to bring a lot of people enjoyment, and I assume to experience much himself, through this supporting but integral character on a great TV show the last few years of his life. RIP, Dr. Kroger........

Dianne and I didn't get to take our weekend to Long Beach due to the declining health of her parents. That was disappointing; we were looking forward to it. She had a really cute little cabin reserved, and we would have been able to bring 2 of her 3 tiny dogs. But we plan a day trip to Centralia this Sat. I'll go to her place Friday after work and stay there so we can get an early start. Before going to her place, I'll be meeting with Beverly, owner of our local crochet group, for (I can't believe I'm doing this) a knitting lesson. Yes, the "k" word. It pains me to even type it. I guess I want to either prove to myself once and for all that I don't want to knit and won't think about it any more (and will continue to wonder why it usually gets so much more attention than my beloved crocheting), or there will be the outside chance that I could pick it up with someone actually showing me (as opposed to a book or video) since, after all, that's how I learned to crochet almost 29 years ago. I still might not like it. I keep hearing what a hassle it is to rip out and redo if you do make a mistake - and there is the need to coordinate two (or more) needles instead of one hook. Just doesn't seem that relaxing to me - and I feel crochet is every bit as versatile. But I'm going to try once more - and the third time will either be the charm or the third strike. We shall see!

Last time I went to Dianne's home, with some Bernat Satin yarn and an afghan pattern I'd been anxious to try, I came to a sober realization re my favorite lovely soft and shiny yarn. Namely, that it lacks what Dianne wisely referred to as the "body" to be effectively used for the particular pattern I had in mind. I realized this would be the case for other patterns I like also, and that this is why Bernat Berella ad worked so well for other afghans I've made. It does definitely have body and yet has a nice degree of softness. It also comes in a lot more colors than the Satin. So I will be going back to Berella as my afghan yarn of choice (or Patons Canadiana, which is very similar but tends to cost more). I used my supply of Satin to make two ghans - a cream, sage and burgundy spiderweb pattern ghan for my household and a navy/burgundy/beige star-shaped lapghan which will be a gift for someone I can't yet name (or it wouldn't be a surprise!). Prior to making these ghans, I whipped up a "pineapple swirls" Barbie gown of lavender #10 Cebelia. Now I've just started a "Dotted Delight" Barbie ensemble, which will include a hat and parasol in addition to the pretty beaded dress. The dress will be cream #10 Opera thread with pink #10 Opera trim, and the beads are pastel in five shades of blues and pinks. I started stringing the beads onto the thread this evening (that is, last evening!). Inbetween these projects, I made 18 dishcloths/face cloths for one of my charity lists, using a good-sized supply of Knit Picks Shine sport yarn from eBay (my favorite yarn for dish/face cloths, shiny and a dream to work with).

At the beginning of this post, I referred to my new church. I've attended there the past three Sundays. Rex has not yet been there, as he is back to working Sundays for now. It's a tricky situation, changing churches when you've gone to your previous church for over 7 years (and a couple years before that in the 90's), and are the webmaster and creator of the church's web site, and had been rotating on the worship team, and most of all, when you are so fond of the pastor and his wife, and a few other people at the church. I hope to continue to be friends with them and they won't take it personally. But I just wasn't being spiritually fed by singing the same 20 or so of what Rex calls "jingles on a screen", sometimes one "special music" song, a sermon, a closing song, a strictly symbolic communion once a month, sitting in the library (Rex is the librarian) till everyone left, and going home. I've increasingly felt the need for something deeper and more traditional and structured, something where I could feel I was participating more in the service, being able to observe the liturgical year. I feel I've found all this in a small Lutheran church where we sing the old hymns, recite the Lord's Prayer and the Apostles' Creed, observe communion every week, and during greeting time (well into the service) instead of saying "hi", we say "Peace be with you!" I've left feeling fed and hungry for more, and that is something I haven't experienced at church for a long time. No one from the church we are members of has inquired yet as to where we are, but I expect that soon, I'll have to explain all this to Pastor Jim, and that will be hard. I think he will understand; other people have left in recent months, but it's still a tricky situation. But it's what I feel I need to do. I'll know better if this is right once Pastor Liz comes over in a few weeks and meets with both of us (yeah, a lady pastor - a first for me) but I do see myself (and hopefully Rex) eventually joining this church. Well, as usual, it's past my bedtime!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Where Does The Time Go??

Can it be that we have been in our lovely new manufactured home almost a year already?? It doesn't seem possible, but it's true. It also doesn't seem possible that I FINALLY got around to trying out my "new" (bought several months ago) digital camera today and FINALLY taking a few new pics of the outside of our home. I don't know why it took me so long to try out the camera (a Nikon Coolpix) but it is a lot more user-friendly than I'd feared; pretty much point and shoot. It has a lot of different optional "modes" to switch to, depending on indoor/outdoor, time of day, subject matter, close or far, etc. But for now, the default auto mode seems to work great! I also took some pics of many of my latest crochet projects, in preparation for soon adding the looooong-overdue crochet page #3 to my site. I didn't take a pic yet of the gorgeous 56-square peach and green "F and F" (friends and family) ghan that has 16 8" squares crocheted by me and the other 40 by Dianne, her mom Margaret, her 3 daughters and one of her youngest's April's friends (6 to 8 squares each). I couldn't get it laid out in a way to really get the whole thing (or even most of it) in the pic to do it justice, so maybe I will have Rex hold it up today or tomorrow. But anyway, I am really pleased with the little camera! And now I am going to attempt to get the new pics (which also feature my sweet '88 Mercedes, "Bianca") posted below, after I read the "help" section here on Blogspot to remember how to do it!

OK, that was easy enough! I also want to take some pics of the inside of our home to post here in the near future. But I need to do some picking up and straightening up first, and Rex has to get the rug shampooer rented; it's badly needed after 11+ months of 500+ pounds of large lovable dawgs sharing the place with us. I also did get a couple of pics of Archie (our precious 170-pounder) taken today. I may as well post them below. The other dawgs were laying behind something or otherwise not accessible to get a good shot, so may have to wait till they're outside.

I also will need to get some pics of our current brood of eight sweet guinea pigs. I still can't believe we lost little Ozzie sometime on Tuesday. I was home all day preparing for my routine colonoscopy the next day (which, thankfully, came out fine) and the last I checked on the piggies, he seemed perfectly OK. Rex found him the next morning. He was a pretty little shorthair tortoiseshell who came to us about 20 months ago with his cagemate, a beautiful Peruvian (longhaired) tortoiseshell, Harry. Several months ago we added Joey, a wonderful solid black Peruvian, to their cage, and they all got along well. Ozzie was one of our most docile piggies and liked to be held and petted. We check all the piggies regularly since we've lost four others - Harvey (a lovable, athletic tan Abyssinian), Salina and Speedy (both black shorthair) and Rusty (rust-color shorthair) since our original guy, Popeye, in '05 (we thankfully had him almost 5 years). I wish the little critters lived longer. They are such nice little animals. We hope to get to the bottom of why this has happened the last couple years. We take good care of the piggies and I don't know of anything we are doing wrong.

On the positive side, another thing that is hard to believe, after all the years of temp jobs, layoffs, and several wrong jobs I never should have taken in the first place (would love to turn back the clock and make a different decision on at least four...), I will be at my present job TWO YEARS next week - and I had a very good annual review two weeks ago. There have been some rough periods even at this job, and I still feel I will again seek a higher-paying job in Seattle or Tacoma down the road. But I'm glad things have settled down for now, so that I can further regain some appearance of stability, as opposed to the job hopper my present resume still makes me appear (despite some of that being beyond my control).

I haven't been back to TOPS since Feb. and doubt at this point I will return. I also doubt that I will have any "after" pics to post here this year. That could change, but I know that the longer I wait to get restarted eating less, the harder it will be. As to the wonderful world of crocheting, today I hope to finish assembling my sumptuous diagonal brick stitch ghan in "sand and sea" colors of Bernat Satin. I had to set it aside for a couple weeks, having run out of three colors of the Satin. Then I'll have to decide what edging to add, weave in the rest of the ends, photograph it and find a prominent place to show it off - likely in our living room. Am also working on three doilies - "Danube Centerpiece" (nine motifs in dark rose, cream and pink, with sage trim), another beaded doily to use up the rest of my jewel-toned beads (Welcoming Oval in sage; the pattern doesn't call for beads but I figured out a design to exactly use up what I have left) and "Heavenly Delight" to use the rest of the dark rose and pink. At least two more ghans planned next, and at long last, Barbie gowns! I got a little carried away buying a few more Barbies off eBay, along with panties and shoes (we can't have Barbie in a fancy gown with no underpants or shoes, now can we?). It will take quite some time making clothes for the 18 or so I have now! Well, that's all that's fit to print for this go-round! I'll likely wait to post again till Dianne and I take our little 3-day mini-vacation to Long Beach, Washington in three weeks.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Spring Has Sprung...

Well....I haven't been to TOPS for several weeks now. It just made for too long of a day on Mondays, which is the busiest and most stressful day at work - and I just wasn't developing close enough relationships with the others that would keep me there. I may look into transferring to the online version of TOPS. I also have continued to not really make an effort to cut back on the foods I crave, and have decided to not beat myself up about it. I will get restarted with my efforts, as I want SO badly to reach my goal weight, but have just not been ready yet. I have resumed walking to and from the ferry dock most weekdays, and though I have been afraid to weigh myself since leaving TOPS, I doubt I have gained much if any weight thanks to all the walking. But I continue to have chronic insomnia, have headaches more days than not, and feel much more sluggish than I should. I am on the verge of trying a brand of liquid vitamins I have read glowing reviews of, and which I understand were developed by a Christian. The vitamin pills I have been taking have done nothing for the way I feel and tend to get stuck in my esophagus half the time, ouch. I've also read that pills only have a 10 - 15% absorption rate and liquid have a 98% absorption rate. So I'm hoping this will be the answer to my regaining the energy I need, and to be able to sleep better, have less headaches and get back on track with weight loss. I had also been quite stressed by my job, but things have been better there now the last couple of weeks since we added a couple of new staff to take some of the pressure off me. I still am shifting gears all day, sometimes every few minutes, which often is very mentally tiring. But I suppose most office jobs are like that to one degree or another. Though I've updated my resume and sent out a few (and went on one interview last week, on a day I happened to be off work anyway), I don't feel I should jump ship just yet (at least not till I have my annual review later this month, LOL). I feel I need a higher salary in the long run to help us keep up with our mortgage (which will remain a challenge despite the recent refinancing). But it will take quite an increase in salary to cause me to want to do the longer commute to and from Seattle (and the hour earlier rising that will come with that) again........

I was very excited to find my lovely new blog graphics today on the web site I have not been satisfied with the limited choices of blog templates available on my blog host, and has a huge choice of designs with literally something for everyone. When I found this one, called Natural Paint I knew I didn't have to look any further. Now I feel my blog really fits in perfectly with my home page I also chose another template from, called "Just Meant", for my other blog, The Evergreen Refuge Home Chronicle (My Dream Realized), and it looks great also. I highly recommend to ANYONE that has a blog and wants to personalize and update its look. They have hundreds of choices, so you will find the perfect choice for your own blog. All I had to do was copy and paste the HTML for the new template where the old template HTML used to be, and ta daaaaa!!

Since posting last, I've made an additional beaded doily using the pattern "Shimmering Pineapple Doily", which is available free at I'd bought a bag of very pretty beads in variegated shades of blue, purple and green, and was surprised that the package contained enough for three doilies. The funny-looking beading needles I bought, which are literally not much thicker than a human hair, were finally the answer for threading beads onto #10 thread with no muss and fuss. I made one with sage Opera thread, one with hunter Opera thread, and one with purple Royale thread, and the beads looked equally nice on all three. I will keep one (probably the sage one) and use the other two for future exchanges. Then I made a doily for an online exchange using #10 Clea thread, in a pretty variegated pastel, for the first time. I LOVE Clea thread! I bought it from an eBay seller in Paraguay, of all places, who sells 1,000 yard spools at reasonable prices and with FREE shipping. The 1,000 yard spools of Clea take up no more space than 400 yard spools of other #10 thread, since they don't use the cardboard roll in the middle. It is smooth, very soft and works up beautifully. I think Cebelia is still my favorite thread, and I have a lot of it on hand to use before I buy more thread. But Clea is right up there and may eventually become my main thread of choice. Lovely stuff!

I'm now finally making my first ghan using the luscious Bernat Satin, which I consider the gold standard of yarn. It is SO soft, comes in gorgeous colors (though I wish it came in more colors than it does) and has a beautiful sheen. The pattern I'm using is called "Diagonal Blocks". I'm using the colors admiral (dark blue), sapphire (lighter blue) and sable (golden beige) for a "sand and sea" look. It's 17" squares worked on the diagonal in brick stitch, which form a geometric squares pattern when combined. The squares are fun and relaxing to make, and the ghan will be very pretty and warm. The only drawback is, because it's all diagonal dc with no lacy areas, it uses a LOT of yarn. I will run out of the sapphire and sable before I get all the squares made. So I'll probably have to set the ghan aside halfway through till I can buy more....

I still haven't gotten around to learning to use my new camera to take pictures of my more recent crochet projects (OR my house OR my pets) and I really NEED to do that. But it always seems like other duties get in the way. Hopefully I'll get this accomplished this year, LOL.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Slow Start to the Year But It WILL Get Better...

I was rereading my last post and didn't realize at the time how whiney it sounded, yuk. But I was SO frustrated at the time at having to retype everything. And I again didn't intend for it to be this long between posts. I'm thankful my two least favorite months of any year are again (almost) over and that the days are getting longer. I will again start my regular walks next work week from the park n'ride to the ferry, and back again in the evening. It is actually light enough out to be doing it now. But after not being able to do the walks since the end of Oct. due to the darkness, am needing to get back into it gradually. I did do the walk to my car Friday evening instead of taking the bus, and I took a 5-mile walk last Saturday and the Saturday before. I have gotten on the stepper most weekday mornings for at least 10 minutes on the days that it has been too cold out to walk (which, in Feb., has been most every day). I also have continued to snack on carbs and as a result have lost no more weight since Nov. To say this is discouraging is a gross understatement. I have truly believed with all my heart and soul that I WOULD lose the weight once and for all in the first half of this year. In fact, if I had continued my slow but steady progress of last Aug. through Nov., I could have had the weight OFF by our anniversary/hubby's birthday in April. Instead, I have snacked on peanut butter and crackers, or pretzels, or gotten up in the middle of the night when I couldn't sleep (which I still can't most nights...) and snack on an English muffin, crackers, or whatever carb is handy and would satisfy my craving, and hopefully get my digestive system to work and make me sleepy. This usually does work - eventually - but it shouldn't take a mostly healthy person hours to get to sleep and usually have to resort to a snack to do it.

I had decided a couple weeks ago that though TOPS got me jump-started, the total lack of progress in the last few months (some say maintenance is OK, but not when you absolutely planned to lose all the dang weight in the next several months and instead keep sabotaging yourself) caused me to decide to discontinue TOPS again, or at least take an extended break from it. But I got a letter today from one of the ladies urging me to come back. So I guess I will think about it. If it was easy, there would not be millions of overweight people, and there would not be a need for support organizations such as TOPS. Now that the weather is getting milder and the days are longer, I SHOULD start seeing some progress before long, provided I can start leaving the dang carbs alone. But I am just SO, SO disappointed and disgusted with myself for letting the ball drop YET AGAIN.................

My job continues to make me feel like the guy (gal) who got on their horse and rode off in all directions. I like being busy but am constantly shifting gears, constantly, every day, every few minutes, and generally leave mentally exhausted. I don't doubt this contributes to the tendency to want to relieve tension by snacking. But in the long run, the snacking has the opposite effect, and I KNOW that, yet I've done it anyway. Well, yesterday after work I went to Fred Meyer, and while I bought and ate a whole bag of my favorite snack addiction, and got the headache I knew would follow, I also bought herbal tea instead of more cappuccino mix, and bought no sour cream to make dip, and also bought several boxes of chopped spinach (which I LOVE) to eat with fish sticks. So it was like one final fling with my addiction combined with a resolve to (AGAIN) turn things around.

I finished the long filet and spiderweb table runner with a swan on each end, using the #10 light green Opera thread, and it turned out very nice. I decided to use it on the long coffee table in the living room and instead use the "Midnight Star" light green runner on my dresser, which it fits perfectly on. I made a couple more scarves and hats (for charity or exchanges) with the rose Wool-Ease I got from eBay and am now working on the last one of those. I also completed a beaded doily using sage #10 Opera thread (the pattern is Shimmering Pineapple Doily which is available at and decided to make an additional one for a future exchange using hunter #10 Opera, as I still had hundreds of the variegated green/blue/purple beads left and knew they would look equally good on the hunter. I think there are still enough of the beads left for one more of these doilies, but will take a break from making them for now. I still want to make at least one Barbie gown soon, and then I may go back to making a couple of afghans.

I also participated in a couple of online exchanges in the past few weeks -- and am still shocked that I was stiffed on both. One was a hat/scarf swap from the Crochetmania message board and one from a Yahoo list that mainly consisted of dishcloth knitters, since at the time I thought I would again try once more to knit (it had been around 20 years since my only other try, but I soon remembered why I didn't pursue it -- I realized crochet is my passion and I wouldn't like to knit even if I could learn it). The aforementioned Yahoo list was deleted by its owner with no warning, which was a shame that many nice people were penalized for the action (lack of action) of a few. In both cases, I sent my partner a very nice item (plus some extras for the dishcloth exchange) and not only received nothing in return but not even so much as a thank you or even an "I received it" even though I know they did, since I requested delivery confirmation. It really hurts that someone would do that when I put my heart into what I made these two women. I feel tempted to post their names here but I won't, and I will try again to join exchanges since I like to share items I create with others. But it would be nice to know ahead of time that I was being paired with someone who would at least show appreciation for the time, care and postage I spent to make something especially for them........

The last bit of news is that for whoever reads this, please send up prayers and/or good thoughts for my sister-in-law Valerie in Kentucky (hubby's sister) who had a triple bypass a couple weeks ago, that she will recover fully and be better than new. We have kept in touch over the years via E-mail and she is very dear to me. Hubby's other sister has shut all three of us out of her life, but Val makes up for the thoughtlessness of the other one. Maybe I shouldn't have said that, but it's how I feel. Also please pray my Aunt Bernice in Chicago is OK. She is up in years now and I haven't heard from her (or my cousin, her daughter) for a long time. Well, it's "only" 11:10, which to this nightowl is not late, so maybe I will think about going to bed at a reasonable hour tonight (or maybe not!).

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Temporary Lapses and New Beginnings - and Reposting Everything, grrrrr.......

I can't believe what just happened. I'd written a whole LONG post - updates on weight (or lack of progress therein), highlights of the past year, Christmas, and crochet projects currently working on and being planned. I had the WHOLE thing written, and ALL I did was to highlight the whole dang thing so I could adjust the font and the size. I did NOT hit delete or anything else to cause Blogger to think I was erasing the WHOLE thing, but that is exactly what happened. I have been lax in updating my blog and felt a sense of accomplishment in finally doing so, and was just about to go for a nice long walk (it's already 2:25 and with the short days, I would have had just about time for my planned 5-mile walk). And now.......what do I do; do I start all over and forget my walk? Or do I do the walk and have to waste the time later to rewrite everything I wrote? I had just been writing about how, on the whole, 2007 was a good year. And it was, but then things like this happen which shouldn't be a big deal but do bother me and do hurt. God knew I was just about to resume my temporarily lapsed commitment to weight loss by taking a walk, and He knew that if He erased all the stuff I just wrote, it would not only hurt me but I would feel compelled to redo it right now and not be able to take my walk. But He did it anyway. Yes, I am stubborn and I am watching the "That's Entertainment" series on TCM, so yes, I am going to sit here and try to remember everything I just wrote and try to recreate it right now and not be able to go on my walk, and get on my stepper twice instead to try to make up for it. Dang it all already!!!

OK, so like I was trying to write before it mysteriously and inexplicably got wiped off the face of the earth, 2007 WAS a good year. We DO have our house and have lived in it going on 7 months now, our doggies and guinea pigs (NINE of them now in case I hadn't mentioned that before) are doing well. My job is going good after a rough spot last year, and Rex has been getting needed full-time hours at his, though that could be reduced somewhat now that the holidays are over. I got the 56-square peach and green "Friends and Family" ghan and the 20-square sampler burgundy/cream/green sampler ghan both assembled and they both look great in the living room. And I rejoined TOPS and did lose 20 pounds to date. However....that is over a span of 5 months. I should have lost at least 30 by now; that was the goal and that would have been absolutely doable. But December brought a small setback. Not a huge setback, and I WILL get back on track. But I indulged several times in my downfall of crunchy snacks and onion dip. I didn't get on my stepper every day to make up for the evening walking it is not safe to do after work with it being pitch black outside now by the time I get off the ferry from work. Then there was the 4-pound bag of pistachios my boss brought to the office in Dec. I must have eaten 3 of those pounds. No one forced them on me and I should have used more willpower, but DANG, they were good. But it's time to STOP indulging and sabotaging my efforts. NO more excuses!!! I MUST get on the stepper every evening that I can't walk outside, and I MUST stop giving it to temptation. I am VERY disappointed in myself that my original achievable plan to hit my weight goal by our anniversary in April is not going to happen. I've set a new final deadline of June 30 and if I lose it before then, great. I'm SO disgusted with myself that I need to change subjects now.....

Crochet-wise, I'm currently working on what was originally going to be a large dresserscarf for my dresser but which is instead going to be a runner for the oblong coffee table in the great room. It will likely consist of 17 Midnight Star motifs (5" six-pointed pineapple stars) in 3 rows of 6, 5 and 6, which will make it about 30 x 18", a nice size for that table. I love making these motifs and had originally considered making a bedspread using them. But I decided one huge thread project (the 55" square table cover finally finished several months ago) was enough for this life! There are too many other thread projects I want to make, and I have at least three more planned after this one is done: a dresserscarf which will tentatively be a beautiful long filet runner with a swan at each end (using the same #10 light green Opera thread as the Midnight Star runner), my first beaded doily which will be medium sage #10 Opera with variegated green/purple/blue glass beads (the funny-looking super-skinny beading needles do work like a charm for pre-stringing the beads - no more broken beads/needles/threaders or frayed nerves, but it will be tricky to not lose the needles which are not much thicker than a hair!) and a beaded Barbie dress (color TBD). After that, I may go back to making a couple afghans and hopefully a couple more hats/scarves for charity, but have really missed working with thread, so will stick with that for the next few months.

WELL, I got smart this time and adjusted my font before typing this whole dang thing, so here we go again. It's 3:00 and too late to go out for my walk, so I'm getting on the stepper!