Friday, September 22, 2017

Analog is Me

We live in a digital age. I know this, believe me. I shoot with not one but two big digital cameras. I edit all photos on a big computer with powerful software. I work for a software company that deals every day and all day with public data. 

We all know that I love Instagram and Facebook and Twitter.

Don't try to take my iPhone away from me because I might have to cut you. 

And my iPad. Oh my iPad. Bringer of documentaries on Netflix and "Grantchester" on Amazon Prime. 

Dropbox, Evernote, Pepperplate, Ravelry. Digital, my life is digital.

But not completely. Not totally. There are still a few wild and woolly analog outposts in my life. There is the whole reading physical books. Don't get me wrong, I read a lot of digital books. I read a lot of books period. But I also read a lot of analog (for lack of a better term) books as well. I walked past a woman in CostCo yesterday and she was telling her teenager, who was holding up a book for her to see and possibly buy, "You can just put that book down. It is like, I don't know, 700 pages and you know that is about 659 pages more than I am ever going to read." 

It broke my little bookworm's heart to hear that. I can't imagine reading anything and everything that I can get my hands on. I have been known to read the ingredients on the can of bathroom spray if I can't find anything better to read while having my...golden moment.

TMI? You can't be surprise. Surely you can't.

I know that when the grandchildren arrive and are old enough....they get books. Of course, they also get candy for breakfast, but that is another story.

So, there is a place I am going with this whole analog thing. I swear there is. There is a corner of my life that I have deliberately switched back to analog from digital and I couldn't be happier.
Crazy as it sounds (and my brother, who is all things digital would say it is crazy), I have never been happier with my choice to go analog with my Bullet Journal and research information.

I have always been a person who enjoys writing things down in a physical way. I have loved lists all my life. I was that odd person in college who took notes in class and then re-wrote the notes as a way of studying and retaining things. Those notes were a thing of beauty and allowed me to achieve an "A" in my Med-Surg nursing course.

Of course the fact that I allowed the Neurosurgeon I was shadowing to convince me, a nursing student although admittedly an overly competitive nursing student, to scrub in and assist in surgery (and by assist I mean that he handed the little instrument to me and allowed me to remove brain tissue) might also have helped in achieving an outstanding grade. I wasn't sure how things would turn out when I realized the instructor was looking in and seeing what I was doing. But that is another story for another time.

I can say with some certainty that at this point I don't see myself going back to keeping lists and to do things and planning pages and all the minutiae of my day to day existence in any digital form.

ANALOG FOREVER! is my rallying cry.

At least until I want to check my Instagram feed....of which I have two by the way.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

The Mystery Box

We all know that I knit socks.

This year I am participating in something called the "Box O Sox 2017 KAL"

What is a KAL you might ask yourself. Don't you hate it when someone smugly uses an acronym that you don't understand? If you are like me, you sit there and try to work it out in your head cuz you just don't want to ask.


There, that wasn't so bad. Now if we were talking about a SPAKAL then all bets are off right? (Spin A Long, Knit A Long). Oh we knitters and our incomprehensible speech. Thank goodness you don't sit in on knit night with the KnitSibs. You might need a knitting dictionary as we throw around terms and phrases like:

"I am loving this brioche knitting!"

"Is that an SSK or a K2Tog?"

"The charted pattern took me a bit to figure out but once I got the color dominance down I was on my way."

Where was I?

Socks. Yes, thank you. The Box O Sox 2017 KAL I think.

What IS the Box O Sox 2017 KAL you ask yourself. Well, it means that as I go along in the year 2017 and I knit socks, after those socks are finished, washed, blocked, photographed and put up on Ravelry I put them away in a box and I don't wear them.

I know. It is hard to believe. Let me say that again.

I do not wear them. I do not put them into podiatric rotation.

There is a specific reason for this. It is sort of like a gift to myself. I knit 12 pair of socks, one for each month, put them in the box and then on New Years day 2018 I open the box up and there are 12 pair of socks that have never been worn. Welcome to 2018!

Since I think I am going to do this every year I actually went to Hobby Lobby and got a special box and decorated it. Who doesn't want a box that has Sock Monkey paper and Llama/Alpaca washi tape.

And we won't even talk about my current obsession with washi tape. We won't talk about it at all. Not a bit. Not even about the 3mm washi tape that I buy. Nope.

I see the box every day when I go into my closet. And I think about the socks. And I can hardly wait for New Years Day. Of course, it has been a really warm summer so I haven't worn any wool socks for 3 months. But I still dream about them.
New Years Day is going to be so good.

It had better be because NYD 2017 saw me laid out on the couch trying to cough up a lung with the pneumonia.

2018 you had better be nicer.

Friday, August 25, 2017


Yes, folks.

The sourdough starter is alive. Let's talk about it shall we.

When last we spoke, I had finally been "starter shamed" into getting my carefully prepared, and at one time tenderly nurtured, home developed sourdough starter out of the basement refrigerator where it had been languishing, unloved and starving for............18 months. I had only a glimmer of hope that it might be resurrected. Yes, after I had done "starter surgery" and fed it, there were bubbles and hope raised it's feeble head. But, bubbles do not a sourdough loaf make.

And can I just say that basement refrigerators, while extremely useful in so many ways, are the place where things go to die. Just saying. I finally cleaned out several jars of pickling experiment that I had carted over from OCK, 4 years ago, and hadn't eaten (I am the only one here at Chez Knit who eats pickles). They had languished in the basement frig as sort of a pickling science experiment and they weren't getting any better. So I tossed them.

Where was I? Oh yes, the starter.

Well, last Saturday, after several days of feeding, I thought I might give the starter a try. I had found a recipe that seemed easy (my first mistake with sourdough!) and so I embarked. What better thing to do on a Saturday.

It was not a success. And when I say it was not a success I mean you could use it as some sort of weapon to bash someone's head in OR perhaps as a hockey puck, even perhaps a weight during your workout. Whatever your choice I would not have suggested that you eat it. HHBL was like, "NO, don't throw that away!!" But I love him too much to do that to him.

And I am a perfectionist. We were not going to eat that. But, I was also not going to be defeated by a jar full of little living organisms swimming in water and flour. I have opposable thumbs thankyouverymuch. So, I fed them several more days and looked at more videos on YouTube and looked at Pinterest (I have a love/hate relationship with Pinterest that I will explore some other time) and waited. And I realized something. The thing that I really didn't take into account when making that first boulder loaf is that sourdough takes a LOOOOOONG time. Not long in the making of the dough, that I can now accomplish in about an hour. Nope, the proofing takes 12+ hours and THAT my friends is where I had totally screwed up on the first loaf. I am a long standing baker of bread with packaged yeast. I fear it not. But, yeast bread made with those little packages, or in my case measured out from a jar, rises fast and sure. With sourdough you just have to make the dough, trust that it "feels" right and then let all those organisms get busy in the frig overnight, at least 12 hours or more.

So Wednesday evening, after dinner and before the Indians game, I got to work making my next batch. I did my measuring (measure with a scale people!!) and mixing, and autolyse phase, and adding salt, and slap and knead, and stretch and fold. Then I floured a surgical towel (another story for another time but just let it me known that I have enough of these to outfit an entire surgical suite) and put it and the loaf in a colander and stuck it in the basement frig for 14 hours. I pulled it out on Thursday, followed the baking instructions and hoped for the best......
Folks, I have made sourdough bread. And can I just say that it is amazing. I was so excited about it that I made another batch yesterday afternoon and put it in the frig and then really quickly got it baked before leaving to drop Coco off at the dealership (Takata airbag recall) and then scooting to the office.......

The sky is the limit from here my friends.

And we are SO having BLTs this week.

Friday, August 18, 2017

I May Have Killed It...Or Not

I go through these phases. I think, "Oh I need to learn to do that!" Then I do it. Then I move on. Sometimes things "stick" and sometimes they don't. Knitting seems to have stuck. Scrap booking did not. Does anyone need any scrap booking materials. I have them.

A while ago I decided that I needed a home developed sourdough starter. I KNOW that I told you about it but for the life of me I cannot find the blog post that covered that. If I could just get my bahookie in gear and finish my spread sheet with all of my blogs over the past nine years I might have had better success than the whole floundering around and looking at years and trying to figure out which catchy title actually had the sourdough blogpost in it.

Where was I?

OH yes, sourdough. 

I went to all the trouble of growing my own sourdough starter (it isn't that hard) and using it for a while but then....then.... I have no idea why I decided that it would be a good idea to store the starter down in the basement refrigerator. I know for sure that I would never have thought to throw it out. It had use and as we ALL know I suffer occasionally from a severe case of BIMNISD (again, there is a blog post on this. There perhaps might be more than one. I cannot find them. Moving on.)

For whatever reason, at some point I stored my starter in the basement frig. My upstairs frig is very small and space is at a premium so that is most likely the reason why the starter ended up downstairs. But the result of the reason is that the starter went down into the basement and then just sort of stayed down there like a college student who has come home without a job, languishing in the basement. You know it is down there. You know you should do something about it but you figure, "I will take care of that tomorrow." And tomorrow never comes.

Every time I had to put something into the basement frig or get something out of the basement frig, I would see that container. It would sigh and suggest I use it. It would squeal with delight when I opened the door and then groan with depression when I passed over it.

Do I anthropomorphize things too much? Maybe.

This is probably the time to give you just a bit of sourdough starter knowledge. As the starter sits for any period of time and isn't regularly used a black looking liquid will form on the top. That is called "hooch" and it is exactly what you think. It is alcohol which is really the waste product of the yeast in the starter. It is also telling you that the starter is hungry and hasn't been fed. You can just pour the liquid off and then feed the starter.

Yeah, my starter had a black liquid on it for at least a year. So very appealing and, lets be honest, just a bit scary. After a certain point in time I just preferred to act like that container wasn't even there. I see nothing and move on. We all have that lingering science experiment somewhere in the depths of our refrigerators. Don't tell me that you don't! OK, maybe Heather K doesn't. I have seen her refrigerator and it is spotless and organized. But don't the rest of you tell me that there isn't something lurking. I will KNOW that you are lying.

What happened next is really all the fault of YouTube. I started watching videos produced by Simple Life Homestead (blog). Here is their YouTube channel. Why do I care? Well because Michelle of SLH was Cartoon Girl's BFF all through school. Two more different people there cannot be on the planet and yet. Bonded for life. I have been obsessively watching their videos and got to the series on Sourdough starter and I remembered.....

Yesterday was not a day at the office and I was in the midst of one of my "make all the things" jags so I gingerly brought the container upstairs to the light of day. And I opened the container. And it was so disgusting that....I didn't even take a picture of it. That is how funky it was in there. 

But I would not be deterred. Who cared if there was actually some fuzzy mold growing on the sides of the container? Not me. Mold is good for you. Just think Penicillin! Who cared if there was a whole boatload of hooch just floating sullenly on the top of the starter. That hooch is not the boss of me! I laugh in the face of unknown mold.

First thing to do was to drain off the hooch. That was just a pleasant job. Not quite Sam Tarly serving soup and cleaning poop gross (sorry all you non-Game of Thrones people) but it was still yuck! Then it was a matter of what to do with the sort of funchy growth on the sides of the container and the top of the starter. The starter itself was fairly solid, which I expected since it had been sitting for a long time. It wasn't dried out but was sort of the consistency of whipped cream cheese. It was also giving off a very "alcoholy" smell, also to be expected. I decided that the better part of valor was to just scrape off the top of the starter and then extract from the middle, avoiding the sides.
This is what it looked like once I had removed all that I thought was viable. Take a look at all the yummy stuff on the sides. All the rest of this was scraped out and discarded. Thank goodness!!

Then, because I am a nerd, I measured out what I had been able to safely extract and it came to about 1 cup worth of starter. I didn't want to use all of that in one jar so I actually then split it into two separate starters. Then, because I am REALLY nerdy sometimes, I weighed out each of the starters to see what was what. I came up with about 66 grams per starter. Then, because it is always better to weigh out your ingredients rather than just using a measuring cup (nerd alert again), I actually weighed out 66 grams of flour and 66 grams of warm water (times 2) and add it to each of the starters, stirred it around and covered them up. They did not smell all that promising. 

The initial process was completed around 11a. I kept an eye on them all through the day but not much happened. I fed them each again at 8p, covered them with a towel and went to bed. And this morning........

Bubbles, it has nice bubbles. That is good. And it smelled less alcoholic and a bit more sourdough startery. We might have lift off people. I discarded half of each of the starters, fed each of them with another 66g of flour and 66g of warm water before I left for work and I put them in a place that is warm and draft free. If they are in the least happy I may, just may, try and bake with one of them tomorrow. If not tomorrow then it will more likely be on Tuesday. 

This must be how Dr. Frankenstein felt........ before the monster tried to kill him that is.

I will keep you posted on the progress but I am optimistically excited about this.

But now I have two starters and I really only need one.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Why Couldn't They Just Update It?

We all know that I love my technology. Well, all except for my actual to do list, where I have gone back to being an analog loving Luddite. And very happy I am with my modified Bullet Journal. But the rest of my apps that live on my phone and my iPad are part of my daily life. They all have a purpose. I don't like apps that I use once every three months or longer. That just means that the rest of the time they are sucking up space on my phone and I already have problems with using up the space on my phone.

But there is a problem with technology. It isn't static. It gets updated. They can't just leave things alone! Rude! The worst thing is.....when a developer stops updating an app that you DEPEND on and then Apple starts sending you little urgent messages saying things like,

"This app hasn't been updated in awhile and might slow down your iPhone!"

Yup, got it. I don't care if it slows the phone down just so long as it is doing what I want it to. But then comes this message. And then all bets are off.

"Contact the developer because this thing isn't going to work after the next iOS update!"

NOOOOOOO! Dang it times 20. Now, I am going to let you into a little something about me. Try not to be too surprised by this. 

I like my world to be neat and orderly. I KNOW! Quel suprise! HHBL looked at me the other day and said, "You really just need to clean something out every day don't you."

Ummm, YES! I like order. I like organization. When I am stressed I organize something. It makes me feel all warm and comfy and like I have control over my life. Heck, I was stressed a bit last week and organized and cleaned out my already well curated closet and then put a rug on the floor in there. Then all I wanted to do for the rest of the week was sit in the closet and be happy. Everybody does this right?

One of my favorite apps is the one that I use for my grocery shopping list. I have this thing, you see, about wanting to know EXACTLY how much I am going to spend at the store. My resources are finite in this regard and I need to have some control. So for the last 4 years or so I have been using an app that I actually PAID FOR and that I love. My list is very detailed, depending on store (Giant Eagle, CostCo, Heinens), it is well curated and it has taken a long time to get where it is. And this morning........

I got the dreaded "Call the developer and make him update your app because it is soon to be toast" message. Huh, WHAT? It hasn't been updated in a while? Like how long? Well, it turns out it hasn't been updated for three years. That is like I am driving the Edsel of grocery apps in the age of Tesla cars. Crap. Just what I want to do on a Saturday morning is try to find another grocery app that suits me. My brain just about exploded when I pulled up all of the possibilities.

But I have found something I think will work. It gets great reviews. And currently it seems like it is updated with regularity. I actually PAID for the upgraded app. I hate to pay for apps but it seemed like it was going to be necessary. But now, now I have to actually redo my ENTIRE list. Oh the pain and agony of this. Before I even started on that little monumental project I had to weed through all of the items that they "conveniently" had already input into the app because SURELY I would need to buy Utskho Suneli (what the heck IS that?) or perhaps some Belgian Pralines (don't think so). Or perhaps I wanted to choose between Tampons and Internal Tampons. Hmmmmm, definitely a list that was made by a man. Tampons, by their very nature, are internal. I have never seen a tampon worth a damn that was "external. An external tampon just means that you sneezed really hard. Nor was I ever going to chose the option of "Beef liver" of "Calf liver". Not even if I was starving.

So what am I doing on this lovely Saturday morning in between hanging out loads of laundry on the line? I am getting my new grocery/shopping list up to snuff.

The struggle is real. And this is stressful enough that I am looking for something to clean out this afternoon. Anyone have a closet handy because all of mine are neat as a pin.

Friday, June 9, 2017

A Cautionary Tale

Yeah, yeah. I know. Who am I.  Moving on.

I am attempting to type this blog post on my ipad without using my right thumb. Do you know how difficult that is. It is even more frustrating because the reason that I have that lovely brace on is because I have been stupid. Too much computer work and too much concentrated knitting will get you.....

De Quervain's tendonitis.

Otherwise known by the lovely name of "Mommy thumb." Look it up. You will probably be able to type it out faster than I can at the moment. I am a very fast and efficient typist, when I have the use of all of my fingers that is. You don't realize how much you use your right (or left) thumb until you don't have it.

The worst part of this, other than the fact that without the brace on, when I move my thumb in a certain way it feels like someone is simultaneously trying to rip my thumb off and stabbing my wrist with a red hot poker....

I am unable to knit. Just saying that makes me jittery. I knit when I watch TV. I knit when I read. I knit to calm myself down. That means that I knit every day for some portion of time. That has never been a problem before, but then HHBL and I drove to DC for a conference, and I knit almost all the way there and all the way back. Plus I have been doing a lot of repetitive motions on the computer. All was fine it seemed. There were slight "twinges" here and there but I ignored them, idiot that I am.

Tuesday morning I woke up and oh Mother Mary and all the saints did my wrist, right at the base of my thumb hurt and moving my thumb in certain ways made me wince for sure. Same on Wednesday and then last night the pain was so bad that it woke me up several times.

So here I am, with a "thumb stabilizer" that I will be wearing at all times unless showering and washing dishes. No heavy gardening, no knitting.

What makes this so very frustrating for me is that I KNOW the rules of knitting self care. You knit for no more than 20 minutes before you take a break, put the pointy sticks down a d do something else for a bit. You do not knit in 2 hour blocks. Idiot.

Also, I cannot take any NSAIDs like Ibuprophen. I can take Tylenol but it doesn't have the anti-inflammatory effects. I am a whiney, knitter unable to knit.

Fear me.

Friday, February 17, 2017

What Does That Switch Do?

A post also known as, "I guess our whirlpool tub does work."

I know, you have been missing my little "this could only happen to me" posts. I haven't done one in a long time. Things happen, I just haven't written about them. But this one is a classic, although it doesn't involve rivers of water or clogged toilets. It involves our whirlpool tub.

I have a love hate relationship with whirlpool tubs. I am not, but nature, a bath person. I am a shower person. I am a short and efficient shower person. You can thank my dad for that as I wasn't always such. I was a typical teenager who took her water resistant transistor radio (if you don't know what that is look it up) into the shower so that I could sing along on the AM station with the top hits of 1975. That is I WAS that typical teenager until I routinely would use all the hot water in the tank. Then I was no longer that typical teenager because my dad said, "You can take as many showers as you want...but they can be no more than 5 minutes long. We all need hot water in the morning."  

OK then, short showers it was.

We had a whirlpool tub at OCK, it came as a part of the custom house package. It was one of the few things that I didn't really make a decision on. It was there in the plans. It got put it. And in the 13 years that we lived there I used it less than 10 times. We had a well. Wells are tricky things. That tub used as much water as it would take to solve the California drought. Every time I filled up that tub I could hear my well gasping with distress. I will say that it is nice to get into a whirlpool tub after a long day of yard work...but still....the well guilt was strong.

And then we moved to Chez Knit. And there was another whirlpool tub. When we had Chez Knit inspected before the purchase, the inspector could not get the buttons on the tub to work. We just added it to the list of things that we would eventually fix. It wasn't a priority because there was also a shower (and remember, I am a shower girl.) In the mean time the tub was just the place that we draped wet towels and wet tee-shirts and a ledge to put things on and.....

You get the picture.

I occasionally used it just to soak in the tub with some epsom salts. I will admit that it is a good way to relieve some stress. And add a glass of wine and a good book. I am OK with this.

And then on Wednesday that all changed with one little question. HHBL walked into the bathroom, looked at this innocuous little timer switch on the wall by my sink area and asked, "Hey, what does this switch do?"

I am going to admit that I had never really investigated the switch. It looks just like one of those timer switches that you see in hotel bathrooms that turn on the "heater lamp" so you can be all toasty warm and live out your fantasies about being a rotisserie chicken.

What? No one else has that fantasy? Moving on.

I told him that I wasn't really sure, that I hadn't seen any kind of warming light in the ceiling and had dismissed the switch and moved on. So he turned the dial.

And the tub made a gosh awful noise. 

Wait a minute! The timer switch is at the opposite end of the bathroom from the tub. They can't be connected!  

Oh yes......they can.

We quickly surmised that if you turned the dial on the wall that the jets in the tub turned on, or at least we thought that was what was happening. There was no water in the tub to verify our tentative findings. But I knew the way to find out. It was too late to run a tub full of water on a Wednesday night so I had to wait until Thursday to put the tub jets to the test.

I filled the tub with deliciously hot water (a watched tub spout fills very slowly). I added my lilac scented epsom salts. I walked over and turned the dial for the tub jets....

Eureka! The jets bubbled the water with the same force that Old Faithful does.......I was all ready to get into the tub.....and then I realized that the jets hadn't been used in a LONG time and when they had been turned on they had spewed into my lovely bath water all the gunk that had built up in the them for however many years.

I was not going to get into the water that had black particles floating throughout it. 


So, I emptied the tub of my lovely hot water. I scrubbed the tub. Started the water again to refill and went off to do something else so that I wasn't standing there watching the tub fill. All filled finally.....and it wasn't all that hot water....because if you fill up the whirlpool tub twice in the space of an hour you will drain the water heater just a bit. But the water was warm enough. I was not going to be denied. I turned on the timer.

Whirlpool!!!! I didn't care if the water was lukewarm. I got in there and enjoyed the heck out of this gift that we didn't even know we had.

I am ridiculously excited about this folks. But I don't think our water bill (or the water heater) can stand nightly filling of the Bubbling Behemoth. But once a week seems feasible.

Oh yes. Once a week seems very feasible.


Friday, January 13, 2017

Bitty Bits of Blather (Volume 17)

In case you are wondering, I decided to number these little strolls through my mind. That way I know how many of them there actually are. 

Thank goodness, the Christmas decorations are all put away. Actually they were all put away a week ago. We had company for dinner on Sunday and I didn't want them coming in and seeing that we were still Ho Ho Hoeing at our house. Doesn't it always seem like it takes twice as long to take those things down as it does to put up? And ALWAYS, after you have put everything away and the boxes are all stashed back on their shelves in the basement, you look up and see something that you missed. Last year that was the string of "peppermint candy" lights that I had over the sliding door in the back. It wasn't so much that I missed them when taking everything down (they are hard to miss as they go across the whole top of the door), it was just that I left them there...for 12 months. Sort of my ode to West Virginia. And you want to know something.......

Not a single person who came into the house for that entire 12 months said a thing about the fact that we had greenery and Christmas peppermint candy lights still up in the kitchen.

This year it is a nativity scene that I put up on top of a piece of furniture and missed when taking everything down. I may just leave it. We will see.

Oh my gosh the RAIN! It rained for two days this week and I had to drive through standing water in places where I have never seen standing water before.

But I am not going to actually complain about the rain because it could have been snow. And that would have been A LOT of snow. I will take the rain any day.

Saturday is the first wedding on 2017. It is January and I already have 6 weddings to coordinate between now and August. This one is good sized, if you count 8 bridesmaids, a maid of honor and two flower girls. Yowza. AND the groom will be in uniform. They are the cutest thing. But of course I actually say that about all of my couples, even the ones who don't speak English and wear a sparkly pink dress. I say it because it is true. I don't think I have ever seen a less than radiant bride, even the one that got stung by the bee 30 minutes before the ceremony.

Always make sure that if the bride is allergic to bees that the photographer doesn't take her out into the field on a warm August afternoon. And if they do, just make sure that you have Benadryl handy.

I'm just sayin'

It is all in a days work.

I am cleaning out my iTunes library. There is music in there that I have never listened to and frankly have no idea where it came from.

Has someone been downloading random songs into my iTunes library whilst I have been asleep.

I just wanted to use the word whilst.

I mean, there are random songs from artists that I have never heard of and after listening to the songs....I am not going to listen to them again. If I didn't buy the music, and believe me I am sure that I didn't, then I don't feel any obligation to keep it in iTunes, clogging up my very carefully archived music. And I do mean carefully. HHBL just shakes his head. He is evidently not as anal obsessive careful with how his library is organized. I mean, doesn't everyone make sure that artists are correctly reflected - Last Name, First Name. 

Unless of course it is a band. I mean you wouldn't list ELP as Palmer, Emerson Lake would you? 

My cousin sent me the best thing (well really her mom, Carol, sent it to me.) Linnea and I had lunch a while back and she mentioned that she had been listening to oral histories recorded by her grandparents. Her grandmother and grandfather, my Aunt Margaret and Uncle Kenneth, many years ago sat down in front of a tape recorder and recorded 94 "episodes" of their life. That is a bit over 94 HOURS of history. Margaret and Kenneth were as cool as cool could be. Margaret was my Grandmother Amsler's oldest sister. They graduated from Wheaton College. They were missionaries for 10 years in Siam (before it was Thailand), she was an author, he was at one time the US State department's go to man on Thailand (he had traveled the length and breadth of the country). The stories that they would tell. And their house in DC. Oh, it had the one thing that I have never had in any house that I have lived in and something that I have always wanted.

A second back staircase.

But I digress. Linnea mentioned to her mom Carol that I was interested in the recordings. Carol graciously sent me a jump drive with 12g of recordings on it. I have the "Landon Chronicles" all loaded into iTunes. Now to find 94 hours to listen to all of them.  

So, I am experimenting with Bullet Journaling. Don't know what that is? I have been intrigued for quite some time with this and it actually fits well with how I like to do things as far as lists are concerned.

If you go onto YouTube or Pinterest you will be overwhelmed with all the artistic and fancy bullet journals. I have looked at just about all of those YouTube videos, believe me. I sat down and spent an entire day just immersing my self in the world of the bullet journal before I made the decision.

So far.....I am completely obsessed. I have given myself a year with this, it fits perfectly with my swing back to "analog" on my to do lists. A bullet journal really is just one giant to do list and brain dump all rolled into one.

I will give you a run down at the end of the year to let you know if I am going to be continuing with it.  

I can tell you that my Bullet Journal is in no way an artistic thing of beauty. That is the thing that would be very discouraging about watching those YouTube videos and looking at all the different, and frankly outrageously gorgeous "spreads" that you will find on Pinterest. 

I am not that person and I had to tell myself, when I embarked on this journey, that it was OK not to have stylized hand writing and all the "stuff" and there is a lot of it.

Mine is simple and functional and I like it that way. 

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

It Wasn't Just The River That Was Flowing

Before I actually get into what I wanted to tell you let me say that the pneumonia has been conquered for the most part. The cough is still there but not nearly as often. The energy level is about 80% and my appetite is back, more's the pity.

Now on to the memories.

One of my big goals for 2017 is to get all of the things scanned. I may not make it as there are a lot of things. But I am making a dent and today I scanned some letters. I like to read the letters before I scan them and it was when I was reading this particular letter that I was flooded (pun intended as you will see) with memories.

I want you to take a look at the picture below. It is two snippets from a letter that Mimi wrote to her parents, Grandma and Grandpa Pringle, in May of 1974. I had to do some date figuring because the letter didn't have a year on it but since I know it was written in May of my 8th grade year, 1974 is what I came up with. 

Take a good look at the picture and read the second part of the letter closely.
She wrote that there was "much woe" from having to come back three days early from our week long "outdoor education" 8th grade trip. Ummmmmmm, I am not sure who she talked to that she got the impression of woe at being back......

But it wasn't me.

I still VIVIDLY remember that trip. Every single aspect of that horrible, horrible trip.

Did I tell you that the 1.5 days that we were at that awful camp were horrible beyond measure? I wanted to make sure that you knew that was horrible.

And I am going to tell you why it was horrible in all it's horrible detail. But just to warn you, I will be talking about like teenage girly angsty things....and periods.

Yes, I said PERIODS. Aunt Flo. Mother Nature's revenge. 


I was not what you would call an adventurous teenager. I didn't like things out of my comfort zone, and my comfort zone consisted of a book, a comfy chair and headphones on my head so no one bothered me. If you threw is a big bowl of black olives you might not even see me for days. I was shy. I was so very, very insecure. I had body issues out the wazoo. I was a mess. My best friend was sunny and vivacious and had straight blonde hair. She could TALK TO BOYS without stuttering. Oh I wanted to be Nancy in the worst possible way. But I was not. The thought of going on a week long trip with the rest of my 8th grade class, most of whom I would be too shy to talk to, was agony. But there was no way to get out of it. We all had to go. So we went.

I remember arriving at the camp...and it was raining. The anticipation of outdoor activities in monsoon like weather does not a happy teenage girl make. The boys went to their side of the camp, which was over the bridge that spanned the gently flowing stream (more on that later.) We girls went to our cabins, which happened to be on the same side of the camp as the dining hall, which I remember thinking was at least one good thing. I did like my food. I don't remember who I was "rooming" with but I don't think it was Nancy or Julie or Jodi. Any of those girls would have calmed my anxiety a bit as they were my "peeps" before the word meant anything other that the noise that a chick makes. I just remember sitting on my bunk, all squishy from having to run through the rain and wishing to be home. But I pushed on cuz I don't think they would have let me drive the bus home on my own, even if I had known how to get home.

Tuesday morning dawned...and it was raining, and I don't mean just a gentle sprinkle. I mean rain like you should see Noah going by any second. Torrential rain. Which we had to run through to do things like, go to the bathroom and take a shower. Not that ANY of us were going to take a shower with any of our 8th grade friends. Are you NUTS! That would mean that we would actually have to disrobe. Not happening. I didn't even bring any soap. Hygiene is overrated.

And it was about the time right after breakfast, when we were all soaked and squishy and muddy and wondering what the heck we were going to do, that I realized......

Other parts of me were squishy that should have been squishy. I had started my period. And I hadn't brought any "supplies" with me.

You might be asking yourself why I hadn't prepared for this thing that happens with great regularity. If you are asking this then you have never been a teenage girl. I had a hard time remembering to take a shower on a daily basis let alone count out my cycle, mark it on a calendar and then make a notation as to when it was likely to come around again and assault me. You might also be saying to yourself, "Well, you could have just asked your friends or the teachers if they had any supplies." And again I say that you have never been a teenage girl, especially a shy one. I wouldn't have been able to even get the word "tampon" or "pad" out of my mouth when standing in front of someone in authority. Gads!

But, the one thing I could do was improvise. 

1. I would change my underwear.

2. A fairly decent "pad" can be made from toilet paper. The only problem with that is that it doesn't want to stay in place as you walk. You have to walk with little mincey steps and grip that sucker with your lady parts or it slides out of place. Also, you have to change it fairly frequently.

3. I would wear my very dark blue overalls for the entire 5 days. "Accidents" would be less noticeable I was hoping.

4. I would feign death before getting up on a horse. Enough said.

And the rains continued to fall. And fall. And fall. And as the rains continued to fall, that gentle little creek between our side of the camp and the boys side of the camp was not so little any longer. 

Tuesday night came and went, damp in many places, and Wednesday morning arrived....and it was still raining. Can I say that the one good thing about all of the torrential rain is that we had to do inside things. No horseback riding ensued. No hiking in the woods. A small glimmer of goodness.

But it soon became apparent that things were not going to be even moderately good for long. Aunt Flo was in high gear. And the river kept rising. I remember standing on the girls side of the camp along with all the others of the female persuasion, gripping my improvised pad with my lady parts, and watching as the now raging river slowly demolished the bridge between the two sides of the camp. Hmmmm, that isn't good.

And that put paid to the "Outdoor Education" week. If I remember correctly, the boys had to actually pack up their stuff and hike out of the woods to a road where they were picked up.

I packed up my stuff, made a new lady pad to celebrate going home early, and got on the bus. If it wouldn't have caused too much talk, I would have kissed the ground in the Edison Jr. High School parking lot when we got back.

And you can bet that after that little fun time I ALWAYS had supplies with me.


Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Pneumonia Diaries: Day Three

Otherwise known as: Maybe I shouldn't have gone to the office today.

Really, there wasn't much of a choice on that one. I can work from home a great deal of the time. Have computer, will work. But there are some duties that can only be done while in the office. Bills like to get paid. Checks cannot be cut at home is all that I am saying. So, HHBL and I went to the office this morning.

And now I am home and back on the couch. Baby steps to health Deb, baby steps.

Pneumonia, you are a beeyotch! And Sir Super Wicked Cough, I hate you.

I did have a bit better night's sleep last night. And by that I mean that I didn't have to get up and sleep in the chair, although I thought about it a time or two. Sustained slumber was not achieved. I was propped up on pillows like a Victorian heroine just to see if that would help a bit. I did not like it. I am very particular about how my pillows are positioned and fluffed when I am sleeping. Ask HHBL and he will tell you. This sleeping on multiple pillows is not great for optimal sleep for me, and I am not entirely sure that it helped the cough all that much.

Am I whining? I don't care.

So I will most likely spend most of the day tomorrow on the couch as all of the Christmas decorations laugh at me. I wonder if I just covered everything with sheets and left them til next year would anyone notice?

So, in the immortal words of Bob Wiley from What About Bob?, perhaps one of the funniest movies that I have ever seen, "I'm baby stepping! I'm doing the work!"

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Pneumonia Diaries: Day Two

Otherwise known as the night I slept in the recliner.

First off, I have to say that I think that I am making progress on the getting better front. Thank goodness for good drugs. But I can only say that in the last couple of hours. I am still running a low grade fever, day 7 in the feverliciousness of my life, but it is in the low 99's so there is some progress.

The cough may actually be a bit better. Or it may just be that I am not trying to sleep. Who knows. I choose to think that it is getting better thankyouverymuch. And right after I wrote those fateful words I got up and moved around a bit, slowly walking down to get the mail, and that triggered a monumental coughing fit where I ignominiously peed my pants a bit.

Just keeping it real.

Now if I could just get a good night's sleep then we might actually see some good progress. I haven't had a solid night's sleep in 7 days, cooresponding exactly to the arrival of Mr. High Fever and his cousin Sir Super Wicked Cough. Somehow coughing during the day is an inconvenience but not life altering. But when you have a coughing jag at night it takes on an entirely different meaning in life. Supine is not the best bodily position for the coughing up of a lung. And my brain is so tired at the moment that I actually had to look up the word "supine" just to make sure that I had used it correctly.

Last night was a very bad night. I will start off by saying that I slept as one who is dead from 9p-12a. Don't remember a thing. Don't remember HHBL coming to bed. Nada. But sometime after midnight I got up to answer nature's call and all heck broke lose.

I got back into bed and hacked a bit and then hacked a bit more and about that time it occurred to me that maybe I should just get up and try to sleep in one of the recliners, upright rather than thrashing around in bed trying not to wake HHBL.

And then the mother of all coughing fits came to visit. Holy mother and all the saints in heaven! I actually got a bit scared because after it was all done and I couldn't catch my breath. Fun times. So I ended up in the recliner, covered by various blankets that could be removed or added as my temperature went up and down, trying to sleep. It was not a pleasant night. 

So I am hoping that the antibiotics have kicked in enough today that I don't have to sleep doze in the recliner tonight.

But I am not holding my breath.

Literally, I am not holding my breath. I am short of breath already and need all of it that I can keep.

Monday, January 2, 2017

And the Diagnosis Is.....

So, do you remember me telling you that I hadn't been feeling all that well. And that I had run a temperature on Wednesday of 103F, which for an adult is more than a bit high.

Well, High Fever didn't go away. He didn't go away and actually he asked his brother, Super Wicked Cough, to come and hang out along with their cousins, No Energy and No Appetite. It has been a fun few days. I went to bed on New Year's Eve at....9:30p, that is how bad I felt and how badly Ohio State was losing. HHBL watched the rest of the game, a movie and the ball drop all by himself.

The cough has really been the worst part. It is relentless, especially at night after I get up to use the bathroom. I am 56 after all and it is a rare occurrence to sleep through the night. But 30 minutes of coughing after getting up does not a good night's sleep make.

And then there is High Fever's sister, Miss Shortness of Breath--or as I like to call her, the SOB--that showed up yesterday. Fun times. I took a 1/2 mile walk in the afternoon and thought I might have actually killed myself in the process. So finally I knew it was time to see someone. Which meant that rather than bother my doctor, I went to the CVS Minute Clinic this morning to see the nurse practitioner. She took my history, listened to my lungs, took my temperature, looked me in the eye and said......

Pneumonia. Upper lobe, right lung.

Oh goody goody gumdrops.

Actually, it wasn't as much of a surprise as you might think. I suspected as much so it was sort of comforting to know that I was right, even as I was trying to cough up a lung and had to put my head down because I was dizzy. 

So, two prescriptions and several over the counter medications later I am home, putting my feet up and still trying not to cough up a lung.

2017 this is NOT the way to start out our relationship.