Friday, November 27, 2015

Craftsman Afghan (Knit-Too-Loose) Repair

This is called my "Fix to a Loosey-Goosey Blanket". I am tying it on to a piece of fleece with yarn and needle. I've spread it out neatly on the floor and with a little patience and application, I am stitch-tying (many) key parts of it to the bottom fleece blanket. I made this Knitpicks Craftsman Afghan a few years ago for Cate, but the needles I used made a looser-than-desired fabric. The result was less than satisfactory and I knew, with age, that it would not improve. My fix, and my early-20th-century chick-lit reading, as posted on Small Things Yarn Along.

Yarn: sport-weight or worsted split in half. Needle: one big embroidery needle. Difficulty: 0

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thank You

I am curled up in a warm, furry robe, the only one awake, which is, in itself, a reason to be grateful. They are all in their beds, at home, safe and snug, and I am happy for them to be there. Saturday we were so happy to host the family Thanksgiving meal, and at the same time, saddened that the snowstorm left two of my three siblings and their families stranded. We missed you! What a wonderful day it turned out to be, and what an awful lot of turkey we ended up with afterwards!
After that, the week has been a four-day (yes, it began on Sunday),  marathon of ballet and choir performances, church activities, scout meetings, doctor appointments and (more) trips to the hardware store, library, pet store, oops; need a pair of black pants for that concert; thrift store, nope, big store, nope, other big store; $50? forget it!, oh dread...the mall, and grocery store, along with work, laundry, and a beautiful gathering of all faiths to mark the Paris environment talks. Today, we pause, we breathe, we give thanks. 

Happy Thanksgiving.

First snowfall of the season; Saturday

Dance and choir held at the Festival of Trees. Valentine: back, center.

Yes, it is a little early for Christmas trees; but this display was so beautiful!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Waldorf Wednesday

Halloween: (in which literary-based costumes rule: Alice and the Mad Hatter)
And friends join us from around the neighborhood and around the world:
Oh; and boffer fights break out spontaneously to defend the honor of... (African and European and Asian nations)
Botany Lesson in the Graveyard:

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Sleep and Loopiness

Or technically; preventing dementia through early rising and enough sleep. This particular bit of advice is both to myself and to validate the habit of early bird exercise and activity. (Or; "I'm not nuts now, but YOU may be later.")

According to an article in Everyday Health today, "Researchers found that women with weaker circadian rhythms(those who performed less physical activity early in the day) were 80 percent more likely to develop mild cognitive impairment or dementia than women who were active early in the day."

And further, lack of sleep is also linked to lower metabolism which leads to extra weight, which leads guessed it...dementia later in life. So; baby yourself with some sleep; you DO need it.

Get up early and walk around the block. But don't forget to get to bed early. End of lecture.
Beginning of fascinating topic. Why is sleep like a filmy, frothy camisole in our world? Because it is so hot and neglected. Because someone invented electricity, then they came up with Game Boys and the whole notion of having nothing to do once the lights were out was lost. You can always sneak your phone under your covers and text, even if you're not allowed to stay up all night and watch tv like the big people, right?

Think "Farmer Boy" by Laura Ingalls Wilder. The most eye-opening quote of the book: "Almanzo! What's the matter? Be you sick? It's five o'clock!" In the morning. And he's not up yet. Mother freaks out. This is what civilized New York farming life was like. While Pa and others like him were attempting to succeed at the pioneer life on the "frontier", this was what it was like when you had the easy life of an established farmer back east. People have always been up with the dawn. Like animals who are not nocturnal, it is our natural rhythm, the one by which we function best. When we are regulated by natural light, we go to bed earlier and get up (really, really) early.  When we take care of the beasties in our care or have acres to farm before the sun gets too too hot, we get to bed so we can wake up...or collapse real soon.

A lifestyle of staying up super-late simply pushes back that inevitable collapse a few years, in a different form.

Teen Sleep is a huge issue. It is one of those things that it seems to be normal to allow a child to self-regulate as they get older. Take a look at this article for the experts' opinions on the topic. Or this one for the dangers of habituating a teen body to staying up late. I have relaxed my attitude a little over the years, truly. In days past, nap time was of military precision, for survival's sake. The year my daughter was in kindergarten, we ate at the unnatural hour (for a French family) of 5:30pm and had them in bed by 7:30pm, because school began at 7:50am. That same school has moved to a 7:25 start time. I still worry about the amount of sleep my teens are not getting. They get ill more often, have cranky fits, and are generally less performant in school and less happy without enough sleep. I can cajole, advise and cut the internet, sure, especially if I want grumpier children. I think though, the best way to teach is through modeling behavior, so excuse me, please, I'm going to turn out the lights now.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

French and Paris

There is something simply incongruous about returning home from an exam (French) to which I gave all of my energy for two months, to hear that Paris is under attack. My thoughts and prayers today are with Paris and France as they face this nightmare and future challenges. 

On the drive home from Chicago, the test and anything it might mean melt away and the next hours are spent checking in with family members and friends in Paris on FB and email, and wondering what the hell happened to the world. 

I am still wondering this morning. All family members and friends are accounted for. But such horror and bad will? And that it means more of the same on both sides? Harder to reconcile.

As for the test: fast and furious; 35 minutes of oral interpretation into a microphone. Done. Brutal. I gave it a good run, and the results are a little irrelevant. I won't know until the end of December or so, and by then, I will have forgotten to worry. The truth is, I have become a better interpreter for all of the practice and vocabulary-building. The skills I worked on make my job easier and are good for the clients' well-being on both sides.

Learning should always be like this. There may be a big, scary exam at the end of the tunnel...or not. Either way, submersing yourself into a topic fully for as long as it takes is a trip you want to take. Does it cost anything? Yes; time, focus and, if you are not passionate enough, will power. If you take on a topic you love, it can still be hard to let the other choices sit on the roadside while you give this one your attention, but it will be all-absorbing, thrilling and rewarding...pass or not. 

Thank you to the good and helpful friends and family who helped me find extra study time and listen to me as I went through yet another affidavit or opening argument. You are loved and appreciated! Many blessings upon you! 

My chere France: You are a wonderful, beautiful country, full of intelligent, insightful people and leaders. May the best of you guide you towards a peaceable solution. Love from Iowa, Angela.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Detox for Fall and the Fallen

I present this post in all humility, for the sole reason of reaching out to anyone it may help. This is my long, twisted path to health through nutrition, mindfulness and movement. I am the anti-diva in this domain, the sugar-addict, the one who will always choose pleasure over discipline. The believer in the "Life is Too Short" mantra. But...sometimes it takes a wake-up call followed by a little inspiration. Years of painful, disfiguring eczema and debilitating doses of prednisone have led me here; ready, finally, for a viable (in every sense of the word) solution.

We think "Detox" and spring comes to mind, or New Year's, periods to renew intentions and rejuvenate. Logical, and if we always behaved in a sane, logical manner we would probably have no use for a cleanse from time to time...or have much fun. 

As for me; I woke up last Saturday morning, October 31, after delving into the pre-Halloween stash with everyone else the night before, candy, chips, dip, more chocolate, along with a nice, gluten-free beer friends had kindly brought over, knowing that I had over-indulged. I decided right then and there that I needed to do something to set my life and body straight again. My eczema was flaring and I felt like crud. I had a couple of tall glasses of hot H2O with lemon and honey until lunch time. Lunch was healthy too, but then the candy re-emerged for the Trick-or-Treaters at our door and I was doomed all over again. Was Sunday any different? Yes, a little worse, a few more mini candy bars, since, after all, Monday would be a new beginning, fresh and virginal as the morn itself.

Monday morning's exercise class was pretty awful. Every joint was acting up; even one wrist, and I have never had a single pain or even twinge from a WRIST. Knees, elbows, ankles and shoulders, yes, but a wrist...nunca. Did I connect this to my diet the previous three days? Of course. I know from experience that an exercise session can feel radically different according to what I've had to eat and drink the day before. This day spelled G-U-I-L-T-Y like no other ever had. Did I quit eating candy? Of course I did...not. Slowed down, but had a few frozen Snickers and a couple of those little packets of M and Ms. My lips started to swell on one side; quick; 2 allergy pills, 2 ibuprofen, 3 L-Lysine and a couple of fish oil capsules; contained, for now!

On Monday, I also read through a very sweet blog; Shower of Roses, and clicked on her link to "Autoimmune Protocol." What a great reminder! As I said, I know this, I am aware of it all, and yet I suffer from a happy, hedonistic disregard for good advice and ideas that I accept as truth. Though I do not think it necessary or any fun to take it to the same severe level as quickly as this author needed and was able to do, I know what my own triggers are. By following my favorite author and naturopathic doctor's plan, I intend to reduce inflammation, regain my health, well-being, a healthier weight, and if, by chance, I should inspire you to do the same, this post will have had some meaning beyond a self-centered documentation of yet another cleanse...but this one not gone wrong, so far, on day four

Here is the book. The really nice thing about her approach is that Dr.Black does not expect perfection on day one. It is a 12-week plan, beginning with eliminating one thing and adding one idea or item in the first two weeks. I was able, because of previous experience, to eliminate sugar, dairy and gluten right away, I know these to be problems and do not often indulge; except for sugar, which is a hard one to resist for me. In her anti-inflammatory protocol, you are asked to add, for example; 3 minutes of meditation later in the plan, or fermented foods earlier on. It is not so hard to add in more vegetables, cold-water fish once a week and to skip the butter. Harder is not having a bite of the scrumptious chocolate cake you baked for your daughter's birthday, even though you know what gluten does to you, or resisting the call of the 60 % cocoa chocolate chips which have really excellent enunciation when they are calling your name, closed cupboard door and all.

Step one; find a plan that will work, long-term for you. Here is my favorite:

Monday, October 26, 2015

Must Dust...Here's Why

One reason to dust this morning: in order to be the first one to find the pretty gourd that changed colors like the leaves outside and grew itself to your mantlepiece. I am fairly certain it would be just as revolting were it on your bookshelf or bedside table. Not something one wants one's guests noticing as they admire the nature display, book collection, portrait of your child...

Too bad knitting does not make the house cleaner as you do it. In a way, I am tidying up as I knit: making all those sloppy skeins of yarn into real objects, right? Useful ones even, like this market bag: