What did you do Today?

Or what did you do all day? This was a question that we got a lot when we first retired. Usually when asked this I go blank. I know I didn’t just sit around (though that occurs), or take a nap (Curt does like to nap) or read ( yep, everyday), but what exactly did I do with the rest of the time? Well here goes, not a typical day but close.

I am not an early riser but I did want to go to the Farmer’s Market yesterday morning and Curt promised he wasn’t planning on being out the door at 7am. So we were up at 8 am and out the door by 8:20 am. We found a good parking space (yes, it is much more crowded when you get there a bit later) and hit the market. Four bags later we had mushrooms, zucchini, butternut squash, eggs, raddichio, peppers, cilantro, Spartan apples, carrots, eggplant, baby pattypan squashes, blueberry kringle (our breakfast) and apricots. Home by 9:30 where we made coffee and ate the kringle.

Apples, squash and apricots from Farmer’s Market

Once home I got the first of two loads of laundry in the washer. Curt started working on his chicken which was to be smoked. I got the miscellaneous dishes cleaned up and loaded the rest in the dishwasher. By now it is close to lunchtime. After lunch I got the last load into the dryer and went off to printmaking workshop over at the university. Last weekend we were part of a huge printing project ( 26 artists, each doing a 7″x7″ woodblock of a letter of the alphabet. These were put together into one huge print.) This week the print studio was open to anyone who wanted to do shorter individual prints using the same letters. I did three prints. You may notice I made a rookie mistake on one of the prints. Yes, the word DRIB was supposed to be BIRD. Whoops!  Later I’m cutting the letters apart.

Top: HEUER (read vertically). Middle: Individual letters/symbol RX@X Bottom: DRIB (Bird backwards)

Once home again, I saw Curt had potatoes on to boil and he had already smoked a pile of chicken breasts. One breast for dinner, the others to be frozen for meals later in the fall or winter.

I had muffins planned for the zucchini I had bought in the morning so I got those mixed and into the oven. While they baked I folded and sorted the laundry.

The potatoes for our dinner were done and cooling. The chicken was done. So Curt worked on a batch of cherry tomatoes (blanched and skinned) to put in the smoker. These get frozen in small batches and are great additions to soup, stew or sauce.

Smoked tomatoes

The tomatoes and chicken got packed and put into the freezer. We had a great dinner of potato/smoked chicken salad and finished out the day cleaning up the kitchen which looked pretty trashed after all the cooking and smoking and baking. Time to collapse into those comfy front room chairs.

What’s on for today? I think some reading, napping, a little football (Go Pack!). Afterall, Sunday is the day of rest. Ha! Oh wait, I was going to do something with those apples.

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Not Dead Yet

I can’t believe it has been almost a month since I last posted any recipes, book notes, inspiring stories or general ramblings. What have I been doing? A friend of mine emailed me wondering if I was well since she hadn’t seen any postings. Well, let me rack my brain, what have I been doing?

Since we last talked on March 8…

• I have attended two different book groups.
• Sold two journals, one was a custom order so I had to build that one.
Brushed the cat
• Worked on a brain hat for the March for Science. ( I made Pussy Hats so I know I can  make Brain hats)
• Got the taxes done
• Worked the Big Book Sale at my library
My son was home and he brushed the cat.
• Raked lawn (we had one warm day)
• Baked a batch of ‘They Might Be Breakfast’ cookies (from Dorie’s Cookies by Dorie Greenspan)
• Baked Raisin Bars (same as above)
• Continued at the Health Club 2x a week exercising and strengthening my new knee
Brushed the cat.
• Got on an embroidery craze. (Worked on my Stitch a Day project and finished one auxiliary project and started another)
• Binge watched season 3 of Grace and Frankie.
• Binge watched Season 3 of Chef’s Table
Brushed the cat. (Damn! She should be bald by now.)
• Read or listened to 8 books (3 graphic novels, 3 audio books, 2 book books)
• Got my hair cut
• Went to the chiropractor
• Did a little birding, (added grackle, cowbird, sandhill crane, black duck, hooded merganser, northern shoveler, killdeer, redhead duck, lesser scaup, song sparrow, ringneck duck, coot and white pelican to my 2017 list)

Starting upper left: custom journal, Chef’s Table, Raking, Stitch a Day, The Cat, Cookies, Hooded Merganser, Book Sale Boxes, Knitting brains, Leg Press, Embroidery 1, Embroidery 2, Reading, The Cat again!

And then when you add in all those pesky weekly and daily chores like washing dishes laundry and grocery shopping…well, I guess I’ve been busy. So to my friend in Colorado, I’m alive, sort of busy, but nothing too exciting. Unless you count filling up a grocery bag with cat hair exciting. Hmm, I think we can build a new kitten from all that hair.

Another Idea to Try: The Street Store

Lately in some of the various magazines and publications I read I have been coming across little ways to make a difference. Some are just simple ideas or information that might just make life easier. Whether that be in my life or in the lives of others. Many times it has something to do with the environment because that is where my mind is these days. Some I can do personally but many times there are projects or initiatives that I know someone or a group of someones out there might just seize on. Maybe you are in the right place, or have the right resources or you know someone who would be the perfect partner.  Anyway, I’ve decided that when I find one of these I am going to do a very short post. Who knows? It might make a difference somewhere.

Today I went to send out a link to The Street Store. It is a pop-up clothing store for the homeless. Watch the video. It is a great idea and if you live in a city or town it might be perfect for you. It started in Cape Town, South Africa but it has expanded to many places around the world including the United States. So what is: “The world’s first rent-free, premises-free, free “pop-up clothing store” for the poor, found entirely on the street.

Their mission is to bridge the gap between the rich and the poor, making it easier to donate and more dignified to receive.

This store is made just out of posters where you “hang up” donated clothes and drop shoes into “boxes”, and then the homeless help themselves. All of the art work is sent to you, free of charge.”

So watch the video, pass it on if you know someone who might be able to do this, or just be amazed that in spite of it all there are good things going on in this world.

A pop-up Street Store

An Inauguration Day Project

Already tired of the wall to wall coverage of the US Presidential Inauguration? Do you feel that this is the beginning of a long four years of insane tweets and the mangling of the English language? Not interested in celebrating a man with low values and no integrity? Well turn off the television, switch off the radio and toss the newspaper in the recycle. Stay away from social media as well today. This may be history in the making but I am still having a hard time with acceptance.

If you are like me and want to keep your blood pressure in check and stay sane, today is the day to organize a closet, clean the garage, chip more ice off your driveway or get your Tupperware in order.

I bet most of you have a cupboard or drawer or shelf where your plastic covered containers live. Mostly in a big jumbled mess. Mine take up one whole shelf in a lower kitchen cupboard and for a long time now it has been a real treasure hunt to find the correct corresponding lid for the chosen bottom. So, needing a mind-numbing project I took every piece out and piled them all on the dining room table. I suggest you put on some music in the background but definitely keep the television off.

jumble

 

 

About an hour later, I had tossed the broken ones, the yukky ones, and all the parts that didn’t match anything. Organized all by size and nested all the similar containers.organized

Then neatly back into the cupboard with all the lids organized by size and type in separate baskets.back

 

lids

So there you go, a nice positive activity for you while the man with the orange head drones on or rants or tweets or whatever goes on today.

Now that only killed about 90 minutes and I made the mistake of doing this two days ago. But there are always those closets or sorting my tax papers. And this container cupboard will probably only last a month before I have to start over. On a positive note in four years I’ll have the most organized and clean house in the world. Good luck to all, we are going to need it.

One more Thing before I Go

Me, yesterday.

Me, yesterday.

Me, on the right, today.

Me, on the right, today.

Well as I sit here sipping my camomile tea, knitting a few rows on a warm winter shawl and then reading a some lines from Emily Dickinson, I’ve had time to reflect on some of the things I wrote yesterday. I am not going to make any excuses, it was how I felt less than 24 hours from the presidential election. Some of the comments I received said I was wrong to call people who have a different opinion racists, bigots, misogynists…etc. That’s all it is? A difference of opinion?  I was accused of stereotyping the Trump supporters and I was the hateful bigoted one.  I call them labels but that’s beside the point. What I said was “the bigots, the racists, the misogynists, the haters, the fools, the naive, the idiots, had won the night.” I didn’t say all of the people who voted for Trump fall into those categories. And they don’t. But all the people who voted for Trump voted with those people. And it doesn’t change my opinion when I hear some really bad rhetoric coming straight out of the mouth of the candidate. For example,some people voted for him because they are pro-life, and I respect that, but then I hear The Donald say, “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters.” Such respect for life. Thus my confusion. Thus my prejudice. Thus my stereotyping.

Time has helped lessen my shock and depression. Some excellent essays by Garrison Keillor and Michael Moore and Annie Lamott have helped me see Trump’s ascendency and final achievement in a new light. And before you scoff at these authors, take a look. Moore was actually saying before the election that Trump will win and why (point #4).  And it is all very logical. After my other post my sister called, my cousin extended a voice of reason and my mother pretty much worried about me. My cousin said this reminded him of Jesse Ventura, a wrestler, who became the governor of Minnesota in 1999. Why did he win? Because people were mad and weren’t going to take it anymore.  So I get it. You stuck it to us. Shocked our smug little faces. Huzzah! You’re not all idiots, many of you have just  “had it” with government and many have really good, honest reasons for voting the way you did. But he was your candidate. All 59,535,522* of you. When he does good stuff, take the credit, tell the rest of us, “I told you so.” But when he screws up, and he will, don’t cry about it. You get what you pay for. Now the other 59,755,284* of us ( yes, Hillary won the popular vote), admit, reluctantly, that he will be our president but he ain’t the boss. This is our America, our country. And we will be watching because we love our country as much as you do. We feel the rights of all need to be protected. Yep, the black, the white, the gay, the straight, the weak, the poor, the rich, the liberal, the conservative, the Muslim, the Christian, the Jew and even the bigot. We are going to call him on every “f*ck up”. ( Oh don’t be a prude I put in an asterisk ). I think some Republicans in Congress will be watching closely too, just a hunch.

So next time I say something you don’t agree with, explain your side of the issue. Me and my other 59,755,283 liberals will be waiting. We are the ones who have all our closets clean and all of our leaves raked. Gee, this camomile tea has really soothed my nerves. Does anyone have any tea cakes or crumpets to go with it?

Next post: No more politics, back to books.

*CNN, as of Nov. 10, 2016

Tidying Up

I am usually accused of this when my Honey can’t find something. “Have you been tidying up again? I can’t find my <insert here whatever he is currently looking for>.” I have always bristled at this because yes, sometimes I do tidy up after tripping over shoes or boxes or piles of paper that haven’t been moved for 6 weeks but many times it is he who has put something away and merely has forgotten the location.

So about 2 months ago when I happened on this book at Barnes and Noble (where I had a 10% off coupon on top of the 20% off sticker on the book) I couldn’t resist.

The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up

The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up

Yes, “the life-changing magic of tidying up: the Japanese art of decluttering and organizing” by Marie Kondo. Little did I know that this book was currently a big hit. I conveniently missed the #1 New York Times Bestseller sticker. Probably because the 20% off sticker had been stuck over it. In the beginning I thought it would just be a humorous read about someone with OCD who parlayed their condition into a profession and yes, it was that but as I continued to read, there were some interesting approaches to getting rid of a lot of your stuff and organizing the rest.

A lot of it had to do with handling everything. For instance start with your clothes. These get divided into sub-categories and the first is your tops. Find ALL of them and put them in a big pile. Then pick up each one individually and decide if it “sparks joy.” That is, do you like it and will you wear it again. For me, it was also, does it still fit. I tried her approach and like she said, the pile was huge and that was just my tops. Now the fear is, when you are done, will you have anything left? Surprisingly I had two grocery bags and one plastic garbage bag full of tops that I no longer wanted, fit into or wondered why I ever purchased AND I still had a lot left to fill up my drawers. Ms Kondo also gets into folding and organizing so you can find things but that is a whole other post. I kept going with my clothes, my pants (all of my pants), my underwear ( all of my underwear) my socks, (yes all of my socks).

Left: Bags of tops, shirts, etc. Right: pants

Left: Bags of tops, shirts, etc. Right: pants

I even got my Honey to go through his jeans, the too small, the too torn, the too old.

Denim on its way to a Church Youth project

Denim on its way to a Church Youth project

Now if you think this book is probably a boring read, you would be wrong. My first impression of this author being OCD was right. But put on top of that the sensibilities of being Japanese and you have some pretty amusing passages. Take this one on “Storing Socks”, remembering that her profession is organizing people’s stuff.

“I visited the house of a client in her fifties. As always I started with her clothes….when she pulled open her sock drawer, I could not suppress a gasp. It was full of potato-like lumps that rolled about.  She had folded back the tops to form balls and tied her stockings tightly in the middle. I was speechless.”

“Never, ever tie up your stockings. Never, ever, ball up your socks.”

“That’s right. The socks and stockings stored in your drawer are essentially on holiday. They take a brutal beating in their daily work, trapped between your foot and your shoe, enduring pressure and friction to protect your precious feet. The time they spend in your drawer is their only chance to rest. But if they are folded over, balled up, or tied, they are always in a state of tension, their fabric stretched and their elastic pulled.  They roll about and bump into each other every time the drawer is opened and closed. Any socks and stockings unfortunate enough to get pushed to the back of the drawer are often forgotten for so long that their elastic stretches beyond recovery. When the owner finally discovers them and puts them on, it will be too late and they will be relegated to the garbage. What treatment could be worse than this?” – Marie Kondo, ‘the life-changing magic of tidying up’

Funny? yes. But when I looked in my sock drawer I found some pretty old, balled up, stretched out socks that Goodwill wouldn’t even want.They weren’t groaning or moaning but they were headed to the rag bag.

Once I got through most of my clothes I moved on to other categories and she tells you how to divest yourself of everything. CDs, DVDs, makeup, appliances, kitchen goods, spare buttons, warranties, unidentified cords, small change, greeting cards…nothing is overlooked. I decided I could never be as fanatical as the author but I did move on to magazines, CDs, and some books. She gets pretty ruthless with books but the librarian, booklover, book-maker in me couldn’t part with too many. Only one out of eight did not “spark joy” so many stayed on my shelves.

Three of five bags of magazines that went to recycle

Three of five bags of magazines that went to recycle

One important thing she tells you is once you have made your choices on what is going, make it go away. Don’t store it in the basement  “in case you change your mind”, you won’t and it just is taking up a different space. So my old magazines went in the recycle bin, the clothes went to the thrift store, the books got donated to the library booksale. Gone. Out of sight,out of mind.

Curt seems to have caught the tidying bug too because he has been going through his studio/workshop and has declared we will have a rummage sale this summer. So I started tackling my studio too. I think we will call our sale “Artists/Packrats Tidy Up”. So far, this is just two days of sorting. Onward!!

More magazines, yarn, roving, basketry materials

More magazines, yarn, roving, basketry materials

We are Going to get Gas

Natural Gas. Not the natural gas from legumes and cruciferous vegetables but the kind that heats your house and cooks your food.

Ever since we moved out to the country, away from our local urban area, we have heated our home with propane. Well, to be honest, we heated with oil for a short time but quickly had that removed and contracted with the local propane company. A tank was installed in our yard and every 6 weeks or so the propane guy would show up and top off the tank. Prices varied from year to year but we didn’t have much choice. Natural gas didn’t come down our road because we didn’t have enough residents along our mile. And we weren’t interested in cutting and splitting wood and stoking a stove. We did have a small wood stove for a while but it super heated our living room while the rest of the house froze. Creosote build-up and chimney fires were always a worry.

Last year we had a super cold winter. Our locked in price on propane ran out and we had a few pretty high bills. So this year we prepaid at a locked in price for the full season to get a good price.  A month after we paid the money Wisconsin Public Service ( the local natural gas company) sent us a letter inquiring about our interest in natural gas. I guess we finally had enough people living on our road. Great timing!

Sure we were interested but what were the details? Were we going to take a big loss on the already purchased propane? When is this happening? Once we got the details it wasn’t as dire as we might have imagined. Still on propane this year, natural gas next spring. Whew! That saves some trouble and money.

Breaking ground

Breaking ground

But the pipe was getting laid this fall and two weeks ago it began. Pretty slick. Dig a hole, dig another hole further down the road feet (up to a 1/4 mile away), force a bore through the ground until you get to the next hole – attach the gas line to the bore and then pull the gas line back through the hole.  Not as much digging as I thought until – the bore is steerable and can maneuver around underground obstacles.…until they got to our house. Lots of rocks made it harder to just force the pipe through. So they dug a big hole and moved on down the road to lay the rest of the pipe on the other side of our neighbors house. Plan was to force the pipe from the other direction. Great idea until they hit the mother of all rocks. As the pipe went 6,7,8 feet down rather than forward, they gave up. So an actual trench had to be dug.

Conference: "Sheet! That's a big effing rock"

Conference: “Sheet! That’s a big effing rock”

Digging the trench.

Digging the trench.

 

Some of the "smaller" rocks

Some of the “smaller” rocks the size of watermelons, microwave ovens and ottomans

 

Trench and pipe

Trench and pipe

Well whatever they planned must have worked because yesterday they hauled away the big rocks, back-filled the trench leaving a hole open in the front of our house. Next week they’re supposed to dig another trench up to our house to make the service connection. Wonder if there is another big rock waiting for them?

We were left with a smaller hole and attractive orange tubs.

We were left with a smaller hole and attractive orange tubs.

And the Scores are In!

And to Jeanne, competing in the Total Laproscopic Hysterectomy with a Bilateral Salpingo-oophoectomy:

We have a winner!

We have a winner!

Thank you, thank you all. This is a great achievement but I couldn’t have done it without the help and support of family, friends, doctors, nurses, physician’s assistants, patient navigators and chocolate.

But I hear you saying, “Ones? She’s excited about ones?”

Damn right, I am!

After my “Coming Out Party”, I met with my local pathologist. Well, parts of me did. I can’t help it, when I think of pathology,  Monster Mash starts playing in my brain, ” I was working in the lab late one night, when my eyes beheld an eerie sight…” I wonder if they ever play that on the hospital lab muzac during Halloween?

Anyway, I digress…..things were sliced, diced, microscopes were employed and I got this print out at my follow-up meeting with the doc.

resultsIf you’ve had cancer, known someone with cancer, or have watched ER or Grey’s Anatomy or Doogie Howser: MD, you know that in the C world, the lower the number the better. A Stage 1 is what you want and mine even got an A. Stage 1 is the early stage, the opening act, the first bad note, an amateur!  Get the hook!!

HookSo what now? More rest, more healing. Can’t drive till next week!!! And don’t make me cry, but major housework is still on the off-limits list. Doing jigsaw puzzles, knitting, reading and online games are the current activities I am competing in these days and I am striving for all 10’s in those.

My “Coming Out” Party

There were gifts, bag

party hats, hat

games, puzzeles

door prizes and parting gifts.mug

Well wishers in abundance. Everything a girl might want but geez, why am I so sore on the morning after? I know I did a lot of drinking, that’s about all I did…and there were drugs involved so there’s a clue.

But mostly it is because I have four new entrances in my tummy from having a date with a robot. And I am missing some major lady parts, (that I really have no use for anymore), and the cancer that decided to move in with them. Yes, you heard that right, cancer, the big C, or in this case maybe a little c. As cancers go, this one is a mopey, slow-growing under-achiever. As my doc said (to lighten the mood, no doubt), “If they put a gun to your head and said, pick a cancer, go with endometrial.”

However, cancer is still cancer. Slow-growing or not, it still grows and is greedy, and if you let it, will remodel your whole house to its liking. So it was eviction time and fortunately we got to it before it started picking out curtains. From the first red flag on Sept 15, it was a quick journey to the day of the party on Oct 15. The main man, the gynecological oncologist said I was slender, thus a good candidate for a laparoscopic procedure, that would be a three-way with me, the doc and Mr. Robot. All I heard was “slender” and I was in. Whatever, do it, fine. Slender? Really? Me? Oh you jest.

After that, things are a bit of a blur. The worst part was the two weeks up to the surgery. Your head does nasty things to you while you wait. Even with all of the assurances of a successful outcome, you still worry about possible party crashers.

But I am home now. All went well. The little c had only just moved in and hadn’t even started unpacking his bags yet. Yes, I’m sore, I’m moving slow and will move slow for a bit and who doesn’t want to be told NOT to do housework, not to lift, push or pull stuff for a while? Also if my homecoming dinner is any indication, my Sweetie, being a great cook, will undoubtedly spoil me.

Bean & beef Tostadas

Bean & beef Tostadas

Final note: Cancer is not a joke and I only make light because that’s my coping tool. Mine was caught early. If you see a sign of any kind…a lump, blood, whatever…don’t think it is nothing. Sure it might be but if it isn’t, seeing a doctor in the early stages will make a big difference. It did for me.

Have I Learned Anything?

UntitledYou’ve been putting up with posts on the things that make me do a happy dance and the things that drive me up a wall as I count down to this day. Well here it is, May 2, my birthday, my 65th birthday to be exact. Medicare has sent me cards and presents. Every health insurance company in the world , it seems, has also sent me many happy returns of the day. Three, four times over. I feel so special. But enough with the people who have destroyed ten trees to send me junk mail, the burning question of the day is, have I learned anything at all in my 65 years on this earth? I think anyone answering that question would be lying if they said no. We’ve all learned something – how to walk, dress ourselves, take out the garbage when it starts to smell (or better yet, before it starts to smell), but what about those extra things, those nuggets of wisdom, that only come from experience?

My birthday selfie

My birthday selfie

Here are fifteen of mine. Some are pearls of wisdom, the others, well let’s just call them common sense or dumb luck.

1. Contrary to Phillip Roth, Love means saying you’re sorry. Only do it if you are sincere but do it when called for.

2. Marry a man who loves to cook and does it all of the time. I did! I’m happy to clean and that’s why it works so well for us. We’ve made it to 40 years and counting.

3. Have cats as pets over dogs. Want to go away for the weekend? Just put out a big bowl of food and a big bowl of water and they are good for a couple of days. Can’t do that with dogs.

4. Waiting to start having kids was a good thing. I was 37, Curt was 40.  We had fun and freedom in the early years of our marriage (13 of them). By the time I was a parent I was older, wiser and more patient.

5. Movies are always better in the theater than on TV, even a TV with a big screen. Give me a dark movie house anytime. Turn out the lights, disappear into the story. Ahh!

6. Fight toenail fungus with nail polish. All the medicines out there either don’t work or are too expensive. And that goes for home remedies too. So just hide it. Sorry guys, this solution might not work for you.

7. I should have started exercising thirty years ago and stuck with it. Because catch-up is hell!

8. As you get older you get braver or maybe you just don’t worry about stuff as much.

9. There is no point to Powerpoint. I can’t tell you how many hours I have wasted listening to someone read their PP presentation to me. It’s an aid folks! If you’re a PP reader save future generations this agony, just print it off and send it out.

10. Ground hogs are not accurate predictors of meteorological conditions and should not be consulted. Yep, I’ve learned that.

11. It is really good to learn how to change a tire, because the day it goes flat is the day your significant other is out-of-town. Just to be on the safe side get regular tune-ups and oil changes too.

12. Even the most admirable, honest, trustworthy politician will let you down eventually.

13. No matter how old you get you still fly by the seat of your pants in a lot of situations – more often than you know.

14. You get what you pay for but you can’t always afford the best. So you get what you can.

15. There is still a lot to learn.

Well, that’s it gang. I’m treating myself to a massage today, then my sweetie is taking me out to dinner. But the big present is a trip to Paris.

Bonus #16 Find someone who loves to travel!!!  Ta ta!

Note: The new header picture is from the painting “Fuego” by Maura Vasquez