Thursday, December 20, 2012

Little Altars

I've been neglecting my little altar. I notice last night that it was dusty, so I took everything down and washed it. I put new cornmeal in the rabbit's dish, clean coarse salt in the salt dish, and new sand (I have a baggie full of Siesta Beach sand from the last time we were there) in the sand dish sitting in the woven basket.

Everything sits on top of a little dresser, maybe intended as a jewelry box, I'm not sure. The drawers hold a crystal pendulum in a Chinese silk bag, matches, Chinese coins, and candles.

On top, there's a statue of Ganesha, the Remover of Obstacles, along with an amethyst Buddha and a Native American bear fetish that Bob brought back for me from a trip to Minnesota. There's a tiny "sand castle," along with some shells from the beach in Sarasota, a carved rabbit in the dish with a cornmeal offering for protection, and the salt in the pale blue lotus cup is for purification, as well as a reminder of the ocean.


Monday, December 03, 2012

Christmas Trees

I am not the most emotionally stable person at the best of times, and the holiday season makes it that much worse. I try, but I'm not always able to be in good spirits. Christmas decorations do help, though! This tree was at the little cafe/bar across the street from our office. I don't normally participate in the Friday afternoon happy hour, but I did on Friday. I had one drink (a Bloody Mary), then got a Diet Coke for the road and headed home to Bob.

The second tree is in our common area at work. We had a "family lunch" at work on Friday. We're doing that about once a month, where one of the teams cooks lunch for the whole company. My team was on point last week; I made spinach dip (it was a big hit!), Aaron made tomato basil soup and Julia made vegetable soup, and Joey and Aaron teamed up to make grilled cheese sandwiches. Nicole made brownies for dessert. It was a great lunch and a lot of fun.

I think part of the fun was the interaction, i.e., the "short order cook" aspect. It wouldn't have been nearly as much fun if we had all just brought casseroles or something. I don't know what we'll do next time, but I'm sure we'll think of something interesting.

The third little tree was sitting on the kitchen counter at work. I don't remember it from last year, but it must have been on display somewhere, because it was apparently in the closet. Actually, for some reason I think this one started out as mine. I can't remember why, though. I just sort of vaguely remember feeling a little regretful that I had given it away, but I don't remember the circumstances.

I do have another little tree that I'll set up on my desk in my office this week. We never set up a tree at home until a lot closer to Christmas, since we will probably have a live tree. We leave it up until Epiphany, January 12th, so we don't want to get it too soon.

Later: I meant to mention that I kicked off the Christmas movie watching season with "Love Actually" on Sunday. Perhaps not the best thing to watch, since it always makes me cry, but in a good way. I also watched Men in Black 3, which didn't make me cry.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Thanksgiving/Birthday Weekend

I kind of like having my birthday around Thanksgiving. Sometimes my birthday is on Thanksgiving, sometimes it's a day before, or a day after, but either way it usually falls somewhere in the four-day weekend, which is nice.

My sister was going to her boyfriend's house for Thanksgiving along with her daughter and her husband, and my other sister, who lives in Denver, was going to her husband's family, and Bob had to work. So it was just my brother and his family and me. I was originally going to go over to his house, but since it was just the five of us, he asked my parents if we could go over there, and they agreed. They don't really want to go anywhere anymore, and also don't want to have a whole houseful of people, but it worked out all right.

We bought over all the food, and cleaned up afterwards, so they didn't have to do anything. We got to eat, and talk, and didn't stay very long, and it was really nice.

The rest of the weekend I just kind of did what I wanted. I got a pedicure on Black Friday, and did a very small amount of shopping. I went to Kohl's for the sole purpose of spending a $10 coupon that I had gotten in the mail, and I went to JoAnn and bought supplies for Christmas gifts using their Black Friday coupons, and that was about it.

I had lunch at Noodles & Co. with a free coupon that they sent me, got my free birthday Starbucks drink, got a free small sundae at Culver's ... that was a lot of fun!

On Monday Julia brought doughnuts in to work for my birthday, and about a half dozen of us went out to lunch. Dan bought my lunch. All in all, it was a pretty good birthday week!

Friday, November 02, 2012


We went on a mini-vacation last week. Even though I never really worried about it before, I have been a little more cautious about posting that we're gone. I did post a few photos, though. We went to Lake Taneycomo, and stayed at the condo of a friend of Bob's, right on the lake. Bob fished and I slept, read, and knitted a tiny bit, not much. I mostly read.

I read a book a day:

Say You're Sorry, by Michael Robotham
The Vanishing Point, by Val McDermid
Face of Betrayal, by Lis Wiehl
Heart of Ice, by Lis Wiehl
Don't Breathe a Word, by Jennifer McMahon

They had a big, squishy, long leather couch, and I laid on it so that I looked out the sliding glass doors over the lake. I'd read until I got sleepy, then just fall asleep and take a little nap, then maybe wake up and read some more. It was heaven.

In the mornings I would sit on the deck with a glass of lemonade, and read out there, then when Bob came in from fishing, he would make me breakfast. Sometimes he would cook dinner--hotdogs or pork chops on the grill--and a couple of times we went in to town to get groceries. We went in for dinner a couple of times--once to Long John Silver's and once to Golden Corral.

That was pretty much the extent of the week--reading, eating and sleeping. It was perfect! I really had a great, relaxing time. Bob had some trouble with the boat motor, so he wasn't able to do as much of the kind of fishing he wanted to do, but it all worked out.

Today I am grateful for:
  1. Getting a new phone at work
  2. Finding a pattern that I want to stitch (I'll show it when I get a little bit done)
  3. Leftover pizza for lunch (again!)
  4. Getting to go on vacation
  5. Lots of books to read!

Thursday, November 01, 2012

A quiet Hallowe'en

Halloween was fun at the office. Dexter and Olive Oyl had matching outfits -- doggie skeletons with candy corn and treats floating around inside. Olive is sort of used to wearing clothes -- she has a little parka, and a couple of sweater vests in addition to the lobster Halloween costume she wore last year -- but I don't think Dexter ever had before. But he seemed to adapt pretty well.

I loved that when they made their rounds of the offices to get treats, it was like they were trick-or-treating. The only thing that would have made it better is if they would have had little plastic pumpkins to carry around in their mouths to collect their treats!

At the end of the day, Julia borrowed Dexter's costume for Ranger, since he and Dexter are about the same size. I would have liked to have seen him in it, but I wonder if he was as blasé about it as Dexter was.

Bob was working until 9:30, so I wasn't really looking forward to being at home alone. We don't get very many trick-or-treaters anymore. They must all go to parties or something. Still, I had originally planned to go eat someplace--I had a coupon for a free salad bar at Sweet Tomatoes--but I got an email from Pizza Hut advertising tht you could get 2 or more large 3-topping pizzas for $9 each, so I decided to do that. I ordered two pizzas online (one with sausage, pepperoni and mushrooms and one with chicken, onions and mushrooms), to pick up on my way home.

I stopped at Hobby Lobby first and got some embroidery floss (I'm cross stitching again, yikes! Another hobby slash obsession!), then picked up the pizzas and headed home. It was around 7:00 when I got there. There was one house down at the end of the block that was lit up like they were having a party, but not much else was going on. My doorbell didn't ring once, and I was, frankly, glad.

I sat upstairs in the bedroom with Dinah and stitched, then went back downstairs when Bob got home and had pizza with him. A nice, quiet evening, the best kind.

Today I am grateful for:
  1. Leftover pizza for lunch
  2. Indian Summer weather
  3. Good friends at work
  4. Good books to read (Currently the "Chet the Dog" series, about Chet and his person, Bernie Little, who run a small--er, "little"--detective agency together. The books are told from Chet's perspective, which sounds weird, but really isn't.)
  5. Getting back into stitching

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Busy Weekend

This weekend felt like it was crazy busy. I know it probably wasn't compared to a lot of other people (especially those with children), but it felt like it to me. It started Friday night. I got home at about 6:30, got online and ordered a pizza from Pizza Hut (sausage, pepperoni and mushroom) and reserved a movie at RedBox (The Avengers). Then we headed out to Quik Trip to get gas in Bob's car, went to Hen House to pick up the movie, and went to Pizza Hut to pick up the pizza. The order hadn't gone through correctly, so they had made a cheese-only pizza, and I ended up sitting there for 15 minutes, and Bob sitting in the car, while they made a new one.

It turned out to be a very enjoyable evening -- we had pizza, watched the movie, made popcorn, just had a really nice, relaxing night.

Then, on Saturday, we woke up to rain. I've been worried about my car. Sometimes (most of the time) it acts like it doesn't want to start, and sometimes takes a couple of tries. I was worried that it was something major/electrical. I have a friend at work who knows a lot about cars, and when I explained it to him, he said it sounded like it was probably just the battery, which was a relief.

So I started out getting my nails done, then went to Target to pick up a prescription, and when I got back in the car it wouldn't start the first time, so I sucked it up and went to Advance Auto Parts to have the battery tested. It was just sprinkling at the time, but by the time they had tested it (it was BAD), we'd gone back in and bought a new battery, and gone back out to install it, it was raining in earnest.

I stayed outside in solidarity while the technician was putting in the battery, but she was having trouble--the battery had leaked and welded the clamp to the battery post, and it wouldn't come off--and she told me go ahead and get back in the car. It just kept raining harder, and two guys came out to work on it, and she went back inside. It turned out that they had to cut the wires and put on another clamp (which they didn't charge me for), so it took forever, and I was soaked from standing in the rain, and still had errands to do.

Once the battery was in (and the car started right up!), I went to Price Chopper because Target didn't have the Sugar Free Oregon Chai concentrate that I needed, then went to Hen House to return the movie and pick up something for dinner, which ended up being cold fried chicken and a salad.

While I was there I picked up another Red Box movie (Snow White and the Huntsman), but Bob didn't home from work until almost 10:00, so I begged off and went to bed and left him to watch it alone.

This morning after he left for work, I got up and went to get my oil changed. It was past due, but I would have put it off except that we're going to Lake Taneycomo in a couple of weeks, and Bob needs tires, so I think we're going to take my car. I went to Valvoline Instant Oil Change, and it was pretty quick. Then I headed to Ulta because I had a $5 off $10 coupon and I needed conditioner, then to Petco in Olathe for cat food because no one closer sells the Eukaneuba dry food that Dinah eats.

They actually didn't have it, either. She eats the Weight Control type, but they only had it in 40 pounds bags, and even if I thought she'd eat it all eventually, I don't have any place to store it. So I got the weight control/hairball control type, and will mix it with the other that I have left. Hopefully it will be okay. I hate to change her food, since it seems to invariably cause problems, but I don't know what else to do.

Then I had to come home because I had forgotten to bring the movie to return. So I got that, went back out and returned it, went back to Quik Trip to get gas in my car, then came home and am now doing laundry. Bob will have leftover fried chicken for dinner, and I'm not sure what I'll have, but I'll find something.

Busy weekend!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

30 Days of Gratitude - Day 22 - Time

I took a picture of the clock when I laid back down to go to sleep after having to get up and clean up after Dinah, who had a hairball very early this morning. Bob is out of town, at the Lake of the Ozarks fishing with friends, so I had hoped to have a long lazy morning sleeping in without anyone's alarm clock going off.

There's nothing quite like the sound of an animal getting ready to throw up that can make you jump up, wide awake from a sound sleep. I suppose a child crying would do that also, but cats are what I have experience with.

I was able to grab a towel and put it in front of her, and for once, she didn't back away from me like she's done in the past. I'm grateful for that. :)

Photo: 9/22: Take a walk

Friday, September 21, 2012

30 Days of Gratitude - Day 21 - Alignment

I went looking for the photograph of Pyewacket where she was lying in the "kitty holder" in the window with her front legs dangling down, showing how nicely the stripes on her legs matched/aligned. But I have apparently set the header file for the whole site to automatically redirect to the new Blogspot blog address, so I need to sit down and figure that out. I'll do it one day, not today. In the meantime, I thought Jojo's legs aligned pretty well.

I'm grateful, though, that I have the skill to do that. It's interesting, when you know how to do something so well that it's part of your DNA, almost, how it's hard to understand that everyone doesn't know how to do it. HTML is one thing, knitting is another. Or sewing -- it's second nature to me to be able to understand a sewing pattern, to take something already made and figure out how to make it -- it's easy to forget that not everyone has that skill.

I'm grateful for the female lineage in my family -- my grandmother, who taught me how to crochet, and my mother, who taught me how to sew -- and the home ec classes, and Girl Scout meetings, where I learned to knit.

Photo: 9/21: Alignment

Thursday, September 20, 2012

30 Days of Gratitude - Day 20 - Take a walk

I need to start walking again, and I hope to do that now that the weather has cooled off. It's been awhile since I went out walking every night; 100+ degree temperatures don't exactly contribute to wanting to be out in the evenings. But it's the perfect weather now.

I'm grateful for the neighborhood that we live in. I know that not every place is safe. I am still aware of my surroundings and don't walk after dark, and Bob always knows basically where I am, and I have my phone, of course. But it's a nice neighborhood, with neighbors out in the yards most evenings, and while I don't actually know many of them, I do know them to speak to. I feel safe in our neighborhood, and I'm grateful for that.

Photo: 9/20: Take a walk

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

30 Days of Gratitude - Day 19 - Exotic

I looked at my list to see what I was supposed to take a picture of, and saw that it was "Exotic." I purposely didn't give a lot of thought to the list, I just wrote out a list of words that I would have to figure out later, so I couldn't really think of what I could photograph that would convey "exotic." But I stopped at the grocery store on the way home tonight and there were exotic pumpkins (or squash, I guess) piled up in front of the store, so I took a picture of them. Then, when I got inside, I looked at the floral department right inside the door, and there were "Exotic Black Calla Lillies." So I guess I just need to have faith that the right thing will come along.

I'm grateful for the wonderful abundance that we have available--a place to buy groceries and flowers a couple of blocks from my house. It's a little more expensive than some stores, but it's very convenient. I don't do much shopping there--I do most of my every day shopping at Super Target--but it's nice to know that it's there when I just need a couple of things, or need to run out for something in the evening.

They have a lot of gourmet stuff, a nice deli section, and a great Chinese food bar. Oh, and an exotic olive bar. Lots of fun stuff that I don't normally buy, but it's nice to have a place to get those things for special occasions.

Photo: 9/19: Exotic

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

30 Days of Gratitude - Day 18 - Animal Instincts

I hadn't really planned for the "photo a day" and the "30 days of gratitude" to be the same subjects, but it has kind of worked out that way.

The photo is of Connor, the German Shepherd at our office. He's one of Dave's dogs, the other being Jojo. When Jojo sees one of us coming, she'll flip over on her back, displaying her tummy for a tummy rub. It gets her lots of attention, and I think Connor has been watching that. Recently he's started doing the same thing, flopping over on his side and rolling to his back, trying to look cute. He is cute, but he's a big guy, and it's kind of funny to see him doing it. But it does, of course, get him a treat and a tummy rub, so his strategy is working.

I'm always surprised when animals learn something on their own, i.e., not a trick that they've been taught, but something that they figure out on their own.

I remember Pyewacket figuring out how to make the dry food in the automatic feeder come down and fill the bowl when it got stuck. Dinah still hasn't figured that one out. But Dinah has figured out that patting me on the face with her paw in the middle of the night is a sure-fire way of waking me up when she wants to be cuddled. Nothing else, except maybe throwing up, gets quite as immediate a reaction.

Of course, all the dogs at work are now conditioned to show up in the morning at each of the offices that have treats for them--or is it us that are conditioned? I think that's more likely.

I'm grateful for all of the animals in my life that give me so much joy. Our lives would be dull and boring without them, I think.

Photo: 9/18: Animal Instincts

Monday, September 17, 2012

30 Days of Gratitude - Day 17 - Memory

I know I've written about Evernote before. I jokingly said in a meeting the other day that it's my brain, but really, it is.

I discovered a long time ago that I can't keep everything in my head. I would wake up in the middle of the night with lists in my head, trying to remember everything that I needed to do. I figured out that if I write it down, I don't have to worry about it. So I started keeping a pad of paper and a pen on my bedside table so I could write things down when I woke up.

Then when I got the iPhone (and later, the iPad), I discovered Evernote. There are a lot of different apps that do similar things, and they're probably just as good, but I picked Evernote and have stuck with it.

I put lists of things that I want to remember--books I want to read, ideas about things to write. When I get a new piece of equipment, like a phone or DVD player, I find the instruction manual online and save it into Evernote. I keep my work to-do lists there. I keep lists of the medications that we take, knitting patterns, recipes. I just stick everything there so I know when I'm looking for something, it's going to be in one place.

I'm grateful for Evernote, for giving me a place to keep everything, and I'm grateful that I got in the habit of putting everything there. I'm grateful that I don't have to keep my grocery lists in my head anymore.

Photo: 9/17: Memory

Sunday, September 16, 2012

30 Days of Gratitude - Day 16 - My obsession

I guess I have a lot of obsessions. I sort of hate to admit it, but yeah, I'm a little obsessive-compulsive. Most of my obsessions are fairly harmless, I think. This photo illustrates two of them -- sock knitting and Vera Bradley.

I go through periods of sock knitting fever. I knit and knit, then I lay off for a few months. I love sock knitting because it's portable, and because of the cool self-patterning yarn. When I'm in one of my crazy sock knitting phases, I spend time at yarn shops and yarn websites and collect sock patterns (although I never use any patterns except my basic one). I love all the little accouterments--the tiny bamboo needles, the little stitch markers that I make, yarn snippers, the coilless safety pins I use as markers, the little pill box I keep them in. And the knitting bag that I keep all of it in.

Lately, I've been sock knitting with yarn that comes in 50 gram balls, enough for one sock, rather than the 100 gram balls I normally use. A 50 gram ball of yarn fits perfectly (along with all the aforementioned bits and pieces) in a Vera Bradley medium cosmetic bag.

Which leads into the Vera Bradley obsession. I don't think I've ever paid full price for any VB piece, but I do occasionally check on Ebay, and I get their email sale announcements. They've got such a great marketing technique--they change the patterns every season, so if you find one you like, you'd better buy everything you want in it, because it will be gone in a few months. Or else you haunt eBay for it. Right now I have everything I want in this pattern--one purse, one tote bag, one wallet, a lanyard, and the cosmetic case that I use for knitting. (Oh, and the backpack that I had such problems with on eBay. But we won't mention that. It resides in a plastic bin in the basement.)

I do know that it's crazy. But pretty harmless, I think. I'm grateful that my obsessions don't run to drugs, drinking or gambling, and that they are so easily fulfilled.

Photo: 9/16: My obsession

Saturday, September 15, 2012

30 Days of Gratitude - Day 15 - Artist Date

One of the main tenets of Julia Cameron's "Artist's Way" is the artist date, basically time spent by yourself in creative or inspirational pursuits. For instance, you could take a walk with your sketchbook, go to an art supply shop and buy some new supplies, or write in a journal. Extra points for doing something for your inner child, like getting new crayons or fingerpainting.

Here are some ideas.

I did this on Saturday; I went to JoAnn and spent as much time as I wanted (probably around an hour) wandering around, looking at everything, looking at beads and magazines and art supplies, and was particularly struck by the new Halloween items.

One of the SARK quotes that I always remember is something like, "Inspiration follows action, not the other way around." In other words, to get inspired, do something. Write something, even if it's junk (like Anne Lamott's "shitty first drafts" advice). Paint something, make something, write something. If you can't think of anything to write, make lists.

James Altucher:
Every day I write down ideas. I write down so many ideas that it hurts my head to come up with one more. Then I try to write down five more.

. . .

The “idea muscle” atrophies within days if you don’t use it. Just like walking. If you don’t use your legs for a week, they atrophy. You need to exercise the idea muscle. It takes about 3-6 months to build up once it atrophies. Trust me on this.

It's the same way with the "creative muscle." The more you create, whether it's writing or painting or sewing, the more you do, the more ideas come to you.

I'm grateful for my "creative muscles," and grateful that there are so many inspirational places for me to spend time feeding and growing them.

Photo: 9/15: Artist Date


Julia Cameron Live - Artist Dates
101 Artist's Date Ideas
James Altucher - How to be the luckiest guy on the planet

Friday, September 14, 2012

30 Days of Gratitude - Day 14

I am grateful for this beautiful world that we live in. I know that there is much suffering and unhappiness and pain in the world, and I am never able to think of the things that I'm grateful for without thinking of the people who are in terrible trouble. But I do try to remember that my happiness doesn't depend on someone else being unhappy. I can enjoy a sunset without that affecting anyone else in a negative way. It's hard sometimes, though. My empathy gets in the way.

But I try to remember to look up and around me, to see all of the beautiful things that surround us, and to be grateful for them.

Photo: 9/14: Gratitude

Thursday, September 13, 2012

30 Days of Gratitude - Day 13 - Take a note

It's really important to me to have notebooks and pens around in case I need to write something down. I remember once when Bob and I went to the State Fair, I had put my wallet in a really small bag so I wouldn't have to lug something large around, but once we got there, I started worrying because I didn't have a notebook a pen. It made me really nervous. So one of the first stops we made was the conservation hall, were I found a giveaway pencil and a brochure. So, whew. If I needed to write something down, I had a way to do that.

Now that I have the iPhone, it isn't really quite as important, since I can always write something down in that, but that isn't always convenient. So I try to always have an alternate form of note-taking supplies.

I'm really picky about notebooks and pens; Bob will attest to that. For ballpoint pens, I love Bic "Velocity," and my favorite notebooks are Miquelrius. There's just something about their paper that feels right to me. It's smooth and thick, and I just like it better than anything I've ever found.

Except for Moleskine, I guess, which is another favorite. However, the Miquelrius notebooks are spiral bound, so they open flat, and Moleskines aren't. But they are nice. Right now I'm using a purple ("Simply Violet") Vera Bradley "Hipster" bag, and at Target I found some tiny Moleskine notebooks in purple, and I already had a Pilot "Precise" pen in purple, so that's my current notebook and pen combo. It's small and light, and doesn't take up much room at all, but I have something to jot down lists and ideas when it isn't convenient to type them out on the iPhone. The notebook is actually tiny enough to fit inside my (purple) wallet when I don't carry the whole purse.

I know it's OCD, but it is what it is. I am what I am. I have my quirks, like anyone (maybe more than most), but I really do love things like this. And it's something that's fairly easy to take care of.

I'm so thankful for the wonderful variety of things like this--notebooks with beautiful paper, pens in every color, the seemingly endless array of ways to fulfill an admittedly somewhat silly "need." Again, so grateful for the abundance that I have access to, and the ability to acquire the small things that make my life easier and happier.

Photo: 9/13: Take a note

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

30 Days of Gratitude - Day 12 - Green

This photo symbolizes something green, and also regeneration. I bought this diffenbachia several years ago, and it was a beautiful plant. Then it got some kind of mites, and started dying, and looked awful. I tried to save it, but it got to looking so dreadful that I ended up cutting it completely off at the ground. In a few months, though, it had regrown to be more beautiful than before. I'm thankful for that, and for all the greenery in my office.

I used to have a lot of houseplants at home, but as they died, I didn't replace them. For one thing, the cats found them too interesting, and I never wanted to risk having them eat something poisonous. And even if the plants weren't poisonous, I wasn't crazy about the cats eating them anyway. So it became less of a priority.

When I got my office at work, though, with its big windows, plants became a priority again. I have the diffenbachia, a big ficus, an old corn plant that came from a previous office, the leftover greenery from some kind of a big flowering bulb that I don't remember the name of, and a couple of mixed pots of plants from funerals.

The theme of my office, if there is one, is plants and birds. I have several decorative bird houses and bird cages, and a few ceramic and metal birds. I feel like my office is an oasis, and the plants and birds (and fish) enhance that feeling. I'm thankful for that.

Photo: 9/12: Green

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

30 Days of Gratitude - Day 11 - Beautiful

It isn't really that beautiful now -- the rose is about four days old -- but the sentiment is. Bob came home with it on Saturday night. He said, "I realized that I hadn't brought you a flower in a long time, and that's unacceptable!" So, a single red rose in a bud vase. It has to sit in the kitchen or bathroom since Dinah would knock it over if it was on a table, but that's okay. It's fine in the kitchen.

I'm very grateful for Bob and for our marriage. I don't talk about it a lot, because I don't want to brag, but we really do have a great marriage. It takes work, of course, we don't take it for granted. We thank each other for the little things that we do every day -- I thank him for taking out the trash, and he thanks me for cooking dinner, things like that. It may sound silly, but it really does make a difference.

Going out to dinner is kind of a rare occurrence lately, given the state of the economy, but we do things like go out for ice cream, or go for a drive, or make a late-night run to the grocery store together, or just watch a movie. It's something we can do together. We don't actually spend a lot of time together at home--I'm usually either downstairs watching television or in the bedroom reading, and he spends most of his free time t home in his office on the computer or watching television (since we seldom want to watch the same things), but we've always said that that was one of the keys to the longevity of our relationship. We always say it jokingly, but it's probably true. We don't want TOO much togetherness, but I guess we have enough.

Photo: 9/11: Beautiful

Monday, September 10, 2012

30 Days of Gratitude - Day 10 - Work

I came back from a meeting this afternoon to find three dogs waiting for me. I know it wasn't for love (except maybe for Jojo), it was for treats, and the two inside the office were actually probably trapped and afraid to try to get by Jojo, but it did make a nice welcome. She doesn't ever do anything except growl, but she is the old grumpy lady of the office (like me!), and she is very intimidating, apparently.

I'm very grateful for work, for the fact that both Bob and I have good, well-paying jobs that we enjoy. It's a terrible time to be out of a job, and to be looking for work, so I'm very thankful that we have jobs to go to. And obviously, mine has the added bonus of dogs!

It also comes with the bonus of working with friends--people I actually like to spend time with, many of whom have been my friends for over a decade--and of doing work that I love. Not everyone gets that advantage, and it's one that I'm very grateful for.

Photo: 9/10 - Work. Waiting for me.

Sunday, September 09, 2012

30 Days of Gratitude - Day 9 - Reading

I read an entire book today, not in one sitting, but in three or four. I read for awhile in the morning, then got dressed and went to the grocery store, came home and read some more, had dinner, read through the evening until I went to sleep. The book doesn't really matter (although it was "The Survivor," by Greg Hurwitz), just the fact that I was able to spend so much time reading, and how enjoyable it was.

I had this book on my Amazon wish list, but it just came out, and was a little expensive ($12.99), so when I heard it was coming out, I got on the hold list at the library, and my number came up this weekend.

I don't get a lot of books from the library any more, since I prefer to read on the iPad--it's more comfortable, I can read in the dark with minimal light, etc., but I still do love the library. I enjoy going there on the weekends and browsing through the new books, and I love being able to reserve books that I want to read, but may not want to buy.

I'm grateful both for the library, and for the abundance of wonderful books that are available for me to read, in whatever format.

Photo: 9/9 - Lunch. (I forgot to take a photo of my lunch, so this is a picture of the view outside my office window. I'll do "lunch" later.)

Saturday, September 08, 2012

30 Days of Gratitude - Day 8 - Warm

Every night when I come home, when it's 100 degrees outside and the air conditioning is keeping the house cool, I am thankful. I am thankful for clean running water to take long showers or relaxing baths, to cook with, to drink. I am thankful for electricity to power the lamps and televisions and computers and all the various things we have to make our lives easier and more comfortable, and for the natural gas that heats the water.

When the weather is a bit cooler, like it is now, I am grateful to be able to open the windows and feel the cool night air. It makes Dinah a little bit nervous, I think--there was a little bird sitting on the windowsill the other morning, chattering at her, and she didn't quite know what to think. It made us remember Doña catching a bird on the balcony of our old apartment and begging to bring it in. She did get in with one bird one time, and we chased it around the apartment until Bob was able to catch it and throw it out the window.

We remind Dinah that not every kitty gets to live a life of luxury, that some cats have to stay outside, or in the garage on an old dirty blanket and eat generic cat food. I don't think she understands, but if she did, she would be grateful.

Photo: 9/8 - Warm. Dinah basking in the heat from the lamp.

Friday, September 07, 2012

30 Days of Gratitude - Day 7 - Creativity

My mother sewed, but she didn't do any needlework--her eyesight was too bad, I think. She sewed and read using a magnifier. Both of my grandmothers crocheted, and my Grandma Scott--my mother's mother--also tatted. She taught me to crochet and tat, but the tatting didn't stick. I don't think I ever actually made anything, but she made some beautiful tatted doilies.

I learned how to knit in Girl Scouts, but when I was in high school I did a lot of crocheting. That was the height of the hippie movement, I guess, and magazines like Family Circle and Woman's Day had a lot of crochet patterns. I remember making a bunch of Irish crochet purses using rug yarn. I also went through a phase of thread crochet u sing a tiny steel hook, buying intricate doily patterns and all kinds of colors of crochet thread. During that time I made a few Barbie doll outfits from thread as well. My grandmother had crocheted a whole wardrobe for my dolls, but I must have sold it at a garage sale at some point, or at least it's all gone missing.

My knitting hobby really exploded when self-striping sock yarn came out. I've always loved variegated yarn, and although I had no idea whether I would ever be able to accomplish knitting on tiny needles with such small yarn, I wanted to try. I made my first sock in 2003, and that's really all I've been knitting since then. The photo above is the one I'm currently working on. I'm not very fast, but it doesn't really matter. I'm more of a "process" knitter, i.e., I enjoy the process as much as, or more than, the actual end product.

I learned how to sew and follow a sewing pattern in Home Ec classes at school. I remember making a suit--shorts, jacket and hat--for a fashion show that we put on at the end of the year, whatever year that was.

I'm so glad that I learned to do these things, and for the creativity that pushes me to knit and sew, and make things. It's kind of amazing, really, to create something like a pair of socks out of a ball of yarn, and I'm thankful that I can do it.

Photo: 9/7 - My hobby

Thursday, September 06, 2012

30 Days of Gratitude - Day 6 - Morning Caffeine

I love Oregon Chai. I've made the hot version in the winter for several years, but had never thought of trying it iced. I somehow had a Starbucks gift card, and tried theirs, and really liked it, so I did some looking, and found that Oregon Chai also offers a concentrated liquid version. I believe Starbucks uses Tazo, but I like Oregon better. It comes in one of those aseptic containers, and I mix it half-and-half with 2% milk, add some ice, and bring it to work with me.

It provides my necessary morning caffeine, it's cold, and it's hopefully healthier than Diet Coke. I buy the Original, although they also have caffeine-free, sugar-free, and less sweet versions. They also have a Peppermint version, although apparently only during the holiday season. I'll have to remember to try that this winter!

I'm grateful that I discovered this. The 32 oz. carton costs around $5.00, and I get about five or six uses out of it. The milk costs something, of course, but the total cost is a LOT less than buying one from Starbucks every morning, so it makes me feel thrifty while still having a tasty drink. I bought a Starbucks insulated reusable cup, which makes me happy, and saves throwing away a cup every day. I do use a throw-away straw rather than the permanent one, since I never feel like I can get those clean.

Photo: 9/6 - Hydrate

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

30 Days of Gratitude - Day 5 - Family

My parents are always on the list of things that I am grateful for, for the fact that they are in pretty good health, and are doing well.

I talked to them tonight. My mom had taken a small fall, and I got a call from the service that monitors that. I got the call while I was in the grocery store, and I didn't hear the phone ring, I only saw that I had missed the call when I checked my phone later. The message said that my dad was there, and everything was fine. I'm grateful to know that the service works, that they call to report even if everything turns out okay, that my mom is fine, and that I had the opportunity to speak to both of them.

I also talked to my sister, who I am also grateful for. She's the one who took on the task of finding the fall monitor people and equipment, testing it, and setting it up.

This wasn't what I had in mind when I put "morning routine" on the list, but I forgot to take a picture this morning. When I got to the office, Olive was right there, sitting beside my desk, wanting a treat, and I thought, yep, morning routine.

I had actually intended to take a photo of my morning smoothie, or my chai tea, but I was running late this morning and didn't make either of those things--I drove through McDonald's for an Egg McMuffin and a Diet Coke. Fortunately, not a routine, but an aberration.

Photo: 9/5 - Morning routine: Treat, please.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

30 Days of Gratitude - Day 4 - Canine Companionship

One of the things that I am always grateful for is the fact that we are a dog-friendly office.  There are two dogs that are always there -- Dave's two, Jojo and Connor -- and several that are there almost every day.  Clark (pictured here), Olive and Dexter, Ranger, Maggie, Sunshine, Dolly and Dixie, Jake and Elwood.  I adore the dogs, every one of them. 

I wasn't thinking specifically of the dogs when I wrote out my list of photographs for the month and wrote "Comfort" as the subject for today, but they really are a comfort to me, so I think it's appropriate.  Sometimes, when I'm having a bad day, Bob will call, and he'll say, "Go pet the dogs, you'll feel better."  And I do.  Dogs give you unconditional love, and are non-judgemental, although they can definitely tell me about it if I'm not quick enough with a treat, Olive in particular.  She has a huge personality for such a little dog.  And, I suppose, their affection is easily bought with a treat or two.

Still, there's nothing quite like the feeling of getting up to go to a meeting and having Jojo come with me, or having Olive look to me to save her from Ranger's over-enthusiastic affection, or having Clark come in and settle down in my office at the end of the day.

So many people come to our office and are delighted to meet the dogs, and say that they wish they could have dogs at their office.  I know we're lucky, and I'm grateful.

Photo: 9/4 - Comfort: Yes? Can I help you?

Monday, September 03, 2012

30 Days of Gratitude - Day 3 - Abundance

I am not immune to envy or jealousy, although I don't like to admit it. When I feel envious toward someone else, I try to remind myself of how lucky I am, and how much we have compared to most of the rest of the world.

When I walk into a grocery store, or especially Target, where I do most of my grocery shopping, I think of how amazing it is to have big, clean stores where you can buy almost anything for a pretty reasonable price. Food, toiletries, cleaning products, clothing, even basic furniture. Yes, it costs money, but even though I don't always have enough money to buy everything I might want, I do generally have enough to buy anything that I need.

And such a variety! Maybe fifty kinds of bread and bread products, a dozen or more kinds of salad dressing, crackers and cookies and ice cream, and beautiful fresh vegetables and fruits and flowers. Cheeses and frozen dinners, milk and butter, candy, and even a Starbucks right in the store. Today I bought bread, peanut butter, saltines, bagels, cream cheese and yogurt. Staples for breakfasts and lunches next week. I try not to forget to be grateful for this abundance, and to give thanks when it is consumed.

Photo: 9/3 - Home: I'll leave the light on for you.

I'm trying an experiment with ads on this site. I never done that before, but I figured it was worth a try. So far it's bringing in about two cents a day, and they don't pay out until it reaches $100, so I may give up before it reaches that point. Hopefully it's not too intrusive. Running this site isn't expensive, but it does cost, and running the ads might be a way to recoup some of that cost. We'll see, I guess.

Sunday, September 02, 2012

30 Days of Gratitude - Day 2 - Sleep

I'm so grateful for sleep.

I've never really had trouble sleeping until the last few years. I can fall asleep pretty easily--I usually read until I feel sleepy, then put down the book (iPad, lately), lie down and go to sleep around 10:30 or 11:00, only to wake up at 2:00 a.m. I used to try to fall asleep again, and if I can't in a half hour so, pick the iPad or iPhone up and read, but Bob said it bothered him, so without any distraction, I would just lie there and think of everything in the world that I might have to worry about.

I know that my mother takes a sleeping pill every night to sleep, but I've never wanted to do that. For one thing, I'm fairly susceptible to drugs, so they make me feel groggy in the morning. But I was feeling kind of desperate, and felt like I was getting almost no worthwhile sleep. So I started taking an ibuprofen "PM" every night (generic for Advil PM). The bottle says to take two, but I only take one. It's just enough to help me sleep through the night--if nothing wakes me, I'll usually wake up around 5:00 a.m., get up and go to the bathroom, then go back to sleep pretty quickly until my (or Bob's) alarm goes off.

It doesn't drug me enough that I don't wake up if, for example, Dinah starts to throw up--that sound will make me sit straight up in bed, turn on the light, and grab for something to put under her, or knock her off the bed if that's where she is. But even then, if I have to get up and deal with that, I can fall back asleep, no problem.

Sleep is very important. It knits up the raveled sleeve of care, etc. I'm very grateful that I've found something that helps me get a better dose of it.

Almost all of the reading I do now is of the digital variety. I follow a couple of blogs that list a few free Kindle and/or Nook ebooks every day. I don't download every free book that comes along, but I get a lot of them. If a book sounds even slightly interesting, I'll usually go ahead and download it. I have hundreds of books in my account that I haven't read, but I also have a lot of free books that I have read, and that have turned out to be great.

I also get some of the $.99 or $1.99 ones, but in those cases I always download a sample and read it to see if it's something I really want to read. Even if it's only a dollar, I don't want to throw it away.

Amazon has a "Kindle Daily Deal" where they offer one or more Kindle books at a discounted price. They are quite often tied to upcoming releases -- today's deal was "Shelter," by Harlan Coben, a YA novel starring Myron Bolitar's nephew Mickey. The second book in the series, "Seconds Away," comes out in a couple of months, so they are offering the first one to build interest. It worked for me, I bought it for $2.99.

Amazon also has a monthly list of around 100 books under $3.99. There aren't always a lot that I am interested in, but there were a couple of $1.99 ones this month that sounded good. It always pays to check the list. You can often get a book that you would have paid full price for at a significant discount.

Photo: 9/2 - Reading material: It's all digital lately.


Pixel of Ink - Free and bargain Kindle books

Books on the Knob - Bargain reads, free ebooks and book reviews for the Amazon Kindle, nook, Kobo, Sony and other ereaders

Kindle Daily Deal

What I'm Reading

Saturday, September 01, 2012

30 Days of Gratitude - Day 1 - Rain

I have a lot of things to be grateful for, but today I'm grateful for the rain. After weeks of drought, we're getting, as one of my weather apps put it, "the remnants of Isaac," and it's been raining steadily for about 24 hours now.

Two or three weeks ago someone from the gas company showed up at the front door, saying that a neighbor had reported smelling gas, and they had tracked it to our house. He said he needed to shut off the gas, and he would come back the next day, in the daylight, and run a temporary line. He said that "hopefully sometime before winter" someone would come out to bury the line. Apparently they were having problems all over the area due to the dryness of the ground.

Our house is settling to the point where it's difficult to open the door from the living room into the garage. I haven't gone out and watered the foundation like I should, but hopefully the rain will allow things to get somewhat back to normal.

Bob said this morning and we have water in the basement, maybe worse than it has ever been, but I'm not going to complain. Hopefully the slow, steady rain will soak into the ground and give us all some relief from the dry weather. I don't know whether it's going to be enough to make any difference to the farmers, or my lawn, and I am sorry that it had to come at the expense of the people near the Gulf who are experiencing flooding, but in my little corner of the world, I'm very grateful for the rain.

Photo: 9/1 - Home: Home is where the cat is.


See the list and take part: 30 Days of Gratitude

Here's a great article titled "What I Am Grateful For," by James Altucher.

Happy Tapper has several good iPhone and iPad apps, including Gratitude Journal for iPhone, and Gratitude+ for iPad.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

30 Days of Gratitude

In an effort to get back in the habit of blogging more often, I decided to do two blog projects in September. One is "30 Days of Gratitude," and I will blog about something that I'm grateful for each day in September. I also want to do a "photo a day." If you would like to participate, just save the list and follow along. If you have an Instagram account, send me your username so I can follow you, or use the hashtag #sept12photoaday so your photos are searchable.

I imagine that the two projects will intersect, and I will be taking photographs of things that I'm grateful for, but I'm not going to specify that.

Here's my September list:

There are a lot of "photo a day" projects, apps and sites out there. I think I originally got the idea for the photo-a-day project from FatMumSlim.

I have used an iPhone/iPad app called Photo365, which makes a cool little calendar on your phone with a thumbnail of each photo, and of course, Instagram.

I also use Gratitude Journal, another iPhone app. There is also an iPad version. The app lets you record multiple things that you are grateful for, attach up to four photos, and rate your day (all my days are 5 star days). There are also various themes that you can use.

Here is the photo list in text format:

1. Home
2. Reading material
3. Family
4. Comfort
5. Morning routine
6. Hydrate
7. My hobby
8. Warm
9. Work
10. Lunch
11. Beautiful
12. Green
13. Take a note
14. Artist date
15. Gratitude

16. My obsession
17. Memory
18. Animal instincts
19. Exotic
20. Take a walk
21. Alignment
22. Time
23. Wrap it Up
24. Golden
25. Sky
26. Love
27. Bloom
28. What I carry
29. Patterns
30. Joy

Monday, August 20, 2012

Just my opinion

A friend posted on Facebook the other day that he didn't understand how other people who have full time jobs have time to go to the lake, visit friends, or have fun of any kind. He said that he and his wife spend the entire weekend from sunup to sundown cleaning the house, doing laundry, prepping food for the next week, working in the garden, doing yard work, etc.

I wrote out an answer, but didn't post it because I don't like to get into long discussions on Facebook. But here's my opinion: You figure out the things that are important to you, and that's what you do.

Of course, there are always things that have to be done -- housecleaning (to a certain extent), laundry, meals. I don't care if my house is spotless, and while I cook a "real" meal a couple of times a week, we're happy with sandwiches or leftovers, or picking up fast food, the rest of the time.

I'm sure Bob would love it if I would cook gourmet meals every night, but he understands that I need to do other things, like knit, read, sew, make jewelry. I'm happier, and he's happier as a result. I read a quote somewhere once that said, on their death bed, no one ever said, "I wish I had cleaned the house more."

If it's important to you to have a spotless house, more power to you. If it's important to you to serve a gourmet-quality meal every night, I'm not going to judge you. You can make your own salsa from vegetables you grow in the garden, and grind the wheat to make tortillas, and I'm sure they're amazing. But I'm going to feed Bob a ham sandwich, clean up the kitchen, and spend the two hours of free time I have before bedtime reading a book.

Monday, August 13, 2012


I have four weeks of personal time a year--vacation, sick leave, personal leave, whatever I need. The only years that I've ever used it all were the years when I had surgery. I usually end up with at least a week or so unused. I had used one day this year, I think, and the year was more than half over, so I thought I'd better take a little time. Bob and I are going to take a few days and go down to the Lake of the Ozarks in October, I think, but I wanted to take some time before then, so I took last week off.

I didn't really have any plans, and I didn't go anywhere, but I made a point to go out to lunch every day, and one day when Bob was off, we went to lunch together. We went to Red Lobster, which was really kind of expensive, but as he said, we don't do that much anymore. Once in awhile is fine.

I made the rounds of the craft stores one day, and bought some new sock yarn. I watched a lot of the Olympics, cooked for Bob a couple of nights, slept in, and just basically had a pretty lazy week. Oh, and I gathered up about six trash bags full of stuff to give away. I need to call someone to come get them, right now they're lined up in the front hall. That's pretty much the only productive thing I did all week.

It was nice. And hard to go back to work this morning!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Fallen Angel

I've been struggling all month, trying to get the price of Fallen Angel updated at the outlets other than Amazon. Amazon has a requirement that the price of an Amazon ebook title can't be higher than it is at other retailers. My book is priced at $2.99 at Amazon, but they discount it to $1.99, so I had priced it at $1.99 at Smashwords, who controls distribution to other outlets.

Amazon emailed me that they were removing my book from sale until I got the price corrected. I needed to either reduce the price at Amazon, or increase it at the other outlets. I didn't want to reduce the Amazon price, because although they discount it, I actually get paid the commission at the $2.99 price, since that is the price that I set. So I had to increase the price at Smashwords, which I did, but for whatever reason, it never got changed at Kobo or Sony. As you can imagine, it's difficult to get changes made that require human intervention, since these sites (Amazon and Smashwords) have so many authors, and are so busy.

I sell by FAR the most copies at Amazon, so I hated for it to be gone from there. I lost almost an entire month, but today I was finally able to get everything accomplished, and it's back on sale. I don't know how much it cost me--probably around a hundred dollars, since sales have dropped off since the peak at about this time last year--but at least it's back!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Loon Lake

I discovered Victoria Houston's "Loon Lake" mystery series a week or so ago, and have been devouring them. I just finished the fourth one and started the fifth.

The books are set in a small town in Wisconsin, and center around a female police chief and a retired, widowed dentist, their families and neighbors. Like the protagonist of most cozy mysteries, the doctor finds way more dead bodies than one would expect. The doctor and the police chief have a slow sometime-romance, and the doctor has a nutty, yet philosophical, neighbor.

They also do a lot of fishing. I know enough about fishing to recognize the terminology, even if I don't do it myself, and the area she describes sounds much like a lot of the fishing spots I've been to with Bob. Also, they're set in an area close to where he fishes in Minnesota once a year.

I'm enjoying them a lot, but they're really making me want to live at the lake . . .
  1. Dead Angler
  2. Dead Creek
  3. Dead Water
  4. Dead Frenzy
  5. Dead Hot Mama
  6. Dead Jitterbug
  7. Dead Boogie
  8. Dead Madonna
  9. Dead Hot Shot
  10. Dead Renegade
  11. Dead Deceiver
  12. Dead Tease

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Life, life, death

The yarn slipped through her fingers like silk, her needles moving without conscious thought as she knit row after row, barely looking at her hands. The yarn was beautiful, sari silk in a multitude of colors, red, purple, burnished gold. She was knitting a simple slip stitch pattern, a scarf, one that she had made so often that her hands remembered the pattern even when her mind did not. Knit, knit, slip. knit, knit, slip. The bamboo needles made a pleasant ticking sound.

She didn't hurry, it wouldn't do to hurry. She kept up a constant rhythm, turning the scarf when she came to the end of a row, purling each even-numbered row. She could do it in her sleep by now, and sometimes she would dream that she *was,* the tick-tick of the needles soothing her.

"Mom?" The voice came from the front of the house, her son. He had let himself into the house using the key that she had given him years ago, maybe when she and his father had gone on a vacation, or maybe when one of them had been in the hospital. She would have asked him to come over and water the plants and let out the dog, the dog that was long gone. The plants were long gone, too. All that was left was the knitting.

Knit, knit, slip. Knit, knit, slip.

"Hi, mom, how are you today?" She didn't answer him. She never did. She was beyond answering. She was so far away already that death would just be a slipping over, like her knitting pattern. Life, life, death.

Her son sat down beside her, on the footstool that rested next to her chair. He reached for her hand, trying to still its motion, but she shook him off and continued to knit. "Mom," he said, "please. Won't you stop for a minute, just a minute?" When she ignored him, he shook his head and got up, looking around. On previous visits, he would fill his time by filling a watering can at the kitchen tap and go around watering the various plants that grew in the room.

There had been a wandering Jew on the windowsill, and a mother-in-law's tongue, and something that he didn't know the name of that crawled along the top of the bookshelf and trailed down the side until it almost reached the carpet. It had sharp, pointed leaves, and tiny berries like blood. It made him shudder, but he had watered it, too. But they had all withered and died, and he had bagged them all up and thrown them out with the trash.

He stood in the doorway and watched her as she knitted. The brightly colored yarn flowed from the basket at her feet, and the finished rows pooled in her lap. Knit, knit, slip. She wouldn't communicate with him anymore, so all he could do was bring her the most beautiful yarn he could find. Wool or silk or rayon, she didn't seem to care, as long as the colors were bright and beautiful. He never let her run out; if it looked like the pile of yarn in her basket was getting low, he would make a special trip to the yarn shop in town and fill a bag with anything that caught his eye.

As he stood and watched her knit, he saw her eyes close, and her hands on the needles began to slow their constant movement. Knit . . . knit . . . The needles fell from her hands and the beautiful silk scarf dropped from her lap. "Mom?" he cried out, rushing to her side. "Oh, no! Mom!"

And before the world could wind down, a young woman on the other side of the world picked up her needles.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Seller beware

I am SO angry right now. I sold a Vera Bradley quilted backpack on eBay for about half of the retail cost. I had used it a couple of times, but you couldn't tell. The buyer gave me positive feedback, said it was perfect, then she decided to wash it, and ruined it.

So she filed a dispute with eBay saying it wasn't as described, and was damaged, when it was her who damaged it! She wants a refund (even though eBay allows you to specify no returns, and I did), and eBay has put a hold on my Paypal account until I do. So she's ruined it, I can't sell it to anyone else, AND I have to give her back $53! SO pissed off.

I'm sorry, it's too bad, but it definitely isn't my fault. eBay has made it so you can't leave negative feedback for a buyer, but they can sure leave negative feedback for sellers. Ebay always side with buyers, no matter what, so buyers are free to lie and say whatever they want. I don't know why I'm surprised, but I am. I always expect the best of people. I guess I'm just naive.

Here's what it looked like when I shipped it, I'll post a picture of it when I get it back, and we can compare.

Out of touch

Came home last night, turned on the television to watch something while I ate dinner, and there was nothing but static. Tried to get on the Internet, nothing. Tried the phone. No dial tone. We have new neighbors, and when I went to work yesterday, there was a cable strung across the yard; when I got home, it was gone. So I figured the cable company came out to bury the cable, and in the process, cut ours.

Called the cable company, the earliest they can come out for sure was next Wednesday, but said they would try to find something sooner. So about 10:00 my cell phone rings. It's the cable company, and they can come out today (Friday) in the afternoon. It's a terrible time for me, I'm supposed to be talking at a meeting then, but if I don't take it, I won't have television or Internet all weekend. And even though the problem is outside, they say I have to be here.

So I said okay. I'll go to work, come home, and if they come on time, go back and maybe make my meeting. All for something that they caused.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Clearing out

I spent most of the weekend sorting and clearing out and throwing away. I don't know if that counts as "cleaning," but I guess it does. I washed all of the salt and pepper shakers on my shelf, dusted the shelf, and put most of them back. I don't dust them very often, but when I do, I switch them out, and put different ones out, put some of them in storage.

My grandmother--my mother's mother--collected salt and pepper shakers, and some of these were hers. She received most of them as gifts, souvenirs from relatives and friends when they returned from trips, and she tried to write the giver's name on the bottom of them. Most of them are unreadable now. When I posted the picture on Facebook yesterday, one of my cousins mentioned that my other grandmother collected them, too, an said that the picture reminded her of Grandma's house (Great-Grandma, in her case). I like that. It's a connection to another generation.

I also cleaned the glass shelves of my etagere, and the things that were on it, and a server that sits in the dining room. So many things to dust! I'm trying to put things away, and get rid of things, but it's hard. I also spent a lot of time today going through books and CDs, checking on Amazon to see if I could get a decent price for them, and if not, if Amazon wanted to buy them. They don't pay much, as a general rule, but sometimes they do, and they pay for shipping. I came up with about $40 worth of stuff that I'll send to Amazon, and they'll deposit a gift certificate in my account. It makes me feel less guilty about all those ebooks I buy . . .

I filled a big bag for one of the charities that comes through the neighborhood periodically, and I also put a few things on eBay. Oh, and I sold my Bluetooth keyboard on Amazon, about 30 minutes after I posted it. I just found that I didn't use it as much as I thought I would (not at all, really), so I priced it at 5 cents less than the lowest price, and it sold. It'll be out the door tomorrow, along with a package of rubber stamps and the box of books for Amazon.

It makes me feel like I'm accomplishing something. I probably would have done more, but my back scared me this evening. I got a twinge that let me know I needed to stop, or I was going to throw my back out. I definitely don't want to do that, even more than normal, because Bob's out of town. It's happened a few more times when I move, change position (sit or stand), but I think it'll be okay as long as I quit the bending and lifting. I've got a big pile of stuff that needs to go to the basement, but I won't do it tonight. I'll leave it for another day, or maybe next weekend if my back doesn't feel better. I'll take some ibuprofen when I go to bed tonight.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Going like hotcakes

Bob is in a fishing tournament tomorrow, and he was down in the basement getting his fishing stuff together and I went down to tell him something. I was looking around and saw my old rubber stamps -- he had said something about them the other day, about whether I was ever going to use them again, and if I should sell them. I kind of hated to, but I haven't used them for years, and I don't imagine that I ever will. So I hauled a box of them upstairs, took photos, and started posting them on eBay. I had a bunch of Winnie the Pooh stamps, and I apparently was posting them at the same time that a Winnie the Pooh fan was searching for rubber stamps, because I coudn't post them fast enough. As soon as I posted one, she would buy it. She must have been sitting there on my page, refreshing it every couple of minutes. She ended up buying ten twelve of them. I still have a bunch to post, although probably not any more Winnie the Pooh ones, but I stopped because I hit the 50 free auction limit. I'll wait until the weekend and post some more, after the first of the month when they're free again.

If anyone is interested in rubber stamps, there are still a bunch up there, and more to come. willaknits is my eBay handle.

Monday, May 28, 2012


Bob had to work all weekend, but since he went in early today, he got off at 3:00. When he got home, he said, "How about going out for a drink and appetizers somewhere to celebrate Memorial Day?" We hadn't done that for awhile. He had originally suggested Joe's Crab Shack, but I told him that I had eaten a late lunch and wasn't hungry, so we ended up at On The Border for Margaritas and queso.

We sat and talked for awhile, then ran a couple of errands and came home. Later in the evening, after dinner, we went out and drove through Dairy Queen for ice cream, then drove around while we ate it (a chocolate malt for him and a strawberry cheesecake Blizzard for me). We laugh at ourselves sometimes, say that we act like old people, but we enjoy doing small things together. I'm so glad that we still enjoy each others' company. It's a blessing.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Things you can do today to improve your happiness

I have a tendency toward depression, and while I try not to talk about it too much, I find that keeping things inside makes everything feel worse. I was having something of a bad time this weekend, and did a few of my tried-and-true happiness boosting tricks, and thought I would write some of them down here.

It mostly comes down to do something. I'm not going to suggest that you get out and exercise. I don't do that, either. But I do find that just getting up and actually doing something will improve things tremendously.

Clean something. A drawer, a closet, the bathroom, the kitchen sink. Some happiness gurus suggest that just making your bed will improve your whole day, or there is the Fly Lady axiom of cleaning your kitchen sink as the last thing you do every day. I don't always make the bed, and while I don't leave dirty dishes lying around, having a sparkling sink doesn't do a lot for me. What helps me is throwing stuff away. It's really hard for me to do, but going through a drawer and tossing useless stuff, or cleaning out a pantry shelf and throwing away expired food makes me feel like I've accomplished something.

Also, it drives me nuts to have a bunch of stuff on my computer desktop, or have my email inbox full of junk. I try to clean both my desktop and my inbox every day. It makes me less crazy.

Eat something. Even if you aren't hungry, don't forget to eat, and pay attention to what you eat if you have a tendency toward low blood sugar. I found that out the hard way a couple of weeks ago when, stressed and upset, I had chocolate milk and a granola bar for breakfast and nearly passed out at the beauty salon.

Sell something on EBay. I was cleaning out a closet and found a twenty year old "Epilady" that I used maybe once. I saw that the same item was selling on eBay for around twenty five dollars. I priced mine at $24.95 and it sold within a couple of hours, and now I have some money in my Paypal account to do something fun, like buy breakfast at Wendy's on my way to work.

Make something. I have an Etsy store, so I have an outlet for selling the things I make. You can do that, too, but even if you don't sell what you make, the act of making something is worthwhile and will boost your spirits. Last night I had an idea of making a beaded badge holder lanyard. I made it, took photos of it, and posted it on Etsy. Then I posted a photo and the link on my Facebook page, and someone bought it this morning.

Read something inspirational. I spent some time this morning reading David Alchuter's blog and it inspired me to write this blog post. Do NOT read something depressing. I would advise against reading the news. Or you could always look at some cat videos, like this one. Or there's always this one.

Get some free stuff. I love keeping track of the free Kindle book blogs. Keeping my Kindle full of Books makes me feel rich. I don't download every free book, but if it sounds like something I might enjoy, I do. Unless it's a topic that I'm sure I will want to read about, I don't usually download free nonfiction books. I don't need the guilt of seeing them in my library but not reading them.

Hallmark has a "Gold Crown" program where you get points for anything that you buy at a Hallmark store. I don't do much shopping at the Hallmark stores, but I do occasionally, and a couple of times a year I'll get a free coupon for $2 or $3. $2 will buy a package of stickers. It isn't much, but it's something, and I love getting things free. Oh, that reminds me, I filled up a loyalty card at Jason's a couple of weeks ago -- I could go there for a free lunch today! I think I will.

Get on some mailing lists, but only for things you love. Beauty Brands sends out emails showcasing their specials. Occasionally there will be a coupon for a free product with purchase, and a couple of times a year they send out a completely free $5 coupon good on anything in the store. $5 isn't a lot, and I know they do it to get you in the store, but hey, free $5! I got one a couple of weeks ago and bought a small (handbag size) tube of expensive handcream and only had to pay about a dollar for it.

Conversely, get OFF some making lists. If you're getting emails that you consistently delete, get off the list! Or set a rule in your email program that throws it away before you see it. Not having to delete junk mail will save you a few minutes every day, and a lot of aggravation.

Write something. Like this blog post. If you don't have a blog, write in a journal.

Keep track of something. I use Evernote as my adjunct brain. Use your smart phone to take photos of your prescription medications, and mail them to your Evernote account. I did that this morning. Save a conference schedule as a PDF and save it in Evernote. When you pay a bill online, take a screenshot of the receipt and email it to Evernote. It makes me feel efficient and is an easy place to find things, because I invariably get flustered when I'm trying to find something like a schedule or a list of medications. Evernote automatically syncs to any device that you have it on, i.e., iPhone, iPad, computer, etc., so once information is in there, it's available to you anywhere, and it removes some stress from your life.

Get out there and do something.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Things I love today


I read a book a long time ago that had a character in it who "only ate yellow food," i.e., Twinkies, bananas, macaroni and cheese. I fear I'm falling into the same rut, but I think it's kind of a comfort food thing.


One Republic "Secrets." I rented "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" last weekend from Amazon. It was an okay movie, not great, but this song played a couple of times, and I had to Google it and figure out what it was. I don't think I had ever heard it before, but it plays in my head now all the time.


Greyhound by Steffan Piper. I had noticed when this book came out, but never read it. It was the Kindle Daily Deal today, for $.99, so I got the sample, and before I even finished the sample, I went and bought it. It's a story about an eleven year old boy whose mother needs to get rid of him so she can keep her current boyfriend, so she puts him on a bus from California to Pennsylvania, where he is to live with his grandmother. The story is about his adventures on his cross-country bus trip. It's written in first-person in the boy's voice.

The Amazon Kindle app (check out Pixel of Ink and Books on the Knob for links to free Kindle books)

First day of a long weekend

We got today (Friday) off, making the Memorial Day weekend a four-day weekend; I've got my annual doctor's appointments and tests on Tuesday, so I won't be back to work until Wednesday. I kind of feel like I need a break, so I'm grateful for it, but being away from work always makes me feel nervous, like things are going to blow up while I'm away. I do my best to avoid that, and usually (always) check my email to be sure that things are going smoothly, but it still makes me anxious. I've been out quite a bit lately. I was at a conference for three days last week, then a one-day all day meeting on Wednesday. I've got "Word Camp," the Wordpress user group conference, next weekend, which I'm not thrilled about, but they always have them on weekends, I'm not sure why.

Anyway, I've felt like I've been away a lot, but I've also been learning a lot, so it's a good tradeoff, I guess.

I had a manicure first thing this morning. I'm getting my hair cut tomorrow, and I had originally planned to do them both on the same day, but my manicurist's son is in a track meet on Saturday in Jefferson City, so she asked if I could switch my appointment to today. That was fine, except that she wanted to do it at 9:00 a.m. Which didn't actually turn out to be a problem, because I woke up early and couldn't go back to sleep . . . That seems to happen a lot lately. I usually don't have any trouble going to sleep, but I wake up several times during the night, and inevitably I will wake up at 4:30 or so, lay there for a half hour, and finally get up, giving up on sleep for the rest of the night.

Maybe it's just a part of getting older, I don't know. And also, I lie there and worry, and everything seems so much worse in the middle of the night . . .

So, I had my nails done, got a quick lunch at Einstein Bagels, and came home and worked on some website projects. I was talking to the manicurist this morning about work, and said, what I need to do is write another book. She said, "you need to write another 'Fifty Shades of Gray.'" And I said yeah, or another "Twilight." It could happen.

Friday, May 18, 2012


I stopped at Chipotlé tonight on my way home to get something to eat. This restaurant is on two levels (just a couple of steps up, I guess), with an outdoor patio outside the upper level. I got my food, and went up to the upper level to eat. As I got there, I saw a little boy pushing open the door to the patio. I looked around, and there was no one on the patio, and no adults anywhere around.

I'm not good at estimating age, but this guy was little, maybe three years old. I asked him, "where's your mom?" and he just sort of gestured vaguely, and kept on pushing the door. I said, "You shouldn't go outside by yourself," and he said, "I get to pick the table." I said, "Well, you need to wait for your mom or dad.". He ran off, back to the main part of the restaurant, and I looked over and saw him being picked up by a man. The boy looked upset, and who knows what he said to his father. I thought I should say something, so I caught the man's eye and said, "I'm sorry, I just told him he shouldn't go outside by himself," and the man said, "no, no, you're absolutely right," but the woman with him, the boy's mother, I assume, kind of glared at me.

I felt kind of like I shouldn't have said anything, but there were several things that could happen to a little kid in the five or ten minutes it could take his parents to get through the line and join him. He could get his fingers crushed in the heavy door. He could fall on the concrete patio and split his lip. He could run into the street and get run over. And the one I was thinking of when I stopped him from going outside, he could get scooped up by someone who wanted a little boy, and no one would have any idea who happened to him.

So I don't actually feel guilty about saying something, but it did feel a little weird, and I was glad when they finished their meal and left. But not as weird as I would have felt if he'd been snatched, of course.

Thursday, May 17, 2012


I made a new custom icon so if you bookmark my site on the iPhone or iPad, it will have a cool little icon. :)

Here's how to do it: when you're viewing a site in Safari on the iPhone or iPad, hit the little bookmark icon (the square with the arrow in it) and choose "add to home screen." I'm not sure why (at least on my phone) the text label comes up as "Willa's Jour," but you can modify the text to be anything you want.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


I can't remember where I first heard about Birchbox. It's a subscription service that mails you a box of beauty samples for $10/month. I love samples, so I thought I'd try it. You have to get on a list, you can't just immediately subscribe, so you don't really have any control over when your name comes up. You have to claim your place within 48 hours once you're notified, so I guess if you don't, you can get on the list again.

My name came up for the May box, and after I signed up I saw that it was going to be a "Gossip Girl" box. That didn't interest me, and I wasn't real thrilled, but I figured I might as well try it anyway. It arrived last night. I hadn't seen what the boxes actually contained, so I thought maybe some other people would be interested in seeing an actual box. It was very nicely presented, like a gift, which I liked.

The product samples were:

Miss Dior Eau de Parfum
Kerastase Age Premium Bain Substantif (shampoo)
Algenist Firming & Lifting Cream (moisturizer)
Dior Extase Mascara
Kerastase Age Premium Masque Substantif (conditioning treatment)

I haven't tried any of them yet, but I'll definitely try the shampoo and conditioner. I'm a skincare snob, though, and never put anything but Clinique on my face, so I'm not sure if I'll try the moisturizer or not. It's a good-sized sample, maybe I'll try it on my hands. I almost never wear mascara, so I'm not sure if I'll use that or not. It will probably go in my drawer with all the Clinique mascara samples I've gotten over the years.

So, I wasn't terribly thrilled with this box, but I'm going to give it another month at least, and see what I get next month. For $10, it's kind of fun to get a surprise in the mail, and its interesting to see and try new things that I wouldn't otherwise know about.