Saturday, May 21, 2016

I blinked and it's almost June

Life has been a blur lately, so much so that I was startled to realize I haven’t posted in two weeks. I’ve written a lot of posts in my head but haven’t had a hot minute to toss those thoughts onto paper, let alone post here.

See the hole by the step?
Our yard is out of control. We did get some annuals planted—and also realized something’s made a home under our porch. I suspect ground squirrels, the ones that look like chipmunks, or maybe regular mice. I doubt it’s bunnies, but honestly the amount I know about bunnies is miniscule.

Welcome to the jungle
And the back yard? Is nothing but a jungle. We’ve had so much rain that even if we had a spare moment, it’s too muddy to get out there and do anything. We’ve actually debated trying to hire someone to come in to pull weeds but we’re too busy to even make those calls or ask for recommendations. Kent did get out last weekend and pull weeds until our yard waste bin was full (I worked both Saturday and Sunday). We’re going to try the same approach tomorrow; it was dry today and will be tomorrow too, so now’s the time.

We also planted our herbs and Kent being the wild, crazy optimist, included cilantro. And it's growing!!

I made a quick trip to Chicago to see one of the vendors my company uses—out on Wednesday and back on Thursday. That made me realize how much I miss traveling for work (I know I sound crazy but I do).

Kent’s birthday is this Wednesday, and I have a work dinner that night. Then Friday we fly to Miami for a couple of days of unplug time. I was hoping it would be gloriously sunny but so far the forecast isn’t bringing much joy. Jordan’s joining us—before inviting him, I did warn him we plan on being beach/pool slugs and doing not much of anything besides reading (City of Mirrors comes out on May 24, it’s the third book in a series by Justin Cronin and I am not kidding when I say I have been anticipating this for nearly a year, since I finished the second book). He was still interested in coming so that’s pretty cool.

What have you been doing?

Saturday, May 7, 2016

My dad's pretty smart

When my folks were here a couple of weeks ago, my dad talked quite a bit about water. He’s always been interested in water and water policy, and has always said that the good health we enjoy here in the US can be tied to our water supply getting cleaned up. In 2003 when SARS first made the news (remember SARS?), he said then that he’d bet real money that the spread of SARS would end up being traced to contaminated water in Hong Kong. He was right.

As you might remember from your college science classes, our planet is pretty much a closed system (opens as a PDF). The various components we have are what we’ve got to work with, and that includes water. I’ve always been puzzled how it is that some places run out of water when the amount of water stays roughly the same.

But when Dad was here a couple of weeks ago, he pointed out what happens when people drink from a bottle—whether it’s water or soda or juice—and don’t finish the bottle. What do you do? You put the cap back on, right? And toss the bottle with the remaining water or liquid trapped inside. So that water is effectively removed from our system. Multiply that by a bazillion people around the world who drink bottled drinks and you can see how our closed system might be losing water.

I knew my dad was a smart cookie but I have to say that simple comment about capping bottles* opened my eyes.

I started thinking about the vegetable waste we’ve been tossing in the trash—that vegetable waste is full of moisture and we haven’t been letting it get back into the system. We don’t put it down the disposal because our kitchen sink plumbing has a severe hairpin turn under the floor of our basement, and we’ve clogged the snot out of that pipe with predictably disgusting results. So we’ve been tossing carrot peels, strawberry tops, and all the rest of that kind of stuff in the trash.

Ready for the compost bin
So a day or so after my folks returned home, I started carting those bits of vegetable matter out to the closest of the three compost bins in our backyard. Now I will say, the previous owner did a lot of gardening and she clearly used those compost bins (and took the compost with her when she moved). We, on the other hand, have done nothing with them. I’m not sure we’ll do anything with the resulting compost except think of it as a buffet for the bunnies and squirrels in our yard. But at least this way, that moisture from the vegetable rubbish will be back in our closed system.

*The water bottle in the photo is probably four years old. I refill it every night and use it to fill up the cat fountain.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

May's cat

Here's the gorgeous May cat photo!

Monday, May 2, 2016

No guts, no glory

I decided that I should go ahead and sew something up this weekend, even though I didn’t lose my job. I struggle sometimes in finding the time to do creative things like sewing, especially if I’m not 100% positive I’ll get a wearable item out of the time and money I spend on it.

In this case, I was inspired by another sewing blogger who wrote about yet another blogger who suggested that using up fabric already purchased is a Very Good Thing. I’ve got, well not a lot but enough fabric that I could make a fair number of items without having to go to the store. And I’ve got plenty of patterns on hand.

Then Friday night Kent and I were at Nordstrom’s Rack and I found an Eileen Fisher dress that I liked but it didn’t really work on me (I am short waisted so sometimes dresses hit me at the wrong place on my hips). As with so many of Eileen Fisher clothing, the lines were long and elegant with a minimum of embellishment; it was a tank dress but was fluid enough to also feel like a column dress. I’ve had some lovely black with white polka dot silky knit for a few years now and thought I could probably create my own version of the Eileen dress.

But that meant winging it for this dress because I started with this pattern. It's intended for for woven fabrics, not knits. But I thought  hoped I could make it work anyway and I liked the overall lines of the dress.

The pattern calls for a zipper, which I didn’t include. The knit has enough give that it wasn’t necessary. I also didn’t include the ties in the front; instead, I used elastic stitched from the wrong side to create a tiny bit of gather under the bust. I didn’t gather it a lot because I want the dress to flow and was also concerned that it would look a bit like a maternity dress if I did.

Here’s the finished product—the photo doesn’t capture the fluid drape of the dress and in fact I think it looks a bit sad sack. But it doesn’t in real life.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

What $2k looks like sitting on my nightstand

Or cause≠ correlation≠ coincidence

Remember the low frequency hearing loss I had? The loss that had been going on for sure for nearly three years and most definitely since 2010 and probably earlier than that?

It’s gone. Vanished, kaput, bye-bye.

I saw my audiologist in early March because I thought my right ear was getting bad (original loss was in my left ear). So he ran a hearing test on both ears; much to everyone’s surprise, my left and right ears both register as normal now. I asked if it were possible that this change was because of the sinus surgery. Nope, he said, not possible. And the reason my right ear seemed as though it might be losing hearing was because my left ear was now over amplified.

He was leaning toward a different diagnosis and asked if I had any tinnitus or ringing in my ears. Of course, I said. Listen, you don’t perform the 1812 Overture with live howitzers year after year and not get some tinnitus—never mind that I’ve fronted rock bands too. That kind of music comes at a price.

So he had me go without my hearing aid for a month and then return to be retested. That was a couple of weeks ago and not only do I not have the low frequency hearing loss in the left ear, the tiny incremental loss I’d had in the very upper register is also gone.

Both my ENT and my audiologist still swear that this change has nothing to do with the sinus surgery I had in December, no how no way.

Now my fancy pants $2000 hearing aid sits in this dry caddy tucked away in my nightstand, and that’s where it will stay unless something changes. I am to get tested again in about six months and we’ll see where things stand.

Edited to add that I'd rather have it sitting there in a caddy than need to wear it. 

Friday, April 29, 2016

Things I would have done this week if I'd been laid off

We had layoffs and a reorg where I work on Tuesday.

We'd known this day was coming (and in fact the rumor mill had offered up several, earlier days this might happen) so it wasn't exactly a surprise. The scope across the company was a little shocking although not totally unexpected.

Earlier in the year, I'd rated my chance of being laid off at greater than 60%. As we moved into spring, I dropped that estimate to about 40%, then 30%. No one is truly untouchable when reorgs happen, so that chance will never drop to zero. In this case, I didn't lose my job. Within my organization (at the VP level), we lost three in total. Across the company, the press release says we eliminated 13%. And although layoffs aren't personal, they feel that way.

So all of this happened on Tuesday (that's the magic day at my company, the Tuesday before a  payday, which makes things easier from an accounting perspective). Monday night I told Kent that if I got let go the next day, I was going to start weeding the back yard, and I would be cutting out a dress I've wanted to make for months (and have had the fabric for it now for no joke a couple of years)--I had a long list.

But I didn't get let go. Once the layoffs were over, I talked with all my direct reports to reassure them, tell them that our team was intact and that the layoffs were over. Now we are all trying to move forward because there's still so much work to be done. I expect next week will be a little better for us all.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Vanity Fair—a third bag

I’ve made this bag three times now—the first time was for me and I’m not sure I ever posted about it. I made it out of a grey fabric that looks like (but isn’t) linen. I didn’t realize at the time, but I actually made it up wrong. You can see the way it’s supposed to look in terms of how it’s pieced together on the outside here, on the pattern envelop.

And here’s the one I made for myself. See the difference? The pattern has the pieces stitched directly under the handles while the one I made for myself has the pieces meeting in the center.

To be honest, I prefer it this way but when I cut out the one for my friend (posted about here), I followed the directions and pieced it together as intended. I was pretty confused as I was sewing it up because it was so different; I had to go get out my own bag to see what I’d done.

I’ve made a third version for another friend. She’s a creature of sunshine stuck in very overcast Ohio so I picked bright fabrics for her and used the same sunny yellow fabric for the lining as I did for the bag I made earlier this year.

I’m not sure if I’ll make this bag again. As with a lot of independent pattern makers, this one gives some pieces and then tells you to cut out a strip in given dimensions. That bugs me, and I think it’s an unfortunate short cut because honestly? I need a pattern piece. Yes, I can (and did) trace out my own but still for the price of the pattern ($10), I want all the pieces.