Sunday, February 7, 2016

Suitcase details

My friend Paula had asked me about how the laptop sleeve works in the Standard suitcase I bought late last year. As I told her, I haven’t used it that way yet but that’s mostly because both times I’ve used it, I’ve been on trips that were a week plus long and I used a laptop backpack in addition to the suitcase.

But I thought it might be helpful to share what it would look like using the sleeve with two different laptops. This is picture heavy but should give you a sense of how everything would fit together.

For reference, I’m 5’5”. I “filled” the suitcase with enough blankets that I had to squish to zip it shut (which is how I also pack—I rarely use the extension feature on any suitcase). The last pictures show you the two laptops with a yard stick for reference.

If you have other questions, let me know and I’ll answer in the comments.

First two are with my work laptop, which has an extended life battery that sticks out the back a bit.

Next two are with Kent's laptop, which is thinner but larger in length and depth.

A couple of photos of me carrying the bag that shows the depth of the bag when worn as a backpack.

From the rear (I forgot to close the bottom zip, which is why you see a lighter blue "line").

Laptops with a yard stick for dimensions:

And a bonus photo of Eddie, who likes to be in every picture:

Monday, February 1, 2016


I swear I’m not Cinderella—I wear a respectable 7.5 in my street shoes. But holy cow it’s hard to find shoes I can use for cardio workouts. I have no meat on my feet, they’re narrow plus I have long-ish toes. I’ve now bought and returned four pairs of shoes with a fifth pair ordered.

Here’s a photo of my running shoes on the left, cardio shoes on the right.

My running shoes are Brooks, I love them but because I had to size up to accommodate my toes, I also have to wear thick running socks.

The cardio shoes are Mizuno, and I got them nine, maybe ten years ago. They were fantastic and would still be fantastic today only as with the running jacket I mentioned here, they were damaged in our flood. Unfortunately, while the restoration process made them look great (super white!), the leather also shrank and now they pinch the toes on my left foot.

Now you might say hey, that flood was nearly seven years ago. What gives, why haven’t you replaced them already? Oh I’ve tried. And then I would focus on running and sort of ignore these shoes.

But when it’s below 20F out or there’s any snow or ice, I don’t run. I am not at all interested in falling and breaking a hip. I also turn to cardio when my aerobic fitness needs a boost, which is the case this year. Hence the not-all-that-sudden urgency.

I’ve tried Asics, Nikes, New Balance and a current version of Mizunos. They are all much too wide, so much so that socks won’t fix it. Next up is a pair of Rykas. In the meantime, I’ve put a shoe tree in the left shoe in hopes that the shoe might stretch just a tiny bit. A girl can dream.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

When it pays to pay

I bought this running jacket in 2007 and paid $75 for it. At the time, I was outraged at the price--$75 for a glorified windbreaker? Was I certifiably insane? But I needed a running jacket because I am incapable of running on a treadmill. I either run outside in all kinds of weather or I don’t run at all, so when the temp heads south, I need a jacket.

I’ve worn this jacket for nine years of cool and cold weather running. It survived our flood in 2009 and the harsh chemical restoration process to remove all the nastiness left by that flood. I’ve washed it too many times to count, and line dried it on hangers, draped over a towel rack or a shower rod. I’ve rolled it up to take on trips across the country and around the world, and it’s been a champ.

Here we are nine years later with a jacket that still does what it’s supposed to do. Sure, the Nike swoosh is pretty much gone. But look at the reflecting detail across the chest—that’s still reflecting. The zipper still works. Sweat somehow magically gets wicked out (I have no idea how that works, I just know that it does), and it makes a great outer layer with two running shirts underneath when the temp gets below 30F.

If I did a cost per wearing, I’m confident I’d be in the pennies at this point. So maybe this is a good example for me to keep in mind when I say I want fewer items of higher quality clothing.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

In memory

My former sister-in-law died a week ago yesterday. She’d had cancer, been able to recover from the first round of it but not the second round. She was 59 years old.

I first met Renee when I was 19 and newly married to one of her brothers. She was also newly married and had gotten married in a field the previous summer. If you knew her, you’d know that that’s how she was: she lived a quiet life, as close to nature as she could get and wasn’t all that interested in the more conventional trappings of success.

She and her husband ended up having six children, I believe. I wasn’t married to her brother any more by the time she had the last two but thanks to the ubiquitous nature of Facebook, she and I reconnected and I learned of her children and her grandchildren.

I last saw her at a family wedding Kent and I went to nearly three years ago. She looked great—this was after she’d gone in remission for breast cancer—also happy and fulfilled. It was good to catch up with her and I was able to tell her that I had lots of fond memories of our time as sisters-in-law.

Renee’s funeral was today. I’m sure her brother, my ex, was a mess. He was closest to her of all the siblings so it’s got to be hard. I didn’t go (obviously) but she’s been on my mind, she and her children ever since I learned of her death last week. My hope is that her children are comforted by knowing how much she loved them.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

And another bag

Here’s the second finished bag of 2016. As with the first one, the outside fabric is a very dark blue, almost black denim. And also as with the first one, that dark color wants to rub off. This time when I turned the handle right side out, I wore my dish washing gloves to protect my fingertips and you should have seen the ends of those yellow gloves. I'm sure I looked ridiculous but hey, it worked and kept the dye off me and on the fingertips of my yellow dish washing gloves.

The lining is fabric I got from a fabric stall in Walthamstow a couple of years ago. I read the blog Did You Make That? and the author is from Walthamstow; she wrote a post about finding fabric there. So off we went, and here’s one of the pieces of fabric I got. It’s got a border—the pink stripe—and although I didn’t photograph it, I matched up that stripe perfectly. Too bad it’s on the inside or everyone could see it.

This is probably my seventh time making this Amy Butler pattern. While I'm tired of making this particular bag, it's always well-received and the recipients have uniformly told me how much they love their bags. It's hard to argue with that kind of success.

Monday, January 18, 2016

So last century

Years ago, my mom owned the very earliest of Jane Fonda’s workout routines on VHS. I benefited from her collection and ended up using not only the ones she didn’t care for but others I bought for myself. I’ve always liked working out at home and not having to take time to get to a gym or—back in the day—find childcare.

But over the years, my tapes pretty much wore out and then of course, technology changed and everything was on DVD. Except for my favorite Jane Fonda workouts. So I found new workouts, some I liked a lot and some I thought were awful.

I checked off and on to see if those Fonda workouts ever were available on DVD and lo and behold, a couple of years ago they were. I didn’t get them then, mostly because I had a good rotation of other DVDs I liked and also partly because well can you ever really go home?

Last week I decided what the heck. Amazon had three of them available as a bundle and so I clicked that order button and here they are.

They aren’t remastered, so the quality isn’t as high as they used to be and the volume is a bit on the low side. But I have to say that the production values are good and best of all, the workouts are as I remembered—well worth doing.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

It's freezing here today

We had a little snow last night, maybe two inches, but it's too cold to actually snow much. Our high today is supposed to be 12F but I don't think we're going to make it. Tonight, we drop to 0 so it's time to add extra blankets to the bed.

When it's cold like this, our kitties tend to snooze and snooze. Wally, being as photogenic as he is, gets in some pretty cute poses.

Even Chloe snoozes more, and that's saying something for my sweet old girl. Pay no attention to what appears to be a grumpy face. She's quite happy on top of the blanket throne, and it even goes well with her fur.