Tuesday, December 30, 2014

What problem are you trying to solve?

One of the first questions I ask clients is the title question: What problem are you trying to solve? So many times, they haven’t thought it all the way through so just by asking, we can get a better understanding of the situation. Of course I follow up with a lot of other questions too, but those aren’t the point of this blog post.

See, I wear PJs to bed—not nightgowns or long shirts, but PJs with pants-like bottoms. Except the legs always get twisted and ride up and generally are a pain in the ass leg. To date, all I’ve done is look for better PJs but haven’t solved the problem of the bunchy legs.

The other day at work, someone mentioned that she wears leggings to bed, ones that are like long johns, and I realized those could solve my problem of bunched up bottoms. Today, while out running a quick errand over lunch, I found these Cuddl Dud bottoms. I promise I won’t wear them out in public but I do think they’ll do really well for me at night, with no bunchy legs.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Unintended consequences

We bought a second cat bed to go with the cushion on the file cabinet between our desks, and the cat bed that takes up about a third of the real estate on my desk. We hoped that this second bed would provide a third safe, comfy spot for kitties to claim. Right now it’s on the window seat in the office and ultimately it will go on one of the shelves in the built in portion of the window seat.

Eddie claimed it right away, which pleased us—at least until Wally began hissing like crazy at Eddie and only at Eddie. We are perplexed and can only think that the new bed has an odor Wally finds offensive. We think if that’s the case, the odor has transferred to Eddie and now Eddie smells the same. The hissing and growling has been going on since Saturday and it’s taking a toll on poor Eddie. I’m sure it’s not easy for Chloe or really for Wally either, and it’s definitely hard for us.

In other cat news, while all of this hissing drama was going on, the cat that sometimes hangs out on our air conditioner condenser popped up there Saturday night and banged on the office window! Eddie happened to near that spot as was hissing Wally and wow did they get all riled up. I have no idea what the other cat was doing, but yesterday when taking this picture of Eddie in the new bed, I realized that other cat had hit the window hard enough to leave a smeary little paw print.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Ho ho ho!

I am part of a group of eight women friends who mean the world to me. We are a mix of virtual and face to face friends; I knew one in high school and I’ve met two others in real life. The meeting in real life or not as the case may be doesn't seem to have stopped us from becoming friends. We share so much with each other and offer advice, encouragement and best of all, non-judgmental listening ears when any of us are going through tough times.

Last year we had our first ever Secret Santa gift exchange. The dollar limit is low by design—we’re not going for bling or best gift ever, we are going for ways to show the affection we share, demonstrate some creativity and maybe brighten someone’s day. For our first gift exchange, I drew Magpie’s name and sewed up one of the bags I tend to make (you can see a photo here).

This year, I drew her name again! Well I wasn’t going to make her another bag; that’s a little too one trick pony, don’t you think? I had a sense of the kinds of clothing she likes and decided to make her a kind of a vest. Hancock’s cooperated by have patterns on massive sale the weekend after Thanksgiving, which kept the costs down. Otherwise I’d have had to franken-pattern an existing pattern since my friend and I are not the same size.

I picked Butterick 5359, view A (shown in green in the line drawings) because I thought the way the front seams angled down suited my friend’s style. And I used some lovely I don’t even know what to call it but it’s gorgeous and has a lot of colors in it. I’d originally bought it to sew up another New Look jacket, but didn’t because I thought one was enough for now. Then I used a bit to make a bag for another friend, which left me with not a whole lot of fabric. This picture really shows the fabric.

Then I pinged the one friend who’s met both of us face to face to get an idea about the proper size. I figured since Harriet had met me and Magpie, she could offer some relative size guidance. And this wasn’t intended to be a super fitted vest, I had my fingers crossed. I pieced it together from the fabric that was left and here’s the results on my dress form:

If I draw her name again next year, I’ll speak up. She’s been inflicted with enough of my sewing!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Sounds of the season

What is your favorite Christmas song? Mine stay fairly constant year in and year out, and are almost always traditional. Past contenders have included Breath of Heaven, usually a version of Carol of the Bells and if it’s particularly clever, then something traditional done with a twist.

My top three this year fall mostly in the traditional category.

First up, this amazing a capella version of Carol of the Bells by the group Straight, No Chaser. Their voices and harmonies give me goose bumps every time I hear it.

Next is this non-traditional version of O Holy Night. I can't exactly put my finger on why I love this version so much; maybe it's the way the line  and the soul felt its worth comes out. I am moved every time.

Finally, the one everyone’s been talking about—Mary, Did You Know? Pentatonix did this and if you aren’t familiar with their music, go Google them on You Tube and prepare to be amazed. I also like this song and this one.

And just for fun, here’s Straight, No Chaser’s version of the 12 Days of Christmas—makes me laugh every time.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

No pain!

You guys! After nearly six months of headaches, and two rounds of antibiotics, and way more Musinex than I ever thought a person could take, I have no headache today. This is huge, amazing and wonderful progress. I think I am finally free of a sinus infection I never quite realized I had.

Better living through pharmaceuticals, I say!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

It could have been me (and very nearly was)

This morning, I stopped by the store on my way to physical therapy. I needed some razors and toothpaste and Walmart was on my way to the PT office. I picked up my items and headed to the checkout line. There was a woman being checked out and a man in front of me so I wouldn’t have too long to wait or so I thought. But there was a problem with the woman’s order. We waited, there was conversation, we waited, some people went off to the one other line open at that time of day, we waited, the customer service woman came over and then much discussion occurred.

I finally realized that the woman trying to check out was paying with food stamps or whatever they’re called today, only one of her items didn’t qualify and neither the cashier nor the customer service woman could figure out what it was. People were getting impatient, the customer was clearly uncomfortable and I realized so was I but not because of her.

You see, years ago when my ex and I first returned to the States with two small children and no jobs, we’d had to go on food stamps. It was a necessity but completely humiliating and eye opening to me. I can remember like it was yesterday being the one at the grocery store checkout line, getting my order rung up. I was in nice clothing because I’d just had a job interview, and I had to pay for my non-food items with a $100 bill—the only cash to our names and it had been given to us by a family member. The judgment from the other people in line and the cashier was obvious and complete. I couldn’t wait to get out of that place.

Then fast forward shortly after my divorce was final—I had no job, no money and a lot of debt. I tried then to get on food stamps or some sort of assistance but was denied because I owned a four year old car. I knew if I sold the car. I would have money for a little while but then I’d be trapped with no way to get to any work I would be able to find. That was, no joke, a very dark time for me.

So this morning I could feel tears just under the surface as I watched the scene play out. I asked the cashier how much was owed, and it was under $5, a small amount to me today. I handed over my credit card and told the customer that I’d been in her shoes and I knew it was a hard place she was in.

I’m not sharing this to say wow I’m sure a great person. I’m sharing it because it’s so easy to judge others. I have nothing in common with that woman today, but I do know how it feels to need public assistance and how it feels to be judged for that need. I hope I brightened her day today and didn’t add to any shame or judgment she feels. I hope that most of all because that’s worth more than $5 in my opinion.

Monday, December 1, 2014

A look back

Kent's been taking our group family pictures at Thanksgiving for five years now. While he took pictures in 2009 and 2008, he didn't have his remote clicker which meant no group photos like these.

You can see the kids grow and change and you can also see how incredibly good Kent's gotten with his photography.