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.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

This time around

This may be a TMI post—you’ve been warned! Also no pictures because that would be even grosser. 

My recovery from the sinus surgery has been weird to me, mostly because the whole process has been quite different from the previous seven major abdominal surgeries. And while I do recall having my tonsils out quite well, that was also different and done long ago when dinosaurs still roamed the earth.

For the most part, this has been a pain-free recovery. Sure, I was in some pain the first couple of days (and took the pain meds as I’d said I would) but I was done with them three days later. Alas, those meds weren’t done with me.

You can get really bound up from those drugs and so it’s recommended you take an over-the-counter aid to help move things along. But I’ve never really experienced that side effect before so I wasn’t too concerned. Since I was also taking antibiotics (which have the complete opposite effect on me), I didn’t think I would have any problems this time.  Boy was I wrong.

By Tuesday, it was clear my gut was in full on shut down mode. By Thursday, I was in so much gut pain that I couldn’t sleep and I kept breaking out in sweat as my gut spasmed. Friday (Christmas) I texted my mother who is a retired RN and pleaded for advice. It was so bad Christmas night that I was 80% sure I had a gut obstruction. As I tossed and turned in bed, and sweated and tried not to puke from pain, I was trying to figure out how the ER would treat me. I’d eaten a bit of food so I’d have to be intubated, only I just had sinus surgery so the NG tube couldn’t go up my nose. Plus I have mesh in my abdomen so I could not for the life of me figure out how a gut obstruction would be fixed—would the mesh just get cut? How would that work?

Saturday was still pretty bad, although I was able to take my mom’s advice and thought that maybe things were improving. By Sunday, I could tell that yes, I would live and my gut wouldn’t need drastic intervention.

Now add in all the irrigation and stuff I had to do. Basically I was a walking bio-hazard site for a couple of weeks. As I’ve mentioned to some friends, I put an ocean up my nose three times a day and I believe I killed an entire sub-continent’s worth of trees with all the tissues I used.

I have my second post-op visit next week. I will be curious to see what my ENT says about how much longer I can expect to have so much gunk in my head, and when I can stop with the ocean up the nose.

Monday, January 11, 2016

A (new to me) tool

Are you familiar with Pepperplate? It's an online recipe tool that lets you import recipes from a whole slew of sites or you can copy & paste your own recipes if you've got them either in soft copy or on a blog (like I do).

Then it will generate a shopping list, based on the recipes you select. You can arrange the shopping list so it matches the order in which you shop.

We just started using it and wow, I'm liking it so far. Although I can't import my recipes from my private recipe site, I was able to copy and paste them. It could not be easier.

I think this will replace Blue Apron for us. We liked the food and we liked trying new recipes, but it was sometimes awkward timing to get three meals' worth of food when really we had time to cook eggs. Pepperplate looks like it will give us some of the convenience we're looking for, without so much overhead.

If you try it, let me know what you think.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

A new year and more bags already

I finished this bag on Thursday—it’s for a friend who’s having her first baby (a boy) on January 18. She and her husband have decorated his room in a baseball theme so I carried that idea into the bag and on the two burp cloths.

They are both avid Royals fans, and I did look for Royals-specific fabric but couldn’t find any.

Although I pre-washed the denim, I'm still a little worried it might bleed when washed. I warned the parents-to-be, so hopefully they remember to wash it only with dark fabrics and in cold water.

I’m making another bag out of the same exterior fabric but a different lining. This is for a co-worker in India who helped me shop for some things when I was there last month and I want to thank her for it. I'll post those pictures as soon as it's finished. Then I need to ship it to India!

Friday, January 1, 2016

Of cats and calendars

Years ago, my mother gave me a cat calendar for Christmas that was amazing. The pictures were of feral cats taken in Greece and I was entranced by the light and the composition of each month’s picture. To be honest, I’m not even sure when this started although it was before Kent and I started dating—I know this because I framed some of the photos from that first calendar and hung them in the apartment I lived in then.

I told her then that she could just give me the same thing everything for Christmas and I would be very happy. It’s hard to find cat calendars that aren’t stupidly cheesey or overly cutesy but this one was fantastic. And over the years, she’s done exactly that. I think there was one year where she couldn’t find a version, but mostly I’ve been able to hang a calendar of amazing feral cats in Greece on my wall every year.

This year she told me I wouldn’t be getting one, and I’ll admit I was bummed. But what I didn’t know is that while she was in Greece, she had been taking photos of the feral cats there. And she created a calendar for me with those photos, along with some from her sister (the aunt for whom I’m named), and a friend who traveled with my folks.

I love this calendar, not only because of the photos but because of what my mom did. She told me she thought of me the whole time she was there as she was taking those photos. I think this ranks right up there with the most thoughtful and loving gift my mom’s ever given me.