Sunday, May 29, 2016

A Beautiful Life

So many things going on in my life, it's enough to make my head spin, and yet so little to report.  The weather has been beautiful here in Mid-Michigan the past couple of weeks, although it is a bit too steamy for my personal preference today.   The nights until now have been fairly cool, my ideal weather -- sunny and warm enough for shorts and tees in the daylight and cool enough for good sleeping weather at night.

I have been sewing again, a little.   I've made a couple of nighties that I love, using the Love Notions downloadable "Laundry Day Tee" pattern -- a pattern that rightly claims that you can make the top faster than you can do the laundry.  On top of that, the pattern was free, just for joining their Facebook group, and I do love me some free.   I am not that good a seamstress and my machine is not a consistent or reliable tool, so I have not trusted my creations as something I can wear in public, but I love making them a little longer and wearing them as nighties!
 I've made several pair of fleece socks, too, just for fun and as a scrap buster.  A simple project, I will teach my nearly-ten-year-old granddaughter how to sew these when we have a little spare time -- which is to say, after she is out of school for the summer!  She loves the idea of being able to create homemade gifts for her family this Christmas, and I love that idea, too!  I'm going to teach her how to use the burrito method to make pillow cases, too, as another fun gift she will be able to do more or less on her own.
Along those same lines, since I have been enjoying sewing, I have started to seriously look at the idea of buying a new sewing machine -- my fantasy in the beginning was to find something that I could grow and grow and grow into, with quilting and embroidery capabilities.  Now I am reconsidering and wondering whether a less ambitious machine would do me just as well.   As a result, I'm looking at machines ranging from a couple of hundred to a few thousand dollars.  I have looked so far at Janome, Husqvarna Viking, Brother and Bernina, and the Bernina and Brother models have been the ones most tugging at my greedy little fingers so far.  I know there is no one right answer, but I am hoping that some clear guidelines will start to reveal themselves because it has been confusing so far! I'm still collecting data, so I welcome any ideas or advice you might have!  :)

My personal life has changed, too, even more than my sewing.    Let's just say it is suddenly good.  Really, surprisingly, miraculously good.   I am happy in ways I  can't remember ever being happy before.   The kind of happy that makes me a little afraid to breathe, for fear it will all evaporate, since this isn't exactly my first rodeo.   But for sure, happy enough that I decided to think of some kind of gift to give the person who introduced me to the source of this recent happiness.  She likes to set people up by introducing them, and always teased that she would expect a gift basket if any of her 'matches' worked out.  I found a bracelet with a charm that says "unexpected miracles," and I'm thinking that's the perfect little thank you to send her way soon.    Because for sure, life is full of unexpected miracles, and it is nice for all of us if we can help them along from time to time.   I hope you are experiencing many unexpected miracles and joys of your own.  :)

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Sunny Days

I've been unable to post or check much of anything for the past week or so because my laptop had to go in for major surgery.   Being without it was real suffering, I tell you!   It is amazing (and a little scary) how much I depend on on-line endeavors during the course of my day.   I missed it a lot.

I have it back now, with a new logic board, and I hope it will work better now.   The laptop is nearly 3 years old and almost out of its extended warranty and it hasn't been right from the beginning.   It would be nice to have the kinks out before the warranty ends, but I suppose the odds of that are slimmer than I'd like.

Well, Kim, you are for sure my lucky 'winner,' not a huge surprise there!   I would have sent a little something to Laurie, too, but s/he was a no-reply blogger.    I'll gather up the package and get it in the mail sometime in the next week or so.   It makes perfect sense to me, you have been a most constant friend and bloggy companion for years of this journey, and I hope we be continue to be blogland friends for years to come.  :)

It is finally, finally Spring here, or so we hope.   The weather this weekend, after a week of snow and freezing temperatures, is mild and the sun is shining.   It is simply glorious.   Although it has been mostly in the 60's, we had one day in the 80's, almost warm enough for me to complain about the heat for a change!  My granddaughter and I noticed that the cardinals have never seemed quite so red, as if they, too, are going all out as we celebrate this marvelous weather.    My outdoor list of projects is already growing -- too bad I still haven't finished the list of indoor projects that were supposed to be done over the winter!   Instead of working on chore last weekend, the Littles and I played four-square and I took a couple of long walks --- and I don't have even a glimmer of regret.  :)

A friend and I have been eating at a vegetarian Indian "street food" restaurant this week -- the most delicious food, even though I had no idea what I was eating!   I stopped at an Indian grocer, too, and we've been snacking on a variety of spicy-salty chickpea treats.  I got some spices, too, and will experiment with a few simple dishes.  First up was okra stuffed with spices, which was absolutely delicious and not even a bit slimy like okra often is.   We loved it!   Next attempt will be a simple dal (lentil) dish.   I love trying to cook new foods, I don't do it as much as I used to, but the Littles are starting to be more adventurous so I can usually find someone to share my results.

I hope it is sunny in your world!


Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Michigan Spring and a Giveway

It snowed two nights ago and most of the next day.   I had to chip ice off my front porch earlier this week.  We had temperatures of 15 degrees last night.   When the sun came out, briefly, yesterday afternoon, I watched two bunnies and a dove eating birdseed in my backyard.  My tulips came up but have been nibbled back down to the ground.  Several more inches of snow were predicted for last night and today -- so far it's just freezing rain, but we'll see.  It has been a very cold and dreary week.  Another beautiful Michigan Spring.  :)  Time to make another pot of soup.

I found out that my favorite boss died yesterday, former Detroit mayor, Judge Roman Gribbs.   We worked together for thirteen years and did some temporary work together after that.  He was 90 and, the last time we talked, several months ago, he expressed so much gratitude for his life, his family, his wife.   Working with him for 13 years was the best job I ever had.   

I started my Blog almost 9 years ago, on April 11, 2007.   There have been so very many changes in my life since then.   I've moved to a different house in a different city and now I am working my way toward selling this house, too.   I've had good bosses and bad ones -- one very good and a couple very bad.   I've gotten out of a terrible relationship and spent a lot of time alone.  I've left two jobs and gained a bunch of new hobbies.   I got all three amateur radio licenses.  I learned to target shoot, climbed a rock wall, did some fly fishing and zipped on a zip line.   I joined a search and rescue group, ended up on the board of directors, and took national courses in search management and planning.  I made a bunch of crafts and cooked and baked a bunch of food.   Somehow, the less I've had to do, the busier I seem to have gotten.  I've met some really nice people.   I've gained and lost the same ten pounds over and over and over again.  I've discovered that I am still capable of loving someone again, which was something of a surprise, but also that loving someone doesn't require them to love me back.  I've seen one of my children move to Louisiana and back again to Michigan.   I've watched another child move from New York to Michigan and then to Louisiana.  I've added a lot more gray hair.  I've spent time with friends and siblings and done little bits of traveling.  I've enjoyed two grandchildren who are growing up way too fast, and gained a grand-dog.   Through these nine years my health has remained good enough to not complain about, and I've never gone hungry or been without a place to sleep.  Indeed, life is good.

I'm having a giveaway to celebrate my nine year blogivesary.    The way it looks now, the prize will include one of my favorite candles, a braided bracelet and a zipper pouch I made, and a button from my search and rescue group.
Just as with most of my life, there are no rules, only guidelines.   One thing for sure, once a winner is chosen,  I will be happy for you, whoever you are, whether you are a long time follower or someone brand new.  There is room in my life and my heart for both categories of people.   The prize will go to the random choice of whomever comments between now and April 11.     I hope it will be you.  :)

Friday, April 1, 2016

One Quarter Down, Three More To Go

April already, the year is a quarter done.   Where did the time go?   It flies by faster the older I get.   And I cherish the good times more and more.

My Grands were on Spring Break this week so we were able to find a little time for fun.  My granddaughter decided that she wanted to learn to make her favorite sweet treats, and one of those treats was a recipe that I have often made for them - lava cakes.   She came over one afternoon and we shipped them up for her to serve her family, who were appropriately impressed.   They are a simple cake to make with a great presentation since the little cakes cut open to reveal a flood of chocolate "lava."  She did a great job, to the satisfaction of all.  Too bad we gobbled them down too quickly to photograph!

She also wanted to start learning to sew, so she practiced on my machine by stitching paper mazes, first with just the needle, and then with thread so that she could see what happens when you forget to put the foot down or move the paper.   She finished her first practice session by making a little stuffed doll-size pillow and was proud as punch.   Next session she will make a little fox pillow from a cute piece of printed fabric that I ordered from Spoonflower -- they have so many cute projects on that site!   I have been eyeing the "it must be bunnies" fabric since one of my screen names is "bunny queen" . . . seems like something I ought to have, no?

I have owed my grandson a special day since his birthday last November, and this seemed like a very good week to get started on that.   So we planned a day at the new Legoland about an hour's drive away, with a visit to the nearly new aquarium at the same place, Great Lakes Crossing in Auburn.   All told, we spent 8 hours of fun.   We saw a 4-D movie, went on a shoot-em-up ride through Lego dragons and spiders, and saw the city of Detroit built entirely out of Legos.  There was a test area where kids could make vehicles and run them down a variety of test tracks,  pits of Legos for building, and a wall where kids could stick Legos to make a design wall.   But the coolest thing, from a 12-year-old's point of view, is that employees all wear a mini figure on their name badge and they are willing to trade; he brought several of his duplicates for just that purpose.   He enjoyed checking them out and making trades for figures he doesn't already have.   He came home with a Lego Trump and a Lego Batman.   Cool beans.


A friend and I went to see Batman v Superman -- the reviews weren't great but I love superhero movies so it was fun for me.    And of course there is always work to do with and for the search and rescue group, as we try to spread the word of the service we offer and to improve our skills so that we will be ready when called.

My backyard is flooded, it is definitely trying to be Spring here even though snow is predicted again this weekend.   I am still working on cleaning out closets and basements and need a handyman for a few repairs but am having trouble finding anyone who wants the work.   My goal is still to list my house and move this year, but it doesn't seem to be moving any closer to completion.   Still, there is no real urgency and I know it will happen in its own time.   For now it is enough to watch the bunnies pairing up in my back yard and enjoy what each day brings.  

Speaking of time flying by,  my 9-year Blog Anniversary is coming up this month.     It just doesn't seem possible that it was that long ago that I started journaling on line.    There will be a giveaway, of course --  I am a well established Slacker, but I'll try to get that up and running in the next week or so, so I hope you'll stay in touch!  :)

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Time Flu By

Yes, cough hack sniff headache, I do mean Flu.  It has been a busy couple of weeks and I was expecting to do a lot more, but the Universe had different plans for me.   I came home from my last adventure sicker than the proverbial dog, and it was several days before I was well enough to get up and go, much less o prepare a little food and get up for liquids.  I was just knocked flat.   As proof to you that I was really sick, I missed one of our Dominoes Competitions, a high point of my winter season.  And being sick when there were only 2 more Dominoes Sundays in the season, staying home for one of them, was heartbreaking.
But what a great week I had before I got sick!  I was fortunate enough to be included in the Air Force/Coast Guard Inland Search And Rescue Planning Course, a math-based course that teaches planning theory for cases involving lost aircraft or persons.  The logo on the patch and pin, which can only be worn by people who have earned this credential, portrays the symbolic albatross (good fortune) rescuing a symbolic dolphin (mariner).  Although I have been involved in search and rescue for a few years now, and have even acted as a planner's assistant in a few searches, much in this class was new to me.   Things like IFR/VFR aviation charts, and working in degrees-minutes-seconds and nautical miles instead of UTMs and kilometers.   I know, right?!  Exciting.   The 5-day class involved a lot of study and practice and then ended in a lengthy table-top exercise where teams conducted a mock search plan for a missing aircraft and two people.  Each team successfully recovered all of their targets and we were each awarded the national certification.   It was a lot of work and a lot of fun and I am hoping it will lead to our being able to help a lot more families.  I can't imagine the pain of having someone you love go missing.

Within 24 hours of feeling well again, we got word of a couple of missing people in our area of the state and started the inevitable frustrating process of trying to get local law enforcement to allow our well trained and free resource to respond.   No luck in the first case but thank goodness he was found -- not for several days during which the family was frantic, but at least he was found. 

The second person is still missing although we were finally able to offer some help on Day 5 and I was able to test-drive my new Planner credentials.   Even though we did not have the result we all hoped for, the family had the benefit of our support and of knowing that everything that could reasonably be done has been, at least unless new leads develop.  It is a terrible thing -- and far more common than most people realize -- when families have to go through this kind of suffering on their own without any trained assistance or understanding of what can be done.  Law enforcement generally does its best but is not trained or sufficiently staffed to do the amount of work that is needed.   Fortunately in this case, with the help of more than 100 civilian volunteers acting under our trained Command Staff and Field Team Leaders, we were able to search a very large area,  limiting the places their loved one is most likely to be, and the family was comforted by a wonderful display of community support.   And our search and rescue group made real progress with at least one local law enforcement community, which was surprised to learn that we are exactly as advertised -- trained to national standards, background-checked, insured, working under the authority of a county sheriff, and free.

I also conducted a wedding, in the middle of the search (as I watched one of our search teams walking by!), and have another one planned for the day before Easter.    After a gathering with my family, Easter will also mark the last Dominoes Day, so it will be another busy weekend!

But now I am snowed in with a friend in the middle of another Winter Storm -- about 7 inches has fallen and the ice is forming on top of that.   I made a pot of soup and am happy happy happy to be snug and warm for the next several hours!

But you should see my house and the piles of unwashed laundry -- what a mess!   Maybe next week will be calm enough to do some Housework Damage Control.  :)

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Weekend In Chicago

I just spent a fun weekend in Chicago!   Four full days of nothing but fun.    I traveled with a good friend and we went by train, a new experience for me.   I enjoyed the sounds and the swaying of the choo-choo as we traveled our five hour route, and loved watching the people and the scenery.   I will happily travel that way again!

Once in the Windy City (which was, by the way, REALLY windy!), we spent some time in the Apple store (our favorite place!) and then met up with half a dozen of my friend's family members.   We toured each others' rooms to see whose was the coolest (I did NOT win!), and had supper at Cantina Laredo, a Mexican restaurant that is way classier (and more expensive) than the ones in my town.    After that, the little kids went swimming at the hotel and the adults just enjoyed being together.   I got more than my 10, 000 steps in that day - and every day of the trip, for that matter.
First thing Saturday morning we piled into a van and drove to the Shedd Aquarium, beating the long lines that form by mid day.  The little kids (and I) got to pet a sturgeon -- way cool -- and we enjoyed seeing so many amazing sea creatures!    We spent half the day there, and then walked over to the Field Museum to explore Egypt and Greece and dinosaurs.  Later we stopped at Gino's for Chicago style deep dish pizza.   After supper some of us went window shopping before calling it a night.
On Sunday, Valentine's Day, the early risers enjoyed coffee together.    I got roses from my friend and his sister gave me a 'lucky' bracelet.   I felt lucky!   


Once the rest of the crew was up and ready,  we started the day at the Museum of Science and Industry.  I loved that place and, although we spent the whole day, I would have loved time for more.    Next time, that will be my first stop!
Then we shopped and shopped and shopped because it was on my friend's sister's Must-Do list.    We didn't buy anything but we saw lots of fun stuff!   We had supper at Billy Goat Tavern, the little burger joint that was the inspiration for the "cheezburger, cheezburger, no fries" skit on Saturday Night Live years ago.     It was snowing like crazy and the sidewalks were slick with ice, but there was no stopping us.
The rest of the group left for home early Monday morning but our train wasn't scheduled until 4:00 pm, so we had lots of time to shop and explore and visit another relative who lives in the city.   Near the end of our day, we stopped for tea at Starbucks and a homeless street artist did a sketch of my friend.   I loved it.   It looks nothing like him, but the man of mystery appealed to me, lol.
The train ride home was uneventful and a little less fun, both because it was dark for most of the journey and because we were done with our weekend.  
Arrival home was a peaceful event for me, but my friend's furnace had gone out so he arrived to house-temperatures in the low 20's and burst pipes.   We both decided we should have stayed longer in Chicago!    I hope we can do it again soon.  

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Organizing My Mind

January was my self-gifted Take-Off month, and I did pretty much nothing, just as I had planned.   February is my month to start to organize myself a little, and - because I was getting bored of Nothing - I have already started.   I am beginning to sort through all those old photos, separating them into Keep, Give Away, and Toss piles.  It looks like an endless job, but I've made a start and went through several hundred photos this weekend.     Only another 10,000 or so to go before I give up.
I sorted through my search and rescue and fly fishing corner, and got rid of the definite Don't Needs, which reduced (but did not really organize) the pile.   I haven't figured out yet exactly how to best organize that sort of hobby stuff.   There are lots more corners to go in my old 2-story farm-style house -- my hospice corner, and my printing corner, and my wedding officiant corner, and my radio corner, and . . . . -- but my Fantasy Goal is to be in shape to have a Realtor walk through at the end of February to give me some data to use for further decision making.   And as I've been telling people, I can hardly claim to be ready to move if I can't even get myself to do this first bit of organization. 

I've written a few letters this month, too, to catch up with people who I'd been out of touch with for quite some time.    A letter to a family-by-someone-else's-marriage woman who I haven't seen since her dad died over a decade ago.   A letter to an old co-worker from a couple of jobs ago.   I still need to write a letter to a law school classmate who I haven't seen in years and to a former sister in law.   And of course my regular pen pals can't be neglected either.   Although letter writing is certainly no hardship, it does take some time.

I've done a little (very little) internet research on some 'job' or volunteer opportunities, looking for ways I could hone my skills if I decide that I want to pursue some formal activity.   Too soon to tell, really, because I am enjoying the low stress, flexible time I am having so far.    I am sleeping til 8:00 am regularly, which seems to me very self indulgent, but I have to admit I like not waking to an alarm.

And I did my taxes, although I am not ready to finalize and send them in yet, to give myself a couple more weeks to watch the mail, just in case I've forgotten something.   My earned income gets smaller every year, so they get easier and faster to do.   I guess that's the silver lining.

So January has been a slacker month, but not a TOTAL slacker month.     Hopefully I can keep up my little bits of momentum and make February a month with a lot to report!

For those of you who have asked, Barbara at Three Cats Ranch gives a good overview of Redwork embroidery in one of her blog posts.    I don't know the origin of the needle nanny (I bet Barb does!) but I will look into it on one of my internet breaks.   The one thing I DO know is that I wanted the one shaped like a bunny because one of my screen names is Bunny Queen, but it was no longer available!