Tomorrow is December 1st. That means that, with this post I succeeded in my quest to fully participate in National Blog Posting Month for 2022. It’s a lot, you guys. Just like I knew that people had no idea how much work it was to create, film, edit, and release a weekly video podcast, unless you do it yourself you really have no clue the amount of time that goes into crafting daily content.
So, I’ll be back to my usual posting frequency starting tomorrow and I’m guessing your email will be a little lighter without one from me every day :-D
It’s funny – yesterday I mentioned never being sure what to say in certain situations, and the scripture in today’s Celtic Advent devotional was exactly this: “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer everyone.” I appreciated this :-)
It’s very windy here again, and has been since yesterday. It’s also cooled back off – temps in the 20s this morning when I headed to the club for my workout.
And finally, this is the current cross stitch project that I’m working on. It’s for a virtual cross stitch retreat that I registered for happening this weekend! The is the only pre-stitching I need to do. I had to get the design centered correctly – I think I was close. close enough for the project, at any rate.
I hope I can finish it in time. It’s not very large – I was actually sort of afraid I didn’t have a hoop small enough for it. This isn’t my favorite hoop, but it’s working for these purposes. I’m stitching with silks for the first time. I didn’t use any beeswax on the floss and I’m sort of wishing I had, but it’s too late now because I’m already about a third of the way done. I’ll be sure to show you the final project :-)
I heard this on the Christmas station this week. It’s so passionate. There’s an interesting story that goes along with it – I linked it below.
Yesterday I went into the city for my second 6-month check-up post-surgery. This one was with my surgeon and one of his residents. I won’t bury the lede too deeply – all remains well. :-)
It’s been a year since I was back at the Lurie Cancer Center at Northwestern. This center is the #1 cancer center in Illinois and in the Top Ten in the country. It includes the Lynn Sage Comprehensive Breast Center (where I get my annual boob-o-gram done), as well as the Maggie Daley Center for Women’s Cancer Care. It’s where Dr. Tanner’s office is. The waiting area was as I remembered it – low lighting, and women of all ages and races in various stages of cancer treatment. One of the things they do when you check in, is put a hospital bracelet on you. I’m guessing they do it across the board as a safety measure because there are so many patients with so many different reasons for being there. It does sort of keep people away from you on the train when you have one of these on . . .
I got there a little early and was actually seen before my scheduled time! First I met with the resident who asked me all the usual questions. She then reported back to Dr. Tanner and they both came back to talk to me and perform a quick pelvic exam. Top of the questions on both their lists was did I have any more bleeding or any pelvic pain. They were both happy to hear that I haven’t had either of those things. I told them that my pelvic floor physical therapy has been going well. The resident mentioned the sling operation that could take care of any leaking. I’m not keen to have a surgery that’s not medically necessary (I’m not keen to have any surgery ever again), but she assured me that it’s not a long procedure and is done under twilight sleep like my D&C was, so I’m keeping it in mind for the future.
I posted on my Instagram account where I have talked about my cancer journey about how grateful I am that I had a good check up and that I’m so thankful to be cancer-free. A woman who follows my account left a comment that she’s had six surgeries for endometrial cancer and she’s currently in remission for the second time. She said she never considers herself cancer-free. I felt sad to read her comment, and I was reminded – as I often am – how lucky I was that mine was caught so early and that it had not spread. I always hope that I say the right thing when I respond – most of the time I don’t know what to say when presented with a comment like hers. I just said I was sorry that it had come back for her and that I hoped she would stay in remission.
I’m a year on from one of the most challenging times of my life. I feel like it took me most of this year just to continue to process everything. Sounds kind of crazy that it could take that long to process it all, but when it happened it all happened so very fast, and then recovery was quite a journey. As I look back, I can see that I couldn’t truly focus on much else other than myself – my own health and wellness – for most of this year.
Onward I go – I just gave up my Tai Chi class to restart the Balance365 Coaching program. I know this is the best decision for me for a number of reasons, but I also know that I will miss Tai Chi. It’s my plan to keep it up much better during this break using the videos my instructor made. I can also take more advantage of my time at the health club to sort of fill the gap from Tai Chi. I’d really like to get back into the pool. I’ve held off because I’m anxious about being in the pool without a mask. I guess some folks do water aerobics with mask in place. I’m not sure that’s for me, but I’ll check it out.
What a year . . . at this time last year I couldn’t imagine regaining the strength that I knew I had lost, but I’m stronger now than before my surgery. I couldn’t imagine that it would take me so long to process everything to where I could get to the point of choosing my actions rather than just reacting to everything life was throwing my way. I was disheartened to be single again – that the man I was with then was not supportive of my cancer diagnosis. I happened to mention that at my appointment yesterday and they said that it’s far more common than you might think that a man beats feet when his partner gets a cancer diagnosis. Wow . . .
But I’m here – and in the words of the wonderful lyricist, Bernie Taupin, I’m still standing – better than I ever did (and if it wasn’t Christmastime I would use this for my tune of the day). And I’m pretty happy about it. :-)
I ran across this again a couple of days ago and it makes me laugh out loud every fricking time I watch it. I hope it brings brings at least a smile to you if not a couple of outright belly laughs :-D :-D
This is a group of high schoolers – and, of course, this is the Hallelujah Chorus
So, I went on Friday and got another timer for my Christmas lights. I wanted two, but they only had one. So I got the one and figured I could manage with it. Except it didn’t work. At first I thought my old school candolier 5-light candelabra lights were broken, which was bumming me out because I initially didn’t know if I could get any more of them. I can. Yay! But thankfully mine are OK – it was the timer that was the issue.
When I left the crank-in on the night of the 19th, this was what greeted me when I started the car.
I believe in Angel Numbers, and this is a major Angel Number! 3 is also “my” number. It’s what my birthdate boils down to, and I’ve always felt that it’s my lucky number. So – that’s a lot of 3s. Here’s what the Angel Number site that I prefer says about 3333 – you just multiply it a couple more times. It really resonated with me because I was just leaving an event where I had be very focused on my creativity, was in a social setting, and communicating with people all day long.
I figured I should look up 794, too. The piece of this that resonates for me is about endings and conclusions. Here’s what it says: “Angel Number 794 can also indicate the ending or conclusion of a situation, experience, relationship or career path/job. This ending will bring new ways of being and doing and will be to your long-term benefit. Move forward and create a better life for yourself. Focus upon both your long and short-term goals and consider ways to advance yourself along your path. There may be some additional education, research or study to be done or steps that need to be taken in order for you to achieve your goals and aspirations. Consider your options, make a plan and put your ideas into positive action.”
I’ve also been seeing Angel Numbers regularly throughout the past week.
1010 – a time of personal development, spiritual awakening and enlightenment
1111 – When Angel Number 1111 appears repeatedly it signifies that an energetic gateway has opened up for you, and this will rapidly manifest your thoughts into reality
1212 – a powerful sign that you are to step out of your comfort zone and take new directions and/or begin new projects and ventures that you have been wanting to do.
333 – (already discussed :-))
555 – suggests that major life changes are taking place in many areas of your life
It makes total sense to me – lots of changes, being in liminal space and ready to move forward. It’s that time of year for me. Samhain – the season of the Celtic year that we are in is a special one to me. I find that I am at my best at this time of year. Somehow I am able to prioritize. To focus. I’m able to see the big picture far more easily during Samhain. For being a creative person, I am a very linear thinker, and most of the time I find that I focus on the next right step rather than the big picture. But it’s important to see the big picture every know and then, if only to remind myself where I’m actually headed :-)
I love this cover of Joni Mitchell’s River. I hop you’ll like it too.
So now Advent is officially here. I have been already been watching and waiting with the Celtic Advent devotional I have been reading and writing about each morning at my little kitchen desk. I thought about getting cleaned up and actually going to church this morning – it would have been the first time for a regular service since before the pandemic. And then I realized that on this rainy Sunday morning, there wasn’t quite enough time to do that – but I watched the service online. Probably a good thing that I didn’t go – I have had a brutal cough off and on recently. I’m sure it’s asthma-related because my rescue inhaler usually does the trick to stop it – and did this time, too – but I hate to cough in church.
I’ve pulled a book off my shelf to read again this Advent season. It’s called Kneeling in Bethlehem, published originally in 1985 by the late Ann Weems, who was often called the Presbyterian poet laureate.
I thought I would share some of the poems from this book with you throughout Advent. I hope the publishers won’t mind.
Her words have always spoken to me, and after years of living in the time of COVID they seem particularly timely this year and just as fresh to me now as they did forever ago when they were written. And it’s not that I’m sad this Advent, it’s that there are a lot of people who are, and if we pay attention, we might be able to reach out a hand.
For this first Sunday in Advent I have chosen a hymn that I did not grow up with, but first heard while singing Lessons and Carols years ago – the mid-1990s – at Fourth Presbyterian Church in Chicago. I sang in the Evening Choir, not the professional Morning Choir. Both the choirs participated together, though, for Lessons and Carols. This became one of my favorites. There are more verses, but these are sufficient and I feel they so capture the excitement of the preparation that goes into the waiting and watching of Advent. Love the guest is on the way . . . :-)
Well, I’ve run out of time now to post much more than to share that the glass cover for the coffee table did arrive, and is now in place. And of course I’ve already whacked my leg on a corner :-D
It’s tough to get a good photo because the glass is clear and, of course, reflects everything. Here’s another view:
I’m just glad to have the coffee table off my low massage table, and the box and packing materials that the glass came in went out with the trash this morning. Yay!!
So – it’s late and I need to jump into bed here. But I can’t waste any of my Christmas music time, so I hope you will enjoy this one – actually, I think everyone loves this one. You’re totally singing along. Aren’t you? :-D
I’ve made it nearly to the end of November posting every day. It wasn’t as challenging as I thought it might be. As we roll on into Christmas, just let me say this about that:
Yesterday I spent a lovely afternoon with four of my cousins. L-R, ME’s husband, R. My cousins, brothers D and S, and my cousin ME. I’m in front. D and I are the oldest now in our extended family. D’s and S’s dad was my mom’s brother. S and I actually look the most alike of any of us, but you can certainly tell the four of us are related. These are some of the most important people in my life and I love and am very thankful for all of them.
In case you were wondering, my Jello was a success. Yay!!! :-D
And when it was time to go home, I stopped on the way to see if this one house that I used to see from the train every day was decorated yet. It was . . .
The picture does NOT do it justice. It is absolutely amazing!
A few things on the health and wellness front.
First, on Monday I’m seeing my surgeon for my 1-year check. I know I’m fine . . . but there is this little voice in the back of my mind that occasionally pops up and says, “what if I’m not fine?” I’ve done some research into this and apparently it’s pretty common and completely normal. It’s called fear of cancer recurrence and apparently it’s most common in the first year as a survivor. For someone like me, the chances are less than 1% that my cancer could recur – and because it hadn’t spread there is only one place in my body where it could recur – the vaginal cuff where they stitched me back together. I read that the anxiety and fear of recurrence lessens over time. I almost never think about this – except when I am going in for my 6-month checks. This is the first time I will be seeing the surgeon since last year when I was four weeks post-op. The next 6-month check will be with my gynecologist, in May.
Second, yesterday I was given the opportunity to rejoin Balance365 Coaching and I took it. I am really excited about this. It’s something I’ve been considering for some time, now, and I’m anxious to get started. An important thing that I’ve learned about myself is that where major things are concerned it often takes me more than one try to get things right, or let something go. For example, it took me a couple three tries before I could really let my podcast go. There is a very important piece of the Balance365 program that I did not explore when I was previously in Coaching. This is something that I am choosing to focus on going forward. I will certainly give some updates as I again travel this path.
And finally, I was asked to participate in another kidney stone medical study at the University of Chicago. It will only be one day in the University’s Clinical Research Center instead of the four days that I did back in the fall of 2019. I’m scheduled for early January.
Hold on to your hats!! It’s Christmas time!!! Christmas music really makes me all happy and I often listen to it in October – or I did when I was still working and needed something to take my mind off how challenging my work situation used to be.
I mentioned Darlene Love the other day – here is the song that is most associated with her. Enjoy!
Happy Thanksgiving, dear friends and readers :-) I hope your day has been filled with joy and peace and all the things you love. And, of course, some really good food ;-D
I headed out onto the path this morning to get walk in before I headed over to my cousin’s house this afternoon.
I can’t eat turkey (last time I tried it my airway started to close), but I can have everything else. I made a Jello mold, but I think I might have put too much fruit in it because I’m not sure it’s firmly set . . . I guess we’ll find out :-D
The path was beautiful this morning and I really enjoyed my walk. It was cool, but warm when the sun came out from the clouds.
Michelle at Boulderneigh asked what the pink “lips” are on the socks off my sock machine. Here is a sideways look at the one sock I cranked on the new Tru-Knit machine. I thought it would be easier to see on its side.
The pink is waste yarn. In order to get the machine going, you need a way to cast on, and this is usually done with something called a cast-on or a set-up bonnet. This video shows it. So – the cast-on bonnet was attached to the pink on the left, and I cast on to the machine with the pink waste yarn. When I felt the ribber was going well, I switched to project yarn and cranked the sock. When you finish at the toe, you need to have a way to get the live stitches off the machine, so you change from project yarn back to waste yarn and crank about 15 rows. You can see on the right that it looks a little like another heel – that’s the toe! I will kitchener the toe closed across the top, and remove the pink waste yarn that looks like lips :-) Michelle, hope that helps!
I like this hymn. I’ve always liked this hymn. Forward we travel from light into light . . .
For those of you whose eyes glaze over when I start talking about technical stuff (I’m looking at you, T :-D) you may wish to read ahead. :-D :-D
Alrighty then. By Friday, even after my hard-won successes on Thursday I was still really, really frustrated. I wasn’t able to easily rib and after mess after mess, I decided to work with a different sock yarn that is 4-ply but acts like 6-ply, which means it’s really a sport-weight yarn AND it weighed 150 grams instead of the usual 100 grams. I switched to a lower count cylinder – a 60 instead of my 64 – and decided to give it ago. First, however, I had to get the skein of yarn wound onto a cone. I didn’t think my little hand-crank cone winder would handle 150 grams of sport-weight yarn. Also, it has to be a cone winder, not a ball winder, otherwise the yarn will not pull freely and into the circular sock machine. If the yarn doesn’t pull freely, then it can mess up your tension.
Enter my new friends, Joyce and Ed, and their new Speedy Cone Winder™. Check out the video on their website. I’m serious, you guys, this thing is awesome!! It is 3D printed, and Ed is an engineer, so it’s pretty awesome. We tested it out with that sport-weight yarn and it did wind it, although it wound it tighter with the automated addition which we also experimented with and which will be available next year. I totally bought this and am very excited for the automated piece that’s coming. We all got along so well and had so much fun together, that I have two new friends :-) That’s one of the great things about crank-ins. You start to see some of the same people at events that are close to you, and you make new friends. Here’s the automated piece in action!
I took my wound cone of yarn back to my space and tried to rib with the sport weight yarn. You can see my results on the left. I’ll explain the photo on the right shortly.
I was back to where I had been on Wednesday with stitches – both ribber and cylinder – dropping like flies. I was so frustrated by the end of the day, that I sat down and cranked a sock with a hung hem just to remind myself that I am a good cranker. You’ve seen this one – but the Christmas yarn is so pretty that I wanted to show it to you again! :-D It cranked beautifully on my machine, it just wouldn’t rib (there is operator error involved and I hadn’t yet figured out that my machine wants the ribber to be higher than usual).
After dinner, things were quieter in the cranking room and I asked for a chance to try out a brand new circular sock machine that will be available for purchase soon. It’s called the Tru-Knit, by Jamie Mayfield. I had heard a lot of wonderful things about it and was anxious to try it, particularly after my frustration with the ribber on my current machine. I sat down, got a quick tutorial from Jamie and her husband, Jeff, and cast on some waste yarn. Then I set up the ribber. And then I had to pick my jaw up off the floor. I was flabbergasted by the ease of use of this Tru-Knit machine. Take a look – this is a sock done in one go in relatively short order. Perfect ribbing – no dropped stitches, perfect heel – no dropped stitches – almost perfect toe (operator error and you can’t tell I made a booboo).
I came back with the thicker Christmas yarn and thought that if the Tru-Knit could rib it easily then I would be sold. So – that comparison photo above? On the right is the Christmas yarn ribbed on the new Tru-Knit. Pretty amazing, huh? And yeah, I’m on the list to get one of these machines. I have no idea when I’ll clear the list. Sometime next year :-)
After the isolation of COVID times this crank-in was the first large gathering event I have attended. There were 30-35 people there. I masked except when I was eating. I was the only person who was masked. No one hassled or bothered me about it. I did test once while I was away just to be safe because I woke up with a runny nose. False alarm. Thankfully.
Yesterday I managed to get my machine set back up in the sunroom (yes, I moved my table and cart back upstairs – now that I’ve got my machine working, I want to use it more again :-D) and I decided to practice a new selvage I was taught at the crank-in. Second go was pretty perfect, except I discovered that when I take my ribber stitches out of work, the ribber waits four stitches to comply.
It’s not the end of the world – it just gives me more information about my ribber. So – now I know that it likes to be higher than usual, and when I take stitches out of work, I probably need to do it four stitches sooner. Interestingly, when I put the stitches back into work, they start immediately. Go figure. :-D All that being said, I really like this selvage that I was taught at the crank-in!
Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day. I have so very much for which to be thankful. Not the least of which is having music in my life. I can’t make it the way I used to – my voice was always my primary instrument and it’s sort of broken now, but music is still here and I still love it and I still love sharing it with all of you. :-)
I’ve shared this tune before, but I love this version of this classic from Yusuf/Cat Stevens.
The event I went to is called a crank-in. This one was called “Show Me” Your Socks. Here is their logo. It was previously held in the “Show Me” state of Missouri. I think that’s where the name came from :-)
Here’s the event banner up on the second floor landing in the lobby of the hotel. This particular hotel hosts another crank-in in July every year, so they are used to all of us cranking away at pretty much all hours of the day and night :-D
So – what is it, exactly? It’s a bunch of folks who pack up their machines and tables and set up in a hotel ballroom or other location for a few days to crank socks and other stuff, too. For some crank-ins there are specific classes that people can pay to attend. This crank-in was more just a gathering of folks cranking and helping each other and chatting and just generally having a good time. Here is what a crank-in looks like! One of the organizers of this event has bee hives and a honey business :-) There isn’t always a table of honey at every crank-in :-D
Here’s the view from where I was sitting, which was over to the right. That purple machine is a 3D printed sock machine from a company called Dean & Bean. It was funny – the woman to my left also had a Dean & Bean! Hers was green. Her table looked like St. Patrick’s Day :-D These are a relatively new thing and a lower cost option than a metal machine.
And here is my little pigpen space. I angle my table because I prefer to crank facing the machine so that the crank is fully over to the right. That orientation suits my body mechanics much better than facing the table straight on and having the crank at an awkward angle. I think there has to be a better way to transport everything because I kept losing stuff in those black totes. :-D Oh – and the stuff to the left of my black totes is not mine, but all the rest of that mess is.
As I believe I have mentioned before, my entire focus for the event was on getting my ribber to work. For the first couple of days I thought I would not be successful. These machines have a very steep learning curve, and some people never learn to use their ribber dials. On top of the orange tote, you see a silver circle with an arm sticking up to the left. That’s a ribber. It sits on top of the machine cylinder as you saw in yesterday’s post, and there are a LOT of moving parts (pardon the pun) that all have to be aligned and adjusted and working together in just the right way for things to work well. It kinda reminds me of my bagpipes – you have a bag that you have to keep inflated and keep pressure on, and you have three drone reeds to keep in tune plus a chanter reed to also keep in tune, AND you have to make recognizable music. And sometimes, you also have to fricking march while you’re doing all that! :-D
We sat on hotel chairs that were supremely uncomfortable. I mean seriously – for as much extra padding as I have all over my body – my sitz bones apparently have NONE . . . :-S
Here is a sampling of some of my many tries with the ribber on my machine. I probably should have flipped some of them over so you could see the huge number of dropped stitches and issues. The pink yarn is what is called waste yarn. The multi-color yarn is project yarn. You can see it was a rough couple of days. I was, eventually, successful, but what a road.
On Friday, I decided to take a break and work with a different yarn and a different size cylinder. I’ll share more about that tomorrow :-)
Seriously, I’m still decompressing. Yesterday morning I sat down to TCB (take care of business), one task of which was to renew my car plate sticker. This required a credit card, so I grabbed my little card wallet out of my bag and got my sticker ordered. Imagine my horror about three hours later, at the checkout at the grocery store, when I realized that I had NOT put my little card wallet back in my purse. I had $120 bucks worth of groceries and only about $70 bucks in cash. AND I was out without my driver’s license! They actually held my groceries and kept them cold while I went home, grabbed my wallet (on my desk where I left it -somehow a piece of paper was on top of it . . . ahem . . . ) and zip back to the store to pay for and retrieve my groceries. I go to the same checker/bagger team every time I shop because they are so nice to me. They recognize me now! And the checker certainly did not have to do what she did, which was run to customer service to see what they could do when I realized I was out without my card. I made sure that the customer service manager knew what a great team they are and how kind to me they always are.
Anyone else feeling the dryness of winter already?? My hands. My cuticles. My feet. My skin pretty much everywhere. Ugh. Time to get my winter lotion/moisture routine going again.
This song has been in my head lately. It was made famous by a US pop group called The Walker Brothers back in the mid-1960s. Interestingly, they were actually more famous in the UK. It was actually written for Frankie Valli by Bob Gaudio (one of the original Four Seasons), but it didn’t hit big until The Walker Brothers released it. It’s been covered by plenty of people, include Bruce Springsteen on his latest album of R&B covers. But his friend and former band member, sax player Clarence Clemons, covered it back in the 1980s. I prefer his version to Bruce’s. The woman singing with The Big Man is none other than the legendary Darlene Love, and if you’ve never seen the documentary, 20 Feet from Stardom, find it and watch it.
This is Clarence Clemons – The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore
I hadn’t yet learned that my machine likes a little more space between the cylinder and the ribber, but I eventually had some marginal success on Thursday. I was so focused on just getting the ribbing done, that I didn’t take the time to check the tension with the Aktiv yarn I used. So I made a Bigfoot sized sock. And Dude, seriously, I’m keeping it!!! :-D The ribbing is actually pretty good – no dropped stitches – and it was my first major success.
And then I tried again, but decided that I should make the ribbing shorter. Not a good plan. :-D But I did check the tension this time, so these will actually fit a human – most likely my cousin who loves my socks.
These took me pretty much all day. Geez.
How is it possible that Thanksgiving is on Thursday?! I’m still recovering from the crank-in!
How about an Irving Berlin tone? I found this as I was looking for some Thanksgiving tunes. Let’s travel back to 1942 . . .
This is Bing Crosby – I’ve Got Plenty to be Thankful For