Thursday, December 25, 2014

A Product of Insomnia.

So back in the beginning of November, I managed to get the energy to plant some bulbs in our side garden. They were a mix of wildflower-tulips, crocuses, and something else. I didn't expect them to sprout so soon, but there's a bit of green poking up! I know they are early spring bloomers, but still. Maybe I didn't plant them deep enough. I also planted a couple small planters of bulbs, because I'll be sad to leave them all when it's time to move. That's sprouting as well, but unfortunately it looks like a squirrel or something has gotten into them. I put the pots outside because I figured what's good for the garden is probably good for the potted plants too. I can't wait until they actually start growing more! I can tell it's going to be a nice pick-me-up to come home to a flowerbed full of bright colors.
I also tried my hand at making a new cat-house. I figured since Miss Z is always trying to run away and hide, she'd really appreciate a dark corner to cuddle in, but I guess she's not really into it. Bill was only mildly interested. I didn't measure or cut my cardboard, I just grabbed a random piece we had and covered it with some fuzzy crocheted scraps, but if you want detailed instructions, you can find them here

I've been stressing and organizing pretty hardcore on school stuff, work stuff, and travel plans. Unfortunately, they overlap quite a bit, and I have a lame decision to make. I am still up in the air about it, but I'm really excited to start my path to being a dual-degree'ed individual. I'm also really frustrated with the holes in my potential schedule simply because of the flow of prerequisites. 

I guess the only other interesting thing of any interest is the snowflake project. I am not quite sure how I'm going to make this happen [aside from fancy 3D printing in a perfect world] but The Book of Everyone's snowflake project is really neat. Since it combines art and words, I'm sold. It's ideally for names, but I found it works just as well with short phrases. Of course, I found this and came up with the idea much too late to use it for this Christmas season, but I guess it can wait til next year. I also didn't finish my paper crane ornaments like I was hoping, or even really decorate at all. It was pretty disappointing in general. For someone who usually decorates the house and makes some cookies, it was kind of depressing to not even put up a tree. Oh well. This year has been pretty upside down, but knowing me, it won't ever change!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Parallels! Parallels Everywhere!

I am still astounded at how the "normal" things I used to do, that used to be no problem for me [like hefting a 50 lb JBL speaker over my shoulder], now cause me unreasonable amounts of pain. Not unbearable, but certainly unreasonable. Have you ever pulled a muscle climbing out of your car? I have. It was awful, and ridiculous. And for the most part, anyone with a chronic and invisible illness has certainly heard their share of "What do you mean that hurts?" "You must be exaggerating." "You just need to suck it up and quit being a wimp." "Wow, you must have a really low pain tolerance." BOOM, word choice, incorrect. Let's explore.

I read something a few days ago about the difference between 'pain threshold' and 'pain tolerance' in Fibromyalgia. I can't find the exact article I read, but I found similar ones here and here. If you don't want to click or it's a TL;DR situation, here's the gist of it: Pain threshold is more or less the point at which your body begins to interpret stimulus or signals as actual pain; Pain tolerance is simply how much pain you can tolerate--cumulative or in a specific instance. In Fibro, both can fluctuate. If you're super stressed out and extra emotional [ie, hormonal] your tolerance may be lower than usual--the pain you deal with on a daily basis may suddenly be too much to bear. Or maybe you've maintained such a high tolerance for so long that you have exhausted your reserves and you just can't take it any longer.

Anyways, point being. When I read about this, it immediately clicked for me. It made sense already; it was like second nature, a knowledge I already knew but didn't realize I knew. However. I was smack dab in the middle of a wonderful massage from Ms. Catalyst when my brain-gears started clicking into low gear. I had a low-grade epiphany.

The word 'threshold' as I usually know it is in regards to amplifiers and signals. This isn't the first time I've made a mental connection between the physical body and electronics--I could go on for days about how our bodies can resemble a regenerative feedback loop.  I'm also not the first person out there to make these connections. But I'm going to try and explain what went through my head as best I can, just in case maybe I dawn some light on someone else.

Use your imagination and work with me here. This represents a "normal" person's body's threshold and tolerance. The blue line is stimulus--whether it be external [exercise, wearing clothes, a kitty walking on your chest] or internal [nerve signals firing to your Central Nervous System despite the lack of external motivators]. So for whichever reasons, your neurons send the blue signal to your brain. The hard-to-see pink line represents the threshold, or, the point where stimulus becomes actually painful. Through no specific reason, I marked a 'normal' threshold at level 4. The tolerance, or the level at which the pain becomes unbearable, I have marked in red, at level 6. These levels are of course arbitrary and just for illustrative purposes. Tracking so far?

With Fibro, or really any disease that includes chronic pain, your graph may look more like this. Assume that the blue line is exactly the same as above--I did my best to replicate at least the general shape. For those of us with chronic pain, especially Fibro, our body switches from 'stimulus' signal to 'pain' signal at a much lower level--illustrated here at level 2. However, since we spend most of our days in pain, our tolerance actually is higher, marked here around 8. [If I had drawn this more accurately, the tolerance line would actually slant from about 5 to 8, noting how our tolerance changes over time. Or for some people, the reverse would be true, and the line would start at 8 but dwindle down to 4 over time, showing how chronic pain compounds upon itself.] So, we have a much wider range of stimulus-as-pain. It may be the same amount of stimulus, but our bodies perceive more of it as pain than "normal" people would. 

I suppose part of the reason I am dwelling on this is because I received my report from the civilian docs working for the VA. The doc, a retired HMC, older gentleman, claims that I sounded like I was "reading a description" of Fibromyalgia. I'm sorry that I'm educated and like to use precise words? I'm sorry that I've done research on my condition? The other part of his report that rubbed me the wrong way--and is much more relevant to this post--is that he claimed I flinched at "even the slightest touch," therefore, he could not apply the "required" 4 lbs of pressure to confirm a diagnosis of Fibro. I am pretty bad with estimating measurements, but I'm pretty sure that even a "normal" person wouldn't enjoy being poked and prodded with 4 lbs of pressure on a point like someone's fingertip. I mean, if my kitty walks across my chest, as she often does before laying down to cuddle, even her little paws are enough to cause me unreasonable pain. And for the record, she is not a large cat.  

Anyways, somehow I went from imagining these graphs, to imagining others. I remembered my recording days, and the concept of a Master Limiter. This is when you take a signal [ie, a song] and compact it all down to a predetermined limit, shown here as like, 2-8 pretend-decibels. What this does is essentially compact the signal, and prevent clipping and/or distortion. This is kind of what medications like Cymbalta and Gabapentin do--they take the edge off. The prevent the pain signal from "clipping," but honestly for me, they also take away some of the nuances of other stimulus.

At this point, I managed to get distracted by a post about 20 adorable baby pandas. No joke, they are cute as hell!!

Okay, all cuteness aside.  For those of you who want to argue with my premise, here is one last graph. It's my poorly executed example of a Gate concept. A gate is similar to a Master Limiter, it just works a little different. A gate can require a certain level of signal [ie, volume] or a certain type of signal [ie only certain frequencies] before it allows the signal to be recognized or passed on. This would be for example, in recording or in live scenarios--it basically mutes unwanted "noise" [yes, noise is a technical term!]. In a live scenario, a gate pedal would basically eliminate feedback from a guitar because the strength of the signal is not enough to overcome the resistance of the pedal and get pushed through the amplifier. For recording, it would serve to hide things like the singer's breathing or clearing her throat. In my graph below, the original signal is now shown in orange--the gate is set for the blue line, and the red line is the part of the signal that gets passed on to be amplified or recorded. Or both. 

 Last point before I wrap this up. Or I guess, two points. The first thought that got me on to drawing these graphs was the concept of a Clamper. It's kind of like a limiter, but a little different. A Clamper is a circuit that takes a signal within a range of frequencies and essentially ctrl-C/ctrl-V's it to another range. The signal retains the same shape and contours, the same dynamics, but it's just moved. Actually, I'm pretty sure auto-tune is an example of a clamper circuit. The other thought I had... was kind of hard for me to grasp again, but I remember that it had to do with amplifiers--cutoff and saturation points. I wish I wasn't so rusty on the theories behind amplifiers so I could keep rambling about this topic, because it really does intrigue me. And I really do think that the Fibro body has cutoff and saturation points that are abnormal. Saturation being the point at which there is too much signal, therefore the amplifier begins to spit out distorted signal, and cutoff being the point set before saturation, or sometimes afterwards, in the case of Marshall tube amps--that's basically where Fibro people live their lives. High gain.

I hope this made sense to someone besides me. I know a lot of fellow IC's can probably fill in the gaps of what I mean but am not remembering to say. I already had a hard enough time explaining today why electronics and such made so much sense to me as an English major with little experience in the field, yet push-pull amplifiers just seem like common sense.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Belated Turkey Recap!

It's been ages since I wrote, I know. I've been dabbling in a bit of this and a bit of that, and honestly the past couple weeks are kind of blurry so I'm not sure exactly why I've been too busy, but it hasn't been working out for me. Right now I'm working a mid/swing shift--I thought I would love it, but actually it's wearing me out. I have more time to get things done, and more things get done... but then again, for me, that is kind of a double edged sword. Anywho, I have many projects planned and in various stages of completion, but I realized I neglected to share food porn from Thanksgiving! This is especially important since I did a bit of experimentation this time as well.
Unfortunately, I had to work on Thanksgiving day. Although my day shift does end fairly early, I still made an effort to do as much the day before as was logically possible. Specifically, I mixed the ingredients for Nana's Secret Southern Cornbread Dressing and set aside to chill in the fridge. I also prepped my ungodly amounts of Mac N Cheese... pictured below with a regular coffee cup for scale. First I was afraid I had too much noodles... then I was afraid I wouldn't have enough cheese, so I dumped some extra mozzarella into the mix... then I realized I'd made a grave 'clerical error.' Let's just say there's another Tupperware full of cheese sauce sitting in my freezer, ready for the next time someone is craving homemade mac-n-cheese. My bad.


A few years ago, I stumbled upon a recipe for stuffed mushrooms. I think the original recipe called for sausage too, but I stuff mine with stuffing mix, spinach, and loads of mozzarella. And the mushroom stems, all diced up. They're also topped with parmesan. Personally, I don't care for mushrooms, because of the way they feel. But I know at least the boys love them, so I make them every year. This year I also wanted to incorporate squash or zucchini into my dinner, because it's one of my new favorite vegetables. I looked up a couple recipies on line but in the end, decided to wing it. I scooped out the squash guts, mixed that up with a can of diced tomatoes and juice, and the rest of the stuffing and spinach mix.

And finally, the coo-de-grassy. [gee, I hope ANY other person on the planet finds that as funny as I do, and YES, I know I'm "saying" it wrong.] A week or so before Thanksgiving, we all went out to a place I love called Dirty Oscar's Annex. They had an appetizer called 'Heaven Sticks.' Honestly I am not big on asparagus, so I skipped it that night, but we all kind of wanted asparagus with dinner, so I tried my hand replicating said Heaven Sticks. I used three spears instead of just one, and since I didn't plan ahead, I had to use some makeshift kabob sticks instead of actual toothpicks, but overall I think it worked out. We sauted the asparagus in OJ and balsamic vinegar first, and then wrapped them up like little papooses. Tasty bacon blankets. And then, hell yeah, we deep fried those suckers! Afterwards, I attempted a glaze made from more of the OJ, balsamic vinegar, and brown sugar.

All said and done, here is my Thanksgiving plate. Not mentioned above are the bacon-wrapped turkey, home-style green beans with bacon and onions, garlic mashed potatoes, and T's roasted ginger carrots. NOM NOM NOM!!!


Thursday, November 27, 2014

I Don't Do This Enough

Well, it's Thanksgiving. One of my favorite holidays. I generally end up working though, because I don't travel, I have no kids, and in general, I'm really flexible--it's not the date you celebrate, it's the celebration you have, regardless of what day. And although I'm pretty much the only one of my family out on the west coast, I am still really stubborn about practicing a ton of traditions that I grew up with. I'll be calling at least one of my grandma's to check in on my way home. The cornbread dressing is in the fridge, ready for the oven; as is the mac-n-cheese. I went out of my way to find "bacon ends & pieces" for the greenbeans, which must be fresh popped. And even though it may be 6pm, 8pm, or even later when we go to chow down on our feast, I will enjoy every bite.

Normally on Thanksgiving, or Replacement Pseudo Day of Turkey and Excessive Food Gorging [RPDTEFG? nah] I collect lost souls and force-feed them until they explode. It's just what I do, okay? Damn that soft spot for puppies and broken things. Luckily, I only cook in one mode, and that is "make enough to feed a small army!" Sadly though, this is perhaps the first year that I'm not adopting anyone to feed who doesn't actually live in my house. It's kinda sad for me. But at the same time, we are planning to take a plate to some folks tomorrow--long story, just go with it. Plus, the last time I adopted something for Thanksgiving... well, let's just say I'm still feeding it on a daily basis, teehee.

Point being. The one tradition that nearly everyone participates in on Thanksgiving... the family goes around the table and says one thing they are thankful for. I was thinking on this idea while I drove to work this morning, crafting and formulating a Facebook post in my head [hey, I'm an English Major, okay? It's what we do], and I realized that I had way too much to say to just let it slip by momentarily on Facebook. I also figured that I'd get cut off by whatever character limits there are. So without further ado, and in no particular order, Things I Am Thankful For:

-I am not deployed. I am not on duty. I may be working, but I get to go home afterwards and spend time with people I care about. I have a big hurty spot on my heart for anyone who is away from home because of the military.

-I got to cook. Or more accurately, I get to eat! It's not the galley, it's not the ship, it's not an MRE, it's not whatever else some poor sailors/soldiers/airmen/Marines are stuck with right now. I have a kitchen, and by golly I am putting it to use.Two years ago, I think my dinner consisted of Tuna with Rice and Sirracha, and a chocolate bar.

-I'm off the ship in general. My life has improved by lengths and bounds since I left that hellhole. Seriously. My current co-workers care about people, generally have common sense, and finally, a generalized sense of humor!

-Family, and "Family." Family is what you make it. I am thankful for both the family that "raised" me, as well as the "family" I have developed over the years. I am thankful for people and relationships; the ability to cultivate and maintain them; and... man, I don't know, the fact that we all exist?

-Coffee. And the people who sell it. Being greeted not with "what can I get you?" but instead a smile and, "how many shots today?" Seriously, that means so much to me and I don't know why.

-Kitties. My kittens probably don't get enough credit and cuddles. But they are so sweet, and I don't care if you hate cats, I can tell you that they love me every bit as much as my dog did.

-The past year. Change. Turning points. So much has gone upside down and topsy turvy and backwards, but honestly it all seems to in general be for the greater good.

-Scars. Internal and External. They remind me of who I am, what I've been through, what I am capable of, and how strong I can be. They remind me where to draw the line, and the essential need to take care of myself. They show me that I've changed.

-Me! I mean sorry to sound narcissistic here, but really, I'm pretty glad to be me. Generally speaking, I like who I am, especially now. I may have moments of jealousy, but when it all comes down to it... nah.

-The Italian. Mon Chere, Mio Amante, L'uomo che amo, Mo Anam Cara, Namaste. I am still amazed every day that such a caring, genuine man can even exist. And that he somehow accidentally fell for me.  I am thankful for the lessons he has taught me, and for throwing me a floatation device when I needed it most. But he didn't just reel me in, he showed me that if I didn't do the work myself it wouldn't really count. Even when we are both stressed out and frustrated, it is still obvious that we were meant for each other. I strongly feel that everything happens for a reason, whether or not we understand it, and the experiences we have had separately only managed to completely prepare us for each other in the present. Now I look forward to every day, and I no longer fear my future.

-The Internet.
Without which, on some level, none of the above would even be possible.

See? There was no way that was going to fit on Facebook.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

A Bit o' This and A Bit o' That

So I haven't been updating very often, but I've been decently busy. Luckily I have trained myself to take photos as I go, so I'm just writing about things afterwards. Lately I've been on this very odd bi-phasic sleep schedule. I'm not really sure why this happened, but if I had tried to do it on purpose, I couldn't have done it. Just seems like I can't sleep for more than about 3-4 hours at a time anymore. But it's a nice deep sleep, and splitting it up actually seems to be giving me more usable hours of the day--so long as I don't mind tip-toe-ing around to bake cornbread and spray paint things at 2 am.  I have been waking up in plenty of time for work, which is nice, and I do still get some awesome night time cuddles, plus day time hang-out time, too. The other reason it's nice is because it's flexible--so when I switch work schedules every two weeks, it's not really going to be a big deal. 

So what have I done? Well, I picked up a few little wooden holiday ornaments last time I was at Michael's and finally got around to painting them. Of course, you know my idea of "painting" is a little... well... yeah. They're clear coated, just waiting for that to dry before I flip them and spray the back side as well. I have a pair of stars I did with a paint pen as well, and a dozen or so clear glass globes that I haven't yet started to play with. I know Christmas isn't for a while, but this kind of stuff I don't mind doing in advance. No Christmas tree or lights until after Thanksgiving though!

after the metallic paint but
before the granite layer.
I'll repost when it's upstairs!

 Speaking of painting... This has been a sort of long-term pet project I've been dealing with for quite some time. I can't find the page now--I just looked for about 30 minutes--but I read about how you can use spray paint, painter's tape, and plastic bags to create a faux-marble finish on just about anything. The author had done it to her patio/doorstep and it looked fantastic. She also recomended it for garage flooring as well. I really wanted to try this, but I doubt the rental company would like that. I had an old bookshelf sitting down in the garage missing a couple shelves. I was originally going to turn it into an entertainment stand for the big tv, but we ended up just buying one from Big Lots instead. But, I had already gone to Home Depot and had them cut the new shelves I measured out. I figured I might as well keep the project going, although it took me weeks to crack at it a little at a time. For example, I started the black lacquer coat, found out the hard way that I was one spray can short. I picked up some granite spray to work with. I taped out a random square-based pattern--wishing now I had actually measured and marked it--and sprayed down the layers. Unfortunately though, the painter's tape [which isn't supposed to stick to anything really] pulled up the lacquer. Feeling a little frustrated, I decided not to redo it, but instead I just went over the lines with regular acrylic paint. I threw on a clear coat after that, and I might do one more clear coat just in case. Since one corner of the giant bedroom upstairs has kind of been turning into a kitchenette, I wanted to use this as both a counter [the coffee pot needs a solid place to live] and a wall/divider-type thing. Now my only delay is whether or not I'm going to wait until after laying down the tile flooring to bring it upstairs or get impatient and do it now. I wish I could find the floor in a different color, but I guess that one's not so bad.

...the letters are backwards because the glue is drying.
Another project I looked up, bought supplies for, and then ignored for a few weeks was the yarn-wrapping. These are just basic wooden letters, wrapped in yarn with a little bit of tacky glue. The only problem I ran into was zoning out and not realizing that I ran my way mostly through the red and white yarn. So it's not as solidly covered as I'd like, but I like the texture of it anyways. I'm not sure how I'm going to mount the layers onto the heart [I was definitely planning on the letters hanging over], and figure out how to hang it [thinking something to do with thick black wire, but not sure how to attach that]. The plus side of this project was having the epiphany that it would make a great gift for some other couples I know.
There may or may not have been
Amaretto in that mocha...

Last but not least. Snack Bar had long ago asked me if I would make homemade mac-n-cheese again. Again, I bought ingredients... and then... couldn't get around to making it. I finally had a day where I had the time and the motivation, except it was the same week of whatever most recent WoW expansion was released--there's no way he can raid and eat mac-n-cheese at the same time, that's just inconvenient! So I made up the chicken-broccoli-mac that he really likes, and got the brilliant idea to turn them into cupcakes! I sprinkled a bunch of cheese on top of course. The secret is to spray the cupcake pan with butter spray, and then cover the cups with breadcrumbs. They popped right out of the pan perfectly! I thought I had regular mac noodles, but I remembered incorrectly and had to stick with penne. Close enough. Definitely something I will make again!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Easier Than I Thought...

The other day, I bought a small vase/candle holder from Big Lots. I had bought a couple things, and as I carelessly tossed the bag in my car, I heard the tinkle of broken glass. I felt around the bag and the vase felt intact... but when I got home, I found that I had indeed broken a chunk out of the bottom. I had bought it with the idea of putting some water and candles in it, so I was bummed out--but since it was only a few bucks, I wasn't too upset. Then I remembered the concept of kintsugi

Literal explanation: The Japanese art of repairing broken glass or ceramic with gold or silver to make it usable again. 

Philosophical explanation: The concept that flaws can be beautiful, and/or that an object [or person] can be made more beautiful by integrating and accepting its history--ie, a kintsugi item will not only have sentimental value for whatever original reason, but there may also be an interesting story behind why or how the item was broken. Everything's better with a story. Anyways, the concept reminded me of this quote too.

So, I decided to give it a try. I mean, I didn't have much to loose--it was a pretty cheap little vase, and if it could no longer hold water, that's a pretty minor loss. However, I certainly don't have the means or funds to repair it with silver or gold! I did a quick search on the interwebs and found some ideas on how to replicate the look and concept without necessarily using the same process. 

Step One: Trip to the craft store! Yay! I found a decent-looking 'China and Glass Cement,' but I couldn't find any silver leaf like my references recommended. Instead I opted for the Pearler paint. The whole process took a couple days, because the Cement needs to dry and cure. I carefully placed the pieces back together and cemented them down. Using an x-acto knife, I scraped off the excess chunky bits. I was a little nervous about the hold, so I put down a second coat of the cement, as well as tried to coat as much of the inside as I could. And yes, I used my shoe as a support for it to dry.

After the second coat of cement cured [another day], I chipped off more excess and then I went over the cracks with the Pearler. That too needed to dry for about a day. Here is the more or less finished product! I flipped the photo for perspective. This is when the pearler was still drying, but it flattened out a little bit.

The pearl paint came out a little gloopy and uneven, so it's not as smooth and elegant as I'd hoped, but it passed the water test! I can't wait for something else to break so I can try it again... I did read about people doing controlled breaks, but I'm not sure if I quite want to jump into that. 

In other art news, I had some nice inspiration the other day. After trying to surprise the Italian with lunch, I found an epic quote on the bag of burritos. It was lots of fun, although it did take many layers to complete. I played around with the Goosebumps again, and really liked the result. I also finished up a super-secret trade project that I can't share until Honey Bunches gets the original. I played around with the crackle paste a bit more. After painting the surface, the cracks weren't noticeable enough for my liking, so I attacked them with the x-acto knife. It was a ton of fun and I'm keeping a print for myself. The past few weeks I had been itching for art, but lacking inspiration... so it was really nice to work again

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Big Noise From Kentucky [GUEST POST]

In honor of Veteran's Day, I am posting my dad's account of his experience with Honor Flight. I first heard of Honor Flight while I was in A-School in Great Lakes, IL, although I was unable to volunteer at that time. Around the same time, my dad was flying through MDW and got to experience first-hand how amazing an Honor Flight welcome can be. He even ran into some gals from my class, ironically enough! For those of you who aren't familiar, Honor Flight is a volunteer program that aims to honor and respect veterans who may have missed an "appropriate" welcome home from the war in which they served. Volunteers escort the veterans up to DC, where they tour many memorials, pay their respects, and receive many thanks. This was a very moving experience for him, and he felt driven to share his account. I am still honored that he asked for my time and contribution as an English Major and ex-editor to assist on refining this touching tribute to our fellow servicemembers.

}-----> The following is an account of a day spent with a group of Veterans from the “Greatest Generation” and their flight to Washington, DC to visit the World War II Memorial on 21 June 2014. Pictures may be found on the Space Coast Honor Flight web site. <-----{

I left my daughter’s birthday party early the night before, so I could at least lay down for a couple hours before our 0230 show time at the Melbourne Senior Center. General William Welser, ret., the Honor Flight head honcho, had some patriotic speeches and safety briefs prior to us meeting our Vets for the day. One of his major points was that “if you don't cry today, we’re sending you to the doc [escorting us for backup safety] because there's something wrong with you.”

The Honor Flight staff gave us “Guardians” a button with the picture of the Veteran we would be escorting. The picture was of them in their prime, during the war, when they served. I was assigned the honor and privilege of escorting 96 year old U.S. Army Air Corps Captain, Jim Cady, a B-24 Liberator Bombardier.

At about 0400, we were called by the name of our Vet to board the bus from Melbourne to the Orlando Airport. We walked through a reception line—the first of many that would fill the day— to the sound of much applause. We were escorted to the airport by a gang of retired motorcycle police. The active motorcycle police crew also blocked traffic at all the intersections, so we did not have to stop at a single red light! I wish I could go to the airport like that all the time.

Arriving at the gate, I proceeded to get to know Jim better over a quick breakfast provided by Chick-fil-et. The first couple things I learned were that he was from Indiana, and he was drafted. He figured that "since he was going anyway, he wanted to be in some form of transportation." I guess somehow he managed to be selected for the Army Air Corps, so it was off to Tennessee for training. He off-handedly mentioned that one time at a Sunday in church, he had first seen the most beautiful redhead he'd ever laid eyes on, playing the organ.

After getting “trained up,” Jim took the southern route to the war. Through South America, then Africa, and finally on to Italy, the trip took about 10 days. He said they didn't carry side arms then, which I thought was strange. He explained that it was because if you wound up on the ground with a gun, the Germans would just shoot you. That prompted me to ask what he thought about the recent prisoner swap (five Taliban Generals for one questionable soldier). With a flat dead serious look he said, “I think it stinks.”

Leaving the Orlando airport, we were given a water salute by the fire department, and again upon landing at the Baltimore airport. I knew what to expect when deplaning, as I usually join the reception line if I happen to be passing through at the same time as an Honor Flight. We were greeted by a 2-Star General, several men and women in uniform, several Southwest Airlines staff, and many passengers that were near the gate. Jim was a bit watery eyed, impressed, thrilled.

On the bus ride to DC, we snacked on a lunch provided by Pot Belly's—a sandwich shop I always stop at when I pass through Chicago's Midway airport. An audio recording from the WWI era about the selection of who was to be 'entombed' in the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was played. Orders came down from Washington to a young officer, who was instructed to choose a soldier to be entombed in a memorial for Washington DC that would be called "The Tomb of the Unknown." The young officer did not see it fit for himself to decide who would be entombed, and instead delegated the choice to Sergeant Edward Younger. Sergeant Younger had to choose one from four unidentified KIAs… Any one of whom he quite possibly had fought alongside in the previous day's battle. He circled the caskets three times. It was extremely difficult for him to determine such a permanent choice, but as the audio said, "there was a godly power that pulled me towards the third casket from the left." The bus ride to DC was quite somber.

As we continued into DC, I asked Jim if there was a favorite Officer or Enlisted person whom he remembered well. It didn’t take long for his face to light up and answer. His pilot was a vivacious one, full of _____ and vinegar, from Kentucky. Hence the name on their B-24: “Big Noise from Kentucky.” Unfortunately, after some time in theater this pilot was tasked to fly with a newbie crew, which was shot down and killed. Jim said he visited the pilot’s parents in Kentucky after the war. The fact that she still called her husband Mr. Potter was normal for him, but I found it very nostalgic—they were probably born in the late 1800's.

The first stop in DC was the Air Force Memorial [pictured above]. I enjoyed that, as the Air Force being the “little brother” of the services (established in 1947); I knew the names well! The next was the Mall and the WWII Memorial. As soon as we pulled up, Congressman Posey from Florida boarded the bus and welcomed us to DC. Someone reminded us that when the Government (our own!) barricaded the free, open air Memorials in DC, Mr. Posey was one of the people who started physically taking the barricades down. Some of the Vets had family and welcoming committees who met us there. Some were planned, and some were surprises. One surprise was a cousin of one of the Vets; a 3-Star General in charge of AF Logistics Command. After the group photo, we got to spend over an hour visiting the Memorials of our choice, whether it was WWII, Korean, or Vietnam.

When we re-boarded the bus, the 3-Star came aboard to say her farewell. She thanked the Vets and told them, pointing a finger towards them, “anything we [the younger generations] have done in our lives, we can only take credit for, because we are standing on YOUR shoulders.” Then she returned to the sidewalk and snapped to attention with a crisp salute, which she held as the bus rode away. It was quite an impressive and meaningful sight to me.

Most everyone who has ever served and deployed—air crew, sailors, soldiers, or Marines—has had a difficult mission at one point, a “tester,” usually at the beginning of the tour. It’s the one that makes you gel and bond with your team, and makes you function better together; if it does not, it could end in disaster. Mine is referred to as “the Croatian Wedding Festival,” but that’s another story. I asked Jim if he had a story like that. He did indeed! From the moment he said "there was one day when we couldn’t get the bombs to release," I understood the scenario he went through, since I have experienced almost the same dilemma. Having flown AC-130 Gunships in the same theater, for Bosnia, I could almost tell the story before he did. When returning to base, they were instructed NOT to land! The fuses on those bombs are armed by propellers that spin in the wind. So with the doors open, there was no telling if—or how many of—the bombs could be armed. They were instructed to fly out over the Adriatic Sea and they would have the rest of their fuel load to figure out how to jettison the bomb load, since the releases were locked up. If they didn't, they would have to jettison themselves and ditch the plane into the sea. In the winter, the life expectancy in the cold Adriatic with no “poopy suit” (cold weather gear) is about five minutes. Jim and his crew crawled into the bomb bay and got the bombs loose and out of the plane. He said, “after that, I thought I just might make it through this alive.” There was no PTSD back then, they just dealt with it.

Our next stop was Arlington Cemetery and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier for the changing of the guard. We had all the Vets use the wheelchairs this time, so we could go right up close, in the handicapped accessible area. Again very solemn, as I thought about how the Sargent had made his choice of who to entomb, and how lucky I am to thrive in this country. Then I saw and understood the enormous respect for the historic ritual of the “changing of the guard.” As we stood across from the majority of the regular crowd, I noticed more and more of them looking and take pictures... of us? But why? Then I turned my head to my left, and realized that another Honor Flight group had filed in behind us! So now we had about 50 WWII guys, in wheelchairs, with Veteran hats and flags. It must have been quite a sight. This is where I cried, which is also where my phone died. Which was fortunate, because I would not have been able to take any good pictures.

Jim flew about 25 missions in Italy before they bumped up the “magic number” to go home to 30 missions. Then he went up to England to fly five more. He flew on D-Day. Naive on my part, I asked "how were your able to sleep the night before such a big mission?" His reply: “As normal as any night," because they didn’t know D-Day was actually “on” until they showed up at the briefing that day! His first target for the mission was obscured, so they pressed deeper and bombed another. He was supposed to fly another mission that day but didn't. His 36th and last mission was a long one; all the way to Berlin. I'm sure that was longer in more ways than just time.

We also stopped at the Women in Combat Museum and the Iwo Jima Memorial. Then it was time to head back to the airport. There was no more impressive sight than us driving down the Baltimore-Washington expressway during rush hour. You see, our motorcycle police escort was waving off traffic, from the left and from the right, and from the right and left, continuously, as we rolled right down the dashed line behind him, in the middle of the highway, at about 30-40 MPH. At one point I saw him waving off the traffic with no hands on the bike—hence “Moses on a motorcycle.”

Inside the airport I told the coordinator who matched us up that she had done a great job: “Jim and I flew combat missions over some of the same cities,” such as Mostar, Yogoslavia. She gave me an odd questionable look, until I added, “Well, I flew there 50 years after Jim!” We were able to eat at the food court before boarding; Jim was perfectly happy with Mcdonald's. We sat down and he asked me if I minded if he prayed. I said not at all, so he did. Afterwards, I asked him how he thought he’d managed to live so long. He replied, “I don't drink, and I've never smoked, and I consider myself a Christian.”

While we waited for our plane, the Honor Flight folks conducted a very familiar military ritual: Mail Call! They had solicited mail from the Vet's families and friends, and they passed out the letters and cards. Jim got 21 letters (including one from me), and he remarked, “I didn't know I knew 21 people!” He was the oldest Vet in our group, at 96. I thought it would be good to go for a walk and stretch our legs before the long flight back to Orlando. Of course, it didn't take long for me to run into someone I knew, since we were in an airport after all. When I introduced Jim to a co-pilot I have flown with, he was more than happy to thank him for his service: Guy gratefully said: “I'm from Holland, and if it weren't for you, I really would be speaking German.” I told the Honor Flight crew that if I had been working right now, my airline would have sent me to a hotel—the day was getting a little longer than I’d realized.

I also asked Jim what was one of the lowest points he struggled with during the war. He responded with the story of how they flew way up into northern Italy to bomb the Germans. The crew got shot up pretty bad and had lost an engine. As a result, they had to come back lower and slower than normally. To me, it sounded just like the movie Memphis Belle. They were long overdue to land, but at least they made it back. But when he got to his tent, his mates had already divvyed up his uniforms and clothes! He didn't say it, but I know what got him through that scare... the redhead. Married 63 years, 4 kids, 10 grand-kids, and 4 great-grand-kids. That is what gets you through the tough times, and that is why we do it—for your loved ones back home; to not let them down, and to see them again.

After the war, Jim went onto be a draftsman and later a vice president in engineering. He didn't care much for airplanes anymore; the smell of aviation gas, the exhaust, the ramp, all brought back not so good memories. He seemed to not have reveled in a big welcome home—rather, he was just glad to be home, like most of us usually are. But today, he would get the celebration that he perhaps skipped out on in 1944. The previous Honor Flight reception I had participated in at Orlando, had been a bit underwhelming… But this time I was not disappointed!

Honor Flights always let the regular passengers deplane first. On this day, we were running late and it was about 11 pm. There were also passengers waiting for flights leaving Orlando that had been delayed. As we finally deplaned, Jim was ready as ever to get off the plane, and would not use the wheelchair. As we came up the jet-way, we could hear bagpipes. A lone piper was playing the hymn of each of the military branches, one after the other. No doubt someone in the airport had made an announcement about the arrival of our Honor Flight, and about three plane-fulls of delayed passengers lined up on each side as we walked out to more applause and more hand-shaking.

A final salute for the day, thanks to Patrick AFB Color Guard
Normally, passengers whose flights are delayed are cranky, and for good reason. But on this night I had at least two people come up to me and say, “I'm so glad our flight was late, otherwise we would have missed this!” The piper led us out of the concourse, playing the hymns continuously, and then, on the other side of security, was another welcoming home party. Jim loved it all. The bus ride home was quiet, as it was getting late, but we both still enjoyed one last police escort and a welcome home by the Patrick Air Force Base Color Guard.

Four hundred dollars for a ticket on my own company's plane; breakfast, lunch and dinner included. But seeing Moses on a motorcycle part DC traffic, total strangers applaud and shake the hands of these walking, talking, living, breathing pieces of history: PRICELESS!

Our Honor Flight reunion was about three weeks later. A chance to get together one more time and share pictures and stories of our trip to DC. There were many great inspiring speeches from the General again, but also from anyone involved—whoever felt like standing up to contribute something. One daughter of a Vet on our trip thanked her dad's guardian publically. He just volunteered out of the blue, not knowing which Vet he would be assigned. The daughter, a middle aged school teacher, said; "there was so much he had never told anyone about his experience in the war, until this Honor Flight trip." Near the end of her praise of both her Dad and his new found friend the guardian, her Dad burst into tears.

I wanted to write this, but I was unsure if I should; could it be too personal for Jim to share these stories? My question was answered by one of the Generals’ speeches. In short, his father-in-law was on the Bataan Death March and lived. For a long time, the father-in-law did not share details about the war and his captivity, now he is gone. The General pointed out that, “once these guys go, so do their stories.” And that was my answer, that was what helped me decide that I must write and share this. Unfortunately, Jim didn't make the reunion so we couldn’t catch up. His bomber squadron also had a reunion on the same day, at the Air Force museum at Write Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio!

Captain Pat Madden
Southwest Airlines

Veteran's Day 2014

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Been a Minute...

Well, you know, things fall apart and fall back together. I have been back and forth on and off of nights, so adjusting to that has been a little difficult. Life and the Universe has been quite tempramental to the Italian, bless his heart, but hopefully it will be smoothing out soon. I barely know where to start for this blog!

I've got a lot of projects up in the air at the moment, but a couple of them I am saving until completion to actually share, particularly the glass project. It deserves its own post. Ah! Ok, I can start with this one. While my buddy is out of town for work, we have the distinct pleasure... with a grain of salt... of babysitting his Savannah cat, Emmitt. Oh boy, this guy. He's a handful when he's awake, but every night he climbs under the covers and gives out awesome cuddles. Miss Z hates his guts still, but Bill has come to realize that even though he's not 'the kitten' any more, having a 'cousin' around to play with can be lots of fun. They both fetch and throw mousies, and chase each other, and wrestle. Since Emmitt will be come-and-go, and also since we've run out of perches for kittehs, I ordered a cat-tree from Amazon. I didn't go all out because I'm a little bit of a cheapy, but this one is almost as tall as me [but then again I'm only 5'3"] and cost $60. I put it together all by myself! Which of course brings me way more joy than it should. All the cats ignored the tree for the first day or so, but Bill has discovered that it's great for derping about, and they both love the fuzzy mice on elastic. Oh man. Hours of entertainment right there! Once full grown, Emmitt should be the size of a small dog, but he was the runt of his litter and seems to be a late bloomer. He's very tall and thin, and can jump disgustingly high. He may look the same size as Bill, but when you turn him into a kittyball, there's hardly anything there! 

 Considering the Italian's upcoming surgery, we started turning the excessive space in the upstairs into a kitchenette. We put in a mini fridge to match the microwave, and later he insisted on adding a toaster oven. After introducing him to "The Met," where we found fresh, hand-pulled mozarella, made in-store putanesca, and all sorts of absolutely to-die-for goodies, I now know why. [The Met also sometimes carries divine Mango Chutney chicken, as well as bottled Thai coffee and literally... espresso soda. It's pricey, but to see him so happy was worth it. I knew he'd love it, and my favorite part about finding something neat is sharing it with someone who Really--capital R--appreciates it. We have yet to hit the olive bar, salad bar, or gelatto bar, but they're the second best place to go for cut flowers, only beat out by Stadium Thriftway, in my opinion.]

Woah, sorry for the tangent. Anyways, he threw together these mini pita-pizzas in about five minutes, and they are to die for! Impressively filling, and the putanesca gives them a little after-kick. Only down side... they taste better when someone else makes them. tee-hee.

The other day I was out and about and decided to pick up burritos for lunch/dinner. The quote on the bag was so apt that I decided to art it up. I figured the brown-paper-bag feel would be an interesting thing to work with. Here it is half-finished. I've got a couple more layers of textures to add before I call it done. I am really enjoying art still, although mostly I am doing it from bed these days. And also, I am not sure what to do with it all anymore... Sure, I can keep hanging it on the walls, and that's great for me, but it's not really getting anything OUT there for others. And I guess that's still a big thing for me. On the other hand, Honey Bunches contacted me last night to do an art trade... apparently he's got a project in mind? I asked for a quote to work with, and now must do some research on Freddie Mercury. I've got to do a test run on a theory I have [using crackle paste to transfer instead of gel medium], hopefully it works out, because in my head it makes perfect sense for the quote he gave me.

Last but not least. I have been putting off planting my flowerbed for at least a month now. I was really excited at first, and bought bulbs and some tools... but then the rain and pain set in, and I lost my motivation. Somehow today was the perfect combination! It was dry outside, but not warm, and I didn't feel like crap. I also had nothing to do and was feeling good, so I decided to attack it. I wasn't looking forward to digging up the topsoil, but it turned out not to be too bad. I planted yellow crocus, Wildflower Tulips, and Muscari. Tried to leave some room in back for Dahlias when the spring comes, and finally put the LED/solar charged garden lights. They are so cute! I also laid down some nice red top bark, but I should have listened to the guy at the shop and bought three bags instead of just two. From there I don't know why but I started raking the yard... I got a little overwhelmed with that. I was about a minute from calling it quits when the Italian came home and insisted on taking over, even though I tried telling him it was unnecessary. Of course, that led to me getting further distracted and digging up the mushrooms that were taking over our yard, as well as cleaning up the hens-and-chicks under the big tree [trying to get them to root and spread after almost killing them all this summer--my bad]. I also had a handfull of Muscari left, and finding that the dirt in the flowerbeds by the front door was much softer than the one under the window, I lined the stairs with the extra bulbs. I'm excited to plant more, even though I suck at garden follow-through. Also, I'm afraid for the Fibro repercussions of what I did today... we'll see how bad it gets.

Seems like lately all my projects have been trying to teach me patience--none of them are instant gratification! The art must always be done in layers, and seems like each one takes longer to dry than the last. The glass project, well I'm on day two of that one, waiting for stuff to dry. The bulbs... well I won't even get to see them until spring time. I'm sure they'll be great though, I can't wait! And even if we move out, I hope they bring some happiness to the folks who move in after us. But that's a whole 'nother story.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Fighting the Good Fight... Barely

After a one week hiatus, I'm back on night shift. Not that I would normally complain, but I had a vaguely Good Guy Greg moment... or at least, not a total jerk moment. Combine that with some bad dreams and the result is trying to tackle a full night shift with one 3-hour nap and one 2-hour nap under my belt. Not such a good idea. My 12-shot, 44 oz. Americano doesn't fit in the microwave to heat back up. I can hardly keep my eyes open, so focusing on anything is a struggle. I'm going to pay for this so bad tomorrow... And of course by 'tomorrow' I really just mean 'later today.'

I'm still stuck in the rut of coming up with--and occasionally even starting--new projects, but then not finishing them. I wish I had something to share, but right now mostly I just have piles and piles of supplies. And not a whole lot of motivation. I am branching out into other varieties of 'makin stuffs,' and it's a lot of fun. I'm so tired right now it is practically painful.

Anyways. Borrowing this little guy for the next fortnight, as my buddy has to be out of town for work. Now that he's adjusted, he's a cuddle bug, although the other kitties are still not so sure about this guy. He is a Savannah by the way, but a major runt. So basically saying, he is a very expensive fur-covered SPRING.

And in random other pictures, Mr. Bill has decided that he enjoys sleeping on top of the poop-house. Don't know why, but this is apparently where the 'cool kids' hang out. Lately we have 'remodeled' the upstairs, including a mini kitchenette type space for the Italian's pending surgery. 

As far as pending projects, I am still mustering the energy to rebuild an entertainment center out of a book shelf... More paper cranes... Shellac said cranes... paint glass ornaments... paint wooden ornaments... paint in general... read lots of books... track astrology stuff... crochet baby blanket #2 [not for me!!]... tons of random yarn projects... how many unfinished blankets?... including the one I worked on throughout deployment... potential for music rearing its head in my life again, through multiple avenues... must do yoga... edit that one novel for that one guy...

Thursday, October 23, 2014


I'm not sure if these feelings are from Fibromyalgia, or my own personal inner demons with motivation, or an ongoing battle to adjust to night shift. Maybe it's even the weather changing to fall--nope, maybe not, that usually makes me feel amazing. But I am pooped. I have no energy. I have no motivation. I have so many ideas, plans, and chores. So many things I want to do. But for every step forward I take, I end up procrastinating the rest. I am loving the research that I'm doing, but today I can hardly understand and process more than a sentence  at a time. I'm running out of time to plant the garden. Our yard is a wreck. And like I said, every time I make a shred of progress, it wears me out so much that I can't follow through. I bought a rake. Since then, it has been too rainy or too late in the day. I finally get the energy and determination to start the laundry, but then once it's out of the drier and into the basket... well, let's just say there's two baskets full of clean laundry down in the garage.

...and there went my train of thought, there went all mental cohesion I was barely hanging on to. I feel a failure, but all I can do is think, "well, I guess I'll do that tomorrow then. If x y and z align."

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Learning to Appreciate my Lessons

I can definitely understand the craving for closure. That's something I'm dealing with--trying to practice?--as we speak. The act of letting go without giving up, learning from the past and from all relationships. 2012-2013 was certainly a rough time, but it seems that 2014-15 is [going to be?] all about change and growth. Maybe some of it is that Saturn Return, but this seems to be spreading further and further; I'm seeing it everywhere.

I am trying very hard these days to learn from the past, which starts with viewing it objectively--although some people would argue that I err on the side of making excuses and being too forgiving; others also accuse me of being too harsh and judgmental. It's all about Balance and Moderation.

Honestly, the past was effed up. That's the truth. But also honestly... it is just one more life lesson that confirms and validates my belief that everything happens for a reason. So long as we learn something, it isn't a total loss. Just as flowers sprout from manure, sometimes positive outcomes can sprout from seemingly negative circumstances. That is where I'm at now. Yes, things went wrong. Yes, things were bad. But I am better off FOR it. Not in spite of it, but likely because of it. Everything moves us forward. I am able to enjoy my life now--and enrich my life, as well as those around me--because of the lessons I have learned over the past few years.

The past year specifically--almost to the date, in fact--is when my journey really materialized. It started out as a very rocky road, terrifying even, but the path has smoothed. It was a leap of faith [on my part] that was long overdue. Roughly this time last year, I finally took a deep breath and dove head first into the unknown. And the world did not stop. The apocalypse did not rain down fire and brimstone, the Four Horsemen are still MIA, and all in all, the world seems to be more or less the same. I'm not done looking back over my shoulder just yet, but I am trying to balance that with also looking forward. And I'm not sure I would say 'It was worth it!' without batting an eye, but the scales of worth-it and not-worth-it haven't quite settled yet. I suppose as I learn my lessons, unpack the meanings, and explore everything, the scales will tip more in favor of worth-it.

The rotten situation I was in snowballed terribly, kind of like the spiral or fractals of the Fibonacci sequence, each year [month, day, hour] compounding upon the last. In no way do I see myself as without fault or blameless. Coulda woulda shoulda, of course, but it's much too late to change things now. Anyways, as I have reached out to some people, and stayed in touch with others, I have come to learn that the 'truth' tends to get a little fuzzy. I am only recently learning this [gradually, over the last year], and as such, I now question 'facts' or 'stories' that I had once known [possibly fallaciously] to be 'true.' The Truth [capital-T] is that there is always more than one side to the 'truth' [lower case, with quotation marks]... there are as many facets as there are individuals involved, and the 'real truth' lies at some point between all of the facets. Sort of like an 'average'. Yes, if you take every person's version of the 'truth' and average it against each other, you get the Truth. Anyways. With 20/20 hindsight and all that jazz, I now question some of the ignorance that I breezily took for granted.

I'm not surprised that things people have said and or done get taken out of context, exaggerated, exacerbated, or downplayed and ignored. As I said the other day, you have to consider the source and potential ulterior motives. I will not outright deny anything, because I have found that the 'truth' tends to be like a pearl--a whole bunch of flashy stuff wrapped around a tiny grain of Truth. As such, it's difficult for me to confirm or deny any he-said-she-said debates. I'm done letting things like that bother me.

I am learning that it is possible to 'let go' without 'giving up.' And just because I finally refused to play the game doesn't mean I lost the game. In all honesty, my retreat also likely served to protect many others from stress and emotional detriment. I never intended for it to be a permanent decision, but as hearsay came back to me and time passed, it seemed like it might just be a better idea to move on completely.

Someone recently told me that, "once that [relationship] ended, amazing things began to flourish in my life, and still are." The reason I replaced 'friendship' with 'relationship' is two-fold: one, because 'relationship' encompasses so much more as a broad term of any two people interacting with each other in any manner of ways; and two, because changing that one word, I am able to say that there is almost a verbatim parallel in my life as well. Life isn't completely roses and rainbows and unicorn farts, but... 'amazement' I think is a very valid adjective. I suppose you could argue that in some ways, a vacuum was formed; there was a hole that the universe had to fill. I fought against my lesson for long enough. When I was finally brave enough to let go, to take that leap, I was rewarded with a safe, soft place to land. I earned my karma. That concept was kind of a brief, surface thought I would snicker about from time to time, until recently. As I stumbled upon the factor of North Nodes [and South Nodes to a lesser extent] everything started falling into place and making sense. As humans, we have relationships primarily to teach us things. Suffice to say, I had a lot to learn. In some ways, I am thankful for it. I suppose I dug my heels in and stayed a bit longer than necessary, but as Gandalf says, "a wizard arrives precisely when he means to." Call it subconscious, call it fate, call it whichever side of psychology or spirituality you want to lump it in with, I can't argue with what has happened.

This past year, many more songs have hit me in the head/heart like a sledgehammer. That thud of recognition, that slight warm-fuzzy-breathless awe that someone has crystallized and immortalized your exact emotions. And damn if it doesn't sound better than anything you'd ever attempted! Anyways. So many apt lyrics float in and out of my life these days, and I am happy to turn many of them into art. But the one I think that sums this up best I can attribute to one of the most emotionally charged writers I've had the pleasure of listening to: that guy from Bayside.

“I think
this was
a test to see
how long I could hold my breath. 
I understand,
but I gotta remind myself
That even at my worst
I can keep my head.”

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Bzz Bzz Bzz

That's the sound of a bee. They're busy, like I have been. The time off from work has been glorious, despite the bum knee, and I've finally had time [and energy!] to do things. Things above and beyond a load of dishes, or clean up the bedroom. I'm finally qualified at work, which means I get to start working the night shift on my own. Yay! First time I've ever worked a legit night shift, I'm excited. Haven't quite mastered the schedule change yet though--I'm still asleep around midnight and up by 9 am. Trial by fire, I suppose.

So what all have I done? Let's explore with photos.
I took this pile of squares... added a little kitty magic [all three on the bed at once!] and turned it into this lovely blanket for Boss Man's new lil' girl.

this... this...
...equals this.

Between the daylight hours, I noticed these little guys growing in the corner of my yard by the sidewalk. Before I got a closer look, I thought they were all crocus[es?]. But when I went to dig them up, I noticed the one was actually a different flower with some super gorgeous ivy with it. Luckily I had enough spare pots. The crocus seems to be doing okay, it was two or three bulbs. The ivy... well... I hope it will recover. It had nodes or whatever, and I had some rooting hormone I picked up for cuttings I'd like to do eventually, so I tried it out. I'm hoping it will perk up in the next couple weeks. Anyone got ideas on the strain, species, or variation? I love the two-tone leaves. 

Another thing that I started lately. I haven't read the book that this is referring to, but the journal caught my eye. It's smaller than I had thought, but it is my favorite color, and I really like the idea. So far this will only be the third day I've owned it, but I think it's a great idea and I look forward to... um... looking back.

Here is my next major project. Aside from finally planting my winter bulbs, I am going to make a little side planter in a round pot. Just something I can take with me after the move. The landlords said I can plant whatever I want, and I hope the next people love the flowerbed as much as I... will... but I'm kinda selfish so I am making one pot to take with me.  

I'm also waiting for a drill/powered screwdriver from Mr. Brown to finish [er, start] my attempt at transforming an old bookshelf into an entertainment stand. I have the shelves cut, thanks to Home Depot, so now all I have to do is screw it all together and paint it. Pics of that on the next update.  

In other news, I am putting myself on concert-ticket-restrictions. Too many times this year I have bought tickets to a show in advance--and tickets for friends too--and then had one or all of us bail last minute [myself included!]. I mean there are a few exceptions, of course, but I am done with that nonsense. If I want to go bad enough and feel up to it, I will just have to buy tickets at the door. No more telling myself, "it's going to sell out! I need to buy NOW!" and then regretting it or feeling guilty because I'm not up to fully enjoying the mosh pit. sigh I guess this is what it feels like to get old. On the plus side, I did spend the first part of that day jamming with a friend of a friend. It was nice [but really really rocky!] to play bass again. I've got to sit down with the tracks to try and get a better feel of what the music is actually doing, but it might work out.